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Light and Truth: The Old Testament: Chapter 41 - The Two Cries and the Two Answers

By Horatius Bonar


      "There be many that say, Who will shew us any good? Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us." -- Psalm 4:6

      THERE are two cries here--the cry of the sons of men, and the cry of the sons of God. They are very unlike. Yet they are both importunate. They go up unceasingly. Earth is full of them. Wherever you go, you hear either the one or the other. They are the cries of men like ourselves; of men who have souls to fill; who know what sorrow is, and what is joy. The men who utter them are made by the same God; placed in the same world; heirs of a common mortality; moving on to one eternity. We find them often side by side; in one city, one village, one family. Not the Hindoo using one cry, and the European the other; but intermingled; the two cries constantly going up from the same places.

      I. The cry of the sons of men. "Who will shew us good." Let us mark what it is, and what it means.

      (1.) It is the cry of emptiness. These sons of men feel that there is something lacking. They were not made for this perpetual hunger and thirst. They are empty, and therefore they cry. They are poor and needy; but find no supply.

      (2.) It is the cry of weariness. They who utter it are seeking rest, but finding none; they labour and are heavy laden. They would fain rest, but know not how or where. UNREST! This is their portion. Unrest here; sad prelude of the eternal unrest, the never-ending weariness.

      (3.) It is the cry of darkness. All is darkness and blindness. They grope about, not knowing which way to look, or to turn; and they cry, shew us, Shew us something; for our eyes are blind; we have tried in vain to see.

      (4.) It is the cry of helplessness. They have tried many expedients; tried to create good for themselves, or to get it from others; but in vain. They find themselves helpless.

      (5.) It is the cry of earnestness. It comes forth often amid bitter tears and groans. Men are bent on being happy; they would do or give anything for happiness. They are mistaken, yet in earnest. They would take any good, if they could get it.

      (6.) It is the cry of despair. Who, who, who? They have tried every one, everything. All in vain. They are emptier, hungrier, thirstier, sadder than at first.

      (7.) It is a loud and universal cry. Many. Yes, the whole world. It is Esau's loud and bitter cry reverberating through the earth. It is the cry of the many, not of the few. The world is unhappy. It has no rest. It is thirsty, and knows not where to drink; it is hungry, and knows not where to find bread. It weeps, and knows not how to get its tears dried! Every man walks in a vain show; going about asking, Who will shew me any good?

      II. The cry of the sons of God. Very different in all respects. They know what is written, "He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good."

      (1.) It is the cry of the few, not of the many. For the sons of God are a little flock. One here, and another there; not like fields of grain, nor gardens full of flowers, but plants in a desert,--a few scattered ones here and there.

      (2.) It is a certain and definite cry. They know what they want, and how to get their want supplied. They do not grope about on all sides; they go straight to the source.

      (3.) It is a cry to God. It is God alone in whom their hope is. They go straight to Him. Whom have I in heaven but thee? He is their portion and their all.

      (4.) It is a cry for light. They have some light already, but they want more. We have a sun, but we need it daily; more and more sunshine!

      (5.) It is a cry for light from the face of God. Light! Light from God! Light from the face of God. The light of God's countenance! This means that God was to gladden them with His favour and love, of which the benignant smile of the countenance was the expression. Lift up the light of thy countenance on me, is our lifelong prayer!

      (6.) It is a cry which will be answered. The cry of the sons of men goes up in vain. They speak to the rocks, and get merely the echo of their own voice. But this cry is heard; daily, constantly. Light streams down and into them. God's countenance is their sun. There is health in it,-- "healing in His beams." What a contrast between the two cries and the two answers!

      O ye sons of men, how long will ye love vanity? How long will ye doat upon this vain world, and worship it as your idol? How long will ye treat its broken cisterns as if they were the fountains of living water? Oh, love not the world!

      What will its good things profit in the day of the Lord? Will its pleasures cheer a death-bed, or brighten the gloom of the grave? What is the ball-room when "its flowers are fled, its garlands dead?" What can the music and measure of the dance do for you when sickness comes, or the last trumpet sounds? Will that gay dress of yours do for a shroud? Or will it suffice instead of "the fine linen which is the righteousness of the saints? How will these "revellings and banquetings" appear to you in the retrospect of time, still more in the retrospect of eternity? What will you think of your "idle words," your "foolish talking and jesting," your "filthy communication," your riotous mirth, your luxurious feasting, when you stand confronted with the last enemy, or before the Judge of all? You have gone from scene to scene, from gaiety to gaiety, from party to party, from vanity to vanity, from novel to novel, from ball to ball, in the dreary emptiness of your poor aching hearts, crying, "Who will shew us any good?" and when the end comes, what is your gain? Is it heaven, or is it hell? Is it joy, or is it woe?

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See Also:
   Preface
   Chapter 1 - The Old and New Creation
   Chapter 2 - The Link Between Being and Non-Being
   Chapter 3 - A Happy World
   Chapter 4 - The Sin, the Sinner, and the Sentence
   Chapter 5 - Man's Fig-Leaves
   Chapter 6 - Expulsion and Re-Entrance
   Chapter 7 - The Blood of Sprinkling and the Blood of Abel
   Chapter 8 - The Way of Cain
   Chapter 9 - The Man of Rest
   Chapter 10 - Going Out and Keeping Out
   Chapter 11 - The Shield and the Recompense
   Chapter 12 - Liberty and Service
   Chapter 13 - The Day of Despair
   Chapter 14 - The Blood of Deliverance
   Chapter 15 - How God Deals with Sin and the Sinner
   Chapter 16 - The Fire Quenched
   Chapter 17 - The Vision from the Rocks
   Chapter 18 - The Doom of the Double-Hearted
   Chapter 19 - Be Not Borderers
   Chapter 20 - The Outlines of a Saved Sinner's History
   Chapter 21 - Divine Longings Over the Foolish
   Chapter 22 - What a Believing Man Can Do
   Chapter 23 - Song of the Putting Off of the Armour
   Chapter 24 - The Kiss of the Backslider
   Chapter 25 - The Priestly Word of Peace
   Chapter 26 - Human Anodynes
   Chapter 27 - Spiritual and Carnal Weapons
   Chapter 28 - Divine Silence and Human Despair
   Chapter 29 - Jewish Unbelief and Gentile Blessing
   Chapter 30 - The Restoration of the Banished
   Chapter 31 - The Farewell Gift
   Chapter 32 - God's Dealing with Sin and the Sinner
   Chapter 33 - God Finding a Resting-Place
   Chapter 34 - The Moriah Group
   Chapter 35 - Diverse Kinds of Conscience
   Chapter 36 - The Soul Turning from Man to God
   Chapter 37 - Man's Dislike of a Present God
   Chapter 38 - True and False Consolation
   Chapter 39 - Gain and Loss for Eternity
   Chapter 40 - Man's Misconstruction of the Works of God
   Chapter 41 - The Two Cries and the Two Answers
   Chapter 42 - The Knowledge of God's Name
   Chapter 43 - Deliverance from Deep Waters
   Chapter 44 - The Excellency of the Divine Loving-Kindness
   Chapter 45 - The Sickness, the Healer, and the Healing
   Chapter 46 - The Consecration of Earth's Gold and Silver
   Chapter 47 - The Gifts of the Ascended One
   Chapter 48 - The Speaker, the Listener, the Peace
   Chapter 49 - The Believing Man's Confident Appeal
   Chapter 50 - The Love and the Deliverance
   Chapter 51 - The Sin and Folly of Being Unhappy
   Chapter 52 - The Book of Books
   Chapter 53 - The Secret of Deliverance from Evil
   Chapter 54 - The Voice of the Heavenly Bridegroom
   Chapter 55 - The Love that Passeth Knowledge
   Chapter 56 - The Vision of the Glory
   Chapter 57 - Man's Extremity and Satan's Opportunity
   Chapter 58 - The Day of Clear Vision to the Dim Eyes
   Chapter 59 - The Unfainting Creator and the Fainting Creature
   Chapter 60 - The Knowledge that Justifies
   Chapter 61 - The Heritage and its Title-Deeds
   Chapter 62 - The Meeting Between the Sinner and God
   Chapter 63 - God's Love and God's Way of Blessing
   Chapter 64 - Divine Jealousy for the Truth
   Chapter 65 - Divine Love and Human Rejection of it
   Chapter 66 - God's Desire to Bless the Sinner
   Chapter 67 - The Resting-Place Forgotten
   Chapter 68 - The Day that Will Right all Wrongs
   Chapter 69 - The Glory and the Love
   Chapter 70 - False Religion and its Doom
   Chapter 71 - No Breath No Life
   Chapter 72 - Every Christian a Teacher
   Chapter 73 - Work, Rest, and Recompence
   Chapter 74 - Human Heedlessness and Divine Remembrance
   Chapter 75 - Lies the Food of Man
   Chapter 76 - The Love and the Calling
   Chapter 77 - The Anger and the Goodness
   Chapter 78 - Darkness Pursuing the Sinner
   Chapter 79 - Jerusalem the Centre of the World's Peace
   Chapter 80 - Jerusalem and Her King
   Chapter 81 - Looking to the Pierced One
   Chapter 82 - The Holiness of Common Things
   Chapter 83 - Wearying Jehovah with our Words
   Chapter 84 - Dies Irae

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