“But I am poor and needy: make haste unto me, O God: thou art my help and my deliverer; O LORD, make no tarrying.”
“MAKE haste!” Our frail patience gives out full often. We think that God is never coming. So many days I have waited for Thee, and as yet there has not been one symptom of Thine approach. Why are Thy chariots so tardy? Lazarus is dying; a few hours more, and life will have ebbed away. Provisions are failing and water is scarce, and still the enemy is entrenched in proud security. The world scoffs; but Thou comest not down the mountain slope, bringing salvation. Where is the Pentecost of which Thou speakest? Where Thy Second Advent?
But God is making haste. On the wings of every hour, quicker than light leaps from world to world, He is on His way. Delays are not denials, but are necessary to the perfecting of his arrangements.
“Behold, I come quickly!” (Revelation 3:11; 22:7; 22:12) is still true, though nineteen hundred years have passed.
We do not wish the destruction of our enemies, but their salvation. We long that God should be magnified, and souls saved.
We yearn for the setting up of the Kingdom of God, which is peace on earth, and blessing. And for this end we desire that God should accelerate His coming. O God, make no tarrying! Thine enemies boast themselves; our spirits faint for fear; men are sinking into perdition. Make haste!
Thy God will not be a moment overdue. When the fourth watch breaks, He will interpose. Not too soon for education; not too late for deliverance. But dare to believe that He is never absent. He is near thee all the while, bending over thee and all men, with tender pity, only waiting till He can see, with infallible wisdom, the best instant to interfere.
“Thou, which hast shewed me great and sore troubles, shalt quicken me again, and shalt bring me up again from the depths of the earth.”
GOD shows us the troubles. We stand beside Him, and the mighty billows break around, but are shivered into myriads of drops. As we ride beside Him in the chariot of salvation, He points out to us the forms of dreaded evils, the ravines, the glaciers, the awful steeps; but it is as though we were cradled in some soft golden cloud which fringes the edge of the precipice, and glides along splintered cliffs where the chamois could not find footing.
Look at this, saith our Guide. These are the troubles that overwhelm souls, and drain their life! Behold them, but thou shalt not suffer them! I show you them that you may know how to comfort and help those who have been overwhelmed. Sometimes, as this part of our education is being carried forward, we have to descend into “the lower parts of the earth,” pass through subterranean passages, lie buried amongst the dead. But never for a moment is the cord of fellowship and union between God and us strained to breaking; and from the depths God will bring us up again.
Never doubt God. Never say that He has forsaken or forgotten.
Never think that He is unsympathetic. He will quicken again. There is always a smooth piece in every skein, however tangled. The longest day at last rings out the evensong. The winter snow lies long, but it goes at last. Be steadfast; your labour is not in vain.
God turns again, and comforts. And when He does, the heart which had forgotten its psalmody breaks out in jubilant song, as does the psalmist’s.
“I will thank Thee with the lyre, even thy truth, my God; I will harp unto Thee with the harp, Thou Holy One of Israel; My lips shall sing aloud when I harp unto Thee, And my soul which Thou hast redeemed.”
“He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth.”
AMOS speaks of the king’s mowings. Our King has many scythes, and is perpetually mowing his lawns. The musical tinkle of the whetstone on the scythe portends the cutting down of myriads of green blades, daisies, and other flowers. Beautiful as they were in the morning, within an hour or two they lie in long, faded rows. Thus in human life we make a brave show, which passes away like the beauty of grass, before the scythe of pain, the shears of disappointment, the sickle of death.
There is no method of obtaining a velvety lawn but by repeated mowings; and there is no way of getting tenderness, evenness, sympathy, but by the passing of God’s scythes. How constantly the Word of God compares man to grass, and his glory to its flower!
But when grass is mown, and all the tender shoots are bleeding, and desolation reigns where flowers were bursting, it is the most acceptable time for showers of rain falling soft and warm.
O soul, thou hast been mown. Time after time the King has come to thee with His sharp scythe. Thou hast sadly learnt that all flesh is grass, and that the efforts of thy self-life are vain. Where are the kingcups and butter-cups of thy pride? They are laid low that thou shouldest bear better crops than ever; and that thou mayest do so, lo, He comes down as spring rain! He comes down; thus you have the miracle of His condescension. He comes down like rain; there you have the manner of His gentle advent. He comes on the mown grass; there is His expectancy, showing that His reason in mowing, followed as it is by the gentle raindrops, lies in the direction of new beauty and use. Do not dread the scythe — it is sure to be followed by the shower.
“Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart.”
GOD is only good. Such is the better rendering of the original.
He makes “all things work together for good to them that love God.” (Romans 8:28) However unlike goodness something in your lot may be, turn from the suggestions of sense to the affirmations of faith, and dare to say,
“His every act pure blessing is,
His path unsullied light.”
Nothing so glorifies God as when a Cowper, rescued from the border of despair, snatched from committing suicide, dares still to cling to his belief in the goodness of God.
Our faith is sometimes assailed, as Asaph’s was, by the anomalies we meet with in the world. The wicked prosper, whilst the waters of a full cup are wrung out to the people of God. The scribes and Pharisees greedily devour widows’ houses, and prey on the helpless; whilst earnest merit seeks for work and recognition in vain. It is a strange world, full of contradictions, perplexities, and insoluble questions; but through it all God’s children must dare to affirm that He is only good. You do not feel it? Nevertheless, reason, Scripture, experience, demand that you should assert it. The fact is, we have lost the standpoint of vision. The psalmist found these things too painful till he went into the sanctuary of God, and then he understood. Do not take earth as the centre of the universe, but the sun. Do not look at God from circumstances, but at circumstances from God. Live continually with Him: then will mystery become unraveled, and dark problems solved. Above all, be pure in heart, free from the stain of sin, with one purpose. Thou shalt see the soul of good in what seems evil.
“Have respect unto the covenant: for the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty.”
WHAT a marvelous ejaculation! Here is a broken heart, pouring out its wail into the ear of God about his sanctuary and city.
His adversaries have broken into the sacred precincts, and have hewn down its exquisitely carved work with hammer and hatchet.
They were as men who lift up the hatchet against a forest of trees.
There is nothing more utterly sad than the lament, “We see not our signs: there is no more any prophet: neither is there among us any that knoweth how long.” (Psalm 74:9) But from it all the suppliant rises to a climax of insistent appeal, and bids God have respect unto the covenant, made centuries before with Abraham and his seed. This was an appeal which struck right home to the heart of God. He could not deny Himself.
Here is an attitude in prayer, which can only be taken when the soul has become intimate with God, and come to close grip with Him. When every other reason has been marshaled, and every argument alleged; when still the answer tarries, and the case is desperate, then turn to God, and say, “Thou canst not run back from the terms of the covenant to which Thou hast pledged Thyself. This is included in the bond of agreement. I claim that Thou shouldst do as Thou hast said.”
The covenant is set out at length in Hebrews 8. It will cover all the exigencies of our lives. And by Galatians 3:14 we may also place ourselves under the provision of the threefold covenant which God ratified with Abraham. In every trial, when desiring any blessing, when the crashing blows of the adversaries’ hatchet are heard, turn to God, and say, “Have respect unto the covenant: ...”
(Psalm 74:20) which Jesus is the Mediator and his blood the seal.
“But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.”
THIS is the psalm of uplifts. Against the uplifts of the wicked, described in the fourth verse, the psalmist contrasts the uplifts of God. They come neither from East nor West, but from above.
God is the supreme arbiter of human destiny. The horns of the wicked are cut off, and those of the righteous are lifted up, by the interpositions of his Providence for God is judge.
Are you depressed today? Look up to Him, and ask that you may be uplifted into fellowship with the risen glorified Lord. The Ascension of our Lord is the measure and example of our own. Are you lying among the pots? Seek for the wings of the dove, that with flitting pinion you may make your way to the Ark, where the hand awaits to take you in. Have you been in the valley of the shadow of death? Claim that the mighty power which wrought in Christ when God raised Him from the dead, and made Him sit in the heavenlies far above all power and principality, may do as much for you.
This is also true in a temporal sense. Promotions in any direction, to positions of credit, influence, or consideration, are the gift and work of God. To be lifted up to a chief place in his Church, to the stewardship of large wealth, to the exercise of commanding influence, is due to the Divine interposition. You do not hold it at the caprice of man, but as the direct bestowment of your Father. Do not fear to lose it because you are true to Him. He expects you to be true to Him. He has put you where you are for no other purpose than that you should realize His purposes among men. “A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.” (John 3:27) But if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory?
“Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain.”
FROM this review of the fate of the foes of Israel, the psalmist comes to this conclusion. He has seen the serried hosts of Sennacherib come up against the city of God, but the warriors have slept their sleep: it was as though the Almighty had snapped the instruments of war across his knee. The wrath of man had been allowed up to a certain point, to bring into clear evidence the greater power of God; and then He had quietly put a term to its further manifestation.
Pharaoh’s wrath against Israel only served to make God’s mighty arm conspicuous. So with Herod, who took Peter to behead him; and with the high priests who fumed against the early Church. So shall it be with the arch-enemy of all. Christ is mightier than he. All he has done has acted as a foil to our Lord’s glorious majesty. What he has wrought against man has only brought out more of the grace and the love of God. So shall it be to the end, when there shall be an eternal limit put to his hellish deeds, for he shall be bound by a great chain and cast into the bottomless pit.
Ah, tried soul, what is permitted to happen in your life will tend ultimately and eternally to the praise and glory of God, if only you will abide in Him, and suffer bravely, nobly, in the grace of Christ. And there always will be a restraint. There will always be a “thus far and no farther.” God’s faithfulness will not let us be tempted above that we are able. When the lesson is learnt, and the opportunity for the revelation of God is complete, and the tried soul is proved to have won as its reward the crown of life, then God will stay the enemy and avenger, and give spoils more glorious than mountains of prey.
“Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known. Thou leddest thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.”
THIS is almost the climax of sublimity, because of the contrast of the majesty and gentleness of God. In the first of these verses you have the former. God is described as wading through mighty oceans as a man might ford some tiny stream. The Atlantic with fathomless depths is no more to Him than a brook to us — not so much. But as the brook hides the footmarks which are imprinted on its soft ooze, so are God’s footprints hidden. We cannot detect His great and wonderful secrets. We are unable to gauge His reasons. He marches through the ages with steps we cannot track.
For His orbit there is no standard of computation.
But dread Him not. This mighty God has the tender heart of a shepherd. He leads His people like a flock; not overdriving, but carrying the lambs in His bosom, and gently leading those that are with young. Mightier than the mightiest, but meeker than the meekest! The Lion of Judah, but the Lamb of Bethlehem! Prince and Savior; Fellow of Jehovah; and yet the smitten Shepherd of the scattered flock!
Nor is this all. It is a human hand that leads the flock. God does His work through the hands of human and fallible agents. You have not recognized Him; but had your eyes been opened, you would have seen His leading in the gentle hand of that mother, in the strong grasp of that friend, in the trembling fingers of that young girl, in the tiny hand of your little babe. Ah, how many good and tender hands have molded and fashioned our lives! — but beneath them all there have been the leadings of the great God, convoying us through deep and dark waters to our fold.