Hebrew Streams: Spirit Before Pentecost/Acts 2: David streams

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David the Mashiach

[The Spirit Before Pentecost/Acts 2]

King David and the Good, Holy Spirit

by Paul Sumner

Series Introduction

The Hebrew Scriptures depict the Spirit of God "hovering" over the new creation; guiding and teaching Moses and the Israelites through the wilderness of Sinai; as granting Daniel divine insight into visions given to a Babylonian king.

Certain religious traditions strongly emphasize "the Coming of the Holy Spirit" at the festival of Pentecost as told in Acts chapter 2. Indeed, this event was pre-recorded in the book of Joel and is fufilled in Acts. But it has a pre-story not always taken into account.

How do we dovetail these two perspectives: the Spirit was present and active prior to that gathering of Yeshua's disciples in Jerusalem after his resurrection when the Spirit fell upon them? Is there a conflict between the two portions of Scripture?

Is the Spirit in the Hebrew Bible ("Old Testament") the same Spirit in the New Testament? Some theologians say No, they aren't. It's why they use "spirit" when referencing the Old Testament, but "Spirit" when the perspective is the New.

Their distinction — not based on Scripture — opens a major door into revealing theological influences on Bible translations.

This series of articles on the Spirit Before Pentecost/Acts 2 will attempt to unravel and answer these questions.

David the Mashiach

David ben Jesse of Bethlehem of Judah is the central human character in the Hebrew Bible.

While Moses talked to God "face to face" (Exod 33:11; Deut 5:4), David was God's "firstborn son" and "highest of the kings of earth" (2 Sam 7:14; Ps 89:26-27).

Long after David died (around 961 BCE), when the prophets gazed into Israel's future, they saw a second David, not another Moses. That David will be king who sits at God's right hand and rules from Jerusalem over the entire earth (Ps 110:1; Isa 11:10; Ps 72:8-11).

According to 2 Samuel 23, David is the "anointed one [Heb, mashiach] of the God of Jacob." He says of himself, "the Spirit of the LORD [ruach YHVH] spoke by me" (vv. 1, 2). He rules and speaks for God. He is a king and a prophet.

In this passage is a link between being anointed and the Spirit. The link is first seen in the scene of David's anointing by the prophet Samuel.

Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed [mashach] him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD [ruach YHVH] rushed mightily [tzalach] to David from that day forward. (2 Sam 16:13, emphasis added)

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We could say David had a permanent, daily, anointing with the Ruach. That the Spirit "rushed mightily" follows a previous but contrasting pattern. Ruach rushed [tzalach] upon Samson (Judg 14:6, 19; 15:14) and on pre-rebellious Saul (1 Sam 10:6, 10; 11:6). Strength, courage, determination — not necessarily moral fortitude in either man.

David's faith in God contrasted those of Samson and Saul.

Soon after this anointing, David skillfully killed Goliath "in the name of YHVH of armies [LORD of hosts], the God of the ranks of Israel" (1 Sam 17:45). Yet he affirmed that "YHVH does not deliver by sword or by spear" (v. 47). He doesn't mention the Spirit as his power source, but that's implied.

This pre-echoes a spiritual principle voiced by God himself centuries later: " 'Not by might or by power, but by my Ruach,' says YHVH of armies" (Zech 4:6).

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The Good Spirit
(Psalm 143)

In Psalm 143 David is in distress. Numerous enemies overwhelm his spirit, and his mind [Heb, lev] is desolate (v. 4). When he asks for deliverance, he recalls "the days of old" when God's "doings" with his "hands" (v. 5) were manifest. We don't know if these days are from David's past or the nation's past.

He then tells us how God can deliver him:

Teach me to do your will,
For you are my God.
Let your Good Spirit [ruach tovah] lead me on level ground.
(v. 10)

[The capital letters on "Good Spirit" are my decision. Hebrew script had no capitals, so any lower case or upper case printing in modern Bibles is the opinion of translators. Most of them print "good Spirit" or "good spirit." One has "blessed Spirit"; another "your Spirit is good." Another (Good News Translation) basically ignores the Hebrew and invents a juvenile, "Be good to me."
     I use upper case here and elsewhere to draw attention to yet another way the Hebrews referred to God's Spirit. Notice "Good Hand" below.]

"Good Spirit" is used only one other time in the Bible. It occurs in a history survey prayer of praise voiced by Nehemiah, Ezra, and the Levite leaders when they reestablished national spiritual foundations at the Temple site, around 440 BCE.

As David did, they too recalled days of old. They looked back a thousand years to the time of Moses following the escape from Egypt.

You gave your Good Spirit to instruct [maskil] them [Israel]...
You admonished them by your Spirit through your prophets.
(Neh 9:20a, 30)

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"Good Spirit" is not used in the Torah. Nor is it used in the New Testament.

The Torah mentions God's "Angel" and "Presence" as leading them (Exod 23:20; 32:34; 33:14). The Spirit filled Bezalel the craftsman (Exod 31:33; 35:31), dwelt upon Moses (Num 11:17), and was given to the 72 tribal leaders (Num 11:25-26). It was within Joshua (Num 27:18). It also came upon the pagan prophet Balaam (Num 24:2).

"Good Spirit" seems equivalent to "Good Hand" in the exilic books of Ezra and Nehemiah. YHVH communicates his will by his "Hand" (Ezra 7:6, 9, 28; 8:18, 22, 31; Ezra 2:18), or by his "Good Hand" (Ezra 7:9; 8:18; Neh 2:8). To say it another way, he admonished his people "by [his] Spirit."

In Isaiah 63, "Holy Spirit" appears to be another way to describe God's Good Spirit of old. This text likewise recalls "the days of old" when God led Israel through the wilderness by "the Angel of his Presence" (v. 9), and by his Holy Spirit which he "put within him" [i.e., Moses]. (Some versions read: "within them"; but the pronomial ending is singular.)

So, Israelites looking back ten centuries (to Moses) and five centuries (to David) describe God's guiding, instructing, indwelling as the work of his Hand, Angel, and Presence. All are used synonymously for his Spirit.

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David Gets Temple Plans from the Spirit
(1 Chronicles 28)

God promised David that his son would "build" a house for Him and a house (dynasty, kingdom) for David (2 Sam 7).

The same Hebrew root underlies the key words "build" [banah], "son" [ben], and "house" [bayit, beit]. A father builds his son, who will become a house or dynasty for the father's name.

David knew this promise to him referred to a house-building-son in "the distant future" (v. 9). His son Solomon became that House Builder: of the Jerusalem Temple and a line of Davidic descendants.

In a verse obscured by most modern translations, we again see the ongoing, indwelling Presence of God's Spirit within David (1 Chron 28:12).

David gave to his son Solomon the Plan [tavnit; for the Temple complex] ... the Plan of all that was [from] the Spirit with him" [asher hayah baruach immo]. (vv. 11, 22)
The Spirit was "with" David — like an architectural designer, revealer, interpreter of the Plan.

The Text often speaks of God being "with" someone, including David (2 Sam 5:10) and Yeshua himself, as he said: "I am not alone, because the Father is with me" (John 16:23).

[Consider: "Immanu-El: An Ancient Promise"]

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David and Bat-Sheva
(Psalm 51)

When he became king, David one time acted like many an ancient Near Eastern monarch by stealing a man's wife then having him killed.

This was out of character for David. At least out of the character or spirit with which God anointed him day by day. In this wicked deed, he was not "a man after" God's own mind (1 Sam 13;14; Acts 13:22). And he knew it.

Here in Psalm 51 he repentantly asked God to "cleanse" his mind [lev] and "renew" what he had lost: a "steadfast spirit" [ruach nachon] (v. 10, Heb v. 12).

David didn't want his heavenly Father to utterly withdraw his Presence and take away his Holy Spirit (v. 11; Heb v. 13). More, he begged Him to restore "the joy of [His] yesha [deliverance, salvation, help]" (v. 12; Heb v. 14).

He had already tasted God's existentially personal yesha that gave him joy. It came from his Presence (literally, his Face) or Ruach. David had walked in "the joy of the Holy Spirit"..."in his generation" (1 Thess 1:6; Acts 13:36).

An important question we must ask: Does God ever remove his Ruach? Psalm 51 answers Yes. Hebrews 6 answers Yes. The reason is simple.

If a sinful spirit dominates a woman there is no room for a holy, righteous spirit. God takes away what is rejected, disdained, abhorred by a man. He did that with Saul (1 Sam 16:14). When David yielded to a spirit of adultery and conceived a murder plot, he turned his soul away from God. He withdrew himself from God's spirit; God withdrew his presence — for a time.

Will God give back his Ruach when a person repents and asks for renewal and a fresh draft of saving life? Psalm 51 answers Yes. David expected so. Acts 5:32 confirms this truth: "God gave the Holy Spirit to those obeying him."

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Nowhere to Flee the Spirit-Presence
(Psalm 139)

In Psalm 139 David expresses perhaps in the best of all texts a human's awareness that God knows everything about a person. Unlike his ancestors Adam and Havah who fled from God's presence (Gen 3), Jesse's son, God's mashiach, gladly, gratefully declared:

Where can I go from your Ruach?
Or where can I flee from your Presence? (v. 7)
He wanted the divine Presence always near. It meant life to him. Again we see David joining Spirit with Presence (Ps 51:11).

Ruach in Hebrew means moving air: as wind, spirit, or breath. Presence is panim: face. A face consists of eyes, nose, mouth and ears. Breath forms words. Words convey mind or spirit (character, disposition, nature). God's present Mouth breathes out or utters his holy Spirit.

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If we had the opportunity to see Yeshua in person, we could not help perceiving, reading, feeling his spirit. Everything about him would convey who he was invisibly, across time and space, into our inner being. That is, his words, eyes, body language would move us without his touching our bodies.

When God is present (eyes watching, ears listening, mouth speaking), a person cannot conceal himself in a garden's dense foliage. He cannot escape into the heavens or descend into Sheol or fly to the western end of the sea. God's Hand (Ps 139:10) will find and "lead" him "in the everlasting way" (v. 24).

We recall that Ezra spoke of the Lord's "Good Hand" and Nehemiah mentioned the "Good Spirit." Ezekiel explicitly connects Hand and Spirit as the source of his prophetic visions and visionary transport:

The Hand of the LORD fell upon me there...
The Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven
and brought me in visions of God to Jerusalem. (Ezek 8:1, 3)

The Hand of the LORD was upon me,
And he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD
and set me down in the middle of the valley;
and it was full of bones. (Ezek 37:1)

Returning to Psalm 139, David knew well every feature of God's human anatomy. Nothing about his Lord was abstract or distant, impassive or uncaring. He knew his Father would not utterly abandon him, even if he chose to sin. Father would search him out, to the ends of the universe. If he returned to Him in repentant grief, David affimed,

When I awake, I am still with You. (v. 18)

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The Future Branch of David

Centuries after David died, the prophets began to prepare Israel for the coming of "a shoot...the stem of Jesse [David's father]" (Isa 11:1), a "righteous Branch for David" (Jer 23:15), who is God's Servant "the Branch" [tzemach] (Zech 3:8; 6:12).

The major feature of this second David will be his anointing.

The Spirit of the LORD [Ruach YHVH] will rest on him. (Isa 11:2)

Behold my Servant, whom I uphold;
My Chosen One in whom my soul delights.
I have put my Ruach upon him. (Isa 42:1)

The Ruach of the Lord YHVH is upon me,
Because YHVH has anointed me
To bring good news to the affilicted...
To proclaim the favorable year of YHVH. (Isa 61:1, 2)

No Israelite has fulfilled these prophecies of a Spirit-anointed servant of God as Yeshua has. In the New Testament, the title "Messiah" (Greek, Christos) is attributed to him over 500 times.

You know Yeshua of Nazareth, how God anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power...God was with him. (Acts 10:38)

You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. (Matt 16:16)

These things have been written that you may believe that Yeshua is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:31)

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David Sees God's Lord

Yeshua confirms that David was a Spirit-anointed prophet.

When Bible-literate Pharisees were probing Yeshua for his interpretations of Torah, he turns and probes them. "What do you think about the Messiah. Whose son is he?" (Matt 22:42).

Such a basic question for which everyone knows the answer: "The son of David." Is that all he is? Yeshua opens the Text to them and to all his future followers, to this day.

"Then how does David in the Spirit call him 'Lord' saying:

'The LORD said to my Lord,
Sit at my right hand,
Until I put your enemies beneath your feet'?" [Psalm 110:1]

"If David then calls him 'Lord,' how is he his son?" (vv. 43-45).

The Bible scholars couldn't or wouldn't answer him. Bible students today know that Psalm 110:1 is the most often quoted text from Hebrew Scripture in the entire New Testament. It is a central passage about Messiah's (and Yeshua's) standing with God.

[Consider: The Two Lords (of Psalm 110:1)]

Messiah is YHVH's Lord [Adon]. David was given this word by the Ruach of YHVH a millennium before his distant son would cite his prophecy.

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Conclusion

David's testimony to the ongoing Present Spirit of God in his life should be remembered when we read Acts 2 and the rest of the New Testament.

Given that he was God's messiah, anointed with holy Ruach — a thousand years before Yeshua — what does his life tell us about Yeshua and about his disciples and their experiences with "the Spirit of Yeshua" ... "the Spirit of Messiah" (Acts 16:7; Rom 8:9; 1 Peter 1:11) that came to them a thousand years later?

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