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.
With normal natures happiness begins with the thought that God has time to care for each life. In a world where no grain of sand escapes Nature's notice, where there are no runaway stars or suns, where a Divine Ruler leads a beautiful world out of darkness, fire-mist, and chaos, man cannot support the thought that there is no place for him in God's loving providence. So momentous are those events named a betrothal, a marriage, the death of babe, or mother, or statesman, that men wish to associate them with a Divine Friend. Indeed, the most bitter cry that ever arises from human lips is this one: "No man cared for my soul." In a world full of conflict, full of labour, whose fruitage is often sorrow, man fulfils his journey across the wilderness towards the promised land, supported by the thought that the angels of God's providence go before him. Standing under the midnight sky, looking into the realm where stars twinkled and suns blazed, Job found it easy to believe that man moves forward under the convoy of an intimate Friend. From the thought that the millions of orbs making up the community of the sky are Divinely controlled, the mind passes easily to the larger thought that God is carrying individual men and nations upward toward a sublime culmination. But if the scholar finds a unifying power in the heavens, the historian finds a providence in the history of nations, in that each country has its special task, each generation its own contribution. For multitudes this great truth of God's overruling cars has been eclipsed by reason of the vastness of the universe. At one time the East stood close beside the West. Now the telescope has crowded back the horizon. In Newton's day the sun was known to be ninety millions of miles away. To-day, in comparison, the distance to the fixed stars, the distance to our sun is like the distance to the threshold of one's next door neighbour. Science has enlarged the universe in space, but it has enlarged the soul of man a thousandfold more. The new science has caused the mind to rise up, clothed with infinite majesty and beauty. Earth knows only one thing vast enough and precious enough to justify an overruling providence and care — the human soul. Can a human mind shape the innumerable threads into one beautiful whole, and the infinite God be unable to control fifteen hundred millions of men, leading them toward one great purpose of happiness and righteousness? The laws of light and heat, the laws of gravity and soil are so delicately related as to encourage the thought that all the mechanism of the starry world is arranged for the embroidering of violets upon the lap of spring. The vastness of Nature does but enlarge the scope of God's providential purpose. The thought, God cares for man, has also suffered injury through the over-emphasis of the reign of law. Science exhibits man as moving forward enmeshed in laws of heat and light and gravity. By law the winter recedes, by law the summer advances, by law the harvests are ripened, by law the clouds are lifted, by law the rivers are filled. Soon men began to spell the word Law with a capital "L," and Force with a capital "F." Gently law and force led the Infinite Being to the edge of the universe, and bowed Him out of existence. Men decided that law could build the world if it was spelled with large letters instead of small. But nothing could have been more foolish than this over-emphasis of law. Merchants do, indeed, have one law, by which the office opens at eight, and another law by which it is closed at six, but if some foolish person should think that these rules which the merchant has enacted have built up his trade so that it is no longer necessary to have a merchant or an inventor, and all the businesses get along by the rules and need no presiding mind, we should have that which would answer precisely with the amazing thought that the laws of nature have done away with the necessity of God. Man has certain habits that are the rules of his life. God's habits are Nature's laws. And but for their stability the universe would be without flexibility. Thus science, that once threatened to do away with Providence, has now, through the reign of law, established providence. For laws are flexible, not alone for God, but for man, who, through them, makes this world a fruitful and beautiful paradise. Now, for the individual life, how unspeakably precious this declaration of God's loving care! In hours of weakness, when baffled and beaten, when man perceives how vast is the sphere in which he is moving, how mighty are the forces whirling about him, he yearns for some power strong enough and wise enough to overrule events, and from defeat lead forth to victory. It is not enough that there is a providence over summer and winter, by which the barn and storehouse are made to overflow. In the midst of the fierce strife man cries out, "No one cares for my soul." Nature has no personal friends. On the battlefield a thousand men may lie in the orchards and thickets, weltering in their life blood, but the boughs heed not the prayers, the trees shed no tears. In the olden times, when the knight went into battle, he carried with him the name and face of his beloved one. One look upon that face armed him for his conflict. Dying, upon that face his last look fell. It is said that man's name is written upon God's hand. With the coming of each sun comes the loving providence, and after each day's going the great God remains. Happy is the man who feels that God cares for him, that he journeys forward under Divine convoy, that his Father is Regent of universal wisdom and represents the whole commonwealth of love, and commands all nature to serve His child. Such a man is weaponed against every enemy, and is invincible. He who ever carries with him this sense of God's loving providence is fitted to pass through fire, through flood, through all the thunder of life's battle. God cares for you — then you cannot live too long, and you cannot die too soon, for heaven ever lies all about you. God cares for man — then from every storm there is a harbour.
(N. D. Hillis.)
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.