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The Dependent Man


It is surpassing wonderful that the eternal Son of God should become Man, and that in Manhood He should enter into all that was proper to man. His human nature was real and perfect though sinless, and in the practical details of life He knew all the circumstances and conditions of men as a Man, having all the feelings, desires and aspirations belonging to the godly, and knowing what it was to be weary, hungry and thirsty. Jesus knew as no other man the depths of human sorrow, groaning in His spirit and weeping in the presence of death, as beholding its awful results for men, and in a special way for those He loved.

Psalm 16

All the headings of the psalms are inspired, and ‘Michtam of David’ tells us that David was the instrument used by the Spirit of God to bring out the innermost feelings and thoughts of Christ as a Man in this world. Some scholars have taken the heading of this psalm to mean ‘A golden jewel’, but whatever its real meaning may be, it is indeed a golden jewel, a rich and precious treasure for every heart that values the Lord Jesus, and that delights to ponder His holy life on earth for the glory of God and the blessing of men.

‘Preserve me, O God’

Although possessing almighty power, and using it on behalf of men, the Son of God did not use His power to alleviate His own circumstances, or to shield Himself from the assaults of His enemies. He was a true Man, and had come into the place where He felt the need of the protection of God. Satan, through Herod, had sought to destroy Him when a babe, but God intervened by sending His angel to instruct Joseph of the means to take for the preservation of Jesus.

It is one thing to be preserved of God and another to feel the need of His preservation in a hostile world, for God ‘is the preserver of all men, specially of those that believe’ (1 Tim. 4:10). The more sensitive the heart is of the evil of the world, the more does it feel the need of God’s preservation. With infinitely sensitive feelings, and knowing that all the forces of evil were bent upon His destruction, is it any wonder that the Spirit of Christ said, ‘Preserve me, O God’?

‘For in thee do I put my trust’

Seven times in Luke’s gospel the Lord is found in prayer, which clearly evinces the complete reliance on God of the perfect Man. One of the scriptures adduced to show that Christ’s Manhood was real and perfect is, ‘I will put my trust in him’ (Heb. 2:13). His unbroken confidence and dependence on God is expressed in the prayers of Jesus, manifesting the contrast between Him and the natural man, who is proud of his self-confidence and boasts in his self-reliance.

The path of Jesus as a lowly, dependent Man was a lonely one, but He was ever in communion with God upon whom He relied at all times. When opposed by the Jews He told them, ‘And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him’ (John 8:29); and anticipating the betrayal by Judas and the forsaking of His disciples, He said, ‘Behold the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me’ (John 16:32). The Son had proved throughout His earthly sojourn that the Father was worthy of His trust, and is confident of His presence with Him in the hour of His deepest sorrows and desertion by His disciples.

Israel’s leaders knew well that His confidence was in God, and they reproached Jesus with it while He hung on the cross. The chief priests mocked Him, and the scribes and elders said, ‘He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God’ (Matt. 27:41, 43). But His trust in God remained unshaken, even when He cried, ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ (v. 46). And right at the end, when death in the fulness of its power had been met, it is to God He cries, ‘Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns’ (Ps. 22:21). His trust in God to the very end was not put to shame, for His cry was answered in God raising Him from the dead.

‘Thou hast said unto the Lord’

How great is our privilege in hearing the Son, as the dependent Man, pour out His heart to His God and Father. He had come to serve Jehovah, and a life of service for Him meant a life of constant communion with God, in which His every thought, feeling and desire were made known. This reminds us of another blessed scripture, John 17, through which we are permitted to hear the wonderful utterances of the Son of God as He speaks to His God and Father.

‘Thou art my Lord’

Subjection to God also marked the Son in His life of dependence. As a divine person He had ever commanded, the hosts of heaven obeying His word; but in Manhood He learned obedience by the things which He suffered (Heb. 5:8). Suffering was a new experience for a divine person, but was a necessary condition of the true Manhood the Son had taken. He was the only Man who had a right to His own will, yet the only man who never exercised His own will. For every other man the expression of his own will is sin, but Jesus said, ‘Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done’ (Luke 22:42). Nor was it irksome for the Son to be subject and obedient for He found pleasure in carrying out the will of His God and Father.

