Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Sabbath of the Great King

Once there was a great king who built a splendid city. In the middle of the city, the king designed a delightful park which was laid out with ponds, fountains and springs, magnificent trees from all over the world, gorgeous aromatic plants, inviting stretches of lawn, pathways and benches where people and families might walk and sit together, and a spacious amphitheater for public meetings. Weekly the king met with his subjects in the park. His people delighted in the time with him and one another.

One day the king had to go away. In his absence the rulers he left in charge began to let the park run down. Although they still held civic events at the amphitheater, these rulers had little interest in the park. They did not truly have in mind the king’s interests. Soon the park was overrun with weeds, the trees were not pruned, the exotic plants died, and the pools of water stagnated. The park was in ruins.

After a time a new group of rulers came into authority in the city. They were genuinely concerned about the park and began to restore it to its former beauty. They pulled out all the weeds, replanted all the gardens, pruned the trees, repaired the pathways and the benches, and opened the streams so that fresh water again flowed through the park. These rulers, however, were fearful that the park once again would fall into disrepair. In order to protect the park, they made it a memorial to the king, rather like a museum. They continued to hold meetings at the amphitheater, but they put a fence around the park’s border and along the pathways so people could look at the beautiful sites in the park, but could not actually use it.

They continued to hold meetings at the amphitheater, but they put a fence around the park’s border and along the pathways so people could look at the beautiful sites in the park, but could not actually use it.

Then one day, quite unexpectedly, the king’s son came to the city. One of the first things that he did was to tear down the fence. He exclaimed to the rulers, "Enough of this! This park was built for the people of the city to remember my father and to enjoy, but you have kept them out of the park." So after removing all of the fences, he invited the people to come and meet with him and with one another in the park.

Because the king and his son are still occupied throughout their great kingdom, they have appointed leaders in the city. Regrettably, of late, these leaders once again have allowed to the park to become unkept and trampled down. Again, weeds overrun it, the trees are not pruned, and the ponds have become stagnant. Because it has lost much of its charming beauty, people no longer come to it. Admittedly they have kept the amphitheater in good repair and continue public meetings, but increasingly the people are losing interest. The park is so unattractive that they see no need to go there at all.

Recently, developers, seeing the land unused, have begun seeking to put up an amusement park. The Historical Society is opposing them, wanting instead to restore the park and preserve it for the sake of tradition. But there is a third group who wants to restore it to its original purposes. To make matters more confusing, all parties are claiming to act on behalf of the interests of the king and his son. Meanwhile, as you might imagine, the king’s subjects are thoroughly confused.

If you have read Joseph Pipa’s The Lord’s Day, then you probably recognized the story above. When I first read this "allegorization" of the Sabbath it was a breath of fresh air. What insight and delight God can move men to set forth with a pen. It is my hope and prayer that as we study together, as well as prayerfully on our own, that our experience and that of our brethren, will be one of passion for the true interests of the King and His Son. May the worship of Watts become ours as we press on in our delight in the Sabbath of God...

Sweet is the work, my God, my King, to praise Thy Name, give thanks and sing,
To show Thy love by morning light and talk of all Thy truth at night.
Sweet is the day of sacred rest, no mortal cares shall seize my breast.
O may my heart in tune be found, like David’s harp of solemn sound!
My heart shall triumph in my Lord and bless His works and bless His Word.
Thy works of grace, how bright they shine! How deep Thy counsels, how divine!
Fools never raise their thoughts so high; like brutes they live, like brutes they die;

Like grass they flourish, till Thy breath blast them in everlasting death.
But I shall share a glorious part, when grace has well refined my heart;

And fresh supplies of joy are shed, like holy oil, to cheer my head.
Sin (my worst enemy before) shall vex my eyes and ears no more;

My inward foes shall all be slain, nor Satan break my peace again.
Then shall I see, and hear, and know all I desired and wished below;

And every power find sweet employ in that eternal world of joy.
And then what triumphs shall I raise to Thy dear Name through endless days,

For in the realms of joy I’ll see Thy face in full felicity.

Isaac Watts, Hymn from Psalm 92
"A Psalm for the Lord’s Day"

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