By Henry Law
Fearing that the godly cease and the ungodly vaunt, prayer is made and confidence is professed in God's pure Word. Supported by such comfort, may we never fear!
1. "Help, Lord; for the godly man ceases; for the faithful fail from among the children of men."
Amid the trials of this sinful world there is sweet solace in the company of holy men. Their counsel strengthens; their example cheers; their fellowship delights; their meek endurance teaches patience; their zeal excites to work. We joy in their joy; we gain grace from their grace. But they are not always near. We often shed tears beside their graves. It may be that adverse circumstances fix our dwellings where evil is most prevalent. Many have mourned this desolation. Lot's heart is vexed in Sodom. Elijah wails his lonely state. Jeremiah weeps in friendless solitude. Paul sadly writes, "Only Luke is with me."
But comfort is not linked to man. Faith can fly straight to heaven. Prayer can bring down the joy of joys, the presence of our God. The fervent cry, "Help, Lord," can turn earth's desert into smiling paradise. The saint feels that he is not alone when God is by his side. The heart is glad when Jesus holds communion.
2. "Everyone speaks vanity with his neighbor; with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak."
Where grace is absent insincerity prevails. Ungodly conversation has taint of unreality. The unconverted heart--the birthplace of all speech--is double. From an insincere source there must flow insincere words. Dissimulation within dissimulates without. Hatred and mischief, injury and wrong, fraud and oppression, are deeply plotted, while the look blandly smiles, and flattery conceals the base intent. Ah, world! ah, treacherous world! you are a truthless cheat!
3, 4. "The Lord shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaks proud things; who have said, With our tongue will we prevail; our lips are our own; who is lord over us?"
Sad is the blinding power of sin. Proud reason dreams that independence is its heritage. It does not bow to God's sovereign rule. It claims a seat above the throne of God. It acknowledges no power superior to itself.
The true believer widely differs. He feels, I am not my own. I am bought by the precious blood of Christ. I gladly give myself, my all, my every word, my every work, to my Redeemer's cause. My highest honor is to be the servant of my glorious Lord. My noblest work is to act out His will. My happiest life is to serve Him. But these deceivers mainly deceive themselves. Flattering others, they are self-injuring. Their lips prepare their own destruction. The Lord hears, records, and will most surely punish. Wisdom proclaims, "By your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned."
5. "Because of the oppression of the weak and the groaning of the needy, I will now arise," says the Lord. "I will protect them from those who malign them."
The prayer ascends, "Help, Lord." The answer comes, "Now will I arise." Prayer speedily brings heaven to aid. God's eye never fails to observe the cruel treatment of His suffering saints. His ear receives each feeble breathing of His persecuted children. It was so when Israel groaned in the Egyptian furnace. "I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows." In every age it has been so. It will be so until the reign of peace is sweetly settled. Until that day the world will see oppression working and deliverance checking.
6. "The words of the Lord are pure words; as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times."
While falsehood, deceit, and wrong abound in evil men, the faithful Word is near to comfort. No insincerity pollutes it. It is pure from all alloy, as silver perfectly refined. It has been the staff of many suffering pilgrims, and it never fails. It will sustain when other props are gone.
7. "You shall keep them, O Lord; You shall preserve them from this generation forever."
The Church has lived through every age, and still it lives. There have been times when signs of life were very feeble. The quivering spark has seemed almost extinct. The daughter of Zion has been left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers. But God's power has not deserted them. They have been kept by His mighty power through faith unto eternal life. And safely they will be preserved, until they stand together a countless multitude in Emmanuel's land.
8. "The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted."
It may be that earth's highest seats are occupied by the most reprobate men. A Pharaoh, a Herod, a Nero, may wield the tyrant's scepter; then vice and villainy will show unblushing front. On all sides wickedness will riot. Let us in such distress pour out the cry, "Help, Lord," and the Lord will speedily arise. With such assurance, let us not despond!