When you are come to the land which the LORD your God gives you, and shall possess it, and shall dwell therein, and shall say…
What I desire now to lay before you is the counsel of God in Christ, which is set forth to us in these words. What is contained in them is that we are to have a king over us, and that this king is to be our brother; by which is expressed the reigning of love. It is exceedingly important that we be taught to feel that our place is that of being reigned over — that it does not belong to us to be independent or to be our own masters; and again, that the control under which we are to be is one which is to govern us through the heart — that the obedience which is to be rendered is to be the obedience of the will — not an outward obedience, an obedience in word or in action, but an inward obedience, an obedience in our will. To this end it is needful that, in obeying, we should have that confidence in him whom we obey, and that understanding of the principle of his government, and that consenting to it, which will carry our hearts along with his requirements; and this our God has considered in giving us a brother to reign over us. When it is here said that God will not give us a king who is not our brother, that we are not in any wise to have a stranger to reign over us, we are taught the great truth, which is the foundation of our religion, that Christ took our very nature and became in very truth our very Brother, so that there is nothing in the whole of our human nature with which He has not personal acquaintance. The knowledge which our Creator has of us, as our Creator, is a knowledge that we cannot comprehend. But when we see Christ having our nature, then we see how He should have this knowledge of us. We might have felt as if God were a stranger — we might have said to ourselves, How very different are His circumstances from ours: He is the Creator of all things — He is independent — He is not at the mercy of any outward thing, and therefore He can have no sympathy with us — He cannot know what our situation is — this language we might have held, in our ignorance of God, were not God revealed in Christ as our Brother. God says thou mayest not set a stranger over thee which is not thy brother; and He says also, "I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt have no other god before Me." And thus when our God says that we shall have no stranger to reign over us, and yet that He will reign over us, He teaches us that He is not a stranger — that there is no lack of interest and sympathy in His heart with all the evil of our state. I shall now occupy your attention with the acquaintance and sympathy with our condition which Christ has as our Brother. He has, in truth, no sympathy with man in his natural state, while He has a perfect understanding of our natural condition. He knows thoroughly the flesh which we have, but has no sympathy whatever with our feelings in sowing to it. But, considered as regenerate persons, contending with the flesh, then we are in the condition in which Christ not only knows our state but has perfect, sympathy with it. It is of much importance that you should see where Christ's sympathy begins; that it is in our experience as living in the Spirit. What is the principle of our being judged by our equals? It is not needful that they should have any fellowship in that respecting which they are to judge — that they should have themselves transgressed; but that they be in a condition fairly to estimate the circumstances of those upon whom they sit in judgment, because they are their own. The acquaintance which Christ has with us, as our Brother, while it does not justify us in holding that He has any sympathy with the workings of the carnal heart, justifies us in holding that He is deeply alive to the evil of being under the power of the carnal heart — that He knows what it is, with such a knowledge as enables Him fully to estimate what an awful condition it is to be sowing to the flesh. Now this in our Lord is a source of exceeding great comfort. To show what comfort it is, I just press on you that, as truly as the will of Christ was opposed to sin in His own flesh, so truly is it opposed to sin in our flesh, because there is but one flesh — that Christ as truly wills my sanctification as He willed His own — as truly wills that I should be holy, in this body of sin and death, as He willed Himself to be holy in it. Now while this is a Source of exceeding great comfort, when we consider that it is the strength of Christ that is to give us the victory, it is also a source of exceeding great self-reproach, because it shows us how we have grieved Christ. For what must it be to Him to see in the members of His body that rebellion against the Father which He never had in Himself, while He has in Him all that is needful for us, and is longing to impart it all to us, that He should see us choosing to live in the flesh — choosing to live in sin, rather than to receive out of that full provision for holiness which we have in Him! And while we consider Christ's understanding of our condition, for comfort in our conflict with sin, and for self-reproach in the consciousness of sinning, let us consider how His being our Brother prepares Him for being our Judge. There is ever a voice in the flesh offering to excuse sin. There is ever proceeding from the Lord a voice condemning sin — a voice declaring that sin is altogether a thing that need not be; and I beseech you consider what an entire putting down it is of all unbelief that Christ was holy in our nature. The will that Christ has as to us, in our condition of sowing to the flesh, is a holy will that we should be holy; but it is also the will of love — of love to us. It is exceedingly important that we should never lose sight of this, that the person is not forgotten. It is not the sin simply that is considered by Christ, but the person who sins. Just as it is with a good man who has a son that is a prodigal. Inasmuch as he is a righteous man, the exhibition of evil in his son is a source of pain to him; but inasmuch as he is his son, it is a peculiar source of pain to him, seeing that he has an interest in the person apart from the character altogether, and that this interest is not destroyed by the evil of the character, but that both work on him jointly. Christ's having a personal tie to us, as well as an acquaintance with our condition, is a part of the revelation of God which is in Him; and is that first part of the truth concerning our God which addresses itself to our desire of salvation; and is therefore to be kept in the foreground, that men, convinced of God's interest in them, may give heed to the things that the Lord has what it expresses still further. First, there is actual sympathy for us in Christ our Brother. In this word "sympathy" there is contained the idea of a person — the idea of one being feeling along with another being: and so knowing Christ's sympathy, and ever turning to it, we learn personal communion with God, which is that which His heart longs for; for His heart has not the fulfilment of its desire for us, but in our having this personal communion with Him. Oh, be very jealous of reposing your hearts in any other bosom than that of God; be very jealous of telling your grief to any other ear than God. Oh, be very jealous for Christ, that He should have the confidential trust of every heart. But Christ's sympathy in our conflict is the sympathy of one who can succour us. This is a part of what properly belongs to His character as King. It belongs to His character as King to be strong in us, to supply our need and sustain our weakness. I would, therefore, now consider what we are taught in this Brother's being a King. Why is it not enough to tell us that He is our Brother? Why must we have a King? Now, this word "king," taken along with the word "brother," is, to my mind, what is expressed in God's being a Father, and brings out to us the necessity that there is for our being in a subordinate place, learning the will of another, and receiving that will to be our will. Our service, to be a right service, must be a free-will service; but still, in announcing His will, God announces it as King. In short, the sceptre is held out, and we are called to bow to it; and the love is revealed in order that the heart may bow to that sceptre; but it is as a sceptre that it is held out. Now, in Christ as King, there is the provision for strength, as well as the provision for authority. Our King is one who has power, not merely to be used against us if we refuse Him to reign over us, but to be used for us in our submitting to Him. He is a King to minister to our need, to supply the wants of the poor and needy. The true king is one in respect of whom we have nothing, but to whom we are altogether debtors. And this Brother, who is to be our King, we do not see rightly as King if we see him merely as exercising a control without us. We must see Him as the fountain of power within us; one who is to act in us by His might in the conflict with that evil with which we are contending, in assurance of His sympathy. This is the influence of the knowledge that He is King, that it makes His sympathy strength, as that of one of whom we know that He has strength for us. There is another blessedness besides that of conscious dependence on God which is connected with realising the Kingship of Christ, that thus, and thus alone, can we, as intelligent beings, meditating on the wide universe, have peace as to its government. Unless we had the omniscience of God we could not have the peace of God directly; but we may have the peace of God, without the omniscience of God, indirectly: that is, we may have the peace of God through the knowledge of God, and confiding, in regard to what we know not, in the character of Him whom we know to be King. In this way there is blessedness in having a Brother as a King, in respect of ourselves and in respect of all things; for it is when we see the Lamb in the midst of the throne, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God — it is then that we can have perfect peace about all things, because then we see the character of Him who governs, and can say that all must be well. But what I am so desirous that you should seek to realise is the sweetness of being reigned over — the blessedness of having to do with a King; and that it is not the sympathy of the Brother, as reconciling to the condition of being reigned over, that you are to learn, but that while learning the character of the King in the Brother you are to learn that being reigned over is itself a blessedness.
(J. M. Campbell.)
Parallel VersesKJV: When thou art come unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me;