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GOD’S REGARD FOR HIS PEOPLE
2 Chronicles 16:9. The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.
IN estimating the characters of men, God looks not so much at their actions as at their motives and principles. It is by them that the quality of our actions must be determined: for though no motives, however good, can sanctify a bad action, no action however good can be acceptable to God, if its motive and principle be not pure. There were, it is true, several things which were blameworthy in the conduct of Asa, which was here reproved. He ought not to have made a league at all, we apprehend, with a heathen prince; but certainly not to have induced him to violate the league which he had already made with Israel. But that which rendered his conduct so displeasing to God, was, the distrust from which it sprang. He had not long before been delivered by God from far greater danger; and yet now, instead of applying to God for help again, he placed his dependence on an arm of flesh. In the reproof administered to him on this occasion, the general providence of God, and his tender care of all who trust in him, is strongly asserted: and it is a subject well worthy of the most attentive consideration.
Let us consider,
When the heart may be said to be “perfect towards God”—
As for absolute perfection in this world, it exists only in the deluded imaginations of some visionary enthusiasts. Nevertheless there is a perfection to which we should aspire, and which we may all attain, which consists in integrity, where “the heart is right with God.” This may be said to be the case
When our trust in God is entire—
[The heart of an unconverted man has no disposition to trust in God; nor indeed has he any just ground for trust in him, since God is his enemy. But after a man has been awakened to a sense of his sins, and has sought for mercy through the Lord Jesus Christ, and has even some comfortable evidence that he has obtained mercy, yet he finds it exceeding difficult to repose his confidence in God, to the extent that the Scripture warrants him to do so. He cannot believe that God is so attentive to his concerns, so ready to administer to his wants, and so all-sufficient for his necessities, as he is represented to be in the Holy Scriptures. In proportion as he grows in the knowledge of God, his trust in God is enlarged: and when he comes to realize the idea, that there is nothing, whether great or small, that is not ordered by God, nor any situation which he cannot, or will not, overrule for our good, if only we put our trust in him; and when, in consequence of this conviction, his whole care for body and for soul, for time and for eternity, is cast on God, and he rests on God’s promises “without staggering at any of them through unbelief;” then he honours God as he ought, and his heart may be said to be perfect towards God. The difference between a person who has not attained this perfection, and one who has, may be seen in Elisha and his servant: the one, though well instructed, and habituated to serve God, is troubled when he comes into circumstances of great and unexpected trial; whilst the other is composed, seeing the horses of fire and the chariots of fire forming an impregnable bulwark all around him, and God himself engaged for his support [Note: 2 Kings 6:15-12.6.17.] — — —]
When our desire to serve him is supreme—
[Many are the considerations which arise in the mind to influence us in the discharge of our duty. Inclination, interest, passion, the fear of man, the hope of applause, will often bias our judgment, and lead us astray. The truth is, that in all wrong conduct the heart is more to blame than we are ready to imagine: it is the film in the eye that disguises and distorts the objects: “if the eye were single, the whole body would be full of light.” And here again the difference between Christians of different stature is very apparent: those of lower attainments being open to impression from a vast diversity of objects, whilst those of higher attainments keep their eyes steadily fixed on one object. It is surprising how clear the path of duty becomes, when a man discards every question but this, “What will most please my God?” But this question must be asked, not only in reference to things positively good and evil, but in reference to things in which we seem at liberty to adopt either alternative. Where this principle fully occupies the mind, and operates with promptness and decision, swallowing up every inferior consideration [Note: Acts 4:19-44.4.20; Acts 21:13.], there the heart is perfect towards God, and the man “stands perfect and complete in all the will of God.”]
Let us mark,
What tender regard God shews for persons of that character—
“He despises not the day of small things;” but those who thus honour him, shall be most abundantly honoured by him:
He will shew himself strong in their behalf—
[There is nothing that he will not do for them, either in a way of providence, or of grace. Are they in difficulties or trials of any kind? We say not, that he will work miracles for them as for Israel in the wilderness, or for his servants the prophets; but we do say, that what he did visibly for them, he will do invisibly for all who trust in him: and we conceive it of great importance to observe, that the miracles of former ages were not intended only for the comfort of those in whose behalf they were wrought, or for the confirming of the messages delivered by them, but also for demonstrating to the very senses of men what a minute attention he would pay to the concerns of all his people, and what effectual succour he would impart unto them in every time of need. As the imputation of righteousness to Abraham by faith was not recorded for his sake alone, but for that of believers in all ages [Note: Romans 4:22-45.4.24.], so the miracles wrought, whether for him or others, were not wrought for their sakes alone, but for ours also, who shall experience similar interpositions, only in a less visible way: for them he accomplished ends without means; for us he will accomplish them by means: nor have we any more reason to be anxious about events than the most favoured of his servants had in the days of old [Note: Philippians 4:6.].
Assuredly too will he afford us under spiritual trials the assistance of his grace. The promises, “My grace is sufficient for thee;” and, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee;” are as valid at this day as they were in the days of Paul and Joshua: nor can there be any temptation whatever which we shall not be enabled to surmount, if only we trust in him [Note: 1 Corinthians 10:13.].]
He will search out all occasions for such displays of his power—
[We have not to awaken him by our cries, or to prevail upon him by our pleadings, as though he were of himself either inattentive to us, or adverse to undertake our cause. It is not for this end that our prayers and tears are required; but for the impressing of our own minds, that all our help must come from him. His eye is upon us from the first moment that we begin to think of him; yea, his eyes run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to find out the objects, as it were, who feel their need of him. Whether they be in a cottage or a dungeon, he will fly to their aid, and delight to make known towards them “the exceeding greatness of his power [Note: Ephesians 1:18-49.1.19.],” and “the exceeding riches of his grace [Note: Ephesians 2:7.].” Whilst Satan, their great adversary, “goes to and fro through the earth” “seeking whom he may devour,” our God will surely not be less vigilant in our defence. His whole heart and his whole soul are engaged for us [Note: Jeremiah 32:40-24.32.41.], nor will he lose one whom he has given to his beloved Son [Note: John 10:27-43.10.29. Luke 12:32.].]
As an improvement of this subject, we will suggest a few words,
[Let those who neglect God consider that his eyes are over them no less than over the righteous; but it is in order to bring upon them all the evil that he has denounced against them [Note: Amos 9:4.Proverbs 5:21; Proverbs 5:21.] — — — And let those who profess to know him, but in works deny him, remember, that it will be of little profit to “have a name to live, if they are either dead, or dying” in his sight [Note: Revelation 3:2.] — — — Above all, let those who, like Asa, are in the main “perfect before God,” beware how they resent the reproofs that may be given them for any failures in their duty [Note: ver. 10.]: for, though they should be saved at last, they little know what dereliction or punishment [Note: Both of these are seen in ver. 12.] they may suffer for their fault before they die — — —]
[Let not any say, “The Lord hath forsaken me, and my God hath forgotten me.” “Can a woman forget her sucking child? She may; but God never will” forsake the meanest of his people [Note: Isaiah 49:14-23.49.15.]. Think not of the greatness of your difficulties, but of the love, and power, and faithfulness of your God — — — Then in the midst of your warfare, you may already begin the shouts of victory [Note: Romans 8:33-45.8.39.] — — — Only believe, and you shall assuredly “see the glory of God [Note: John 11:40.].”]
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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 16". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany