He took with him the commanders of hundreds, the Carites, the guards, and all the people of the land, and they brought the king down from the house of the LORD and entered the royal palace by way of the gate of the guards. Then Joash took his seat on the royal throne,
I. THE COVENANT MADE. Very early in the history of God's people we find them entering into covenants with him. When Jacob had that comforting vision at Bethel, he entered into a covenant. "If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go... so that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the Lord be my God; and this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God's house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee." The pillar he set up was the witness of the covenant. When God gave the Ten Commandments to the children of Israel, they entered into a covenant that they would keep them and do them. That covenant they publicly renewed and ratified many times in their subsequent history. They renewed it shortly before the death of Moses. They renewed it shortly before the death of Joshua, and on that occasion Joshua set up a great stone to be a witness of what they had done. On the occasion before us they renew it under the influence of Jehoiada. "And Jehoiada made a covenant between the Lord and the king and the people, that they should be the Lord's people; between the king also and the people." They renewed it also in the reign of Josiah, and under Ezra and Nehemiah after the return from the Captivity. In all these cases we find three important features, common to them all. In each case the duty of making the covenant was enjoined upon the people by eminent men of God - prophets, priests, and kings. In each case it was a public covenant, entered into by all the people. And in each case, when the covenant was renewed, it was accompanied by moral and spiritual revival and reformation. Have we not in the New Testament the same duty pointed out and practiced, though not indeed under the same name? It was a public covenant with the Lord when on the Day of Pentecost the three thousand souls were baptized. When Paul praises the Churches of Macedonia for that "they first gave their own selves to the Lord;" when he calls his readers to present themselves a living sacrifice unto God; to remember that they are not their own, but are bought with a price; to come out from among the godless and be separate; - all these are just different ways of reminding them that as Christians they have entered into a covenant with God. Passing over the dark ages which came upon the Christian Church, we find that when the Bible truths began to shed their light once more in the surrounding darkness, the early Reformers found it necessary to baud themselves together in a solemn covenant with God and with one another. By this means they kept before them their great purpose. By this means they stimulated and strengthened and encouraged one another. By this means they lifted up a testimony against surrounding error. Such a covenant was publicly agreed to by the Protestant princes and states of Germany, and also by the Huguenots of France. But the best-known and most memorable covenants are those of Scotland. John Knox laid the foundation of the Reformation in Scotland, but the covenants built it up and strengthened it. The first of these was called the National Covenant, first drawn up in the year 1580. It was signed by the king, nobles, and persons of all ranks - the king being James VI. of Scotland, afterwards James I. of England. By this memorable document the whole people of Scotland pledged themselves to renounce and resist all the errors of popery, and to maintain the truth as it is in Jesus. It was this covenant which was afterwards renewed in the Greyfriar's Churchyard at Edinburgh, when, among the immense multitude who signed it, many opened their veins and wrote their names with their own blood. The other was the Solemn League and Covenant, entered into between the two parliaments of England and Scotland, also for resistance to popery, and the maintenance of pure religion throughout the land. These things suggest to us that, in times of prevailing wickedness or of prevailing error, it is the duty of God's people to make public avowal of their faith in Christ and allegiance to him. It is a duty pointed out both in the Old Testament and in the New, and confirmed by the experience of God's Church both in Scripture times and in more recent days. If ever there was a time when it was the duty of Christ's people publicly and unitedly to confess him, that time is the present. Wickedness abounds. The love of many waxes cold. Many of Christ's professing people seem utterly indifferent to the claims of their Master and his cause. False doctrines are taught; and under the show of religion there is a growing conformity to the world. A faithful, strong, united testimony for Christ is urgently needed. How, then, are we to carry out this duty of making a public covenant with God? There is one way which is available to us all, and that is the Lord's Supper. It is an act of commemoration, communion, and consecration. In partaking of the Lord's Supper we enter into a covenant with God. It is a public covenant. The eyes of the world are upon us. They see us make a profession to be Christ's. Do they see that our practice corresponds with our profession? Each communion ought to be a personal covenant with God on the part of each individual believer. It ought to be a public covenant with God on the part of families. It ought to be a public covenant with God on the part of congregations.
II. THE COVENANT KEPT. Jehoiada and the people had entered into a covenant or engagement that they would be the Lord's. And they kept their promise. The first way in which they showed it was by breaking in pieces the idols and their altars, which were so abundant in the land. So, if we take Christ's vows upon us at his table, let us show that we mean what we profess. Let us show that we are on the Lord's side. "Better not to vow, than to vow and not pay." Let us begin with our own hearts. Are there no idols there that need to be thrown down, no besetting sins that need to be put away, no evil passions that need to be crucified? "If ye do return unto the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve him only" (1 Samuel 7:3).
III. THE BLESSINGS OF THE COVENANT. "And all the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was in quiet." God kept them in perfect peace, because their minds were stayed on him. They kept their part of the covenant. God kept his. We find in Scripture that God promises special blessings to those who enter into a covenant with him. Before he gave the Law on Mount Sinai, he said to the children of Israel, "Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine." Then again God says, "Come ye out from among them, and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord God Almighty." We also find that more than once these promises were fulfilled. In the days of Asa, when the people of Judah made a covenant with God, we read that "it was a time of great rejoicing, for they had sought the Lord with all their heart, and he was found of them; and the Lord gave them rest round about." So in the days of Josiah, When they made the covenant and put away the strange gods, we read, "Surely there was not holden such a Passover from the days of the judges that judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel, nor of the kings of Judah." It was the same in more recent times. The covenanters, whose motto was "For Christ's crown and covenant," and who shed their blood in defense of Christ's authority, were a great means of preserving pure and undefiled religion in Scotland. Let us all, then, faithfully witness for him by our lives. "Come, and let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten' (Jeremiah 1:5). - C.H.I.
King David's spears and shields, that were in the temple of the Lord.
I. IT IS WELL FOR US TO HANG ALL OUR TROPHIES IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD. We, too, are warriors. Every genuine Christian has to fight. Every inch of the way between here and heaven we shall have to fight, for as hitherto every single step o our pilgrimage has been one prolonged conflict. Sometimes we have victories, a presage of that final victory, that perfect triumph we shall enjoy with our Great Captain for ever. When we have these victories it behoves us to be especially careful that in all good conscience we hang up the trophies thereof in the house of the Lord. The reason for this lies here: it is to the Lord that we owe any success we have ever achieved. We have been defeated when we have gone in our own strength; but when we have been victorious it has always been because the strength of the Lord was put forth for our deliverance. You never fought with a sin, with a temptation, or with a doubt, and overthrew it, except by the Spirit's aid. This will save us from pride and self-sufficiency. Scarcely can God trust us with a victory, lest we begin fingering it with our own hands, as if our own ingenuity, our own wisdom, or our own strength had done marvels.
II. THESE TROPHIES MAY COME IN USEFUL AT SUCH TIMES AS WE CANNOT FORESEE, AND UNDER SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES AS WE WOT NOT OF. Little could David have thought when he gave Abiathar the sword of Goliath, that he would ever go to the priests of Gad and ask them to lend him a sword, and that they should say, We have no sword here, save the sword of Goliath, the Philistine. whom thou slewest in the Valley of Elah, behold it is wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. He gave it to God, but he did not think that he would ever have it back again with a priestly blessing on it, so that he should be able to say, "There is none like that: give it me." And when, in after years, he hung up the swords and shields which he had taken away from Philistine heroes, he did not surmise that one of his descendants, of the seed royal, would find the need to employ his own, his grandsire's, or, further back, from himself — his forefathers' trophies — in order to establish himself on the throne. We never know, when we praise God for mercies, hut what the very praises might come back into our bosoms, and the offerings we make to God in the way of thankfulness may be our own enrichment in the days to come. Did you ever have a personal, mental, moral conflict with some great dragon of besetting sin? If so be you have been enabled to smite it valiantly, and slay it utterly, I know you have gained trophies to hang up in the house of God. To do so will be of no small advantage to yourselves, because you can take them down and use them in future; and you will find they are footholds of your strength to fight with the next sin that comes upon you. The strength which God has educated and fostered in the last struggle will greatly assist you in the next. The man who gives way to one sin will very readily give way to another, but a man who through God's grace has won a very high vantage ground by mastering one sin, will be very likely to win another. The spoils taken from the last Philistine will help us to go forth and win more, and in the name of God we shall get the victory. Now it is a fine, a noble thing, when you have had a conflict in your own soul with some plausible heresy, some seductive perversion of the truth, and have put it to flight with the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God; it is a noble feat, I say, to capture the arms of your assailant and to use the very weapons of the adversary against him. You have detected his sophistry, you have found out devices, and now for the future you will not be so readily carried away with every wind of doctrine. This time,you are too old to be taken with his chaff. You were deceived once, but by God's grace you are not willing any longer to lend a ready ear to the fair speech which casts a mist over plain facts, hut you henceforth resolve to prove the spirits whether they be of God. So from the spoils of past conflicts you are made strong to win present victories.
