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It is highly necessary also that those whose distresses are of a private and personal nature, should take occasion from them to inquire of God, as Job did, "Shew me, O Lord, wherefore thou contendest with me d".
2. We should put away whatever is displeasing to God
[The injuries which had been done to the Gibeonites could not be repaired; nor could Saul who had committed them be punished, because he was now dead. David therefore asked the Gibeonites what redress they required? They sought not any thing for themselves, either in a way of pecuniary compensation, or of freedom from the yoke which they had so long borne: but they required that seven of Saul's sons should be delivered into their hands, to be put to death. This was not a vindictive act, but an act of retributive justice: and it was approved by God, who after the execution of these persons was pacified towards the land. Such a kind of retribution would not be justifiable amongst us; because the children are not to suffer for the parents' crimes: but, as ordered of God, it was right: and, if the whole truth were known, we should probably find that the sons of Saul had aided and abetted the wicked devices of their father; and that they therefore justly suffered as partners in his crime.
But though we cannot act precisely as David or the Gibeonites did, we may, both nationally and individually, put away the evils which have displeased our God; and indeed we all without exception are bound to "crucify our flesh with its affections and lusts." It is in this way only that we can hope to avert the divine judgments from us; for, though nothing but the blood of Christ can wash away sin, it never will or can avail for the pardon of any, who do not turn unto God in newness of life.]
From hence then we may LEARN,
1. The danger of sin—
[Sin, however forgotten by us, is remembered by God; yea, the whole of our sins, even from the earliest period of our existence, are as much in the immediate sight of God, as if they had been committed this very day: and there is a time when we must answer for them all. Let sin then be repented of, and put away; for it will surely bring the wrath of God on all who retain it unlamented, and unsubdued.]
2. The benefit of Christ's atonement
[The blood of Saul's sons was poured forth as a sacrifice
to national justice, and as a means of averting the divine displeasure; and it was considered by God as an atonement for the sin which Saul had committed. How much more then will God accept in our behalf the blood of his own Son, who was sent into the world for the express purpose that he might expiate our guilt, and procure for us reconciliation with our offended God! Think of this, all ye who are accused by Satan and your own consciences, and who are trembling for fear of the divine judgments; and know that his blood once shed on Calvary is now available for you, as much as it was the very instant it was shed: it is a fountain, which, if you bathe in it, will effectually cleanse you from all sin —— -]
3. The importance of searching our own hearts[The crime of Saul was probably thought a meritorious act both by himself and those whom he employed as his agents in the persecution; for we are told, he sought to extirpate the Gibeonites "from a zeal for the children of Israel and Judah." But God did not judge as he judged; nor will he form his estimate of our conduct from our opinion of it: selflove is apt to blind us, and to make us think well of many things which God abhors. But he will judge our actions according to their quality in his sight. Let us then "search and try our ways, and turn unto the Lord:" and, forasmuch as we are blinded through the influence of our own corruptions, let us beg of him to "search and try our hearts, and to lead us in the way everlasting."]
THE EQUITY OF CHRIST'S GOVERNMENT.
2 Sam. xxiii. 1-4. Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet Psalmist of Israel, said, The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue. The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain.
THESE words are generally understood as descriptive of the duty of civil governors, and of the happiness of any people who live under a government that is thus administered. But they have doubtless a further reference, even to Christ himself, whose
character they designate in the most appropriate terms. The very energetic manner in which the prophecy before us is introduced, and the strong profession which the writer makes of his immediate inspiration from God, leave no doubt upon the mind, but that something more must be intended in this passage than a mere direction to earthly magistrates. A very small alteration in the Translation will exhibit it in its true light. Christ is frequently spoken of in Scripture as the JUST ONE', in contradistinction to all others; and as the SUN that enlightens the whole spiritual world. The Prophet Malachi, probably having an eye to the very passage before us, combines the two ideas, and foretells the advent of Christ, as "the Sun of Righteousness." In this view of the
words, we shall be led to consider,
I. The nature of Christ's government—
[In the sacred oracles, a peculiar stress is laid on the equity of that dominion which Christ exercises over his chosen people. And who that has submitted to his government, must not confirm the truth that is so much insisted on? Behold his laws; is there one which does not tend to the happiness of his creatures? They are all comprehended in one word, Love; love to God, and love to man: and can any thing be conceived more excellent in itself, or more beneficial to man, than such a law? Well does the Apostle say of it, that it is "holy and just and good." Behold his administration; is there any one point in which a righteous governor can excel, that is not found, in its most perfect measure, in him? He relieves the needy, succours the weak, protects the oppressed, and executes judgment without any respect of persons: and though none merit any thing at his hands, he dispenses rewards and punishments in as exact proportion to the conduct of men, as if he weighed their merits in a balance. Who
a The passage might more properly be translated thus: David the son of Jesse saith, and the man, &c. saith, The Spirit of the Lord speaketh by me, and his word is in my tongue; the God of Israel saith, the Rock of Israel speaketh to me, The JUST ONE ruleth over men; he ruleth in the fear of God: as the light of the morning A SUN shall rise, even a morning without clouds, when the tender grass springeth out of the earth, &c.
