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Title: The Shepherd Psalm - A Meditation
Author: Evans, William, 1870-1950
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Shepherd Psalm - A Meditation" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



  Transcriber's Notes:

  The word 'Lord' in small-caps has been rendered as +LORD+ to
  differentiate it from the word 'LORD' in regular all-caps.

  Obvious missing punctuation was added.

  p 83. hill-crest was changed to hillcrest



       *       *       *       *       *



  The Shepherd Psalm

  A Meditation

  By WILLIAM EVANS, Ph.D., D.D.
  Bible Teacher and Author of

  "The Book of Books," "How to Memorize," "Outline Study of
  the Bible," "How to Prepare Sermons and Gospel Addresses,"
  "The Book-Method of Bible Study,"
  "Epochs in the Life of Christ," "Through
  the Bible, Book by Book," etc.

  CHICAGO
  THE BIBLE INSTITUTE COLPORTAGE ASS'N
  826 North La Salle Street



  COPYRIGHT, 1921, BY
  THE BIBLE INSTITUTE COLPORTAGE
  ASSOCIATION OF CHICAGO


  Printed in the United States of America



  CONTENTS

  FOREWORD                                        5

  INTRODUCTION                                    7

  CHAPTER ONE: "The +LORD+ is my shepherd;
    I shall not want"                            17

  CHAPTER TWO: "He maketh me to lie
    down in green pastures; He leadeth me
    beside still waters"                         26

  CHAPTER THREE: "He restoreth my soul;
    He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness
    for His name's sake"                         36

  CHAPTER FOUR: "Yea, though I walk
    through the valley of the shadow of
    death, I will fear no evil; for thou art
    with me; thy rod and thy staff they
    comfort me"                                  58

  CHAPTER FIVE: "Thou preparest a table
    before me in the presence of mine enemies;
    thou anointest my head with oil;
    my cup runneth over"                         73

  CHAPTER SIX: "Surely goodness and
    mercy shall follow me all the days of
    my life; and I will dwell in the house
    of the +LORD+ forever"                       79


[The illustration on the cover is from an actual photograph by
the Author, when he was in Palestine.]



FOREWORD


THIS production of the Shepherd Psalm is sent forth at the request of
many hundreds of kind persons who have listened to the writer preach on
it and who desire to see it in print, that it may be a blessing to many
who cannot hear it.

It is a well known Psalm. Untold numbers of sermons have been preached
on it. Books without number have been printed in attempts to set forth
its life, depth, richness, and beauty. Doubtless much more will be
written and spoken concerning this charming pastoral symphony--and,
after that, much more will remain yet to be said, so full is the
inspiration of the divine Word. May God make this Psalm to the reader
all that it has been--yea, and more,--to the writer!

WILLIAM EVANS.



INTRODUCTION

The Twenty-third Psalm


The world could afford to spare many a magnificent library better than
it could dispense with this little Psalm of six verses. If the verses of
this Psalm had tongues and could repeat the tale of their ministry down
throughout the generations of the faithful, what marvels of experience
they would reveal! Their biographies would be gathered from the four
winds of heaven and from the uttermost parts of the sea; from lonely
chambers, from suffering sick beds, from the banks of the valley of the
shadow of death, from scaffolds and fiery piles; witnessing in sunlight
from moors and mountains, beneath the stars and in high places of the
field. What hosts of armies of aliens it has put to flight! If by some
magic or divine touch, yea, some miraculous power, the saints'
experience of this Psalm could shine out between its lines, what an
illumination of the text there would be!

Luther was fond of comparing this Psalm to the nightingale, which is
small among the birds and of homely plumage, but with what thrilling
melody it pours out its beautiful notes! Into how many dungeons filled
with gloom and doubt has this little Psalm sung its message of hope and
faith! Into how many hearts, bruised and broken by grief, has it brought
its hymn of comfort and healing How many darkened prison cells it has
lightened and cheered! Into what thousands of sick rooms has it brought
its ministry of comfort and support! How many a time, in the hour of
pain, has it brought sustaining faith and sung its song of eternal bliss
in the valley of the shadow of death! It has charmed more griefs to rest
than all the philosophies of the world. And I am persuaded that this
little Psalm-bird will continue to sing its song of comfort and cheer to
your children, to my children, and to our children's children, and will
not cease its psalmody of love until the last weary pilgrim has placed
his last climbing footstep upon the threshold of the Father's house to
go out no more. Then, I think, this little bird will fold its golden
pinions and fall back on the bosom of God, from whence it came.

It has been well said that this Psalm is the most perfect picture of
happiness that ever was or ever can be drawn to represent that state of
mind for which all alike sigh, and the want of which makes life a
failure to most. It represents that heaven which is everywhere, if we
could but interpret it, and yet almost nowhere because not many of us
do.


=_Unusual Application_=

How familiar this Psalm is the world over! Go where you will; inquire in
every nation, tongue and tribe under heaven where the Bible is known,
you will find this Psalm among the first scriptures learned and lisped
by the little child at its mother's knee, and the last bit of inspired
writ uttered in dying breath by the saintly patriarch.

This Psalm is so universal, says one, because it is so individual; it is
so individual because it is so universal. As we read it, we are aware
not only of the fact that we are listening to the experience of an Old
Testament saint, but also that a voice comes speaking to us through the
long centuries past--speaking to us in our own language, recounting our
own experience, breathing out our own hopes.

The Davidic authorship of this Psalm has been questioned. We believe
firmly that David is the writer; and yet a man feels as he reads the
Psalm that it is so personal, so true to his own individual experience,
that he could fain claim to have written it himself. It might seem as
though the promises and precious things set forth in this Psalm lie
beyond our reach; we have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep,
but "one of like passions with ourselves has passed that way before and
has left a cup to be let down, with His name and story written on the
rim, and we may let that cup down into the well and draw a draught of
the deep, refreshing water."


=_The Location of the Psalm_=

Have you ever noticed just where this Psalm is located? It lies between
the Twenty-second and the Twenty-fourth Psalms. A very simple statement
that--but how deep and wondrous a lesson lies hidden therein!

The Twenty-second Psalm. What is it? It is "The Psalm of the Cross." It
begins with the words uttered by Christ on the cross: "My God, my God,
why hast thou forsaken me?" It ends with the exclamation of the cross:
"He hath done it," or, as it may be translated, "It is finished." The
Twenty-second Psalm, then, is the Psalm of Mount Calvary--The Psalm of
the Cross.

What is the Twenty-fourth Psalm? It is the Psalm of Mount Zion--a
picture of the King entering into His own. How beautifully it reads:
"Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting
doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory?
The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory." The Twenty-fourth Psalm,
then, is the Psalm of the coming Kingdom of Glory.

There you have the two mountains; Mount Calvary and Mount Zion. What is
it that lies between two mountains? A valley with its green grass, its
quiet waters, its springing flowers, with shepherd and grazing sheep.
Here, then, is the lesson we learn from the _location_ of the Psalm: it
is given to comfort, help, inspire and encourage God's people during
this probationary period of our life, between the Cross and the Crown.

Is not this the reason why the tenses of this Psalm are _present_
tenses? "The +LORD+ _is_ my shepherd"; "He _maketh_ me to lie down"; "He
_leadeth_ me." Even the last verse, "_I will_ (not I shall) dwell in the
house of the Lord for ever," describes the _present_ attitude of the
soul of the Psalmist, who determines by no means to miss participation
in the fellowship of the saints in heaven.

We love _the Christ of the Cross_. We may not yet fully understand that
cross; may not yet have found any particular theory of the atonement
which completely satisfies our intellect. But we have learned to say
that we believe in the atonement and in the vicarious death of our
Redeemer. Somehow or other we have come, by faith, to throw our
trembling arms around that bleeding body and cry out in the desperate
determination of our sin-stricken souls to Him who hangs on that cross
to save us by His death. We have come to express our faith in that
divine sacrifice in the words of the hymn:

    Other refuge have I none,
    Hangs my helpless soul on Thee.

Let us never forget that we reach the Twenty-third Psalm by the way of
the Twenty-second Psalm--the Psalm of the Cross. "The way of the cross
leads home." We love the Christ of the Twenty-second Psalm, the Christ
of Calvary, the Christ of the Cross.

We also love _the Christ of the Throne and the Glory_. It may be, that,
at times, we have trembled and feared as we have thought of the coming
judgment, but when we have remembered that He who sits upon the throne
is our Elder Brother, bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh; that He
left His throne in the glory and took on Him the form of a servant,
dying the ignominious death of the cross that He might redeem us and
save us from the just wrath of God against sin; that some day, He who
loved us and gave Himself for us, will say: "Come, ye blessed of my
Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the
world," then we take courage and look forward with joy to the time when,
having washed the last sleep from our eyes in the river of Life, we
shall gaze with undimmed vision upon Him, whom having not seen, we have
yet loved.

We love the Christ of the cross, the Christ of the past, the Christ of
Mount Calvary. We love the Christ of the future, the Christ of the
throne, the Christ of Mount Zion. But more precious to us, and we say it
reverently, than the Christ of the past, or the Christ of the future, is
the Christ of the present, He who lives with us now, dwells within us,
walks by our side every moment and every hour of the day. We used to
sing in our childhood days that beautiful hymn,

    I think, when I read that sweet story of old,
    When Jesus was here among men,
    How He called little children as lambs to His fold,
    I should like to have been with Him then.

    I wish that His hands had been placed on my head,
    That His arms had been thrown around me;
    And that I might have seen His kind look when he said,
    "Let the little ones come unto me."

                                      --_Mrs. Jemima Luke_

Many of us feel that we would have given anything to have walked by the
side of the Christ in the days of His earthly pilgrimage, and we almost
envy those who saw His face in the flesh. Some of us know the thrill of
joy that came to our hearts when we trod the sands of Galilee that once
were fresh with His footprints, trod the Temple's marble pavements that
once echoed with His tread, and sailed the blue waters of Galilee that
once were stilled by His wonderful word.

And yet, we should not forget that the enjoyment of the real presence of
Christ is just as truly ours today as it was the possession of the
disciples in the days of His flesh. As the old hymn so beautifully says,

    We may not climb the heavenly steeps
      To bring the Lord Christ down;
    In vain we search the lowest deeps,
      For Him no depths can drown.

    But warm, sweet, tender, even yet
      A present help is He;
    And faith has still its Olivet,
      And love its Galilee.

    The healing of His seamless dress
      Is by our beds of pain;
    We touch Him in life's throng and press,
      And we are whole again.

                        --_John G. Whittier_

The name given to our Lord in connection with His birth was Immanuel,
which being interpreted is, "God with us." One of the most beautiful
doctrines of the Christian faith is the divine immanence, the continued
presence of the ever-living Christ with His people; for

    For God is never so far off as even to be near, He is within.

                                                  --_F. W. Faber_

    Closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands or feet.

                                            --_Alfred Tennyson_

    I know not where His islands lift
      Their fronded palms in air;
    I only know I cannot drift
      Beyond His love and care.

                 --_John G. Whittier_



THE SHEPHERD PSALM

[Illustration]

CHAPTER ONE

"=The +LORD+ is my shepherd; I shall not want.="


"The +LORD+ is my shepherd." Have you ever noted how the word "Lord" is
printed in the Bible? Sometimes all the letters are large capitals
(LORD); or the first letter is a large capital and the other letters
smaller capitals (+LORD+); then, again, the first letter is a large
capital and the remaining letters ordinary (Lord). Each method of
spelling the divine name indicates a different phase of the character of
God. "LORD" refers to Jehovah as the covenant-keeping God, the One who
never fails to fulfill all His promises. "+LORD+" points to our Lord
Jesus Christ as the second Person in the Trinity, He who became
incarnate. "Lord" signifies also God in Christ, the Jehovah of the Old
Testament, God of power, the One who is able to do all things and with
whom nothing is impossible, manifesting Himself in Jesus Christ.

What a world of meaning, then, lies wrapped up in the word "+LORD+" in
the first verse of this Psalm! Jehovah who is all-faithful, never
failing in His promises, almighty, all-powerful, who is able to supply
all of our needs, who created the heavens and the earth, who upholds all
things by the word of His power, who spake and it was done, who
commanded and it stood fast; the +LORD+ of whom Job said: "I know that
thou canst do anything, and no purpose of thine can be hindered"; the
"+LORD+" who never fails in the keeping of His promises, however
seemingly impossible of fulfillment, from a natural viewpoint, those
promises may be; the "+LORD+" of whom it is said, "God is not a man that
he should lie, nor the Son of man that he should repent." "Hath he said
and shall He not do it; hath He promised and shall he not bring it to
pass?" the "Lord," the incarnate One, who for our sakes took on Himself
our nature with all its sinless infirmities, who was tempted in all
points like as we are, yet without sin, and who is thus able to feel our
needs and sympathize with us in all our trials and temptations; the
"+LORD+" who, speaking to the multitudes, said, "I am the good shepherd;
the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep"--such a Shepherd,
faithful, powerful, sympathetic, is our "+LORD+." What a wealth of
meaning, then, lies in the first clause, "The +LORD+" (who is LORD, and
Lord) such a "+LORD+" is "my Shepherd."

We can then well say, "I shall not want." With such a Shepherd, how
could we want for anything for time or eternity? All that we need for
body, mind and soul shall be supplied. The God who provided the table in
the wilderness, who fed Elijah by the brook, who struck the rock in the
wilderness that the thirst of His people might be quenched, will provide
for His children according to His riches in glory.

Reviewing Israel's history in the wilderness it could be recorded,
"These forty years Jehovah, thy God, hath been with thee; thou hast
lacked nothing." How wonderfully God supplied the needs of His people
when they were traveling through that long, weary wilderness! "For the
+LORD+ thy God hath blessed thee in all the works of thy hand; he
knoweth thy walking through this great wilderness; these forty years the
+LORD+ thy God hath been with thee; thou hast lacked nothing"
(Deuteronomy 2:7). "Thou gavest also thy good Spirit to instruct them,
and withheldest not thy manna from their mouth, and gavest them water
for their thirst. Yea, forty years didst thou sustain them in the
wilderness, so that they lacked nothing; their clothes waxed not old,
and their feet swelled not" (Nehemiah 9:20, 21).

Let us, then, as the children of God, take all the comfort possible out
of these words. Let us not go about mourning, grumbling, and borrowing
trouble, thereby proclaiming to the world that our great Banker is on
the verge of bankruptcy. The "+LORD+" is our shepherd; we shall not want
for nourishment (verse 1), refreshment (verse 2), rest (verse 3),
protection (verse 4), guidance (verse 5), home (verse 6). Here is a Bank
the child of God can draw on at any time without fear of its being
broken. Millions have been supplied and there's room for millions more.
No want shall turn me back from following the Shepherd.

How encouraging to recall the words of Jesus uttered to the disciples
when they had returned from their itinerary of missionary activity:
"When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any
thing? And they said, Nothing" (Luke 22:35).

    The Lord my Shepherd is,
      I shall be well supplied,
    Since He is mine and I am His,
      What can I want beside?

                   --_Isaac Watts_

When the writer was a lad he secured a position for which he was
promised so much a week in money and "everything found," by which was
meant board, room, and clothing. So this verse may read, "The +LORD+ is
my Shepherd," and "everything found."

In a park one day two women were overheard talking. One of them, who by
her appearance showed that she was in very straitened circumstances,
said to the other, "I am at my wit's end; I know not what to do. My
husband has been sick and unable to work for almost a year. What little
money we had saved is all spent. We have not a penny with which to buy
food or clothing for ourselves or the children. This morning we received
notice from the landlord to vacate." And then, in words that were full
of suggestive meaning, she added, "If John D. Rockefeller were my
father, I would not want, would I?"

Oh, what a world of comfort lies in the thought, "The +LORD+ is my
Shepherd," and, therefore, "I shall not want"! I shall want for nothing
in time or eternity. Every need of body, mind, and soul shall be
supplied. In the great Shepherd lies strength for my weakness, hope for
my despair, food for my hunger, satisfaction for my need, wisdom for my
ignorance, healing for my wounds, power for my temptation--the
complement of all my lack.

    Thou, O Christ, art all I want;
    More than all in thee I find.

                 --_Charles Wesley_


=_Religion Is a Personal Thing_=

"The +LORD+ is my shepherd." _My_ Shepherd. Religion is a _personal_
thing. Really speaking, your religion consists in your personal
relationship to God in Jesus Christ. Not mere profession, but actual
possession is what counts. Christianity emphasizes the worth of the
individual and his personal relation to God. Sin degrades men into mere
numbers.

A photograph was placed on my desk. It had inscribed on it a number, but
no name. It was the likeness of a convict. It was a number I went to
jail to see; a number I spoke with by the cell door; a number I stood by
and saw handcuffed; a number with whom I walked down the steps of the
jail; a number with whom I walked up the stairs to the scaffold; a
number around whose neck I saw the rope placed; a number I saw drop to
his death. Sin degrades personality, but the religion of Christ exalts
its adherents to a place in that innumerable company which cannot be
numbered, but every one of whom bears upon his forehead the name of his
Redeemer and King. Jesus calleth HIS sheep by name, not by number.

At the close of a sermon in a church in the Highlands of Scotland the
preacher, who was supplying the pulpit for a few Sundays, was asked to
call upon a shepherd boy who was very sick. Arm in arm with one of the
elders of the church the minister crossed the moor, climbed the
hillside, and came to the cottage where the boy and his widowed mother
lived. After knocking at the door the visitors were admitted by the
mother. Her face showed the marks of long vigil. The boy was her only
child. The minister and elder went into the room where the sick boy lay
on his cot. The minister, looking upon the pale, haggard face of the
sick shepherd boy, asked him tenderly, "Laddie, do you know the
Twenty-third Psalm?"

Every Scotch boy knows the Twenty-third Psalm, and so the little fellow
replied, "Yes, sir, I ken (know) the Psalm well."

"Will you repeat it to me?" said the minister to the boy.

Slowly and tenderly the lad quoted the words, "The +LORD+ is my
shepherd, I shall not want," unto the end of the Psalm.

"Do you see," said the minister to the boy, "that in the first clause of
the first verse there is just one word for each finger. Hold up your
hand, laddie; take the second finger of your right hand, put it on the
fourth finger of your left, hold it over your heart and say with me,
'The +LORD+ is _my_ Shepherd.'"

The fourth finger of the left hand! Why that finger? Every woman knows.
It is the ring finger. Who placed that ring on your finger? My friend,
my lover, my husband; the man who is more to me and different to me
than any other and all other men in this world; the man without whom
life would not be worth living; _my_ friend, _my_ lover, _my_ husband.

The following Sunday the elder and the minister again crossed the moor
and came to the cottage on the hillside. As the mother opened the door
to admit them they saw by the expression on her face that a deeper
sorrow had fallen on her heart since they last saw her. She took them,
silently and solemnly, into a little room, and there, covered with a
snow-white sheet, lay the lifeless form of the shepherd laddie, her only
child. As the minister took the white sheet and passed it from forehead
to chin, from chin to breast, and from breast to waist, he saw, frozen
stiff in death, the second finger of the right hand on the fourth of the
left hand, which was fastened in death over his heart. The mother
exclaimed amid her tears, "He died saying, 'The +LORD+ is _my_
Shepherd.'"

What a world of difference that little word _my_ makes, does it not? As
a pastor I have often stood by the open grave that was to receive the
body of someone's beloved daughter, the light and joy of some heart. I
sought to be deeply sympathetic with those who were suffering
bereavement. I tried to mourn with those who mourned, and weep with
those who wept, and I think I did, so far as it is possible for a
friend to sympathize. But one day I stood by an open grave when _my_
daughter, _my_ child, _my own_ darling girl, _my_ Dorothy, was placed
beneath the sod. Ah! then I knew what grief was. Ah, what a world of
difference that little word _my_ makes!

It will not profit you much, my friend, to be able to say, "The +LORD+
is _a_ Shepherd"; you must be more personal; you must say, "The +LORD+
is _my_ Shepherd."

    A Shepherd who giveth His life for the sheep,
    A Shepherd both mighty to save and to keep--
    Yes, this is the Shepherd, the Shepherd we need,
    And He is a Shepherd indeed!

    Is He yours? Is He yours?
    Is this Shepherd, who loves you, _yours_?

                                --_Ada R. Habershon_



CHAPTER TWO

[Illustration]

="He maketh me to lie down in green pastures;
he leadeth me beside still waters."=


They tell us that it is a very difficult and well-nigh impossible
thing to get a sheep that is hungry to lie down in a pasture, or that
is thirsty to drink by turbulent waters. A hungry dog will, but not a
hungry sheep. The sheep described in this verse, then, are such as
have been fed and satisfied in richest pastures, and whose thirst have
been slaked in quiet waters. Doubtless the mind of the Psalmist is
going back to such scenes in his own shepherd life when he had led his
flock into rich, green pastures, sought out for his sheep some quiet
watering-place, or had so manipulated the flow of turbulent waters as
to make them flow smoothly.

The writer of this Psalm is seeking to illustrate spiritual truths from
his own experience as a shepherd among the hills of Judea. He is
spiritualizing his soliloquy. He thinks of the cry of God's people for
the satisfaction of the soul's hunger and thirst; he sees the necessity
for such feeding and nourishment if there is to be a walk of obedience
"in the paths of righteousness."

Spiritualizing this verse, we may say that the "green pastures" and
"still waters" refer to the spiritual nourishment which the child of God
receives as he waits upon God in the study of His Word and prayer. There
can be no spiritual strength sufficient to walk in "paths of
righteousness" unless time is taken to "lie down" in the "green
pastures" of the divine Word by "the still waters" of prayer. To "lie
down" is the first lesson the Great Shepherd would teach His sheep. Not
lie down after you are tired, but before. "Lie down" that you may have
strength to walk in "the paths of righteousness." One of the hardest
commands for the soldier to obey is to wait in the trenches. He would
sooner "go over the top."

It is generally recognized as being a very difficult thing to get God's
people to thus "lie down." They will do almost anything and everything
else but that. They will run, walk, fight, sing, teach, preach, work, in
a word do almost anything and everything except seek seasons of quiet
and periods of retirement for secret communion with God and quiet soul
nurture.

Most of our favorite hymns indicate this attitude. They are militant,
working, active hymns: "Work, for the night is coming," "The fight is
on," "Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war," "Stand up, stand
up for Jesus," "Steadily marching on, with His banner waving o'er us,"
and many another. Where are such hymns as "Alone with Jesus, O the hush,
the rapture," "In the secret of His presence how my soul delights to
hide," "Take time to be holy"? How few of us are willing to go alone
into the woods whither the Master went, clean forspent, clean forspent?

We do not like pauses in our meetings. If there should be a pause we
seek at once to fill it in with a verse of Scripture, or someone says,
"Let us sing a verse of hymn sixty-six," and so we fill up the pauses
with choruses.

From the rush into the hush Jesus calls us. From the turbulent tumult
into the quiet secret of His presence. Where there is peace, perfect
peace, Jesus calls us.

    Jesus calls us, o'er the tumult
    Of our life's wild restless sea;
    Day by day His sweet voice soundeth,
    Saying, "Christian, follow me!"

    Jesus calls us--from the worship
    Of the vain world's golden store;
    From each idol that would keep us--
    Saying, "Christian, love me more!"

    In our joys and in our sorrows,
    Days of toil and hours of ease,
    Still He calls in cares and pleasures--
    "Christian, love me more than these!"

    Jesus calls us! by Thy mercies,
    Saviour, may we hear Thy call;
    Give our hearts to Thy obedience,
    Serve and love Thee best of all.

                     --_Cecil F. Alexander_

Lie down we _must_. The text says, "He _maketh_ me to lie down." The
word "maketh" is the Hebrew causative and indicates forcible, compelling
action. Our Great Shepherd knows that amid the activity, the stress, the
strain and the restlessness of our lives it is absolutely necessary for
us to take periods of quiet and rest, without which it will be
impossible for us to continue in the way of righteousness. Have you so
much to do that you do not have time to "lie down"? Then the gracious
Shepherd will see to it that you have less to do. He would _make_ you
lie down. The overworked watchspring snaps. There must be pauses and
parentheses in all our lives.

We make much today of _active_ Christianity. We lay emphasis on the
_activities_ of Church work. Pragmatism is more than quietism to us. We
must "bring things to pass," and "deliver the goods." This is all very
well in its place, but we fear that the strength of our activities is
not very deeply rooted. We shall be able to bear fruit upward and
outward only as the roots of our spiritual life grow downward and deep.
The secret springs of our lives must be well cared for.

One day we read in the daily newspaper of some leading man in the
community who had fallen and brought discredit on the cause of Christ.
This unfaithful one was described as having been "an active member of
the church." Yes, that was the trouble. He was too active; he was not
passive enough. He had omitted to "lie down" and feed in "green
pastures" and drink by the "still waters" of God's Word and by prayer.

A friend tells us that while in the Orient he visited a Syrian shepherd.
He observed that every morning the shepherd carried food to the
sheepfold. On inquiry he found that he was taking it to a sick sheep.
The next morning the friend accompanied the shepherd and saw in the
sheepfold a sheep with a broken leg. The friend asked the shepherd how
the accident happened. Was it struck by a stone? Did it fall into a
hole? Did a dog bite it? How was the limb injured? The shepherd replied,
"No, I broke it myself."

In amazement the friend replied, "What, you broke it! Why did you do
that?"

The shepherd then told him how wayward this sheep had been, how it had
led others astray, and how difficult it had been to come near it. It was
necessary that something should be done to preserve the life of this
particular member of the flock, and also to prevent it from leading
other sheep astray. The shepherd therefore broke its leg and reset it.
This breakage necessitated the sheep's _lying down_ for a week or more.
During that time it was compelled to take food from the hand of the
shepherd. Thus had the compulsion of lying down cured the wandering and
wayward disposition of the sheep.

It is said that when a sheep will not follow the shepherd he takes up
the lamb in his arms--and then the mother follows.

So it sometimes happens with the children of God. Our Great Shepherd has
to lay us aside, put us on our backs, perhaps, for a while in order that
we may look up into His face and learn needed lessons. A little girl lay
dying. She looked up into the face of her father, who years before had
been a very active church worker, but on account of business prosperity
had drifted away from Christian moorings, and said, "Papa, if you were
as good as you used to be, do you think I would have to die?" God was
_making_ this man to "lie down," do you see?

A deacon in a Baptist church told me this story. When first married, he
and his wife observed family prayers every day. This worshipful spirit
continued for some years after their first child was born; then
gradually the father became so engrossed in business that the family
altar, Bible reading and prayer were gradually neglected and finally
altogether dispensed with. One day, on coming home from the office, the
deacon found his nine-year-old girl very ill with a fever. For weeks
they watched over her, but finally the angel of death took her home. As
the deacon told me this story, the tears filling his eyes, he said,
"Then I knew that my daughter had been taken for my sake and that God
was _making_ me to 'lie down.' From that day until this, which is over a
quarter of a century, the family altar has been maintained in our home."

Mother, in that sweetest of all hours to a mother, the last hour of the
day when the child is being put to sleep, when the last thing its eyes
rest upon is the face of the mother, does its last vision rest on a
mother who has taught it to pray, to love Jesus? It would be infinitely
better that the heavenly Father take that little child to be with
Himself than that it should go out into the world from a godless,
Christless, prayerless home.

Fathers and mothers, are we taking time to "lie down," to be alone with
God in prayer and the reading of His Word? Has the family altar in your
home been neglected? What are you waiting for? Do you want God to come
and lay His hand upon some precious one in your family circle to take to
be with Himself? Would you then take time to "lie down"?

It is said that when a sheep is wayward and will not cross the brook,
the shepherd finds that by taking the little lamb from it and carrying
it across, the mother sheep will at once follow, rushing over the
stream. Fathers and mothers, are you waiting for God to do this? Our
fathers and mothers used to have the family altar. They took time to
read the Bible and pray with their children. What kind of age will the
next be if we neglect these religious privileges? It may be that our
parents were not the scholars that some of their children are, but I
think we may safely say that they were the saints that we never will be
until we "lie down" in the green pastures and quiet waters of God's Word
and prayer as they did.

Christian workers especially need to learn the lesson of "lying down,"
We are restless; we fume and worry and fret because we are tired and
hungry. We do not take time to "lie down." Strange, is it not, that we
will do almost anything but lie down? We will walk, run, climb, sing,
preach, teach--do anything but "lie down." Let us not forget that the
secret of power lies in being alone with God. Christ _drew_ the
multitudes to Him because He _withdrew_ from them at times. The drawing
preacher is the withdrawing man. Significant are the words of Jesus to
His _active_ disciples: "Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place,
and rest a while."

    Resting in the pastures and beneath the Rock,
    Resting by the waters where He leads His flock,
    Resting, while we listen, at His glorious feet,
    Resting in His very arms! O rest complete!

                        --_Frances Ridley Havergal_

These seasons of lying down are periods of renewal of strength for duty,
not for indolence or mere ecstasy. By thus feeding in the green pastures
and drinking by the still waters, we are strengthened in order that we
may walk in the paths of righteousness. We eat and drink for strength,
not for drunkenness. One may lie in a bath so long that his strength is
exhausted thereby, or he may take a good plunge in the morning which
will be a source of exhilaration to him throughout the day. These times
of "lying down" may be likened to the plunge. We must not be mere
recluses or visionaries. Our "lying down" must fit us for "walking." If
our private communion with God does not fit us for Christian activity in
our daily avocation, distrust it. We cannot keep the rapture of
devotion if we neglect duty of service. Life must not be all
contemplation any more than it must not be all activity. We will not
need to speak of these times of lying down, nor advertise that we have
seasons of quiet communion, of ecstasy and vision; but the result
thereof will be clearly apparent in our lives as we walk in the path of
righteousness, and in the joyful assurance of soul when we are called
upon to pass through the valley of the shadow.

Would that we knew how much depended, both for ourselves and others, on
these seasons of retirement for meditation and prayer! What a blessing
it would be to us! What a benediction to others!

    Lord, what a change within us one short hour
    Spent in Thy presence will prevail to make;
    What heavy burdens from our bosoms take;
    What parched grounds refresh as with a shower!
    We kneel, and all around us seem to lower;
    We rise, and all the distant and the near
    Stands forth in sunny outline, brave and clear;
    We kneel, how weak! We rise, how full of power!

    Why, therefore, should we do ourselves this wrong--
    Or others--that we are not always strong;
    That we are ever overborne with care;
    That we should ever weak or heartless be,
    Anxious or troubled, then with us in prayer,
    And joy and strength and courage are with Thee!

                            --_Richard Chenevix Trench_



CHAPTER THREE

[Illustration]

="He restoreth my soul; he leadeth me in the
paths of righteousness for his
name's sake."=


David, the shepherd Psalmist, is doubtless thinking of the refreshment
that comes to the soul from browsing or meditating in the green pastures
and by the still waters of the Word of God, and of the exhilaration and
inspiration that comes from being alone with God with an open Bible and
on bended knee. Every true child of God knows the strength and blessing
that comes from such fellowship and communion. "Even the youths shall
faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall; but they that
wait upon the +LORD+ shall renew their strength; they shall mount up
with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall
walk, and not faint" (Isaiah 40:30, 31).

But the Psalmist is referring more particularly, perhaps, to the
restoration of the soul from a spiritual lapse or backsliding,
resulting from failure to "lie down." We well know from what we have
read regarding the Oriental shepherd life, that the shepherd must needs
be a physician as well as a guide. A sheep is a most defenceless
creature. A cat, horse, cow or a dog will defend itself--a sheep cannot.
Sheep have a genius for going wrong. A sheep is said to have less brains
than any other animal of its size. If lost, it cannot find its way back
unaided. A dog, a cat, a horse can, but not a sheep. "All we, like
sheep, have gone astray." If the Good Shepherd had not gone after us we
would not have been in the fold today.

Have you ever looked into a sheep's eyes? They look for all the world
like glass eyes. A sheep can see practically nothing beyond ten or
fifteen yards. It recognizes persons by sound and not by sight. Jesus
said, "My sheep hear my voice; a stranger will they not follow, for they
know not the voice of strangers."


=_Traps for Falling_=

Palestinian fields were covered with narrow criss-cross paths over which
the shepherd would have to lead his flock in seeking new pasture. Some
of these paths led to a precipice or deep ravine over which a stupid
sheep might easily fall to its death. From such dangers the shepherd had
to guard his flock. Some sheep, however, being wayward by nature would
take one of these criss-cross paths leading to danger and fall headlong
into thickets or down ravines, where they would lie wounded, bleeding
and dying. What does a stupid sheep know of ravines, precipices or
haunts of wild beasts? That hill or valley seems to offer fair prospects
and good pasture--but death lurks there. The sheep knows not. The
shepherd would have to seek the lost, wounded sheep, and, finding it,
bind up its wounds, reset broken limbs and restore its health.

It is said that if a sheep wandered into a stranger's pasture the finder
could cut its throat and keep the carcass, providing the shepherd did
not come in time to save the sheep. Many times the shepherd arrived just
after the sheep had been mutilated, and by care saved its life and
restored it to health again. The sheep was again his own--it was
"restored."


=_The Wandering Sheep_=

David is spiritually soliloquizing. He thinks of the tendency of human
nature to err and stray like a sheep. "All we like sheep have gone
astray; we have turned every one to his own way." Man, too, has a genius
for going wrong. "There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the
end thereof are the ways of death." No man is clever enough to guide
himself through the devious ways of life. He needs God as a guide.

David recalls how tenderly God had dealt with him after his backslidings
and how graciously and completely He had restored him to fellowship.

How gently Christ deals with the backslider! When John the Baptist
temporarily wavered in his conception of the mission of the Christ, and
sent his disciples to Jesus to ask, "Art thou he that should come, or
look we for another?" how tenderly Christ dealt with His forerunner! The
circumstances in the case might have led us to expect harsh treatment.
John had seen the open heavens and heard the voice of God saying, "This
is my beloved Son." In a special and miraculous way it had been revealed
to John that Jesus was the Messiah, "the Lamb of God, which taketh away
the sin of the world!" The people had looked upon John as a prophet. All
that he had said concerning the Christ they had believed, and now from
the forerunner of Christ comes this message of doubt repeated to Jesus
within the hearing of the multitudes. But that child of the desert had
been incarcerated for some time in a narrow prison cell. No wonder the
eyes of the caged eagle began to film, and the faith of the stern
prophet began to waver. Other great men have wavered in their faith
before John. David himself said, even though God had definitely promised
that he should succeed Saul as king, "I shall one day perish by the hand
of Saul." Elijah, after his great triumph over the four hundred prophets
of Baal, sat down under a juniper tree, and full of fear because of
Jezebel's threat asked disconsolately that he might die. No wonder then
that, momentarily, the faith of John the Baptist was in the shadow. You
and I have failed in faith amid circumstances less trying than those
which surrounded John the Baptist in his dungeon.


=_The Gentleness of the Shepherd_=

How does Jesus answer John? Does He curse the doubter? No. That would
not be like Him. He has never been known to do that. Not once, so far as
we know, did he ever send a message of censure to a soul in the dungeon
of darkness, doubt, and despair. We have seen Him blast, with the
lightning of His eloquence, the false pride of scribe and Pharisee who
stood before Him in haughtiness and scorn, but we never knew Him to say
a harsh word to a creature that was sore stricken in soul. No, "He will
not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax." No, He will
not send a curse; He will send a blessing. That will be more like Him.
He will say, "Go tell John again those things that ye do see and hear;
the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed,
the dead are raised, the poor are evangelized, and _blessed_ is he that
shall not be offended in me." Not a curse, but a blessing will He send.

How much like his treatment of us! Do we not remember when we first came
to Him as our Saviour, how He forgave, freely and gladly, all our sins,
and sent us on our way rejoicing? Do we not recall how shortly after,
when we had sinned and spotted the clean white sheet of paper He had
given us, that when we brought it back to Him all spotted with sin He
freely pardoned, gave us another clean sheet, and, without upbraiding,
sent us away, saying, "Thy sins are forgiven; sin no more"? Yes, we
recall it. We believe in the deity of Christ, not because of the
metaphysical arguments that have been produced to prove it, no matter
how elaborately stated or eloquently discussed; not because our library
shelves are groaning beneath the weight of evidences of His deity; nor
because theologians are said to have forced Him to that high eminence.
We believe Jesus Christ to be God because when we sinned and came asking
pardon He freely forgave, and gave us a clean sheet of acquittal, saying
"Thy sins are forgiven; go and sin no more," and then when we did sin
again and brought back the sheet of paper all blotted over with sin and
said we were sorry and again asked pardon, He freely forgave, and
without chiding sent us on our way rejoicing. That is what makes us
believe in Him as the Son of God and love Him with a love surpassing
expression.

Poor wandering soul, have you fallen by the wayside? Have you become a
wayward sheep? Have you wandered from the fold? Are you tossed about,
wounded, sick and sore? Do you desire to come back again to the
Shepherd's care? Come now, right now, while the throb of passion is
still beating high, while the deed of shame is recent; while the blot of
sin is still wet; come now, say,

    With all the shame, with all the keen distress,
    Quick, "waiting not," I flee to Thee again;
    Close to the wound, beloved Lord, I press,
    That Thine own precious blood may overflow the stain.

    O precious blood, Lord, let it rest on me!
    I ask not only pardon from my King,
    But cleansing from my Priest, I come to Thee,
    Just as I came at first--a sinful, helpless thing.

    Oh cleanse me now, my Lord, I cannot stay
    For evening shadows and a silent hour:
    Now I have sinned, and now with no delay,
    I claim Thy promise and its total power.

    O Saviour, bid me go and sin no more,
    And keep me always 'neath the mighty flow
    Of Thy perpetual fountain, I implore
    That Thy perpetual cleansing I may fully know.

                              --_Frances Ridley Havergal_

O wandering sheep, backslidden soul, may the Saviour find you today, put
His strong arms around about you, bring you back again into the fold,
keep you from wandering, teach you all you need to know, until the
gloaming, until after having washed the last sleep from your eyes in the
river of life, you place your last climbing footstep on the threshold of
our Father's house to go out no more.

