Gratitude for Spiritual Deliverance
William Nicholson, 1862
"In that day you will say: I will praise you, O LORD. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation." Isaiah 12:1-2
The preceding chapter and this, refer to the Gospel era; to the coming of Christ, the great Deliverer and Ransomer of the souls of men. It is implied that myriads should avail themselves of his salvation, and the text contains the song of triumph which they would sing. And this prophecy has been fulfilled. Millions of souls have received Christ and realized the power of his blood. Praise, vocal and practical, devotedness to God, have been the necessary effect. The feelings of all true Christians harmonize with this language, and their tongues can articulate this praise, "I will praise you, O LORD."
I. The text expresses the State of Man Without a Saving Interest in Christ.
1. He is the subject of God's righteous displeasure. "You were angry with me!" This is better translated, "You have been angry with me." God is said to be "angry with the wicked every day." Psalm 7:11; 76:7. Wrath, when describing the Divine Being, does not signify anything like an evil passion, as it commonly does among men. Such terms are employed to express his righteous displeasure against sin. He hates it with a perfect hatred. It is an abominable thing in his sight. The wrath of God, anger of God, fury of God, etc., cannot be otherwise expressed in human language, than by an appeal to our own passions, and thus condescending to our weakness and ignorance.
The wrath of God has fallen upon nations and individuals, as the Scriptures declare. "The wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men." Romans 1:18. We may crouch before men; we may tremble at their power, and be terrified by their wrath; but "Who knows the power of Your anger!" Psalm 90:7.
God hates sin! For a proof of it, look back to the manner in which he promulgated his law; the earthquake, thunder, lightning, darkness, and fire; the mountain shaking, the people trembling, Moses himself affrighted. And if this was the case in giving the law — then what must it be when the transgressors of it shall be punished? God hates sin!
For a proof of it, look to Gethsemane — look to Calvary. Behold God angry with Christ, the Substitute of man! Behold that . . .
unparalleled agony of His soul,
winepress of wrath, how it crushes Him,
that baptism of blood, how overwhelming,
those arrows of divine wrath, how piercing,
that flaming sword of justice, how it smites Him,
that curse of wrath, how it puts Him to an accursed death! "Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who is close to me! Strike the shepherd!" Zechariah 13:7
Why was the Divine Being angry with his people in their unregenerate state? Because,
(1.) They were depraved. This is the state of all. The heart is corrupt — an impure fountain, from which emanate the most filthy and deadly streams of action. "The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked!" Jeremiah 17:9.
The "conscience is defiled,"
the understanding is darkened,
the judgment is perverted;
the whole soul is alienated from God, and opposed to his righteous will. Can God, who is infinitely pure, love such a being? No!
Once I was such, says the Christian, and he was "angry with me."
(2.) They were transgressors of the law, and therefore under its curse. Galatians 3:10. That law was, "holy, just, and good". "Tribulation and anguish," etc. Romans 2:9; 3:19. "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law." Galatians 3:10. God was angry with them.
Then may the Christian say, "I was a victim of Divine fury; then I had no peace, no hope, God was against me," etc.
2. Their state was, of necessity, one of misery. The state of every sinner is so. The commission of sin can yield no lasting satisfaction. "There is no peace, says my God, to the wicked." The abject state of a sinner is described, Ephesians 2:1-3, 11-13; 4:19. etc.
"You comfort me," implies that in a state of alienation from God there was no comfort, but a "fearful looking for of judgment," etc. It is awful to live in the presence of the holy, omnipotent God who is constantly incensed against us! What though a sinner may be loaded with wealth, clothed with purple, crowned with honor, fare sumptuously every day, etc., he has . . .
no true hope.
II. The text is expressive of their Deliverance."Your anger is turned away." This is effected,
1. By the Mediation of Christ. The divine anger against me, fell upon him! "He came into this world to save sinners, of whom I am chief." "He loved me, and gave himself for me." "Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all." Isaiah 53:4-6. See Galatians 3:13; Colossians 1:14, 20, 21.
2. It is experienced in the act of pardon and justification. Romans 5:1; 8:1, 33, 34. "Your anger is turned away!" Christ has answered for me. He is my surety. Through him, your smile, O God, is as kind and delighted, as that which you gave to Adam in his primeval glory; as kind and enrapturing as that which you give to angels who have kept their first estate. In Christ I am regarded as perfectly innocent. "Your anger is turned away from me, upon Christ." I am free. "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!" Romans 8:1. "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ!" Romans 5:1. "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God!" 2 Corinthians 5:21
"You comfort me."
III. The text is expressive of Comfort.
1. When convicted of sin and guilt, and desponding of mercy, then you opened my heart to see the fullness of grace flowing from the cross. Though my sins were as scarlet, and red like crimson, my soul deeply tinctured with guilt, and oppressed with multitudes of sins, you said to me, "Be of good cheer; your sins are all forgiven, go in peace." Then you banished my doubts and quelled my fears. You gave me faith. I believed, and pardon came, and peace followed my storm of anguish.
2. By giving me the assurance of faith. What comfort is this! "Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation!"
He has given me so clear a conception of his infinite power and willingness as a Savior, and of the efficacy of his blood — that I unhesitatingly rely upon him for final acceptance and everlasting salvation. I do not doubt. I feel accepted. I am saved. Christ is mine! "I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day!" 2 Timothy 1:12
3. By the Privileges of adoption. My Almighty Father's house, his ordinances, his promises, his work, his children, his spiritual blessings — all comfort me! They are "wells of salvation," sources of solid and undying comfort.
4. In every season of distress and darkness. He sweetens the bitters of life; he alleviates my sorrows; in my weakness, he strengthens me. He is with me in adversity, comforts me on the bed of languishing, etc., etc. The text expresses,
IV. The text is expressive of Triumph. "I will trust, and not be afraid!" I am accepted in the Beloved. I have a saving interest in the covenant of grace, and why should I fear? My Redeemer has power — his love is immutable; he loves his own to the end.
I will not be afraid of my troubles. They may be necessary to promote my sanctification, and they will have a good outcome.
I will not be afraid of my foes. He who is for me, is more than all those who are against me.
I will not be afraid of being finally lost. Satan cannot wrest me from the embrace of my glorious Shepherd. "I give them eternal life, and they will never perish — ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand!" John 10:28
I will not be afraid of death, and its consequent corruption. Psalm 23:4.
I will thus constantly trust in him, and not be afraid. I am one of Christ's chosen and redeemed ones. Though unworthy, the Savior accounts me one of his jewels, to show forth his praise forever.
V. The text is expressive of Grateful Homage."I will praise you."
Blessings so great demand praise. If enjoyed, they will produce a thankful heart, a praying tongue, an active life, giving glory to God!