[This is a chapter from
Mr Newton’s book, ‘David, King of
When God has bestowed on any of His servants peculiar grace, it is often subjected to peculiar trial, that its excellency may be the more fully manifested. The chill blast of the north wind, as well as the more gentle influences of the south, when it blows upon the garden, causes the spices thereof (if such there be) to flow forth. Nor has there ever been any heart (One only excepted) that has not needed discipline. Hence not infrequently, the trials of God’s servants are prolonged as well as various.
But besides these ends which respect the servants of God themselves, God is pleased by means of their characters and their sufferings, to test others. Their characters may be appreciated, or they may be despised; their sufferings may be soothed by sympathy, or aggravated by reproach; the hand of kind compassion may be extended towards their necessities, or cruelty may delight in multiplying their miseries. Thus was it with Him, of Whom it was said, that He was set as a sign in order ‘that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.’ His presence tested the hearts of men. From some it drew forth confession, thanksgiving, and praise - thoughts according to God: from others it elicited thoughts of enmity and hatred - proofs of the darkness and corruption [and spiritual blindness] that dwelt within. So, in measure has it ever been with Christ’s servants, and Christ’s truth.
The history of David in the wilderness, affords a remarkable example of the diverse judgment formed by two different hearts in contemplating the same object ‑ one seeing and acknowledging the presence and power of God, where the other saw nothing save that which it contemned and scorned. Near to David in the wilderness, dwelt Nabal, a man great in the abundance of his riches; one who in the midst of all the convulsions that were distracting Israel, had contrived to root himself in prosperity and earthly good ‑ rich [in a worldly sense] as David was poor, honourable [amongst the uninformed and ignorant] as David was despised.
Nabal had heard of
David. However absorbed in schemes of selfish acquisition, he could not shut out
from himself the knowledge of a name that had once made all Israel rejoice, and
was still causing all Philistia to tremble; he had heard of the fame and of the
sorrows of David. It was therefore no
stranger whose messengers, in the day of Nabal’s festivity, presented
themselves with words of peace at his gates, and asked for a blessing from his
bands. ‘David sent out ten young men, and David said
unto the young men, Get you up to Carmel, and go to Nabal, and greet him in my
name: and thus shall ye say to him that liveth in prosperity, Peace be both to
thee, and peace be to thine house, and peace be unto all that thou hast. And now I have heard that thou hast shearers:
now thy shepherds which were with us, we hurt them not, neither was there ought
missing unto them, all the while they were in
An opportunity of
owning and befriending David was thus suddenly presented to Nabal, an
opportunity worthy of a descendant of Caleb
‑ for Nabal was of Caleb’s house.
There were few more honoured names in
And observe the character of the test applied to Nabal. An opportunity was afforded of owning that person, who, though an outcast in the wilderness, was really he in whom all the hopes of Israel centred - one whom Samuel had anointed ‑ one in whom the blessing of the God of Israel had manifestly rested throughout all his afflictions. How surely would Nabal’s forefather, Caleb, have recognised, in David, the chosen servant of the Lord! But Nabal discerned none of these things. Seeing, he saw not; hearing, he heard not. The evil of Saul, or the excellency of David, the spread of falsehood, or the growth of truth, the presence of God’s favour, or the tokens of His displeasure, were all alike to Nabal. David had been compelled to resign his place of honour in the courts of Saul. His flight from the fierce fury of Saul, admitted of being spoken of as the act of a servant who had run away from his master: and Nabal gladly availed himself of the plausible misrepresentation. ‘Who,’ said he, ‘is David? and who is the son of Jesse? there be many servants nowadays that break away every man from his master.’ His churlish soul, adding insult to injury, dismissed the messengers of David with contumely and scorn.
It is a hard thing to
endure. David had endured, and was
enduring much. He was suffering from the
active enmity of Saul, and from the dull apathy of
But there was dwelling
in Nabal’s house one whose thoughts had no communion with his. Abigail
was Nabal’s wife. Bound to him by a tie
which none but God could break, - obliged to own him as her lord, she had
probably spent many a day of bitter anguish, surrounded by circumstances that
her spirit loathed, and debarred from all in which it would have rejoiced. Such
was the appointment of God. She had
bowed to it; and her submission had not been in vain. Excluded from many a sphere of active
service, which, under other circumstances she might have filled, meditation
seems to have been her resource. She had
considered and estimated aright, the condition of Saul, of
[* Always keep in mind: ‘… Heirs if God: with Christ IF indeed we share in His SUFFERINGS in order that we mau ALSO share in His GLORY:” (Rom. 8: 17b). And again: “… If we ENDURE, we will ALSO REIGN WITH HIM” (2 Tim. 12, N.I.V.).]
Such were the words with which Abigail, taking the place of intercession, met David. There are few things more honoured of God than intercession. It is the opposite to that habit of soul that delights to discover evil, in order that it may gratify itself by rushing into the judgment seat, and awarding the vengeance that it deems to be due. Abigail interceded; and observe the consequences of her intercession. Nabal and his household were preserved from destruction, and David restrained from shedding innocent blood - for every male in the house of Nabal had been marked by David for destruction. She was able, too, to admonish David. Could David at that moment have portrayed as did Abigail, the dignity of his own high calling? Angered and excited, he had lost the sense of what he himself was, and of what his enemies were in the estimate of God: the remembrance of all this had faded on his soul, but in Abigail’s it remained in vividness and power. Reminding him of his calling, portraying his future destiny, she asked him whether such an one as he should shed blood causeless; whether it became him to avenge himself; whether he wished to prepare for himself anguish and remorse to embitter the day of his coming joy.
David heard her words,
and instantly recognised the intervention of God. ‘Blessed,’ said he, ‘be the LORD God of Israel, which sent thee this
day to meet me: and blessed be thy advice, and blessed be thou, which hast kept
me this day from coming to shed blood, and from avenging myself with my own
hand.’ Here was indeed honour
and reward for Abigail, a sudden
recompense for her loneliness and sorrows.
How little had she anticipated, whilst dwelling in the solitude of
Abigail fulfilled her mission; and then, with blessing resting on her head, she meekly retired to the place of her sorrows again. The day of danger had been spent by Nabal in revelling and drunkenness. Abigail on her return found him stupefied by wine, unconscious therefore of the peril that had come so near his household; unconscious of the mercy of his deliverance. The night passed, and the morning came. It rose as a morning of joy to his delivered house; but it was no morning of joy to him. He heard from the faithful lips of Abigail the tale of his deliverance; he heard of the instrumentality by which it had been wrought. Her words were as arrows to his soul - his heart withered, and he died. So must it finally be with every Nabal-like heart. It cannot greet the ‘day’* of God. When the morning shall arise without clouds, and others shall give thanks for their great deliverance and say Alleluiah, every such heart will quail and perish for ever.
[* See 2 Pet. 3: 8; cf. Rev. 3: 11; 20: 4.]
The hand of God avenged His servant, and freed the energies of Abigail. She became the spouse of David ‑ the partner of his dangers, and subsequently of his triumphs. Her path indeed was not without its sorrows. Even David himself, as we afterwards see, was the means of involving her in perils she had never known before; but in suffering with him, she was suffering with one by whom God was working His work of blessing in Israel, and this was sufficient compensation for this woman of faith.
They who are most
engaged in the activities of ostensible service, are not always best able to
appreciate their own position. Abigail,
ostensibly unemployed for God, suffering too from causes that were private
rather than connected with His truth and service, had nevertheless formed
conclusions so true, so firmly established in her soul, that when the hour of
emergency arrived, she was instantly able to act with an energy and decision
that influenced in result the whole destinies of
Abigail, indeed, had not so subjected herself to Nabal as to make his will paramount to the will of God. Whenever the duty she owed to God clashed with the duty she owed to her husband, there can be no question as to her decision. She was a woman of faith; she obeyed God rather than man. A proof of this was given in her resolve to meet and to propitiate David. If Nabal had been consulted, he no doubt would have forbidden her to proceed; but she saw what duty demanded ‑ duty to her household, to her husband and to God; and therefore she hesitated not to go unbidden. Having fulfilled her duty she returned, and again submitted herself to Nabal; yet only so far as she could obey God in obeying him - a path difficult indeed, and full of trial. God saw the difficulty, and Himself opened a way of deliverance.
We must beware indeed of thinking that the same manifested interference as was then vouchsafed to Abigail must necessarily be granted now. The era of David was one in which God was avowedly subjecting evil, and causing His servants to triumph over it; whereas the present is a period when evil is for a season being allowed to prevail, and endurance rather than triumph is made the characteristic of God’s people. ‘Behold,’ said the apostle, ‘we count them happy which ENDURE’ (James 5: 11). Nevertheless, though the hour of deliverance may be delayed, and though truth may be denied its triumph now, the joy of victory will not be less welcome when at last it comes. The sufferings of David ended in a throne ‑ those of Jeremiah in a dungeon ‑ but were the latter less precious in the sight of God? Will they be esteemed less precious in that final ‘day’?
(This article is taken from ‘The Investigator’ 1833, so it was written nearly 180 years ago, when Mr Newton would have been in his mid-twenties. The author gave the Greek words used in the Greek form, but for simplicity, we have changed them into English lettering. Footnotes have been included in the text, but have been placed in parenthesis. For the comparison of Daniel 7 with Revelation 13, we have changed the Greek to the English words).
The declarations of Scripture respecting a future siege of Jerusalem by the Gentiles, previous to the Millennium has been found by myself a point of cardinal importance in the study of prophecy; and as it is still not perceived by many [of the Lord’s redeemed people], I make the following remarks.
The passage on which I
ground my observations is Matthew 24. In the preceding chapters it is recorded that
Jesus, in the manner foretold by Zechariah, had presented himself to the Jews
as their King. After His entrance into
the Temple, acknowledged only by a few ‘babes and sucklings,’ He holds His last conversation
with the Jewish teachers, and leaves them with the declaration that they should
not see Him henceforth till they should say, ‘Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the
Lord’ (23: 39). These words, which if they stood alone in the
sacred Volume would be enough to prove the future manifestation of the Messiah
The object of our Saviour, to the end of the 14th verse, which is the first division of the chapter, is to give a brief delineation of events which were to occur between the time at which He was speaking and the end of the age.*
(* It is obvious that ‘end’ must refer to the same period in this verse (14) as in the apostles’ question, verse 3. The two Greek words are sunteleia and telos. The characteristics of the paron aion (the present age), respecting the end of which the disciples were inquiring, may be best gathered by a comparison with those of the mellon aion, Hebrews 2, i.e. ‘the times of restitution (the restoring) of all things, which God hath spoken of by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began,’ Acts 3: 21).
The character of the events is tribulation; distress to the world; a season of lukewarmness and danger to the Church, increasing as time advances, and greatest at the end: for then it is, that, ‘because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.’ But the good news of the coming [millennial] kingdom is first to be preached in all the world, as a witness to all the Gentiles, and then shall the end come. In these warnings we are nearly interested: and it should be remembered, that every passing day adds importance to the lesson, since it brings us nearer to the conclusion of the ‘times of the Gentiles.’
From verses 14 to 28
our Saviour enters into greater detail, and specially refers to the affliction
that should befall
There are two circumstances which afford a conclusive answer:
1st. It is to be a period of unexampled tribulation; immediately after which the sign of the Son of Man shall appear, and He shall come in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.* Now, since the manifestation of Christ in glory is still future, the tribulation which immediately precedes must be future also; and I am justified in insisting on the strict interpretation of the term ‘immediately,’ because if there is any emphatic word in the chapter it is this: for it is this word which gives their importance to the antecedent signs, respecting which the disciples inquired, saying, What is the sign of Thy coming? - The tribulation of those days is the sign.
(* I am aware that there
are some who will contend that the expressions ‘Coming
in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory’ refer to the
2nd. It is a time of UNEQUALLED trouble. ‘Then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be’ (24: 21). The words in the parallel place in Mark are, if possible, still stronger - There ‘shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be’ (13: 19). It is manifest that there cannot be two such periods; and that, if a similar period be described in any other part of the Scriptures, the two periods must be identical: and therefore, if I can fix the futurity of the one, I can also fix the futurity of the other. There is a similar period described in Daniel 12: 1-2, ‘At that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book; and many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.’*
(*The characteristics of this person so often
alluded to in the Scriptures are principally two; first, his occupation of the
glorious holy mountain, i.e.
