The Oppressor and the Saviour.

1 Samuel 17:57; 1 Samuel 18:1-4; John 10:11.

There are evidently two parts in the gospel - one is the misery you are brought from, and the other is the position you are brought to. If you do not know the position you are brought to, you are not sure that you are brought from your lost estate. Many are truly converted, but they are thinking only of getting out of the debtor's prison. You might be set free and yet be poor and sorrowful though owing nothing. That is not the gospel. The gospel is, not only that you are cleared of all that is against you, but that you are brought into the most unspeakable blessing in the very place of your misery, not merely when you come to heaven. Many Christians are looking for earthly blessings. They have touched the first part of the gospel, but not the other part; they have not, through faith, had access into the favour of God that the believer in Christ is as Christ is; this his position - his Saviour is his portion. The One who saved you from misery is now your life and portion in the place of your former misery. I say all this by the way of preface.

Now let us look at these scriptures. All Israel were under an oppressor. If you go into the town and say to a man, "Are you clear of the oppressor?" "What oppressor?" "Death. Death is on every man." Now, if you are not clear of the man who has death on him, you are not clear of the oppressor. "By man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead." You want to be clear of the man where the oppressor is, and you want to be as the One who has removed the oppressor on the earth - on the very spot, on the battlefield, where the oppressor had been. Some say, "I cannot be sure till I get to heaven." Others can say, "I am sure my sins are gone." But have you found unspeakable resources in Christ here before you go to heaven? Oh, you say, if that were true, I should be. the happiest man on the earth - "Joy unspeakable and full of glory"; it is not earthly joy. Now here Israel were in this terrible position. David's father sent him to see how his brethren fared. The type is beautiful. What a sight presented itself to our blessed Lord! David was sent by his father. Our blessed Lord was sent by His Father. "God so loved the world, that He sent His Son." And what did He find? Every man oppressed by death. In the type David addresses himself to the fight, overcomes the Philistine - the oppressor - and cuts off his head with his own sword. He is then seen with the head of Goliath in his hand. He has done the work. I do not present Christ to you doing the work; I say the work is done. It is thus that Jonathan sees David - the head of Goliath in David's hand. "Himself hath done it."

Mark how Paul addresses the poor pagan Philippian jailer, in great distress of soul. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." Where is He? He is risen. It is as the Lord He was presented to this poor sin-stricken soul. The work is done. The oppressor is dead. Now is there any one in this room who does not know that the oppressor is gone? Would it not be a wonderful moment for you if you could say, "The oppressor is gone?" Christ entered unto death that "He might destroy him that had the power of death." The oppressor is gone. I fear there are a great many Christians who are not as happy as Jonathan was. Jonathan could say, "The oppressor is gone." "He (Christ) has abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light." Christ has overcome death as David had the head of Goliath in His hand. Saul represents the religious man, and as the religious man he asked him, "Whose son art thou?" He was grateful. I don't like gratitude merely; gratitude means, "I would do as much for you." Look at Jonathan, he loved David as his own soul. Now you see where he is, the oppressor is gone. Jonathan makes acquaintance with the true king of Israel, he did not know him fully, but he loved him as his own soul, and not that only, they made a covenant together - there was an understanding between them. That is what I call the confirmation or seal of conversion. It is a wonderful moment when there is a covenant between me and my Saviour, a conscious bond with Him, which is the sealing with the Holy Ghost. I see a man who has assurance of forgiveness, he is singing of the virtues of the work of Christ - that is his hymn. I watch him when he advances, I find he has changed his hymn, he is praising the Saviour. That man has made a good step, has he not? But I want to press on you that Jonathan made a covenant with David - he loved David. Love likes to make little of oneself in order to make much of its object. The woman in Luke 7 brought the fragrant ointment, which would have added importance to herself, and anointed the Lord with it. Here is the king's son, the heir-apparent to the throne, as we say, and see how he confesses his love. "And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle." (1 Samuel 18:4.) Jonathan treats David as the one entitled to be king; all this was done in the very spot where the oppressor had prevailed. Jonathan has found a friend. David is the delight of his heart, in the very spot where he had been oppressed by Goliath - a wonderful exchange.

