A King Sent in Love
“Then Huram the king of Tyre answered in writing, which he sent to Solomon, Because the LORD hath loved his people, he hath made thee king over them.” — 2 Chronicles ii. 11.
I THINK that you must have been struck with the deeply religious tone of the communications which passed between Solomon and Huram. I am inclined to think that Huram must have been a proselyte to the faith of Israel. At any rate, the despatches between these two neighbouring kings contain very gracious references to Jehovah and his dealings with his ancient people. Not that I recommend that the despatches which are sent now between kings should be of a similar character, for that would be a piece of beggarly hypocrisy. What has God to do with the most of them; and what has he to do with the transactions of modern times, in which the invasion of countries by the more powerful is perpetually being justified by the laws of politics which seem to be the very reverse of the laws of God? Oh, that better times might come, when kings would rule in righteousness! One almost despairs of them; but, at any rate, there is a King coming who will rule in righteousness. Make no tarrying, O our God!
In the letter which was written by Huram, we note that he declares his belief that Solomon was of such a character that his reign was a special blessing from God to his people. That is the meaning of our text: “Because the Lord hath loved his people, he hath made thee king over them.” Such was the character of Solomon, in those early days before he began to decline from the splendour of his first estate, that even this heathen monarch could see that he was bound to be a blessing to the people. I wish that your life and mine, dear friends, might always have that about it which should make even the worldling say, “That young man is likely to be a blessing to his family; that woman is sure to be a blessing to her husband, and to her children.” I would to God that our character were so transparent, so true, and pure, and good, that all who knew us might feel that we were a blessing to those among whom we dwell.
I want you to notice, also, that Huram here distinctly recognizes that every blessing comes from God. If Solomon is a blessing to his subjects, Huram attributes that to the fact of God having placed him where he was. Now, if one, who had been a heathen, could thus trace a blessing back to God as its source, what heathen must those be who never do anything of the sort, but trace it to what they call “good luck”, or to “chance”, or to anything rather than to God! O beloved, whenever there is aught of good, aught of excellence, aught of happiness, that comes to our door, let us praise and bless the God who gave it. We are all too apt to complain of him when we suffer, and ready enough to attribute our afflictions to him. Surely, then, when mercies come to us plentifully, we should magnify and glorify the name of the Lord our God from whom they come. We should say of every mercy, in somewhat similar fashion to that of Huram when he wrote to Solomon, “Because the Lord hath loved his people, therefore hath he done this and that for them.”
I purpose, however, to take our text right away from Solomon; for, true as it was in his case, it is more emphatically true in reference to our King. It is still true, as was said in Thessalonica in Paul’s day, “There is another King, one Jesus;” and many here present, I am thankful to know, are his loyal subjects. King of kings is he to us, and our soul loves to worship and adore him. Well, now, God has been pleased to make Christ our King, so my text shall run thus: “Because the Lord hath loved his people, he hath made Jesus to be King over them.”
I. That shall be our first division, THE LOVE OF GOD HAS MADE JESUS TO BE OUR KING.
If we believe that, does it not prove that we do not regard the dominion of Jesus Christ as any burden whatsoever? It is a proof that, in our esteem, his yoke is easy, and his burden is light. Those who look on from the outside say, “We would rather be perfectly free, — Tree thinkers and free livers;” and when they hear any one of us say, with the psalmist, “O Lord, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds;” they feel that they do not want to share any such servitude with us. But we are living and truthful witnesses to the fact that we do not look upon the rule of Christ over us as any hardship. On the contrary, we take delight in it; we trace it to the love of God, not to his anger; not even to his justice, or to any necessity that may constrain him, but to his infinite love, and to his gracious thought that he could not do any better thing for us than to give us Jesus Christ to be our King; and we devoutly thank and bless the Lord, this day, that he hath set him over us, to rule us, and to have dominion over our spirit, soul, and body, henceforth and for ever.
