2838. God’s Glory In Hiding Sin

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God’s Glory In Hiding Sin

No. 2838-49:313. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, July 15, 1877, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, July 5, 1903.

It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter. {Pr 25:2}

1. The translation of our text, if it had been more literal, would have run like this, “It is the glory of God to cover a matter, but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.” For the sake of variety in language, our translators sometimes gave two different interpretations to the same word; and though that makes the wording more smooth, it is generally a great mistake, and apt to mislead us. The word “conceal” is just the same word that we get in the passage, “Blessed is he … whose sin is covered.” So the text runs like this, — I will give it to you again so that I may further impress it on you, — “It is the glory of God to cover a matter, but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.”

2. First of all, I will give you the common interpretation which is given to these words, and the topic which is suggested to most minds by it, namely, that it is God’s glory to conceal much of the great truth which concerns himself and his dealings with the sons of men. “Clouds and darkness are all around him.” It is his glory that he is not seen, — his glory that he is concealed; while, as for kings, it is their honour “to search out a matter.” This is the general interpretation, which almost every expositor gives for this passage, but I am not able to entirely agree with it. However, I will speak on it for little while.

3. It is certain that such an explanation as this would have to be taken in a limited sense, for it cannot absolutely, and without qualification, be the glory of God to conceal a thing; for, if so, he might have concealed everything from us. It is evidently for his glory that some things should be revealed; or, otherwise, why has he revealed them? He might have dwelt for ever in that wondrous solitude in which we suppose he dwelt before he began the work of creation. We do not know what he was doing in that eternity of which it is difficult, if not impossible, for us to conceive of, — when there was no creation, when not a single star had begun to shine, nor an angel had flew through space on rapid wing. If it were God’s glory to be absolutely concealed, it seems to me that he would have remained alone in the thick darkness that surrounded him, for he would not have wanted to have a single creature to know his love, to experience his power, or to contemplate his wisdom. It is at once obvious that, if this is the true and correct interpretation, “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing,” it must be taken in a very limited sense. If it had been his glory to conceal everything, he would have continued to conceal it; but, as far as I can see, his revealed glory is his glory. The glory of God is not so much to conceal as to reveal himself to those whom he prepares to receive the revelation.

4. There are many things which it would not be for God’s glory to conceal. You could not say of everything, “It is the glory of God to conceal this.” Take, for example, his righteous law. Would it have been for his glory to have left our race utterly ignorant of it? I cannot conceive of such a thing. And then he has revealed his matchless redemption to us in many wonderful ways. Would he have taken all the pains that he has done to reveal himself, in Christ Jesus, if it had been for his glory to conceal himself in that respect? Would he tell us to go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature, if it could be for his glory to conceal that? No, it is high treason against the majesty of heaven for any man to obscure the blessed revelation of God in Christ Jesus. I am afraid that all of us, preachers of the Word, do that, in some measure, by reason of our infirmity; but God forbid that we should ever wilfully keep back a single ray of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ!

5. There are many great and glorious truths which do not require that God should conceal them. If we do not perceive them, probably it is because it is not necessary that they should be concealed, for their own inherent glory is their concealment. If I were to take, for example, the mysterious doctrine of the eternal filiation of the Lord Jesus Christ, or the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son, — these wonderful truths need not be concealed from us because they are, in themselves, such deep mysteries that, however clearly they may be revealed to us, it is not possible for us to understand them. Even the grand doctrine of the Trinity, which is so obvious in the Scriptures, — the Trinity in the Unity of the Godhead, — need not be concealed; as, indeed, it has not been, yet we cannot comprehend it. God need not seek out any method of concealment; for, if he were to unveil his face among us, the glory would be too bright to be beheld. Go and stand, oh mortal man, and gaze on the sun at midday! Can you do it? Would not your eyes be blinded by it? Yet, that sun is only one of the myriads of servants in the courts of God; then, what must the face of the King himself be? It is not necessary that he should veil it; his own glory is, surely, veil enough in itself. Our minds are finite, small, and limited. There were certain men, who called themselves “Encyclopaedists,” because they imagined that they knew everything; yet they knew nothing perfectly, and many of them broke down altogether in their attempt to learn even all that might be known by men; but, as for God himself, who can possibly comprehend him? The archangel, who stands nearest to his august presence, must veil his face with his wings, for even he is not able to gaze on the glory of that excessive light. It does not seem to me to be so great a truth that it is the glory of God to conceal as that his very glory conceals itself, not by being concealed, but by being so extremely unveiled. The glory itself blinds, for the finite mind of man is not able to gaze on it.