I turn now to John 10:11. We find the Lord here stating, "I am the good Shepherd: the good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep." It is not merely caring for them, He gives His life for them. Now consider the work of the Son of God. He became a man, He saw the oppressed condition of man, and before He came He says, "A body hast Thou prepared me." Blessed be His name! How wonderful to know that the Son of God can look down upon the trouble and misery here and say, "I come to do Thy will." Hence the Lord says in John 4, "I have meat to eat that ye know not of … My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish His work." We can marvel to see this Shepherd, the Son of God, sent by His Father to see how His brethren fared, His heart moved to come down and assail this terrible giant. He is the antitype of David. God's Son become a man, born of a woman, that He might "redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons." He would sever us from that man on whom the judgment of God lay. Not only are sins to be atoned for, but death - the judgment - is on every one. If you never had committed a sin, if you were a babe, death - the judgment of God - is on you as a child of Adam. The Son becomes a man. He goes down unto death - the judgment of God. You see God in judgment in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, having borne the judgment on man, and having glorified God in dying, He has risen from the dead, He is "declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead." "In that He died He died unto sin once: but in that He liveth, He liveth unto God." "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."

Many believe on Christ as the sacrifice for their sins, but they are not consciously justified. They may have assurance that they will not be lost, but they do not enjoy acceptance with God. I ask you, Do you believe in Christ risen from among the dead? "If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins." It is with Him risen that you have to do. He has abolished death, and has brought life and incorruptibility to light by the gospel." It is a great moment when you see Him risen from the dead. I remember a company of military men where I was once asked to speak on the Lord's coming. One officer said, "I used to go down on my knees to pray to the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. One day a lady said to me, 'But He is not there.' This had a great effect upon me." Often the gospel preached does not go farther than Christ on the cross. You are not justified until you believe in Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. It is the rising which ensures justification - not merely the dying. The dying was for the offences; the resurrection is the receipt, and immensely more. Christ is become the firstfruits of them that slept. A man who has glorified God when bearing the judgment of death, has been raised from among the dead. I know when you believe this you will be greatly blessed; for we read, "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." He "was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification."

Now I come to verse 14, as to the nature of the intimacy which subsists between the believer and the Saviour. I believe it is unknown until you have made acquaintance with Christ risen from the dead. It is Christ risen who is the delight of the heart. Hence the apostle says, "That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection." Let me turn to a passage which will explain this intimacy. In chap. 9:35, "Jesus heard that they had cast him out" - the man who was blind - "and when He had found him He said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? He answered and said, Who is He, Lord, that I might believe on Him? And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen Him, and it is He that talketh with thee."

Now mark - I have tried first to show you that all the oppression has been cleared away; now I am presenting the source of full enjoyment - your position while on the earth. It is Christ Himself, and in the very place where the man once blind was. He has not only received sight, the darkness cleared away, but the light was so effectual that he is cast out of the synagogue, outside everything humanly religious. Such is the effect of light. First his neighbours bring him to the Pharisees - the religious men. The Pharisees said, He is not of God because he has broken the Sabbath day. Then the parents say, "He is of age, ask him." They feared the Jews. It is not transgression here as in chap. 8; in chap. 9 the light has come and has exposed the darkness in which the religious man was. Now the man who was blind is in the solitude of light. Would that many knew that experience, they would never forget it. You are outside of all that man reveres, in the solitude of light, but you will not long be lonely. Jesus heard that they had cast him out. Blessed be His name! He comes to him, and says, "Dost thou believe on the Son of God?" He gave him the light. The One who has perfected your salvation becomes the source of all joy to you in the very place where He has cleared away all the darkness; you now can count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus your Lord. How blessed the solitude of light would be to you if you knew the wonderful resources which are in the Lord Jesus Christ. Some complain of being lonely! I am sorry for you, because you ought not to be lonely. Never less alone than when alone. Note the Lord's answer to this man, "Thou hast both seen Him, and it is He that talketh with thee." The last time they met he didn't see Him, for he was blind. Now the Lord says, "Thou hast both seen Him, and it is He that talketh with thee." Surely there is no one with any heart for Christ who would not have enjoyed that interview. Nothing in this world could equal it, and that is the intimacy which is referred to in verses 14 and 15 of chap. 10. These two verses ought not to be divided. "I am the good Shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine, as the Father knoweth me, and I know the Father." The simple meaning of the passage (I daresay some of you may not have looked at it carefully) is that the same kind of intimacy subsists between the believer and Christ as between the Father and the Son. That is the meaning of the passage. It is far beyond Jonathan and David when they made a covenant; now we are brought into the most unparalleled intimacy with the One who has saved us. The good Shepherd not only gives His life for the sheep, but He is our life and the resource of our hearts. I hope there is no one in this room, even though he may not understand it, who will not admit that God's salvation is wonderful. You are not only freed from the oppressor, from the one upon whom the judgment of God lay, but the One who has accomplished your salvation is now and evermore in the deepest intimacy with you. I need not add more; but I ask each of you, Do you believe it? J. B. S.