By Henry Mahan
The great, powerful, and glorious nation of Israel (that arose to such splendor and beauty in the days of David and Solomon) started with one lone man--Abram. And when God called him, he was an idolater in a heathen land (Joshua 24:2-3). Think of it--Abram, well up in years, no children and his wife past the age of child-bearing. From him came this mighty nation--from nothing to everything by the grace of God (Deut. 7:6-8) and by the power of God (Jer. 18:1-6). According to Verses 10-14, their beauty was perfect through his beauty, which he put upon them.
But our chief business is not with national Israel but to see what this scripture shows us about ourselves, spiritual Israel, and the Kingdom of our Lord. All that the Lord God did in Israel is a picture and type of his grace to us (spiritual Israel) in Christ.
For 'they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham' (Gal. 3:7). 'He is a Jew which is one inwardly' (Rom. 2:28-29).
1. What we were
vv. 3-5. I am told that among some of the pagan nations, there was a terrible custom of leaving unwanted, deformed infants in the fields to perish. You will find no better picture of our state at birth in Adam than the story of this infant.
We were born in sin of fallen parents (Psalm 51:5; 58:3). We did not come into the world as those who might stand or fall but as those who had already fallen.
Ours was a state of total depravity and total inability (Rom. 5:12). This newborn is helpless, hopeless, and without any power or ability to help itself. All he can do is cry until he perishes (Eph. 2:12).
No outside help is available (v. 5). 'None eye pitied thee.' The law must condemn, holiness is offended, truth is sworn to testify against us, and justice bares its sword to destroy.
This is a loathsome sight but a true picture of fallen sinners! As Isaiah said, 'From the sole of the foot even to the head there is no soundness, but wounds, and bruises and putrefying sores' (Isa. 1:6). If there is any help for such awful creatures as we are, it must come from our God (Rom. 3:10-26).
2. What God did
vv. 6-7. 'I passed by thee.' We did not seek him; he sought us! We did not choose him; he chose us! We did not come where he is; he came to us where we were! He was mindful of us and set his love upon us before the world began; and he entered into a covenant of mercy on our behalf with Jesus Christ, our surety (2 Thess. 2:13; Eph. 1:3-4; Heb. 13:20-21). He came where we were in the person of his Son (2 Cor. 5:19; Matt. 1:21- 23), took our nature, obeyed the law (Gal. 4:4-5), took our sins and shame upon himself, and redeemed us to God by his blood (1 Pet. 3:18).
'I saw thee polluted in thy blood.' He saw us as we really are, yet he loved us! Mercy is for the miserable, grace is for the guilty, and salvation is for real sinners (Matt. 9:10-13). 'But God commended his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us' (Rom. 5:6,8,10).
'I said unto thee, when thou wast in thy blood, live.' In the same way that our Lord stood before the grave of Lazarus (who stinketh) and called him forth to life, he quickens us (dead sinners) and makes us to live in him (Eph. 2:l; John 5:21). When our Lord quickens a sinner to life through his word (James 1:18), death gives way to life, darkness becomes light, inability gives way to strength, and our enemies flee away. The same power that raised Christ from the grave raised us (Eph. 1:19- 20).
3. What we are now
vv. 8-14. 'It was the time of love,' not our love for him but his love for us (1 John 4:10). 'We love him because he first loved us.'
'I covered thy nakedness.' He took away our reproach, our shame, and our guilt and made us righteous and holy in Christ (Jer. 23:5-6; 2 Cor. 5:21).
'I washed thee with water.' He cleansed us with water and blood.
'Let the water and the blood,
from thy wounded side which flowed,
be of sin the double cure (justify and sanctify),
save from wrath and make me pure.'
'I clothed thee, I decked (adorned) thee, I put a beautiful crown on your head; you became mine!' By his grace, through the merits of our Lord Jesus, he has brought us from death to eternal life, from the pit of corruption and sin to perfect righteousness in him (Jude 24-25). Salvation is of the Lord from the beginning to eternal glory.
Verse 14 declares, 'Your beauty is perfect through my comeliness, which I have put upon thee.' C. H. Spurgeon once said, 'The whole of the work whereby a lost sinner is lifted from the dunghill of sin, washed in the blood and made righteous, exalted to eternal life and glory is of the Lord and of him only.'