“For this God is our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even unto death.” – Psalm xlviii, 14.
There are times in the Christian’s earthly journey when his whole being is filled with the fullness of ineffable light. Such seasons are foretastes of the unbounded glory, the inexpressible joy awaiting his final entrance into his eternal home, and they are resting places to him here in this land of drought, of sin, and of sorrow, wherein he receives renewed strength to struggle anew with the temptations that so unceasingly beset him in his mortal pilgrimage. In the Psalm from which we quote the text, the Psalmist appears to be in the exalted spirit of praise and of reverence to which we refer. “Great is the Lord,” he exclaims. “and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of His holiness. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.” Those who have felt the spirit of this testimony will readily discern the nature of the Psalmist’s feelings.
What heavenly rapture is conveyed in the beautiful language that we have quoted! What exalted views, what pure desires, what holy rejoicings fill his being as he tastes of the fullness of immortal glory, as he feels once again in his time pilgrimage the bright smiles of the Savior of sinners, as he see by faith the glory of his heavenly home, as his spirit soars above the mists of earth in the clear upper sky where light and life forever reigns. “Let mount Zion rejoice,” he says, “let the daughters of Judah be glad.” In this wonderful and glorious realization of the goodness and mercy of God he utters the language that we have quoted - “This God is OUR God forever and ever.”
The reader will notice the force with which the language is expressed. He gives us first the clear, vivid view of the character of the God to whom he refers. This God is the God of all power, of all grace and glory, perfect in all His ways, wise in all His dealings, the embodiment of all perfection and bliss, who controls all worlds, creatures and things, the Creator, Upholder and Disposer of them all. He
“Who can dash whole worlds to death,
And make them as He please.”
It would afford but little comfort to contemplate the support or guiding Presence of a God whose power in any respect was short of this boundless, absolute nature. Such a god might easily be disappointed, defeated, thwarted, confused and confounded, as are the gods of this world continually; but to receive the heavenly promise of the text from the God of immortal glory, is to receive an assurance that cannot be greater. He who absolutely predestinates, controls, and brings to pass all incidents, events, and purposes, has declared that they shall all “work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” The Psalmist in the text realizes the assurance of this divine promise – “This God is our God,” not for a moment, a day or a year, but, “forever and ever.” How often are we made to fear that He will turn from us in anger, that He will reward us according to our multiplied transgressions, but to feel the precious assurance that “forever and ever” He is our God. This can well supply every deficiency that might seem to arise in our mortal pathway.
“If God is mine, then present things,
And things to come are mine;
Yea, Christ, His Word, and Spirit too,
And glory all divine.”
This testimony of faith draws a line across life’s pathway, makes crooked things straight “rough places plain,” and illuminates life close in a halo of immortal beauty, for the assurance of the first clause of the text is made double sure in the last - “He wilt be our Guide even unto death.”
“How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for you faith in His excellent word!
What more can He say, than to you He hath said,
You who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?”
There is an additional comfort expressed in the last clause, or rather the comfort of the first is more fully drawn out in the last. Not only are we assured that “this God is our God,” but that we shall continually realize His guiding presence; “He will be our Guide even unto death.” Through all the conflicting scenes of life, its temptations, trials, sorrow and distresses, in darkness or in light, “In poverty’s vale or abounding in wealth,” we shall experience as children of grace this sustaining, supporting, guiding hand.
When Moses, appalled by the magnitude of the work looming up before him, and realizing his utter inability to safely go before Israel in their difficult and arduous journey, implead [sic] with the Lord God of Israel for His divine presence, the answer was, “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.” How fully Moses realized his need of this divine support, can be seen from his earnest petition: “Now, therefore,” he says, “I pray Thee, if I have found grace in Thy sight, show me now Thy way, that I may know Thee, that I may find grace in Thy sight; and consider that this nation is Thy people. . . . . For wherein shall it be known here that I and Thy people have found grace in Thy sight? Is it not in that Thou goest with us? So shall we be separated, I and Thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth.” - Exodus xxxiii, 13, 16.
It was in this unfailing support that Moses triumphed over all his foes and safely reached the borders of that promised land, which was the object of his long, laborious travel. In another Psalm the inspired writer expresses in different language the same beautiful and comforting testimony which we have quoted at the head of this article: “THOU SHALT GUIDE ME WITH THY COUNSEL,” he says, “and afterwards receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And there is none upon the earth that I desire beside Thee.” - Psalm lxxiii, 24, 25.
There are few things in the Christian’s present pilgrimage that gives him much more trouble of mind than the constant fear of transgressing the ways of truth, and falling under the divine displeasure, the fear that the Lord may turn from him in wrath, that the God of Israel will count him unworthy of His continued notice and favor. To rise above these distressing feelings, to realize the vital comfort embraced in our subject, to feel that “underneath are the everlasting arms,” is a condition of mind that the way-worn, tempted pilgrim does not so frequently feel, and is to him the bright foretaste of that blessed and happy condition into which he shall finally and eternally enter. It is comforting to know that the truth of the text does not depend upon our frames and feelings, but that the Lord our God is ever guiding His children, though often they know Him not. It was thus that He guided Jacob of old, Joseph and others; and this divine guidance shines like a sunbeam in the great “cloud of witnesses” referred to in Hebrews eleven, who, “out of weakness were made strong.”
We might make mention of many personal instances recorded in the Scripture illustrative of this precious truth. How dark indeed must have been the way to Jacob’s view when he exclaimed in agony of mind, “All these things are against me.” - Genesis xlii, 36. And yet, at that very moment, they were all working together for his good. So with Mordecai when Haman conspired against him, how clearly shines the guiding presence of his God. Read Esther vi, 1-11, and see how clearly, though wrapped in mystery, the Lord led His chosen servant, and how wisely connected was the discovery of the conspiracy against the king by Mordecai with the exalting of Mordecai at the proper time and the downfall of Haman. Read 2 Kings viii, 1-6, and see the wonderful power and wisdom displayed in the case of the woman there referred to, how she was brought to the king at the very moment when he was talking with Gehaze concerning her, and the guiding hand of her God made manifest in one of the last acts of her long and eventful life. In these things, dear, trembling children of electing love, read your own case vividly displayed, the Lord’s guiding, sustaining hand.
“Every dark and bending line
Meets in the center of His love.”
“Attempt not to tear the close, shut leaves apart;
Time will reveal the calyxes of gold.”
In the precious power of this holy testimony, we sweetly rest until faith gives way to endless sight, and hope dies in immortal fruition. “And we desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: that ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promise.” “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the vail; whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest forever, after the order of Melchisedec.” – Hebrews vi, 11,12,19,20.
Elder William Smoot