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Chapter 4 Verse 4

Thy neck is like the tower of David, builded for an armory;
whereon there hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men.

first wordthis verse Christ proceeds to give a sixth instance of the church’s beauty, and compares her neck to the tower of David, etc. The Targum, by her neck, understands the “chief of the session, or great council,” who, for his works and worthiness, was like David king of Israel: R. Aben Ezra expounds it of the king, and the bucklers and shields of the princes: R. Solomon Jarchi interprets the neck of the chambers of hewn stone, where the great council sat, which, he says, was the strength and fortress of Israel; the bucklers or shields, the law, which is a shield or buckler to Israel, which God hath commanded to a thousand generations: and others of the Jewish writers480480Vid. Zohar. in Genesis fol. 114. 3. and Yalkut in loc. think, that by the neck, the house of the sanctuary or temple is intended. Though rather, by the church’s neck are meant, either,

First, The ministers of the gospel; who, 1. As the neck, are placed next the head, in the more eminent part of the body, they are set above the rest of the members; but yet in subjection to Christ, the head; they are fixed between the head and the body, and are ruled by the one, and govern the other; but with no other laws but what are given forth by the head. 2. As the neck, they are adorned with chains of gold which are the gifts and graces of the Spirit; which, in a variety, are given to them, to make them both beautiful and useful in the place wherein they are set. 3. As the neck joins to the head, so they hold to the head, Christ Jesus, and nothing can separate them from him; the flatteries and allurements of the world cannot draw them; nor its terrors, reproaches and persecutions, drive them from Christ; but they still espouse his cause, vindicate his person, preach his gospel, and hold fast their profession, though it be with the peril of their lives. 4. As the neck, they bear up and support the head. that is, the name, cause, and interest of Christ Jesus; so the apostle Paul is said to be “a chosen vessel, to bear Christ’s name among the Gentiles,” Acts 9:15, and Pselles, an ancient writer, thinks that he is here particularly meant. 5. As the neck joins the body to the head, so they bring souls near to Christ who are afar off; and that by preaching “peace to them that were afar off, and to lead them that are nigh:” they shew souls the way of salvation, and direct them to a crucified Christ; they woo and beseech them, and are the instruments of espousing them to him. 6. As the neck is the means of conveying food to the body; so they are the means of conveying spiritual food to souls from Christ: all spiritual food and nourishment is derived to the members from Christ, the head; and very frequently, through the ministry of the word: Christ gives his ministering servants light, knowledge, and understanding in gospel truths, that they may feed others therewith; he breaks the bread of life, and gives it to them, that they may give to every one their portion; as he took the loaves, and distributed to his disciples, and they to the multitude. Now this neck of the church may be compared to the tower of David.

