In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks.
Accepting the vague but universal idea that there is an abundance of sin of every sort massed together in any great city, our inquiry concerns the main lines of work by which the welfare of the city may be promoted. To the eye of the prophet there comes a vision of a strong city; and the walls and bulwarks of that strength is said to be salvation — that is, the strength and safety of a city is in the men and women in it who are saved through the atoning sacrifice of Christ. I know there are many to turn a deaf ear to any such claim as this. They reject it as being too sweeping. They say that there are many sources from which the life-giving waters come. Let us take a look at some of these things which are supposed to give safety.
I. And perhaps the first thing to be mentioned is Law. It need not be any highly moral or religious enactment, but simply plain, everyday, matter-of-fact law. The city needs it. People in the simplicity of country life, where there is an abundance of room, can get on without much law. But the city needs law. And no one will decry the beneficent effect of righteous laws. It must be said, however, that the good effect of law is very much diminished by the many bad laws which are enacted. Are we claiming too much when we say that largely the efficiency of law is due to the Christian men and women who are in the city? Righteous laws follow in the train of progress made by Christianity. The bulwark which at first seemed to stand out alone and distinct becomes identified with that bulwark in the vision of the prophet whose foundation stone, as well as its lofty capstone, is salvation.
II. We are led on to speak of another bulwark for the city. It is A BENEFICENT AND POWERFUL PUBLIC OPINION. But again, I assert that very largely all this safety is due to the presence in the city of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There is the public conscience itself, and where did it come from but through Christianity?
III. But again, look at another so-called secular bulwark. Call it THRIFT, the genius of success, the ability to get on in the world. Thrift is consistent with pure selfishness. Find a society in which everybody is only thrifty, where no man cares for his neighbour, where the human heart feels nothing of the flow of generosity and love, and, while you may be able to point to fine and well-kept houses, neat little cottages, well-dressed, clean children, you are really looking upon a hollow, lifeless sham. I do not want to live there, A sea of poverty with a little stream from Calvary flowing into it would be far better. Just a touch of human sympathy and love would transform the whole.
(J. C. Cronin.)
Parallel VersesKJV: In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks.