While the king sits at his table, my spikenard sends forth the smell thereof.…
In acts of special communion with Christ, grace cannot lie hid, hut will breathe out with great fragrancy; or, at the table of the Lord our graces should be specially and in a most lively manner exercised.
1. There is a reverence common to all worship, for "God will be sanctified in all that draw nigh unto Him" (Leviticus 10:3).
2. There is a special delight and affection which should accompany every act of communion with God (Psalm 73:28; Isaiah 56:7).
3. Besides, in all acts of communion with God there is an interchange of donatives and duties. Where we expect to receive much grace, there it must be much exercised and acted (Mark 4:24).
4. Christ may more sensibly manifest Himself in one duty than another, for He is not tied to means, or to time and season; and it is His presence that maketh an ordinance comfortable, and doth revive the exercise of grace.
5. One duty must not be set against another. They are all instituted by God, and accompanied with His blessing, and are means of our communion with Him, yet they all have their special use and tendency, and one is to be preferred in this respect, another in that, as the ends are for which they are appointed; as in the Word we come to Christ as our teacher, in prayer as our advocate, in baptism as our head and lord, into whose mystical body we are planted; in the Lord's Supper as the master of the feast, or our royal entertainer.
6. Though the Lord's Supper he a special means, yet it is the spirit of grace which doth stir up faith, hope and love in us.
(1) The duty is a means accommodated and fitted to this end, or God would never have instituted it.
(2) The Spirit is the author both of grace and the exercise of grace; He first infuseth and then quickeneth and stirreth up grace in us by this means: " It is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing" (John 6:63).
(3) You must stir up your own hearts (Isaiah 64:7; 2 Timothy 1:6).
7. Allowing all this, yet it is a truth that at the Lord's table graces should be exercised in a special lively manner, which will appear if we consider —
I. WHAT A SACRAMENT HATH BEYOND OTHER DUTIES. It is the most mysterious instrument of our sanctification and preservation in a state of grace, and therefore requireth a special exercise of grace.
1. In a Sacrament there is a more sensible assurance. In other duties we see God's goodness, or readiness to do us good, in this His solicitous and anxious care for our good (Hebrews 6:17, 18).
2. A closer application. A general invitation is not so much as an express injunction. We have the universal proposal in the Word, the particular application in the Sacraments (Acts 2:38).
3. A solemn investiture, or taking possession by certain instituted rites. As we are put in possession by certain formalities of law, as of a house by the delivery of a key, or of afield by the delivery of a turf, so we take possession of Christ and all His benefits, "This is my body."
4. A visible representation of the mysteries of godliness; and so it doth excite us to the more serious consideration of them when they are transmitted to the soul not by the ears only, but by the eyes (Galatians 3:1).
5. An express means of union and communion with Christ. We draw nigh to God in prayer, and God draweth nigh to us in the Word; but here is not only an approximation, but a communion (1 Corinthians 10:16).
6. It is God's feast, where we come to eat and drink at His table as those that are in friendship with Him.
7. This is the sum of all other duties and privileges, the abridgment of Christian religion, the land of promise in a map (Luke 22:20).
II. WHAT IS THE SPECIAL USE AND INTENT OF THIS DUTY? It was instituted for the remembrance of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:24, 25), and (ver. 1 Corinthians 11:26) it is an annunciating or showing forth the Lord's death till He come.
1. The occasion and necessity of it, why Christ should he given for us, our guilt, and misery, which could only be expiated by the blood of the Son of God; so that one great work of the Sacrament is the representation of the evil of sin; for we are to remember the Son of God, "Who was made sin for us that knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21), and who was "made a curse for us" (Galatians 3:13).
2. The cause of it; the great love of God, or His mercy to poor sinners (John 3:16).
3. The act of redemption itself; His "obedience to the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:7); or His "making His soul an offering for sin" (Isaiah 53:10). Therefore He is represented as "crucified before your eyes" (Galatians 3:1).
4. The consequent benefits which thence result to us. You come not to receive the mercy of an, hour. but here is pardon of sin given us without any infringing the honour of God's justice (Romans 3:25, 26); the favour of God (2 Corinthians 5:19); the spirit of grace (Titus 3:5, 6; Galatians 3:14; and 1 Corinthians 10:4, compared with John 4:14, and John 7:37). So also eternal life, or hopes of glory (Titus 3:7; Romans 5:1, 2, and 1 John 4:9). And indeed this whole duty is a figure of the eternal banquet.
III. WHAT GRACES ARE TO BE EXERCISED, WHICH IS, AS IT WERE, THE POURING OUT OF OUR BOX OF PRECIOUS SPIKENARD ON CHRIST'S HEAD OR FEET?
1. With respect to the necessity of our redemption, a humble sense of the odiousness of sin, represented to us in the bruises and sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ when He came to be a sacrifice for sin, that we may loath it, condemn it, resolve no more to have to do with it (Romans 8:3).
2. The love of God in Christ, which was the cause, must beget a fervent love to Him again, that we may love Him who hath loved us at so dear a rate (2 Corinthians 5:14, 15).
3. The act of redemption, or the death of Christ, must breed in us a lively faith in Christ, that we may accept Him as our Redeemer and Saviour upon His own terms, and trust ourselves into His hands, and devote ourselves to His service, crying out, as Thomas, "My Lord and my God" (John 20:28), welcoming Him into our souls with the dearest embraces of thankfulness and hearty affection.
4. With respect to the consequent benefits, there must he(1) Earnest desire after communion with God in Christ, that you may be partakers both of His renewing and reconciling grace, and that you may get more sensible proof of His love to your souls;
(2) Joy in the sense of the greatness, suitableness and firmness of the mercy represented, offered and applied to you (Song of Solomon 1:4);
(3) Hope, which is a desirous expectation of the promised glory, looking and longing for it with more earnestness and confidence. This ante-past in the house of our pilgrimage is sweet, but what will be our communion with Him in heaven!
5. That love which is here commemorated must be imitated, and leave a suitable impression upon you. If Christ gave HIS life for those who are sometimes called His enemies, sometimes His people, such an impartial charity must you have to all men; to brethren and neighbours (1 John 4:11), and to enemies (Ephesians 4:32).
( T. Manton, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: While the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof.