The Christian extends his survey far beyond the limits of his individual sphere. His view of the operations of God in creation enlarges his apprehensions of the Divine attributes, and especially that of unchanging faithfulness. Indeed, the very fact of a creation in ruins—a world in rebellion against its Maker, failing of the grand end of existence, and yet still continued in existence—manifests His faithfulness unto all generations. How different is the contemplation of the Christian from that of the philosopher! His is not a mere cold, speculative admiration, but the establishment of his faith upon a clear discovery of the faithfulness of God. Thus he stays his soul upon the assured unchangeableness of the Divine word, "Concerning Your testimonies, I have known of old, that You have founded them forever. Your word is true from the beginning: and everyone of Your righteous judgments endures forever." How striking is the contrast between the transient glory of man's goodness, and the solid foundation of all the promises, hopes, and prospects of the children of God!, "The grass withers, and the flower fades; but the word of our God shall stand forever." "Unbelief" is the character of our "evil hearts." Man chooses his own measure and objects of faith; he believes no more than he pleases. But it is a fearful prospect, that the threatenings of God rest upon the same solid foundation with His promises. "Heaven and earth shall pass away but My word shall not pass away."
Need we any further proof of His faithfulness? Look at the earth established by His word of power. See how "he hangs it upon nothing," as if it might fall at any moment;—and yet it is immovably fixed—it abides—and with all its furniture, continues according to His ordinances. This—though the scoff of the infidel—is the encouragement to Christian faith. It is at once a token of His covenant with nature, that "while the earth remains, seed-time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night, shall not cease;" and an emblem of His covenant with the seed of David, that He "will not cast them off for all that they have done." Thus every view of the heavens—yes—every time we set our foot on the earth—shows the unchangeableness of His everlasting covenant, and the security of the salvation of His own people.
In this vast universe, all are His servants. "The stars in their courses" "fire and hail, snow and vapors, stormy wind—fulfill His word. He sends forth His commandment upon earth: His word runs very swiftly." Man—the child of his Maker, "created in His image"—destined for His glory—is the only rebel and revolter. Most affecting is the appeal, that his own Father and God is constrained to make concerning him, "Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the Lord has spoken. I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me!"
Is not then the universe of nature a parable of grace—setting out on every side—in every view—a cheering display of the faithfulness of God? If His providence fails not, will the promise of His covenant disappoint us? Why should He change? Does He see or know anything now, that He has not foreseen and foreknown from eternity? What more sure ground of salvation than the unchangeableness of God? If I can prove a word to have been spoken by God, I must no more question it than his own Being. It may seem to fail on earth; but it is forever settled in heaven. The decrees of the kings of the earth, "settled" on earth, are exposed to all the variations and weakness of a changing world. They may be revoked by themselves or their successors, or they may die away. The empty sound of the "law of the Medes and Persians that alters not," has long since been swept away into oblivion. But while "the word settled" on earth has "waxed old like a garment," and perished; the word settled in heaven—is raised above all the revolutions of the universe, and remains as the throne of God—unshaken and eternal; exhibiting the foundation of the believer's hope and of the unbeliever's terror to be alike unalterably fixed.
But we also remark the foreknowledge as well as the faithfulness of God. From the eternity that is past, as well for the eternity that is to come, Your word is settled in heaven. Before this fair creation was marred, yes, before it was called into existence, its ruin was foreseen, and a remedy provided. "The Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world," and fore-ordained before that era. Concurrent with this period, a people "were chosen in Him," and forever the word was settled in heaven., "All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me." For the establishment of the Redeemer's kingdom upon earth "the decree is declared;" however earth and hell may combine against it, "Yet have I set My king upon My holy hill of Zion." And what a blessed encouragement in the grand work of bringing back "the lost sheep of the house of Israel," and those "other sheep" with them, "which are not of this fold" is it, that we do not depend upon the earnestness of our prayers, the wisdom of our plans, or the diligence of our endeavors; but upon "the word" forever settled in heaven!, "The Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, says the Lord. As for Me, this is My covenant with them, says the Lord—My Spirit that is upon You, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, nor out of the mouth of your seed, nor out of the mouth of your seed's seed, says the Lord, from henceforth, and forever." "I have sworn by Myself, the word is gone out of My mouth in righteousness, and shall not return—That unto Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear."
The strain is more joyful, for experience has given the sweet singer a comfortable knowledge of the word of the Lord, and this makes a glad theme. After tossing about on a sea of trouble, the Psalmist here leaps to shore and stands upon a rock. Jehovah's word is not fickle nor uncertain; it is settled, determined, fixed, sure, immovable. Man's teachings change so often that there is never time for them to be settled; but the Lord's word is from of old the same, and will remain unchanged eternally. Some men are never happier than when they are unsettling everything and everybody; but God's mind is not with them. The power and glory of Heaven have confirmed each sentence which the mouth of the Lord has spoken, and so confirmed it that to all eternity it must stand the same—settled in Heaven, where nothing can reach it. In the former section David's soul fainted, but here the good man looks out of self and perceives that the Lord faints not, neither is weary, neither is there any failure in his word.
The verse takes the form of an ascription of praise: the faithfulness and immutability of God are fit themes for holy song, and when we are tired with gazing upon the shifting scene of this life, the thought of the immutable promise fills our mouth with singing. God's purposes, promises, and precepts are all settled in his own mind, and none of them shall be disturbed. Covenant settlements will not be removed, however unsettled the thoughts of men may become; let us therefore settle it in our minds that we abide in the faith of our Jehovah as long as we have any being.