“My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.”
THIS is a marvelous saying. Literally rendered, the words are, “cleaves after Thee” — contact and eager pursuit. The metaphor which underlies it is obviously borrowed from the psalmist’s familiarity with the wilderness. It is a dry and thirsty land, where no water is: one says that he knows of a secret spring, whose waters are clear and cool, and offers to lead the thirsty one to its margin, lined with mosses and grasses. Instantly the soul starts in pursuit, and follows hard on the footsteps of the pioneer.
So when we are athirst for God, He comes, and, in the person of Jesus, leads us to Himself. He is Guide and Guerdon, Prompter of the impulse, and Promoter of its satisfaction. He excites the desire, offers to show us its sufficient supply, and finally brings us to his own lovingkindness, which is better than life. It becomes us, then, to follow hard after Him. Let us do as Jonathan’s armour-bearer, to whom the young prince said, Come up after me. And Jonathan climbed up upon his hands and feet, and his armor-bearer after him, and the Philistines fell before Jonathan, and his armour-bearer slew after him.
Follow hard after Christ, over hedge and ditch, through stubble and gorse, across dyke and brook, sometimes down the steep fall into the hollow, and again breasting the mountain slope, in the teeth of the pitiless blast. He has left an example that we should follow His steps. The scent lies lightly; catch it ere it fade. What though the fresh blood marks the track — follow hard! Follow on to apprehend that for which thou wast apprehended. Press toward the mark. Let there be no needless space between the Master and thee.
“The righteous shall be glad in the LORD, and shall trust in him; and all the upright in heart shall glory.”
ARE you glad in your Christian life? Gladness is the perquisite of children and childlike hearts, and there is nothing which is more distinctively characteristic of the work of grace in the heart than Christian gladness. The world may simulate it, but it is conscious of its dreary failure. Often faded worldlings will come to the true Christian, saying, What is the secret of your perennial gladness?
The glad heart is conscious of the love of God; knows that it is reconciled through the blood of the cross; realizes that there is nothing between itself and the light of the Father’s smile; is conscious of rectitude in intention and tenderness of yearning love and pity. In every difficult circumstance it recognizes the Father’s appointment; in every archipelago of rocks it is aware of the presence of God aboard the vessel, holding the helm and keeping the keel in the deepest current.
O souls, get right with God! avail yourselves of the perfect righteousness of Christ; watch that there be nothing between you and Him; walk in the light as He is in the light; cultivate the habit of considering what has been given rather than what has been withheld — and you will find that He will make you glad in proportion to the days in which He has afflicted you, and the years in which you have seen evil. The sad heart tires in a mile. The glad one mounts up with wings as eagles. After his vision Jacob “went on his journey, and came into the land of the people of the east” (Genesis 29:1) “Oh for the joy thy presence gives— What peace shall reign when Thou art here!
Thy presence makes this den of thieves A calm, delightful house of prayer.”
“Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple.”
I WOULD be one of those favoured ones, my Savior. There is nothing that the heart can conceive, which is to be compared with this blessedness. The light of nature, the joy of friendship, the fascination of art and books, can give no such delight as this approach unto Thee, this dwelling in thy courts. But the longer I know myself, the surer I am that Thou must cause me to approach, that Thou must put forth extraordinary means for making me dwell.
So cause me to approach that I may dwell.
When thy soul has put up such a prayer as this, be sure that an answer will come. Thou mayest be brought nigh by an invisible but all-penetrating attraction, as when the sun draws the earth, or the magnet the needle: or perhaps God will answer thee by terrible things in righteousness. There will be deep humiliations, solemn heart-searchings, sharp crucifixions, cherished purposes thwarted, the keenest pain, the most searching fire. But through all, there will come a growing tenderness and desire.
It was said by the late Mr. Spurgeon that he was not conscious of spending a quarter of an hour of his waking moments without a distinct recognition of the presence of God. And this will be true of us if we will trust the great High Priest to bring us within the vail, and keep us there. He entered that we may enter. He abides that we may abide. He stands in the Holiest that He may cause us to have a place of access among those that stand before the face of God. The anointing which we receive from Him will teach us how to abide.
This may well be adopted as a life-prayer: “Cause me to approach, that I may dwell in thy presence.”
“For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried.”
SILVER is tried by fire, and the heart by pain. “We went through fire.” (Psalm 66:12) But in the fire thou shalt not be burned; only thy dross shall be removed. The smell of burning shall not pass upon thee, for the form of the Son of God shall be at thy side.
“Be still, and He shall mould thee for his heritage of rest; The vessel must be shapen for the joys of Paradise.
And if the great Refiner in furnaces of pain Would do his work more truly, count all his dealings gain.”
The main end of our life is not to do, but to become. For this we are being molded and disciplined each hour. You cannot understand why year after year the stern ordeal is perpetuated; you think the time is wasted; you are doing nothing. Yes, but you are situated in the set of circumstances that gives you the best opportunity for manifesting, and therefore acquiring, the qualities in which your character is naturally deficient. And the Refiner sits patiently beside the crucible, intent on the process, tempering the heat, and eager that the scum should pass off, and his own face become perfectly reflected in the surface.
Only be satisfied, with Archbishop Leighton, that nothing can befall thee but what has first passed concerning thee in the courts of heaven. And say with the saintly Fletcher: “I felt the will of my God like unto a soft pillow, upon which I could lie down and find rest and safety in all circumstances. Oh, it is a blessed thing to sink into the will of God in all things. Absolute resignation to the Divine will baffles a thousand temptations; confidence in our Savior carries us sweetly through a thousand trials.”
“God shall bless us; and all the ends of the earth shall fear him.”
THIS psalm is full of yearnings for the salvation of mankind. The selfish desire for the exclusive blessing of the chosen people is lost sight of in the catholic yearning that all the earth should fear Jehovah. Indeed, this is the ground on which the psalmist rests his personal claim for the Divine blessing. It is as though he said, “We only ask for gifts of grace, that through us they may be transmitted to all mankind.” Turn us again, O God, that times of refreshing may come from thy presence to all men; our one desire is that the peoples may praise Thee.
We are reminded of those noble words of Andrew Fuller, to whom the initiation of modern missions to the heathen is so largely due: “We met and prayed for the heathen. We were drawn out of ourselves. God blessed us while we tried to be a blessing. Our hearts were enlarged, and we were baptized into a deeper sympathy with the soul-saving purposes of the Redeemer.”
Are we infected with this noble passion? Do we echo from our hearts the repeated prayer of this psalm: “Let all the people praise Thee”? (Psalm 67:3, 5) Do we ask for blessing from our own God, that we may be able to be a greater blessing to others? It is because God is “our own God,” (Psalm 67:6) that we are so anxious to make Him known. Oh that we might be carried out to sea on the tide of God’s purposes, and yearnings, and pity; and long as the psalmist did that his saving health might be known among all nations!
“Whoso hath felt the Spirit of the Highest, Cannot confound, nor doubt Him, nor deny; Yea, with one voice, O world, though thou deniest, Stand thou on that side, for on this am I”
“Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.”
NEVER tired or out of patience, that mighty God, of whose advent the psalmist is so full, daily bends beneath our burdens, and sets Himself to help us through crushing difficulties. They are unbearable to us, but to Him only a very little thing. If He taketh up the isles as a very little thing, surely your heaviest burden must be less.
But our mistake is that we do not realize that God is bearing our burdens. We think that we must cope with them; we let ourselves worry, as though we were the loneliest, most deserted, most pitiable beings in existence, when all the while God is going beside, ready to bear our burdens. The burden of our sins; of our anxieties about ourselves, and about others; of our frailties and infirmities; the responsibility of keeping us; the pressure of our daily need — all these rest daily on our God.
“’Tis enough that He should care;
Why should we the burden bear!”
Oh, do not carry your burdens for a single moment longer; pass them over to Him who has already taken your eternal interests to His heart. Only be patient, and wait on Him, and do not run to and fro seeking for help from man, or making men your consolers and confidants. Those who do this have their reward. But as for you, anoint your head and wash your face, so as not to excite the pity of others. “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (1
Peter 5:7) But, when it has been cast, leave it with Him. Refuse to yield to anxious suggestions, and forthwith burst out into a song of thankful confidence. Bless Him! Praise Him! Be glad, and rejoice!
When the heart is lightened of its load, it will soar.
“Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul.”
MATTERS sometimes become desperate. For days the waters have been out on the lowlying lands, and slowly rising against the embankment, in the shelter of which some house is situated. Now, however, they have undermined and swept it away. With a crash it has fallen into the yellow foaming waters.
A moment’s agitation, and then not a trace of it. There is nothing now to keep back the flood, and it comes into the home, rising stealthily up the walls. In the life of the soul such a crisis comes not infrequently. You have dreaded something, and the cold chill of fear has cast a shudder over you; but surely it could never come to you!
There is that protection, that barrier, of position, money, wealthy friends. But one by one these are swept aside, and the waters come ever nearer, till there is nothing between them and the soul. They come in unto the soul.
It is well for a man to be able then to turn to God with the “Save me” of the psalmist. God must have the entire trust of our soul.
He takes away all that lies between Him and us, that we may hang on Him, and lie naked and open to Him in our utter helplessness.
From the midst of your sorrows, from the deep sin in which you are sinking, from the deep waters that overflow you, cry to God.
He knows your foolishness; your sins are not hid from Him. He will stretch out His right hand and catch you, saying, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” (Matthew 14:31) Then our crying and tears will be turned to joyous shouts. We shall praise the name of God with a song, and magnify Him with thanksgiving; for the Lord heareth the needy, and despiseth not his prisoners (Psalm 69:30, 33).