by Arthur W. Pink
Philologos Religious Online Books
Studies in the Scriptures
by Arthur W. Pink
GOOD CHEER FOR THE WHOLE YEAR.
“The eyes of the LORD thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year” (Deut. 11:12). The historical reference is to the land of Canaan, in which a contrast is pointed between it and Egypt, where the Israelites had sojourned in bondage and misery. The contrast is a most striking and instructive one. Egypt was not watered as other countries: Zechariah 14:18 says that, comparatively, it has “no rain.” Being dependent upon the overflowing of the Nile at a certain season of the year, the waters were, at great cost and labour, stored up in reservoirs and afterwards eked out by degrees for the irrigating of the crops. This entailed much hard work in the making of canals and trenches to carry the waters from the reservoirs to the fields, and in tending the dykes and ditches, working in mud up to the knees. Two verses before our text intimates a man had to bestow as much pains on the watering of his crops as one does on “a garden of herbs.” But Israel in Canaan were spared such tasks, for the early and latter rains which God sent upon it were so abundant that His people were exempted from such toil: the fruitfulness of their heritage being a special blessing of Divine Providence, “a land which the Lord thy God careth for.”
Now Egypt is a figure of this world and its inhabitants of the unregenerate. Living “without God” the natural man is his own provider, looking entirely to himself for the supply of his needs. Consequently his cares are many: existence for him is a constant round of anxiety, fretfulness and disappointment. But different far is the lot of the Christian: he is the conscious object of God's loving solicitude, and though he has to labour for his daily bread and endure the same trials and sorrows as the ungodly, yet it is his happy privilege to cast all his care on Another, knowing that He cares for him and makes all things work together for his ultimate good. Though still on earth, his citizenship is in Heaven (Phil. 3:20); though left in a hostile world, he is not left alone; though he is required to make a diligent use of all appointed means, he knows that his bread and water are “sure” (Isa. 33:16). Canaan and not Egypt is the type of his present portion: the eyes of the Lord are always upon him, from the beginning of the year even unto the end thereof.
First, our text speaks of the Lords' pleasure in His redeemed. This is an aspect of the Truth, one of the facets of the Gospel gem, which we do not sufficiently dwell upon. Just as we love to look at and constantly eye an object we prize highly, so the Lord God beholds His people with infinite delight. No doubt it is difficult for us to grasp this wonderful fact, yet it is a truth plainly revealed in the Scriptures: “For the LORD taketh pleasure in His people” (Psa. 149:4), “I will rejoice over thee to do thee good” (Jer. 32:41), He declares. What a remarkable word is that, “the LORD'S portion is His people” (Deut. 32:9). We are often reminded that the Lord Himself is the “Portion” of His saints (Lam. 3:24), but how rarely we hear of “His inheritance in the saints” (Eph. 1:18)! He set His heart upon them from everlasting and therefore does He contemplate them as His precious “jewels” (Mal. 3:17). He so loved them as to give His dear Son to and for them, and therefore He ever eyes them with complacency and delight.
Second, our text tells of the Lord's presence with His People. One day ere long they shall “behold the King in His beauty,” see Him “face to face” (1 Cor. 13:12), but that will not be till we are taken into His immediate presence. But the Lord beholds us now, not from afar, but by immediate contact. No far-away God is ours, but one who is “with us always even unto the end.” The “eyes of the Lord” being “upon” us is a figure of speech signifying not only His delight in us but also His nearness to us, as we read elsewhere of “the eternal God is thy refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deut. 33:27), “under His wings shalt thou trust” (Psa. 91:4). When the Lord said unto Moses, “I will send an angel before thee,” in effect Moses answered that will not suffice: “if Thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence” (Exo. 33:2, 15). See here the goodness of our God: He will not entrust His people to any delegates or subordinates—“I will never leave thee nor forsake thee” (Heb. 13:5).