Daniel 7: 8 - ‘A mouth speaking great things.’
Revelation 13: 5 - ‘A mouth speaking great things and blasphemies.’
Daniel 7: 21 - ‘The same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them.’
Revelation 13: 7 - ‘It was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them.’
Daniel 7: 25 - ‘He shall speak great words against the Most High.’
Revelation 13: 6 - ‘He opened his mouth in blasphemy against God.’
Daniel 7: 25 - ‘They shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.’
Revelation 13: 5 - ‘Power (authority) was given unto him to continue (or, act) forty and two months.’
The words of Justin Martyr are interesting on this subject. Speaking of the second coming of the Lord, he says, ‘Foolish are they who do not understand what has been revealed throughout all the prophetical Scriptures, viz, that two comings of Christ are declared; one, that in which He has been preached, in humiliation; the second, that in which He shall come in glory from heaven at the time when the Man of Apostasy, who speaks impious things against the Most High, shall be upon the earth and shall have dared lawless deeds against us Christians.’ The words employed in this passage clearly refer to Daniel 7 and 2 Thessalonians 2).
This passage (Daniel 12: 1-2) must refer to a FUTURE time, for three reasons:
1. The deliverance occurs at the time of the deliverance of Daniel’s people, the Jews, who are not yet delivered.
2. It is accompanied by a certain [select] resurrection, which (without inquiring the precise meaning of the prediction) is certainly future.
3. Which is very important; it is subsequent to the period described in the last part of chapter 11, viz. the rise and destruction of that king who ‘shall do according to his will.’ Whoever this king may be, it is quite evident that there is no one at present manifested on earth who fulfils the unambiguous terms of this prediction. And he cannot have been manifested and have passed away, because by the terms of the prophecy he prospers till the indignation against the Jews is accomplished; and comes to his end when Michael arises and the Jews are delivered.
then to fix the precise date, I know that the period of unequalled distress is future; and by all the three
Evangelists it is located at
In Zechariah, I find abundant confirmation to the
truth of this. It is there written, ‘I will gather all
nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the
houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into
captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the
city. Then shall the LORD go forth, and
fight against those nations, as when He fought in the day of battle.’ The siege here predicted has two distinctive
characteristics: viz, that all the inhabitants shall not be cut off from the
city and, secondly that the Lord shall come and destroy the victorious
nations. This has not been the case in
any past siege. The besieging nations
were allowed to complete their triumphant capture. Zion was literally ‘ploughed as a field,’ and so
entirely were all cut off from the city, that in the time of the emperor Adrian, it is said, not a single Jew
was to be found within twenty miles
of Jerusalem. But it shall not be so in
the future siege, when the Lord shall
stand upon the Mount of Olives, and destroy the nations that are gathered
We are forewarned by our Saviour, that at this period of extreme distress many rumours shall prevail respecting His having re-appeared upon the earth. Some shall say that He is in the desert; and others, in the secret chambers. But we are commanded not to believe; and for two reasons - First, because His second coming shall be manifest as the lightning to all men, and therefore shall not need the propagation of report. Secondly, because all His saints shall be taken to Him at the moment of His manifestation from heaven as certainly and as swiftly as the eagles are attracted to their prey.*
(* The ground of my thus interpreting this passage is, first, because it is stated as the reason why the saints should not be seeking the Saviour on the earth: and secondly, on account of its clear connection with the removal of the saints in Luke 17. Our Saviour is there speaking of the time in which the Son of Man shall be revealed: ‘I tell you, in that night there shall be two in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left.’ We know from 1 Thessalonians that the righteous are to be taken and the unrighteous left. And when the disciples inquired to what place they were to be taken, he answered, ‘Wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.’ Perhaps ‘carcase’ may be used as a symbol, indicating that the place to which they will be taken is a place of death and judgment on the ungodly (See Revelation 19). But I should rather regard the language as being simply metaphorical, implying that, as surely as eagles are attracted to the place of prey, so surely will all the saints be taken to the place where the Lord shall be. It should always be remembered that in metaphors there is no actual resemblance between the cognate terms themselves; but merely a resemblance of relation to certain other things. For example in Isaiah 11 the branch bears no actual resemblance to Jesus; but in its relation to the tree, as that which gives it completeness and beauty, it resembles His relation to the family from which He springs. For, as a branch is to a tree, so is the Messiah to the family of David. I am anxious to impress this, because so much mistake has arisen on theological subjects generally, and on prophetical in particular, from not attending to this simple rule respecting metaphors. It is also well to recollect that persons often deceive themselves by supposing that, because the language is metaphorical, therefore the event is not literal; whereas a literal event may be described in metaphorical language, in simple language, or by symbols).
