Comfort

After a while, the stream dried up because there had been no rain in the land.

[1 Kgs 17:7 NET]

That is the way this world’s brooks always do. For a time they flow full; then they begin to waste away, and at last dry up altogether. This is true of all earthly joys. There is a comfort, however, in what comes after the statement made in these words. When the brook dried up, God had another place ready for his servant. “Arise, and go to Zarephath.” There he found other help ready.

It must have been a sore test of Elijah’s faith–to watch the stream growing less and less every day. “What shall I do when the brook is dry?” he would wonder. But we need not suppose that he ever worried about it. He knew that God was providing for him, and would have something else ready when this supply ceased. One morning there was no water running over the stones, and the prophet had to eat a dry breakfast only bread and meat; but still, I think he did not grow anxious. Then after breakfast the Lord came and told him to move.

The lesson is, that we are never to doubt God, no matter how low the supply gets. Though we have come down to the last mouthful of bread–and the last cupful of water, and still see no new provision beyond, we are to take the last morsel with thankfulness, believing that God will have something else ready in time. It will be soon enough if it is ready when we have eaten the last crust!

Comfort

Today your own eyes see how the Lord delivered you – this very day – into my hands in the cave. Some told me to kill you, but I had pity on you and said, ‘I will not extend my hand against my lord, for he is the Lord’s chosen one.’

[1 Sam 24:10 NET]

David seemed now to have a short, quick way to the kingdom–but he would not dare to take it. Now the throne was Saul’s—he was the Lord’s anointed. David would not lift a finger to hurry God’s providence, and to become king before God made him king. There often are things that God intends to give us–but which we must wait to receive in his way. Short-cuts in life’s paths are always mistakes in the end. Jacob’s mother knew that Jacob was to have the blessing of the firstborn–but if she had waited it would have come to him without being stained, as it was by her own and Jacob’s deception.

Young men are ambitious, and their ambition may be right; but too often they are in such feverish haste to reach what they wish–that they take the shortcut of dishonesty to get the sooner to the coveted place. It never pays.

David could have been on the throne the next day–but he would have left stains of guilt on the steps as he ascended; it was better far for him to wander on in exile for a time longer, and then reach the throne by a clean path. It is pleasant to see young men get on in life; but we must always ask how they have gotten on, to know whether their elevation is really an honor. The only way to true success–is God’s way. We must learn to wait for God.

Comfort

He said to his men, “May the Lord keep me far away from doing such a thing to my lord, who is the Lord’s chosen one, by extending my hand against him. After all, he is the Lord’s chosen one.”

[1 Sam 24:6 NET]

“Would it not be human to resent it?” said one who had received an insult. “Yes,” was the reply, “but it would be godlike to forgive it.” David did the godlike thing. He had a chance to avenge himself. He had his cruel enemy in his power. One stroke, and Saul would never have troubled him any more. David’s life would then have been safe. He would have become king at once. His men were urging it, and he himself was tempted to do it. Yet he overcame the temptation, and allowed Saul to pass out of his hand unharmed. He listened to the voice of God speaking in his own conscience, and restrained the impulse to avenge himself.

The first impulse of a child, when wronged or hurt by another, is to seek revenge. Sometimes older people encourage this evil spirit in children, by telling them to whip the chair or the rocking-horse by which they have chanced to be hurt. In older people, too, the desire for revenge is natural, and can be repressed only by the higher law of love which Christ teaches. The lesson is, that the punishment of sin must be left in God’s hands. Our duty is to bear patiently the wrongs and injuries others may inflict upon us, not giving reviling for reviling, to repay unkindness with kindness, to overcome evil with good.

Comfort

David said to Saul, “Why do you pay attention when men say, ‘David is seeking to do you harm’?

[1 Sam 24:9 NET]

There was someone who in the dark, was stabbing David’s name. It is probable that Saul was made to believe that David was his bitter foe, and was plotting all manner of evil against him. There are people in every community who are slanderers. They go to this one and that one, and drop dark insinuations about some other person, whose shoe’s latchet they are not worthy to unloose. They come to one of two friends, and let fall some hint only that the other is not faithful as a friend, perhaps relating something in a perverted way, so as to leave an impression of faithlessness. “A whisper separates chief friends.” The ruin wrought by the slanderer in this world, cannot be computed, characters blackened, friendships broken up, jealousies aroused, homes destroyed, hearts broken. Slanderous words have measureless power for evil.

Comfort

David’s men said to him, “This is the day about which the Lord said to you, ‘I will give your enemy into your hand, and you can do to him whatever seems appropriate to you.’” So David got up and quietly cut off an edge of Saul’s robe.

[1 Sam 24:4 NET]

So far as we know, the Lord had not said this at all. The men put their own interpretation on the opportunity, and called it providential. We are all too apt to interpret providences in accordance with our own wishes. When we are desiring to be led in a certain manner, and there is one way we desire very much to take–we are quite sure to find providences that seem to favor our preference.

But opportunity does not always indicate duty. When the merchant by mistake gives back a dollar too much change, there is an opportunity to make a dollar; but who will say that we ought to accept it? When you find in trouble, one who has done you a wrong, there is an opportunity to have revenge. But does the opportunity justify retaliation? The duty in the former case is honesty, arid in the latter is the showing of love to an enemy.

In reading providences, we must remember that no opportunity to do anything in itself wrong–is ever to be regarded as a divine leading. It is a sin to take revenge, no matter how much our enemy deserves punishment, or how good a chance we have for punishing him. It is a sin to steal, even though an opportunity makes it very easy to do it. God leads us by his providence–but never into sin!

Comfort

Who is the one who will condemn? Christ is the one who died (and more than that, he was raised), who is at the right hand of God, and who also is interceding for us. [Rom 8:34 NET]

As the soul is led and taught by the Spirit, it follows the Lord through all the various acts and sufferings of his life. The first spot to which the Holy Spirit takes the poor sinner is the cross of Jesus. That is the first real saving view we get of the Lord of life and glory; the Holy Spirit taking the poor guilty sinner, laden with the weight of a thousand sins, to the foot of the cross, and opening his eyes to see the Son of God bleeding there as an atoning sacrifice for sin. To be brought there by the power of the Holy Spirit, and receive that blessed mystery of the bleeding, suffering, and agonizing Son of God into our hearts and consciences, is the first blessed discovery that God the Spirit favors us with.

But we pass on from that to see Jesus sleeping in the sepulcher; for we have to die ourselves, and we need to see the Forerunner who has entered into the grave for us. We need to feel that we can lie down in the grave, and see that narrow bed in which our body will one day be stretched, in a measure perfumed by Jesus having lain there before us.

And when we have traveled from the cross to the sepulcher, we then go a step farther; to the resurrection of the Lord of life and glory. On the third day we view him by faith springing out of the sepulcher in which he lay entombed, rising up in glory and power for our justification. And thus we see in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus the hope of the soul for a blessed immortality.

But we do not tarry there; as the Lord the Spirit gives us eyes to see, and moves our heart to feel, we travel one step farther; this is, to the ascension of the Lord of life and glory; not tarrying on earth (for he tarried not there), but mounting up to see him sitting at the right hand of the Father, as the Mediator between God and man, as the divine Intercessor, as the glorious Head of grace, as communicating out of his own fullness gifts and graces unto poor and needy souls, who are living in daily and hourly bankruptcy. These need to receive perpetual supplies of life, light, and grace out of his fullness, to keep them in the way wherein the Lord has set their feet.

So that the ascension of the Lord Jesus up on high, and his sitting at the right hand of God, when received into the conscience under the power of the Spirit, is not a dry doctrine, not a dead bone of a withered skeleton; but is so connected with all the feelings of our heart, with all our misery and ruin, with all our wretchedness, with all our guilt, with all our daily needs, with all our hourly necessities, that, when led by the Spirit’s teaching to look at this Mediator at the right hand of the Father, it becomes a truth full of blessed sweetness and power to the heaven-taught soul.

Comfort

David fled from Naioth in Ramah. He came to Jonathan and asked, “What have I done? What is my offense? How have I sinned before your father? For he is seeking my life!”

[1 Sam 20:1 NET]

A true friend is a refuge. We all have troubles at some time. For many years we may get along quietly, and without sore trial; but the day will come to all of us–when we shall be in sorrow or danger. It may be in such an experience as David’s, when people shall misjudge us, or become our enemies without cause, and may seek to harm us. It may be sickness that comes upon us, or bereavement, or severe loss of some kind. Whatever the trouble may be, a true friend will prove a great comfort to us in the experience.

It is a blessed thing to have one friend that we are sure of, though all others fail us. We can go to him then as David went to Jonathan, telling him all our heart’s burden. Young people should seek to have a friend older than themselves, to whom they can fly in trouble or in danger, and in whose faithful love they can find a sure and safe refuge. There is a wonderful strength in the confidence that one has such a friend.

“There is a Friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24. Christ is the best, strongest, wisest, truest, most helpful friend anyone can have. His friendship is a refuge indeed. We can flee to him in any danger, and find him ready always to comfort, shelter, and bless. However many human friends we may have–we all need Christ.