A Sermon Written At Mentone, By C. H. Spurgeon. *11/8/2012
I will water it every moment. [Isa 27:3]
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1. When the Lord is most intent on justice he is at the same time earnest in his love. The day of vengeance of our God is also the acceptable year of the Lord. In the Scripture before us the prophet says, “Behold, the Lord comes out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity,” [Isa 26:21] and he foretells that the Lord will come out as one armed with a great and strong sword to strike the fiercest of his enemies with a deadly wound; [Isa 27:1] yet before he had bared his arm for the battle he prepared rooms of refuge for his people so that they might dwell as within closed doors until the tempest of indignation was past. [Isa 26:20] The shoutings of war did not prevent the Lord from remembering his beloved and his song of love concerning her, for he says, “In that day sing to her, a vineyard of red wine. I the Lord keep it; I will water it every moment.” Happy people, who even in the day of wrath are satisfied with favour. Blessed heirs of grace who hear the just and terrible avenger say concerning them, “Fury is not in me.” [Isa 27:4]
2. The love of the Lord towards his whole church goes out to each individual member of it; the care which he displays for the vineyard is exercised upon each vine which he has planted. So, then, we may without hesitation believe that the Lord will do for us personally what he promises to do for all of his people; otherwise exceptions would have been stated, and the word would have run like this — I will water a part of my vineyard, but a portion of the plants shall be left to be dried up. The Lord’s word is so truthful that it would never raise unfounded expectations by general statements if there were, indeed, cases not included in it. We are always safe in concluding that if the Lord had meant to exclude one believing soul from a privilege he would have mentioned it, for he has not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth, anything which would militate against the happiness of any one of his people. This then, beloved friends, is the pledge of love concerning the spiritual life of my soul and yours, and the soul of every humble believer in Jesus, — “I will water it every moment.” This is a precious promise, and the more we meditate upon it the more rich it will appear. May we now be watered by the Holy Spirit while we meditate upon this promised watering.
3. In warm climates irrigation is essential for fertility; hence, travellers see on all sides pools and watercourses, wheels and cisterns, and channels for the water to flow in. The watering arises from necessity, and it is carefully attended to, because otherwise the farmer or gardener would look for fruit in vain. I remarked to a gardener in the South of France that the weather was bad, but he replied that it was good for the garden, for the rain gave plenty of water, and that was the chief thing. In Paradise it was a great advantage to its verdant bowers that a fourfold river pursued its course through its midst, and that before the rain had fallen upon the earth there went up a mist from the earth and watered the face of the ground. From the necessity and value of water for the plants of the earth the Lord would teach us our own need for his grace, and the preciousness of that grace, and render his promise of supply all the more delightful to our souls.
4. So that we may prize the goodness of the Lord in the promises before us we shall consider the necessity of our being watered, the manner in which the Lord promises to supply our need, and the certainty that he will do so. Oh for a living meditation, not upon the letter of the word only, but upon its innermost teaching.
5. I. There is a great NECESSITY for the watering promised in the text.
6. We might conclude this from the promise itself, since there is not one superfluous word of promise in the whole Scriptures, but it becomes more evident when we reflect that all creature life is dependent upon the perpetual outgoing of divine power. Existence is a continued creation, for the creatures have no power within themselves to preserve their own being; even the solid rocks and the great mountains would melt away as so many shadows if eternal omnipotence did not for every moment keep them in being. The world is not like a wheel, which, having received a great push from a strong hand, continues to turn long after the hand is withdrawn; but, the divine energy goes out continually to uphold all things which it has made. Now, the same law holds good in the more choice and illustrious works of God in the kingdom of grace, and multitudes of illustrations of this are to be found in Holy Writ. Believers are stones, but their support comes continually from the foundation; they are branches drawing nourishment perpetually from the stem, members of the body always deriving life from the Head. Towards God we are streams and not fountains; rays of light, not suns; lamps which must be trimmed and nourished with oil; sheep which need unceasing care and feeding. The inner life cannot live upon itself. It is one sign of its presence that the believer is not only dependent as a creature, but feels it as a living, sentient, instructed, and trustful creature. The Christian has no quarrel with the hint of utter weakness which is implied in the text, for he is very well aware that he must be each moment watered or he will dry up from the root and cease to be.
7. Moreover, the truth is especially certain as touching the believer, for a multitude of agencies are at work to dry up the moisture of his soul. As far as this world is concerned, he is planted in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; his sorrows tend to parch him, like a hot wind from the desert, and earthly joys are still more like a sirocco [a] which burns as an oven. Satan’s temptations scorch and wither our hearts unless the water of life is abundantly laid at our root; and the men of the world act in the same way. If we trusted in ourselves we should soon be as the heath in the desert, or as the grass upon the house-tops. Indwelling sin especially is a devouring blast, and would, if it acted without check and counterbalance, turn the garden of the soul into a desolate wilderness. We are like plants placed in the blaze of a tropical sun, upon which a burning oven pours out its tremendous heat. One moment without divine watering and shade would dry us up root and branch.
