A Perfect Man
It is our delight to linger in adoration over the holy mysteries of the Person of the Lord Jesus, not only as they are historically recorded in the Gospels, but also as prophetically set forth in the Psalms. Take Psalm 16. What features of perfection we see here! How His wonderful pathway and the motives which activated Him are set out! Let us then consider a little these things.
Verse 1 divulges the secret of preservation “Preserve me, O God: for I trust in thee”. True, real man as He was, He was cast upon God in complete dependence, confided in Him with unwavering trust through all the chequered scenes of His earthly pathway, and lived not by bread alone, but by every word that proceeded out of God’s mouth. Our souls may well linger and adore, as we see Him refusing to make stones into bread at the bidding of Satan; and yet, at the bidding of His Father, making bread for five thousand hungry mouths. Both acts expressed His perfect obedience. Everything He did was in answer to the will of God.
Verse 3 speaks of association. The saints, the excellent of the earth, were those in whom He found His delight: “To the saints that are on the earth, and to the excellent [thou hast said], In them is all my delight”. They might be poor fishermen, they might be uncultured, unlearned, or babes, nobodies in the world’s eyes, but to Him they were the “excellent”, in whom He found His joy. His delight was in them, not because of what they were personally, but because His Father had given them to Him. He viewed them in the light of the Giver, and loving them, as thus given, linked Himself up with them, as His associates, “His own”, a company who had been attracted to Him by the drawing of the Father.
Verse 4: How intense at the same time was his separation from the world: “Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another: their drink–offerings of blood will I not offer, and I will not take up their names into my lips”. He might visit Samaria in grace, but He would let them know that salvation was of the Jews. He could not turn a blind eye to what was wrong—it must be exposed. He might offend but He could not go along with error. False worship was an abomination to Him, it was impossible that He could present the drink offerings of an altar of Bethel, (see 1 Kings 12: 26—13: 34). He had come to reveal the Father, to gather worshippers who would worship in spirit and in truth.
Verse 5: “Jehovah is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot”. His consolations were outside this world, He had His joys elsewhere. In the darkest, dreariest day; when Capernaum, Chorazin, and Bethsaida had utterly disappointed Him, having despised grace, refusing to repent, He still had a “cup” full of richest consolation: God was His portion. There He could turn and find His rest, satisfied with the Father’s will that the wise and prudent should miss the way through their very wisdom, and that babes—simple, confiding, weary men and women—should find rest by resting in the One who lay in the Father’s bosom. An inheritance—magnificent in extent, far greater than Adam’s—is His, for all things in heaven and earth are His portion; but here He speaks of what is “pleasant” and “goodly”, (v6). In God He had a present portion infinitely more blessed that any universe could afford. He lived with the Father, found satisfaction in Him, a full “cup” all His pathway here. Every step shows how perfectly, how truly, how really His manhood shines out, sustained by joys found in the Father’s world.
Verses 7 and 8 indicated the nature of His instruction. “I will bless Jehovah, who giveth me counsel; even in the nights my reins instruct me. I have set Jehovah continually before me; because [he is] at my right hand, I shall not be moved”. Morning by morning He listened for counsel. By the word that proceeds out of God’s lips He was kept from the paths of the destroyer. In the dark and desolate night seasons, in the secret of God’s presence, His reins instructed Him. Alone with God, He received guidance at every step, apprehending the true nature of all through which He was called to pass. Not only did He take a “bondman’s form”, but He fully entered into all that was involved in the intelligent understanding and perfect obedience due to the God whose will He had come to do. He was the one perfect Man who was ever obedient through a pathway of suffering. God was always before Him, He had no other motive and object than to do the things that pleased God. He passed unmoved amidst all the conflict and turmoil here, Jehovah continually His right hand supporting, and sustaining Him in His dependent pathway.
Verses 9–11 speak of anticipation. “Therefore my heart rejoiceth, and my glory exulteth; my flesh moreover shall dwell in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul to Sheol, neither wilt thou allow thy Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt make known to me the path of life: thy countenance is fulness of joy; at thy right hand are pleasures for evermore”. This shows how perfectly He had all the feelings proper to a man. Hades and the grave lay in His pathway, and sorrow and suffering beyond pen to describe or mind to conceive. Yet away beyond the sorrows of Gethsemane and the blackness of Calvary, He soared on the wings of hope, with a gladdened heart, to the path of life leading to the “presence” of His God and Father, where fulness of joy, and pleasures unending were found. Jehovah was at His right hand here, (v8), but He looked onward to the right hand there. How His soul delighted in it! How He anticipated it! This was the joy set before Him, for which He endured the cross, despising the shame. Other joys will be His as the result of His sacrificial work, but here it is the supreme joy of a Man who lived wholly for the glory of God, anticipating a return to the “presence” of His Father. In Psalm 21 we behold Him crowned with a golden crown, majesty and splendour laid upon Him, length of days for ever and ever given to Him, met with the blessings of goodness, and glorified greatly in the salvation of God. Yet excess of joy, its highest point, was not reached till the Father’s countenance beamed on Him. “Thou has filled him with joy by thy countenance”, (verse 6). Better—far better—than crown or kingdom, majesty and glory, life and blessing, was the presence of God His Father. Behold Him there!—a Man—delighting in the approval and finding His supreme joy in the company of the Father.
If we are to follow in His steps, walk as He walked, be preserved as He was, then we must put our trust in God, looking up in dependence, seek the company of the “excellent”, walk in separation from evil, find our joy outside this world, seek instruction from the Word of God, guidance in the secret of His presence, and anticipate the joys found in the presence of His God and Father, now our God and Father, into whose presence we shall be introduced when He takes us to where He is at His second coming.
The Perfect Man
The Lord Jesus Christ was the only perfect man that ever trod this earth. He was all perfect—perfect in thought, perfect in word, perfect in action. In Him every moral quality met in divine and, therefore perfect proportion. Not one feature predominated. In Him were exquisitely blended awesome majesty, and a gentleness which gave perfect ease in His presence. The Scribes and the Pharisees met His withering rebuke; while the poor Samaritan, and the woman “who was a sinner”, (Luke 7: 37), found themselves unaccountably, yet irresistibly, attracted to Him. No one feature displaced another, for all was in fair and balanced proportion. This may be traced in every scene of His perfect life. He could say, in reference to five thousand hungry people, “Give ye them to eat”, (Matt. 14: 16), and, when they were filled, He could say, “Gather together the fragments which are over and above, that nothing may be lost”, (John 6: 12). The benevolence and the economy are both perfect; and neither interferes with the other. Each shines in its own proper sphere. He could not send unsatisfied hunger away; neither could He suffer a single fragment of God’s provision to be wasted. He would meet, with a full and liberal hand, the need of the human family, and, when that was done, He would carefully treasure up every atom. The self–same hand that was widely open to every form of human need was firmly closed against all wastefulness. There was nothing miserly on the one hand, nor extravagant on the other, in the character of the perfect, heavenly Man.
What a lesson for us! How often, with ourselves, does benevolence become an unwarrantable profusion! Again, on the other hand, how often is our economy marred by the exhibition of a miserly spirit! At times, too, our niggardly hearts refuse to open themselves to the full extent of the need which presents itself before us; while, on other occasions, we squander, through wanton extravagance, that which might satisfy many a needy fellow–creature. Oh! my reader, let us carefully study the “man Christ Jesus.” How refreshing and strengthening to “the inward man” to be occupied with Him who was perfect in all His ways, and that “in all things he might have the pre–eminence”, (Col. 1: 18 AV).
See Him in the garden of Gethsemane. There, He kneels in the profound depths of a humility which none but Himself could exhibit; yet, before the traitor’s band, He exhibits a self–possession and majesty which causes them to go backward and fall to the ground. His deportment before God is prostration; before His judges and accusers, unbending dignity. All is perfect. The self–emptiness and the self–possession, the prostration and the dignity, are all divine.
So also, when we contemplate the beautiful combination of His divine and human relations, the same perfection is observable. He could say to his earthly parents, “Why [is it] that ye have sought me? did ye not know that I ought to be [occupied] in my Father’s business?” At the same time, He could go down to Nazareth, and there set an example of perfect subjection to parental authority, (See Luke 2: 49–51). He could ask His mother, “What have I to do with thee, woman?”, (John 2: 4), yet, when passing through the unutterable agony of the cross, He could tenderly commit that mother to the care of the beloved disciple, (John 19: 26–27). In the former case, He separated Himself in the spirit of perfect Nazariteship to accomplish His Father’s will; while. in the latter, he gave expression to the tender feelings of the perfect human heart. The devotion of the Nazarite and the affection of the man were both perfect: neither was permitted to interfere with the other. Each shone with undimmed lustre in its proper sphere.
The shadow of this perfect man passes before us in the “fine flour which formed the basis of the meal offering, (Lev. 2). There was not so much as a single coarse grain. There was nothing uneven—nothing unequal—nothing rough to the touch. No matter what pressure came from without, there was always an even surface. He was never ruffled by a circumstance or set of circumstances. He never had to retrace a step, or recall a word. Come what may, He always met it in that perfect evenness which is so strikingly typified by the “fine flour.”
In all these things, it is needless to say, He stands in marked contrast with even His most honoured and devoted servants. For example, Moses though the meekest man in all the earth, (see Num. 12: 3), nevertheless “spoke unadvisedly with his lips”, (Ps. 106: 33). In Peter, we find a zeal and an energy which, at times, proved too much for the occasion; and, again, a cowardice which shrunk from the place of testimony and reproach. There was the assertion of a devotedness which, when the time for action arrived, was not forthcoming. (Mark 14: 71). John, who breathed so much of the atmosphere of the immediate presence of Christ, exhibited, at times, a sectarian and an intolerant spirit, (Luke 9: 49). In Paul, the most devoted of servants, we observe considerable unevenness. He uttered words to the high priest which he had to recall, (Acts 23: 3–5), he sent a letter to the Corinthians, of which at first he repented, and afterwards repented not, (2 Cor. 7: 8). In all, we find some flaw, save in Him who is “the chiefest among ten thousand”, and “altogether lovely”, (S of S. 5: 10, 16).