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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: The Old Testament

Chapter 42 - Psalm 9:10 - The Knowledge of God's Name Light & Truth: The Old Testament by Bonar, Horatius




The Knowledge Of God's Name.


"They that know thy name will put their trust in Thee." -Psalm 9:10



     THERE are three things here which sum up this passage,-the name; the knowledge; the trust.

     I. The name.  A name is that which marks one man out from another, by which one man addresses another; and, in eastern lands and early days, which expresses the character or circumstances of the man to whom it belongs.  Thus God's name marks him out; by it we address Him; it embodies His character.  Thus He himself gives it, "Jehovah, Jehovah Elohim, merciful and gracious," &c.  It is this name that is written all over the Bible, but specially exhibited in Christ Jesus, who came to declare to us the Father's name.  It is a name-

     (1.) Of Greatness.  Jehovah, God, Creator, El-Shaddai; all expressive of majesty and power and glory.  The Lord God omnipotent.

     (2.) Of Grace.  It is the declaration of free love.  "Merciful and gracious."  He to whom it belongs must be the fountain-head of love.  "God is love."  In him is infinity of compassion and longsuffering.

     (3.) Of Forgiveness.  He pardoneth iniquity, transgression, and sin; all sin, great and small; there is forgiveness with Him, that He may be feared; forgiveness to the uttermost.

     (4.) Of righteousness and holiness.  It is holy love that is to be found in Him; righteous grace to the unrighteous; righteous pardon to the guilty.  God's pity to the sinner is holy pity.  It is as the Holy One that he loves, and pities, and blesses.  It is a name revealing all that a sinner needs; unfolding the mind and heart of God; gathering into one glorious sun the light scattered over the universe, diffused throughout the Bible.  It is the name of names; in it music, light, medicine, peace, assurance forever.  The great and gracious character of God, thus embodied in a name, brought to a point, is made much more accessible, placed more within our reach and comprehension; pledged to us by the very fact that it has been deposited in a name.  No man likes to sully his good name, to act inconsistently with his own name, or the family name.  And shall God not act consistently with His name?  Shall He treat us in a way that shall belie the name that He has taken to himself?  When we plead that name and appeal to it, will He not immediately and cordially respond?

     II. The Knowledge.  For a thing like this to be of any use to us, we must know it.  So long as it remains unknown, it is useless; as good as non-existent.  The sun is of no use to me if I am shut out from its light.  Food is of no use to me if I do not know of its existence.  So all the love of God is useless to the sinner, unless he knows it.  The knowledge of it is that which introduces its blessings to the needy soul.  Nothing more is needed, nothing less will do.  This knowledge is not a price which we pay, nor a qualification by which we are fitted for blessing, nor a recommendation which invites God to bless us.  It is simply the natural way of letting in the blessing, as opening our windows is the natural way of letting in the light.  The child's knowledge that his father loves him makes him happy.  The father's knowledge that his child has recovered from a deadly sickness, brings immediate relief.  The criminal's knowledge that his sovereign has pardoned him, removes his burden.  In all these cases, and such like, it is the simple knowledge of what is good and gladdening that does the work, and we never think of puzzling ourselves with asking, But is my knowledge of a right kind?  Is it of the quality and quantity that will secure blessing for me?  As if our getting the benefit of good news depended upon a certain peculiar way of knowing them, on which peculiarity turned the whole virtue of the thing known.  Ah, it is not thus that we deal with earthly love!  It is not thus that we conjure up difficulties and distinctions, and metaphysical questions, which can never be properly adjusted, and which, if they were adjusted, would leave us just where we were.  For say what we like, knowledge is just knowledge, and not something else; knowing the love of a person is just knowing it, and not some mysterious act or feeling or combination of emotions which the poor man cannot fathom, and about which philosophers have wrangled for ages.

     III. The Trust.  Such is God's name that it cannot be known without evoking trust; and the trust arising from this simple knowledge is the truest and most blessed of all.  God's character is of such a kind as to call up confidence as soon as it is known by a sinner; and he who has no confidence in God, does not yet know him or his name. Did he know it, he could not help trusting him.  When we come into contact with a loveable object, we cannot help loving; when we come into contact with a trustworthy object, we cannot help trusting, unless we are persuaded that it is a false report which we have heard concerning this loveableness or this trustworthiness.  The knowledge of the name of God is that which leads to trust.  Hence we preach that name,-that name of grace and love, of mercy and of truth!  We bring true tidings concerning it; and we give evidence, in the death and resurrection of the Son of God, that these tidings are quite as true and as good as they profess to be.  It is on the basis of "infallible proofs" that we rest our gospel.  Our tidings are as sure as they are blessed.