“Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.”
THERE are wonderful harmonies in nature. Voices call to one another across vast spaces. The depths below the firmament call to the heights above. The deep of the ocean calls to the deep of the azure sky. Listen, O my soul, to the mighty voices sounding ever through the universe of God.
The deep of Divine Redemption calls to the deep of human need. — It sometimes seems as though the opposite were true, and as though the cry originated in man; but it is not so. God is always first; and as He looks into hearts stricken and desperate, conscious of unfathomable yearnings, and infinite capacity, He calls aloud, and the depth of His heart appeals to the depth of the heart of man.
Would that it might ever answer back!
The deep of Christ’s wealth calls to the deep of the saint’s poverty. — He looks down upon our attenuated and poverty-stricken experience with an infinite yearning. He cannot endure that we should go through life naked and miserable, poor and blind, when He has got gold, and precious stones, and white raiment.
“Hear, O my people, and I will testify unto thee: O Israel, if thou wilt hearken unto me; There shall no strange god be in thee; neither shalt thou worship any strange god. I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.” (Psalm 81:8-10)
The deep of the Holy Spirit’s intercession calls to the deep of the Church’s prayer. — He awakens in us groanings that cannot be uttered, and burdens us with the will of God.
Whatever depths there are in God, they appeal to corresponding depths in us. And whatever be the depths of our sorrow, desire, or necessity, there are correspondences in God from which full supplies may be obtained. Thou hast the pitcher of faith, and the well is deep.
“Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God my God.”
WHAT a change within the soul one short hour spent in God’s presence will prevail to make! The psalmist is opposed by an ungodly nation, and resisted by a deceitful and unjust man.
He mourns because of the oppression of the enemy; he questions whether God has cast him off. Then led by those twin angels, Light and Truth, commissioned and sent forth for that purpose from the presence of God, he enters in thought and spirit within the precincts of the Divine Tabernacle, and stands before the Altar. Immediately the clouds break. Putting his puny hand upon the great God, he appropriates all He is and has, as though it were his own, and takes again, in a very ecstasy of realizing faith, his harp, too long silent, and breaks into rapturous melody.
Have you not sometimes groped in the dark, till those two angels have come to lead you also to the altar where the High Priest stands? Then what a change! Your circumstances have not altered, but you have conceived a new idea of what God can be to you. You have said, This God is my God for ever and ever. You have said, O
God, my God! You have laid your hand on God’s wealth and called it all your own. You have chided your soul for being disquieted and depressed whilst such a heritage is yours. You have spoken of God, first as the God of your strength; secondly, as the gladness of your joy; thirdly, as the health of your face.
“Why, therefore, should we do ourselves this wrong, Or others — that we are not always strong, That we are ever overborne with care, That we should ever weak and heartless be, Anxious or troubled when with us is prayer, And joy and strength and courage are with Thee?”
“Thou art my King, O God: command deliverances for Jacob.”
BEFORE a man can say that God is his King, he must have very definitely consecrated himself to God. The relation of too many believers to Christ falls short of this supreme act of the soul; and in consequence their lives lack directness, power, victory over temptation. My reader, thou hast been sorely tried by overmastering temptations before which thy resolutions have been swept as children’s sand-heaps by the tide. Wilt thou quietly consider whether from the very depth of thy being thou hast ever said to God, Thou art my King. The kingship of Jesus is always associated with victory; and just as soon as His supremacy is acknowledged, He will begin to command deliverance and victory.
Behold, thy King cometh to thee, having salvation. Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and the King of Glory shall come in; but He is also the merciful Savior. Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Savior. It is always Prince first. If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, thou shalt be saved.
What a battle-shout this is! Whenever temptation is near; when the foe seems about to take the citadel by assault; when heart and flesh quail before the noise of battle — then to look up to the living Christ, and say, Thou art my King, O Son of God: command victory! There is no devil in hell but would flee before that cry of the tempted and tried believer; and God could not be neglectful of such an appeal. Jacob is only a worm; yet even he is more than a conqueror when God fights for him. It is thus that Jacob Behmen begins one of his letters: “May the Overcomer, Jesus Christ, through Himself, over come in as all His enemies.”
“My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.”
THIS dignifies the meanest occupation. By this motive the apostles urged their converts to daily duty, slaves though they were in the houses of rich and godless owners. They were taught to look upon their lot as the will of God; and to do service as unto the Lord, and not unto men, seeking the praise of God as their sufficient reward.
As we take in hand the bits of carved work which once stood high in the cathedral roof, but now lie almost hidden by rank vegetation, and consider the exquisite carving, which the artists never thought would be so minutely inspected, we feel that each unknown craftsman did his work for the King. There is no doubt that the religious intention of their work elevated their meanest toils to the level of sacred service. Let us endeavour each day to realize that everything may be done for Jesus which may be done at all. Do you take food? It is that the body may be deft and quick to execute his purposes. Do you rest and seek recreation? It is that your energies may be recuperated, and that the tide of nervous power may return with fresh vigor. Do you manufacture, buy and sell, advise and preach? All may be inspired by the one purpose, that His will may be done, His kingdom come — which is righteousness, peace, and goodwill to men.
Such a life, however, is only possible when the heart overflows, bubbles up and over, with goodly matter. The heart must always be in contact with the fervent love of Christ. It is only as the Divine heat passes into us that the affections will boil up and overflow in holy act. Let us make the things about the King before we speak them. Let us give time to muse, that the fire may burn.
“He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.” “MY soul is among lions: and I lie even among them that are set on fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword.” (Psalm 57:4)
Such is the frequent confession of the child of God. Hemmed in by foes, the butt of vehement hate! But the moment comes at length when God arises to deliver. He utters His voice — the earth melts. In the night the enemy has wrapped up his tents and stolen silently away. War has ceased, and all the land of life lies plain and open.
God makes the wars of the outward life cease, so that as life’s afternoon comes the man who had fought his way through overwhelming odds — as a reformer, or inventor, or philanthropist — spends his years amid troops of friends and loving recognition.
God makes the wars of the home cease, so that the disturbing elements pass out, or are transmuted by invincible patience and love.
God makes the wars of the heart cease, so that Satan no longer annoys. The storm dies down, and the river which makes glad the city of God purls quietly through the soul. Sennacherib and his vast army lie as the leaves of autumn, silent in the last sleep.
If as yet God has not made your wars to cease, it is because He knows that you have still strength to fight on. Do not faint in the day of battle. Ponder those great words of Cromwell: “Call not your burden sad or heavy, for if your Heavenly Father sent it (or permitted it) He intended it to be neither.” It is through the fight that you are winning experience, strength, the approval of your Captain, and the crown.
“He shall choose our inheritance for us, the excellency of Jacob whom he loved. Selah.”
“CHOOSE for us, our Father.” We say it deliberately. If were to give us our choice at this moment, though there is no one of us that does not cherish a secret longing too deep for words, we would put it back into His hand and say, “Thou knowest better than words can tell Thee what lies closest to our soul, but we dare not take the opportunity of snatching at it; Thou wilt give it or its equivalent in the sweetest form and at the most opportune hour.”
Would not this be the wisest attitude for any one of us to assume, believing, as we do, that our Father’s wisdom is only outshone by His love?
Wilt thou, O soul of man, standing at the foot of the Hill of God, ask thy Father to choose the track? He knows thy strength and powers of endurance; He knows also thy ardent yearning for the best. Subordinate thy choice to His in all things. Then whatever the difficulties may prove to be, dare to believe that they are less than any that would have opposed thee hadst thou chosen the route for thyself. Never look back; never doubt thy Father’s personal interest; the clouds that sweep darkly over thy path may hide Him from thee, but not thee from Him.
And thou, who hast had much experience of God, wilt thou not still say, He shall choose? Thou canst not repent the trust which thou reposedst years ago in His selection. Thou wilt not withdraw thy confidence. For evermore, whatever life may bring here or hereafter, we will cry, He shall choose, He shall choose. As Nicholas Herman said: “Pains and sufferings would be a paradise to me which I should suffer with my God; and the greatest pleasures hell, if I could relish them without Him.”
“Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces; that ye may tell it to the generation following.”
THE pious Jew broke into exclamations as he considered the beloved city of his fathers. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth. In proud confidence he challenged the world of men to walk about Zion, count her towers, and mark her bulwarks.
Finally they were to traverse her palaces. But what Jerusalem was to the Jews, God’s lovingkindness is to us, as we think of it, in the midst of His temple. Let us consider its beauty and joy, its strength and glory. “For how great is his goodness, and how great is his beauty!” (Zechariah 9:17)
Traverse the rooms in the Palace of God’s love — that council-chamber of the eternal foreknowledge where we were chosen in Christ; this suite of apartments, which began with the disrobing-room of Bethlehem, and ended with the golden stairway of Olivet; those mansions of the Home-land which He is preparing for them that love Him; the pavilion whither He will lead His bride where He comes to take her to Himself: then look onward to the new heaven and the new earth, where God shall spread His tabernacle over His people, and all our loftiest ideals will be realized for evermore.
Life is a traversing of the successive rooms of the Palace of Love. They are not alike: each has its own beauty; each leads to something better; in each God is All. Some seem to pass through the rooms veiled or blind; others miss seeing the King. But those who dare to look for Him everywhere, find Him. Always our Christ forever and ever; always our Guide even unto death, and beyond.
Always the present opening to something better, as the rosebud to the rose; as the acorn to the oak; as the chrysalis to the butterfly.