8. Neither have we any other source of supply except the living God. “All my springs are in you.” We have the ordinances and means of grace, but we cannot draw a blessing from them by ourselves: the Spirit of God is like the dew and the rain, but we cannot command his influences, these lie altogether at the sovereign disposal of the Lord. To convince us of our utter impotence in the matter the Lord asks us in the book of Job, “Can you lift up your voice to the clouds so that abundance of water may cover you?” No, the bottles of heaven pour out at Jehovah’s bidding, and unless his good pleasure gives the land its refreshment “the dust grows into hardness, and the clods cleave firmly together,” the brooks are dried up, and the springs of water fail. Nothing can afford us a drop of spiritual water unless the infinite depths of divine grace overflow to us and the Lord visits the heart and waters it from the river of God, which, is full of water. Hence the need that we cry with David, “I stretch out my hands to you: my soul thirsts after you, as a thirsty land.”
9. Remember, also, that our need for divine watering is clearly seen when we consider what drought, and barrenness, and death would come upon us if his hand were withdrawn. Then the prophecy of Jeremiah would be fulfilled in us, “Their nobles have sent their little ones to the waters: they came to the pits, and found no water; they returned with their vessels empty; they were ashamed and confounded, and covered their heads. Because the ground is chapped, for there was no rain in the earth, the ploughmen were ashamed, they covered their heads.” Then out leaf would wither and our root fail; as for fruit, there would be none, and we should be only fit for the burning. Without watering every moment, the most faithful among us would be cast out, and be only fit for the fire; every prophet would become a Balaam, every apostle a Judas, every disciple a Demas. We must be watered, and watered every moment, or we would die. Lord, save us, we perish. Look down from heaven, and behold and visit this vine and the vineyard which your right hand has planted.
10. II. This point is clear, and our daily experience brings it to our notice. Let us now carefully regard THE MANNER in which the Lord promises to water his people — “I will water it every moment.”
11. Our first thought is stimulated by the perpetual act — “every moment” the Lord will water the vineyard. There is never a moment in which it ceases to need it, and, therefore, the supply is as constant as the demand. He further says, “Lest anyone harms it, I will keep it night and day,” so that at all hours of the night, as well as of the day, the Lord’s care is over his people. Mercy knows no pause. Grace has no designated hours, or rather all hours are equally designated: yes, and all moments too. We may stop our asking, but God does not stop his giving. We may not perceive the flowings of his grace, and yet they are never suspended, no, not for a moment, or otherwise it would not true, — “I will water it every moment.” This leads us to rest assured of our final perseverance, since his perseverance in watering will produce our perseverance in budding, leafing, and fruit-bearing, otherwise his watering would be in vain, his grace ineffective, and his purpose defeated, and it would not be true that nothing had harmed the vineyard. Glory be to the great Keeper of the vines, he will give a good account of his charge, saying, “Of all whom you gave me I have lost no one.” Between here and heaven there will never be a moment in which the Lord will not water his people, and therefore never a moment in which they will be dried up, and so left to perish. Let faith lay hold of this and gather strength from it.
12. Nor is this all — the Lord’s watering is a renewed act. He does not water us once in great abundance, and then leave us to live upon what he has already poured out. He does not cause so much rain to fall in one day as may water the earth for seven years, or then there could not be a daily dependence upon him for rain and dew; neither does he give grace enough to his servants at any one time to serve them for a month, or a week, or a day, or even an hour, but he waters them “every moment” so that they may know that at no one moment of time can they do without him. He placed the whole fountain of living water in his Son, for in him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, but in our case he sends his showers so that we may seek and obtain new outflowings of the eternal life, and every moment come under new debts to his infinite love. It is very sweet to have it so, for thus we have a reason for coming to him each moment, inasmuch as every moment he has something to impart to us. If we are conscious at this moment of our poverty we need not despair, nor even hang our heads, for the next moment has its appointed watering, and before the clock has ticked faith may receive a flood of grace, according to the promise: “I will pour water upon him who is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground.”
13. Attention should be gratefully directed to the fact that the watering promised by the Lord is a personal act: “I will water it.” Apollos waters, but he cannot do it by himself, nor can he do it every moment, nor at all except as an instrument in the hands of God. The Lord does his work effectively; just as in creation he did not speak in vain, but he spoke and it was done, so in grace he waters, and we are watered indeed. Sweet is the truth that we are not left to second causes or agents; these might fail us in the hour of need, yes, they must prove liars to us if we depended on them, for it would be impossible for any of them, or all of them put together, to water us every moment; but the all-sufficient God out of the measureless stores of grace can and will personally supply all his saints for ever, giving them to be filled with his fulness and never to know a lack. Not even to angels has he left the care of his saints, but he himself, through the mediation of his dear Son, every moment keeps and waters us by his effective grace.
14. How condescending is this on the Lord’s part! he who leads out the stars by their armies bows the heavens to visit your soul and mine, taking care that there shall be a channel for the water of life to flow to the poorest and lowliest of his people. How near this brings the Lord to us, and what an idea it gives us of his perpetual active presence. Just as the gardener stands over the plant, gently pouring the water all around it and upon it, in order to feed the roots and wash the leaves, even so the Lord as it were stands over his people, watching over them for good, and dispensing his grace with all wisdom and prudence as they are able to receive it. Our necessity calls for his continued presence, and his love bestows it. The Lord is near us every moment, for he waters us every moment. He loves us every moment, because his love is actively demonstrating itself in condescending actions. His love suggests the watering, and the watering proves his love. He is never weary of the work which he has himself undertaken in love, and which he will not delegate to others because he is so well pleased with doing it himself.
