“For the Lord hath chosen Jacob unto Himself and Israel for His peculiar treasure.”
“Indeed, praise ye the Lord, praise ye the Name of the Lord.” With these words the psalmist begins this one hundred thirty-fifth psalm. The word “praise” means fundamentally: to be clear, brilliant. This word also appears in Scripture with reference to the wicked, as in Psalm 5:6; Psalm 73:3; and Psalm 75:5. Then it means: to make a show, and it is used to refer to an external appearance. The wicked, then, are vain, puffed up, proud, insolent, glorying in one’s own appearance. The Lord, of course, is not glorious in vain; He is truly worthy of all our acknowledgment and adoration. To praise the Lord means that we acknowledge, proclaim the glory and greatness of our God. Indeed, according to verse 3, the Lord is good, and to sing praise unto His Name is pleasant.
Indeed, praise the Lord, “for the Lord hath chosen Jacob unto Himself, and Israel for His peculiar possession.” Give praise unto the Lord, extol His greatness—hath the Lord not chosen you, O Jacob and Israel, unto or for Himself, His own glory? Is He not the Lord Who does all things, alone, for His own Name’s sake, that we may be to the praise of His glory? Well may we note what we read in the verses 6-12 in this one hundred thirty-fifth psalm, and also in the verses 15-18. And, all these wonderful works of our God reach their climax in the cross, the wondrous cross of Jesus Christ, our Lord. And do not all these amazing works of our God, including Calvary, find their source and eternal beginning in God’s sovereign election? Indeed, the Lord has chosen Jacob unto Himself, and Israel for His peculiar possession or treasure.
Concerning this Old Testament patriarch we can be brief. He is Jacob, and this name means “heel-holder.” He, Jacob, Esau’s twin brother, holds his brother’s heel at the time of his birth, striving as it were to be born first. Jacob is he who struggles with Esau for the birthright blessing. However, for a long time, prior to Peniel, he struggles in his own strength, resorts to his own cunning and ingenuity. At Peniel, the brook Jabbok, he becomes Israel, “Prince of God.” Here, at Peniel, he struggles with the Lord. Here he becomes a cripple; but he learns to struggle in the strength of his God. Now, as he is about to confront Esau, coming with four hundred men, he crosses the Jabbok. The sun, we read, arose; and we believe that it also arose in his own soul. He now will face Esau as Israel, the prince of God, in the strength of his faithful covenant God.
Also the people of God throughout the ages bear this name. It is obvious from the verses 1, 2 and 12 that. the psalmist speaks of this people, the church of God; Jacob-Israel is therefore God’s covenant people throughout the ages, the people who struggle in the cause of God’s covenant in the strength of the Lord.
Jacob-Israel, God’s own peculiar possession and treasure!
How utterly amazing! In the first place, is not everything the Lord’s? He is the Creator of all things. He spoke creatively and it was; He brought forth the entire universe through the word of His power, gave being to the number of the host of heaven. He measures the waters with His fist and the heavens with a span; He weighs the heavens and the hills in the balances and, altogether, they are less than a particle of dust. Besides, He is also the Sustainer of all things. In Him all creatures move and live and have their being, also constantly. And He never abdicated or relinquished His throne. He, therefore, continues to be the sole Possessor of all things. Is it not an amazing thing that we should be His possession and peculiar treasure and possession when all things are His? Secondly, what an amazing truth this is when we consider who and what is the Lord’s own possession! Not only is it true that not all are His peculiar treasure. But we must bear in mind that it is not even true that the largest part of the world, or that the mightiest and noblest and richest of our race, belong unto Him. Imagine: Jacob-Israel is His peculiar treasure! Indeed, the Lord did not choose the rich and the noble and the powerful of this world. We read in Deuteronomy 7:7: “The Lord did not set His love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people.” Is this not applicable to the church throughout the ages? Is not the church always a little flock, according to Luke 12:32: “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom”? Hence, is this all that the Lord could choose and gather to be His own peculiar treasure? Does this not speak of poverty with respect to the Most High? Why did not the Lord, even in that covenant sense, choose to make all things and all men His possession? What an amazing phenomenon! Is this all that is His, this Jacob-Israel?
Jacob-Israel is the Lord’s chosen possession. The psalmist declares in Psalm 135:2: “Ye that stand in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of our God.” Hence, Jacob-Israel is God’s possession in the sense that they are His own—they constitute His House—there He chooses to dwell. Of them He declares that they are His people in a wonderful sense of the word. Around them He has drawn the cord of His fellowship; there He has set up His Name, His revelation in all the glory of His grace. He lives with them, dwells with them, gives them His love and mercy, is their God and they are His people in that unspeakably blessed sense of the word. Of them He declares: “They are My people. To them I reveal Myself in all the glory of My love and grace.” And, as far as the far more numerous wicked are concerned, them I use unto the everlasting salvation of My own, to reveal that My love is sovereignly particular and that I am surely mighty to save.
Indeed, the Lord is wholly sovereign.
This truth is denied by the Arminians who would revolve all salvation around the free will of the sinner. The word “chosen” in this text means: to approve, choose, select. Selection as such can mean that one chooses something; he prefers it to something or someone else because of its or his superior qualities. This is the Arminian conception of election: a selection by God based upon foreseen faith or works. And how common, how prevalent this view is in our church world today!
We give thanks to God that this view is utterly impossible. It is literally denied in Deuteronomy 4:37; Deut. 7:6, 7; Deut. 9:5; and in Ephesians 1:4. To quote only the last passage, we read: “According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.” We do not read that we were chosen because we were holy and without blame before Him in love, but that we should be holy. Hence, our holiness is not the basis for our election but its purpose and fruit. Moreover, what is there in God’s people, in you and in me, which could possibly serve as an inducement for God to select us? Was Jacob, the conniving and plotting Jacob, so preeminently and outstandingly pious? Besides, this Arminian heresy is also denied in this text. Do we not read that God chose us unto, or for Himself! And this surely means that He elected us, chose us for His own Name’s sake, His own glory, to glorify and magnify Himself. And did He select us because we were outstanding or better, because there was some good in us? Indeed, He chose us to focus attention, not upon us but solely upon Himself. Finally, this is also denied in the verses 1 and 3. In these verses we are exhorted to praise the Lord, to sing praises unto His Name, for it is pleasant. Indeed, we must proclaim His praises, not our own. The Lord does all things for His own Name’s sake. And this surely applies to the salvation of His people.
To be sure, the Lord’s choosing of us, His people, is absolutely sovereign. This is surely exemplified in the scriptural presentation of Jacob. We read in Romans 9:12-13: “It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” According to Genesis 25:21-23, Rebecca conceived and the children struggled together within her. She did not understand this activity within her. She said, “If it be so, why am I thus?” This activity within her must have been an amazing phenomenon and she probably discussed it with her husband, Isaac. She thereupon inquired of the Lord. And the Lord informed her that the elder shall serve the younger. However, why is this incident recorded in Holy Writ? Of course, the Lord revealed this to Rebecca for Rebecca’s sake. This we understand. But, why is this recorded upon the pages of the Word of God? It is certainly not recorded in the Word of God for her sake. She has passed on into everlasting glory; she does not need this revelation as recorded in Scripture. This is recorded here in the Word of God for our sake. But why is this recorded? This is recorded to emphasize the absolute sovereignty of our God, that He does as He pleases, willing that the elder shall serve the younger, in order that the purpose of God according to election might stand. When presently these twin sons of Isaac and Rebecca are born and grow up, Isaac and Rebecca, judging them in the light of and according to their behavior, could conceivably conclude that Esau had been rejected, reprobated by God because of his sin. Did he not reveal himself as profane? Did he not reveal himself as unworthy of the birthright blessing? Did he not sell this birthright blessing for a dish of pottage? Then the Lord would have hated Esau because he had done evil; and this would be contrary to the Word of God as recorded in Romans 9:12-13. However, Isaac and Rebecca must understand and the church of God throughout the ages must understand that God is sovereign, also in the decree of election and reprobation, that it is God’s sovereignty that the elder shall serve the younger, that Jacob have I loved but Esau have I hated before either did good or evil. Indeed, the purpose according to election must stand. And this election is rooted in the absolute sovereignty of our God.
Hence, praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, praise the Name of the Lord, not because of any goodness in us, but because He hath chosen Jacob unto Himself, unto His own glory, and Israel for His peculiar treasure or possession. Of Him and through Him and unto Him are all things; to Him be all the glory, now and forevermore.