Let thy mercies come also unto me, O Lord, even thy saivation, according to thy word. So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me: for I trust in thy word.
The believer in this work; is conscious of the need of an apology,
Not, indeed, in the modern sense of the word, as if he felt the need of apologizing, of making an excuse, of assuming a miserably weak defensive position over against the world that lieth in darkness.
Or why should the light apologize to the darkness, righteousness to unrighteousness, holiness to corruption, the truth to the lie, life to death, Christ to Belial? Is not the darkness reproved of the light? Is not unrighteousness condemned by righteousness? Must not corruption blush with shame before holiness? Does not the lie cower in the darkness before the clear light of the truth? Does not life have the victory over death? And is not Christ God’s anointed, the sole heir of all things? Why then should the believer assume an apologetic attitude over against the scoffing unbeliever?
His is the offensive.
He fights the good fight, conscious of the victory.
Yet, he must have an answer.
Always he must be ready to give an apologia to every man that asks him for a reason of the hope that is in him.
For he trusts in the Word of Jehovah! And that Word of the Lord to him is a promise of salvation, of eternal righteousness and glory, of an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, of the final victory over all his enemies, over sin, death, the devil, all the powers of darkness. And trusting in that Word, he keeps it, purifying himself even as He is pure, and walking in the light even in the midst of the world that lies in darkness. And thus, confiding in, and keeping the Word of God, he becomes God’s representative, he is of the party of the living God, and that, too, in opposition to the world end all the powers of darkness. . . .
And he bears witness.
As God’s representative through Jesus Christ the Lord, he may never be silent.
Always he must be able to bear testimony of the living God.
No power in heaven or on earth or in the pit may silence him! In tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword; over against death and life, angels, principalities, powers, things present and things to come, height and depth,—always he must have something to say!
For he trusts in the Word of Jehovah,
And the glory of the name of the Lord is inseparably connected with his testimony.
God is not ashamed to be called his God no matter what may be his position or plight in the world; and he may not be ashamed to call Jehovah his God!
So shall I have wherewith to answer!
The believer’s apologia!
It was so, yes, indeed, it was so above all with Christ.
He was the representative of the living God in the world par excellence. And He is the faithful witness. For the Lord God had given Him the tongue of the learned, not of the philosopher of this world, but of him that is taught of God, that He might speak a word to him that is weary. Jehovah opened His ear, so that He might receive the Word of God. And in that Word did He put His trust. Of it He bore testimony. And He was not rebellious, neither did He turn away back..
And for this the world hated Him!
For that world loved the darkness rather than the light. And realizing that the darkness was reproved and condemned by the light, they hated Him that bore this testimony with a deep and lasting and cruel hatred.
And how they filled Him with reproach!
For sharper and crueler weapon than reproach the enemy has none. Of a more effective means to maintain their own position in the world, and to expose the cause of the Son of God as false and worthless they know not. For to reproach one is to present him as a worthless fellow, an outcast, one that can present no credentials why he should be in the world at all, one that has a thousand reasons to be thoroughly ashamed of himself, and of the cause he represents, a liar, and imposter, one that is so contemptible that he is worthy of being forsaken utterly by God and men!
And so they reproached Him!
Him more than any man!
They called Him a deceiver, one that is in the service of Beelzebub, the prince of devils, a liar and blasphemer, a dangerous fellow that forbade to pay tribute, an insurrectionist that aimed at usurping Caesar’s throne, a destroyer of the temple. And they proceeded to expose Him as such, and to prove their contentions, to make Him a spectacle, one that was cursed by God and men. They derided Him, they bound Him, they smote Him and buffeted Him, they spit upon Him in their contempt, they condemned Him to death, they scourged Him, presented Him as the mock-king, pressed the thorny crown upon His brow, and finally made Him an outcast, hanging Him on the accursed tree. And even there, while He was helplessly stretched upon the cruel cross, they could not refrain from casting their cruel mockery in His teeth, to emphasize His folly, His contemptibleness, His utter worthlessness, the falsity of His claims, the vanity of His trust in God, His being completely forsaken of God and men!
Cruel, deeply cutting reproach!
All the more cruel and cutting because the powers of darkness appeared to be right!
Or does not that cross spell utter defeat of the cause this Son of man had represented? Is it not the lie to all He had ever claimed? Is not that crucified One the embodiment of all that is contemptible? And is it not true, is it not clearly evident, that He is indeed forsaken of God and men, and that all His confidence in God had been vain? Or does He not Himself corroborate the claim of the enemy, when He cries out: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”. . . .
Yet, even then, He had an answer to them that reproached Him!
He gave His back to the sniffers, and His cheeks to them that plucked off the hair; He hid not His face from shame and spitting!
And He witnessed, and gave the answer to them that reproached Him: “the Lord God will help me; therefore I shall not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed. He is near that justifieth me; who will contend with me? let us stand together: who is mine adversary? let him come near unto me. Behold the Lord God will help me; who is he that shall condemn me?”. He did make the good confession, before the high priest, and before Pontius Pilate, and, finally on the cross: “Henceforth ye shall see the Son of man, sitting at the right hand of God and coming with the clouds of heaven:” the victory is Mine! God will surely justify Me! Yes, indeed, I am a King, although My kingdom is not of this world! Today thou shalt be with Me in paradise! It is finished! Father, into thy hands do I commend My spirit!. . . .
The answer to them that approached Him!
And all that are of Him, and in Him, must thus suffer reproach.
How could it be different? Did they not hate Him? How, then, could it be otherwise than that they shall also hate those that are of Him? The servant is not greater than his Master: let it be sufficient for the servant that he is like his Master! Like Him in suffering, that he may also be like Him in glory.
How could it be otherwise?
Is not that same Christ, Whom they hated with such a cruel hatred, in the believers? And does He not become manifest in them? Does He not dwell in them by His Spirit, live in them, speak in and through them, give them His Word? And do they, too, not trust in His Word? And trusting in His Word, do they not keep His commandments, and become witnesses of Him in word and in deed, so that they let their light, the light of God in Christ, shine in the world and before men? And do they, then, not become witnesses of the truth, and of righteousness, in the midst of a world that lieth in darkness, and that loves that darkness rather than the light? And do they not condemn the unfruitful works of darkness, walking in the midst of this present world as strangers and pilgrims, looking for the city that hath foundations, whose builder and artificer is God?. . . .
And so the world hates them.
And the more they work out their own salvation, and walk as children of light, the more that hatred of the world shall surely become manifest.
And they need an answer!
For the enemy reproaches them, even as they reproached Him.
The mockers scoff that their doctrine is old fashioned, that their notions are but foolish imaginations, that they are narrow minded, fools that really have no place in the world; and they make their place narrow, deny them a position, take away their name. . . .
And so, they often appear to be the most miserable of all men!
And presently they die like other men, and all their glorying, and their cause, and their hope appears to perish with them in the grave!
For God’s name’s sake, for Christ’s glory’s sake, they need an answer to them that reproach them!
God is still for us! Who shall be against us?
It is God that justifies us: who is he that shall condemn us?
Nothing can ever separate us from His love!
The answer of hope!
For not in the things that are seen can the answer be found to those that reproach the people of God.
For the things that are seen are temporal. And the things temporal are limited on every side by death. Death is the last thing that is seen, both for the children of light, and for the children of darkness. And it is the last justification of the reproach of the world.
The thing that is seen of the Christ of God is His cross. And, even though it is true that already at the cross God justified His servant, that cross itself cannot be the answer to those that reproached Him. Even the Son of God sinks away into the darkness of death and reproach at the accursed tree, and apparently the enemies have the victory over Him.
If it is only in and for this life that we are hoping in Christ, we are of all men most miserable!
But the answer is the resurrection!
And His resurrection is God’s answer to all the reproach of men that was heaped upon His head. It is the realization of His hope and confidence that God would surely help Him, justify Him, give Him the final and eternal victory over all His enemies. He knew that God would not leave His soul in hell, neither suffer His Holy One to see corruption, that through the deepest and thickest darkness and confusion of hell, He would reveal to Him the way out, and show Him the pathway of life. And so, as He made the good confession, and gave answer to those that reproached Him, He had His eye, not on the things that are seen, and that are temporal, but on the things that are not seen, and that are eternal. He had regard for the things that lie just beyond, but then completely beyond, the scope of our earthly vision: the resurrection from the dead!
Thus it is with the psalmist.
He realizes that, if he is to have wherewithal to answer him that reproaches him, his eye of faith must be directed, away from the things that are seen, unto the things that are not seen, to the salvation of God, to the resurrection!
And so he prays: “Let thy mercies come also unto me, O Lord, even thy salvation, according to thy word.”
Mercies and salvation!
Are they not the same? Thy mercies, even thy salvation!
For, indeed, the realized mercy of Jehovah is the salvation of His people. The Lord is merciful! He is merciful, to be sure, in Himself, apart from any relation to the creature, to His people in Christ Jesus. For He is most blessed, the infinitely, and perfectly blessed God. And He knows Himself, and loves Himself as the blessed one for ever and ever. He wills to be blessed! But He is also merciful to the people of His eternal choice, whom He has predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son. And in His eternal and abundant mercy He ordained them to become partakers of His own life and blessedness, in His eternal tabernacle, in the new kingdom, the new heavens and the new earth, in which righteousness shall dwell.
That salvation is realized now!
For already they are justified, already they have the forgiveness of sins, and the adoption of children, and already they are begotten again unto a lively hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, according to His abundant mercy!
But the final manifestation of this salvation still waits for the coming again of their Lord from heaven.
For that final salvation, his perfect and public justification, also over against him that reproaches him, the poet, the Christian, longs. In that salvation lies the answer, the apologia, he must have.
And so he prays: let it come to me!
Yes indeed, let it come in its final realization, in the day of Christ: come Lord Jesus!
But also: let it come to me now, so that I may lay hold of it in hope!
Then I will have the answer!
The victory is mine!