This Week's Focus Passage

Psalm 119:122 ‘Be surety for thy servant for good.’

This Weeks Focus Passage: Psalm 119:122

‘Be surety for thy servant for good.’

 In his Old Testament Word Studies, William Wilson has given to us the meaning of the noun, surety. He has offered this definition; ‘To become surety for any one, properly to exchange with him, to stand in his place; to become surety for one’s life, to pledge oneself for the life of another; for another’s debt, to give security for the payment.’ It is ironic that the Word of God seems clearly to speak against the wisdom of one becoming a surety for another. In the book of Proverbs, these axioms are set down more than once to instruct us against becoming a surety for another. The writer of Proverbs asserts that becoming a surety is a snare—6:1—and that he shall smart for it—11:15—that one doing so is void of understanding—17:18—allowing that he that hateth suretyship is secure—11:15.

Yet, that is exactly what Christ became for us in order to ratify the glorious promises of covenant of grace. He took upon Himself to be our surety; to be the cosigner—in reality, our blessed Mediator—for the debt that we had incurred through our sin. There is given to us in God’s Word, a picture of suretyship that is at once helpful and beautiful. It is found in the narrative account in Genesis 43 of Judah, the son of Jacob [Israel] pleading with his father to let him go back to Egypt in order to obtain the grain they so desperately required. They had been once to Egypt for grain and met their brother Joseph—though they knew him not—who detained Simeon and commanded them not to return unless they brought with them their youngest brother. It is for this reason that Judah spoke thus to his father;

And Judah said unto Israel his father, send the lad with me, and we will arise and go; that we may live, and not die, both we, and thou, and also our little ones. I will be surety for him; of my hand shalt thou require him: if I bring him not unto thee, and set him before thee, then let me bear the blame for ever.—Genesis 43:8-9.

Later, in the same terms, relating this compact of suretyship to Joseph:

For thy servant became surety for the lad unto my father, saying, if I bring him not unto thee, then shall I bear the blame to my father for ever. Now therefore, let thy servant, I pray thee, abide instead of the lad a bondman to my lord; and let the lad go up with his brethren.—Genesis 44:32.

In this fidelity of Judah to his father, we have this type of Christ to embrace. Even as Judah was willing to ‘stand in place’ of Benjamin, so Christ is our Surety.

God has spoken of this suretyship through Isaiah in words both profound and poignant with every syllable uttered about the Glorious Exchange.

He was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due. And they made his grave with the wicked, and with a rich man in his death; although he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

Yet it pleased Jehovah to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of Jehovah shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by the knowledge of himself shall my righteous servant justify many; and he shall bear their iniquities.

In Hebrews 7:22, where we may read of this remarkable demonstration of the love of Christ for those whom the Father had given Him from before the foundation of the world, we are reminded of Jesus taking upon Himself the position of a guarantor, or surety as it has been written, by so much also hath Jesus become the surety of a better covenant. Vine speaks to the use of ‘surety’ here in Hebrews, when he has written in his Expositional Dictionary of New Testament Words, the Greek word, ENGUOS, ‘primarily signifies bail, the bail who personally answers for anyone, whether with his life or his property; it is used in Heb. 7:22, “(by so much also hath Jesus become) the Surety (of a better covenant), “referring to the abiding and unchanging character of His Melchizedek priesthood, by reason of which His suretyship is established by God’s oath (vv. 20,21). As the Surety, He is the personal guarantee of the terms of the new and better covenant, secured on the ground of His perfect sacrifice (ver. 27). God’s ‘promissory note’ has been given to us in Ezekiel 36:26, in these familiar words:

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.

God, in Christ, interposed with an oath. He promised the new heart and new spirit to all those for whom His Son stood as Surety; even all the chosen for whom our Surety came in the fullness of time to shed His precious blood even while they were sinners.

Of this beautiful message, Franz Delitzsch has said; ‘It is, on the other hand, “with oath” that the Priest of promise has become what He is,--through Him, namely, who said unto Him…(pros auton)…Then follow the two halves of Ps. cx. 4, in both of which David speaks in the Spirit with reference to the great “Son of David” of the future; and both, therefore, are really words of that God who everywhere speaks in such Scriptures. Both are spoken of the great High Priest: the former half of the verse is said “concerning” the latter half directly addressed “to” Him; and both therefore pros auton. The divine appointment of this eternal Priest is made by oath, that is, by the most binding form of obligation known among men: the divine satisfaction in the absolute assurance [read Surety] thus given will never fail.’

So it has been written; ‘In Christ Jesus we live, and move, and have our being.’ He was, is, and continues to be our Surety now and evermore.

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church


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