But, beloved, there was an urgent necessity that we should have Jesus as our King. We are such poor creatures that we cannot live without some form of rule and government. Men have tried A to live in anarchy, but their experiment has proved to be a disastrous failure. Think of the French Revolution, at the end of the eighteenth century, and see what awful abominations resulted from it. A den of tigers, all let loose upon one another, would be peacefulness itself compared with a mass of men living without any law or order. We are such creatures that we need to be under authority of some kind. God has frequently compared us to sheep; but what can sheep do without a shepherd? I do not know that there has ever been a discovery made of really wild sheep anywhere. There are certain wild animals that are somewhat like sheep; but sheep like those with which we are familiar, — what shiftless, hopeless, helpless, defenceless creatures they would be without a shepherd! They would soon die out altogether if it were not for man. The rule, and leadership, and the kingly shepherdry of man are good for sheep; and Christ’s rule is absolutely necessary for his sheep. We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture, if we have believed in him; and we as much need Jesus, our Shepherd-King, as the sheep need their shepherd. If you demur to that figure, let us think of ourselves under a higher aspect. As many of us as have been born again are the children of God. Now, a family without rule, — I venture to say very boldly, is not a happy family. Children, who are always allowed to do just as they like, will very soon be exceedingly unhappy. A father’s gentle sway over the various members of the household, which is, I take it, the first type of kingship, is absolutely necessary for their good; for disorder soon breeds unhappiness, envy, strife, malice, and all kinds of evil. Every house needs to have a “house-band” to keep it together. Every family needs to have someone as its head; every thinking person feels that it must be so; and, therefore, how thankful we ought to be that our glorious God, seeing that his own brightness unveiled might have been too much for our feebleness, hath given us his Son, “whom he hath appointed Heir of all things,” and made him to be the firstborn among many brethren, that he might sweetly rule the whole household! Because the Lord loved his people, therefore he gave Jesus to be King over them.
Further, this fact tends greatly to our happiness. It is not merely a matter of necessity; but, over and above that, it makes us exceedingly happy to have such a King as Jesus is. Just suppose, for a moment, that we, the people of God, were left without any law or ruler. Well, my brethren, in such a case as that, we should not know what to do; we might wish to do what was right, but we should not know what right was. I am sure we must all desire to be guided by God, for we feel unable to guide ourselves, and we dare not trust the best earthly guide. So it is a mercy that we have a King to whom we can refer all difficult cases, and who will guide us with his eye. Why, even if I were conscious of having done right, yet, if I had no Ruler and Law-giver, whose infallible Word would assure me that I had done so, I should always be in a fidget about it. I should be anxious to know whether I had made a wise choice, or not, — whether I might not, after all, have put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter. When a man is his own ruler, he has all the responsibility of what he does; but when we implicitly obey Christ’s command, we are not responsible for the result of our actions; that rests with him who gave us the command. If, in doing right, we meet with trouble, — if we have to suffer persecution, — if the reward of virtue does not reach us in the present, yet we have the comfort that we did what Jesus told us to do. We did what our King commanded, so the responsibility of it must rest with him. This is ever a sweet feeling, and much to the ease of such poor minds as ours are.
“Well,” says one, “I like to be my own master.” Yes, and that involves two things; first, you have a very bad master; and, next, your master has a fool for his servant. But he who takes the Lord Jesus Christ as his Master will be rightly and wisely guided, and hence arises the comfort of such a relationship.
But, to my mind, the bliss of being under the dominion of Christ lies in the character of Christ. As I must have a master, let me have the Christ of Bethlehem, — the Christ of Nazareth, — the Christ of Calvary, — the Christ of heaven. If I must submit my mind and will to another, — and surely I must do so, or else I must submit it to the imperious domination of my own lusts and passions, which is the worst slavery in the whole world, — if I must have a king, let it be Jesus Christ, whose head was once crowned with thorns.
For, my brethren, in him we have all the wisdom of Solomon, and infinitely more. He will rule and guide us wisely. To err, is human; yet he never makes any mistakes, his rule and guidance are infallible.
There is also, united with this wisdom, unlimited power; for, where Christ rules, he is able to protect. He can put forth the might of omnipotence; his decrees and proclamations shall never be wasted words. All power is given unto him in heaven and in earth. Though he sometimes leaves his subjects to suffer in this world, (they must have tribulation, for they have to carry the cross after him,) yet he could deliver them in a moment if he pleased; for there is nobody, above or below the sky, who can successfully withstand the almighty power of the Christ of God. Happy are the people who have so wise and strong a King as he is.
But, then, with this wisdom and strength, he is also so gentle. Was there ever such a gentle man, and such a gentleman, as he was? Who would not gladly serve him who suffered the little children to come unto him, and would not let his disciples forbid them to come? Who would not willingly serve him who sat upon the well at Sychar to talk with the poor sinful woman till he had won her soul, and made her into a zealous and successful home missionary? Who would not freely serve him to whom publicans and sinners drew near, that he might woo them, with tenderest love, to forsake their sins? He is truly and divinely royal; but he is also, as the children are taught to say, —
“Gentle Jesus, meek and mild,” —
so affable, generous, humane, benevolent, gracious, Godlike, — that, to be enlisted beneath his banner is to serve One who is indeed a Standard-Bearer among ten thousand; yea, he is altogether lovely. We are not ashamed to be the servants of the Lord Jesus Christ. There have been some kings and princes whom a man might well be ashamed to serve; to have anything to do with such loathsome creatures as some despots are, would make a stain upon anyone’s character; but, to come beneath the blessed servitude of Christ, is to be honoured indeed. The meanest scullion in his royal kitchen hath more real glory than all the peers of the realm put together if they have not entered the service of our gracious King.
Further, this blessed King not only commends himself to us by his character, but also by his relationship to us. Surely it was because the Lord loved his people that he made him to be King over them who is their Brother, for Jesus is our Brother. He was in all things made like unto his brethren; and, while upon the earth, he was tempted in all points like as we are; but —
“Now, though he reigns exalted high,” —
he is still our Brother, and he is not ashamed, even in heaven, to call his people his “brethren.”
“Though now ascended up on high,
He bends on earth a brother’s eye;
Partaker of the human name,
He knows the frailty of our frame.
“Our fellow sufferer yet retains
A fellow feeling of our pains,
And still remembers in the skies,
His tears, and agonies, and cries.”
He also comes, if possible, nearer than that, for he is our Husband, — married to every believing heart, united with us in a conjugal union which never can be broken by divorce. Christ is the heavenly Bridegroom, and each believing soul is his bride, as the whole Church of the redeemed is the bride, the Lamb’s wife. I may say, to each believer, in the words of the forty-fifth Psalm, “So shall the King greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him.” He not only reigns over us, but he loves us with such love that he even died for us; what other monarch ever did that for his subjects? You have seen the portraits of kings holding the globe and the sceptre in their hands, and wearing a crown, perhaps adorned with a wreath in token of their victories; but when our King puts on his royal regalia, when he comes forth in his coronation robes, I will tell you what are the chief ensigns of his sovereignty, the tokens of his universal dominion. They are the wounds in his hands, and in his feet, and in his side. He deserves to be our King, and we delight to say to him, —
“Thou hast redeem’d our souls with blood,
Hast set the prisoners free:
Hast made us kings and priests to God,
And we shall reign with thee.”
Truly, none who really know our Lord Jesus Christ can refuse to rejoice that the Father hath so loved his people as to set the Saviour, who did redeem them, to be King over them henceforth and for ever.
I think I have said enough upon that point, so I will now turn to another side of the subject. Just to refresh your memories, I remind you that the first division was, that the love of God has made Jesus our King.
II. Now we will shake the kaleidoscope, and then we shall see the same truth presented to us under another aspect; IT IS THE LOVE OF GOD WHICH HAS MADE US TO BE THE SUBJECTS OF KING JESUS.
There is love in the selection of the King who has been chosen for us, and there is love also in the choice of his subjects. It was certainly divine love which made a choice of Israel to be the subjects of Solomon, because, if God meant to make a great king, and a wise king, with wide dominions and vast influence, it was a very singular thing that he should choose the land of Israel to be the country over which Solomon should rule in such glory. Palestine was a poor, miserable, little country, a very small district to be the centre of so much splendour. And the people were not very numerous, and they were very poor. Only a little while before, they had been downtrodden by the Philistines. David, Solomon’s father, had only just rescued them by the skin of their teeth from being slaves to the Philistines; and, before that, they had been perpetually harried by all the neighbouring nations, so that they never had any settled peace; yet it was this little paltry nation that God chose to be ruled over by Solomon, to give it a name, and make it a leading nation on the face of the earth.
Well, now, beloved, what are we who have been chosen to be God’s people? What are we that ever Christ should rule over us? Surely, if he wanted to exercise dominion, he might have chosen the kings, and queens, and lords, and dukes, and the fine folk of earth; but you know how it is written, “Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence.” Not even to the wise and prudent hath he revealed the truths of his kingdom; but he has revealed them unto babes. “Even so, Father,” said Christ, “for so it seemed good in thy sight.” Surely it was because the Lord loved us that ever he put us under the dominion of Christ, that he might rule over us!
More than that, these people of Israel began with Solomon by a rebellion. You know how, all through the reign of David, they were continually kicking against his rule. He had saved them from the Philistines; yet, at one time, they set up Absalom in opposition to him; and, at another time, another pretender would come forth, and they would follow him, for they seemed to wish to get rid of their best friend and deliverer. Even when David was nigh unto death, and Adonijah proclaimed himself king, Joab and Abiathar, and many of the people followed him, so that Solomon’s reign began with rebellion, yet he was set up as king over these traitorous and disloyal people; and what a mercy it is for us, who used to be rebels against our King, that the Lord Jesus Christ ever admitted us under the sway of his sceptre! I need not go into the details of what we used to be; it will bring tears to the eyes of some of us if we only think of what we once were. Lord, what a rebellious wretch was I! Many here had to fight against conscience, to fight against everything that was good, in order to remain as they were; yet they did remain as they were until the Lord so loved them that he subdued them by his grace, and brought them to his feet. With love almighty he came to them, broke down all their opposition, and made them willing in the day of his power. I am sure that, if any of you are rejoicing in being Christ’s subjects, you will ascribe it to the love of God, and not to your own will, or to your own goodness, that ever you came to bow at Jesu’s feet, for no man ever cometh there of himself. They are drawn by grace divine, and then they run; but never doth a soul crouch at the feet of Jesus, crying for mercy, and taking him to be its King, except by an act of almighty grace which leads the sinner to that happy and blessed decision. So let us give all the praise to God if we belong to the kingdom of Jesus, for it is love, amazing love, that has put us under such gracious sovereignty as that.
Now, brethren, are we happy indeed; for it is with us as it was with Israel. For, after Solomon was once settled on the throne, there was no more rebellion. In his God-given wisdom, he so ruled the nation that all was quiet and peaceable. After he had once climbed up into the saddle, he could not be thrown out of it again; and after King Jesus once gets into the throne of our heart, stubborn wills and rebellious passions must lie still; for Jesus knows how to rule. What wonderful order Solomon set up! What remarkable peace the people enjoyed! What extraordinary prosperity they had! For “the king made silver and gold at Jerusalem as plenteous as stones.”
And, beloved, Christ has made us to be so rich, so happy, so contented, so blessed, that we have no wish to escape from his dominion, but rather does each one of us cry, “O Jesus, subdue me more completely! Drive out all my old enemies! Root out my sins! Hunt them down like traitors, and hang them up to die; and do thou alone rule and reign over me absolutely. In the entire kingdom of my nature, over my whole spirit, soul, and body, be thou the supreme and only Lord, and let no rebellion be so much as thought of.” But it must be the love of God that will effect this; we cannot do it of ourselves. It is the grace of God — the mighty love of God in Christ Jesus — that will subdue our spirit to the dominion of Christ; and in so far as he has already done it, let us praise and bless him; and, in any respect in which the gracious work is not yet fully accomplished, let us cry to him to complete it.
