The Path of God’s Pleasure (2)
This is “Michtam of David,” one of the “golden psalms” of David—one of those “fine gold” psalms which refer to our Lord Jesus Christ.
The first verse, “In Thee do I put my trust,” is embodied in Hebrews 2, “I will put my trust in Him,” and the closing verses were quoted by Peter on the day of Pentecost, as speaking of Christ’s death and resurrection.
Thus we know that the Psalm has direct reference to our blessed and adorable Lord.
I have turned to it to engage your thoughts for a little with something of the grace of Him whose glories we have been considering—with something of that moral glory that shone out in Him in all His blessed goings in that path in which Jehovah delighted.
What was it to God that in such an arid desert scene as this, there should be one track across it where He was perfectly honoured. Where, in all His way, the Son glorified His Father for whose glory He had come, and thus was found the perfectly dependent man in the world. “From the womb of the Virgin to the throne of God,” as some one has said, we find Him brought before us for our soul’s delight, that in some way we may have the Father’s thought of Him in whom He found all His good pleasure.
He is “over-all, God blessed forever,” but presented before us in this precious portion of the Word of God, in His Manhood here for the worship of our hearts.
If we look at the verses now in more detail we may see His moral excellencies shine forth in surpassing beauty.
The first verse presents Him as the Trustful Man, perfect in His confidence in and dependent upon Jehovah.
In the second verse He is viewed as the Lowly Man. Read verses 2 and 3 thus:—“As to Jehovah, thou hast said, Thou art my Lord, my goodness extendeth not to thee. As to the saints that are in the earth, they are the excellent in whom is all my delight.” We see Him here, the lowly One, speaking out of that place which he had taken saying, “Thou art My Lord, My goodness extendeth not to Thee.”
As to the saints we find Him as the Gracious Man. He would link Himself with these saints, these godly ones, a little remnant in Israel as they took their first right step in owning their ruin and need at the waters of baptism. Our Lord, who was the sinless, peerlessly perfect One, would identify Himself with them. But then, at once we find Him singled out by Heaven. The Father’s voice is heard saying, “Thou art My beloved Son in whom is all My delight.” And we can say, of that same all-glorious Person, “He is our beloved Saviour, and in Him is all our joy.”
We turn from ourselves and all that we have discovered ourselves to be and we find our rest, our delight in Him in whom the Father delights. Shall we not take comfort from this, beloved friends, that we who believe are like them, numbered among “the excellent of the earth” in His sight, and among His loved ones, “His own which are in the world” today.
Not any limited few, not any section of that company in any limited fellowship, but all “His own” are “the excellent of the earth” in His judgment. And do not our hearts go out to them, to all “His own,” with that love of which we were hearing in Ephesians this morning—to embracing “all saints” in our prayers?
In the fourth verse we see Him as in His temptation the Separate Man. He gave sin and evil a wide berth indeed. In that dread temptation where Satan would at length have Him bow, and worship him, “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, Him only shalt thou serve, get thee behind Me, Satan,” is His stern reply. He would have nothing to do with that which is false.
And you and I are called to tread a separate path, and do not let us shrink from it beloved. We are all in danger but Christ can keep us, and seeking His company in prayer and meditation and loving His Word we shall be maintained in the separation to Himself. And it is this He values. Someone has said that mere outward, physical separation from the world is nothing worth, and a mere legal separation because of what this one or that one will say, is nothing worth, but separation to Christ—your heart taken up with Him, His Father and our Father delighted in, that separation is what God looks for and that which He values in His own. We see it perfectly in our Lord Jesus Christ. He found all His heart’s joy in His Father.
He is the Satisfied Man in verses 5 and 6. “Jehovah is the portion of Mine inheritance and of My cup; Thou maintainest My lot” (How different from the “portion” in Psalm 17:14). He found His meat in doing the Father’s will; He was here for the Father’s pleasure and for the Father’s glory. He could say, “I came down from heaven not to do Mine own will but the will of Him that sent Me.” “Jehovah is the portion of Mine inheritance.” That is future. “And of My cup.” That is present. He knew whether in the future or in the present what it was to have Jehovah as His only, His all-sufficient portion.
And you and I are privileged, beloved friends, to follow in His steps (alas how far off and how feebly we do so). We are called “to live unto God.” The heart will have an object and “self,” now being judged, God Himself, manifested in His grace, revealed in His Son, becomes the object, the all-satisfying Object for our hearts.
And then we find Him saying, “The lines are fallen unto Me in pleasant places, yea, I have a goodly heritage.” As to this outward circumstances, we know that our Lord Jesus was “the Man of sorrows,” the grief-acquainted One, but, inwardly, He had joy in the accomplishment of His Father’s good pleasure. There were the pleasant places in that lonely pathway Was not that a pleasant place to Him at Sychar’s well, where He might pour heaven’s fullness into an impoverished heart, where He might unfold to that Samaritan the story of the Father seeking worshippers, and so fill her heart that, leaving her water pot, she will hasten to bear witness of Him. It was a pleasant place indeed. And such we find again and again as our souls peruse with delight the Gospel story in the four evangelists. Joy was His, meat was His, in doing the Father’s will, whatever that will might be, and so shall it be with you and me, beloved, as we, through grace, follow Him in His blessed pathway.
