The Surety

James Smith, 1856

"Be Surety for Your servant for good." Psalm 119:122.

The doctrine of suretyship is very ancient. Reuben offered to be surety for Benjamin — but his father could not trust him. At length, when Judah came forward, his bond was accepted, and Benjamin was allowed to go. Paul became surety for Onesimus, and engaged to make up the loss Philemon might have sustained. Jesus became surety for His people, and therefore He said, "Other sheep I have that are not of this fold; them also I must bring; and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd." David felt the need of a surety; one who would undertake his cause, and effectuate his deliverance.

We also need a surety, and, blessed be God, Jesus is the Surety of the better covenant. He undertook our cause, and became bound for us. Solomon said, "He that is surety for a stranger, shall smart, or be bruised for it." Jesus became our Surety, and "it pleased the Lord to bruise Him." "He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities." Our debts were charged on Him — and He paid them; our iniquities were placed to His account — and He atoned for them. Precious LordJesus, how wonderful Your love, how stupendous Your grace!

Brethren, the Old Testament believers felt that they needed a Surety; and it is pleasing to observe, how all their needs are met in the person, work, and offices of the Lord Jesus. Do you need a Surety? Is the prayer of David yours, "Be Surety for Your servant for good?" Let us look at it: Lord, undertake for your servant's good.

Well, the Lord has undertaken.

Is there a blessing you need — that He has not undertaken to give?

Is there a foe you dread — that He has not undertaken to conquer?

Is there a sin you have committed — that He has not undertaken to pardon?

Is there an evil you justly fear — that He has not undertaken to prevent?

Not one!

The glorious promises reveal God's undertakings. He engaged in the everlasting covenant; He makes known his engagements in the precious promises. What that is desirable can you think of, that is not comprised in that pledge, "I will be to them a God — and they shall be to me a people?" Or in that, "All things are yours — whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come, all are yours; and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's." Blessed be the Lord, He has undertaken to be . . .
our Father, to provide for us;
our Husband, to love and solace us;
our Advocate, to plead for us;
our Friend, to sympathize with and care for us;
and our Savior, to redeem and deliver us.

"Lord, engage for me." Well, He has engaged for you, and for every believer in Jesus. In many parts of His word, He shows that He has not only engaged for Himself — but for His people too. "They shall call upon my name, and I will hear them; I will say, it is my people, and they shall say, the Lord is my God." "I will make an everlasting covenant with them, and I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear into their hearts, and they shall not depart from me." Such passages are scattered all through the word of God, and though the promises refer to Israel literally — yet as all the promises are in Christ Jesus, and were confirmed by His death — they belong equally, in the spiritual import, to all the covenant seed.

Yes, my poor, weak, timid, tried brother — the Lord has engaged for you! He put your person, your fortune, your all — into the hands of His Son, and He became surety for you. By-and-by, Jesus will appear before His Father, with you and all your brethren beside him, and will say, "Here I am, Father, and the children You have given me; not one of them is lost." No, not one will be missing. Every child will be there. Every engagement will have been met. Every undertaking will have been honored; and Jesus our adorable Surety, will be crowned with glory by his Father, and be satisfied with the acclamations of His people.

"Be bound For Your Servant, O Lord." What! do you want a bond? Well, you shall have it, for God wishes you to be happy and to enjoy rest. "Men truly swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife. Wherefore God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath; that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation." God has pledged himself to you by an oath: He has sworn by Himself, and can He bind Himself by anything stronger?

Do you say, "I wish I knew exactly what He swore?" Well, to satisfy you, you shall have the very words of His oath, for He has given them. Here they are: "For your Maker is your husband —  the Lord Almighty is his name — the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you, says the Lord your Redeemer." Isaiah 54. Can you desire more? God has undertaken your cause; He has engaged for you, He has bound Himself by oath to you. He is a Surety for you, for your good.

The covenant is ordered in all things and sure;
it includes all time,
it provides for all circumstances,
it anticipates all events,
it engages for all possibilities.

Jesus is the Surety of that covenant; He undertook to see it fulfilled in all its parts; He engaged for the accomplishment of all its conditions, for the performance of all its promises; He was bound to see its design carried out. Can He fail? Impossible! Will His word be violated? Hear Him: "Heaven and earth shall pass away — but my word shall never pass away." He is Surety for all the children, for every Benjamin who goes down into Egypt; and He has said of each one to His Father, "I will be surety for him; You may hold me responsible if I don’t bring him back to you. Then let me bear the blame forever."

And in reference to our misconduct and sins against the law and government of the great Ruler of the universe, He says of every one, "if he has wronged you, or owes you anything — charge that on my account; I will repay it!"

Precious Lord Jesus, we can but admire your condescension, adore Your love, praise Your thrice-blessed name, and consecrate all our powers to Your service! We are Yours, doubly Yours. Oh, for grace to serve You, to consecrate every talent, every moment to you!

My soul, I charge you, often to look to Jesus as your Surely, to place full confidence in His word, to rely on His engagements, and rejoice in His glorious undertakings; and when tempted to doubt, fear, or mistrust Him — think of the solemnity, of the sacredness of His oath; remember that He has sworn, and will not repent. Other priests were inducted into office without an oath — but your Jesus has an oath by Him that said, "The Lord swore, and will not repent, You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek: by so much was Jesus made a surety of a better covenant." Blessed, forever blessed be His holy name!