The tower of David481481Turris David. Munita & excelsa valde, quae in duarum voraginum angulo, in praeruptae rupis colie ex quadris lapidibus, ferro & plumbo indissolubiliter cormpaginatis, a Davide rege edificata erat. Cujus singularis fortitudo & egregia pulchritudo ad commendationem sponae Christi, quae est ecclesia, a Solomone producitar, cum ait, Sicut turris David, collum tuum, etc. Adrichom. Theatrubs Terrae Sanctae, p. 168. b. was either the strong hold of Zion, which he took from the Jebusites, and rebuilt; or some other tower, erected by him for an armoury, wherein his worthies or mighty men hung up their shields; such an one as the house of the forest of Lebanon, afterwards built by Solomon, was, where he put two hundred targets, and three hundred shields, all made of beaten gold; and therefore mention is made in Isaiah 22:8 of “the armor of the house of the forest.” Now the ministers of the gospel may be compared to David’s tower: the Lord says of Jeremy (Jer. 6:27), “I have set thee for a tower and for a fortress among my people.” (1.) They may be compared to the tower of David for its height; towers are usually built very high, and, no doubt, this tower of David’s was built so; Mr. Sandys482482Travels, p. 139. says, it stood aloft in the utmost angle of a mountain, whose ruins are yet extant ministers are set in the highest post and place in Christ’s house; are called with the high calling of God, to the greatest work therein, and are endowed with the largest measures of gifts and graces for it, and ought to be highly esteemed of for their works” sake. (2.) For its erectness; towers are built erect, and for this reason the neck is compared to one; the beauty of the neck consisting in its straightness and uprightness; which may set forth the integrity and uprightness of ministers, both in doctrine and conversation: as Christ has counted them faithful, and put them into the ministry, and has put the word of reconciliation into their hands, so they will not let it go; but will hold fast the faithful word, whatever it cost them, or whatever be the consequence of it: moreover, they are as careful to hold it forth in their lives, and to exercise a flood conscience void of offense, both towards God and man. (3.) For its strength: towers, as they are built high and upright, so they are usually built strong; and no doubt but this tower of David’s was: the ministers of the gospel, like towers, are strong and immoveable, cannot be easily moved away from the hope of the gospel; bonds and imprisonment will not move them, nor death itself scare them from it; but, like strong towers and walls of brass, they stand the batteries of Satan and the world. (4.) Towers were built for defense, and so perhaps was this of David’s; ministers of the gospel are set for the defense of it; and they have been enabled so well to do it, that it has not been in the power of the enemy hitherto to take and destroy it. (5.) Sometimes they are built to watch in; thus we read of a watch tower, in Habakkuk 2:1 ministers of the gospel are represented as watchmen, whose work is to give warning of, and to prevent approaching danger, and to watch over and for the souls of men. (6.) This tower of David was built for an armory483483The Hebrew word twyplt is only used in this place, and is left untranslated by the Septuagint. Jewish writers differ about the sense and derivation of it. Some, as R. Aben Ezra observes, take it to be a compound word, of hlt to hang, and twyp mouths or edges, that is, of swords; and so suppose this tower to be built to hang up swords in; which agrees well enough with our translation, and with Junius and Tremellius's version. who render the word, ad armaria. Others think, that it is compounded of lt an heap, and twyp mouths, edges, or corners; and so intends an heap of stones, built up very high and strong, cut in various forms and corners; so Kimchi, in lib. Shorash. rad. llt which are no other than the pinnacles or battlements of towers: accordingly Arias Montanus renders the words, celsa aeutnina; and Cocceius translates it, in molem pinnarum. Others derive it from ãla to teach; and suppose it to intend some very beautiful structure, which might serve as a pattern, and be very instructive to artificers; so Jarchi in loc. though R. Jonah in Kimchi, lib. Shorash. rad. ãla thinks, that it was designed to shew travelers their way: accordingly Pagnine reads it, ad docendum transeuntes: and the Tigurine version, ad usum durigendi homines; in which sense it may easily be applied to the ministers of the gospel, whose business is to shew men the way of salvation; and to the word of God, which is a light to our feet, and a lanthorn to our paths. on which were hung a thousand bucklers, etc. this may intend that furniture which ministers have for their work; and that panopli>a, or whole armor of God, which they are supplied with out of the scriptures, to defend the gospel against all opposers. And so,

Secondly, By the church’s neck, which is compared to “the tower of David,” may be understood also the scriptures of truth; which, 1. As the neck is joined to the head, and being erect, discovers and makes it conspicuous; so the scriptures being near to Christ, point him out, lead and direct souls unto him; they hold him forth, and discover him to them; and therefore Christ exhorts us (John 5:39) to, “search the scriptures,” and for our encouragement declares, that they testify of him. 2. They are the means of conveying spiritual breath to souls: the words which Christ speaks, and when he speaks them to the soul, “they are spirit, and they are life;” and when attend. ed with an almighty power, they make “dry bones live,” and become the “savor of life unto life” to dead sinners. 3. They are the means of conveying spiritual food, as well as spiritual breath; as through the neck our breath is drawn, and food communicated to us, so through the scriptures we have spiritual breath and spiritual food; they supply us with that which is nourishing and satisfying, delightful and pleasant, sweeter than the “honey or the honey comb.” 4. As the neck is beautified with chains of gold; so are the scriptures bespangled with glorious truths and precious promises, where every truth is a golden link, and every promise a pearl, to a believing soul.

