Genesis 1: 2
1 Samuel 30: 1-6
Philippians 2: 19-21
Beloved brethren, I would like to speak about divine feelings. The feelings of God have been made known in the way that He has revealed Himself in Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and are seen supremely in Christ as the Son of man and the Son of God.
The word “Comforter” used in relation to the Spirit would also suggest the matter of feelings. Where we read it says in the middle of verse 2, “and the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” The Spirit reveals the feelings of God in a distinct way as seen in the matter of hovering over the face of the waters. The Spirit hovered with intent, suggesting the Spirit’s own sovereign activities before we knew Christ as our Saviour and before we knew the Spirit as a gift from God. The Spirit’s feelings are also seen when He descended as a dove and abode upon Christ, (John 1: 32); think of the Spirit’s feelings in relation to Christ.
In Genesis 24: 2 Abraham says to the elder servant, “Put thy hand, I pray thee, under my thigh”. There is a committal made to find a wife for Isaac. Think of the Spirit knowing the feelings of the Father. The thigh would refer to the Father’s feeling. The hymn that we sing to the Spirit says:
Thou dost know the Father’s feelings
Of affection for His Son,
And His joy in the assembly
As united to that One. (Hymn 121)
How precious the service of the Spirit is.
The second scripture we read refers to Ziklag, which links with the teaching of Romans. This passage about the destruction of Ziklag speaks to us of the world as under Satanic power as it is now. Think of the awful things that happen in the world. Although these things are not our occupation both the personnel of the assembly and God Himself would feel such matters. We can think of the atrocities in London and Manchester and perhaps further away in Afghanistan or Iraq or wherever they may be - and God feels these things. God has never given up on man; if He had, the seasons would stop, all flesh would expire. The world has rejected Christ but God is continuing in this matter of provisional reconciliation and He still cares for mankind and He feels these things. It says in verse 4, “Then David and the people that were with him lifted up their voice and wept, until they had no more power to weep”. So that the feelings of God and the feelings of the Lord enter into the atrocities that take place in the world. So when these things happen we, as those who are lovers of God, would feel these matters for our fellow men, and seek to have feelings that are in accord with God’s feelings for His creation. Romans tells us that the whole creation travails and groans until now (chap 8: 22); how this should affect us as it does God. How He feels about the disasters and atrocities that take place in the world. We can carry men in our hearts and serve on their behalf by praying in faith and by the Spirit for our fellow men that they might in these atrocities come to know God.
So 1 Samuel 30 brings out the feelings of the Lord for men in the world and the effect of what is Satanic and the effects of sin. What has come upon a fallen race! Think too of the Lord’s feelings as he entered into Jerusalem as described in Luke 19, “And as he drew near, seeing the city, he wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, even at least in this thy day, the things that are for thy peace: but now they are hid from thine eyes”, v41, 42. Think of the Lord weeping over Jerusalem. Think of the Lord feeling the exercises that come into the testimony; the Lord’s feelings entering into such matters that belong to the assembly, His feelings in relation to conditions in the world, and His feelings He has in relation to His assembly. Then think of the Lord’s feelings in relation to His own. Earlier, in 1 Samuel 20, it says that Jonathan and David wept, and it says that David exceeded in weeping; “and David arose from the side of the south, and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed himself three times; and they kissed one another, and wept one with another, until David exceeded”, v 41. Think of the love of Christ always exceeding. It comes down to the brother; it comes down to the individual: think of that. Jonathan loved David but his love fell short. But the love of the Lord Jesus and the feelings of Christ never fall short. Think of them exceeding. We are concerned about those that are turning away but we know if we turn our back His love continues to shine towards us because His love exceeds our love; how precious that is. It is an example of how He lives to intercede for us. It says in 1 Timothy 2: 1, “I exhort therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings be made for all men”. That is another scriptural exhortation to have feelings in relation to all men and what takes place in the world. The footnote to intercessions in that verse says, ‘Personal and confiding intercourse with God on the part of one able to approach him’. Think of Christ having personal and confiding intercourse with God on our behalf and on behalf of every believer. We have to take up something of that as sharing the feelings of God and we can do so by the Spirit as described in Romans 8, “And in like manner the Spirit joins also its help to our weakness; for we do not know what we should pray for as is fitting”, v 26. How often that may be the case but then it says, “but the Spirit itself makes intercession with groanings which cannot be uttered”. The service of the Spirit enters into the feelings of the believer so that there may be right feelings expressed towards God. They cannot be uttered but it says, “the Spirit itself makes intercession”. How blessed that is.