‘My goodness extendeth not to thee’

In the Son on earth there was the perfect expression of God’s goodness to man, but there was also the perfect expression of the goodness that ought to be found in man towards God. Yet perfect goodness in man, if it could be found, brought nothing to God, being the normal requirement of man as God’s creature. But perfect goodness is not found in man derived from Adam; it was only found in the Second Man, the Creator come in flesh, and as true Man He said, ‘my goodness extendeth not to thee’.

Whatever goodness there was in Adam innocent was destroyed in Adam guilty, so that the divine verdict on man is: ‘there is none that doeth good, no, not one’ (Ps. 14:3). According to human standards, we speak of ‘a good man’, and Scripture recognises this standard, but according to the divine standard there is none good. When on earth the Lord was called ‘Good Master’, but He replied, ‘Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God’ (Mark 10:18), but there was not the faith in the one who approached the Lord to answer with Thomas, ‘My Lord and my God’ (John 20:28).

Although the Lord did not present His goodness as Man to God, there was the deepest pleasure for the Father in the perfections of His Son, in His constant dependence, in His unbroken subjection and obedience to the Father in seeking only His will, and in the perfect goodness that answered to God’s thoughts of what should be for Him in this world. The Son did not expect any reward for His goodness from God, acknowledging that man ought to be perfect in heart and walk before God.

‘To the saints … and to the excellent’

If the goodness of Jesus as Man did not extend to God (in the way considered above), there were those who greatly benefited both from the divine goodness made known in Him and from what He was personally to them. To Him, His disciples were the excellent of the earth, for they were the saints of God, and His chosen companions. At His baptism, Jesus identified Himself with those who were righteous before God as having confessed their sins saying, ‘thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness’ (Matt. 3:15), but the Father at once announced who Jesus was: His beloved Son, in whom all His pleasure was found.

The Son found His delight in those who were the chosen of God, and to them He confided the secrets of His heart, all the things that He had heard from the Father, and He called them now His friends (John 15:15).

The Idolatry of Israel

Israel’s idolatry had brought them into captivity, but there was a remnant ever faithful to God, and with that remnant the Lord identifies Himself. He would have no other God than Jehovah, nor would He have any part in Israel’s idolatrous sacrifices. In the coming day, under antichrist, Israel will return to idolatry, but God will have His faithful remnant, and here the Lord gives utterance to their thoughts, and to the feelings of their hearts in the midst of their trials, where He says, ‘their drink offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their names into my lips’ (Ps. 16:4).

‘The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance’

As the appointed heir of all things Jesus would have as His inheritance all things in heaven and on earth, and included in this would be what Jehovah speaks of in Psalm 2, where He says, ‘Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.’ Although the possessor of all things, while on earth there was none so poor as Jesus, for He could say, ‘The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head’ (Matt. 8:20).

Jesus had become poor that we might be rich, nevertheless He still had an inheritance of which the men of this world knew nothing, for God was His Father, and He was always able to say, ‘My Father’. What a blessed portion for the Son of God in the time of His poverty. When rejected by the cities in which His mighty works were done, He turned to Him who was His own saying, ‘I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth’ (Matt. 11:25).

If the Father was His abiding portion, He was also His ever present portion of which His cup speaks, a portion to be enjoyed at any time. His cup from man was filled with suffering and sorrow, and He was a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, but His cup was filled by the Father with a joy of which this world knows nothing, but which He has given His own to share (John 15:11).

The lot given to Him was maintained by the Father, and whether it was in His path of deepest sorrow, or in the joy that lay ahead, the lines that marked it were in pleasant places. To all outward appearance His sojourn in this world was in rough places, and nothing attractive to the natural eye marked the portion of the Lord, but it was pleasant for Him to do the Father’s will whatever that might bring to Him, and He allowed nothing to deflect Him from fully accomplishing all that the Father had given Him to do. It was a goodly heritage to Him that would secure the glory of the Father, even if it meant for Him enduring the cross and all its shame.

