Arthur W. Pink (1886-1952)
"They shall not be ashamed in the evil time: and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied" (Psalm 37:19). Of whom is this declaration made? Of all the children of God? No, indeed. Only of those who are truly "upright" (v. 18) in their hearts and ways. If the reader will look up and carefully weigh Job 1:1, Psalm 37:37, Proverbs 14:11; 15:8; 29:27, it should at once be seen that the "upright" are they who walk with God, are in subjection to God, and live only to the glory of God. The "upright" are contrasted from those whose hearts are "divided" (Hosea 10:2)—half in Heaven, and half in the world; half occupied with God, half wrapped in self; and with real Christians who are in a backslidden state.
Now Psalm 37:19 plainly affirms that the "upright" shall not be ashamed in the evil time. And why? Because God is showing Himself strong on their behalf (2 Chron. 16:9), and doing for them what He is not doing for many others who bear His name. No good things do they lack (Psalm 84:11). Having sought first God's kingdom and righteousness (Matt. 6:33), their needs are being freely and abundantly met. An "evil time" has now come upon this perishing world, and we are acquainted with quite a number who are "not ashamed," and who can joyfully exclaim "The Lord is my Helper." On the other hand, we are acquainted with not a few real Christians who have every cause to be "ashamed," for their present situation brings no glory unto God.
In an "evil time" like this, the lines ought to be so clearly drawn that even the world can discern "between him that serves God and him that serves Him not" (Mal. 3:18). "The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing" (Psalm 34:10). Now let us ask our readers some plain questions. A few years back when "times" were "good" and money was plentiful, were you "seeking the Lord" when you bought a car for the pleasure of your family? Had you His glory in view when you purchased an electric sweeper, electric washer, electric refrigerator? You wish now that you had in cash the money you then put into such extravagances. Yes, so does the worldling. But have you confessed unto God the sin of such extravagance? And what of the silk stockings, the "fine robes and the capes and cloaks, the purses" (Isaiah 3:22); and the many other luxuries which the worldlings were squandering their money upon? What too of being conformed unto the world in its wicked fashions: the "bobbed" hair, the short skirts, the sleeveless waists?
"Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap" (Gal. 6:7). Having sown to the flesh, why think it strange if you are now reaping "corruption"! Perhaps some answer, But I was liberal in giving to the Lord's cause in those days. Are you sure it was the Lord's cause? Was the aiding in the erection of a costly "church house," which still has a heavy debt upon it, "the Lord's cause"? Is there no remedy? Yes, thank God, there is. "If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins, and will heal their land" (2 Chron. 7:14). Ah, notice carefully what is said in the first clause: it is not "if the people," but "if My people shall humble themselves." How many Christians are genuinely surprised that we have not already witnessed a marked change on the part of the masses around us. But they need not be surprised: the "hard times" will make no impression for good on the multitudes until God's own people humble themselves before Him!
There is no need for the King of Great Britain or the President of the U.S.A. to appoint a day for national humiliation, fasting and prayer, until Christians first get right with God. What is meant by God's people "humbling themselves?" This: getting down on their knees before God, and owning with shame-facedness the fleshly and worldly manner in which they lived during the years of plenty; truly repenting for and sorrowfully confessing their covetousness, their carnality, their wastefulness. Then there has to be a sincere forsaking in full purpose of heart any continuance or repetition of their past Christ-dishonoring ways. Coupled with this must be the exercise of faith: that a merciful God will hear the penitent sobbings of a contrite heart, that He will graciously forgive, that He will blot out even the effects of their sins, and now "heal their land"—their present case and circumstances. Not only must the four conditions of 2 Chronicles 7:14 be met, but the three closing promises of it must be trustfully appropriated and earnestly and persistently pleaded before God.
Reader, let not the Devil put you off by saying that you were not guilty of such extravagance as were many of your neighbors; for most probably you were proportionately, and according to your station in life no more self-denying or thrifty than they. May the Lord search each of our hearts, quicken our memories, and convict our consciences.