DAVID'S GETHSEMANE
2008 John H Mattox

    The account of David's departure from Jerusalem on the occasion of the rebellion of his son, Absalom, is remarkable for its correspondance in type to the experience of David's descendant, the Lord Jesus Christ. On this occasion, David had a Gethsemane experience, in which the details closely parallel that of Christ. Readers who are familiar with the writer's book entitled Hidden Treasures from the Hebrew Old Testament, will recall the view set forth therein, that the word Gethsemane was corrupted from an older form compounded from Gath, or winepress, and saman, to decree, to appoint; thus signifying the appointed winepress. In other words, Gethsemane was the locale in which Christ was trodden in the winepress of the wrath of God, in our stead.
    In II Samuel 15:13-23; 30-37; 16:5-14, the story of David's flight from Jerusalem is recorded, telling us that David and his company went directly over the summit of the Mount of Olives, the most direct route from the city eastward. In order to climb the Mount of Olives, they must have passed through the area later known as the Garden of Gethsemane.
    Notice that the occasion of David's Gethsemane experience was his rejection by his people, Israel. While a few were loyal, the bulk of the nation had rejected David and were following Absalom. But in a deeper sense, the experience was necessary because of the rebellion of his son. Was it not also because of the rebellion of his son, Adam, that God, in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, trod the slopes of Gethsemane?
    It is plain from II Samuel 15:14, that David's going through Gethsemane was not for his own sake, but rather for the sake of his people. He left the city lest Absalom smite it with the sword. Doubtless, David realized that the only hope of those faithful to him, as well as that of all Israel, was in his return to the throne. Thus, he suffered Gethsemane, not for his own sake, but for the sake of those whose trust was in him.
 
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David's Gethsemane (cont)

    In departing from Jerusalem, David left behind a wise counselor, Hushai, who would be able both to console David's friends and confound his enemies. The greater David in departing from Jerusalem had likewise left behind a wise counselor in the person of the Holy Spirit, who both consoles those who trust in Jesus, and convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment.
    As David and his party wended their way through Gethsemane, and up the slopes of the Mount of Olives, the prevailing emotion was grief: "David wept as he went." He and those with him had their heads covered, a detail which seems to speak typically of the prospect of death. In Esther 7:8, when the word went out of the king's mouth to execute Haman, "...they covered Haman's face." Note also Jeremiah 14:3-4, where the covering of the head is spoken of apparently in anticipation of death because of drought. Death is also suggested by the casting of stones (legal method of execution) and of dust, which typically speaks of the final resting place of the dead.

"Thou hast brought me into the dust of death."
Psalm 22:15.
 
"For dust thou art, and unto dust shall thou return."
Gen. 3:19.

The cursing of David by Shimei is also worthy of note, pointing as it does to the greater David, who was made a curse for us, that we might be redeemed from the curse of the law. We must not overlook the fact that David was characterized as a bloody man, or as the Hebrew more literally puts it, man of blood, and also as a man of Belial (or worthless fellow). We remember that a thousand years later the Son of David, who was also the Son of God, was despised and rejected of men, even being called a gluttonous man and a winebibber; and for our sakes became a man of blood. Note further that when David's followers remonstrated against his passive acceptance of Shimei's cursing and mistreatment, David assured them that it was being done at the instigation of the Lord:

"So let him curse, because the LORD hath said unto him, Curse David."
II Sam. 16:10.

We are thus reminded that although it was at the wicked hands of men that Jesus suffered and died, it was all done by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. See Acts 2:23.

"It pleased the LORD to bruise him, he hath put him to grief."
Isa. 53:10.

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David's Gethsemane (cont)

    The names of those who accompanied David are full of meaning, pointing as they do to the various aspects of those who follow Christ. The Hebrew word which is rendered Cherethites, comes from Charath, a verb which means to cut off. The Cherethites then, are the cut off ones - a name which is truly expressive where the follower of Christ is concerned, Each person who puts his trust in Christ becomes a Cherethite, a cut off one, for he has been judicially cut off, or put to death by virtue of his identification with Christ in His death.
    There were also Pelethites among the followers of David. The origin of Pelethite comes from an unused verb meaning to flee, or to escape; so that while the meaning of Pelethites is usually understood as swift runners, or couriers; there is no reason why the word cannot be taken in the sense of the escaped ones. Those who follow Christ are the escaped ones in the sense that they have escaped the bondage of sin, as well as the prospect of judgment, by being identified with him in his death. Of course, the more usual sense of messengers, or couriers is also more than aptly applied to the followers of Christ.
    Another group of David's followers were called the Gittites. The origin of Gittite is Gath, the name of a Philistine city, and denotes those who are natives of that city. However, the word gath signifies winepress in Hebrew, so that this name brings out a two-fold truth concerning those who follow Christ. First, they are shown to be those who by the birth of the flesh are uncircumcised Philistines, but by devotion to Christ have become the true circumcision. See Philippians 3:2. Second, they are represented as the winepressites, or those who by identification with Christ have been trodden with him in the winepress of God's wrath.
   A remarkable picture of this identification with Christ by those who believe on, or follow, him is brought out by the words of Ittai, the leader of the Gittites, whom David sought to discourage from going along with him in his time of grief and need:

"And Ittai answered the king and said, As the LORD liveth, and as my lord the king liveth, surely in what place my lord the king shall be, whether in death or life, even there also will thy servant be with thee."
II Sam. 15:21.

This remarkable statement of identification with David both in death and in life, was made by a winepressite whose name means one who is near. How eloquently Ittai's identification with David speaks of our own identification with Christ, both in death and in life:

"Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up by the glory of the father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."
"Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him."
Romans 6:4,8.

John H Mattox

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