J.Calvin on Psalm 125: “…We prefer fluttering in the air to fixing our minds on the rock of his help.”

Also for our reflection on Psalm 125 and guidance in worship today we quote these thoughts of John Calvin on v.1. May they too serve to point us to our only place of security and peace: the Lord our God.

JCalvinPic1. They who confide in Jehovah are as mount Zion.

The present Psalm differs from the preceding in this — that while in the other it was said that the Church had been preserved by the power of God, without any human means, the Holy Spirit, in the one before us, teaches that in the time to come she shall always continue in perfect safety, because she is defended by the invincible power of God. When the Church is emblematically described by the situation of the city of Jerusalem, the design of the Prophet is to encourage each of the faithful to believe, that the safety promised in common to all the chosen people belongs to him. But in exhibiting to the eyes a visible image of the Church, he accommodates himself to the rudeness of those who, detained by the dullness of the flesh, still continue settled down in the earth.

It ought then, in the first place, to be noticed, that to those who may not sufficiently apprehend by faith the secret protection of God, the mountains which environ Jerusalem are exhibited as a mirror, in which they may see, beyond all doubt, that the Church is as well defended from all perils, as if it were surrounded on all sides with like walls and bulwarks.

Moreover, it is profitable to know what I have just now touched upon — that whenever God speaks to all his people in a body, he addresses himself also to each of them in particular. As not a few of the promises are extended generally to the whole body of the Church, so many contemplate them as at a distance, as far removed from them, and will not presume to appropriate them to themselves. The rule here prescribed must therefore be observed, which is, that each apply to himself whatever God promises to his Church in common. Nor does the Psalmist without cause make Jerusalem a representation of the Church, for the sanctuary of God and the ark of the covenant were there.

…We now perceive the meaning of the Prophet, which is, that although the world is subject to so many and so sudden changes as almost to put on a new face every moment, and although the faithful are mingled with and placed in the same external condition as others, yet their safety continues steadfast under the invincible protection of God. Not that they are permitted to dwell undisturbed and at ease; but because their safety being under the guardianship of God is assaulted in vain; at least they can never altogether fall, although they may stumble.

But let us notice that the word הבמחים, habbtechim, which signifies, those who hope or wait for, conveys an implicit injunction to steadfastness of faith. Whoever, then, desires to be sustained by the hand of God, let him constantly lean upon it; and whoever would be defended by it, let him patiently repose himself under it. When God suffers us to be often carried hither and thither, or driven about like chaff by the wind, this comes to pass through our own inconstancy — because we prefer fluttering in the air to fixing our minds on the rock of his help.

J.Calvin on Psalm 124: “…Such a manner of preserving does not belong to man.”

Calvin PreachingAlso for our edification from Psalm 124 today, we post these thoughts of John Calvin on v.2. May they also serve to admonish our foolish, man-centered fears and strengthen us in our God-centered faith.

2. But for Jehovah who was on our side.

It is not without cause that he twice repeats the same sentence. So long as we are in danger our fear is immoderate; but no sooner are we delivered than we lessen the greatness of our calamity, and Satan, deceiving us by this artifice, leads us to obscure the grace of God. Since then, after having been wonderfully preserved by the Lord, we for the most part devise all sorts of imaginary circumstances, in order to efface from our minds the remembrance of his grace, David, by introducing the people as struck with amazement, purposely dwells upon the amplification of the danger. In these words a bridle is put upon us, to keep us meditating upon our dangers, lest the sense of God’s grace should vanish from our minds.

…Two things then are here to be distinctly noticed; first, that the Lord had been at hand to afford aid to his servants, and had taken their part; and secondly, that being already in a desperate condition, they could not by help from any other quarter, or in another manner, have escaped from danger. Thus we are taught, that men then only ascribe the glory of their preservation to God, when they are persuaded of his being so favourably inclined towards them as to defend them and maintain them safe.

In the second clause there is extolled in high terms the infinite power of God, of which he had given abundant proof in delivering the people, to teach us that such a manner of preserving does not belong to man.

Sunday Worship Preparation: Psalm 124

Psalm124As we get ready to worship the Lord of glory on this Lord’s Day, we consider the next song of the church, Psalm 124. This psalm also belongs to that collection of psalms called the “songs of ascent” (or degrees), because they were sung by the OT pilgrim church as she journeyed (up – ascending) to Jerusalem for the festivals and special times of worship.

Psalm 124, you will notice, is attributed to the “sweet psalmist of Israel”, king David. Which also means, by way of OT type, that this is the song of Jesus Christ, the song He sings as Head and King of the church, leading His redeemed and renewed people in worship of the Triune God. Let’s hear what Christ has to say as He leads us:

 Psalm 124

If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, now may Israel say;

2 If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when men rose up against us:

3 Then they had swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us:

4 Then the waters had overwhelmed us, the stream had gone over our soul:

5 Then the proud waters had gone over our soul.

6 Blessed be the Lord, who hath not given us as a prey to their teeth.

7 Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped.

8 Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

It is immediately evident from this psalm that David and the people of God are celebrating a great victory over their enemies. We do not know if David is noting one of the great battles in which he had led Israel or if he is referring to another great battle from Israel’s history (the Exodus, e.g.), and in the end it really does not matter. Israel was always a marked people, and her enemies, led by Satan himself, were always trying to destroy her. They hated God’s people (because they hate God!) and were constantly filled with wrath against her (v.3). Repeatedly Israel’s enemies rose up against her (v.2), attacked her like a ferocious lion (v.6), and set snares for her to entrap her (v.7).

And as we know from Revelation 12 it was not simply Israel that Satan and his minions were after. They sought to kill the child to be born out of the OT mother church, even Jesus the Christ (which is also why this is first and foremost HIS song). O, yes, make no mistake, these OT battles were spiritual battles to the core! They were about the church’s Savior and her salvation, about sin and deliverance from it, about heaven and hell – about God and His cause and Satan and his cause!

But Israel’s enemies were not successful; Israel had triumphed, even gloriously! The OT church had escaped the teeth and snare of the wicked; she had not been swallowed up by their foes! This is what David is leading God’s people to celebrate and sing in this song. And how fitting as the people of God made their way up to Jerusalem. They had freedom to do this because her enemies had not triumphed over her.

But is David then celebrating Israel’s military strength and skill? He is commemorating his great leadership and cunning prowess on the field of battle? Is this a song praising man?

If we think so, we have missed the point of this psalm. The whole point of it is to praise GOD, the great Captain and Warrior of Israel’s host: “Blessed be the LORD” (v.6)! The LORD – the faithful God of the covenant and the sovereign Lord of all – was on her side (“our” side – we need to sing that too!)! Jehovah was the mighty King of His church and her strong Defender. In sovereign love He fought for her, over and over again. For Christ’s sake, so that His Son could be born. And for Israel’s sake, so that she could be redeemed and rescued.

Indeed the church’s escape from and triumph over the enemy was God’s victory! “Blessed be the LORD”! Of that the church sings here and throughout holy Scripture (Read those songs in Ex.15 and in Revelation 14-15 again!). And that is emphasized in Psalm 124 by stating it negatively. Read verses 1-7 again: “If it had not been the LORD who was on our side, now may Israel say” (and then repeated for even more emphasis!)…. And then in the end it is put positively: “Our help is in the name of the LORD” (v.8).

Does that not serve to bring out the truth concerning what and Who we are celebrating in this song? Only Jehovah God and His triumph for us! Only the Lord Who was on our side and without Whom we are nothing but defeated and dead sinners! Yes, sing it and shout it again today as you worship: “Blessed be the LORD! Our help is in the name of the LORD!” Listen to those words at the very beginning of our worship today. They serve to set the tone for all that follows.

If you wish to meditate on this psalm through the music of our Psalter, I point you to this versification – “Old 124th” (there is one other). At the page you will find piano accompaniment. Here are the lyrics for it:

Divine Deliverance

1. Now Israel may say, and that in truth,
If that the Lord had not our right maintained,
If that the Lord had not with us remained,
When cruel men against us rose to strive,
We surely had been swallowed up alive.

2. Yea, when their wrath against us fiercely rose,
The swelling tide had o’er us spread its wave,
The raging stream had then become our grave,
The surging flood, in proudly swelling roll,
Most surely then had overwhelmed our soul.

 3. Blest be the Lord Who made us not their prey;
As from the snare a bird escapeth free,
Their net is rent and so escaped are we;
Our only help is in Jehovah’s Name,
Who made the earth and all the heavenly frame.

 

 

Word Wednesday: “Hope”

HopeinJCAs we enter the new year today, I thought the word “hope” is appropriate. Hope is basically expectation of good, even of things and experiences that are better than before. Whenever we start a new year, we are filled with fresh hope. We all seek good; we all want things to be better than before. Only now, our hope must not be that of the unbelieving world (What good can they expect? What better things do they have to look forward to?), but the hope we have as believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Here is how Webster’s New World College Dictionary (4th edition) defines hope. As you think about these points, fill them in (and fill them out!) with our sure hope in Christ according to His promises to us in His Word.

1. a feeling that what is wanted is likely to happen; desire accompanied by expection

2. the thing that one has hope for

3. a reason for hope

4. a person or thing on which one may base some hope

5. trust; reliance

And now here from the Bible is our gospel hope – determined by, defined by, and delivered to us by our faithful Savior, Jesus Christ:

Psalm 16:

8I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

9Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.

10For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

11Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

Psalm 39:7-  And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee.

Psalm 43:5 – Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

Romans 5:1-5: Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

Romans 15:13 – Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

Phil.1:20-21 – According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. 21For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

1 Thess.5: 8But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. 9For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 10Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. 11Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

Titus 1:2 – In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;

Titus 2: 11For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

Hebrews 6: 17Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: 18That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: 19Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; 20Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

1 Peter 1: 3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

May God grant you a truly HOPE-filled 2014!

The Light of God’s Countenance – Psalm 4:5-7

All-Glory-HHoeksema-2013For our final Sunday worship preparation meditation of 2013 we choose a quotation from the newly published book of meditations by Herman Hoeksema titled All Glory to the Only Good God: Reformed Spirituality (RFPA, 2013). Fitting for the end of the year is Hoeksema’s meditation on Psalm 4:5-7 which has the theme “The Light of God’s Countenance.” As he shows, if we have this light of Jehovah over us, then we have the greatest and deepest joy possible in this life, even though it may appear otherwise in this fallen world.

May this thought of the Lord’s face on us in Christ fill us with joy on this last Lord’s Day of 2013. And may it fill us with hope as we soon enter the year of our Lord 2014.

The shining face of God lifted over us is the highest good, filling the heart with purest joy, lasting gladness, truest delight. And the light of that countenance of our God, shining upon us in Jesus Christ our Lord, is the implication of all conceivable good. For shall not he, who gave us his only begotten Son and delivered him for us all, with him freely give us all things? Does not the blessed light of God’s shining face, beaming forth assurances of everlasting mercies, carry with it the joyous certainty that all things work together for good to those who love God?

Incomparably greater, richer, and deeper, because essentially different this gladness is than the joy of those who are exultant over ever-increasing luxuries of corn, wine, and oil. Surely the men of this world appear joyous. Their state would seem enviable and is often considered such even by the children of God in moments when their feet nearly slip. Worldly men appear to have more than heart could wish. They prosper in the world. …Without the worries of the poor, free from the cares of the indigent, independent from men, they walk day by day, boasting in their strength, proud in their prosperity, wanton in their abundance of goods. They say to their soul, ‘You have many goods, laid up for years to come; eat, drink, and be merry!’

…Envying the wicked in their apparent prosperity, God’s people are inclined to complain, ‘Is there no knowledge in the Most High?’

When the days come wherein even the measure of wheat for a penny and the three measures of barley for a penny fail them, when day by day they walk the streets in vain, wanting employment and finding none, they are in danger of wailing with the children of the world, ‘Who shall show us any good?’

So foolish are they and ignorant.

…Will not the gladness of the world perish with their corn and wine?

Does not the joy that fills the heart in the assurance that the light of God’s face is lifted up over us endure as long as the everlasting faithfulness of Jehovah?

Is not the gladness that has its reason in abundance of material things superficial, limited, carnal, a mere semblance of joy, the dance of death in the darkness of this world, the revelry of those who make it their foolish slogan, ‘Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die’? And is not the joy that is put into our hearts by the light of God’s countenance a joy of the heart, spiritual, all-comprehensive, the assurance of present guidance and the hope of eternal life through him who loved us even unto death?

O, we of little faith! (pp.176-78)

More Review Books – More Book Reviewers Needed! Women too!

I have received four new titles for review from Reformation Heritage Books and I would love to give these books away to willing reviewers! All you have to do is write a brief, 1-1.5 page paper (Times Roman, double-spaced) about the book, and the book is yours to keep!

Two of these new titles are especially for women, so I would love to see a couple of gals step forward with a volunteer spirit :)  These two books are:

LifeinJesus-MWinslowGodly people speak long after their deaths, inspiring us and revealing to us lives that are worthy of imitation. Octavius Winslow thus took up the daunting task of writing a memoir of his God-fearing mother, Mary Winslow (1774–1854). He viewed her as a grace-filled example of true spirituality, the antithesis of “religious formalism,” which he called “the bane of the Christian church.” One simple line captures his esteem for her: “How powerful and deathless is the influence of a holy mother!”

