O send out your light and your truth: let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill, and to your tabernacles.
In these verses we may observe —
1. The genuine disposition and desire of a gracious soul, when privileged with an opportunity of attending upon the ordinances of divine appointment. Ordinances themselves will not satisfy, but it will be the desire of that soul to be brought near to God, so as to have real communion with Him in them.
2. How, or in what manner, a believer is enabled to approach unto God in His ordinances, so as to have communion with Him in them. Can he find the way to God himself? No, he must be led; directed by a light from above.
3. In what manner believers are helped to approach unto God when He is pleased to send out His light and truth to lead them, and bring them to His holy hill and to His tabernacles, or to direct them in their approaches to him in duties and ordinances. Then they are enabled to go unto God as "their God," and "the exceeding joy"; or to appear before Him with becoming confidence and holy joy. From the words we may observe the following doctrine. When the people of God have an opportunity of approaching to Rim in the ordinances of His grace, particularly in solemn ordinances, they ought to draw near to Him with holy confidence and holy joy.
I. OFFER A FEW GENERAL REMARKS FOR ILLUSTRATING THE SUBJECT.
1. Communion with God is sometimes the privilege of His people even while they are here on earth. Nor is this the privilege of a few eminent saints only, but is common to believers.
2. The ordinances of God's own appointment are the ordinary means of communion and fellowship with Him. When these are despised or neglected, all pretensions to communion with God are vain.
3. Real communion with God in ordinances is a rare attainment. Many read and hear the Word, regularly attend upon the ordinances of God, and even go to a communion table who are utterly unacquainted with it.
4. Sinful men can have no communion with God but by sacrifice. They ask, they expect, they desire no blessing from God, but for the sake of Christ who gave Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour (Ephesians 5:2).
5. Believers themselves who have formerly been brought near to God, and enjoyed His gracious presence cannot have access to Him anew, or any comfortable communion with Him in ordinances, but under the gracious influence of His Holy Spirit.
6. As communion with God in ordinances is a rare attainment, it is also a precious and valuable attainment. It relieves the believer under all his burdens, and comforts him amidst all his griefs and sorrows. It is a pledge and earnest of future glory; yea, it is, as it were, heaven begun.
II. SPEAK SOMEWHAT CONCERNING THAT HOLY CONFIDENCE AND JOY WITH WHICH THE PEOPLE OF GOD OUGHT TO APPROACH UNTO HIM IN THE ORDINANCES AND DUTIES OF HIS WORSHIP, and particularly in the ordinance of the Lord's Supper, which is a feast He has made for His friends, in partaking of which they are called to rejoice before Him, as Israel were commanded to do when they kept the feasts of the Lord, during the Mosaic economy.
1. The confidence with which believers are warranted to draw near unto God, when they have an opportunity of waiting upon Him in His ordinances, is not inconsistent with a humbling and self-abasing sense of their own unworthiness and sinfulness, but rather supposes it.
2. The confidence of faith, with which the people of God ought to draw near to Him in the ordinances and duties of His worship, differs greatly from that presumptuous confidence which is to be found with hypocrites and self-righteous persons in their approaches to Him.
3. That holy joy with which believers, imitating David's example, ought to approach unto God in His ordinances, and particularly in solemn ordinances, is very consistent with deep and great sorrow for sin. Indeed, the one cannot be without the other.
4. The joy of the godly, when brought near unto God in His ordinances, is not a carnal, but a spiritual joy; and therefore no outward troubles or afflictions can hinder the exercise of it under the influence of the Holy Spirit as a Spirit of faith.
5. The confidence and joy with which believers ought to nor make any suitable improvement of His ordinances.
6. Because by approach-various degrees. A strong faith begets strong confidence and great joy; a weak faith is accompanied with little confidence and little joy. A strong faith glorifies God, yet He will accept of a weak faith.
III. SHOW WHY THE PEOPLE OF GOD OUGHT TO APPROACH UNTO HIM IN HIS ORDINANCES WITH BECOMING CONFIDENCE AND HOLY JOY.
1. Because He is a God reconciled in Christ.
2. Because the way of access to God, which Christ the glorious Mediator has opened by His blood, was opened just for the benefit of sinners who deserve no favour, but, on the other hand, are obnoxious to the justice and wrath of God.
3. A sure foundation is laid for this confidence and icy in our approaches to God.
4. Because without some degree of this holy confidence and joy persons can have no communion with God, nor make any suitable improvement of His ordinances.
5. Because by approaching unto God with humble confidence and holy joy, they do in an especial manner glorify Him.
6. Confidence and holy joy in our approaches to God are not only warranted, but required in the word of God (Deuteronomy 16:10, 11; Psalm 62:8; Psalm 96:2).
IV. APPLICATION. IS it SO that the people of God are warranted to approach unto Him in His ordinances with confidence and joy? then hence we may see —
1. The great love of God to sinners of mankind.
2. How much believers are indebted to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is through Him that they have access unto the Father.
3. This text and doctrine serves to inform us of the nature and excellency of true faith. Relying upon the testimony of God in the Gospel concerning the method of reconciliation and ground of acceptance with Him, it inspires the soul with holy confidence, and fills the heart with holy joy in approaching to God.
4. We must not always judge of the privileges of believers by their exercise or the actings of their faith. Though now through the prevalence of unbelief, they frequently cannot take the comfort of these, they shall not lose their interest in them.
5. We may see who will be worthy communicants at the table of the Lord, viz. those who have a real desire to be brought near to God Himself, and whose hope and confidence, in their approaches to Him, are wholly bottomed upon the gracious revelation that He has made of His name as a God in Christ, and upon what Christ has done and suffered, to procure access to God for guilty sinners.
6. Hence see matter of trial and examination. If you are true believers who desire to enjoy communion with God in His ordinances, and none else are warranted to partake of the Gospel-feast in view, David's petition will be yours, "O send out Thy light."(1) You esteem and set a high value upon the ordinances of God. His tabernacles are amiable to you.
(2) Absence and distance from God will be very painful and distressing to you.
(3) Ordinances will not content you. It is a meeting with God Himself that you desire. When this is wanting, ordinances, however excellent in themselves, are to the believer like dry breasts and empty pits, that afford no satisfaction, no comfort, no refreshment.
(4) You dare not approach to God but by a Mediator.
(5) You have seen the need of drawing power in order to your being brought near to God in any ordinance or duty. This you were not only convinced of at first conversion, but you are sensible of it still.
(6) When at any time you are brought near to God in ordinances, no degrees of communion with Him that you attain to will fully satisfy you; but you will desire still to be brought nearer and nearer to Him.
7. Hence we see the duty of all who have an opportunity of approaching to God in His ordinances, and particularly of believers who design to partake of the Gospel-feast in view, but perhaps are labouring under various discouragements. They are called to draw near to God with humble confidence and holy joy.
(1) Consider what a God He is whom you are called to approach unto. Not an absolute, angry God, but a God in Christ, a sin-pardoning, a reconciled God; a God with whom there is mercy and plenteous redemption.
(2) Consider that however unworthy, guilty and vile you are in yourselves, there is a sufficiency of merit in Christ to procure your access to God and acceptance with Him.
Parallel VersesKJV: O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles.