A revised rendering of the Last Words of David by Bro Thomas is instructive to consider by way of comparison with the AV:

“now these words of David, the last, are an oracle of David, son of Jessie, even an oracle of the mighty man enthroned concerning an anointed one of the gods of Jacob, and the pleasant themes of Israel’s songs. The spirit of Jehovah spake through me, and his word was upon my tongue. Gods of Israel spake to me, and the Rock of Israel discoursed, saying: “There shall be a just man ruling over mankind, ruling in the righteous precepts of the gods, and as brightness of morning he shall arise, the sun of an unclouded dawn, shining forth after rain, upon tender grass of the earth. Though my house is not perfect with the Mighty One, yet hath he ordained for me the covenant of the age, ordered in everything, and sure. Truly this is all my salvation, and all my delight, though he cause it not to spring forth. But the wicked shall be all of them as a thorn bush to be thrust away, yet without hand shall they be taken. Nevertheless a man shall smite upon Them, he shall be filled with iron, and a shaft of a spear, but with fire to burn up while standing, they shall be consumed”

Bro J Thomas,
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come,
Feb. 1855

There are a number of most interesting changes from the AV in this passage, one of which is Bro Thomas’s rendering of “Elohim” rendered “God” in the AV as “gods”. His explanation for this rendering is as follows:

“three distinct words, Elohim, YAHWEH, and Ail, in five different places are used in the original, which are incorrectly rendered in the Common Version by Lord and God; and that two of the three being in the singular, and one in the plural, they ought to be so translated for the benefit of the English readers and this we did partially in our translation by rendering Elohim by “gods,”: Yahweh by “Jehovah,” and Ail by “Mighty One” … Christ is one and the chief of ; the future gods of Jacob, who will be all equal to the angels, and associated with them; which angels were gods to Israel, but not objects of worship, under the law; and that David refers to both these classes of Elohim in his oracle”

(Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, 1861)

Another, perhaps more significant change is towards the beginning of the citation, from present tense to future tense: i.e. from “he that ruleth over men must be just” to “There shall be a just man ruling over mankind”. This change immediately brings to our attention the true import of the last words of David—that they form a prophecy concerning David’s greater Son, even our Master Jesus the Christ. Messiah is pre-eminently the “just” One who shall reign over mankind, and over Israel in particular. In speaking of how Israel rejected their Messiah, Peter said:

“Ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you” (Acts 3:14).

Again, in a similar vein Stephen testified:

“Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? And they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have now been the betrayers and murderers” (Acts 7:52).

Though rejected by his people, Jesus, as the Anointed one of Yahweh, shall yet rule over men Justly. Indeed, this Just aspect of Messiah’s rule is picked up again in Isaiah chapter 11, where we are again told that he shall reign “in the fear of God”:

“the Spirit of Yahweh shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Yahweh; and shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of Yahweh: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears, but with righteousness shall he judge the poor …” (Isa. 11:2-4).

Here we find the Just one reigning over men—indeed, he is truly the Only Just ruler to govern the nations, for since the fall from grace in Eden, men have always sought their own ends, and not to the glorification of Yahweh. Even David himself trespassed in the matter of Bath-Sheba, despite being a man after Yahweh’s own heart.

Yet Messiah shall not rule alone: his brethren, culled in the most part from the ages of times past shall rule with him. We have this on Apostolic authority, for Paul said: “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world be judged by you are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?” (1 Cor. 6:2). We would do well to heed this point in our relationships with each other—we must seek to prepare for judging the world in truth and wisdom; how much more then should we judge righteous judgment in the things pertaining to this life?

David continues to describe the “Just” one thus:

“he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds …” (2 Sam. 23:4).

This is a theme picked out many times in Scripture: the sun arising at the dawn of a new day. Malachi describes how “the Sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in his beams” (Mal. 4:32). Again, the last words of Moses before his death also speaks in terms of the sun rising:

“And he said, Yahweh came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from Mount Paran, and he came with ten thousand of his saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them” (Deut. 33:2).

Notice here, that Yahweh is said to rise up and shine forth—both images taken from the natural rising of the sun in the literal creation. Truly it is written that “Yahweh Elohim is a sun and shield” (Psa. 84:11), and it is his glory that shall shine across all of the earth, illuminating every darkest recess, dispelling every work and shadow of darkness.

Once again, in these things, we see the future role of Messiah’s brethren, for it is testified of those who do His will:

“Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Mat. 13:43).

Living and reigning with Jesus their elder brother, they shall shine forth with the same glory as he, and collectively constitute the “sun of righteousness” that shall shine throughout the earth.

But notice David’s description of that day, it is “a morning without clouds”. The clear brilliance of the Sun shall be unhindered in that day. There will be no clouds of sin to obscure it, rather all of the earth shall be bathed in the glory of Yahweh covering all the earth as the waters cover the sea.

That day, however, is to be preceded by a night of blackness and darkness. Before the sun is permitted to so shine, there will be first the clouds and rain of Yahweh’s judgments upon the earth. David continues to describe that day as “as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain”

Psalm 72 describes this rain:

“He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth” (Psa. 72:6).

Notice here, the grass is “mown” or cut down. “All flesh is as grass” (Isa. 40:6) was the message of John the Baptiser, and prior to the establishment of righteousness in the earth, the nations will need to be cut down and blown away as chaff before the summer threshing floor. Then the rains will come to water the earth, providing for the “tender grass” that David prophesied would come its place.

Ezekiel 38 also speaks of reign, in describing the stormy judgments that shall come upon Israel, speaking of the Gogian confederacy:

“Thou shalt ascend and come like a storm, thou shalt be like a cloud to cover the land, thou, and all thy bands, and many people with thee” (Eze. 38:9).

How glorious it will be therefore, when the survivors of Israel who endure these judgments shall enter into a new age, even a morning without the angst of storm-clouds across the land.

Again, there are spiritual principles to be drawn out from these things. Messiah’s brethren are exhorted to carefully consider the foundations upon which they are built, when the stormy winds of life arise against them:

“whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: and the rain descended and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house: and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock” (Mat. 7:24-25).

Those who endure the stormy trials and afflictions of life are those who are most earnest in their yearning for the day “without clouds” yet to come. But the exhortation is plain: we must heed the words of Christ, and be built upon Him as the foundation of the ecclesia. Then, no matter how violent the rains and winds beat against us, we shall survive through the darkness of a Gentile Night, to the dawning of a new day.

David continues:

“Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he maketh it not to grow” (2 Sam. 23:5).

Here we have words which are most comforting in their import. David compared this description of the “just” with himself, and saw that his own house was “not so with God”. And so it is with ourselves: when we compare our own lives with that of Messiah, it is quite evident that our houses are not so with God either. But the point made here, is that despite this, it had pleased Yahweh to make a covenant with David, the particulars of which are laid out in 2 Sam. 7. This covenant, said David is “all my desire”. Even so Messiah spake: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Mat. 6:33). If all our desire is kingdomward—if we, like David, seek first the things concerning Yahweh’s Kingdom and Righteousness we, like him, shall be enter into the everlasting covenant—even though our houses be “no so” with Him. That which is our primary objective in life will determine our end, not personal sinlessness. Those who seek after the Spirit shall of the Spirit be rewarded with life and immortality, despite their personal failings. But those who seek after the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption, and will be judged according to their deeds.

The rest of David’s words, according to Bro Thomas’ translation are as follows:

“But the wicked shall all of them be as a thorn bush to be thrust away, yet without hand shall they be taken, nevertheless a man shall smite upon them, he shall be filled with iron, and the shaft of a spear, but with fire to burn up whilst standing they shall be consumed” (2 Sam. 23:6-7).

In these closing words, we have the mutual antagonism between men of the flesh and the “Just” one who shall rule over men. They, it is prophesied, shall fill him with “iron and the shaft of a spear” – which we can readily see was applicable to Christ, whose side was pierced with a spear (Jno. 19:34). But they, as a thorn bush, were to be devoured by him with the flame of Divine Judgments, being taken without hand” Yet again, we have words of instruction for us: The writer to the Hebrews informs us:

“the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God. But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing, whose end is to be burned” (Heb.5:7-8).

We must give heed therefore, to our portion of Yahweh’s vineyard, ensuring that the weeds do not dominate it. The Master’s Parable of the Sower is instructive here: the thorns that can grow up are said to be “the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches” (Mat. 13:22). Things not immediately obvious that they are thorns, but which nevertheless choke the growing seed of the Word. Only those who permit the seed—which is the word of God (Luke 8:11)—to grow and yield it’s fruit in due time shall be granted an entrance into the Kingdom. Those whose manner of life is contrary to the Truth, whose hearts are filled with barbs of antagonism against the Truth, shall meet the same end as those who sought the destruction of Christ with a crown of thorns being placed on His Head.

What we find then, in considering the last words of David, are words which are prophetic of Messiah, but which also provide comfort and instruction for ourselves also, as we seek to pattern our lives on His. Though we may be rejected by the world around us as he was, nevertheless whatever the worst they might do to us, we can be confident that as David and his Greater Seed, we shall inherit the kingdom prepared for us from the foundation of the World.

Christopher Maddocks