The magnificent historically based series A Song Of Fire And Ice provides the best extra-biblical example I know of what it means to be the Friend of God, where the role is called, quite logically, the “Hand of the King.”
The Hand of the King…is the most powerful appointed position in the Six Kingdoms, second only to the monarch in authority and responsibility. The Hand is the monarch’s closest advisor, appointed and authorized to make decisions in their name. The Hand is the highest-ranking member of the small council, and leads meetings of the council as proxy for the monarch when they are absent…During the reign of strong and able monarchs, the Hand is the chief agent for coordinating and carrying out their plans.
I can’t help imagining Yeshua’s eyes rolling as James’ and John’s mother ask him to delegate the highest governmental authority to her sons.
After what Jonathan did to prove his worth?
Not to mention the list of heroes who humbly, in whatever circumstances of their life, committed to a relationship with God Almighty even to death.
- “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous…
- By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death…for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God [by preaching during an apocalyptic era]. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe 1) that he is, and 2) that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
- By faith Noah…prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.
- By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out…when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.” (Hebrews 11:4-19)
What all these men had in common was that their righteous standing with God was not based on acting according to a list of required and proscribed behaviors, a list of legalistic do’s and don’ts. Oh, but their actions still counted – they acted on faith in God’s word.
“I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.” (Acts 13:22)
“And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.” (Luke 22:41-43)
David is a man after God’s own heart because he was willing to suffer, to fight, and to lay down his life to fulfill God’s will to have humans retake dominion over wickedness in every domain.
Besides Shem, King David has the only other Old Testament explicit declaration of filling the position of Melchizedek, in a psalm written by and about himself. This is quoted in application to Jesus Christ by the author of the letter to the Hebrews, but the context of David’s psalm is the blessing God conferred on David himself. Jesus Christ never herded sheep, nor yet has become the ruler of the nation of Israel.
“Thus saith the LORD of hosts / armies, I took thee from the sheepcote, from following the sheep, to be
- ruler over my people, over Israel:
- And I was with thee whithersoever thou wentest,
- and have cut off all thine enemies out of thy sight,
- and have made thee a great name, like unto the name of the great men that are in the earth.
- Moreover I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as beforetime…
- Also the LORD telleth thee that he will make thee an house. And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom….and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.
- I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee.
- And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.
“The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand,
- until I make thine enemies thy footstool.
- The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of (Mount) Zion:
- rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.
- The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.
- The LORD at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath.
- He shall judge among the heathen,
- he shall fill the places with the dead bodies;
- he shall wound the heads over many countries.” (Psalm 110)
Note particularly that King David’s description of Melchizedek, supported by his lifestyle, is that the King of Righteousness is no wuss. He brings peace, for sure, like the white-hatted heroes of the American Wild West, one way or another – surrender or die.
David’s proclamation of “Death to the enemies of God’s people!” is consistent with the first documented mention of Melchizedek by name honoring Abram for the “slaughter of the kings”.
The same statements that apply prophetically to the son / dynastic heir to David’s kingdom must also apply to David himself.
“I have found David my servant; with my holy oil have I anointed him: With whom my hand shall be established: mine arm also shall strengthen him…my faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him: and in my name shall his horn be exalted…
He shall cry unto me, Thou art my father, my God, and the rock of my salvation. Also I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth.
My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him. His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven. If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. My covenant there will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me. It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven. Selah.” (Psalm 89:20-37)
The phrases “He shall cry unto me, Thou art my father…I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth” must be referring to David, not Jesus Christ, since the passage continues to discuss the disposition of this grant to his children who forsake God’s law. These are David’s sinful, human children, not sons of God on whom his righteousness has been restored through union with Jesus Christ.
The following excerpt from James M. Gibbs, Ph.D.’s doctoral dissertation on the meaning of “son of God” is very enlightening.
…the concept of sonship in Hebrew family life, which underlies all OT and Jewish thought on the subject, is that a son is one designated or acknowledged as such by a father…the father-son relationship is not primarily physical but rather an interpersonal one created by a sovereign act of the father. The son is to be obedient to, submissive to and dependent upon his father. The perfect son then is the incarnation and extension of his father’s will and character, and he points to his father, not to himself. If he is the Son of God in the unique sense that the NT claims for Jesus, then he will incarnate the demands of God’s righteousness, and he will present the demand for discipleship, the demand for obedience, obedience however not to the Son as such but to God the Father, that is, to the Father’s will as made manifest by the Son. Thus the concept of Son of God on OT-Jewish lines is basically moral, interpersonal and theocentric.