    Callest Thou thus, O Master, callest Thou thus to me?
    I am weary and heavy laden, and longing to come to Thee;
    And out in the distant darkness Thy dear voice sounds so sweet,
    But I am not worthy, not worthy, O Master, to kiss Thy feet.

    "Child!" said the gracious Master, "why turnest thou thus away,
    When I came through the darkness seeking my sheep that have gone
      astray?
    I know thou art heavy laden, I know thou hast need of me
    And the feet of thy loving Master are weary with seeking thee."

    Callest Thou thus, O Master, callest Thou thus to me?
    When my untrimmed lamp is dying and my heart is not meet for Thee;
    For Thou art so great and holy, and mine is so poor a home,
    And I am not worthy, not worthy, O Master, that Thou shouldst come.

    "Child," said the tender Shepherd--and His voice was very sweet--
    "I only ask for a welcome, and rest for my weary feet."
    Then over my lonely threshold, though weak and defiled by sin,
    Though I am not worthy, O Master, I pray Thee enter in.

                                             --_Helen Marion Burnsides_


=_Christ the Restorer_=

Do I not speak to a soul who once has known Christ as the Good Shepherd,
but has now wandered away from the fold?

    Perverse and foolish oft I strayed,
    But yet in love He sought me,
    And on His shoulders gently laid,
    He home rejoicing brought me.

                 --_Sir Henry W. Baker_

May I not remind you of the Master's own parable, "What man of you,
having one hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave ninety
and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which has gone astray,
until he find it?" May I impress upon the words _until he find it_? He
will not cease the search until He has found the sheep. It has been said
that the first verse of this Psalm may be translated, "The +LORD+ is my
Shepherd, I shall not be _missing_." "O love that will not let me go."

The Shepherd stands at the door of the sheepfold and counts the sheep,
his one hundred sheep. He counts to ninety-nine. One is missing. He
cannot rest until that last one is found. The door of the sheepfold is
closed, and out into the darkness and cold and pain of the night the
shepherd goes until he finds his lost sheep, and on his shoulders he
carries it back to the fold, then calls upon his neighbors to rejoice
with him. He has found his lost sheep.

    There were ninety and nine that safely lay
    In the shelter of the fold,
    But one was out on the hills away,
    Far off from the gates of gold--
    Away on the mountains wild and bare,
    Away from the tender Shepherd's care.

    Lord, Thou hast here Thy ninety and nine;
    Are they not enough for Thee?
    But the Shepherd made answer, "This of mine
    Has wandered away from me,
    And although the road be rough and steep,
    I go to the desert to find my sheep."

    But none of the ransomed ever knew
    How deep were the waters crossed,
    Nor how dark was the night that the Lord passed through
    Ere He found His sheep that was lost.
    Out in the desert He heard its cry--
    Sick and helpless, and ready to die.

    Lord, whence are those blood-drops all the way
    That mark out the mountain's track?
    They were shed for one who had gone astray
    Ere the Shepherd could bring him back.
    Lord, whence are Thy hands so rent and torn?
    They are pierced tonight by many a thorn.

    But all through the mountains, thunder-riven,
    And up from the rocky steep,
    There arose a glad cry to the gates of heaven,
    Rejoice! I have found my sheep!
    And the angels echoed around the throne,
    Rejoice, for the +LORD+ brings back His own!

                                  --_Elizabeth C. Clephane_


"=_The Paths of Righteousness_="

"He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake."

These words are strikingly significant, and show forth the tender aspect
of God's guidance. Ofttimes, after rain, the heavy wagon wheels would
leave deep ruts in the road, which in cold weather would become hardened
and make it difficult for the sheep to walk. Not such roads did the true
shepherd willingly choose for his sheep. If compelled, however, to take
such roads, he would choose those that had been flattened down by wagon
wheels until level. He chose those roads that had been worn smooth, that
the tender feet of the sheep might not be bruised. "He leadeth me in
smooth roads." "Thou didst sustain them in the wilderness; their feet
swelled not."

He who follows the divine leading will always be led aright. His feet
will travel in "right roads." No man will go wrong who follows Christ.
He never leads the soul into questionable places, and no feet guided by
Him will go into any place where He Himself does not go. "Where I am,
there shall my servant be." "He that followeth me shall not walk in
darkness." "God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say
that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do
not the truth." Sometimes the road He chooses may not be after our
liking, but it will always be for our best interest, welfare and
usefulness. This fact will eventually be made clear to us, and we will
gladly go with Him all the way.

    I said, "Let me walk in the fields,"
    He said, "No, walk in the town,"
    I said, "There are no flowers there,"
    He said, "No flowers, but a crown."

    I said, "But the skies are black;
    There is nothing but noise and din,"
    But He wept as He sent me back--
    "There is more," He said, "there is sin."

    I said, "But the air is thick,
    And fogs are veiling the sun,"
    He answered, "Yet souls are sick,
    And souls in the dark, undone."

    I said, "I shall miss the light,
    And friends will miss me, they say."
    He answered: "Choose tonight
    If I am to miss you or they."

    I pleaded for time to be given.
    He said, "It is hard to decide?
    It will not seem hard in heaven,
    To have followed the steps of your guide."

    I cast one look at the fields,
    Then set my face to the town.
    He said, "My child, do you yield?
    Will you leave the flowers for the crown?"

    Then into His hand went mine,
    And into my heart came He;
    And I walk in a light divine,
    The paths I had feared to see.

                          --_George MacDonald_


"=_His Name's Sake_="

All this He does for His name's sake. How beautiful those words are,
"_for His name's sake_." Christ's own glory is involved in the security
and care of His children. The physician cares for your child who is sick
unto death, for your sake, it is true, but for "his own name's sake" as
well. To lose your child would hurt his reputation and practice. The
lawyer protects his client for his client's sake, it is true, but also,
and perhaps more so, for "his own name's sake." To lose the case would
be to hurt his standing in the legal profession. The pilot guides the
ship safely into harbor for the passengers' sake, it is true, but more
particularly for "his own name's sake," for to lose the ship would be to
lose his license.

We remember that Jesus said, "Father, I will that they also, whom thou
hast given me, be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory." He
also said, "And of all that thou hast given me, I have lost none."
Christ Himself is the door. His broad figure and bulk fills it. Who
shall strip Him of His power, or rob Him of His sheep? He is the secret
of the security of the believer; yea, He is the security itself. We are
hid in Him. It is rather the perseverance of the Christ than of the
believer. Here, then, is the security of the believer, saved and kept
for "His own name's sake."

How proud we are of someone who is named after us! We have more
solicitude and care for the child that carries our name than for other
children. _For His name's sake_, therefore, is an indication of the
intense, intimate interest and care of the Christ for His people. Do we
not recall what Moses said to Jehovah when He said He thought to destroy
the people of Israel? Did not Moses plead thus with God, "If thou dost
destroy them, what shall we say to the nations, and what wilt thou do
for thine own name's sake?"

Shall it not be that in that great day not one of Christ's sheep will be
missing? "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me;
and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither
shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me,
is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's
hand." "The +LORD+ is my Shepherd, I shall not be missing."

    Christ Jesus hath the power,
    The power to renew,
    The power to cleanse your heart from sin,
    And make you wholly true.
    Christ Jesus hath the power
    For evermore to keep;
    Oh, none can pluck you from His hand,
    Or rob Him of His sheep!

                        --_Dr. James M. Gray_


=_God as a Guide_=

What a wonderful truth is asserted in this verse--"_He_ leadeth _me_."
Meditate just a moment on these words--"_He_," God, the great and mighty
One, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, the One who upholdeth all
things by the word of His power, the unerring, unchangeable, all-seeing,
all-knowing, all-powerful One--"_He_ leadeth me"--_me_, poor, trembling,
wayward, straying, sinning, fallible, erring son of Adam, unworthy,
unfit, not entitled to the least of God's blessings; yet,
incomprehensible as the truth may seem, God in heaven leads "_me_,"
here, on earth. He leadeth me on a journey in which it is so easy of
myself to go astray from the right path. Further, He _leads_, not
drives, His sheep. "He goeth _before_ His own sheep and leadeth them."
The Good Shepherd will not ask you to go anywhere where He Himself has
not gone. He does not drive His children. He leads them.

    He leadeth me! Oh! blessed thought,
    Oh, words with heav'nly comfort fraught!
    Whate'er I do, where'er I be,
    Still 'tis God's hand that leadeth me.

    Sometimes 'mid scenes of deepest gloom,
    Sometimes where Eden's bowers bloom,
    By waters calm, o'er troubled sea--
    Still 'tis His hand that leadeth me.

    Lord, I would clasp Thy hand in mine,
    Nor ever murmur nor repine;
    Content, whatever lot I see,
    Since 'tis my God that leadeth me.

    And when my task on earth is done,
    When, by Thy grace, the victory's won,
    E'en death's cold wave I will not flee,
    Since God through Jordan leadeth me.

    He leadeth me! He leadeth me!
    By His own hand He leadeth me;
    His faithful follower I would be,
    For by His hand He leadeth me.

                       --_Joseph H. Gilmore_


=_Knowing God's Will_=

God's way of guidance varies with different individuals. There is
probably no point on which we need more careful instruction than that
which concerns the will of God for us. We may speak of two wills of God.
The first concerns our _character_ and may be known by all, for it is
distinctly declared in the Word of God in such passages, for example,
as, "This is the will of God, even your sanctification." There can be no
doubt or hesitancy with regard to knowing what the _general_ will of God
regarding our _character_ may be.

There is another will of God, however, which affects not our character
but our _career_. This _particular_ will of God is not as easy to
discern as that which touches our character. Others may not know this
for me. In the last analysis God and I alone must solve the problem of
my career. It is true I may consult others and get all the light
possible on the question at issue, but ultimately the solution of the
matter is to be found in the quiet with the soul and God Himself.


=_Three Things About Guidance_=

Three things may be said to indicate clearly the _particular_ will of
God which concerns my _career_.

The first comes from a constant and prayerful reading of the _Word of
God_, through which God will in some way make known to me in particular
His will regarding me. The scripture which decides the matter for me may
not have the same meaning to others, but I recognize it to be God's will
for me. A minister received one day two calls to the pastorate of two
churches. One offered a stipend of $3000 a year and manse, and an
established church with 900 members, and located under the shadow of a
great university. A flattering call indeed. The other invitation was
from a struggling suburban church with a membership of 75, and offering
a salary of $1800 a year. What should the minister do? Which call should
he accept? To say there was no struggle in the heart at the time would
be to belie the fact. The man of God took the two invitations, laid them
on the bed, knelt by its side, and put his open Bible in front of him
between the two letters. After prayer for guidance and after reading the
Word for some time his attention was riveted upon this verse: "Set not
your mind on high things, but condescend to them that are lowly" (Romans
12:16, R. V.). He had read that verse before, many times, but somehow he
could not get beyond it at _this_ time. To _him_ at _that particular
time_ it was indicative of God's will. Obediently he chose the smaller
church. After years proved the wisdom of the choice. So God will in some
way indicate to you through the reading of His Word His will for _you_
at _that time_.

The second element in discerning the will of God is what may be called
_the inward impression_, by which we mean the constant, irrepressible,
insistent, persistent conviction in the heart of the child of God that
he ought to do thus and so in a given case. It often happens that a
strong impulse comes to a child of God. In a day or two that impulse has
passed away, and he looks back and sees that he has no assurance that
such was the will of God for him; but to the obedient soul in communion
with the heavenly Father, the constant, irrepressible, insistent and
persistent conviction that a certain thing should or should not be done
is one of the sure indications of God's voice in the soul.

The third feature in discerning the will of God is what may be called
_the favorable circumstance_, or _the open door_. If God wants one to go
to a certain place or do a certain thing, the opportunity to do it will
be present with the call to do it. If it is not, then one should wait
until the door opens. If the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of
fire by night remains stationary, then Israel must remain in the camp.
When these emblems of God's guidance lifted and moved, then Israel knew
that it was time for them to move.

    So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still
            Will lead me on
    O'er moor and fen, o'er crag and torrent, till
            The night is gone;
    And with the morn those angel faces smile
    Which I have loved long since and lost awhile.

                                --_John H. Newman_

These three things, the Word of God, the inward impression, and the open
door, should be present in every clear indication of the will of God. If
any one of them is missing, it indicates that the will of God is not yet
clear. We have a beautiful illustration of these three things in the
call of Peter to admit Cornelius into the Church (Acts 10 and 11).
First, Peter had the _Word of God_--nothing should be regarded common or
unclean; second, he had _the inward impression_--he was meditating on
what the vision he had seen should mean; and third, there was _the open
door_--three men were already waiting for him to convey him to Cæsarea.

Wonderfully instructive is God's guidance of the children of Israel by
the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. In this
connection we should recall the words of Jesus when in the Temple, at
the time they were celebrating God's care for His people in the
wilderness in providing them with the pillar of cloud and the pillar of
fire. He said, "I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall
not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." Christ is our
Guide; the Word of God is our chart. Having them, we may rest assured
that God who has guided His people in all the ages will guide us safely
to the end.

    Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah,
    Pilgrim through this barren land;
    I am weak, but Thou art mighty,
    Hold me with Thy powerful hand;
    Bread of heaven, feed me till I want no more.

    Open now the crystal fountain
    Whence the healing stream doth flow;
    Let the fiery, cloudy pillar
    Lead me all my journey through;
    Strong Deliverer, be Thou still my Strength and Shield.

    When I tread the verge of Jordan,
    Bid my anxious fears subside,
    Death of deaths and hell's destruction,
    Land me safe on Canaan's side:
    Songs of praises I will ever give to Thee.

                                       --_William Williams_



CHAPTER FOUR

[Illustration]

="Yea, though I walk through the valley of the
shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for
thou art with me; thy rod and
thy staff they comfort me."=


It was necessary for shepherds in Palestine, when leading their flocks
from one pasture to another, to lead them, at times, through dark
ravines, on either side of which were caves and holes wherein dwelt
ravenous beasts. From the attack of these beasts the shepherd must
protect his flock. For this purpose he used the staff which he carried
with him. The staff was a great stick with a large knob at the end of it
pierced through with sharp nails and spikes. This weapon was used to
beat off the attacks of the wild beasts. The shepherd must be bold and
courageous. We recall how David referred to his encounters with wild
beasts which attacked his flock. "And David said unto Saul, Thy servant
kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a
lamb out of the flock; and I went out after him, and smote him, and
delivered it out of his mouth; and when he arose against me, I caught
him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. Thy servant slew both the
lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of
them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God. David said
moreover, The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out
of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of the
Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the +LORD+ be with thee"
(I Samuel 17:34-37).


=_The Valley of the Shadow_=

"The valley of the shadow of death" may refer to any dark, dread or
awful experience through which the child of God is called to pass. In
this sense it is used in many places in the Scriptures. The Christian's
path is not always beside still waters and in green pastures.

    In pastures green? Not always; sometimes He
    Who knoweth best, in kindness leadeth me
    In weary ways, where heavy shadows be.

    And by still waters? No not always so,
    Ofttimes the heavy tempests round me blow,
    And o'er my soul the waves and billows go.

    But when the storm beats loudest, and I cry
    Aloud for help, the Master standeth by,
    And whispers to my soul, "Lo, it is I!"

    Above the tempest wild I hear Him say,
    "Beyond the darkness lies the perfect day,
    In every path of thine I lead the way."

                             --_Henry H. Barry_

But is it not kind of our Father that He puts the valley in the middle
of the Psalm--not at the beginning of our Christian journey, lest we
should be unduly discouraged, but in the middle--after we have been
strengthened with food and drink and have been assured of the tender
care and guidance of the Great Shepherd. Oh! wondrous thought and care!

Of course, "the valley of the shadow of death" refers also, and probably
more particularly, to the experience of death itself. At least we have
come to look upon it in such light, and doubtless thousands of God's
people have found the comforting truth of this verse a safe pillow in
the dying hour. It has lightened the valley, removed the fear of death,
and illumined immortality.


=_The Fear of Death_=

When a robber would scatter a flock of sheep and cause fear and
consternation he throws a dead carcass in the midst of the flock. Sheep
fear nothing as much as the sight of death. Is this not true of man
also? About the last fear taken from the human heart is "the fear of
death." "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." Even though
the believer knows that the sting of death has been removed,
nevertheless there is usually an attendant fear connected with the
passing out of this life.

I have read that a famous scientist was in the habit of visiting a
zoological garden in London. Among the many things that always
interested him was a large snake--a boa constrictor. It was kept in a
large glass case so that inspection of the reptile was perfectly safe
from the outside. The scientist, we are told, was in the habit of
knocking on the glass in order to awaken the snake. Instantly, when the
knock was heard, the snake would raise its head and strike at the glass
with its fangs. The scientist, instinctively shrank back, fearful of
being struck, though he knew there was absolutely no danger. So
sometimes is it with the believer's relationship to death. Even though
he knows the sting is removed, nevertheless the experience of death is
somewhat of a dread. The soul naturally recoils at the thought of death.

No really thoughtful man will speak lightly of death. He may, as some
men may, in the fullness of health and vigor, laugh at the idea of
dying; but when he comes face to face with the real experience, there
is, as any minister or physician will tell you, quite a different story
to tell.

It reminds me of an experience in our own family life. Behind a former
residence of ours was a stretch of woods where, after school, our boys
would go to play their outdoor games. It was the understanding in the
home that when the whistle was blown or some other signal given the boys
should come home for their meals. At times the boys would come home in
response to the signal in a somewhat murmuring spirit. They have said
something like this to their mother: "Mother, what did you call us home
for anyway? Didn't you know that we were just in the midst of a great
game and our side was about to win? We wish you wouldn't call us." I
have felt as I have listened to them speaking thus to their mother that,
just at that particular time and in the middle of the day, they could,
apparently, get along very well without their mother. But I have noticed
this also, that at night time, after their mother had prayed with them
and the lights were turned out, there was another story to tell. It
seems to me that I can still hear one of the boys calling out in the
dark to his mother, "Mamma, are you there?"

"Yes, son."

"Mamma."

"Yes."

"Is your face turned towards me?"

"Yes."

"Mamma, will you hold my hand? It's dark, isn't it, Mamma? Good night,
Mamma."

Ah, yes, in the day-time they might think they could get along very well
without their mother, but when the night comes, and the lights are all
out, and it's dark, then nobody on earth but mother will do.

So it is with you, my friend. In your bravado of health and strength you
may say that you are not afraid of death, but you wait until your feet
come down to the brink of the river; then there will be a different
story to tell. Some men haven't much use for God in life, but nobody
else but God will do in the hour of death.


=_The Valley Is Certain and Narrow_=

Death is certain. It is appointed unto men once to die. While the Lord
tarries, every child of Adam will have to pass through the experience of
death.

    There is no flock, however watched and tended,
    But one dead lamb is there!
    There is no fireside, howsoe'er defended,
    But has one vacant chair!

                           --_Henry W. Longfellow_

We cannot bribe death. We cannot avoid or evade passing through the
valley of the shadow. We cannot dig under it, nor tunnel around it, nor
fly over it. Face it we must. It behooves us, therefore, to make sure
that we have the light and the life which alone will secure for us a
happy exit from this valley and a glorious entrance into the unfading
light of a new day.

The valley of the shadow of death is narrow, very narrow--so narrow
indeed that even a mother cannot take her one-hour-old babe with her. It
is so narrow. She must go through the valley alone. Single file, if you
please, is the order of march through this valley of the shadow. An aged
woman lay dying. By her bedside, with his hand in hers, sat the man who
for over fifty years had been her husband. The light was failing fast,
and eternity drawing near to the aged woman. Grasping the hand of her
husband tightly, she said, "John, it's getting dark. Take my hand. For
over fifty years we have traveled together, and you have led me. Now
it's getting dark, and I cannot see the way. John, come with me, won't
you?"

But John could not go, and with tear-filled eyes and trembling voice, he
said, "Anna, I cannot, cannot go. Only Jesus can go with you."

She was a little girl of ten years. The angel of death was hovering over
her bed. The end was drawing near. She said to her father, who was
standing by the mother's side at the bed, "Papa, it's getting dark and I
cannot see. Will you please go with me?"

With heart breaking, the father had to say, "Child, I cannot, I cannot
go with you."

The girl turned to her mother and said, "Mamma, then you will, won't
you?"

But the mother, in turn, amid her tears, replied, "Child, I would, but I
cannot. Only Jesus can go with you."


=_The Personal Pronouns Change_=

It is interesting to note the change in the personal pronoun in this
verse. Up to this point the Psalmist has been speaking in the third
person and using the personal pronoun "He"--"_He_ leadeth me." "_He_
maketh me." "He restoreth;" _he, he, he_. When he comes to speak of the
valley of the shadow of death, however, the third personal pronoun is
changed to that of the second person, "Yea, though I walk through the
valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for _thou_,
(_thou_--not _he_, is with me, but _thou_) art with me." There is no
room for a third person in this valley. If one does not have Christ as
Saviour and Guide in the dark hour of death, he goes through the valley
of the shadow all alone. Surely, without Christ with him man will
stumble and fall in this valley.

Poor indeed is that soul who, when his feet are about to enter the
valley, has no Guide, or, when he comes to the brink of death's river,
has no Pilot.

    Oh, to have no Christ, no Saviour,
      How lonely life must be!
    Like a sailor lost and driven
      On a wide and shoreless sea.

    Oh, to have no Christ, no Saviour,
      No hand to clasp thine own!
    Through the dark, dark vale of shadows
      Thou must press thy way alone.

                         --_W. O. Cushing_

But what a blessing and comfort it is for those who know Christ as
Saviour and Comforter, to have the assurance that in that last hour of
life He is by their side to guide them. It was doubtless this thought of
the presence of Christ that comforted Tennyson when he wrote the words
of that beautiful poem:

        Sunset and evening star,
        And one clear call for me!
        And, may there be no moaning of the bar,
        When I put out to sea.

          *   *   *   *   *

        Twilight and evening bell,
        And after that the dark!
        And, may there be no sadness of farewell,
        When I embark;

        For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
        The flood may bear me far,
        I hope to see my Pilot face to face
        When I have crossed the bar.

                                   --_Alfred Tennyson_

Some one has called the fourth verse of the Psalm a song of the waters.
Did you ever hear singing on the water? There is something wonderful
about it. The water seems to take all harshness out of the music, and
puts something exquisitely beautiful into it. Here then is "a psalm of
the waters," a song for the believer to sing when his feet are touching
the margin of the river: "When thou passest through the waters, I will
be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee....
For I am the +LORD+ thy God."

Here, too, is "a song in the night." Sing it, Christian pilgrim, when
earth's last hour is at hand. Sing it as you enter the valley. Sing it
as the darkness deepens. Sing it when the light of earth's day begins to
fade. Sing it when the earth is receding, heaven is opening and God is
calling you. Sing it until the glory of the eternal morn breaks upon
thine enraptured vision. Sing it until your feet stand upon that golden
shore against which death's chilly wave never again shall dash, and
where death is no more. Sing it, sing this song of the waters--"Yea,
though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no
evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."

    Why be afraid of Death as though your life were breath!
    Death but anoints your eyes with clay. Oh glad surprise!

    Why should you be forlorn? Death only husks the corn.
    Why should you fear to meet the thresher of the wheat?

    Is sleep a thing to dread? Yet sleeping, you are dead
    Till you awake and rise, here, or beyond the skies.

    Why should it be a wrench, to leave your wooden bench?
    Why not with happy shout run home when school is out?

    The dear ones left behind? O foolish one and blind.
    A day--and you will meet--a night--and you will greet!

    This is the death of Death, to breathe away a breath,
    And know the end of strife and taste the deathless life.

    And joy without a fear and smile without a tear,
    And work, nor care, nor rest, and find the last the best.

                                       --_Maltbie D. Babcock_


"=_Thy Rod and Thy Staff They Comfort Me_="

The rod is a protection from all the adversaries of the night. No enemy,
not even the last enemy, death, can affright the soul in the care of the
tender Shepherd, for He has extracted the sting from death. The staff is
used for counting the sheep as they pass one by one into the fold. This
action is sometimes called "passing under the rod." The language used
here indicates safety and security.

    I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
    Ills have no weight and tears on bitterness.
    Where is death's sting? where, grave, thy victory?
    I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

                                     --_Henry F. Lyte_

Christ hath _abolished_ death and brought life and immortality to light.
The word "abolished" is a very strong one in the Greek. It has three
root letters, a, r and g. Then the preposition _kata_ is added to it,
thus making our English word "energy" which means "a working force."
Then, in a way known to Greek students, the preposition gives the word,
as it were, the force of a double negative. So the Apostle teaches us
that Christ, when He came into the world and died on the cross, did
something with death. He double-twisted it, He de-vitalized it,
double-negatived it, made it inoperative, rendered it powerless, so that
ever afterwards it would be unable to hurt the children of God.

I do not know very much about bees except, of course, that they sting. I
am told, however, that when a bee stings you it leaves its sting in the
wound and goes away to die. A little child may play with the bee after
it has stung a person without any harm coming to the child. The bee has
lost its power to hurt. So we are told that the sting of death is sin.
Death stung Christ on the cross and left its sting in Him, so that ever
after it could not hurt the children of God. He is "Death of death and
hell's destruction."

Christ, the Great Shepherd, will be there at the entrance of the valley
to meet you and lead you through. He will beat off all the powers of
death. He will destroy all the enemies of darkness and convey you safely
through the valley into the Homeland. He holds the keys of death and the
grave. How helpless a thing a sheep is! How much in need of a defender
it is! It seems as though almost any other animal can defend itself. A
dog will fight when attacked. A sheep stands helpless in the presence
of its opponent. Christ, the Good Shepherd, will protect to the last.

The comforting thoughts of this verse must certainly take the sting out
of death to those who grasp the great truths taught here. It surely
abolishes death and illumines immortality.

No one need fear death with such thoughts as these before him. The
Apostle Paul asserts that every believer in Christ has "a cheerful view
of death," and desires rather "to be absent from the body and at home
with the Lord" than to remain here upon the earth.

Go to thy grave, not as the slave scourged to his dungeon, or the dog
whipped to his kennel, but as the prince wraps around him the drapery of
his couch and lies down to pleasant dreams. The conscious companionship
of the Christ will remove thy fears. With what alacrity, courage and
fearlessness doth he walk the highway whose heart is honest and whose
conscience doth not convict him of the violation of his country's laws!
How different with the criminal! How full of fear and apprehension!

    Abide with me! fast falls the eventide;
    The darkness deepens--Lord, with me abide!
    When other helpers fail, and comforts flee,
    Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me!

    Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day;
    Earth's joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
    Change and decay in all around I see;
    O Thou who changest not, abide with me!

    I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
    Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
    Where is death's sting? where, grave, thy victory?
    I triumph still, if Thou abide with me!

    Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
    Shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies;
    Heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee;
    In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me!

                                          --_Henry F. Lyte_



CHAPTER FIVE

[Illustration]

="Thou preparest a table before me in the
presence of mine enemies; thou
anointest my head with oil;
my cup runneth over."=


There is a variety of senses in which the truth of this verse may be
understood.

It is said that in the ancient days a shepherd's tent was a kind of city
of refuge. The man who had unwittingly slain another could find refuge
in a shepherd's tent from the avenger of blood. The fugitive was
permitted to stay a given length of time within the shepherd's care,
during which time he was as safe from the pursuer as though he were in
the actual city of refuge. The pursuer might be raging with fury outside
of the door of the tent, but the fugitive could eat with perfect safety
and peace in the presence of his enemy. How like Christ in His relation
to the believer!

One day Charles Wesley stood looking out of a partly open window at the
fierce storm howling without, when a young robin, quickly passing some
other birds, flew to his breast, seeking shelter from its foes. It was
then he wrote that wonderful hymn, the opening words of which are:

    Jesus, Lover of my soul,
    Let me to Thy bosom fly!

Is not this a picture of this verse of the Psalm? "And a man (Jesus
Christ) shall be for a hiding place and a refuge from the storm." Are we
not safe in Him from all our foes? "There is therefore now no
condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus."

We are told that in David's day it was the custom of conquering kings
and princes to bring the royal captives of the contending defeated army
into a large banqueting house. To each pillar in the house a prisoner of
royal blood or a commanding officer was chained. The banquet tables were
heavily laden with good things of which the victors partook. Feasting
and jollification were indulged in, and joy and gladness were manifest
in the presence of defeated and chained enemies. Are we not made "always
to triumph" over all our foes in Christ? Are we not made "more than
conquerors" in Him who hath "led captivity captive"? "Ye shall eat your
meat in quietness, and nothing shall make you afraid."

Or, again, it may be that reference is made in this verse to the grazing
of sheep in fields full of snakeholes or of poisonous plants. A sheep
raiser in Texas once told the writer that he lost a great many sheep
because snakes would come up through holes in the ground and bite the
sheep as they grazed, poisoning them. After losing many of the flock he
finally discovered a remedy. A mixture of some kind was poured down the
holes, which killed the snakes, and after that the sheep were able to
graze in peace and safety. Hath not Christ abolished death for the
believer? Has He not deprived death of its sting and stripped the grave
of its victim? Hath He not overcome that old serpent, the Devil? Do we
not overcome the dragon, that old serpent, the Devil and Satan, the
accuser of the brethren day and night--do we not overcome him by the
blood of the Lamb?

Whichever of these meanings may be adopted as indicating the teaching of
this verse, we may be certain that the truth the Psalmist desires to
express is this: That God gives His children victory over all their
foes, and makes them more than conquerors over all their enemies. Thus
shall we "eat our meat in peace and quietness, and nothing shall make us
afraid." "Why do the heathen rage?... He that sitteth in the heavens
shall laugh"--and so shall we.

    On the Rock of Ages founded,
      Who can shake thy sure repose?
    With salvation's walls surrounded,
      Thou mayes't smile at all thy foes.

                     --_Rev. John Newton_


"=_Thou Anointest My Head with Oil: My Cup Runneth Over_="

A shepherd must needs be a physician also. In the belt of the shepherd
medicines are always carried. Sheep are very susceptible to sicknesses
of many kinds, particularly fevers. Ofttimes at night as the sheep
passed into the fold the shepherd's knowing eye would detect that one or
another of them was sick and feverish. Perhaps it had been bitten by a
serpent or torn by some wild animal. He would take the feverish sheep
and plunge its head into clear, cold water, plunging the head so far
into the pail that the water would run over, or anoint the bruise with
mollifying ointment. Doubtless David is thinking of this experience of
his shepherd life.

Or, again, David may be referring to the bountiful water supply provided
for the sheep and applying it to the rich provision God has made for the
believer. Not only is there grace enough for oneself, but with the
believer as a channel, an abundance for others.

    Thou, O Christ, art all I want;
    More than all in Thee I find!

                 --_Charles Wesley_

This is the wonderful truth taught by Jesus in the Temple: "Now on the
last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If
any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. He that believeth on me,
as the scripture hath said, from within him shall flow rivers of living
water." Here we see how the believer may come to Christ for the
quenching of his own thirst, and then draw on, or drink more deeply of,
Christ for the quenching of the thirst of others. "Thou, O Christ, art
all I want, more than all in Thee I find." Here we have the personal and
relative side of a consecrated life of service.

My cup is to "run over." No selfish religion must I claim. I am to be
satisfied with Christ first myself, then I am to take from Him so large
a supply that others with whom I come into contact may also partake of
His fullness. No hermit, no ascetic, monk, or recluse would the Master
have me be.

    There are hermit souls that live withdrawn
    In the peace of their self-content;
    There are souls, like stars, that dwell apart
    In a fellowless firmament.
    There are pioneer souls that blaze their paths
    Where highways never ran--
    But let me live by the side of the road
    And be a friend to man.

    Let me live in my house by the side of the road
    Where the race of men go by--
    The men who are good and the men who are bad,
    As good and as bad as I,
    I would not sit in the scorner's seat,
    Or hurl the cynic's ban--
    Let me live in the house by the side of the road
    And be a friend to man.

    I see from my house by the side of the road,
    By the side of the highway of life,
    The men who press with the ardor of hope,
    The men who are faint with the strife;
    But I turn not away from their smiles nor their tears--
    Both parts of an infinite plan--
    Let me live in a house by the side of the road
    And be a friend to man.

                                        --_Sam Walter Foss_



CHAPTER SIX

[Illustration]

="Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life; and I will dwell
in the house of the +LORD+ for ever."=


The writer was once called to speak with a Scotch Presbyterian elder who
was rapidly passing from this life. I had read to him this last verse of
the Psalm, when, turning in his bed, he said to me in words that were
almost his last, "Take my Bible and read that verse to me from 'The
Psalms in Metre' in the back of my Bible." I took his Scotch Bible from
a table close by and read:

    Goodness and mercy all my life
    Shall surely follow me,
    And in God's house for evermore
    My dwelling place shall be.

            --_William Whittingham_

Some one has well said that "goodness and mercy" are God's two collie
dogs to preserve the Christian from all danger. Others have likened
"goodness and mercy" to the Christian's footmen to wait upon him daily.
"The house of the +LORD+" is doubtless here contrasted with the tent of
the shepherd, just as the words "dwell for ever" are contrasted with
the fact that the fugitive was allowed to stay in the shepherd's tent
only a limited time.

This verse expresses the confidence of the Christian with regard to the
future. It is the Christian's confidence that in the Father's house a
mansion is prepared for him, and that when the earthly house of this
tabernacle is taken down and dissolved by death he has a house not made
with hands, eternal in the heavens. This is surely a grand provision for
old age, a life insurance worthy of the name, a home for the winter of
life, and a blessed assurance with regard to one's eternity. How poor
indeed is that soul that cannot say, "Yea, though I walk through the
valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil," for the grave is
not the terminus but the passageway that leads to endless light and
life, into the glory and beauty of the house of the Lord in which the
believer shall "dwell for ever." Beyond the night of death lies the
perfect day; beyond the valley of the shadow lie the plains of peace.

One cannot help but wonder if you, reader, have such a confident hope
with regard to your future life. Only those who are able to say "The
+LORD+ is my shepherd" are able to say "I will dwell in the house of the
+LORD+ for ever."

A famous Scotch preacher tells us that a demented boy, who was in the
habit of attending one of the classes in his Sunday school, was sick
unto death. The minister was asked to go to see the boy. He went to the
house, and in speaking with the lad and after reading the Scriptures he
was about to leave, when this boy, with only half his reasoning power,
demented and partly idiotic, asked the great preacher if he wouldn't
kneel down and recite for him the Twenty-third Psalm. In obedience to
the boy's request he knelt and repeated the Twenty-third Psalm, until he
came to the last verse which, as you know, reads "Surely goodness and
mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the
house of the +LORD+ for ever." But the preacher did not repeat this last
verse, for he was saying to himself while on his knees, "this verse can
hardly be true of this boy, surely goodness and mercy has not followed
him all the days of his life, and further, what does he know about the
determination of this verse--to dwell in the house of the +LORD+ for
ever?" And so the great preacher was rising from his knees, having
omitted the last verse, when the boy reached out his hand and, placing
it on the shoulder of the minister, pressed him again to his knees and
repeated the last verse of the Psalm--the verse the preacher had
omitted, as it is written in the Scotch hymn book:

    Goodness and mercy all my life
      Shall surely follow me;
    And in God's house for evermore
      My dwelling place shall be.

            --_William Whittingham_

This was a lesson the preacher never forgot. Can you, my reader, you,
with all your senses, your keenness of brain and intellect--can you say
what this idiotic boy could say: "I will dwell in the house of the
+LORD+ for ever"?

I am reminded in this connection of one of Bunyan's characters in the
"Pilgrim's Progress." He is referred to as "Mr. Feeble Mind." This
character in speaking of his immortal hope--that hope which lies beyond
the valley of the shadow and the grave--expresses it in this way: "But
this I am resolved on: to run when I can, to go when I cannot run, and
to creep when I cannot go. As to the main, I thank Him that loved me. I
am fixed. My way is before me. My mind is beyond the river that hath no
bridge, though I am, as you see, but of a feeble mind." Mark that
wonderful expression, will you?--

    "My mind is beyond the river that hath no bridge."

Is yours? You--man, woman, with all your senses, of strong and sound
mind, can you give expression to an exclamation of faith like that?

There are some of my readers on whose head time has laid its hand and
whitened their hair to the whiteness of that winter in which all their
glory must fade. Their sun of life is going down beyond the hill of
life. The young may die; the old must die. Oh, the pity of it, to see
the old and gray with no eternal life insurance for the winter of life!
The gray head is indeed a crown of glory if it be found in the way of
life; otherwise it is a fool's cap. Reader, may your eventide be light,
and may your path be as the path of the just that shineth brighter and
brighter unto the perfect day!

Thus we see that the grave is not the end. We pass through the grave
only in order that we may place our last climbing footstep upon the
threshold of our Father's house, to go out no more. Then we shall dwell
for ever there. Beyond the grave lie the Plains of Peace, the
Homeland--with all the loved who have gone before--those whom we "have
loved long since and lost awhile."

    Is the way so dark, O wanderer,
    Is the hillcrest wild and steep,
    Far, so far, the vale beyond thee,
    Where the homelights vigil keep?
    Still the goal lies far before thee,
    Soon will fall on thee the night;
    Breast the path that takes thee onward,
    Fight the storm with all thy might.

    Tho' thy heart be faint and weary,
    Tho' thy footsteps fain would cease,
    Journey onward--past the hillcrest
    Lie for thee the Plains of Peace!

    Is thy path so rough, O pilgrim,
    Passing on thy way through life;
    Deep the sorrows that beset thee,
    Great the burden, wild the strife?
    Tho' the hill of life be weary,
    Tho' the goal of rest be far,
    Set thy whole heart to endeavor,
    Turn thy soul to yon bright star.

    From the toiling, from the striving
    There at last shall come release;
    One shall bring thee past the hillcrest,
    Home unto his Plains of Peace;
    One shall bring thee past the hillcrest,
    Home, Home, Home unto His Plains of Peace!

                           --_Clifton Bingham_





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