A Study of Deuteronomy 33:18
“And of Joseph he said, Blessed of the LORD be his land, for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath.”
The word of God does not appear to contain a more solemnly pleasing history, as a history, than that of Joseph. And I have no doubt that every particle of it has a divine mystery in it, whether we can get into that mystery or not. But I have proved, in thousands of instances, that I can only get spiritually into any branch of the mystery of God as that gets into me. And when the glorious mysteries of the gospel of God’s grace, under the divine operations and teachings of the Holy Ghost, get into my conscience, my poor conscience slides into those mysteries as sweetly and as easily as if it were oiled; and indeed it is so; and then I find the blessedness of entering into the solemn realities of the gospel of God’s grace.
I shall endeavour to make a few remarks upon the passage read as a text, in the following order:
I. Considering Joseph as typical of Christ.
II. His land as typical of the inheritance of Christ.
III. The blessing pronounced upon this land, his portion, his people. “The precious things of heaven, and the dew and the deep that coucheth beneath.”
And if the LORD the Spirit should grant me a little dew, and you a little dew, we shall find it blessedly sweet and solemn to enter into a little of the glory of God, couched in the passage.
I. Joseph typical of Christ. Joseph, you know, was ordained of God to be the saviour of Israel; and God had given him intimations of that by dreams. And no doubt poor Joseph’s mind would sometimes be lifted up with the prospect of what was couched in his dreams. He little thought what God’s high road to it was. Now God’s high road to Joseph’s exaltation was a vastly deep one; and indeed it seemed to be such a one that none but the LORD could have accomplished it, in the way that he did, to the bringing about of his own purpose. I know, characters who find fault with the decrees of God get hold of a variety of things to mock the LORD. I recollect one once saying to a friend of mine, “Why, you had better say that God decreed Jonah’s going to Tarshish, instead of going direct to Nineveh.” “Why,” said my friend, “so He did; for no one but Jonah ever went to Nineveh on that road before or since, and none but God could have made such a road.” And really it could be no other being who could make such a wonderful way as God did in bringing Jonah to Nineveh, in spite of all the workings of his corrupt heart. And so poor Joseph had a variety of trials and workings of his corrupt nature to go through, to get to the place and state appointed for him by the LORD.
But now, as far as this may look to Christ, we find that poor Joseph was hated, abhorred, sold, and in reality in heart murdered, by the very characters he was destined to save. When he went on his father’s business, to see his brethren, they combined together, and said, “Behold; this dreamer cometh; Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him in to some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams.” (Genesis 37:19-20)
God ordered it otherwise; he was not to be slain; but their enmity was the same, and they were as truly his murderers in the sight of God’s law as though they had actually slain him. And do not we see what a solemn beauty there is in this, as connected with Christ? Who murdered Christ? Who hated Christ? Who slaughtered Christ? The very characters that He came to save. I have often felt a little solemnity in that portion of God’s word, “We esteemed him not,” “We hid as it were our faces from him.” (Isaiah 53:3)
Beloved, you and I may look at the conduct of Jews and Gentiles as being the actual instrument which put him to death, but it was your sins and mine that slaughtered Him. It was the sin of the church of God that tore His heart and horrified His soul. “The LORD laid upon him our iniquities;” and, bless His solemn Majesty, “with his stripes we are healed.” I never was brought to have a proper view of the hateful nature of sin till the LORD brought me to feel that I had been the means of bathing the Son of God in his own blood by my abominable crimes, that I was really his murderer, and that He bore my guilt and was slaughtered with my vile transgressions; and yet His blessed Majesty was determined to love.
But notwithstanding Joseph’s brethren hated him, sold him, and in their hearts slaughtered him, and no doubt thought they had got rid of him and his dreams too, this was the very high road for the accomplishment of God’s purpose that he should be their Saviour. And if the Lord Jesus Christ had not been hated, abhorred, sold, crucified, and slaughtered, where would our salvation have been? The cross of the Lord Jesus Christ was God’s high road for saving sinners. And when the LORD the Spirit brought the apostle Paul to enter sweetly and blessedly into this subject, he considered all things but dung “for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord;” (Philippians 3:8) and he says, “God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 6:14) Why, into what a degraded state think you, must the learned man’s mind be brought? Paul was a wise man, a learned man; and yet he had given up all his connections, all his literature, and all his knowledge, to make his boast of a crucified Christ. Why, it would be as degrading in the eyes of the Greeks as it would be in our eyes if he were to say, “God forbid that I should glory save in the gallows or in the gibbet;” for you know this was the contemptible idea of a crucifixion. And yet, notwithstanding it appeared so degrading, it was the life, glory, and spring of the apostle’s emulation; he was “determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1st Corinthians 2:2). Now the blessed LORD accomplished the salvation of the bride through this very channel; and though He was put to cruel mockings and scorn and shame, yet this was the method by which He accomplished salvation and brought life and immortality to light.
We cannot enter upon all the particulars which might be named concerning Joseph; but there is one that I have often thought of, as typical of a false “church”. When Joseph was sold into the hands of Potiphar, Potiphar’s wife professed great attachment to him, a great liking for him, and laid herself in his way in order to manifest her great liking and attachment; but when his purity, under the teaching of God, forbade the connection, she became his betrayer,—brought false accusations against him, and was the means of putting him in prison. And this is just the spirit of free-will at the present moment. O! How prettily she will talk about Christ! What a bustle and stir she will make about her love to Christ! But if Christ will not commit fornication with her, and let it be, “Christ doing his part and she doing her part,” she will turn accuser, and call him a tyrant, and worse than a devil, and a cruel monster. If he acts purely, and will keep his bosom sacred and his heart sacred, communicating blessings only to his spouse and setting at naught all the poor empty parade of free will, then she turns his enemy, sets him at naught, scorns and betrays him, and despises him in his own Person, in his ministers, and in all the members of his mystical body. I have often thought of one portion of God’s word: “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2nd Timothy 3:12) Mind how that text reads. It does not say, “All that will live a godly life.” Men may live what they call a godly life, and be very “pious,” what the world calls “decidedly pious,” have a very pretty name into the bargain, and all things go on very nicely and meet with no persecution; but if any man is brought, by the power of discriminating grace, to trace all his godliness up to Christ, to “live godly in Christ,” to have no foundation or spring for godliness except what centres in Christ, comes from Christ, and leads to Christ, ”he shall suffer persecution.” They will act as Potiphar’s wife did; they will turn accusers; they will belie the truth, charge him with everything that is ungodly and licentious, and set at naught the sacred name of Christ in the hearts of his people, in the ministry of the word, and in the power of His grace, and say, “These men do evil that good may come.” And thus they demonstrate the same unhallowed spirit that Potiphar’s wife demonstrated concerning Joseph. But it comes to nothing, brethren. Our Jesus will keep His bosom sacred; He never will let the harlot of free-will lodge there. No, no. Honours crown His brow, He opens His ear and His bosom to empty, weak, polluted, lost sinners; “Sinners can say, and only they, How precious is a Saviour.” And he will have all the glory. He brings them by the power of His love to the blessed enjoyment of Himself; and He will have all the glory.
Now we find by and bye, when Joseph is put in prison, that God makes known a wonderful dispensation of His providence, in order to bring him to enlargement; and that very dispensation is the very means that finds him in prison ready for the enlargement. Why bless you, if Joseph had stopped in Potiphar’s house, and been a great man, and all that might have been expected of one that was pure and virtuous, there would have been no visiting Potiphar’s two servants in the prison and explaining their dreams, and so being brought into the presence of Pharaoh when Pharaoh had a dream. But this is God’s way. And indeed nobody else can work as our God does in the dispensations of His providence and grace. He is a wonder-working God to this present moment. And we may see, in this dispensation of the LORD to Joseph, a little of the dispensations of God to his people in every age of the world. He “makes darkness light, crooked things straight, and rough places plain.” Some people like to talk about these things, but they never like to be in darkness, nor in the crooked things, nor in the rough places; and they will try to make you believe as if there were none; but how, then, can the LORD make them light, and make them straight and plain? There must be such things, or how could the LORD do this? But I have often thought of a dream I had some few years ago. I was in trouble of mind, and I dreamed in the night that I was in a smithy (as we call it), that is, a smith’s shop; and round it there were a number of very crooked wires; so I took a hammer, and got some of them upon the anvil in order to straighten them; and I dreamed that the more I hammered them, the more crooked they got; and so I laid down my hammer, and said, “I believe I must die with all the things crooked about me.” I awoke, and, behold, it was a dream. And bless you, I have been at the anvil many a time; and I believe, yes, I am sure, that all my hammering only makes things the more crooked; but when I lay down my hammer and come as a pauper to the LORD, God can make crooked things straight, rough places plain, magnify the riches of His grace, and give me a little of this blessedness,—to know that he does all things well, and that “these things will he do and not forsake us.”
But we find that through this channel Joseph was brought to the high estate of glory of being next to the king on his throne. And so the blessed Jesus, in His mediatorial capacity, passed through all the dark agonies and trials and distresses that His solemn Majesty had to wade through,—through the enmity of men, the wrath of devils, and at length the fierce anger of incensed Justice; and He had to die, “the just for the unjust.” But that very channel was the appointment of God, to lead Him forth to exaltation above all principalities and powers, in His mediatorial capacity, to be exalted at God’s right hand, there to appear, the God-man Mediator, as the glorious Head of the church for ever and for ever. And let me tell thee, poor child of God, there is a solemn ground of consolation in this to thy poor tried soul. When thou comest to an exalted Christ, and art led in faith and feeling to trace a little of the blessed exaltation of Christ, thou comest to a Christ who has waded through all the afflictions and troubles thou canst ever have. “In all your afflictions he was afflicted.” Yes, bless his name, he was “tempted in all points like as we are;” only, “without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)
Now perhaps you may have some particular, trial and conflict connected with some particular temptation, and you sometimes wish you had a bosom friend that you could dare to unburden your heart to; but you are afraid; you are afraid of trusting the best friend you have under heaven. Sometimes you have a little conversation, and you do your best to pump it out of them whether they know anything about such things; but somehow or other you cannot get it out that they know anything you are labouring under; therefore you conclude your case is singular and that they know nothing about it; and you dare not tell, for fear they should throw it at you and do you an injury. Now I can tell you this, the case is so bad that God’s people have most of them something they really dare not tell one another. They try to pump it out of another, but they dare not tell it all out; they keep a portion to themselves. But now you may go to our Joseph, and tell him all your heart, unbosom your soul. He knows your trials, He knows your temptations, He knows your afflictions; and He was “tempted in all points” for that very end, that “he might be a merciful and faithful High Priest…able to succour them that are tempted,” (Hebrews 2:17-18) knowing how to succour thee,—that He might not only have all power as Almighty God, but that He might have a sympathetic feeling and sympathetic power; His heart going to thy heart, and thy heart being opened to receive His heart; so that there might be a solemn dropping of His love and grace to thy case and circumstances, that thou mightest find him a very present help in trouble, and thus be made to glorify Him. The most solemn and blessed opportunities the LORD, in the riches of His grace, has ever favoured me with have been when He has led me spiritually and feelingly to Gethsemane, and when, under the teaching of the LORD, I could feel my heart drop into the heart of a tempted, agonizing, slaughtered LORD, and raised through that channel to the glorious exaltation of Jesus, having vanquished all foes and “brought life and immortality to light” (2nd Timothy 1:10). When we are brought there, there is a blessedness in the gospel that the world knows nothing of; and this we have in our spiritual Joseph.
I shall pass over many things, and just come to one; and that is, what brought Joseph and his brethren together,—manifestively together.
Had there been no famine, and no preservation of food in Egypt against the famine, Joseph’s brethren would not have been there. But there was a famine over all the land, and God had raised up Joseph to provide for the famine, to get provision ready in Egypt for the supply of a famishing world, and he was lord of all the stores, to give out to the necessitous and the distressed. And so, among the rest, the famine gets to Canaan, and Jacob sends ten of his sons to Egypt to buy corn. Benjamin (poor lad!) must not go. No, no. Benjamin must stay at home. And when the brethren arrived there, Joseph knew them; but mind, they did not know him. Now what method did he take to bring about a knowledge of himself to them? Why, he spoke roughly to them, and asked them if they were not spies; he took care to be very inquisitive, too, about their family; for he wanted to know whether their old father was alive. But he did not want them to know that he knew their father, or knew them; and therefore he spoke to them through an interpreter, as if he did not know their language. And by and by he begins to treat them as prisoners; and then they conversed together (not supposing Joseph knew their language), and they get directly to the guilt of selling their brother. They begin to say, “Ah! It has all come upon us now; the Lord has made our sin find us out.” Joseph heard them and understood them; and though it was not his time to discover himself, his bowels yearned; he turned aside and wept, and dropped a few sympathetic tears over his trembling and penitent brethren. And is it not the case with our spiritual Joseph? Many a poor sinner goes to Him and confesses His sins; yet He dare not and cannot believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is His brother; but still He is obliged to open His heart. He is ready to think that Christ seems rather like an awful and solemn king, who is determined to bring Him to ruin and not to show mercy. But I can tell thee, poor child of God, thy Jesus often turns aside to weep while He seems to frown upon thee. And He will make the matter clear by and bye, and make known to thee the solemn mysteries of His kingdom.
Well; Joseph sent them home, only keeping one a prisoner to secure their coming again, and with their money in their sacks; for he was not going to have their money. No, no; he was exalted for another purpose. And, poor child of God, the Lord Jesus Christ will have none of thy money. His blessed salvation is “without money and without price” (Isaiah 55:1); and though He mysteriously loads thy sack sometimes with a little degree of hope, He always returns thy money in the sack.
But anon they are in complete want again; and their father requests they will go down and buy corn again, take their money with them, fresh money to buy with, and the best of Canaan into the bargain. The old man is determined to produce something that will bring them favour in the sight of the lord of the country. And so they go. But with great reluctance the old man parts with Benjamin. Says he, “Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away; all these things are against me” (Genesis 43:36). Ah, my brethren! How many of our Josephs and Simeons have we thought were gone, and our little Benjamins going; and what groaning and moaning and sighing we have been making over them, thinking that these things were all against us and the LORD dealing hardly with us; whereas, the issue proved that it was the high road to the greatest blessings God ever made known to sinners! So it fell out in this case. When they get down into Egypt, Joseph commands them all to be brought into his house and to dine with him; and they take all this as “against them.” “O!” say they; “the lord of the country is about now to take us for spies and treat us cruelly.” And they begin to make their confession about their money, and how it came in their sacks they declare they cannot tell. “O!” says the steward of the house; “make yourselves easy; I had your money;” and they are all ordered to sit down, Benjamin amongst them, and Simeon is brought out. They have a meal, and a greater share is given to Benjamin than to the rest; they cannot make it out; they do not understand it; they are all in confusion; there is a mystery in their mind.
Passing over many things, we observe that at length Joseph is about to make himself known. Now here is a secret coming out,— the Egyptians must all leave; the secret must be directly and immediately and exclusively betwixt Joseph and his brethren. He says, “Cause every man to go out from me;” and they all went out but Joseph and his brethren. O! How the poor creatures would look one at one another, and say, “Why. all the Egyptians are dismissed; what is he going to do now?” But just as they are full of surprise, he stands up, and says, “I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt” (Genesis 45:4). They never were so paralyzed in their lives before. It was like a paralytic stroke that went through their whole frames and their whole souls, to find that this lord of Egypt was Joseph their brother, and that he charged upon them the crime of selling him. No doubt they sank in their feelings every moment a thousand fathoms. But he soon cheers them. He says, “Now, therefore, be not grieved nor angry with yourselves that ye sold me hither; for God did send me before you to preserve life. For these two years hath the famine been in the land; and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance…And, behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin, that it is my mouth that speaketh unto you.” (Genesis 45:5-7; Genesis 45:12)
O! What a change was this to their feelings and in their minds! And how wonderful the change is, when, by the power of the Spirit, the sense of our guilt upon the conscience has made us feel our iniquity and acknowledge it, when we have been sinking in confusion and disorder, expecting nothing but the sentence of death, and he has come with the sentence of life: “I am Jesus, your Brother; I came to save!” Have you felt it, poor soul? Has there not been a majesty and a glory brought into your conscience that you can never describe, when Christ, by the power of the Spirit, has come into your conscience, and has said, “I am Jesus, your Brother, your Saviour, and I am exalted to save you from all famine, all plague, and all pestilence, and to bring you eventually to the immortal enjoyment of myself and to glory?” And thus we find how Joseph wonderfully fits the nature of our blessed Christ, in the glorious methods of His love that He takes with His people.
A great number of things might be mentioned here; but if I proceed on this ground, I cannot get to any other. And, therefore, I shall leave this part, and come, as typical of Christ, to Joseph’s land. “And of Joseph he said, Blessed of the LORD be his land.”
II. No doubt a fertile part of the land of promise was given to the seed of Joseph; but what I have in view is the land of our precious Christ. “What! Has Christ any land?” “The LORD’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance” (Deuteronomy 32:9). The land of promise, you know, was divided among the tribes by lot,—lotted out; each one had his part allotted; and our Jesus has also his lot. Here is a world lying in iniquity, and here is a “lot” of antichristian professors, and a “lot” of profane swearers; a “lot” of characters that live and die in sin; and our Lord has also his “lot;” and this lot is “His people.” So we find the Lord says by the prophet Isaiah, “This people have I formed for myself.” (Isaiah 43:21). Why, God formed all people; but here is a people He formed “for himself.” “They shall show forth my praise.” He does not say: “They shall have a chance.” When I hear men talk about having a chance of being saved, it really offends my nostrils; I hate it in my very soul. Blessed be God, we stand upon better ground than this chance work: “They shall” —not “have a chance” merely—but “they shall show forth my praise” (Isaiah 43:21); and where God comes into the conscience, it does bring the vilest sinner to show forth the praises of God. Why, are you not shocked at hearing about a chance of being saved? As though God the Father had left His honour to chance, and God the Son had left the efficacy of His love and blood to chance, and God the Spirit had left his operations to chance! So that the Father may love and elect, the Son may love and redeem, and the Spirit may love and quicken, and yet, by chance, if the creature does not do his part, the whole work may be null and void; and the whole glory of God, according to this, rests upon chance! Why, can you worship in your soul a God who has no better ground for his declarative glory and the blessedness of his people than chance, and that chance dependent for the accomplishment of it upon such poor creatures as you and I, who are not steady for five minutes together in the day from January to December? No; blessed be God for a better salvation than that,— a salvation which stands upon God’s wills and shalls, and which will save His people from all the power of sin and Satan. And thus, blessed be God, He has a portion, or inheritance, in a people that He has “formed for himself.”
“Why, then,” says some poor soul, “if this is the case, if God has a people of His own, a people formed for Himself and that shall show forth His praise, I am such a poor shortsighted creature, and so set upon going after my own folly and sin, that the Lord will never have me; He will have better characters than I am.” But do you just look at what the Lord says of these characters: “He found him in a desert land, a waste howling wilderness” (Deuteronomy 32:10); “The beasts of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls; because I give waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen” (Isaiah 43:20); and he makes “the wilderness into the garden of the LORD.” Why, our blessed Joseph takes in hand such that nobody could manage but himself; and when a poor sinner is brought, in real sense and feeling, to find himself in such an unmanageable state that all the world cannot manage him and he cannot change himself, then the LORD picks him up, brings him into a manageable state, and gives the poor soul to know, in his own heart’s experience, that “the LORD’s portion is his people.” It is not any worthiness of ours that induces Him to take us in hand; it is His love, His grace, His mercy; and He delights to manifest them to the needy and the poor. If you will only look through the volume of inspiration, you find the greatest part of the promises are to the poor, the weak, the helpless, the ready to perish; yea, those who have no might nor power. And thus our God brings to Himself immortal renown; for He builds His house of such materials as nobody else could square, and makes it a glorious house too—a house that shall bring Him eternal praise. And so He has His portion—His inheritance—His “lot.”
III. Now we come, in the last place, to the Messing. “Blessed of the LORD be his land, for the precious things of heaven.” (Deuteronomy 33:13) That is one part of the blessings, secured to God’s spiritual family. And what are they? The apostle gives us a little hint of them in one place: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:3-4). These are “the precious things of heaven.” What are they? There is pardon, reconciliation, peace, righteousness, holiness, prayer, praise, brokenness of spirit, tenderness of conscience, humility, godly simplicity, love, peace, joy; in a word, a title to heaven, a meetness for it, a safe convoy there, and the glory of God when we get there; and all locked up in the heart of the Son of God, who Himself has the key, and can open and none shall shut, and can shut and none shall open. These are “the precious things of heaven,” —the immortal blessings which God has secured in the Person of Christ for his blood-bought family. It is on this ground we are told that he gave us grace in Christ before the world was: “Who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling; not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” (2nd Timothy 1:9)
And thus, when the LORD is speaking of our spiritual Joseph, He says He is “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). What is He to do with them? He did not want grace for Himself in His own Person in glory. “Of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace” (John 1:16). So that this fulness of grace and fulness of truth, which are locked up in the heart of Christ, are put there for the purpose of God giving them to beggars, to paupers, to poor ruined sinners. And mind, poor tortured soul, He does not give thee His blessings reluctantly. He lets His people know that “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35), and that He really considers Himself honoured in poor beggars possessing these blessings at His hand—this grace and this glory at His hand. It crowns His brow, and heightens manifestively His glory in their consciences, and they are brought to crown Him LORD of all. Thus His gracious Majesty has all fulness in Him, for “it hath pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell” (Colossians 1:19). Well, then, if “all fulness” is there, there can be nothing but emptiness anywhere else. And consequently, poor burdened soul, it is thy privilege and mine, under the blessed teachings of God the Spirit, to come to our spiritual Joseph in our famishing condition. Are we not brought to feel a famine from day to day? There is “corn in Egypt,”—in the heart of our blessed Christ. There is abundance; the “fulness” is there. And, honours crown his brow, we shall have to say as poor old Jacob did, when his sons came back and brought the wonderful tidings, though he could not believe it till he saw the provisions and the wagons come to fetch him and all the family: “It is enough. Joseph my son is yet alive. I will go and see him before I die.” (Genesis 45:28)
Poor soul, you may have your frames and feelings sometimes dead enough, and your enjoyment sometimes dead enough; but Joseph lives! Bless His holy name, “he is yet alive.” God help you and me, in faith and feeling, to visit Him, and to go in our famishing condition to our spiritual Joseph, that we may enter blessedly into the mysteries of His love and the fulness that in Him dwells, and know the truth of that text: “I am like a green fir tree; from me is thy fruit found” (Hosea 14:8). If I have any free-willers here, I know what you are saying now. “Why, the Lord says we are to ‘work out our own salvation.’ What do you think of that?” I will tell you that Arminians always carry a pair of religious scissors about them; and when they get hold of part of a passage which tells for them they cut it in two, take that part and throw the other away, and so make nothing but confusion in the Word. Now the passage reads, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13). And when “God works in us,” it is very blessed to work it out; but there is no working it out till God works it in, and works in us to do, and then it flows out freely in prayer and praise and thanksgiving and adoration; and we bless God for the manifestations of his love and mercy, and glory in the fulness of grace that is in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Another branch of these blessings is “the dew.” But my strength tells me I must conclude with only a hint or two. By “the dew” I understand spiritually the divine penetrating, softening, reviving dew of the blessed Spirit of God, when it descends “like small rain” upon our poor parched consciences. And have you never been brought to find that when faith seemed as if it were low, and love low, and prayer and praise low, and that when you looked (if I may so speak) at the vegetation of your soul, you were ready to say, like David, “My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws” (Psalm 22:15)? And when there seems to be no putting forth of one single spiritual plant or blade, then if the Holy Spirit comes with the divine dew of heaven, with His immortal droppings of love and power and unction, supplies the conscience and bedews the soul, O what a springing up there is! Faith begins to revive, and hope begins to revive, and love begins to revive, and prayer begins to break forth, and praise begins to take place in the conscience, and you feel a sweet springing up of the blessed grace of the Spirit of the Lord in your heart, under the bedewing power of God the Holy Ghost.
Now “the dew” is one part of these blessings; and God has promised it to His people, and secured it in the Lord Jesus Christ. Hence we find, in connection with our text, that the Lord tells us “his doctrine shall drop as the rain, and his speech shall distil as the dew” (Deuteronomy 32:2). Dew, you know, penetrates very deep and very powerfully, though it seems to come very softly; and so it is with the child of God. When the Holy Ghost comes with His secret and yet majestic and divine operations, He penetrates to the bottom of the heart; He penetrates to the root of every spiritual blessing in the soul, and makes it all spring up to the glory of God and the blessedness of our own mind. And thus the LORD has secured, in the Person of Christ, “the dew” as well as other blessings, to be bestowed upon the church of the living God.
“And for the deep that coucheth beneath.” What are we to understand by this “deep”? The LORD in one place says that He has cast all His people’s sins “into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19). What “sea” is that? Sin is of a very inflammable nature—of a burning nature. I believe, humanly speaking, that were it possible to cast our skis into the main ocean, into what is called the sea naturally, and could they there operate with all their inflammatory burning power, they would make the sea boil over and drown the world, instead of being themselves drowned in it. And yet here is a sea which drowns sin; and God has cast His people’s sins into those depths. What is it, then? Why, that sea which was figured forth in the temple of the living God; which is neither more nor less than the blood and love of the God-man Mediator. God has cast His people’s sins into this sea, and there they are drowned. And this is “the deep,” the great deep, the solemn abyss of love and blood, “that coucheth beneath.” All our monstrous and damnable sins, and all the implacable enmity of the heart against the living God—this deep “coucheth beneath” it all, and rises up with springs of mercy and love and joy to every poor sin-tortured and burdened soul.
O that the Spirit of the living God may lead you and me, in spirit and in truth, to know something of the blessings of the LORD revealed in these words; for His mercy’s sake!
William Gadsby – 1841