But there the Majestic One, our LORD, will be for us a place of rivers and wide canals, where no galley with oars will go, and majestic vessels will not pass.
I. A SENSE OF THE DIVINE MERCY. "The people... shall be forgiven their iniquity" (ver. 24). A sense of pardoned sin and of reconciliation to God is at the foundation of all true peace, all sacred joy, and all holy usefulness.
II. THE MAINTENANCE or DEVOTIONAL HABITS. Zion is to be always known as "the city of solemnities" (ver. 20). There reverent prayer and grateful praise and earnest inquiry of the Lord are to be continually found.
III. THE ABIDING PRESENCE AND GREAT POWER OF GOD. The word that will most commonly be heard on the lips, because most frequently rising from the soul, will be "the Lord." "Jehovah is our Judge." "Jehovah is," etc. (ver. 22). Everything is to suggest him, is to be referred to his will, is to be ascribed to his grace.
IV. A PLEASANT RECOLLECTION OF EVILS THAT ARE OVER. (Ver. 18.) Happy the Church or the man when the dark days that have been and are gone are sufficiently removed from present experience to make the memory of them a source of joy and not of pain. Such a time does often come, and we may well rejoice and be glad in it. The home is the dearer and the more delightful for the privations that have been passed through on the way.
V. ABUNDANCE FOR EVERY PURE DESIRE. The "glorious Lord" will secure bountiful supplies for every imaginable need, even as the broad river and outstretching streams provide verdure and grain over all the surface of the well-watered land, even as the affrighted and fleeing army leaves prey which even the halt and the lame will be strong enough to take. In the day of God's blessing there will be nourishment for the thoughtful, and also for those who feel more than they think; truth for the wise and for the simple, for the mature of mind and for the little child; posts of service for the advanced Christian and also for those who have just begun their course; such fullness, even to overflow, of all that meets the wants and cravings of the heart, that the weakest as well as the strongest shall find his place and take his share.
VI. DIVINE GUARDIANSHIP. Prosperity is dangerous, but, with God's Spirit in the Church, it shall not be harmful. On the broad river of success and satisfaction the sails of the spiritual enemy shall not be seen (ver. 21). "The sun shall not smite by day;" it will illumine and warm, but will not scorch and wither. Consequently, there shall be -
VII. SOUNDNESS AND SECURITY. The inhabitant will not be sick (ver. 24); "Jerusalem will be a quiet habitation," etc. (ver. 20). Spiritual soundness, moral integrity, purity of heart, shall prevail. Anal this abounding, there will be no abatement of prosperity; the stakes will not be removed, the tent will remain; there will be no need for any going into exile; there will be a happy permanence and fixedness of abode. The picture is one that is ideal rather than actual; it is what every Church should aim to present. Only the favor of God can possibly secure it. The vital question is - How is that favor to be won? And that question resolves itself into other questions - Is there occasion for humiliation and a change of spirit and of behavior? Is there need for more internal union (Psalm 133:3)? or for more prayer (Luke 18:1; James 4:3)? or for more love both of Christ and man (1 Corinthians 13:1; Revelation 2:4)? or for more zeal (Revelation 3:15)? - C.
I. This remarkable promise suggests how IN GOD THERE IS THE SUPPLY OF ALL DEFICIENCIES. The city was perched on its barren, hot rock, with scarcely a drop of water, and its inhabitants must often have been tempted to wish that there had been running down the sun-bleached stones of the Kedron a flashing stream, such as laved the rock-cut temples and tombs of Thebes. Isaiah says, in effect, "You cannot see it, but if you will trust yourselves to God, there will be such a river." In like manner every defect in our circumstances, everything lacking in our lives, everything which seems to hamper us in some aspects, and to sadden us in others, may be compensated and made up, if we will hold fast by God.
The glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams.I. THE LORD HIMSELF IS THE FOUNDATION OR CAUSE OF THE SAINTS' SAFETY AND BLESSEDNESS. "For there the glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams." This is a consideration which may well allay our fears, excite our hopes, and confirm our faith.
1. The Lord is here called "glorious." He is glorious in His personal excellence, glorious in His essential attributes, glorious in His works of creation and providence. Above all, He is glorious to the believer's view, in the marvellous work of redemption, where He displays the glorious perfections of His nature, His power, faithfulness, truth, holiness, mercy, love, and grace. His glory is manifested in the Church where His glorious Gospel is preached, where He grants His gracious and glorious presence, and where saints meet together to see and speak of His glory. "In His temple doth every one," saith the Psalmist, "speak of His glory." Yea, "In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified and shall glory."
2. This glorious Lord will be unto His Church and people "a place of broad rivers and streams." God promises to be that to His Jerusalem, which will be instead of, and vastly superior to a river, however broad its streams. This is expressive of the abundance of His grace, and the freeness of it for the supply of His Church, and for the purification, consolation, refreshment, and confirmation in the faith of all its members. The streams of this river are the everlasting love of God, Father, Son, and Spirit; the covenant of grace, its blessings and promises; the provision and mission of Christ as a Saviour, and the blessings which flow from these, called "streams" because they flow from the fountain of divine love, and because of the rapidity, force, and power of the grace of God in the application of these blessings in conversion, which carries all before it; and because of the abundance, continuance, and freeness of them, and the gratefulness and acceptableness of them to those who see the worth of them, and feel their interest in them.
II. THIS RIVER OF GOD ALSO SERVES FOR THEIR DEFENCE AND SECURITY AGAINST ALL ENEMIES. The glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams; wherein shall go no galley with oars, &c. It was the case with literal Jerusalem, that although it had no river for its pleasure, profit, and protection, yet it had this advantage from the circumstances, that no enemy could approach it in this way. And the Lord, though He be indeed instead of a broad river to His people for their supply and safety, yet He is such an one as will not admit any enemy, great or small, signified by the "galley with oars," and the "gallant ship," to come near to hurt them.
III. The text adds, as a further CONFIRMATION AND PROOF OF THE SECURITY AND TRIUMPH OF THE PEOPLE OF GOD, that "the Lord is our Judge." All their wrongs will be righted and their injuries avenged.
IV. The text states, as a FURTHER ENCOURAGEMENT, that "the Lord is our Lawgiver." He hath not only enacted wholesome laws for the government of His Church and people, in keeping of which there is great reward; but He writes them on their heart, and puts His Spirit within them to enable them to keep His commandments, and walk in His ways.
V. THE LORD IS ALSO OUR KING. He is King of Zion and King of saints. "The government shall be upon His shoulder." He manages and directs all the concerns of His people. "His Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom, and His dominion endureth throughout all ages."
VI. The text concludes with an EPITOME OF THE WHOLE in a few words, "He will save us." Whom will He save? Those who receive Him as their Lawgiver and King.
(J. Shore, M. A.)
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
II. Take another Bide of the same thought. HERE IS A REVELATION OF GOD AND HIS SWEET PRESENCE AS OUR TRUE DEFENCE. The river that lay between some strong city and the advancing enemy was its strongest fortification when the bridge of boats was taken away. One of the ancient cities is described by one of the prophets as being held as within the coils of a serpent, by which he means the various bendings and twistings of the Euphrates which encompassed Babylon, and made it so hard to be conquered. The primitive city of Paris owed its safety, in the wild old times when it was founded, to being upon an island. Venice has lived through all the centuries because it is girded about by its lagoons. England is what it is largely because of the streak of silver sea. So, God's city has a broad moat all round it. If we will only knit ourselves with God by simple trust and continual communion, it is the plainest prose fact that nothing will harm us, and no foe will ever get near enough to shoot his arrows against us. That is a truth for faith, and not for sense. Many a man, truly compassed about by God, has to go through fiery trials of sorrow and affliction. But no real evil befalls us, because, according to the old superstition that money bewitched was cleansed if it was handed across running water, our sorrows only reach us across the river that defends.
III. Take, again, another aspect of this same thought, which suggests to us GOD'S PRESENCE AS OUR TRUE REFRESHMENT AND SATISFACTION. The waterless city depended on cisterns, and they were often broken, and they were always more or less foul, and sometimes the water fell very low in them. The rivers in northern Tartary all lose themselves in the sand. Not one of them has volume or force enough to get to the sea. And the rivers from which we try to drink are sand-choked long before our thirst is slaked. So if we are wise, we shall take Isaiah's hint, and go where the water flows abundantly, and flows for ever.
IV. THE MANIFOLD VARIETY IN THE RESULTS OF GOD'S PRESENCE. It shapes itself into many forms, according to our different needs. "The glorious Lord shall be a place of broad rivers." Yes; but notice the next words — "and streams." Now, the word which is there translated "streams" means the little channels, for irrigation and other purposes, by which the water of some great river is led off into the melon patches, and gardens, and plantations, and houses of the inhabitants. So we have not only the picture of the broad river in its unity, but also that of the thousand little rivulets in their multiplicity and in their direction to each man's plot of ground. It is of no profit that we live on the river's bank if we let its waters go rolling and flashing past our door, or our garden, or our lips. Unless you have a sluice, by which you can take them off into your own territory, and keep the shining blessing to be the source of fertility in your garden, and of coolness and refreshment to your thirst, your garden will be parched, and your lips will crack. We may, and must, make God our very own property; it is useless to say "our God," "the God of Israel," "the God of the Church," the great Creator, the Universal Father, and so on, unless we say "my God and my Saviour"; "my refuge and my strength."
(A. Maclaren D. D.)
1. In the riches of the blessings that it confers. "There," i.e., in the church, "shall the Lord be unto us a place," &c.(1) The first idea suggested to the mind of a Jew by the neighbourhood of a great river, would be that of unfailing plenty. By this the salvation of the Gospel is especially distinguished.(2) The next idea suggested by "a place of broad rivers and streams" is that of beauty. Running water is everywhere a great addition to the beauty of the landscape. The richest herbage clothes the banks of every stream, &c. The highest qualities of man are brought out only by Christianity; and all that is good thrives best under its influence.(3) After plenty and beauty, the chief idea is perpetuity. The river rolls on with the same calm and even current from age to age, and yields to the successive generations of mankind the same unfailing supply.
2. The salvation of the Gospel is remarkable for its freedom from attendant evils. All the blessings of the present life have some considerable drawback to their full enjoyment. The possession of wealth is apt to lead either to wastefulness and dissipation, or to avarice; power tempts to arbitrary and despotic conduct; and those who are gifted with genius are exposed to the assaults of malice and envy; — most worldly good things lead their possessor into danger, and all of them are attended by care. But it is not so with the salvation of the Gospel: "The blessing of the Lord maketh rich, and He addeth no sorrow with it"; or, as it is expressed in the text, it resembles "a place of broad rivers and streams; wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby."(1) The good of the Gospel salvation is unmingled with evil, because it requires man to do nothing injurious to himself.(2) The pleasures of the Gospel are attended and followed by no sting, while it extracts their bitterness from all ordinary griefs.
II. THE GLORY OF GOD AS MANIFESTED IN HIS BESTOWING SALVATION ON HIS PEOPLE. He is "glorious," because He is unto us a place of broad rivers. &c.
2. Abundance to the inhabitants. Places near broad rivers produce a great variety of plants. The children of Israel regretted that they had left the leeks, and garlic, and onions, and cucumbers, and melons of Egypt — plants that grew by the rivers. Besides, where there are rivers there is an abundance of fish of all kinds, and in the fat pastures, such as Goshen, which was well watered by the Nile, abundance of cattle are reared, while the abundant harvests which are there produced through the admirable irrigation make the lands blessed with broad rivers and streams the sunniest of climes. Well, now, our God is all this to His Church.
3. Broad rivers and streams in like manner point to commerce. In Holland especially the broad rivers and streams make that nation what it is; the harbours are so safe, the rivers so broad, and the canals so innumerable, that in every place commerce is easy, and the ends of the earth are linked to the nation by its broad rivers and streams. In that country we find curious importations hardly known to any other people, because they have gathered up the treasures of the far-off lands. and there was a time when their broad rivers and streams enabled them to engross the mercantile power of the whole universe. Well, beloved, our glorious Lord — keep the adjective as well as the noun — is to be to us a place of commerce. Through God we have commerce with the past; the riches of Calvary, the riches of the covenant, the riches of eternity, all come to us down the broad stream of our gracious Lord. We have commerce, too, with the future. What galleys, laden to the water's edge, come to us from the millennium! What visions we have of the days of heaven upon earth. Through our glorious Lord we have commerce with angels; commerce with the bright spirits washed in blood that sing before the throne; nay, better still, we have commerce with the Infinite One, with eternity, with self-existence, with immutability, with omnipotence, with omniscience; for our glorious Lord is to us a place of broad rivers and streams.
4. Broad rivers and streams are specially intended to set forth security.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)1. To the eye of faith the Church has no enemies at all. "Wherein shall go no galley with oars." You ramble in your garden, perhaps, in the summer-time, and a spider has spun its stoutest web across your path; you walk along and you never think that there is anything to hinder you, and yet there are those spider's strong webs, which would have caught a thousand flies, but they do not impede you. So is it with God's glorious Church: there are barriers across her path, but they are only spider's webs; on she walks; she has no adversaries, for she counts her adversaries to be nothing.
2. When we are compelled to see that the Church has adversaries, yet, according to the promise, those adversaries shall be put to confusion. They have launched the bark; the galley with oars is on the sea. The text does not say that no galley with oars shall ever be there, but "no galley with oars shall go there." Now, in order to make it "go" they must fix the mast; they must gird the tacklings, or how shall they spread the sail, and how shall they proceed on their way? Ah! but they cannot (ver. 21).
3. And then faith not only sees the confusion of her adversaries, but she also believes they are so utterly destroyed that she may go out and spoil them.
4. What is to be the end of it all? Glory to a Triune God (ver. 22).
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
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