THE MEMORY OF THE JUST
Mr. B. Ramsbottom, B.A.
Mr. J. C. Philpot Centenary Service at Stamford
9th December, 1969
“Thou art my King, 0 God; command deliverances for Jacob.”
Last August I spoke in the little chapel at Allington where Mr. J. C. Philpot preached his first and last sermons among the Strict Baptists. It was the anniversary of the chapel there and it was almost exactly a hundred years after the last sermon which Philpot preached. As I journeyed that day over the Wiltshire Downs, my mind went to those godly men and women who, in those days of real Gospel prosperity, walked so many miles over those Downs, and I thought much of the rich blessings and the true prosperity that abounded. That tiny hamlet was the centre of that prosperity in the West of England just as Oakham and Stamford were round here, and the thought that came was this (in some ways a sad one) that they were gone, every one of themÂ— not one remainingÂ—the youngest one of them gone the way of all flesh. But there were two words, friends, which were upon my spiritÂ—”Thou remainest.” (Hebrews 1, 11). Over the top of the pulpit there on Philpot’s memorial tablet those words are written, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today and for ever.” (Hebrews 13, 8). These godly men are goneÂ—all of themÂ—”But Thou remainest.” Now this is just the spirit of the Psalmist in this 4th verse. In the first three verses he looks back and considers the days of the past, days of blessing, days of prosperity, and then he comes to the presentÂ—a day of real trouble, a day of real sorrow. But he has this sweet hope, this blessed persuasion, that his fathers’ God is his God. “Thou art my King, O God.”
It is a wonderful thing, if at times in contemplating the blessings of the past days and what God wrought in love and mercy in the churches, we feel that this God still lives and, as the Psalmist tells us here, not only lives but reigns; and then to have that sweet persuasion that He is our God.
I would that this might be the spirit in which we meet. As we have thought and spoken of Philpot, Philpot is dead but Philpot’s God lives and reigns Â— and ever will. “Thou art my King, O God.”
My mind has gone to Elisha. It was a solemn time when Elijah was taken away from Israel. He had been made such a blessing to the Israel of God and Elisha’s heart must have been filled with sadness and sorrow. As we consider past generations, past prosperity, eminent servants of God of the past now gone for ever, amid the happiness and blessedness of their memory, there is a sense of sadness that they are gone and especially as we continually find that godly servants of the Lord are taken home
and the churches are impoverished by it. But Elisha said “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” (2 Kings 2, 14). That is the question, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” Where is the Lord God of our godly forefathers? Where is the God of Philpot? Then, you remember, with Elijah’s mantle Elisha smote the waters and he was able to cross. The waters divided. What was it? A sweet token to him that Elijah’s God still lived, still reigned and that Elijah’s God was his God. It is a blessed thing when there is a little token that this great God is still with us, still with us in the churches, still with us personally. “Where is the Lord God of Elijah”? He is with His people. This is one place. He is also in heaven and there “He sits on no precarious throne.” That is another place where He is. He is also in the hearts of His dear people. Oh! may this be the questionÂ—not just whether the Lord is with His people, not just whether He lives and reigns in heaven, but does He dwell in my heart by faith? “My King,” says the Psalmist. Philpot contended for personal, vital religion, and real religion is personal. The Psalmist say “Thou art my King, O God.”
Now I have said quite a lot concerning Mr. Philpot. I feel something like it was on the Mount of Transfiguration. Peter, James and John were very favoured to be there and at first they saw the Lord Jesus; then they saw Moses and Elijah as well;
but there came a time when “they saw no man save Jesus only.” (Matthew 17, 8). May it be so tonight. May it be to see King Jesus only and to find our hearts “inditing a good matter and our tongue the pen of a ready writer”Â—to speak not of anything we have made concerning any man but “touching the King.” (Psalm 45, 1). It will be a blessed thing if anyone here has a little sweet hope rising up in his heart that this dear Jesus is his King. “Thou art my King, O God.”
Truly I would say the Lord reigns. He is King. I read to you tonight those three short sweet Psalms (Psalm 93, 97 & 99). They all begin the same wayÂ—”The Lord reigneth.” It is not vain repitition. It is a gracious emphasis. The Lord does reign, and “He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet.” (1 Cor. 15, 25).
I feel the age in which we live is most solemn. It fills my heart with fear at times, the evils that abound, the increasing evils, the difficulties, the trials for our young people and childrenÂ—the solemn things in the nation and in the church of God. Things which were hated years ago are now not just tolerated but admired, and the only resting place I can find is that “The Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” (Rev. 19, 6). Friends, everything is beneath His controlÂ—everything beneath His feet. Nothing takes Him by surprise and nothing is too hard for Him. None of His purposes are ever overthrown. The Lord is King. “The Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” Nothing takes place but by His divine permission. Everything is in His hands. I believe that you give assent to this; you believe in divine sovereignty; you believe the Lord is King; you know that all things are in His hands. We
profess to believe it and we do believe it, but what happens when a few things go wrong in our lives, when there are a few perplexities. We can believe that the Lord has every concern in earth and heaven in His hands, but our own little concerns we are not content to leave there. This is our shameful unbelief and sin, but don’t you have to prove it in the turmoil of your heart, disappointment, things going wrong, crosses, losses, some unexpected things; and we behave as if the Lord were not on the throne? Oh! for a little precious faith to look away from circumstances, to look upwards, to look heavenwards, to see the Lord upon the throne and to feel “My times are in Thy hand.” (Psalm 31.15).
“All must come, and last, and end,
As shall please my heavenly Friend.”
“Thou art my King, O God.”
As King He sits upon the throne, a throne of eternal justice. One day He will sit on the great white throne and divide the nations as a shepherd divides the sheep from the goats and
“Sinners with their wicked ways
Shall perish from His sight.”
Friends, has it ever been brought home to your conscience as to how you will stand when you have to appear before this throne? “Who may abide the day of His coming? And who shall stand when He appeareth?” (Malachi 3, 2). A throne of eternal justiceÂ— justice which cannot fail! For those who live and die without repentance, who live and die without Christ, from this throne that sentence must come forth “Depart, I never knew you.” What of us then, under a sense of guilt, what of this throne of eternal justice, what is it for the people of God? Oh the mercy of it! It is a throne of justice satisfied!
“When the blessed Jesus died
God was clearly justified.”
It is a throne of justice, but for the people of God a throne of justice satisfied, and now justice is for the sinner saved by grace, not against him. Justice cannot demand two payments of one debt. Now this throne of justice has no terror for a sinner standing complete in Jesus.
“My Saviour’s obedience and blood
Hide all my transgressions from view.”
This is the foundation of the Gospel. It is a solid foundation. There is none of the divine attributes stained. Justice is satisfied in the atonement “Thou art my King, O God.”
And so this throne is a throne of grace, a mercy seat sprinkled with blood.
“Not to Sinai’s dreadful blaze,
But to Zion’s throne of grace,
By a way marked out with blood,
Sinners now approach to God.”
Have you had to bless the Lord for a throne of grace where sinners are welcome in all their unworthiness, as they come on mercy’s ground, welcome to “find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4, 16). “Thou art my King, O God.”
This King has a kingdom, a kingdom which can never be destroyed. There have been many kingdomsÂ—now they are in ruins. “In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.” (Daniel 2, 44). This is the kingdom of His grace, that kingdom that He sets up in the hearts of His people. Have you a sweet hope that the Lord has ever set up the kingdom of His grace in your heart? You know, friends, grace reigns. It does not just existÂ— it reigns, and the reign of grace sets up a kingdom in the sinner’s heart. Where are we by nature? “We will not have this Man to reign over us.” (Luke 19, 14). But as the Lord Jesus goes forth in the riches of His grace conquering and to conquer, then His “arrows are sharp in the heart of the King’s enemies; whereby the people fall under Thee.” (Psalm 45, 5). Has the Lord, in the conquest of His grace, ever sent His arrows into your heart to wound you and to weaken you and to slay you, that you might be brought in humble submission to the feet of the King, seeking pardon, seeking mercy, seeking forgiveness? These are the conquests of grace as the Lord sets up in the sinner’s heart this kingdom which can never be moved. This is how the Lord becomes your King personally, when He begins to reign in your heart. Friends, when the Lord takes up His abode, it is to reign; it is that idols might be dethroned; it is that sin might be subdued; that “grace might reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5, 21). “Thou art my King, O God.”
This King, in coming into this world of sin and ruin, came as an almighty ConquerorÂ—a Man of Sorrows and yet an almighty Conqueror. He went to Gethsemane and to Calvary and He grappled with sin and Satan, death and hellÂ—He conquered, and, though laid in the grave. He rose triumphantly and took His rightful seat in heaven and “On His head are many crowns.” (Revelation 19, 12). Do you ever contemplate the many crowns upon the head of Jesus, and is there ever with you a desire that you might put a crown on His head, that little desire:Â—
“May we ever be ambitious
Thee to love, crown and adore”?
This is the King, risen, exalted, glorified, that “Head once crowned
with thorns, crowned with glory now.” “Thou art my King, O God.”
There is a very sweet promise “Thine eyes shall see the King in His beauty.” (Isaiah 33, 17). We read of some who said “We would see Jesus.” (John 12, 21). Perhaps you have come to the house of God today like thisÂ—you want to see Jesus. You are glad to hear of the blessings of the people of God and His eminent servants in days past, but it is Jesus you want, this almighty Jesus. You cannot do without Him. There is so much you want Him to do for you. You want Him to forgive you, and to save you. You want Him to keep you from falling; you want Him to supply your needs, to answer your prayers. “Thine eyes shall see the King in His beauty.” (Isaiah 33, 17). A sight of Christ by faith exceeds everything else, especially if you view Him in the wonders of His love and if you view Him in the work of redemption. This is where you see the King in His beauty.
“So fair a face bedewed with tears;
What beauty e’en in grief appears!”
Oh that the Lord Jesus might make Himself very precious to some of you tonight, that you might have this sweet persuasion concerning the King “Thou art my King, O God.”
Then there follows a prayer, an important prayer. It concludes these verses, “Command deliverances for Jacob.” The Lord is the great Deliverer. The great deliverance was from sin, death and hell in the work of redemption. But the Lord is exalted on high as an almighty Deliverer. The Word of God is a Book of deliverancesÂ—right through the Word of God you see itÂ—sometimes impossible things, yet there is deliverance. Israel advance to the Red Sea and yet there is deliverance. The crossing of the JordanÂ—there is deliverance. Daniel in the lions’ den, the three children in the fire, Jonah in the whale’s belly. It is a Book of deliverances. Then in the New Testament there are some blessed spiritual deliverancesÂ—that dear woman saying “Lord, help me.” (Matthew 15, 25), and Mary Magdalene, weepingÂ—deliverances. If the Word of God is a Book of deliverances, the experience of God’s people is an experience of deliverances. Look back in your life, friends. Is it not often as you look back, you can see trials and how the Lord brought you out of them, times when you have been brought low and how the Lord has helped youÂ—deliverances. “You have heard with your ears and your fathers have told you what work He did in their days,” the blessed deliverances in days past. We read of wonderful deliverances in a way of grace in past days and we read of wonderful deliverances in providence, and this God is still the same. His Name is still “Jehovah JirehÂ— the Lord will provide,” but it is not just you have heard with your ears and your fathers have told you.” Cannot some of you go back to deliverances? Some of you were in awful bondage of soul and the Lord delivered you, and some of you have had real
troubles and the Lord has brought you out of themÂ—deliverances! But friends, where are we tonight? It will not be a strange thing, if there are a few of you here, longing for thisÂ—deliverance.
There is something very remarkable about this prayer. It does not say, “Lord, work deliverances.” It does not say, “Lord, perform deliverances.” It says, “Command deliverances.” What does it mean? It means this. It is an easy thing for the Lord to deliver. If He speaks, it is a word of divine authorityÂ—a word of omnipotenceÂ—and His people are delivered. Do you believe it, friends? Do you believe that the Lord can speak the word and you are delivered?
“Command deliverances.” In creation “He spake and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.” (Psalm 33, 9). It is the same almighty word. “The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters.” (Psalm 93, 4). He commands deliverances.
“He speaks and my comforts abound.”
Are there ever times when you are in trouble and the Lord speaks and perhaps you are still in trouble outwardly but your comforts abound? “Command deliverances”. There is a view here of a great, almighty God. There is a view of omnipotenceÂ—”Command deliverances”. We do come into some hard things at times. Perhaps some of you are weighed down and burdenedÂ—things in the church of God are too hard for youÂ—you never thought it would be like thisÂ—you get so many blows from sinners and from saints; you have things in your family, things that trouble you, perhaps some of you in your business life, your walk and conversation, your relationships with others. There is a word, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify meÂ”. (Psalm 50, 15).The Lord has this blessed ability to deliver! “Command deliverances.” It is in the plural. We do not just need delivering onceÂ—we need delivering continually, and you know, above everything else, we need delivering from self. Solemn word that is, “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His”! (Romans 8,9). We are so often in our own spiritÂ— it is not the spirit of ChristÂ—and we need deliverance from it. “Command deliverances.” Oh to be set free and to be brought forth! Perhaps you can look back at the things you have heard, the work the Lord did in days of old and consider this right hand, this almighty arm. That is a sweet word, “The Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save.” (Isaiah 59, 1). There is no case that it cannot reach. There is nothing too hard for this hand. Moses once was in a real trial. He wanted deliverance and he seemed to speak hastily. Really unbelief was prevailing. He almost told God it was impossible, and the Lord answered him with a short question: “Is the Lord’s hand waxed short?” (Numbers 11, 23). May it be a word in season to you and a rebuke, “Is the Lord’s hand waxed short? Thou shalt see whether My word shall come to pass or not.” (Numbers 11, 23). “Command deliverances.”