III. I conclude my discourse with the third point, which is simply another view of the same truth, — OUR LOVE TO GOD NOW MAKES THE REIGN OF CHRIST OVER US TO BE VERY BLESSED INDEED. Since we have been taught to love the Lord Jesus Christ, it has become a great delight to us to be under his dominion.
First, brethren, the courts of Christ are our home. In this house of prayer, the Lord has often revealed himself to us. Some of us feel that, when we get into our places here, and join in holy worship, it is the best spot beneath the sun. I know that it is so by the way in which you strive to get here on Monday evenings and Thursday nights. Many of you are glad then, as well as on the Sabbath day, to steal away for a little while out of the world, and even, perhaps, out of the worry of the household; and because our Lord Jesus Christ here manifests himself to you, this place becomes to you the very palace of the great King, and you love to be here. There are some hearers, who must have a very grand place of worship, and a very soft seat in it, and very eloquent preaching, and even then they soon drop off to sleep; but a true child of God, who loves his Saviour with all his heart, says, “I can stand anywhere; I do not mind being squeezed up in a corner so long as I can hear about Jesus.
“‘Sweeter sounds than music knows
Charm me in Immanuel’s name.’”
That is right, man! Keep on playing that tune! Praise the name of Jesus; let that be the theme of all your music! Ring again, and again, and again, those sweet silvery bells that sound out —
“Free grace and dying love.”
You may hold me by the ears, and by the heart, too, as long as you play such music as that. Even though there be no eloquence in the speaker, and he only talks straight on, and tells out what he knows of Jesus in his own heart, I will sit, or I will stand, anywhere, if I may but hear the strains of that blessed melody; and I know that many of you say the same. I can tell that you do by the look on your faces, and I also know how I feel myself when, now and then, it is my privilege to listen to a sermon full of Christ. That is what causes tears of joy to flow, and makes me feel, “I know that I am the Lord’s, for I do rejoice in the music of his charming name.” Yes, he is such a King to us that his courts are the place of our highest delight, and we are never happier than when we are among even the meanest of those who gather within his palace gate; yea, often do we feel that we would rather be doorkeepers in the house of our God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
We also realize that it is God’s love that made Jesus to be our King, for his service has come to he our best recreation. I heard a young man say, in a railway carriage, “I do not like the English mode of spending Sunday. I think Sunday ought to be devoted to recreation; everybody needs recreation.” An old gentleman, who sat opposite to the one who made this remark, spared me the trouble of replying to him by saying, “I think, my dear sir, it is very likely that you need recreation, too.” “Yes,” answered the young man, “I certainly do.” “Ah!” said the other, “but perhaps you do not quite understand the word I used, — re-creation; that is, being created a new, so as to be made a new creature in Christ Jesus. If you were created again, the recreation that you would then desire would be of a different kind from that which you are now advocating.” That was quite true; but even using the word “recreation” in the ordinary meaning of the term, we have found the service of God to be really a recreation to us. When you, my brother, get a little spare time, I know that you feel it a pleasure to spend it in some form of service for Christ. Someone might say to you, “Well, I should think that you had had enough work with that quill-driving, or standing behind the counter, or toiling in that factory; and that, when you get an hour to spare, you would go to bed, or take your ease in some form or other.” “No, I do not,” you reply; “I go and gather my class together, or call on my scholars in their homes, and try to find out whether they have really given their hearts to the Lord Jesus Christ.” “Well,” says the enquirer, “do you mean to say that you get recreation out of such work as that?” “Yes,” you reply, “I do;” and he says, “Then, you must be an odd fish!” Well, perhaps we are odd fish; but that is one of our highest sources of recreation. We find the service of Christ to be so blessed to us that we take our rest in it; and if, sometimes, we get wearied in it, we can truly say that we do not get wearied of it. Our whole soul delights in it, and we are resolved that we will serve our Saviour as long as we have life and breath.
More than that, it has now become such a joy to us to serve our King that his revenue has become our riches. Solomon’s subjects were very heavily taxed, yet their very taxes were a proof of their prosperity. They worked at a high pressure in order to produce wealth. They were a poor people to begin with, but they grew rich under the plan which Solomon adopted. It was an expensive plan; but, then, if they paid much in the way of taxation, it was because they had so much the more coming in year by year. Silver and gold had become so plentiful that it was not at all a hardship that the people should help to pay for the efficient maintenance of the king’s postal service, and all the other arrangements by which they were themselves enriched. Now, our King has a great revenue, with which we have nothing to do except to draw from it all that we need. Unbounded riches of grace are stored up in Christ Jesus, and he gives us liberty to take all that we require. As to anything that we present to him, what little we can give we count it our highest riches to offer to him; and, whenever we do give anything to the Lord, we find that he multiplies whatever we have left in our basket and store. But, if he did not do so, we should still delight to lay at his dear feet anything that we can, and we do not want him to give it back to us. It is a delight and joy to us to have an opportunity of doing anything in his blessed service; it is no task to us, it is never irksome. Some of us — I do not know whether each one of us — can sing, with Dr. Watts, —
“All that I am, and all I have,
Shall be for ever thine;
Whate’er mv duty bids me give,
My cheerful hands resign.
“Yet if I might, make some reserve,
And duty did not call,
I love my God with zeal so great,
That I should give him all.”
So, brethren, I hope it has come to this with many of us, that Christ's cross is our crown. We have fallen in love with it, and we gladly bear it for his sake. The very hardships that we endure, in connection with Christ’s kingdom, have become a joy to us; while, as for his glory, that is now our honour; and, as for himself, he is our heaven.
Thus have I spoken, all too feebly, concerning the King given to us by God in love. If there are any here who are not under the rule of Christ, I wish that they would, at any rate, give heed to my testimony that the service of Christ is the best service in the whole world; there is no other that is worthy to be compared with it for a single moment. If you resolve to serve yourself, or to serve the world, or to serve pleasure, or to serve the devil, you will rue the day, you may depend upon it. There is one remarkable thing about the service of Christ, which ought to have great weight with impartial observers. Many, who have lived to serve the world, have repented of their folly on their deathbeds; but there never yet was heard of even one instance of a Christian saying, when he was dying, “I am sorry that I have served Christ.” There never has been, since the foundation of Christ’s kingdom, one of his subjects who, when he was dying, said, “I am sorry that I did so much for Christ, that I was so earnest in his service, or so generous to his cause.” No, there never has been such a case, and there never will be one. I always say that it is the sign of a man having a good master when he tries to introduce his sons into the service of his employer. A man is not likely to complain of his master when he comes to him, and says, “I should be much obliged to you, sir, if you would take my two sons into your service.” It looks as if he had a good master when he talks like that.
Well, that is my own case; it is my intense delight to see my two sons actively engaged in the service of my Master. He has been a good Master to me. I often wonder that he has hot turned me off; yet I should have wondered still more if he had done so, because he has said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” He has borne with my ill manners, and put up with many imperfections in my service, all this while, I wonder that he is not tired of me, yet I have his own word for it that he will not turn me adrift, for he has said, “Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out.” I must love him; I must praise him; and I wish that everyone else would enter the service of my blessed Lord and Master. If you would only give him a trial, (by God’s grace, may you be led to do so!) you would never repent of it. Ask any man, who loves the Lord Jesus Christ, whether he has ever regretted having done so; you will never find one who will say that he has.
Well, then, if we can all speak so well for our King, we think that common reason, if it were really reasonable, would lead men to say, “Can we not enter into this service, too?” I pray that God’s grace may enable many of you to say this. Will you nob seek to become his servant this very hour? The way into his service is by yourself becoming nothing, and letting him be your All-in-all. Any soldier can tell you how he gets into his sovereign’s service. What does he give in order that he may become a soldier? Give? Why, he gives nothing at all; he takes a shilling from the recruiting officer, and that seals the act. That is the way to become a Christian; take the Lord Jesus Christ as your own. He gives you himself; so trust him and take him, for thus you become his soldier, enlisted for ever. He will teach you your drill, he will show you how to behave yourself aright in his service, and he will give you a rich reward at the end of it. So may he bless each one of you, for his dear name’s sake! Amen.