If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves on the earth: and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north…
It was raining very heavily when I was thinking over this text. When I came here I found that you had not had a drop of ram. This seemed to me like an example and an illustration of the sovereignty of God's dispensations. In one part of the Church God's grace descends in a flood, while another part remains as dry and arid as the wilderness itself. He hath the key of the rain, and it is for us to ask Him to give us of the dew and the rain of His Holy Spirit.
I. COMFORT FOR THE TIMID. The clouds are black, they lower; they shut out the sunlight; they obscure the landscape. The timid one looks up and says, "Alas! how black they are, and how they gather, fold on fold!" What makes them black? It is because they are full, and hence light cannot pierce them. And if they be full, what then? Why, then it will rain, and then the hot earth will be refreshed, and every little plant, and every tiny leaf and rootlet of that plant will suck up moisture, and begin to laugh for joy. If the clouds were not black, you might not expect rain. If your afflictions were not grievous, they would not be profitable. If your adversities did not pain and trouble you, they would not be blessed to you. We have heard some people say, "If this trouble had come in such and such a shape, I would not have minded it." But God meant you to mind it, for it was in your minding it that it was blessed to you. I do not know — how can I tell — what is your particular trouble; but you may well believe that He who appointed it, He who measured it, He who has set its bounds, will bring you to the end of it, and prove His gracious design in it all. Do not think that God deals roughly with His children, and gives them needless pain. It grieves Him to grieve you. It is easy to have a faith that acts backwards, but faith that will act forwards from the point of your present emergency is the true faith that you want now. Hath God helped you out of one trouble after another, and is it to be supposed that He will leave you in this? Do ask, then, for grace that you may believe while you are still under the cloud, black as it looks, that it will empty itself in blessed rain upon you. So will it be on the largest possible scale in the whole Church of Christ. There are many clouds surrounding the Church of God just now, and I must confess that, with all the religious activity there is abroad, there is very much to cause us great sorrow. But we must not yield to fear. The Master knows.
II. AN ARGUMENT WITH THE DOUBTING AND THE DESPONDING. It is a law of nature that a full thing begins to empty itself. When the cloud gets full, it no longer has the power of retaining its fluid contents, but it pours them down upon the earth. Well now, I want you to draw an argument from this. Our gracious God never makes a store of any good thing, but He intends to give it to us. Just think for a moment of God, our gracious Father. He is love. He is all goodness. He is a bottomless, shoreless sea, brimful of goodness He is full of pardoning goodness to forgive sin. He is full of faithful goodness to watch over His children; full of bounteous goodness to bestow upon them all that they want. Now, if there be such a plenitude of goodness in the leather, it must be for some object — not for Himself. Why should it be given to Himself? It must be there for His creatures. Is it not written that He delighteth in mercy? We know that He maketh the sun to shine upon the evil as well as upon the just. Then I, even though I be evil, will hope that this store of goodness in the heart of the everlasting Father is intended — some of it, at any rate — to be poured out upon me, poor unworthy me. Ah, troubled, doubting soul! think again; let me ask you this time to muse a little upon Jesus Christ the Son of the Father. Now, if thou believe Christ to be a cloud that is full of rain, for what reason is He full? Why, that He may empty Himself upon the earth. To proceed yet further, I would ask the doubter to look at the infinite fulness of power which is treasured up in the Holy Spirit. Is thy heart hard? He will empty His softening influence upon it. Is it dead? His quickening power shall there find a congenial sphere. Art thou dark? Then there is room for His light. Art thou sick? Then is there a province for His healing energy.
III. THE TEXT FURNISHES A LESSON TO CHRISTIANS. The drift of the passage is, of course, to be gathered from the connection, and it was intended by Solomon to teach us liberality. "If your pocket is full, empty it out upon the poor and needy; and if God has endowed you with much of this world's substance, look out for cases of necessity, and consider it as much the object of your existence to bestow help upon the needy, as it is the design in the creation of a cloud that it should empty itself upon the earth." When a man once gets into the habit of giving to the cause of God, it becomes as much a delight to contribute of his substance as to pray for God's bounty, or to drink in the promise. Let the wealthy empty themselves upon the earth, and this shall be the way to fill themselves. But, though not many of us are entrusted with much wealth, we have other aptitudes to be useful. Some Christians have a considerable amount of ability to serve the Lord. They are, perhaps, able to speak for the Master. Now, I think that wherever there is some knowledge of God's Word, a personal acquaintance with its power, and a facility to speak, we should exercise our talent, if it be but one; and if we have ten, we should not keep one of the ten to ourselves. Some Christians have a large amount of experimental knowledge. They are not eloquent, they are not educated, but they are wise. If you have any experience, let me say to you — do, as you have opportunity, tell it out; empty it upon the earth. If you have gained some knowledge of God, communicate it. If you have proved Him, confess to a generation about you that He is a faithful God. Observe, lastly, when it is that the clouds do empty themselves. The text says, when they are full. This is a broad hint, I think, to the Christian; it tells him when to work. David was to attack the Philistines at a certain signal. "When thou hearest the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry-trees, then thou shalt bestir thyself." Take this as a Divine signal; when you are full, it is time for you to set about doing good, emptying yourselves upon the earth.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: If the clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth: and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be.