A BLESSING FOR EVER
Mr. F. L. Rowell
January 14th, 1973*
“And now, O Lord GOD, thou art that God, and thy words be true, and thou hast promised this goodness unto thy servant:
Therefore now let it please thee to bless the house of thy servant, that it may continue for ever before thee: for thou O Lord GOD, hast spoken it: and with thy blessing let the house of thy servant be blessed for ever”. 2 Samuel 7, 28-29.
The sovereignty of God is very clearly seen in the experiences that surround the words of this text. Firstly, the purposes of David and even the willingness of Nathan were overruled by God, and this man who had desired to do such a good thing in building the house of the Lord was not allowed to do it. Secondly, in the sovereignty of God and the riches of His grace, David was so blessed through the promise of God, and his faith was so strengthened that he was completely reconciled to the fact that the Lord had overturned his purposes. The second aspect of the sovereignty of God is quite as important as the first. Not only that the will of God should prevail, but also that a meek, quiet and reconciled spirit be found in David. This was indeed a wonderful display of sovereign grace in David’s heart.
There are persons who have sometimes proposed to do something in their own way, and because the Lord would not allow them to do itÂ—of course, they would not have said that, they would have said because men would not allow them to do itÂ—they have refused to do anything at all. But when David is told that he shall not build a house, he does not say within his spirit, or to people gathered round him, or even to Nathan “Well, if the Lord won’t let me build Him a house of cedar, I will never go and worship in that place of curtains again”. He did not say that, and I want to impress upon your minds the meekness which the Spirit of the Lord granted to David in such an hour as this. His human nature was not allowed to rise high in pride and self-conceit and begin to rebel against God. But we read, “Then went king David in, and sat before the LORD”. Then he prayed.
Now when David went in and sat before the Lord in this tent of curtains, he did not take his throne with him! I was taught a lesson some years ago when I went into a great cathedral. It was a magnificent building, rightly prized by the public of this country as a monument of our national history. I am not surprised that persons are interested in that sort of thingÂ—particularly in the varied and wonderful architecture; they rightly desire that such places might be preserved to us as a nation. There was a service
on when I went in, and I saw how various people sat in various seats; the dean had one seat and the precentor had another seat, and there was a bigger seat than all (there was nobody in it that day) and that was the bishop’s throne. The thought then came to my mind, “Now is this according to the mind of God?” When men come into the presence of the Lord to worship, is there any difference between the one or the other in the sight of God? Should men require that there should be any difference between them and others when they come into the house of prayer? There have been occasions, even in some of our own chapels, where persons have been very unhappy if they could not have what they call their own seat. They have had a really bad day in their spirit because they could not have the place which they consider to be theirs!
Having this thought upon my mind with regard to David sitting before the Lord I remembered seeing in an old edition of Matthew Henry’s Commentary a little picture, an old engraving, of orientals sitting, and I went and looked up my old Matthew Henry before the service and found the page where this was. I saw that one of these pictures depicted persons sitting on their heels; they were actually kneeling. The posture was that the knees and the feet were on the ground and instead of the upper part of the leg being upright supporting the body it was bent back and the body was sitting on the heels as they knelt before the Lord. Now this was put in that old book to show the way, the humble way in which dear David went and sat before the Lord. It was not the ordinary form of kneeling but, nevertheless, there was this sitting in humble posture before the Lord. This is a good posture if there is in the heart that which is consistent with the posture. This is the position of one who is truly humble, who is in great need, and who would supplicate the throne of God’s grace for the mercy that He delights to show.
Then, of course, the Word of God speaks about standing before the Lord. This is a good posture, for a person who stands before the Lord is a person who would have his loins “girded about” and his “lights burning”. They hear what God the Lord speaks to them and pray for grace so that, immediately He gives them a command, they may be able to comply with it.
Now I am trying to impress upon you that David bows in a humble way before the Lord; he does not sit upon the throne, he does not say “Well, I will go into my house of cedar and there I will sit upon my royal seat where all my servants come and gather round me to receive my royal directives, and there I shall expect my God to come and speak to me, because I am the king of Israel, I am a prophet, I have a position that is paramount and I shall expect the Lord to come and to visit me in my own house”. My dear friends, thanks be to God, the Lord does visit us in our own houses. Thanks be to God that His grace does abound to us when we are shut up from the means of grace, particularly in times of illness and other periods when demands are made upon us so that we cannot get to the house of prayerÂ—the necessities
of little babies at home, and the care of the aged ones that are laid aside who must be watched in their illness and weakness. In such times as that the Lord is very willing to visit the homes of His people. But it is still true that
“He likes the tents of Jacob well,
But still in Zion loves to dwell”.
