Jonathan Edwards Collection: Edwards, Jonathan - History of Redemption: 05a Period 1 Part 5 David to Babylonian Captivity

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Jonathan Edwards Collection: Edwards, Jonathan - History of Redemption: 05a Period 1 Part 5 David to Babylonian Captivity

TOPIC: Edwards, Jonathan - History of Redemption (Other Topics in this Collection)
SUBJECT: 05a Period 1 Part 5 David to Babylonian Captivity

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History of the Work of Redemption


Jonathan Edwards






    I COME now to the fifth period of the times of the Old Testament, beginning with David, and extending to the Babylonian captivity, and would now proceed to show how the work of redemption was carried on through this period also. And here,

I. The first thing to be taken notice of, is God’s anointing that person that was to be the ancestor of Christ, to be king over his people. The dispensations of Providence that have been taken notice of through the last period, from Moses to this time, respect the people whence Christ was to proceed. But now the scripture history leads us to consider God’s providence towards that particular person whence Christ was to proceed, viz. David. It pleased God at this time remarkably to select out that person of whom Christ was to come, from all the thousands of Israel, and to put a most honorable mark of distinction upon him, by anointing him to be king over his people. It was only God that could find him out. His father’s house is spoken of as being little in Israel, and he was the youngest of all the sons of his father, and was least expected to be the man that God had chosen, by Samuel. God had before, in the former ages of the world, remarkably distinguished the persons from whom Christ was to come, as he did Seth, and Noah, and Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob. But the last that we have any account of God’s marking out in any notable manner, the very person of whom Christ was to come, was in Jacob’s blessing his son Judah, unless we reckon Nahshon’s advancement in the wilderness to be the head of the tribe of Judah. But this distinction of the person of whom Christ was to come, in David, was very honorable, for it was God’s anointing him to be king over his people. And there was something further denoted by David’s anointing, than was in the anointing of Saul. God anointed Saul to be king personally, but God intended something further by sending Samuel to anoint David, viz. to establish the crown of Israel in him and in his family, as long as Israel continued to be a kingdom. And not only so, but what was infinitely more still, establishing the crown of his universal church, his spiritual Israel, in his seed, to the end of the world, and throughout all eternity.

This was a great dispensation of God, and a great step taken towards a further advancing of the work of redemption, according as the time drew near wherein Christ was to come. David, as he was the ancestor of Christ, so he was the greatest personal type of Christ of all under the Old Testament. The types of Christ were of three sorts, types of institution, or instituted types, and providential, and personal types. The ordinance of sacrificing was the greatest of the instituted types. The redemption out of Egypt was the greatest of the providential types. David was the greatest of the personal types. Hence Christ is often called David in the prophecies of Scripture, as Eze. 34:23, 24, “And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David: — my servant David a prince among them,” and so in many other places. And he is very often spoken of as the seed of David, and the Son of David.

David being the ancestor and great type of Christ, his being solemnly anointed by God to be king over his people that the kingdom of his church might be continued in his family forever, may in some respects be looked on as an anointing of Christ himself. Christ was as it were anointed in him. Therefore Christ’s anointing and David’s anointing are spoken of under one in Scripture, as Psa. 89:20. “I have found David my servant, with my holy oil have I anointed him.” And David’s throne and Christ’s are spoken of as one, Luke 1:32, “And the Lord shall give him the throne of his father David.” Acts 2:30, “David knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne.”

Thus God’s beginning of the kingdom of his church in the house of David, was, as it were, a new establishing of the kingdom of Christ, the beginning of it in a state of such visibility as it thenceforward continued in. It was as it were God’s planting the root, whence that branch of righteousness was afterwards to spring up, that was to be the everlasting king of his church. Therefore this everlasting king is called the branch from the stem of Jesse. Isa. 11:1, “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.” Jer. 23:5, “Behold, the days Come, saith the Lord, that I will raise up unto David a righteous branch, and a king shall reign and prosper.” So, chap. 33:15, “In those days, and at that time, I will cause the branch of righteousness to grow up unto David, and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land.” So Christ, in the New Testament, is called the root and offspring of David, Rev. 22:16.

It is observable, that God anointed David after Saul to reign in his room. He took away the crown from him and his family, who was higher in stature than any of his people, and was in their eyes fittest to bear rule, to give it to David, who was low of stature, and in comparison, of despicable appearance. So God was pleased to show how Christ, who appeared despicable, without form or comeliness, and was despised and rejected of men, should take the kingdom from the great ones of the earth.

And also it is observable, that David was the youngest of Jesse’s sons, as Jacob the younger brother supplanted Esau, and got the birthright and blessing from him. As Pharez, another of Christ’s ancestors, supplanted Zarah in the birth, and as Isaac, another of the ancestors of Christ, cast out his elder brother Ishmael, thus was that frequent saying of Christ fulfilled, “The last shall be first, and the first last.”

II. The next thing I would observe, is God’s so preserving David’s life, by a series of wonderful provisions, until Saul’s death. I before took notice of the wonderful preservation of other particular persons that were the ancestors of Christ, as Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and have observed how, in that Christ the great Redeemer was to proceed, from them, that in their preservation, the work of redemption itself may he looked upon as preserved from being defeated, and the whole church, which is redeemed through him, from being overthrown. But the preservation of David was no less remarkable than that of any others that have been already taken notice of. How often was it so, that there was but a step between him and death. The first instance of it we have in his encountering a lion and a bear, when they had caught a lamb out of his flock, which, without miraculous assistance, could at once have rent this young stripling in pieces, as they could the lamb that he delivered from them. So afterwards the root and offspring of David was preserved from the roaring lion that goes about seeking whom he may devour, and conquered him and rescued the poor souls of men, that were as lambs in the mouth of this lion. Another remarkable instance was, in preserving him from that mighty giant Goliath, who was strong enough to have taken him, and picked him to pieces with his fingers, and given his flesh to the beasts of the field, and to the fowls of the air, as he threatened him. But God preserved him from him, and gave him the victory over him, so that he cut off his head with his own sword, and made him therein the deliverer of his people, as Christ slew the spiritual Goliath with his own weapon, the cross, and so delivered his people. And how remarkably did God preserve him from being slain by Saul, when he first sought his life, by giving him his daughter to be a snare to him, that the hand of the Philistines might be upon him, requiring him to pay for her by an hundred foreskins of the Philistines, that so his life might be exposed to them, and in preserving him afterwards, when Saul spake to Jonathan, and to all his servants, to kill David, and in inclining Jonathan, instead of killing him, as his father bade him, to love him as his own soul, and to be a great instrument of his preservation, even so as to expose his own life to preserve David, though one would have thought that none would have been more willing to have David killed than Jonathan, seeing that he was competitor with him for his father’s crown, and again saving him, when Saul threw a javelin at him to smite him even to the wall, and again preserving him, when he sent messengers to his house, to watch him, and to kill him, when Michal, Saul’s daughter, let him down through a window, and when he afterwards sent messengers, once and again, to Naioth in Ramah, to take him, and they were remarkably prevented time after time, by being seized with miraculous impressions of the Spirit of God, and afterwards, when Saul, being resolute in the affair, went himself, he also was among the prophets. And after this, how wonderfully was David’s life preserved at Gath, among the Philistines, when he went to Achish the king of Gath, and was there in the hands of the Philistines, who, one would have thought, would have dispatched him at once, he having so much provoked them by his exploits against them. And he was again wonderfully preserved at Keilah, when he had entered into a fenced town, where Saul thought he was sure of him. And how wonderfully was he preserved from Saul, when he pursued and hunted him in the mountains! How remarkably did God deliver him in the wilderness of Maon, when Saul and his army were compassing David about! How was he delivered in the cave of Engedi, when, instead of Saul’s killing David, God delivered Saul into his hands in the cave, and he cut off his skirt, and might as easily have cut off his head, and afterwards delivering him in like manner in the wilderness of Ziph, and afterwards again preserving him in the land of the Philistines, though David had fought against the Philistines, and conquered them at Keilah, since he was last among them, which one would think, would have been sufficient warning to them not to trust him, or let him escape a second time, if ever they had him in their hands again. But yet now, when they had a second opportunity, God wonderfully turned their hearts to him to befriend and protect him, instead of destroying him!

Thus was the precious seed that virtually contained the Redeemer, and all the blessings of his redemption, wonderfully preserved, when hell and earth were conspired against it to destroy it. How often does David himself take notice of this, with praise and admiration, in the book of Psalms!

III. About this time, the written Word of God, or the canon of Scripture, was added to by Samuel. I have before observed, how that the canon of Scripture was begun, and the first written Word of God, the first written rule of faith and manners that ever was, was given to the church about Moses’ time. And many, and I know not but most divines, think it was added to by Joshua, and that he wrote the last chapter of Deuteronomy, and most of the book of Joshua. Others think that Joshua, Judges, Ruth, and part of the first book of Samuel, were written by Samuel. However that was, this we have good evidence of, that Samuel made an addition to the canon of Scripture, for Samuel is manifestly mentioned in the New Testament, as one of the prophets whose writings we have in the Scriptures, in that aforementioned, Acts 3:24, “Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel, and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.” By that expression, “as many as have spoken,” cannot be meant, as many as have spoken by word of mouth, for never was any prophet but what did that. But the meaning must be, as many as have spoken by writing, so that what they have spoken has come down to us, that we may see what it is.

And the way that Samuel spoke of these times of Christ and the gospel, was by giving the history of those things that typified them, and pointed to them, particularly the things concerning David that he wrote. The Spirit of God moved him to commit those things to writing, chiefly for that reason, because they pointed to Christ, and the times of the gospel, and, as was said before, this was the main business of all that succession of prophets, that began in Samuel, to foreshadow these times.

That Samuel added to the canon of the Scriptures, seems further to appear from 1 Chr. 29:29, “Now the acts of David the king, first and last, behold, they are written in the book of Samuel the seer.”

Whether the book of Joshua was written by Samuel or not, yet it is the general opinion of divines, that the books of Judges, and Ruth, and part of the first book of Samuel, were penned by him. The book of Ruth was penned for that reason, because, though it seemed to treat of private affairs, yet the persons chiefly spoken of in that book were of the family whence David and Christ proceeded, and so pointed to what the apostle Peter observed of Samuel and the other prophets, in the third chapter of Acts. The thus adding to the canon of the Scriptures, the great and main instrument of the application of redemption, is to be looked upon as a further carrying on of that work, and an addition made to that great building.

IV. Another thing God did towards this work, at that time, was his inspiring David to show forth Christ and his redemption, in divine songs, which should be for the use of the church, in public worship, throughout all ages. David was himself endued with the spirit of prophecy. He is called a prophet, Acts 2:29, 30, “Let me freely speak to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day: therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath,” etc. So that herein he was a type of Christ, that he was both a prophet and a king. We have no certain account of the time when David was first endued with the spirit of prophecy, but it is manifest, that it either was at the time that Samuel anointed him, or very soon after, for he appears soon after actuated by this spirit, in the affair of Goliath. And then great part of the psalms were penned in the time of his troubles, before he came to the crown, as might be made manifest by an induction of particulars.

The oil that was used in anointing David was a type of the Spirit of God, and the type and the anti-type were given both together, as we are told, 1 Sam. 16:13, “Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren, and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. And it is probable, that it now came upon him in its prophetic influences.

