Scripture Notes.


Psalm 84:9-11.

"Shield" in these verses would seem to be used, in one aspect, in a twofold sense. The true Israel have, as the results of all their exercises in passing through the valley of Baca, at length in Zion appeared before God. Their first feeling, wrought in their hearts by the Spirit of God, is that of dependence: "O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer: give ear, O God of Jacob." Then it is, "Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of Thine Anointed." Behold, not ourselves, but the Christ, who is our shield; so that we regard "the face of Thine Anointed," not God Himself, as the shield. It is the believer presenting, and so hidden in, Christ before God; and this is the only true way of access, from Abel onward, whether for sinner or for saint. In verse 11, on the other hand, it is what the Lord God is - He is both a sun and shield; only it must be remembered that the Christ, God's Anointed, is the Jehovah of the Jews. (See Isaiah 6:5 with John 12:41; Isaiah 25:8-9.) It is only another proof that Christ is everything (Colossians 3:11, N. T.) and that, look where we will, it is His glory that irradiates every page, whether in the Old or New Testaments.


Luke 4:5-7.

As to the question whether Satan had really the power which he here claims, it is, like every other, answered by the word of God itself. The point in the temptation, we apprehend, was to induce the Lord, if that had been possible, to take the sovereignty of the kingdoms of the world from Satan's hand, instead of from God's, and apart from the cross. This wile was instantly defeated by the invincible sword of the Spirit, "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve." Passing onward to a later day, we shall find one who did receive his sovereignty from Satan. In Rev. 12:3 we have the vision of a great red dragon, who is declared in verse 9 to be "that old serpent, called the devil, and Satan," who has seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns (diadems) upon his head. In the next chapter (Rev. 13:1) we see a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns (diadems); and we read, in the following verse, that "the dragon gave him (the beast) his power, and his seat, and great authority." Without entering into details, as we hope to do in the exposition of the Apocalypse, we may say, that this beast represents the head of the revived Roman empire, and that he has all the forms of governmental power (for the number seven indicates completeness), and that ten kingdoms, the ten kingdoms of prophecy, as shown by the ten horns with their respective diadems, will form his dominion and own his sway. We learn then that Satan had at this period the sovereignty of the kingdoms of the world in his possession, and that he bestowed it upon one who worshipped him - as is evident from the second part of Revelation 13. But Christ, as we have seen, refused the gift from Satan's hands. He, the blessed, perfect, dependent One, would take nothing, whether the "cup" or the glory, but from the hands of His Father. And passing now still further on, we shall discover that it was only for a brief season that Satan was allowed to tempt man with his golden bait, and only for that brief season, in order to show out all the depths of man's evil heart before judgment fell both upon man and upon himself. God never surrenders His rights, or allows His purposes to be frustrated; and thus in Revelation 19 we behold heaven opened, and a white horse issuing forth; "and He that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns" (diadems). (Rev. 19:11-12.) At length the diadems are on the head of the rightful Sovereign, the One who has on His vesture, and on His thigh the name written, "KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS." Man is for ever discrowned, and Christ having waited in patience His Father's time, for the accomplishment of His glorious purposes, has at length all things put under His feet. On His head are MANY diadems; for the fulness of all dominion is His, and His by right. He who had been the humbled One is now the exalted One on earth, as well as in heaven.


Colossians 1:24.

In the consideration of this remarkable scripture, it should be noted that the word "afflictions" ("afflictions of Christ") is never found elsewhere in connection with our blessed Lord. But it is constantly used of the saints, and indicates the trials, persecutions, tribulations, etc., that come upon them from without in consequence of their confession of Christ, and of fidelity to Him in the midst of an evil world. The point is important, as conclusively showing that these afflictions of Christ are altogether apart from His sufferings on the cross, when making atonement. They are rather the sufferings He endured in His whole pathway of doing the will of God, but viewed here as encountered through His love to the Church. "He loved the Church, and gave Himself for it," and this entailed upon Him these afflictions which came upon Him through the instrumentality of man in the hands of Satan. The apostle Paul through grace was animated by the same love, however inferior the degree; and he could thus write, "I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory." (2 Tim. 2:10.) He laboured and suffered for the same object as his blessed Master. This gives at once the key to our scripture. He here says, "I rejoice in my sufferings for you," that is, for you Gentiles - sufferings which came upon him peculiarly in connection with his ministry of the truth of the one body, exciting as it did the deadly enmity of the Jews. Inasmuch, therefore, as the word of God was not "completed" until the truth of the Church was promulgated, Paul as its minister suffered in an especial manner for Christ's "body's sake, which is the Church," and could thus say, since he participated in them, that he filled up that which was behind of the afflictions of Christ. They were Christ's own afflictions, and Paul filled up, so to speak, their measure. In principle, if a servant now suffers in the same way, from the same motive, and for the same object, he would be sharing in, if not filling up, that which is behind of these afflictions of Christ. E. D.