Apostle Barbara Childress
The cross of Christ typified: a significant person
We find the saving work of Christ typified in the Old Testament, not only by the institution of sacrifice and by remarkable events (the flood of Noah is only one among many), but also by several people.
Joseph is one such example. He, as the kinsman of his family, saved them from famine even though they originally had an evil disposition towards him. In like manner, Christ, who became our kinsman by taking our humanity, saves his people from spiritual ruin even though they originally hated him. We can go further and say that just as Joseph was willing to endure incredible humiliation in order to save his people temporally, so Christ was willing to endure humiliation in order to save his people eternally.
Moses, who was called by God to lead his people from slavery in Egypt to the land of Canaan, wonderfully pictures Christ leading his people from the slavery of sin to eternal rest in heaven.
The most significant of all these personal types, however, is David. The connection between him and the Lord Jesus is truly amazing. It is so strong that God announced the coming of Christ to Ezekiel in these terms: 'I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them - my servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I, the LORD, have spoken' (Ezekiel 34:23-24).
When we come to the New Testament we find the Lord Jesus referred to as 'the seed of David' (John 7:42; Romans 1:3; II Timothy2:8), 'the son of David' (Matthew 9:27; 15:22; 20:30; 21:9,15; Mark 10:47; Luke 18:38; 20:41), 'the root of David' (Revelation 5:5) and 'the Root and the Offspring of David' (Revelation 22:16). Furthermore, when Gabriel announced the conception of Jesus to Mary he included this phrase: 'The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David' (Luke 1:32).
Some of the connections between David and Christ are immediately obvious. David's home town was Bethlehem, and Jesus was also born there. In his early years David was a shepherd, caring for his father's sheep, and Jesus is the Shepherd of the flock given to him by his Father (John 10:14-18). David was plucked from obscurity and anointed as king over Israel, and Jesus spent his early years in obscurity in Nazareth. When David was anointed, the Spirit of the Lord came upon him (I Samuel 16:13), and at his baptism the Lord Jesus was anointed with the Spirit of God (Matthew 3:16).
Such a list of parallels could go on and on, but we should focus on those portions of the life of David which most graphically portray the saving work of Christ on the cross.
David Slays Goliath
Few today, it seems, see the much-loved story of David and Goliath (I Samuel 17) as a picture of the cross of Christ. It has come to be regarded as something of a summary for dealing with the various problems of life. These problems become Goliath, and those who are trying to deal with them David. Then the question is raised: how did David defeat Goliath? Why, it was with his sling and five smooth stones. And that sling and those smooth stones suddenly become the resources that we have for coping with the problems of life. David obviously had faith in God, so that becomes one of the stones we can use in defeating the giants of life. David must surely have been a man of prayer. So that becomes another stone. David evidenced determination, a quality we must obviously have to handle the problems of life. And so it goes on. The popular treatment of David and Goliath is, then, that we can easily defeat the problems we face in our lives, no matter how intimidating they may be, by summoning all the resources God has placed at our disposal.
While there may be a grain or two of truth in such an approach, it completely misses the remarkably glorious picture of the gospel of Christ, the main message Scripture is concerned to convey. Where is the gospel in the story of David and Goliath? If we think of David as the representative of his people going out to slay the giant with the unlikely instrument of a sling, we have a moving picture of Christ, as the representative of his people, taking the unlikely instrument of a Roman cross and dealing the death-blow to Satan and his kingdom. By virtue of that act Christ delivers his people just as David, by slaying Goliath, delivered Israel.
David flees from Saul
We might have expected that David's heroic deliverance of the people from Goliath and the Philistines would have earned Saul's undying gratitude. Instead it kindled in him seething jealousy and resentment and murderous rage (I Samuel 18-26). Saul hated David for no reason.
Even in the face of extreme provocation, David refused to respond in kind. When he had opportunities to take Saul's life, he spared him. All the time that he was persecuted and pursued by Saul, David remained faithful to his king and his nation. This part of David's life captures another aspect of Christ's redeeming work. Not only was he also hated without a cause (Psalm 69:4), but he remained faithful and true to the work the Father had sent him to do.
We can go even further. It was God who preserved David from all the machinations and schemes of Saul, even when it appeared as if there was no way for David to escape. And it was the same God who protected and preserved the Lord Jesus Christ from the evil schemes of those who wanted to kill him. God's protection of David amounted to protection of the plan of redemption, of which God had chosen David to be a vital part. And God's protection of Jesus was for the same purpose. Jesus could not die one day before the time the Father had appointed.
David rules as king
At no point in his life does David shine more brightly as a type of Christ than during his glorious reign over the people of God. During this time God's people enjoyed abundant blessing from their God. Their enemies were subdued. Their worship was greatly enriched as a steady stream of psalms flowed from David's pen. And David himself received glorious promises from God. All of these portray the kingly work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Enemies subdued (II Samuel 5:6-9)
One of David's most impressive victories was the conquest of the city of Jerusalem. Jonathan Edwards says the city of Jerusalem was 'the greatest type of the church of Christ in all the Old Testament. It was redeemed by David, the captain of the hosts of Israel out of the hands of the Jebusites, to be God's holy city, the holy place of his rest for ever, where he would dwell.'
Then Edwards applies this to Christ in these words: 'So Christ, the Captain of his people's salvation, redeems his church out of the hands of devils, to be his holy and beloved city. And therefore how often does the Scripture, when speaking of Christ's redemption of his church, call it by the names of Zion and Jerusalem!'
Mercy granted to the helpless (II Samuel 9:1-8)
One of the prerogatives of a king is to grant mercy to various ones. The most striking example of this in the life of David is the case of Mephibosheth. The grandson of Saul and the son of Jonathan, this man was in a most miserable and wretched condition. He had no inheritance and was completely unable to do anything about his situation because he was crippled.
Even though Mephibosheth had no hold on David at all and no right to expect anything from him, David showed him mercy. Acting on the basis of the covenant he had with Mephibosheth's father (I Samuel 20:15), David compelled Mephibosheth to come to him (verse 5). He calmed his fears, restored to him all that he had lost and guaranteed personal fellowship between the two of them (verse 7). Mephibosheth gladly accepted David's offer, acknowledging his own terrible condition and with profound humility and gratitude (verse 8).
All of this constitutes a moving picture of the sovereign Christ extending mercy to sinners who, like Mephibosheth, have lost all through sin and are completely unable to help themselves. Even though there is nothing about sinners to commend them to Christ, he delights in calling them to himself, calming their fears, restoring to them what they have lost and assuring them that they have been brought into a state of fellowship with him.
God's people enriched (II Samuel 23:1-2)
As he approached the end of his life, David reflected on the many blessings that God had bestowed upon him. One of the chief of those blessings was that God had made him 'the sweet psalmist of Israel'.
It is interesting to note that David saw his role as psalmist in terms of the people of Israel. He was not a psalmist for his own enjoyment, although we may be sure he derived substantial delight from his psalms. Instead he saw his psalms as a means of blessing for the nation. Those psalms did not come as a result of his own ingenuity or creativity. David explains them in this way: 'the Spirit of the LORD spoke by me, and his word was on my tongue' (II Samuel 23:2). He was the channel through which God enriched and blessed the people.
As the King of his people, the Lord Jesus Christ has ascended on high to the Father and given gifts to men (Ephesians 4:7-12). The single greatest gift came on the Day of Pentecost. The apostle Peter explained that day in terms of the ascended Lord pouring out upon his people the gift of the Holy Spirit in accordance with the promise he had received from the Father (Acts 2:33).
The gifts of the ascended Lord to his people are such that the apostle Paul was able to say to the Corinthians, 'I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by him in all utterance and all knowledge...' (I Corinthians 1:4-5).
David receives God's promise (II Samuel 23:5)
When David received from God the promise that his kingdom would be established for ever, the work of the Lord Jesus Christ was anticipated in two ways.
First, the promise was fulfilled by Christ. Because he is the ever-living one, Christ, the seed of David, guarantees that David's kingdom will be permanent.
Secondly, we also have here a picture of the promise that Christ himself has received from God the Father - the promise of an everlasting kingdom. This covenant was made by the Father with the Son even before the world began. It is 'ordered' - that is, it is all carefully planned and arranged by God. Nothing is left to chance. It is also 'secure'. It rests on the unchanging God who is faithful to do all that he promises to do.
We must also remember that it is to Christ, and Christ alone, that all the promises of God are made. He, as the covenant head of his people, receives them from God the Father and, in turn, showers them upon his people.
By virtue of his saving work on the cross, the Lord Jesus Christ has received the promise of an everlasting kingdom from his Father (Hebrews 1:8-13) and, through him, all his people receive that promise as well.
David as a type of Christ - a summary
The above instances are just a few in which David can be seen to be a personal type of Christ. And the fact that the Bible gives so much attention to David tells us that God was using him to point to the coming Messiah and his work on the cross. This constitutes further confirmation that the work of Christ is the grand, unifying theme of the Scriptures.
It is important for us to realize that no type of Christ is perfect in every respect. Type can at best give only a faint portrayal of the glory and perfections that are his. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the life of David. At his very best, David was nothing more than a sinful man who was capable of great evil. The account of his sordid affair with Bathsheba and his deliberate murder of Uriah is a sad commentary on the reality of sin even in the life of a child of God.
How, in the light of the terrible things David did, can we claim him as a type of Christ? Such sin does not, of course, typify Christ, who was sinless in every respect. But it does underscore for us the need for Christ, the truly righteous King who, by his redeeming work, provides an incorruptible righteousness for his people.
JOURNEY TO THE CROSS, by Roger Ellsworth, Copyright 1997, EVANGELICAL PRESS.