2 Chron. xxv. 1, 2
The Perfect Heart
by Henry Dyer
The Perfect Heart
(2 Chron. xxv. 1, 2.)
I feel the utmost diffidence in reading this scripture, but to my own mind it is a divine confirmation of what the Lord has brought before us.
We have had words of encouragement and of warning too. We have been reminded of the character of the foe, and of the state of soul in which the foe is to be met. I was much struck by the brother who has just sat down, showing how it is the state of the people that has to be remedied.
In the case of Amaziah, the Lord looked at the heart, and though we read that "he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord," we find it was "not with a perfect heart." (Compare ver. 2 with 1 Sam. xvi. 7.) Still, God opened his ear to listen to the prophet, and that is the state He would have us in, our ears open to hear His voice. As we read, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." "They know not the voice of strangers." This is our blessing and safety-nearness, and the opened ear: obedience and affection.
Passing on, we find the king proposes to go to battle without taking counsel with the Lord. It was perfectly right that he should go to battle; it was against Edom, the enemies of God's people, who opposed their progress on their way to the possession His love had prepared for them; and who pursued his brother with the sword and cast off all pity. But there was this mixed principle with Amaziah, that he went and hired a hundred thousand men of Israel to help him. However, when God sent a man of God to reprove him for this, he hearkened to the voice of the prophet and sent them away. They had ceased to be in the testimony of God. One thing distressed him (ver. 9), the loss of the hundred talents; but the word of the prophet was, "The Lord is able to give thee much more than this." Present loss is future gain as we prove God's resources and learn that He is for us.
Beloved, how our hearts have been distressed of late, going in and out among the people of God; we have passed through exercises that have been of the deepest character. If there ever was a day in which His word has become precious to us it is to-day. It has brought us real, deep cheer and blessing; it has carried us right up above the sorrows; it has lifted our hearts right up to God Himself, so that instead of sighing, it has awakened a deeper note of worship than has ever gone up to Him before from these poor hearts of ours.
If one may speak for another, I would say, God has made up for it all. What a sorrowful thing that the prophet should have to say, "(O king, let not the army of Israel go with thee; for the Lord is not "with Israel, to wit, with all the children of Ephraim." This has a voice to my own soul, and I am sure to yours. Were not all Israel God's people? Were they not brethren? Every one. But now the time has come when the prophet has to say, "The Lord is not with Israel, to wit, with all the children of Ephraim." The people may become such, that in His government, God has to say, "The Lord is not with Israel." They must be set aside. What boundless grace it is for us to know that the Lord is with us. That a wonderful thing that His grace should preserve a company answering in moral condition to that which surrounded Him in Matthew xii. 49. But were the two tribes in that condition? Brethren, are we? God might use them to conquer Edom, but what was the result of their success? They brought home and worshipped the gods of the Edomites. And if His grace has preserved us in a day of trouble and difficulty, let us be watchful lest we follow the example of the two tribes in turning away from "The fountain of living water."
The Lord give us so to bear about in the body the dying of Jesus, refusing everything of the first man, discerning His will in things that differ, so that we may not call good evil, or evil good. May the word of God be quick and powerful in us, dividing asunder soul and spirit and cut down to the marrow in each one of us, keeping our whole heart open to Himself. If there is not real manifestation and openness of heart before God, we are on the edge of a precipice, and the next movement may be that we shall have the most terrible fall. May we know what it is to be more willing to be delivered to death for Jesus' sake. It is thus only, that we can know the nature and character of the power that is ours, the power that can give us the victory over the foe, and fit us both for service and testimony, so that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in us now in the place of responsibility where His love and grace sustain us.