III. ANCIENT WEAPONS ARE GOOD FOR PRESENT USE. I should like to show you this by taking you on to a battle-field. We will go to it. It is not Sadowa or Sedan, it is a grander arena far — the old seventy-seventh. Turn to the seventy-seventh Psalm, and you have a battle-field there. Should you ever have to fight the same battle, by looking through this Psalm, you will see David's shields and spears, and you will soon learn how to screen yourself with the one, and how to do exploits with the other. Here is David fighting with despondency. I daresay some of you are afflicted with it. But observe how he fought with it. The first weapon he drew out of the scabbard was the weapon of all-prayer. And how grandly he used it! "I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice." Despondency soon flies when a man knows how to ply this all-conquering and ever-useful weapon of petition to the Most High. Then note how he used this weapon continually. "My hand was stretched out all night," saith he, according to the marginal reading of the second verse. If the first prayer did not help him, he prayed again. When he had used the weapon of prayer, what did he do next? Be took out another spear. It was that of remembering God. He had long enough pored in thought over himself and his present sinfulness and weakness, and now he remembered God's mercy, God's faithfulness, God's loving kindness, God's power, God's covenant, God in the person of Christ. Oh! this is indeed to prepare a salvo against the enemy, and to fortify one's own position with fresh succours. He can win the battle that knows how to use this artillery of remembering God. Going on with the strategy of war, what next? Why, in the fifth verse we read how he maintained his courage and his constancy — "I considered the days of old." He enquired of hoary fathers, and looked back upon the inspired traditions, if I may be allowed the expression, of the early Church. He turned to see whether God ever did forsake any of His people. But now he used another weapon. He looked to his own experience — see the sixth verse. "I called to remembrance my song in the night." Past experience acknowledged gratefully, and taken as the index of what the future will be — this is another of David's shields and spears.
IV. DID NOT DAVID HEREIN PREFIGURE HIM THAT WAS TO COME — DAVID'S SON AND DAVID'S LORD? Jesus Christ, our King, has hung up many shields and spears in the house of the Lord. Sin — Christ has borne it in himself, endured its penalty and overcome it; He has hung up the handwriting of ordinances that was against us as a trophy in the house of the Lord. He has nailed it to the cross. Satan — our great foe — He met him foot to foot in the wilderness and discomfited him — met him in the garden — overcame him on the cross. Now hell, too, is vanquished — Christ is Lord. The prince of the power of the air is but his servant. The King of kings hath led captivity captive, and all the crowns of this prince of the power of the air are hung up as trophies. Broken are their spears: their shields all battered and vilely cast away, hang up as memorials of what Christ has done. Death, too, the last enemy, Christ hath taken spoils from him when He rose again himself from His prison house, and ascended on high, leading captivity captive. And the enmity of the human heart. When we look round the temple and see the shields and spears hung up, we say "Who did those shields and spears belong to?" One says, "Why, that is the shield and spear of John Newton, the old blasphemer!" Glory be to God, Christ conquered him. Whose shield and spears are those? Why, that is the shield and spear of John Bunyan, the blasphemer on the village green. God's mercy conquered him. What will heaven be when all of us shall be trophies of His power to save, and when our bodies shall be there as well as our Souls! "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" — when not only souls, but bodies shall be in heaven too, all trophies of what Christ has done when He plucked His people from the jaws of the grave and delivered them from the grasp of the sepulchre.
( C. H. Spurgeon.).
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