When I am afraid, I will trust in You.
I. "THE FEAR OF MAN BRINGETH A SNARE." (Proverbs 29:25.) The best of men are but men at the best. David was a man of splendid courage and generosity; but there were times when he grievously erred (1 Samuel 21:10-15). It was said by Dr. Arnold, "The fear of God makes no man do anything mean or dishonourable, but the fear of man does lead to all sorts of weakness and baseness." We may see here how the fear of man leads to failure in truth. When the thought of self is uppermost, we are apt to resort to our own devices. God's ways are too slow, so we turn to our own way. Children, through fear, will tell lies. We pity them and forgive. But, alas! we do not ourselves wholly put away childish things. Abraham prevaricated. David practised deceit. Peter denied his Lord. The fear of man also leads to the sacrifice of independence. Imagination working through fear exaggerates our danger. We become restless and impatient. Instead of bravely facing our foes, we shrink from the path of duty.
"He is a slave who will not be In the truth, with two or three." But, worse still, the fear of man may lead to failure in justice and generosity. We are apt to put ourselves first. To save our miserable lives is the chief thing. Rather than that we should suffer, we would let others suffer. Rather than that we should be put to shame, we would have our opponents "cast down." This is the mean, selfish spirit which Satan recognized as so strong in human nature, when he said, "All that a man hath will he give for his life." II. GOD DELIVERETH HIS SERVANTS THAT TRUST IN HIM. (Daniel 3:28.) How naturally David turned to God in trouble! Circumstances moved him, but there was more - love constrained him. His heart went forth in clinging trust to God. Faith is the true antidote to fear. It lifts us out of the dust. It places us by the side of God. It fills our soul with peace and hope. Through trust we gain courage to face the foe (ver. 6). Further, we obtain resolution to continue the conflict (vers. 7-9). Taking hold of God's strength, we wax strong. All that is deepest and truest in our hearts calls upon us to be brave, and to quit ourselves like men. We are in the way of duty, and are able to say, like the king in the story, "Come on, come all; this rock shall fly from its firm base as soon as I." The experience of the past and the sure word of promise raise our hopes. We look to the future with confidence. In all our wanderings God watches over us. In all our weaknesses and sorrows God stands by us with tender compassion for our weaknesses, and with loving consolations for our sorrows. The victory will be with the right (vers. 10-13). If God has begun a good work in us, he will carry it on to the end. He who has been our Refuge in the past will not fail us in the future. Therefore let us go forward bravely in the path of duty, not counting our lives dear unto ourselves, so that we may be found faithful to him who hath called us, and finish our course with joy. - W.F.
II. GOD DELIVERETH HIS SERVANTS THAT TRUST IN HIM. (Daniel 3:28.) How naturally David turned to God in trouble! Circumstances moved him, but there was more - love constrained him. His heart went forth in clinging trust to God. Faith is the true antidote to fear. It lifts us out of the dust. It places us by the side of God. It fills our soul with peace and hope. Through trust we gain courage to face the foe (ver. 6). Further, we obtain resolution to continue the conflict (vers. 7-9). Taking hold of God's strength, we wax strong. All that is deepest and truest in our hearts calls upon us to be brave, and to quit ourselves like men. We are in the way of duty, and are able to say, like the king in the story, "Come on, come all; this rock shall fly from its firm base as soon as I." The experience of the past and the sure word of promise raise our hopes. We look to the future with confidence. In all our wanderings God watches over us. In all our weaknesses and sorrows God stands by us with tender compassion for our weaknesses, and with loving consolations for our sorrows. The victory will be with the right (vers. 10-13). If God has begun a good work in us, he will carry it on to the end. He who has been our Refuge in the past will not fail us in the future. Therefore let us go forward bravely in the path of duty, not counting our lives dear unto ourselves, so that we may be found faithful to him who hath called us, and finish our course with joy. - W.F.
What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
1. The principle on which we are less ready than of old to rush to confession under natural national calamities of an ordinary type, is a just and noble one, and is a sign of vital progress in our theological conceptions, and our view of our relation to the world and to God.
2. This progress in the Christian thought of our times runs parallel to the progress in our conceptions of the true nature and the subject-matter of prayer, which is the fruit of growing knowledge and experience in the individual believing soul. As experience widens and deepens prayer becomes, or ought to become, less a cry of pain, and more an act of communion; intercourse with the Father in heaven, whereby His strength, His serenity, His hope flow into and abide in our hearts I should think but little of a Christian experience in which there is not a constant lifting up into the higher regions the subject-matter of prayer.
3. I by no means say, that even in an advanced state of Christian intelligence, there may not be natural national calamities, under which it would be wise and right for a nation to humble itself in confession and supplication before God. We must hot regard our prayer as a sure means of securing the removal of such calamities. Always, behind the prayer, if it is to be worth anything, is the thought, "It is the Lord, let Him do what seemeth to Him good." There is in man, deep down in his nature, a sense, not only that the relation between his nature and the world around him, and the God who rules it, have become jangled and out of tune, but also that the responsibility for the discord lies at his door. Everywhere, in all countries, in all ages, at the bottom of man's deepest thoughts is the sense of sin. It is natural for men to rush to humble confession and importunate supplication when they think that the hand of God is upon them in judgment; and it is good and right for them at such seasons to approach Him, if they will but remember that the message of the Gospel is that God is reconciled in Christ to His children, that all His dealings with them, His sharpest and sternest discipline, are moved and ruled by the hand of that love which gave the well-beloved Son to Gethsemane and Calvary, that men might know its measure.
(J. Baldwin Brown, B. A.)
I. OCCASIONS OF UNDUE FEAR ARE —
1. The Christian worker's sense of responsibility.
2. Experiences of affliction.
3. Constitutional nervous disorder.
4. Anxiety as to the future.
II. ITS DISADVANTAGES: it hinders all success and misrepresents God.
III. ITS CURE. Get more light and exercise more trust.
(Alfred Rowland, B. A.)
I. FEAR FOR THE MORROW. There is the fear which arises from a contemplation of possible exigencies and contingencies in the future of our life's temporal economy. Where one can sing —
"... I do not ask to see
The distant scene: one step enough for me,"a hundred are bowed down with anxiety, worry, care, and the restlessness of doubt. I am perfectly sure that underneath the placid face and the serene smile that sits on many a brow there is much fear and alarm as to the future. What is the remedy for this? What is there that will give a man peace? My answer is — Trust! Trust in God, His wisdom, His love, His Fatherly care, His plans and His purposes! If there is one phase of the teachings of the Bible that has been more attested by human experience than another, it is the assurance that trust in God is the secret of strength, serenity, and peace. He is behind all events, and before all contingencies. He is above the cloud and below the waters. Say, then, O ye timid ones, ye sorrowing ones, ye foreboding ones, ye anxious ones, "What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee."
II. Another great cause of fear is THE FACT OF DEATH. God has so constituted us that the very elements of life stand in battle array against the elements that produce death. It is natural, and in perfect harmony with God's purpose in us, that we should cling to life; and by so much as we cling to life, by that much do we fear death. And perhaps the two feelings in regard to death that most contribute to this fear are the loneliness and uncertainty that inevitably belongs to it. "I shall die alone," said the great Pascal. Nothing is so distressing to the human spirit as solitude, and when sell, rude is overhung ,with darkness it is then full of awfulness. And it is the awfulness that comes from the solitude and darkness of death that makes us shrink from it. What is the panacea for this fear? Trust in God — God's presence, God's sustaining hand. If there be a Providence watching over us in life, is it not reasonable to suppose that some provision for our need in the hour and conflict of death is made for us? that His providence will open the gate of death for us and guide us through? that His care for us will be as manifest then as now? Does a mother watch over her child all day — fondle it, nestle it in her bosom, teach it, protect it, uphold it — and then leave it alone when the darkness conies?
III. FEAR IN REGARD OF THE DESTINIES OF THE FUTURE LIFE. They ask, Where will my destiny be? Shall I be numbered with the blest, or rejected with the lost? Momentous questions! Tremendous thoughts! I cannot wonder that they make men anxious. The wonder is that, living as we do on the threshold of eternity, we are not more concerned. Whither, at such times of foreboding, shall we flee for succour? To God, the Father of our spirits. Every soul that turns to Him with the cry, "Father, I have sinned"; every heart that yearns for His forgiveness, shall have refuge and peace on earth, shall have a welcome home in heaven
(W. J. Hocking, B. A.)
Evangelist.I. THERE ARE MANY TIMES AND CIRCUMSTANCES CALCULATED TO AWAKEN OUR FEARS.
1. Our state of sin should awaken great fear in our hearts.
2. Well may we fear when conscience convicts and condemns.
3. In times of temptation we ought to fear.
4. A backsliding state may well make us afraid.
5. To be in affliction and nigh to death in a state of impenitence, is a state which should excite the greatest fears.
II. THERE IS AN ADEQUATE RESOURCE UNDER EVERY KIND AND DEGREE OF FEAR.
1. God has revealed the doctrine of His providence as an antidote to all those fears which relate to this life.
2. He has revealed the doctrine of His grace as an antidote to all these fears which result from sin and guilt.
3. He has revealed the doctrine of immortal glory and blessedness to remove the fear of death and our anxiety concerning another world.
III. THERE IS A GREAT BLESSEDNESS IN KNOWING THIS RESOURCE BEFORE OUR FEARS COME.
2. Where it does not do this, it may prevent the worse effects of fear. Two ships in a storm, the one with a good anchor and anchorage, and the ether without either, meet that storm under widely different circumstances (2 Corinthians 7:10).
3. Sometimes in the most fearful circumstances it enables us not only in patience to possess our souls, but to glorify God.
IV. THE GREATEST OF ALL FEARS WILL SEIZE UPON THOSE WHO KNOW NOT THIS ONLY TRUE ANTIDOTE TO FEAR.
1. The absence of that salutary fear, which leads to provision against danger, proves the extremity of that danger in which we are involved.
2. That fear which is accompanied with utter despair must be the portion of those who have not found the true refuge.
3. They will realize infinitely more than they ever feared in the very deepest seasons of their despair in this life. For it is very certain no man ever formed a sufficiently awful idea of the worm that dieth not, and of eternity. Let all these considerations induce sinners to prize that refuge of mercy and grace which the Gospel presents, and let us be allowed to turn them all into an occasion for urging upon them the immediate and indispensable necessity of trust in God.
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