And therefore the dear apostle warns us lest we should be “forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is”.
I wonder if someone has been saying recently, “How much I fear I have lost because I did not gather with the people of God in the house of prayer. How great is my sin that, because of some evil thing found in me or that came against me, I was deceived and seduced by the devil so that I did not meet with the Lord’s people. Now I have to come to my God in great poverty; a poverty that has very largely been incurred by my own sinful actions and by my wrong spirit. I appeal to my God out of my own poverty that He will come and reveal the riches of His person, love and grace to my soul afresh”. It is certain that where there is a penitent spirit, really confessing that we have sinned in this way before our God, and where there is a deep longing in our heart that the Lord would keep us in His ways and cause us to more closely cleave unto Himself and to the word of His commandment, the Lord is very willing and very ready to hear such a cry.
As David goes in and sits before the Lord it is important to notice that the expression of his heart, breathing through his lips before God, is consistent with his posture. His posture is a lowly one, but I sometimes wonder in the posture of lowliness whether the attitude of heart is consistent with the posture. It is a solemn thing to be a hypocrite and to act a hypocrite, and this matter of hypocrisy is something that I find is pressed more and more solemnly upon my soul the older I get. Do I say things that I don’t mean? Do I act in a way that is not consistent with the feelings of my heart? Do I use words in prayer without the exercise of soul that underlies the words? One of our children’s hymns expresses this question:
“I often say my prayers,
But do I ever pray?
And do the feelings of my heart
Go with the words I say?”
What a mercy it is to be really dependent upon our God to give us sincerity of heart, truth, uprightness, honesty of heart, and mind and will, and make us inwardly consistent with the things that we outwardly profess; that our outward profession may be really something that flows from the inward experience of the soul; that our sitting before the Lord in this attitude of humility may be consistent with the very feelings of the heart.
Now David sits before the Lord. We do not know if there is a congregation there. It does not appear that he called the people together to hear what he had to say. There were times when kings stood before God and they did call the people together on a public occasion, that there might be a public acknowledgement of sin and a public prayer for mercy and a public confession of praise for the goodness of God that had been shown to them. Solomon upon the dedication of the temple is in exactly that position; the people are called together and the king, as the spokesman for his people, addresses God. But in this case it appears that it is just a matter between dear David and his God. We don’t even hear that David says to Nathan, “Now, Nathan, you come with me into the tabernacle and hear what I shall say to God.” All we read here is that David went in and he sat before the Lord. It would seem to be one of those occasions that is consistent with the word of the Lord Jesus Christ when He says “When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door; pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” There seems to be something essentially of privacy in this matter of David sitting before the Lord. It is a matter between his soul and his God. It does not matter where you are if your heart is right before God, if you really know this humble spirit of approach unto the Lord; there is nothing to hinder you from having this contact with the Lord in prayer. The way has been opened even into the holiestÂ—not by you or me, not because we are the men we are, not because we are kings, or prophets, or priests, nor anything of the sort, but a way has been opened into the holiest for poor sinners like you and me to draw near to God; and that way has been opened through the precious shed blood, the work of atonement wrought out by Jesus Christ for His people. I ask you most affectionately “Do you love these places and seasons of prayer? Do you love the time when the Lord by the Holy Ghost brings you into such a humble place that all you can do is to come,
“Just as I amÂ—without one plea
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come”?
Is that the thing which you delight in? If you really have not properly and fully enjoyed it, do you long for it? Is it the desire of your soul that you might really be there in that lowly place, sitting before the Lord in humble approach unto the mercy seat?
Notice David’s spirit in this private approach to the Lord! “Who am I, O Lord God, who am I? Who am I that I should come? Who am I that I should have hope in Thy mercy? Who am I that I should entertain a single word of promise from Thee? Who am I that Thou shouldst lavish Thy love upon me and upon my posterity in the way that Thou art doing and Thou hast promised to do? Who am I? Who am I?” As you think of these
words “And now, O Lord GOD, thou art that God, and thy words be true”, you will say, “Who am I that I should have an interest in Thee? That Thou shouldst speak in this way to me?” Some resent the mention of the unworthiness of man in his approach in prayer to God, but it will only be those who are taught their own unworthiness and sin and are brought to plead and to lay hold upon a hope that is set before them in the gospel of a bleeding Jesus who will ever get to heaven. It is only those who know that, whose prayers will really be heard and answered. Remember, true prayer comes out of a broken and a contrite spirit! The Lord has said He will regard the prayer of a man of a broken and a contrite spirit, one who trembles at His word. I would not have you without this spirit of humble approach unto the Lord. Ask yourselves certainly how often you pray: examine yourselves as to whether you are men and women and boys and girls of prayer, whether the Lord has really taught you how to pray and blessed you with a spirit of supplication. Yes, seek all these things, but do seek this humble approach unto God at the throne of His grace. May the Spirit of God stop us from going to the Lord upon the ground of anything that we are or anything that we have done. O that our prayers were full of this real desire, “For Jesus sake”! “Lord, I approach Thee upon the ground of what Jesus is and what Jesus has done and what Jesus has promised; upon the ground of the pardon of Jesus, the blood of Jesus, the righteousness of Jesus, the condescension and longsuffering of Jesus, His compassion to those that are out of the way- I approach Thee upon the ground of Jesus as I present my supplication to Thee.”
This dear man goes on to say, “and what is my house, that Thou hast brought me hitherto? What am I, and what are my people, what is my house, what is my family that Thou shouldst have guided us so carefully as Thou hast done hitherto?” Of course, David had certainly had some very signal tokens of the leading of the Lord. You remember how there was a time when he returned to Ziklag where he had left his wife and family only to find the place all burned up and the family taken captives by the Amalekites. David could well have said as he looked upon Ziklag, “Well now, where is the leading of the Lord; where is the goodness of the Lord?” But afterwards he could have said, “Thou hast brought me hitherto. Even in that event now I see that Thy hand was upon all those affairs. That although my wife and children were carried captive, yet it was for the glory of Thy name in the end that this should be so. Thou didst not forsake me, Thou didst not forsake my wife. Thou didst not forsake my family, they were under Thy hand. Thou didst bring us hitherto.” Friends, it would be a wonderful thing if, instead of thinking about the news today and prognostications of so-called wise men with regard to the future, the Lord turned our attention back to the past. Then with Moses we should remember the way the Lord our God hath led us “these forty years in the wilderness”. It is just over forty
years since the Lord called me by grace. You see, I can come into the experience of dear David personally when I have to say, “I remember the way the Lord my God hath led me” or, to put it in David’s words, “thou hast brought me hitherto.” I am not afraid to say that this world is a wilderness to my soul, except the Lord appears and the riches of His grace are revealed; unless I see the handiwork of my God. I can see His grace and His mercy in the things that He has given to me; my wife, my children, my home, my benefitsÂ—all are from God. As I look back upon them I can say, “The Lord hath brought me hitherto.” And this dear man did give praise for what God had done hitherto. But you notice that he does not stop there. He does not only say, “Lord I will praise Thee for what Thou hast done”, but faith goes out towards the word that God has sent to him, the word that has been spoken by Nathan, his friend, about the future, something concerning his household, his son and his son’s sons, his descendants, and finally something about Jesus, the ever living One who shall reign for ever and ever. He thinks upon those things and says “this was but a small thing in Thy sight, O Lord God, that Thou shouldst bring me hitherto compared with what Thou hast promised to do. Blessings that will be with me to my death, that will descend to my children, and then descend through them to their children so that the Lord will have a posterity and a people in the earth. He will bless His Israel and He will gather out His true Israel from them in all ages, and finally He will set His own King upon the throne, my Lord and also my son.”
The Lord Jesus Christ puts this problem before the Jews when He is speaking to themÂ—”How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying. The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?” Here is a wonderful mystery revealed, the Son of God incarnate, a descendant of David, but the eternal Son of God who will ever live and ever abide and bring to pass His eternal covenant purposes that are bound up in Him and are expressed in promises that are yea and amen in Jesus Christ.
O friends, what think ye of the Son of David? What think ye of the dear Son of God? What think ye of His great and glorious promises that are bound up in this Blessed One that was born the Babe of Bethlehem? What think ye of Christ, O what think ye of Christ? Think of those dear children you have left at home in the care of others! Is this your great longing for them, that they may have an interest in Jesus? You care deeply for your wife or your husband; love has joined you together; you long for their good, their prosperity, but what about the greater things of the soul? What about eternity as compared with time? What about the great issues of life? What about eternity that must either be spent in heaven or in hell? The things that we have enjoyed in this life, the care of God, His wonderful providences are important,
but we can say “Lord, these are little things compared with the promises that are yea and amen in Jesus Christ.” Do you wonder that through my ministry here I have always tried to emphasize the glory of this covenant, the covenant ordered in all things and sure, entered into by these three blessed persons of the glorious Trinity on behalf of wretched, hell-deserving sinners. And the reason why He made it was because He would and because He loved and because He was determined to save them. And so He did not hesitate to send His own dear Son into this world with all the consequences to His own dear Son, that we might live through Him.
David says, “And this was yet a small thing in Thy sight, O Lord God; but thou hast spoken also of thy servant’s house for a great while to come. And is this the manner of man, O Lord God?” Is this the kind of thing that a man can do? Where is there a single manÂ—myself or anyone else hereÂ—who can tell you what is going to happen in twenty, thirty, forty years time? Is there< anyone here who can tell? No!
So David feels it is not like a man to do what God is doing for him. It is not like a man to have guided him and blessed him hitherto, and it is not like a man to go on and tell him in all solemnity, seriousness and definiteness the things that will be done in the future. And yet, there is a Man, a real Man who has done and said things that have a relationship to your and my eternity;
they have relationship to my life upon this earth, relationship to the years or days yet to come for any of us here. He has spoken and He has done things that have a most intimate relationship to that. God sent His only Son in the form of man, provided a body for Him that He should come into this world to make a full and blessed revelation of the mind and will of God in the saving of sinners. All through the ages before, the Word of God had been pointing forward, the prophets had spoken of this .One that was to come, the One who would be the Messiah, the One who would do great things. This Messiah was Job’s Redeemer, of whom he said, “I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another.” So he was pointing forward to this great event. But when it happened it was not in the guise of a glorious, wonderful angel that would distil awe and dismay and fear into the hearts of men and women upon this earth: the Son of God did not come in that mannerÂ—no, but in the form of man; man to suffer. God to save. O what a wonder.this is. Is this the Man, O Lord God? Once and once only in this world’s history has Jesus Christ appeared in human flesh to put away my sin and yours, if you have hope in this blessed person. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ”. No other name, no other wayÂ—”Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved”. The word is so emphatic. And this is the blessed Man, the “Glory Man”.
I picked up dear old Robert Hawker’s ‘Morning and Evening Portions’ the other day, and as I was looking through those pages
again I noticed he constantly speaks about Jesus as being the “Glory Man”. O, friends, I am going to ask you whether Jesus is glorious to you, whether there is something about Jesus that has bound your affections and held your soul fast. Is He the “Glory Man” to your soul? If Christ is now the “Glory Man” to your soul, then living or dying it will be well with you. In the midst of affliction’s path, even if you are blind to everything else you will see the glory of that blessed Man, if you are one of His own dear children chosen in Christ ere time began. The glory of this world will pale into insignificance compared with the glory of the “Glory Man”Â—Jesus Christ, for here God reveals a Man of glory beyond our comprehensionÂ—the “Glory Man”. God grant that we may see something of this, not only as we meet together but as we go about our daily duties. May the glory of this world seem very, very dim as compared with the glory of the dear Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. And the good things of this world that men are striving after, may they seem to be very dim, drossy things compared with the blessed, eternal, good things that God has laid up for men. O, friends, will you seek them with me? Shall we go to the throne of grace together and ask the Lord to give them to us more abundantly, and to bind our hearts to this blessed One, the “Glory Man” who bears this humble name of Jesus? “He shall save his people from their sins”.
*This was the last occasion on which Mr, Rowell spoke in public.