Category Archives: C. H. Spurgeon

July 9 The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible

July 9.—Morning. [Or January 14.]
“The wrath of man shall praise thee.”

HEZEKIAH had prayed, and Isaiah had been sent with a message in which Sennacherib’s overthrow was promised: the king had not long to wait to see what he desired. God’s actions are prompt, for his preparations for war are always made; his arsenal is well stored. It was a word and a blow, and Assyria was smitten never to trouble Hezekiah again.

2 Kings 19:35–37

35 ¶ And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred four score and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses. (The few who survived looked upon the myriads of dead, lying “like the leaves of the forest when autumn has blown.”)

36 So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh.

Now that this terrible robber was no longer able to roam abroad with his marauding host, there was some rest to the surrounding nations, who thus profited by Hezekiah’s prayer.

37 And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword: and they escaped into the land of Armenia. And Esarhaddon his son reigned in his stead. (Thus at the feet of his own idol he poured out his heart’s blood, and his blasphemies were heard no more.)

THAT jubilant Psalm, the seventy-sixth, was probably written at the time of the destruction of Sennacherib’s army; at any rate it is singularly descriptive of it. Let us sympathise in the holy joy of the writer as he triumphs in the triumph of his God.

Psalm 76

In Judah is God known: his name is great in Israel. (If unknown in all the world beside he is famous among his people. Because the world knows him not, it blasphemes as Rab-shakeh did, but the Lord’s people delight to sound forth his praises to the world’s end.)

In Salem also is his tabernacle, and his dwelling place in Zion.

There brake he the arrows of the bow, the shield, and the sword, and the battle. Selah. (Without leaving his peaceful abode in the temple, he sent forth his word and snapped the arrows of his enemies before they could fit them upon the string, he ended the fight ere they could begin it. They did not cast up a bank nor shoot an arrow there. And shall not the Lord defend his church? Assuredly! She is safe, come what may.)

Thou art more glorious and excellent than the mountains of prey. (Heaps upon heaps, Assyria had stowed away her plunder, and the fame thereof went abroad, but Israel’s God eclipsed the mighty deeds of the destroying invader. Glory be to his name!)

The stouthearted are spoiled, (They came to spoil, and were spoiled themselves,) they have slept their sleep: (their last sleep, the sleep of death:) and none of the men of might have found their hands. (Their arms were palsied, the rigour of death stiffened their fingers.)

At thy rebuke, O God of Jacob, both the chariot and horse are cast into a dead sleep. (Never to neigh or rattle again; still were the trampings of the horses and the crash of the cars.)

7, 8 Thou, even thou, art to be feared: and who may stand in thy sight when once thou art angry? Thou didst cause judgment to be heard from heaven; the earth feared, and was still. (So complete a destruction was evidently a judgment from heaven, and those who heard of it cried out, “This is the finger of God!” Such a blow will yet be struck at the Papacy, for fall it must, to the astonishment of all mankind.)

When God arose to judgment, to save all the meek of the earth. Selah.

10 Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain.

Enemies are held in by God’s will, and when allowed to rage, God’s glory will be enhanced by their overthrow. Let us never yield to fear. The Lord of hosts is mightier than the mightiest foes of his church.

11 Vow, and pay unto the Lord your God: let all that be round about him bring presents unto him that ought to be feared.

12 He shall cut off the spirit of princes: he is terrible to the kings of the earth. (As men slip off a tender shoot from a plant, so can the Lord remove the proudest monarchs; be it ours to worship, love, and serve the King of kings. To his name be endless praises.)

July 9.—Evening. [Or January 15.]
“His place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks.”

HOW gloriously did Isaiah speak at this time; let us read his eloquent words

Isaiah 33:1, 2; 7–24

Woe to thee that spoilest, and thou wast not spoiled; and dealest treacherously, and they dealt not treacherously with thee! when thou shalt cease to spoil, thou shalt be spoiled; and when thou shalt make an end to deal treacherously, they shall deal treacherously with thee. (Assyria had gained power by treachery, and by treachery she should fall.)

O Lord, be gracious unto us; we have waited for thee: be thou their arm every morning, our salvation also in the time of trouble.

Behold, their valiant ones shall cry without: the ambassadors of peace shall weep bitterly. (The Assyrian king refused all terms of peace, and made valiant men weep for fear, at the remembrance of his power and cruelty.)

The highways lie waste, the wayfaring man ceaseth: he hath broken the covenant, he hath despised the cities, he regardeth no man.

The earth mourneth and languisheth: Lebanon is ashamed and hewn down: Sharon is like a wilderness; and Bashan and Carmel shake off their fruits. (Devastation and desolation followed the invader’s track.)

10 Now will I rise, saith the Lord; now will I be exalted; now will I lift up myself.

11 Ye shall conceive chaff, ye shall bring forth stubble: your breath, as fire, shall devour you.

12 And the people shall be as the burnings of lime: as thorns cut up shall they be burned in the fire. (At God’s rebuke the mighty adversary would be consumed, consumed by his own fury, gone like thorns in the fire.)

13 ¶ Hear, ye that are far off, what I have done; and, ye that are near, acknowledge my might.

14 The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? (Their terror at Sennacherib led them to enquire how they could endure the yet greater wrath of God, whose wrath is like a fire which devours, and yet burns on. Everlasting burnings are more to be feared than death itself; be it our great business to escape from them. The righteous were at ease while the hypocrites were alarmed, and so we read)

15 He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil;

16 He shall dwell on high: his place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure.

17 Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off. (Hezekiah came forth in his robes again, and the people, being free from the invader, could travel as far abroad as they chose.)

18 Thine heart shall meditate terror. Where is the scribe? where is the receiver? where is he that counted the towers?

19 Thou shalt not see a fierce people, a people of a deeper speech than thou canst perceive; of a stammering tongue, that thou canst not understand. (The proud Assyrian engineers and accountants were disappointed, and his harsh-speaking soldiery came not near the city.)

20, 21 Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities: thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken. But there the glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams; wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby.

22 For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king; he will save us. (They had all the advantages of broad rivers without being exposed to attacks by vessels of war, for the Lord was with them. Not so Assyria, for its state was like a vessel in a storm.)

23 Thy tacklings are loosed; they could not well strengthen their mast, they could not spread the sail: then is the prey of a great spoil divided; the lame take the prey.

24 And the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity. (Jerusalem healed, restored, forgiven, was blessed indeed. Such blessings have all the saints.)[1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1964). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 406–407). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

July 8 The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible

July 8.—Morning. [Or January 12.]
“Whereon do ye trust?”

2 Chronicles 32:1–3; 5–12; 14, 16, 17, 19, 20

AFTER these things, and the establishment thereof, Sennacherib king of Assyria came, and entered into Judah, and encamped against the fenced cities, and thought to win them for himself. (Notwithstanding the glorious reformation made by Hezekiah, he and his people must be tried; the trial became a test of their faith, and an opportunity for the Lord to shew himself strong on their behalf. They were none the less approved of God because they were tried: good trees are pruned because they are good, and in order to make them better.)

2, 3 And when Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib was come, and that he was purposed to fight against Jerusalem, He took counsel with his princes and his mighty men to stop the waters of the fountains which were without the city: and they did help him. (To a vast host the want of water would be a great peril, hence the wisdom of cutting off the supplies in the region which Sennacherib would traverse. Faith is near akin to common sense.)

Also he strengthened himself, and built up all the wall that was broken, and raised it up to the towers, and another wall without, and repaired Millo in the city of David, and made darts and shields in abundance.

Here again were common-sense preparations: faith trusts in God, but repairs her bulwarks.

6, 7, 8 And he set captains of war over the people, and gathered them together to him in the street of the gate of the city, and spake comfortably to them saying, Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more with us than with him: With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.

They were inspired with confidence by their leader’s heroic language; and shall not we, the soldiers of Christ, be cheered by that which he has spoken—“Let not your hearts be troubled”?

¶ After this did Sennacherib king of Assyria send his servants to Jerusalem, unto Hezekiah king of Judah, and unto all Judah that were at Jerusalem, saying,

10, 11 Thus saith Sennacherib king of Assyria, Whereon do ye trust, that ye abide in the siege in Jerusalem? Doth not Hezekiah persuade you to give over yourselves to die by famine and by thirst, saying, The Lord our God shall deliver us out of the hand of the king of Assyria?

12 Hath not the same Hezekiah taken away his high places and his altars, and commanded Judah and Jerusalem, saying, Ye shall worship before one altar, and burn incense upon it?

The tyrant king treated Hezekiah meanly by appealing to his people to revolt from him and look to their own interests; charging him with deceiving them, and with profanity in putting an end to the unlawful worship upon the high places. Hezekiah’s greatest virtue is here mentioned as a crime, so common is it for saints to be misrepresented by sinners.

14 Who was there among all the gods of those nations that my fathers utterly destroyed, that could deliver his people out of mine hand, that your God should be able to deliver you out of mine hand? (He spake exceeding proudly, as if he regarded Jehovah as inferior to the idols whose worshippers he had vanquished. The Lord would surely be moved to jealousy by such taunts.)

16, 17 And his servants spake yet more against the Lord God, and against his servant Hezekiah. He wrote also letters to rail on the Lord God of Israel, and to speak against him, saying, As the gods of the nations of other lands have not delivered their people out of mine hand, so shall not the God of Hezekiah deliver his people out of mine hand.

Writing is deliberate, and therefore doubly profane. It was well for Hezekiah to have so foul-mouthed an enemy, for his insolent blasphemies stirred up the indignation of the Lord.

19 And they spake against the God of Jerusalem, as against the gods of the people of the earth, which were the work of the hands of man.

20 And for this cause Hezekiah the king, and the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz, prayed and cried to heaven. (Deliverance was not far off when king and prophet both cried to heaven. Is any troubled, or in fear of trouble? Let him pray.)

July 8.—Evening. [Or January 13.]
“In Judah is God known, His name is great in Israel.”

A TERRIBLY blasphemous letter written by Rabshakeh, Sennacherib’s captain, caused Hezekiah great distress, but he knew where to take his trouble.

2 Kings 19:14–34

14 And Hezekiah received the letter of the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up into the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord. (This was a much better plan than attempting to answer his enemy in the same insulting language: an angry answer to an angry letter shews that the weakness and sin are not confined to one side of the quarrel. Praying over a letter is an infinitely wiser thing than going to law about it.)

15, 16, 17, 18, 19 And Hezekiah prayed before the Lord, and said, O Lord God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth. Lord, bow down thine ear, and hear: open, Lord, thine eyes, and see: and hear the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent him to reproach the living God. Of a truth, Lord, the kings of Assyria have destroyed the nations and their lands, And have cast their gods into the fire: for they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them. Now therefore, O Lord our God, I beseech thee, save thou us out of his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the Lord God, even thou only. (After acknowledging the power of the invader, and ascribing the overthrow of the gods of other nations to the fact that they were dead idols, the king appeals to Jehovah, the God of Israel, to prove his own reality and power by saving his people, lest the heathen should reckon him to be a God only in name. Appeals to God’s honour have much power in them; it ought to beour greatest concern and our surest confidence. We are taught to begin prayer with “Hallowed be thy name,” and close it with “Thy kingdom come.”)

20, 21 Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, That which thou hast prayed to me against Sennacherib king of Assyria I have heard. This is the word that the Lord hath spoken concerning him; The virgin the daughter of Zion hath despised thee, and laughed thee to scorn; the daughter of Jerusalem hath shaken her head at thee. (Weak as she is, she is under the Lord’s protection and defies thee.)

22, 23, 24 Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed? and against whom hast thou exalted thy voice, and lifted up thine eyes on high? even against the Holy One of Israel. By thy messengers thou hast reproached the Lord, and hast said, With the multitude of my chariots I am come up to the height of the mountains, to the sides of Lebanon, and will cut down the tall cedar trees thereof, and the choice fir trees thereof: and I will enter into the lodgings of his borders, and into the forest of his Carmel. I have digged and drunk strange waters, and with the sole of my feet have I dried up all the rivers of besieged places. (These were Sennacherib’s feats of war, which he emblazoned on his palace walls; he gloried in the devastations he had caused. Vain glory this! More becoming a demon than one born of a woman. The lust of conquest obliterates compassion. Great, however, as Sennacherib thought himself to be, he was now to find his superior, and to learn whence his power had been derived.)

25, 26 Hast thou not heard long ago how I have done it, and of ancient times that I have formed it? now have I brought it to pass, that thou shouldest be to lay waste fenced cities into ruinous heaps. Therefore their inhabitants were of small power, they were dismayed and confounded; they were as the grass of the field, and as the green herb, as the grass on the housetops, and as corn blasted before it be grown up. (It had been by Jehovah’s power that he had conquered, he had been used as a scourge in the Lord’s hand, to chastise the wickedness of the nations.)

27, 28 But I know thy abode, and thy going out, and thy coming in, and thy rage against me. Because thy rage against me and thy tumult is come up into mine ears, therefore I will put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way by which thou camest. (Like a huge monster, he might rage and roar, but he would be made to know his master, and go back to his den at the word of command.)

29 And this shall be a sign unto thee, Ye shall eat this year such things as grow of themselves, and in the second year that which springeth of the same; and in the third year sow ye, and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat the fruits thereof. (Provisions were at famine prices, and it was too late to sow the fields, therefore the Lord sustained the people for two years, by giving the earth an unusual fertility, thus fulfilling his promise, “so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.”)

30, 31 And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall yet again take root downward, and bear fruit upward. For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, and they that escape out of mount Zion: the zeal of the Lord of hosts shall do this. (Yet again would the kingdom revive, the people would again take root in the soil, and grow upward in prosperity. It is well in spiritual things to unite the two growths, so as to take root downward in humility and experience, while we grow upward in zeal and enthusiasm.)

32, 33, 34 Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shield, nor cast a bank against it. By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the Lord. For I will defend this city, to save it, for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.

Ye that love the cause of Zion,

Though despis’d of men, and few,

Arm’d with boldness like the lion,

Fear not all that men can do.

What though all the world oppose;

God is stronger than her foes.

Now, ye people, walk around her,

View her walls, and count her towers;

See how God, her King and founder,

Keeps her safe from hostile powers:

Zion’s children live secure;

God has made their dwelling sure.

Foes of Zion, fight no longer;

Here submission will be gain:

Zion’s King will prove the stronger,

And with power her cause maintain.

He secures her gates and walls:

’Tis on you the ruin falls.

 

Lord, I forego all anxious thought,

And cast on thee my care;

Content that thou art over all,

And rulest everywhere.

Teach me to listen for thy voice

When the storm howleth loud;

Help me to look for light from thee,

Beneath the darkest cloud.

Thy face I seek with earnest prayer,

For thou art all my stay,

Now let thy mighty arm appear

And drive my griefs away.

 

Happy the church, thou sacred place,

The seat of thy Creator’s grace;

Thine holy courts are his abode,

Thou earthly palace of our God!

Thy walls are strength, and at thy gates

A guard of heavenly warriors waits;

Nor shall thy deep foundations move

Fix’d on his counsels and his love.

 

At thy rebuke, O Jacob’s God,

Both horse and chariot fell:

Who knows the terrors of thy rod?

Thy vengeance who can tell?

What power can stand before thy sight,

When once thy wrath appears?

When heaven shines round with dreadful light,

The earth lies still and fears.

 

Thy foes in vain designs engage,

Against his throne in vain they rage;

Like rising waves, with angry roar,

That dash and die upon the shore.

Then let our souls in Zion dwell,

Nor fear the wrath of Rome nor hell;

His arms embrace this happy ground,

Like brazen bulwarks built around.[1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1964). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 403–405). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

July 7 The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible

July 7.—Morning. [Or January 10.]
“Be ye not stiffnecked.”

2 Chronicles 29:1–5; 15–19

HEZEKIAH began to reign when he was five and twenty years old, and he reigned nine and twenty years in Jerusalem. And he did right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that David his father had done. (It is quite a relief to get rid of Ahaz and meet with one of the best of kings. Now Judah will prosper again.)

¶ He in the first year of his reign, in the first month, opened the doors of the house of the Lord, and repaired them. (Those who mean to do well cannot begin too early; the first year of this king’s reign was full of good.)

4, 5 And he brought in the priests and the Levites, and gathered them together into the east street, And said unto them, Hear me, ye Levites, sanctify now yourselves, and sanctify the house of the Lord God of your fathers, and carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place.

