As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds His people, both now and forevermore.
All the surrounding hills are higher. On the east, the Mount of Olives; on the south, the so-called Hill of Evil Counsel, which ascends from the Valley of Hinnom; on the west the ground rises gently to the border of the great wady; while on the north the bend of a ridge which adjoins the Mount of Olives limits the view to the distance of about a mile and a half" (comp. Zechariah 2:4, 5, "wall of fire round about her"). Delitzsch says, "The holy city has a natural circumvallation of mountains, and the holy nation that dwells and worships therein has a still infinitely higher defense in Jahve, who encompasses it round." Thomson says that "none of the surrounding hills, not even Olivet, has any relative elevation above the north-western comer of the city itself. But Jerusalem is situated in the center of a mountainous region, whose valleys have drawn around it in all directions a perfect network of deep ravines, the perpendicular walls of which constitute a very efficient system of defense."
I. DEFENSE "ROUND ABOUT" PUTS LIMITS TO ATTACK. Illustrate by the fear of Elisha's servant of the Syrian attack upon them. When he saw the encircling host of God, he knew that their power to attack was in actual Divine restraint. That defense frustrates plans. Or illustration may be taken from the raising of a siege by an army which covers the retreat of the invaders. All their schemes of attack fail, and it is as much as they can do to attend to their own security. So the good man may always have this confidence. He can never be subjected to an unawares attack. Its enemies must always take count of the defense that is round about him. They must deal with our God, not only with us; and our God will surely say, "Hitherto shalt thou come, and no further."
II. DEFENSE "ROUND ABOUT" GIVES COMPLETENESS TO OUR SAFETY. What Elisha's servant saw was an absolute unbroken circle. The distinction between human and Divine protections lies in just this completeness. The best circle human love draws round us is incomplete somewhere; so it never can be wholly trustworthy. There is always some undefended place which makes us vulnerable. God's circle is drawn completely round. The foe cannot come in, and we cannot go out. Illustrate by encircling walls of ancient cities. - R.T.
I. THE CHURCH AS A WHOLE is secured by God beyond the reach of harm. She is ably garrisoned by Omnipotence, and she is castled within the faithful engagements of the covenant. How often has the Church been attacked; but how often has she been victorious! The number of her battles is just the number of her victories. Foes have come against her; they have compassed her about, but in the name of God she has destroyed them.
So the Lord is round about His people.
I. God stands about His people, as the mountains do about Jerusalem, with PROTECTING ATONEMENT OF SIN.
II. God stands about His people, as the mountains do about Jerusalem, with the protection of DISCIPLINE ADMINISTERED WITH INFINITE AND LOVING WISDOM. For a forgiven man is by no means a perfect man.
III. God stands about His people, as the mountains do about Jerusalem, with the protection of PROFFERED HELP FOR THE DAILY DUTY.
IV. God stands about His people, as the mountains do about Jerusalem, with the protection of A FINAL AND TRIUMPHANT DELIVERANCE.
(W. Hoyt, D. D.)
1. Persecution has unsheathed its sword, and sought to rend up the Church by its roots, or fell it with its axe. Tyrants have heated their furnaces, have prepared their racks, have erected their stakes. But has the Church been subdued?
2. But by and by the devil grew wiser. He saw that overt persecution would not suffice for the putting down of God's Church, and he therefore adopted another measure not less cruel but more crafty. "I will not only slay them," said he, "I will malign them." Did you ever read in history the horrible reports which were set afloat in the early ages of Christianity concerning the Christians? Never were men so fearfully belied. The very heathens, who revelled in vice, despised the followers of Jesus on account of crimes which the voice of the liar had laid to their charge. A few years elapsed and the mud which had been cast upon the snow-white garments of Christ's Church fell off from them, leaving them whiter than before. But the devil has adopted the same plan in every period. But has the Church suffered through their slander, or hath ever a solitary Christian lost aught by it? No; the Lord God who set the mountains round about Jerusalem has so put Himself about His people, that no weapon that is formed against us shall prosper, and every tongue that riseth against us in judgment we shall condemn.
3. Again Satan learned wisdom, and he said, "Now, inasmuch as I cannot destroy this people, neither by sword nor slander, lo, this will I do; I will send into their midst wolves in sheep's clothing; I will inspire divers heretics, carried away by their own lusts, who shall in the midst of the Church promulgate lies and prophesy smooth things in the name of the Lord. And Satan has done all this with a vengeance. In every era of the Church there have been numberless bands of heretics. Now, this is one of the attempts of the enemy to put down the truth; but he will never be able to do it, for "As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about His people from henceforth even for ever."
4. The craftiest invention of the devil, with which he seeks, in the last place, to put out the Church, is a device which has amazed me above every ether. "Now," says Satan, "if I can quench the Church, neither by persecution, nor slander, nor heresy, I will invent another mode of destroying her." And I have often marvelled at the depths of deceit which are centred in this last invention of Satan. Satan seeks to divide the Church, to set us apart from one another, and not allow those who love the same truth to meet with each other and to work together in love, and peace, and harmony. But, despite all this, the Church is secure, for God hath set Himself round about her "even as the mountains," etc.
II. The fact which relates to the Church includes in it EVERY MEMBER OF THE CHURCH. God has fortressed His people; so that every believer is infallibly secure. The Christian is fortified and secured from all harm. And yet, O child of God, there be many that will seek to destroy thee, and thy fears will often tell thee that thou art in the jaws of the enemy.
1. Providence will often seem against thee, thine eyes shall be seldom dry; it may be funeral shall follow funeral; loss shall follow loss; a burning house shall be succeeded by a blasted crop. The Christian in this world is not secured against the perils which happen to manhood. Oh! child of God, it may seem that all things are against thee; perhaps all God's waves and billows will go over thee; but, oh I remember, that neither famine, nor hunger, nor poverty, nor sickness, nor weakness, nor contempt, can separate thee from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus thy Lord.
2. Again, you may be tempted by the world; traps may be set for you on every hand, you may be tempted by your flesh; your corruptions may have great power over you, and often stagger your faith, and make you tremble, lest you should be utterly overthrown, and the devil may set upon you with fiery darts; he may pierce you with foul insinuations, he may almost make you blaspheme, and with terrible suggestions he may drive you well-nigh to despair.
3. And thou mayest, too, be overcome by sin. Thou mayest fall. Conscience will whisper, "How couldst thou be a child of God, and yet sin thus?" And Satan will howl in thine ears, "He that sinneth knoweth not God." And so thou wilt be ready to be destroyed by thy sin. But do thou then, in the hour of thy dark distress, read this verse — "As the mountains," etc.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
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