By Dennis Leap
A deeper understanding of the key of David vision begins with the knowledge about David’s own life on this Earth. David’s story is an incredible witness of how God wishes to work with all mankind.
This vision is about Jesus Christ’s very family—both physically and spiritually. The vision is also about David, his throne, the location of the throne today, and who will rule from that throne in the World Tomorrow. We must recognize that it is God the Father and Christ’s vision. They own it and want to inspire us with it! “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth” (Revelation 3:7). Look at the importance of the key of David vision. Jesus Christ is holy and true. He has the key of David vision—He owns it! The vision has immense value. We are learning through Mr. Flurry’s articles, booklets and sermons that this is the greatest vision in the Bible.
The understanding about David’s throne was initially revealed to Mr. Armstrong—the messenger to the Philadelphia era. His book The United States and Britain in Prophecy contains the foundational knowledge about this vision. Mr. Armstrong felt that many Church members never really understood what God had revealed. He felt many just did not “get it!” And now Christ is revealing even more to the Philadelphia Church of God.
It is clear that we must devote considerable prayer, study, fasting and meditation to grasp this vision. It includes both history and prophecy. To fully understand this vision, we must learn how it all began in the past, and we must understand its future fulfillment.
King David’s life is very much a part of the past and the future of this vision.
Through Isaiah God says: “Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people” (Isaiah 55:3-4). God says very clearly that He has given David as a witness to the people. The word “witness” in the Hebrew is ayd and can be translated as “testimony” or “record.” David’s life is a testimony of how God will work with a human being. David’s life on Earth is a written record of how God dealt with him. He was a man of many talents. He was a skilled warrior, poet, musician and statesman. He lived life to the full.
The Bible shows that David made some very serious mistakes. He was an adulterer and murderer. But he loved God deeply and was deeply repentant. God forgave him, and his eternal life is secure. God plans to shed the same mercy He extended to David upon all men. As Isaiah 55:4 states, God plans to make David a leader and commander of the people. David will soon be resurrected to reign over all Israel forever (Jeremiah 30:9; Amos 9:11). This is astounding knowledge. It has meaning for every human being on this earth. God plans to use David to teach the whole world about His plan for man. Soon David’s life will be used as a teaching tool for the entire Earth. Since we are going to be tomorrow’s teachers, we must learn the lessons from David’s life now.
Time of the Judges
All men are a product of their environment and heredity. To understand David’s life, we must know the world and family into which he was born. Jewish historians show that David was born into the world of the judges. This time period is unique in the history of Israel. God has provided us information about this time period in the Bible book known as Judges. In the Hebrew arrangement and classification of the Bible, the book of Judges is part of the former prophets. The former prophets also include Joshua, 1 and 2 Samuel, and 1 and 2 Kings. As Mr. Armstrong taught us, these prophetic books contain prophecy for today. Judges speaks to our time spiritually. When we study Judges, it is amazing to discover that David was born into a world with an attitude very much like our own.
The book of Judges covers the time period from the death of Joshua to the rise of Saul. Some historians refer to this time as the “dark ages” of Israel’s history. The strong leaders who enforced God’s laws, like Moses and Joshua, were dead. It was a time of great liberty—godless liberty. Every man, woman and child were essentially able to do what they wanted. Today we would call it “doing your own thing!” The results were disastrous. The book of Judges begins with God’s people compromising God’s law; it ends with the nation being lost in confusion. Prior to the time period of the Judges, Israel had an amazing history. Large portions of it had been incredibly bright. It is good that we review some highlights of Israel’s history prior to Judges. This will give us a better view of the tragic times of the Judges.
The most accurate record of Israel’s history is found within the pages of the Bible. The nation had begun with one man—Abraham. The history of God revealing himself to Abraham begins in Genesis 12. “Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran” (Genesis 12:1-4). God called Abram (his name later changed to Abraham at his conversion) out of a society teeming with wealth, art, sophistication and culture. He immediately responded and moved his wife, Sarah, and household to an unknown country. Abram set an incredible example of obedience. Because of his obedience, God made some incredible promises to Abraham. He promised Him national greatness—descendants as numerous as the sand on a seashore. He also promised that the Savior of all mankind would come from his descendants.
Abraham Man of Destiny
Writing of Abraham, Mr. Armstrong refers to him as a “Man of Destiny.” He wrote in Mystery of the Ages, “Abram, as he was originally named, was not seeking God. But God chose to call and test Abram. This ancient patriarch, later in Scripture, is called the father of the faithful. God was calling him for a very special purpose. That purpose was not to ‘give him salvation’ or ‘get him into heaven.’ God was calling him because he had seen in this man the potentialities of obedience to God and of leadership. God was calling him to be prepared for special service and ultimately high position in the kingdom of God—the coming World Tomorrow.” Abraham became the father of a nation that was to become the focal point of ancient, and now modern, history. Many historians today do not recognize this fact, but it is true nonetheless. The United States and Britain in Prophecy explains this in detail!
The nation of Israel was God’s chosen nation. It was not singled out as special, but it was called for a purpose. The nation of Israel was called to be a type of the latter day spiritual nation, the Church. God recorded its history for us so that we would know how God planned to deal with the Church. The history of Israel also shows us what to do and what not to do. God continued building the nation through Abraham’s son Isaac, grandson Jacob and Jacob’s 12 sons. The promises made to Abraham were reconfirmed to them. Their history is also found in Genesis. Although only very short details are given, we must recognize that their stories are the historic record of real human beings. Their stories are about real events. David’s psalms reveal that he knew their histories well. Study Psalm 44 as an example.
The most important history of Jacob and his sons involves their bondage in Egypt. While in Egypt their numbers multiplied to millions. God used one man—Moses—to deliver the nation from slavery. It was through Moses that God codified His glorious law, the Ten Commandments. Remember, Abraham had known this law and obeyed it! Through Moses, God ratified His covenant, gave specific details for national worship, gave details for the construction of the tabernacle and altar, developed the pattern for civil laws and revealed the pattern for the human administration of God’s government.
Israel’s Early Rebellions
It was during Moses’s administration that the nation revealed its inclination to rebellion. Their first rebellion occurred within weeks of release from Egypt. While God was writing down the Ten Commandments for Moses on the top of Mount Sinai, the Israelites were insisting that Aaron mold and shape an image of Baal for them. Worshiping the image, the Israelites fell into heinous debauchery (Exodus 32). This happened just after they promised God that they would fully obey all of His laws. It took Moses’s leadership to get them back to God’s law. He had to continually enforce God’s law. They repeatedly complained against Moses and God, at times over the most insignificant reasons. Mr. Armstrong taught us that this was all for a great purpose. “Up to that time, mankind had been denied spiritual knowledge and fulfillment from God. God now decided to give them knowledge of His law—His kind of government—His way of life! He was going to prove to the world that without His Holy Spirit their minds were incapable of receiving and utilizing such knowledge of the true ways of life. He was going to demonstrate to them that the mind of man, with its one spirit, and without the addition of God’s Holy Spirit, could not have spiritual discernment—could not solve human problems, could not cure the evils that were besetting humanity. The nation Israel would be His guinea pig to demonstrate that fact” (Mystery of the Ages).
Of course the Israelites’ most serious rebellion involved the refusal to take over the Promised Land when God commanded them to do so (Numbers 13 and 14). God punished them by making them wander in the wilderness for 40 years. All the adults, who lacked the faith to enter the land of Canaan, died in the wilderness. Moses faithfully led God’s people at this difficult time, judging them, teaching them and praying for them. However, during this 40-year period, even Moses and Aaron had their problems. They misled the people to look to them instead of looking to Christ with the incident of striking the rock twice (Numbers 20:8-12). God ended the lives of Moses and Aaron just prior to Israel entering into the Promised Land.
It was Moses’s faithful servant, Joshua, who finally led the people into the Promised Land. Joshua, one of the original 12 spies sent into the land of Canaan, had proven himself loyal and full of faith. God promised to back Joshua, if he continued to obey.
God told Joshua, “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that 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 toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest” (Joshua 1:3-7). Joshua successfully led the people into the Promised Land.
The miraculous events, concerning the crossing of the Jordan River and the fall of Jericho, were a strong demonstration of God’s plan to virtually give the land of Canaan to the fledgling nation of Israel. However, the weakness of the nation always showed through.
Joshua’s leadership was not without incident. Achan’s sin of stealing the “accursed thing” of Jericho was the first test for the nation. God was clear in His directions concerning the fall of Jericho: “And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the Lord: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the Lord: they shall come into the treasury of the Lord” (Joshua 6:17-19). Just after Achan’s theft the Israelite warriors were unable to defeat the men of Ai. Defeating Ai should have been an easy task.
Israel’s failure greatly disturbed Joshua. God revealed to him the cause of Israel’s failure and forced him to deal with the problem. Achan and his entire household and all of their goods were destroyed in the valley of Achor (Joshua 7 and 8). Achan’s sin teaches us the vital spiritual lesson that one man’s sin can affect the whole nation—the Church.
While Joshua led the nation they remained close to God and enjoyed peace with all their enemies. Joshua died at the age of 110. Just before he died, he warned the nation of what God would do to them if they fell into idolatry. In his final words, Joshua said, “Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:14-15). The people responded positively to Joshua’s plea. Of course they pledged absolute obedience to God. How casual their words were!
Joshua knew their heart much better than they knew their own. He responded, “Ye cannot serve the Lord: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. If ye forsake the Lord, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good” (Joshua 24:19-20). Joshua made a covenant with the people on this day. He set up Jacob’s pillar stone near the oak at Shechem as a witness to all of their agreements (Joshua 24:25-26). Joshua’s ceremony was almost an exact reenactment of Jacob’s ceremony recorded in Genesis 35. Unfortunately, Israel’s pledge with Joshua was short-lived.
Rebellion, Punishment and Misery
The book of Judges shows that the time after Joshua was a time of rebellion, punishment, misery and deliverance. Israel’s history during the Judges is nearly the exact opposite to that of Joshua’s time.
The Prophet Samuel was the author of the book of Judges. He opens the book by showing Israel’s main sin after Joshua’s death. In Judges 1:21-36, he shows that the Israelites refused to drive the local nations out of the promised land. This was disobedience to God’s direct command. Samuel shows that a messenger from God warned them about their sin. “And an angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you. And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this? Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you” (Judges 2:1-3). Because the people refused to obey God, He allowed the nations around them to remain intact. God wanted to test and prove the nation.
Would the Israelites obey God, or would they follow their neighbors? As you might expect, they wanted to be just like their neighbors. They became ensnared by the nations and their false religious customs. The book records seven major turnings away from God. The book also shows how they became oppressed by the Gentile nations within their midst. And it records how God delivered them through the various judges.
Samuel records in chapter 2: “And the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the Lord, that he did for Israel. And Joshua, the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being an hundred and ten years old. And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathheres, in the mount of Ephraim, on the north side of the hill Gaash. And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel” (Judges 2:7-10). Realize that the book of Judges was written down after most of the events actually had taken place.
Samuel is teaching a history lesson. Joshua was a strong leader, keeping the people in line with God’s laws. The nation had overwhelming success. During the time of the judges, the people rebelled against God and His laws, and they met with continual disasters. Samuel wanted the people to recognize that while Joshua and the elders closest to him were alive, the people obeyed God. When Joshua and his generation died, the people returned to idolatry.
Samuel continues, “And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim: And they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the Lord to anger. And they forsook the Lord, and served Baal and Ashtaroth. And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and he delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies. Whithersoever they went out, the hand of the Lord was against them for evil, as the Lord had said, and as the Lord had sworn unto them: and they were greatly distressed” (Judges 2:11-15). During the time of the judges, the Israelites intermarried with the heathen people. They practiced their vices and worshiped at their shrines.
When the people fell into idolatry, God severely punished them. God took away their power to defend themselves from their enemies and they became enslaved by oppressor nations. But God did not totally reject them. When the oppressed Israelites called out to God, He delivered them.
Samuel also wrote, “Nevertheless the Lord raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them. And yet they would not hearken unto their judges, but they went a whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves unto them: they turned quickly out of the way which their fathers walked in, obeying the commandments of the Lord; but they did not so” (Judges 2:16-17). This verse reflects Samuel’s sad summation of Israel’s attitude during that time. Israel had little constancy obeying God.
No King in Israel
Historians say the time period of the Judges lasted about 350 years. The book of Judges records the history of seven idolatries, seven oppressions and seven redemptions. Including Eli, Samuel and Samuel’s two sons (Joel and Abiah), there are a total of 17 judges during this time. (Abimelech was not one of God’s judges—he was a self-appointed despot!) The most memorable judges named in the book of Judges are Deborah, Gideon and Samson.
The history of Samson is the last to be recorded in the book. Samson’s history is recorded in chapters 13 through 16. Historians and Bible scholars believe that chapters 17 through 21 actually describe events that happened at the time of Othniel, the first judge discussed in the book.
Samson’s exploits are some of the best known from the Old Testament. God used him to deliver the Israelites from the nasty Philistines. The Bible record shows that Israel was oppressed by the Philistines for 40 years (Judges 13:1). Samson’s birth was prophesied by an angel. Samson judged Israel for 20 years. Some of Samson’s exploits included: slaying a lion barehanded (14:5-6), slaying 30 Philistines at Ashkelon (14:19), destroying the Philistines’ grain crops by sending pairs of foxes with torches tied to their tails into the fields (15:1-8), slaying 1,000 Philistines with the jawbone of an ass (15:14-19), carrying off the Gaza gate (16:1-3), and pulling down the temple of Dagon—killing himself and 3,000 Philistines (16:23-30). Even though Samson accomplished all these incredible tasks, Samuel also records that his great weakness was women.
At the height of his career, Delilah conquered Samson. Saul was born during Samson’s 12th year as judge. This fact is accurately discussed in the book, The Sequence of Events in the Old Testament, by Eliezer Shulman. Mr. Shulman shows that Saul was 8 years old when Samson died. We can only imagine how often Saul and others told the stories concerning Samson to David.
Historians and Bible scholars believe that the last five chapters of Judges describe an earlier time. That may be true. These chapters are some of the most gruesome of the entire book. They discuss the idolatry of the Danites (18), the abuse and brutal dismembering of a Levite’s wife (19), and the destruction of the Benjamites (20 and 21). Yet, even if this history is from an earlier time, it is more likely that God inspired Samuel to place these chapters at the end of the book because they summarize the entire lesson of the time of the Judges. It was a very dark time for the nation. There was a primary reason why things got so bad. Twice in these chapters Samuel writes, “In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6; see also Judges 21:25). A similar statement can also be found in Judges 18:1; 19:1. We must learn the lesson that when lawlessness abounds, evil grows ever darker and more grisly. This is the fact of our world today.
The Danites went into idolatry because there was no king in Israel (Judges 18:1). Essentially, they did what was right in their own eyes. Because there was no king in Israel, the Levite and his concubine did what was right in their own eyes (Judges 19:1). The sad lesson of Judges is that the people proved to God that they could not survive without a strong leader constantly giving them attention. And even when they had a strong leader, they still couldn’t keep in step. Basically, the people just wanted to do their own thing.
We need to recognize that the books of Joshua and Judges give us the necessary background about the world into which David was born. After Joshua’s death the nation fell into spiritual depravity and civil disunity. The nation was oppressed by their enemies. They needed unity and a godly leader. God would soon give them a king.