b Acts iii. 14. and vii. 52. and xxii. 14.
d Mal. iv. 2.
© John viii. 12.
Isai. ix. 7. and xi. 2—5. “ in the fear of the Lord." f Rom. vii. 12.
ever sought him diligently, without gaining admission to his presence? Who ever implored a blessing at his hands and was rejected? Who ever did much or suffered much for him, without ample testimonies of his approbation? On the other hand, who ever drew back from him, or violated his holy laws, without "receiving in himself that recompence which was meet?" Whatever inequalities may appear in his government (as when virtue is oppressed, and vice is triumphant) he removes them all, by vouchsafing to the sufferer the consolations of his Spirit, and the prospects of his glory. Thus truly may he be said to "rule in the fear of God!"]
If prosperity and happiness result from a righteous administration of civil governments, much more are they the portion of Christ's subjects. This is beautifully illustrated in the words before us; wherein his government is further delineated in,
II. The blessed effects of it on all his faithful subjects
[The sun rising in the unclouded hemisphere, cheers and exhilarates all who behold it: and, when it shines on the earth that has been refreshed with gentle showers, it causes the grass, and every herb, to spring forth almost visibly before our eyes. And is it not thus with all who submit themselves to Christ? do not new prospects open to them, and, with their more enlarged views, are they not revived with proportionable consolations? are they not gladdened with the light of his countenance? are they not sometimes almost overwhelmed with the brightness of his glory, so as to be transported with joy unspeakable? Yes; to them there is an unclouded sky, except as far as sin prevails: if they were as perfectly obedient to the will of Christ as the saints in heaven are, they would possess a very heaven upon earth. If they have any intermission of their joy, it is not owing to any strictness in his laws, or any defect in his administration, but to their own indwelling lusts and corruptions.
What an astonishing effect too does the light of his countenance produce with respect to fruitfulness in good works! let the soul, watered with showers of divine grace, and softened with the tears of penitence and contrition, once feel the genial influence of his rays, and there will be an instantaneous change in its whole state: "it will revive as the corn, and grow as the vine; and the scent thereof will be as the wine of Lebanon." Every holy affection will be called forth into exercise; and every fruit of righteousness abound to the glory of God.
g Hos. xiv. 7.
character they designate in the terms. The very energetic man prophecy before us is introduced profession which the writer makes inspiration from God, leave no do but that something more must } passage than a mere direction to A very small alteration in the Tr. it in its true light. Christ is fr Scripture as the JUST ONE', in con all others: and as the Sux that en spiritual world. The Prophet M having an eye to the very passage the two ideas, and foretells the a "the Sun of Righteousness." words, we shall be led to conside I. The nature of Christ's govern
[In the sacred oracles, a pecul equity of that dominion which Christ people. And who that has subm must not confirm the truth that Behold his laws; is there one w happiness of his creatures? They word, Love: love to God, and love be conceived more excellent in man, than such a law? Well do it is "holy and just and good." is there any one point in which that is not found, in its most relieves the needy, succours tl and executes judgment witho though none merit any thi rewards and punishments in duct of men, as if he weighed
And truly this event
Ungodly men indeed smission to Christ won a source of misery. Brin eets of his government
that obedience to Let us then take upon and the certain means d'