6. Yet the truth, which our English Version seeks to convey to us, may be accepted without hesitation if we regard it like this: if God has concealed anything, it is God’s glory to conceal it, and it is right that it should be hidden. If God has not told us any truth, it is for his glory not to tell it to us. Perhaps we have as much reason to bless the Lord for what is not in the Bible as for what is there; and what he has not revealed may be as much for our benefit, and, certainly, is as much for his glory, as what he has revealed. For example, if he does not tell us all about himself, and the mystery of his person, do we want to know it, Can we not believe in him, and love him all the better because we do not understand him? Surely, a God whom we could understand would be no God. We delight in being out of our depth, — in finding waters to swim in, — where understanding, with its little plumb-line, finds no bottom, but where love, with a restful spirit, finds perfect peace. Doubtless, there is a glory in the Lord not revealing himself, as far as the past or present is concerned.

7. As for the future, it is, no doubt, for the glory of God that he has not revealed to us all concerning the history of this world. It may be all in the Book of Daniel, and the Book of Revelation. Some friends think it is, and it may be; but this I venture to say, there is no man who understands it, and I do not think any men will understand it until the Word shall explain itself; and then, possibly, when history becomes the commentary on the prophecy, we shall wonder that we did not see it. Yet we cannot do so at present. It is to the glory of God, and to your own profiting, that you do not know what will happen to you tomorrow. You do not know what afflictions may await you, nor when you shall die; it is good for you that you do not know. If it had been for God’s glory that you should read your history from its first page to its last, and be able to foretell every event in your own life story, or in the history of the nations of the earth, God would have revealed it to you; but be content not to know what God does not tell you, and say, in your spirit, “Let it be so; for, in some things, it is the glory of God to conceal a thing.”

8. Still, I think that this is not the teaching of the text. I conceive that it has quite another meaning, which I will try to give you. You know that, in a proverb like this, with a “but” in the middle, there is what we call an antithesis, or an expression of opposites. The text does not run like this, “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to proclaim a thing.” That is not what is said here; it is quite a different sentence, which is not an antithesis at all. Then, again, the antithesis is not complete, “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter,” for it is not so much the business of kings to search out matters that refer to wisdom as it is the business of wise men to do so. If there are doctrines that are not known to us because God conceals them, it is the business of wise men to search them out, and not so much the business of kings to do so. Neither can we read the passage like this, “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing, but the honour of kings to make things plain,” because the third verse of the chapter does not agree with this rendering. Solomon did not think that it was to the honour of kings to make things plain. He was a believer in diplomacy, for he says, “The heaven for height, and the earth for depth, and the heart of kings is unsearchable.” He could not, therefore, have intended to convey that meaning.

9. Now let me give you what I think is the true meaning of the passage. What is the business of kings? Why are they set up above their fellow men, What is their honour? Why, it is the honour of kings to search out matters that concern the administration of justice, to bring prisoners before their bar, laying bare their crimes, and convicting them if they are guilty. It is the glory of God to cover a matter, that matter being sin; but it is the honour of kings to search that matter out, and bring the guilty one to justice. You know that we think less and less of our police if they are not able to apprehend criminals. It has sometimes happened that justice misses its mark. Perhaps there is an attempt made to get a certain important witness out of the way, or to bribe another, or to suppress some testimony that might be brought against the accused person. It is never to the honour of kings when that is done. When, for example, a murder has been committed, and the criminal cannot be found, it is not to the credit of the governing powers that it should be so; and though it must be so sometimes, for no human government can be perfect in its detective forces, yet it is not to the honour of “the powers that be.” It is to the honour of kings that they search matters out until they bring home the guilt to the proper individual. Nor is it for the honour of kings if they give their verdict and sentence at first sight according to prejudice. It is their honour to search out a matter, — to hear both sides of the case; The magistrate, who sits in the king’s name, is bound to enquire thoroughly into the matter brought before him, and at last to adjudicate as justice demands. This is sometimes very difficult, but it is to the honour of kings and their representatives when they attempt it.

