THE SECRET PLACE OF THE MOST HIGH By Tony Marshall Anderson
DEDICATED To The Whole Family of God on Earth
After hearing Brother Anderson preach on the ninety-first Psalm, I requested him to publish it. My reason was that my soul was fed, my faith invigorated, my spiritual life enriched. We greatly need spiritual riches these days when there is so much to dampen and deaden us in our Christian lives.
I welcome with high appreciation such helps as you will find here. The opening of this Psalm is a fine example of true exposition as well as a source of spiritual quickening. May God richly bless it as it goes forth bearing its helpful message to the saints.
I have followed the custom of reading some book of this type with much profit in connection with my daily devotional Bible study. I commend both this book and this method to all.
C. W. Butler
It has been our conviction for some time that the people of God should be assisted in every way to a better understanding in the things which are freely given them of God. This little volume we have prepared with this end in view. If those who read it can be enabled to see the gracious privileges accorded the saints and derive spiritual value from it we shall have been compensated fully for our labor of love.
Some have thought that this psalm is not a present heritage of the holy people; but that it points to their future happiness in the Millennium. We have not seen fit to so interpret it. To our heart it offers present consolation. In it we see the inheritance of all who are sanctified by faith. It pictures the blessed state of all who dwell by faith in a conscious experience of holiness before God.
The psalm is a conversation between three persons: God speaks in the closing verses, and reveals His will concerning the man who sets his love upon Him. Perhaps David and Solomon are the other speakers. David gives his testimony in the opening words. In this he describes the state of grace of which the holy place in the temple was a type. Solomon speaks in verse two, and reveals the manner of faith which is essential to enter into this holy place.
The scope of the promises contained in the will of God made to His holy people covers every thing in the plan of God for them from preservation to final salvation in heaven. It confirms the fact that He is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto Him.
We trust that God shall use this little book to establish His people in faith, and hope and love.
T. M. Anderson
THE SCRIPTURE LESSON
Psalms 91 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. 3 Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. 4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. 5 Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; 6 Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. 7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. 8 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. 9 Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; 10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. 11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. 12 They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. 13 Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. 14 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. 15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. 16 With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation.
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THE SECRET PLACE OF THE MOST HIGH
It is evident that the Psalmist refers to the Holy of holies as being the secret place of the Most High. Into this sacred place only a priest may enter. The people remained without, trusting to the priest to represent them before God, Whose Presence dwelt within this sacred enclosure. It was not their privilege to enjoy such close and intimate relationship with God.
But it was not in the plan of God that this order should continue forever. Under a new covenant, God promised that all should come to know Him from the least to the greatest. The way into the holiest was to be opened to all the people of God through the blood of Christ. Of Him it is said, "By His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us" (Heb. 9:12).
Again we read, "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the vail, that is to say, His flesh; and having a High Priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water" (Heb. 10:19,22).
Through the Spirit the Psalmist had seen these thing with the eye of faith. The holy place in the temple being a type of the spiritual and the heavenly, the Psalmist saw that it should become the privilege of all the people of God to enter this place and dwell in the Presence of God as priests and kings. As it was a place on earth where a man could come into the Presence of the Most High, so should there be a state of grace through Christ which should give a man a conscious sense of being in the Presence of God.
In the experience which it signifies, all believers, can in this life, enter into the very Presence of God by faith, and dwell before Him in holiness and righteousness all the days of their lives.
It is a new and living way which is opened to them. Those who enter it shall live in the light of His face, for they see God. They shall live in the light of His glory, for their light has come, and the glory of the Lord hath risen upon them. They shall live in His love, for they dwell in love. They shall live in His will, for His pleasure rests upon them. In this place the heart is purged from all conscious sense of sin; and God has received them into holy fellowship with Himself.
HE THAT DWELLETH IN THE SECRET PLACE OF THE MOST HIGH
Since we see that the secret place of the Most High when stated in terms of Christian experience is the grace of holiness into which all believers may enter through faith in Christ, we come next to a study of the results and nature of this gracious state of grace.
These results are shown in the promises of God made to His holy people in all ages of the world. We find them in both the Old Testament and the New; and see them included in the covenants of promise made in each dispensation.
The secret place of the Most High is a place of soul rest. Those who enter this place find the promised rest. David recognized this, for he said in this psalm, "Thou hast made the Most High thy habitation." The one who spoke the words of the second verse saw it to be a "refuge and fortress." A To enter into holiness is to enter into God. He becomes the habitation, the home of rest for the soul. Outside of Him there is no rest from cares, frets, and worries. In Him only is there peace of mind, quietude of spirit, and rest unto the soul.
Holiness results in a sense of security in the love and grace of God. It brings the sweet consciousness that all shall be well with him who trusts and obeys the Almighty Father
It is a delightful experience to have an end to wanderings in an unstable and unsettled condition of life. Assailed by doubts, tormented by fears, discouraged by failures, betrayed by deceitful lusts, and troubled at the thought of judgment, one cannot rest and be happy in his religion Something must come to end these things, and still the voice of conscience with the full assurance of faith. Holiness is the end of these distressing things in the life and heart, and results in bringing the believer to rest in God. The secret lace is then the place of rest to the soul.
But this proves not only to be a resting place, but also a state of rest while we journey. "My Presence shall go with thee. and I will give thee rest" (Ex. 33:14). This promise accords with the promise made by our Lord that He would be with us unto the end. This is rest in journey. All of God's people are travelers to the land of perfect rest; but as they journey they are surrounded by designing foes and cruel enemies. God's Presence with them shall give them rest from the strife of tongues, and the wrath of men and devils.
Many are the needs of His people as they pass through this world, but His Presence with them shall supply all their needs according to His riches in glory. They are a faltering and weak people, but His presence shall support them in times of weakness, and comfort them in moments of fainting. He shall make them to ride on the high places of the earth in victory, and obtain honey from the rock, and oil from the flinty rocks of trial and sore affliction (Deut. 32:9-13).
The blessings promised to all who dwell in His Presence in the Holy place are many; and shall be found sufficient to meet every emergency in life. His people shall rest in confidence of sufficient grace for help in every time of need. They live surrounded by the God of all grace like one surrounded by the four walls of a city of refuge, or a strong fortress. They have ever in sight the cloud by day, and the fire by night. God has beset them behind and before, and laid His hand over them. They rest under the shadow of His Almightiness.
God's sanctified people have rest in service performed for Him. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. They work for Him constantly, yet never tire of the work. They may grow weary in it, but never weary of it. This is according to promise. "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls." These rest in perfect fellowship with Him in the yoke of service. They are never left alone to toil and sacrifice for He is ever yoked with them. They ever learn of Him how to perform in meekness and humbleness of heart. They are at rest in the fellowship of service, having found the heart of Jesus as a resting place. Pride and self-will are destroyed in the nature, and rest from these disturbing causes is obtained. To enter into perfect fellowship with Jesus in the yoke of service, we learn the nature of His heart. To know His heart, is to experience in our heart what He is in heart. If He is meek and lowly in heart, and our hearts come to know this in experience, then have we rest from the pride and self-will so inimical to our peace. A people who labor in the Master's service without feeling pride and self-will will never be weary in well doing. The flatteries and persecutions from the wicked shall not disturb their serenity of spirit. And where the Lord is there will His servants be also, because His interests are their interests.
THE SECRET PLACE OF THE MOST HIGH IS THE PLACE OF SOUL SATISFACTION
The place of His Presence is the place of contentment because it is the answer of the heart cry, "Show us the Father, and it sufficeth us." Love is consummated in this place of holiness, for there God gives Himself to us, and we give ourselves to Him. In this relationship there is satisfaction; it is the satisfaction of possession. We know that in matters of life and business satisfaction is obtained by possession. The possession of wealth, or power, or place, or friends gives contentment. This is true with respect to religion; for if we do not come to possess the object of our devotions, our religion is vain, and does not satisfy the heart.
A religious profession that does not know God can never prove satisfactory to any person. It may be held as a matter of form; but it has no life in it to appease the soul with the assurance of fellowship with God. A profession of holiness may be empty and void and far from satisfactory because it is not holiness in reality, but in name only. True holiness brings to the soul the conscious sense of God, as real as the High Priest in the holy place was conscious of God. The testimony given by the holy people is that they were made to know Him in a manner which fully satisfied their hearts when they came into the blessing of holiness. It was this note of satisfaction which the psalmist sounded when he said, "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty." This is a testimony to a state of complete satisfaction of soul.
In this place the soul is satisfied with righteousness. "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." To be filled, is to be filled with that righteousness for which they hungered; and means to be filled with satisfaction in possession of righteousness. Those who are in the secret place are, "Before Him in holiness and righteousness."
There is such a thing as being satisfied with righteousness. It is a state of heart purity which does not need improvement in quality; it is satisfactory before God, and to our conscience. There is no further longing for a greater degree of purity; this has been received in its fullest measure. A sanctified man is a satisfied man. He is not satisfied in the sense that he has no desire to learn more about God, and how to serve Him more perfectly in a becoming manner: but he is satisfied in heart, because he is perfected in holiness before God. This is a finished matter; the quality of which cannot be improved.
The belief current among many professing Christians is that none ever come to a state of satisfaction in righteousness, but that they must daily seek it. This is contrary to scripture and to experience. "He has perfected forever them that are sanctified." By His offering of Himself, Jesus has made it possible to end sin in the heart, and perfect it forever in holiness. When He cleanses from all sin, there is no more sin to be cleansed from. This state gives satisfaction to the hungry heart by filling it with righteousness.
Those who are dwelling in the secret place of the Most High live a life of constant victory. They are privileged to live without a break in their fellowship with God. This is not saying that holy persons may not grieve the Spirit. But it is saying that the normal state of holiness before God is a life of constant victory over all temptations. Provision is made in Christ's atonement for His people that do sin; but no justifiable excuse is offered for them. God has made ample, provision for victory; but no excuse is offered for defeat. He considers that His grace is sufficient for all. This life is shown in these words of the prophet, "That we might serve Him in holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of our life." The duration of the service 6f a people so delivered is to be all the days of their lives; in days of trial from friends and foes; in days of Sickness, and in days of health; in days at home or away from home. Let a day bring forth what it will, these are prepared for it.
The secret place is a dwelling place before God. This means that it is a place where holy people live their lives before God. They are citizens of this holy state and are obedient to its holy laws. These have taken a permanent abode in God's holy place; they are governed by the laws of the Most High. They keep themselves in this place and the place keeps them.
Under another figure of holiness God says it is a way. "It shall be called the way of holiness. The wayfaring men, though fools shall not err therein." This serves to show us this life of victory is constant and unbroken. Those who travel it are kept on it, being guided by it like the rails guide the train. The way itself keeps them even though they are ignorant in many respects. Let all who dwell in this holy place, and travel on this holy way with God, see to it that they continue to dwell there by faith and obedience to its holy laws, and God will give them grace to make them more than overcomers and conquerors.
THOSE WHO DWELL IN THE SECRET PLACE HAVE FULLNESS OF JOY ALWAYS
In His Presence is fullness of joy; at His right hand there are pleasures evermore. This joy comes from the mutual relationship which exists between the Lord and His people. They are His joy, and He is their joy. His joy remains in them, and their joy is full.
Joy is a pleasant emotion produced by that which is pleasing to the desires. God desires the love of His holy people; He is pleased when they set their love upon Him. Jesus urged His disciples to continue in love for Him and for each other that His joy might remain in them. By His joy remaining in them, He meant, that He would continue to have pleasure in them. So long as God is pleased with us our joy will be full. In the state of holiness a man is in a place where God is ever pleased with him as He was with Enoch; and gives him the testimony of His pleasure.
This is a state of joy unspeakable and full of glory. This is proven by the fact that the slightest grieving of God results in a perceptible loss of joy. One who has lost all joy has lost God.
With the incoming of the Holy Ghost there is the setting up of the Kingdom of God in the heart. This kingdom in the heart is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. It is a state of holiness, rest and joy, produced by the inbeing of the Spirit. Each of these becomes an important part of the life of a Christian.
This joy is the support and comfort to the heart in times of trial and deep sorrows. But it remains only so long as we continue in favor with God, and dwell in His presence in holiness. It never subsides, but ever flows like a fountain in the heart of the abiding saint.
Paul shows its worth in the following words: "Rejoice in the Lord alway; and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand." The cause for rejoicing was that the Lord was at hand. Read it thus, "The Lord is present." His Presence with the apostle in prison was what produced the joy. What matter where we are, if the Lord is with us, let us rejoice. No prison walls can rob a saint of joy, because a prison cannot keep the Lord away from His people. This joy is independent of circumstances and conditions; it comes from the Presence of the Lord. Those who dwell in the secret place dwell in His Presence, and have fullness of joy.
ABIDING UNDER THE SHADOW OF THE ALMIGHTY
"He shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty." This promise is made to all who dwell in the secret place of the Most High. In it we are to behold the happy estate of God's holy people who dwell in His Presence in the holy place. They are to be over-shadowed by His Almighty Power, and live in the light of the love of the Almighty Father.
To these God has revealed His sevenfold Will. In the last three verses of the Psalm God speaks: He promises that He will do seven things for them who set their love upon Him. We find this promise to contain the perfect will of God concerning His people. This Will shall be the overshadowing of the Almighty under which they shall abide.
I WILL DELIVER HIM
In this promise we are to rest our hearts in full assurance; it is a promise of preservation. The scope of deliverance is as vast as the needs of the people. It matters not what the nature of their trials may be, there is no exception in any case: "I will deliver," saith the Almighty. No power against them shall ever be greater than the Almighty Power which overshadows them. He that is for us is greater than all that is against us. This promise of deliverance is confirmed to the people of God in the testimony of the Psalmist contained in verses three to thirteen. To this witness God adds His own promise, "I will deliver him." In the mouth of these two witnesses this word is established to His saints.
"Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler." In this phase of the promise of preservation, God pledges Himself to deliver his people from that form of temptation which appeals to the appetites and desires. A snare was a baited trap. It was baited with such tempting foods as appealed to the creature. The food was not a form of evil, it was something which appealed to a normal desire; yet to obtain it one would fall into a snare of the enemy. In this we see that Satan can use things which are not evil to snare the children of God. The things used to compass the fall of the first man were not evil, they were but a bait in the snare of the Tempter. It was not an evil desire to desire knowledge; neither was it wrong to look upon the beautiful, as Eve looked; nor was it sin to desire food. But these things were used to snare the soul, and place those taken in it in the power of the enemy of God.
When Satan tempted our Lord he resorted to those things which made appeal to the normal desires. Food was suggested to Jesus after he had fasted for forty days. Thus a strong appeal was made through His natural appetite. The glories of the earth were shown Him, thus appealing to His desire to make the kingdoms of the earth the Kingdom of God. An escape from suffering was offered Him through a short cut, inferred in the proposition of Satan that He cast himself from the pinnacle of the temple. In this way the Lord could have deceived the people by appearing as if He had descended from heaven in bodily form. He would have escaped the suffering of the cross. It was not a sin to desire to escape sufferings, but it was wrong according to the plan of God for the world's redemption. Thus the devil baited his snare with that which appealed to the natural desires.
In such moments God has promised a way of escape to all His people. He will make them wise to see the hand of Satan in the matter, so they may be delivered from him.
In this promise is revealed a promise of special wisdom to be given the elect. There is nothing that warrants us to say that God will exercise a power in their behalf, at such times of temptation, that will force them to refuse it; but it does imply that they shall be made to see the design of the devil, so that they may escape by refusing him as Jesus refused him.
It will be well with the soul who wisely considers these things. Through the natural desires for wealth, companions, friends, property, health, pleasure, knowledge, and a host of other things, some have been taken captive by Satan. God will surely deliver all who flatly refuse to compromise themselves in God's sight in order to have these things. To abide under His shadow one must deny himself. If it means poverty, so might it be. If it means loneliness, God will not leave His people, even if all others do.
God has a way by which all desires of His people are satisfied. They do not have to seek things from the devil. Every good gift, and every perfect gift comes from God. All that is necessary to supply the needs of both body and soul God will give. It is not necessary to do evil to obtain what is good in this life. No good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly. Having food and raiment therewith be content. Beware of the snare of the fowler. See the snare; and not the bait, and wisely refuse to be enticed and destroyed.
"And from the noisome pestilence." From this He will deliver His people. In this figure of a noisome pestilence we understand that there are temptations which are like subtle emanations, like a stench from something putrid. It is something which continually annoys like a pest. Temptations that are a nuisance. The deliverance granted to the elect in this situation does not always end the misery by banishing the cause, it rather proves to be an opportunity for God to give more grace so they may endure it. God receives greater glory by preserving His people in the midst of annoying circumstances, than He would if He removed the cause of the trouble. Blessed is the man who has seen this through anointed eyes.
There are many annoying trials which pester the people of God. They do not assume great proportions becoming giants that attack; they are like a stinging insect, or a monotonous noise which keeps the nerves on edge, and disturbs rest. Such trials that irritate, ruffle, and aggravate. How blessed is the promise of deliverance.
Trials of this nature are caused by persons who have not bridled the tongue. It seems they never run out of news of the sort that does not edify, neither does it contribute to the peace of the home, the church, or the town. These human pests can cause more pain and misery than a swamp infested with annoying insects. The sting of their words is felt in every place. Were it not for God's grace they would be intolerable to bear. Hardly a church exists on earth that does not have an affliction of this sort. It has produced backsliding, schism, and discord among the believers. Well saved is the man who has been delivered from this noisome pestilence; and has kept sweet, kind, and patient under the annoyance to his religious peace. There is no known method for the extermination of these trials; but there is a deliverance promised to all who dwell in the secret place of the Most High. They shall be saved from the strife of tongues.
The eccentricities of persons constitute an annoyance from which one must be delivered if he would have peace. The art of getting on with all kinds of persons is learned from Jesus. He was nagged and pestered by the curious; He was misunderstood by His relatives and friends; He was wearied by the crassness of His disciples; He was persecuted by His enemies. Despite all this He had the bearing of a King, the dignity of God, the sympathy of a friend, the love of a brother, and the patience of the pure. In the midst of the pestilence of humanity He never failed once to display the nature of God. "As He is, so are we in this world." Jesus was delivered, He was kept from the noisome pestilence when He lived in the midst of it. Let every child of God draw upon Him for such a deliverance.
"Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day." Here is a promise of deliverance from fear: the fear of the unseen evils that approach in the darkness; and from the fear of the swift and sudden evils that fly like an arrow in the day.
In this figure God has shown His people that there is Divine protection from the things which take them unawares. Things that come by surprise like a terror in the night. Things that happen by accident like a stray arrow may kill an innocent person. This deliverance is designed to give the saints rest of mind and spirit. "Under his feathers shalt thou trust." He shall cover thee with His wings so that thy protection may be assured. Can you see the hen hovering her brood, shielding it with her own body from the blasts and the foes? Her brood does not consider it a risk to sleep under her protection. Shall we be restless as one that takes a risk? Shall we not trust and be at peace. The devil cannot hurry us off to heaven before God has finished with us here. No accidents will befall His saints. Every thing shall come to them by His permission, and not by mere chance. The saints are not creatures of mere chance subject to the happenings of the world. They are a protected family, He that keeps them never slumbers nor sleeps. He is never off guard, nor taken by surprise, either day or night. He is able to keep that which we have committed to His care. We have placed in His care our souls, our bodies, our life, our works, and know whom we have believed, and are persuaded He is able to keep all committed to Him against that day.
There are temptations which approach like a terror out of the night. They can not be seen until they are upon us. The prince of darkness commands evil persons who under cover spawn their dark deeds and send them forth to trouble the saints. God must preserve His children from the black lies of their foes, and from the dark treachery of their enemies. So great is the malice of the wicked that they would early destroy the righteous with dark persecutions and vicious lies were they not prevented by the Almighty. Were it not that God did preserve His workmen, no faithful preacher could stand before sinners and condemn their sins and live. They would starve him and assassinate him, and utterly forbid him to minister if God did not defend him. The early church with its fiery ministry is an example of Divine preservation. They survived in the midst of impending doom, and threats of death. The powers of darkness did not quench their zeal, nor dampen their ardor. They were not afraid of the terror of darkness.
The arrow that flieth by day may mean open defiance and persecution by bold and wicked men. If so there is deliverance from them. It may mean accidents as we think of the term. This is not to say that good men may not suffer by what some may call an accident, as a misfortune to body or mind. Many good men have been killed in wrecks and by disasters on land and sea. But who will say that it was because God had relaxed His vigilance? Who knoweth the Divine will in the matter? Even these things for which there is no explanation now, do not make this promise of deliverance of no effect.
God will preserve His saints from evil, and save them' from sin which only can kill eternally. Open persecution, and hold wickedness, and avowed opposition, shall not be stronger than the hand that guides the life entrusted to His care. Saints may die as martyrs but they shall die holy, and not as sinners. They will die in battle, but not perish in retreat. They shall be more than conquerors through Him that loves them.
Mark these words, "A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee." That which destroys others by thousands shall not destroy one saint whom God is pleased to deliver from death." Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked." God's people shall not suffer as do the wicked who have not made the Most High their habitation. Some authorities say this properly rendered means that the saints of God shall be so panoplied with might that they shall win in battle with a thousand enemies on a side, and ten thousand adversaries on the right hand. God shall help them to overthrow all forces arrayed against them. It must have been this which Pilgrim saw. He tells us of the host of devils that were gathered about one old and feeble woman whom God had made strong by His grace. There are many witnesses on the side of righteousness who have fought their way against such great odds because God hath strengthened them with might by His Spirit. He fights for them as a father that defends His children.
"Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder." This is part of the promise of deliverance. In this figure of the lion and the adder God shows His preservation from trials that are strong as a lion, and trials that are subtle and deadly as a serpent. We are told in scripture that the Devil is like a roaring lion, walking about, seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet. 5:8). Under this figure we are able to see a method of attack by the devil. The lion with a terrible roar startles the timid creatures, and stampedes them; in their confusion they break cover and run in wild fright to escape, and thus fall prey to the foe. Some temptations are so sudden and terrible that they startle and confuse holy persons. The adversary accuses them of things which are utterly false, yet so terrible that they lose their heads and would give up if God did not deliver them. God enables them to resist the enemy steadfast in the faith. Their hearts are not to faint with discouragement; they are to strengthen their spirits by faith in Him Who is Almighty.
Persons newly in the experience of holiness are subjected to these attacks more than mature saints. They are suddenly thrust into what appears to be darkness and fears. It seems like some impending disaster hangs over them. Their feelings are depressed and joy seems gone. They have no knowledge of what caused it. It came upon them suddenly like a cloud over the face of the sun. This is the lion attack of the devil. A restful faith in God during this storm, with a prayer that pleads the blood of hope, will result in victory. God shall not suffer those to be tempted above what they are able to bear. To them is the promise, "I will deliver."
Temptations which are like an adder reveal another method of Satan's attack. The adder is a very small serpent; its bite is certain death. Strange as it may seem, the poison is painless. Those who are bitten by it die without pain like one that goes to sleep. They die in a sleep induced by the poison. How much do we need the protection from such a temptation. A death produced by a poison which causes souls to sleep the sleep of death. In such a state the sin into which they have fallen has rendered them unconscious of their fate. It has deadened their consciences numbed their feelings, killed their faith, and destroyed their love. Such are dead while they live on earth. Stung to death by the asp of some secret sin which has been kept hidden as a serpent. Struck down by a small but deadly evil. The deliverance promised is that God will prevent such a fate from befalling believers if they will heed the warning given in time. There is certainly a way by which
God can make known to His people their danger before they are within a striking distance from this form of sin. Some who have survived the roaring of the lion of temptation have succumbed to the sting of the asp. They decried the open and flagrant sins of the age, but were smitten by some hidden evil which was small but deadly. The public amusements, and worldly fashions may not capture some with their roaring attractions. But the asp of pride, self will, deceit, prejudice, self-esteem; selfishness, and such like, may have been indulged rather than destroyed. The poison of these things can enter the soul like the poison of a serpent can enter the body. Some have given up to them, who were once clear escaped from them; death, painless and terrible, has crept as a sleep over their souls. Look to Him for deliverance, lest this form of temptation overtake you. That God will enable His people to tread upon these things is the promise. They shall be masters and not servants through grace.
"The dragon shalt thou trample under feet." This is a promise of victory over imaginary evils. Trials that do not exist outside of the mind. There is no such creature as a dragon. It is a mythical beast, having no reality or existence. It may seem strange that any person should be troubled and distressed with things which are purely mental, and serve to frighten like a ghost story. In this group of persons reside those who worry, and fret; they are anxious and restless; not because of things real but because of what they think things are going to be, or what they believe will surely happen. They live in a nightmare of fear about things that have not happened but which they fear will. They see defeat where God has promised victory. They see failure where God has promised success. They see barrenness where God has promised fruit. If God fails their prediction shall come true; the dragon of mist shall take form; but until He does fail let us not be faithless but believe. The great nation of China has failed to develop her vast resources because to dig into the mountains for coal, or minerals, or drill for oil, they feared they would strike a dragon. Thus the years have been wasted, stolen from them by their mythical dragon. How true it is that many persons have been deceived by the tempter, and have been robbed of years of useful life in a happy Christian experience because they lived in fear of what has never existed outside of their own distorted imagination. Those who live in this realm are yet children with childish fears of the dark, and of the terrible things that hide there. By the eye of achieving faith we see the victory, the fruit of our toils, the answer to our prayers, the realization of our hopes, and the ultimate success of our undertakings. The dragon of fear dissolves before the rising sun of His coming glory. Darker may grow the day about us, but brighter shines the day before us. Kingdoms may fall about, but one that cannot be moved is ahead of us, the earth shall perish, and the utter dissolution of all things shall come, but we see a new heaven and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness. Thank God we can tread upon the dragon of fear because God makes us to conquer.
In this psalm God has not only told His people that from which He will deliver them, but has also told them how He shall deliver them. "I will deliver," saith the Lord. The Almighty pledges Himself as deliverer. All that He is by nature is placed at the disposal of the saints. His power to make them strong; His intelligence to make them wiser than their adversaries; His Presence to assure them of support; His love to comfort them in distress.
Also "His truth shall be thy shield and buckler." His truth contains promises for all times and circumstances; and these will be invariably fulfilled to them that trust in Him. The fulfillment of a promise relative to defense and support to the soul is what a shield is to the body. It is the duty of saints to store their minds with His truth to have as a shield of defense against the day of trial.
Our Lord withstood Satan by saying, "It is written." What God has said is the last word on any matter, rest on His word and be saved.
"He shall give his angels charge over thee." Evil spirits may attempt to injure thee; but they shall not be able. His angels have a special charge to accompany, defend, and preserve thee, and against their power, the influence of evil spirits cannot prevail. His angel, when necessary, shall turn the steps of a good man out of the danger that is in his way. They will ward it off when it comes in his path. These shall minister to the children of God as they ministered to the Son of God. They may be tempted in a wilderness, but that wilderness shall be filled with His ministering spirits sent to minister to the heirs of salvation.
It is said of the angels that they shall, "Keep thee in all thy ways." The way of a son of God is the way of obedience; it is the path of duty. In this way is safety, for His angels will bear thee up in their hands lest thou dash thy feet against a stone. They will prevent injury and falling in this holy way.
I WILL SET HIM ON HIGH
A wealth of meaning is contained in this promise made to him who dwells in the secret place of the Most High. It means that he has been exalted to a place of honor, and accorded privileges which belong only to such as the Lord is pleased to ennoble. Like Joseph was taken from prison by Pharaoh and made to have charge of matters involving great responsibilities, and was exalted to a place of great honor and power; so God lifts persons who set their love upon Him, and elect to make Him their portion, to places of power, and authority, and riches in spiritual things.
He exalteth His holy people to the place of kings and priests unto Him. This involves responsibilities such as belong to the office of kings and priests; but implies that He Who has deigned to honor them, will enable them to fill these places as becometh saints. God's grace releases the best there is in a man, and devotes his entire talents to the service of God in all its branches. But this implies also, that God will give grace and strength to him, thus enabling him to exercise his gifts and talents in such a manner as to redound to the highest glory to God. When the Almighty sets a man on high, He frees him from all that has imprisoned him; crowns him with the glory of His love and grace, and places him in a position of power and authority to do service in the name of the Lord.
Many places in the New Testament we find such exalted positions revealed as being the will of God for His people.
There is an exalting from a place of servants to that of friends. "Henceforth I call you 'not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known to you" (Jno. 15:15). Our Lord states His reason for this honoring of His disciples. A slave has no part in the affairs of his master other than to render duty. He is not consulted in matters of importance, neither is he made to share in a way that friends of the master are made to share. But when elevated to the place of friends there is fellowship with the Lord in a place of honor in his Presence.
From this we see that Jesus exalts His people to a place of equality in His love like His place in the love of the Father. "As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you." Likewise they are honored by having a part in knowing the things of the Father and the Son.
This fact reduced to its simple terms of spiritual truth means that the saints are exalted to the place where God, through Christ, can more and more reveal His nature and His will to them. By this their lives shall be made lives of everlasting joy and pleasure as they revel in the glories of His Presence, and discover depths and heights of God never known before. They shall be made to increase in the knowledge of God. They shall go from glory to glory in knowledge and revelation of God. He shall reveal to them His moods, His ways, His pleasures, and His doings.
These who are His friends are in a position to know His commandments concerning all things pertaining to their lives, and that pertaining to His interests in the world. "Ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you." Obedience is not only a proof of friendship with Christ, but it is the result of friendship. A true friend of His knows what His commandments are, and because they love Him, they do those things which He has commanded.
The truth so clearly revealed in this language of our Lord concerning His people being His friends is, that they are to have revealed to them the whole program of God concerning their services for Him; and that they shall be prompted by the Spirit, and constrained by love to perfectly obey Him in all things. At no time shall they be in doubt as to His will concerning them; neither shall they ever be wanting in power to perform it. The saints of God are made to feel they have a part in the great plan of Christ in the world; and giving themselves wholly to the cause of Christ, furnishing Him with the human agency so necessary to the furtherance of His work in the earth. It is apparent from this scripture that all who dwell in the secret place of the Most High are exalted to a place of intimate friendship with God; and from Him learning what to do that will please Him, they promptly do of His good pleasure.
There is an exaltation to a place of power. This is clearly revealed in the promise, "I will set him on high." God elevated David to a throne of power. God will lift the weakest man to the place of highest authority, and by him confound the mighty, and bring to naught the wisdom of the wise, if He can have His way with that man. Many proofs' of this are written in the pages of history which record the' achievements of the saints. One wishing to walk through God's hall of fame, has only to read Hebrews, chapter eleven. These worthies had been set on high, and by faith they exercised the authority vested in them.
All who dwell in the secret place of the Most High have come into a relationship with God of trustworthiness. They are pure, and because of this, they are empowered. This is clearly set forth in the words of our Lord, "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place: and it shall obey you; and nothing shall be impossible unto you" (Matt. 17:20).
The possession of such a faith places one in command of such power that mountains can be removed, and nothing shall be impossible unto him. There are possibilities in every man like there is a life in a seed. Potentially every child of God is a king as every American boy is a president. The possibilities are there, he needs only to be put into office to be vested with the authority. Perhaps this is a crude way of expressing this great truth, but the fact before us is that God's holy people are put into possession of power that is all-sufficient by virtue of the place of exaltation which He gives them. It is evident that they do not remove the mountain by their labors; it is removed by a force which they command. I watched with keen interest a steam shovel at work. It lifted with ease a truck load of rock and dirt. It removed a hill with small effort on the part of the operator. I had no authority over this power, but this man did. The man did not remove the hill, he had harnessed a power which served him. So is it with the people of God; they are set on high. They have at their command the power of Omnipotence which makes all things possible unto them. Such faith laughs at impossibilities and cries, It shall be done.
God's people must realize that power is a result of relationship. It is given only to the people who are dwelling in the holy place with God. The essential thing is to dwell there, and God will give power to perform all things. This fact is so important that we will consider one more promise regarding it. "Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you." No matter how this passage is rendered, it shows that power follows after the Spirit comes upon the believers. But the Spirit did not come upon them for the sole purpose of empowering them: He was given for the purpose of sanctifying them, and bringing them into perfect conformity to the will of God. When such a relationship as this is established, power follows as a result. It comes after purity. The Holy Ghost brings believers into an experience of grace, called by the psalmist, the secret place of the Most High, because it is the grace where saints dwell in the presence of God in holiness. The result of this grace is, they are empowered, or set on high like kings with authority.
Since we are considering power as a result of relationship it will be well to consider the purpose of power. When God wills to set His people on high it is because He wills to make them useful, as well as honorable. They have kingly prerogatives in order that they may serve the King of kings. It is apparent to all that power is for service; which service is included in the term, witnesses. We are His witnesses before the world that it might believe on Him for salvation. Hence fruit bearing is the important thing in a Christian experience.
There is power for fruit-bearing. But power for bearing fruit is the result of abiding in Him. This corresponds with the experience of dwelling in the secret place of the Most High. Those who dwell there are set on high, and by that power given them bring forth fruit to glorify God.
Jesus had much to say on the matter of fruitfulness. In the parable of the vine and branches He taught that a fruitful life was an abiding life. Without Him we can do nothing. This means that apart from Him we are impotent, and cannot beget souls by our ministry and service. Barren lives, and fruitless ministries are so much in evidence around us, that a word on this matter is not amiss. Too many professing Christians are withered branches; in vain do they look for fruit which never can be produced because they are apart from Him. A broken relationship results in a barren ministry, and a fruitless life. Some have never entered into the secret place with God, and their fruitless lives are not the result of a break with Him; but a result of having never entered the experience. They have lived on little, when they should have had much; they have done a few things when they might have done many things; results have been meager, when God willed they should bear much fruit.
There lies at the door of the church a crippled world like the lame man lay at the beautiful gate of the temple. Power to lift it up is vested in all who have been with Jesus in the Holy place. The other crowd may be in the majority, but have no help to give, because they have received no power to serve in such high and honorable service. If all would enter the secret place of the Most High they would be elevated to a high place, and rendered capable of giving a lift to the impotent world that lies at our very doors. You cannot lift one higher than you have gone; neither can you give what you have not received.
HE SHALL CALL UPON ME, AND I WILL ANSWER HIM
Here is a promise made to the people dwelling in the secret place of the Most High that their prayers shall be answered. The promise is clothed in simplicity of language. It is not involved in complicated and difficult conditions; the simple statement is, "He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him." This leaves no room for doubt.
The assurance of answered prayer rests upon relationship to God. This promise belongs to the dwellers in holiness before God. In this relation they are accorded the prerogatives of priests which give them access to God always. They ever dwell in His Presence, and there make their requests known to Him, being fully assured that He hears them in whatsoever they ask.
God cannot deny the prayer of a people to whom He has made such promises, and made recipients of such benefits.
The fact that prayer rests upon relationship to Him is shown in the great prayer promises. "If our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask we receive of Him." The place of the uncondemned heart is in holiness before God. Confidence is a result of this condition of heart. Bold are they toward God who have entered into the holy place of His Presence. The Father will hear them in this secret place and reward them openly before all men. Upon them shall rest the glories obtained through unbroken communion with God.
Such confidence does not overstep its rights and become brazen familiarity. It asks according to the will of God. The people who have such confidence are in accord with the will of God; and they ask only that which accords with His will. They are governed by the knowledge of His will. So assured are the saints that God will answer when they call that it is said to them: "We know that he heareth us whatsoever we ask:" "And we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him." This is knowing before the answer has come that He hears us, and that the answer will be given.
The words of our Lord relative to our relationship to Him as being the condition of answered prayer are these: "If ye abide in me and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you" (Jno. 15:7).
This is the abiding life, like that revealed in the psalmist's testimony. These are dwelling in holy relation with Christ, and His words are dwelling in them. In this relationship they are privileged to ask what they will, being assured that it shall be done for them. This confirms the promise made, "I will answer him." This is shown us from another viewpoint by our Lord in these words: "Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you" (Jno. 16:23). God promises to do these things for His people that dwell in the secret place, "Because He hath known My name. He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him."
To know His name means to bear His name as those who belong to Him. The wife bears her husband's name. Children bear the name of their father. God's people are in a relationship which gives them the name of God; in His name they transact all their business as Christians.
These scriptures show us the harmony of all truth. The psalmist says that it would be the state of all who dwell in the secret place of the Most High to have a relationship to God which would guarantee to them the answer to all their prayers, and place at their disposal all power for service. God made His will to be the inheritance of a people who elect to dwell in holiness before Him all the days of their lives.
Those who dwell in the secret place shall have many reasons to call upon God. "He shall call upon me." This language shows that there will arise many causes for the people of God to call upon Him. This is not a state of grace where we are independent of God, it is rather one of complete dependence on Him. Sanctification reduces one to a state of childlike reliance upon the Heavenly Father.
Dependence on God is shown by the words of the promise to answer the call. Those who call are needy. The Father knows they have need; but has made it necessary that His children call on Him before He will supply it.
Jesus taught us this when He put the prayer for daily bread in our mouths to say. It was not for us to worry about how it should come, for God has assumed the responsibility of supplying it; it is ours to ask in faith.
Dwelling in the secret place of the Most High does not exempt the saints from suffering, distresses, privations, wants, trials, afflictions, conflicts, perils and such like; but it does give them the right to ask for help from the Almighty under Whose shadow they dwell. He has assured them that He will aid them if they call. Those who lose sight of their utter dependence on God for all things, and undertake to fight their own battles without calling on Him, will find themselves fighting their battles unaided by Him. To live in the holy place everything must be by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, and the peace of God which passeth all understanding will keep the heart and mind. Do this and live where anxiety cannot trouble the heart.
If the wise Father permits things to befall us which force us to call upon Him, then all the things which happen to us are but so many instructors teaching us to trust in Him, and revealing His gracious care for our souls and bodies. He shall never be wearied by our coming, nor will He show reluctance to give; like a willing Father, He delights to answer our prayers.
There is no such thing as an unanswered prayer. "I will answer him," is the promise. God places Himself under obligations in His will to answer the prayers of His people; The conditions. He has imposed have been met by all who dwell in the holy place. They abide under the shadow of the Almighty, and benefit by every promise in the will of God.
There will be times when the answer to prayer is delayed; but no time when it will be denied. It may require time for God to work; but He will surely work it in time. It may not be the lot of some to see the answer to their prayer fulfilled in their lifetime, but the forces set in motion by their prayers will not end with their day; they shall have their desire, some time, some where. Let every saint pray the prayer of faith, and be still, and know that He is God.
There are some things which God cannot do though He be willing to do them. When prayer touches upon these things, the answer given is not a refusal, it is often a revelation. That is, God will show us that the conditions are such that He cannot consistently work. This arises in cases where prayer is offered for the salvation of persons: it is His will to save all men; but not His will to save them against their wills. When He shows us this we must fully acquiesce, and cease to ask of the matter. Change the order of asking to that of prayer for conviction, and He will answer. God can and will convict persons against their wills; He will offer them a place of repentance. He will give life to them who have not sinned unto death. If they cannot be saved the Spirit will lift all burden from the soul of the petitioner.
A prayer may be answered by the Lord giving a substitute instead of what was asked. In the case of Paul asking that his thorn be removed. God gave him grace, but did not remove the thorn. Some persons would be more content if they would receive grace as a substitute for their affliction, and permit God to receive greater glory by their patience in them.
God's strength is made perfect in weakness. The more of His grace required by us because of weakness the more do we see His manifested love and care. Perfect health may tend to make us self-relying; where affliction may cause us to rely on Him. Abundance of things may make us self-sufficient, where poverty will make us see Christ as our sufficiency in all things.
It often proves that what we wanted was not what we needed. God was pleased to give what we needed as a substitute for what we wanted. The assurance that He will answer when we call is no assurance that the answer may be dictated by us. It is God's right to answer as He sees fit, and in the manner which will enhance His glory. Our part is to receive with thanksgivings what He gives, recognizing it to be the answer we should receive.
I WILL BE WITH HIM IN TROUBLE
This promise assures those who dwell in the secret place of the Most High that they shall be overshadowed by the Almighty in the time of trouble. The holy people are not exempt from sufferings in this world; but God has made provision for their comfort in troubles. They are comforted and sustained by His Presence. "I will be with him in trouble." This implies that God will share the sufferings of His people; He companions with them in their troubles.
HE WILL BE WITH THEM IN ALL KINDS OF TROUBLE
Trouble rises from many causes. The same kind of trouble does not come to all holy persons. Different surroundings produce different troubles. Some have troubles peculiar to their home life. They never receive a word of encouragement from those with whom they live. They have no sympathy offered by relatives, but rather, as in many cases, they are nagged and persecuted because of their religion. Others have troubles peculiar to the circumstances under which they work. They may hold positions where they are thrown in the company of unregenerate persons who cause them serious trials by their wickedness. With others their troubles may come from physical causes. They suffer from afflictions constantly, and hardly know a day without pain. Yet others have troubles by sorrows which have come by death in their family. One sorrow follows close upon another until many have passed over them through the years. Some may have troubles caused by their children's wickedness. The power of the world has seized upon the children for whom many prayers have been offered, and it seems that despite all prayers, the world will curse them.
In these troubles God has promised to be with His people. He is not there as a disinterested spectator; He is there to lend support to the troubled.
GOD DOES NOT PREVENT THE COMING OF TROUBLE, BUT HE DOES PREVENT US FROM BEING OVERCOME BY TROUBLES
The fact that He is present in trouble is an assurance of victory. He is there for the purpose of giving sufficient help to master the troubles. Happy are the people who have such a Companion in the midst of trouble.
According to the promise of divine help in time of trouble, the troubles of the saints are to bring to them manifestations of God. Peter's trouble caused by being imprisoned resulted in a manifestation of God's care for him; and a manifestation of God's power to the praying believers. The troubles of Paul resulted in manifestations of God which have blessed the saints of all time.
There is a difference between the abiding presence of God in the soul, and the manifested Presence of God in life. The abiding Presence in the soul is something that is constant and unchanged; it is the result of holiness, and is the source of rejoicing in full assurance of hope. But a manifestation of the Presence of God in life does not remain longer than the present need of the trusting person. The angel of the Lord did not stay with Peter longer than to accomplish the task of deliverance from his trouble. The earthquake did not last all night when God delivered Paul and Silas.
There are special manifestations of God which troubles of a peculiar nature bring. In times of severe troubles the saints have seen God manifest His Power in their behalf and deliver them in a moment of time. Every holy person may rely upon Him in all such times. He will be with them suddenly as He was with the three Hebrew children in the furnace of fire.
There are some troubles which nag and pain the saints; in all such troubles God manifests Himself in a soothing and comforting manner, rather than in an earthquake. Under His feathers shalt thou trust in such times of troubles. Whatsoever the nature of the trouble there is grace for it to be given the trusting child of God. The promise is as great as the need. Cast all your cares upon Him; for He careth for you. Roll thy burden on the Lord; and fret not thyself in any wise to do evil in the midst of trouble.
FELLOWSHIP WITH CHRIST MEANS FELLOWSHIP IN HIS SUFFERINGS
This truth is inferred from the promise, I will be with him in trouble." God knew that the world and the devil would make trouble for the man who chose to dwell in holy fellowship with Him. There could be no escape from troubles, so long as sin was in the world. The disciple is not above his Lord in this matter. What our Lord had to suffer for righteousness' sake so shall His people suffer. He pronounces a blessing upon all who for His sake are made to suffer trouble. Their reward in heaven is great. If we suffer with Him we shall also reign with Him; being partakers of His affliction we shall also partake of the consolation.
The perfect sympathy of Jesus is the consolation of the saints in time of trouble. "We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."
It is human nature to want sympathy in times of trouble. Only those who have passed through like troubles can perfectly sympathize with others in their troubles. Jesus fellowships with His people in their troubles, and is touched by them because He has been tempted in like manner. The wisdom of saints is in knowing this. The tendency in the time of trouble is toward self pity. One is likely to feel that no one cares for his soul. Those who dwell in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the overshadowing of His love which perfectly sympathizes with them. It is a kind of sympathy which imparts help in the time of trouble. It feels the pain, and provides the consolation for the hurt.
Jesus shows us that he feels the very things that trouble us: "Inasmuch as ye did unto the least of these, ye did it unto me." The point is here, that He felt the ministries offered to His people, and He likewise felt the slights and neglect with them. Their hunger, and thirst, and nakedness, sickness, and persecutions, He had felt. These troubles had not been suffered alone by His brethren. He had been with them in the troubles. When no man gave unto them, He felt it as they felt it. What further assurance need we than the promise, "I will be with him in trouble." It is sufficient to stimulate the faith of all believers for all time; and cause them to trust Him to fulfill it in the time of trouble.
RESTING IN THE TIME OF TROUBLE IS A TOKEN OF HOPE
(You who are troubled rest with us" (2 Thess. 1:5-10). The fact that one rests his troubles with God to avenge him, is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God which shall prove him worthy of the kingdom for which he suffers. This is resting in hope of the coming of the Lord, Who shall recompense tribulation to them that trouble His people. Their troubling of the saints shall constitute a major offense to be punished when He is revealed. Vengeance belongs unto God. "I will repay, saith the Lord." Then let those who are troubled rest. Let them not murmur and retaliate lest they suffer spiritual loss. Commit the keeping of the soul unto Him as unto a Faithful Creator, resting in perfect faith for help that ye may endure to the end. Keep a good conscience; and show a meek and quiet spirit. He is coming to be admired in all them that believe, and are found in faith at that day.
I WILL DELIVER HIM, AND HONOR HIM
This promise evidently refers to the resurrection and glorification of the saints. That day will be the day of deliverance with honor. In the promise of deliverance which God has made to His people is included their preservation from evils in the world, and their complete deliverance from the results of evil in the day of redemption. Both phases of deliverance are promised in this perfect will of God as shown in this psalm. In the work of Christ in present salvation He delivers His people from the power and inbeing of sin; and preserves them blameless unto His coming. But in this promise we see that they shall be delivered from death, and all the marks and scars of sin which they have borne, together with all infirmities. He shall give them a place of honor at His right hand. They shall never more be sick, neither shall they suffer hunger, or thirst, cold or heat: the former things shall have passed away. Old age shall not steal upon them through the rolling ages, neither shall pain or sorrow mar their eternal happiness. They shall have the inheritance which is incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, which He has reserved for all who have been kept by the power of God through faith unto that salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Death has held sway over the race since the fall of Adam. It has without respect of persons, age or sex, overcome the children of Eve, and laid them in the dust of earth a vanquished race. But One came from glory, passed through the judgment hall, took upon himself the sins of men because He loved men, and upon the cross died that men might live. He laid down His life, but took it up again from the tomb and thereby pledged life from the dead to all who would accept Him as a Deliverer. Despite all this which He hath done, death slays its prey with relentless fury, and triumphs over saint and sinner alike. But the promise is, 'I will deliver him, and honor him." God has not given up the task, neither has He forgotten His promise to deliver them, who all their lifetime have been in bondage to the fear of death. That day will surely come when all that are in the grave shall hear His voice, and shall come forth to the resurrection of life. No power can hold them forever in the tomb. He shall speak and the dead shall hear his voice, and arise from the dust to the place of honor which is reserved for His saints.
WITH LONG LIFE WILL I SATISFY HIM
This is the promise of eternal life. Life that shall prove long enough to satisfy will be eternal in its duration. The deepest desire in the human breast is the desire to live. Man clings to this brief span of life with tenacity. Much labor has been given toward the lengthening of the period of life in this world because of the strong desire to live. Does it not argue that if there is naturally in the heart of man a desire to live, that satisfaction of that desire must be some where? "I am come that ye might have life," are words of hope to a stricken race. Who of all the visitors on this earth has offered to do so much for man as that promise offers? If life is not in Christ, then life is nowhere to be obtained; and death shall stalk the earth forever an unconquered foe. Many have fled to Him for refuge, and from Him have taken hope as an anchor of the soul. "With long life will I satisfy him," is the promise made to him who dwells in the secret place of the most High. God shall overshadow him with grace and power. He shall not see death as the wicked shall see it. Death shall not be doom, it shall not hold fear and darkness. God shall give satisfaction in long life.
The promise has proven to many that God gives long life to those who serve Him in this world. The righteous have a better chance for length of days than the wicked. A Christian life enjoins a manner of deportment which makes for long life. The blasting habits which kill off the wicked are not indulged by the saints. The worries and cares of life are not felt by His people as they are by the wicked. Sorrows are comforted, pain is eased. Love rules with peace in the soul, and hatred and strife are banished from the heart. The saints do not have to be stimulated by strong drink, nor excited by plays and entertainments. They are Spirit filled, and God-honored and need no such things to afford pleasures. Godliness is profitable in all things; having promise of the life which now is, and of that which is to come.
I WILL SHOW HIM MY SALVATION
This is the promise of final salvation in heaven. That which has been the hope of the saints of all ages. It is the grand finale in God's program for the redemption of man. The last thing in the perfect will of God for His people is their eternal salvation. He has promised that they shall see it. To see it means that they shall come to realize it and enjoy it forever. Their last battle has been fought; their last day of trial has passed; their period of waiting has ended, and home is reached at last.
Every promise unfolded in this psalm has been a step toward this grand end for the redeemed. The wonderful care shown by the Father in preserving His children has been exercised with this end in view that they should see His salvation. The exalting of them to high privileges, and vesting them with authority, was to result in this final ending in heaven and life. His promise to answer when they should call was made in order that they may gain this reward. The pledge of divine presence in trouble was an assurance that the Almighty wanted them to come to His eternal glory as a compensation for their sufferings for His sake. The resurrection with honor was the climax of His miracle working power in destroying death, and giving life to all of His sons who had rested in the grave. The deep longing of His people for life was met by the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord, and that life should be spent in the glory of His presence forever, because He has planned to show them his salvation. Thus the perfect will of God is made in behalf of all who will dwell in the secret place of the Most High. He assumes full responsibility for them in the promise that they shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. This overshadowing is embraced in the seven phases of the will of God revealed in this Psalm. It is the inheritance of the sanctified ones who dwell in the light of His countenance in holy love.
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
HOW TO ENTER INTO THE SECRET PLACE OF THE MOST HIGH
The simple conditions to be met by those who would enter into the secret place of the Most High are revealed in the second verse of the psalm. "I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust." This is a confession of faith, showing us that we have access into this place by faith.
As we have seen the secret place of the Most High is in the Holy of holies where God's Presence dwells; and that this place is a type of the experience of grace which the new covenant should open to all the people of God wherein they might dwell in His Presence all the days of their lives. This experience reduced to its simple terms is the experience of sanctification. Those who enter into it have entered into the inheritance of the saints in light.
The question of how to enter into the secret place of the Most High is simply a question of how to enter into the experience of sanctification. The conditions to be met by all who enter into this experience are clearly set forth in the words of the verse under consideration. In it we shall find the workings of that faith necessary to enter into this grace.
IT IS A FAITH WHICH SEES THE PROMISED EXPERIENCE
No one can enter into an experience of grace if he doubts the possibilities of such an experience. If any look upon the grace of sanctification as being an ideal toward which they are to aim, but never hope to fully attain in this life then they are in no condition to obtain anything 'from the Lord.
The promise must be seen with the eye of faith, no doubt about such an experience being possible in this world must enter the mind. Every doctrine which denies it must be renounced as false; and every argument against it must be discredited. All who are eligible to enter this Holy place are fully persuaded by the truth of the promise.
Two witnesses in this psalm bear testimony of this blessed and happy state, and this convinces and convicts the speaker of the words of this confession of faith. The two witnesses are God and David. David gives his testimony to holiness. "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty." God bears witness to the truth of this by confirming the testimony of David, and then unfolding the benefits of the grace by revealing His perfect will in the last three verses of the psalm.
These two witnesses so convince the third party of verse two that he immediately confesses his faith in the fact of such an experience, and expresses determination to enter into it. "He is my refuge and fortress," is the cry of faith. Faith now sees the refuge and fortress of the soul. Those who see this are ready to make the next step of faith.
CHOOSING BY FAITH TO ENTER THE EXPERIENCE OF HOLINESS
At this point the cost is counted, and a deliberate choice is made to enter in at all costs. Mark the words: "I will say of the Lord, He is my God." This is a choosing to make the Lord our all and all. He is to be God over all to us, and in us. This means separation from all that forbids such an act of the will. Persons that we love, be they friends or relatives, if they hinder us from obtaining God as our possession, then we separate from them, and go with God. It was by this kind of faith that Moses made his choice; he renounced the pleasures of sin, and refused the honor and riches of Egypt, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God. He had respect unto the recompence of the reward. He made this choice by faith before he took a hoof out of Egypt. This is an example of complete separation necessary to be made by all who see the promise by faith. Many who are convinced of the truth of the blessing never enter into it because they have never made a deliberate choice to separate from all and have it at all costs. This state of affairs constitutes a serious problem to the ministry of this truth to the church. It is not so much the need to convince persons that there is such an experience as sanctification, as it is to get them to pay the price and seek it. This kind of faith is difficult to inspire among believers. Jesus suffered without the gate to make possible the sanctification of the people, but those who avail themselves of its merits must go unto Him without the camp hearing His reproach. They must choose the reproach before they can be cleansed by the blood. They must go unto Him, thus separate from all in the city and church, in order to possess His grace of holiness.
FAITH BRINGS CONSCIOUS EXPERIENCE
By this we mean that faith achieves the knowledge of that which it believes. When this person said, "I will say of the Lord, He is my God," he showed determination to possess the Lord as his God. His faith appropriated the promise, and God become his possession. Faith then achieves a knowledge of possessing God.
Many have confessed to this writer that they have never been satisfied with their profession of holiness because it has not resulted in the knowledge of God which they desired. There can be no satisfaction where such a condition exists. If the thing for which we have believed did not materialize into an experienced reality then something was amiss in our faith. For how can we believe a thing has been done for us unless we know it has been done? Seekers after holiness are told to take it by faith; this is scriptural. But it is certain that something should come to the believer that will assure him that faith has obtained the experience sought.
We have heard it said to seekers after sanctification that they are just 'to believe that they have it, and they have h. This is utterly false. Such can only serve to deceive persons who are sincere. How can any person believe he has a thing when his own intelligence says he does not? This is self-deception.
The truth is that those who would enter this grace must have in view the possessing of God. He has promised to give Himself to them. "The Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to His temple." To receive the Holy Ghost means to receive a Person. The coming of this Person results in a definite knowledge to the believer.
The purpose of separation and consecration is to clear the way for faith to appropriate God. Faith cannot act until these things have been completed. When the person says, "I will say of the Lord, He is my God," this means he has chosen to meet every condition necessary to his faith can achieve this end. When these conditions are fully met (the Spirit will show us when they are met), then faith can act freely, and resting upon the promise, it holds God to His promise, and He will surely fulfill it, and reveal Himself to the heart.
THE NATURE OF THE FAITH WHICH RESULTS IN CONSCIOUS EXPERIENCE
We have shown that faith brings a real experience of a conscious possession of God. We have shown that to possess Him means to benefit by all His will as revealed in the psalm. This is simply saying again that the results of sanctification cannot be enjoyed until we have entered into the experience, any more than we can have all that God possesses without first possessing Him. The essential thing is to make the Lord our God; He will then place all He is and has at our command.
The nature of the faith which achieves this end must be clearly understood if we would enter into the' secret place of the Most High, and abide under the shadow of the Almighty. Because it is so simple many persons fail to see it or understand its importance'; and linger long outside of the experience of soul cleansing, when they might have entered in immediately.
The nature of this faith by which we enter into this experience' is shown in these words of the second verse: "In Him will I trust." After he sees the possibility of such an experience; and after he determines to enter into it at all costs; and after he sees he must make the Lord his God, he says, "In Him will I trust." Between the belief that He will do it, and the knowledge that He has done it, is the faith that trusts Him to do it. It is this faith that many seekers after holiness fail to see.
Suppose it were necessary for a man to be operated upon to save his life. First he must believe the surgeon is able to do it. He must next present himself at the place to have it done. Then he must completely place himself in the surgeon's hands to have him do it. It would be folly to insist that he feel the work was done before he trusted the surgeon to perform the operation. So it is when one comes to God to be sanctified; he must first believe God is willing to do it; then present himself to have it done; then place himself in God's hands to have Him do the work in the heart.
Many have said to me; "I want to know I have the experience before I say I have it." This is natural, for how can we truthfully say we are sanctified unless we know we are? But the fatal mistake being made by these persons is, they insist on knowing it is done before they have trusted God to do it. He cannot witness to what is not true. He cannot do the work until there has been complete abandonment to Him to have it done. This is not asking persons to profess what they do not have, that is fatal. It is not professing something, it is imposing self upon God so He can do something in the heart. This is all-important. At this point the whole of self yields to Christ the Lord. We do not trust to our feelings, but to the blood. We do not ask to feel, we ask to be cleansed so we can feel and know. At the moment of trust the Spirit acts and the heart is cleansed, then we enter into conscious experience of holiness.
There is a gap between a completed consecration and the knowledge of the experience of heart holiness in which many sincere persons are living. They have done all they know to do in their consecration, but they have not entered into the grace of sanctification. They do not know its joys nor feel its cleansing.
The way out of this place of dissatisfaction is by faith that trusts Him to sanctify as one would trust a surgeon to operate. Such a faith lets God act.
In the Ephesian letter we find the order of this faith given by the apostle as he shows the way to obtain true holiness. Mark his words: "Put off the old man which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness."
We first put off the old Man. This is separation unto holiness, and complete consecration to God. Then we are to be renewed in the spirit of the mind. This is done by the Spirit of God; and is the sanctifying act of God. Then we put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. It is plainly shown that between the putting off of the old man and the putting on of the new that the work of renovating the spirit, or cleansing the soul is done. Unless there is faith for this work in the soul there can be no faith for the new man of true holiness. It is this step of faith that many have overlooked, and because of it have never received the experience of holiness in truth. It is therefore essential that all seekers after holiness trust God to do the work so they may enter into the Holy place where God dwells.
When the soul has been sanctified and enters into the secret place of the Most High to dwell he must then exercise that faith which rests on conscious experience in order to abide under the shadow of the Almighty. He must ever say, "In Him will I trust." It is not the trust now that brings him into the place; it is the trust that enables him to abide. The just shall live by faith.
We not only obtain the life of holiness by faith in Him, but we continue in the life by faith in Him. The abiding life is a life of perfect trust in Him at all times, and for all things. All things pertaining to life and godliness are promised to His saints. They are to have no fears or doubts about His faithfulness to give them at all times.
We have shown the seven phases of the will of God in this psalm. The faith which ever trusts Him, must be that kind which rests on His promises as contained in this will. In Him must we trust for deliverance in every trial of life. In Him must we trust for power to perform all duties pertaining to our life as lived for His glory. In Him must we trust for answered prayers, in nothing wavering. Be strong in faith considering that He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or think. We must trust in Him in time of trouble, and by faith look for Him to be with us even as He hath promised.
Our faith must be strong until the day of death. We must die in the faith, believing that He shall raise us up with power, and honor us with glory in that day. Let faith for eternal life never waver though many discouragements may come, and darker grow the day in which we live. He shall satisfy our heart's desire with long life. Through faith we shall come to final salvation because faithful is He that has called to His eternal glory. Let us ever say, "In Him will I trust." Such as do this from the heart shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.