Santa Clara, CA
| The Place of Help ~ Chambers|
[i]I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord.[/i] Psalm 121:1-2
The marginal rendering puts it in the form of a question. Shall I lift up mine eyes to the hills? from whence should my help come? and recalls Jeremiahs statement: In vain is help looked to from the mountains (rv). I want to apply that statement spiritually.
Mountains stir intense hope and awaken vigour, but ultimately leave the climber exhausted and spent. Great men and great saints stir in us great aspirations and a great hopefulness, but leave us ultimately exhausted with a feeling of hopelessness; the inference we draw is that these people were built like that, and all that is left for us to do is to admire. Longfellow says: Lives of great men all remind us we can make our lives sublime, but I question whether this is profoundly true. The lives of great men leave us with a sense of our own littleness which paralyses us in our effort to be anything else. Going back to the setting of this Psalm, one realises that the exquisite beauty of the mountain scenery awakens lofty aspirations; the limitless spaces above the highest mountain-peak, the snow-clad summit, and the scarred side ending in foliage and beauty as it sweeps to the valley below, stand as a symbol for all that is high and lofty and aspiring. When one is young this is the type of scenery most revelled in, the blood runs quicker, the air is purer and more vigorous, and things seem possible to the outlook that were not possible when we lived in the valleys; but as one gets older, and realises the limitation not only of physical life but in the inner life, the remembrance of the mountains and of mountain-top experiences leaves us a little wistful with an element of sadness, an element perhaps best expressed by the phrase, What might have been, had we always been true to the truth, had we never sinned, had we never made mistakes! Even such simple considerations as these bring us to the heart of the Psalmists song in this Pilgrim Song BookShall I lift up mine eyes to the hills? Is that from whence my help is to come? And the Psalmist answers, No, my help cometh from the Lord Who made the hillsand there we have the essence of the spiritual truth. Not to the great things God has done, not to the noble saints and noble lives He has made, but to God Himself does the Psalmist point.
The study of biography is always inspiring, but it has this one drawback, that it is apt to leave the life more given to sentiment and thinking and perhaps less to endeavour than is usually supposed; but when we realise what the Psalmist is pointing out and what the New Testament so strongly insists on, viz., [i]the Lord[/i] is our help, we are able to understand such a mountain character as the Apostle Paul saying Follow my ways which be in Christ. We have not been told to follow in all the footsteps of the mountain-like characters, but in the footsteps of their faith, because their faith is in a Person.
This is such an important theme that it will profit us to look at it from another aspect. This is the age when education is placed on the very highest pinnacle. In every civilised country we are told that if we will educate the people and give them better surroundings, we shall produce better characters. Such talk and such theories stir aspirations, but they do not work out well in reality. The kingdom within must be adjusted first before education can have its true use. To educate an unregenerate man is but to increase the possibility of cultured degradation. No one would wish to belittle the lofty attainments of education and culture, but we must realise we have to put them in their high, mighty, second place. Their relationship in human life is second, not first. The man whom God made is first, and the God Who made him is his only Help. God seems to point this out all through His BookMoses, learned in all the learning of the Egyptian schools, the highest and ablest prophet-statesman conceivable, realises with a keenness and poignancy the bondage and degradation of his brethren, and sees that he is the one to deliver them: but God sends him for forty years into a wilderness to feed sheep. He removes first of all the big I am and then the little I am out of him. Read the account carefully; you will find that at the end of those forty years, when God spoke to Moses again, saying Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth My people, Moses said Who am I? All this points out one thing, that the ability of a man to help his brother man lies lastingly with God and is not concerned with his aspirations or his education or his attainments.
The same thing emerges in the 15th chapter of St. Johns Gospel where our Lord instructs His disciples about the new dispensation I am. I am the Vine. . . . If the dominant identity of the disciple is not built up by God Himself, in vain are the mountains looked to for help. There may be some who are trying by aspiration and prayer and consecration and obedience, built up from looking at the lives that stand like mountain peaks, to attain a like similarity of character, and they are woefully lagging behind; their lips, as it were, have grown pale in the intense struggle, and they falter by the way, and the characters that used to stir intense hopefulness leave the soul sighing over what might have been, but now can never be. To such a reader let the message of this 121st Psalm come with new hope, My help cometh from the Lord Who made the hills. A strong saintly character is not the production of human breeding or culture, it is the manufacture of God.
Take it from another aspect. There are people to-day who are exalting our Lord as a Teacher, saying, in effect, that they believe in the Sermon on the Mount and its high ideals but not in the Cross; that all that is necessary is to place the pure noble ideals of the Sermon on the Mount before mankind and let men strive to attain; that there is no need for a sacrificial death. When minds and men and countries are very young in thinking, this sort of statement and teaching has a wonderful fascination, but we sooner or later learn that if Jesus Christ was merely a Teacher, He adds to the burdens of human nature, for He erects an ideal that human nature can never attain. He tantalises us by statements that poor human nature can never fit itself for. By no prayer, by no self-sacrifice, by no devotion, and by no climbing can any man attain to that Blessed are the pure in heart, which Jesus Christ says is essential to seeing God.
When we come to the New Testament interpretation of our Lord we find He is not a Teacher, we find He is a Saviour. We find that His teaching is but a statement of the kind of life we will live when we have let Him re-make us by means of His Cross and by the incoming of His Spirit. The life of Jesus is to be made ours, not by our imitation, not by our climbing, but by means of His Death. It is not admiration for holiness, nor aspirations after holiness, but [i]attainment[/i] of holiness, and this is ours from God, not from any ritual of imitation.
I would like to commend this thought for the instruction and courage of those whose hearts are fainting in the way, from whom the ideals of youth have fled, to whom life holds out no more promises. For thirty years or more it may be that life has been a boundless romance of possibilities; beckoning signs from lofty mountain peaks have lured the spirit on; but now the burden and the heat of the day have come and the mountain tops are obscured in a dazing, dazzling heat, and the road is dusty and the mileage long, and the feet are weak and the endeavour is exhausted. Let me bring the message contained in this Psalm, even as a cup of water from the clear sparkling spring of life. My help cometh from the Lord Who made heaven and earth. He will take you up, He will re-make you, He will make your soul young and will restore to you the years that the cankerworm hath eaten, and place you higher than the loftiest mountain peak, safe in the arms of the Lord Himself, secure from all alarms, and with an imperturbable peace that the world cannot take away.
This Psalm is one of the fifteen that the people sang and chanted on their ways of weary pilgrimage to the mighty concourse and festivity of Gods hosts, and it is well called one of the Pilgrim Psalms. The Psalmist goes on to sayThe sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil, so that there be no fainting by the way. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.
To whom are you looking? To some great mountainlike character? Are you even looking at the Lord Jesus Christ as a great mountain-like Character? It is the wrong way; help does not come that way. Look to the Lord alone, and come with the old pauper cry
[i]Just as I am, without one plea But that Thy blood was shed for me, And that Thou bidst me come to Thee O Lamb of God, I come.[/i]
Any soul, no matter what his experience, that gets beyond this attitude is in danger of falling from grace. Oh, the security, the ineffable rest of knowing that the God Who made the mountains can come to our help! Let us hasten at once under the shadow of the Almighty, to the secret place of the Most High, for there shall no evil befall us. Jesus said, him that cometh unto Me I will in no wise cast out.
| 2007/4/26 10:04||Profile|
| Re: The Place of Help ~ Chambers|
Can well identify with what has been said.
Being in my 40's and having been saved almost 25 years, I have a lot of regrets along the way.
I do grieve over my failures, but it's too late to do anything about it, only, don't repeat it, and warn others.
But we do need to look to the Lord. Who else can we look to?
Thanks for the article, it spoke volumes to me.
| 2007/4/26 10:58||Profile|
| Re: The Place of Help ~ Chambers|
When we come to the New Testament interpretation of our Lord we find He is not a Teacher, we find He is a Saviour.
Oh, so true!!!
| 2007/4/26 11:28||Profile|
Santa Clara, CA
| The Place of Help|
Thanks for the article, it spoke volumes to me.
Glad it did, myself as well. Thought it fit in incidentaly with the thread Krispy started on "name dropping", perhaps another aspect ...
[i]Measuring up to[/i], in that sense.
It gets even better, there are a few more excerpts to follow.
| 2007/4/26 15:17||Profile|
Santa Clara, CA
| Re: The Place of Help ~ Chambers|
To the prophets and poets of the Bible, life is a wayless wilderness. In it there are many voices crying, This is the way, many ideals with signposts claiming to point out the way. It would be interesting to trace the sadness that lays hold of the minds of those who have never known the one and true Living Way, in whose outlook the waylessness of life seems to be the dominant note. Take, for instance, Thomas Carlyle; his mighty literary genius and his instinct for God made him ask in an insurgent manner why God kept silence, why He did not manifest Himself amid all the corruption and shams of life. No wonder his mind deepened into a dark stoicism, since he never saw that God had manifested Himself in that He had pointed the way out of all the mysteries of life in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Or take our poets, those who have never known The Waytheir sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought. The feeling of uncertainty as to the issue, and the strange vagueness of the way is the inspiration of their thought. Or take our own personal moods when we are roused out of our commonplace equilibrium and the sense grows upon us strongly of the implicit kinship of the human spirit with the untrodden waylessness of lifeuntil a man finds the Lord Jesus Christ, his heart and brain and spirit will lead him astray.
There are many ways in which a mans life may be suddenly struck by an immortal moment, when the true issues of his life, the spirits true endowments stand out plainly from its false ones, and he knows in that moment whether he is pursuing or the right way or the wrong way, to its triumph or undoing. Such a moment may come by conviction of sin, or it may come through the opening up of the vast isolation of a mans own nature which makes him afraid. Or it may come with the feeling that somewhere he will meet One Who will put him on the way to solve his implicit questions, One Who will satisfy the last aching abyss of the human heart, and put within his hands the key to unlock the secret treasures of life. There are many gates into the Holy City, and many avenues by which God may enter the human soul.
To all whose souls have been awakened by these moods or by conviction of sin, for whom life has been profoundly altered so that it can never be the same againto all such the voice of the Lord Jesus Christ comes as the voice of the Eternal: I am the Way. If a man will resign himself in implicit trust to the Lord Jesus, he will find that He leads the wayfaring soul into the green pastures and beside the still waters, so that even when he goes through the dark valley of the shadow of some staggering episode, he will fear no evil. Nothing in life or death, time or eternity, can stagger that soul from the certainty of the Way for one moment.
The Way is missed by everyone who has not the childlike heart; we have to go humbly lest we miss the way of life just because it is so simple. God has hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them unto babes. When a man has been found by the Lord Jesus and has given himself to Him in unconditional surrender, the fact that he has found The Way is not so much a conscious possession as an unconscious inheritance. Explicit certainty is apt to make a man proud, and that spirit can never be in the saint. The life of the saint who has discovered The Way is the life of a little child; he discerns the will of God implicitly.
One of the significant things about those who are in The Way is that they have a strong family likeness to Jesus, His peace marks them in an altogether conspicuous manner. The light of the morning is on their faces, and the joy of the endless life is in their hearts. Wherever they go, men are gladdened or healed, or made conscious of a need.
The way to the fulfilment of all lifes highest ideals and its deepest longings is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. How patiently He waits until, having battered ourselves against the impregnable bars of our universe, we turn at last, humbled and bruised, to His arms, and find that all our fightings and fears, all our wilfulness and waywardness, were unnecessary had we but been simple enough to come to Him at the first. There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. God grant that for our own sakes, for the sake of those near and dear to us, for the sake of the wide world, and for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ, we may come to this New and Living Way, where the wayfaring men . . . shall not err therein . . . but the Redeemed shall walk there . . . with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads.
[b]Two Sides to Fellowship[/b]
[i]What I tell you in the darkness, speak ye in the light: and what ye hear in the ear, proclaim upon the housetops.[/i] Matthew 10:27 (rv)
What I tell you in the darkness . . .Let it be understood that the darkness our Lord speaks of is not darkness caused by sin or disobedience, but rather darkness caused from excess of light. There are times in the life of every disciple when things are not clear or easy, when it is not possible to know what to do or say. Such times of darkness come as a discipline to the character and as the means of fuller knowledge of the Lord. Such darkness is a time for listening, not for speaking. This aspect of darkness as a necessary side to fellowship with God is not unusual in the Bible (see Isaiah l:10; 5:30; 1 Peter 1:6-7). The Lord shares the darkness with His discipleWhat I tell you in the darkness . . . He is there. He knows all about it. The sense of mystery must always be, for mystery means being guided by obedience to Someone Who knows more than I do. On the Mount of Transfiguration this darkness from excess of light is brought outThey feared as they entered into the cloud, but in the cloud they saw no one any more, save Jesus only with themselves."
In this side of fellowship with God the disciple must not mourn or fret for the light, nor must he put forth self-effort or any determination of the flesh or kindle a fire of his own. Many tendencies which lead to delusion arise just here. When the disciple says in his heartthere must be a break; God must reveal Himself, he loses sight altogether that in the darkness God wants him to listen and not fuss. In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.
A disciple must be careful not to talk in the darkness; the listening ear is to be his characteristic, not listening to the voice of sympathising fellow disciples, or to the voice of self-pity, but listening only to the voice of the Lord, Wherefore whatsoever ye have said in the darkness shall be heard in the light; and what ye have spoken in the ear in the inner chambers shall be proclaimed upon the housetops. Not what the disciple says in public prayer, not what he preaches from pulpit or platform, not what he writes on paper or in letters, but what he is in his heart which God alone knows, determines Gods revelation of Himself to him. Character determines revelation (see Psalm 18:24-26). With the merciful Thou wilt show Thyself merciful (v. 25). Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord, surely as ye have spoken in Mine ears, so will I do to you (Numbers 14:28 rv).
There is another side to fellowship: What I tell you in the darkness, speak ye in the light. What are we speaking in the light? Many talk glibly and easily about stupendous truths which they believe, but the Lord has never revealed them to them in darkness. Gods providential leadings will take the one who proclaims those glorious truths into tribulation and darkness whereby they can be made part of his own possession. Jesus tells us what we are to speak in the light: What I tell you in the darkness.
All servants and handmaidens of the Lord have to partake in this discipline of darkness, to have the ear trained to listen to their Masters words. Our Lord never gives private illuminations to special favourites. His way is ever twofold: the development of character, and the descent of Divine illumination through the Word of God. Many are talking in the light to-day, and many voices have gone forth, but Jesus says, My sheep hear My voice. A stranger will they not follow but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. At the beginning of a disciplining spell of providential darkness, the tumult and the noise may hinder the spirit from hearing the voice of the Lord, but sooner or later the disciple, at first inclined to say it thundered and to be afraid, says, Thy voice is on the rolling air; I see Thee in the setting sun, and in the rising, Thou art fair.
The voice of the Lord listened to in darkness is so entrancing that the finest of earths voices are never afterwards mistaken for the voice of the Lord. Where are those in this fellowship of the Lord found to-day? If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another. The fellowship of the disciples is based not on natural affinities of taste but on fellowship in the Holy Ghost, a fellowship that is constrained and enthralled by the love and communion of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. When both sides of this fellowship, listening in darkness and speaking in light, are realised, no darkness can terrify any more.
[i]Thou hast done well to kneel and say,
Since He Who gave can take away,
And bid me suffer, I obey!
And also well to tell my heart
Thy goodness in the bitterest part,
And thou wilt profit by her smart . . .
Nor with thy share of work be vexed;
Though incomplete and een perplexed,
It fits exactly to the next.
What seems too dark to thy dim sight
May be a shadow, seen aright,
Making some brightness doubly bright
The flash that struck thy treeno more
To shelter theelets Heavens blue floor
Shine where it never shone before.[/i]
Oh, the unspeakable benediction of the treasures of darkness! But for the night in the natural world we should know nothing of moon or stars, or of all the incommunicable thoughtfulness of the midnight. So spiritually it is not the days of sunshine and splendour and liberty and light that leave their lasting and indelible effect upon the soul but those nights of the Spirit in which, shadowed by Gods hand, hidden in the dark cleft of some rock in a weary land, He lets the splendours of the outskirts of Himself pass before our gaze. It is such moments as these that insulate the soul from all worldliness and keep it in an other-worldliness while carrying on work for the Lord and communion with Him in this present evil world.
Even the darkness hideth not from Thee, but the night shineth as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to Thee.
| 2007/5/6 11:03||Profile|