"For I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep
that which I have committed unto him against that day." II. Tim. i. 12.
"Kept by the power of God unto salvation." I. Peter i. 5.
The more precious any treasure is, the more important is it that it be guarded
and kept. The figure of our first text is that of a bank deposit and literally
reads, "He is able to keep my deposits against that day." When great deposits
of gold are being conveyed to the vaults of some rich bank, whole squadrons
of police stand guard, and the most powerful locks, bolts, bars, and walls
and the most ceaseless and sleepless vigilance of watchmen and detectives
are employed to guard them. Sometimes the figure is used in a military sense.
The second text is of this kind and literally should be translated, "Who
are garrisoned by the power of God through faith unto salvation." What vast
expenditures and mighty armaments and armies are employed to garrison the
great strategic points that guard the gates of nations, such as Port Arthur,
Gibraltar, Quebec, and other citadels. Sometimes the figure is used of the
shepherd and his flock, "He will gather Israel and keep him as a shepherd
doth his flock."
But whatever figure or phrase may be employed, the one great thought that
God would convey to the hearts of His tried and suffering people is, that
they are safe in His keeping, and that He is able to guard that which we
have committed unto Him against that day. Let us look at some of His gracious
promises to keep His people.
He will keep us wherever we may go or be. Listen to the first promise of
our Divine Keeper as it was addressed to Jacob in the hour of his loneliness
and fear, "Behold, I am with thee and will keep thee in all places whither
thou goest; for I will not leave thee until I have done all that which I
have spoken to thee of." How He kept that word to Jacob! How many the various
places where providence cast his lot! The land of Laban, the cities of the
Shechemites, the land of Goshen,-everywhere his covenant God guarded and
kept him. He was not an attractive figure, he was not deserving of any special
consideration. He was the "worm Jacob," but God loved him in his infinite
grace, and kept him, disciplined him, taught him, and prepared him to be
the head of Israel's tribes, and the day came when he could say, "The God
that fed and led me all my life long, the angel that kept me from all
Some of you may be in strange places, lonely places, hard places, dangerous
places; but if you have taken Jacob's God as your covenant God, you can rest
without a fear in that ancient word, "Behold, I am with thee and will keep
thee in all places whithersoever thou goest; for I will not leave thee until
I have done that which I have spoken to thee of."
"To me remains nor place nor time,
My country is in every clime,
I can be calm and free from care
On any shore, since God is there.
"Could I be cast where Thou art not,
That were, indeed, a dreadful lot,
But regions none remote I call,
Secure of finding God in all."
He will keep us as the apple of His eye. "Keep me as the apple of the eye"
(Ps. Xvii. 8). This is a beautiful figure founded upon the sensitiveness
of the eyeball to the approach of any intruding cinder or particle of dust.
Instinctively the eyelid closes before the object can enter. There is no
time to think, for the action is intuitive and involuntary. The idea is that
we are as near to God as our eyeball is to us, and as much a part of the
body of Christ as if it were really the crystalline lens of His very eyes,
and that He is as sensitive to the approach of anything that could harm us
as you would be to the intrusion of a floating mote or grain of dust to your
sensitive eye before you can even think or pray.
"God is the refuge of His saints,
When storms of sharp distress invade,
Ere we can utter our complaint.
Behold Him present with His aid."
He will keep us in His pavilion. "Thou shalt hide them in the secret
of Thy presence from the pride of man: Thou shalt keep them secretly in a
pavilion from the strife of tongues" (Ps. xxxi. 20). It does not take Him
long to erect that pavilion in the most solitary place and hide His children
safely within its curtains. The story is told of a Scottish assembly of faithful
worshippers in one of the glens of the fatherland in the clays when the cruel
Claverhouse was hunting for the blood of the saints. Suddenly the cry was
made from the sentinel watching on a neighboring cliff that soldiers were
coming, and the little company had been discovered. Escape was impossible,
and they just knelt down and prayed, claiming this precious psalm, "Thou
shalt hide them in Thy pavilion." Immediately there began to gather among
the hills a thick Scotch mist, and everything was enveloped as in a curtain.
Their enemies were baffled, and they quietly and securely escaped through
the familiar pathways of the mountains. God had hidden them securely in His
pavilion. We may not have the same bloody foe as the Scottish Covenanters,
but the strife of tongues is here with sharper swords and more cruel hate.
Oh, how often we find the psalmist calling out against the envenomed words
of men, "What shall be given unto thee? Or what shall be done unto thee,
thou false tongue? Sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals of juniper" (Ps.
cxx. 3, 4). But He can shield us even from these and give us a blessing for
every bitter blast from human calumny. "Let him curse," said David when they
tried to quiet old Shimei, who was abusing the king in the hour of his sorrow;
"it may be the Lord will requite me good for his cursing this day." Wherefore
let them that suffer from the strife of tongues "commit themselves to Him
in well doing as unto a faithful Creator."
He will keep us in perfect peace. "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace,
whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee" (Isa. xxvi. 3).
Literally this reads, "Peace, peace." It is the double peace with God
and of God. It is the Old Testament original of the Apostle's still
more beautiful promise in the fourth chapter of Philippians, "Be careful
for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving
let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth
all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
In both verses it is the same peace which is referred to, that deep, divine
rest which Christ puts into the heart where He comes to dwell. It is the
peace of God, and it passeth all understanding. It is not the result of reasoning
or sight; it is not because things have changed, and we can see the deliverance
coming. It comes when all is dark and strange, and we have nothing but His
bare word. The Assyrian was at the gates of Jerusalem, and there seemed no
possible escape when the voice of the prophet said, "Be strong and of a good
courage, fear not, neither be dismayed; for they that be with you be more
than they that be with him. With us is the Lord our God to help us, and to
fight our battles." And then it is added, "The people rested themselves."
The Assyrian was still there, and the danger was just as imminent, but there
came upon them an unreasoning and supernatural confidence, for God had undertaken
their defense. We know the sequel. How easy it was for Jehovah by the touch
of a single angel's hand to lay those mighty hosts silent in the dust! So
God's peace comes not by sight, but by faith. Its conditions are, "Thou wilt
keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusted
Someone tells of two competing paintings of peace for which a great prize
was offered. One was a beautiful and tranquil scene, a woodland valley with
a gentle streamlet softly winding through grassy banks. There were warbling
birds, and happy, playing children with the flocks lying down in green pastures,
and earth and heaven were at rest. The other, and the picture that won the
prize, was a raging sea, flinging high its billows and its foam around a
naked rock, with a ship in the distance, driving before the hurricane with
every sail furled, and the seabirds whirling through the leaden clouds in
wild confusion-anything but peace. But far up in a cleft of that naked rock,
above the surf and sheltered from the storm, there was a dove's nest with
the mother quietly spreading her soft wings above her young in perfect
When is the time to trust?
Is it when all is calm?
When waves the victor's palm
And life is one great psalm
Of peace and rest?
No! But the time to trust
Is when the waves beat high,
And storm clouds sweep the sky,
And faith can only cry,
Lord help and save.
The beautiful figure of the text in Philippians is that of a garrison, the
peace of God which garrisons the heart and mind. The need of the garrison
here is not because of outside, but inside foes. Nothing can harm us from
the outside if we are kept in God's perfect peace. Notice also that there
are two sections of this citadel that have to be garrisoned and guarded.
One is the heart, the seat of doubts, and fears, and cares. The other is
the mind where our thoughts become the sources of unrest, and we wonder,
and worry, and look forward and back, and look everywhere, but to God. The
peace of God can quiet all our thinking and hold us in stillness and sweetly
say to us,
Cease your thinking, troubled Christian,
What avail your anxious cares?
God is ever thinking for you;
Jesus ev'ry burden bears.
Casting all your care upon Him,
Sink into His blessed will
While He folds you to His bosom,
Sweetly whisp'ring, "Peace, be still."
He will keep us by His power. This is the meaning of our second text,
"Garrisoned by the power of God through faith unto salvation." It is a very
fine passage. The apostle has just told us that the inheritance is kept for
us up yonder. Now he tells us we are kept for the inheritance. The inheritance
is reserved for you, and you are preserved for the inheritance. But while
the figure of the garrison is the same as in Philippians, yet it is a different
garrison. There it was peace, now it is power. The garrison of peace is to
preserve the city from internal foes; the garrison of power is to protect
it from its outward enemies. The one garrison polices the streets; the other
mans the walls. And it adds to the force of the figure to note that the word
power here in the Greek is dynamite. The garrison is armed
with heavenly artillery. When first the English troops under Lord Kitchener
met the vast armies of the Mahdi, the conquering leader of the fanatical
hordes of the Soudan, who outnumbered them ten to one, they protected their
camp by modern artillery while the Africans came against them with the
old-fashioned muskets and rifles. A hundred thousand strong, that vast array
hurled itself upon the little company of English soldiers and marched to
the assault with flying banners, galloping horses, and splendid enthusiasm.
The historian graphically tells how quietly and confidently the English waited
the onset, for they knew that they had power in their midst before which
those legions could not for a moment stand. Suddenly the Maxim guns began
their terrific rattle and like a hailstorm from the heavens a rain of bullets
and shells was poured upon that black host, and they melted like snow before
a summer sun. It was dynamite against mere human courage. God has garrisoned
us with heavenly dynamite, the power of the Holy Ghost, and, like the English
soldiers, we must have confidence in it, for we are kept by the dynamite
of God through faith. We must count upon His mighty strength and ever go
forth with the battle cry, "Thanks be unto God that always leadeth us in
He is able to keep us in the world and from the evil. This was the Master's
prayer for His disciples. In John xvii. 15, we read, "I pray not that thou
shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from
the evil." Here is a double keeping. Kept from death and sickness and anything
that could take us out of the world, and yet kept from the evil of the world
and especially the evil one. This is a portentous phrase in the original,
tou ponero, the Evil One. This is no abstract evil, but a great personal
Devil, the adversary "who walketh about like a roaring lion, seeking whom
he may devour." But the Lord's power and the Lord's keeping stand between
us and his devouring jaws. He is a conquered foe, and we are to treat him
as such and to go forth against him with the prestige of a victor in the
name of his Conqueror, the Lord Jesus Christ. Sometimes he assails us by
his wiles and sometimes by his fiery darts, but with the shield of faith
we shall be able to stand against and quench them both. We must not be too
frightened of the devil. Some people get so afraid of him that they almost
fear to let the Lord have right away in His own meetings. The dread of
fanaticism, it is to be feared, has kept a good many well meaning people
from the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Let us boldly come and take all God
has for us and trust Him to keep the counterfeit away, for if we ask bread,
He is not going to give us a stone, and if we ask fish and really want what
He wants, He will not let us have a serpent. In the name of Jesus and through
His precious blood, we shall be safe and kept from the evil one.
He is able to keep us from stumbling. Jude says, "Now unto him that
is able to keep us from falling, and to present you faultless before the
presence of His glory with exceeding joy." The English translation is inadequate.
The word falling means stumbling. Of course, He is able to
keep us from being lost, and too many Christians are content to just get
through, if it be by the skin of their teeth. That is a poor, ignoble ambition.
He is able to keep you even from stumbling and to present you faultless before
the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. If He is able to keep you for
one second, He can keep you for thirty-three million seconds, which means
one whole year, and as much longer as you keep trusting Him moment by moment.
Will you rise to a higher ambition and take Him to keep you even from slipping,
and tripping, and stumbling?
He is able to keep you from the touch of the adversary. There is a
fine promise in the last chapter of I. John. "He that was begotten of God
keepeth him, and that wicked one toucheth him not." This is a different reading
from the ordinary version, but it is very blessed to say, the only begotten
Son keepeth the saint that trusts Him and so keepeth him that that wicked
one toucheth him not. It is the old familiar picture of the fly on one side
of the window and the bird on the other. The bird dashes for its prey and
thinks it has it. The fly shudders and thinks so too, but there is a dash,
and a thud, and some flustered feathers, and a badly frightened bird, but
the fly is still there, wondering how it all did not happen. But to you and
me the secret is all plain, there was something between which the bird did
not see and the fly forgot. Thank God, when the devil makes his fiercest
dives, there is something between. He has to get through Jesus Christ to
get you; and if you only abide in simple confidence, the devil will get a
good deal more hurt than you.
He is able to keep His servants and ministers. Listen. "I the Lord
have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep
thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles
"(Isa. xlii. 6). This blessed promise belongs primarily to the Lord Jesus,
but secondarily to every other true servant of Jehovah who is abiding in
Him and working for Him. God holds His ministers in His right hand and says,
"Touch not mine anointed and do my prophets no harm." He is a very reckless
man that lightly speaks or acts against any true servant of the Lord. Be
careful how you criticize the Master's servants. Listen. "Who art thou that
judgest another man's servant? To his own master he standeth or falleth,
for God is able to make him stand." "Who art thou that judgest another?"
If you are serving Christ with a true heart, my brother, be not afraid.
He whom the Father beholds will hold thy right hand, and keep thee, and say
to thee, "Fear not, I will give men for thee and people for thy life." "I
will work and who shall let it?" God will keep thee and say to thee, "I have
covered thee in the shadow of Mine hand that thou mayest plant the heavens,
and lay the foundations of the earth and say to Zion, Thou art my
people." A single soldier of the cross standing for Jesus and trusting in
Him is mightier than legions of powerful foes. Trust Him though dangers and
foes surround thee and friends may often be few, the heavens will fall and
earth be dissolved before He can fail one of His trusting servants.
He will keep His cause, His Church, His vineyard. "Sing ye unto her,
A vineyard of red wine. I the Lord do keep it; I will water it every moment;
lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day." Isa. xxvii. 2-3. We sometimes
seem to get the idea that we are the keepers of God's cause, and that he
has forgotten all about it, and we have to shout and cry to get Him to help
us look after His own property. Why, dear friends, the Lord is looking after
you and the cause too. "I, the Lord, do keep it, lest any hurt it, I will
keep it night and day." No doubt there are dangers, trials, adversaries,
but there is one thing more, the Lord. And two little words are stronger
than all the D's in the dictionary, whether they be difficulty, discouragement,
division, declension, the devil, or the D.Ds.- and these two words are BUT
GOD. There is a fine prophetic picture in the opening of Zechariah which
was written to comfort people in troublous times. First the prophet saw four
horns, coming from all directions, sharp, cruel, powerful horns, pushing
and piercing everything before them. If he looked north, there was a horn
there, and south, there was another there, and they were soon to meet and
he would find himself between the two. If he looked east, there was a horn
there, and west, there was another there, and they were meeting in his
unprotected breast. Then the scene changed, and he looked and saw four carpenters
coming in the same direction, and each of them had a lot of tools-a good
stout ax, and a sharp saw, and no doubt a heavy maul- and soon could be heard
the sound of blows of axes and the buzzing of saws, and lo, the horns had
lost their points and were pounded to a jelly and were soft cushions that
could not hurt anything. Beloved, God has a carpenter for every horn and
if the work you are doing is His work, the gates of hell cannot prevail against
He is able to keep everything that is committed to Him. "I know whom
I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have
committed unto him against that day" (II. Tim. 1:12). The great question
for you and me is, how much have we really committed?