10. Now, for God, such a thing as this is impossible. Nothing is concealed from him; the whole universe is only one great prison for those who offend against him, and he can find them at any time that he pleases, and he can execute his just sentence on them without a moment’s delay. He needs no witnesses, he need not summon this person or that, who has seen a certain deed done, for the transgression has been committed in his own sight. His glory is that he covers the matter; and since it is the glory of God to cover the matter, it is also the honour of kings to search the matter out, that matter, in each case, being the breach of law. I am persuaded that this is the meaning of the text. Even if it were not, it is a grand truth of Scripture, well worthy of our meditation.

11. So, we shall dwell on it like this. First, it is the glory of God to cover sin. Secondly, this is a great encouragement for penitent sinners; and, thirdly, it ought to be a great stimulus for saints.

12. I. First, IT IS THE GLORY OF GOD TO COVER SIN.

13. This is the expression which is commonly used in Scripture to describe the putting away of sin, and forgiving it. God covers the very thing which the magistrate searches out, — guilt, the breach of his law, the aggravations, the multiplied repetitions of sin, the base motives, the many excuses and deceits with which sin is sought to be extenuated, — all this God covers. Hear this, and be astonished, oh you sinners, God can cover all your sins; no matter how black they are, or how many, or how deep their dye, he can cover them all!

    This is his grand prerogative,
    And none can in this honour share.

But he can do it, glory be to his blessed name!

14. He can cover the sin which is known and confessed. He never covers the sin which is unconfessed. When a man will not acknowledge himself to be guilty, he stands convicted of his rebellious refusal to take his proper position before the Lord. But if you stand, oh sinner, and confess your guilt; if you say, oh rebel, “There is no doubt about the matter; I admit that I am guilty,” it is the glory of God that he can cover that sin which no one else can cover, and which your own conscience will not permit you to conceal! He can cover the transgression of that man whose mouth is stopped by the consciousness of his guilt. Oh glorious act of divine grace, that sin and transgression can be covered, — covered, though it is confessed and acknowledged, and covered because it is confessed and acknowledged!

15. The glory of this truth lies in the fact that God can do this justly through the work of Jesus. To cover up sin, — why, standing, as it does, alone, and without any qualification, — it might seem to be a dreadful thing for God to do; but he can do it righteously. Without the slightest violation of his law, — without endangering the stability of his kingdom, — he can forgive and cover up all kinds of sin and blasphemy so that it shall never be seen again. Do you ask me how this can be done? The answer lies in the great substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus Christ. God steps down from his eternal throne when man must be punished for his sin, and he says, “I will bear the punishment; lay it all on me.” And so that he might bear it, Jesus took on himself the form of a man, and lived among men; and at last, on the accursed tree he bore the guilt of man. It was an amazing payment which he made to his own law by being himself punished in the place of the offender. Now, beneath the whole heavens, there can be no one who can justly object to the covering of sin by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. That exceptional, that remarkable, that unique transaction of the Just suffering for the unjust, so that he might bring us to God, has enabled God to cover our sin, and to do it justly.

16. Further, he can do this without exacting any kind of compensation from the offender. Marvellous is this truth, — too marvellous for some to believe. The Roman Catholic Church teaches us that we must do penance if our sin is to be forgiven. There must be so many lashes for the bare back, or so long an abstention from food, besides purgatorial pains to be inflicted after death, and I do not know what else besides. Indeed, but this is the glory of God, — that he can cover all this sin now, on the spot, without any price being paid by the sinner, or any suffering being endured by him. He only has to come, and confess his sin, and accept the divine covering, namely, the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ, and all of it shall be covered once and for all.

17. It is the glory of God that he can do all this without any injury to the person who is forgiven. It sometimes happens that, if a man has offended you, and you forgive him again and again, he may become hardened in his sin by it; but the Lord’s sweet way of covering sin is one which always melts and changes the heart. Sin is never so heartily hated as when it is covered by the blood of Christ. No man ever thoroughly loathes sin until he has seen it put away in Christ; but when he has seen Jesus put it away by his own griefs and death, then he really hates the sin that made the Redeemer mourn, and nailed him to the tree. It is the glory of God that he can cover sin, in such a way as this, so as not to injure the offender whom he forgives.

18. And he can do it without causing any injury to the rest of mankind. There is no man who is any the worse because his fellow man is saved. The example of saved souls is never injurious. There are some, I know, who can twist the truth until they find in it an excuse for sin; but the truth that God is able to forgive the grossest sin, — indeed, more, that he has forgiven it in the case of many, and has pressed them to his bosom as his own dear children, — has done no injury, but much helpful service to the morals of mankind. Go wherever you wish, and read the story of the prodigal son, — on board ship among rough sailors, or away there in the barracks among wild soldiers, or go into the worst slums of London, and read to fallen women that amazing story of God’s pardoning love, and see if it will do them any harm. You know that it will not. On the contrary, it conveys to them a message of hope, which helps to lift them up from that black despair which is one of the strongest chains by which the devil can hold lost souls in captivity. I am not at all afraid of the effect of preaching that it is the glory of God to blot out sin, for he put his Son between himself and the sinner, as we sometimes sing, —

    Christ and then the sinner see,
    Look through Jesus’ wounds on me.

19. The greatest blessing of all, dear friends, is that, when God covers sin, he does it so effectively that it never appears any more. He declares that he casts it into the depths of the sea. He says that, as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove it from us. He even goes the length of saying, “The iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none.” As far as anything can be annihilated, that is what will happen to the Lord’s people. You know that the work of the Messiah was “to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness”; and that is the work of which he said, “It is finished.” Then it is finished, there is an end of it; that is the glorious way in which the Lord covers sin, and it is his particular glory that he is continually doing this. Kings may search out matters, and they ought to do so, or government will not be safe; but it is to the honour of God to forgive sin.

20. II. Now, secondly, to make a practical use of this doctrine, THIS SHOULD BE VERY GREAT ENCOURAGEMENT FOR THOSE WHO ARE SEEKING MERCY FROM GOD’S HANDS.

21. Beloved friend, do you wish to have your sin forgiven? Then, do not attempt to cover it yourself, for it is the glory of God to cover that matter, so do not try to rob him of his glory. If you could have covered your sin, there would have been no need for a Redeemer. Do not attempt to excuse or extenuate your guilt, but make a clean breast of it. You are a sinner; therefore, say that you are a sinner. In all your approaches to God, seeking mercy from his hands, come in your true colours. Do not even plead your own repentance, or your tears, or your feelings. Plead as David did, “For your name’s sake, oh Lord, pardon my iniquity: for it is great.” Call your sin great, as it really is. Never try to make it out to be little. You know that, if you were wounded on a battle-field, and a doctor came where you were, you would not say to him, “Oh, I have very little the matter with me!” Oh no! I warrant you that you would cry as loudly as you could, “Doctor, bind up my gaping wounds, lest I die.” You know that, in such a case; you would make the most of it, and you would act wisely in doing so; and it is never wise for a sinner to make himself out to be a little sinner. It is the glory of God to cover sin, so do not attempt to do it. I say again, lay it all bare before him, and ask him to cover it with the atoning sacrifice of his dear Son.

22. Now, poor sinner, I pray the Holy Spirit to enable you to give God glory, at this moment, by believing that he can cover sin. When the conscience is thoroughly awakened, it seems impossible that sin should ever be covered. The convicted sinner says, “My sin, my sin, I always see it; can it ever be hidden from the sight of God?” Can you not believe that God in Christ can cover your sin? Glorify God, oh son, glorify God, oh daughter, by believing that he can do so! Do not limit his mercy by thinking that he cannot pardon you, for he has forgiven so many that, assuredly, there is proof enough that he can pass by iniquity, transgression, and sin, and not remember the guilt of those who trust his Son. If you believe that, give glory to God now by believing that he is willing to pass by your sin. Every man is willing to do what honours himself, and it is inconceivable that God should be reluctant to do what glorifies himself. So, since it is for his glory to cover it, he must be willing to cover it; therefore, may the Holy Spirit help you now to believe that he can and will cover your sin! There is Christ on the cross; look to him with the eye of faith, and take him to be your own Saviour. Christ on the cross is nothing to you until you trust in him, but it glorifies Christ when a poor guilty sinner cries to him, “Purge me with hyssop.” You know what the use of the hyssop was. They took a bunch of it, and dipped it in the blood of the sacrifice, and those who were sprinkled with it were made ceremonially clean. David prayed, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow”; and that is the prayer for you to present. You believe that, if God were to wash another man in the blood of Jesus, he would become whiter than snow, but can you not believe it for yourself? May the blessed Spirit take away your unbelief, dear heart! Can you not believe that he can wash you, and make you whiter than snow? He will do it in a moment if you only trust him, rely on him, and receive his dear Son to be your salvation. This is the true covering of sin. Oh, how the Hebrews loved that word “covering.” Noah’s ark was plastered inside and out with pitch: that was its covering. So, everything under the Mosaic law had its covering; and God has a way of covering sin, and covering the sinner, too, inside and out, until all his sin is gone, and he who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ may know at once that his transgression is forgiven, his sin is covered.

23. “But,” someone asks, “am I to do nothing?” Nothing but believe in him who justifies the ungodly. If you do that, you will begin to do something soon afterwards, for you will love God for having pardoned you, and you will say, “I am not my own now, for I am bought with a price; and, therefore, I will live for his glory.” But, in order to get your sin forgiven, you have nothing to do except to —

    Cast thy deadly doing down,
       Down at Jesus’ feet;
    Stand in him, in him alone,
       Gloriously complete;

“for he who believes in him is not condemned.” “He who believes in him is justified from all things, from which he could not be justified by the law of Moses.” Oh, what an encouragement this ought to be to all sinners who are seeking the Saviour!

24. III. Now, lastly, THIS GRAND DOCTRINE OUGHT TO BE A GREAT STIMULUS FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD.

25. First, it should motivate you to glorify God in having covered your sin. Do not go and talk to everyone about what you used to be before conversion, as I have known some to do. They will almost glory in what they were. I have more than a little hesitation about what is sometimes said by converted burglars, and men of that kind. I am glad they are converted, but I wish they would not talk so much about what is covered. Let it be covered.

26. Still, never be reluctant to glorify God for having covered your sin. Speak of it with delicacy and modesty; but, if the grace of God has saved you, tell everyone about it, and do not let people imagine that God has done only a little thing for you. When he saved you, it was the grandest thing he could do for you. Do you not think so? Well, then, tell its story.

    Tell it unto sinners, tell,
    I am — I am — out of hell.

27. And what is more, I never shall go there; but shall see God’s face with acceptance in heaven. Tell this to sinners while you live; and when you get to heaven, make the streets of glory to ring with the news of the almighty grace that covered all your sin.

28. The next thing for you Christian people to do, now you know that God can cover sin, is to strive for the covering of the sins of your friends and neighbours by leading them to the Saviour. To see sin, should always be a tearful sight to you. As soon as you ever see it, breathe the prayer, “Lord, cover it.” Do you live where you can hardly lie in your bed at night without hearing sounds of ribaldry and blasphemy? Then, the moment you hear them, say, “Lord, cover that sin.” Do you see, in the streets, foul transgression that makes you blush? Never see it without saying, “Lord, cover that sin.” If we were in a right state of heart, this would be our habit, every sin that we noticed in ourselves or in others, — in our children, or our servants, or our neighbours, or that we read about in the newspapers, would make us pray, “Lord, cover that sin.” So, always be telling others about the covering of sin by Christ’s precious blood. Show them what a perfect covering it is. You know that the Lord, spoke, through Isaiah, of “a covering which is narrower than that a man can wrap himself in it.” But the atoning sacrifice of Christ is a covering which will cover all sin, and cover the sinner from head to foot; therefore, tell others about it with all your might.

29. And, once more, you who have proved the power of this covering, imitate the Lord in forgetting the sins of those who repent. If they ever offend you, let that atonement, which satisfied God for sin, also satisfy you, and say, “Though this man has offended me, I ask no atonement from him, because Christ’s atonement is for my soul the satisfaction for every sin against me as well as against God.” Never harbour any resentment for a single moment, beloved. “Just as Christ forgave you, so you do also.” Do you think that Christ’s blood and righteousness are not sufficient to cover those unkind words of your brother, or that ungenerous action of your son, or that slanderous speech of your neighbour? Go and put all offences against you where God has put all offences against him. It is a dreadful thing to hear a man talking about God having forgiven him ten thousand talents, and then to see him take his brother by the throat, saying, “Pay me what you owe me.” Our Lord Jesus Christ said, “If you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” This spirit of forgiveness would keep us always in a state of love, and this is exactly what the Lord Jesus desires. “It is the glory of God to cover a matter.” Then, you are to cover matters too. I know some people who always like to be poking into any filth there is. They keep a long stick, and stir it up, and they seem to be quite pleased with the sweet perfume. Leave it alone, brother; leave it alone. “Oh, but you do not know how they have offended me!” No, and I do not want to know; but I am quite sure that they have not offended you as much as you have offended God, and yet he has forgiven you. Then, forgive them. The less said, you know, in such matters, the sooner they are mended. Solomon wisely says, “Where no wood is, there the fire goes out.” Blessed are those who always act as firemen, throwing cold water on every spark of dissension or ill will that they see. It is the glory of God to cover it up, so also cover it up with the spirit of love, and the mantle of gentleness; and, above all, with the reflection that the precious blood of Christ, that made peace between you and God, has also made peace between you and all mankind. And now, for the love of Christ, if they strike you on the one cheek, you should turn the other also; if they will have your coat, for the love of Jesus let them have your coat also, sooner than to live in the spirit of perpetual contention and strife. May God enable you to act like this, for Christ’s sake! Amen.

Expositions By C. H. Spurgeon {Ex 25:10-22 Ps 32}

25:10, 11. And they shall make an ark of acacia wood: two cubits and a half shall be its length, and a cubit and a half its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height. And you shall overlay it with pure gold, you shall overlay it inside and out, and shall make on it a moulding of gold all around.

The ark of the covenant was the most sacred object in the tabernacle in the wilderness. It stood at the extreme end of the holy of holies. It was the place over which the bright shining light, called the Shekinah, which was the sign of the presence of God, shone out. The ark was, doubtless, typical of our Lord Jesus Christ. It was a sacred chest made to contain the law. Blessed are those who know the law in Christ. Outside of Christ, the law condemns. In Christ, it becomes a blessed guide for us. This ark was made of wood, perhaps to typify the human nature of our blessed Lord; but it was of unrotting wood, acacia, which resists the worm; and, truly, in him there was no corruption in life by way of sin, and no corruption sullied him in death when he slept for a while in the grave. Wood is a thing that grows out of the earth, even as Jesus sprang up like a root out of dry ground. But the ark must be made of the best kind of wood, — unrotting and untainted. Yet the ark, though made of wood, did not appear to be so, for it was completely overlaid with pure gold; so, everywhere, the deity, or, if you will, the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ could be seen. The ark was of acacia wood, yet it was an ark of gold; and he, who was truly man, was just as truly God, blessed be his holy name. All around the top of this ark there was a moulding of gold. How glorious is Christ, in his mediation, as covering the law, and preserving it within himself! He is King, glorious in holiness, and honoured in the midst of his people.

12-14. And you shall cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in its four corners; and two rings shall be in its one side, and two rings in its other side, and you shall make staves of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold. And you shall put the staves into the ring by the sides of the ark, so that the ark may be carried with them.

The rings were, of course, for the staves to pass through, and the staves were for the priests to carry the ark as it moved from place to place. It went with the children of Israel in all their journeys; and our Lord Jesus is always with us. He goes with us wherever we go, and stays with us wherever we reside. Though his glorified person is in heaven, yet his presence is not restricted to any one place, as he said to his disciples, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

15. The staves shall be in the rings of the ark: they shall not be taken from it.

So that it was always ready to be moved.

