by John MacDuff, 1864

"How precious also are Your thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with You." Psalm 139: 17-18


The thoughts of a great man on earth how valued! With what feelings shall we ponder "the thoughts of God?" We treasure the thoughts of the wise and the good for their own sake, but how is their value enhanced when they are personal, and have a special reference to ourselves? These "Thoughts of God," are thoughts toward us. "I know the thoughts that I think towards you." "Your thoughts which are to us." "How precious also are Your thoughts unto me, O God."

We peruse with additional interest the Diary—the recorded thoughts—of those with whom, while living, we interchanged hallowed friendship, and whose regard and love we had been privileged to enjoy. In opening the Divine "Diary"—unfolding the Divine Thoughts as these are recorded in Sacred Scripture—we have the elevating assurance, "this Great Being loves me—pities me—carries me on His heart." If it be consoling to be much in the thoughts of a revered earthly friend, what must it be to occupy the thoughts of ONE, better than the best, more loving than the most loving human relative?

An earthly father writes his son in a distant land, 'You are never absent from my thoughts.' Such, too, is the comforting declaration of our Father in heaven. The humblest and loneliest of His children on earth can say, "I am poor and needy, yet the Lord thinks upon me."

In one sense we are everywhere surrounded with God's thoughts. The world of nature is a majestic volume of these. His sublime thoughts are the everlasting mountains—His lofty thoughts the distant stars—His dreadful thoughts the lightning and tempest, the earthquake and volcano—His minute thoughts of discriminating care the tiny moss and lichen, the tender grass, the lily of the field, and pearly dewdrop—His loving thoughts, the blue sky, the quiet lake, the sunny glade, the budding blossoms and beauteous flowers—His joyful thoughts, the singing streams and sparkling waves—His unchanging thoughts, the rock in mid-ocean, on which the waves are in vain spending their fury.

But it is not in these mute, undefined, often mysterious symbols, that sinners, redeemed by the blood of Jesus, can discover the true Divine breathings and utterances of the very heart of a reconciled Father. "He has magnified his word above all his name." He "has in these last days spoken unto us [given expression and utterance to His 'thoughts'] by His Son." It is in Christ that each thought of God becomes "precious,"—a ministering angel of comfort and hope, a deep pool of unfathomable grace and love, reflecting the image and the peace of heaven. Jesus is the true ladder of Jacob, upon which thoughts upon thoughts of unutterable tenderness flood down from the upper sanctuary. The Father is represented in an impressive figure as "wakening him morning by morning,"—"wakening his ear to hear as the learned,"—confiding to Him one blessed thought after another, that He may speak them as "words in season to him that is weary."

And how precious are these thoughts of God! Well may He say regarding them, "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts,"—infinite, immutable, everlasting—a glorious chime carrying their echoes from eternity to eternity. We may try to form whatever estimate of them we may, they far transcend our loftiest imaginings. "Now," says the apostle, "unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think."

God loves and treasures even our poor thoughts of Him. "A book of remembrance was written for those who feared the Lord, and that thought upon His name." Oh, how should we cherish and garner His ineffable thoughts towards us!—take them to solve our doubts, calm our fears, soothe our sorrows, hush our misgivings—it may be to smooth our sick-pillows or our death-pillows. These, like tremulous music in some hallowed, time-honored sanctuary, floating on the entranced ear, have fallen with their heavenly vibrations on many a downcast, mourning, troubled, pensive spirit, and woke it up to hope and confidence, peace and joy. This has been the experience of believers in every age—"In the multitude of my thoughts within me, Your comforts [Your comforting thoughts] delight my soul."

With the devout Psalmist these 'thoughts' seem to have formed the theme of morning meditation—for he adds, in our motto-verse, "When I awake, I am still with you." "What is man," exclaims a saint of an older age still, "that You should magnify him? and that You should set Your heart upon him? and that You should visit him every morning?"

In this little volume of daily readings, we have been able only to make a brief selection from these "precious thoughts." "Many," truly, "O Lord my God, are Your wonderful works which You have done, and Your thoughts which are to us—they cannot be reckoned up in order unto You; if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered." But may these few sparks of living fire—a handful of burning coals taken from the holy altar—serve to kindle the fuel, or brighten the flame of the morning, or, it may be, evening sacrifice. Nothing surely can serve better to quicken faith and animate love—to mitigate grief and disarm temptation—to temper and moderate life's anxieties and engrossments—to sweeten our earthly joys—to hallow our earthly sorrows—to elevate and dignify our earthly pursuits, than to go forth to the world, climbing its mountains of toil, and descending its valleys of care, preoccupied and solemnized with A THOUGHT OF GOD!

"If we would let God's thoughts, as they are revealed in the Word, come in and fill the chambers of our minds, how different our views and feelings would be regarding both Him and ourselves. What an ado unbelief sometimes stirs up within us, as if all were over! What weeping and dirging as of minstrels waking the dead! Were God's thoughts to be let in, it would be like Jesus coming into the midst of the mourners and saying, 'Why make you this ado and weep?' As the minstrels and other mourners were put out of the house by Jesus, so must our thoughts be put out of our hearts by God's thoughts—then, all being still, the sweet voice of the Redeemer will be heard, 'Tabitha'—'Arise.'" (Hewitson)