Keep silence before me, O islands; and let the people renew their strength: let them come near; then let them speak…
In the regulation of his life, a wise man will give a large place to the consideration of what resources he will have in the times of great emergency. For he knows that such times must come to him as they come to all men, and when they come there is urgent and even terrible need of a refuge to which the stricken soul may flee. We are here reminded of -
I. THE REFUGE WHICH IS FALSE, AND WHICH WILL FAIL US. (Vers. 5-7.) We smile with pity, perhaps even a contemptuous pity, as we read of the carpenter and the smith joining their labour in order to produce the well-made idol, before which the offerings shall be presented, etc. But may it not be that those who watch us from above, and who are so much wiser than we, sometimes sigh, not contemptuously but sadly, as they see us putting our trust and finding our refuge in that which is little better than the carefully manufactured image? When trouble has come, or when dangers thicken, when the heart is agitated or concerned, then the foolish sometimes resort to their idols - to those things which are nearly as impotent and as untrustworthy as these.
1. To the stimulant or the drug.
2. To the social excitement or the stress of business engagement.
3. To the comfort of human affection.
But these are wholly unsatisfactory, because:
1. They are not on a level with the height of our spiritual nature; they are not worthy of us who are created in the image of God, and who are bound to find, in our sorrows and our straits, a resource which answers to the spiritual powers we have received of him.
2. They are transient in their influence; they gradually become less efficacious, and at last lose all power to soothe and to sustain.
3. They themselves are temporary; at any moment they may be removed from our sight and grasp.
II. THE REFUGE WHICH IS TRUE, AND ON WHICH WE MAY CONFIDENTLY RELY. (Vers. 2-4.) It is none other than the living God himself. "In the time of trouble he will hide us in his pavilion." There are three strong assurances of Divine succour.
1. Particular instances of Divine interposition. (Vers. 2, 8.) The God who raised up Cyrus, who constrained him to answer his own Divine ends, who empowered him to do such great things, and to triumph over such serious obstacles, is One who evidently gives heed to individual souls, and who both can and will select the very instruments which are needed to work out the redemption for which we are waiting and hoping. He who similarly raised up Luther, Zwingle, Calvin, Tyndale, Knox, etc., to take their place and do their work when such men as they were wanted, will not fail us in our emergency now.
2. His government of the whole human race. "Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning?' All human history attests the presence, the power, the righteousness, the providence, of the Lord.
3. His Divine nature. "I the Lord, the First, and with the last, I am he." In God, our Father and our Saviour, we have
(1) One who, whatever passes, will be always with us (Matthew 28:20); and
(2) One who, whatever changes, remains constantly the same (James 1:17; John 13:1; Hebrews 13:8). - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Keep silence before me, O islands; and let the people renew their strength: let them come near; then let them speak: let us come near together to judgment.