16. And you shall put into the ark the testimony which I shall give you.

That is to say, the two tables of stone were to be put into the ark of the covenant.

17. And you shall make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be its length, and a cubit and a half its breadth.

It exactly fitted on the top of the ark, and so completely covered whatever was put inside. It was of pure gold. This, perhaps, was the most important part of this very important article of the tabernacle furniture. It was the mercy seat, the cover that hid the law, the place where God promised to meet his people.

18-20. And you shall make two cherubims of gold, you shall make them of hammered work, in the two ends of the mercy seat. And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat you shall make the cherubims on its two ends, and the cherubims shall stretch out their wing on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look towards each other; the faces of the cherubims shall be towards the mercy seat.

They were part and parcel of the mercy seat; they were made of the same precious metal, and all formed one piece. They may represent the angels, who stand desiring to look into the mysteries of God, and they may also represent the Church, which is all of one piece with Christ, for ever one with him.

21, 22. And you shall put the mercy seat above on the ark; and in the ark you shall put the testimony that I shall give you. And I will meet you there, and I will commune with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are on the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel.

It was the meeting-place of God and men, where the law was covered with a solid plate of gold, so is Jesus the meeting-place between God and sinners, where the law is covered with his perfect righteousness.

Psalms 32:1. Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

That is a wonderful word, — almost the same in Hebrew as in English, — covered, hidden, concealed, put away, removed, dismissed for ever.

2. Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.

For, when sin is gone, men become honest before God. The fear of punishment makes them endeavour to evade the truth concerning sin; but, when they see sin pardoned, then they are honest before the Lord.

3. When I kept silence, my bones became old through my groaning all the day long.

I have heard that certain diseases, when they are suppressed, are all the more terrible and deadly; and, certainly, suppressed sin, or suppressed sorrow for sin, which has no vent by way of confession before God, is a dreadful thing. It seems to eat into the very bones: “My bones became old, — ” like a strong acid eating into the very pillars of our manhood.

4. For day and night your hand was heavy on me:

The mere touch of God’s finger would be enough to crush us; but when he comes to deal with us in conviction, and lays his heavy hand on us, it is indeed terrible. We are then like Gideon’s fleece when he squeezed all the moisture out of it.

4, 5. My moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin to you, and I not have hid my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”; and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah.

Being confessed, it was forgiven; being acknowledged, it was blotted out.

5. For this shall everyone who is godly pray to you in a time when you may be found:

If you, oh Lord, hear a sinner cry to you, then surely you will hear your saints when they cry to you even more and more! If seekers become finders, then others will become seekers, too.

6, 7. Surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come near to him. You are my hiding-place; you shall preserve me from trouble; you shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah.

What a blessed experience that is, — to be surrounded with songs, — to hear music on the right and music on the left, — singing behind me for mercy received, — singing before me for hopes yet to be fulfilled, — singing above me, the angels welcoming me when my time comes to go home to my Father’s house! “You shall surround me with songs of deliverance.”

Now the Lord speaks to his servant: —

8. I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you shall go: I will guide you with my eye.

“Therefore, keep your eye on me; notice every movement of my eye, and be ready and obedient, at the slightest sign, to do my will.”

9. Do not be as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near to you.

Do not be hard in the mouth; do not be stubborn, wilful, obstinate, rebellious.

10. Many sorrows shall be to the wicked:

They pursue pleasure as if it only belonged to them. They talk about “a short life and a merry one.” Poor things, how sadly mistaken they are! “Many sorrows shall be to the wicked.” They have a terrible inheritance, a dreadful endowment of suffering.

10, 11. But he who trusts in the LORD, mercy shall surround him. Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, you righteous: and shout for joy, —

Be demonstrative about it, make other people hear of it. Do not be ashamed to let your holy joy be known. Do not be so very proper and orderly as to mumble out your praises as some do: “Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, you righteous: and shout for joy, — ”

11. All you who are upright in heart.

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

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Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

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