"Although my house be not so with God; yet He hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure; for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although He make it not to grow." (2 Samuel 23:5)
LAST Wednesday evening I made some few remarks in regard to this verse, and this morning again spoke, as far as the Lord gave me some measure of understanding, of this profound, glorious mystery and covenant of grace as it is in Christ. It was made with Him, and in it He by covenant agreement stands as the Head of His elect, chosen in eternity by His Father and given to Him, and as their Mediator, Surety and Testator. The Lord Jesus Christ is all this and much more beside in the covenant of electing grace. The covenant of grace is the main bulwark of the gospel, so to speak, and is so essentially, in relation to the security and the salvation of the saints of God, so that if it were possible for any one condition of this covenant to be broken, we should all everlastingly perish and spend an eternity in perdition. But, bless His Name, it is ordered in all things and sure and can never be broken. It does not stand upon any conditions in man, but it is ordered in all things and sure. And there is so much glory, if it could but be perceived and entered into, in this blessed covenant, that if a minister had grace and understanding enough to preach about it for a whole year, it would be as fresh and as attractive on the last Sunday in December, as it would be on the first Sunday in January. Yes, there is an infinite fullness, a treasury of grace, a divine attraction, an everlasting strength in this covenant.
But I should like to proceed this evening if I am helped, to speak a little as to how this covenant is made with men. I know I mentioned it briefly last Wednesday evening, but I would just reaffirm a statement that I made then, and that is that this covenant can never be said to be made with man except in the way of a testament; not upon conditions, but as a covenant of free grace and as a covenant of promise. Now David personally had that covenant made with him, hence he could speak here affirmatively and confidently, and say, "Although my house be not so with God, yet hath He made with me"....A wonderful point that. "Yet hath He made with me." He believed that God had made a covenant with His Church, but he had a gracious assurance that he was embraced therein. "He hath made with me an everlasting covenant;" and although God made with him a covenant of royalty in relation to his seed and the kingdom of Israel, yet this covenant goes beyond all earthly things. It is not merely a covenant of royalty, it is a covenant of grace, an everlasting covenant. Now this covenant can be said to be made with men, that is, it is made with or on behalf of all the chosen seed. "I have made a covenant with My Chosen, I have sworn unto David My servant" (Ps. 89:3)...Now this covenant is made first with the Church of Christ, in view of their relation to Christ and union to Him; as it was made with Him their Head, so it is made with the body in Him, but with this difference, that Jesus stands an accountable Person, for all His children, and stands as their Surety, answering for all legal claims that may be brought to bear upon them. Yes. So that as He is our elder Brother born for adversity, the Head of the Church, His body, the covenant is made with His people in Him. Yes, and brings this blessed truth to light, that all the blessings which Christ procured as the Testator of this covenant for His people are theirs. Therefore we may say that he "hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ." (Eph. 1:3) In view of this then, we can say, "All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas...all are yours; and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's." (1 Cor. 3:21-23) Believers are joint heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, and this not independently, but by virtue of the indissoluble union in which the Church stands in Christ. Therefore what He is, He is for His people, and all that He possess as heir of the blessings of this covenant, is theirs. You will receive what the Lord gives you; every place that you put your foot upon is yours, but all the blessings are for the comfort and salvation of the Church. Therefore the covenant is made with them, but it is made in this sense, it is made with them in the gracious application of those blessings which are procured for the Church by Christ's death, it is made with them in that way, with every living vessel of mercy.
Now then, when the Holy Ghost is pleased, when He condescends to apply to you, to convey to your soul any divine blessing, when He may be pleased to seal home upon your conscience a sense of His love, He makes a covenant with you. In every word that He speaks to His people savingly, in that word He makes a covenant with them. "I have made a covenant with My chosen." Hence, in that chapter which I read in Isaiah, there is the invitation, "Incline your ear, and come unto Me, hear and your soul shall live, and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David." (Isa. 55:3) We may perhaps be wrongly impressed in our minds in regard to some things; but this stands sure, when the Lord does really come and shed His love abroad in a poor sinner's heart, He makes heaven secure to that sinner, and binds Himself by His Word, which cannot be broken, to take him there. In that sense He makes with him a everlasting covenant. He makes it with him by applying the blessings of it to his soul, makes it with him by sprinkling His own blood upon his conscience, makes it with him by sealing his conscience with regard to his interest in His love. In the sealing of the Spirit, in the witness of the Spirit, in the sprinkling of the blood, a covenant is made with His people. And He makes a covenant or testament with them in a gracious promise. If the Lord promises to take you to heaven, you will be there when His time comes, as sure as He gives you the promise. You have never known Him to break one yet. Yes, it is ordered in all things. Now when the Lord draws near to a poor, self-condemned sinner, and seals pardon home to his conscience, when He says, I have loved you, you are My child, He makes a covenant. He makes a covenant with that sinner, and He will never change His mind, never say, Oh! I wish I had never had anything to do with such an one: He loves their persons though He hates their sins, and may chasten them for them, yet His love remains as warm as it was in eternity when the covenant was made, and knows no change. Hence, He is Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.
It is a great thing, is it not, to have a covenant made with us? How condescending it is on the part of God to draw near to a poor sinner and make a covenant with him. Has the Lord ever come to some of us in trouble, in affliction, in a time of sorrow and distress, and shed abroad a touch of His love in our hearts, spoken a kind promise to us, a promise which has enabled us to be still, a promise which has enabled us at that time to cast our burden upon Him; has He ever done that? If so, He has made a covenant with you, has made a covenant to you in this, that whatever promise He may have given, He will fulfill to the very last shred. Yet hath He made with me an everlasting covenant, and this covenant is ordered in all things. Not some things made quite sure about and some other things precarious, some things left to chance. No, it is ordered in all things; every condition of that covenant is made positively sure. It is ordered in all things then, for the glory of the eternal Trinity; the glory of God is in that covenant that He has made with Christ, and His Church in Him--His glory. And the glory of God is revealed in what that covenant implies and means in the coming forth in the fullness of time of the Lord Jesus Christ, and of His glory as revealed in all the covenant transactions which were necessary in order to fulfill its obligations. The glory of God is in its formation; the glory of God is in the terms embodied in it; and the glory of God will be in the final issue, the glory of the Trinity; the glory of the Father in choosing, the glory of the Son in dying, and the glory of the Spirit in applying. But it is ordered in all things, it is ordered in all things for the sure and certain salvation of the whole Church of God; it is ordered in all things in that. There can be no point overlooked; nothing can be left undone; everything must be carried out to the last detail. This was so in the case of the Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, all that justice required of Him in a way of obedience and punishment was answered; this was accomplished by Him as the Surety of His Church and people. It was ordered in all things as to the time when it should be, yes, ordered in all things, everything timed, timed in eternity. Yes, His going forth is prepared as the morning; yes, everything is timed in this covenant. Therefore when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son made of a woman, His birth was timed, His death was timed, and all between; and everything that you receive is timed, all timed in the covenant ordered in all things.
Yes, and it is ordered in all things with regard to the certain provision of every needful blessing to the Church in this time state. Has the Lord failed you yet? Has He not brought you hitherto, perhaps to the surprise of yourself? Have you not to speak well of Him? Has He not come to you when you have needed Him? Has He left you in times of affliction and sorrow? No! You have to say, He has been a good God to me; I have treated Him basely, but He has supplied my need. He has come to me and blessed me, I believe many times. Some of you can say that. So, you see it is ordered in all things; everything concerning the Church was ordered of God and appointed of Him. Every trial that you must have and I must have, all the changing vicissitudes in this time state, were all ordered by Him, and all ordered well; all the deliverances, those times when He should come and make that covenant with you, everything ordered as to time. This comes into our life's history, into every circumstance of life in this changing scene, there it is ordered in all things and sure. It is ordered in all things and sure, sure in relation to its foundation. "Nevertheless, the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His." (2 Tim. 2:19) It is a great thing to have a sure foundation for a building, and the foundation of the Church was laid in covenant, and laid sure. God laid His own Son in covenant, to be the foundation of the Church, upon which it should be built. "I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, an sure foundation." (Isa. 28:16) It will stand all right; it will stand all the floods and storms of time; nothing can sweep the foundation away, neither could it sweep away a brick placed upon it either. The whole superstructure stands as firm as the foundation. And this shall be in the last day, when the topstone shall be brought forth "with shoutings, crying Grace, grace unto it." (Zech. 4:7) It is ordered in all things and sure also in regard to its plan, eternally designed of God, and a plan which was foreseen by Him in all its accuracy. When an architect makes a plan for a building, he can see the building in his mind's eye, as though it were already built; he has the plan of it, the design, in his mind, and he can draw the plan accurately, as though the building were completed. So it is in this covenant. It is sure in regard to its plan, perfectly accurate, every one enrolled in it known to Him, and no possibility of one being lost. It is said in regard to the Church, that though she might be "tossed with tempest and not comforted," yet the promise is, "I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones." (Isa. 54:11,12) So that it is all sure and according to plan, and it is just as sure in its promises. The Lord never makes a promise that He cannot fulfill. No, the promise in His own mind is already fulfilled, for with Him there is no time, He knows the end of a thing from the beginning; it is ordered in all things and sure. Therefore, I should believe that here, for a tried saint of God, there is some ground of consolation. If, we're beset with sin, and beclouded, as we sometimes are, with unbelief, oppressed by temptations, and distress, we can cast our eyes this way and behold the covenant of electing grace, see that covenant standing firm and sure in Christ, there is strength here. Yes, it remains the same, it does not depend upon our frames and our feelings, does it? When we have a good frame, as we speak, when the Lord is near to us, I would say, and we have some sweetness in our souls in meditating upon heavenly things, we can take a delight in this, in meditating upon those divine realities, and have some hope in our souls that we have an interest in them; but at other times everything seems so beclouded, things seem so dark. They are all covered, not lost, you know, but they are covered over, you cannot see them, they are hidden, and we question whether we know anything at all, but still that doesn't alter the covenant. No!
"Though with no sweet enjoyments blest,
This covenant stands the same."
It doesn't rest upon anything in us, no not even the best experience it is possible for a creature to have, it doesn't rest upon that. At the same time, it is a very great mercy to possess an experience. It is a great mercy to have in our souls any real hope that God has made a covenant with us. It is a great thing really to be brought down to know that we are lost, guilty, ruined creatures, and to be brought to the footstool of divine mercy, and to have the way of salvation opened, and opened for us, to feel the healing balm of Jesus' blood upon our conscience; a very great mercy. The covenant is made with us then, but it does not stand upon that as a foundation. No! it stands upon Christ. He is the foundation of that covenant, therefore it is ordered in all things and sure. It is in the hands of a competent person, one who, having undertaken to answer all obligations on behalf of His people, will honor those obligations.
"For this is all my salvation and all my desire." We might imagine the Psalmist here, favored with a very special view of this blessed covenant being made with him, and seeing everything provided there for him, making his heaven secure; therefore he could say, "This is all my salvation." And so it is, for there is no salvation apart from it, there is no salvation apart from this covenant; salvation is in it; it is all the salvation of a sinner; all his salvation hangs upon it, all rests upon it. "This is all my salvation." Now if the Lord is pleased to bring this point home to us, and to open upon the beauty of it to us, we can say the same as David here, we can say, "This is all my salvation." What does that covenant mean? It means that Jesus Christ came to die for sinners, it is really a covenant of free grace, a covenant wherein and whereby saving blessings flow to lost sinners. And when a poor creature is brought by the Holy Spirit by faith to Calvary, and can see there to his soul's peace and joy, Jesus bleeding for him, Jesus dying according to covenant agreement, he can say, "This is all my salvation." It is all in a precious Christ, all embraced in that wonderful work that He accomplished on Calvary's tree, all my salvation. And it means this, it means that all the blessings of salvation are in that covenant. There is no saving blessing for a poor sinner outside the covenant of free grace, not one.
"Out of Christ, Almighty power,
Can do nothing but devour."
But in this covenant all blessings which are essential for the salvation of the Church are firm and sure, it is ordered in all things and sure, and this is all our salvation. It is all our redemption; by it the Church was purchased, bought, brought back, delivered, and secured, and entitled to everlasting bliss and glory. "All my salvation." Every blessing of salvation is in it. Is it the forgiveness of sins? Here it is. Is it the justification of our persons? Here it is. Is it eternal life? The promise of it is here, for it is the covenant of life, the covenant of peace, the covenant of promise, it is all this. It is a full salvation, because a full Christ is in it. A full salvation. The Lord doesn't do things by halves, no, His salvation is a salvation worthy of God. Yes, a perfect salvation, an eternal redemption.
"And all my desire." What is your desire? If you live before God, your desire will be this, to read your name there: your desire will be to know that your name is enrolled in that covenant ordered in all things. Some of us can say, can we not?
"When I can read my title clear,
To mansions in the skies,
I will bid farewell to every fear,
And wipe my weeping eyes?"
This is all our desire, to know our interest in a precious Christ, to know that those blessings that are treasured up in Him are ours. It is our desire to receive them, to have an application of them to our souls, this is all our desire. Could you rise to a point in experience and say, This is all my desire? Does it come before and above all earthly things? Is it more to you that all time things? Should we presume, some of us here, if we were to say, in so far as we hope we know ourselves, and the value of an immortal soul,
"I could from all things parted be,
But never, never, Lord, from Thee."
This is all my desire to know that I am bound up in the bundle of life with the Lord my God. Nothing compares with this, nothing stands upon the same footing, many things have their importance, but this is paramount; this rises above all other things, everything is subordinate to this. "This is all my desire." Some things we can afford to leave, we shall have to leave everything very soon; but this is something everlasting, abiding, it is all my desire. Could we say that, it is our one desire to have Christ revealed in us as having fulfilled all the terms of that covenant for us, as having made our salvation sure in that covenant? It is so with some people; I believe it is with some here, I hope and believe sometimes it is with me, it is all my desire. And, you know, when we come to die, nothing will avail us but this, having a covenant made with us; it will be the one thing needful then, and if we are alive in our souls, it will be our one desire to know that we stand right for eternity. How unspeakably awful it will be to die a lost creature, to be irrevocably and eternally lost; how ineffably awful! But here is a covenant made, firm, sure, and abiding, and every condition honored, and it will be our mercy to be found in it.
"Although He make it not to grow." The covenant itself can never grow, the covenant was made a complete covenant. As far as it is in God, in the Trinity, it can never expand, never be more than it is, because it is complete. There is no imperfection in this covenant, but it may expand in us. It may grow in respect of our understanding of it, and our interest in it, and our standing upon the foundation of it. It would seem here, that in a literal sense, David did not see that grow with regard to his family, and his temporal kingdom; but a poor saint of God may have to say at times, It doesn't seem to grow in me. I do not seem to grow in regard to my knowledge of it, or my interest in it, yet it is all my desire, although He make it not to grow. And there may be sometimes a suspension of its blessing in the case of a child of God, a withholding, so that one may say, I do not seem to make any advance in anything; I seem to be losing ground, going backward. Yet the covenant is firm, although He make it not to grow. At the same time there are seasons when it expands in the soul, when there is a sweet opening up of it by the Holy Spirit; then it expands in us, not in God. This covenant then, is a covenant that can never break. "Although my house be not so with God, yet He hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure, for this is all my salvation and all my desire, although He make it not to grow."