The Sure Mercies of David
“And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David.”— Acts xiii. 34.
WE know, from this quotation made by the Apostle Paul in his address at Antioch, that he was alluding not only to David, but to the Lord Jesus also. “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: but he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.” There was a covenant made with David, which was intended to be typical of another covenant; and David himself is the special type of that great King with whom God has made a covenant on behalf of his people. We will leave David somewhat in the background in our meditations to-night; we will only use him as the symbol of the great Christ in whom we rejoice, for God gives to mercies of David” in Jesus Christ, his well-beloved Son.
The course of our thought upon this passage, if we are helped to follow it, will be this. First, let us consider, Where our salvation lies; it lies in this, that the mercies we receive are “the sure mercies of David.” us “the sure When we have turned that thought over, we will try to answer this question, What are the sure mercies of David? Our next enquiry will be, In what way are they so sure? And then, lastly, we will enquire, What is the connection between the sure mercies of David and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ? This text is evidently quoted to prove that the resurrection of Christ was spoken of in the Old Testament: “As concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David.”
I. First, dear friends, let us consider, WHERE OUR SALVATION LIES.
It does not lie in ourselves. You may sift yourself over and over, as with a sieve, and you will not discover one atom of saving matter in yourself. You may throw on the dunghill all that you find there. There is not a grain of grace in a hundred tons of human nature. You may go on sifting, sifting, sifting, to all eternity; and you shall find only that which is worthy of the damning sentence. Ask any man who is saved, and if he speaks intelligently, he will tell you that the Lord Jesus Christ is his salvation. If he begins to explain the grounds, reasons, and foundation of his salvation, he will look away from himself, and will point to Jesus Christ alone.
The text speaks about David, and David is a good type of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom our salvation lies. Jesus was one who was despised and rejected, just as David was in his own family. When Samuel came to anoint as king one of the sons of Jesse, David was away watching the sheep, and he was not thought worthy of being called in till Samuel specially sent for him. His brothers evidently despised him, and condemned him as being forward when really he was more courageous than they were. So, our Lord was despised and rejected of men; they did not think that the Nazarene could be the Messiah. It was enough merely to mention his name, and to speak of him as Jesus of Nazareth, for them at once to ridicule his claims. They judged that it was not possible that he, who was so poor, so meek, so lowly, that he who had so little of anything which they looked for in the promised Deliverer, should be the Saviour; yet he was and still is the only Saviour.
You know the story or tradition that, when they were building Solomon’s temple, all the stones were marked to indicate the places where they should go, for no hammer or chisel was to be used upon them in the sacred courts. There was one stone of a very awkward shape, and the builders could not find a place for it; they turned it over, and tried to fit it in here and there, but it would not go in anywhere; so they threw it aside, and the nettles and the thistles grew over it, and it became a proverb and a by-word. One would say to another, “Will you not try to build in that stone?” but they all in turn gave it up; it was the stone which the builders refused. At last, the temple was all but finished; it only lacked one corner-stone, and they looked about for it, but they could not find it. Someone at last suggested, “Perhaps that queerly-shaped stone is the very one intended to complete the temple;” and they brought it out, and found that it was even so. Our blessed Lord and Master applied to himself the words of the psalmist, “The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes.” Like David, Jesus was the rejected one, but he is the Anointed of the Lord, blessed be his holy name!
Our salvation lies in another, even in one who has fought our greatest enemy, and overthrown him. This was the mark of David that, in due time, he came to the front when all Israel fled from the gigantic Philistine. The two champions meet for the deadly duel, the stone flies from the shepherd’s sling, the giant falls, his head is cut off with his own sword, and David brings the gory trophy to King Saul. Our salvation lies in one who has destroyed death, and him that had the power of death, that is, the devil. I see him coming back with the tokens of his triumph in his hand; like David, he has slain his ten thousands in slaying the one great enemy of his people. In this Jesus, who died on Calvary, and in dying destroyed death, and burst the bonds of the grave, lies our salvation.
Yet it lies in one who, despite his glorious triumphs, was sorely persecuted. David did not go straightway from his victory over the Philistine to sit upon his throne; but he was hunted by Saul like a partridge on the mountains, and long had to carry his life in his hands. He had to pass through sore persecution ere he became king. And, beloved, in a certain sense that is the condition of our Lord Jesus Christ even now; he is still rejected. I know that his name is used, and men like to call themselves his followers; but if you set forth a real Christ, crucified among them, and preach his great substitutionary sacrifice, you shall see that he is no more a favourite among men than he used to be. Still will they spit in his face, still will they scourge him, still will they crucify him. There has been a long, long battle, through these nearly two thousand years, while men have cried concerning the Lord and his Anointed, “Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.” But the King will yet come to his throne. God saith concerning him, “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.” “I will set his hand also in the sea, and his right hand in the rivers Also I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth.” But, for a while, the prince of this world prevails, the Saul, the enemy that walketh in darkness, is allowed to “worry whom he can’t devour”; and though it shall not be always so, yet at present it is a time of conflict and trial. Our salvation rests still in a despised gospel, in a hunted Christ; but as Israel looked to David in Engedi, by the tracks of the wild goats, and not to Saul upon the throne, so we look to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Though he is still cast out, and persecuted, he is the one hope of our spirits.
Bear with me while I also say that our salvation lies in one who was thrice anointed, even as David was, first, at his father’s house; then at Hebron, where he was anointed king of Judah, and afterwards when he came fully to his throne, and was acknowledged as king of all Israel. Our Jesus was trebly anointed as our Prophet, Priest, and King. God hath anointed him with the oil of gladness, and we to-day rejoice in him as fully fitted, prepared, and equipped for completing the great work of our salvation.
Once more, beloved, as David ultimately came to his throne, and when on his throne was seen as the king with whom God had entered into a solemn covenant that the throne should be his for ever, even so our salvation lies in one with whom God has made a covenant “ordered in all things and sure” a covenant which shall stand fast when earth’s old pillars bow, and when all things that are created shall melt into their natural nothingness. You know that we fell in one federal head, even the first Adam. Behold the glory of the fact that we rise in another Representative, even the second Adam, the Lord from heaven. We see our ruin yonder in the garden of Eden; we see our salvation yonder in another garden, Gethsemane, and on the cross of Calvary. Still do we look beyond all our willings, and doings, and prayings, and everything that comes of ourselves, to the Son of God and Son of man, given by God to accomplish that redemption by which sinners are saved. The Lord says concerning Jesus, “I have laid help upon one that is mighty; I have exalted one chosen out of the people.” This Almighty Saviour is the only hope of guilty men.
May I ask my dear hearers at once,— lest I should suddenly have to stop short in my sermon,— do you know and trust this Saviour ? Have you come to lean on Christ alone? Do you love the Lord Jesus Christ? Can you say, “He is all my salvation, and all my desire”? Can you take him up in your arms, as old Simeon did, and bless God that your eyes have seen his salvation? All that can save you lies there, in the person and work of this glorious David, of whom I desire to speak to you to-night. May God the Holy Spirit introduce you to him if you know him not, and may you accept him at once, as God would have you accept him, as your Saviour and your all!
I have thus spoken upon the first point, where our salvation lies.
II. Now, secondly, WHAT ARE THE SURE MERCIES OF DAVTD? What is meant by that expression?
I have already told you, but I may tell you yet again. God dealt with Israel by way of mercy, and to make that mercy sure he took a man whom he had chosen, a man whom he loved, a man whom he intended to use, and he made with him a covenant that he would set him upon the throne, that by his personal influence he might bring down blessings upon all the people. These are “the sure mercies of David.”
In the matter of our salvation, “the sure mercies of David” mean that God has laid help upon his Son, Jesus Christ. You cannot help yourself, but Christ can help you; you cannot cleanse yourself, but Christ can cleanse you; you cannot save yourself, but Christ can save you. Dear heart, whatever be thy lack, there is no lack in Christ; whatever be thy need, Christ has exactly that which can meet thy case. Young man, thou sayest, “I have nothing,” and I meet thee with this, Christ has everything. Thou sayest, old man, “What can I do?” And I meet thee with this, What cannot Christ do? If thou art nothing, Christ is everything. If thou art everything that is evil, Christ is everything that is good. If thou hast weakness, mourn it; but trust Christ, and he shall be thy strength. If thou hast sorrow, thou canst not shake it off; but go to Jesus, and he shall be thy song. All that thou wantest is in Christ. This, then, is the first sure mercy of David, that help is laid on Christ.
And, next, as David was anointed to be the Leader and Commander to his people, even so Christ is anointed on our behalf. He comes not to us as a self-sent Saviour, but as one anointed of God. It was a great comfort to me, when I put myself in Christ’s hands, that I had not to pick out a Saviour for myself; but God had appointed him. I did not put myself into the hands of one who was not authorized to act; for Jesus comes to us fully commissioned by God. A person who has no diploma may very possibly be a wise surgeon; but there are few sufferers who would trust themselves in difficult operations with a man who was not properly authorized to act in such a case. My Lord has a full diploma given him by the infinite wisdom of God. He knows how to save. He has been long in practice, and there are multitudes in heaven whom he has saved. He is the great specialist in soul-saving, and lie can meet thy special case. He has dealt with diseases that no one else can understand; and if thou art an odd man, or the oddest of the odd, yet this Christ, all comprehensive in his wondrous wisdom, knows all about thy condition.
This is another of the sure mercies of David; first, help is laid on Christ; and, next, he is anointed to act on our behalf.
We are told, in the eighty-ninth Psalm, that God promised to David that he would overthrow all his enemies: “I will beat down his foes before his face.” Here then is another sure mercy for us, Christ will rout all our enemies. Who are they? How many are there of them? Which way do they come to assault us? Christ can meet them all. Thy sins, thy many fierce and cruel sins, are thine enemies; but Christ has made full atonement for them all. Believe thou, and these Egyptians shall sink like lead in the Red Sea of thy Saviour’s blood. Thy present lusts, thine evil passions, the instincts of thy nature which thou canst not curb, are foes too strong for thee to overcome; but Christ is able to destroy them, and to put all thy temptations to the rout. It may be that Satan himself assails thee, and I pity thee if that be the case. Any man who has had a real encounter with the devil will never forget it. All the tempters in hell together cannot make up so dreadful an adversary as Apollyon himself; but even he knows who is his Master. Christ can bid him lie down, and be still, as a man silences a dog. Only look thou to Christ, for this is part of the covenant, ordered in all things and sure, that he shall rout thine adversaries. Hand thine enemies over to him, and he will rid thee of them. Cry, “Thou Son of David, have mercy upon me,” and thou shalt have a gracious answer, and quick deliverance.
God also made this to be a part of his covenant with his servant David, that he was to be a storehouse of good things to the nation over which he reigned, and Jesus is the storehouse of mercy to all his people. I am so glad that I have to speak to those who want large supplies of grace, for there is in Christ all that any sinner can ever need. As truly can it be said now as it might have been said nearly nineteen hundred years ago,—
“Dear dying Lamb, thy precious blood,
Shall never lose its power,
Till all the ransom’d church of God
Be saved to sin no more.”
He that opened eyes long ago, can open thine eyes; he that healed lepers in Judaea, can heal thee; he that raised the dead, can raise thee. He is as much a Saviour now as he was at the first; if there be any difference, he has an increase of power, for now hath God committed into the hand of Jesus all power in heaven and in earth. Only come and trust him, for all thy salvation lies in him, and in him will be found for thee in abundance all “the sure mercies of David.”
There is this point also about the covenant made with David, that he was always to have a seed; and Jesus will always have a seed. I never come to preach at haphazard, saying to myself, “Perhaps my Lord will have some souls bow before him.” I know that I have a large congregation, and I feel sure that, when God’s truth is proclaimed, some will yield to Christ; when he speaks, some of his sheep will hear his voice, and follow him, and he will give unto them eternal life. When the good seed of the kingdom is sown, there are some furrows in which it will surely take root, and bring forth a harvest to his praise.
Well, then, since Christ must have a seed, why should not I be amongst them? Since, as a Saviour, he must save some, why should be not save me? If he is a Physician, and must heal some, why should he not heal me? If he spreads a banquet of mercy, and the wedding must be furnished with guests, why should not I have a seat among them? How I pray that I may be putting a hopeful thought into some troubled heart to-night! I would get alongside some trembler, and whisper this into his ear, “Jesus must save sinners; will not you be one of those whom he must save?” It is written, “Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out.” If you trust him, and he does not save you, let us know of it, for we shall have to alter our preaching; Christ will have run back from his word, he will be another Saviour, and not the one in whom we trusted. Come, then, and learn what “the sure mercies of David” are. They are the sure mercies of Jesus, that in him there is salvation, he is anointed on purpose to give salvation, he is able to rout your adversaries, yea, “he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”
III. That leads me to say a few words, as best I may, upon the third point, IN WHAT WAY MAY THESE MERCIES BE SAID TO BE SURE?
Well, they may be said to be sure because they are found in Jesus. He is the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever; then, whatever is in him, is most surely sure. What a storehouse for God to lay up his mercy in, the person of the Lord Jesus Christ! Remember how the Israelites built treasure cities for Pharaoh; but, beloved, the Lord God hath made his treasure city to be his own dear Son. “It pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell.” “Go unto Joseph,” said Pharaoh. “Go unto Jesus,” saith Jehovah, for all the blessings of the covenant are treasured up in him, and are therefore safe and sure. If salvation had been in your own keeping, you would have lost it long ago. If your hope had lain in yourself, it would soon have been withered up; but since it lies in Jesus, and in Jesus only, it is always living and blessed. You and I, poor, helpless, hopeless souls, can flee to this city of refuge, whose gates are never closed, and find ourselves secure from the adversary. They are “the sure mercies of David” because the mercies are all in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The expression is also a good one because the mercies that come to us by Christ are real mercies. It seems a very commonplace question to ask, but it is needful to ask it, did you ever feel yourself to be a real sinner? It is wonderfully easy to go on crying, “Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable sinners,” and yet to know nothing at all about genuine conviction of sin. You know that beggars make sham wounds. I do not know the process, but I have been told that they have certain acids which they can put on their flesh, and make you believe they have terrible wounds. But real wounds are very different from sham ones; and when a man is a real sinner, and knows it, and his sin cuts into his heart, then he wants real pardoning, real cleansing, and a real Saviour. So I tell you of “the sure mercies of David”, real forgiveness for real guilt, real pardon for real rebellion, nothing sham or superficial. Yes, you truly guilty ones, you who might be ashamed to be sitting in the house of God to-night, you who might well cover your faces at being found where godly people come together, you are the sort of people for whom Jesus died. You who need to be disinfected, and set apart, you are the sort that our great Lord came into the world to seek and to save. Blessed be his name, he brings us “the sure mercies of David.”
I think the expression is used, again, because the blessings needed are surely provided. I have said that you need pardon and cleansing.
“There is a fountain fill’d with blood,
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins;
And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,
Lose all their guilty stains.”
There is cleansing in that fountain for you. The blessings which your souls need will not have to be created: they are ready, they are waiting. The medicine for your sickness is already compounded; the clothing for your nakedness is already made; all that you want between here and heaven is stored up in the provision of God’s mercy that is made in Christ Jesus. You will never surprise the Lord by the greatness of your necessities, nor have to hear him say, “I cannot meet your special case.” No, there is a sure provision made already for every soul that will come to God by Jesus Christ.
The blessings of the covenant of grace are sure mercies because they are surely bestowed. You shall not merely hear of them, but you shall receive them. If thou believest in the Lord Jesus Christ, thy sins, which are many, shall be all forgiven; if thou wilt look alone to Christ, thou shalt be saved with an everlasting salvation. Dost thou hear this, thou despairing one? In the name of God I say it to thee, if I never have an opportunity of uttering it in thy hearing again. Wilt thou come, and cast thy soul on the great David, Jesus Christ, the Well-beloved of the Father? If thou dost, thou shalt have power to become a child of God, and then all the heritage which belongs to the heirs of heaven shall fall to thy lot, surely it shall be so; thou shalt have those “sure mercies of David.”
And once thou hast them, thou shalt never lose them, because they shall surely be continued. If God shall bestow on thee eternal life, it shall be eternal life. If God shall once forgive thee, he will not afterwards condemn thee. If the Judge of all shall justify thee, who shall lay anything to thy charge? If the Good Shepherd shall bring thee into his fold, who shall pluck thee from his hand? He says of his sheep, “I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand.” I have not to preach to, you a gospel of “ifs” and “buts” and “peradventures”; but a gospel of “shalls” and “wills.” “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” Jesus said, “He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.” God doth not speak to sinful men in the way of mere hopefulness, but he speaketh with an absolute certainty of grace. If thou believest, thou shalt be as surely saved as that God is God. Though thou art the most guilty soul out of hell, if thou wilt fly to Christ Jesus, thou shalt as surely be in heaven as God is in heaven. Only trust in Jesus. “Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.” Riches of mercy, floods of grace, ceaseless outflowings of love, shall be thine if thou wilt but put thyself under Christ’s leadership, if thou wilt take him as thy Leader and Commander, and as the one Mediator between God and men.
IV. Now, lastly, IN WHAT WAY ARE “THE SURE MERCIES OF DAVID” CONNECTED WITH THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST?
