- The 23rd Psalm Series
- The Lord is my Shepherd – That’s Relationship!
- I shall not want – That’s Supply!
- He maketh me to lie down in green pastures – That’s Rest!
- He leadeth me beside the still waters – That’s Refreshment!
- He restoreth my soul – That’s Healing!
- He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness – That’s Guidance!
- For His Name’s Sake – That’s Purpose
- Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death – That’s Testing!
- I Shall Fear No Evil – That’s Protection
- For Thou art with me — That’s Faithfulness!
- Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me – That’s Discipline
- Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies – That’s Hope!
- Thou annointest my head with oil – That’s Consecration!
- My cup runneth over – That’s Abundance!
- And I will dwell in the house of the Lord —–That’s Security!
- Forever – That’s Eternity!
THE SAINT’S HERITAGE
Isa 54:17. No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment, thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord; and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.
THE Scriptures uniformly suppose men to be, not only in a state of sin, but, to a certain degree, in a state of misery also, being more or less agitated with “fightings without, and fears within.” The very people of God themselves are not exempt from this common lot. The difference between them and others consists not in a freedom from trouble, but in consolations and supports which they alone enjoy. They have a God to go to; a God who tenderly sympathizes with them in all their troubles, and “in all their afflictions is himself afflicted [Note: Isa 63:9.].” From Him they receive the most consolatory promises, and generally in language that precludes a possibility of their doubting to whom those promises are made. Are they under the actual pressure of the deepest sorrow? He addresses them as in that very state, and characterizes them by the very tribulations which they endure. “O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted,” behold, I will interest myself in all thy concerns; and “no weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper.”
These words will lead me to set before you,
I. The heritage of God’s servants—
Three things are here specified as their unalienable portion;
1. Protection from danger—
From the very beginning, they have been objects of hatred both to men and devils, who have combined their efforts for their destruction. From the days of Cain, the followers of Abel’s piety have been persecuted by their envious and malignant brethren; whilst “Satan, as a roaring lion, has gone about, seeking to devour them” — — —
But we need not fear the assaults of either: for God has engaged, in reference to his Church at large, that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it [Note: Mat 16:18.];” and, in reference to every individual believer, that “none shall pluck them out of his hand [Note: Joh 10:28-30.].” “It is not his will that one of his little ones should perish [Note: Mat 18:14. Luk 12:32.].”
2. Vindication from calumny—
What efforts have been made to destroy the character of God’s people may be seen in the account given of them by Haman to Ahasuerus: “There is a certain people scattered abroad, and dispersed among the people, in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all people, neither keep they the king’s laws: therefore it is not for the king’s profit to suffer them. If it please the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed [Note: Est 3:8-9.].” They still, as formerly, are a sect that is everywhere spoken against; nor is there “any manner of evil which will not be laid falsely to their charge [Note: Mat 5:11.],” But God does often, in a wonderful way, interpose for them, to the vindicating of their character, and the confusion of all their enemies [Note: 1Sa 24:17.]. Indeed, the very people who most bitterly traduce them, often venerate them in their hearts; even as “Herod feared John, from an inward conviction that he was a just and holy man [Note: Mar 6:20.].” But, however God may suffer his people to be treated “as the filth of the world and the off-scouring of all things [Note: 1Co 4:13.]” even to their dying hour, there is a time coming when he will appear in their behalf: and, if man have his day, God will have his day also [Note: 1Co 4:3-5. See the Greek.]; and will bring forth their righteousness as the light, and their judgment as the noon-day [Note: Psa 37:5-6. Isa 66:5.].”
3. Justification from all sin—
In two ways will God justify his people: the one is, by an authoritative attestation from the mouth of their Judge; the other, by putting upon them that very righteousness whereby they shall be justified. The Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, has wrought out “a righteousness which shall be unto all and upon all them that believe [Note: Rom 3:22.]:” and when they are arrayed in this, “God sees in them no iniquity [Note: Num 23:21.],” because he has “blotted it out from the book of his remembrance,” and “cast it all behind him, into the very depths of the sea [Note: Mic 7:19 and Isa 38:17.].” “If it be sought for ever so diligently, it cannot be found [Note: Jer 50:20.];” for they are before God without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, yea, holy, and without blemish [Note: Eph 5:27.].” “This is the blessed heritage of all God’s servants;” and all of them in due time shall possess it.
That we may the better estimate their felicity, let us notice,
II. Their security for the possession of it—
It is altogether “of God,” as our text declares; and all the perfections of God are pledged for their ultimate possession of it. It is secured to them by,
1. The power of God—
Respecting this, there is particular mention made in the preceding context. God warns his people that they must expect persecution from an ungodly world. “Behold! they shall surely gather together, but not by me: whosoever shall gather together against thee, shall tall for thy sake.” But how shall the conspiracy of God’s enemies be defeated! How? God himself tells us: “I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth his instrument for his work: and I have created the waster to destroy.” Has He then created both the man who made the weapon, and the man that uses it; and can he not controul both the one and the other, so that the weapon shall effect only what he sees fit to permit? Let the servants of God, then, consider this: their enemies are all in the hands of God, even of their God; and “they can have no power whatever, except that which is given them from above.” What need then have the saints to fear? Who can get access to those whom God “hides in the secret place of his tabernacle?” or, “Who can, with any effect, be against them, when He is for them?” “His name is a strong tower; and the righteous, who have run to it, are safe.”
2. The goodness and veracity of God—
They have given themselves to him, as “his servants:” and will he forget them? Will He who “maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust,” refuse protection to those who have exposed themselves to sufferings for his sake? He has promised to them, that “he will render to them according to their works:” and “has He said, and will he not do it? has He spoken, and will he not make it good?” He would even account himself “unrighteous, if he were to forget their works and labours of love, which they have shewed towards his name [Note: Heb 6:10.].” We may be sure, therefore, that, if tried in the fire, they shall “come out of it purified as gold; and that, however tempted, “they shall never perish, but shall have eternal life.”
Now let me ask,
1. Who, besides the saints, possesses any such heritage as this?
If we had crowns and kingdoms, they were not worthy to be compared with this — — —
2. Who ever confided in this promise, and was disappointed of his hope?
Your fears may have been great, and your conflicts severe: but were you ever forsaken of your God? No: you must all bear testimony to his fidelity, even as Israel did of old; for “ye know in all your hearts, and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concerning you: all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof [Note: Jos 23:14.].”