Text: There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the Holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.”
Good morning, well-watered, and securely fortified Christian! What is it that keeps us, as regenerate, ‘born again’ Christians, ‘well-watered, and securely fortified’? From what source comes the well-springs of our lives, our strength; our continual endurance?
Why, it comes from the Eternal Jehovah Lord God Who has redeemed us by the Blood of Christ, quickened and regenerated us by His Spirit; and granted us His Fatherly grace.
God Almighty, in three distinct and equal Persons – He is, for us, that great river of life indeed. Praise and all glory to His Holy and Heavenly Name! Flow in us, and through us, dear Lord God! Amen.
Verse 4. “There is a river. Divine grace like a smoothly flowing, fertilizing, full and never-failing river, yields refreshment and consolation to believers.
“the streams whereof... in their various influences, for they are many, shall make glad the city of God... by assuring the citizens that Zion’s Lord will unfailingly supply all their needs. The streams are not transient, like Cherith; nor muddy, like the Nile; nor furious, like Kishon; nor treacherous, like Job’s deceitful brooks; neither are their waters ‘naught’ like those of Jericho – they are clear, cool, fresh, abundant, and gladdening.
“The great fear of an Eastern city in time of war was lest the water supply should be cut off during a siege; if that were secured the city could hold out against attacks for an indefinite period. In this verse, Jerusalem, which represents the church of God, is described as well supplied with water, to set forth the fact that in seasons of trial all-sufficient grace will be given to enable us to endure unto the end.” (C.H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, page 219)
Ralph Erskine, a Scottish preacher and churchman. (18 March 1685 – 6 November 1752), knew the reality of trusting continually on God as an ever-flowing river in times of trouble. You and I do well to rely on that same great Divine River – as we too endure oppositions, hindrances, and persecutions for daring to declare the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is what Erskine wrote:
Verse 4. “God is in the midst of her. If ‘the city of God’ is a Spiritual representation of Christ’s church – worldwide and international – then if clearly follows that the Lord here is teaching us that His Presence is flowing like an infinite ‘River’ through His people, the church. If God be always flowing in ‘...in the midst...’ of His people, the church – then we can confidently believe that the Lord God Jehovah – Father, Son, and Holy Ghost – is that Eternal River the Psalmist is referring to in Psalm 46:4.
“1. God, the Father is the river: ‘For My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken Me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.’ (Jeremiah 2:13)
“2. God, the Son, is the river: the fountain of Salvation: ‘In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness...’ (Zechariah 13:1)
“3. God, the Spirit, is the river: ‘He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.’ ‘Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life...’ (John 7:38; 4:14)
“What are the streams of this river? Answer – the perfections of God, the fullness of Christ, the operations of the Spirit, and these running in the channel of the Covenant of promise.” (Ralph Erskine 1685-1752)
Ralph Erskine: “Ralph Erskine was the younger brother of another prominent churchman, Ebenezer Erskine. He was chaplain and tutor to the 'Black' Col. John Erskine from 1705 to 1709. After studying at the University of Edinburgh, Ralph was ordained assistant minister at Dunfermline in 1711. He ratified the protests which his brother laid on the table of the assembly after being rebuked for his synod sermon, but he did not formally withdraw from the establishment till 1737.
He was also present at, though not a member of, the first meeting of the "associate presbytery". When the severance took place over the oath administered to burgesses, he adhered, along with his brother, to the burgher section.
His works consist of sermons, poetical paraphrases and gospel sonnets. The Gospel Sonnets have frequently appeared separately. His Life and Diary, edited by the Rev. D Fraser, was published in 1834.
There is a larger than life size bronze statue of Ralph Erskine on a pedestal, not far from the High Street in the centre of Dunfermline.” (Wikipedia, Ralph Erskine)
"Faith, without trouble or fighting, is a suspicious faith; for true faith is a fighting, wrestling faith." (Ralph Erskine, 1733)
I once taught Bible Study for a number of years at The John White Memorial, Congregational Church, Tennant Street, Belfast. In that little congregation was a blind lady called Helen, who had the sweetest voice I had ever heard singing the songs of Zion. One song this dear lady sung was called ‘There is a River’, and each time this saint song this lovely refrain, my regenerate spirit was refreshed and thoroughly encouraged in Christ.
There is a river, and it flows from deep within
There is a fountain, that frees the soul from sin
Come to this water; there is a vast supply
There is a river, that never shall run dry.
Thought: ‘Come to this water; there is a vast supply…There is a River, that never shall run dry…’ Our Lord God, Jehovah, flows like a mighty River in the midst of us, ‘His people’. Praise and all glory to His Holy and wonderful Name! Amen!