Then in the seventh verse we find Him the Worshipping Man, saying, “I will bless Jehovah who hath given Me counsel,” You get that note of worship in the Gospels. We hear His telling forth of praise as in Matthew 11. “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 pours out His soul’s delight before the Father, and this in circumstances that were so contrary; circumstances where all seemed opposed to Him, and when his ministry seemed to be a failure. It is at that time the Lord Jesus turns with thanksgiving to the Father.
Then, as the Devoted Man in absolute devotedness in verse 8, “I have set Jehovah always before Me.” Unswerving, unfailing, in faithfulness, we have His course depicted before us in the pages of the evangelists. How unlike to what any of us can say.
As the Rejoicing, Hopeful Man we find Him in verse 9. “Therefore My heart is glad, My glory rejoiceth, My flesh also shall rest in hope.” If in some way thus we have traced the Lord, as seen in this Psalm, from the earliest moment of His earthly journeyings, if His baptism, his temptation, His blessed service, His devotedness in life, have been before us hitherto, we come now to the Cross, to dark Calvary, and to that sepulchre in Joseph’s garden, and we hear Him say in His perfection, “My heart is glad, My flesh also shall rest in hope, for Thou wilt not suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption.” “Thou wilt show Me the path of life”—a path that led down into death, but out into the glory; into that sphere where is fullness of joy at His Father’s right hand and the pleasures for evermore. We know Him now as the Glorified Man at the right hand of God. “We see Jesus. . . crowned with glory and honour.” So we have followed Him in that wonderful pathway, and admire and adore in His presence.
Some may say now, “That is a beautiful life in truth, but it is not for me to follow.” So I want to add a few words concerning this before I close.
As you trace the path of the Lord Jesus in the Scriptures, and you see His moral beauties and excellencies shining out in life and in death, dear believer, you are entitled to say, “That is my life.”
Christ who is our righteousness is also our life, as we read, “When Christ who is our life shall appear.”
All that you have had part in in Adam as fallen, all that volume of your history, so dark, so sin-marked, so spoiled, has been closed in the death of the Lord Jesus, and you live now before God in Christ and Christ lives in you for manifestation here. It is that which we find in Galatians 2:20 where the apostle Paul says, I have been crucified with Christ “Christ liveth in me.” All that I was as Saul of Tarsus has been brought to its close in judgment at the Cross; I have been crucified with Christ. “Nevertheless, I live”—I am a living man—“but no longer I”—Saul of Tarsus—“but Christ liveth in me.” It is the apostle expressing personally for himself that which was good in his own soul, that which is our proper Christian position; “Our old man has been crucified with Christ.” The only life we are to know, and the only life God recognizes is Christ as our life, and God works in every one that something of Christ may be expressed in us day by day, that there may be something of the grace that shone out in Him shining out in each one of us in the power of the Holy Spirit. And so you find as to service the apostle saying, in Romans 15:18, “I will not speak of that which Christ hath not wrought through me.” All that which he valued was that which Christ wrought through him. Some of you younger men may say, “What can I do for Christ?” No! Put it like this, What can Christ do through me?
I would like to ask you in view of this, are you the Christian you might be? (The rifle kicks as I fire it!) Am I? Am I the Christian I might be? Am I a Christian in the divine thought for one? I know I am a believer; I am justified from all things, I am saved by the grace of God, but am I the Christian I should he? Am I the Christian God would have me to be? Am I the Christian I might be by the power of the Spirit of God, treading in Christ’s steps? And as no own that we are not, shall we not turn to Him and say, “Lord, make me just what Thou wouldst have me to be?”
A young man electrified a prayer meeting as he prayed, “Lord, make a good job of me.” Will you pray that prayer? You may not in those words, but will you pray it from your heart this afternoon, “Lord; work Thine own work in me and through me for Thy pleasure and have me here for Thy will alone?”
Do you say, “I have tried to do it and failed”?
Yes! we may say this all of us. But Christ can make you a success.
In Florence there is a wonderful statue by Michelangelo. It is of the stripling David taking the sling and the stones. That statue is formed of a block of marble upon with another sculptor had done some work, but who had set it aside as valueless. Michelangelo saw that stone and he took it in hand and formed a most beautiful sculpture. So Christ can take you in hand this afternoon and by His grace He may take me also. Some of us have only a few more steps in the desert to tread, if our Lord tarry, while some of you young men, if the Lord will, have life before you. What shall that life be? Shall it be a lost life, just plunged in mere commerce and pleasure? Is that worth while? Put yourself in Christ’s hand that He may form you for His pleasure, so that out of your life there may be something of His grace shining, something of His activities, through you in blessing to others; redounding to the glory of God. So, in some measure, shall we follow Christ’s steps in the path of God’s pleasure. God make it so with all of us, for His Name’s sake.
Extracted from “Ministry for the Church of God”