“Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.”
IT is not likely that we shall be kept from the great transgression unless we are preserved from presumptuous sins; and these in turn will befall us unless we have been cleansed from hidden faults. Just as the germ of disease taken into the system will presently reveal itself in an outburst of malignant fever, so hidden faults flower out into presumptuous sins, and these into great transgression. “Then lust, when it hath conceived, beareth sin; and the sin, when it is full-grown bringeth forth death.”
First, we need forgiveness for secret sins. The Jewish law made large provision for sins of ignorance. A man might unawares walk across a grave, or touch some article of furniture which was ceremonially unclean, and so became defiled. Even though unconscious of actual transgression, he would find his communion with God broken. Thus, after the holiest day we have ever spent we need to ask for cleansing in the precious blood, for which God has discerned, but which in the twilight of our ignorance, and because we compared ourselves with those beneath us in spiritual attainment, have escaped notice.
Next, we need deliverance from the love and power of sin, in lower depths than we have ever realized. We desire to pass muster at the bar, not only of our neighbours and ourselves, but of God. We desire that the Spirit should antagonize the flesh in depths below the reach of the plumb-line of our consciousness. We desire the inner purity of heart. But this is peculiarly God’s prerogative. It is His work to cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of His Holy Spirit “Cleanse Thou me.”
“Now know I that the LORD saveth his anointed; he will hear him from his holy heaven with the saving strength of his right hand.”
THIS was no doubt true of David as the anointed king of Israel, and of the Lord Jesus for whom the Father hath promised that He will subdue all things under Him; but it is also true of every saint who has been anointed with the Holy Ghost. Christian means an anointed one. Alas, that in so many cases the name is a misnomer! And men cannot claim the saving strength of God’s right hand because they have not bent head and heart beneath the chrism of the Holy Spirit. How is it with thee? Art thou included in what Paul said, “Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God;” (2 Corinthians 1:21) and in what John said, “But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you ...” (1 John 2:27) If so, there can be no doubt that Jehovah will ever save thee with a present-tense salvation. He saveth those whom He anointeth with the saving strength of His right hand.
Dost thou doubt this? Sayest thou that the annoyances and solicitations, the pitfalls and snares, the antagonisms and temptations of thy life, are so great as to offer an insuperable obstacle to thy entire deliverance from fret, irritation and failure?
Then turn to the marvelous phrase that follows, and tell me, if thou canst, the meaning of the saving strength of God’s right hand. Is not God’s right hand strong enough? And notice that its strength is pledged not to destroy, but to save. All the strength of God’s right hand goes forth to save unto the uttermost. Look away from adversary and temptation, and keep murmuring to thyself, “He shall save me today, and always, with the saving strength of His right hand.” And is not the right hand of the Most High the place where Jesus sits? Is not the right hand of God moved by the love that died on Calvary? “And He laid His right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not;” (Revelation 1:17)
“For thou preventest him with the blessings of goodness: thou settest a crown of pure gold on his head.”
GOD is always beforehand with us. The word “preventest” is not as familiar to our modern English as it was when the Bible was translated. Then it meant “that which comes or goes before.” And the idea is that God goes before us, preparing our way, and laying up supplies of grace to anticipate our need. This is the meaning of the prayer: “Prevent us, O Lord, in all our doings.”
Go into the chamber where the mother is preparing for the advent of a little babe. You have no difficulty in telling what the wants of the child will be by all the articles which her tender forethought is providing; and when presently the little one opens its eyes in this strange, new world, it finds that it has been prevented with the blessings of goodness.
For ages prior to the appearance of man on the earth, the great heart of God was exercised in preparing for him. To please his ear, Music tuned her lyre; to satisfy his eye, the Great Artist wrought variety of colour and form; to warm him, seams of coal were laid down; to give him drink, rivers poured from crystal urns of snow-clad peaks; and Adam might have adored God’s prevenient grace.
Think, for instance, of the color, the light and scent and driving-power in rock-oils!
Still more is this the case in the kingdom of redemption. God has stored all the blessings of goodness in Jesus. In eternal ages, in the incarnation, the cross, the ascension, He has prepared beforehand for every possible need of our spiritual life. Whenever you pray, remember that you are not to procure unthought-of help; but to avail yourself of the blessings of goodness with which God has anticipated your coming.
“They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.”
THIS is the Hebrew equivalent for the words, “It is finished.”
Surely it was meet that the Psalm of the Cross, which our Lord must have recited to Himself during those hours of anguish, should close with this triumphant outburst.
Finished, the ceremonial law. — It had served its purpose in prefiguring the person and work of Jesus; but now the rending of the vail betokened the abolition of the forms of the earlier dispensation.
The things which could be shaken passed, that those which could not be shaken might remain.
Finished, the fulfillment of prophecy. — Very diverse predictions had met, and were closed, as gates are when the king has passed through. That He should be a King and a Sufferer; a Priest and a Victim; a Lion of the tribe of Judah, and a Lamb for substitution.
Finished, the work which was given to Him to do. — The Messiah was to be cut off, not for Himself, to finish transgressions, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness. And each of these great ends was realized.
Finished, the work of atonement. — As the Substitute and Sin-bearer, the Lord Jesus stood with the sins of the race meeting on Him; but when He died He put them away by the sacrifice of Himself. They were borne into the land of forgetfulness, from which they can never be recovered. The demand of Divine justice was satisfied. Mercy and truth had met. Righteousness and peace embraced. And this cry of a finished redemption shall be finally crowned by a cry of complete restitution (Revelation 21:6).
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”
WE are well escorted, with a Shepherd in front and these twin angels behind! Someone called them watch-dogs; but I prefer to think of them as angels. Do you not see the special beauty of these fair, strong angel-forms following? We make such mistakes, give unnecessary pain, leave work ill-done and half-done, often succeed rather in raising dust than cleaning the rooms which we would fain sweep! It is good to think that two such angels follow close upon our track as we go through life, putting kind constructions on our actions, disentangling knots, making good deficiencies, and preventing the consequences of ill-advised and inconsiderate action pursuing us to the bitter end.
There are mothers who are always tidying up after their children.
The little ones have had a rare time, which has left confusion and disorder; but the mother comes, mending the broken toys, stitching the rent garments, making everything neat and tidy. As the ambulance corps goes over the battle-field; as time festoons with verdure ruins and decay; as love puts the most tender construction on word and act — so the love of God follows us.
His goodness imputes to us the noble motive, though the act itself has been a failure; credits us with what was in our heart; reckons us the full wage, though we have only wrought one hour.
His mercy forgives, obliterates the traces of our sins from His heart, undoes their ill-effect so far as possible towards others, and treats us as if we had never transgressed. Do not fear the future. God’s angels do not tire. What has been will be, in all worlds, and to all eternity.
All the days, even those in which Satan seems to have obtained permission to sift.
Psalm 24:7, 9
“Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. ... Lift up your heads,
O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.”
THIS is what we all want. We must have the King of Glory within. To have Him without, even though He be on the Throne, will not avail. He must come in to abide, to reign, to sway His sceptre, to keep the everlasting doors through which He has passed. This has been our difficulty, that those doors have so often been forced. We want one who is strong and mighty to keep them strongly barred against our mortal foe.
This Psalm was first realized in the entrance of the Ark into Mount Zion, when God went up with a merry noise. It is supposed that the first part of the verse was a challenge from the warders of the ancient gates, whilst the second was a reply from the escorting band that accompanied the sacred emblem. It was a moment of vast triumph when the Ark of the King of Glory passed to the ancient city of the Jebusites.
A still greater fulfillment took place when Jesus, having overcome the sharpness of death, victor over sin and the grave, mighty in battle, vanquished principalities and powers, and entered the city of God. Then to and fro these challenges and answers flew between the angels that awaited Him, and those who accompanied.
But the most vital fulfillment is when the heart opens to receive Him, and He enters, to go out no more, and to hold it against all comers. Oh, heated and baffled saint, it is impossible for thee to fail when Jesus, all-victorious, garrisons thy heart! He is strong and mighty. Dost thou want strength? It is in the strong Son of God.
Dost thou want might! He is all-mighty. Dost thou want deliverance from thy foes? He is mighty in battle.
“The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant.”
WHAT marvellous words! They remind one of the sapphire work which the elders saw at the foot of the throne, and which was like “the body of heaven in his clearness.” (Exodus 24:10) Three different renderings are suggested.
The Secret of the Lord. — To some it is permitted to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven. To these the white stone is given, on which is engraven a name, which only he knows that receives it. There are secret passages of love between Christ and the believing soul, which it would not be lawful for it to utter. High fellowship: deep blessedness. Things which eye hath not seen. Jesus revealed His secrets when Judas had gone forth.
The Counsel of the Lord. — “His Name shall be called…
Counsellor.” (Isaiah 9:6) He draws near to those that fear to grieve Him, and gives them counsel. He instructs them in the way that He chooses for them; He guides them in His truth and teaches them; He guides them in judgment; and tells them, as He did Abraham, what He is about to do.
The Friendship of the Lord. — “Ye are my friends,” said Jesus, “if ye do whatsoever I command you.” (John 15;14) He longs for friends — those to whom He can tell His desires, on whom He may impose implicit confidence, and who will be so taken up with Him as to be indifferent to everything else, their one purpose to do His least bidding. Oh to be honored with the personal friendship of Jesus! It was a rare privilege to be entrusted with His secrets and to hear Him say, “ I call you not servants; ... but I have called you friends; ...” (John 15:15)