By J.R. Miller
"Your people shall be willing--on Your day of battle. Arrayed in the beauties of holiness, from the womb of the dawn, you have the dew of your youth."
"In that day of battle, your people will serve you willingly. Arrayed in holy garments, your vigor will be renewed each day like the morning dew." (NLT)
The "Your day of battle" means the time when the king's hosts are set in order for battle. It seems to be a picture of the Church of Christ, a great company of redeemed ones, with the Master at their head. The second part of the verse represents these soldier-priests as young, in the bloom of early manhood, having the dew of youth. The thought is, not that all Christians are young, for all ages are among the followers of Christ--but that all Christians have the gift of living youth, immortal life. Note some of the characteristics of Christ's young warriors as they appear in this vision.
The first thing is that they are in Christ's army willingly. "Your people shall be willing--on Your day of battle." They have enlisted voluntarily. In the days of Deborah it is said the people "willingly offered themselves." They were not compelled to enter the army. We belong to Christ, because He is our rightful King, because He redeemed us. Then we must make ourselves His--by personal consecration. We must become His willingly. It must be glad, spontaneous service we give to Him.
The second thing to note is the dress of these soldier-priests. They are clad "in the beauties of holiness," that is--in holy attire. Their garments are clean and white. Those who follow Christ should be clothed in the beauties of holiness.
The third thing is the symbol of the dew. "You have the dew of your youth." It is a glorious thing to be young. Youth is strong. Its energies are unwasted. Its eye is undimmed. Its veins are full of rich, healthy life. It is not scarred by battles. It is not weakened and broken by defeats. Its strength is unimpaired.
Youth is pure--not sinless--but relatively unstained. Its innocence is unsullied. Its hands have not been blackened with deeds of evil. Its garments have not been soiled. Heaven yet lies about the pure young life.
Youth is full of hope. It has no past--but before it stretches a vista, bright with radiant visions--things to be attained, achievements to be accomplished, victories to be won. Call youth's hopes daydreams, or air-castles, vision-fabrics, if you will; still they are realities to the heart of the young. They are the stirrings of immortality. Blessed is the heart of youth, that is filled with these hopes.
Youth has great possibilities. Do you ever sit down and think seriously about your life--what it is, what wondrous powers are sleeping in your brain, your heart, your hand; what you may make of your life even here--then what you may become in the endless years of your after-life?
Christian young life, young life given to Christ, touched by His hand and set apart for Him--who can paint its glory, its power, its possibilities! The church is a company of youth. In a sense, all Christians are young. The immortal life in them never ages. The growing old of the body is only temporary--the real life within is always young.
In the Psalm the vast company of Christ's youthful followers, are compared to the DEW. The emblem is suggestive.
Dew is beautiful. When you are in the country in the summer, you may behold a glorious sight every morning. In field and meadow and garden--every leaf, every grass blade, every flower is covered with dewdrops. There are millions of them, each one as brilliant as a diamond. They shine like diamonds amid earth's dull things. Every young Christian owes it to his Master--to wear the beauties of holiness.
Dew is pure. It is never stained like the water that lies in gutters and wayside puddles. It is not filled with dirt and other particles, like the water that runs in brooks and streams. Dew is distilled from the air--and is perfectly pure. Christians should be pure and holy in their lives. In this world none are perfectly pure. There never was but one life without stain or trace of sin. Yet the crystal dewdrops glistening on leaf or blade of grass, or hiding in the bosom of a rose--are emblems of what every Christian should strive to be. "Pure and undefiled religion before God" is what the Bible paints as our ideal. To keep ourselves "unspotted from the world" is set down as the ideal of every Christian life. "Blessed are the pure in heart," is the Master's beatitude for purity. The man of pure heart--shall see God.
There is a legend that in heaven at twilight, a great bell of marvelous sweetness softly swings, rung by angel hands, and that a man may listen and hear on earth the wonderful music, if he puts from his heart's inner chamber--all the passion, pain, and strife, and all the heartaches and weary longings of his soul, if he thrusts out all hatred, bitterness, and envy, and all wicked thoughts and unholy feelings, this wondrous music may be heard by him. It is only a legend--but it enshrines a truth. The pure in heart shall see God; if we keep our inner life free from unholy thoughts and desires, we shall indeed hear the music of heaven's evening bells.
A writer tells of going with a group down into a coal mine. On the side of the gangway, grew a plant that was perfectly white. There in the midst of black flying coal dust it remained spotless and clean--as white as snow. A miner, accompanying the party, took a handful of the black dust and threw it upon the plant--but not a particle adhered. On the white folds of the plant there was a wonderful enamel to which nothing defiling would cling.
Such should be the life of every Christian in this evil world--unspotted and holy. Do you ask, "How is this possible?" God can keep you. If God can make a little plant so that no dust can stain its whiteness, can He not by His grace so enwrap your life in the beauties of holiness, that no defilement of sin can soil your purity? If He can keep a flower stainless amid clouds of floating coal-dust, can He not keep your heart in like purity in a sinful world?
Dewdrops are wonderful mirrors. In their crystal clearness, you may see reflected the whole blue sky that arches above you. Every Christian life should show to all who look upon it--a reflection of the glory of Christ. The world cannot see Christ in His spiritual revealings; it is your mission as Christians to show Christ mirrored in your own life. The likeness will be faulty and fragmentary--but the features should be there in unmistakable beauty.
The wife of Sir Bartle Frere went to meet her husband at a railway station, on his return home from a long absence. She had with her a new servant who had never seen his master. "Go and look for Sir Bartle," bade the lady. "But how shall I know him?" asked the servant.
"Oh," said Lady Frere, "look for a tall gentleman, helping somebody." The servant found a tall man assisting an old lady out of the railway carriage, and from the description knew him at once. One mark of Christlikeness is love ministering, always helping somebody. Let this mind be in you.
Dew is refreshing. This is especially so in Eastern countries. There it seldom rains--but the dews are heavy, and the crystal drops creep down into the bosom of the flowers and to the roots of the grass blades--and all the beauty of field and forest and garden is revived. Drooping plants are fresh again, and fading flowers are as lovely as ever.
Here, again, the dew is a beautiful emblem of Christian lives, wearing the beauties of holiness. They carry cheer, joy, and brightness, wherever they go. They take into their own homes, when they gather at the close of day, a quiet yet persuasive and resistless life which touches all within with a new gladness. The home which has in it one or more happy Christian people, has in itself a happy secret of joy and blessing. The influence of their lives is full of power for good.
Christians do not know how much they can do to brighten the world, just by being sweet and beautiful--with love, quietness, and peace in their hearts, with gentleness, goodness, and helpfulness in all their lives. It is a great thing to have a refreshing influence, upon lives that one touches. Many people are discouraged, weary, or overwrought in life's paths, or find it hard to keep up under their burdens; it is a great thing for you to be a comfort and a strength to such lives. Seek to be filled with God, and then go out to be joy-bearers, hope-inspirers, comfort-bearers, wherever you may go.
In the way in which the DEW brings its blessings, there is also a suggestion of the manner in which Christians should seek to do good. The DEW comes in the night, while people sleep. It comes without noise. No ear hears it fall. It steals down noiselessly and does its beautiful work of refreshing; then, the moment daylight comes and the sun's bright glare touches the earth--it vanishes. It loses itself, too, in doing good, for it sinks away into the heart of the rose, down among the roots of the grasses. It writes no record. It trumpets its name nowhere--to make sure of recognition and praise. Nothing shows that it has been at work--except the new life in all nature.
All this is suggestive of the way we should do our work for Christ. No grace shines more brightly in a Christian life--than humility. Like the dew, seek to do your Christian work noiselessly. Do not try to draw attention to yourself. Blow no trumpet in the streets when you are going out to do some work for your Master. Do not let your right hand know what your left hand does. Let your influence pour out like the fragrance of a flower, like the light of a star. Hide away from the world's glare. Do not try to emblazon your name on every bit of work you do. Do not even think about men's praise--God knows. Work for Christ's eye--not for man's. Pour out your richest love, your costliest service, your most precious gifts--to bless those who need blessing, and let all be lost in the lives you seek to help--not desiring any personal recognition or reward--but only that your ministry may do good. Be like a dewdrop, which finds a drooping rose and sinks down into its folds and loses itself--but revives the fainting flower! Be content to do good, and to bless the life that needs your blessing.
Not a single dewdrop which sinks into a flower is lost. Not a word or a holy influence hides away in vain in any heart. Live and speak and work and be for God and bless the world, and care not for reward.
Another way in which the dew is an emblem of the true Christian life, is in its origin. It comes out of the sky. It is not born of earth's springs--but from the "womb of the morning," from the bright, clear heavens. So the Christian life is not of earth. It is not merely natural. It is not something learned in schools. A Christian is one born of God, born of the Spirit, born from above. The spiritual life you have in your heart--came down out of the skies from Christ. God says, "I will be as the dew to Israel." Grace is simply God's own Spirit coming down and touching our lives, entering into them as the dew enters the grasses and flowers.
It is a beautiful thought, that God Himself, and not any mere blessing from God--is the dew that enriches our lives and becomes beauty and brightness in us. We have but to open our heart to receive divine grace. The dew rests upon the flowers, not in the heat of noon-day--but when in the darkness and the silence--they grow quiet and cool. It is not in struggle and restless striving, that we get the blessing of God's renewal--but in the stillness and coolness of humility and peace.
You can be dew to others--only as God is dew to you. You can give--only what you have received. You must live near the heart of Christ--if you would be a blessing in this world. You must keep your heart open to receive into it the life of God that is ever flowing close about you. If only you keep thus filled with the Holy Spirit--you will be fitted for being a blessing to every life you touch.