Now this neck of the church, the sacred scriptures, may very justly be represented by “the tower of David,” (1.) For height: the scriptures are an high tower; the truths and doctrines contained therein are sublime; they are out of sight, beyond the a each, and above the capacity of a natural man; they are things which the carnal eye hath not seen, the carnal-heart cannot conceive of, and which are only known, judged, valued, and esteemed by the spiritual man, to whom the Spirit of God has revealed these deep things; for there are heights and depths in the sacred volumes, which require an eagle’s eye and an angel’s heart. (2.) For strength, firmness, and immoveableness: Satan and his emissaries nave used all their art and cunning, and employed all their power and might to remove the scripture out of the world; but they have found it “a burdensome stone” unto them; “the gates of hell” and earth have not been able to” prevail against it;” it has stood, and ever will, immoveable as a rock, and impregnable as a tower. (3.) It is like David’s tower, “built for an armory, whereon hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men.” From hence are saints furnished with spiritual armor, [1.] To repel Satan’s temptations: when that enemy of souls set upon Christ in the wilderness, and threw his fiery darts and poisoned arrows at him; he defended himself, and vanquished the enemy with bucklers and shields, and the like pieces of armor taken out of his armory; he repelled and weakened the force of his temptations, by saying, at every assault of the tempter, “It is written,” so or so: and thus likewise believers are enabled to do more or less; there is no better weapon to engage with that enemy than “the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God;” neither is there a better storehouse, and magazine of spiritual armor, than the scriptures be; the reason why those young men, in 1 John 2:14, are said to “overcome the wicked one” is, because the word of God abode in them. [2.] To defend the gospel, and refute erroneous doctrines: thus Christ refuted the errors of the Pharisees concerning the law, and of the Sadducees concerning the resurrection from the dead, and proved the spirituality of the one, and confirmed the truth of the other by scripture testimonies: so Paul and Apollos mightily convinced the Jews, and proved from the scriptures, that Jesus was the Christ, the true Messiah; for, as in 2 Timothy 3:16, 17. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God,” every believer, and more especially a minister of Christ, “may be perfect, thoroughly furnished to every good work;” and particularly to defend truth, and refute error, for which he may be abundantly supplied out of this armory; for here “hang a thousand bucklers,” and these are “all shields of mighty” men;” which mighty men may use, and by which they may perform mighty actions, and do great exploits.

Thirdly, By the church’s neck, which as compared to the tower of David,” we may also understand the grace of faith; and, 1. As the neck is united to the head and members, so believers, being united to Christ, lay hold upon him by faith, and closely adhere to him; by faith Christ dwells in our hearts, and by faith we dwell in him, being one with him. 2. It bears up and exalts the head; there is no grace which brings that glory to Christ, and honors him, as this does; it is a soul-emptying, self-abasing, and Christ-exalting grace. 3. Through it are conveyed, and by it are derived from Christ, the head, all life, food, and nourishment to our souls; it is by faith we live on Christ, and receive life, and the comfortable supplies of it; all food and nourishment comes from Christ, the head, which faith receives and conveys unto us. 4. It is adorned with other graces and good works; the other grace of the Spirit, such as hope, fear, love, humility, patience, self-denial, etc. are like chains of gold about this neck; besides, there are also the fruits of righteousness which attend it, and make it look very beautiful and amiable. 5. It is like to the neck for erectness; it looks not downwards, but upwards to Christ, who is “the author and finisher” of it; it is attended with an humble boldness, an holy confidences and a becoming cheerfulness.

This may now be compared to “the tower of David, (1.) For its height: the author of this grace of faith is the most high God; it has its original from above; its object is Christ, who is “made higher than the heavens;” and to him it looks, on him it lives, in him it dwells; and is still pressing on toward “the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (2.) It is like a tower builded for an armory: faith is the believer’s defense, his buckler and shield, whereby he is enabled “to quench the fiery darts” of Satan; faith makes use of God as its shield, being encouraged so to do, by the declaration of grace made to Abraham, Genesis 15:1. “Fear not, I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.” Faith improves and makes use of every perfection in God, as a shield, his love, grace, power, faithfulness, etc. faith makes use of all God’s promises as such; there is never a promise in the gospel, but will serve for a buckler and shield for faith, which believers, at one time or another, have also used as such; but more especially, faith uses Christ as such, who is the believer’s sun and shield, and will give grace and glory to them, and will withhold no good thing from them: Christ indeed, rather than faith, is a storehouse and magazine of armor, whereon hang a thousand bucklers; in whom an inexhaustible, overflowing, and all-sufficient fullness of grace dwells: from whence faith is furnished with all sorts of graces and every needful piece of spiritual armor.

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