of Christ's Kingdom
VOL. XXVI OCTOBER 1943
Table of Contents
Lessons from the Life of Joseph
The Letter to the Colossians
The Toronto Convention
A Meditation in the Twenty-third Psalm.
"As Always, So Now"
Pauline Sonnet Sequences
Scripture Reading: Psalm 105:17-23; Genesis
chapters 37; 39-50.
Joseph and His Dreams
THE story of
Joseph begins when he was a lad of seventeen years. His brother Benjamin was four or five
years younger. Joseph was sent by his father to his brethren who were herding, the flocks,
to find out how they fared. He was unpopular with his brethren, because he was his
father's favorite. Jacob showed his favoritism, which, in a family, is most-unwise. It is
the dull child, or the weak one, who really needs the more praise and encouragement, the
more help and favor; and favoritism for the more talented usually spoils the child;
cultivating pride, self-conceit. It is unjust to the others, and draws down upon the
favorite their envy and hatred.
brethren saw him coming afar off, and said, "Behold, this; dreamer cometh. Joseph had
had some dreams in one of which his brothers' sheaves bowed down to his sheaf; the e sun,
moon, and stars made obeisance to him. With boyish simplicity he told his dreams and his
brothers never forgave him. The dreams were divine intimations of the boy's future;
but the hints of his present or possible superiority over them made their, envy the more
he had come to find how they fared and carry back word to his father. Doubtless they knew
him afar off by his coat of bright colors. "Behold, this dreamer cometh," they
said. "Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we
will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will 'become of his
dreams." Here we see the fearful danger of allowing envious thoughts to remain in
the heart. Envy grew into murder-murder of their own brother! We are reminded of the
wisdom of Paul's counsel, "Let not the sun go down upon your wrath." We should
instantly crush the merest beginnings of envy. Ere we close each day, we should see that
every feeling of bitterness against any person is cast, out of our heart. It should be a
time of forgiving and forgetting all injury or unkindness done us by any one.
was not killed: his mission was not yet ended. His brother Reuben was not ready for
murder, and proposed casting him into a dry pit, intending to rescue him later. His
suggestion was accepted; Joseph was cast into a pit, and they sat down to eat. In all
this, God's providence was working. As they ate, they saw a caravan coming, and Judah
proposed they sell Joseph to the passing men chants. It seemed good to them for two
reasons: They would get rid of the boy's blood-and blood is always a troublesome thing on
one's hands. It will not wash off. Besides there would be a little money in the
transaction. So they hastily drew Joseph from the pit, and after parleying with the
Midianites they sold him for twenty pieces of silver-$12.50.
returned he found the pit empty, and supposing that Joseph had been killed, he rent his
clothes in grief. The other brothers, knowing that some , news must be sent to their old
father, killed a kid, dipped Joseph's coat in blood, and sent it to the father with the
explanation: We found this coat, in this condition, in the field. Does our father think it
is his son's coat? The father recognized the coat, and drew the inference they wished, and
said, "Joseph is without doubt torn in pieces! So he thought for more than twenty
years, and all the years were filled with sore mourning.
LET OUR FAREWELLS BE IN LOVE
pause' here and draw some lessons from this narrative. When Joseph parted from those at
home, they thought it was for only a few days' absence. His Grandfather Isaac was still
living, and Benjamin was but a small boy. They thought in a few days he would be home
again.- No one dreamed that for more than twenty years they would not see his face
again-some would never see him again. There is a lesson for us here: Our casual partings
too may be for years-may be forever. When we part at our doors in the morning, we never
know, whether we shall look in each other's face again or not. We expect to gather in the
evening at the fireside; but we never know. Many go out who never come home.
If Jacob had
known what was to befall his son, how tender would have been the parting! Above all, we
should never separate in an angry or impatient mood, with unforgiveness, bitterness,
misunderstanding. No amount of flowers on the coffin will atone for the coldness of the
parting, or take the pang out of the bereft heart. Every . parting with loved ones should
be sweet enough, kindly enough, for a last farewell.
thou dost bid thy friend farewell,
But for one night though that farewell may be,
Press thou his hand in thine.
How canst thou tell how far from thee
Fate or caprice may lead his steps, ere that tomorrow comes?
Men have been known lightly to turn the corner of a street,
And days have grown to months,
And months to lagging years, ere they
Have looked in loving eyes again.
Parting at best is underlaid
With tears and pain:
Therefore, lest sudden death should come between,
Or time, or distance, clasp with pressure firm the hand
Of him who goeth forth:
Unseen, fate goeth, too.
Yea, find thou always time to say some earnest word
Between the idle talk, lest with thee henceforth,
Night and day, regret should walk."
lesson: Joseph, the happy lad leaving Hebron for Shechem, had no -inkling of what was to
befall him. He expected a kindly welcome on meeting his brothers, and to return quickly to
those who loved him. So we know not what lies before us. We spend today in gladness, not
knowing that tomorrow will bring us tears. We move on through the flowers, heedless of
danger, not suspecting that at our next step we may fall' into some hidden pit. We rejoice
in our prosperity, unconscious of the fact that disaster may come any hour and sweep it
away. We set out on the happy journey, without thought of the possible accident which may
leave us crippled or dead.
What is the
lesson? Should this uncertainty of all human affairs sadden our life? No, that is not the
lesson. God does not want us to be unhappy while the sun is shining because by and by it
will go under a cloud. He wants us to live in today, and enjoy its blessings, and do its
work well, though tomorrow may bring calamity. "Sufficient unto the day is the evil
thereof." How can we do this if we know that the future has in it possibilities of
sudden darkness? Only by calm, quiet, trustful faith in God, and obedience' to Him at
every step. We sometimes wish we could look into the future, that we might choose our
way and avoid the rough paths. But suppose Joseph had been told how his brothers would
treat him, and that he would be sold as a slave. Would he have gone forward? Then what a
wonderful story of providence would have been spoiled!
have missed all that bright future which lay beyond the period of wrongs and cruelties
into which he was first plunged. And think what his people, and the world would have
It would not
be well for us to know what is before us; we, would want to meddle with God's plans, thus
marring 'our own future, and harming others. Nor should we be afraid and over cautious.
Yet this uncertainty ought to hold us near the side of Christ at all times. Nothing can
ever really go wrong with us if He is leading us and we are quietly following Him. Though
He take us through pain, misfortune, suffering, it is because that is the path to true
blessing and good.
JOSEPH A SLAVE AND IN PRISON
writer has a story entitled "Hands Off," which illustrates providence in the
life of Joseph. It represents a man in another stage of existence, looking down upon the
Hebrew lad in the hands of the Midianites. In this story, being an active, ingenious lad,
Joseph escaped from the caravan on the first night after his brothers had sold him. He had
just reached the outer edge of the camp when a yellow dog began to bark and awakened the
men who were in charge of him, and he was returned to captivity.
onlooker wanted to kill the dog before he had awakened the camp. Then Joseph would have
gotten away and would have reached home in safety. Great sorrow and suffering would have
been avoided. But the onlooker's guardian said, "Hands off!" And to let him see
the evil of interfering, he took him to a world where he could try the experiment and see
its results. There he killed the dog. Joseph reached home in safety, and his father
rejoiced and was 'comforted. It certainly seemed a better way than the other. But when the
famine came, there had been no Joseph in Egypt to foretell it, and to prepare for it, and
there was no food laid up in storehouses. Palestine and Egypt were devastated by
starvation. Great numbers died, and the savage Hittites destroyed those whom the famine
had spared. Civilization was set back centuries. Egypt was blotted out. Greece and Rome
remained in a barbarous state. The history of the whole world was changed and countless
evils came-all because a man in his ignorant wisdom killed a dog, saving a boy from
present trouble, to his own and the world's future great loss.
better keep our hands off God's providences. Peter wanted to keep Jesus back from the
cross; suppose he had done so, what would have been the result? No doubt many a time love
has kept a life back from hardship, sacrifice, and suffering, thereby blighting or
marring a destiny. We are likely to pity the boy Joseph as we see him enter his period of
humiliation, as we read of his being sold as a slave, and then cast into irons. But if
human pity could have rescued him from this sad part of his life, the glorious part that
followed, with all its blessed service to the world, would have been lost.
are more sustaining to Christian faith than this, that our times are in God's hands. We
forget it too often, and fret when life brings hard things to endure, when our own plans
are broken. But some day we shall see that God knew best.
oft, O God, when we have wept in vain
O'er Thy decrees and blurred, with fretful tears
The heavenward window of the soul, appears
Thy purpose sweet and wise, in after years,
Like sunshine streaming through the veils of rain!
had had our way -- if Thou hadst given
The lesser good in our impleading hands,
Withholding larger; if the small demands
Of human choice, that sees nor understands
Life's broader issues, had prevailed with heaven;
had never wept, nor known the keen,
Pure, cleansing pain of sorrow's sacred fire --
The broken tie, the unfulfilled desire --
Our sluggish lives had never risen higher,
But fixed in self, had ever selfish been.
Thou hast led us out of self, hast shown"
How love's great circle rounds from soul to soul,
How sorrow makes us quick to others' dole
And binds each unit in the larger whole
Of life and love, complete in Thee alone.
God, Thy thought infolds us all! the days
Ev'n of this brief, imperfect life attest,
Are they are spent, Thy will is ever best.
Oh, may we in Thy love and wisdom rest,
For Thou dost know the end of all our days!"
seventeen when the caravan bore him off as a slave to Egypt. He was thirty when called
from prison to become prime minister of Pharaoh. The whole period of his humiliation was
therefore thirteen years. The three points we wish to consider are, his slave life, his
great temptation, and his, prison life. The special thing to mark is that Joseph went
through all the experiences unhurt. This is a secret worth learning-how to meet injustice,
wrong, cruelty, inhuman treatment, temptation, misfortune, in such manner as to receive
no harm from the experience. Let us see how Joseph bore himself so as to rob these
experiences of their bitterness and power to harm, and extract from each of them blessing
A SORE TEST OF CHARACTER
Think of the
sense of wrong which must have filled his thoughts as he remembered the treatment he had
received from his brothers. They had torn him away from his home. They had been about to
kill him. They had treated him, with heartless cruelty. They had sold him as a slave.
Surely it was hard to keep one's heart sweet and free from bitterness with such a sense of
Add to this
the hardness of the new condition in which Joseph found himself. Hewas among strangers. He
had not a friend in all the land. Not a face he had ever seen, passed, before him. Many a
stranger in a strange land is free to make his life what he will, and is soon on the
"way to success. But Joseph was a slave, in bonds. Potiphar saw him in the slave
market, and bought him as he might a horse. It is hard to conceive of a condition more
discouraging. It was a sore test of character to which he was exposed. If the treatment he
had received from his brothers was enough to make him bitter, his present circumstances
seem enough to have crushed his spirit. There are people who have not had the tenth part
of Joseph's trouble but who are embittered against the world and denounce it as cold and
heartless and ungrateful. Others having been wronged; grow hard and vindictive, and,
live only to repay the injustice they have received with like injustice blow for blow.
Still others sullenly surrender to the injuries they have received and with broken spirit
creep through life like wrecks drifting on the sea, pitiable spectacles.
are who. pass through such experiences of injustice and cruelty as those Joseph met and
keep their heart sweet and gentle, their faith in God bright and clear, and their spirit
brave and strong. It showed the wholesomeness of Joseph's nature that he passed through
these galling experiences unhurt. He was not soured 'toward men. He did not grow morbid,
sullen, or disheartened. Though a slave, he accepted' his position with cheerfulness, and
entered heartily into his -new: life, doing his duties so well that he soon became
overseer in his master's house. He did not waste time or strength in weeping over his
misfortunes, or grieving over his wrongs, nor exhaust himself in self-pity. The darkness
of Joseph's life was not allowed to enter his 'heart.' This was one of the great secrets
of his victorious living. With hatred all about him, he kept love in his heart. Enduring
injuries, wrongs, and injustices, his spirit was forgiving. With a thousand things to
discourage, and dishearten him, to break his spirit, he refused to be discouraged. Because
other' men lived unworthily was but a stronger reason why he 'should live' worthily.
Because he was treated cruelly and wickedly was fresh reason why he should give to
others about him the best service of love and, unselfishness. That his condition was hard,
was to him a new motive for living heroically and nobly.
THE PROBLEM OF LIFE
So we find
the spirit of Joseph unbroken under all that was galling and crushing in his
circumstances. The lesson can not be too urgently pressed. Many people find life hard.
Sometimes wrong; and injustice make the days bitter. Sometimes the atmosphere of daily,
life is one of strife, petty persecution, miserable fault-finding, incessant opposition,
nagging, criticism. Home life ought to be ideally loving, inspiring, encouraging, helpful,
full of all kindness and grace. Yet there are homes little better than Joseph's, where
instead of love are envy, selfishness, bitterness. There are those who must live
'continually amid unjust opposition and antagonism.
of life is to keep the heart sweet and kindly amid all injustice and wrong; to keep the
spirit brave and cheerful in the midst of life's circumstances and conditions; to be true
and right and strong in all moral purpose and deed, however others may act toward us. We
must be unselfish and loving, though even our nearest friends prove selfish and cruel to
us. We must keep our spirit strong, cheerful and hopeful, though adversities and
misfortunes seem to leave us nothing of the fruit of all our labors. In a word, we are
to live victoriously, nobly, sweetly, cheerfully, songfully, in spite of whatever maybe
uncongenial in our condition.
This is the
lesson from the first period of Joseph's humiliation. This is the lesson of all Christian
life. We should not let the outside darkness into our soul, should seek to be delivered
from all morbidness, all dwelling upon our own difficulties and unhappinesses, from
continually talking about our unpleasant experiences. We should not allow anything to
.crush us. Though a slave as to our condition, our spirit should be free.
We read that
Joseph bore himself so genially, and did his work so well, and was so capable, so true, so
trustworthy, that Potiphar left all he had in his hand: "He knew not aught that was
with him, save the bread which he did eat." Joseph would never have won such a
success if he had given up to discouragement, if he had brooded over his wrongs, if he had
sulked or complained, if he had spent his time in vain regrets or in vindictive feelings.
We should learn the lesson, and it is worth learning, for it is life's highest and
best-lesson It is the victory of the faith in Christ which overcometh the world.
MEETING TEMPTATION ON GROUNDS OF PRINCIPLE
of Joseph's humiliation was his temptation. He had been in Potiphar's house for several
years. He had lived so worthily and wrought so faithfully that he had his master's
fullest confidence and had risen to the first place among all the servants. We can think
of the boy's dreams of greatness as again coming into the mind of the young man as he
found himself so honored. His temptation, was that of an intrigue with Potiphar's wife,
perhaps thereby to rise to yet higher prominence, to throw off the slave's chains and
become a man of rank in the land. No eye of one who worshiped his God was upon him to
inspire him to what was pure, true, and noble. He was in a heathen land,, where the
standard of morals was low and doubtless such intrigues were common. He had not the
social restraints which we find about us today.
But he met
the temptation on far higher grounds; on grounds of pure principle. Note his answer to the
solicitation of his temptress: "Behold, my master knoweth not what is with me in the
house, and he hath put all that he hath into my hand; there is none greater in this house
than I; neither hath he kept back anything from me but thee, because thou art his wife:
how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?"
appear in this answer. One is loyalty to his master. Potiphar had trusted him implicitly
with all that he had. Could he now be guilty of such a base wrong to the man who had
placed such confidence in him? Such an act would have been treachery to his friend. In
the face of this flattering solicitation of this woman of high rank, and regardless of
the consequencess which the offending of her might bring upon him, he kept his eye fixed
on his. duty and wavered not, but tore himself away from the temptation, his soul
motive which saved him was his loyalty to God. "How can I do this great wickedness,
and sin against God? All sin is against God. "Against Thee, Thee only, have I
sinned," said David in his penitence. We can never get away from our relation to God
in any act of our life.
element of Joseph's nobleness of character appears in his silence under false
accusation. It is not recorded that he said a word to Potiphar to turn suspicion upon the
accusing wife. He seems to have thought still of Potiphar's honor, and rather than lay a
stain upon it he would go to the dungeon under a false charge; leaving to God the
vindication of his own honor and the proving of his innocence. It has been said, For his
purity you will find his equal, one among a thousand; for his mercy, scarcely one-. There
are persons who bear reproach and odium to shield others. Joseph had resisted temptation
to be loyal to Potiphar; now Potiphar thinks him guilty of the very baseness which for
'love of him lie had scorned to commit. But in all this Joseph kept his heart sweet; and
seems to cost very dearly to be loyal to God. Joseph now lay in a dungeon. But his loss
through doing right was nothing, in comparison with what he would have lost had he done
the wickedness to which he was tempted. His prison gloom, deep as it was,, was as noonday,
compared with what would have been the darkness of his soul under the blight of evil and
the bitterness of remorse. Though his feet were in fetters; his conscience was free, and
his heart was pure. . Better to suffer any loss, any cost, any sacrifice, than to sin
against God. The lesson of Joseph's victory over temptation is: anything-dishonor, loss,
dungeon; death -- before sin.
phase of Joseph's humiliation was his prison life. The Psalmist says of him (Psa. 105:18):
"His feet they hurt with fetters he was laid in chains of iron." This, then, was
the reward of being true to God and duty! He had resisted sin, and here he was in irons,
while his guilty temptress was posing as an injured woman, receiving compassion and
bitter the prison may have been at first to Joseph, he was not yet crushed,, but the noble
soul within him rose above the effects of the misfortune and wrong he had suffered. He did
not despair, but his old aptitude for meeting life with courage and hope showed itself.
"The keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners that were in
the prison. . . . The keeper of the prison
looked not to anything that was under his hand." His manhood was not in chains. The
fetters, did not hurt his soul. He was victorious over all the wrong, the in justice, the
false accusation, the suffering. He found his period of; humiliation a time of growth, of
discipline, of training, producing in his heart hope, joy and love. And when at length he
was called from prison to sit beside the king, he was so well fitted for greatness that
his head; was not turned by the pinnacle of honor and fame.
So we get
from this part of our story the lesson of victory over all of life's conditions. Be true
to God, true to yourself," true to your fellow men. The record is that "The Lord
was with, Joseph, and shewed kindness unto him, . . and that which he did the Lord made
to prosper." Likewise,'if, we are true to God, He will bless us, and will use even
our misfortunes to train us for a larger, better, nobler, more useful life. Christ is with
us; His life is in us; and nothing should be allowed to crush us. Live close to Christ and
the world's power cannot hurt you nor its darkness dim your soul's light.
FROM PRISON TO PALACE
reads like a romance. In the morning Joseph was in prison. He had been there probably
three years. He knew of nothing that gave any hope of release. In the evening, he was
wearing the king's ring, was arrayed in vestures of fine linen, had a gold chain about his
neck and was honored as next to the king. It seems too strange to be true, yet it was
was in prison, he was not a criminal; he was there on false charges. We see a man with a
pure soul, though under the cloud of a black charge. May it not be so with some one we
know, of whom people allege dishonorable things, but who in God's sight is innocent? We
should stand for justice and charity toward all. We should shut our ears to the
insinuations and whisperings of the slanderer's tongue. It was a lie that put the felon's
garb and chain on Joseph and robbed him of his good name. Be slow to believe an accusation
against another. One false mouth can destroy the reputation won by a life time of worthy
deeds. Let' us see to it that we have the love that thinketh no evil.
suffering wrongfully; but his case demonstrates the truth declared by the Psalmist:
"Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. And
He shall make thy righteousness go forth as the light, and thy judgment as the
noonday." (Psa. 37:5, 6.) We, too, may
safely leave our vindication to the Lord.
The life of
Joseph remained gentle, beautiful and, sweet under all the terrible trials of those
thirteen years. Yet some of us can hardly keep sweet under, little or imaginary slights,
the microscopic hurts and injustices of every-day life. And what though our trials may be
severe and long? The noble bearing of Joseph teaches us to be superior to all circumstances and conditions, to all unkind or unjust treatment. Discouragement is
undivine. We must be strong in the grace of God. We must be unconquerable through Him that
loved us and gave Himself for us. We must put misfortunes, adversities, personal injuries,
sufferings, trials, under our feet, and tread ever upward on them.
"We rise by the things that are
under our feet;
By what we have mastered of good or gain;
By, the pride deposed, and the passion slain,
And the vanquished ills that we hourly meet.
your problem in living, is to keep sweet, to keep your heart gentle, brave, strong,
loving, full of hope, under the worst that the
years can bring you of injustice, hardship, suffering, and trial. That is what Joseph did;
then, when he was suddenly wanted for a 'great duty, he did not fail.
went wrong, one day in the world above Joseph's dungeon. There was trouble in Pharaoh's
palace," and two high officials were hurried off to prison. God is always coming
down to us through unlikely paths; meeting us unexpectedly. We know not what trivial
occurrence any day may affect all our after course unto the end" of life. The
touching of Joseph's life by these prisoners from the palace was a link in the chain by
which he was .to be lifted out of prison.
seemed for a long time as if nothing would come of this contact. Joseph told the meaning
of the men's dreams, and in three days what' he had said came true. As the chief butler
went out happy from the prison, to resume his old duties, Joseph said to him: "Think
on me when it, shall be well with thee, and show kindness, I pray thee, unto me, and make
mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring, me out of this house." No doubt the butler
promised to do so. But the pathetic words of the record are: "Yet did' not the chief
butler remember Joseph, but forgat him."
was restored to his place in the palace and the brilliance of the royal presence. Waiting
in his prison, doubtless Joseph hoped each day to be released through the strong influence
of his friend at court -- waited and hoped, but there was no answering token. Two years
passed, and still Joseph was in prison: the chief butler had forgotten him.
have been in all ages who would condemn the ingratitude of this Egyptian officer, and
vet who repeat his sin. At the time when help comes to us, or deliverance, or favor, our
hearts are warm with gratitude. We say with sincere intention that we will never forget
this kindness. But do we never forget it? Alas, we are all too prone to remember wrongs,
but to forget kindnesses. We write the record of our grudges in marble, and of favors in
water. The lesson, is that we should write the record of hurts and wrongs done us in
water, and of kindness shown to us, in stone.
Yet see how
God uses even ibis adversity to Joseph's final
good.Had he been released at once he was still a slave, and might have been sold away from
the city. Or had he been set free, he would likely have returned to Canaan. He would not
likely have been in reach when he was sought for to interpret Pharaoh's dreams. And so all
the future blessings would have been thwarted.
Joseph was left in prison, God's purposes were ripening in the world outside, and
Joseph's character was ripening into strength and self discipline within the dungeon
walls. In God's providences, nothing comes a moment too soon, and nothing lags, coming
too late. He whose hand moves the machinery of the universe is also our Father. And all
the wrongs suffered may, by the divine touch, be transmuted into blessings.
suppose that Joseph's life was in God's hand in any exceptional sense? Is there any less
of God's providence in our life than there was in the life of the Hebrew lad? He did not
see the providence at the time; not until afterwards did the dark clouds disclose their
silver lining, or the rough iron fetters reveal themselves as gold. Not until afterwards
shall we see how our disappointments, hardships, trials, misfortunes, and wrongs, are all
made parts of God's providence for us; but the "afterwards is sure if only we
firmly and faithfully follow Christ and keep our own hands off . - Contributed.
(To be continued)
"Let no man therefore judge
you." - Col. 2:16.
"THEREFORE" of verse 16 sends the reader back to the statements of the previous
verses -possibly as far back as verse nine of this chapter, but surely to the
immediately preceding argument regarding the power of Christ's death to free Jew and
Gentile from the laws and ordinances "that were against us." The verses before
us are, an exhortation to claim and use that as a basis for deliverance from bondage to
ordinances, to men, and to angels. Narrow Judaism and sentimental Orientalism, the two
ever threatening antagonists of the Church, Paul claims, can be overcome by the one
all-powerful means, the cross of Christ.
as to the relation of the Christian to circumcision had already been covered in verse
eleven. The circumcision of the heart, always a necessity even to those who practice the
circumcision of the flesh, he declared as the only essential circumcision to those made
free in Christ. To the liberation from the flesh ly ordinance is here added freedom from
the Mosaic restrictions regarding food and festivals, which never, in God's plan, were the
real objectives, but mere shadows pointing to the greater things which are the heritage of
the Church. Numerous Scriptures of both Old and New Testament tell of the vanity of a
religion that is in word and not in the heart, that is faithful to the
"shadow" but never appropriates the "body." - Isa. 1:13; 29:13; Matt.
23:23; Gal. 4:10,11; 2 Tim. 3:5.
Young in his
"Concise Critical Comments on the Bible" says regarding Paul's reference to
Sabbaths in this 16th verse: "The observance of the 'first day of the week' cannot be
justly included under the 'sabbaths' here referred to, as the primitive Christians,
following -the example of the New Testament -writers, scrupulously avoided calling it a
'sabbath.' " Undoubtedly Paul's reference is to the Jewish days and years called
rest, or Sabbath days and years, the observance of which the Judaizing teachers make of
equal importance with faith in the shed blood of the antitypical Lamb. The ground on which
all such questions are settled by the Apostle is that these are but "shadows of
things to come," merely rough outlines of the great realities, such outlines as the
sketches a carpenter would draw when planning a structure or some detail of it. The
reality, "the body, in this instance, as in most instances, "is of Christ."
He is the key to both Testaments. Scientific research into the Bible and the history
associated with it, details beyond the carpenter's sketch, has brought forth much of
undoubted value but "much learning, when it results in losing sight of Him, loses its
benefits and becomes a menace.
sense of purity than can be comprehended by the depraved carnal mind, since "to them
that are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure (Titus 1:15), is taught in the symbolisms
of "meats and drinks"; but the New Testament is the revelation of Him who is the
personification of that purity, who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth.' -1
feasts instituted .by Moses prophesy of times of refreshing, and the process by which
Christ will bring in the antitypical rest -pictured in Israel's Sabbaths. In Christ, as
revealed to us in the New 'Testament, we have the fulfillment of all the blessedness
'"darkly" pictured in these types. Paul's argument therefore in effect is, The
King has arrived. Cease, ye heralds, to proclaim His approach. The great Body that cast
the shadow has appeared why longer give attention to the shadow?
"LET NO MAN THEREFORE, JUDGE YOU"
It cannot be
the Apostle's thought that any one can have the power or the authority to so regulate
matters that neither the world nor the brethren will any longer pass judgment upon him:
On the contrary, as elsewhere indicated, those whose honest endeavor, is to be "pure
even as He is pure," must expect to be misunderstood and condemned as was their Lord.
- 1 John 3:3, .13; Matt. 10:22; 24:9; Luke 6:22; 21:17; John 15:19; 17:14; Rom 8:17, 36; 2
Cor. 1:7; 4:10; 2 Tim. 2:12 1 Pet. 2:20; 3:14; 4:-14-16.
evidently does mean is: "In view of the fact that 'He who is our life has appeared,'
do not permit the opinion of those who still observe the customs of the Covenant whose
bondage He came to deliver us from to sway you into expecting life by it, or even into
subjecting yourself to that Covenant. Though they condemn you for not following with them,
do not permit their condemnation to deprive you of your liberty in Christ Jesus. "Be
not entangled again in a yoke of bondage." (Gal. 5:1.) More forcefully even than by
his words, Paul taught this in his conduct. When false brethren came into the Church for
the very purpose of robbing them of their liberty in Christ, he "gave place to them in the way o f subjection, no, not for an hour;
that the truth of the Gospel might continue with" the Church. (Gal. 2:3-5.) The
"truth of the Gospel," deliverance through Christ Jesus, must not be taken from
the Church by Judaizing teachers if Paul can be used to prevent it.
On the other
hand, the world must be considered, and if the exercising of that liberty proves a
stumbling block to the world or to the brethren, Paul is prompt to forego his privileges.
He does not turn back to become a Jew, but he does act "as a Jew, that he might gain Jews, to them
that are under the Law, as under the Law, not being
himself under the Law, that he might gain them that are under the Law." (1 Cor.
9:20:) He can observe the Law, that salvation may be acceptable to others, but not as a
means of salvation.
Paul was not
in these two methods of conduct making a distinction between the Church and the world,
refusing to listen to the judging of brethren and forestalling the judging of the world;
but he was distinguishing between faith in a dead covenant and life in Christ.
Associated with brethren who honestly felt
that the eating of meat that bad been offered to idols might contaminate them, he was
ready to deprive himself of meat for the rest of his days rather than stumble one of
them. He could not descend to their level of thinking, but he could for their. sakes live
as though he did.
ate with Gentile converts, "asking no questions for conscience sake," it was a
witness that he was no longer bound by the Law. When in company of Jewish brethren, as a
concession to honest ignorance, he "walked orderly and kept the Law,"
performing the rites of purification and joining in the temple worship. (Acts 21:26.)
Thus does every good shepherd say, as Jacob: "I will lead on softly, according as
the flock and the children be able to endure. (Gen. 33:14; 1 Cor. 8:8-13; 10:31; Rom.
14:1, 2, 15; 15:1.) This is the "faith that worketh by love." - Gal. 5:6.
observance of a weekly rest day, not as a means of salvation, but as a day of worship and
of physical rest for the restoration of body and spirit, had also - the sanction of the
Apostle's example. In view of his great care lest he stumble either a brother or one of
the world, we doubt if Paul would have done any of his shopping or would have engaged in
any other unnecessary pursuits on that rest day; though the only violation to his
conscience would have been that he might thus have stumbled some one. He who is our rest
has appeared. As a commandment 'the day therefore is obsolete, whether the seventh or
the first day of the week; but as a grace it may always be accepted with appreciation.
vary greatly as to the proper rendering of the eighteenth verse, but its first few words,
"Let no man beguile you of your reward, without dispute are picturing the Christian
as contesting in a' game for a prize which may be lost if some adroit reasoner can induce
the contestant to strive unlawfully. Tindal renders it: "Let no man make you shoot at
a wrong mark.'' It is not necessary to suppose that the robber (See R. V.) was intending
to deprive the contestant of his crown. Four things are told us about the unnamed
(1) He is
"delighting in humility of mind and a religious worship of the messengers."
(Literal rendering) This is not true humility, for that quality takes no pleasure in
itself, but rather is covered with confusion at falling so far, short of the high standard
it has accepted as its goal. Anything contrary to this is pride, an arch-enemy of the
spirit. - Phil. 2:3-5; Psa. 73:6; 119:21; Prov. 6:17; 11:2; 13:10; 16:18; 21:4; 28:25;
Luke 18:11; John 9:41; 1 John 2:16; Rev. 3:17; Rom. 12:16; 1 Cor. 8:2.
"Dwelling in the things which he has not seen" -- how economically yet
effectively the Apostle uses his brush strokes! Could there be a more apt way of
describing the Christian' who prefers his own speculation to the Word of the Lord, the
Christian who brazenly invents his own types and doctrines, refusing to "cast down
imaginations [literally, "reasonings'], bringing every thought into subjection to the mind of
Christ." (2 Cor. 10:5.) The thought of the passage need not be different even
though we accept as more authentic the manuscripts that omit the "not." The
emphasis would then be on the word "he" "Dwelling in the things which he hath seen;''' not the things which God had
"Vainly - [without any excuse whatsoever] - puffed up by the mind of his flesh, is
sure to be one of the characteristics of one whose self-conscious humility is only skin
deep. As compared with more feeble brains his may be "a great mind," but if he
would only honestly compare his mind with, the only Mind in the universe that can reason
effectively, true humility must result.
"Not holding the Head." It is apparent; that the only way to insure the
maintaining of our proper relation with the Head (the One who does our reasoning, our
thinking, for us) is to be completely' humbled; and how thankful we should be for every
exposure of our inabilities that thus we may be reminded in every moment to turn to Him
"who is able."
and fear of the hosts of spirit messengers, good and bad, are things of the past, but the
principle still lives in the
"channel" idea. To the flesh; it is too often pleasant to have some one say,
"I have been appointed to decide for you what is truth." It is strange that such
a theory could secure a following; but much more astounding that any one of us, knowing
the thousands of mistakes of judgment chargeable against each of us, should ever forsake
our great Head to follow his own imaginations!
the various members in the Body, God bath set some in very high positions, and in our
appreciation of these is one of the greatest danger to the members in general: that of
substituting for the legitimate use of these teachers a subserviency, to them. Each member
has his position, but only because of the Father's having placed him there; and this is as
true of, the least of the Body members as of the Apostle Paul. Realizing this fact, every
Christian will be well protected against the spirit, whether from within himself or from
without, that would "stir up strife among brethren." Only he who knows their
effectiveness as a divinely appointed "channel" of the "increase of
God," will be "knit together"
with the various "joints and bands" of the Body. "Out of the mouth of babes
and sucklings hast Thou established strength, because of Thine adversaries, that Thou
mightest still- the enemy and the avenger." - Psa. 8:2.
It is not
merely because a doctrine is at stake that Paul writes the passage we are considering,'
but because eternal life is at stake; therefore the solemn earnestness of his warning.
It is true also that 'the belief of certain truths would tighten their hold on the Lord.
Then, too, self-conceit, that would war against the full acceptance of God's Word, must be
vanquished if the hold on Jesus is to be made secure. There is, besides, a transforming
power in truth; the nobler: the truth, the higher will be the point to which it can, lift
one. A dispensational truth does not have to become an untruth in order to lose its
effectiveness, a nobler, higher truth, as for instance the antitype of that
dispensational truth, if received into the life, may carry its recipient beyond the realm
of, that first truth. All they had learned through Moses regarding the ceremonies of the
tabernacle were true, but the day of "greater sacrifices" had come and these
brethren must have the greater transforming power of the, greater truths-another reason
why there must be no intrusion of "messengers" in the position designed only for
the Advocate. He can "take away sins"; the "blood of bulls and goats":
could never, though the animals were appointed of God as sacrifices. So also, every
"messenger" of God is appointed for a specific work, but none to be an atoning
argument against elevating messengers to a station above the one to which God appointed
them, he is not setting aside the teaching of such passages as the twelfth chapter of
First Corinthians that each member does have his place in the Body and is to be accepted
and used as God intended he should be used in assisting others to "increase with the
increase of God." There must be no lack of appreciation of any "joint" in
his capacity of a joining member if the Body is to be "knit together" for this
absolutely essential growth; for that growth is by that which "every joint
supplieth." For this reason Hebrews 10:24-26 associates the Second Death with those
who do not appreciate their great privilege of assembling together.
Satan suggests a great variety of excuses for separations. Effectively for a few the cords
of love reach out drawing them together. "The love -of Christ holds us together"
is Young's translation of 2 Corinthians 5:14 in his "Comments." Surely only one
"vainly puffed up by his fleshly mired," one "not holding the Head,"
one not appreciating "the increase of God, will neglect privileges so precious.
-P. E. Thomson.
those gathered from the Provinces of Ontario and Quebec, there were representatives from
Brooklyn, Syracuse, Buffalo, Detroit, and Chicago. The convention was called to order by
Brother J. J. Blackburn, who acted as chairman; and after a few words of appreciation for
. the Lord's goodness, and a hearty welcome to those who had made the effort to attend he
presented the first speaker, Brother J. A. Bell, whose topic was "The Rainbow."
T. Read :of Chicago was the next speaker, and took for his subject "God First and
Self Last." Brother Read called attention to the, fact that this constitutes an
unfailing guide in all that confronts the Christian in his daily walk.
session began with ,a song service and was followed by a discourse by Brother P. E.
'Thomson whose topic was, "Blessed is the Man" -- based on the first Psalm.
of the day had begun with the invitation, "O come, let us worship and bow down: let
us kneel before the Lord our Maker" (Psa. 95:6), and following the final prayer,
they were concluded with the acknowledgement voiced in Psalm 133:1-3: "Behold, how good and how
pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!"
morning session was opened with prayer, hymns of praise, and the admonition to "Give
unto' the Lord the glory due unto His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of
holiness." (Psa. 29:2.) Then Brother J. E. Pollack of Varna, Ontario, was introduced,
and took for his subject, "Fellowship with God."
Thomson then spoke upon the "Elect of God," using as his text 1 Peter 1 .2, and
emphasizing the requirements to be met by the Elect.
afternoon session began with a praise and testimony service that gave opportunity for
all to express their heartfelt gratitude unto God, and their joy in the fellow ship they
were having. Brother Read then spoke on "The Perfecting 'of 'the (Saints," and
was followed by Brother Bell whose subject was "The Lord's Jewels." - Mal. 3:17.
There was no
speaker named for the evening, discourse, so in response to a unanimous vote, Brother
Blackburn consented to serve us. His topic was, "The Results of Waiting on the
Lord." (Isa. 40:31.) Brother' Blackburn's remarks made us to feel the power of the
Lord as if "mounting up with wings as eagles."
services at which Brother Read rendered "spiritual songs" were all enriched by
A vote of
thanks gave expression to our appreciation of the labor of love that had made the
convention possible, and all voiced the desire that another convention be held next
year. The service concluded with the beautiful hymn, "God be with you till we meet
"The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall
not want."-Psa. 23:1
doubtful if there is another passage of Scripture more fitted to inspire and strengthen
our confidence in God than the twenty-third psalm, that sweet shepherd psalm which most
of us learned in childhood. As we ponder it here afresh, may He who so often before has
graciously applied the comfort of His Word as balm to our hearts, do so once again,
sending us on our 'way with' fresh courage and renewed hope: His peace, which passeth
all understanding, guarding our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus our Lord.
expositor* reminds us that three thousand years have passed away since the sweet singer of
Israel first sang this psalm about the shepherd-care of God. Thirty centuries! It is a
long time; and in that vast period all the material relics of his life, however carefully
treasured, have moldered into dust. The harp, from the strings of which his fingers
brought forth music which relieved Saul of his sadness; the tattered banner, which lie was
wont to uplift in the name of the Lord; the well-worn book of the Law, which was his
meditation day and night; the sling with which he overcame, Goliath, and the huge sword
with which he slew the giant; the palace chamber in which at last he died-all these have
been buried deep amid the debris of the ages. But this psalm is as fresh today as though
it were just composed.
* To avoid endless quotations we refer once for all to "The Shepherd's Shepherd"
by Samuel Cox and "The Shepherd Psalm" by F. B. Meyer. This Meditation is little
more than a compilationn from their works. Theirs is the bread, only the basket is ours.
lies in the fact that it dwells so much on God, so little on man. Notice, as we study it,
that every verse stresses what God is and is doing. This is, the true policy of life.
Unbelief puts circum stances between itself and God, so that He is lost from view, and the
soul becomes overwhelmed. Faith. on the contrary, puts God between itself and
circumstances, so that it cannot see them for the glory of His shining countenance.
Unbelief fixes its gaze on. men, and things, and likelihoods, and possibilities, and
circumstances. Faith will not concern herself with these; she refuses to spend her time
and waste her strength in considering them. Her eye is steadfastly fixed on her Lord; and
she is persuaded that He is well able to supply all her need, and to carry her through all
difficulties and straits. The outlook may be very dark, but the uplook is always bright,
so faith looks away off unto Jesus, and to our Heavenly Father, and rests in Them in
THE SONG OF A SHEPHERD-KING
It has been
well observed that this psalm derives no little of its beauty from the fact that it is a
psalm of a shepherd about a Shepherd, the psalm of a king about a King. David himself had
led a flock to the pastures of Bethlehem, guiding and protecting them with crook and staff
as they passed from-hillside to hillside. He had himself welcomed to his royal. table
fugitives from the wrath of Hebrew and alien tyrants, anointing their heads with oil, and
filling their cups with wine till they ran over. And, therefore, he is speaking from his
very heart, out of what was most personal and most memorable in his experience. To him God
was a shepherd, searching out for His flock pastures of grass, that is, pastures in which
the grass had not been scorched up by the heat of the sun; and waters of rest, that is,
waters beside which the sheep might securely lie down. To him God was a shepherd, who,
when leading His flock through desolate valleys and gorges, haunted' by wolf, and lion and
bear, defended them with His staff and rod. ' God was also a bountiful and princely host,
receiving to His table and sheltering in His house fugitives pursued by their enemies,
offering them the oil of anointing, and gladdening them with overflowing cups of wine.
And because God was both his Shepherd and his Host, David looks up to Him with an absolute
devotion, and rests in Him with a calm and happy trust.
If this were
true of David it was still more true of Jesus, that great Shepherd and Bishop of our
souls, whom David, in so many of his experiences typified, and it is to be true also of
us, the members of His Body, as we seek to walk in His steps.
peaceful serenity of its tone, and the absence of any-hint of doubt, misgiving, or fear,
it is probable, almost to a' certainty, that our psalm was written when David was well
stricken in years, when, by the experience of a long and checkered life, he had learned
that in God alone are strength and peace. No! this psalm is not the. utterance of his
shepherd days, though it perpetuates their memory. Had it been thus, men might have said
that it was but the natural outflowing of a confiding boy's heart, un versed in care or
struggle. But this peaceful psalm is a voice out of the maturer life of the psalmist; out
of memories of care and battle and treachery; a voice that tells that peace and rest of
heart depend not upon the absence of life's burdens, nor on the presence of nature's
tranquilizing scenes, but solely upon the shepherding care of God.
emotion of entire trust receives in our psalm a threefold expression: (1) I shall not
want; (2) I will fear no evil; and (3) I will dwell in the' house of the Lord for ever. I
shall not want, for God will find me green pastures and waters of comfort. I will fear no
evil, for even as I pass through the gloomiest and most perilous valleys He will
protect and defend me. I will dwell in His house for ever, for He welcomes His' guests
with an unfailing bounty, and under His roof no enemy can make them afraid.
I SHALL NOT WANT
student will have noted that the word "Lord" with, which the psalm opens, is
printed in our Authorized Version in small capital letters. Wherever this is the case it
stands for the word "Jehovah." This word, scholars tell us, means the Living
One, the self-existent Being, the I AM. He was, and is, and is to come; who inhabiteth
eternity; who hath life in Himself. All other life, from the little insect on the
rose-leaf to the archangel before the throne, is dependent and derived. All others
waste, and change, and grow old; He only is unchangeably the sane. All others are fires,
which He supplies with fuel; He alone is self-sustained.
mighty Being David claims as his Shepherd, and if this were really the case, he needed
no argument to prove that all his wants must be supplied. He knew that, when he was a
shepherd, no one of his sheep wanted aught that he could get. He had watched over every
one of them with an unfailing solicitude. He had often wandered on the hills till he was
weary, and long after he was weary, to find what little water the drought had spared. He
had driven off birds and beasts of prey with the smooth stones of his unerring sling, and
had even ventured forth against the lion and the bear, risking his very life that he might
save his flock. And if Jehovah is a shepherd, will He
let His flock lack anything that He can get for them? And as there is nothing He cannot get, how can they ever want?
doubtless, was David's argument, though he gave it no logical expression. We admit the
force of the argument; we admire the beauty of the figure; we feel the pathos of the
appeal. We love David for the vigor and the serenity of his trust in the God he had so
often put to the test. But do we not also envy, rather than imitate, him? Which of us can
say, with entire sincerity, "Since Jehovah is my Shepherd, I shall not want. Because
He is with me, I will fear no evil. Because He has anointed me with joy so often in the
past when I have fled to Him, I will abide in His love and service for ever"? Alas!
do we not feel that we want much, and are likely to be wanting much, before the journey is
even if we do not fear anything at present, do we not often trouble our present with
anxious forebodings as to the future? And while we may have the grace to believe that we
shall ultimately find ourselves sitting at His
table on the other side, do we not sometimes fear that the journey there is likely to be
anything but pleasant, that the future looks as though it will be just filled with
inevitable changes, dark uncertainties, and gloomy experiences; that 'we have yet to pass
through that narrow gorge of darkness which leads from this life to the next, and instead
of a cheerful trust in His abiding faithfulness, do we not find ourselves, on occasion,
wondering if, after all, we shall be able to see the Shepherd going before us all the
time, staff in hand, to brush from our path any brier of offense, and to guard us from the
ills which, at least to our imagination, haunt the pathway which lies ahead of us?
the psalm is, much as we admire it, many of us, we fear, must read it as a rebuke. We feel
that we miserably lag behind the fair ideal it sets before us, that we are far from having
attained the holy serenity, the calm, unwavering trust in God, which breathes through its
A SIMPLE TEST
we have any doubt on that score, we may soon put it to a simple, but conclusive test. 'Can
we repeat without doubt or misgiving even, the opening words of the psalm: "The
Lord [Jehovah] is my Shepherd, I shall not want"? If Jesus, His great Under-Shepherd,
were to stand in our -midst again, today, so that we could see Him with the eyes of flesh,
and with all the graciousness of" which' only He is capable, were to ask us:
"Brethren, lack ye anything?" and if we felt sure that He would give us whatever
we asked Him for, would there be but one answer from us all, and would that answer be:
"Nothing, Lord, nothing. We lack for nothing. We have everything we need. We have
lacked for nothing thus far; all our present wants are bountifully supplied; and we are
sure, so complete is our trust in Thee, that this will be so always"?
If we were
quite honest with Him, quite frank, should we not meet His question with a chorus of eager
requests? More than one brother, perhaps, would say, "Lord, of course I want Thy will
done, not mine, but the circumstances in which I find myself are not at all suited to my
taste. I could fill another sphere of: activities much more congenial to me, if only the
way were opened, but unfortunately I lack the means to fit myself for the change. Or
another would reply, "Lord, my business is waning. I have certain ideas, which, if
adopted, would make all the difference in the world, but it requires new capital, or at
least a line of credit, which I seem unable to secure."' Perhaps one might say,
"Lord, of course Thy way is best, but I had hoped to be able to spend my entire time
in Thy service, ministering Thy gracious Word to others. As things are now, I am so
pressed upon by domestic or business relationships, that I have hardly sufficient time to
see that my own spiritual life is nourished." A 'few, perhaps, who now spend their
whole time in "truth" activities, might be disposed to reply: "Lord, of
course I am very appreciative of my privileges, but when I succeeded in arranging my
temporal affairs so as to spend my' time exclusively in Thy service, I little realized how
petty and trivial many of the problems of the Church were to which I would be assigned. Of
course I have no idea. of drawing back, but if there is another corner in Thy vineyard to
which I could be transferred I feel that my labors would proceed much more happily
there." How many of us would be able to reply with absolute sincerity and joy:
"Lord, I want for nothing; save to be more like Thee. And even this, dear Lord, Thou
art working in me, and I look forward with confidence in Thy love and skill, that this
work of grace which Thou hast begun in me Thou wilt complete in Tine own good time and
way. Meantime, I am content, whatever lot I see, since 'tis Thy hand that leadeth
OUR FATHER'S RESOURCES ARE INFINITE
And yet, as
soon as we pause to consider, we may see that these cries for what we do not possess,
spring more or less from distrust-most of them from ignorance of our Father's resources.
We do not pause to reflect that our God is an infinite
God. While the cry of the worldling may be and indeed often is: "I perish with
hunger!"; while it is true that even young lions lack and suffer hunger, they that
seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.
If God be our Shepherd He can get us all we want, for there is absolutely no
limit to His power; and He will give us all we
need, for there is absolutely no limit to His goodness. Too often we forget, not only His
resources, but His love; and how that love, which embraces all, takes thought and care for
each. We want to choose our own way, to walk at our own will, and to see the store from which our future needs are to be
supplied. We forget that, if it have a good shepherd, the flock is not permitted to
ramble where it will, and still less is every sheep in the flock permitted to, do so. If
they were, there would soon be no flock left, but only a few sheep scattered through many
failing pastures (oh! how they fail), or on many barren hills, (oh! so barren) each at
the mercy of its foes. We are, too commonly, like sheep who should want to see an endless
supply of food and water set apart in their own private store, as though the sun would
never rise, or the rain fall, or the grass grow, again; or like a flock, which,, when one
pasture was consumed, and one stream dried up, should conclude that the shepherd knew of
no other pasture, and could find no other stream, because they could see none.. If we
would at all enter into the rest of David's trust, we must learn both that God cares for
the whole flock, and that He has provided for
the future which we cannot foresee, and for
which we cannot provide.
If only we
could eat our bread, and do our work, from day to day, without fretting about tomorrow,
and pass on to new spheres of action, and to new stores- of bread, when the Shepherd goes
before us, relying on His higher wisdom and love, would not our days go happily enough?
There is hardly any reflection more painful, than this, that if we look back on our past
lives, and recall all that has fretted and afflicted us, we shall find that most of our
fears were groundless fears, most of our anxieties 'needless anxieties, most of our
troubles a burden which we packed with our own hands, and imposed on our, own shoulders,
and that, had we been content to take each day as it came, and put our trust in God, the
lives that have been so fretted and sorrowful, might have been bright with content and
cheerfulness. Shall we not, then, for the-days that remain, believe that, since Jehovah is
our Shepherd, we shall not want?
FELLOWSHIP WITH JESUS
But let us
also, understand that, while the Good Shepherd will not let any of us want any good thing,
His main care will be for the whole, flock, and that at times He may do us the, honor of
asking us to bear trouble and bear pain, for the sake of the flock. As. He Himself spared
not His well-beloved Son, who was more than life itself to Him; as Jesus came and
willingly sacrificed Himself; as in all our afflictions Jehovah Himself is afflicted, so
He may invite us to bear toil and pain on behalf of others. Shall we shrink and complain
if He should put this honor on us? We shall not, if we are wise; for in calling us to this
service He is not, as we might hastily infer, asking its,, to sacrifice ourselves to
others; He is rather asking us, to serve others by toils' and sacrifices by which we
ourselves shall be made perfect. Reader, can you re-call any labor to which you have
bent, or any sacrifice you may have borne for the good of others, which has not, in the
long run, made you wiser, better, and, happier? Be sure then, when the call to service and
sacrifice comes again, that God is asking you to lose your life only that you may find
it, to serve His flock and to suffer for it, only that you may enter more: closely into
the joy and fellowship of your Lord.
I WILL FEAR NO EVIL
considered David's calm assurance that since the Lord was his Shepherd he could not
possibly want; let us turn next to his second expression of confidence: "I will
fear no evil."
casteth out fear. Nothing else will do, it. You may argue against fear, whether in
yourself: or in others. You may laugh it to scorn. You may try to shame it. But all will
be in vain. If you would' master fear, whether in 'yourself or in others, you must expel
it by the trust which is born of love. A simple illustration will suffice to demonstrate
this. A man comes home extremely hungry. His whole nature craves food. But as he enters
his house he learns that his child, suddenly stricken with fever, is lying at the point
of death. What becomes of that man's hunger? It is forgotten; it is gone. In the intense
love and, grief with which he bends over the tiny, feverish form, his own hunger is
forgotten, and he thinks only of how best he may minister to his child's needs. Thus the
lower passions are subdued in the soul by the higher. Thus, and thus only, is fear
dispelled. And so it happens, that the most timid brother or sister, from the natural
standpoint, who yet is conscious of the presence of the Good Shepherd, can sing through
the gloom, with notes of music which vibrate with the buoyancy of a courage which cannot
flinch or falter "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow, of death I
will fear no evil, for Thou art with me."
THOU ART WITH ME
Have you ever noticed the change in the pronoun here?
Hitherto the Psalmist has spoken of the Lord in the third person; but now; as he enters
the dark, gloomy ravine, like the sheep had often done to him, he, as one of the Lord's
sheep, presses close against his Shepherd. No longer does he speak about Him; he speaks to Him. In the green pastures, and beside the still
waters, he was content to speak of Him, "He maketh me to lie down." "He leadeth me." But now, as the darkness
deepens, it is "THOU."
are going well with us we may content ourselves with talking about the Lord; but when the sky darkens, we hasten
to talk directly to Him. I will fear no evil,
though I walk through a gloomy ravine, even the shadow of death itself; I will fear no
evil, for Thou art with me, Thy rod, Thy staff, they comfort me.
FOR EVER WITH THE LORD
Jehovah as his Shepherd, then, David was assured of two things. First, he could not
experience want, and second, he would fear no evil. Just a word in closing, on the third
expression of his trust and devotion: "Thou preparest a table before me in the
presence of mine enemies. Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over; surely
goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house
of the Lord for ever."
Is it still
the Shepherd whom we meet in the closing verses of this psalm? Are the memories of his
pastoral life still giving form and color to David's thoughts? Expositors differ in their
viewpoints on this question. Some think the figure of the Shepherd is maintained
throughout, and it must be admitted that if this be true, the value of this brief lyric,
from the literary standpoint, would be enhanced. Others think that at this point the
figure changes, and that, whereas in the first four verses of the psalm we see a shepherd,
guiding and caring for his flock, we see in the last two verses a king, who receives
fugitives to his table with a princely
hospitality, despite all the threatenings of
their foes; anoints them for the feast with cool, fragrant, oils; fills their cup with
wine till it runs over, and so bountifully supplies their
wants that they resolve to stay 'with him for good, feeling that in his house, and
reclining at his table, they have all their hearts can desire.
may read them, we cannot doubt that much new meaning and beauty is thrown into the psalm
by its final verses. Hitherto David has described the providence of God in neutral
tints, in negative tones. The Good Shepherd supplies the wants, and relieves the fears of
His flock. There is grass for their hunger; there is water for their thirst; there is the
protecting staff for their weakness. Hitherto, therefore, David has said only: "I
cannot want; I will fear no evil." True, even to rise above the fear of want and
danger gravely tasks our faith. But to, the
faith of David this, seems an incomplete result. If he is to do justice to his sense of the divine trustworthiness and
goodness, his voice must take warmer, fuller tones. If he is to give the energies of his
faith way and scope he must soar into a higher strain, and breathe a more illumined
atmosphere. The divine providence is far more than a mere asylum from want, or a mere
refuge from peril. It is characterized by the
generous warmth and bounty of Home. And he who
sincerely trusts in that providence does far more than surmount the depressions of fear
and care; he mounts into a triumphant gladness, a sacred and constant joy. Hence David
depicts himself as sitting at the table of the divine Shepherd, anointed with the oil of
festive mirth, drinking of a cup which runs over, so full is it of quickening joy, while
his foes, the enemies of his peace, rave and threaten ineffectively, from beyond a gulf
they cannot pass. I cannot want! No, indeed. I am raised a whole heaven above want. I sit
at a table lavishly supplied with all that is best and choicest; with fragrant oil on my
head, and the wine-cup in my hand. I will fear no evil!-What is there to fear in this
secure abode? My enemies, want, and care?" Ah! see, they stand afar off-impotent,
incapable of approach. Only goodness and lovingness pursue me now, or so pursue me as to
reach me. I will dwell with God my Shepherd-Host. I sit at His bountiful table. I shall
never more go out from His presence. And, therefore, with my whole heart will I sing and
give praise. I am the happy guest of God, and dwell with Him in an inviolable sanctuary,
an eternal home.
psalm, which opens in a mood of sacred and tranquil content, closes in a rapture. He who
knew no want, kindles into an ecstacy of triumphant joy.' He who feared no evil, wears .the crown of a victoriousness and
ever-augmenting gladness. He who was willing - to wander in dark and perilous paths, finds
himself in the house of the Lord for ever.
So may it be
with each one of us for His Name's sake. Amen.
-P. L. Read.
THE CONCLUSION--"I KNOW WHOM I HAVE BELIEVED"
"According to my earnest
expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness,
as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by
death." - Phil. 1:20.
TO HOW many
thousands of suffering saints and dying martyrs Paul's example and words have been an
incentive and inspiration none other. than the Lord can say. All through the earlier Pagan
and later Papal persecutions the thrilling words of Paul formed the shout of victory for
untold thousands. "I am now ready to be offered" has been said again and again
as a faithful follower of the Lamb finished his earthly course.
of the Lord to have made fitting pr,-vision for His people in those days of intense
darkness, when the fountains of truth had been defiled. Believing Jesus to have been a
"God man" -- a member of the Trinity; Very God of very God; they would never
have been able to see themselves as ''filling up that which was behind of the sufferings
of Christ in that their sufferings were linked with the sufferings of Jesus; hence, the
Lord had provided an exemplar in suffering from among themselves. He chose Paul and set
him before succeeding generations as an illustration of the fact, that "all who will
live godly shall suffer persecution." And many men have lifted their eyes to the
heights of Paul's life and suffering, who would not have striven to reach the sublimer
heights of the Savior's own sufferings and death.
We can thank
God today, that although the example set before us in the experiences of Paul reached
such amazing heights of constancy and devotion, still he came of the same fallen Adamic
stock as ourselves. Although by natural endowment he was one of the noblest of Adam's most
noble progeny, yet we may take comfort in the thought that the Savior's dying and
intercessory services were just as needful for him as for ourselves, and that our greater
need is covered just as truly as his, by that same precious blood.
while trying to follow Paul (as he tried to follow Jesus), we fail to reach up to the
heroic levels of his fully-surrendered life, we need never despair, because all our
deficiencies and demerits are fully covered by Jesus' perfect sacrifice. That being said,
it is incumbent upon us to remind ourselves why Paul's life reached such sublime and
exemplary heights. We must never, think that he had reached perfection. He was not a
perfect model. Unique though he stands among the followers of the Lord, he still had some
Adamic imperfectness about him, so far as his flesh was concerned. It was in the domain of
his motive and desire where his excellence abounded. Here indeed, was no deficiency. His
intention and purpose was always to do the will of the Lord, withholding neither hand
nor brain from the service of God, or the needs of his brethren.
He was a
"chosen vessel" unto the Lord-a Christian on a colossal scale; intended as a
"star of the first magnitude in "glory" when raised again; and the Lord
dealt with him accordingly. The Lord asked much of him, and gave much grace to him; and it
was in the gigantic trust which the Lord had committed to him, that we see what grace is
able to do, when it can work without let or hindrance. Paul became one of the most
glorious examples of what the indwelling power of God could produce, when that Divine
Spirit could both will and do of its good pleasure. There is no limit on the Divine
side, in this achievement. It is on the human side that the frailty lies. But, in this
case, in spite of frailty inherited or acquired, the Heavenly Artificer wrought one of
His most magnificent works in all the annals of time.
was the secret of it all? Again we ask, Was it because Paul was the master theologian of
his day? Was it because of, his indefatigable service in laboring more than they all? Was
it because of his unconquerable spirit that never admitted defeat? All these things had
their place, but these were consequences rather than causes? "I know whom I have
believed," he says. "I am persuaded that neither death nor life . . nor any
other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus" -
"The Lord stood with me"-"He loved me and, gave Himself for me." Here
we are touching primary things-causative things-the things from which all other things
sprang-and which generated in him dynamic energy, superhuman endurance, and unswerving
lay open to the Lord,, and the Lord filled it to overflowing; and in the filling,
transmuted whatever was base or of common ore into gold seven-times purified. That is
the secret of the Christain life even today, as then. No confession of faith, however full
and correct in statement it be, can fill and satisfy all the deep needs of the heart. No'
system; of doctrine, however faultlessly defined, can produce the fair bloom and
fragrance of sanctified experience. Necessary as a frame-work-a trellis-work-its gaunt
ribs would be unpleasing to the eye, if there were no fair foliage, no delightful bloom,
or caressing fragrance of the rose to follow, which, while hiding its structure, should
yet reveal it there. It is very necessary to know that Jesus died for us and that He
rose again for our justification, and that He will come again to receive us to Himself,
but the best of all is to "know Him"!
It is very necessary to know our
proper relationship to God's Covenants-the instruments by which He is working out His
plans-but better far to know Him who is the Seed of one, and the Sacrificial Victim of
another of these Covenants! "Remember that: Jesus Christ . . was raised from the
dead," said Paul to Timothy. "Remember that- Jesus Christ has been raised from
the dead," says the Diaglott. "Jesus Christ is raised from the dead"-alive,
forevermore, that was the great fact in. Paul's Gospel. And that is the great fact
today.- He is alive-a living, loving Savior; always f at one's call; nearer than a
brother,' warmer than a lover, tenderer than a mother, stronger than an army, entering
into every moment of every step of the way!
No child of
God however untaught, or however small his mental ability, need ever fail to enter into
this assurance. Doctrinal exactitude may elude him, chronological evidences may baffle
him, but no believer is so poorly endowed as to fail' to grasp the assurance that Jesus
lives; and the same loving Jesus who accompanied Paul, and transformed his whole life, can
do it again in the more limited sphere of his own little life. Give Him but the
opportunity to rule with undivided sway in a life devoted to "this one thing,"
then no power on earth-nor life, nor death, can prevent the accomplishment of His
purposes in us.
consecration is full and unreserved, and the needle of our will swings free and true to
His blessed Will, then every moment of our lives we will be able to say, "For me to
live is Christ. And come that last moment at the "nether gate, we shall find "to
die is gain" making our account in the Lamb's Book of Life complete. Then we also,
Paul's brethren in the faith, even though of lesser mold than he, can say as he, "As
always, so now" will we magnify Christ Jesus our Lord, in life or in death.
- T. Holmes, Eng.
I - The Fight
son, Timotheus, I have fought
The fight and found it good; for I have met
The herds of Bashan; Ephesian beasts have set
Their fangs to rend; and poisoned barbs have caught
And pierced the web of doctrine which I taught;
But I laid hold on God. The bayonet
Of Truth has slain the foes of Christ; and yet,
Was ever love of Truth too dearly bought?
still have on the armor, whole and strong,
And boldly fight the foes intrenched within,
For victory is the watchword of our days.
The Christian may not compromise with wrong,
My son. Be strong. To weaken is to sin.
To live is Christ. No other standard raise."
II - The Finish
Paul, most valiant courser, tell. Just how
Do matters stand? And 'being such an one
As Paul the aged, do you with patience run
The race along the track that stretches now
Toward yonder hill? Upon that gleaming brow
The goal is set. The race so well begun
Must finish there if thou dost hear, 'Well, done!'
O tell! Hast thou had grace to keep thy vow?"
course is finished, Timothy. The prize
Is won. I stand a victor before the gate
Of heavenly courts, and bright, eternal years
Unfold before my feeble, wondering eyes.
The time of my departure I await
In hope, forgetting now the toil and tears.
III - The Faith
have kept the faith. Through good and ill
Report, my God has given power and grace
To keep committed truth; ands in the space
Of time apportioned me I live to will
And do Him service; afflicted, to fulfill
All that which is behind in Christ; abase
Myself that in no way I shall erase
The luster of His image with me still.
the 'faith of God' that I have kept.
It is His gift most precious. The faith He gave
To Israel is mine. In faith I bow
With all the righteous prophets who have slept
In confidence of rising from the grave.
Let Christ be magnified! 'As always, so now.'
IV - The Crown
now henceforth there is laid up for me
A crown of righteousness. It shall be mine
On that great day of days when our benign
And gracious Lord shall call, and I shall see
His Face, and all His power and majesty
That once before I glimpsed. Those Hands, divine,
Hold now a crown of heavenly design,
The righteousness of immortality.
not for me -- not for me alone
Is this most precious thing. It is for all
Each true, and chosen, faithful one, who hears
And loves the Lord, all unashamed to own
And praise His name. Be faithful to thy call,
My son. A crown be thine when Christ appears."
- Nellie Florence Jolly
(Book rights reserved)