Mary Winslow’s letters are a treasure of experimental and practical divinity. Living, vital Christianity is here set before us in undeniable reality, flowing out of the resurrected Christ. We learn, in her words and by her example, how to “deal unceasingly with God as God deals unweariedly with us.”

A queen, an educator, a missionary, a pastor’s wife. Some of them single, some married, some widowed, some mothers. All of them, like women today, knew the joys and heartaches of life. But the bond that drew this generation of women together—and connects them to women today—was their heart for God and devotion to Christ. In this year’s worth of devotions, you will find spiritual insights from godly women of the past who, like us, struggled with sin, loneliness, and disappointments yet rejoiced in God’s love, mercy, grace, and providential blessings. Join them in the various seasons of their hearts and find timeless encouragement and wisdom from one generation of women to another.

Authors include Ruth Bryan, Anne Dutton, Isabella Graham, Elizabeth Julia Hasell, Frances Ridley Havergal, Sarah Hawkes, Susan Huntington, Harriet Newell, Katherine Parr, Susannah Spurgeon, Anne Steele, and Mary Winslow.

Then I also have two others of broader scope and interest:

BuildingGodlyHome-2For years, William Gouge’s Domestical Duties has stood as the foremost Puritan treatment of Christian family life. Yet due to its size and antiquated expression, it has become almost unknown among current generations of believers. To help revive the usefulness of this classic book, Scott Brown and Joel R. Beeke divided Gouge’s work into three manageable volumes, updated the language to modern standards, and have given it the title Building a Godly Home.

In the second volume, A Holy Vision for a Happy Marriage, we find detailed counsel about the most important relationship in the family—husband and wife. Gouge carefully addresses what a fit marriage is and the proper way to enter into one. He then discusses the mutual duties married couples share in order for marriage to survive and thrive, as well as the duties specific to men and women respectively. Not only does he give detailed treatment of how these responsibilities are best expressed and too often hindered, but he also provides ample biblical motivation to set us on the right course. Christian husbands and wives will find much encouragement in this book.

How does God bring His Word into our lives? The answer is: by the Holy Spirit. By the Spirit the Word was revealed and written. By the Spirit the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. By the Spirit the Word roots itself in the hearts of sinners and produces fruit. Calvin recognized long ago that the Holy Spirit is the bond of union between believers and Christ. Jonathan Edwards said that the Spirit is the sum of all Christ bought for His people with His precious blood. How precious then is the Spirit, and how important to know Him and His ways! In this book, a team of pastor-theologians uncover the rich biblical teachings about the work of the Holy Spirit. How was the Spirit involved in the human life of Jesus Christ? What is a spiritual person? How does the Spirit open the mind of sinners to trust in Christ? What does it mean to serve God in the power of the Spirit? How does the Spirit’s sovereign work relate to our responsibility in evangelism? These questions and more are addressed in this book.

If any of these titles are of interest to you, let me know either by comment here, or by email. I will find a way to get it to you asap! If you want more information, visit the links provided here. Thanks!

J.Calvin on Psalm 121: “How few… yield to God the honor of being a keeper.”!

Calvin PreachingAlso for our reflection and meditation on Psalm 121 today we include these comments of John Calvin on v.8 as he teaches us what it means that God is our sovereign Keeper. May his words too stir us up to confident trust in Him and to reverent worship of Him.

8. Jehovah will keep thy going out and thy coming in.

The sense is, Whatever thou shalt undertake or engage in during thy life shall come to a happy and successful termination. God no doubt directs by his Holy Spirit the, deliberations of his servants; but it appears to me, that this passage is rather to be referred to prosperous issues. If, however, any one would give it a more extended meaning I have no objection. It is enough for me to embrace that sense which is indisputably certain and solid, That God will be the continual guide of his people, so that stretching out his hand to them he will conduct them according to their hearts’ desire from the beginning even to the end.

Farther, it is of importance to mark the reason why the Prophet repeats so often what he had briefly and in one word expressed with sufficient plainness. Such repetition seems at first sight superfluous; but when we consider how difficult it is to correct our distrust, it will be easily perceived that he does not improperly dwell upon the commendation of the divine providence. How few are to be found who yield to God the honor of being a keeper, in order to their being thence assured of their safety, and led to call upon him in the midst of their perils! On the contrary, even when we seem to have largely experienced what this protection of God implies, we yet instantly tremble at the noise of a leaf falling from a tree, as if God had quite forgotten us.