15 And they gathered their brethren, and sanctified themselves, and came, according to the commandment of the king, by the words of the Lord, to cleanse the house of the Lord. (Those who are to sanctify God’s house must themselves first be sanctified; we cannot cleanse others if our own hands are foul.)

16 And the priests went into the inner part of the house of the Lord, to cleanse it, and brought out all the uncleanness that they found in the temple of the Lord into the court of the house of the Lord. And the Levites took it, to carry it out abroad into the brook Kidron. (That memorable brook which our Lord crossed when he once for all sanctified his people. All the uncleanness of our holy things he has beheld; and by passing over that brook in sorrow he has put it all away.)

17, 18 So they sanctified the house of the Lord in eight days. Then they went in to Hezekiah the king, and said, We have cleansed all the house of the Lord, and the altar of burnt offering, with all the vessels thereof, and the shewbread table, with all the vessels thereof.

19 Moreover all the vessels, which king Ahaz in his reign did cast away in his transgression, have we prepared and sanctified, and, behold, they are before the altar of the Lord. (The house being purged, worship could begin; our hearts also must be purified before we can offer acceptable homage to the Lord.)

2 Chronicles 30:1; 6–12

AND Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the Lord God of Israel. (Those who love God desire others to join with them in his service: true revivals create a missionary spirit. The kingdom of Israel was dissolving, and the poor people who remained could be reached by Hezekiah.)

6–9 So the posts went with the letters from the king and his princes throughout all Israel and Judah, and according to the commandment of the king, saying, Ye children of Israel, turn again unto the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, and he will return to the remnant of you, that are escaped out of the hand of the kings of Assyria. And be not ye like your fathers, and like your brethren, which trespassed against the Lord God of their fathers, who therefore gave them up to desolation, as ye see. Now be ye not stiffnecked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves unto the Lord, and enter into his sanctuary, which he hath sanctified for ever: and serve the Lord your God, that the fierceness of his wrath may turn away from you. For if ye turn again unto the Lord, your brethren and your children shall find compassion before them that lead them captive, so that they shall come again into this land: for the Lord your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if ye return unto him.

10 So the posts passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh even unto Zebulun: but they laughed them to scorn, and mocked them. (And no wonder. Ridicule is the favourite weapon of wicked men. Let us not marvel if the world scorns us and our entreaties; it only acts after its own nature.)

11 Nevertheless divers of Asher and Manasseh and of Zebulun humbled themselves, and came to Jerusalem. (Thank God, there is always some good soil for the divine seed to fall upon. Let us not be weary in well-doing.)

12 Also in Judah the hand of God was to give them one heart to do the commandment of the king and of the princes, by the word of the Lord. (The hand of the Lord works wonders: our churches and our nation need it. Lord, stretch out thy saving arm and glorify thy Son.)

July 7.—Evening. [Or January 11.]
“Purge out the old leaven.”

2 Chronicles 30:13–15; 17–23; 26, 27

AND there assembled at Jerusalem much people to keep the feast of unleavened bread in the second month, a very great congregation.

14 And they arose and took away the altars that were in Jerusalem, and all the altars for incense took they away, and cast them into the brook Kidron. (It was meet to cast out the old leaven before they kept the feast. A purified temple led to a purified city; good things grow. Here is mention of the Kidron again, and so we are once more reminded of the atonement of our Lord Jesus, which removes all impurities.)

15 Then they killed the passover on the fourteenth day of the second month: and the priests and the Levites were ashamed, and sanctified themselves, and brought in the burnt offerings into the house of the Lord.

17 For there were many in the congregation that were not sanctified: therefore the Levites had the charge of the killing of the passovers for every one that was not clean, to sanctify them unto the Lord. (The irregularities were unavoidable and not wilful, and therefore the Lord looked at the heart and forgave them. It would be a sad wrong done to the divine mercy if we were to argue from this that we may alter the ordinances of God at our pleasure. If we do so without the reasons which were present in this case, we shall meet with rebuke, and not remission.)

18, 19 For a multitude of the people, even many of Ephraim, and Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet did they eat the passover otherwise than it was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, The good Lord pardon every one that prepareth his heart to seek God, the Lord God of his fathers, though he be not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary. (A short but sweet prayer: sin is confessed, mercy sought, and the goodness of the Lord pleaded.)

20–22 And the Lord hearkened to Hezekiah, and healed the people. And the children of Israel that were present at Jerusalem kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with great gladness: and the Levites and the priests praised the Lord day by day, singing with loud instruments unto the Lord. (So there was much singing: the more praise the better.) And Hezekiah spake comfortably unto all the Levites that taught the good knowledge of the Lord. (There was much preaching; the people needed it, and were right glad to attend upon it.) And they did eat throughout the feast seven days, offering peace offerings, and making confession to the Lord God of their fathers.

Best of all, there was much praying and confessing of sin, and so we may be sure there was plenteous forgiveness, and this led the people to desire yet more fellowship with their God.

23, 26 And the whole assembly took counsel to keep other seven days: and they kept other seven days with gladness. So there was great joy in Jerusalem: for since the time of Solomon the son of David king of Israel there was not the like in Jerusalem. (Holy duties should be sweetened with holy gladness.)

27 Then the priests the Levites arose and blessed the people: and their voice was heard, and their prayer came up to his holy dwelling place, even unto heaven. (They ended well; every man went home with a blessing in his ears, and prayer also reached the ear of the God of heaven, which was the greatest mercy of all.)

2 Chronicles 31:1, 2

NOW when all this was finished, all Israel that were present went out to the cities of Judah, and brake the images in pieces, and cut down the groves, and threw down the high places and the altars out of all Judah and Benjamin, in Ephraim also and Manasseh, until they had utterly destroyed them all. Then all the children of Israel returned, every man to his possession, into their own cities.

Those have profited indeed who go home to break their idols. Is this the result of our hearing? Do we make an end of our sins?

And Hezekiah appointed the courses of the priests and the Levites after their courses, every man according to his service, the priests and Levites for burnt offerings and for peace offerings, to minister, and to give thanks, and to praise in the gates of the tents of the Lord.

The best way to keep out error and sin is to promote truth and holiness by gospel ordinances and earnest ministers. Sound gospel preaching alone can defeat the inroads of Popery. The Lord send it in our day.[1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1964). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 401–402). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

July 6 The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible

July 6.—Morning. [Or January 8.]
“Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”

2 Kings 17:1–7; 12–18; 24–29; 33

IN the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah began Hoshea the son of Elah to reign in Samaria over Israel nine years. And he did evil in the sight of the Lord, but not as the kings of Israel that were before him. (Though best of all the kings of Israel, he was bad; and though bad, he was the best. God takes care to give men their due, and say all in their favour that can be said.)

3, 4 ¶ Against him came up Shalmaneser king of Assyria; and Hoshea became his servant, and gave him presents. And the king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea: for he had sent messengers to So king of Egypt, and brought no present to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year: therefore the king of Assyria shut him up, and bound him in prison.

Egypt was the rival power to Assyria, and the petty kings were first on one side and then on the other, as they hoped to gain advantage.

¶ Then the king of Assyria came up throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria, and besieged it three years.

In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria. (This was the close of the guilty career of the kingdom of Israel.)

For so it was, that the children of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, which had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, and had feared other gods.

12 For they served idols, whereof the Lord had said unto them, Ye shall not do this thing.

13–18 Yet the Lord testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets. Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the Lord their God. And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the Lord had charged them, that they should not do like them. And they left all the commandments of the Lord their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made a grove, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served Baal. And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire, and used divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger. Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only.

24 ¶ And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel. (Thus the land was peopled by a motley company collected from several conquered nations. This was a part of the policy of the Assyrian monarch, in order to keep the nations his slaves.)

25 And so it was at the beginning of their dwelling there, that they feared not the Lord: therefore the Lord sent lions among them, which slew some of them. (Still has God some champions left: lions prove loyal if men are traitors.)

26 Wherefore they spake to the king of Assyria, saying, The nations which thou hast removed, and placed in the cities of Samaria, know not the manner of the God of the land: therefore he hath sent lions among them, and, behold, they slay them.

27 Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, Carry thither one of the priests whom ye brought from thence; and let him teach them the manner of the God of the land.

