Isaiah 38:15
We usually notice in persons who have passed through serious illness which has brought them to the "border-land," and made the things of the other and eternal world familiar, a gracious loosening from this world, a maturing of character, a mellowness, a sacred seriousness, which may well gain poetical form in the expression of Hezekiah, "going softly." We ought to regard all life as a gift, a trust, from God; but in a very special sense it comes home to us that the years of renewed life, after a severe illness, are a gracious permission, a special favour, of our God. His hand has been upon us; we have felt it, and the touch makes us other men, new men. The Rev. James Hervey wrote to a friend shortly before his death in this way: "Were I to enjoy Hezekiah's grant, and had fifteen years added to my life, I would be most frequent in my application to the throne of grace; for we sustain a mighty loss by reading too much, and praying too little: were I to renew my studies, I would take my leave of those accomplished triflers, the historians, the orators, the Poets of antiquity, and devote my attention to the Scriptures of truth; I would sit with much greater assiduity at my Divine Master's feet, and desire to know nothing but 'Jesus Christ and him crucified.' To have this wisdom, whose fruit is everlasting salvation, after death, I would explore through the spacious and delightful field of the Old and New Testaments." The verse may be mere precisely read, "That I should walk at case in spite of the trouble of my soul." It implies that Hezekiah was resolved to walk the rest of the journey of life with calm and considerate steps. The several meanings that can attach to "going softly" may be illustrated.

I. I WILL GO SOFTLY, AS ONE WHO REMEMBERS THE DISTRUST AND SINFUL REPININGS OF MY TIME OF AFFLICTION. It must always be a regret to the good man, a shadow on his life, that even suffering made him doubt God.

II. I WILL GO SOFTLY, AS ONE WHO CHERISHES THE MEMORY OF GOD'S RESTORING MERCY. God's special grace to the good man deepens his humility.

III. I WILL GO SOFTLY, AS ONE WHO HAS LEARNT A NEW LESSON OF THE BREVITY AND SERIOUSNESS OF LIFE. Hezekiah's sickness was a warning.

IV. I WILL GO SOFTLY, OR PLEASANTLY, AS ONE WHO HAS BEEN BROUGHT SO NEAR To GOD THAT HE CANNOT FIND REST AWAY FROM HIM. Walking with God in all holy' conversation, as having tasted that he is gracious.

V. I WILL GO SOFTLY, AS ONE WHO, AFTER A TIME OF TROUBLE, STRIVES TO RETAIN THE IMPRESSION OF IT, AND TO CARRY OUT THE RESOLVES THEN MADE, AND SHOW THAT HE HAS WELL LEARNED THE LESSONS OF AFFLICTION. Compare "Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now will I keep thy Word." - R.T.







What shall I say?
Such an exclamation escaped from the lips of Joshua, and it was the language of bitter disappointment, for Israel fled before their enemies (Joshua 7:8). The same words were uttered by our adorable Lord when His soul was overwhelmed with grief in the prospect of His agonies and bloody sweat, His cross and sacrificial death (John 12:27). Here it is the language of one who was filled with perplexity by the dispensations of Divine Providence. Such is the case with us sometimes; our circumstances are so painful, so different from what we anticipated, that in bewilderment we exclaim, "What shall I say?" We must say —

1. That God's dealings are very mysterious.

2. That the words of Jesus are still true, "In the world ye shall have tribulation."

3. That some of God's promises require strong faith to believe them.

4. That God will do just as He pleases with His own children.

5. That the trial of faith is often very severe, exceedingly painful.

6. That patience and perseverance are required under our trials.

7. That when Satan hinders, none but God can effectually help; therefore we must look to Him.

8. That however rough the road, the end will more than make up for its toils and trials, for the end shall be blessed.

(James Smith.)

I shall go softly all my years.
The Revised Version has it: "I shall go softly all my years, because of the bitterness of my soul." The marginal reading of the Revised Version is: "I shall go in solemn procession all my years because of the bitterness of my soul." That "because of" means — since I hold in memory the bitterness of my soul. So that we may state the significance of our Scripture thus: I will walk henceforth in solemn, subdued, reverent way, remembering always and thankfully the bitterness out of which my soul has been delivered.

(W. Hoyt, D. D.)

Hereafter he should walk with the step and the mien of a conqueror; or with the carefulness of a worshipper who sees at the end of his course the throne of the Most High God, and makes all his life an ascent thither.

(Prof. G. A. Smith, D. D.)

I. A wise RESOLVE. Reckless ambition is folly. Our stage of action is polluted, insecure, and vanishing. We are weak and dying. To walk in humility, self-distrust, and holy fear is wisdom.

II. ITS CAUSE. Afflictions change our views of life. They change us. Wisdom is often born out of soul-bitterness. A severe affliction should be an epoch in a man's life. It should pluck out his follies, and make his future a more tender, gentle, lovable thing.

(W. O. Lilley.)

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