Brethren Archive

The Man, Christ Jesus

by Inglis Fleming


Psalm 16 portrays Christ in His wonderful life here on earth among men. The Holy Ghost in it details for us in rich fullness the beauties and graces of the “The Man, Christ Jesus.” It is not occupied with our blessing, though that is involved in what is presented. It rather would engage our hearts with Him who is the Blesser. We have come to Him and tasted the blessing which He bestows—(if you have not yet come, come to Him now)—and thus we are free to have our minds taken up with the Blesser Himself, who is immeasurably greater than the blessing He has brought us.

In this wonderful scripture we get the whole course of Christ’s pathway depicted for us in few words, chosen by the Spirit of God to bring before the saints of God in that day, and in our day, and in a future day, also, that One in whom God finds all His delight.

It is called “a golden Psalm” Michtam—of David. It is pure gold, gold beaten out that our souls may see it and delight in it.

It opens with the Lord Jesus Christ in His earthly journey crying out of that place of dependence which He took for God’s glory, and for our blessing, “Preserve me, O God, for in Thee do I put my trust.”

HIS TRUST

His trust is reposed in God. It is that which is general to all His path. You will remember it is quoted, in the spirit of it, in Hebrews 2, “I will put my trust in Him.” What a blessed example for us amid all the confusion that there is among the nations of men, of the church of God, and the sorrow in our homes, and amid all the failure that we know in ourselves! How blessed to realize that in this spirit of confidence we can turn to God, and know that He will not fail the least of His own! He never failed Christ, and Christ knew He would never fail Him. He has never failed us, and we may know that He will never fail us. He delights in the trust of men, “Oh, how great is Thy goodness which Thou hast laid up for them that fear Thee, which Thou hast wrought for them that trust in Thee before the sons of men!” says Psalm 31:9. That was where Adam failed. He trusted the devil’s lie instead of the heart of God who had made him. God, in grace, works for and delights in the recovery of the heart of His creature. In the Lord Jesus Christ there was no failure, no deflection, no turning aside at any time from this absolute confidence.

Then we find in the next verse how the Lord Jesus speaks in accordance with His perfect self-emptying.

HIS SUBJECTION

is prominent, “Thou hast said unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord; my goodness extendeth not to Thee.” In His holy manhood here our Lord was in the only position suitable to man, and thus He speaks of Jehovah as His Lord. Truly God eternally, He became Man in time for the glory of God (and for our present and everlasting good). And in Manhood He put Himself under Jehovah’s command in the place of learning obedience.

In verse 3 we see the Lord associating Himself with the people of God.

HIS LOWLINESS

is thus presented to view. It is said that verses 2 and 3 should be read like this, “As to the Lord, Thou hast said, Thou art my Lord, my goodness extendeth not to Thee. As to the saints that are in the earth, the excellent, in them is all my delight.” Perfect towards God in subjection, He is perfect among men in lowliness. We contemplate with adoring heart the Lord of glory companying with the lowly on earth. This was seen particularly at His baptism. The godly ones of Israel then were going down to the waters of Jordan where John the Baptist was baptizing. And the Lord came that He might be baptized with them.

John shrinks from baptizing Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized of Thee.” He was conscious of the glory of the Son of God, but the Lord Jesus said to him, “Suffer it to be so now, for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.” He was taking His place with the godly in their first right step, as they turned Godward in confession of their sins. He who had no sins to confess, yet openly linked Himself with God’s people, He identified Himself with those saints, despised and rejected as they were by the religious leaders of the day.

Then in the fourth verse. . .

HIS SEPARATION

is depicted, “Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god: their drink offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their names into my lips.” Are we not brought here to the hour of His temptation? The devil tempted Adam and Eve, and succeeded. He comes to see if the Son of God will take another name into His lips, and we know how thwarted and baffled and defeated the enemy was, “All these things will I give Thee if Thou wilt fall down and worship me.” But Christ would not take it from those hands. In perfect dependence He would wait on God. In absolute subjection to His will He would tread the path of rejection until God should glorify Him before all the nations of men. What a pathway; He was the separate Man, who refused to turn aside, “Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another.” Beloved friends, if we turn aside from following God, if we take up another name into our lips, if we are deflected by the enemy’s subtlety or force, our sorrows shall be multiplied.

