DELIGHT IN GOD'S LAW
"This is the resting place, let the weary rest; and this
is the place of repose"—
"But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His
law he meditates day and night." Psalm 1:2
These form the opening note of the Psalter: the motto and
superscription which first strike the eye, just as we are entering this
glorious Temple of Praise. The verse following is a description of the true
believer. But it would almost seem, with equal beauty, to describe the
Elim-palm we are now to speak of, and under which spiritual Israel ever love
to encamp—the precious, life-giving Word—"A tree planted by streams of
water, which yields its fruit in his season, and whose leaf does not wither"
That Palm-tree was planted by God. The whispers of its
fronds, if we may so speak, form the declaration of His own sacred,
unchanging mind to His Church. Though this revelation of His will finds its
way through human instrumentality, the voice is from heaven; the river,
'clear as crystal,' is from before the throne. There may be diversities of
gifts and temperaments in the inspired authors of the Holy Book—there may be
apparent discrepancies in the tints of the divine picture; but each
historian and prophet, psalmist and evangelist, can say, "My tongue is the
pen of a ready writer"—that ready Writer being the Spirit of God.
"Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy
Spirit." We have "not the words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the
Holy Spirit teaches." That Bible would be incomprehensible on the theory of
mere human authorship. Many of the compositors of this great repertory of
life and love and consolation, were illiterate, uneducated men—strangers to
all the learning and culture of the schools. They were separated from one
another by hundreds, indeed, thousands of years. And yet what a unity
in their writings! what concord, agreement of thought and doctrine! and that
too without the possibility of conspiracy, or preconcerted plan. The Temple
with one altar and one God, yet with a thousand windows all shedding the
same mellowed divine light. They have woven one beautiful, consistent
pattern, one harmonious whole. They point to one and the same glorious
method of salvation, and one too, beyond the understanding of reason. "Built
upon the foundation of apostles and prophets," we have here a building
"fitly framed together." The Bible is more than man's work. It points
to its own high original. It bears the seal and signature of heaven.
Let us look to this blessed Bible as a supreme personal
blessing. It is the very message we need. How it speaks to the conscience!
What a discerner of the moral being! Like the wheels of Ezekiel's vision, it
is "full of eyes before and behind." How it ransacks the halls of memory;
penetrates the labyrinths of the soul—a faithful mirror reflecting
and exposing the chambers of imagery. It meets the longing necessities of
our natures. It offers us a complete salvation; a salvation not only from
the guilt, but from the power of sin. It comes to us, independent of all
churches and conventional distinctions. It meets us on the common ground of
humanity—as sinners carrying the same burdens, subject to the same
weaknesses, grappling with the same temptations, bowed with the same
sorrows, traveling to the same goal of death, having the same possession of
an eternal destiny.
Never any book spoke like this Book. We can say of it, as
David, of Goliath's sword, "There is none like it." It is a Volume suited
for all, designed for all—young and old, rich and poor, learned and
unlearned. In the well-known words of Tertullian, "It is like a vast lake,
in which some places are so deep that an elephant may swim in them,
and other parts so shallow that a child can wade through them."
And, finally, it opens, as no other Revelation ever did,
or ever can, the gates into the Celestial City. It is a glorious fiery
pillar, illuminating the company of the true Israel of God through every
stage of the journey, until it brings them to the heavenly Canaan. And is
not this an object worthy of the Great Father of all?—to prepare this
message of love for His sin-stricken, diseased, captive, dying children;
that with it in their hands as an infallible directory and guide, they may
go up and on through the wilderness, to the Eternal Home, gladdened with
hopes which are full of immortality!
"How miserable it would make me now," says a philosophic
writer and thinker once borne along the current of skepticism, "to give up
the Bible! How I cling to its assurances of pardon and free acceptance, and
undeserved love and favor, as my chief and only hope!"
Go, gather all the philosophers of antiquity—Plato,
Socrates, Aristotle. Bring together the wise men of Greece, the philosophers
of Alexandria, the sages of Rome. Ask if their combined and collected wisdom
ever solved the doubts of one awakened soul, as have done these leaves of
this hallowed Book! Which of them ever dried the tear of widowhood as these?
Which of them ever smoothed the pillow of the fatherless as these? Which of
them ever lit the torch of hope and peace at the dying bed as these, and
flashed upon the departing soul visions of unearthly joy?
O Pagan darkness! where was your song in the
night? In the region and shadow of death where did your light arise?
But "we have a more sure word of prophecy to which we do well to take heed."
Let us know it, in our personal and individual experience, as "the engrafted
Word, which is able to save our souls" (James 1:21). "Engrafted"—the
figure is significant and expressive. The graft in outer nature converts the
weak tree, or bush, or stem, into a strong one. It transforms deformity into
beauty. It puts, in the place of commonplace blossoms, tints of varied
loveliness. The dog-rose of the hedge side, from the pauper of his race,
becomes the stock and shoot of a royal line; the unfragrant plant of the
thicket is made to swing, from his grafted stalks, new censers of sweetest
incense on the passing breeze.
Similar, but infinitely more glorious, is the spiritual
transformation effected on the soul by the engrafting of God's holy Word.
The influence of its precepts, its promises, its motives, its
encouragements, renews and revolutionizes the whole moral being. That soul
becomes "a new creation," a "tree of righteousness." In the hands of the
Divine Spirit, operating through the Scriptures, the beautiful figurative
language of the prophet is illustrated and fulfilled—"Where once there were
thorns, cypress trees will grow. Where briers grew, myrtles will sprout up.
This miracle will bring great honor to the Lord's name; it will be an
everlasting sign of His power and love." Isaiah 55:13
May it be ours, while knowing experimentally this
grafting process with its transforming results in "the salvation of our
souls"—to value with an ever-increasing estimate the instrumentality by
which the new life is generated, and by which it is promoted and sustained.
May it be ours to love our Bible through life's morning and midday, so that
at the sunset-hour its glorious truths may, like the Alpine summits, be
illuminated to our spiritual vision when the valleys are in shadow. Our prop
and support amid the checkered scenes of the pilgrimage, may it form our
staff in the swellings of Jordan.
"It is so blest to trust Your Word alone;
I do not ask to see
The unveiling of Your purpose, or the shining
Of future light on mysteries untwining,
Your promise-roll is all my own,
Your Word is enough for me."
"Remember Your word to Your servant, for You have given