2 Samuel 20:9
And Joab said to Amasa, Are you in health, my brother? And Joab took Amasa by the beard with the right hand to kiss him.
The sickness of the soul is the evil of all evils, and one in comparison with which mere bodily pain is nothing. Whether sin be regarded as a disease, or as guilt, or as both combined, there is only one Physician, even God Himself, who can help us. The medicine and the skill are His, and HE alone can effectually and permanently heal. He has no pleasure in the sickness or death of His creatures; indeed, so far from this HE desires that all should be in health and be happy.
I. We suppose ourselves in a hospital occupied by those who are spiritually diseased, AND THE SYMPTOMS MUST BE INQUIRED INTO AND NOTED.
1. First, then, as to the condition of the pulse. Does it beat strongly and vigorously, indicating a proper circulation? or is it slow, languid, and irregular? Has joy departed? and has zeal ceased to inspire your soul for the discharge of high and holy duties?
2. Next, let me ask concerning your memory. Are past trials forgotten? Have you ceased to think of GOD'S many mercies with gratitude? There are bitter mercies as well as sweet ones, and the Great Physician administers to us some of His healing remedies in wine, and others in wormwood.
3. The condition of your appetite. Does it relish wholesome fare? Do you find pleasure in the reading of good books; and above all, in the study of GOD'S word? Is plain gospel preaching the nutriment which suits you best; or is there a constant craving after highly-seasoned and stimulating rhapsodies, which constitute so large a proportion of the popular preaching of the day? Mere flowers of rhetoric are like the blue and red blossoms in cornfields — pleasing to those who come for amusement, but prejudicial to those who would reap the grain.
4. The condition of your strength. Is your ability to do God's will, to work for Him, and to endure pains and sacrifices, up to the highest standard which you have ever reached? or is such spiritual strength perceptibly on the decline? How many forget that it is impossible robe good without self-denial and effort, and that in order to such exertion we must have strength. The soul will always be feeble and sickly so long as this is lacking.
II. Let us go on, then, TO DESCRIBE SOME TIMELY REMEDIES.
1. Avoid everything which disagrees with your soul's health. Many dangerous diseases are infectious, and hence, evil companions, and unlawful pleasures, cannot be too carefully shunned. "LORD, I trust THOU hast pardoned the bad examples I have set before others," said old Thomas Fuller in his prayer, "be pleased also to pardon me the sins which they have committed by my bad examples." The Nazarites whose strict vows allowed them to drink no wine, also forbade them to cut grapes from which wine is made. And so, they who would enjoy spiritual health, must not only avoid sin in itself, but also the companionship and associations which lead to it.
2. Retirement. The Great Physician should be sought often, that we may be alone with Him. Virtue always goeth out of Him to heal those who thus manifest a desire for His saving help. Especially, during the holy season of Lent, let us thus seek to be alone with the Saviour. "Depart from the highway," says St. , "and transplant thyself in some enclosed ground, for it is hard for a tree that stands by the wayside to keep her fruit till it be ripe."
3. We must be willing to take freely of the balm of Gilead, the doctrine of God's unchangeable love; and also of bitter herbs, such as meditations on the shipwrecks and apostasies of unfaithful Christians.
4. Take plenty of exercise. Attend diligently on all means of grace, public and private prayer, the Lord's Supper, and labour with cheerfulness in the Master's vineyard. Again, therefore, I ask the question of the text: "Art thou in health, my brother?" If honesty obliges you to answer no, then let me implore you to lose no time in seeking for the Good Physician. Cry aloud, this day, to the Good Physician: "Have mercy on us, O Lord, Thou Son of David!" The virtue which goes forth from Him is no mere temporary palliative. Jesus not only comforts, but He cures. Wilt thou be made whole? Look to Christ Jesus to do it for you.
(J. N. Norton.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Joab said to Amasa, Art thou in health, my brother? And Joab took Amasa by the beard with the right hand to kiss him.