Bondage and Freedom
Isaiah 26:13-14
O LORD our God, other lords beside you have had dominion over us: but by you only will we make mention of your name.…

A nation is, after all, only an aggregate of single units; and that which is thus declared of a whole nation was equally true of each separate man of whom that nation was composed. It is the history and purpose of a single soul.

I. Here is an illustration of THE MANIFOLD BONDAGE OF THE SOUL. The Jews had bowed before many idols. They had served under many kings. Each idol and king had ruled them according to the caprice of the hierophants or viziers. There are also many lords who rule over the souls of men; whose dominion is capricious, despotic, and even destructive.

1. There is worldliness, one of the hardest of tyrants.

2. Closely akin to worldliness is frivolity; the disposition which shows itself in a strong dislike to anything grave in thought, or speech, or life; a vague belief, so far as frivolity can entertain belief, that the chief end in life is to be amused.

3. Others are in the thralls of doubt. One man doubts concerning all goodness whatsoever. He has been bitterly deceived by some unworthy man who had won his confidence, and he refuses to believe now that disinterestedness is possible in any quarter. Another man doubts whether it. be possible to discover truth amidst such a wrangle of apparently conflicting opinions, upon it. Perhaps he has allowed his mind to be biassed in one direction, and has never seriously set himself to get free from his bias. Or, he may never have struggled after the truth with any deep and true wrestling of soul. A third has doubts concerning evangelic Christianity. A fourth doubts of the possibility of his own salvation.

4. There are other forms of tyranny over the soul; e.g., the slavery of that which is known to be sin. The particular kind of sin differs with different mere.

5. Does it not become of unspeakable interest to know if deliverance can actually be secured; by whom it is to be effected, and by what means; and what are the signs that freedom has been actually obtained? To all these questions the song of the liberated exiles points to the sufficient answer. "O Jehovah our God! other lords beside Thee have ruled over us," etc.

II. Jehovah was the Author of the Jews' liberation: GOD ALONE EFFECTS THE DELIVERANCE OF THE SOUL.

1. He conceived the plan of that redemption, not as a temporary expedient, a Divine after thought, but as an "eternal purpose which He purposed in His Son Jesus Christ our Lord."

2. The method of this deliverance is also depicted in the words of the exiles. "Thou hast visited and destroyed them." "Visited," that is, searched out with the keenest scrutiny, examined, exposed. How, then, deem God "visit" these tyrants of man's soul? He reveals their true character to those who are under their dominion. God lays bare the worthlessness and the wickedness of worldliness, frivolity, and sin. Sometimes He does this, by the force of contrast, bringing in close proximity the brightness of an opposite life to the life which w ourselves are living. Sometimes He awakens a seed of Divine truth that has long been buried in our hearts. Sometimes the revelation is made by creating a sense of satiety, or of nausea. Sometimes the change is produced by incidents of God's good providence. But the one great means which Divine wisdom has set apart for the spiritual liberation of man is — the Gospel of His love.

3. There are, therefore, certain criteria by which men may surely know that they have actually entered this condition of freedom. One is, their relation to the past. The Jews did not forget the hard usage they tad received from those idol priests and capricious tyrants who had "ruled them with a rod of iron." But the grave closed over their oppressors, one after another. They were extinct tyrants; "shades," not men; powerless phantoms, fallen to rise no more. They were remembered, but as dead men. Nor can anyone who has obtained spiritual deliverance utterly forget the past. The recollection of what that past was flits across the mind, like a cloud over the face of the sun at noonday. But there is no desire to return to that condition. The past has lost its power of attraction, and has become hateful. The old tyrants are dead; and so long as we keep ourselves in the love of God they shall live no more. There is, further, the soul's relation to the future. But henceforth Thee, Thy name only, will we celebrate. Whatever allegiance may have been rendered to others in the past, the allegiance is now to be given alone to God. We have also the idea of service. The "celebration" is incomplete without this, the worship a solemn and offensive pretence. But he who worships most sincerely is certain to live most uprightly. He is bound to faithful service by the strongest of all ties — the tie of a grateful love.

4. "But," says someone, "is not this mere poetic exaggeration? Where are the proofs that this freedom has actually been won?" Where? In every age of the Church's history, from the day when publicans and sinners crowded about the pathway of the Divine Redeemer, until this hour. The Gospel is not an exhausted force. It is "the power of God unto salvation, to everyone that believeth."

(J. J. Goadby.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: O LORD our God, other lords beside thee have had dominion over us: but by thee only will we make mention of thy name.

WEB: Yahweh our God, other lords besides you have had dominion over us, but by you only will we make mention of your name.

The Argument from the Past
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