The manner of His appearing is next described in language too plain to need any explanation; and in verse 34 the prophecy is concluded by the declaration that that ‘generation shall not pass (away) till all these things be fulfilled.’ This verse has occasioned great difficulty to many ‑ this difficulty is removed by reading the word ‘generation’ as ‘race.’ (See Gesenius on the Hebrew word ‘dur’ and Scapula on the Greek word ‘genea’).
The meaning therefore of our Lord I understand to be this: that the present race of Jews, whose identity was marked by their hardness of heart and perverse rejection of the hand of God whensoever and howsoever manifested, should not pass away and be succeeded by that new race ‘whom men should name priests of the Lord and ministers of our God;’ or, in other words, the age of Israel’s obduracy and rejection should not cease and be succeeded by the coming age (aion mellon ‑ Hebrews 2) of glory under Messiah’s rule, until all these things had first occurred, i.e. until they had drunk to ‘the dregs the cup of trembling and wrung them out’ (Isaiah 51:17).
There is only one
question which we have still to consider; and that is, how far this chapter may
be considered applicable to the first destruction of
It is thus too that
prophecy, throwing its strongest light upon the concluding events of the
Gentile dispensation; and increasing in importance as time advances, is
nevertheless rendered useful throughout the whole period, by admitting of being
applied, though not exclusively
interpreted, with relation to antecedent events, kindred in principle if
not closely parallel in fact to that which is mainly the subject of
prediction. All these predictions will
be found more or less nearly connected with the destinies of
It is an interesting fact which has been brought before me within the last two days; that ‘several thousand Jews of Poland and Russia have recently bound themselves by an oath that as soon as the way is open to return to Jerusalem, they will immediately go thither and there spend their time in fasting and prayer to the Lord till he shall send the Messiah.’*
(*This is copied from a little book lately published by Adams and Douglass, entitled ‘Sketch of the Present State and Future Prospects of the Jews’ by Ridley H Herschell. It contains much that is interesting and instructive).
These, or such as
these, will doubtless be the remnant, who, faithful to the God of their
fathers, though not acknowledging Jesus as the Messiah, will use the
penitential Psalms (See Psalms 79 and 80) in the day of Jerusalem’s distress; and who,
though not counted worthy to partake in the glory of the risen saints at the
time of the appearing of the Lord, shall nevertheless be spared in the
destruction which shall fall on their unbelieving countrymen with the Gentiles,
and become the nucleus of the earthly
* * * * * * *
Creation sings the Father’s song; He calls the sun to wake the dawn
And run the course of day ’till evening falls in crimson rays.
His fingerprints in flakes of snow, His breatyh upon this springing globe,
He charts the eagle’s flight; commands the newborn baby’s cry.
Hallelujah! Let all creation stand and sing,
“Hallelujah!” Fill the earth with songs of worship;
Tell the wonders of creation’s King.
Creation grazed upon His face; the ageless One in time’s embrace
Unveiled the Father’s plan of reconciling God to man.
A second Adam walked the earth, whose blameless life would [will] break the curse
Whose death would [will] set us free to live with Him eternally.
Creation longs for His RETURN, when Christ SHALL REIGN UPON THE [THIS] EARTH;
The bitter wars that rage are birth pains OF A COMING AGE.
When He renews the land and sky, all heav’n will sing and [all upon] earth reply
With one replendent theme: the GLORY of our GOD and KING!
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the One who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from the bondage of decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God [lit. Gk. - ‘the creation will be freed from the slavery of corruption to the freedom of the glory of the children of God.’] For we know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as SONS the redemption of our bodies. For in this HOPE we are saved [lit. ‘for by hope we were saved’]. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently:” (Romans 8: 18-25, N.I.V.).