Meditation on Psalm 23

by Frank Jones

The Lord is My Shepherd

There is no greater anchor of the soul than a Shepherd. A Shepherd Who is the Lord of Glory. A Shepherd Who is good. Christ Who gave His life as a substitute for the sheep.

Our Lord, the Shepherd, is the guarantor of safety, security, and sufficiency. The sheep have no true lack. The Lord is my Shepherd.

The Shepherd is our peace, the rest of my soul. He guards my heart and mind in Christ Jesus. My soul is renewed and put in order.

The Shepherd never abandons His sheep. He is rightin all His ways. Righteousness is His garment. Fears in our pilgrimage evaporate as the sheep walks with the Lord. The Shepherd is the Almighty. His might is not my fear but my comfort. The Shepherd will never flee my dangers..

The Shepherd is my hospitality. The Lord lays out honorable provisions. The Shepherd is the host. The sheep are His honored guest. My enemies watch in shame. Privilege and honor are my crowns. My wounds are healed by His hand. The cup of my soul fills with satiety. His sheep are satisfied in the Shepherd.

Jesus Christ is my Shepherd. Goodness and lovingkindness stream in glory from His face. The Shepherd is my forward. His goodness and lovingkindness is my rearward. His sheep are wrapped in His beauty as I sojourn this dangerous, dark world. His sheep will be gathered unto His eternal fold. No more wandering but settled in the house of the Lord - never to leave.

The Shepherd is Jesus Christ, the Son of God

Preserving Proper Meaning of Bible Words

by Frank Jones

We are reliving perhaps 1521 when Melanchthon wrote:

Rightly oriented teachers are needed, therefore, to clarify and preserve the proper meaning of the words of the prophets (O.T.) and apostles (N.T.). And such true teachers do not invent new or peculiar doctrines about God, instead, they stay close to the unadulterated [einigen] meaning, which God himself revealed through the words which are found in the writings of the prophets and apostles and in the creeds.
— Quoted in Robert Culver, Systematic Theology, 20.

Stages & Climax of Sin

by Frank Jones

“Notwithstanding the variety of its forms, the sin of Israel is all of a piece. From comparatively small beginnings it advances step by step to its utmost height. From the most innocent forms, in which it still has a pleasing aspect, sin goes on growing till it openly boasts of its devilish hostility to God. It commences with sinful feelings in the heart, which even the good and pious still experience (e.g. Ps. 73:2; Prov. 4:23 ff.); with the sins of youth which are chargeable to human frailty—for ‘stolen waters are sweet’ (Job 13:26; Pss. 25:7; 19:13; Prov. 9:17). It commences with that rather innocent ignorance which God is still able to excuse. ‘They are foolish, and know not what is right’ (Pss. 19:13; 90:8; cf. Jer. 5:4). There is a sinful state in which the sinner still feels his sin a burden, a misery from which he seeks restoration and deliverance (Ps. 51:5; Prov. 9:4). But out of this rather animal state of nature, sin does its best to grow. It keeps firm hold of the will, until it ceases to struggle. It saturates with its poison the innermost parts of the Ego. It turns sinners into enemies of God, men who do evil habitually, and who yield themselves up wholly, with all their personal faculties and gifts (Pss. 6:9; 14:4; 37:1–7), as instruments of evil (Ps. 37:20; Deut. 5:9).

The highest stage of sin is likewise shown by the shamelessness with which it flaunts itself openly. The fool, the scorner, despises rebuke; correction only makes him worse (Prov. 1:7; 9:7 ff.), he knoweth not shame (Zeph. 3:5). The boldness of its countenance testifies against God’s people when, like Sodom, it openly proclaims its sin (Isa. 3:9; Hosea 5:5; Jer. 3:3; 6:15; 7:12). This is shown in wanton disregard of a neighbor’s interests, when one considers everything allowable that one has the power to do (Micah 2:1). But the most terrible display of the real nature of sin is when a man delights in evil because it is evil, and loathes good because it is good (Micah 3:2, 9; Ps. 52:5). Then bitter is called sweet, and darkness light (Isa. 5:20; Amos 6:12; cf. Matt. 12:31). Then whosoever eschews evil is declared an outlaw (Isa. 5:15; cf. Prov. 29:27). Then men hate light and truth (Job 24:13), and rejoice over the misfortune of a neighbor (Ps. 35:11 ff.; 41:6 ff.). Nay more, they have no longer even the natural instinct of a brute beast for what is wholesome and good. They seek after their own hurt (Isa. 1:2 ff.; Jer. 8:4 ff.).

At this stage, when a man takes delight in doing mischief, and cannot rest without doing it, when he is wise to do evil and ‘exults the more, the greater the evil is’ (Prov. 2:14; 4:16; Jer. 4:22; cf. Isa. 29:20), he is of course irretrievably lost. When one has grieved God’s Holy Spirit (Isa. 63:10; 65:3), has, as it were, bidden God adieu (Job 1:11; 2:5, 9; 12:6; Ps. 10:3), the heart has then become insensible to every saving influence. Then it has to be said: ‘As the Ethiopian cannot change his skin, nor the leopard his spots, so this people cannot do good, because it is accustomed to do evil’ (Jer. 13:23; cf. 4:22; 7:24 ff.; 9:2, 4; Isa. 6). The soul of the wicked desires evil; he makes a jest of infamy (Prov. 8:23; 21:10; cf. Ps. 11:5).”

Quoted in Robert Culver, “Systematic Theology”, 347.

Thankfulness in Prayer

by Frank Jones

When petition is grounded in thanksgiving, God and not self-interest becomes the focus. On the other hand, thanksgiving without petition proclaims God to be the Creator without trusting that he indeed is one who is able to provide for his people. In the Pauline epistles, petitions are often found precisely in the thanksgiving paragraphs that introduce the epistles. The two cannot be separated in the Pauline model of prayer.
— Quoted in Kostenberger, Andreas. 1-2 Timothy &. Titus, 96.

The Exchange

by Frank Jones

I dare not say but my Lord Jesus Christ hath fully recompensed my sadness with his joys, my losses with his presence. I find it a sweet and rich thing to exchange my sorrows with Christ’s joys, my afflictions with that sweet peace I have with himself.
— Samuel Rutherford, 1600-1661

The Father of Light Corrects

by Frank Jones

I pray you learn to be worthy of his pains who correcteth; and let him wring, and be ye washed; for he hath a Father’s heart, and a Father’s hand, who is training you up, and making you meet for the high hall.
— Samuel Rutherford, 1600-1661

Lord God is the Light

by Frank Jones

All the saints have their own measure of winter before their eternal summer. O! for the long day, and the high sun, and the fair garden, and the King’s great city up above these visible heavens!
— Samuel Rutherford, 1600-1661

Work of the Pulpit

by Frank Jones

“The work of the pulpit is to explain to people that the triune God has no needs, least of all a need for the love of his creatures. God is love, and so the Trinity is love—love expressed, received, and delighted in among three persons. The preacher must tell his hearers that God doesn’t need any of us, though we assume he does. Instead, the gospel is love, offered to all who seek the embrace of the ever-loving and already-loving God.

The preacher must teach people of God so that they can worship him with all their might. He must preach God so that they learn to adore the God who loves lost people because he chooses to, with no compulsion whatsoever, except the compulsion of the overflowing love of the Trinity. To know this God in his love in Christ is eternal life. The preacher’s task is to show them nothing less. Sunday by Sunday, our work must show our hearers that God is the one who lives, rules, loves, and speaks, all to his own glory.

We should never be so foolish as to wonder whether we should preach the gospel or instead teach the Trinity. The God of the gospel is the Trinity. The gospel message is a call to know God in his triune love, both now by faith and one day in eternity with sight and unbreakable joy. God has given the light of the knowledge of his triune glory in the face of Christ (2 Cor. 4:6). Preach the gospel, and you are preaching Trinity love..

He is glorious. This is the God the Scriptures declare to us (and sing of to us, warn us about, and command us to come to, and urge us to delight in). There can never be a greater hope for the world than to know this God. He is waiting for us.”

Allen, Lewis. The Preacher’s Catechism, 37, 38)

Sight of Christ in Scriptures

by Frank Jones

Whether God come to his children with a rod or a crown, if he come himself with it, it is well. Welcome, welcome Jesus, what may soever thou come, if we can get a sight of thee: and sure I am, it is better to be sick, providing Christ come to the bedside and draw the curtains, and say, Courage, I am thy salvation, than to enjoy health, being lusty and strong and never need to be visited by God.
— Samuel Rutherford, 1600-1661

The Master Behind Providence

by Frank Jones

It is impossible to be submissive and religiously patient, if ye stay your thoughts down among the confused rollings and wheels of second causes, as O, the place! O, the time! O, if this had been, this had not been followed! O, the linking of this accident with this time and place! Look up to the master motion and the first wheel.
— Samuel Rutherford, 1600-1661