Our Prospect and Provision
James Smith, 1856
"As your days — so shall your strength be." Deuteronomy 33:26
This is part of the blessing of Asher. When he was born, Leah considered herself happy, and therefore called him "Asher," or "Happy." But it is now the common property of all the Lord's people, who are happy in state, whatever may be their experience; for, "Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, and whose hope is in the Lord." Jacob's God is the help of all Jacob's spiritual seed, and the hope of every believer in Jesus — therefore they are happy.
Are they corrected? "Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects." Are they reproached for the name of Christ? "If you are reproached for the name of Christ — happy are you, for the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you." Do they trust in the Lord? "Whoever trusts in the Lord — happy is he."
Of the whole church of Jesus, however poor, tried, tempted, or troubled they may be, we may exclaim with Moses: "Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord? He is your shield and helper and your glorious sword. Your enemies will cower before you, and you will trample down their high places."
Let us now consider the text as the property of every true believer in the Lord Jesus. Here is —
First, the prospect set before us: trying days, which will require strength, and such strength as only God can supply. We shall have days of trouble, for we are born to trouble, and our Lord has very graciously informed us, that "in the world, you will have many trials and sorrows." Our troubles may be external, or internal, or both. We may have trouble in the business, in the family, or in the church.
The winds of trouble may come down suddenly upon us, as the storm on the lake. So they came on Job: one day, he was the greatest man in the east; the next day he was a poor, afflicted, forsaken one, sitting in ashes!
Some of our troubles come directly from sin — our own sin or the sin of others. One rogue often brings trouble on many honest men. Or, error may bring us into trouble by entering the church or the family, or entangling our own unwary minds. Or changes in the dispensations of Divine Providence may plunge us in difficulty or sorrow. Or death may bereave us; the wife may lose her husband, or the husband the desire of his eyes; the parents may lose their children, or children may be bereaved of their parents. The staff of the aged may be suddenly broken; or the adviser of youth may be silenced forever. Days of bereavement, are the days of trouble.
We may have to pass through much darkness. "Remember," said Solomon, "the days of darkness, for they shall be many." Many of the Lord's people have to walk in darkness, and have no light. Then they cannot read their evidences, trace their path, see their Father's face, or enjoy holy fellowship with spiritual brethren. The consolations of God are small with them. The streams of comfort run very low. It is a day of darkness and gloominess; they cannot sing in the ways of the Lord, for they see not the glory of the Lord.
We shall be sure to have conflicts. The world is no friend to grace, and if you act in Christian character — opposition will be manifested. Satan is a roaring lion still, and the enemy of all righteousness. He fully hates us, he watches us intently, in order to injure us if possible. He will oppose us, and just in proportion to our zeal in God's cause, and devotedness to the Savior's praise.
The law in the members will war against the law of the mind, and at times will bring us into captivity to the law of sin that is in our members. The opposite principles within will struggle, oppose each other, and make us feel with Paul, that the good that we would do — we cannot do; but the evil that we would not do — that we do; so that at times we shall be ready to cry out: "O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death!"
As Pharaoh said to Israel, "Evil is before us!" The days will come, for the years draw near in which we shall say, "I have no pleasure in them."
Even days of prosperity are days of trial, and often present a severer test to our principles and profession, than adversity itself. Happy is the man who can heartily pray, "Keep vanity and lies far from me! Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, 'Who is the Lord?' Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God."
Our immediate prospect, then, is not the most pleasant — but beyond lies our comfort — that let our trouble come from whatever quarter it may, the Lord says, "Call upon me in the day of trouble — and I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me." We now notice:
Secondly, the provision made for us:"As your days — so shall your strength be." God foresees, because he appoints our days. The nature and the number of our days are in God's decree. Therefore Job said: "He will certainly accomplish what He has decreed for me, and He has many more things like these in mind."
His eye has surveyed the whole path;
he has fixed the route we are to take; and
he has arranged all the toils, troubles, and trials we are to meet with.
It is a sweet thought — that everything comes to us, according to our Father's arrangement.
"If light attends the coarse I run,
'Tis he provides those rays.
And 'tis his hand that hides my sun,
If darkness clouds my days."
Having appointed our days, the Lord provides for them. We are not left to chance, nor thrown upon our own resources. But Jehovah-jireh has made provision for every moment, and for every step of our journey. The Lord our God goes before us, prepares for us, and furnishes all our supplies.
"As your days — so shall your strength be." The
word strength includes all we can need — and he promises us strength.
He proportions our strength — according to the day. Is it a long, wearying,
scorching, summer's day? Our strength is proportioned to it. Or is it a
cold, dark, piercing winter's day? Our strength is in exact proportion to
our needs. Our strength is suited to our day: strength of intellect,
strength of hand, or strength of heart. Strength . . .
to carry the burden,
to bear the reproaches,
to endure the trial, and
to overcome the foe.
Our strength is certain, for God is true, his Word is plain, and his faithfulness is great. We shall feel our need of it. We must prayerfully seek it — then we shall certainly receive it.
Let us then expect trials — for we shall have them; but let us also expect seasonable and sufficient strength to bear them. Let us believe the Word of promise, and be confident of its fulfillment, let what will, take place. Remember, God is faithful, he cannot deny his Word, or dishonor his character.
"As your days — so shall your strength be." The promise is absolute. It is not — if you feel so, or if you do this — but "As your days — so shall your strength be." It is as simple as it is positive; made up of nine monosyllables, as if intended for an infant's mind! We cannot mistake its meaning — we ought not to doubt its fulfillment. It always has been made good in the experience of believers — and it always will. Our case will not be an exception to the general rule. No, no! We shall find in the future, as we have found in the past — that as our day — so will be our strength. The strength comes with the day — not before it. The strength is regulated by the day — not by our fears or hopes.