By Horatius Bonar
"Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him.'' -- Psalm 91:14
THIS is one of the psalms of Messiah; and Satan's quotation of the eleventh verse shews that it was accepted as such by the Jews, and by Jesus Himself. (Matthew 4:6.) Yet it is not (one verse excepted) spoken by but to Messiah. It contains the Father's proclamation to Him, and to men regarding Him; and still more, the Father's assurance to Him of fellowship and protection while dwelling in the land of strangers and enemies. It contains some of the words poured into his ear morning by morning, when he wakened his ear to hear as one that is taught (Isaiah 50:4). For as man he was counselled, comforted, strengthened, cheered, taught of God.
The first and second verses are the introduction or key to the whole. In the first the Father, as the Son is about to enter on his mission on earth, amid all the diseases, troubles, hatreds, strifes, conspiracies of this fallen state of danger and sorrow, proclaims, "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty;" i.e., he that "enters into the chambers" (Isaiah 26:20), or takes up his abode with God in his "pavilion" (Psalm 27:5), shall be under the protection of the Almighty. Or rather we may say that the Father pours these words of cheer into the ears of the Son, making known the secret, the one secret of the security of creaturehood. In the second verse the Son, in words of happy confidence, replies, "I will say of Jehovah, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in him will I trust." Then the Father, from the third to the fourteenth verse, pours into the filial ear words of blessed assurance. Deliverance, security, protection, victory over enemies and dangers, power over evil, angelic ministry,--these are the assurances given by the Father to the Son in entering on his awful work in this fallen world. "Be of good cheer, for I am with you, and there shall not an hair of your head perish," is the substance of the assurance thus so fully given. And if ever such assurance was needed it was then, when the three and thirty years' battle was to be fought with sin and hell.
Then at the fourteenth verse the Father proclaims to the whole world,--to men and angels,--the grand principle of His dealings with His Son; what He did for him, and why He did it, that we may know why and what he does for us. Deliverance and exaltation are the two special blessings promised; the reason of these is (1.) he set his love upon me;
(2.) he knew my name. Let us inquire, 1st, into the deliverance; 2nd, into the love.
I. The deliverance. Messiah was always in danger, and always crying for deliverance,--"Deliver me, O my God." How often that word was on His lips! See Psalms 22, and 40, and 69. Enemies surrounded Him, as Saul did David, and sought His life. Death took hold on Him. Our iniquities (he calls them mine!) took hold on him. The snares of hell took hold on Him. The grave took hold on Him. Innumerable evils compassed Him about. But when He was sinking in deep waters, God sent and drew Him out. When sore pressed on every side, God fought for Him, and put His enemies to flight. He, the poor and needy one, was delivered!
II. The reason for it. "Because he set his love on me." God would not suffer one who loved Him so much to be overpowered. Love like his must be honoured! Love like his must not go down before his enemies. God's desire is to be loved, for He is infinitely loveable! He never found one before that loved him as Christ did, and could do. For Christ loved him with a divine strength! Oh how gloriously was the commandment fulfilled in Christ, when he loved him with the whole of the divine strength, that infinite capacity for loving which belonged to him. God honours Christ's love by granting him continual deliverance. He loved, and he was delivered for his love! Learn,
(1.) That God wants to be loved. He desires the love of creaturehood. He made us to love him, and he cannot be satisfied without our love. Thou shalt love the Lord with all thy heart, is not merely a command, but a thing of earnest desire. God is not indifferent as to our love, nor heedless of our coldness. He asks love, and he feels the refusal of it. "Love me" is his message to us; "give me thy heart." He gave us his heart when he gave his Son, and now he asks ours in return.
(2.) He is infinitely worthy of it. He is the infinitely loveable and glorious one; just such a being as to command our entire affection, and fill our souls. The only question would seem to be, Are we permitted to love such a glorious being? for if so, then let us pour out the whole fullness of our hearts upon him. Who are we that we should be allowed to love him; nay, commanded; nay, punished for not loving?
(3.) He blesses and rewards them that love Him. The crown of life hereafter is to them that love him; and the present blessings of deliverance, support, defence, comfort, is to those that set their love on him. No good thing will he withhold from them that love and fear him. He is their light, their joy, their staff, their shield, their tower, their arm, their strength; he compasses them about with songs of deliverance.
Let us learn to love him. For what he is in himself; for what he has done, and has promised to do for us. Let us love him for his love and for his loveableness. We love him because he first loved us. He has set his love on us, let us set our love on him. God's love to us, and our love to him, Is not this the essence of true religion? What poor, empty, shrivelled things are these hearts of ours unless filled with the love of God? What a poor thing is life, if not consecrated, gladdened, brightened with this glorious love!