It is staggering that anyone could be so self-infatuated as to single out their own particular policy preferences as “anti-war.” Anyone who is not a sadist or an idiot is anti-war. The only serious issue is how best to limit, deter or conclude war. But responsibility for confronting this issue is evaded by those preoccupied with the moral preening of being “anti-war.” —Walter Williams
I love Banner of Truth. My bookshelves have filled to overflowing, and Banner of Truth is largely to blame. They are fast becoming the dominant publisher in my library. With works from the Reformers and Puritans to great Reformed authors still living today, Banner is one of the very few publishers today who really publish no bad books. I have just recently received my first Banner publication written by a living author, David: Man of Prayer, Man of War by Walter J. Chantry. Here is the first of what I am sure will be several quotes:
It was the Lord who chose David to be king, not Samuel nor the people of Israel. Nothing that we can observe was decisive with God. He chose David for the unseen qualities of the inner man. God finds his servants in unexpected places: Joseph in a prison, David in a sheep pen, Luther in a miner’s cottage. At the lowest point of his life David was to cry, “Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart” (Psa. 51:6). In Psalm 66:18 the Psalmist of Israel wrote, “if I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” David’s son by Bathsheba wrote “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (Prov. 4:23). The Lord searches your heart. What does he find? —Walter J. Chantry, David: Man of Prayer, Man of War (Banner of Truth, 2007), 13–14.
Correction: I don’t know why I said this was my first Banner publication by a living author. I’ve read a few by Iain Murray, and even quoted them here. Maybe it’s because Murray’s books are about dead people.
How is it that some tell us the saints did not possess the Spirit in the Old Testament era? Is true that they did not possess the fullness of the revelation objectively given, nor did they have the fullness of the Spirit’s inward operations upon the least in the kingdom of God, as would be given in the New Covenant. Yet, as we observe David’s zeal for the glory of the living God, his sterling faith in the Almighty, and his wisdom beyond human years, who would not stand amazed at the heights to which the Holy Spirit carried him? And, as we read and ponder the Psalms, which of us does not yearn to draw near to David’s inward levels of spiritual exercise? The same Holy Spirit who was operative at the creation is operative in the work of new creation before Christ came. Exploits of the saints before our Lord’s coming can be explained in no other way than this, “The Spirit of the Lord rushed upon” them. Let us not make a folk-hero or a super-human figure out of David. He is another of the saints of Hebrews 11. The Spirit of the Lord was with them all. As David left Saul’s tent [to face Goliath], the youth, soon to be the new hero of Israel, had his eye confidently fixed upon his God. The once-popular leader of God’s people had lost God’s Spirit, God’s favor, God’s prophet, and God’s word for his guidance. With these losses came the loss of courage, joy, peace, and a sound mind. It is a stunning contrast. Rather, let us crave in our lives the presence of the Holy Spirit, producing the same qualities to be found in David. Let us ask the Father for the Holy Spirit daily. Let us beware of quenching, grieving, and sinning against the Holy Spirit. Saul stands as a monument of warning. Jesus once said with eloquent brevity, “Remember Lot’s wife.” it would be well to say, “Remember Saul.” The Spirit of the Lord departed from him. That too is a reality. Others since his day have shared his experience. Sensitively welcome the Spirit as the holy Guest he is. Fall in step with the Spirit. —Walter J. Chantry, David: Man of Prayer, Man of War (Banner of Truth, 2007), 31–32.
We live in a day in which multitudes believe that God’s only interest in violent warfare is to express disapproval of it. Many suggest that the God of the Old Testament is discredited and that he has been replaced by the New Testament God on only love and peace. Such a view ignores the positive teaching of Romans 13:1–7. There we are told that rulers, bearing the sword in just causes and in defense of the good, are God’s agents of justice. Many pacifists refuse to recognize the depths of evil in the hearts of those rogues who rule aggressive and oppressive states. Others, with the same devotion to no aggression, are relatives who are angered to hear anyone label one cause “evil” and another “good.” The hand of divine providence is not withheld from any war. At times the design of neither combatant is accomplished, but a third design (in the secret will of God) is established. All warriors may be left with “unintended consequences,” to their way of thinking. —Walter J. Chantry, David: Man of Prayer, Man of War (Banner of Truth, 2007), 35–36.
[The romance of David and Michal] pleased Saul. It pleased him because he had been able to bring pain to David once; now he may destroy him. The selfish tyrant cared nothing about the destruction of his daughter’s heart and life in the process. Saul again purposed to give a daughter to David as the means in inciting Philistines to kill him. He gave David a second opportunity to be his son-in-law. This time, as a dowry he asked proof of David’s having personally slain one hundred Philistines. He salivated at the anticipation that one heathen man of war would have the better of the son of Jesse. With what a dark countenance must he have greeted the news that David had quickly killed twice the number of foes requested! It is an irony of history and of the Scripture record that Saul’s is not the only heart so black with evil motive and deceit. David in this scene was done an enormous injustice. When David sat upon the throne, many years later, he used precisely the same devices to slay Uriah as were employed by Saul against himself. David could be a Saul toward a soldier loyal to his king. Where, through the good providence of God, Saul failed, David succeeded in the deed of murder. Little do we realize that the same seeds of wickedness, which in the hearts of other men, bring stabbing pain to us, lie within our own fallen nature. What a great business is to “Keep your heart with all vigilance”! (Prov 4:23). —Walter J. Chantry, David: Man of Prayer, Man of War (Banner of Truth, 2007), 45–46.
Walter Chantry on the supremacy of God’s Word and prayer over reading circumstances in knowing God’s will:
Many who lived during David’s era were quite aware that the Almighty manages all things on the earth and all things in human affairs. In David’s time it was as it is today. Those who have a doctrine of divine providence often attempt to read divine intent for the future through unfolding circumstances, all of which are under God’s control, or through opportunities set before them by the Lord’s governing of our world. When Keilah fell under attack from the Philistines, David’s men feared that responding to help the people of that city would provide Saul with a golden opportunity to capture David and his small band. Since Keilah was so close to the border of Philistia, and therefore, since it faced constant raids from Israel’s arch-foe, the city had built defensive walls. If David and his men entered a walled city, so they reasoned, they would be trapped. Saul would then hasten from Gibeah and seize them all. It was for this reason that David’s army preferred to remain in the open wilderness where numerous routes of escape were their protection. Providence dictated, it seemed to them, that they decline to help Keilah. David reasoned differently and inquired of the Lord as to what his will was (1 Sam. 23:2-5). Through Gad the prophet, and through the Urim and Thummim in Abiathar’s possession, David could entreat God and hear his word in response. Thus did David rise above guesses as to God’s intentions from the mere observation of providence. For him, prayer and ‘Thus saith the Lord’ would guide all decisions. So must we seek to know God’s will by prayer and by the searching of his Word as we make decisions for the future. After David and his forces delivered Keilah from the Philistines, Saul indeed did hear that the brave men of Jesse’s son were in the fortress of Keilah. Reading provid¬ence only, Saul concluded, ‘God has given him into my hand, for he has shut himself in by entering a town that has gates and bars’ (1 Sam. 23:7). Not unaware of their danger, and employing informers, David knew when ‘Saul summoned all the people to war, to go down to Keilah, to besiege David and his men’ (1 Sam. 23:8). Again he sought by prayer and by inquiring of God to know what he should do. God told him that Saul was on his way. He further told David that, in the face of overwhelming numbers, and in the face of their rightful king’s demand, Keilah’s elders would deliver David and his men into Saul’s hand. Then, and only then, did David and his men depart in haste. As we have seen, when David was in the region of Engedi (1 Sam. 24), Saul entered a cave, unaware that David and his men were hidden in this very cavern. David’s men, reading the providence of God, said, ‘Here is the day of which the Lord said to you, “Behold, I will give your enemy into your hand”’ (1 Sam. 24:4). The opportunity was there to kill Saul and to seize the kingdom after the assassination. How many presume that God wants us to act in a certain way because there is an unexpected opportunity to do so! David did not need Gad, nor did he need the Urim and Thummim, to tell him what God’s will was. He knew, as well as we, that, ‘the governing authorities . . . that exist have been instituted by God’ (Rom. 13:1). He spoke of their advice as bad counsel, ‘to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the Lord’s anointed’ (1 Sam. 24:7). On principle, received from the Word of God, he refused to seize his ‘opportunity’ against Saul. How often are we met with flippant comments like, ‘The Lord showed me’, or, ‘I was led of the Lord’! Often, by these slogans men and women mean, ‘I have glanced at providence; I have read circumstances through the lenses of my personal optimism or pessimism, and with my personal wishes near at hand.’ It is possible to use the above phrases if by them we mean, ‘I have prayed for God’s guidance and I have found these principles in his Word which give light to my path.’ Providence does inform us of God’s having acted in the past. It is far less yielding of information about the future will of God. If God’s Word informs us of God’s ways, how much we can see of his hand at work in our own lives! How many praises we should give for surprising deliv¬erances and unexpected grace! We should sharpen our sensitivity to our God’s omnipresence. One of its major evidences is his control and meaningful direction in every circumstance of our lives. —Walter J. Chantry, David: Man of Prayer, Man of War (Banner of Truth, 2007), 82–84.
In 2 samuel 6, we read the story of Uzzah, the man who died for reaching out to steady the ark of God lest it fall to the ground. Uzzah, reacting spontaneously, probably gave no thought to his action. He certainly meant no harm, yet God killed him “for his irreverence.” But the trouble did not begin with Uzzah. The ark never would have wobbled, and Uzzah never would have been in that situation, had the king followed God’s instructions.
David had planned and prepared thoroughly for the worship of God on that day. Now one was dead and thirty thousand men were stunned. God was angry with them, and they were angry with God. A beautiful plan had gone seriously wrong. This is a stern lesson for a generation like our own whose people think that they can constantly reinvent worship! It appears that there is never even a question within many as to whether God will be pleased with their own original designs to approach him. All of us need to take note that noble intentions, creativity, and sincerity are not sufficient factors in determining what worship is acceptable to the Lord of hosts, who is enthroned on the cherubim! God is jealous about the way he is worshipped (Exod. 20:4–6, the second of the Ten Commandments). As the Westminster Confession of Faith comments on this and other Scriptures: The acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshipped . . . any other way not prescribed in the holy Scripture (XXI:1). It is the Lord’s prerogative to dictate how he may be worshipped. He condescends to allow sinners to approach him, and he carefully stipulates how that may be done. With the recent history of plagues that had fallen upon the Philistines who defiled the ark, and of fifty thousand Israelites who had been slain for ignoring well-known cautions against approaching it, one would have expected that David would have taken more care in preparing to move the ark to Jerusalem. The Almighty had allowed the ark to return from Philistia into Israel by its being placed on a new cart and pulled along by two milk cows (1 Sam. 6). However, this method had been devised by those of worldly mindset, men who were ignorant of God’s Word. But Jews, unto whom all the prophets and all the Word of God had come, had no excuse for worshipping as do heathen peoples. Acceptable homage to God must not arise from the imagination of a worship team, not even one led by David himself! The elements of divine services of worship must arise from the Word of God itself. It is totally unacceptable presumption to imagine that God will receive any inventions of man as ways of approaching him. Very specific directives had been given to Israel for transporting the ark. The ark was to be covered, not opened to public view. It was to be carried on the shoulders of Kohathites, not on a cart or a wagon. Express warnings had been given that even Kohathites must not touch the ark or they would die (Num. 4:5-13).These men were to touch only the poles slipped through rings on the ark. Of course we do not worship by Old Testament forms today. Roman Catholicism made the mistake of creating its worship from Old Testament precedents, with priesthood, vestments, altars, sacrifices, incense, etc. The ways in which the church is to express worship are stipulated in the New Testament. Many modern practices of Protestants are not to be found among them. —Walter J. Chantry, David: Man of Prayer, Man of War (Banner of Truth, 2007), 169–171.