And in their hands they shall bear you up, lest at any time you dash your foot against a stone.…
Now, brethren, I would have you remember two things throughout, in our Lord's use of Scripture, in this sore contest. First: As towards Himself and His own human, and therefore, it might be supposed, infirm heart. It is, you see, the sole argument which He uses, the sole guide which He takes, the sole source of strength on which He throws Himself. You see nothing added to it, no consideration from any other quarter, of reason, or convenience, or ultimate gain; no calculations of any kind called in to give it fresh power, or an influence not properly its own. It is thrust boldly, nakedly, solitarily forward, by its own strength alone sustained. Secondly: It is clearly implied that the powerful spirit who was tempting Him, was quite as well aware as He Himself that God's word was immutable and unconquerable; and that it contained within itself all that faith needed to resist his utmost assaults. He knew full well that all spiritual strength and comfort was contained in it; nay, a clothing of the soul that rested on it with the very power of Him who spake it in His truth and holiness, and victory to tread all sin and temptation under foot. With all his subtlety, therefore, and devices of a bad wisdom, he has nothing to reply to the bold and straightforward declaration of God's will. He is struck dumb. It seems, after this, useless before Christians, to give any reasons why it should be so, seeing that we have such a witness to it; but one or two immediately occur to every thoughtful person, which I will just suggest.
1. Almighty God is the very truth itself, and it is no more possible for Him to utter what is false than for the glorious and blessed sun to shoot forth darkness instead of light.
2. He is all-powerful, as well as all true, and therefore, if He be bent upon executing His will, whatever it be, it is impossible to resist it.
3. He is all good, and gracious, and loving, and hath poured the riches of His mercy into the book which He has given unto us; and so far from dreading these perfections of His nature, which make all that He has said unchangeable, and grieving that it cannot be blotted out — herein is our joy, as sons of God by adoption and grace, that "it is written" that heaven and earth shall pass away, but not one tittle of that blessed writing! And now, only turn for a moment to what it is in this temptation of Satan of which our Lord affirmed that it was the Word of God, and found strength whereby, in the hour of His great need, to vanquish the tempter, and bring down angels out of heaven to minister to Him! For you may be sure, that the sinless Lamb of God, who took our nature upon Him, that we might be raised to the purity of His, seeing that He was flesh and blood in all things, sin only excepted, hath recorded His own temptations, because He knew full well, by the wisdom that was in Him, that the very same would assault us!Look well, dear brethren, to this!
1. Though it be true, that we must all labour in the" station to which God has called us, and by the sweat of our brow must eat bread, yet that is not the first thing; that is not the great, the one thing needful. "The kingdom of God is not meat, or drink, but righteousness, and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost." "My meat," saith our Lord, and therefore ours, "is to do the will of My Father which is in heaven!" "Thou shalt not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." "Look at the lilies of the field, how they grow I they toil not, neither do they spin I and yet your heavenly Father clotheth them I Shall He not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?" In one word, "It is written," and it cannot be changed. Again — look at this: Do you never tempt the Lord your God? that is, presume upon His aiding and protecting you, where He has not promised to do so, but the contrary, and so bring a curse upon the soul, and not a blessing I But, you may say, can we trust God too much P or throw our whole souls with too unreserved a love and confidence upon His fatherly care? But to presume on His love when our heart is elsewhere, and when we refuse to obey His evident commandments, is death to us! Again, it is written, "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." Thirdly: Do we fall down and worship Satan? "It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve!" Finally: Before we part, let me once more impress upon you, that all this, and much more of the like import, is written, and that to tell you so is the same thing as to tell you that it will all come to pass, as sure as man is sinful and ignorant, and God wise, holy, and true. And in more than one sense it is thus written: for first of all — you find it in the holy book! There it is, and fire cannot burn it out, nor water wash it out, nor all the wishes and struggles of ungodly men make it less, even by a single letter. It is written, therefore, not only in a book, but in the eternal counsels of God, out of the depths of which, in the fulness of time, it hath all issued forth to us. It has been written from everlasting to everlasting, that thus it shall be. But there is one more book, dear brethren, in which this blessed, and eternal, and unchangeable word must be written, if we would be the better or the more blessed for it. In our own hearts — in our souls, in the fleshly tablets within us, and not on stone tables, or paper books, must the Word of God be engraven by the Spirit. So long as it remains an outward thing, merely spoken or merely written, it is only condemnation; it hath a sword in its hand, and killeth.
(J. Garbett, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.