Third, our text announces the power of God toward His people. “The eyes of the Lord are always upon it” (upon us), and as though that is not sufficiently explicit for such dull understandings as ours, it is added, “from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year.” How that brings out His power: none but God could perform such a wonder! There is never a single day or even moment when the Lord our God turns His eyes and heart away from His people in general, but they are constantly fixed upon every one of them individually, though many thousands of miles separate some of them. It brings out, too, His unwearied power: “Behold! He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep” (Psa. 121:4). O Christian reader, seek to cherish this thought in your heart throughout this present year: not only will there never be a day nor hour when our God shall forget us, but not a moment when the eyes of His love and favour will be removed from us. “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him” (2 Chron. 16:9).
Fourth, our text intimates the Lord's Protection of His people, for the previous clause says, “the land which the Lord thy God careth for.” What harm can befall one who is the object of God's unceasing attention and care? How the fond parent wishes that his or her eyes could ever be upon the little ones: what anxiety often burdens their hearts as they think of them crossing dangerous roads on their way to school, and later as they leave home and go out into the world! Their prayers follow them, but their eyes cannot be “upon” them. Not so is it with the Lord: we cannot get beyond the range of His vision. “I the LORD do keep it: I will water it every moment, lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day” (Isa. 27:3). If His eyes are upon me, His hand is also engaged to defend and guard me, and if He is for me it matters not who is against me.
Fifth, our text gives assurance of the Lord's providing for His people. This also appears from the preceding clause: “a land which the LORD thy God careth for,” which refers particularly to the bountiful supply of rain He sends upon it, making it so fertile and the produce so abundant as to be termed a “land of milk and honey.” So plentiful also is the spiritual provision which Jehovah makes for His people. The same grand truth is also inculcated in the words “The LORD thy God.” It is not an absolute God whose eyes are upon us, but one who is in covenant relationship with us. He who protects me is my Shepherd: He who cares for me is not only my God by way of power, but my Father by way of spiritual ties. He is the God of His people by nearest and dearest relationship, which ensures that no good thing will He withhold from them. This was what gave the Apostle such confidence unto the Philippians: “but my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (4:19).
“The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous” (Psa. 34:15). Here, Christian reader, is (to borrow an expression from Spurgeon) good cheer for the New Year. We know not what 1942 holds for us, but those who by grace are trusting in the atoning blood of Christ may enter it with the assurance that the friendly gaze of the Lord God is upon them. It is their privilege to enter each day rejoicing in the blessed fact that not for a single second will the Lord their God remove His eyes from them, cease to care for them, or fail to minister to them. Seek to frequently remind yourself that the Lord has pleasure in His people, that His presence is with and His power engaged on behalf of them, that they are assured of His protection and provision for their every need. Then should they not be of good cheer?! Should they not be delivered from worrying care? Should they not go forward in holy confidence and joy? Trials and tests are certain, and so also is their blessed issue. In the darkest hour, remember my brother, my sister, the eyes of the Lord your God are upon you: the eyes of His love, of His favour, of His compassion.
“The eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon” you. What should be our response? The perfect example which our Saviour has left us supplies the answer: “I have set the LORD always before Me” (Psa. 16:18). Yes, our eyes ought ever to be upon Him, and for these reasons. First, we shall only apprehend and appreciate God's sight of us as we obtain a sight of Him. One who is comparatively unknown to us cannot be confidently reposed upon. We must “acquaint” ourselves with Him if peace is to possess our hearts (Job 22:21); we must eye Him by faith if His mercies are to be spiritually enjoyed. Second, if God looks upon us, much more ought we to look upon Him. When He looks at us as we are in ourselves, He sees nothing but sinfulness and unworthiness; but when we look on Him—what a glorious Object do we behold! Third, the more we are occupied with the Lord our God, the more shall we be weaned from this perishing world, the more shall we be delivered from Satan's snares, and the better shall we be equipped for the fight of faith (Psa. 34:5). Fourth, the more our hearts are engaged with beholding our covenant God, the greater and grander foretastes shall we obtain of the bliss awaiting us. The glory of Heaven consists in a beholding of God! God looking upon us, we looking upon Him: that is communion. O let us seek to be conscious each day of this year that the eyes of the Lord our God are upon us, and earnestly desire that our hearts may be fixed upon Him.— A.W.P.