“For thou hast delivered my soul from death: wilt not thou deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?”
IT has been a wonderful deliverance! The blood and righteousness of Christ have satisfied the demands of a holy law. Into our souls, dead in trespasses and sins, He has poured the power of an endless life. The very life of God Himself has become resident within us, through the grace of the one Man, Christ Jesus. We cannot be hurt by the second death. We have eaten of the flesh, and drunk of the blood of the Son of Man, and ours is the everlasting life. Death and the grave for ever behind us, whilst before is the city, whose streets are never shadowed by death or crying.
And will not God finish what He has begun? Has He given us life, and will He not give us all that is necessary for right and holy living? Does not the one necessarily involve the other, as the gift of the body involves the bestowment of food and clothing? Have we been saved by Christ’s death? Shall we not also be saved by His life? Will it not be for the glory of God that we should walk worthy of the high calling? Trust Him, child of God, whatever the traps and pitfalls, whatever the slipperiness and difficulty of keeping a foothold; believe that He is able to keep you from stumbling, and that His ability is only exceeded by His love. Let your Guide bind you by a strong rope to Himself as you start each morning in His company.
The answer to these reasonings, the fulfillment of our hopes, comes back to us from a verse in Romans 5, as rendered by combining the suggestions of Dr. Moule, and of Conybeare and Howson, “If, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being already reconciled, we shall be kept safe by sharing in his life.”
“I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me.”
IT seemed to David that he was condemned to spend his days in a lion’s den; on every side were blasphemy and reproach; his enemies breathed out flames, and their slanders cut like swords.
But amid it all he steadily looked away to God, the Most High, who from His elevation would reach down to deliver, and would surely accomplish all that was necessary. It is a marvellous thing to consider that God is literally willing to perform all things in us, and for us, if only we will let Him. The mischief is that most of us insist on performing all things in the energy of our own resolve, in the strength of our own power. We shut God out of our life: and whilst He is coming to our help, we have forced ourselves, and offered the sacrifice to our own hurt.
Before, therefore, God will perform all things for us, as He did for His servant, we must learn, like him, to wait in His presence that He may teach us our absolute poverty and helplessness; that He may assure us of our need of absolute and unceasing dependence; that He may open our eyes to see the well-spring which Hagar saw on the desert sand. The fixed heart (Psalm 57:7), fixed only upon God, set upon waiting His time, receiving His help, and doing all things according to the inspiration and energy of His Spirit, is absolutely essential.
Awake the dawn, O child of God (Psalm 57:8). Give thanks to God: sing His praises (Psalm 57:9): let thy aspiration be for His exaltation (Psalm 57:5, 11): let thy heart be fixed in its resolve to take deliverance from none other — and He will send forth His twin-angels, Mercy and Truth (Psalm 57:3). They will come, even into the lion’s den, and save thee from those who would swallow thee up (Psalm 57:4).
“So that a man shall say, Verily there is a reward for the righteous: verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth.”
THIS is one of the imprecatory psalms, and some are seriously disturbed with what seems an unforgiving spirit on the part of the psalmist. We must remember, however, that he was brought up in a severer school than ours. The cliffs of Sinai are sterner than the undulations of the mountain of Beatitudes. He was impressed more by the righteousness and less by the love of God than we are. The true key to the solution of the difficulty which these words suggest is in the words quoted above, which show his zeal for the character of Jehovah.
We must remember that the great conflict of his time was — why the wicked were permitted to flourish. Their success seemed to suggest that God was indifferent to sin. The book of Job is filled with controversy on the same theme: its chapters are filled with reasonings how God could be just, and allow the wicked to prosper, whilst the righteous suffered sore affliction. The psalmist, therefore, pleads that the wicked should be taken away with a whirlwind, that men may be compelled to admit that there is a God that judgeth. Let wicked men be put to shame and punished, then surely men will seek after righteousness because of the immunity it secures and the blessedness it offers.
Yes, child of God, there is a reward for thee. It is not in vain that thou hast washed thy hands in innocency. But it will not come in the coinage of honour of this age, else it would be evanescent and perishable. God is already giving thee of the eternal and divine — peace, joy, blessedness; and one day thou shalt be fully vindicated.
“Perhaps the cup was broken here --
That Heaven’s new wine might show more clear.”
Psalm 59:9, 17
“Because of his strength will I wait upon thee: for God is my defence. ... Unto thee, O my strength, will I sing: for God is my defence, and the God of my mercy.”
THIS contrast comes out in exquisite beauty. First, the soul waits upon God, its strength; and then to Him who had been its strength, it breaks into praise.
Notice the circumstances in which this psalm was composed.
Around the house lurk Saul’s emissaries, gathering themselves together against him. At any moment they threaten to break in and murder him upon the psalmist’s bed. Michal and he are reduced to their last straits, yet the hunted man finds opportunity to wait upon God. It is not that he asks for aught as a definite gift; but he waits on God Himself, still expectant, eager. There are times when we cannot tell God what He should do; we can only hush our soul, as a mother her babe, and wait patiently until He tells us what He has prepared.