15. III. This much suffices to fill our slender space: let us now, in the third place, consider THE CERTAINTY that the Lord will water every plant that his own right hand has planted.
16. Here a vast number of arguments suggest themselves, but we will satisfy ourselves with the one reason for confidence which is found in the Lord himself and his previous deeds of love. The Lord our God is true and cannot lie, and therefore if he says, “I will water it” we need no further guarantee that it will be done. “Has he said, and shall he not do it?” Has he ever broken the word which has once gone out of his mouth? Assuredly not. The Lord is mighty, and cannot therefore leave his promise unfulfilled from lack of power to make it good. He may safely say “I will,” because nothing is impossible with him. Man’s “I will” is often an empty boast, it is so never with the Lord of hosts. Our souls need supplies so great as to drain rivers of grace, but the all-sufficient God is able to meet the largest demands of the innumerable company of his people, and he will meet them to his own honour and glory for ever. Here, then, we see his truth, his power, and his all-sufficiency all pledged to provide for his chosen, and we may be sure that the guarantee will stand.
17. The immutability and omnipresence of God both reenforce the concept. The Lord has watered his people so far, and since he cannot change they may expect the same treatment from his hands. He will neither revoke his promise nor cease from fulfilling it. Moreover, he can be with his needy servants every moment, as his promise implies; for it will never be said of him, “Perhaps he is pursuing, or he is on a journey, or he sleeps and must be awakened.” While he is working in heaven and on earth, and in all deep places, yet his gracious hand can be busy among the tender plants of his grace, and that at all times, yes every moment.
18. If we needed further confirmation we might well remember that the Lord has already watered his vineyard in a far more costly manner than it will ever need again. The Lord Jesus has watered it with a sweat of blood, and can it be supposed that he will leave it now? Gethsemane accomplished for the church much beyond any future need which can possibly arise for her; he who did not spare his own blood will not withhold watering from those he has redeemed. Dear friend, you and I have already cost the Saviour so much that there is no fear of his parting with us, or losing his reward in us, by giving us over to barrenness. Jesus has already fulfilled on our behalf a weightier engagement than what is contained in the text. He said “I will redeem it,” and he has kept his word; and now if he declares “I will water it,” it would be gross unbelief to doubt his word.
19. So far the sacred promise has been fully kept, for we have been graciously preserved in spiritual life. Droughts have befallen us, and yet our soul has not been permitted to famish; why, then, should we question the goodness of the Lord concerning years to come? His delight is in us as much as ever, because Jesus, in whom he beholds us, is as fair and lovely as ever, and therefore we may expect the same kindness from the same loving heart. He has not only pledged himself to water his people, but again and again he has spoken to the same effect. Hear how Isaiah speaks by the Holy Spirit — “And the Lord shall guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and make your bones fat: and you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” Jeremiah also speaks to the same effect in Jer 31:12. Shall the Lord renege on his covenant? Shall we so much blaspheme his name as to suppose that he will be false to his engagements? Unbelief, hide your guilty head. Doubting one, be comforted; he who said, “I will water it every moment” must not be dishonoured by your guilty suspicions, for he will do even as he has said. It is true your heart is barren and dry by nature, but what has that to do with the promise of free grace so as to render it of no effect? Is not your parched and desolate condition rather to be viewed as a reason why the Lord should open the windows of heaven above you and pour out his blessing?
20. One thing is never to be forgotten — we are the Lord’s. Therefore, if he does not water us, he will himself be the loser. An owner of vineyards, if he should allow them to be parched with the drought, would derive nothing from his estate; the vineyard would be dried up, but he himself would receive no clusters. May it be spoken with reverence, our Lord himself will never see the travail of his soul in untended vines, nor in hearts unsanctified and unrenewed, nor in men whose graces droop and die for lack of divine refreshments. The Lord must carry the work through, or lose what he has accomplished, and that would not be consistent with the foresight of his wisdom, or the purpose of his heart. He chose us, he bought us, he delights in us, he put his very glory on the line concerning us, and we may therefore be sure beyond all doubt that he will water us to the end.
21. Does he water us every moment? Then let his praise continually be in our mouths. Does he care for us like this? Let us, then, watch for the advance of his cause, the extension of his kingdom, the good of his people. He who is watered like this should water others. If the Lord puts within us a well of living water through his divine watering, then let us give out to others rivers of living water. Yet do not let this be our first thought, but rather let us go away crying, “Lord, make my soul as a watered garden. Saturate my fleece, fill my vessel to the brim, and keep it full for ever. Fulfil this word for your servant, upon which you have caused me to hope, and water me every moment, even me.”
[a] Sirocco: An oppressively hot and blighting wind, blowing from the north coast of Africa over the Mediterranean and affecting parts of Southern Europe (where it is also moist and depressing). OED.