GOD’S INTRICATE AND INTIMATE CARE OF HIS ELECT
“The very hairs of your head are all numbered.” Your great and learned men will not talk about the hairs of your head. All their discourse is upon the nebulae and the stars, geological periods and organic remains, evolution and the solidarity of the race, and I know not what besides. They will not stoop to common things.
They must say something great, sublime, dazzling, brilliant, full of fireworks. The Master is as far removed from all this as the heavens are from the gaudiest canopy that ever bedecked a mortal’s throne. He talks in homely language be-cause He is at home. He speaks the language of the heart because He is all heart, and wants to reach the hearts of those to whom He speaks. I commend the text to you for that reason, though for many others besides. “The very hairs of your head are all numbered.”
Thinking over these words, they seem to have in them four things at least, and we may take four views of their meaning—
Secondly, I see in the text, knowledge. This is very clear—God so knows His people that the very hairs of their head are all numbered by Him. Thirdly, there is here valuation—He sets such a high estimate upon His own servants, that of them it is said, “The very hairs of your head are all numbered.” You are so precious that the least portion of you is pre-cious. The King keeps a register of every part of you, “The very hairs of your head are all numbered.”
And, lastly, here is most evidently preservation. The Savior has been telling them not to fear those that can kill the body and are not able to kill the soul. He speaks of God’s preserving them. In another place He told His disciples, “There shall not a hair of your head perish,” and He intends the same sense in this case. There shall be a perfect preservation of His people. “The very hairs of your head are all numbered.”
“The very hairs of your head are all numbered.” Most Christian people believe in the Providence of God but all Christian people are not prepared to follow out the Truth of God which that involves. They appear to believe that there is a Providence overruling but they seem to have forgotten that there always was such a Providence and that Providence must be, after all, a matter of Divine foresight. God must have foreseen, or He could not have provided, for “Providence” is, after all, but the Latin for foresight. And the provision which God makes is but the result of His vision beforehand of such-and-such a thing as needful to us. Foresight must essentially belong to any true and real Providence.
How far does God’s foresight extend? It extends, we believe, to the entire man and all about him. God ordained of old when we should be born and where and who our parents should be and what our lot in infancy and what our path in youth and what our position in manhood. From the first to the last it has all happened according to the Divine purpose, even as it was ordained by the Divine will. Not only the man but all that concerns the man, is foreordained of the Lord— “The very hairs of your head,” that is to say, all that which has anything to do with you, which comes into any kind of contact with you and is in any sense part and parcel of yourself, is under the Divine foresight and predestination.
Everything is in the Divine purpose, and has been ordered by the Divine wisdom—all the events of your life—the greater, certainly—the smaller, with equal certainty. It is impossible to draw a line in Providence and say this is arranged by Providence and that is not. It must take everything in its sweep, all that happens. It determines not only the movement of a star but the blowing of a grain of dust along the public road. All this, from the very nature of the thing, is clear. God’s Providence knows nothing of things so little as to be beneath its notice, nothing of things so great as to be beyond its control. Nothing is too little or too great for God to rule and overrule.
ALL that a man undergoes is also ordained of Heaven. The hairs of your head, should they turn white in a single night by grief, will not do so without Divine permission. Should you be spared till every hair constitutes a part of the crown of glory of your old age, you shall not be older than God wills. You shall neither die before your time, nor live beyond it. All that concerns you, I say, from first to last, all that is of you and in you and around you—
“All shall come and last and end,
As shall please your heavenly Friend.”
“The very hairs of your head are all numbered.”
And this is what I call your attention to—what is the source of this numbering? It is not that they are all numbered by some recording angel who is set to do the work. It may be so but that is not the thing we have to consider tonight. This numbering is done by your Father, who is in Heaven. The ordinances that rule your life are in His hands. Unto Him belong the issues from death. And this makes it to be such a happy fact. FATE IS HARD AND CRUEL. BUT PREDESTINATION IS FATHERLY AND WISE AND KIND. The wheels of Providence are always high and terrible. But they are full of eyes, and those eyes look with the clear sight of wisdom and righteousness and love—and they look towards the good of them that love God and are the called according to His purpose.
Terrible, indeed, it is to think of things as fixed by an eternal plan. But the terror is taken from it when we feel that we are children of this great Father and that He wills nothing but what shall, in the end, work out our conformity to the image of His Son and display the glory of His own righteousness and Divine Grace and Truth. Dear Friend, perhaps you are blind! You will feel sweet content in the dark when you can say, “This blindness was determined of my tender and loving Father. I know it was so, since the very hairs of my head are all numbered.”
The practical outcome of all this, to every Christian, should be just this, “If it is so, that all things in my life are ordered of God, even to the hairs of my head, then let me learn submission. Let me bow before the Supreme will which ought to have its way. Though it cost me many a tear and many a pang, yet will I never be content until I can say, ‘Father, Your will be done.’ ”
Therefore, let us come to this—if even the very hairs of our head are all numbered, if everything is really ordained of the Most High concerning His people—let us rejoice in the Divine appointment and take it as it comes and praise His name, whether our allotment is rough or smooth, bitter or sweet. Let us cheerfully say, “If the Lord wills it then we will it, too. If He has purposed it, even so let it be, since all things work together for good to them that love God, even to them that are called according to His purpose.”
HERE IS KNOWLEDGE—God’s intimate knowledge of His people. “The very hairs of your head are all numbered.” Observe what a full knowledge God has of each one of His children. If there were nobody else in the world except you—and God had nothing else to do but to think of you. If there were no objects of His attention beyond yourself and His eternal mind had no object of consideration but you, only, the Lord would not then know more about you than He does now. The omniscience of God is concentrated upon every single being and yet it is not divided by the multiplicity of its objects. It is not the less upon any single one because there are so many.
How it should astonish us that the Lord knows us at this moment so intimately as to count every hair of our heads! The knowledge which the Lord has concerning His people is most minute and takes in those small matters which men set down as unconsidered trifles. He knows what you and I hardly wish to know—He knows that which we may be content to leave unknown—“The very hairs of your head are all numbered.”
He knows us better than our friends know us. Many a man has a kind friend who knows his affairs most accurately, but even such a familiar acquaintance has never counted the hairs of his head. No man’s wife has done that, nor even the doctor who has, by his long attendance upon us, become aware of the condition and health of every part of our body. GOD KNOWS US BETTER THAN WE KNOW OURSELVES. Nobody knows how many hairs he has upon his own head. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered by One who knows us better than we know ourselves. God knows matters about us that we could not of ourselves discover. There are secrets of the heart which are unknown even to ourselves but they are not secrets to Him. His penetrating knowledge reaches to the most hidden things of life and spirit.
What perfect consecration we ought to maintain! If God so values me, so knows me, that He counts the very hairs of my head, ought I not to give to God my whole self even to the minutest detail? Should I not give Him not merely my head but my hair, as that penitent woman did, who unbound her tresses that she might make a towel of them, to wipe the feet that she had washed with her tears? Ought we not to consecrate to God the very least things as well as the greater things? Is it not written, “Whether therefore you eat, or drink, or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God”? “You are not your own, you are bought with a price”—and when the inventory was taken, the Lord did not leave a hair of your head out of the catalog.
Now, thirdly and very briefly—Does not this text express VALUATION? “The very hairs of your head are all numbered.” It seems, then, that lowly saints are exceedingly precious to their Lord. The whole of Christ’s flock on earth were very poor people. If they had a boat and a few nets, it was all they were worth. If anybody had seen Christ in His little Church on earth, he would have said, “There is not a respectable person among them.” That is how we talk nowadays. As if it were respectable to have money. As if respect did not belong to character but only to possessions. Yet those twelve poor men HE picked out and He thought so much of them that He numbered the hairs of their heads.
Yonder is a poor old man in the aisle and he has a fustian jacket on. Never mind his fustian jacket—the very hairs of his head are all numbered. Yonder is a poor old woman just come out of the workhouse and she loves to hear the Gospel. She is such a very poor old woman that nobody likes to invite her into a pew. I speak to the shame of such pride. She is one of Christ’s saints and saintship is a patent of nobility. If you sold a farm you might count the trees but not the boughs and the leaves. But if you sold a jeweler’s shop, you would count all the pins and all the diamond rings, because everything is precious there. Now God reckons everything about His people to be so precious that He even takes stock of the hairs of their heads.
The Lord set such a value on His children that He gave His Son Jesus Christ to die rather than He would lose one of them. And Jesus Himself chose to die on the Cross that none of His little ones should perish. Oh, the value and the preciousness of a child of God! Worlds would not serve for pence to be the basis of the valuation. Let us prize the people of God very highly, feeling as the Psalmist did when he said, “O God, You are my God—my goodness extends not to You. But to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent in whom is all my delight.”
Lastly, here is PRESERVATION. See how carefully God intends to preserve His own people, since He begins by counting the hairs of their heads. I say it, for there is Scripture at the back of my assertion, that none of the people of God shall suffer in the long run the smallest loss. “There shall not a hair of your head perish,” said Christ to His believing people. If I were to lose a hair from my head, I should not know it—should you? But God would know if His servants lost a hair of their heads and He makes the promise to them of such complete protection that there shall not a hair of their head perish. Remember that other text, “The Lord keeps all His bones, not one of them is broken.”
Now, a Christian man may break the bones of his body but in a real and spiritual sense he is free from such danger, God will keep him—yes, keep him to all eternity! “There shall not a hoof be left behind,” said Moses to Pharaoh and there shall not a bone, nor a piece of a bone of the ransomed, be left in the dominion of death and the grave. When the trumpet shall sound, the whole of redeemed manhood shall start into life. When Peter came out of prison, the angel smote him, and his chains fell off and he came out of prison but he did not quit till he had put on his sandals. He did not leave even a pair of old shoes for Herod and his jailers.
So shall it be with the children of God at last—“from beds of dust and silent clay,” when the angel’s trumpet shall ring out, they shall arise and they shall leave nothing behind. They shall not leave an essential particle in the tomb. They shall rise, body, soul and spirit completely redeemed of the Lord. “The very hairs of your head are all numbered.” Christ knows what He has bought and He will have it. Even to the last atom He will have that which He has purchased. We shall not enter into our new life maimed or having one eye. He will preserve His people in their entirety, and present them, “without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.”
Therefore, comfort one another with these words and go quietly, patiently, happily, joyfully through the world, under Divine preservation, since “the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”