‘The Lord, who hath given me counsel’

Directed by God’s word in communion with Him, the Son was ever obedient to His God and Father, and He would not take one step without the counsel of Jehovah. When confronted by Satan and his temptations, His reply was, ‘It is written’, which manifested the source of His counsel; and when Lazarus was sick, He remained two days where He was, awaiting the counsel of His Father. It was not grievous for the Son to be obedient to the Father’s will, for He delighted in His will, and gave thanks to Him for His counsel.

When all seemed to be dark, in the night seasons, the Son of God was instructed by that which was formed within Him in communion with God. If there was the constant dependence upon God, there was also an intelligence that directed the Son in every trial that confronted Him. Whether questioned by lawyers, Pharisees, scribes, Herodians or Sadducees, there was ever the perfect answer that confounded His foes. In the dread anticipation of the cross in Gethsemane His words were perfect, whether it was in shrinking from the cup of judgment, or in taking it from the hand of His Father.

‘I have set the Lord always before me’

Many devoted saints and servants of God have set the Lord before them, but only Jesus could say, I have set the Lord always before me. Every moment in the life of Jesus was lived for His God and Father, even as He said, ‘I do always those things that please him’ (John 8:29). The Father was ever the object before Him, and the reason for His being found as a Man on earth.

Having the Father before Him, the Son had also the Father beside Him, at His right hand, His support in all His trials, and with the cross looming before Him, with none of His disciples able to stand with Him, He said, ‘Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me’ (John 16:32). Satan might use Simon to seek to turn the Lord from the fulfilment of His Father’s will, but the Lord had no thought of pitying Himself, and would not be turned from seeking His Father’s will, a path in which He had the constant support of His Father.

We too have been called to set the Lord always before us, to walk in the path that was trodden perfectly by Jesus. All the grace we need to tread this path for the pleasure of God is available in Christ at God’s right hand, and if we truly seek to be here for the Lord with Himself before us, we shall also find Him at our right hand, sustained by Him and directed by His word and counsel.

‘My heart is glad’

What holy enigmas are met as we contemplate the Son of God with the cross before Him. How deep was the trouble of His soul when He said, ‘What shall I say? Father, save me from this hour’ (John 12:27). Yet He can also say, ‘Therefore, my heart is glad’, for He thought of the glory of His Father, and all that the accomplishment of His will and purpose would mean to the Father. For the Son of God the cross would mean the deepest sorrows, infinite sufferings and unmitigated divine judgment, but even with all this immediately before Him, Jesus could also think of the wonderful results of His enduring the cross, and because of this His heart was glad.

Gladness of heart for Jesus, in the midst of His sorrows, also came from knowing that He would rise from among the dead. His body would rest in Joseph’s tomb, but it was in hope of the glorious resurrection morn. Although ‘it was not possible that He should be holden’ of death (Acts 2:24), the Son of God rejoiced in the prospect of being raised from the dead by the glory of the Father. How greatly the Son rejoiced in the knowledge of His Father’s care: thou wilt not leave … neither wilt thou suffer … Thou wilt show me’ (vs. 10, 11).

‘The path of life’

For the Son of God become Man the path of life lay through death. This is indeed wonderful that the originator of life should pass through death, so that as Man by resurrection He would enter the presence of God in heaven where, for Him, there was fullness of joy and pleasures for evermore. This was the joy that was before Him that enabled Him to endure the cross, despising its shame. It is the joy of His having accomplished the will of His God and Father.

God’s right hand is the Son’s place by right, but it is also His as the mark of the Father’s favour. This place of exaltation and glory is God’s answer to all that man has done to His Son, but also God’s answer to all that the Son has done for Him. Moreover, it is from God’s right hand that the Son now carries out the Father’s will, and ministers to His own, while waiting till His enemies are made the footstool of His feet.

What a blessed contemplation is the perfect Manhood of the Son of God and the holy life in which He lived in constant dependence upon God in subjection to His will. Obedience was pleasurable to the Son, though He learned it through the things that He suffered. In this psalm Jesus is presented to us as an object for the delight of our hearts, but in many of the things brought before us He is an example. The closing verses belong to Jesus alone, though it is given to us to follow Him in the path of life. In entering into death Jesus has taken the sting out of death for us, and as occupied with Him in His place before the Father, we too can say: ‘in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.’

From: "An Outline of Sound Words", and "Truth and Testimony" 2016