They imagined that there was a deity for each country, and that Israel’s god must be appeased.

28, 29 Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Beth-el, and taught them how they should fear the Lord. Howbeit every nation made gods of their own, and put them in the houses of the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in their cities wherein they dwelt.

33 So they feared the Lord, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence. (And this mongrel religion is fashionable still: men try to serve God and Mammon, but in vain. God will have no rival, he will be all or nothing. May God deliver us from this Samaritan mixture. Amen.)

July 6.—Evening. [Or January 9.]
“Thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities.”

WHEN Ahaz was dead, and Hezekiah had newly ascended the throne of Judah, we can well conceive of Isaiah as pleading with the people to reform. Observe the gentleness of his persuasions.

Isaiah 42:24, 25

24, 25 Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers? did not the Lord, he against whom we have sinned? for they would not walk in his ways, neither were they obedient unto his law. Therefore he hath poured upon him the fury of his anger, and the strength of battle: and it hath set him on fire round about, yet he knew not; and it burned him, yet he laid it not to heart. (Both Israel and Judah had suffered severely through their sins. Israel was uprooted by the Assyrian, and Judah had been deprived of its men by hundreds of thousands, till only a mere handful remained. Surely it was lime to learn wisdom and give up the idols which so greatly provoked the Lord.)

LEST they should fear that the Lord would not be favourable to them if they returned, the prophet poured forth a stream of gracious promises in his Master’s name.

Isaiah 43:1–7; 22–28

But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.

When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.

For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee.

4–7 Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life. Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west. I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.

Sin had made them captives, but eternal love had redeemed them, and in the time appointed the banished ones would return. Ought not such loving words to have touched the hearts of the men to whom they were spoken? Do they touch ours? They belong to all believers: do we love God for speaking so graciously to us?

22–24 But thou hast not called upon me, O Jacob; but thou hast been weary of me, O Israel. Thou hast not brought me the small cattle of thy burnt offerings; neither hast thou honoured me with thy sacrifices. I have not caused thee to serve with an offering, nor wearied thee with incense. Thou hast bought me no sweet cane with money, neither hast thou filled me with the fat of thy sacrifices: but thou hast made me to serve with thy sins, thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities.

The temple had been shut up. None cared to honour the good Lord, but all were bent on provoking him. What a charge these words contain! We naturally expect to hear sentence pronounced, and the criminals led forth to execution; hut mark and marvel at the unexpected love, the boundless grace!

25 I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins. (This the Lord proved to be true by the blessing which he gave to his repenting people under Hezekiah. But O the depths of the mercy set forth in this verse. Jehovah himself has pardoned his people, for his own name’s sake! He has voluntarily passed an act of indemnity and oblivion which buries all their sins. Who can now despair? Whosoever believeth on the Lord Jesus is already reconciled, and his sins are gone for ever. Glory be to God for this! yea, glory for ever.)

26–28 Put me in remembrance: let us plead together: declare thou, that thou mayest be justified. Thy first father hath sinned, and thy teachers have transgressed against me. Therefore I have profaned the princes of the sanctuary, and have given Jacob to the curse, and Israel to reproaches. (Their former miseries were the fruit of their sins, and therefore they were bound to confess their transgressions, and plead the promise of pardon. Lord, we will do the same.)

Till God in human flesh I see,

My thoughts no comfort find;

The holy, just, and sacred Three

Are terrors to my mind.

But if Immanuel’s face appear,

My hope, my joy begins;

His name forbids my slavish fear,

His grace removes my sins.

 

Lord, I, too, wandered from thy ways,

And knelt at stranger shrine:

I’ve called another name, “belov’d,”

And nigh forgotten thine.

The feeble reed on which I leaned

A sword of judgment proved,

And pierced the soul that wandered far

From him whom still I loved.

Behold mine idols, perish’d all!

Here mourning now I stand:

I lift my contrite heart to thee,

And bless thy chastening hand.

 

We praise, we worship thee, O God;

Thy sovereign power we sound abroad:

All nations bow before thy throne,

And thee, the great Jehovah, own.

O holy, holy, holy Lord,

Thou God of Hosts, by all adored;

Earth and the heavens are full of thee,

Thy light, thy power, thy Majesty.

Glory to thee, O God, most high!

Father, we praise thy Majesty;

The Son, the Spirit, we adore;

One Godhead, blest for evermore.

“Fear not, I am with thee, oh be not dismay’d!

I, I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;

I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,

Upheld by my righteous omnipotent hand.

“When through the deep waters I call thee to go,

The rivers of grief shall not thee overflow;

For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,

And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

“The soul that on Jesus hath lean’d for repose,

I will not, I will not desert to his foes;

That soul, though all hell should endeavour to shake,

I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!”

 

Captain of thine enlisted host,

Display thy glorious banner high;

The summons send from coast to coast,

And call a numerous army nigh.

A solemn jubilee proclaim,

Proclaim the great sabbatic day;

Assert the glories of thy name;

Spoil Satan of his wish’d-for prey.

Bid, bid thy heralds publish loud

The peaceful blessings of thy reign;

And when they speak of sprinkled blood,

The mystery to the heart explain.

Chase the usurper from his throne,

Oh! chase him to his destined hell;

Stout-hearted sinners overcome;

And glorious in thy temple dwell.

 

Music, bring thy sweetest treasures,

Dulcet melody and chord,

Link the notes with loveliest measures

To the glory of the Lord.

Wing the praise from every nation,

Sweetest instruments employ,

Raise the chorus of creation,

Swell the universal joy.

Far away be gloom and sadness;

Spirits with seraphic fire,

Tongues with hymns, and hearts with gladness,

Higher sound the chords and higher.

To the Father, to the Saviour,

To the Spirit, source of light,

As it was, is now, and ever,

Praise in heaven’s supremest height.[1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1964). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 398–400). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

July 5 The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible

July 5.—Morning. [Or January 6.]
“Vain is the help of man.”

2 Chronicles 28:16–19

AT that time did king Ahaz send unto the kings of Assyria to help him.

17 For again the Edomites had come and smitten Judah, and carried away captives.

18 The Philistines also had invaded the cities of the low country, and of the south of Judah, and had taken (many towns and villages) and they dwelt there.

19 For the Lord brought Judah low because of Ahaz king of Israel; for he made Judah naked, and transgressed sore against the Lord.

The kingdom had flourished greatly under Jotham, but the Lord who raised it up could just as easily bring it down. Those who will not be humble must be humbled. Remark the expression,—“he made Judah naked.” Sin strips man of all his beauty, exposes him to contempt, and robs him of protection. The smallest powers were able to oppress Judah; insignificant nations, which had been tributaries to it before, did with it as they pleased.

2 Kings 16:7–11

SO Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, saying, I am thy servant and thy son: come up, and save me out of the hand of the king of Syria, and out of the hand of the king of Israel, which rise up against me.

8, 9 And Ahaz took the silver and gold that was found in the house of the Lord, and in the treasures of the king’s house, and sent it for a present to the king of Assyria. And the king of Assyria hearkened unto him: for the king of Assyria went up against Damascus, and took it, and carried the people of it captive to Kir, and slew Rezin. (Trust in man is an expensive business, for those we look to will be pretty sure to look to their own interests, and will not serve us unless they can serve themselves at the same time. Carnal confidences lead men to rob God: Ahaz thought nothing of stripping the temple in order to purchase the aid of his great patron, who cared nothing for him, but only for the plunder he could obtain by the war.)

10 And king Ahaz went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, and saw an altar that was at Damascus: and king Ahaz sent to Urijah the priest the fashion of the altar, and the pattern of it, according to all the workmanship thereof.

11 And Urijah the priest built an altar according to all that king Ahaz had sent from Damascus: so Urijah the priest made it against king Ahaz came from Damascus. (Foolish indeed was this to borrow the altar of a vanquished monarch. If his gods had been of any service to Benhadad, he would not have been crushed by the Assyrian. Idolaters are mad.)

2 Chronicles. 28:20; 22–25; 27

AND Tilgath-pilneser king of Assyria came unto him, and distressed him, but strengthened him not. (He quartered his troops upon him, and impoverished his people. Ahaz now felt the curse of trusting in man.)

22, 23 ¶ And in the time of his distress did he trespass yet more against the Lord: this is that king Ahaz. (This brand is set upon him, for it is a special sin when a man grows worse under affliction.) For he sacrificed unto the gods of Damascus, which smote him: and he said, Because the gods of the kings of Syria help them, therefore will I sacrifice to them, that they may help me. But they were the ruin of him, and of all Israel.

24 And Ahaz gathered together the vessels of the house of God, and cut in pieces the vessels of the house of God, and shut up the doors of the house of the Lord, and he made him altars in every corner of Jerusalem.

Those who will not worship at God’s altar will set up a hundred shrines of their own; men who will not believe the gospel will yield credence to a thousand lying superstitions.

25 And in every several city of Judah he made high places to burn incense unto other gods, and provoked to anger the Lord God of his fathers.

27 And Ahaz slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city, even in Jerusalem: but they brought him not into the sepulchres of the kings of Israel: and Hezekiah his son reigned in his stead. (He died impenitent and inglorious, and by a sort of holy censorship which appears to have been exercised over Judah’s dead kings, he was denied burial in the royal tombs.)

July 5.—Evening. [Or January 7.]
“To whom then will ye liken God?”

WHILE Ahaz was setting up his idols the eloquent rebukes of Isaiah were remembered by the godly remnant. With what energy does he extol the Lord and denounce all attempts to set him forth by symbols.

Isaiah 40:12–31

12 Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?

13, 14 Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being his counsellor hath taught him? With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding?

15, 16 Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing. And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering.

17 All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity.

18 To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?

To confound idolaters, the prophet describes the process of god-making, that he may shame them out of such foolish worship.

19 The workman melteth (or carveth) a graven image, and the goldsmith spreadeth it over with gold, and casteth silver chains. (Think of worshipping a piece of wood plated by the goldsmith, which needs to be fastened in its place lest it fall or be stolen! Is not this insanity?)

20 He that is so impoverished that he hath no oblation chooseth a tree that will not rot; he seeketh unto him a cunning workman to prepare a graven image, that shall not be moved.

21 Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth?

22 It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:

23 That bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity.

24 Yea, they shall not be planted; yea, they shall not be sown: yea, their stock shall not take root in the earth: and he shall also blow upon them, and they shall wither, and the whirl-wind shall take them away as stubble. (The greatest empires wither when God forbids their prospering; is he, then, like to an image of wood?)

25 To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One.

26 Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth. (Let every star rebuke the worshipper of wood and stone.)

27 Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God?

28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.

29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.

30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:

31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Be it ours, then, to trust the unseen Lord, and never shall we fail. Glorious Lord, we believe; help thou our unbelief.)

Fear not, nor longer be dismayed,

Lo, I, the mighty God, am nigh;

Thou shalt, each moment, feel my aid,

If thou wilt on mine arm rely.

Why shouldst thou fear, when I am thine—

When all I am, I am for thee?

If thou art weak, my strength divine

Is perfect in infirmity.

Without my help thou canst not stand,

But thee I will not leave alone;

I’ll hold thee up by my right hand,

Till thou shalt reach my heavenly throne.[1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1964). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 396–397). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

July 4 The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible

July 4.—Morning. [Or January 4.]
“Immanuel—God with us.”

Isaiah 7:1–17

AND it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up toward Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it. (These petty kings had troubles enough of their own from the greater powers, yet they could not be at peace, plunder was sweet to them.)

And it was told the house of David, (or the representative of David’s royal house,) saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim. And his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind. (The object of the invasion by Syria and Israel was to put down the kings of the line of David once for all, and set up the son of Tabeal, a creature of their own. There was so much discontented feeling abroad among his own subjects that Ahaz was at his wit’s end with fear.)

Then said the Lord unto Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou, and Shear-jashub thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller’s field; (Ahaz was probably going there to see that water was secured for Jerusalem in case of siege, or that it was cut off from the besiegers: at the conduit the prophet was bidden to meet the king.)

4, 5, 6 And say unto him, Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither be fainthearted for the two tails of these smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin with Syria, and of the son of Remaliah. Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah, have taken evil counsel against thee, saying, Let us go up against Judah, and vex it, and let us make a breach therein for us, and set a king in the midst of it, even the son of Tabeal:

Thus saith the Lord God, It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass.

For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin; and within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken, that it be not a people.

And the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is Remaliah’s son. If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established. (Here was a most encouraging message, and a noble opportunity for Ahaz; he had but to trust in the Lord, and have his kingdom established about him, but he was at that moment meditating an appeal to the great Assyrian monarch, and preferred to lean upon an arm of flesh rather than upon the Lord of Hosts.)

10, 11 Moreover the Lord spake again unto Ahaz, saying, Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above.

12 But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord. (This was a mere evasion. He knew that if he accepted a sign it would be fulfilled, and then he would have no excuse for distrusting the Lord, but he did not wish to commit himself to the course of action which faith would involve; he preferred to continue his negotiations with Tiglath-pileser. How universally do men prefer the crooked road of policy to the straight path of faith; such conduct never prospers.)

13 And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also?

14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

15 Butter and honey shall he eat, that (or until) he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.

16 For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings. (As Ahaz had refused a sign, God appointed one far above anything he could have imagined. A son would be born of a virgin, a divine child, whose name should be “God with us.” Such a child would naturally reach years of discretion very early, but in even less space than it would take for this heaven-born son to arrive at a responsible age, the two enemies of Judah would both be dethroned. Blessed be the Lord for granting to his people so glorious a sign of grace; nothing can afford such comfort to the troubled as the fact that the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.)

Ahaz rejected the way of faith, and therefore the prophet added the following threatening sentence—

17 The Lord shall bring upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon thy father’s house, days that have not come, from the day that Ephraim departed from Judah.

July 4.—Evening. [Or January 5.]
“Are there not with you sins against the Lord?”

AHAZ rejected the message of the Lord by Isaiah

2 Chronicles 28:5–15

Wherefore the Lord his God delivered him into the hand of the king of Syria; and they smote him, and carried away a great multitude of them captives, and brought them to Damascus. And he was also delivered into the hand of the king of Israel, who smote him with a great slaughter. (His enemies, though they could not take Jerusalem, were suffered by God to devastate the country, and so Ahaz gathered bitter fruit from trusting in man. The king of Assyria was slow in coming to his help, and meanwhile the confederate princes despoiled him.)

For Pekah the son of Remaliah slew in Judah an hundred and twenty thousand in one day, which were all valiant men; because they had forsaken the Lord God of their fathers.

And Zichri, a mighty man of Ephraim, slew Maaseiah the king’s son, and Azrikam the governor of the house, and Elkanah that was next to the king. (So that judgment came home to the king, and death was busy in his own household; a due reward for passing others of his children through the fire to Moloch.)

And the children of Israel carried away captive of their brethren two hundred thousand, women, sons, and daughters, and took also away much spoil from them, and brought the spoil to Samaria. (All suffered for the common sin, for “the children gathered wood, and the fathers kindled the fire, and the women kneaded dough to make cakes for the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink-offerings unto other gods, to provoke the Lord to anger.” God has ways of punishing sinners of all ages.)

9, 10 But a prophet of the Lord was there, whose name was Oded: and he went out before the host that came to Samaria, (With holy courage he confronted the host in the name of God who sent him,) and said unto them, Behold, because the Lord God of your fathers was wroth with Judah, he hath delivered them into your hand, and ye have slain them in a rage that reacheth up unto heaven. And now ye purpose to keep under the children of Judah and Jerusalem for bondmen and bondwomen unto you: but are there not with you, even with you, sins against the Lord your God?

A humbling question for any of us when we are severe upon others. Is there no beam in our own eye? Why, then, are we so censorious concerning the mote in our brother’s eye?

11 Now hear me therefore, and deliver he captives again, which ye have taken captive of your brethren: for the fierce wrath of the Lord is upon you.

12, 13 Then certain of the heads of the children of Ephraim stood up against them that came from the war, And said unto them, Ye shall not bring in the captives hither: for whereas we have offended against the Lord already, ye intend to add more to our sins and to our trespass: for our trespass is great, and there is fierce wrath against Israel.

The prophet’s expostulation was thus backed up by some of the leading men, and speedily had a most delightful effect. If all who hold positions of influence would support the Lord’s servants by co-working with their ministry, a world of good would be effected.

14 So the armed men left the captives and the spoil before the princes and all the congregation.

15 And the men which were expressed by name rose up, and took the captives, and with the spoil clothed all that were naked among them, and arrayed them, and shod them, and gave them to eat and to drink, and anointed them, and carried all the feeble of them upon asses, and brought them to Jericho, the city of palm trees, to their brethren. (This is one of the happiest incidents in the gloomy history of the ten tribes. It shewed a tenderness little to be expected, and makes us the more deeply regret that they had not grace enough to throw down the calves, and turn unto the Lord. Fine actions are sometimes performed by ungodly men, just as one now and then sees a lovely rose blooming upon a dunghill.)

Lord, we all look up to thee,

As one favoured family;

May all strife between us cease,

As we love thee, Prince of Peace.

Free from all that hearts divide,

Let us all in love abide;

All the power of grace express.

All the heights of holiness.[1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1964). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 394–395). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

July 3 The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible

July 3.—Morning. [Or January 2.]
“O Lord, I will praise thee.”

IN the days of Jotham, as in the reign of Uzziah, the great prophet Isaiah was pouring forth his eloquent utterances. He is the great gospel seer, who spake more of Jesus Christ than all the rest. We will now read three of his prophecies, which he gave forth in the form of songs. The first song describes Israel under the figure of a vineyard, and was, from its form and beauty, well fitted to win the attention of the people.

Isaiah 5:1–7

Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill:

And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.

And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard.

What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?

And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down:

And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.

For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.

How much is our condition like that of Israel and Judah! What more could God have done for us? We have the Bible and the ministry of the gospel: as a family we are a garden walled around, and our country is the fruitful field of true religion. What fruit are we yielding? If we are barren, what must we expect? Judgment is always in proportion to privilege misused. May grace be upon us all, that we may bear much fruit unto the Lord our God.

SPEAKING of the coming of the Lord Jesus, the prophet says:—

Isaiah 12

1, 2 And in that day thou shalt say, O Lord, I will praise thee: though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me. Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.

Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation. (What a sweet gospel song. None can sing it but those whose sins have been washed away in the blood of Jesus, and to them it is a rapturous hymn. They are no longer afraid to believe the promises, and to go to the Lord for blessings: the wells are free to the citizens of Zion, and they draw water exultingly.)

And in that day shall ye say, Praise the Lord, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted.

Sing unto the Lord; for he hath done excellent things: this is known in all the earth.

Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion: for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee. (It is the delight of saved souls to magnify the Lord; they cannot contain their joy, they shout as those who divide the spoil.)

WHEN God has rebuked his people’s enemies, another song shall be on their lips.

Isaiah 26:1–4

In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks.

Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in.

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord JEHOVAH is everlasting strength.

Happy are those who are protected and kept in peace by their Omnipotent God. Is there one in our house who does not trust in the Lord? Let us pray that all our minds may be stayed on God.

July 3.—Evening. [Or January 3.]
“All we like sheep have gone astray.”

2 Kings 16:1–4

IN the seventeenth year of Pekah the son of Remaliah, (king of Israel,) Ahaz the son of Jotham king of Judah began to reign.

He was the bad son of a good father, and under him the kingdom of Judah relapsed into the sad state out of which Jotham had raised it.

2, 3 Twenty years old was Ahaz when he began to reign, and reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem, and did not right in the sight of the Lord his God, like David his father. But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, yea, and made his son to pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out from before the children of Israel.

And he sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places, and on the hills, and under every green tree. (He was not satisfied with the ordinary idolatries, but sought out the vilest forms of superstition, and practised the unnatural and cruel rites peculiar to the demon Moloch. Old historians assert that the image of Moloch was of brass, and when heated red-hot, children were placed in its arms to be consumed. What shame that the ruler of the chosen people should be guilty of so terrible a crime as to expose his own son to such a death! We may well blush for human nature: an old divine once quaintly said that it was half beast and half devil, and he was very near the mark.)

IN such times as those of Ahaz the word of the Lord, as contained in the first chapter of Isaiah, was greatly needed.

Isaiah 1:2–9

Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. (It is not the heathen nor strangers that the Lord here upbraids, but his own highly-favoured people, his lovingly-nurtured children, in whom sin was doubly sinful.)

The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. (Men are more brutish than the beasts. They receive all at the Lord’s hands, and then utterly forget him. Alas, Lord God, that thou shouldst thus be treated!)

Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.

5, 6 ¶ Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment. (During the reign of Ahaz the troubles of the people were extreme, as we shall see in succeeding readings, but they were none the better for being afflicted. The nation was like a man who had been beaten till there remained no place for another stripe; yet still they loved their idols and their sins.)

7, 8 Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers. And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city.

Jerusalem stood alone, and in great dilapidation, like the temporary hut which the keepers of a vineyard put up hurriedly to shield them from the sun. Their palace city was like a hovel, and where once cities clustered in every vale and hung on every hillside, all was desolation.

Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah. (So wicked were they, that, but for the faithful few, God would have cursed the land as he did the cities of the plain. Oh, wretched plight of a favoured people. The Lord save our country from the same backsliding!)

Oh, shall I never feel

The meltings of thy love?

Am I of such hell-harden’d steel

That mercy cannot move?

Chasten’d full sore I am,

And bruised in every part,

But judgments fail to break me down

And subjugate my heart.

Look on me, Lord of love!

O turn thy gracious eyes!

Then all my soul to penitence

Shall melt with sweet surprise.[1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1964). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 392–393). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

July 2 The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible

July 2.—Morning. [Or December 31.]
“Here am I; send me.”

UZZIAH lived for some time shut up as a leper. The year in which he died was the occasion of one of Isaiah’s visions: that eminent prophet exercised his ministry in this and the next three reigns.

Isaiah 6

In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. (Isaiah saw the Messiah, as we learn from John 12:41. His glorious apparel and magnificent state filled the Holy of Holies with splendour.)

Above it stood the seraphims: (Those holy ministers stood around the throne of glory, adoring, and waiting as servants to obey their King’s behests:) each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.

Milton thus poetically describes a seraph:—

Six wings he wore to shade

His lineaments divine; the pair that clad

Each shoulder broad, came mantling o’er his breast

With regal ornament; the middle pair

Girt like a starry zone his waist, and round

Skirted his loins and thighs with downy gold,

And colours dipt in heaven; the third his feet

Shadowed from either heel with feathered mail,

Sky tinctured grain.”

3 4, And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.

¶ Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. (A sense of the Lord’s presence humbles even the best of men: we cannot see the glory of God and continue to glory in ourselves. Humility is an indispensable preparation for the Lord’s work. Isaiah must first feel his sinfulness before the live coal can touch his lips.)

Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar:

And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.

Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.

When a man’s lips have felt the sacrificial flame, he is bold to go upon the Lord’s errands, though it were to the world’s end.

9, 10 ¶ And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.

11, 12 Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate. And the Lord have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land. (On account of their sin the people could find no blessing in the ministry, but even the voice of God was a savour of death unto death unto them.)

13 ¶ But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof. (As a tree has life in it when the leaves are gone, so would the nation still live on, to be in due season restored to its former glory.)

THE evangelist John applied these words of Isaiah to the times of our Lord, and in that connection they were solemnly fulfilled.

John 12:37–41

37, 38 But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?

39, 40, 41 Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.

Sovereign Ruler, Lord of all,

Prostrate at thy feet I fall;

Hear, oh, hear my earnest cry;

Frown not, lest I faint and die.

Vilest of the sons of men,

Chief of sinners I have been:

Oft have sinn’d before thy face,

Trampled on thy richest grace.

Justly might thy fatal dart

Pierce this bleeding, broken heart;

Justly might thy angry breath

Blast me in eternal death.

Jesus, save my dying soul;

Make my broken spirit whole;

Humbled in the dust I lie;

Saviour, leave me not to die.

 

Sinful, sighing to be blest,

Bound, and longing to be free,

Weary, waiting for my rest;

“God be merciful to me!”

Holiness! I’ve none to plead,

Sinfulness in all I see;

I can only bring my need;

“God be merciful to me!”

Broken heart, and downcast eyes,

Dare not lift themselves to thee,

Yet thou canst interpret sighs;

“God be merciful to me!”

There is One beside the throne,

And my only hope and plea

Are in him, and him alone;

“God be merciful to me!”

 

Thou art my refuge, Lord, I flee

From other safeguard unto thee;

Now by thy hand of power divine,

Sustain this feeble soul of mine.

Uphold my feet, so quick to fail,

And in thy strength I shall prevail;

Go thou before me, lead me on,

Until the heavenly home be won.

Thy wisdom every day I prove,

And learn thy endless, quenchless love!

By grace upheld, by grace restored,

Thou knowest that I love thee, Lord.

A good High Priest is come,

Supplying Aaron’s place,

And, taking up his room,

Dispensing life and grace.

Woe to the man who dares pretend

His sacrifice with Christ’s to blend.

He died; but lives again,

And by the altar stands;

There shows how he was slain,

Opening his piercèd hands.

Our Priest abides; ’tis he alone

Who can for guilty man atone.

I other priests disclaim,

And laws, and offerings too,

None but the bleeding Lamb,

The mighty work can do.

Away, ye base pretenders all,

Ere yet the vengeance on you fall!

 

O thou who didst the temple fill

With thy resplendent, awful train,

The glory of thine Israel still,

Appear in those bright robes again.

Thrice holy, holy, holy Lord,

Thou art by seraphim adored;

And, while they stand around thy seat,

They veil their faces and their feet.

Lord, how can sinful lips proclaim

The honours of so great a name!

O for thine altar’s glowing coal

To touch my lips, to fire my soul!

Then, if a messenger thou ask,

A labourer for the hardest task,

Through all my weakness and my fear,

Love shall reply, “Thy servant’s here.”

 

I will praise thee every day!

Now thine anger’s turn’d away,

Comfortable thoughts arise

From the bleeding sacrifice.

Jesus is become at length,

My salvation and my strength;

And his praises shall prolong,

While I live, my pleasant song.

Raise again the joyful sound,

Let the nations roll it round!

Zion shout, for this is he,

God the Saviour dwells in thee.

July 2.—Evening. [Or January 1.]
“He prepared his ways before the Lord his God.”

UZZIAH, king of Judah, who became a leper, was succeeded by his son Jotham.

2 Chronicles 27

Jotham was twenty and five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name also was Jerushah, the daughter of Zadok.

And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father Uzziah did: howbeit he entered not into the temple of the Lord. (We should imitate our parents’ excellencies, but not their failings. It is well that Jotham took warning from his father’s sin.) And the people did yet corruptly. (They would have followed the king had he been a worshipper of idols, but they would not go with him in adoring the Lord. There was even a conspiracy hatched against him to sct up the son of Tabeal, but it came to nothing.)

He built the high gate of the house of the Lord, and on the wall of Ophel he built much.

Moreover he built cities in the mountains of Judah, and in the forests he built castles and towers. (He did what he could for the material benefit of the people, greatly mourning that they were so indifferent to their own spiritual good.)

He fought also with the king of the Ammonites, and prevailed against them. And the children of Ammon gave him the same year an hundred talents of silver, and ten thousand measures of wheat, and ten thousand of barley. So much did the children of Ammon pay unto him, both the second year, and the third.

For one good man’s sake God blessed the whole nation. It is sad to think that this did not lead them to follow the example of their pious king; yet how many children there are with godly parents who nevertheless continue to sin against the Lord, and grieve their father’s heart. May there never be any such in this house; and if there be, may the Lord Jesus look upon them and grant them repentance unto life.

So Jotham became mighty, because he prepared his ways before the Lord his God.

He was careful and thoughtful in his conduct, and fearful lest he should sin by inadvertence, and therefore he became strong. There is a great deal of meaning in the expression “he prepared his ways before the Lord his God;” it implies that he did not follow men, or seek their approbation, but lived as in the immediate presence of the Lord, and desired above all things to please him.

Now the rest of the acts of Jotham, and all his wars, and his ways, lo, they are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah.

8, 9 He was five and twenty years old when he began to reign, and reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. And Jotham slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David: and Ahaz his son reigned in his stead.

Thus passed away one of the six best kings of Judah; happy nation lo have known such a ruler.

It may be for our instruction to notice that, during the long reign of Uzziah over Judah, the unhappy kingdom of Israel had been a scene of strife. For many years no king sat upon the throne, and when at last Zechariah, the fourth descendant from Jehu, assumed the crown, his reign was ended in six months by Shallum, who killed him in the presence of the people. Shallum also destroyed all the members of the family of Jehu, and thus the prophetic threatening was fulfilled. Shallum, the murderer, enjoyed the throne for only one month, and was in his turn murdered by Menahem, who for the next ten years oppressed the people, who were wholly given to their idols. At this period we hear, for the first time, of an Assyrian invasion, and Menahem purchased peace by paying a heavy subsidy and yielding a number of his subjects as captives. At Menahem’s death his son Pekahiah mounted the guilty throne, to pursue the same course of sin as his predecessors, but in the brief space of two years his reign was over, for Pekah, one of his captains, assassinated him, and began to reign at about the same period, or a little before Jotham; so that Pekah, as king of Israel, was contemporary with Jotham and Ahaz kings of Judah. Do not feel troubled by these details, for nothing in God’s word is trivial. Those who love the Lord love every letter of his Book. The prophecy of Hosea will lose much of its interest to us if we are not acquainted with the times in which he lived. The histories of Scripture are as much inspired as the Psalms or the Gospels, and it is a shame for Christians not to be well acquainted with them.[1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1964). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 389–391). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

July 1 The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible

July 1.—Morning. [Or December 29.]
“The day of the Lord is great and very terrible.”

IT is most probable that while Amos and Hosea were messengers from the Lord to Israel, Joel was prophesying in Judah. One of his most memorable prophecies relates to a plague of locusts which fell upon the land.

Joel 2:1–14

Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand;

It was such a visitation as might well create alarm, and call to humiliation and prayer.

A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations.

The locusts were so many that they clouded the sun and caused darkness at midday. Vast flights of these destructive creatures are not unusual in our day, but the prophet’s description relates to some special and unusual plague.

A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them. (It is so; locusts devour every green thing as completely as a raging fire.)

4, 5 The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run. Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array. (The Italians call a locust cavalette, or little horse: they are for number, speed, order, and noise, very similar to troops of cavalry.)

Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness.

They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war; and they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks:

Neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path: and when they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded.

The order with which they march is wonderful to the last degree; no disciplined troops could possibly preserve their ranks more accurately.

They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief.

Nothing can turn them aside; their march is onward, over walls and fences, hills and valleys.

10 The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining: (Such is the misery of the poor people who see the fruit of their fields devoured before their eyes by a remorseless and irresistible foe, that for them all things are full of terror, and they feel as if the end of the world were come.)

11 And the Lord shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it? (Though unheard of human ear, their Commander-in-chief, even the Lord of Hosts, makes his voice to be heard by the dense battalions of devouring locusts, so that at his bidding they push forward in their awful course. Well might the prophet say, “Who can abide it?”)

12, 13 ¶ Therefore, also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.

14 Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the Lord your God? (If anything could avert so terrible a calamity, prayer would do it. True repentance is the only way to remove the rod from any people. O Lord, help us to cast out our sins, lest they compel thee to chasten us with sore affliction. Accept us, for our hope is in thy Son.)

When distractions, fear and doubt,

Come from all the world without,

And like locusts plague the soul,

Lord, do thou their power control.

When the clouds of grief and care,

Darken down into despair,

When by grief we are laid low,

Then thy gracious kindness show.

July 1.—Evening. [Or December 30.]
“There is one Mediator between God and man.”

IN returning to the history of Judah, we are glad to find that a good king was placed upon the throne, and ruled for many years.

2 Chronicles 26:1; 4–8; 16–21

1, 4 Then all the people of Judah took Uzziah, who was sixteen years old, and made him king in the room of his father Amaziah. And he did right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father Amaziah did. (But he did not fall into idol-worship, as his father had so foolishly done. Children should follow their parents so far as they follow the commands of God, and no further.)

And he sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God: and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him to prosper. (God alone can give true prosperity; seeking the Lord with all our heart is the surest way to be blest.)

6, 7 And he went forth and warred against the Philistines, and brake down the wall of Gath, and the wall of Jabneh, and the wall of Ashdod, and built cities about Ashdod, and among the Philistines. And God helped him against the Philistines, and against the Arabians that dwelt in Gur-baal, and the Mehunims.