Do we not see this written large and plain in the calamities of the world today? What a turning aside from God there has been! God-forgetfulness and God-renunciation has marked the twentieth century. Men have been lovers of money—lovers of self—“lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,” and the outcome has been multiplied sorrows on every hand. Wars and pestilences, famines, shame and suffering abound. Sighs and groans are heard the wide world over, “Yet have ye not returned unto Me, saith the Lord God.”

May He who never turned aside keep us near Himself in this hour of trial and temptation!

HIS SATISFACTION

in His portion is declared in verse 5, “The Lord is the portion of My inheritance.” That is future. “And of my cup.” That is present. “Thou maintainest my lot.” He rejoiced in that which was His true portion. Whether for the future or the present Jehovah was His portion and was enough.

And all that was His was maintained for Him by a hand of Almighty power.

Men might and did refuse Him His rights. His claims were disallowed and He had nothing of that to which men of the earth look for satisfaction. But there was no sense of want with Him. Jehovah was His portion. Having Him, He had all.

How far can we say that? Are we seeking to fill our hands with earth’s baubles. They are fleeting, and can never meet the longing of the human heart. But if in truth we can say, “Jehovah is the portion of mine inheritance and of my lot,” we have learned the secret of contentment and we shall be “abundantly satisfied with the fatness of ‘God’s’ house.”

Moreover, we can never lose our inheritance, it is reserved in heaven for us as we are preserved on earth in view of it.

Passing to the next verse, we find our Lord saying, “The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.”

HIS HAPPINESS

is disclosed here. His joy was to do the will of God and to succour the needy children of men. He found His pleasure in the accomplishment of the pleasure of His Father, and that pleasure was the blessing of men. He rejoiced to say, “He that sent Me is with Me, the Father hath not left Me alone, for I do always those things that please Him.” In His service He had “meat to eat that others knew not of”—His meat was to do the will of God and to finish His work. “Pleasant places” were His when faith claimed His blessing and when souls responded to His gracious ministry, and when

“Each wayside wanderer urged his claim,

And none was e’er denied.”

HIS WORSHIP

“I will bless the Lord, who has given me counsel; my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.” These words seem to bring before us the guidance and responsive worship which were true during the whole pathway of Christ! The Psalms give to us, not the external circumstances so much as the Gospels do, but rather the inner experiences of our Lord.

We think of Him as the Man of Sorrows, and rightly, as to His external circumstances, but inwardly He is the Man of Joy, delighting in Jehovah, and in the accomplishment of Jehovah’s will.

In the eleventh of Matthew we find that which was doubtless delightsome to God. When everything was breaking down, and the cities where His mighty works had been done had rejected Him, and John the Baptist, His forerunner, seems to have doubted Him—“At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes; even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight.” He was delighting in God’s will being done, whatever it might cost Him. Were not His steps, the “steps of a good man, ordered of Jehovah”? Did not Jehovah delight in His way?

It is for us to accept His example, and to sweeten every trial as He did. I suppose we all have bitter cups, for each “heart knoweth its own bitterness,” but what will make them sweet? Take them in subjection to the Father’s will, drop into them these three drops—“EVEN SO, FATHER.” Ah, all that God passes His own through today is, as was the case with Israel of old, “to do thee good at thy latter end.” It has been said that every bottle that comes out of God’s dispensary has that label on it, “To do thee good at thy latter end.” He may bring us down, so that He may lift us up. He may make us hungry, so that we may have a good appetite, and then He will feed us, but it is all to do us good. Take courage, dear fellow believers, if cast down and weary. Put in these three drops, then, constantly. You will need them every day of your life. It is not earth’s circumstances which will determine the result of all that God has wrought for us. He makes all things work together for our spiritual good, and not for that which would please the flesh, or that in which we would delight naturally, but for our true present and eternal good.

In the eighth verse we read, “I have set the Lord always before me, because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.”

HIS DEVOTEDNESS

shines forth in these words. How clearly! How brightly! Nothing would cause Him to give up His mission to do all the will of God. Even death with its terrors would not stay His path.

I.Fleming

S.T. 1917






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