"The Lord gave the word; great was the company of those that published it. Kings of armies did flee apace; and she that tarried at home divided the spoil. Though ye have lien among the pots, yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold." (Psalm 68:11-13)
THE word the Lord gave in the literal sense was the promise to Abraham that his seed should inherit the land of Canaan. Gen. 12:7. This was handed down from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to whom the Lord renewed it, from time to time. I say it was handed down from them till the time of the promise drew nigh--and the Lord, having looked upon Israel's affliction, appears to Moses in the bush, and tells him he was come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them unto a good land and large, (Exo. 3:8) and gives him a commission to go to Pharaoh, and also to tell these things, and do the signs before the elders of Israel, which he did, and they believed, bowed their heads, and worshipped. (Exo. 4:31) And though Pharaoh's heart was hardened that God's judgments should be displayed and his name declared through all the earth (and here many obstacles arose to their great discouragement), yet He appeared faithful that had promised, and who brought them out with great substance. After he had brought them through the Red Sea, and destroyed their enemies, through their rebellion they were detained forty years in the wilderness, and Moses was not suffered to bring them into the promised land; but Joshua appears, as the Saviour's antitype, to bring the people in, who received his charge, and soon published it through all the hosts, and in three days they entered the promised land. The Lord had told Joshua that no man of his enemies should stand before him, and, as He was with Moses, he would be with him; that he would not "fail him nor forsake him." Jericho falls: some let appears at Ai; but, when sin was purged out, and God's judgments executed, he appears in their behalf, and Ai is taken; and the next words, "Kings of armies did flee apace," were soon fulfilled; for, after the Gibeonites had, by a wile, made a league with Joshua, five kings of the Amorites combine against Gibeon; they solicit Joshua's assistance, and in this combat Jehovah appears and fights for Israel; and, at Joshua's prayer, the sun stands still, and also the moon, while Joshua discomfits the hosts of these enemies; and the five kings fled to a cave at Makkedah--"Kings of armies did flee apace. And she that tarried at home divided the spoil." When they, at the command of God, went to avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites, they took a booty of six hundred and seventy-five thousand sheep, seventy-two thousand beeves, sixty-one thousand asses, thirty-two thousand persons, and except the Lord's tribute, and the Levite's share, the spoil was divided between the congregation and the men of war.
In Egypt they had served in hard bondage in bricks and mortar, and had been among the pots--"yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold." They had a command to borrow of the Egyptians, and they borrowed of them jewels of silver and jewels of gold, etc., and spoiled the Egyptians. This, and the spoils of their enemies, so altered their condition, that the contrast is drawn, between formerly lying among the pots, and now being as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold.
Spiritually, the word that the Lord gave was that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head, in our nature destroy the works of the devil, and by him, as our spiritual Joshua, bring many sons to glory. To Abraham this was renewed; "In thee and in thy seed shall all nations of the earth be blessed." To Isaac and to Jacob also was this word of promise made, and their seed looked for this promised Messiah. Even Balaam announced this Star that was to come out of Jacob; and this was published and kept alive till the days of David, when we have Him more plainly published: "the Lord gave the word, great was the company of those that published it." David for one. "When he bringeth in his first-begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him." Here he publishes his birth.
Again, in his ministry, he sees the kings and rulers of the people gathered together against him, opposing his doctrine, and setting him at nought. (Ps. 2) In Psalm 22, he sees and publishes his sufferings on the cross;--in Psalm 68, he publishes his resurrection: "thou hast ascended on high, and led captivity captive." Solomon, in Prov. 8, publishes him under the character of Wisdom. Isaiah publishes him as "Immanuel, God with us;" also "to us a child is born, to us a son is given." Jeremiah publishes him as "The Lord our righteousness, and that in his days Judah should be saved and Israel dwell safely." Ezekiel sees him in vision and publishes him in his glory. Daniel publishes him as the Messiah, to be cut off, to finish transgression, make an end of sin, and bring in everlasting righteousness; Hosea, as the plague of death and the destruction of the grave; and this goes on till Malachi publishes him as the Messenger of the covenant, and that he should suddenly come to his temple.
At his birth he was published by the angel to the shepherds, who, when he had delivered his message, was suddenly attended by a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God. Next appears John the Baptist, the harbinger or forerunner of this Incarnate Word, and when he was sent to, to know if he was the Messiah, he said he was no more than a voice crying in the wilderness, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord and make his paths straight." Next, the Saviour appears as the Word itself. John, seeing him walking, and knowing, according to the promise, what he was come to accomplish, says, "Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world." (John 1:29) The Lord gave the word; great was the company of those that publish it. Kings of armies did flee apace."--As soon as John had baptized Jesus, the Spirit of the Lord descended upon him, and he was led of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil; and here the Captain of our salvation began his conflicts with these kings of armies.
The devil is called the god of this world, the king of the bottomless pit, the prince of the power of the air, that rules in the hearts of the children of disobedience. He comes and says, "If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread," and that after he had hungered or fasted forty days; but here Satan met with a rebuff from the Captain of salvation. The next temptation was to show Him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and that, if he would worship him, all should be his. Satan leads an innumerable army, that herein obey his mandates. But what says the Saviour? "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." Here Satan could gain no ground. Satan then takes Him to a pinnacle of the temple, in order, if he could make him yield, to cast himself down, telling him it was written that, if he was the Son of God, the angels would bear him up in their hands, lest he should dash his foot against a stone: but here the Lord Jesus repelled him, saying, "It is written, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God:" and this infernal king of armies fled. Here He conquered the world, he conquered the devil, and this for his own, that his victory might deliver them out of the hands of their enemies.
Another sovereign is Sin: "As sin has reigned unto death, so might grace reign through righteousness to eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord." (Rom. 5:21) This he destroyed, by being made a sacrifice for sin: "He hath appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself." (Heb. 9:26) "He hath made an end of sin," and that which is made an end of cannot be said to reign; but now grace is upon the throne, and reigns for all the elect of God; and by it, and its glorious effects, shall the elect be saved, and made meet for eternal glory.
Another king is the king of terrors, Death; and this he abolished by his death and resurrection from the dead, and brought life and immortality to light: (1 Tim. 1:10) and, through death, "he destroyed him that had the power of death, and delivered them who through the fear of death were all their life-time subject to bondage." (Heb. 2:14,15) The life, death, and resurrection of Christ, which is preached by the gospel, when truly believed in, brings life and immortality in all its blessedness into the soul. It was not possible he could be holden of death. He is said to lay down his life and take it again. All these sovereigns flee before this king of kings.
"And she that tarried at home divided the spoil." In Isa. 63, you have it,--"Who is this that cometh from Edom," etc. "I have trodden the wine press alone; and of the people there was none with me." "I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine OWN arm brought salvation unto me." None but He could sustain God's wrath revealed against our sin; but he did sustain it, and brought salvation to us. He alone could conquer the devil; but he hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he. (Jer. 31:11) And though it is plain that such poor sinners as we are, never set one foot, nor lifted one hand in this war, yet "she that tarrieth at home divideth the spoil." For even his apostles themselves, after their conflicts in Gethsemane, when he was apprehended, all forsook him and fled, and Peter denied him. So that, as Hart says,--
"Whate'er he sought for, there was none,
Our Captain fought the field alone."
These he tells to wait for the fruits of his conquest, to tarry in Jerusalem till they were endued with power from on high. And when he had ascended and received the promise of the Father, on the day of Pentecost, he shed forth that promise which was at that time seen and heard; and to this day the same Spirit that descended on them descends on every sensible, self-despairing sinner's heart, and brings into it the blessed fruits of Christ's victory over these infernal kings, and the blessings which he procured by his obedience, his death, and resurrection, and also his intercession at God's right hand, where he appears and ever lives. When sin is pardoned, peace is felt; he is called the prince of peace, the wrath of God we are delivered from, and the dreadful fear of death eternal.
When the blood of Christ has cleansed the conscience from guilt, the dominion of sin is destroyed; it does not condemn as it used to do; and such are said to love much, and they that love the Lord hate evil; so that, in conscience and in life, the dominion is destroyed. When sin is removed by faith in the Saviour, such an one is said to pass from death unto life: now it is said, "The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law, but thanks be unto God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Cor. 15:56,57) When the dying love of Christ is felt, and God the Father's everlasting love enjoyed, the Holy Ghost having shed it abroad in the heart, the love of the world takes its flight. "Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth I desire beside thee." A glorious resurrection from the dead, and a crown of immortality and eternal life is the fruit of his victory. These, and all these, and many more blessings, are divided among God's elect, who never did any thing to procure them. And though they have, in their natural state, lien among the pots, and been as base as any, yet in the righteousness of Christ, and in the adorning of the Holy Ghost, and crowned with a crown of life, shall they shine forth in the kingdom of God their Father for ever and ever. "Ye shall be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold."