Such is God, Our God!
Adapted from a Sermon by Archibald Brown, a Baptist minister who was a student, friend, and associate of Charles Spurgeon
First preached July 12, 1896
For such is God, Our God forever and ever; He will guide us until death. Psalm 48:14 NASB
You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Psalm 73:24
Our first verse this morning is verse 14 of Psalm 48. As the NASB gives us a more literal translation in this case we will follow its rendering this morning. “For such is God, Our God forever and ever; He will guide us until death.”
The second is the 24th verse of Psalm 73, “You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory.”
"Such is God, our God." This God who has such boundless power, who works such a glorious deliverance, who is known in the palaces of Jerusalem for a refuge — this God is our God, and will be our guide forever or as most other translations render this verse he will guide us until death. And then, speaking in the 73rd Psalm, Asaph puts the finishing touch to this blessed statement. Not only will this God be our guide through death, but afterward he will receive us to glory!
There are three things which these verses draw our attention to:
We have, first, the glorious fact that this God is our God.
Then we have, in the second place, the very safe prophecy that this God will be ours forever, and will be our guide forever or until death.
Then, as the third point, we have the crowning mercy, and this we get from our second text. It is that God will not stop short with guiding us until death, but that afterward he will receive us into his glory.
I. Let us look at the Glorious Fact That this God is Our God.
The text does not say that "a God" is our God, nor does it say that "the God of the heavens" is our God. The declaration is very emphatic. It "such is God;" Such an one; such a God as has been portrayed in the previous verses of the Psalm; the God that has been described all the way through the 48th Psalm. "Such is God, our God."
There is great meaning and weight in the expression. It is not carelessly put together. Everything lies in it. If I am to know how wealthy I am, it is necessary for me to know, not only that God is mine, but what kind of God my God is. Let us therefore concentrate our thoughts upon this expression. "Such is God, our God."
We are naturally led to look into the Psalm in order to see what is intended by the expression "such is God." The very first verse gives you the clue: "Great is the LORD;" and then our text says, "such is God", that is, this great God. The idea is that we have in our God, no mere local deity. He is not a second-rate God. He is no manufactured idol which, like the gods of the heathen, has to be carried by his worshipers. He is the great God. The men and the women of Ephesus went in a rage for many hours, and in their madness they cried out continually, "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!"; (Acts 19:28) but their foolish cry at last died out to their own confusion. But God's people are able, not in a frenzy, but in much soberness and truth, to declare, "Great is the God of his people!"
He is great in himself. His greatness cannot be described in human language. You may speak to some extent about the attributes of God, and about what God has done — but who of us knows who God is or what God is? Are there any limits to the greatness of our God? " Great is the LORD." How far are the boundaries? How great is he? That he is great in his power and his wisdom, all of nature declares. We do not need a Bible to tell us that there is a God of infinite majesty. "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork;" (Ps 19:1) and I am persuaded that a little knowledge of astronomy on the one side and of bio-chemistry on the other would do untold good to all God's children.
Through our very ignorance of the heavens above us, we have a cramped idea of God. He becomes a sort of narrow deity; for, after all, what is this solar system? We may talk of the sun which proceeds in his brightness, and we may speak of this system of which our earth forms part — but, after all, what is it? Have you ever noticed that little addition in Genesis, after God created the Sun and Moon it says, "and the stars?" What an addition!
We know that each star is itself a sun, and that our sun which shines every day is only one of billions. And, when we have swept the entire Heavens with our telescopes, let us remember that we have only just seen the fringe of creation. How far space goes, and how far space is filled up with countless galaxies and suns more glorious than that which shines overhead, God, who created them all, only knows.
Let our thoughts fly a little way beyond this limited solar system, and be lost for a moment among the countless suns, those points of light which are known to us as stars, and let us remember that, as a result of the greatness of God's power, not one of them fails, and then we will see that great is the Lord our God. He is great in his power, for he upholds all things; and he is great in his wisdom, for he hangs the heavens upon nothing. What depth of wisdom we see in all the laws of nature, gravitation and subatomic forces, all balanced and arranged to make this universe possible. In presence of all of this our spirits cry, great is the Lord in power and in wisdom, and “Such is God, our God forever and ever!"
And yet, when we talk about God being great in power and in wisdom, we only say the least that can be said of him, for revelation declares that he is great in character.
Nature proves that he is great in power; but come to this Word where God has been pleased to reveal himself, and what do we find in that? We discover God to be as infinitely sublime in character as he is great in power and wisdom. "Holy, holy, holy" (Rev 4:8) is the cry of revelation. The infinitely glorious God is as full of love to his people, as he is full of power to uphold the stars. And “Such is God, our God.”
And not only is he great in character, but he is great also in all his offices. As manifested in Christ Jesus, who so wonderfully fills out and expands every office.
Is he a Savior? We read that he is a great one. (Tit 2:13)
Is he a Shepherd? He is "the great Shepherd of the sheep." (Heb 13:20)
Is he a Priest? He is "our great High Priest." (Heb 4:14)
Our God is no little deity! All majesty dwells in him. "Great is the Lord", thunders out the first verse, and “Such is God, our God", says verse 14. What a wonderful Psalm this is, if we merely take the beginning and the end of it and link them together. "Great is the Lord", is the shout of the first verse. "Such is God, our God", is the declaration of the last verse.
And then God is not only great. The Scripture reveals more than that, for you will see in the 3rd verse that he is a God who is known and proved to be a stronghold, a refuge.
"God, in her palaces, Has made Himself known as a stronghold"; and this God who is known as a fortress is our God.
Is God known as a fortress, a refuge? Hear the witnesses come forward to declare it so.
See the gray headed old Noah coming forward to give his testimony: "I trusted God, and, though a world was drowned, he rescued me."
Is God known as a fortress? And the old patriarch Abraham says, "I proved him to be so. I had my hand upon the knife while my boy was on the altar, and in that terrible moment God delivered me, and a new name was conceived, and I called him Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord will provide."
And do you not think that David would heartily exclaim, "I know God for a fortress. He delivered me from the paw of the lion, and from the hug of the bear; and he delivered me from the might of Goliath!"
And I am sure that Daniel would not be left out. He would say, "I know that I can give a good witness. I went into a den of lions, and not one of them even breathed his hot breath upon me to disturb me. I rested as sweetly that night as ever, because God was my refuge, my fortress."
But you might say, "that is very old history." Come along, then believer. Come out on the witness stand yourself. Come and give your testimony. Have you known God as a refuge? You have heard others say that he is. Have you ever proved him to be so? If it could be put to a vote, it is certain that every child of God would be ready to spring to his feet and say, "I bear testimony that God is known by his people as a refuge." And this God who is so known is "our God forever and ever."
You will see in the 9th verse that, this God is a God of steadfast love. "We have thought on your steadfast love, O God." "Steadfast love" is one of the most wonderful expressions in the Bible. It mixes two things together, both of which are sweet — love and steadfastness; A temporary love would lose all of its beauty; but God’s love is steadfast, it will never change, and in that is the height of all that its blessedness. Our God, great in nature, power, and wisdom, and great as a refuge, is a God who is known by his steadfast love.
And, once more, he is One who is praised as universally as he is known.
That is a big thing which is said in the 10th verse: "As your name, O God, so your praise reaches to the ends of the earth." And here again the theme goes beyond our natural reasoning. Do you catch the thought? According to your name, O God, so is your praise. Looking only at this fallen world, there is much to lead to disappointment. It seems like such a barren bit of ground, and that the Lord reaps such a poor harvest of praise from it, that one could almost feel sorry for him. We may be tempted to think, "Lord, for one that loves you on this earth, it seems that there are ten thousand that are indifferent to you." But when we look at this text, "As your name, O God, so your praise reaches to the ends of the earth", our thoughts go up among those worlds on high.
Is not God praised everywhere? Why, after all, what a drop in the bucket are all the inhabitants of this earth put together. How many myriads of angels are there? And they all praise him. And "this God", who is praised by pure, bright spirits, is "our God forever and ever!"
There is not a landowner in the world who can say concerning the fields which he calls his own, that they are his forever. He cannot say concerning his home or farms or fields, "These are mine forever and ever." Perhaps he will be buried in one of those fields before long.
A king could not say concerning his crown, "This crown is my crown forever and ever." After it has made his head ache enough, it will give a headache to his son or daughter, and then it is passed on again. Business men, cannot say concerning their business, "This is mine forever." They certainly think that it is theirs, and they look at their shop, and say, "That is mine." But for how long will it be theirs? There is not a Christian business man here who can say concerning his business what he can say concerning his God.
Is this not astonishing? Consider that the believer is able to say more concerning his God, than he is able to say concerning his own child. He is able to say concerning his God more than he is able to say concerning his own home or anything that he possesses. "Such is God, our God forever and ever." He is our God "forever", and, as if that were not emphatic enough, the Holy Spirit adds, "and ever."
It is not fiction; it is not wishful thinking; it is a splendid fact. God is the portion of his people forever. There are two passages in the Scripture which ought never to be separated:
One is, "The Lord's portion is His people." (Deut 32:9)
And the other passage is this, "The LORD is my portion,” says my soul." (Lam 3:24)
God and my soul possess each other.
God finds his portion in His people — and His people find their portion in God.
This God is mine, in all His glorious perfection.
His heart is mine, for He loves me.
His ear is mine, for I may pour into it all my tales of sorrow and all my songs of joy.
His eyes are mine, for they watch me from morning until night.
His hand is mine, for it is stretched out to uphold me.
He is a God of infinite glory. In great weakness and half bewildered by the thought, I yet dare to look up, and say, "his is God, my God forever and ever. He will guide me forever!” (Ps 48:14)
The Lord help us to receive this blessed fact. It is not a dream; it is not a metaphor; it is not a poem. It is true of us all as we are gathered here, if only we are believers. This God is our God.
II. We have also here a very safe prophesy.
It is that this God who is ours, "will guide us forever."
"He will guide us" speaks of a company of pilgrims. The wealth of the believer is not visible. Looking at a group of people we cannot guess which is the lost sinner and which is the saved saint. One may look quite as respectable as another. God's saints cannot be identified by their external surroundings. Indeed, often God's choicest saints are the poorest of the earth. Very often God's most choice children are earth's sickliest, weakest, humblest, and most despised ones. The men who can lay their hands on this Psalm, and say, "This God is my God" are but a poor company of pilgrims, and they need guidance.
Do you grasp the wonderful thought that is contained here? This God, this great all-glorious Lord, this God whose glory the heavens declare, takes his place as our guide, and he says, "I will go before you as I went before Israel. I will mark out your path, and I will lead you along it."
How does he guide us? You will now see why we have added to the first part of our text the words taken from the 73rd Psalm. Those words are very humbling, but they are very instructive. "You guide me with your counsel." But who is the one whom God is willing to guide? Now read from the 22nd verse: "I was senseless.” Every believer can relate to these words. Every believer can say “I am among God's senseless ones.” And what are the next words? "And ignorant." Again a feeling echoed in all that are poor in spirit. They are conscious that they are both foolish and ignorant. The man who says this of himself is the man who says that he is going to be guided.
But he is not done yet. He says, "I was like a beast before You." You must not call anybody else a beast, but if you like to call yourself one, you are at fully free to do so, and you have given yourself rather a complimentary title, for, in many respects, we are all even lower than the beasts. No man of God who knows anything at all about himself will hesitate to say, "I was like a beast before You."
And what does he mean by that? I was as short-sighted as a beast. Just as an ox never looks back through the centuries that have passed, or troubles itself about the years that are to come, but is occupied with the grass that is at his mouth — so have I often been earth-occupied and short-sighted.
I have been like a beast, stubborn and stupid, as if there were no heavens overhead. I have been as a beast before you; and yet, though I was so foolish and so ignorant, and though I have often been so beast-like, "Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory." (Ps 73:24)
Which leads us to our third heading this morning,
III. The crowning mercy.
Our first text only says that God will be our guide until death, and does not go beyond that goal. Is it not very remarkable that God should guide anybody until death? Does it not seem strange? Clearly, the primary meaning there is a reference to time, and that it shows that God will guide me all my life until I die; but that does not change the fact that God guides us in a sense towards death. We would have thought that it would have been that God so guides us that we should escape death. But no, it is God guiding us until death.
Even the leading of God gives no escape from death. That is a penalty which I have to pay. Wherever there is sin, there must be death. But consider that, if it is God that guides me to death, I do not think that I need be afraid to die. If God takes me by the hand and leads me, though it be up to that last enemy, I will not be afraid. If God guides me even into the tomb, I need not shrink back. Death loses its gloom, and the terrors of death vanish, the moment that we realize that it is God that guides us unto death.
Some say that the word translated until should instead be translated as "over" or "beyond." "For such is God, Our God forever and ever; He will guide us over death." He does not leave me at the dying moment. He does not guide me into the river, and say, "Now you must swim the rest by yourself." He does not guide me into the dying crisis, and say, "Now that I have brought you this far, you must scramble through the remaining hours alone." He will guide me over or beyond death. And what then? Then Asaph in the 73rd Psalm finishes it: And afterward, after he has guided me up to death, and after he has guided me over death, he then will “receive me to glory!"
Imagine this God receiving me to glory. Can you picture this? This God that we have seen to be so majestic all the way through the Psalm — this God is going to receive me.
But my text says that he is guiding me. How can a guide receive me? Do you remember reading in the New Testament that he will present us unto himself? (Eph 5:27) That is just what he is doing. God in the Trinity of his Persons is guiding me by the Holy Spirit along that blessed way consecrated by the Lord Jesus; and Jesus is going to pass me over to the Father, a redeemed soul, and this glorious God will receive me! He will receive me into glory at the hands of his own dear Son.
Can there be any prospect more wonderful than God's reception? With reverence we may say, the eternal Jehovah, the eternal Jehovah, with a face beaming with delight, will say to me in that day, "Welcome, welcome, purchased of the blood of my Son! Welcome, trophy of the blessed Spirit's power! Welcome in!" And I, astonished, will say, "Where, Lord?" and he will say, "Into glory. Welcome into my glory!"
That is what lies in the "afterward."
Believer, is there any weariness, any discouragement in your daily walk? Then ask the Lord to take this morning's text, and to lodge it in the very center of your being, and you will sing, "This glorious God, this great Lord, is mine. He is my own forever and ever. He will be my God until and beyond death, and after that he will receive me into glory!"
Unbeliever, wake up now and see your danger, for such is God, whose wrath is poised against you. Run to safety now while it is yet the day of grace lest death catches you unawares and you be without God forever and ever.