We read of Timothy who is a remarkable person; he was not an apostle, he was not even one of Paul’s converts but Paul met him on his travels “and behold, a certain disciple was there, by name Timotheus, son of a Jewish believing woman, but the father a Greek, who had a good testimony of the brethren in Lystra and Iconium.” Acts 16: 1-2. It says, “Him would Paul have go forth with him”, v 3. There was something in Timothy that Paul recognised. Timothy gives us an example of how we come into appreciating and expressing divine feelings. It tells us in 2 Timothy about the unfeigned faith which he had, “which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and in thy mother Eunice”, and Paul says, “and I am persuaded that in thee also”, 2 Tim 1: 5. The reference to his mother and grandmother brings out that spiritual formation was a prominent matter in Timothy. Where we read in Philippians, Paul says, “For I have no one like-minded who will care with genuine feeling how ye get on”. Timothy must have grown spiritually. Light came into his life but light alone is not feeling. The light needs to be absorbed and there has to be formation that there might be the forming of right feelings. We know that sometimes certain feelings rise up and we have to say, ‘Well, I have that feeling but I know it is not a right feeling’, and we call upon the Spirit for help. Timothy must have gone through all these things but he had given himself to reading and had taken on the teaching and had been formed by it. Paul describes him as “my true child in faith”, 1 Tim 1: 2. There was something there in this matter of what is true that involved formation. He had applied himself to the truth. He was really one who must have imbibed the heavenly light that was introduced by Paul, which is why he is described as Paul’s true child. Paul has to say words of encouragement to him at the beginning of the second epistle to Timothy, “For which cause I put thee in mind to rekindle the gift of God which is in thee by the putting on of my hands”, chap 1: 6. And then he says “For God has not given us a spirit of cowardice, but of power, and of love, and of wise discretion”, v 7.
When Paul speaks of rekindling the gift of God he is referring to Timothy as a levite. But when it comes to verse 7, and the matter of power and love and wise discretion, he is referring to Timothy as a priest. It says, “of power”: that might refer to the shoulder pieces on the priest’s garment, and Paul is saying that Timothy needed to have that on. It means that Timothy would be one that could move around as always holding in the strength of his affections the place that the people of God have in the purpose of God. He would never lose sight of the dignity that belongs to the people of God. That is the power: it is not fleshly power; it is not forceful power. It was power to maintain in his affections and in his thoughts the glory and dignity that belongs to the people of God as those that have their origin in Christ.
And then it says, “of love”; that suggests the breastplate. As being able to carry the saints in his thoughts and his affections according to divine purpose, he was able to also take account of them rightly in relation to the testimony and the working out of responsibility. The Urim and Thummim, are in the breastplate. What a resource we have in our links with divine Persons, and the wisdom and guidance that would come from this.
And then it says, “of wise discretion”. The footnote says, ’A quiet, sound, or sober mind’; that recalls the linen garments that the priest wore. It was linen that was against the flesh; there was nothing to agitate. There is no thought of Timothy being marked by natural thinking or a certain agitation, because he is wearing the linen garment. Paul is exhorting and reminding him: “God has not given us a spirit of cowardice, but of power, and of love, and of wise discretion.” And so Paul is even able to send Timothy to a place like Corinth but Paul has confidence in him, not only because of what Paul knew of him, but he has confidence in him because of what he says here.
May we be helped to be formed in divine feelings for His Name’s sake.
Word in meeting for ministry in Aberdeen, Scotland
6th June 2017