In the inmost sense of the Word, David represents the Lord who was to come on earth to subjugate the hells and to glorify His Human, and thus found the kingdom of God among men. The Lord Himself confirmed this prophetic function of David when He opened the Scriptures to His disciples and showed them that in His life had been fulfilled all the things which were written concerning Him, "in the law of Moses, and in the Prophets and in the Psalms" the Psalms of David. (Luke 24:44) The period of David's life when he was fleeing before Saul and persecuted as an outlaw, especially describes, in correspondential language and word- pictures, the many temptations which the Lord sustained throughout His abode on earth.
Yet we should understand that the Lord's state which on earth was not represented only by David, but by all the characters mentioned Saul and Samuel, Jonathan and Joab, all the other persons who play a good or an evil role in the Divine drama of Israel. For the Lord, in His very Person, had assumed the human heredities, the tendencies and infirmities, of the whole Jewish race. The representative story of Israel depicts how these hereditary human elements transmitted through Mary the mother were ordered and overcome by the Divine Soul from Jehovah God which labored to express its infinite potentialities within Him.
Even David did not always represent something entirely Divine. So far as he acted as the Lord's anointed, so far He represented the Divine Human. But when David departed from the Lord's commandments, he reflected the evils and the falsities which lurked as slumbering tendencies within His assumed human, the infirm human from Mary. The evils, the cruelties and intrigues, the lusts and hatreds and envies and violent crimes, which the Word in its letter so frankly describes, are the evils and falsities which the Lord discovered when examining His human heredity; and naturally they were the very evils which had been committed in the course of Israel's history and which had been described in the Word.
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But it is not proposed that we follow David's story, as it mirrors the course of the Lord's glorification. Instead let us remind ourselves that in the process of man's regeneration, and in the development of the Church, there are successive states which develop much like the life of Israel under the first three kings. As was noted in a previous chapter, there is even a historical parallel ready at hand. For King Saul represents the literal sense of the Scripture, such as it was understood in the declining ages of the Christian Church, when spiritual truths the truths of the internal sense of the Word, thus the truths of charity were outlawed by the official creeds and had to exist precariously as fugitives, like David when fleeing before Saul. But in the Heavenly Doctrine revealed after the last judgment, David has become king. Spiritual truth has come into its own, and is ready to claim its authority in the Church.
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The Second Book of Samuel opens with a strange episode of retribution. David had come back to his ravaged town of Ziklag after recovering rich booty from the Amalekite marauders. And a man came to him out of Saul's scattered army and gave him Saul's crown and armlet, boasting that he had, at Saul's request, given the wounded king his deathblow. This man, who confessed that he was an Amalekite who had happened to pass over the battlefield on Mount Gilboa, expected to be rewarded for his tidings. Instead, David, ignorant that the Amalekite was lying (since Saul took his own life), ordered the man to be slain for daring "to stretch forth his hand to destroy the Lord's anointed." (AC 8607, 8593f)
The Writings reveal that the Amalekites jackals of the desert who never left Israel in peace represent evil genii who attack men's spirits in their weakest moments, by suggesting persuasive falsities which accord with interior evils of which man is not aware. But David was not open to the subtle temptation of rejoicing over the death of Saul. He ordered that the Amalekite be slain. Then he rent his clothes and fasted and mourned for Saul and Jonathan and for the Lord's people slain on Mount Gilboa.
And in his lament he taught Israel some phrases from the Song of the Bow, which was written in the ancient Book of Jasher: "How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished!" There is no trace of recrimination in his elegy. So far as David was concerned, Saul's faults had been wiped out by his heroic death.
"The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places: how are the mighty fallen! ... Ye mountains of Gilboa, let no dew or rain be upon you, nor fields of offerings, for there the shield of the mighty is vilely cast away, the shield of Saul as though not anointed . . . The bow of Jonathan turned not back, and the sword of Saul returned not empty. Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided: They were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions ... I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: . . . thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women. How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished!"
To the listening angels, this was the testimony of the spiritual sense of the Word to the virtue and power of the sense of the letter of the Word, and to the doctrine of genuine truth which can be drawn from it. The spirit of the Word feels no rivalry from its letter. Nor does the letter perish, even when it is understood in a spiritual sense. The death of Saul was a resurrection and the representation he had carried was now added and transferred to David, to be carried on by him.
