Comfort you, comfort you my people, said your God.
What a sweet title: "My people!" What a cheering revelation: "Your God!" How much of meaning is couched in those two words, "My people!" Here is speciality. The whole world is God's. But He saith of a certain number, "My people." While nations and kindreds are passed by as being simply nations, He says of them. "My people." In this word there is the idea of proprietorship. In some special manner the "Lord's portion Is His people; Jacob is the lot of His inheritance." He has done more for them than others; He has brought them nigh to Himself. How careful God is of His people; mark how anxious He is concerning them, not only for their life, but for their comfort. He would not only have us His living people, His preserved people, but He would have us be His happy people too. He likes His people to be fed, but what is more, He likes to give them "wines on the lees well refined," to make glad their hearts.
I. TO WHOM IS THIS COMMAND ADDRESSED? The Holy Spirit is the great Comforter, and He it is who alone can solace the saints; but He uses instruments to relieve His children in their distress and to lift up their hearts from desperation. To whom, then, is this command addressed?
1. To angels, first of all. You often talk about the insinuations of the devil. Allow me to remind you that there is another side of that question, for if evil spirits assault us, doubtless good spirits guard us. It is my firm belief that angels are often employed by God to throw into the hearts of His people comforting thoughts.
2. But on earth this is more especially addressed to the Lord's ministers. The minister should ask of God the Spirit, that he may be filled with His influence as a comforter.
3. But do not support your ministers as an excuse for the discharge of your own duties; many do so. When God said, "Comfort ye, comfort ye My people," He spake to all His people to comfort one another.
II. WHAT ARE THE REASONS FOR THIS COMMAND?
1. Because God loves to see His people look happy. The Roman Catholic supposes that God is pleased with a man if he whips himself, walks barefooted for many miles, and torments his body. When I am by the seaside, and the tide is coming in, I see what appears to be a little fringe, looking almost like a mist; and I ask a fisherman what it is. He tells me there is no mist there; and that what I see are all little shrimps dancing in ecstasy, throwing themselves in convulsions and contortions of delight. I think within myself, "Does God make those creatures happy, and did He make me to be miserable? Can it ever be a religious thing to be unhappy?" No; true religion is in harmony with the whole world; it is in harmony with the whole sun and moon and stars, and the sun shines and the stars twinkle; the world has flowers in it and leaping hills and carolling birds; it has joys in it; and I hold it to be an irreligious thing to go moping miserably through God's creation.
2. Because uncomfortable Christians dishonour religion.
3. Because a Christian in an uncomfortable state cannot work for God much. It is when the mind is happy that it can be laborious.
4. Again, "Comfort ye" God's people, because ye profess to love them.
III. God never gives His children a duty without giving them THE MEANS TO DO IT. Let me just hint at those things in the everlasting Gospel which have a tendency to comfort the saints. Whisper in the mourner's ear electing grace, and redeeming mercy, and dying love. Tell him that God watcheth the furnace as the goldsmith the refining pot. If that does not suffice, tell him of his present mercies; tell him that he has much left, though much is gone. Tell him that Jesus is above, wearing the breast-plate, or pleading his cause. Tell him that though earth's pillars shake, God is a refuge for us; tell the mourner that the everlasting God faileth not, neither is weary. Let present facts suffice thee to cheer him. But if this is not enough, tell him of the future; whisper to him that there is a heaven with pearly gates and golden streets.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.