Confidence in God
James Smith, 1864
"Those who know your name will put their trust in you; for you, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you!" Psalm 9:10
The book of Psalms is prized by every real believer, because it contains such a clear, full, and refreshing account of the Christian's experience. Here the footsteps of the flock may be plainly traced out. Here the spiritual pilgrim may find a companion to the celestial city, let him be in whatever part of the road he may. Here the tried saint will find one who can sympathize with him in all his trials; and discover that no temptation has overtaken him, but such as is common to man.
We naturally turn to this book in dark days, and expect to find refreshment and solace in it in trying times. It is like that river, the streams whereof make glad the city of God. It is like Israel's pillar-cloud, which gives light by night, and affords a refreshing shade by day. It is like the manna that fell for forty years in the desert it suits every believer let his age, experience, taste, or acquirements be what they may. Blessed book, it has been a source of comfort to the Lord's people in every age! Most blessed Spirit, who inspired, preserved, and presented this precious volume to us, to your name be eternal praise!
Let us look at the ground of a believer's confidence in God thedivine name. "Those who know your name will put their trust in you!" God's name includes his nature and perfections but has especial reference to the character or reputation which he has acquired among men.
He has a name for POWER. Power to which all things are possible, all things are easy. Power over all minds, power over all matter. Power engaged for his people's safety, power employed to do them good. Power that works within them, and power that rules all around them.
He has a name for WISDOM. Wisdom which baffles the crafty designs of their foes and overrules all things for the real advantage of his redeemed people. Wisdom which is infinite in its nature, and constantly employed for their welfare. Wisdom which can extricate them from every difficulty, and make even the counsels of their foes subserve their best interests.
He has a name for GRACE. Grace which acts freely,
sovereignly, and always effectually. Grace which . . .
drew the plan of their salvation,
arranged all the agencies necessary,
and infallibly secures the end it has in view.
Grace which . . .
sympathizes with the unworthy,
works for the ill-deserving, and
saves the basest of mankind!
Grace which can always find a motive in itself, and which never turns a deaf ear to the poor and miserable of mankind.
He has a name for SYMPATHY. His soul was grieved for the afflictions of backsliding Israel. In all their afflictions he was afflicted. In his love and in his pity he redeemed them, and he bore them, and carried them all the days of old. Here is sympathy exquisitely tender the sympathy of God! The sympathy which he continually exercises towards his beloved people, through Jesus his beloved Son. Sweet thought this God takes my misery to heart! My sufferings affect his tender, loving nature. Israel's groans in Egypt brought him down into the bush at Horeb. Just so, the groans of many an afflicted saint have brought him down into the chamber of affliction and sorrow.
He has a name for FAITHFULNESS. He is the faithful God. He keeps covenant and mercy unto a thousand generations. He never failed one of his people in distress or violated one promise of his word. Therefore, the Apostle could so confidently say, "Faithful is he who has promised, who also will do it."
Does he afflict us? It is in faithfulness.
Does he deliver us? It is in the performance of his faithful word.
He is IMMUTABLE and immutability is the characteristic of all his perfections, and is stamped on every letter of his name. He is in one mind and who can turn him? What right-minded person would wish to do so?
God's name then includes his power, wisdom, grace, sympathy, faithfulness, and immutability; and these combined, form the ground of our confidence in him.
But his name must be known before he can be trusted. I can trust an unseen person but I cannot trust an unknown one. The knowledge of God, is essential to confidence in God. How is he then made known? No one can reveal him to us so as to affect our hearts, control our wills, and bring our souls to exercise confidence in him but the Holy Spirit. He is the great Manifester of God to the soul of man. We must be experimentally taught by the Spirit before we can really know God.
But the knowledge of the divine name is acquired partly by observation. "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands." Providence is constantly bringing out some feature of the divine character, or copying some letter of the divine name. And he who watches God's hand, carefully observes God's works, and notes the method which God adopts in dealing with man will get some knowledge of God's name.
But his name is only fully revealed in his own
Word. There it is fully, clearly, and impressively proclaimed. There it
is illustrated and exhibited in the most winning and affecting manner. In
the history of the Patriarchs, Prophets, and Church of God we read
God's name. In the types, figures, and shadows of the
ceremonial law we see God's name as in pictures framed and glazed.
But in the Gospel it stands out in bold relief. Every letter has
its place, is distinctly marked, and may be read by the simplest child in
God's family. Here mercy and truth meet together; here righteousness and
peace have embraced each other. Here God is . . .
and fully set forth
in the person, work, sacrifice, righteousness, grace, and triumphs of hits beloved Son. Here his whole name appears complete.
But the most impressive knowledge of God's name is derived from experience, by which the believer puts God's truth to the test, and proves its worth, value, dignity, and suitability.
In troubles and trials his power supports, sustains, and delivers.
In difficulties and dangers his wisdom makes away for our escape, and brings us safely through.
Under guilt, darkness, and doubts his grace pardons, enlightens, and cheers us.
In sufferings and sorrows he sympathizes with us, comforts, and sanctifies our pains.
When friends forsake, the world frowns, and every fond relative is removed his faithfulness to his word, relationship, and love, enables us to persevere in our way with courage, if not with comfort.
And while everything within and without, in the world and in the Church is found to change and fail us his immutability like a rock beneath our feet, a rainbow over our heads, or a strong tower into which we may run and find safety.
Thus we prove to our own satisfaction that our God is powerful, wise, gracious, sympathetic, faithful, and immutably the same. Thus we come to a soul-saving knowledge of the divine name, and consequently put our trust in him.
Let us now consider theconfidence which the believer exercises in his God. He trusts in him. This he is warranted to do, as it is written, "Trust in him at all times; pour out your hearts before him God is a refuge for us." This he may always do, as said the Prophet, "Trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength."
He will have to pass through dark days, when there will be no bright prospects to cheer him, no sweet retrospects to animate him; but all will be dark within and without, before and behind, above and around him! This is the time to trust. This is the time he must trust or fail. This is the time when he should calmly, quietly, and confidently trust. Hence the Lord has said, "Who is among you that fears the Lord, that obeys the voice of his servant, that walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God."
Christian, are you in the dark? Is all dark in providence without? Is all dark in grace within? Do not yield to Satan, listen to unbelief, or give way to fear but trust in the Lord. He loves you still. He is working for you now. He will appear for you soon. He will turn the shadow of death into morning. He will bring you forth to the light. Hold fast your confidence in his faithful word. Rest on his unchangeable promise. Wait for his return to bless you with the light of his countenance and cheering smile. Darkness may endure for the night but joy will come in the morning. "Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness."
He will experience trying times for every grace must be tried. The seasons will change. It will not be always bright summer, or fruitful autumn. There will be the cold, bleak, cheerless winter. Every grace almost will appear to wither. Every prospect will change; friends will disappear. Fear will arise and work in the heart. The hand of the Lord will appear to go out against him. Everything he touches will chill or freeze him. Every place will be cold and cheerless, even the closet and the house of prayer.
Trials will come in troops from every quarter.
Temptations will press him sore.
Afflictions will crowd his path.
Troubles will scowl upon him, and surround him like a multitude.
What can he do then? Do? Trust in the name of the Lord. He has delivered, he can deliver, he will deliver. Now is the time to attend to the admonition, "Commit your way unto the Lord, trust also in him and he shall bring it to pass." He will bring to pass his own merciful purpose, his own precious promise, his own glorious design. Trust then, and do not be afraid, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength! Call upon him in this day of severe trouble he will deliver you, and you shall glorifv him. Wait on the Lord, be of courage, and he shall strengthen your heart! Wait, I say, on the Lord.
We must all die. The day of death is fast approaching. We must soon depart. All the circumstances connected with death will be new to us. The feeling of death at work on the physical frame. The soul's realizations of the invisible world. The last farewell to friends, relatives, and beloved companions. The dying struggle, the soul's-flight. The ascent to the invisible world. All this will be new. Much of it is calculated to awaken fears. The whole of it will unite to put our principles to the test.
What shall we do when death takes his place by our pillow and refuses to leave it when we feel that we must depart, and must go alone? When heart and flesh is failing us, our eyes closing upon all earthly objects, and our ears to all terrestrial sounds? Do? Then we should exercise confidence in God.
His power is sufficient to sustain us.
His wisdom will guide and direct us.
His grace will triumph in our perfect and endless salvation.
His sympathy will be our solace and cheer us.
He will be found faithful, as he has ever been in every previous trouble, conflict, and trial.
He will prove himself to be the same loving Father; the same kind, forgiving God; the same merciful and gracious Savior as he had done in every instance before.
O for strong faith in the last struggle! O for living confidence in God in the dying hour! O for that knowledge of the Lord's name now which will enable me to put my trust in him then!
They who experimentally know the Lord's name will look to him for help whenever they need it. They will not look to creatures, or like Israel of old, go down to Egypt for help. They will not trust in their own resources, or supposed abilities but they will look unto the Lord.
The eye will be directed to his throne.
The heart will rest on his word.
The voice will ascend to his ear.
They know that he can help them, for he is omnipotent. They know that he is pledged to help them, for his promise runs, "Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." They trust that he will help them, for they know that he abides faithful, he cannot deny himself. No, he cannot, it is utterly, eternally impossible! "He cannot deny himself." Precious assurance this!
Heaven and earth may pass away but his word shall not pass away.
Man may lie it is impossible for God to do so.
Creatures may change the Creator never changes.
Well then, may we confidently look to him for . . .
help in every trouble,
help against every foe,
help out of every difficulty,
help every step of the way to Heaven, and
help until we stand perfect before his throne forever!
In difficulty, danger, and death, his name shall be gloriously illustrated. With our beloved Lord, when hanging on the cross, we may look up and say, "In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed."
The Lord may delay to appear for a time but if we really trust in him, if we steadily look to him, if we expect deliverance from him he will appear to our joy and all our foes shall be ashamed. Let us therefore seek a more thorough, spiritual, experimental knowledge of the Lord's name;so that we may steadily, quietly, and constantly, put our trust in him.
But let us just glance at thesupport of the Christian's confidence, "For you, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you." Every believer is included among those who seek God. Grace sets us seeking at first, and keeps us seeking until the end. For though we find the Lord, and enjoy his pardoning love, refreshing smiles, and soul-satisfying favor; we have frequent occasion to seek to him, and to seek for him again. All who are under divine teaching seek to the Lord, as he has encouraged them to, "Come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."
They seek to him as "the God of all comfort," that he would comfort them in all their tribulations, and make them happy in his own love. They frequently feel that none can comfort them but God, and they have, at times, no one to apply to for comfort, but God.
They seek to him also for supply for they need much, and need often. He has all that they need, he has invited them to come to him for all that they need, and has promised to supply all their need according to his riches in glory by Jesus Christ. They therefore seek to the Lord, rather than to creatures; or if they go to the creature, it is only in subordination to him.
The seeking soul is precious in the Lord's sight. The seeking soul is ever welcome at his throne. The seeking soul is sure to awaken his sympathy. The seeking soul is sure to obtain his blessing. The grace to seek he gives; the blessing sought he has provided and promised; the sense of need he imparts; the feeling that urges them to go to his throne he produces; and every seeking soul is ultimately supplied by his bounty.
A seeking soul was never forsaken of God. Such a
fact cannot be found in all of history. Such a circumstance never occurred
in all of time. He has tried them, and tried them very severely but
he never forsook one of them. He may try them . . .
by delays, as he did Abraham;
by the oppression of men, as he did the Israelites in Egypt;
by a fiery furnace, as he did the three Jews in Babylon;
but forsake them he never will, he never can.
He tried Joseph, and tried him long, and the iron entered into his soul but even in prison it is said, "The Lord was with Joseph." "The word of the Lord tried him," but at length, "Then Pharaoh sent for him and set him free. Joseph was put in charge of all the kings household; he became ruler over all the kings possessions."
He tried Daniel, and tried him very sorely, so that his enemies appeared to prevail against him; a cruel sentence was passed upon him, and that sentence was executed but we read, "When Daniel was lifted from the lion's den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God." There never was such a thing as a forsaken saint; or, which is the same thing, the Lord never did forsake those who seek him. Satan may whisper, "He will." But our Lord who never libeled anyone said, "He is a liar, and the father of lies." He never loves us more than when he appears to forsake us. He never cares for us more than when he seems to stand afar off. If he allows men to ride over our heads he will secretly give us inward strength; if he brings us through the fire he will render us inflammable; if he brings us through the water he will impart a principle of buoyancy so that we shall not sink; and to prove to demonstration that he has not forsaken us he will bring "us out into a wealthy place." Now, if the Lord has never forsaken those who seek him, and if he is the same yesterday, today, and forever then what encouragement have all that know his name to put their trust in him.
But to conclude, everyone who really knows
the Lord's name trusts in him. Do you? Have you any confidence in
God? Can you trust . . .
his power in your weakness,
his wisdom in your perplexity,
his grace under a deep sense of your unworthiness,
his sympathy when in pain and suffering,
his faithfulness when all around appear faithless, and
his immutability amidst all that changes you pass through?
If so, happy are you; if not, seek grace that you may do so.
Everyone who trusts in the Lord seeks him. Do you? Do you seek him daily, heartily, perseveringly? Do you seek to know him better, to love him more, to enjoy his grace, to do his will, and that you may honor his holy and ever blessed name?
Everyone that seeks the Lord finds him. Have you
found him? Is he . . .
your Father, whom you consult?
your Savior, in whom you confide?
your companion, with whom you walk?
your portion, on whom you live?
your center, to which you constantly tend?
Everyone that finds the Lord proves him to be faithful. Have you? Has he in your experience, proved himself to be faithful to his word? Have you taken it to his throne, trusted it in your trials, and has he made it good? If so, you have every encouragement to go on exercising confidence in him.
His word is true.
His grace is infinite.
His mercy is everlasting.
His truth endures throughout all generations.
He is a refuge to all those who trust in him.
May the Lord give us such a knowledge of his name, as
will inspire us with undying confidence in his love so that we may . . .
fight manfully, and
die triumphantly! Amen.