As Psalm 15 gives the character of those who will have their portion with Christ in His kingdom, when God sets Him as King in Zion, so in Psalm 16 Christ Himself seems to say, I have come down from that place God Himself had assigned Me, and taken My place in the pathway of faith - the very same that you are in - the place of rejection, of sorrow, of suffering, the place that the godly remnant find themselves in. Therefore is His cry to God. He used not His own divine power to escape any suffering; and, remember, it was not suffering for sin, not chastening, but the path of faith - as He says, "Thou wilt shew me the path of life." Therefore had He His ear opened morning by morning. He fully entered into the sorrows of the wilderness. There is not a sorrow comes upon a saint, not a trial of faith in which we can find ourselves, but Christ can fully sympathise with us in it. If we only set our foot in the narrow way (it is with the new nature He sympathises), then we find this blessed One has been before us' It is astonishing how much we are sustained by circumstances, how we lean upon the circumstances that the Lord never had in His path. Much of our joy is derived from a thousand things that Christ never had joy in, and that gave Him not a moment's sustainment. We may find ourselves losing, or in danger of losing, not a few things by faithfulness. What then? We shall only be brought nearer to the Lord Himself. If the path becomes rougher than ever it was before, surely we shall find only the more of the sympathy of Him who has trodden it in all its roughness. Therefore can He be called "the Author and Finisher of faith," because He has run the whole course of faith. He has suffered every kind of suffering and trial that besets the path. We may each one of us have this or that peculiar trial or sorrow. Ours is but a taste of that which He drank to the dregs - like a shade of that which in its real depth of grief He knew. The contradiction of sinners beset Him on every side.
We may know somewhat of it in any little measure of faithfulness we shew. We may be called to give up father and mother, or, as the Lord says, to "hate father and mother," etc. But what had He to comfort Him from any such sources? Everything like a prop here was gone, yet could He say in the face of all that, "The lines are fallen to me in pleasant places, yea, I have a goodly heritage. Thou wilt shew me the path of life." Suppose death comes, Jesus could say, "My flesh also shall rest in hope." Hezekiah knew and said in his trial, By all these things men live, and in all these things is the life of the spirit.
67 There is chastening, and the like, needed by us; but Christ never sought to do anything but to please God. His sufferings therefore proceeded only from His walking in the path of life. All that could try faith came upon Him, while He was without anything which we have so fully that could sustain nature. Still we find Him in death trusting in God. "Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither," etc. The path of life was perfectly opened out to us in Christ. There is a deep joy in entering in spirit into Christ's paths. The remnant enter into it in Psalm 20. The thorough realising of what Christ was as a man down here. There is nothing lays hold on the heart, nothing feeds it, like that. Every sorrow that the heart of any can go through, as walking in the path of righteousness, Jesus knew in His path. This renders His sympathy so peculiarly sweet. Any exaggeration would be dangerous on this subject, thus taking away our portion. It is true fellowship with Christ's sufferings that gives the energy of hope. This is drawn out by the glory being unfolded to us by His sufferings. I am more and more struck in reading the Psalms thus as connected with the Jews.
When I look at the church, I can only say it is nothing but sovereign grace that picks up wretched sinners and links them with Jesus, giving them the same place, the same portion, "heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ." I can only gaze with wonder and adore. It was the counsel of God from everlasting - His sovereign grace. I cannot then talk of God's government or His dealings with us, since no principles of government could make us members of Christ's body, etc. It was all sovereign grace. The church is the fulness, the body, of Christ. Once lay hold of that, and what is the consequence? It draws out wonder, admiration, worship.
But that is not all; there is another thing for us. What mercy to know that my salvation is secure! But now as set free from anxiety about myself I am to be occupied with Him by whom all this wondrous work was wrought. I find there is not a sorrow or difficulty in the pathway of life which He is not interested in. This is other knowledge than the knowledge of salvation. It draws out trust and confidence and love, as Job says, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him." We find Christ Himself going through it all - not suffering for sin indeed, but for righteousness. Only on the cross did He know what it was to suffer for sin - our sins. There indeed He knew the forsaking of God. If I suffer as a saint, I find the full sympathy of Jesus. If for sin, the Lord has no sympathy with sin, though He Himself needed to suffer for us, and thus to become known to us not as the Bread that came down from heaven only, but giving His flesh for the life of the world (John 6). Do you thus feed upon Him? Do you know Him as thus made the food for your souls, that which turns into the substance of life? Then feed on Him. This is what the knowledge of Him leads to. It is another thing from the energy of hope. The effect of being occupied with the glory, where Christ now is, is to enable us to overcome the difficulties that obstruct our way and to reach forward.
68 Occupation with His walk as a man shews us the path of godliness. We see Him taking it in His baptism. When those whose eyes were opened to see the principles of the kingdom (conscious that they were bearing anything but the good fruit) took the place of confession, Jesus was there. The One who had so fully taken the place as man as to say to God, "Thou art my Lord," says also of the saints, "In them is all my delight." We find this in Hebrews 2 - "He is not ashamed to call them brethren, for both he that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified are all of one."
"Being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself," etc. His state was not having a will to do something or other that must be stopped; no, He could say, "Lo, I come to do thy will." Such is christian obedience, and true liberty, not to require checking in our wills, but to have the same kind of obedience as Christ's. He stands alone in Ills sufferings in our stead. Nothing equals the glory that He will have as the Saviour of sinners. Other glory we share with Him, but in that He is alone. In His walk He sets us an example. In His trust in God, etc., He never takes a single step to get the reward of obedience, but asks of His Father, as - in John 17, "Father, glorify thy Son," etc.; and here, in the simplest confidence, "Thou wilt not leave my soul," etc. Patience with Him had its perfect work. He never stirs even when they told Him, "he whom thou lovest is sick." He waited patiently till the right time; and now His desire for His people is that they might have His joy fulfilled in themselves - that joy which He knew when He said, "My meat is to do the will," etc. He trod the path of sorrow and rejection here, but He had joy in that very path, as He says, "The lines are fallen to me in pleasant places."
69 In Psalm 22 we get the cry of the Lord at the cross. No suffering for sin till then, but the great principle of the communion of Christ with the sorrows of the new nature in the saints was true before then.
In the measure in which we enter into the path, we get communion with Christ. The affections of Christ more known to us, we become better acquainted, as it were, with the heart of Christ. This is not a question of safety, but of growing up unto Him. The heavens were opened over Him when He took the place publicly of identifying Himself with those who were in reality the godly. When we get into that place, the Spirit of God can lead us into the understanding of these things - taking of the things of Christ, and shewing them unto us. But if one say, I am not there, cannot we delight in tracing Christ in it? Even if we are not walking in the place as we should be, it is most blessed to trace His walk in it. It is our privilege to walk in it, our highest privilege here; and so only shall we be fully able to enjoy our proper portion, Christ, as led and taught of the Spirit.