Jesus helps us put the importance of the knowledge of the Names of God in proper perspective, teaching us how we should begin our prayers in Mt 6:9KJV+…
Our Father Who art in Heaven
Hallowed be Thy Name …
There it is! God's Name is to be hallowed, to be sanctified, to be consecrated, to be made (considered) holy, to be set apart (not just in our head but in our heart, in our lives of loving, Spirit filled/enabled obedience!). And so by focusing on God's Great and Glorious Names is ever how we are to begin our prayers, our petitions, our supplications, our requests, our cries for assistance! And so we must know what God teaches about His Great Name. For this reason we must study in depth the Names of God, not just knowing the Names "superficially" (e.g., knowing a specific title such as Jehovah Jireh, as excellent as that title is) but knowing His Names intimately, "Biblically" knowing how and why God chose to reveal them and what impact His self revelation had on the saints to whom they were revealed and continues to have on our lives today.
J C Ryle said "By the “name of God we mean all those attributes through which He is revealed to us—His power, wisdom, holiness, justice, mercy and truth. By asking that they may be “hallowed,” we mean that they may be made known and glorified. The glory of God is the first thing that God’s children should desire. It is the object of one of our Lord’s own prayers: “Father, glorify (aorist imperative) Your Name!” (John 12:28). It is the purpose for which the world was created; it is the end for which the saints are called and convened (See Piper's sermon God Created Us For His Glory): it is the chief thing we should seek—“that in all things God may be praised (glorified through Jesus Christ)” (1Pe 4:11+).
Therefore we must focus on God's Great and Glorious Names, so that we might be able to glorify His Name, so that we might, by His Spirit, be enabled to live in a manner worthy of His Great Name before a watching world in desperate need of a supernatural vision of the invisible God in and through the visible lives of His children (cp Mt 5:16+, Phil 2:15+)!
And those who know Thy Name will put their trust in Thee
For Thou, O LORD, hast not forsaken those who seek Thee
And those who know Thy Name will put their trust in Thee
For Thou, O LORD, hast not forsaken those who seek Thee
The great preacher C H Spurgeon commenting on Psalm 9:10 says we should be diligent to study God's Names because
"Ignorance is worst when it amounts to ignorance of God, and knowledge is best when it exercises itself upon the Name of God. This most excellent knowledge leads to the most excellent grace of faith. O, to learn more of the attributes and character of God. Unbelief, that hooting night bird, cannot live in the light of divine knowledge, it flies before the sun of God's great and gracious Name. If we read this verse literally, there is, no doubt, a glorious fulness of assurance in the names of God....By knowing His Name is also meant an experimental acquaintance with the attributes of God, which are every one of them anchors to hold the soul from drifting in seasons of peril. The Lord may hide His face for a season from His people, but He never has utterly, finally, really, or angrily forsaken them that seek Him. Let the poor seekers draw comfort from this fact, and let the finders rejoice yet more exceedingly, for what must be the Lord's faithfulness to those who find if He is so gracious to those who seek....The names of God inspire trust. JEHOVAH Jireh, Tsidkenu, Rophi, Shammah, Nissi, ELOHIM, SHADDAI, ADONAI, etc...." (Treasury of David - Psalm 9)
Matthew Henry offers the following encouragements to motivate one to study the Names of God...
(1) The better God is known the more He is trusted. Those who know Him to be a God of infinite wisdom will trust Him further than they can see Him (Job 35:14); those who know Him to be a God of almighty power will trust Him when creature-confidences fail and they have nothing else to trust to (2Chr 20:12); and those who know Him to be a God of infinite grace and goodness will trust Him though he slay them, (Job 13:15). Those who know Him to be a God of inviolable truth and faithfulness will rejoice in his word of promise, and rest upon that, though the performance be deferred and intermediate providences seem to contradict it. Those who know Him to be the Father of spirits, and an everlasting Father, will trust Him with their souls as their main care and trust in Him at all times, even to the end.
(2.) The more God is trusted the more He is sought unto. If we trust God we shall seek Him by faithful and fervent prayer, and by a constant care to approve ourselves to Him in the whole course of our conversations.
(3.) God never did, nor ever will, disown or desert any that duly seek to Him and trust in Him. Though He afflict them, He will not leave them comfortless; though He seem to forsake them for a while, yet He will gather them with everlasting mercies. (Ps 9:10-note) We never trust a man till we know him. The mother of unbelief is ignorance of God, his faithfulness, mercy, and power. They that know thee, will trust in thee. This confirmed Paul, Abraham, Sarah, in the faith. "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day." (2Ti 1:12-note). "He is faithful that promised," and "able also to perform." (Heb 10:23-note He 11:11-note, Ro 4:21-note)
James Montgomery Boice wrote...
The names of God are windows through which His character is seen. The names tell us that He is the Most High God, Possessor of Heaven and Earth (El Elyon), the Almighty God (El Shaddai), the Eternal, Unchanging God (El Olam), the Lord (Adonai), the God Who Is There (Jehovah Shammah), and much more. Since the names of God declare His attributes, we are not surprised that the unparalleled revelation of God's wisdom and grace in Abraham's near sacrifice of his son (in Genesis 22) brings with it another of God's names: Jehovah Jireh, which means "the Lord will provide." (Boice Expositional Commentary - An Expositional Commentary – Genesis, Volume 2: A New Beginning - Genesis 12-36).
Elmer Towns encourages us to study God's Names reasoning that…
(1) We come to understand people by their names and titles.
David, the man after God's heart, is better understood by a study of his various names or titles. Knowing that David is described as a shepherd, warrior, king, poet and musician helps us understand his character and gives us insight into David the man. He was the son of Jesse and a great grandson of Boaz. David was from the line of Judah, the royal line from which many of Israel's kings came and from which Jesus Christ was born. In a similar way, studying God's names reveals His character to us more intimately. Among other names, for example, we know Him as Creator, Judge, Savior and Sustainer. By reflecting on His names, we can gain insight into His nature and understand more about how He works in our lives. While mortals cannot fathom His nature completely, God has revealed Himself through His Scriptures and has given us the Holy Spirit as a guide in knowing Him. While we remain human, we can only “know in part” (1Cor 13:12), and our limited understanding will never fully grasp all that an unlimited God is and does. But' as we come to understand God's names, we approach closer in our understanding of God Himself.
(2) A second reason for studying the names of. God is in order to understand the different relationships we can have with Him.
A young man calls his girlfriend “sweetheart,” but after they marry they have a new relationship signified by a new name: “wife.” She may have been Mary Jones, but after the marriage ceremony, if she follows the usual custom, she has a new name-perhaps Mary Livingston. Her new name tells everyone that she has a new relationship with her husband. The names of God become meaningful as we adjust to new or growing relationships with Him. Usually God revealed a new name to people at a fork in their road of life. He would help people through a difficulty by allowing them to experience Him in a different way, through a new name.
Abraham seems to have learned more of the different names of God than any other person in Scripture. Why? Because Abraham was pioneering new trails in the walk of faith. Each time God wanted Abraham to reach higher, He revealed a new name. Abraham had known Him as the LORD (Jehovah, or Yahweh—Gen. 13:4); but when he tithed to Melchizedek, Abraham learned a new name: El Elyon, the Most High God, possessor of heaven and earth (Ge 14:18,19). When Abraham complained to God in prayer that he did not have an heir for the promised inheritance, God revealed another of His names—Adonai, Master or Lord (Ge 15:2). The eternal LORD God of heaven would care for Abraham in a Master-slave relationship. Later, Abraham learned that God would nurture and powerfully sustain him as El Shaddai (Ge 17:1); that the secret name of God is El Olam (Ge 21:33); and that God would provide for him as Jehovah-jireh (Ge 22:14). Each time Abraham entered into a deeper relationship with God, he learned a new attribute of God through a new divine name.
(3) A third reason for studying the names of God is that through His names God reveals that He is the source and solution to our problems.
When Israel fought Amalek, they learned the name Jehovah Nissi, the LORD Our Banner, meaning that God would and could protect them (Ex 17:15). As each name of God is unfolded, a new source of strength is revealed to His people. Moses learned the name Jehovah Rophe (from rapha, to heal), meaning that God would provide healing for the people (15:26). Later, Gideon learned of God as Jehovah Shalom, revealing a God of peace to a young man who was fearful and unsure of himself (Jdg. 6:24).
(4) Finally, the various names of God teach us to look to Him in our crises.
God revealed His different names in times of crisis to reveal how He would help His servants. Christians sometimes seem to think that they are immune to problems—that salvation solves them all. Of course this is shown to be untrue when problems or crises arise and we find ourselves crying out, Why me? Why now? Why this? God allows people to have problems for a number of reasons. Sometimes He wants to test us, to see if we will handle problems by faith or in our own strength. At other times He allows problems to overwhelm us so we will turn to Him. In our crises, God reveals Himself anew, just as He originally revealed Himself through His names when His people needed help. If we know God's names, we can more freely turn to Him in the name that fits our situation. (186 page book - My Father's Names - Elmer Towns - online recommended resource) (Or here)
Kenneth Hemphill gives a personal testimony to the power of the study of the Names of God in the introduction of his book on that subject...
This book has been a joy and a pilgrimage. I first preached a series on the names of God in 1990, while I was pastor at the First Baptist Church of Norfolk, Virginia. The study and the messages had a profound and lasting impact on me. The response of the congregation greatly encouraged me as they testified to a new awareness of God's sufficiency for daily living. Soon alter I preached the series, I left First Norfolk to become the founding director of the Center for Church Growth under the auspices of the Home Mission and Sunday School Boards of the Southern Baptist Convention. (Now the North American Mission Board and Life Way Christian Resources, respectively.) After two years' service in that capacity, the Lord led me to Fort Worth, Texas, to assume the presidency of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The understanding I have gained of the character and nature of God has daily sustained me through this transitional period in my life. I have frequently been reminded of God's sufficiency as I have called to remembrance the various names of God....
Names are important because they area method of self-revelation...The way various names and titles are used speaks of relationships...Even though we assign great significance to names and titles today, they were far more important to the men and women of the ancient Near East during biblical times. For them, the very existence of a thing was tied up with the revelation of its name....The prophetic pathos in the naming of the children of Hosea cannot be overlooked. The first child was named Jezreel, which meant "God sows." The second child was Lo-Ruhamah, which meant "no more compassion." Finally, the third child was named Lo-Ammi which meant "not my people." When you read the prophetic Book of Hosea, you will see that the names of the children were pregnant with meaning concerning God's judgment upon His people.
The divine name was critic important in the ancient Near East. The one who knew the/divine name was able to invoke the presence and obtain help of deity.... Why do we need to study the names of God? What difference will it make in our personal walk with Him?...The first thing to remember is that God has commanded us to honor His name. Exodus 20:7 simply states: "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain."...Do you realize that when you are in Christ, you bear His name? Your behavior reflects upon Him....Another reason to study the names of God is simply because of the inherent greatness of His name (Psalm 8:1, Ps 48:10, Ps 75:1, Ps 76:1)...The Protection of the Name - A third important reason for us to know the names of God is found in Proverbs 18:10...In other words, God's name is like a fort that provides protection for the believer. Through this study, we will come to understand the significance of names like Jehovah Rophe or Jehovah Nissi. In each case, we will learn how understanding that name becomes a spiritual fortress....
As we grow to understand he very nature and character of God we will find ourselves running to His name to find safety and strength. His name is like a strong tower! God's name stands for the manifestation of His presence in His revelation and His relation to His people. This can be one of the most exciting and encouraging studies that you have ever undertaken. It is essential to know God's name because we bear that I f name and we are commanded to live in such a way that will bring it honor. As we come to know the significance of each name, we will enhance the breadth of our ability to praise God and to live in His protection. (Hemphill, K. Names of God).
Spurgeon (Multiple sources - devotionals, sermons, etc) has the following quotes that relate to the study of the Names of God....
We are warranted in using all the various names of God, for each has its own beauty and majesty, and we must reverence each by its holy use as well as by abstaining from taking it in vain.
By the name is meant the revealed character and Word of God; we are not to worship “the unknown God,” but we should seek to know the covenant God of Jacob, who has been pleased to reveal his name and attributes to his people. The glorious power of God defended and preserved the Lord Jesus through the battle of his life and death, and exalted him above all his enemies. His warfare is now accomplished in his own proper person, but in his mystical body, the church, he is still beset with dangers; the name of the God of Israel is still the defense of the faithful.
We are to hallow the name of God, and we cannot do so if it slips from our memory.
Ignorance is worst when it amounts to ignorance of God, and knowledge is best when it exercises itself upon the name of God. This most excellent knowledge leads to the most excellent grace of faith. By knowing his name is also meant an experimental acquaintance with the attributes of God, which are anchors to hold the soul from drifting.
What a precious subject is the name of our God!
The name of God is, even in a literal sense, a fortress and high tower for all his people.
Daily Light on the Daily Path
They that know thy name will put their trust in thee. Psalm 9:10-note
This is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. — I will go in the strength of the Lord God: I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only.
His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor. — O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.
The mighty God, The everlasting Father. — I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
The Prince of Peace. — He is our peace. — Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe. — Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help. — As birds flying, so will the Lord of hosts defend Jerusalem; defending also he will deliver it; and passing over he will preserve it.
Jeremiah 23:6. Psalm 71:16. Isaiah 9:6. Jeremiah 10:23. Isaiah 9:6. 2Timothy 1:12. Isaiah 9:6. Ephesians 2:14. Romans 5:1. Proverbs 18:10. Isaiah 31:1. Isaiah 31:5.
“The people that do know their God
shall be strong, and do exploits.”
— Daniel 11:32b
Knowing The Name Of God - Brian Bill
Scripture: Psalm 75:1
Summary: Names are important to us because they often do more than just identify an individual; they can actually reveal who a person is, and what he or she is like.
During a job interview, a woman was asked to give her name. She replied, “My name is Lilly.” When the boss wanted to know why she was named after a flower, she told him, “My parents gave me that name because when I was born a lily fell on me from the sky.” A couple days later, the boss interviewed a man for the same job. He wasn’t much to look at and had a very rough appearance. The boss asked, “What’s your name?” He gave a crooked smile and said, “Piano.”
Names are important to us because they often do more than just identify an individual; they can actually reveal who a person is, and what he or she is like. God goes by many different names in the Bible. One commentator has counted over 63 found in Scripture. That seems like a lot but God is so awesome that the number of names we could use to describe Him is as endless as He is. These names provide us with at least two helpful truths.
They help us identify the one true God. The pagan nations worshipped false gods and so one reason God gave us His name is so we can know how He is different.
His names describe His character. When we study what He goes by, we will actually get to know what He is like.
While names are important in our culture, they were even more so in biblical times. Proverbs 22:1 tells us that a good name is more to be desired than great riches. Names didn’t just distinguish or label a person; they were often thought to reveal the very nature of an individual. For example, Nabal, whose name means “fool,” lived out what his name meant in 1 Samuel 25:25: “He is just like his name-his name is Fool, and folly goes with him.”
The term for name in the Old Testament means “individual mark” and communicated an individual’s essence. In the New Testament, the word for name comes from a verb that means “to know.” To know the name of God means to personally know His personality. During this new series, it’s my prayer that we will not just know who God is, but that we will actually get to know Him much more than we do right now.
As we begin our study, let me state four foundational principles:
These names are given by God, not thought up by people. God is not some abstract thought or nameless power. He is personal and knowable. And one of the ways His personality is known is through the giving of His names.
Each name of God reveals one of His qualities or characteristics. We’ll focus on one of these attributes each week, and like studying a multifaceted diamond, when we’re finished we’ll appreciate His beauty like never before.
These names were given to God’s people in order to help them through a moment of need. It’s my prayer that this series will not just be academic, but deeply personal and heart-changing so that you will call out to Him when you are in crisis or need. These names are like miniature portraits filled with promises, given by God as a gift to us so we can actually know Him.
Use these names when you call out to God in prayer. While we will learn the Hebrew names for God, I encourage you to also memorize the English attributes and then use these titles in your praise and in your prayer times. As we go through each name, ask yourself this question: “Do I know God in this way?”
I have chosen ten names for our study that I think will help each of us grow deeper in our knowledge of God:
- God the Creator (Elohim)
- God the Lord (Adonai)
- God our Peace (Jehovah Shalom)
- God our Provider (Jehovah Jireh)
- God the Covenant Keeper (Yahweh)
- God the Almighty (El Shaddai)
- The God Who is There (Jehovah Shammah)
- God the Healer (Jehovah Rapha)
- God of Power (Jehovah Sabaoth)
- God is my Banner (Jehovah Nissi)
Our study today will focus on the actual phrase, “Name of the Lord.” This is really a summary statement that refers to God’s whole character. As Judges 13:18 states, God’s name is “wonderful.” We’re going to look at what the Bible teaches about the recognition of His name, our response to His name, and then we’ll conclude with some results of knowing His name.
The Recognition of His Name
In his book called, “Awed to Heaven, Rooted to Earth,” Walter Brueggermann prays, “You are not the God we would have chosen.” In commenting on this statement, Michael Card writes: “That troubling prayer resonates in my heart. For the truth is, most often I would have chosen (and indeed do choose) a god other than Him. Most often, I would rather not learn the hard lessons the hard way. I would rather not have to worship in the wilderness, where God continuously calls me to find and be found by Him. I would rather God simply meet my expectations, fix my problems, heal my hurts, and be on His way. I want a God who is faithful to me in ways I understand and expect, who expresses faithfulness in the ways I choose” (Discipleship Journal, Jan/Feb, 2005, 25-29).
One of the most helpful correctives to our selfish desires and egocentric expressions of prayer is to focus on who God actually is, not necessarily who we want Him to be. Let’s begin by listing 6 statements that will help us grow in recognition of His wonderful name.
1. His name is good. Psalm 52:9: “I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name I will hope, for your name is good.” Friends, never forget this: God is good, even when bad things happen!
2. His name is great. 2 Samuel 7:25-26: “…Do as you promised, so that your name will be great forever…” There is no greater name than the name of God.
3. His name is majestic. Psalm 8:1: “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” This means that His name, which stands for all that He is, is excellent and famous in the earth. There is no one else like Him. He is omnipotent and incomparable. Exodus 15:11: “Who among the gods is like you, O LORD? Who is like you--majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?”
4. His name is glorious. Psalm 115:1: “Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory…” The word “glory” encompasses all of His attributes. The word literally means, “heavy” and refers to the fact that God is weighty, or awesome. Sometimes we try to make a name for ourselves as we crave credit for what we’ve done. We need to remember that His name alone deserves the glory.
5. His name is holy. When Jesus taught His disciples to pray he told them to begin like this in Matthew 6:9: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” His name must be set apart because He is holy.
6. His name is near. God is high and holy and yet, amazingly, He is also close to us. Theologically speaking, He is both transcendent and He is immanent. Allow this truth to penetrate you. He is not distant, but has instead come close to each one of us so that we can get to know Him. Psalm 75:1: “We give thanks to you, O God, we give thanks, for your Name is near; men tell of your wonderful deeds.” God is powerful and He is also personal.
Our Response to His Name
Once we recognize His name, we can’t help but respond to Him. Here are some ways from Scripture that we are to respond.
1. Praise His Name.
The number one reaction to recognizing His name is to break out into praise. The main reason we should focus on what He goes by is so we can give Him what He deserves. Daniel 2:20: “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever…” Psalm 7:17: “I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High.” One of the clearest expressions of people praising the name of God is found in Psalm 113:1-3: “Praise the LORD. Praise, O servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD. Let the name of the LORD be praised, both now and forevermore. From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised.”
Job models for us that we are to praise Him even when our lives are full of problems and our minds are mixed up with emotions. Listen to Job 1:21: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” Let’s see if we can apply this verse to the Tsunami disaster. Because Job knew the name of the Lord, he could praise Him even though a natural disaster had destroyed his ten children. Unbelievably, he was able to make an incredible statement of faith in Job 2:10: “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” Friend, the only way to praise God is to know His name. If you don’t know Him personally, you may end up cursing Him when troubles come. If you’d like to study more about how God’s sovereignty allowed this tsunami, we have printed copies available of John Piper’s article called, “Tsunami, Sovereignty, and Mercy” (I’ve included a link to this article in my 1/3/05 blog: Making Sense of the Tsunami).
2. Honor His Name.
God’s name is so weighty that we must do all we can to honor it. Leviticus 19:12: “Do not swear falsely by my name and so profane the name of your God. I am the LORD.” We are to praise His name, not profane it. Someone told me recently about a meeting where an individual was using God’s name in vain with almost every other word. A Christian stood up and said, “God’s a close personal friend of mine and you must also know Him well because you sure use His name a lot!” The guy cleaned up his language in a hurry. We should tremble whenever we hear His name used in a way that does not honor Him, and we should make sure we are not throwing His name around lightly ourselves. This is serious business because one of the 10 Commandments says: “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name” (Exodus 20:7).
3. Call on His Name.
God desires for us to use His name as we call out to Him. Don’t hesitate to hearken to Him. As you read through the Book of Genesis, it doesn’t take long for people to call out to the Lord. We see this in Genesis 4:26: “At that time men began to call on the name of the LORD.” Has it been awhile since you’ve called out to Him in prayer?
4. Proclaim His Name.
When we praise, honor and call on His name, we can’t help but share His name with others. Don’t keep it to yourself. I talked to someone this week who told me that sometimes she is so filled with the joy of the Lord that she just has to tell others about Him. I encouraged her to let loose! Deuteronomy 32:3: “I will proclaim the name of the LORD. Oh, praise the greatness of our God!”
5. Trust His Name.
One of the best responses you can make to God is to decide to trust Him completely with your life. Is there something you’re holding back? Are you afraid to fully surrender because you don’t want to let go of some things? Perhaps you feel like the prophet did when he wrote in Isaiah 50:10: “Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.” Sometimes God knocks out props in our life in order to get us to totally trust Him. Stop walking around in the dark and transfer your trust to Him right now. Psalm 9:10 says that if we know God in a real and personal way, we will trust Him: “Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.”
6. Love His Name.
There are many things in life that we can love, but we are to love His name above all. Isaiah 56:6: “…to love the name of the LORD, and to worship him.” Can you honestly say that you love His name this morning? Do you love His name more than anything else? If not, what needs to change?
Results of Knowing His Name
We must first recognize His name and then respond accordingly. When we do, we can expect at least 10 results. I’ll go over these quickly.
1. Our hope will grow. Psalm 52:9: “I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name I will hope, for your name is good.” If you struggle with discouragement, determine to put your hope in His name. You won’t be disappointed.
2. Our joy will increase. Psalm 5:11: “But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.” Once we know His name, we can’t help but be filled with joy. Conversely, if you aren’t very joyful it could be because you don’t really know Him.
3. Our worship will deepen. Nehemiah 1:11: “O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today…” When we grow in God, we will find incredible delight in worshipping Him, by the way we live, and by the way we commit ourselves to corporate worship every Sunday.
4. We will be fully satisfied. John Piper has stated it well: “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” Do you feel unsatisfied today? It may be because you don’t know God as well as you need to. If you’re trying to stuff yourself with things that can’t satisfy, you will be constantly needy. Get to know His name and your needs will be met. Ask God to make Isaiah 26:8 true in your life: “Your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.”
5. We will experience power. There’s power in the name of God, and He wants to unleash it in your life. Jeremiah 10:6: “No one is like you, O LORD; you are great, and your name is mighty in power.” He loves to show Himself strong when we are weak and He loves to demonstrate His power by accomplishing that which we think is impossible. David understood this truth when he came before a giant problem named Goliath. Listen to what he declared to the frightening Philistine in 1 Samuel 17:45: “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.”
6. We will become wiser. All of us can stand to grow in wisdom. One of the byproducts of knowing the Name of God is increased wisdom. Micah 6:9: “…To fear your name is wisdom…”
7. We will receive help. Do you need any help today in a situation you’re facing? Take heart and meditate on Psalm 124:8: “Our help is in the name of the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” Others may be able to provide assistance and counsel, but the help you really need is only found in the Name of the Lord.
8. We will be protected. When you’re in trouble, claim the promise of Psalm 91:14-15: “Because he loves me, says the LORD, I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.” One of my favorite verses is Proverbs 18:10: “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” God’s name is like a fort of protection for the believer. Run to Him for safety.
9. We will be granted forgiveness. Forgiveness comes through His name and His name alone. Psalm 25:11: “For the sake of your name, O LORD, forgive my iniquity, though it is great.” Psalm 79:9 gives another aspect of this: “Help us, O God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake.” We can appeal to God for forgiveness because at His very nature, He is a forgiving Father.
10. We will be saved. Ultimately to call on the name of the Lord brings salvation. Psalm 116:4: “Then I called on the name of the LORD: ‘O LORD, save me!’” This is picked up by Peter in Acts 2:21 and Paul in Romans 10:13 when they quote from the prophet Joel: “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Have you ever called on Him for salvation? In John 17:3, Jesus expands our understanding in this regard when He prayed: “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” In order to be saved, you must know God and you must know Jesus Christ. Do you?
If you’re ready to begin a relationship with the God who knows your name, call out to Him right now. Tell Him that you’re a sinner and that you can’t save yourself. Repent from the way you’ve been living. And then ask Him to personally apply the work of Jesus on the Cross to your account, where His blood was shed for forgiveness of sins. Receive the free gift of eternal life and surrender to His name everyday. And then, confess with your lips that you now know Him. Proclaim His wonderful name to others and determine to know all you can about Him. To help you begin a relationship with the God who knows you and wants to make Himself known to you, you could pray something like this: “In the Name of Jesus, I come before you right now. I confess that I have been living for my own name. I am a sinner and I can’t save myself. I now turn away from the way I’ve been living and turn toward you in faith. I call out to your name for salvation. Save me from my sins. I believe that you died in my place and that your blood covers my sins. I gratefully receive the free gift of eternal life. And now I surrender to you. Your name is what matters, not my own. Do with me what you will for the rest of my life for I now belong to you. Amen.”
Knowing God or Knowing About God?
If you’re already a believer, let me ask you a question. Are you geared up to really know God, or are you content to just know a few facts about Him? I love what Charles Spurgeon wrote:
“No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the mind, than thoughts of God...But while the subject humbles the mind, it also expands it. The most excellent study for expanding the soul, is the science of Christ, and Him crucified, and the knowledge of the Godhead in the glorious Trinity” (Quoted in the Introduction to “Knowing God” by J.I. Packer).
I came across a list of questions from Don Whitney which will help us as we consider how this year can be different from last year (for a list of all thirty-one questions, see this link).
- What’s one thing you can do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?
- What’s the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?
- What’s the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?
- In what spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?
- What’s the most important way you will, by God’s grace, try to make this year different from last year?
- What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?
- What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in 10 years? In eternity?
- What’s one thing you could do this year to enrich the spiritual legacy you will leave to your children and grandchildren?
- What single blessing from God do you want to seek most earnestly this year?
- In what one area of your life do you most need to change, and what will you do about it this year?
As I look at this list, it strikes me that I can make progress in all ten of these areas if I will go after knowing God like I never have before. Are you with me? Will you commit to be here for the next ten weeks and roll up your sleeves as we study the Scriptures together? If you have to miss a Sunday, will you download the message from our website and study it on your own (sermon series on names of God)? Let’s not take this lightly.
I love the book of Job. With all its pain and agony, it’s full of faith and hope. At the end of the book, after God recites a litany of His powerful acts, Job becomes literally speechless. When he’s finally able to formulate some words, isten to what he says in 42:5: “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” Some of you are in the same place this morning. You’ve heard about God, but now you really want to see Him in His fullness.
Prayer of Commitment
As we close, I’d like you to stand and pray this prayer with me that originally appeared in A.W. Tozer’s book called, “The Knowledge of the Holy” (Page 18).
“O majesty unspeakable, my soul desires to behold Thee. I cry to Thee from the dust. Yet when I inquire after Thy name it is secret. Thou art hidden in the light which no man can approach unto. What Thou art cannot be thought or uttered, for Thy glory is beyond comprehension. Still, prophet and psalmist, apostle and saint have encouraged me to believe that I may in some measure know Thee. Therefore, I pray, whatever of Thyself Thou hast been pleased to disclose, help me to search out as treasure more precious than fine gold: for with Thee shall I live when the stars of the twilight are no more and the heavens have vanished away and only Thou remainest. Amen.”
Strong towers were a greater security in a bygone age than they are now. Then when troops of marauders invaded the land, strong castles were set upon the various hill-tops, and the inhabitants gathered up their little wealth and fled thither at once.
Castles were looked upon as being very difficult places for attack; and ancient troops would rather fight a hundred battles than endure a single siege. Towns which would be taken by modern artillery in twelve hours, held out for twelve years against the most potent forces of the ancient times.
He that possessed a castle was lord of all the region round about, and made their inhabitants either his clients who sought his protection, or his dependents whom he ruled at will.
He who owned a strong tower, felt however potent might be his adversary, his walls and bulwarks would be his sure’ salvation.
Generous rulers provided strongholds for their people; mountain fastnesses where the peasantry might be sheltered from marauders.
Transfer your thoughts to a thousand years ago, and picture a people, who after ploughing and sowing, have gathered in their harvest, but when they are about to make merry with the harvest festival, a startling signal banishes their joy. A trumpet is blown from yonder mountain, the tocsin (an alarm bell or the ringing of it) answers it from the village tower, hordes of ferocious robbers are approaching, their corn will be devoured by strangers; burying their corn and furniture, and gathering up the little portable wealth they have, they hasten with all their might to their tower of defense which stands on yonder ridge. The gates are shut; the drawbridge is pulled up; the portcullis (a grating of iron hung over the gateway of a fortified place and lowered between grooves to prevent passage) is let down; the warders are on the battlements, and the inhabitants within feel that they are safe. The enemy will rifle their deserted farms, and search for hidden treasure, and finding that the inhabitants are quite beyond their reach, they will betake themselves to some other place.
Such is the figure which is in the text.
“The name of the Lord is a strong tower:
the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.”
I. Of course we all know that by the name of God is meant the character of the Most High, so that our first lesson is that The Character Of God Furnishes The Righteous With An Abundant Security.
The character of God is the refuge of the Christian, in opposition to other refuges which godless men have chosen. Solomon suggestively puts the following words in the next verse —
The rich man’s wealth is his strong city,
and as an high wall in his own conceit
The rich man feels that his wealth may afford him comfort. Should he be attacked in law, his wealth can procure him an advocate; should he be insulted in the streets, the dignity of a full purse will avenge him; should he be sick, he can fee the best physicians; should he need ministers to his pleasures, or helpers of his infirmities, they will be at his call; should famine stalk through the land, it will avoid his door; should war itself break forth he can purchase an escape from the sword, for his wealth is his strong tower.
In contra-distinction to this, the righteous man finds in his God all that the wealthy man finds in his substance, and a vast deal more.
The Lord is my portion, saith my soul;
therefore will I trust in Him.
God is our treasure; He is to us better than the fullest purse, or the most magnificent income; broad acres yield not such peace as a well attested interest in the love and faithfulness of our heavenly Father.
Provinces under our sway could not bring to us greater revenues than we possess in Him who makes us heirs of all things by Christ Jesus.
Other men who trust not in their wealth, nevertheless make their own names a strong tower. To say the truth, a man’s good name is no mean defense against the attacks of his fellow-men. To wrap one’s self about in the garment of integrity is to defy the chill blast of calumny (a misrepresentation intended to blacken another’s reputation), and to be mailed against the arrows of slander. If we can appeal to God, and say, “Lord, them knowest that in this thing I am not wicked,” then let the mouth of the liar pour forth his slanders, let him scatter his venom where he may, we bear an antidote within before which his poison yields its power. But this is only true in a very limited sense; death soon proves to men that their own good name can afford them no consolation, and under conviction of sin a good repute is no shelter.
When conscience is awake, when the judgment is unbiased, when we come to know something of the law of God and of the justice of his character, we soon discover that self-righteousness is no hiding-place for us, a crumbling battlement which will fall on the neck of him that hides behind it — a pasteboard fortification yielding to the first shock of the law — a refuge of lies to be beaten down with the great hailstones of eternal vengeance — such is the righteousness of man.
The righteous trusteth not in this; not his own name, but the name of his God, not his own character, but the character of the Most High is his strong tower.
Numberless are those castles in the air to which men hasten in the hour of peril: ceremonies lift their towers into the clouds; professions pile their walls high as mountains, and works of the flesh paint their delusions till they seem substantial bulwarks; but all, all shall melt like snow, and vanish like a mist.
Happy is he who leaves the sand for the rock,
the phantom for the substance.
The name of the Lord is a strong tower to the Christian, not only in opposition to other men’s refuges but as a matter of fact and reality.
THE CHARACTER OF GOD
Even when he is not able to perceive it by experience, yet God’s character is the refuge the saint. If we come to the bottom of things, we shall find that the basis of the security of the believer lies in the character of God.
I know you will tell me it is the covenant; but what is the covenant worth, if God were changeable, unjust, untrue?
I know you will tell me that the confidence of the believer is in the blood of Christ; but what were the blood of Christ if God were false; if after Christ had paid the ransom the Lord should deny him the ransomed, if after Christ had stood the substitute, the Judge of Men should yet visit upon our heads, for whom he suffered, our own guilt; if Jehovah could be unrighteous; if he could violate his promise and become faithless as we are, then I say that even the blood of Christ would afford us no security.
You tell me that there is His promise, but again I remind you that the value of a man’s promise must depend on his character. If God were not such that He cannot lie, if He were not so faithful that He cannot repent, if He were not so mighty that He cannot be frustrated when He intends to perform, then His promise were but waste paper; His words like our words, would be but wind, and afford no satisfactory shelter for a soul distressed and anxious.
But you will tell me he has sworn with an oath. Brethren, I know he has. He has given us two immutable things in which it is impossible for him to lie, that we may have strong consolation. But still what is a man’s oath worth irrespective of his character? Is it not after all what a man is, that makes his asseveration to be eminently mistrusted or profoundly believed. And it is because our God cannot by any means foreswear himself but must be true, that his oath becomes of value to you and to me.
The purpose of God in our salvation is
The glorifying of His Own character
Brethren, after all, let us remember that the purpose of God in our salvation is the glorifying of His Own character, and this it is that makes our salvation positively sure, if everyone that trusts in Christ be not saved then is God dishonored, the Lord of Hosts hath hung up His escutcheon (a defined area on which armorial bearings are displayed and which usually consists of a shield), and if in the face of the whole earth He accomplishes not that which He declares He will perform in this book, then is His escutcheon stained. I say it, He hath flung down the gauntlet to sin, and death, and hell, and if He be not the Conqueror over all these in the heart of every soul that trusteth in Him, then He is no more the God of Victories, nor can we shout His everlasting praise as the Lord mighty in battle. His chancier then, you see, when we come to the basis of all, is the great granite formation upon which must rest all the pillars of the covenant of grace and the sure mercies thereof. His wisdom, truth, mercy, justice, power, eternity, and immutability, are the seven pillars of the house of sure salvation.
If we would have comfort, we can surely find it in the character of God. This is our strong tower, we run into it and we are safe.
Mark you, beloved, not only is this true as a matter of fact, but it is true as a matter of experience. I hope I shall now speak the feelings of your hearts, while I say, we have found the character of God to be an abundant safeguard to us. We have known full well the trials of life! thank God we have, for what would any of us be worth, if we had no troubles? Troubles, like files, take away our rust; like furnaces, they consume our dross; like winnowing-fans they drive away the chaff, and we should have had but little value, we should have had but little usefulness, if we had not been made to pass through the furnace. But in all our troubles we have found the character of God a comfort.
You have been poor — very poor: I know some of you here have been out of work a long time, and you have wondered where your bread would come from, even for the next meal. Now what has been your comfort? Have you not said,
“God is too good to let me starve; he is too bountiful to let me want.”
And so, you see, you have found His character to be your strong tower.
Or else you have had personal sickness; you have long lain on the bed of weariness, tossing to and fro, and then the temptation has come into your heart to be impatient:
“God has dealt hardly with you,”
so the Evil One whispers; but how do you escape?
Why you say,
“No, he is no tyrant, I know him to be a sympathizing God.”
“In all their afflictions he was afflicted,
the Angel of His presence saved them.”
Or else you have had losses — many losses, and you have been apt to ask,
“How can these things be? How is it I have to work so long and plod so hard, and have to look about me with all my wits to earn but little, and yet when I have made money it melts? I see my wealth, like a flock of birds upon the fields, here one moment and gone the next, for a passer by claps his hand, and everything takes to itself wings and flies away.”
Then we are apt to think that God is unwise to let us toil for naught; but, lo, we run into our strong tower, and we feel it cannot be. No; the God who sent this affliction could not have acted in a thoughtless, reckless, wisdomless manner; there must be something here that shall work for my good. You know, brethren, it is useless for me to attempt to describe the various ways in which your trials come; but I am sure they that know Jehovah’s Name will put their trust in him.
Perhaps your trial has been want, and then you have said
"His name is Jehovah Jireh:, the Lord will provide;”
Or else you have been banished from friends, perhaps from country, but you have said,
“Ah! His name is Jehovah Shammah, the Lord is there;”
Or else you have had a disturbance in your family; there has been war within, and war without, but you have run into your strong tower, for you have said,
Or else the world has slandered you, and you yourself have been conscious of sin, but you have said,
His name is Jehovah-Tsidkenu, the Lord our righteousness
and so you have gone there, and been safe; or else many have been your enemies, then his name has been
and so he has been a strong tower to you.
Defy, then, brethren — defy, in God’s strength, tribulations of every sort and size. Say, with the poet,
“There is a safe and secret place
Beneath the wings Divine,
Reserved for all the heirs of grace;
That Refuge now is mine.
The least and feeblest here may hide
Uninjured and unawed;
While thousands fall on every side,
I rest secure in God.”
But, beloved, besides the trials of this life, we have the sins of the flesh, and what a tribulation these are; but the name of our God is our strong tower then. At certain seasons we are more than ordinarily conscious of our guilt; and I would give little for your piety, if you do not sometimes creep into a corner with the poor publican and say.
God be merciful to me a sinner
Broken hearts and humble walkers, these are dear in Jesu’s eyes. There will be times with all of us when our saintship is not very clear, but our sinnership is very apparent; well, then, the name of our God must be our defense:
“He is very merciful “ —
“For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness,
and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.”
Yea, in the person of Christ we even dare to look at his justice with confidence, since
“He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins,
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
(1 John 1:9+)
Possibly it is not so much the guilt of sin that troubles you, as the power of sin. You feel as if you must one day fall by the hand of this enemy within. You have been striving and struggling, but the old Adam is too much for you. It is a stern conflict, and you fear that the sons of Anak will never be driven out. You feel you carry a bombshell within your heart; your passions are like a powder magazine; you are walking where the flakes of fire are flying, and you are afraid a spark may fall and then there will be a terrible destruction of everything Ah! then there is the power of God, there is the truth of God, there is the faithfulness of God, and, despite all the desperate power of sin, we find a shelter here in the character of the Most High.
Sin sometimes cometh with all the terrors of the law; then, if thou knowest not how to hide thyself behind thy God, thou wilt be in an evil plight. It will come at times with all the fur of the flesh, and if thou canst not perceive that thy flesh was crucified in Christ, and that thy life is a life in Him, and not in thyself, then wilt thou soon be put to the rout. But he who lives in his God, and not in himself, and he who wraps Christ’s righteousness about him, and is righteous in Christ, such a man may defy all the attacks of the flesh and all the temptations of the world; he shall overcome through the blood of the Lamb.
“This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” (1 John 5:4+)
Then, beloved, there are the temptations of the devil, and these are very dreadful; but how sweet it is still to feel that the character of God is our strong tower. Without walls of grace and bulwarks of mercy, how can a tempted soul escape the clutches of the arch destroyer? But where the soul lies in the entrenchments of divine promise all the devils in hell cannot carry it by storm.
I saw this week, one whom many of you greatly respect — the former pastor of this Church, Mr. James Smith, of Cheltenham Since departed “to be with Christ, which is far better.” — a name well-known by his innumerable little works which are scattered everywhere, and cannot fail to do good. You will remember that about a year ago, he was struck with paralysis, and one half of his body is dead. But yet, when I saw him on the bed, I had not seen a more cheerful man in the full heyday of strength. I had been told that he was the subject of very fearful conflicts at times; so after I had shaken hands with him, I said,
“Friend Smith, I hear you have many doubts and fears!”
“Who told you that?” said he, “for I have none.”
“Never have any? why I understood you had many conflicts.”
“Yes,” he said, “I have many conflicts, but I have no doubts; I have many wars within, but I have no fears. Who could have told you that? I hope I have not led any one to think that. It is a hard battle, but I know the victory is sure. After I have had an ill night’s rest — of course, through physical debility — my mind is troubled, and then that old coward, Satan, who would be afraid to meddle with me perhaps if I were strong, attacks me when I am weak; but I am not afraid of him; don’t you go away with that opinion; he does throw many fiery darts at me, but I have no doubt as to my final victory.”
Then, he said, in his own way,
“I am just like a packet that is all ready to go by train, packed, corded, labeled, paid for, and on the platform, waiting for the express to come by and take me to glory. I wish I could hear the whistle now,” said he, “I had hoped I should have been carried to heaven long ago; but still I am right.” “And then,” he said, “I have been telling your George Moore, over there, that I am not only on the Rock, but that I am cemented to the Rock, and that the cement is as hard as the Rock, so there is no fear of my perishing; unless the Rock falls, I cannot; unless the gospel perishes, I cannot perish.”
Now, here was a man attacked by Satan, he did not tell me of the bitter conflicts he had within, I know they were severe enough; he was anxious to bear a good testimony to the faithfulness of his gracious Lord; but you see, it was his God that was his stronghold; he ran to this — the immutability, the faithfulness, the truthfulness, the mightiness of that God upon whose arm he leaned.
If you and I will do the same, we can always find an attribute of God to oppose to each suggestion of the Evil One.
- “God will leave thee,” says the Evil One. ><> “Thou old liar, He cannot, for He is a faithful God.”
- “But thou wilt perish after all.” ><> “O thou vile deceiver, that can never be, for He is a mighty God and strong to deliver.”
- “But one of these times he will abhor thee.” ><> “No; thou false accuser and father of lies, that cannot be, for He is a God of love.”
- “The time shall happen when he shall forget thee.” ><>“No, traitor; that cannot be, for He is a God omniscient, and knows and sees all things.”
I say, thus we may rebut every mischievous slander of Satan, running still into the character of God as our strong tower.
Brethren, even when the Lord Himself chastens us, it is most blessed to appeal against God to God. Do you understand what I mean? He smites us with His rod, but then to look up and say,
“Father, if I could believe what Thy rod seems to say, I should say Thou lovest me not; but I know Thou art a God of love, and my faith tells me that Thou lovest me none the less because of that hard blow.”
See here, brethren, I will put myself in the case a moment — Lo, He spurns me as though He hated me; drives me from His presence; gives me no caresses; denies me sweet promises; shuts me up in prison, and gives me the water of affliction and the bread of distress; but my faith declares,
“He is such a God that I cannot think hardly of him; he has been so good to me that I know he is good now, and in the teeth of all his providences, even when he puts a black mask over his face, I still believe that…
“Behind a frowning providence,
He hides a smiling face.”
(From a hymn by William Cowper - see Insanity and Spiritual Songs in the Soul of a Saint - — Reflections on the Life of William Cowper by John Piper)
But, friends, I hope you know, I hope each of us may know by experience, the blessed art of running into the bosom of God and hiding therein.
This word to the sinner who has not yet found peace. Do not you see, man, the Christian is not saved by what he is, but by what his God is, and this is the groundwork of our comfort — that God is perfect, not that we are perfect. When I preached last Thursday night about the snuffers of the temple, and the golden snuffer trays, and the necessity there was for the lamps in the sanctuary to be trimmed, one foolish woman said,
“Ah, you see, according to the minister’s own confession, these Christians are as bad as the rest of us, they have many faults; oh!” said she, “I dare say I shall be as well off at the last as they will.”
Poor soul! she did not see that the Christian’s hope does not lie in what he is, but in what Christ is.
Our trust is not in what we suffer, but in what Jesus suffered; not in what we do, but in what He has done.
It is not our name, I say again, that is a strong tower to us, it is not even our prayer, it is not our good works; it is the name, the promise, the truth, the work, the finished righteousness of our God in Christ Jesus.
Here the believer finds his defense, and nowhere besides.
Run sinner, run, for the castle gate is free to all who seek a shelter, be they who they may.
II. By your leave I shall turn to the second point. How The Righteous Avail Themselves Of This Strong Tower. They run into it.
Now, running seems to me to imply that they do not stop to make any preparation.
You will remember our Lord Jesus Christ said to his disciples, that when the Romans surrounded Jerusalem, he that was on the house-top was not to come down into his house, but to run down the outer staircase, and escape.
So the Christian, when he is attacked by his enemies, should not stop for anything, but just run into his God and be safe. There is no need for thee to tarry until thou hast prepared thy mind, until thou hast performed sundry ablutions (the washing of one’s body or part of it), but run man straight away at once.
When the pigeons are attacked by the hawk, their better plan is not to parley, nor to stay, but swift as they can cut the air fly to the dove-cot. So be it with you. Leave fools who will to parley with the fiend of hell; but as for you, fly to your God, and enter into His secret places till the tempest be over, past. A gracious hint this to you anxious souls who are seeking to fit yourselves for Jesus. Away with such legal rubbish, run at once; you are safe in following the good example of the righteous.
This running appears to me to imply, that they have nothing to carry. A man who has a load, the heavier the load may be, the more will he be impeded in his flight.
But the righteous run, like racers in the games, who have thrown off everything, their sins they leave to mercy, and their righteousness to the moles and bats.
If I had any righteousness I would not carry it, but run to the righteousness of Christ without it; for my own righteousness must be a drag upon me which I could not bear.
Sinners I know, when they come to Christ, want to bring tons of good works, wagon loads of good feelings, and fitnesses, and repentings, and such like; but the righteous do no such thing; they just foreswear every thing they have of their own, and count it but dross and dung, that they may run to Christ and be found in him. Gospel righteousness lies in all in Jesus, not in the believer.
It seems to me too, that this expression not only implies a want of preparation, and having nothing to carry, but it imports that fear quickens them.
Men do not run to a castle unless they are afraid. But when the avenger of death is close behind, then swiftly they fly. It is marvellous how godly fear helps faith.
There is a man sinking there in the river; he cannot swim, he must be drowned! See! see he is going down! We push him a plank; with what a clutch he grasps it; and the more he is convinced that he has no power to float, the more firmly doth he grip at this one hope.
Fear may even drive a man, I say, to faith, and lend him wings to fly, where else he might have crept with laggard feet.
The flight is the flight of fear,
but the refuge is the refuge of faith.
O sinner, if the righteous fly, what ought thy pace to be?
Again, it seems to me that there is great eagerness here, as if the Christian did not feel safe till he had entered into his God. And therefore, as the stag pursued by the hounds quickens its flight by reason of the baying of the dogs, as the clamor grows louder, and louder, see how the stag leaps from crag to crag, dashes through the stream, flies over yonder hill, is lost in yonder brake, and anon springs through the valley; so the Christian flies to his dear God for safety, when the hounds of hell, and the dogs of temptation are let loose against him. Eagerness! Where indeed shall the like be found?
“As the hart panteth after the water brooks,
So panteth my soul after thee,
O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God:
When shall I come and appear before God? “
O convinced sinner, what should thine eagerness be if thus the righteous pant for God?
Brethren, I may add here, that there is an absence of all hesitation. He runs. You know, if we want somebody to help us, we put our hand to our brow, and consider,
“Let us see, where shall we go? I am in great straits, to whom shall I fly? Who will be the best friend to me?”
The righteous never ask that question, at least when they are in a right mind they never do; but the moment their trouble comes they run at once to their God, for they feel that they have full permission to repair to him; and again they feel they have nowhere else to fly.
“To whom, or whither should I go, if I could turn from thee,”
is a question which is its own answer.
Then understand, in our text there is
- the absence of all hesitation,
- there is fear,
- and yet there is courage;
- there is no preparation,
- there is the flinging aside every burden.
“The righteous runneth into his high tower, and is safe.”
Beloved, I will leave that point, when I have just said, please to remember that when a man gets into a castle, he is safe because of the impregnability of the castle; he is not safe because of the way in which he entered into the castle.
You hear some man inside saying, “I shall never be hurt, because I came into the castle the right way.”
You will tell him, “No, no, no, it is not the way you came into the castle but the castle itself is our defense.”
So some of you may be thinking, “I do come to Christ, but I am afraid that I do not come aright.”
But it is not your coming, it is Christ that saves you. If you are in Christ, I do not care a pin how you got in, for I am sure you could not act in except by the door; if you are once in, He will never throw you out; He will never drive away a soul that cometh unto Him, for any reason whatsoever. Your safety does not lie in how you came, for in very truth, your safety is in Him.
If a man should run into a castle and carry all the jewels of a kingdom with him, he would not be safer because of the jewels; and if another man should run in with hardly a fresh suit of clothes with him, he would not be any the more in danger because of his raggedness. It is the castle, it is the castle, not the man. The solid walls, the strong bastions, the frowning ramparts, the mighty munitions, these make up the defense, not the man, nor yet the man’s wealth, nor yet the way the man came.
Beloved, it is most true that salvation is of the Lord, and whosoever shall look out of self tonight, whosoever shall look to Christ only, shall find him to be a strong tower, he may run into his Lord and be safe.
III. And now for our third and closing remark. You that have Bibles with margins, just look at them. You will find that the second Part of the text is put in the margin thus —“The righteous runneth into it, and is set aloft.”
Our first rendering is, “The righteous runneth into it, and is safe” — there is the matter of fact.
The other rendering is, “He is set aloft “ — there is the matter of joyous experience.
1. Now first let us see to the matter of fact.
The man that is sheltered in his God — a man that dwells in the secret places of the tabernacle of the Host High, who is hidden in his pavilion, and is set upon a rock, he is safe; for, first, who can hurt him?
Christ has broken his head.
Christ has taken his life up to heaven; for we are dead, and “our life is hid with Christ in God.”
No; the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”
That is satisfied, and it is dead to the believer, and he is not under its curse.
No; that cannot hurt the believer, for Christ has slain it. Christ took the believer’s sins upon himself, and therefore they are not on the believer any more. Christ took the believer’s sins, and threw them into the Red Sea of his atoning blood; the depths have covered them, not one of them is left. All the sin the believer hath ever committed is now blotted out, and a debt that is cancelled can never put a man in prison; a debt that is paid, let it be never so heavy, can never make a man an insolvent — it is discharged, it has ceased to be.
- “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again,
- Who is even at the right hand of God, Who also maketh intercession for us.” (Ro 8:33+; Ro 8:34+)
- Who can harm us? Let him have permission to do what he will; what is there that he can do?
- Who again has the power to reach us? We are in the hand of Christ.
- What arrow shall penetrate his hand to reach our souls? We are under the skirts of Deity.
- What strength shall tear away the mantle of God to reach his beloved? Our names are written on the hands of Jesus, who can erase those everlasting lines? We are jewels in Immanuel’s crown.
- What thievish fingers shall steal away those jewels? We are in Christ.
- Who shall be able to rend us from his innermost heart? We are members of his body.
- Who shall mutilate the Savior?
“I bare you,” saith God, “as on eagles’ wings.”
- Who shall smite through the breast of the Eternal One, heaven’s great eagle? he must first do it ere he can reach the eaglets, the young sons of God, begotten unto a lively hope.
- Who can reach us? God interposes; Christ stands in the way; and the Holy Spirit guards us as a garrison.
- Who shall stand against the Omnipotent? Tens of thousands of created puissances (powers) must fall before Him for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.
- What weapon is there that can be used against us? Shall they kill us? Then we begin to live.
- Shall they banish us? Then we are but nearer to our home.
- Shall they strip us? How can they rend away the garment of imputed righteousness?
- Shall they seize our property? How can they touch our treasure since it is all in heaven?
- Shall they scourge us? Sweet shall be the smart when Christ is present with us?
- Shall they cast us into a dungeon? Where shall the free spirit find a prison?
- What fetters can bind the man who is free in Christ?
- Shall the tongue attack us? Every tongue that riseth against us in judgment we shall condemn.
I know not what new weapon can be formed, for certain it is that the anvil of the Church has broken all the hammers that were ever used to smite it, and remains uninjured still.
The believer is —
he must be safe.
I said this morning, that if the believer in Christ be not saved for ever, then, beloved, there is no meaning whatever in God’s Word; and I say it once again, and I say it without any word of apology for so doing, I could never receive that book as the book of God at all, if it could be proved to me that it did not teach the doctrine of the safety of those that trust in Christ. I could never believe that God would speak in such a manner as to make tens of thousands of us, yea millions of us, believe that He would keep us, and yet after all he should cast us away. Nor do I believe that he would use words which, to say the very least, seem to teach final perseverance if he had not intended to teach us the doctrine.
All the Arminian divines that ever lived cannot prove the total apostasy of believers; they can attack some other points of the Calvinistic doctrine; there are some points of our form of doctrine which apparently are far more vulnerable. God forbid we should be so foolish as to deny that there are difficulties about every system of theology, but about the perseverance of the saint there is no difficulty. It is as easy to overthrow an opponent here as it would be to pierce with a spear through a shield of pasteboard. Be ye confident, believer, that this is God’s truth, that they who trust in God shall be as Mount Zion which shall never be removed, but abideth for ever.
2. But now we conclude by noticing that our text not only teaches us our safety, but our experience of it.
“He shall set him up aloft.”
The believer in his high-days, and they ought to be every day, is like an eagle perched aloft on a towering crag. Yonder is a hunter, down below, who would fain strike the royal bird; he has his rifle with him; but his rifle would not reach one third of the way; so the royal bird looks down upon him; sees him load and prime, and aim; and looks in quiet contempt on him, not intending even to take the trouble to stretch one of his wings; he sees him load again, hears the bullet down below, but he is quite safe, for he is up aloft.
Such is the faithful Christians state before God. He can look down upon every trial and temptation; upon every adversary and every malicious attack, for God is his strong tower, and “he is set up aloft.”
When some people go to the newspaper and write a very sharp, bitter, and cutting letter against the minister, oh, think they,
“How he will feel that; how that will out him to the quick!”
And yet, if they had seen the man read it through, double it up, and throw it into the fire, saying,
“What a mercy it is to have somebody taking notice of me;”
if they could see the man go to bed and sleep all the better because he thinks he has had a high honor conferred on him, for being allowed to be abused for Christ, surely they would see that their efforts are only “hate’s labor lost.” I do not think our enemies would take so much trouble to make us happy, if they knew how blessed we are under their malice.
“Thou prepared a table before me
in the presence of mine enemies,” said David.
Psalm 23:5 (Note)
Some soldiers never eat so well as when their enemies are looking on; for there is a sort of gusto about every mouthful which they eat, as they seem to say,
“snatched from the jaw of the lion, and from the paw of the bear, and in defiance of you all, in the Name of the Most High God I feast to the full, and then set up my banner.”
The Lord sets His people up aloft.
There are many who do not appear to be much up aloft. You meet them on the corner market, and they say,
“Wheat does not pay as it used to; farming is no good to anybody.”
Hear others, after those gales, those equinoctial gales, when so many ships have gone down, say,
“Ah I you may well pity us poor fellows that have to do with shipping, dreadful times these, we are all sure to be ruined.”
See many of our tradesmen —
“This Exhibition has given us a little spurt, but as soon as this is over there will be nothing doing; trade never was so dull.”
Trade has been dull ever since I have been in London, and that is nine years! I do not know how it is, but our friends are always losing money, yet they get on pretty comfortably too. Some I know begun with nothing; and they are getting pretty rich now, but, it is all with losing money, if I am to believe what they tell me.
Surely this is not sitting up aloft; surely this is not living up on high. This is a low kind of life for a child of God. We should not have liked to see the Prince of Wales in his boyhood playing with the children in the street, and I do not suppose you would like to see him now among coal-heavers at a hustling match.
Nor should the child of God be seen pushing and grasping as if this world were all, always using that muck-rake to scrape together the things of this world; instead of in full satisfaction, being content with such things as he has, for God has said,
“I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.”
(Hebrews 13:5 -note)
I am not a little ashamed of myself that I do not live more on high, for I know when we get depressed in spirits and down cast, and doubting, we say many unbelieving and God-dishonoring words. It is all wrong. We ought not to stay here in these marshes of fleshly doubts. We ought never to doubt our God. Let the heathen doubt his God, for well he may, but our God made the heavens. What a happy people ye ought to be! When we are not, we are not true to our principles.
There are ten thousand arguments in Scripture
for happiness in the Christian;
but I do not know that there is one logical argument for misery.
Those people who draw their faces down, and like the hypocrites pretend to be of a sad countenance, these, I say, cry,
“Lord, what a wretched land is this, that yields us no supplies.”
I should think they do not belong to the children of Israel; for the children of Israel find in the wilderness a rock following them with its streams of water, and manna dropping every day, and when they want them there are the quails, and so the wretched land is filled with good supplies.
Let us rather rejoice in our God. I should not like to have a serving man who always went about with a dreary countenance, because do you know people would say,
“What a bad master that man has.”
And when we see Christians looking so sad, we are apt to think they cannot have a good God to trust to.
Come, beloved, let us change our notes,
for we have a strong tower and are safe.
Let us take a walk upon the ramparts, I do not see any reason for always being down in the dungeon, let us go up to the very top of the ramparts, where the banner waves in the fresh air, and let us sound the clarion of defiance to our foes again, and let it ring across the plain, where yonder pale white horsed rider comes, bearing the lance of death; let us defy even him. Ring out the note again; salute the evening, and make the outgoings of the morning to rejoice. Warder (watchman), upon the castle-top, shout to thy companion yonder, and let every tower and every turret of the grand old battlements be vocal with the praise of Him who has said —
“Munitions of stupendous rock,
Thy dwelling-place shall be;
There shall thy soul without a shock
he wreck of nature see.”
Sinner, again I say the door is open.
Run to the mercy of God in Christ and be safe.
- Name of the LORD is a Strong Tower: Summary
- Name of the LORD is a Strong Tower: Why Should You Study It?
- Abba, the name of God = "Dear Father"
- Abba, Father - Much Shorter Summary Page
- Christ The Breaker
- Christ Our Rock
- Christ The Rock of Ages
- Christ The Rock of Our Salvation
- Christ The Smitten Rock
- Christ Our Rock of Refuge-Pt 1
- Christ Our Rock of Refuge-Pt 2
- Christ the Stone
- Christ Mighty God - El Gibbor
- Jesus Name Above All Names
- Jesus Mighty to Save
- Jehovah Ezer: The LORD our Helper:
- Jehovah Jireh: The LORD Will Provide:
- Jehovah Rapha: (Jehovah Rophe) The LORD our Healer
- Jehovah Roi (Raah, Rohi, Roeh): The Lord is My Shepherd 1
- Jehovah Roi: The Lord is My Shepherd 2
- Jehovah Sabaoth, LORD of hosts (of armies)
- Jehovah Sabaoth: Pt2)
- Jehovah Mekeddeshem (Mekadesh): LORD Who Sanctifies (Jehovah M'Kaddesh)
- Jehovah Nissi: The LORD Our Banner
- Jehovah Nissi: Exposition of Exodus 17:8-16
- Jehovah Shalom -Pt1: The LORD our Peace
- Jehovah Shalom - Pt2
- Jehovah Shammah - The LORD is There
- Elohim: My Creator
- El Elyon: Most High God - Sovereign Over All
- El Olam: Everlasting God
- Adonai - My Lord, My Master
- El Roi: God Who Sees
- EL Shaddai - God Almighty
- Our Stronghold sermon by C H Spurgeon on Pr 18:10