2 Samuel 23:3
The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spoke to me, He that rules over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.
The phraseology is peculiarly dramatic and picturesque.
I. THE ROCK HAS A VOICE; the Rock of Israel had been speaking to him ever since he had been in the kingly seat of power. David's wild and outlaw life had made him know what was the value of a stronghold, a shelter, a refuge. Rocks had been in his experience his best friends for many a year. Rocks were unchanging in their affection for him; they were immovable in their stability; they were impregnable for defence; often he had found rest under the "shadow of a great rock in a weary land." What had this Rock of Israel said to him during this wonderful career?
1. For one thing, it had told him, as a counsel of superior wisdom, that he ought to reign righteously all his life: "He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God."
2. For another thing, the Rock had spoken the terms and the conditions of a fine promise. A just ruler would be prospered in proportion to the purity and piety of his administration: "And he shall be as the light of the morning when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain."
3. And for the best thing of all, the Rock had assured him graciously of a permanent continuance of the Divine favour: "Although my house be not so with God, yet He hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow."
II. MODERN RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE. What are the conditions of implicit trust in the Lord of our salvation, such trust ah will insure peace and comfort?
1. The main condition of resting in the Lord is found in looking outside of one's self. There is a habit of morbid self-examination which needs to be shunned. The more conscientious any believer is, the more apt he is to press unnecessary scrutiny of introspection.
2. The next condition of spiritual repose is found in the avoiding of unwise counsellors. Once a Christian friend wrote a letter to me, saying that she had just, after a long struggle, come to something like peace in believing, when along came a "so-called evangelist to torment her before her time," telling her that "all we have to do is to accept salvation as we would accept a book from Christ's hand." She could not do this so easily, and hence she was informed again that her faith had no foundation upon which to be "secure." It would break up two-thirds of the business firms in the United States if an evangelist were to keep going round among the counting-rooms, telling people that they were in jeopardy every hour unless they could come to absolute confidence in their senior partners; and then they must be sure, still, that they have the-right kind of confidence in them; and then they must be modest, and become surest of all that they are not becoming over-sure of anything this side of heaven. Human beings cannot get on with this; they cannot live so with God or with man. We must cultivate some measure of unquestioning trust. We must learn to trust our trust, and not keep rooting it up. No plant grows which is continually being rooted up.
3. Another condition of rest in God is found in drawing a clear distinction between historic faith and saving faith. What secures to us a perfect salvation is spiritual trust in the Saviour, and this is the gift of the Holy Ghost. And whoever says that we receive Divine grace as we would receive a book from a man's hand, is simply mistaken in ignorance, or is misunderstood in his statement. Mechanical acts are frightfully poor illustrations of deep religious exercises. Some sort of fervour, some degree of emotion, is needed in order to appreciate Divine grace and receive it fitly. Tameness and lukewarmness are simply insipid. It is a heart-trust that God asks for, not a mere head-trust. A maiden may be told by her enthusiastic lover that it is as easy to trust him for ever with her life as it is to take a flower he offers; she knows better. It is easy to receive facts, perhaps, but not so easy to understand experiences which lie deeper than any mere outward acts. Historic faith is not necessarily saving faith.
4. Yet again: we are to cultivate confidence in the slowly reached answers to our prayers for Divine grace.
5. Yet again: we must distinguish between emotions, and religious states. The one may vary, the other is fixed Faith is a very different thing from the result of faith; and confidence of faith is even a different thing from faith itself; and yet the safety of a soul depends on faith, and nothing else. We are justified by faith — not by joy or peace or love or hope or zeal. These last are the results of faith, generally, and will depend largely upon temperament and education.
6. Finally, this unbroken courage is a condition of rest. We must not think everything is lost when we happen to have become beclouded. That faith is the best which has been tried and tested. In my study lies a little flower. It came to me long ago, by the hand of one who plucked it upon the highest ridge ever reached in the Rocky Mountains. It is of a rich purple colour, light and graceful in form, and retains yet, I imagine, a faint and delicate perfume. The lesson which it teaches me is one of endurance and patience. Away up there, where the snow lies late and the storms come early, it has held its own. The bleak solitudes had no charm for it; nay, I think that this flower was created to give a charm to a solitude which would have been the bleaker without it. To me it is the symbol of trust — absolute and implicit trust in God. It is a living thing that knows how to keep its warmth in despite of ice, and its beauty in despite of desolation all around it.
(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.