The way that this Spirit influenced him was, to inspire him to show forth Christ, and the glorious things of his redemption, in divine songs, sweetly expressing the breathings of a pious soul, full of admiration of the glorious things of the Redeemer, inflamed with divine love, and lifted up with praise, and therefore he is called the sweet psalmist of Israel. 2 Sam. 23:1, “Now these be the last words of David: David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel.” The main subjects of these sweet songs were the glorious things of the gospel, as is evident by the interpretation that is often put upon them, and the use that is made of them in the New Testament, for there is no one book of the Old Testament that is so often quoted in the New, as the book of Psalms. Joyfully did this holy man sing of those great things of Christ’s redemption, that had been the hope and expectation of God’s church and people from the beginning of the church of God on earth. And joyfully did others follow him in it, as Asaph, Heman, Ethan, and others, for the book of Psalms was not all penned by David, though the greater part of it was. Hereby the canon of Scripture was further added to, and an excellent portion of divine writ was it that was added.

This was a great advancement that God made in this building, and the light of the gospel, which had been gradually growing from the fall, was exceedingly increased by it. For whereas before there was but here and there a prophecy given of Christ in a great many ages, now here Christ is spoken of by his ancestor David abundantly, in multitudes of songs, speaking of his incarnation, life, death, resurrection, ascension into heaven, his satisfaction, intercession, his prophetic, kingly, and priestly office, his glorious benefits in this life and that which is to come, his union with the church, and the blessedness of the church in him, the calling of the Gentiles, the future glory of the church near the end of the world, and Christ’s coming to the final judgment. All these things, and many more, concerning Christ arid his redemption, are abundantly spoken of in the book of Psalms.

This was also a glorious advancement of the affair of redemption, as God hereby gave his church a book of divine songs for their use in that part of their public worship, viz. singing his praises, throughout all ages to the end of the world. It is manifest the book of Psalms was given of God for this end. It was used in the church of Israel by God’s appointment. This is manifest by the title of many of the psalms, in which they are inscribed to the chief musician, i.e. to the man that was appointed to be the leader of divine songs in the temple, in the public worship of Israel. So David is called the sweet psalmist of Israel, because he penned psalms for the use of the church of Israel, and accordingly we have an account that they were actually made use of in the church of Israel for that end, even ages after David was dead, as 2 Chr. 29:30, “Moreover, Hezekiah the king, and the princes, commanded the Levites to sing praises unto the Lord, with the words of David, and of Asaph the seer.” And we find that the same are appointed in the New Testament to be made use of in the Christian church, in their worship, Eph. 5:19. “Speaking to yourselves in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.” Col. 3:16, “Admonishing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.” And so they have been, and will to the end of the world be made use of in the church to celebrate the praises of God. The people of God were wont sometimes to worship God by singing songs to his praise before, as they did at the Red Sea. And they had Moses’ prophetic song, in Deuteronomy 32, committed to them for that end. And Deborah and Barak, and Hannah sung praises to God. But now first did God commit to his church a book of divine songs for their constant use.


V. The next thing I would take notice of, is God’s actually exalting David to the throne of Israel, notwithstanding all the opposition made to it. God was determined to do it, and he made everything give place that stood in the way of it. He removed Saul and his sons out of the way, and first set David over the tribe of Judah. And then, having removed Ishbosheth, set him over all Israel. Thus did God fulfill his word to David. He took him from the sheepfold, and made him king over his people Israel, Psa. 78:70, 71. And now the throne of Israel was established in that family in which it was to continue forever, even forever and ever.

VI. Now first it was that God proceeded to choose a particular city out of all the tribes of Israel to place his name there. There is several times mention made in the law of Moses, of the children of Israel’s bringing their oblations to the place which God should choose, as Deu. 12:5, 6, 7, and so in many other places. But God had never proceeded to do it until now. The tabernacle and ark were never fixed, but sometimes in one place, and sometimes in another, but now God proceeded to choose Jerusalem. The city of Jerusalem was never thoroughly conquered, or taken out of the hands of the Jebusites, until David’s time. It is said in Jos. 15:63, “As for the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children of Judah could not drive them out. But the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem unto this day.” But now David wholly subdued it, as we have an account in 2 Sam. 5. And now God proceeded to choose that city to place his name there, as appears by David’s bringing up the ark thither soon after. And therefore this is mentioned afterwards as the first time God proceeded to choose a city to place his name there, 2 Chr. 6:5, 6, and chap. 12:13. Afterwards God proceeded to show David the very place where he would have his temple built, viz. in the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.

This city of Jerusalem is therefore called the holy city, and it was the greatest type of the church of Christ in all the Old Testament. It was redeemed by David, the captain of the hosts of Israel, out of the hands of the Jebusites, to be God’s city, the holy place of his rest forever where he would dwell, as Christ, the captain of his people’s salvation, redeems his church out of the hands of devils, to be his holy and beloved city. And therefore, how often does the Scripture, when speaking of Christ’s redemption of his church, call it by the names of Zion and Jerusalem? This was the city that God had appointed to be the place of the first gathering and erecting of the Christian church after Christ’s resurrection, of that remarkable pouring out of the Spirit of God on the apostles and primitive Christians, and the place whence the gospel was to sound forth into all the world, the place of the first Christian church, that was to be, as it were, the mother of all other churches through the world, agreeable to that prophecy, Isa. 2:3, 4, “Out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem: — and he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people,” etc.

Thus God chose Mount Sion whence the gospel was to be sounded forth, as the law had been from Mount Sinai.

VII. The next thing to be observed here, is God’s solemnly renewing the covenant of grace with David, and promising that the Messiah should be of his seed. We have an account of it in the seventh chapter of the second book of Samuel (2 Sam. 7). It was done on occasion of the thoughts David entertained of building God an house.

On this occasion God sends Nathan the prophet to him, with the glorious promises of the covenant of grace. It is especially contained in these words in the 16th verse, “and thy house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee, thy throne shall be established for ever.” Which promise has respect to Christ, the seed of David, and is fulfilled in him only. For the kingdom of David has long since ceased, any otherwise than as it is upheld in Christ. The temporal kingdom of the house of David has now ceased for a great many ages, much longer than ever it stood.

That this covenant that God now established with David by Nathan the prophet, was the covenant of grace, is evident by the plain testimony of Scripture, in Isa. 55:1, 2, 3. There we have Christ inviting sinners to come to the waters, etc. And in verse 3, he says, “Incline your ear, come unto me, hear, and your souls shall live, and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, even the sure mercies of David.” Here Christ offers to poor sinners, if they will come to him, to give them an interest in the same everlasting covenant that he had made with David, conveying to them the same sure mercies. But, what is that covenant that sinners obtain an interest in, when they come to Christ, but the covenant of grace?

This was the fifth solemn establishment of the covenant of grace with the church after the fall. The covenant of grace was revealed and established all along. But there had been particular seasons, wherein God had in a very solemn manner renewed this covenant with his church giving forth a new edition and establishment of it, revealing it in a new manner. This was flow the fifth solemn establishment of that covenant. The first was with Adam, the second was with Noah, the third was with the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the fourth was in the wilderness by Moses, and now the fifth is this made to David.

This establishment of the covenant of grace with David, David always esteemed the greatest smile of God upon him, the greatest honor of all that God had put upon him. He prized it, and rejoiced in it above all the other blessings of his reign. You may see how joyfully and thankfully he received it, when Nathan came to him with the glorious message, in 2 Sam. 7:18, etc. And so David, in his last words, declares this to be all his salvation, and all his desire, as you may see, 2 Sam. 23:5, “He hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure: — for this is all my salvation, and all my desire.

VIII. It was by David that God first gave his people Israel the possession of the whole promised land. I have before shown, how God’s giving the possession of the promised land belonged to the covenant of grace. This was done in a great measure by Joshua, but not fully. Joshua did not wholly subdue that part of the promised land that was strictly called the land of Canaan. And that was divided by lot to the several tribes, but there were great numbers of the old inhabitants left unsubdued, as we read in the books of Joshua and Judges. And there were many left to prove Israel, and to be thorns in their sides, and pricks in their eyes. There were the Jebusites in Jerusalem, and many of the Canaanites, and the whole nation of the Philistines, who all dwelt in that part of the land that was divided by lot, and chiefly in that part of the land that belonged to the tribes of Judah and Ephraim.

And thus these remains of the old inhabitants of Canaan continued unsubdued until David’s time, but he wholly subdued them all. Which is agreeable to what Stephen observes, Acts 7:45, “Which also our fathers brought in with Jesus (i.e. Joshua) into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drove out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David.” They were until the days of David in driving them out, before they had wholly subdued them. But David entirely brought them under. He subdued the Jebusites, and he subdued the whole nation of the Philistines, and all the rest of the remains of the seven nations of Canaan, 1 Chr. 18:1, “Now after this it came to pass, that David smote the Philistines, and subdued them, and took Gath and her towns out of the hands of the Philistines.”

After this, all the remains of the former inhabitants of Canaan were made bond servants to the Israelites. The posterity of the Gibeonites became servants before, hewers of wood and drawers of water, for the house of God. But Solomon, David’s son and successor, put all the other remains of the seven nations of Canaan to bond service, at least made them pay a tribute of bond service, as you may see, 1 Kin. 9:20, 21, 22. And hence we read of the children of Solomon’s servants, after the return from the Babylonian captivity, Ezra. 2:55, and Neh. 11:3. They were the children or posterity of the seven nations of Canaan, that Solomon had subjected to bond service.

Thus David subdued the whole land of Canaan, strictly so called. But then that was not one half, nor quarter, of the land God had promised to their fathers. The land that God had often promised to their fathers, included all the countries from the river of Egypt to the river Euphrates. These were the bounds of the land promised to Abraham, Gen. 15:18, “In that same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt, unto the great river, the river Euphrates.” So again God promised at Mount Sinai, Exo. 23:31, “And I will set thy bounds from the Red Sea even unto the sea of the Philistines, and from the desert unto the river: for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand: and thou shalt drive them out before thee.” So again, Deu. 11:24, “Every place whereon the soles of your feet shall tread, shall be yours: from the wilderness, and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates, even unto the uttermost sea, shall your coast be.” Again, the same promise is made to Joshua, Jos. 1:3, 4, “Every place that the sole of your feet shall tread upon, have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses, from the wilderness and this Lebanon, even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea, towards the going down of the sun, shall be your coast.” But the land that Joshua gave the people the possession of, was but a little part of this land. And the people never had had the possession of it until now when God gave it them by David.

This large country did not only include that Canaan that was divided by lot to those who came in with Joshua, but the land of the Moabites and Ammonites, the land of the Amalekites, and the rest of the Edomites, and the country of Zobah. All these nations were subdued and brought under the children of Israel by David. And be put garrisons in the several countries, and they became David’s servants, as we have a particular account in the eighth chapter of 2d Samuel (2 Sam. 8). And David extended their border to the river Euphrates, as was promised. See the 3d verse, “and David smote also Hadadezer the son of Rehob, king of Zobah, as he went to recover his border at the river Euphrates.” And accordingly we read, that Solomon his son reigned over all the regions on this side the river, 1 Kin. 4:24, “For he had dominion over all the region on this side the river, from Tiphsah even unto Azzah, over all the kings on this side the river.” This Artaxerxes king of Persia takes notice of long after, Ezra 4:20, “There have been mighty kings also over Jerusalem, which have ruled over all countries beyond the river, and toll, tribute, and custom was paid unto them.”

So that Joshua, that type of Christ, did but begin the work of giving Israel the possession of the promised land, but left it to be finished by that much greater type and ancestor of Christ, even David, who subdued far more of that land than ever Joshua had done. And in this extent of his and Solomon’s dominion was some resemblance of the great extent of Christ’s kingdom. And therefore the extent of Christ’s kingdom is set forth by this very thing, of its being over all lands, from the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines, and over all lands from thence to the river Euphrates, as Psa. 72:8, “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.” See also 1 Kin. 8:56.