By Harry Bultema
“And of the Gadites, there separated themselves unto David into the hold in the wilderness men of might, and men of war fit for the battle, that could handle shield and buckler, whose faces were like the faces of lions, and were as swift as the roes upon the mountains.” (1 Chronicles 12:8)
Let’s consider the character of David and the Gadites as described in our text. David is a wonderful type of the Lord Jesus. More Scriptures are devoted to him and his work than to any other Bible saint, except the Savior, of course. No true expositor has ever denied that he is a wonderful picture of the Savior. In his sin, he was and is a picture of Israel but in his name and suffering, he portrays David’s Son and Lord.
His name means “beloved.” He was partly of Moabitish origin, his father Jesse was the grandson of Boaz and Ruth. David had a godly mother for he calls himself “the son of Thy handmaid.” In being a type of Christ, lets consider the following.
- He was a type of Christ as seen in his name “beloved of the Father.”
- Like Christ, David was born in Bethlehem, the city of David.
- He was a good shepherd who would brave his life for his sheep, when the lion and bear pounced on his flock; Christ was the Good Shepherd Who gave His life for the sheep.
- He was a man after God’s heart. In a perfect sense, this is true of the Lord Jesus. God has all His pleasure in His Beloved Son.
- He had a three-fold anointing; Christ was anointed as Prophet, Priest and King.
- He overcame Goliath and many foes. He never suffered a smashing defeat. Christ knows no defeat and overcame all His foes.
- He was chosen above all his seven brothers; so was our Lord.
- He was rejected by his brothers; Christ came unto His own but they received Him not; even his own brothers rejected Him (Jn. 7:3-5).
- He received great honor after his victory over Goliath; so was Christ highly exalted after His victory (Phil. 2:7-11). He has a name that is above every name.
- He had a bitter foe in Saul. Christ had and has a bitter foe in Satan who dogs Christ’s and our steps all through history.
- David received the crown and glory by way of suffering; Christ received glory after the Cross and the way home for us is by way of that Cross.
- He was not only a great King but also a great prophet, predicting many future matters concerning Christ and His Kingdom. What a great Prophet Christ was!
- He burned with love and zeal for the house and worship of the Lord. “The zeal of the Lord hath eaten him up,” we read of our Savior.
- In the way of strife and suffering, David purchased his unfaithful bride, Michal, and this also can be said of David’s Son and Lord.
These are just a few of the points of parallelism between David and David’s Son and Lord, but they clearly show that God meant to give in David a picture of the coming Deliverer. In his private and public life, David did many things contrary to God’s holy will, as we find in the city of Ziklag, a Philistine city, a gift from the Philistine King Achish. God later destroyed this city; it was burned to a heap of smoking ruins through the Amalekites.
While David is still in Ziklag, these Gadites come to him with four other groups to show their allegiance to him. After seven days, Saul was killed. He was done for and doomed. Even his relatives turned to David in Ziklag. Notice the picture the Scriptures give of these “mighty men” of the Gadites.
These Gadites were men of war. The name Gad means troop or military band. They lived in the trans-Jordan region where it was necessary to make persistent war with the marauding bands of wild Bedouins of the desert. Eight wonderful things are said of these Gadites.
- They separated themselves unto David. This means that they separated themselves UNTO David and separated themselves FROM Saul. They separated themselves from the latter before they separated themselves with David. Leon Tucker referred to them as David’s “D.D.’s – In distress, in debt, and discontented. They were not noble in themselves but objects of grace, of unmerited favor. Separation is the thing needed in the day of Christ’s rejection by Israel and the world. This separation on the part of the Gadites meant there things besides separation: a) they wished to cleave unto David; b) they wanted to commune with David; and c) they wanted to fight and conquer with David. Likewise, we are to be separated from sin and Satan and cleave unto our Savior. The Apostle of love (John) says so often, “Abide in Him.” No one gives such sweet communion or fellowship as Jesus. David had the ability to make and keep friends as we see in his friendship with Jonathan; but there is no friend like Christ our Savior. He sticketh closer than a brother and never fails. When men proudly and pharisaical give us the “cold shoulder” for some reason or other, then He will receive and befriend us. “What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear” is indeed a true verse. In Him we are more than conquerors and victory is sure. What a privilege to fight under the banner of the Lord of Glory!
- The Gadites were men of sacrifice. It cost them something to cast in their lot with the man who was hunted like a partridge in the mountains by the King of the land with his enemies. He had to keep himself in the cave of Adullam for he was continually pursued by Saul. Those who lived delicately and wore gorgeous clothing lived in the King’s court but those heroic spirits were loved by the rejected King because they were willing to give up every consideration of personal comfort to follow the Lord’s anointed. Love of temporal comforts is perhaps the greatest enemy of the church of Christ, and it has been through the rolling ages. It causes many to stick close to the Saul’s of this world instead of going forth to the “hold of the wilderness.”
- These Gadites were men of might. The world today has more might today than ever before, yet, the Church is weak and spineless. David needed men, not machinery. God did not say “Let us make machinery” – no; “let us make man.” If the Church is to be strong, it needs Spirit-filled men. We have an over-abundance of glib talkers who can make audiences giggle and laugh but there is a serious shortage of men: Spirit-empowered men … men of might who can stand and withstand in an evil day.
- These Gadites were men of war. Christian living is a warfare whether you realize it or not. If you doubt it, read Ephesians, Chapter 6. Christ is our great Captain and “He goeth on before.” His foes are ours but victory is assured even though we lost a few battles.
- These Gadites were men fit for battle. Oh, if this could be said of all believers for all of us are called into a holy warfare. BUT, alas, so many are unfit for warfare. Some are spiritually ill and the sick cannot fight. Others are spiritually maimed, and crippled; those cannot march against the enemy. Again, others sleep and slumber, perhaps dreaming in the lap of Delilah, and these are not fit for battle. Still others are like suckling babes, utterly helpless because they have not grown in their Christian life. We must not be the fainting type; our faith must be strong. David said, “I had fainted unless I believed” (Psa. 2713). Christ uttered a parable in which the teaching was that men ought to pray always and not faint. We must believe and pray. Hebrews 12:3-5 reads: “Consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him.” Fainting is the believer’s greatest temptation and one that is in a faint, like one dead: he sees not, hears not, feels not, and is absolutely unfit for battle.
- These Gadites were men of skill. They were able to handle the shield and buckler. They were thoroughly trained in the art of war. All soldiers must have exercise, and dril, maneuvers. Paul told Timothy to exercise himself unto godliness. Today we hear a great deal about physical exercise but precious little concerning spiritual exercise. The shields were made of ox hide as a rule and, therefore, not made without blood … a thing o be remembered by the way in the statement of God to Abraham: “I am thy shield” (Gen. 15:1). It is an oft-repeated statement that God is a shield for His own. This definitely signifies protection by bloodshed. The buckler was simply a smaller shield. This was used when there was a need of greater mobility.
- These Gadites were men of lion-like courage. Their externals betokened their courage. I do not plead for ferocity or blood-thirstiness. We are called on to be meek and tender as a lamb, kind and tenderhearted. We must not forget that although Christ is the Lamb of God, He is also the Lion of the tribe of Judah. The lowly Man of Sorrows cleansed the Temple with a whip of cords and sent His flaming woes into the consciences of the religious leaders of that day. In His second coming, especially, He will show Himself to be the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, pouncing destructively upon all the wicked. We should be meek and lowly, longsuffering, raising the fallen and cheering the faint-hearted, strengthening the weak but we should fight the holy battles of the Lord with lion-like courage and strength, earnestly contending for the truth.
- Finally, these Gadites are described as “swift as the roes upon the mountains.” They were compared with the swiftest and most sure-footed animals. This was evidently no poetic exaggeration but, rather, stark reality. Are your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace? Are we swift to run for Him Who died for us? Are we doing His will on earth as the Serifs who fly for Him in Heaven? Are our lives fully separated unto David’s Son and Lord? You have Him, but does He have you? Can He work through your hands, speak through your lips, walk in your conduct?
UNSAVED FRIENDS: accept this wonderful and glorious Christ; come to Him now. He will never cast you out!