2 Samuel 19:18
And there went over a ferry boat to carry over the king's household, and to do what he thought good…
This river Jordan, in all ages and among all Christian people, has been the symbol of the boundary line between earth and heaven. I want to show you to-day that there is a way over Jordan as well as through it. My text says: "And there went over a ferry boat to carry over the king's household."
I. My subject, in the first place, impresses me with the fact that when we cross over from this world to the next, THE BOAT WILL HAVE TO COME FROM THE OTHER SIDE. The tribe of Judah, we are informed, sent this ferry boat across to bring David and his household. Blessed be God, there is a boat coming from the other side. Transportation at last for our souls from the other shore. Everything about this Gospel of Mercy from the other shore. Pardon from the other shore. Mercy from the other shore. Pity from the other shore. Ministry of angels from the other shore. Power to work miracles from the other shore. Jesus Christ from the other shore. "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." I bless God that. as the boat came from the other shore to take David and his men across, so, when we come to die, the boat of salvation will come from the same direction. God forbid that I should ever trust to anything that starts from this side.
II. When we cross over at the last, THE KING WILL BE ON BOARD THE BOAT. The king was on board the boat, and those women and children, and all the household of the king, knew that every care was taken to have that king pass in safety. When a soul goes to heaven, it does not go alone. The King is on board the boat. Was Paul alone in the last exigency? Hear the shout of the scarred missionary, as he cries out, "I am now ready to be offered up, and the time of my departure is at hand." Was John Wesley alone in the last exigency? No. Hear him say: "Best of all, God is with us." Here is the promise: "When thou passeth through the waters, I will be with thee, and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee." Christ at the sick pillow to take the soul out of the body; Christ to help the soul down the bank into the boat; Christs mid stream; Christ on the other side to help the soul up the beach. Be comforted about your departed friends. Be comforted about your own demise when the time shall come. Tell it to all the people under the sun that no Christian ever dies alone. The King is in the boat.
III. My text suggests that leaving this world for heaven IS ONLY CROSSING A FERRY. Doctor Shaw estimates the average width of the Jordan to be about thirty yards. What, so narrow! Yes. "There went over a ferry-boat to carry over the king's household." Yes, going to heaven is only a short trip. Only a ferry. That accounts for something you have never been able to understand. You never could have supposed that very nervous and timid Christian people could be so perfectly unexcited and placid in the last hour. The fact is, they were clear down on the bank, and they saw there was nothing to be frightened about. Such a short distance — only a ferry! With one ear they heard the funeral psalm in their memory, and with the other they heard the song of heavenly salutation. The willows on this side the Jordan, and the Lebanon cedars on the other, almost interlocked their branches. Only a ferry!
IV. My subject also suggests the fact that when we cross over at the last, WE SHALL FIND A SOLID LANDING. The ferry-boat, as spoken of in my text, means a place to start from, and a place to land. David and his people did not find the eastern shore of the Jordan any more solid than the western shore where he landed, and yet, to a great many, heaven is not a real place. I never heard of any heaven I want to go to except St. John's heaven. I believe I shall hear Mr. Toplady sing vet, and Isaac Watts recite hymns, and Mozart play. "O," you say, "where would you get the organ?" The Lord will provide the organ. I believe I shall yet see David with a harp, and I will ask him to sing one of the Songs of Zion. My heaven is not a fog-bank. My eyes are unto the hills — the everlasting hills. The King's ferry-boat starting from a wharf on this side will go to a solid landing-place on the other side.
V. My subject teaches that when we cross over at the last, WE WILL BE MET AT THE LANDING. When David and his family went over in the ferry-boat spoken of in the text, they landed amid a nation that had come out to greet them. As they stepped from the deck of the boat to the shore, there were thousands of people who gathered around them trying to express a satisfaction that was beyond description. And so you and I will be met at the landing. Our arrival will not be like stepping ashore at Antwerp or Constantinople among a crowd of strangers; it will be among friends — good friends, warm-hearted friends, and all their friends. The poet Southey said he thought he should know Bishop Heber in heaven by the portraits he had seen of him in London; and Dr. Randolph said he thought he should know William Cowper, the poet, in heaven from the pictures he had seen of him in England; but we shall know our departed kindred by the portraits hung in the throne-room of our hearts. On starlight nights you look up — and I suppose it is so with any one who has friends in heaven — and you cannot help but think of those who have gone; and I suppose they look down and cannot but think of us. But they have the advantage of us. We know not just where their world of joy is. They know where we are. O, what a consolation this ought to be to those whose friends have gone away — how it ought to take off the sharp edge of their melancholy. The partings of earth solaced by the reunions of heaven t
(T. De Witt Talmage.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And there went over a ferry boat to carry over the king's household, and to do what he thought good. And Shimei the son of Gera fell down before the king, as he was come over Jordan;