“Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (II Peter 1:1-4, emphasis mine).
The Apostle Peter encourages the saints by reminding them to embrace and stand firmly upon the divine promises offered to all members of the body of Christ. It is so easy to read through scripture, passing over those “great and precious” promises without realizing the hope and encouragement they offer the believer.
Peter stresses the importance of taking hold of these God-given assurances and keeping them before our eyes at all times, especially when we are buffeted and tried. All disciples will have times when they will find themselves in a dry and wasted wilderness, being tried and tested, and may wonder where God is.
It is during these times that we must be anchored firmly to the Rock, Jesus Christ. We can be assured that His promises are sure and that He will never leave us nor forsake us, even during the most trying and difficult times. Such is the confidence we can place in God and in His word.
In this article I would like to present just a few of the many, many promises given us in scripture, that it might encourage the reader and to bring more vividly to our attention those promises in order that they might truly become precious and personal as we read God’s word.
To begin, it might be best to start with those promises offered to us while we were still sinners and to those who yet have not come to the saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. John 3:16 is probably the most familiar and most quoted scripture in the entire Bible.
It comes from the lips of our blessed Savior and it reads, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
What a wonderful promise to any who will simply believe in Jesus Christ. It is in that simple faith alone that one comes to Christ and finds this God-given promise to be most assuredly realized as one makes that revolutionary transformation from death to life, from the kingdom of darkness into the glorious kingdom of God’s dear Son. There has never a soul come to Christ in faith to whom this promise was not fully experienced and most solemnly kept by Jesus Christ, for Jesus said, “him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37).
This promise from the Savior Himself can give hope to the sinner who sees his own desperate and deplorable need, just as it gave this sinner hope when I realized my need of a Savior and Jesus reached down His precious, nail-pierced hand for me. This promise was to this heart, truly exceeding great and precious.
The entrance into the glorious kingdom of God’s dear Son was that step into a kingdom of promises for the believer. For I have found the Lord is always ready to forgive and is plenteous in mercy to all that call upon Him (Psalm 86:5). Such a gracious loving Lord we serve, a God able to keep every promise to His people.
Psalms 23 is a very well-known psalm and is read or quoted often. Consider some of the wonderful assurances God gives us from this Psalm. It is a psalm of many guarantees, so let us take notice of these pledges from God and how they issue in other promises of scripture, for it is through these “exceeding great and precious promises” that we become “partakers of the divine nature”.
To begin, let us consider the first three verses of Psalm 23. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.”
The Lord: is likened to a shepherd who cares for his sheep. A shepherd realizes how vulnerable sheep are, not only as prey to carnivorous animals but also are subject to sickness, disease and other dangers which threaten them. They are not sufficient in themselves to survive alone in the wilderness, they must have special care. Sometimes they stray from the fold and cannot find they way back.
The shepherd leaves the ninety and nine, goes out to seek that one lost sheep and tenderly bring him back to his safe haven.
The Psalmist, then, likens our most precious Savior to a shepherd who watches over his own and cares for every sheep. However, the Shepherd of Psalms 23 is the Lord. Our Shepherd is the Shepherd who laid down his life for His sheep. He offered up Himself and today is our High Priest. He is not a priest who “standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins,” “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God”, “for by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified” (Heb. 10:11,12,14).
It is this Lord Who is our Shepherd. Who can be likened to this Shepherd Who gave Himself for us and intercedes for every one of His sheep?
The next Psalm, Psalm 24 expresses some of the characteristics and abilities of this Lord, Who is our Shepherd: Psalm 24:7-8 “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.”
Our Shepherd is the Lord, mighty in battle. Our Shepherd is The King of Glory. But the Psalmist continues in Psalm 24:9-10, “Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory.”
Our Shepherd is The Lord of hosts. He is Lord or master of all the hosts of heaven.
He is Lord of all angelic beings, of the four and twenty elders, of all the beasts of heaven and every living being.
Our Shepherd is the One who holds the keys of hell and death.
Our Shepherd is the One who created the worlds, the sun, moon and stars, the universe. He is the One who set the limits for the seas that they should come thus far and no further.
He is our Shepherd and He has given unto us “exceeding great and precious promises” through which we can be partakers of His own divine nature.
Therefore, let us not be discouraged when we find ourselves walking through the valley of the shadow of death but realize our Shepherd is with us and will bring us through the dry and desolate wilderness.
Psalm 23:4-6: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”
While the path to the promised land is through the wilderness, yet our Shepherd goes with us and continues to watch over us. He promised that He would never leave us but would go with us to the end of the world (Matt. 28:20).
Not only does He pledge to go with us, He ensures that He will prepare a table for us, right in the presence of our enemies.
The case of Paul and Silas in the Philippian jail comes to mind. These two saints of God had been falsely accused, beaten, and thrown in the lowest prison where they were shackled hands and feet. The pungent odor of the rat-infested cell coupled with the waste of former prisoners filled the air, and the body naturally recoiled at the deplorable conditions. Yet at midnight, Paul and Silas sang praises to God, and their voices were heard throughout the prison. God had prepared a table before them in the presence of their enemies. As their praises reached the throne of God, He came forth and delivered them out of their distresses.
This is our Shepherd, just as He was Paul’s and Silas’. “Oh, that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men” (Psalm 107).
Our Shepherd is with us when we walk through the valley of death; but O, how often we miss that table spread before us because we perceive only the enemies and our present sufferings. When we realize our Shepherd is right there with us, He will bring us forth as gold, tried in the fire, and He will bring us out victorious.
Not only does He prepare a table before us, but He also anoints our head with oil and fills our cup to running over.
The Holy Spirit is the anointing that brings joy, a joy full of glory and overflowing. It is the joy of the Holy Spirit that came so strongly upon Stephen when he was being stoned. As his life began to depart from him, he lifted up his eyes and, “he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55-56).
So great did God’s grace rest upon this precious disciple that he kneeled down as his spirit departed from him and cried with a loud voice, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge” (Acts 7:60).
That same anointing is promised to every child of God as we learn to rest in God and allow Him to be our Shepherd.
There is certainty in these promises as the Psalm concludes: “Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me.” This is certain, absolute, if we can hear what the Spirit says.
So let us have ears to hear and hearts to trust God in every circumstance of life.
There are other promises contained in Psalms 23 and this is just one short chapter and a brief summary of the many promises contained in God’s word. Study the word of God and, as you do, look for promises and then stand firmly upon them.
Victories are won by standing on the promises of God. The enemy will lie to us and tell us our Shepherd does not care. He will make us believe that “that great Shepherd of the Sheep” is not aware of our plight, that He doesn’t hear our cry, but such is not the case.
Our Shepherd sits at the right hand of God, ever interceding for His sheep. His promises are true, so let us stand firmly in faith upon God’s word and allow God to bring about in us that which will produce His divine nature.
By Alfred King