Knowing and Calling Upon God
“He hath known My name” (Psalm 91:14).
This leads the child of God to love – to love God – to set a love upon Him. And we see the cause. “Because God first loved us.” Therefore it was we were brought to set our love upon Him. Yes, we do not love we know not what! When Paul went to Athens what did he see? An altar with this inscription: “TO THE UNKNOWN GOD” (Acts 17:23.) Ah! God is in some measure known – the God that the child of grace is brought to worship, and it is this knowledge of God that causes us to love Him – and mark you, it is the knowledge of God by the remission of sins. What a striking word this is to give unto His people, to give to them this knowledge of salvation by the remission of sins! As much as to say you will never know God – not really, not satisfactorily – till your sins are pardoned. Then will the mystery be opened. Then it will not be a speculative point, a mere matter of opinion; you will know it – for yourself you will know it; feelingly, by the remission of sins.
This is how God gives to His people this knowledge of salvation. It is not God’s way to give the knowledge of salvation, and afterwards the remission of sins, but actually by it – by it – through the remission of sins. Because then we have a knowledge, then we know it. And does not the prophet Isaiah say, “Butter and honey shall he eat” – and what is the result? – then he knows and can discern between the evil and the good, so as “to refuse the evil, and choose the good” (Isaiah 7:15).
Now there are some people that are in legal bondage, and have never been brought to the knowledge of the truth, yet they are set up as critics in the congregation, and they will find fault with this and that. But does not the prophet say, “And in this mountain shall the LORD of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things” (Isaiah 25:6), evidently writing of the blessed gospel – the gospel of the grace of God. He shall feast upon the gospel. Then he shall discern, then he shall have a right knowledge of things, he shall know how to refuse the evil and how to choose the good, when he has had this gospel feast.
“He hath set His love upon me.” Yes. This is the result of the knowledge with which he is favoured. We cannot know the Lord and not love Him. It is a contradiction. It is impossible to know Him and not to love Him. Our blindness, our ignorance, our unbelief often prevail, and our love waxes cold. But when this knowledge is communicated, and when our eyes are opened to behold Him, we see Him and we are ravished with His beauty. “He hath set His love upon me.”
“He shall call upon Me” (Psalm 91:15). “He shall.” What, after all this that he has done? We may well suppose that he calls upon God that he may know Him and have his heart’s affections set upon God. Yes, and he shall call upon Him after that; and it is here plainly intimated when it is he calls, or “shall call” upon the LORD. Even in trouble. What! shall he be brought into trouble? Yes, he shall; his heart pants, when his pardon is signed, and his peace is procured, but from that moment his conflict begins, and a conflict it is. He finds fresh troubles coming in upon him constraining him to ask God that God would help him, that God would appear for him, and give him a fresh token for good. Like the poor woman who said “Lord, help me” (Matthew 15:25). Every fresh case of distress that he is made acquainted with, every trouble he is brought into, gives him an errand to the throne of grace.
“He shall call upon Me” (Psalm 91:15). And this is the result of knowing and of loving God. “Because he has known My name, he knows I am able to deliver him, and, therefore, it is in his heart to look to Me; for none else can help but the Almighty God. He knows My name, he knows I am a God of love, that I sympathise and feel compassion for My children, and this encourages him.” We have not an high priest to go to that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmity (see Hebrews 4:15). No; but He was made acquainted with these things, He has borne our cross, He has carried our sorrows, He has been tempted in all points like as we are, and He is so gracious and so merciful, He never forsakes the poor and needy sinner that calls upon Him.
How this encourages us to go unto Him! Where shall we go? To whom shall we look? “Lord … Thou hast the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). He is encouraged by this knowledge. But if he has not all this encouragement, if he has not sufficient life in the exercise of prayer, he shall be urged on by the pressure of his trouble. Partly, as it were, driven, partly drawn. This is how God’s people are made to call upon Him. The urgency of the case is one thing, the absolute necessity of the matter in this time of need, and then we have to be drawn by what God has done for us in former days, and this encourages – He has delivered, He does deliver, and I trust He will yet deliver (see 2nd Corinthians 1:10). Is He not the same God? Is He a fickle and changeable being? No, and, therefore, he rests upon Him. He is ever the same; therefore, cast all your care upon Him; for He changeth not.