And the Ammonites gave gifts to Uzziah: and his name spread abroad even to the entering in of Egypt; for he strengthened himself exceedingly. (He was a skilful man, and a great inventor of engines of war, besides being an excellent cultivator of the soil. The country rose to a high pitch of prosperity under his rule.)

16 But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: (What a warning is this to prosperous Christians. When we are weak we lean upon the Lord and are safe, but when we are strong the temptation is to become self-important, and then a fall is near. More fall among the strong than among the timid and trembling. His offence was intrusion into the priestly office:) for he transgressed against the Lord his God, and went into the temple of the Lord to burn incense upon the altar of incense.

Most of the heathen kings united royalty and priesthood in their own persons, and Uzziah, no doubt, judged that it would strengthen his influence if he did the same, but in this he acted wickedly, and angered the Lord.

17, 18 And Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him fourscore priests of the Lord, that were valiant men: And they withstood Uzziah the king, and said unto him, It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the Lord, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary; for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honour from the Lord God. (They boldly told the intruding king that his act was not right, and was not safe. Korah and his accomplices paid dear for offering incense, which was the work of the priests only, and the king would not find it to his honour to usurp their office. The incense of our prayers and praises must come up before the Lord from the hand of Jesus, our great High-priest, or it can never be accepted by the Lord.)

19 Then Uzziah was wroth, and had a censer in his hand to burn incense: and while he was wroth with the priests, the leprosy even rose up in his forehead before the priests in the house of the Lord, from beside the incense altar.

The Lord ended the controversy once for all; the king would not listen to the Lord’s word, and therefore was made to feel his hand. Woe unto those who pretend to offer a sacrifice for sin, now that the one offering of Jesus has put away transgression; the leprosy of heresy is on their brows even now; let us shun their company.

20 And Azariah the chief priest, and all the priests, looked upon him, and, behold, he was leprous in his forehead, and they thrust him out from thence; yea, himself hasted also to go out, because the Lord had smitten him.

21 And Uzziah the king was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house, being a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the Lord: and Jotham his son was over the king’s house, judging the people of the land. (His punishment was merciful, for it gave him long space for repentance, but it was a suitable rebuke for his sin. He was proud, and the disease humbled him; he invaded the office of the priests, and became subject to their inspection, for they had the care of lepers; he coveted a dignity to which he had no right, and so lost the monarchy which was lawfully his. Let us reverence the priesthood of our Lord Jesus, and never dream of intruding into it.)[1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1964). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 387–388). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

June 30 The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible

June 30.—Morning. [Or December 27.]
“I will heal their backsliding.”

Hosea 11:1–11

WHEN Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.

The ancient love and grace of God ought to have been a powerful motive for obedience, but it was not.

As they called them, so they went from them: they sacrificed unto Baalim, and burned incense to graven images. (The more they were warned, the more they sinned. Alas, how many do the same!)

3, 4 I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms; but they knew not that I healed them. I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them. (As the husbandman gives rest to the oxen, removes their yoke, and feeds them, so the Lord set his people free and supplied their needs, and yet they revolted from him.)

¶ He shall not return into the land of Egypt, but the Assyrian shall be his king, because they refused to return.

And the sword shall abide on his cities, and shall consume his branches, and devour them, because of their own counsels.

And my people are bent to backsliding from me: though they called them to the most High, none at all would exalt him.

How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim? mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together.

I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city. (Mark the tender love of God, and his unwillingness to smite his people. The same conflict is in his soul still towards sinners. Such compassion should lead us to repentance.)

10 They shall walk after the Lord: he shall roar like a lion: when he shall roar, then the children shall tremble from the west.

11 They shall tremble as a bird out of Egypt, and as a dove out of the land of Assyria: and I will place them in their houses, saith the Lord.

At last in alarm they would fly to God, and he would save them. Even if sinners come to God entirely out of fear, he will not reject them.

Hosea 14

O ISRAEL, return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity.

What gracious pleading! Can we reject it as Israel did? If we do, we shall fall as they did.

2, 3 Take with you words, and turn to the Lord: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips. Asshur shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses: neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods: for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy.

Words are put into the sinner’s lips—will he not use them? He has only to give up his sins, and his false trusts, and God will pity him as he does children in distress. The next words are mercy itself written out in capitals.

¶ I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him.

I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. (He shall be beautiful and enduring.)

His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon. (He shall flourish and yield shade to others, he shall be fruitful, and therefore fair to look upon, and the fame of his happiness and excellence shall fly abroad like sweet perfume.)

They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine: the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon. (His children and dependents shall be blest also; and shall enjoy divine favour in a manner most choice and sweet.)

Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols? I have heard him, and observed him: I am like a green fir tree. From me is thy fruit found. (All our goodness comes from God’s grace; we must for ever be barren without him. Let us study well these passages of sacred writ, for the next verse very solemnly calls us to devout attention.)

Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the Lord are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein.

June 30.—Evening. [Or December 28.]
“Thou hast destroyed thyself, but in Me is thine help.”

Hosea 13:1–14

WHEN Ephraim spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel; but when he offended in Baal, he died. (Humble walking before God brings honour, but proud and wilful sin is deadly. O for grace to maintain a lowly spirit before the Lord.)

2, 3 And now they sin more and more, and have made them molten images of their silver, and idols according to their own understanding, all of it the work of the craftsmen: they say of them, Let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves. Therefore they shall be as the morning cloud, and as the early dew that passeth away, as the chaff that is driven with the whirlwind out of the floor, and as the smoke out of the chimney. (If men will have transitory trusts they must have transitory joys. If we love gold our joy will melt; if we live for fame, which is only the breath of man, it will dissolve and be gone as a vapour. God alone provides us an enduring portion, yet how few confide in him!)

Yet I am the Lord thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no god but me: for there is no saviour beside me. (Vainly do we look to our own works, or to false priests, Jesus alone can save.)

¶ I did know thee in the wilderness, in the land of great drought. (The Lord has not failed us in distress. We have tried and proved his faithfulness in times of great need; let us, then, be faithful to him in return.)

According to their pasture, so were they filled; they were filled, and their heart was exalted; therefore have they forgotten me.

Oh, shameful ingratitude, the more mercies they enjoyed the more wickedly they behaved! Because God remembered them in his goodness they forgot him and grew proud.

Therefore I will be unto them as a lion: as a leopard by the way will I observe them:

I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps, and will rend the caul of their heart, and there will I devour them like a lion: the wild beast shall tear them. (Our God is just, and terrible in vengeance. Sin provokes him, and though he is slow to anger, he is mighty to punish when the time of retribution is fully come.)

¶ O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help. (This is the sum of the whole matter. Man ruins himself; God alone saves him. Damnation is all of sin; salvation is all of grace.)

10, 11 I will be thy king: where is any other that may save thee in all thy cities? and thy judges of whom thou saidst, Give me a king and princes? I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath. (Saul was such a king: men often covet useless things.)

12 The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; his sin is hid. (It is not forgotten, but laid away for future judgment, as men bind up their title deeds and place them in a secure place. All our sins will be remembered at the last great day, unless they are blotted out by the blood of Jesus.)

13 The sorrows of a travailing woman shall come upon him: he is an unwise son; for he should not stay long in the place of the breaking forth of children. (He is slow to be born again, he puts off conversion. This charge can be brought against many awakened sinners. Why halt ye between two opinions? Death and judgment do not tarry. Hasten, O sinner, to be wise.)

14 I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes. (Though first to be applied to the national resurrection of Israel, this passage has a grand outlook towards the resurrection of the dead. Believing in this promise, we hate our sins, and knowing that they are pardoned, we meet death with joy, expecting to rise from the grave in the glorious image of the Redeemer.)

I knew thee when the world was waste,

And thou alone wast fair,

On thee my heart its fondness placed,

My soul reposed its care.

Can I forget the cloudy days

Of grief in which we met,

When in life’s lone and friendless ways

Thou didst not me forget.

Can I forget those words of love,

So tender and so true,

With which, when thou must needs reprove,

Thou didst so comfort too?

O never, never let me choose

Freedom from thy control;

O never, never let me lose

Thy sunshine from my soul.[1]

 

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1964). The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible (pp. 385–386). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.