Being then entangled in so many unholy misgivings, and so much inclined to distrust, we are taught from the passage that if a sentence couched in a few words does not suffice us, we should gather together whatever may be found throughout the whole Scriptures concerning the providence of God, until this doctrine-” That God always keeps watch for us” — is deeply rooted in our hearts; so that depending upon his guardianship alone we may bid adieu to all the vain confidences of the world.

Sunday Worship Preparation: Psalm 121 (Songs of Ascent #2)

Psalm121On this second Lord’s Day of December we take a look at Psalm 121 as we prepare to worship our glorious God and King, the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the second of the “songs of ascent”, the fifteen psalms of 120-134 (See my post from last week explaining the basic idea of these special songs.).

Psalm 121 is very familiar to us, and is used often by God’s people in the context of thoughts of and prayers for safety and protection for loved ones, which is certainly appropriate. But we must place this psalm in the context of worship first of all and see its application to the needs of God’s pilgrim people as they made their way up to  Jerusalem and the temple, situated on the hills of southeastern Judea. Let’s read the Word of God here in that light:

 Psalm 121

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.

2 My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.

3 He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.

4 Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.

6 The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.

7 The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.

8 The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

Now picture the church (Israel) with her covenant children traveling enmasse to see the Lord, traversing all kinds of terrain and with various dangers about her (including pagan enemies), and you will better understand why she lifted up this song to the Lord: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.”

Do you understand better now why she needed and went on to sing confidently of her covenant God’s protecting care? Yes, worshiping pilgrims need protection, the protection of the very Lord they are going to worship! Only He can and does keep Israel safe in this world as she makes her way to stand before Him and bow before Him!

And it is no different for us, God’s NT pilgrim worshipers, as we make our way each Lord’s Day to our places of worship, whether from far or from nearby. And ultimately, as we make our pilgrim journey to the heavenly city and the better country of heaven (Heb.11 & 12). Our spiritual position in this world (and even natural one) is always precarious. We are surrounded by a thousand dangers that threaten our livelihood and that would prevent us from arriving at our worship destination, whether that be the local church with whom I worship today or the full body of Christ in glory in the new heavens and earth. So many people and things that would hinder us and draw us away from our main purpose and goal in life – the worship of the one true and living God, our Father in Jesus Christ!

And as we go on our way, we have fears that we and our covenant children might not make it to the safest place in the world – the presence of our Father in heaven! Maybe we won’t be able to fulfill the purpose for which we were created and now are saved – the everlasting worship of our loving God! What if we don’t make it to Zion, the city of our great King?! What if we don’t get to bask in His beautiful presence and give Him the honor which is due Him?!

Ah, but then we remember that we are never out of our God’s presence and care, never out of His sovereign sight and merciful might. The One we are going to see and worship sits not merely on the hills of Zion, or the U.S. or China; He sits on the hills of the whole earth, even on the “hills” of heaven. And while we need sleep and safety, our great Keeper, Who never slumbers or sleeps, provides us with protection 24/7, day and night. He Who in sovereign love sent His Son to die for us, to rise from the dead and live for us everlastingly, to go up to Zion’s hill in heaven (His ascension) and prepare a place for us, will surely preserve us from all evil and preserve our going out and our coming in, now and to the end. Until we arrive forever in His presence in glory.

And so we pilgrim worshipers confidently sing, even as we look up to those heavenly hills and the God Who sits enthroned above, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills….” Shall we not sing that again today and throughout this week? “My help cometh from the LORD….”

And we may sing as we go today, using this versification from our Psalter (there are others there too). May God give us confident comfort from the truths of Psalm 121. If you visit this link, you may also find piano accompaniment. Here are the lyrics of Psalter #347, titled “The Watchful Care of God”:

1. Unto the hills around do I lift up
My longing eyes;
O whence for me shall my salvation come,
From whence arise?
From God the Lord doth come my certain aid,
From God the Lord Who heaven and earth hath made.

2. He will not suffer that thy foot be moved,
Safe shalt thou be;
No careless slumber shall His eyelids close
Who keepeth thee;
Behold He sleepeth not, He slumbereth ne’er,
Who keepeth Israel in His holy care.

3. Jehovah is Himself thy keeper true;
Thy changeless shade
Jehovah, evermore on thy right hand,
Himself hath made;
And thee no sun by day shall ever smite,
No moon shall harm thee in the silent night.

4. From every evil shall He keep thy soul,
From every sin;
Jehovah shall preserve thy going out,
Thy coming in;
Above thee watching, He Whom we adore
Shall keep thee henceforth, yea, for evermore.

Christ Forevermore – Octavius Winslow

FreeGraceBroadcaster-Fall2013Last week Monday I pointed out an article that appeared in the Fall issue of the Free Grace Broadcaster published by Mt.Zion Bible Church in Pensacola, FL (USA). This issue is dedicated to the doctrine of the person and work of Christ. Yesterday I read a few more articles in it before worship services and was especially edified by the final brief article, the one referenced in the title of this post.

In this article (taken from his book The Precious Things of God – available from Reformation Heritage Books) Winslow writes about what Christ is to the believer on his deathbed. It is a moving and powerful piece, and from it I quote today. May we be able to die with this beautiful confession and in this blessed assurance.

There is approaching a period – ah, how it speeds! – that will be the most solemn and severe, yet the sweetest and truest test of the sustaining, soothing power of Christ’s preciosuness in the experience of His saints: the last sickness and the closing scene of life. Imagine that moment to have arrived.

…Bending over you, the loved one who has accompanied you to the margin of the cold river (of death -cjt) asks a sign. You are too weak to conceive a thought, too low to breathe a word, too absorbed to bestow a responsive glance. You cannot now [declare] your faith in an elaborate creed, and you have no profound experience, ecstatic emotions, or heavenly visions to describe. One brief, but all-emphatic, all-expressive sentence embodies the amount of all that you now know, believe, and feel. It is the profession of your faith, the sum of your experience, the gound of your hope – ‘Christ is precious to my soul!’

Enough! The dying Christian can give and the inquiring friend can wish no more. Dearest Savior, be Thou close to me in that solemn moment! Tread the valley by my side, pillow my [faint, weary] head upon Thy bosoom, speak these words of heart-cheer to my struggling, panting, departing soul, ‘Fear thou not; for I am with thee’ (Isa 41:10 – then, it will be happiness for me to die. Death will have no venom, the grave no gloom, eternity no dread. And, from the measured experience of Thy preciousness on earth, I shall pass in triumph through the shadowy portal into the full sunshine and perfect realization and eternal enjoyment of all that faith believed and love desired and hope expected of Thy full-orbed glory and preciousness in heaven. ‘In thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore’ (Psa 16:11).

J.Calvin on Psalm 119:175 – “…God does not feed us with delusive promises.”

JCalvinPicFor our further meditation on the final section of Psalm 119 today, we also post these thoughts of the reformer John Calvin on v.175. May they too serve to instruct us and give us good hope in our faithful God and Savior.

175. Let my soul live and let it praise thee.

As the verbs are in the future tense, shall live, shall praise, this sentence may be expounded thus: Lord, when thou shalt have bestowed life upon me, I will endeavor, by celebrating thy praises, to show that I am not ungrateful. If this sense is approved, the sentence will be a kind of rejoicing, in which the Prophet, depending upon the divine promises, confidently proclaims, that his life will continue in safety. And, certainly, although our life is hidden under the shadow of death, we may, nevertheless, boast that it is safe, because God is its faithful guardian; and this assured confidence proceeds from his quickening grace, which is offered to us in his word.

…In the second clause it would be harsh to understand the word judgments of the commandments, to which it does not properly belong to give help. It seems then, that the Prophet, perceiving himself liable to numberless calamities — even as the faithful, by reason of the unbridled license of the wicked, dwell in this world as sheep among wolves, — calls upon God to protect him in the way of restraining, by his secret providence, the wicked from doing him harm. It is a very profitable doctrine, when things in the world are in a state of great confusion, and when our safety is in danger amidst so many and varied storms, to lift up our eyes to the judgments of God, and to seek a remedy in them.

As, however, in this Psalm the word judgments is commonly referred to God’s commandments, we may also fitly interpret it of them in this place, so that the Prophet attributes to the word of God the office and charge of giving succor; for God does not feed us with delusive promises, but, whenever an emergency arises, confirms and ratifies his word by giving some palpable manifestation of the operation of his hand. Thus, when the Prophet calls the divine law to his help, he pronounces a singular encomium upon the efficacy of the divine word.

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