I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul.
What an amount of pathos is contained in this expression! How sad that any human being should ever have occasion to utter it! As long as any Christianity is left in the world, as long as common humanity even has not wholly deserted it, no one, we should think, would be so utterly forlorn as to be obliged to say, "No man cared for my soul." That the sensual and the worldly should not care for the souls of their brethren might not indeed surprise us; but that Christians should not is truly wonderful. If we feel it a duty to feed the hunger and clothe the nakedness of the body, much more should we endeavour to feed moral hunger. But there will be other voices heard on that day uttering expressions of gratitude to those who have cared for their souls; for the word spoken in season which determined the undecided will in favour of right; for the wise counsel, the pure precepts of love, the faithful rebuke, the cordial sympathy, the kind encouragement which have turned many to righteousness. They will say, "We were without hope, and you gave it to us. We were living in godlessness and sin, and your affectionate warnings opened our eyes to the perils of our condition. You came to us in our doubts with cheerful encouragement, in our despair to lead us to look to God. You have taught us the true value of life; you have set us in the right way. Others have done much for our outward prosperity, and we thank them; but you have made our souls alive, and you are the greatest of our benefactors." Why, then, do we not have more care for souls? It is partly because the god of this world has blinded our hearts; because, not being spiritual, we do not feel the reality of spiritual things; because we do not feel the infinite value of souls, the terrible evil of sin; because we have not faith in ourselves, in our own power of doing good by anything we can say; because we have not faith that God will help us to say what we ought; and because, moreover, we sometimes say as Cain did, "Am I my brother's keeper?" though in a different spirit from that in which he said it. We carry independence in religion too far, till it becomes mere individualism; and we neglect the great law of love, which binds soul to soul, and ordains that no man liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. There is still another feeling which prevents us from direct attempts to help each other's soul, — the feeling that more can be done indirectly than directly; that we can do more for others by the influence of a good life and good example than by direct exhortation or advice. There is, indeed, great weight in this consideration. Certainly one way, and perhaps the most important way, in which we can help the souls of others is by manifesting good principles, living convictions, faithfulness to right, a tender and loving humanity in our own lives. Yet I cannot but think that direct influence might often with advantage be added to indirect; and that, without urging upon reluctant minds spiritual considerations, without prematurely pulling open the folded end of the spiritual life, without violating the sacred retirement and holy privacy of the interior soul, we may yet, if we are watchful, find many opportunities of saying words of direct counsel, which shall come at the right time, shall fall into the right place, and be like seed, to bear thirty, fifty, and a hundredfold. But though Christians are not faithful to this duty, though their love grows cold, and though many are obliged to say, "No man cares for my soul," yet there is One who always cares for the souls of all His children. God cares for souls evermore. All souls are His, and He will not let them go without many an effort to draw them up to Himself. He sends many blessed influences, He sends many holy providences ever to those who are neglected and forsaken by man.
(J. Freeman Clarke.)
Parallel VersesKJV: I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul.