"I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth
his life for the sheep."—John x. 11.
"For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now
returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls."—1 Pet. ii. 25.
We are indeed weak and helpless, and prone to wander
as sheep; unable to guide ourselves, unfit to defend ourselves, and even
liable to become a prey to spoilers. But what a Shepherd is ours ! How
wise, how careful, how strong to defend, how tender to support His poor,
feeble flock! How well does He know His own sheep by name, and
lead them out! How lovingly does He gather the lambs with His arm, and
carry them in His bosom! Oh, if we are of the happy number of those who
can say, ''The Lord is my Shepherd," we may with confidence add, "I
shall not want." We may be in sorrow on earth—we may have pain to suffer
or trials to go through, but our Good Shepherd will not leave us in want
of the far higher blessings which He alone can give; and it is often
during those very times of sorrow and trial that He leads His sheep most
to the still waters and the green pastures of spiritual consolation. And
if He places them, in the wintry day, on the hare and exposed rock, it
is only to save them from being smothered by the snow-drift in the
sheltered hollow. The Good Shepherd has given the highest of all
possible proofs of His love; and how can we distrust His guidance
who "giveth His life for the sheep?"
"I love my Shepherd: He shall keep
My wand'ring soul among His sheep;
He feeds His flock, He calls their names,
And in His bosom bears the lambs."
"To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled,
and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you."—1 Pet. i. 4.
"We do not think enough of heaven. If we have any
good hope, through grace, of ever getting there, we ought to
think much of it. The heir thinks of his inheritance, and prepares
himself for it; and so ought we to think of and prepare ourselves for
our inheritance. How fully does the description of it in the text meet,
in a few words, the wants of our hearts! It is "incorruptible;"
and we, in a world of death and corruption, long for something that will
never know the decay from which our souls revolt. It is "undefiled;"
and if we have anything of the Spirit's work of holiness dwelling in
us, we long for an undefiled and pure and holy heaven, where no taint of
sin can enter. It "fadeth not away," like every earthly thing to which
we cling; it never can fade from us, nor we from it—never can lose its
loveliness or brightness, like the joys of this world, which so soon
pall upon us. It is "reserved in heaven" for us, beyond the reach of
foes or risk of danger. It is all this and more, for it is the full
possession of God himself as our portion for ever! O Lord, keep us by
Thine own mighty power through faith unto salvation, till Thou bring us
to Thyself there!
"Could we but stand where Moses stood,
And view the landscape o'er,
Nor Jordan's stream nor death's cold flood
Should fright us from the shore."
" Know ye that the Lord he is God."—Ps. c. 3.
"Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great
recompense of reward."—Heb. x. 35.
There are times when no truth can give such support
to the mind as this one first great truth of our holy faith, "The Lord
he is God." "When some sudden stroke of affliction cuts into the heart
like a sharp sword, and we cannot yet hear the voice of consolation for
the bitterness of our anguish, the Lord speaks, and His voice to us
comes with power that none may withstand, saying, "Be still, and know
that I am God." We must be made to feel His glorious sovereignty; we
must be taught that we are nothing except in Him— "The Lord he is God."
Nature rebels at the lesson; but it is only when we have bowed and bent
our spirits to receive it that we feel what comfort there is in this
thought—comfort which flows like living streams from the flinty Rock,
the great, strong, mighty Rock, which is, alas, to so many a Rock of
offence! He is God; and the eternal sovereignty of our Father, unshaken
by all that wicked men or devils can do, remains for ever the strength
and glory of those who put their trust in Him. "Be ye sure that
the Lord he is God!"
"Jehovah doth reign!
His people rejoice;
His hand can sustain
The flock of His choice.
"The heathen assemble,
The kingdoms are moved;
But why should they tremble,
Whom Jesus hath loved?"
"Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens ; and thy
faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds. Thy righteousness is like the
great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep: O Lord, thou
preservest man and beast."—Ps. xxxvi. 5, 6.
The Psalmist makes a sudden transition here, from the
consideration of the wickedness of men to the glorious character and
perfections of God. He had been stirred in heart by beholding "the
transgression of the wicked;" his soul was grieved within him; and he
found relief by turning to the thought of his God. If we remember that
the words of David are often the words of David's Lord, how affecting is
such a passage as this! It shews us the Holy One grieved (as we know He
was in the days of His flesh) with the hardness of men's hearts, and
turning from them to the Father, where all is glorious perfection, high
as the heavens, reaching unto the clouds. And if this thought sustained
our Lord, well may it sustain His servants when they share His grief at
the sight of sin; for they know that, whatever evil there may be in this
guilty earth, there is a mercy, and a faithfulness, and a
righteousness above, under which the children of men may put their
trust, and be "abundantly satisfied."
"Tell of His wondrous faithfulness,
And sound His praise abroad;
Sing the sweet promise of His grace,
And the performing God."
"Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the
Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto
him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not
revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven,"—Matt. xvi.
16, 17. Compare with John i. 40-41 — "Andrew Simon Peter's brother.
He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have
found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, The Christ. And he
brought him to Jesus."
By comparing these passages together we see what
flesh and blood could do, and what it could not do, in bringing a man to
Christ. His brother told Peter of the Messias, the Anointed, whom he had
himself found, and he brought him to Jesus, that he might know and see
this Saviour for himself. But he could do no more; he could not make
him believe. A greater power was needed to reveal the Lord to Peter;
and afterwards, at a later period, Jesus declares, that what flesh and
blood could not do, His Father in heaven had done. Thus we may and ought
to bring those who are dear to us to the Saviour; we may tell them the
good tidings, and acknowledge our own belief in the Messias, the Christ,
but it is the Father alone who can reveal the truth to the soul, and it
is He whom we must ask to help us to do the thing which, without Him, we
will not do, believing in His willingness to hear and answer sincere
"Jesus, mine Advocate above,
Let me not hear of Thee alone,
But make the wonders of Thy love
By sweet experience deeply known.
"On Thee my faith would fix her eye,
My lips would taste Thy heavenly grace;
Then should I raise Thine honour high,
And teach a thousand tongues Thy praise."