Therefore we find that the men of Judah now came and brought David to Hebron and anointed him king over the house of Judah, his own tribe. In the course of man's regeneration, the time comes when spiritual truth, perceived in the depths of the mind, kindles within him the beginnings of a new will born in the understanding as a confession of the Lord. This is a spiritual love a love of uses for the sake of charity a love which actually opens the spiritual degree of the mind and by degrees forms and infils it, so that it may become a power, a motive power in the whole mind, to reorder the natural mind for new uses and fill it with new affections; for it is so that man's natural mind also can be born again.
Yet the natural mind is full of complex states. Even our religious life is far from pure. Although we may have a sincere acknowledgment of the Heavenly Doctrine as the ruling authority in our thought, we sometimes show this allegiance in the strangest ways. For our proprium sometimes curries favor with our forming conscience like the Amalekite, who brought Saul's crown to David. Our natural affections, which contain so much of self-love and corporeal delights, act on the principle that the end justifies evil means, and begin to enforce the dictates of our conscience by wrong methods, by violence. And our affections also war against each other, not for the sake of spiritual justice but to dominate one over the other. For as long as there are sensual affections left active in our mind, evil spirits can stir up continual dissenting states and deceitful lusts and impulses.
Nor does our first confession of the Lord our crowning of the Heavenly Doctrine with Divine authority at once convert our whole understanding to its service! Therefore it is told that although David sent messengers to some of Saul's supporters to gain their confidence, yet Abner Saul's uncle and the captain of Saul's host instead proclaimed Saul's remaining son as king over Israel. The name of this man was Ishbosheth, which literally means "a man of shame"! Despite this strange name, he ruled for two years over Gilead and Benjamin, Ephraim and the northern tribes. When Abner and his men met Joab, David's captain, at a pool near the border of Judah, Abner suggested that the young men should "play together"that is, in individual matched combats. This ended by twelve of each side killing each other. But this game of war then resolved itself into a general battle in which Abner and the men of Israel were beaten and fled. The warriors of Judah pursued, and Asahel, Joab's brother, persisted in following Abner until Abner smote him dead.
Thus it was that an undeclared war developed between the house of Saul and the house of David. Gradually David's party became stronger. And when Abner was rebuked by Ishbosheth for taking one of Saul's concubines, Abner in his anger sent word to David that he was ready to hand Israel over to David. In accepting this offer, David's only condition was that Ishbosheth return Michal, David's first wife, whom Saul had later married to another. And the helpless Ishbosheth sent and took her from her second husband, who followed weeping behind her. The humiliation of Saul's house was complete.
Abner, having advised the transfer of Israel's allegiance, then visited David at Hebron with twenty men, and was received with honor and was ready to be sent away in peace. But Joab, hearing of this, and thirsting for revenge against Abner who had killed his brother Asahel, took Abner aside to speak to him in the gate at Hebron, and murdered him there in cold blood.
David was horror-stricken, but by lauding Abner and blaming Joab alone, he made it plain to Israel that he as king had had no part in the slaying. And it was also understood that the king in those times could hardly interfere in a private feud, especially when it concerned so powerful a man as Joab.
Saul's house Ishbosheth, and Abner his captain all represent the natural understanding, which is slow to accept the rule of spiritual truth, because it thinks in terms of this world, and adheres to ideas of space and time and person. But spiritual thought, such as was represented by David, has no intention to destroy natural thought which is useful in its own field of natural uses and in the relation of man to man in the community. Nor does a spiritual conscience act violently. It destroys only evils. It does not kill rebellious or immature thoughts. It conquers by love and inflows as a higher motivation, leading gently, and strengthening those affections and ideas in the understanding which are willing to perceive a deeper meaning in life.
David had dealt lightly with Saul's house. Others were more revengeful. Thinking that they were pleasing David, two Gibeonites assassinated Ishbosheth and brought his head to David at Hebron. In horror, David ordered the misguided partisans slain. For a spiritual conscience cannot condone those natural affections which would use evil means to promote the cause of the Church.
Eventually the elders of all the tribes came to David and anointed him king of all Israel. His power was now complete. And one of his first acts was to capture Jerusalem from the Jebusites. He raised a fort on Mt. Zion, and around it an important city was soon formed on its northern slopes. To him and his people, it was "beautiful in situation, the joy of the whole earth," with its towers and bulwarks. In a sense, it was the first strategically located city of Israel which could hold out against real attack. And Hiram, king of Tyre, sent expert masons and carpenters to David and supplied cedar wood for a real palace. David also acquired a harem of many wives and had very many sons and daughters.
But the safety of Jerusalem was not assured at once. For the Philistines came up twice to be defeated in the valley of Rephaim. This place was close to Bethlehem, David's home town. And while he and his men were besieged in his old stronghold, the cave of Adullam, David spoke longingly in reminiscence, wishing that he could drink once again of the water of the well by the city gate of Bethlehem. Three of his warriors then broke through the ranks of the Philistine host, and at the risk of their lives brought him a cruse of that water. David was so touched by this testimony of their love that he refused to drink it, but poured it out as an offering to the Lord. (2 Sam. 5: 18 ff, 23: 13 ff)
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The conscience of spiritual truth or of charity is slow to develop. Yet even with those who are ignorant of the doctrine of heaven, but who read the Scripture from an affection of charity, the goods and truths of the spiritual sense which are as yet like fugitives from the natural man are unconsciously inscribed interiorly upon their will and understanding, albeit they cannot articulate the thoughts that move within their spirit. Such must wait until after death to recognize the genuine truths of spiritual doctrine.
But it was not the Lord's will that the progress of men into the light of the internal sense of the Word should be delayed until after they have died ! By His second advent the Lord has revealed the doctrine of heaven which shall make possible the establishment and ordering of a spiritual conscience with men, and shall "make all things new." And this Heavenly Doctrine, as it descends into men's minds, is represented in the Apocalypse as a "new Jerusalem." Indeed, the Jerusalem of David, like Hebron, his first capital, represents "the Lord's spiritual church," with especial reference to its doctrine. (AC 2901e, 2909, 2981)
In this city David now dwelt in a house of cedar even as the conscience of the New Church man finds its home in rational good formed by spiritual cognitions. Yet King David was not content. For the ark of the covenant, with its precious tables of the Divine Law, had for nearly a century been without a home. It had been brought fearfully from hamlet to hamlet, as if it were still a fugitive, exiled from the holy place within its proper Tabernacle. David first "heard of it in Ephratah," i.e. Bethlehem; he found it, now, "in the fields of the forest," in Kirjath-jearim, "the city of the woods." (Ps. 132, II Sam. 6) And he had "no rest unto his eyelids" until it was brought up and placed in the Tabernacle pitched upon Mount Zion.
The ark with its tablets written by God signified the essential Word, which is the spiritual sense. This was lost, well- nigh forgotten, as if in a city deep in a forest. In His second advent, the Lord brought back this Divine content of the Word and as it were replaced it in its proper Tabernacle, which is the literal sense of the Word, wherein it can serve as the medium of conjunction between the Lord and the Church. Hence the man of the New Church, like David, can say: "I will not come into the tabernacle of my house, nor go up into my bed; I will not give sleep to mine eyes, nor slumber to mine eyelids, until I find a place for the Lord, an habitation for the mighty one of Jacob. Arise, O Lord, into Thy rest. Thou and the ark of Thy strength!" (Ps. 132)
The ark was brought up to Jerusalem in three stages, which represented "the progress of the Church with man, from its ultimate to its inmost," as from one heaven to the next, even to the inmost. (AE 700: 25-32). The first stage was when the ark was placed on a new ox-cart and brought from the house of Abinadab in Kirjath-jearim, while David and thirty thousand of his men and all the people played instruments in festal procession. This represented a state when the acknowledgment of the Divine truth with man is somewhat precariously founded only on a doctrine of natural truth from natural good, as on tradition and on fickle natural states. It is therefore told that Uzzah, the son of Abinadab, walking beside the shaking cart, put out his hand to steady the ark, and on touching it, fell dead.
This ended the journey. David was afraid to go on. The ark was instead placed in the house of Obed-edom, a Gittite. This abode represented the spiritual, who receive the Divine truth in the good of charity and are thereby blessed. And after three months David decided it would be safe to bring the ark up to Zion. But now it was not on an ox-cart, but was carried by the priests. And every six paces the jubilant procession stopped to sacrifice an ox and a fading; and David danced with all his might before Jehovah, girt only in a linen ephod. Amid shouts and the sound of a trumpet the ark was brought into its place within the tabernacle. This last stage represented an ascent into the inmost of the Church, or into the third heaven, where the Divine truth is guarded by the good of love to the Lord. (AE 700: 25-32)
The spiritual Word is accommodated to the three heavens as it descends from the Lord by inspiration. But in its reception by men there must be an ascent from a natural understanding into a spiritual and celestial perception of its truth. By slow stages, man's mind, during regeneration, is elevated into the light of the heavens and their higher loves, elevated to perceive the interior aspects of the Word. It may at first appear to man as if, in a certain sense, he was discovering this higher truth, and, from his proprium, assisting the Word, or steadving the ark of the covenant. Yet the truth is already in the Word in infinite measure.
And it is in acknowledgment of that fact that the ark must be brought into its holy Tabernacle. How bleak and purposeless the Tabernacle without the golden ark in its sanctuary! How futile the letter of Scripture unless we knew it as the abode of the Spirit of truth, the Divine meaning, the spiritual sense! And how deprived of its intended use was the ark, while standing forgotten in a distant hamlet, unprotected and with none to attend it! The Writings therefore say, that the ark of Israel "could not be called holy, and a sanctuary, until . . . covered by curtains and veils" as in the Tabernacle. "So would it be with the Divine truths in the heavens, unless they were enclosed in natural truths, like the truths of the sense of the letter of our Word." (AE 1088:3)
For the conjunctive power of the spiritual sense is exercised through the Word in the sense of its letter; and it is from and through the sense of the letter that there is communication with the heavens, and conjunction. (AE 1066: 4) It is this conjunction of angels and men that was represented by the worship centered in Jerusalem, the city of David, the spiritual center of the whole earth.
The sacred drama, in which the royal prophet led the ark up to Zion, was in a way a culmination of his conviction that "the earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof." We can imagine that David felt some doubts who of all this people were worthy to ascend into the hill of the Lord and stand in the place of His holiness. And he answers, "He that hath clean hands and a pure heart. . ." And the people burst out in a chorus of joy: "Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lifted up, ye doors of an age! For the king of glory shall come in!" (Ps. 15,24)
David, having offered many sacrifices to the Lord, distributed lavish gifts of food and flagons of wine to all the people. And having blessed the people, he returns to bless his household. But Michal, the proud daughter of Saul, taunted him sarcastically for demeaning his royal station by publicly dancing in the view of his maid servants. David then retorted that it had been before the Lord who after all had chosen him instead of Michal's father to rule Israel. And as for the maid servants, of them would he be had in honor, while Michal would be widowed in her husband's house. Therefore Michal had no children to the end of her life.
The contrast between the dignified etiquette of the daughter of Saul and the simple ecstasy of David's joy, marks the difference between a love of truth that is sophisticated and self-conscious, because it is rooted in natural affections and judges by the worldly standards of caste or fashion, and a spiritual love of truth which is forgetful of self. A spiritual conscience cannot be propagated through the natural light which brings learning from the glory of pride. Such pride is thenceforth childless, like Michal, unworthy to propagate the truths of a spiritual conscience.
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Historically speaking, David's glory and power were ever increasing. He subdued the Philistines decisively. He made Moab his tributary. He conquered Syria up to the Euphrates and destroyed a thousand chariots, reserving a hundred chariots for his triumphal return to Jerusalem, with golden shields and vessels of precious metal which he dedicated for the use of the Tabernacle. He put garrisons throughout Edom, and when his good will ambassadors were disgraced and sent back half naked by the Ammonites, David defeated them and their allies and added their country to his domain.
Thus in one generation, Israel had risen from a primitive and scattered lot of tribes into the stature and repute of an empire, with important allies and for the time a modern army. David had now an impregnable capital city, a tabernacle where Jehovah was worshipped with elaborate rites and festal music of David's own directing. His court and government were organized like that of other oriental despots his sons being treated as princes and his nephews and old supporters heading the army. His bodyguard, the Cherethites and Pelethites, were foreign mercenaries.
And David now bethought himself of his vow to Jonathan. He inquired of Ziba, a former servant of Saul and found that when Saul and Jonathan had fallen in Mount Gilboa, a nurse maid had fled with Jonathan's five year old son, Mephibosheth, and that in her haste she had stumbled so that he fell and became lame in his feet. David now sent for Mephibosheth and restored to him all Saul's land, under the stewardship of a man named Ziba. And Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem from that time on, and ate at the royal table as one of the king's sons.
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David's empire was the actual fulfilment of the Lord's promise to Abram, "Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates." (Gen. 15:18) In order to understand what this territory represents, it should be kept in mind that all the ancient nations and peoples had their spiritual functions, based on their religion, their history, and unique character. All were needed as component parts of the picture of the spiritual environment of the Church or the contents of the human mind. In the relation of Israel to the Canaanite or Amorite or Hittite tribes which it displaced or absorbed, and to the neighboring peoples, Moab, Ammon, Edom, as well as Syria and Egypt, we see a description also of the various kinds of spirits which inflow into man's hereditary nature and influence the Church in its various states.
The kingdom of David represented the central region of the mind which had come under the control of a spiritual conscience. But around it we still find the Egypt of the knowledge of the memory, the Syria of cognitions or religious knowledge, the Babylonia of the imagination, and the Assyria of worldly reasoning; which all will exert their influence on the spiritual Israel of the Church.