Capturing Zion

2 Samuel 5

In 2 Samuel 5:6-9 a brief record is given of David wresting the stronghold of Zion out of the hands of the Canaanites, and of his making it the capital of his kingdom. This, it is to be noted, is the first thing recorded of our hero after all the tribes of Israel had made him their king. By noting that order we pointed out that the coronation of David, after the season which is now to be considered by us. In the previous chapter, we pointed out that the coronation of David, after the season of his humiliation, was a beautiful foreshadowing of the exaltation of His Son and Lord, the enthronement on High of that blessed One who had been, in the main, despised and rejected by men on earth. It therefore follows that the noble exploits of David after he came to the throne, strikingly prefigured the work and triumphs of our ascended and glorified Redeemer. It is thus, by looking beneath the mere historical upon the pages of the Old Testament that we discover "in the volume of the Book" it is written of Christ.

The long-cherished desire of Davidís heartóimplanted there by God Himselfóhad been accomplished, and he was now the head and governor of Israel. His real work had only just commenced, his most glorious achievements were still to be accomplished. His being crowned king over all Israel was but preparatory unto the royal conquests he was to make. His previous exploits only served to manifest his qualifications for the honored position and the important work which God had appointed him. So it was with the Antitype. The enthronement of the Mediator at the right hand of the Majesty on high was but the introduction to the stupendous undertaking which God had assigned Him, for "He must reign till He bath put all enemies under His feet" (1 Cor. 15:25)óa very plain intimation that His "reign" has already commenced. The life-work, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, simply laid the foundation upon which His royal conquests are now being achieved.

It is a great and serious mistake made by many to suppose that the Lord Jesus is now inactive, and to regard His being "seated" as denoting a state of inertiaósuch Scriptures as Acts 7:55 and Revelation 2:1 ought at once to correct such an idea. The word "sat" in Scripture marks an end and a beginning: the process of preparation is ended, and established order is begun (cf. Gen. 2:2; Acts 2:3). We say again that the real work of Christ (His atonement but laying the foundation thereof) began only after He was invested with "all power (i.e. Ďauthorityí) in heaven and in earth" (Matthew 28:18). This was plainly announced in the Messianic Psalms: after God has set His king upon His holy hill of Zion, He was to ask of Him and the heathen would be given Him for His inheritance, and He would reign over them with a "rod of iron" (Ps. 2). "Rule Thou in the midst of Thine enemies," was the Fatherís word to Him (Ps. 110).

To His chosen servants the Lord Jesus declared "Lo, I am with you alway, unto the end of the world" (Matthew 28:20). On the day of Pentecost Peter declared, "Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He (Jesus) hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear" (Acts 2:33). Later, we are told, "they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the Word with signs following" (Mark 16:20). There is much in the book of Revelation which makes known to us the various activities in which the ascended Saviour is engaged, into which we cannot enter. But sufficient has here been produced to show that the King of saints is now wielding His mighty scepter to good effect.

Most blessedly was that which has been before us above typed out by the crowned David. Upon his ascension to the throne he was far from indulging in ease or self-luxuriation. It was now that his best achievements were accomplished. In that section of 2 Samuel which we are entering we behold David capturing the stronghold of Zion, vanquishing the Philistines, providing a resting-place for the holy ark, and being concerned in building a temple for the worship of Jehovah. So blessed is each of these incidents, so rich is their typical and spiritual import, that we purpose, the Lord enabling, to devote a chapter unto the separate consideration of each of them. May the Spirit of Truth graciously undertake for both writer and reader, giving us eyes to see and hearts to appreciate the "wondrous things" hidden away in this portion of Godís Holy Word.

"And the king and his men went to Jerusalem, unto the Jebusites" (v. 6,). "If Salem, the place which Melchizedek was king of, was Jerusalem (as seems probable from Ps. 76:2), it was famous in Abrahamís time; Joshua in his times found it the chief city of the south part of Canaan: Joshua 10:1, 3. it fell to Benjaminís lot (Josh. 18:28), but joined close to Judahís (Josh. 15:8). The children of Judah had taken it (Judges 1:8), but the children of Benjamin suffered the Jebusites to dwell among them (Judges 1:21); and they grew so upon them that it became a city of Jebusites (Judges 19:21). Now the very first exploit David did after he was anointed king over all Israel, was to gain Jerusalem out of the hands of the Jebusites; which, because it belonged to Benjamin, he could not well attempt till that tribe, which long adhered to Saulís house, submitted to him" (Matthew Henry).

"And the king and his men went to Jerusalem unto the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land: which spake unto David, saying, Except thou take away the blind and the lame, thou shalt not come in hither: thinking, David cannot come in hither" (v. 6). The wording of the second half of this verse appears rather ambiguous, and we believe the translation given in the "Companion Bible" is to be preferred, "thou shalt not come in hither, for the blind and the lame shall drive thee away." It was the language of utter contempt. The Jebusites were so assured of the impregnability of their stronghold that they considered the feeblest of their men would be quite sufficient to defend it against any attack of David and his army.

The "Jebusites" were Canaanites who inhabited the country surrounding Jerusalem, and who occupied the fortress of Zion. The tribe of Judah had once failed to drive them out (Josh. 15:63), and later the children of Benjamin met with no more success (Judges 1:21). So secure did they now deem themselves that when David purposed its capture, they met him with insulting ridicule. In this we have an illustration of the fact that the enemies of God are often most confident of their strength when the day of their fall is most imminent. Thus also it frequently appears in the history of the salvation of Godís elect: their case seems to be the most hopeless immediately before the hand of divine mercy snatches them as brands from the burning. Thus it was with the dying thief, delivered at the eleventh hour; with Saul of Tarsus, as he was persecuting the church; with the Philippian jailor, as he was on the point of committing suicide. Manís extremity is Gods opportunity.

"Nevertheless, David took the stronghold of Zion: the same is the city of David" (v. 7). The literal or material "Zion" was a steep hill which lay just outside Jerusalem, to the south west, on which had been built a fortress to protect the city. It had two heads or peaks: Moriah, on which the temple was afterwards erected, and the other on which was built the future residence of the kings of Israel. So steep and inaccessible was Zion that, like a smaller Gibraltar, it had remained in the hands of Israelís foes. But undeterred by the natural difficulties and unmoved by the contemptuous confidence of the Jebusites, David succeeded in wresting it from the enemy, and became the founder of that Jerusalem which existed from that time onwards.

"Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion: the same is the city of David." Previously, he had reigned for seven years over Judah "in Hebron" (v. 5), but now that he had been anointed king over all Israel he cast his eyes toward Jerusalem, as a preferable metropolis, and a more suitable seat of his extending empire. But as long as the hill of Zion was occupied by the military Jebusites, they would retain theft command of the lower city. His first step, therefore, was, by the help of God, to dispossess the enemy of their stronghold. There David henceforth dwelt, as a conqueror, as in a castle (1 Chron. 11:7); there he fixed his royal abode, and there he swayed his scepter over the whole land of Israel, from Dan to Beersheba.

"So David dwelt in the fort, and called it the city of David. And David built round about from Millo and inward" (v. 9), Millo seems to have been the townhall, or statehouse, a place of public convention (compare 2 Kings 12:20, 1 Chron. 32:5). Around Millo David erected such buildings as became his capital or seat of government, for the reception of the court which he kept. "And David went on and grew great, and the Lord God of hosts was with him" (v. 10). The tide of fortune had turned, and the once despised fugitive now waxed great in power and reputation, in wealth and honor, subduing his enemies, and enlarging his dominion. But all his success and prosperity was entirely owing to Jehovah showing Himself strong on his behalf: without His enablement, none of us can accomplish anything good (John 15:5).

Now there would be little or no difficulty in our perceiving the typical significance of the above were it not that so many of our minds have been blinded by the errors of modern "dispensationalism." A careful study of the connections in which "Zion" is found in the Psalms and Prophets, makes it clear that "Zion" was the name by which the Old Testament Church was usually called. "For the Lord hath chosen Zion; He hath desired it for His habitation. This is My rest forever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it. I will abundantly bless her provision: I will satisfy her poor with bread. I will also clothe her priests with salvation: and her saints shall shout aloud for joy. There will I make the horn of David to bud: I have ordained a lamp for Mine Anointed" (Ps. 132:13-17). Let the dubious (and also the interested) reader ponder such verses as Psalms 74:2; 87:5; 102:13; 128:5; 133:3; Isaiah 51:16.

The Old Testament Church was designated "Zion" after the mount on which the Temple was built, whither the tribes of Israel went up to worship Jehovah, who dwelt between the cherubim. This name was duly transferred to the New Testament Church, which is grafted into the Old, as the teaching upon the "olive" tree in Romans 11 shows, and as the Holy Spirit in Ephesians 2:19-22 and 3:6 expressly states. Such passages as Romans 11:26 (note carefully it is "out of Sion" and not "unto Sion"); Hebrews 12:22; 1 Peter 2:6; Revelation 14:1, make it plain that the New Testament Church is denominated "Sion," for the Church is now Godís abode upon earth, His "temple" (2 Cor. 6:16), His "city" (Eph. 2:19), His "Jerusalem" (Gal. 4:26ó"which is above" is not to be understood astronomically, but means "which excels"). Thus, all that is spoken of "Zion," of "the city of God," of "Jerusalem" in the Old Testament in a spiritual way belongs unto Christians now, and is for their faith to appropriate and enjoy.

The history of Jerusalem and Zion (for they are inseparably connected) accurately foreshadowed what is found spiritually in the antitype. The first reference to the same in Scripture presents that city as being under the benign scepter of Melchizedek (Gen. 14: 18): so, originally, the Church was blest with all spiritual blessings in Christ (Eph. 1:3). But, next, we see this city no longer in subjection to the servant of God, but fallen into the hands of the heathen: so the Church apostatized in Adam, Godís elect sinking to the natural level of the non-elect. Zion now became inhabited by a race who were under the curse of God (Gen. 9:25): so, in consequence of the Fall, Godís elect were by nature "the children of wrath even as others" (Eph. 2:3). For centuries Zion refused to be subject unto die people of God (Josh. 15:63, Judges 1:21); so the Gentiles were "aliens from the commonwealth of Israel" etc. (Eph. 2:11, 12).

But, eventually, Zion was subdued and captured by David, and made his royal residence, the Temple also being erected upon one of its mounts. Thus the stronghold of the enemy was converted into a habitation of God, and became the throne of His government upon earth. Wondrous figure was this of Christís conquest of the Gentile Church (Acts 15:14) unto Himself, wresting it out of the hand of the enemy, bringing it into subjection unto Himself, and setting up His throne in the hearts of its individual members. Announcement to this effect was made by the Saviour when He declared, in view of His immediate death (v. 32), "Now shall the Prince of this world be cast out" (John 12:31). Satan was to be dethroned and driven from his dominion, so that Christ would "draw" unto Himself many of those over whom the devil had reigned (Eph. 2:2). It is to. be noted that the tense of the verb there denotes that the "casting out" of Satan would be as gradual as the "drawing" (Alford).

At the Cross the Lord Jesus "spoiled principalities and powers," and at His ascension He "made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it" (Col. 2:15 and cf. Eph. 4:8). At Calvary Satanís hold over the world was broken: "the Prince of this world is judged" (John 16:11). Then it was that the "strong man" (the devil) was "overcome" by One stronger than himself, his armor being taken from him, and his "spoils" (captives) divided (Luke 11:21, 22). And a manifestation of this fact is made every time an elect soul is "delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of Godís dear Son" (Col. 1:13). Christís frequent casting out of demons. from the bodies of men during the days of His flesh presaged His delivering the souls of His redeemed from the dominion of Satan during this Gospel era.

That which our present type sets forth is not the Lord Jesus paying the ransom-price for the purchase of His people (particularly, those among the Gentiles), but His actual redeeming or delivering them from the power of the enemy. As Davidís capture of Zion followed his coronation, so that work his conquest prefigured pointed to the victorious activities of Christ after His ascension. It is that which was foretold in Psalm 110: 1-3. First, "Sit Thou at My right hand." Second, "The Lord shall send the rod of Thy strength (the Gospel in the power of the Spirit) out of Zion." Third, "Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power." One by one those whom the Father gave to Christ are subdued by His grace, made willing to throw down the weapons of their warfare against His Son, and His throne is set up in their hearts (2 Cor. 10:5).

It is beautiful to note that the meaning of the word Zion is "sunny" or "shone upon," as facing the south, basking in the rays of the warm sun. So the spiritual Zion, delivered by Christ (through His post-ascension activities) from the dominion of Satan, has been brought into the unclouded favor of God. The type is completed by what we read of in 2 Samuel 5:11, "And Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, and carpenters, and masons: and they built David a house." In the sending of those messengers to David by Hiram, proffering to build him a house, we have the foreshadowment of Christís being acknowledged by the Gentiles (cf. Isa. 60:3), and their being built into His spiritual house (Eph. 2:22; 1 Pet. 2:5).