“AND he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.”
We do not always remember the one great truth of our life of faith in Christ Jesus the Lord, as embodied in the words of the apostle: “What! know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost’ which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own! For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” If it were so we would have no need of the words of Scripture at the head of this communication. By reason of the lusts of our flesh our weakness and our natural life service to the law of sin causes us to often disregard the vital principles which embrace our hope in Christ Jesus, wherein we have confessed our alienation from the world, and professed an humble following in the footsteps of our gracious redeemer. The psalmist, in this one hundred and sixth Psalm, is rehearsing the mighty acts of the God of Israel, and his merciful loving-kindness to the children of his choice in their many weary wanderings, He prays earnestly to the Lord, saying, “Remember me, O Lord, with the favor that thou bearest unto thy people: O visit me with thy salvation.” He acknowledges his own sinfulness as being as great as that of the fathers in Egypt and in the wilderness, saying, “We have sinned with our fathers, we have committed iniquity, we have done wickedly.” He confesses the shortcomings of the fathers in Egypt, how that they understood not the wonders of God in that place, neither remembered they the multitude of his mercies, “but provoked him at the sea, even at the lied Sea.” And now he confesses in a wonderful way, which we do well to take into our own heart’s experience, (which applies equally to us, as to the fathers) saying, “Nevertheless, he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make his mighty power to be known.” Does this not show how completely we are led by his loving hand, crowned with his precious love and blessed with his divine mercy, and how he established! all our works in us, by which we work out our own salvation with fear and with trembling! And so the psalmist’s song of woe proceedeth, wherein he confesseth that when they witnessed his mighty acts, “Then believed they his words; they sang his praise.” However, and we must confess the same to our shame, “They soon forgot his works; they waited not for his counsel; but lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert.” Are not these a typical people, and do they not set forth in the type, the travel of the members of the body of Christ? Is not that your daily experience, my brother, my sister? Is it not with bowed head and a contrite spirit that we make humble confession of our insufficiency in the service of our gracious Master?
“And he gave them their request.” In the wilderness they cried for meat, the heavenly manna became insipid to them, and the Lord sent them quails in such an abundance that they became loathsome to them, and came out at their nostrils. Who among us does not remember with sorrow and heartache the times in our own experience when we forgot the works of God, and waited not for his counsel, but lusted for and sought out the beggarly elements of the world, and cried for the fleshpots of Egypt? And God granted our request, (his own way of bringing us back to the courts of his lovely kingdom) and we became more foul than the beasts of the field; and when (by the exercise of the spirit within us) we come to the realization of our own foulness and depravity of heart, how we did loathe and abhor ourself, yet through this avenue the Lord brought repentance to our soul, for with the disobedience, which brought abhorrence of self, we discover that the Lord has also sent leanness into our soul, and now as we grope in the darkness we behold how we have outraged the Spirit of the living God, and with shame and contrition we beg and plead for mercy. As the thunders of Sinai now come down upon us, and we are cast into a fretful sea of trouble and distress, and the waves and the billows flow over us, we hear a voice from heaven saying, “What! know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are “bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” Immediately with deeper contrition, prostrate in dust and ashes, we behold the pitying eye of the loving redeemer upon us, and with loving hands “He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.” During the pilgrimage, journey of the saints in Zion there seems to be upon each one of Zion’s children a fear and a dread that at some time and in some way they may injure the cause they so much love, and so bring reproach where sweetest love and harmony should reign supreme. David feared that he would one day fall by the hand of Saul, and in the same way we fear that our besetting sins will overcome us. There is one tiling however we may be well assured of, and that is, if indeed we are Zion’s children, no matter how low we may be brought down, every problem of our life will redound to the glory of God, and to the lifting of Jesus on high. And we may be assured also that if in our weakness we constantly desire that our lusts of the flesh be gratified, we will find that God will give us our request, but O the dreadful penalty; he will also send into our soul that awful calamity so greatly dreaded by every lone traveler in Zion, “leanness, leanness,” a living death, dead to all the comforts that build up and nourish the hungry wayfarer, dead to all spiritual thought or emotion, a feeling of guilt and shame in the presence of our brethren. May we ever be kept by the power of God, sustained by his grace and upheld by his Spirit, to the praise and glory of him who hath begotten us again unto a lively hope; who hath delivered us from darkness, and translated us, into the kingdom of his dear Son.
B. F. COULTER.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 72, No. 13.
July 1, 1904