"My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God,"
—Ps. xlii. 2.
This is the cry of the living soul to a
living God, from the midst of a dying and dead world. Sometimes we
are peculiarly impressed with the sense of vanity in all around;
with the feeling that there is nothing satisfying, nothing stable and
enduring under the sun. But this is not of itself sufficient to make us
long after-God ; the poet truly says,
"'Tis, by comparison, an easy task
Earth to despise; but to converse with Heaven,
This is not easy!"
It is not simply "not easy," it is even impossible,
unless we follow God, who draws our hearts upwards, and reveals Himself
to us as the light and life and salvation of our souls. And this is the
Psalmist's experience; he knows God, therefore he thirsts for God; he
thirsts not after religion merely, nor the ordinances of
religion; these can only lead to God, they cannot satisfy the soul's
deep thirst as the " living God" alone can do. Let me cherish and
strive to have intense desires after God, not content unless I
have every day something of the Psalmist's feeling of thirsting
for the living God. They who so thirst shall assuredly be filled!
"I thirst, but not as once I did,
The vain delights of earth to share;
Thy wounds, Emmanuel, all forbid
That I should seek my pleasures there.
It was the sight of Thy dear cross
First wean'd my soul from earthly things,
And taught me to esteem as dross
The mirth of fools and pomp of kings."
"But Zion said, The Lord hath forsaken me, and my
Lord hath forgotten me."—Isa. xlix. 14.
' How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? for
ever?"—Ps. xiii. 1.
''Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in
anger shut up his tender mercies?"—Ps. lxxvii. 9.
The wail of Zion, the complaint of David, may still
be often heard among the people of God. Among the people of God,
I say; for it is not the wicked who cry in such tones of bitter
anguish, " How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord?" It is the child, not
the stranger, who weeps when he cannot find his father, nor see his
countenance of love. It is he who has known the goodness of the Lord
that mourns the loss of His favour, as if the sun were quenched in the
heavens. Deep and long afflictions may lead to this sad temptation,
especially the affliction of bodily sufferings, for the body weighs down
the mind in many a mysterious way; but whether produced by such means or
not, the temptation is one of the sorest that can possibly beset the
Christian, and calls for the tenderest sympathy and prayers of his
happier brethren. One would think that the answer of the Lord to His
afflicted Zion would be enough to silence for ever such a complaint, and
to shew the mourner that he dishonours his God by even supposing that
He can forget. "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she
should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget,
yet will I not forget thee!" Lord, keep me from either forgetting Thee,
or ever thinking myself forgotten by Thee! The sun clearly shines,
though my eyes, dimmed by tears, may discern but a luminous mist.
But with "the Father of lights is no variableness, neither shadow of
"Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord
said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told
thee what thou must do,"—Acts ix. 6.
If we are indeed sincere in asking this most
important question, God will not leave us unanswered, though, perhaps,
He may not at once reveal His will concerning us, but may give us, as a
test of obedience, some duty to perform as simple as that which He gave
first of all to the newly-awakened Saul of Tarsus—"Arise, and go into
the city." How apt are we to think that we must do some great thing for
Christ, while, perhaps, we are neglecting some very obvious though lowly
duty which lies close to our feet. Again, how ready are we to look at
our neighbours, and think what would be the right thing for them
to do, instead of saying, " "What wilt thou have me to do?"
Truly, there would be fewer doubts about the way if there were more
sincerity in asking and following it; and there would be fewer falls in
the Christian's journey if he would be content to perform it step by
step, the nearest duty first, and all for the Lord's sake, so as to make
of each in its turn a practical answer to the question here asked.
"Oh, that I were an orange tree,
That busie plant!
Then should I ever laden be,
And never want
Some fruit for Him that dressed me!"
"And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in
the midst of them, and saith unto them,
Peace be unto you."—Luke xxiv. 36.
What a blessed salutation! Peace from Him who alone
can give it. Peace purchased by Him with His own blood. Peace for time
and for eternity. What a depth of peace lies in these words! He
had won the victory; the agony, the bitter cross, the dark, cold grave
were all behind Him now. He had risen and conquered, and the first
pledge of His triumph bestowed on His Church lay in His first greeting,
"Peace!" Yes, those whose sins are nailed to the cross, who have died
with Him unto sin, have peace; a peace that the world knows not
of, and can neither give nor take away. O Jesus, cause me to hear Thy
peace-speaking voice! Suffer me not to disregard its gentle accents
amidst the turmoil of this world's vanities. Enable me to meditate on
Thy peace, and on all that Thou hast done to bestow it; and may my
whole soul expand with love to Thee, who hast so loved our guilty world
as to make thine own self an offering, that we might possess peace with
"Sweet the moments, rich in blessing,
Which before the Cross I spend,
Life and death and peace possessing,
From the sinner's dying Friend."
"Let your loins be girded about, and your lights
burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their Lord,
when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and
knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those
servants, whom the Lord, when he cometh, shall find watching." —Luke
Love is the best watcher : love will keep the heart
awake and the light burning for the Lord; but if we suffer the love of
the world, and that spirit of indifference which so surely accompanies
it, to take possession of us, there will be no watching, no longing
for His appearing. When we think of all that our Lord has done for
us, and of all the ties by which He has bound us to Himself, it seems
strange that we should need such a warning as this: it seems as if it
should be impossible for us to forget Him, and cease to watch for Him
"more than they that watch for the morning." But, alas! our hearts are
so prone to turn aside, that not only is the warning constantly needed,
but it is also constantly disregarded, and we require to pray earnestly
for a watchful and tender spirit, ready to take alarm at the least trace
of coldness and carelessness. He will come, however long He may
delay! He will come suddenly, however marked the signs of the
times may be! Oh, that I may be found among those blessed ones whom, in
that day, He shall find watching! I know that my spirit is willing, but
let me never forget that my flesh is weak!
"Waiting for the Lord's returning,
Be it ours His word to keep;
Let our lamps be always burning,
Let us watch while others sleep.
We 're no longer of the night;
We are children of the light."
"And when He had looked round about on them with
anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts."—Mark
"And, looking up to heaven, He sighed."—Mark
"And He sighed deeply in His spirit, and
saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign?" —Mark
How affecting are these glimpses of the feelings of
the Holy Jesus in our unholy world ! They reveal one of the deepest
sorrows of the Man of Sorrows, the sorrow of beholding sin, of seeing
his Father's name dishonoured among His brethren whom He loved.
We can, in some sense, enter into this, by knowing how painful it is to
a child of God to he cast among sinners, and these his own brothers and
sisters in the flesh! But what are our feelings, poor sinners as we
ourselves are, compared to those which affected the pure soul of Jesus!
He could look into the hearts of those around Him, which we cannot do.
And, oh, what revelations of sin must He have seen there! What unbelief
among His own disciples! What godlessness among even the most seeming
virtuous of the Pharisees by whom He was surrounded! I marvel at the
patience of the Lord; at the long-suffering which endured such
contradiction of sinners against Himself; and at the tender pity which
healed all, even of that evil generation, who came to Him. What an
example is here for us! O Lord, make me to learn patience from
Thee, by learning Thy love!
"If He the scorn of wicked men
With patience did sustain,
Becomes it those for whom
He died To murmur and complain?"
"For the transgression of my people was He
stricken."—Isa. liii. 8.
"Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at
all against me, except it were given thee from above."—John xix. 11.
It was not Pilate nor Herod, the Jews nor the Romans,
that caused His cruel death,—" for the transgression of my people
was He stricken;" centuries before had these words been uttered, which
the fulness of time at last brought to pass. The Holy One who stood
before that guilty, trembling, vacillating judge, knew that His hour was
come, and met it in all its agonies, going like a lamb to the
slaughter—going willingly, meekly, unresistingly, to be made a ransom
for us. 0 Redeemer of the world, teach us aright to meditate on Thy
wondrous work of redemption; teach us to follow Thee, in thought, to the
garden, to the judgment-hall, and, lastly, to the hitter cross; trying
to bring these dark hours before our minds, so that we may know
something of the might of that love that bore Thee through them all.
Then shall we see something of the exceeding evil of sin, when we
consider it in the light of the sufferings it caused to Thee!
"All ye that pass by,
To Jesus draw nigh;
To yon is it nothing that Jesus should die?
Your ransom and peace,
Your surety He is;
Come, see if there ever was sorrow like His!"