Give the king Your judgments, O God, and Your righteousness to the king’s Son. He will judge Your people with righteousness, and Your poor with justice. The mountains will bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness…In His days the righteous shall flourish, and abundance of peace, until the moon is no more. He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.
Psalm 72:1-3, 7-3
War is the result of the distrust and jealousies that prevail among the nations, and all of these are but expressions of the sinfulness of men’s hearts. Until all this is curbed there can be no lasting peace for mankind. Men may try to bring about universal peace by treaties and covenants, but as long as sin rules in their hearts their efforts will only end in disappointment and heart rending strife. Only when the Lord Jesus Christ asserts His power, at His second coming, will the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our Lord and His Christ (Revelation 11:15). Then all the glorious predictions of the prophets will be literally fulfilled and wars will cease out of the earth, for everywhere men will own the authority of Him who alone can carry out the divine program. So long as He is rejected, there must be conflicts and misunderstandings among the nations, but when He comes to reign as King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16), God’s will shall be done on earth as it is done in Heaven (Matthew 6:10).
Soon Thou shalt come in bright array,
With all Thy saints in train—
To conquer earth, erect Thy throne,
And o’er creation reign.
Lord, haste that bright expected day
When earth shall cease to groan;
When all Thine own shall be with Thee,
And Thou upon Thy throne.
Then streams of everlasting praise
To Thy blest name shall flow—
From all the ransomed in the skies,
And those on earth below.
—C. G. Crowston
You caused judgment to be heard from heaven; the earth feared and was still, when God arose to judgment, to deliver all the oppressed of the earth…. Surely the wrath of man shall praise You; with the remainder of wrath You shall gird Yourself.
Nothing perplexes the average believer in the justice of God more than the mystery of His long toleration of evil. But the man of faith can afford to wait in quietness and confidence (Isaiah 30:15), assured that He who is the righteous Judge of all men will never permit anything in this universe which will not prove at last to have been under His overruling hand and allowed for some good purpose. He will never have to apologize to any of His creatures for anything He ever does or which He permits to be done by Satan and those who are subject to the great adversary. All things are so ordered or overruled that He will be glorified and man will be blessed when the mystery of God is finished (Revelation 10:7) and the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ (Revelation 11:15).
Thy calmness bends serene above
My restlessness to still,
Around me flows Thy quickening life
To nerve my faltering will;
Thy presence fills my solitude,
Thy providence turns all to good.
Embosomed deep in Thy great love,
Held in Thy law, I stand;
Thy hand in all things I behold,
And all things in Thy hand;
Thou leadest me by unsought ways,
And turn’st my mourning into praise.
Oh, sing to the Lord a new song! Sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless His name; proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples.
The book of Psalms is composed largely of poetical expressions of worship, but on reading these matchless hymns of praise we need to remember that redemption was not yet actually accomplished. The veil was unrent. God was hidden in the thick darkness (2 Chronicles 6:1). His people worshiped in an earthly sanctuary and their understanding of His truth was very limited compared to the full revelation now given in the New Testament, particularly in the Epistles, which open up the truth of Christ’s finished work on the cross, the rent veil permitting God to come out to man and man to go in to God. Our place of worship is the heavenly sanctuary (Hebrews 10:19), where Christ sits exalted at the Father’s right hand. We are called to worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:24), as those whose citizenship is in Heaven (Philippians 3:20), and who are in the joyful consciousness that we have been accepted in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:6).
The holiest we enter
In perfect peace with God,
Through whom we found our centre
In Jesus and His blood:
Though great may be our dullness
In thought and word and deed,
We glory in the fullness
Of Him that meets our need.
Much incense is ascending
Before th’ eternal throne;
God graciously is bending
To hear each feeble groan;
To all our prayers and praises
Christ adds His sweet perfume,
And Love the censer raises,
These odors to consume.
Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!
Psalm 107:8, 15, 21, 31
Four times in Psalm 107 we have these same words, calling for praise and thanksgiving. Elsewhere we read, “Praise from the upright is beautiful” (Psalm 33:1), and again we are told, “Whoever offers praise glorifies Me” (Psalm 50:23). Praise is the spontaneous outcome of a grateful heart that has experienced the saving grace of God and recognizes His providential dealings and Fatherly care day by day. It is strange indeed that we should need to be urged to praise. But we are so prone to be forgetful of the source of our mercies and to rejoice in the gifts (which we so readily take for granted) rather than in the Giver Himself, who is worthy of our constant adoration. How often we pray for blessings and forget to give thanks when our cries are heard!
Our Father, we give thanks to Thee
That Thou hast given to us food
And shelter, hast supplied our needs
And brought our hearts to joyous mood.
Yet we do thank Thee more, that if
These temporal things should fail, and we
Be hungry, naked, desolate,
We still could place our trust in Thee;
And know that though the darkness come,
The dawning is not far away,
And Thou whose mercy cannot cease
Will bring to us the light of day.
—Clara Aiken Speor
If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.
A realization of the omnipresence of God must be a source of wretchedness to the wicked, who would like to find a hiding-place where His holy eye cannot see them. But it occasions great joy and comfort to the tried believer who knows that, through grace, God is his own loving Father and that His holy eye ever looks down in compassion upon His people as they face the trials and testings of this life. The personality of God means so much to the soul who trusts Him. No mere impersonal force or unsympathetic principle of nature can comfort the heart and meet the need of the one who yearns for fellowship with the living God (Psalm 42:1-2). He is the God of the spirits of all flesh (Numbers 16:22), the Father of spirits (Hebrews 12:9), who is the Creator of the ends of the earth (Isaiah 40:28), and the Sustainer of all who turn to Him (Psalm 55:22). He is above all and through all and in us all (Ephesians 4:6), and nothing is hidden from His eyes (Psalm 11:4); those eyes that run to and fro through the whole earth to take note of all who confide in Him and seek to do His will, that He may show Himself strong in their behalf (2 Chronicles 16:9).
With Thee by faith I walk in crowds—alone,
Making to Thee my wants and wishes known:
Drawing from Thee my daily strength in prayer,
Finding Thine arm sustains me everywhere;
While, thro the clouds of sin and woe, the light
Of coming glory shines more sweetly bright;
And this my daily boast—my aim—my end—
That my Redeemer is my God—my Friend!
—C. H. I.
The path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day. The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.
How marked is the difference between the way of the wicked and the path of the just! That of the latter leads ever onward and upward to that city which is enlightened by the glory of God, and from whose gates streams that glory which shines brighter and brighter unto the perfect day. Death is but the entrance of the saint into the presence of the Lord and the beginning of a richer, fuller life, far better than anything known on earth. But how terrible the contrast when we consider the way of the lawless! Bent on enjoying the present moment, seeking ever some new thrill, they cast all caution to the winds and run in the path of iniquity.
Proverbs has been called “The Young Man’s Book.” It abounds in wholesome instruction, which if implicitly followed will ensure a life of happiness and rectitude. It was not written to show the way of salvation, nor does it deal with prophecy or great spiritual doctrines. It is as truly applicable for this age of grace as for that of law, which preceded it.
Child of My love, fear not the unknown morrow,
Dread not the new demand life makes of thee;
Thy ignorance doth hold no cause for sorrow
Since what thou knowest not is known to Me.
Thou canst not see today the hidden meaning
Of My command, but thou the light shall gain;
Walk on in faith, upon My promise leaning,
And as thou goest all shall be made plain.
One step thou seest—then go forward boldly,
One step is far enough for faith to see;
Take that, and thy next duty shall be told thee,
For step by step thy Lord is leading thee.
—F. J. Exley
The Lord possessed me at the beginning of His way before His works of old, I have been established from everlasting, from the beginning before there was ever an earth…When He assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters would not transgress His command, when He marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside Him as a master craftsman; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing in His inhabited world, and my delight was with the sons of men.
Proverbs 8:22-23, 29-31
It is easy to see in Wisdom, as personified in Proverbs 8, our blessed Lord Jesus, the eternal Wisdom. He was one with the Father from all eternity, and participated with Him in the creation of the universe. How precious to read that His “delight was with the sons of men.” He foresaw all that they would be guilty of, yet loved them still. It is a mystery far too great for our poor minds to take in. but it tells of a love that is infinite and eternal.