Now I want to speak of it in another way, not just personally, but concerning the church of God. “Thou art my King, O God;
command deliverances for Jacob.” We live in a day of small things in the churches, a day of darkness and declension and desolation. We look back and consider the blessings that abounded and the gospel prosperity in the days of Philpot. Now this is a prayer for real prosperity, “Command deliverances for Jacob.” We need deliverances, deliverance from error, deliverance from lightness, deliverance from irreverence, deliverance from the spirit of the day, deliverance from luke-warmness. Oh we need deliverances! It will be a blessed thing if in many a heart tonight there is a view of what the Lord did in days pastÂ—a view of our present low state and yet a view of this great almighty God, and then this prayer, this cry, “Command deliverances for Jacob,” for the honour and glory of Thine Own Name, and for the prosperity of Thy people “Command deliverances for Jacob.”
Really this is the spirit of this Psalm. For the most part it is a Psalm of complaint. He starts off remembering the blessedness of Israel, specially thinking of those days in the wilderness, of those days when they entered the promised land. But most of the Psalm is complaining of the low condition, complaining of the solemn state in which they are found; and yet in the midst there is this prayer, “Command deliverances for Jacob.”
“Jacob” is here used as a name for the people of God, and it is a very expressive titleÂ—very expressive in two ways. 1. Jacob was a great sinner, and he made many mistakes. Do not we have to prove the sin of our heart, our many failures, our many mistakes? At times we have to be ashamed of self. We need to be ashamed of our speaking and ashamed of our hearing, to be ashamed of our lack of zeal, to be ashamed of our prayerlessness, to be ashamed of our lack of love, to be ashamed of our unbelief. “Jacob”Â—it is an expressive name for the people of God. “Command deliverances for Jacob”Â—for sinful, unworthy Jacob. Oh there is self-abasement in it! “Command deliverances for Jacob.” 2. The Lord in matchless mercy delights in this as one of His titles that He is “the God of Jacob.” There are some people in the Word of GodÂ—we do not read of any mistakes they made. I think of Joseph, Daniel, NehemiahÂ—you do not read of mistakes they made. Jacob’s life was full of mistakes, but God delights to call Himself “the God of Jacob.” “Command deliverances for Jacob,” for Thou art Jacob’s God. The Lord never forsook Jacob personally but blessed him at Bethel and, amidst all Jacob’s sins and wanderings and failures never forsook him. “He found him in a desert land and in the waste howling wilderness; He led him about. He instructed him. He kept him as the apple of His eye”. (Deut. 32, 10). Jacob was precious to Him, and so He deals with His people, the seed of Jacob. “Command deliverances for Jacob”Â—for Thou art Jacob’s God.
I take the “God of Jacob” in all its fulness to signify the God of all grace, for “Where sin abounded, grace did much more
abound.” (Romans 5, 20). It is a wonderful thing if we should feel this, “The Lord of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our Refuge.” (Psalm 46, 11). He is the “Lord of Hosts”Â—that is, almighty GodÂ—but He is the “God of Jacob”, that is, the God of all grace, the God of unworthy sinners. “Command deliverances for Jacob.’ Oh may it be a cry that goes up from many a heart, “Wilt Thou not revive us again?” Psalm 85, 6.
That solemn question is asked, “By whom shall Jacob arise? For he is small.” (Amos 7, 2), and do not we have to confess it? Jacob is small. We are not only small in numbersÂ—we are small in grace, small in godliness, small in spirituality, small in everything that is good. “By whom can Jacob arise? For he is small.” We have one hope, friendsÂ—if Jacob is small, Jacob’s God is great, and He knows how to “command deliverances for Jacob.” There is no change in His power. He still “sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers.” (Isaiah 40, 22). He still holds “the waters in the hollow of His hand and metes out heaven with the span.” (Isaiah 40, 12). The nations still before Him are “as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance.” (Isaiah 40, 15). This is the greatness of Jacob’s unchanging God.
We have thought of former blessings: we have thought of the days of old, of godly men and women, of eminent servants of the Lord; we have thought of the changes that have taken place. May our last thoughts be of the omnipotence of Jacob’s God. With Him there is nothing that shall be called impossible, in providence or in grace. Friends, as you journey home, may you seek to answer this question, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” Genesis 18, 14.
“Thou art my King, O God, command deliverances for Jacob.”