Meditate on these three attributes. He is the God of your mercy, the Fountain from which pure mercy flows, and nothing but mercy; He is your High Tower, whom you may put between yourself and Saul’s hate; He is your Strength, not that you receive strength from Him, but that you appropriate Him as your strength. Stay thus musing and resting, until in that very house, pent in and besieged, you shall break into song, singing of God’s strength, singing aloud of His mercy in the morning.
There are many beleaguered souls in the world, who have learnt to put God between themselves and their besiegers, and to sing to Him.
“For the glory and the passion of this midnight I praise Thy Name, I give thee thanks, O Christ!
Thou hast neither failed me nor forsaken Through these hard hours with victory overpriced; Now that I too of Thy passion have partaken, For the world’s sake, called—elected—sacrificed.”
“O God, thou hast cast us off, thou hast scattered us, thou hast been displeased; O turn thyself to us again.”
CAST off! There is a sense in which that can never be. God will not cast off from salvation any soul of man that has sheltered under the covert of His Almighty wings. He may withdraw the sensible enjoyment and realization of His presence; but He cannot cast off for ever, in the sense of consigning any fugitive to his foes or to the fate he dreads.
And yet there is a sense in which we are cast off, when we have been unbelieving and disobedient. Allowed to take our own way, that we may learn its bitterness; permitted to hunger and thirst, that we may know how evil a thing it is to seek our supreme good anywhere else than in God; given over to the tender mercies of the gods we have chosen, that we may be taught their helplessness. It was thus that God cast off His people. He showed them hard things, and allowed them to reap as they had sown.
But now they cry for restoration. Put us back, they say, into the old place; be to us what Thou wert, and make us to Thee as we were. Restore us again. He did it for Peter, putting him back to the front place in the Apostolic band; for Mark, allowing him, who had gone back in his first missionary journey, to write a Gospel; for Cranmer and many more, who in the first burst of fiery trial shrank back, but to whom He gave more grace. Believe in the restoring grace of Christ, who not only forgives, but puts back the penitent and believing soul where it was before it fell away. Indeed, it has been suggested that the prodigal fares better on his return than those who do not go astray. It is not really so. But there is much music and song when the lost is found and the dead lives.
“From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”
DAVID is in the wilderness, fleeing from Absalom. It seems to him that he is at the end of the earth. “Love and Longing are potent magnifiers of space.” His soul seems wrapped in gloom; then, from afar, he sees the Rock of his salvation, and asks to be led thither, and set thereon.
Can you not see that rock? All the desert is baking like a furnace.
The very pebbles burn the hand like cinders. Nothing can abide the scorching glare but the little green lizards that dart to and fro among the stones. Sunbeams strike like swords on the head of the luckless travellers that dare to brave their glittering edge. But yonder there is a rock, rising high above the shimmering sands, and casting a deep black shadow on one side. Little lichens hide in its crevices, streaks of vegetation are enameled on its steep surfaces, and at its foot there are even a few rock-plants growing as best they can in the arid soil.
That is the higher rock—the rock higher than the traveler’s stature.
He makes for it; or if he is too faint and overwhelmed, he is led to it, and beneath its gracious shadow finds instant respite and repose.
The shadow of a great rock in a weary land!
Jesus will be all this to thee, dear heart. Thou hast got to the end of the earth and of thyself; call out to Christ, and He will bring thee, faint and ready to die, to Himself as the Shadow from the heat. The Man of men can be this for thee, because He is higher than thou art. Higher than I, because of His Divine origin; higher, because of His perfect obedience; higher, because of His supreme sufferings; higher, because of His ascension to the right hand of power. Yet His side is scarred and cleft.
“Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation.”
DR. Kay gives as the literal translation: “Only toward God my soul is in silence;” or, “Only for God waits my soul all hushed.” The noises of contending desires, the whispers of earthly hopes, are hushed: and the soul listens.
This is the test of true waiting. Wait before God till the voices, suggestions, and energies of nature become silent. Then only can God realize his uttermost of salvation. This was the secret of Abraham’s long trial. He was left waiting till nature was spent, till all expedients proving abortive were surrendered; till all that knew him pitied him for clinging to an impossible dream. But as this great silence fell on him, the evidence of utter helplessness and despair, there arose within his soul an ever-accumulating faith in the power of God; and there was no obstacle to prevent God realizing all, and beyond all, because all the glory accrued to Himself.
This is why God keeps you waiting. All that is of self and nature must be silenced; one voice after another cease to boast; one light after another be put out; until the soul is shut up to God alone. This process prevails equally in respect to salvation from penalty, deliverance from the power of sin, and our efforts to win souls. O my soul, be silent! Hush thee! Wait thou only upon God!
Surrender thy cherished plans and reliances. Only when death has done its perfect work, will He bestow the power of an endless (an indissoluble) life.
“O Lord, my God, do Thou Thy holy will!
I will lie still!
I will not stir, lest I forsake thine arm, And break the charm,
Which lulls me, clinging to my Father’s breast In perfect rest.”