Ere God had built the mountains,
Or rinsed the fruitful hills;
Before He filled the fountains
That feed the running rills;
In Thee, from everlasting,
The wonderful I Am
Found pleasure never wasting,
And Wisdom is Thy name.
And couldst Thou be delighted
With creatures such as we,
Who, when we saw Thee,
slighted And nailed Thee to a tree?
And mystery divine!
The voice that speaks in thunder
Says, “Sinner, I am thine!”
The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways, but a good man will be satisfied from above.
Distrust of self and full trust in God is the sure way to prevent backsliding. It is never safe to depend upon past experiences for future blessing, or to rely on one’s own ability to stand in the hour of temptation. “He gives more grace” (James 4:6). We see this in the account of Peter’s failure. Had his dependence been upon the Lord Himself, he would not have failed so miserably in the hour of stress. It is important to realize, however, that there is a vast difference between spiritual declension and apostasy. No matter how genuine one’s Christianity may be, he is never beyond the possibility of failure or backsliding while in this world, but no real believer will ever become an apostate, for that involves a definite turning away from the truth of Christ and His redemptive work. The Spirit of God will reclaim the backslider, but there is no such promise for the recovery of the apostate.
The downward path is an easy and rapid one. Peter’s boastfulness, when warned by the Lord Jesus of danger, was mistaken for true courage, but when courage was really needed he became a coward and denied all that once he had gloried in.
Call Thy people back, O Lord,
As in the early days,
When love was warm, and fresh, and bright,
When first we knew Thy grace;
When first Thy light broke through our night,
And set our hearts ablaze.
Lord, call us back!
Call us back to those sweet days
When hearts were knit as one,
When prayer was as the breath of life;
Ere we were so undone,
Ere souls were rife with endless strife;
For Jesus’ sake, Thy Son,
Lord, call us back!
Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.
When nations or communities of lesser size turn from the paths of integrity and self-restraint to those of wickedness and careless self-indulgence, they are in the way of inevitable ruin. It was not the barbarians that destroyed the Roman Empire in the fourth century of our era. It was the immorality and drunkenness of its citizens. Israel could never be vanquished by foes from the outside. It was always the enemies within that caused defeat and brought ruin and desolation. The nation or community that trains its youth to walk in righteousness and shun licentiousness, drunkenness, and other vicious types of behavior will become and remain strong and powerful. Where it is otherwise, its weakness will soon become evident. It is as true of whole groups as of individuals, that whatsoever they sow will surely be reaped (Galatians 6:7).
Lord, while for all mankind we pray,
Of every clime and coast,
Oh, hear us for our native land,
The land we love the most.
Unite us in the sacred love
Of knowledge, truth, and Thee,
And let our hills and valleys shout
The songs of liberty.
Lord of the nations, thus to Thee
Our country we commend;
Be Thou her refuge and her boast,
Her everlasting Friend!
Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint.
We need the revelation of coming glory in order to sustain us in our present conflict with sin and to lift us above discouragement as we often see the apparent thwarting of the will of God. But it is only apparent. Nothing can hinder the eventual carrying out of the divine program. The kingdoms of this world shall yet become the kingdom of our God and His Christ. At the present time we are called upon to suffer for righteousness’ sake, to endure trial and persecution, to share in our Savior’s rejection. But as surely as there is a God in Heaven, so surely shall His kingdom come at last and the Crucified shall become King over all the earth. In that day “a king will reign in righteousness” (Isaiah 32:1). “Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins” (Isaiah 11:5). Then the law and the prophets shall all be fulfilled and the days of Heaven will be known on earth.
The storm-clouds o’er nations that thicken,
The woe that is followed by woe,
But brighten His rainbow of praise—
Give this hope greater lustre and glow.
The voices that echo His coming
Ring out o’er the sea and the land,
The omens that gleam on earth’s dial
Proclaim that my Lord is at hand.
Then, come, blessed Lord! Call away
The blood-purchased Bride of Thy heart;
No longer delay, but speak Thou the word
That bids her from earth to depart.
Thy joy and her joy will then be complete,
While measureless ages roll by;
She’ll then see the infinite measure of love
That brought Thee from glory to die!
—C. C. Crowston
“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher; “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity”…All things are full of labor; man cannot express it, The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.
Ecclesiastes 1:2, 8
The natural man finds himself caught as on a great whirling wheel with no power to stay the controlling hand of what seems like a relentless fate. So he finds life to be all vanity and a pursuit after the wind. But the Spirit-taught believer looks up and sees an exalted Christ at God’s right hand and knows that He is, in Himself, the Wisdom of God, and so can commit his life in confidence to His loving care and can exclaim with gladness, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).
The great wheel of the world goes round,
And nothing is at a stay;
The generations come and pass,
As shadows move upon the grass,
More permanent than they.
But yet, though the wheel be high, look up:
For a Form, and a Human Form,
Sitteth in peace above it still,
And guideth it with a perfect will,
Through brightness and through storm.
And the wheel of the world is His chariot-wheel,
For His triumph it moveth on;
And we catch from His glorious face today
The peace of its promise all the way,
Till the goal of His rest be won.
—F. C. Jennings
I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with mirth; therefore enjoy pleasure;” but surely, this also was vanity.
The words “I said in my heart” are one of the key expressions in the book of Ecclesiastes. It is the story of the effort of a man to find the supreme good apart from divine revelation. He looks into his own heart, follows its dictates, and after trying all that earth has to offer finds all is vanity or emptiness. Worldly folly never satisfied anyone who sought it. Frivolity may captivate the senses for a moment, but it leaves regret behind. How many a devotee of pleasure has exclaimed at last, “Life is not worth living!” Solomon tried to find solace in the pleasures of the wine cup, though determined not to act the part of a fool and allow himself to become a drunkard. He would drink in moderation, hoping in this to find “what was good for the sons of men.” His book tells how vain was the effort to find lasting enjoyment in self-indulgence of any kind. He had almost unlimited wealth, and he determined not to deny himself anything that his eyes desired or his heart craved. He gave himself, for a time at least, wholly to the pursuit of self-gratification, hoping in this to find perfect happiness. But as he looked back upon wasted years and blighted hopes he realized that the selfish life is the empty life. All was emptiness and a pursuit of the wind. Nothing under the sun can satisfy a man made for eternity.
To walk with God, O fellowship divine!
Man’s highest state on earth—Lord be it mine!
With Thee, may I a close communion hold;
To Thee, the deep recesses of my heart unfold:
Yes, tell Thee all—each weary care and grief
Into Thy bosom pour—till there I find relief.
O let me walk with Thee, Thou Mighty One;
Lean on Thine arm, and trust Thy love alone;
With Thee hold converse sweet where’er I go;
Thy smile of love my highest bliss below!
— J. J. P.
that whatever God does, it shall be forever. Nothing can be added to it, and nothing taken from it. God does it, that men should fear before Him.
God’s word to us, His children, is not yes and no, but yes in Christ Jesus. When He promises, nothing can change His purpose. He “will not call back His words” (Isaiah 31:2). To the one who trusts Him He gives eternal life, and He has declared that such shall never perish, neither shall they ever be plucked out of His hands. The believer is as secure as God Himself can make him. He is justified from all things, the recipient of a new nature and a life that can never be destroyed. He is set apart to God for eternity in all the value of the finished work of Christ.
0 changeless love that loveth me, though I forget!
Infinite love that saveth me, though snares beset!
Love that cut Satan’s tangled chain and set me free;
Love that drew love from sin’s domain;
Broke Satan’s power, bade mercy reign;
I’ll trust in Thee.
And, since I must go forth to meet the night’s chill blast,
Thy love’s full mantle, soft and warm, around me cast;
Let not the darkness hide from me Thy shining face,
Until the Morning Star I see;
Until from earth aloft I flee
To Thine embrace.
There was a little city with few men in it; and a great king came against it, besieged it, and built great snares around it. Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that same poor man.
The little city is like Bunyan’s Mansoul. The cruel adversary is Satan, the prince and god of this world. The poor wise man is our blessed Lord Jesus Christ, who by His death on Calvary has delivered those once in fear of death and so held all their lifetime in dreadful bondage. Strange that we should ever forget One who has wrought so mightily on our behalf! Surely He should ever be in remembrance as we consider how much we owe to His wisdom, power, and grace!
Oh, ‘twas wondrous grace that brought Thee
From the glory there on high,
And ‘twas wondrous love that led Thee
Thus to stoop, to bleed and die;
Thou wast e’en from everlasting,
E’er the worlds were brought to light
Ever dwelling with Thy Father,
As His own supreme delight.
Now in life and resurrection
Thou hast link’d us up with Thee,
Standing ‘twixt the cross and glory,
Gladly we remember Thee.
Death and judgment gone forever,
Glory is our portion now,
And, in spirit there already,
We before Thy face would bow.
The labor of fools wearies them, for they do not even know how to go to the city!
All through the Word of God one glorious city is before the eyes of His saints. It is the city for which Abraham looked, which has foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God. We see it pictured in all its magnificence in the closing chapters of the book of Revelation. The way to that city is Christ Himself. He says so plainly, “I am the way….No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). Yet men labor on in their folly, seeking another way because they will not heed the plain message of the gospel. We are warned that, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12). Not
a way, but
the Way will bring us safely home.
O God, through Christ the living Way,
My Father and my God,—
So near, and I so far astray,
Brought nigh Thee by His blood.
And now by love’s own power led on,
I reach the inmost rest—
The nameless rapture of a son
Upon the Father’s breast.
—C. T. S.
Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.
The reference is to the Egyptian method of rice sowing—scattering the seed over the land when flooded by the waters of the Nile, counting on a bountiful harvest later on. So it is with the sower of the gospel seed. He is to be diligent in giving out the Word of Life under all circumstances, knowing that God will not let His Word return unto Him void, but will use it in the salvation of the lost and needy. Often the results of faithful sowing will appear long years afterwards, but in many more cases it will not be until we stand at the judgment seat of Christ that the harvest will be revealed.
Sow thy seed, be never weary,
Let no fears thy soul annoy,
Be the prospect ne’er so dreary,
Thou shalt reap the fruits of joy.
Lo, the scene of verdure brightening!
See the rising grain appear.
Look again! The fields are whitening,
For the harvest-time is near.
He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.
Song of Solomon 2:4
The Song of Solomon is the book of communion. It sets forth the nuptial joys of the heavenly Bridegroom and the bride of His heart as they commune together in the full recognition of mutual love and faithfulness. The bride, in this verse, is seen in the royal banquet hall, delighting in the bountiful provision of her kingly bridegroom, with love’s banner waving overhead. That banner is the standard of the cross. It tells of a love that was stronger than death, which the many waters could not quench. Beneath its folds the loved one enjoys fullest fellowship as she exclaims, “I am my beloved’s, and his desire is toward me” (Song of Solomon 7:10).
Oh, I am my Beloved’s,
And my Beloved’s mine!
He brings a poor vile sinner
Into His “house of wine”!
I stand upon His merit,
I know no safer stand,
Not e’en where glory dwelleth,
In Immanuel’s land.
The bride eyes not her garment,
But her dear bridegroom’s face;
I will not gaze at glory,
But on my King of Grace—
Not at the crown He giveth,
But on His pierced hand:—
The Lamb is all the glory
Of Immanuel’s land.
—Anne Ross Cousin
A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.
Song of Solomon 4:12
It is a poor thing when the Lord does not have the first place in the heart. He is thoroughly exclusive. He wants the whole heart for Himself. When it is thus set apart for Him, He will keep the key and He will enter in and enjoy all the sweet flowers and fruit that His own Holy Spirit produces. When this is actually true there will be abundance for the blessing of others, for the living fountain will flow out beyond the walls of the garden to bring refreshment and blessing to a needy world outside. But the great thing is to be sure that He alone holds the key, and that His seal is upon the door which none else can break.
Take my poor heart, and let it be
Forever closed to all but Thee;
Seal Thou my breast, and let me wear
The pledge of love forever there.
We have a little sister, and she has no breasts. What shall we do for our sister in the day when she is spoken for?
Song of Solomon 8:8
The more we enjoy of Christ ourselves, the more we will be concerned about underprivileged ones all about us and in the regions beyond, who should know of the same blessed Savior who means so much to us. Oh these little sisters of ours, and brothers too, who are still sitting in darkness, waiting for the light to reach them! How can we be indifferent to their need? Our Lord has bidden us carry the glad gospel story into all the world, that millions more may share with us the joy of knowing that love which is beyond all telling. These lost sheep in the wilderness need to be sought after and brought to the Good Shepherd who died for them as well as for us.
Have ye looked for sheep in the desert.
For those who have missed their way?
Have ye been in the wild waste places,
Where the lost and wandering stray?
Have ye trodden the lonely highway,
The foul and the darksome street?
It may be ye’d see in the gloaming
The print of My wounded feet.
So I said, “Woe is me for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar And he touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.”
It is always interesting to hear a personal and intimate account of the revelation of God to a human soul. In this chapter Isaiah lets us into the secret of his wonderful power and equipment for service. He takes us into the sanctuary, shows us how the Lord was revealed to him, and lets us know the circumstances of his call to the prophetic office. This was the real starting point of his effective ministry. We know from chapter 1:1, that he began to witness for God in the days of King Uzziah. As the events recorded in chapter 6 took place in the year that ruler died, we conclude that these experiences were subsequent to his earlier prophetic testimony. Many servants of God have preached to others before learning to know the Lord themselves in a definite way and before being brought into the full consciousness of cleansing and preparation for service. Yet we need not think of this as Isaiah’s “second blessing.” It was rather a part of God’s dealing with him in order that he might be better prepared to give out the Word to others because of knowing the reality of having to do with God personally.
Speak Thou Thy living Word to me,
That I Thy messenger may be,
Indwelt by love and power divine,
To preach that precious truth of Thine.
For Thy strength is in weakness shown,
So, standing in Thy power alone,
Which by Thy grace shall in me dwell,
The story of the cross I’ll tell.
—Robert R. Pentecost
Therefore the Lord Himself wilt give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and hear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel
The virgin birth of Jesus is a revealed truth, the importance of which no one can properly appraise. Upon this fact hangs the whole plan of redemption. It tells us that God entered into human conditions, became man without ceasing to be God, took our flesh and blood apart from sin, in order that He might by Himself effect the purging of sins by dying upon the cross. With the denial of the virgin birth goes the denial of the true vicarious atonement of Christ. Had He been a member of Adam’s fallen race He would have needed a Savior for Himself. As the virgin-born Son of the Father He came into the world as that holy One” uncontaminated by sin in the flesh, though in its likeness, and so was able to qualify as our Kinsman-Redeemer.
Though in the very form of God,
With heavenly glory crowned,
Thou didst a servant’s form assume,
Beset with sorrow round.
Thou wouldst like wretched man be made
In ev’ry thing but sin,
That we as like Thee might become
As we unlike had been.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
Here we have the entire story of the Bible epitomized: man’s ruin both by nature and practice, and God’s marvelous and all-sufficient remedy. The verse begins with
all and ends with
all. An anxious soul was directed to this passage and found peace. Afterward he said, “I bent low down and went in at the first
all. I stood up straight and came out at the last.” The first is the acknowledgment of our deep need. The second shows how fully that need has been met in the cross of Christ. We are happy to be numbered among those who have put in their claim and found salvation through the atoning work which there took place!
I was lost, but Jesus found me,
Found the sheep that went astray;
Threw His loving arms around me,
Brought me back into His way.
—Francis Harold Rowley
Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance.
If it were not for the truth set forth in chapter 53 of Isaiah, there would be no possibility of the gracious invitation of chapter 55. Throughout this entire section of Isaiah (chapters 49 to 57) God is presenting His chosen Servant, our Lord Jesus Christ, as the Redeemer whose rejection at His first coming was foreknown and plainly predicted. But by His atoning work He was to open up the way for guilty sinners to find peace with God and pardon for all their transgressions. Because of His work God can send forth the gracious invitation for all men everywhere to partake of His salvation. Isaiah has been called
evangelical prophet” and he well deserves to be so designated. Nowhere else in the Old Testament is the person and work of our Lord revealed so clearly and fully as in this wonderful book. Man is shown to be utterly bankrupt spiritually, destitute of righteousness, and with no claim upon God whatever. Yet Christ, Jehovah’s sinless Servant, is presented as the great sin offering through whose infinite sacrifice all who come to Him in faith will be justified in His sight. His salvation is based upon righteousness. In the cross the sin question has been settled in a righteous way, and so God can now save all who come to Him in faith.
