For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us.
The broken and divided condition of the Christian Church is, to every right-thinking man, a subject of uneasy reflection.
1. It is in the nature of things impossible for a multitude of men to live together, or subsist as a community without the occurrence of differences, disputes, and questions of a greater or a less degree of importance.
2. The institution by which God meets and provides against this unavoidable circumstance in human life is that of the judge, the fullest general idea and true theological definition of which office is contained in these words, "If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood," &c. (Deuteronomy 17:8-13).
3. The provision of a judge with absolute and conclusive authority, is God's way of meeting that evil to which human society is exposed. He demands from men that they shall bring their controversies and have them determined by the person whom He appoints; and they are to yield to the award of the judge, through submission to God, by whose voice or in whose providence he has been appointed, and through faith that God is with the judge, and is at hand to give him wisdom and discernment (Proverbs 29:4; Judges 2:18).
4. The taking away of judges is one of the last and severest punishments that God inflicts upon a people. When God gives men children to be their princes and babes to rule over them — so that the people are oppressed everyone by another and everyone by his neighbour, so that the child behaves himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable — it is in His anger that He does so (Amos 2:3).
5. Again, when God recovered His people, or spake of doing so, the restoration of the judge is one of the main acts or promises (Isaiah 1:26).
6. To set judgment in the earth is declared to be one of the offices of Christ: and His kingdom is characterised as that in which "a King shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment"; when the people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation and in sure dwellings and in quiet resting-places. But of peace and quiet security and well-being without the office of the judge, there is no mention in all scripture, either prophetical or historical.
7. This method and ordinance of God for the preservation of peace and righteousness among men is continually alluded to in the language of the New Testament; alluded to and recognised, and therefore shown to be perpetual. Our blessed Lord always refers to the judge as the ordained ultimate decider in all human quarrels and contentions; and although He would have His disciples to be reconciled everyone to his adversary before an appeal to the judge shall have become unavoidable, yet He clearly points out the absoluteness and peremptoriness of the ordinance, as one which God will ordinarily guide, and one which He will not suffer any man with impunity to despise.
8. The duty of those whose matter is brought before the judge is to do according to the sentence of the judge, not declining from it to the right nor to the left. This, of course, is on the supposition that the judge spoken of is the ultimate one, from whom there can be no appeal. So the general peace of society, and the comfort and quietness of the individual himself are ensured.
9. Moreover, it is through the judge that law becomes a living thing, capable of continual enlargement, and of application to the varying conditions of human society; which is itself a living thing, its character always in progress, with new interests springing up, and liable to new difficulties and complications.
10. The Church of Christ is the widest and most comprehensive society of men that can exist. How much more than all other societies of men must the Church be liable to causes of division!
11. And shall God's ordinance for peace not be found in the spiritual corporation? And if there be in the Church such an ordinance of ultimate appeal, and peremptory decision, shall not the same implicit submission be required which God commanded that men should render under the law — a submission more intelligent than under the Jewish dispensation, and therefore more voluntary, yet not less absolute — and shall not the penalty be as severe as it then was for the despiser and the presumptuous?
12. There has been no Catholic judgment in the Church since the removal of the apostles; and we are conscious of the condition to which we have been reduced by the want of judgment. Questions, doubts, disputes, discontents, hatreds, divisions, rebellions have accumulated.
13. And when God's people fall into such depths as these, how does He act towards them? "He repenteth Himself for His servants, when He seeth that their power is gone" (Deuteronomy 32:36). Such as God was to Israel the same is He for ever, the same shall He show Himself unto His Church. And unto Israel He hath said, "I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellers as at the beginning, afterward thou shalt be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city" (Isaiah 1:26). Those judges and counsellors, shall not they be peacemakers for the long-vexed Church — by whom the winds and the sea shall be rebuked and there shall be a great calm?
(W. Dow, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us.