When the king is spoken of as Yahweh’s son (as in Ps 2.7, a favourite text with NT writers), it is in terms of adoption by God for obedient service rather than in terms of divinization…it has its own distinctive emphasis on the obedient subordination of the king as son…we never find in Israel any expression of a ‘metaphysical’ conception of the king’s divinity and his relation to Yahweh. It is clear that the king is regarded as Yahweh’s son by adoption, When, in Ps. 2.7, Yahweh says to the king on the day of his anointing and installation, ‘You are My son; I have begotten you today’, He is using the ordinary formula of adoption, indicating that the sonship rests on Yahweh’s adoption of the king…. Yahweh has ‘called’ and ‘chosen’ the king, made him His son, anointed and endowed him with His spirit…The king performs the will of Yahweh, and through him Yahweh’s blessing to land and people is transmitted; he represents Yahweh before the people…This is consistent with the notion of ‘son’ as basically designating a role or function rather than being an ascription of honor…But gradually the main emphasis came to be placed upon him as the representative of Israel before God, as a representative man from the chosen people. In this he was seen as the chief priest of the people…”
But David wasn’t a priest! you protest.
Not in the Levitical system, true.
That proves the point! But he certainly represented the national God of Israel to his people, as did all the kings in that era.
In the preceding posts we saw that all the pagan gods adopted their human rulers as their sons as well as appointed them their representative priest-kings.
Take David’s heir to the throne of Judah, Ahaz. He rejected the God of Israel he became both the son and the priest of the pagan god.
“Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, saying, I am thy servant and thy son: come up, and save me out of the hand of the king of Syria, and out of the hand of the king of Israel, which rise up against me…
And king Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, and saw an altar that was at Damascus: and king Ahaz sent to Urijah the priest the fashion of the altar, and the pattern of it, according to all the workmanship thereof. And Urijah the priest built an altar according to all that king Ahaz had sent from Damascus…
and the king approached to the altar, and offered thereon. And he burnt his burnt offering and his meat offering, and poured his drink offering, and sprinkled the blood of his peace offerings, upon the altar. “ (II Ki 16:1-16)
What we may have missed in the history lessons is that even Christian kings claimed to be priests of the Christian God. The divine right of kings existed under the Medieval popes but even after the Reformation became more entrenched with the king’s full assumption of spiritual power as head of the state church.
In England it is not without significance that the sacerdotal vestments, generally discarded by the clergy – dalmatia, alb and stole – continued to be among the insignia of the sovereign.” King James of KJV fame based his arguments for his right to absolute power in part on the biblical record that kings are “God’s lieutenants upon earth”, although he stretched the point when he claimed that “Kings are justly called Gods, for that they exercise a manner or resemblance of divine power upon earth.
King David’s position in the higher level Melchizedekian order is evident in the record that he, like Moses, exercised authority over the Aaronic priesthood and was the anointed ruler over not just Israel, but the whole earth.
- “And David…prepared a place for the ark of God, and pitched for it a tent [functioning exactly like Moses]…
- And David called for…the priests, and for the Levites…And said unto them...sanctify yourselves, both ye and your brethren, that ye may bring up the ark of the LORD God of Israel unto the place that I have prepared for it. For because ye did it not at the first, the LORD our God made a breach upon us, for that we sought him not after the due order…
- And David was clothed with a robe of fine linen, and all the Levites that bare the ark, and the singers, and Chenaniah the master of the song with the singers:
- David also had upon him an ephod of linen…So they brought the ark of God, and set it in the midst of the tent that David had pitched for it: and they offered burnt sacrifices and peace offerings before God.
- And when David had made an end of offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings,
- he blessed the people in the name of [as the representative of] the LORD. And he dealt to every one of Israel, both man and woman, to every one a loaf of bread, and a good piece of flesh, and a flagon of wine.
- And he appointed certain of the Levites to minister before the ark of the Lord, and to record, and to thank and praise the LORD God of Israel…
Then on that day David delivered first this psalm to thank the LORD into the hand of Asaph and his brethren…
- [speaking first to God’s chosen nation Israel] O ye seed of Israel his servant, ye children of Jacob, his chosen ones...Be ye mindful always of his covenant…Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance. When ye were but few, even a few, and strangers in it [obviously referring to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and his 12 sons] And when they went from nation to nation, and from one kingdom to another people; He suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, he reproved kings for their sakes, Saying, Touch not mine anointed [obviously Abraham, Isaac, Jacob...] and do my prophets no harm…
- [speaking in his role as Melchizedek to the rest of the nations of the whole earth]
- Sing unto the LORD, all the earth; shew forth from day to day his salvation.
- Declare his glory among the heathen; his marvellous works among all nations…
- Give unto the LORD, ye kindreds of the people, give unto the LORD glory and strength. Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.
- Fear before him, all the earth:
- the world also shall be stable, that it be not moved. Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice: and
- let men say among the nations, The LORD reigneth.“ (I Chronicles 15-16)
Further proof of David’s Melchizedekian role is found in other psalms. These are not just prophesying of Jesus Christ’s future perfected relationship with YHWH but also testifying of David’s current personal relationship with YHWH.
Take Psalm 2 for instance. There is nothing there that can’t be attributed to David’s personal experiences. Surely that is how the audience of his day understood them.
“Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.
He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree:
the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten / permanently accepted as mine. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.
Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son [of God, the ruler], lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” (Psalm 2)
Kissing the Son / vicar of God is a common expression of publicly acknowledging a ruler’s authority.
“And the LORD said unto [Elijah]…I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.“ (I Ki 19:13-18)
“Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head, and kissed him, and said, Is it not because the Lord hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance?” (I Sam 10:1)
The psalms written by David as a prophet are a good source for transforming into a person, like David, after God’s own heart. Most importantly, David accepted the word of the LORD regarding his own sin, allowing God to deal with it. Denial of reality, spiritually or psychologically, prevents resolution of any problem.
“And the LORD sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, and said…the rich man…took the poor man’s lamb…And David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the LORD liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die…because he had no pity. And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man...And David said unto Nathan, [unlike Saul to Samuel] I have sinned against the LORD.
[And because he repented of his sin] Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, [not just on earth, but in heaven] the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die [presaging the death of his penultimate son, Jesus, who dies for the sins of the world]…And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the child died. Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel, and came into the house of the LORD, and worshipped:” (II Samuel 12)
Then went king David in, and sat before the LORD, and he said, Who am I, O LORD God? and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?.. For thy word’s sake [referencing back to the prophecy to Judah], and according to thine own heart, hast thou done all these great things…
Wherefore thou art great, O Lord God: for there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears. And what one nation in the earth is like thy people, even like Israel, whom God went to…make him a name, and to do for you great things and terrible, for thy land…which thou redeemedst to thee from Egypt, from the nations and their gods? (II Samuel 7)
God doesn’t treat us as passive, entitled, spoiled children. His Spirit’s control provides the opportunity for us to develop, through experience and testing, into great heroes of faith whose names are memorialized forever and whose courage and actions inspire others to emulate us.
“Then all Israel gathered themselves to David unto Hebron, saying, Behold, we are thy bone and thy flesh…and David made a covenant with them in Hebron before the LORD; and they anointed David king over Israel, according to the word of the LORD by Samuel. And David and all Israel went to Jerusalem, which is Jebus; where the Jebusites were, the inhabitants of the land. And the inhabitants of Jebus said to David, Thou shalt not come hither. Nevertheless David took the castle of Zion, which is the city of David. And David said, Whosoever smiteth the Jebusites first shall be chief and captain.
- So Joab the son of Zeruiah went first up, and was chief.
These also are the chief of the mighty men whom David had, who strengthened themselves with him in his kingdom, and with all Israel, to make him king, according to the word of the LORD concerning Israel…
- Jashobeam, an Hachmonite, the chief of the captains: he lifted up his spear against three hundred slain by him at one time. And after him was
- Eleazar the son of Dodo, the Ahohite, who was one of the three mighties. He was with David at Pasdammim, and there the Philistines were gathered together to battle, where was a parcel of ground full of barley; and the people fled from before the Philistines. And they set themselves in the midst of that parcel, and delivered it, and slew the Philistines; and the Lord saved them by a great deliverance. Now three of the thirty captains went down to the rock to David, into the cave of Adullam; and the host of the Philistines encamped in the valley of Rephaim. And David was then in the hold, and the Philistines’ garrison was then at Bethlehem. And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, that is at the gate! And the three brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: but David would not drink of it, but poured it out to the Lord. And said, My God forbid it me, that I should do this thing: shall I drink the blood of these men that have put their lives in jeopardy? for with the jeopardy of their lives they brought it. Therefore he would not drink it. These things did these three mightiest. And
- Abishai the brother of Joab, he was chief of the three: for lifting up his spear against three hundred, he slew them, and had a name among the three. Of the three, he was more honourable than the two; for he was their captain: howbeit he attained not to the first three.
- Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man of Kabzeel, who had done many acts; he slew two lionlike men of Moab: also he went down and slew a lion in a pit in a snowy day. And he slew an Egyptian, a man of great stature, five cubits high; and in the Egyptian’s hand was a spear like a weaver’s beam; and he went down to him with a staff, and plucked the spear out of the Egyptian’s hand, and slew him with his own spear. These things did Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and had the name among the three mighties. Behold, he was honourable among the thirty, but attained not to the first three: and David set him over his guard. (I Chron 11:11-47)
Destroying the enemy is not the only thing that David and his heirs do. The point of destroying the enemy is to rescue the oppressed peoples of the world from the greatest enemy – sin’s captivity and loss of freedom in this life with the consequent death and permanent isolation forever.
“Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand [for a Greek audience] said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience. The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people...
- he raised up unto them David to be their king...Of this man’s seed hath
- God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus:.. to you is the word of this salvation sent…
- God raised him from the dead:…
Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things [therefore freed from the penalty of sin, which is death].” (Acts 13)
So much for “accepting Jesus.” Like we’re doing him a favor.