I ask thee for nothing—
Come just as thou art;
Come sinful—come guilty—
Come give Me thine heart;
The fountain is open,—
It is open to thee,
Let thy Saviour not say,—
If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the Lord has spoken.
It is all-important to realize that men are more to God than forms and ceremonies, even of His own devising. “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). He who is “Lord…of the Sabbath” is pleased when we use His holy day to bless and help those in trouble, and to relieve the afflicted, so far as we are able to do so. Truly to keep the first day of the week holy to the Lord is to use it for rest, worship, and ministry to others. To think only of relaxation, and to spend this day in pleasure seeking, is to misuse it and to fail to enter into the purpose God has in preserving its privileges for us. “I get so weary with all the burdens of business throughout the week,” said a Christian tradesman to me once, “that I must have rest and exercise on Sunday. So I use the Lord’s day afternoons visiting in the hospital and seeking to comfort and help the friendless.” He returned to work on Monday refreshed and ready for another six days of toil.
Let us cherish our privileges and neither despise them nor hedge them about with legal enactments for which there is no Biblical authorization.
O sacred day of peace and joy!
Thy hours are ever dear to me.
Ne’er may a single thought destroy
The holy calm I feel for thee.
Thy hours are precious unto me,
For God has given them in His love,
To tell how calm, how blest shall be
The sabbath rest of heaven above.
An astonishing and horrible thing has been committed in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely and the priests rule by their own power; and My people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end?
The false prophets in Jeremiah’s day ridiculed predictions of coming judgment and spoke glibly of peace and safety when the Judge stood at the door (6:14; 8:11). It is the same today and will be until the vials of the wrath of God are actually being poured out upon the earth (1 Thessalonians 5:3). Men prefer these soft-spoken teachers of error who prophesy smooth things (Isaiah 30:10), to the faithful men of God who declare unflinchingly the Word of the Lord without fear or favor. But in the day of Christ, when every hidden thing is brought to light, God’s true servants will be recognized and rewarded, and the preachers of falsehood will be dealt with in judgment.
Servant of Christ, stand fast amid the scorn
Of men who little know or love thy Lord;
Turn not aside from toil; cease not to warn,
Comfort and teach. Trust Him for thy reward:
A few more moments’ suffering, and then
Cometh sweet rest from all thy heart’s deep pain.
For grace pray much, for much thou needest grace;
If men thy work deride,—what can they more?
Christ’s weary foot thy path on earth doth trace;
If thorns wound thee, they pierced Him before:
Press on, look up, though clouds may gather round;
Thy place of service He makes hallowed ground.
—J. J. P.
This is His name by which He will be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
This is one of the great covenant names of God: “Jehovah Tsidkenu.” It tells us that God has a righteousness for those who can pretend to none of their own. Christ is made wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption to all who believe in Him. In order that this might be, He, the sinless One, was made “sin for us…that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). He is Himself the righteousness in which every redeemed one stands perfect and complete before God. Paul exclaims with rapture that it was his glory to “be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but…the righteousness which is from God by faith” (Philippians 3:9).
Jehovah Tsidkenu, my treasure and boast,
Jehovah Tsidkenu, I ne’er can be lost,
By Thee I shall conquer through flood or by field,
My cable, my anchor, my breast-plate and shield.
—R. M. McCheyne
I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in My counsel, and had caused My people to hear My words, then they would have turned them, from their evil way and from the evil of their doings.
Jeremiah is often called “The weeping prophet” because of his tenderness of heart and the grief that possessed him on account of the defection of his people (9:1). But he could also be very stern when rebuking iniquity. In these things he manifested the same spirit that was seen in all perfection in our blessed Lord, whose tears and denunciations were in perfect keeping. False prophets have ever been the ruin of those who are ready to accept almost anyone claiming to speak with divine authority, instead of testing him by what God has already revealed. It was true of old; it is just as true now (2 Peter 2:1-3). Therefore we need to test the spirits whether they be of God (1 John 4:1), for Satan has his ministers who speak plausibly but are really seeking to mislead rather than to edify (2 Corinthians 11:14-15). Justin Martyr wrote long ago: “Many spirits are abroad in the world and the credentials they display are splendid gifts of eloquence and ability. Christian, look carefully. Ask for the print of the nails.”
What think ye of Christ? is the test
To try both your state and your scheme;
You cannot be right in the rest,
Unless you think rightly of Him:
As Jesus appears in your view—
As He is beloved or not,
So God is disposed to you,
And mercy or wrath is your lot.
Some take Him a creature to be—
A man or an angel at most;
But they have not feelings like me,
Nor know themselves wretched and lost.
So guilty, so helpless am I,
I durst not confide in His blood,
Nor on His protection rely,
Unless I were sure He is God.
Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
The new covenant is the covenant of grace. The legal covenant demanded of man what the unrenewed person could not give—perfect righteousness—implicit obedience to the holy law of God as a ground of blessing. It is epitomized in the words, “Which if a man does, he shall live by them” (Leviticus 18:5). But it contained the solemn warning, “Cursed is the one who does not confirm all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 27:26). Because all were disobedient, all found it to be a ministration of death and condemnation (2 Corinthians 3:7, 9). If it could have given life to dead sinners, it would then have produced righteousness, as Paul tells us in Galatians 3:21. But God used the law to show men their need of His grace because of their own utter sinfulness and their helpless condition. This grace is revealed in the new covenant.
As debtors to mercy alone,
Of heavenly mercy we sing;
Nor fear to draw near to the throne,
Our person and off’rings to bring:
The wrath of a sin-hating God
With us can have nothing to do;
The Saviour’s obedience and blood
Hide all our transgressions from view.
The work which His goodness began,
The arm of His strength will complete;
His promise is Yea and Amen,
And never was forfeited yet:
Things future, nor things that are now,
Nor all things below nor above,
Can make Him His purpose forego,
Or sever our souls from His love.
Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Behold and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow, which has been brought on me, which the Lord has inflicted in the day of His fierce anger.
These words, primarily, express the grief of God’s afflicted people of Judah when the judgments of the Lord fell upon them. They also may most suitably be used to express the sorrow of our blessed Lord when He, the true Israel, stood in the place of His people, and bore as our representative the wrath of God against sin. In those dark hours the sun was blotted from view and His holy soul was made an offering for sin. Never was there sorrow like His. None other ever endured that which He passed through when all the waves and billows of wrath rolled over His soul. How our hearts should adore Him for such matchless grace as He there exhibited on our behalf!
Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by,
Beholding the Saviour uplifted on high.
Maltreated by men and forsaken by God,
Oh, why is He nailed to that cross of wood?
The Lord was like an enemy. He has swallowed up Israel, He has swallowed up all her palaces; He has destroyed her strongholds, and has increased mourning and lamentation in the daughter of Judah.
The Lord was as an enemy. He was never really an enemy of His people. But He had declared, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth; Therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities” (Amos 3:2). He chastens those whom He loves that they may be conformed to His holiness. But though He may use the rod there is always goodness behind it, directing every blow. It is in mercy that He afflicts. Faith recognizes this, and so can bow the head before Him and exclaim, “It is the Lord. Let Him do what seems good to Him” (1 Samuel 3:18); assured that “He doth not afflict willingly, Nor grieve the children of men” (Lamentations 3:33). When the purpose of the chastening is accomplished, He will lift the rod and grant that governmental forgiveness in which He delights.
He chose this path for thee,
Though well He knew sharp thorns would tear thy feet,
Know how the brambles would obstruct the way,
Knew all the hidden dangers thou wouldst meet,
Knew how thy faith would falter day by day,
And still the whisper echoed, “Yes, I see
This path is best for thee.”