God promised to David that his seed should always sit upon his throne; but if Jesus dies, then is that covenant broken. That Jesus’ reign may endure for ever, he must live. Though he boweth his head in death, yet must he live; he must rise again, else the King is gone, the throne is vacant, the covenant has failed. Jesus must rise from the dead, else how can he save his people? Can a dead Christ save us? The Church of Rome continually sets before us Christ either as a baby in his mother’s arms, or else as a man dead on the cross. Neither of these is a true portrait of Christ. He is no more a babe, and he is no more dead; he sits on the throne, reigning and ruling, and he will come, the second time, without sin, unto salvation. The living Christ is our hope. It is witnessed of him that he liveth at the right hand of God, and, as I quoted to you just now, it is for this reason that “he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”
Finally, the resurrection of Christ guarantees to all his people “the sure mercies of David.” Our Lord Jesus Christ has passed through great changes, yet he has remained always the same. He was once God in the full glory of illimitable splendour, then a babe upon a woman’s lap, then a carpenter’s son working and toiling in a quiet village, then a teacher and preacher and miracle-worker, then a sufferer with his visage more marred than any of the sons of men, then bound, accused, scourged, condemned, crucified, dead, and buried. A wonderful change this, is it not— from pure Godhead to the grave? Then he rose again, and rising, he revealed himself in his glory to his disciples, meeting with them by the sea, and in divers places, until at last he ascended, and a cloud received him out of their sight; and now he sitteth, in supernal majesty, at the right hand of the Father, waiting till he shall come to judge the earth with righteousness, and the people with his truth.
I do not know how to finish up my sermon better than by telling you the old story of Robbie Flockhart, which I have told in this house before, but not to this present congregation. The story shows the blessedness of Christ’s death and resurrection. Robbie Flockhart used constantly to preach in the streets of Edinburgh, and he told this story. He said, “I had a friend in the army, and he committed some offence in war-time for which he was condemned to be shot. So he said, ‘Robbie, I have to die to-morrow, and as I have a little money, I have made my will, and left it to you.’ ‘Thank you,’ I said. The next morning, instead of being taken out to be shot, the soldier received a free pardon; so,” said Robbie, “he got his life, and I lost my legacy, for a testament is not of force while the testator liveth, be must die to give effect to bis will. And,” said Robbie, “our great Testator is dead, we know that be died, they nailed him to the cross; therefore bis will stands good, let us go and take the legacy be has bequeathed to us. But,” added Robbie, “that story is not enough to set forth Christ’s work for us. Some time after, another friend left me a legacy, and he did die.” There were some lawyers who got bold of the money, and Robbie never received a penny of the legacy. He said, “if my friend bad been alive, I should have got it; that is to say, if he could have died, and then afterwards have been alive again, he would have seen that I received the legacy. So, the first time I lost my legacy because the friend who left it to me did not die, and the second time I lost it because the friend who left it to me did die, and did not rise again. But,” said be, “see the glorious safety of the believer’s legacy from bis Lord. He who died, and so made the will of effect, has risen again, and he will see that no lawyer, honest or dishonest, shall ever interfere with the legacies that be left to his people. Not even the devil himself shall prevent the heirs of everlasting life from obtaining the heritage which Christ has left them in the new covenant which he has sealed with bis blood.”
Beloved, the mercies of David are sure, because your David lives; He died to purchase these mercies for you; be lives to claim them on your behalf. He died to cleanse you; be lives to apply that cleansing to you, and to see that the work is fully done. Come to God in the name of him that is living, and was dead; I entreat you to come unto him. How happy should I be if all in this congregation came to Christ! You who have come, and I suppose that is the majority here to-night, come again, looking unto Jesus; and you who have never come before, oh, that this Thursday night might be made memorable by your coming to him who ever liveth to save the sons of men! Dreams of happiness, and thoughts of joy, flit across my mind as I stand here, and think that perhaps,— nay, great Lord, I drop the “perhaps,” for it will be so,— you will yield yourselves to Jesus tonight, he will give you “the sure mercies of David”, he will enter into covenant with you, and then each one of you will say—
“Now will I tell to sinners round,
What a dear Saviour I have found;
I’ll point to thy redeeming blood,
And say, ‘Behold the way to God.
As I remember the day when I first saw Christ on the cross, and trusting in him, soon began to tell the story to others, and many thousands have come to Jesus by the simple telling of the old, old story, so I feel to-night as if some young man here will come and trust in Jesus, and then will go and cry to others, “Look and live.” It may be that some mother here, finding Christ herself, will be a blessing to her children; and that some father, believing unto life eternal, will bring bis sons and daughters to the Saviour’s feet; and if so, I will be for ever happy, and the Lord’s name shall be praised and magnified for ever and ever! Amen.