1. As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O Elohim.
Now, there is a development beyond the stage of mortal life, for by-and-bye there comes resurrection, and the efficient faculties of immortality. In those days infinity is before us. What can please, then?
While all things will more or less contribute pleasure, there is one object which is alone capable of affording satisfaction to the mind. We experience the truth of this even now, when we advance sufficiently in wisdom. God only can satisfy the highest reason.
It is therefore kindness in God to require that we should seek Him, for He is the well of our joy, and the fountain of our salvation, and without Him we are withered branches in all respects. We learn at last to echo David's expression,
"Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides Thee."
The feeling grows so intense that we can join even in his apparently extravagant but only literally true statement of his experience:
Sunday Morning 278
How do we fit THIS pattern? This is a description of the ONLY type of person God will approve in the day of final inspection. But some will say, "How can I help it if I do not feel that intense longing? Can I MAKE myself feel that way?" Yes, you can -- and you must. The scriptures explain how to begin, we must clearly recognize that this IS what God expects, that is the only really intelligent and reasonable frame of mind, and that it MUST be achieved. What stands between us and it is either natural, animal ignorance or the deceitfulness of other things. Jesus said:
"Lay not up treasure on earth: lay up treasure in heaven, for where your treasure is, there will your heart be" Matt. 6:19-21.
Here is first, a plain COMMAND; 2nd, the REASON for that command; 3rd, the assured RESULT of obeying that command. It has two parts -- one thing to carefully avoid, one thing to carefully perform. If all our treasure is invested in an enterprise, then we shall be very much concerned about the progress and interests of that enterprise.
Here then is clear instruction on how to develop a thirst for God -- just arrange your life like Paul so that all your material advantage and interests are wrapped up in the establishment of God's kingdom. It does not just mean possessions, but ALL the activities we are involved in and interested in.
Again, it is useless to expect to develop a thirst for one thing while continually drinking something else. God says worldly things must be put away by those who would seek a place in the divine scheme of things. Why? Because they interfere with and obstruct the development of spiritual appreciation and desire. If we carefully follow the divine rules, we shall get the desired results, and no other way. And the divine rules are very different from natural thinking.
The Spirit through Solomon gives another guide for developing a thirst towards the things of God. He records (Eccl. 7:2-3):
"It is better to go into the house of mourning, than to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart. Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better."
The lack of a thirst toward the things of God reveals the lack of a perception of the emptiness and sadness of natural things, and the fulness and joy of spiritual things.
Of the present life, David said in the readings for yesterday (Psa. 39:5-7):
"Verily every man at his best is altogether vanity. Surely every man walketh in a vain shew: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches and knoweth not who shall gather them. And now, what wait I for? My hope is in thee."
So brief, so insecure, so overcast with sorrow, so filled with trouble and evil, so far short of what could be! Go to the house of mourning, the endless funeral procession, the hospitals, the asylums, the institutes for the blind, the numberless victims of selfish, senseless warfare, the inevitable bitterness and strife in all human activities, if you would develop a thirst for the new order of God. Cease to live in heedless self-entertainment, and a busyness to eat, drink and be merry; and stop to THINK.
Bro Growcott - Let a man examine himself
2 My soul thirsteth for Elohim, for the living El: when shall I come and appear before Elohim?
The essense of living success is to keep the mind focused on God Himself -- not merely, be it noted, on His works or purpose or service. It is possible to miserably fail by allowing the means to obscure the end -- or even become the end.
It is possible to work intensely all day with great enthusiasm in the "service" of God, without even thinking of God Himself at all. That "service" is as useless as a papist's beads, or blind Israel's dead, wooden rituals. All that we do must be consciously centered upon and directed toward God Himself, as a Person, in intense love -- just as the natural mind, amid all changing circumstances and activities, will gravitate irresistibly and obsessively toward the one person upon whom its affection is fixed.
What we think and say and do in a few moments of relaxation at the end of the day may be a much more accurate revelation of our character and personality than the whole day's virtuous and laborious but perverted self-satisfying "service" to God. God seeks -- not great works -- but our simple faith in and all-absorbing love of Him. These will, if real and true, inevitably bring forth the greatest works we are capable of: but the works are the by-product -- the central essence is personal, conscious, love and remembrance of God.
Bro Growcott - Search Me O God
3 My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy Elohim?
What can be more subtle than the relations between Creative Intelligence (as incorporate in the Father) and His operations among men through the Spirit, whether in the ordinary inspiration of His servants, or in the manifestation of His wisdom, character and power in a body prepared from the seed of David?
Figure necessarily enters largely into the expression of these relations, when directed to mortal intellect; and of figure there was much in the words of Christ. It would be a mistake to confound figure with literal truth. Yet underneath the figure, there is absolute truth which Jesus ... intimates will one day be made plain.
"The time cometh when ... I shall shew you plainly of the Father."
For such a day every enlightened mind must thirst with ardent desire. Ever since Adam was driven out of Eden, the cherubim and the flaming sword of symbol have shut off the verities of the divine existence from death-stricken man. He has had to discern them as through a glass darkly.
Approach has been invited through them for reconciliation, with a view to the day of open sight that is coming. Those who have accepted the invitation have in all ages been distinguished by a longing for the removal of all barriers, and the end of all darkness towards God.
They desire to come plainly into the presence and touch of Eternal Power. Even the higher kinds of unjustified intellect have a certain yearning for the "infinite" and the "absolute."
Nazareth Revisited Ch 54
4 When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of Elohim, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday.
5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in Elohim: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.
Let us thank God for unhappiness and disquiet -- as long as there is reason for them that we should be doing something about. Unhappiness can be one of God's greatest blessings and love-manifestations, if it keeps us from the fatal error of relaxation and satisfaction with anything less than perfection.
We shall never be wholly happy until we are wholly perfect, which will not be in this probationary dispensation of weakness, as we battle with the Law of Sin within us. But we can constantly move into greater happiness by approaching greater perfection.
Anything less than our best is offering God a blemished sacrifice: this is an insult.
Bro Growcott - Search Me O God
6 O my Elohim, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar.
7 Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.
The fertilizing influences of the Word of truth, are likened unto the influences of the rain and the dew upon the earth. The word of Yahweh through the prophet saith:
"As the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater: so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void; but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper whereto I sent it" (Isa. 55:10, 11).
Harmonious testimony Moses gives, saying:
"My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew: as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass" (Deut. 32:1, 2).
Therefore, the Spirit through the prophet, speaks of Yahweh as the "fountain of living waters" (Jer. 2:13).
The "Strife" that arose over the life-giving waters of Meribah, seemed to prefigure the strife that was destined to arise when Christ should dispense the "living water" of the Spirit-word of truth; and ever afterward, whenever that spiritual vitality, emanating from the Living Word, is manifested.
In passages relating to other subjects, water is used in different senses. Sometimes as an emblem of affliction: as when the Spirit of Christ, through the Psalmist, laden with grief and sorrow, saith:
"All thy waves and thy billows are gone over me" (Ps. 42:7).
An emblem of truth and righteousness in the following testimony, where the Lord, addressing Israel, saith:
"O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea" (Isa. 48:18).
To those that keep His commandments, the Word saith:
"The Lord shall guide thee continually; and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a
spring of water, whose waters fail not" (Isa. 58:11).
Sis Lasius - Yahweh Elohim Ch 2
8 Yet Yahweh will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the Elohim of my life.
Who was this man David who wrote these Psalms? What kind of a life had he, that he should see so clearly through its utter emptiness and delusion? Obscure in his youth -- a quiet, meditative man of God. Thrust into sudden notoriety, not by his own choice, but as a result of the nation's faithlessness, and his own abundant faith. Thereafter he experienced treachery, ingratitude, persecution, peril and hardship, because of jealousy -- fearful jealousy that fumed against the calm, successful courage of his faith. Cast out from his own people, a hunted fugitive in an alien land.
Then came prosperity, popular acclaim, power and authority as the divinely-anointed leader of the divinely-chosen, holy nation -- the national vessel of God's tabernacling with men. What opportunity now for the fulness of life's purpose of joy! And so it seemed for a time, but while adversity had brought out his strength, prosperity revealed to him his weakness, whose shadow he was never again permitted to forget. The years that might have been so bright were stained as a result with strife, murder and civil war.
But against this dark background of human failure, God made with David the covenant of divine success, "ordered in all things and sure." How much, in the light of his own discorded life, must these words have meant to him,
"ordered in all things and sure."
Bro Growcott - Let a Man Examine Himself
9 I will say unto Elohim my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?
10 As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy Elohim?
11 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in Elohim: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my Elohim.
...our waiting has a bright side: of course it is the dark side that we most readily feel. The weariness of the delay-the burden of "this tabernacle" which cleaves to the earth-the mental depression arising from the spectacle of so much evil around us-are all liable to weigh us heavily to the earth, and make us groan. Do not give in too much to the dejection. Do not think that
"some strange thing has happened to you."
Remember it has been the experience of all the saints. Even David, as we find in the psalm this morning, has to rally himself on the subject. He had to ask himself,
"Why art thou cast down, O my soul? Why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance."
Paul also, in the chapter read from Romans, exclaims,
"O wretched man that I am!"
What also means the testimony concerning the Lord that he was a man of sorrow, but this, that cloud and sadness are the normal experience of this probationary time?
True, there is an "always rejoicing" associated with it as an undercurrent. Still, sorrow has the larger place. It is by appointment. It is no accident. Yea, it is the inevitable adjunct of a state and a time when mankind is not in friendship with God. Let us recognise the fact. It makes its endurance easier than if we carry our burden with the idea that things ought to be different.
Let us never give in. Let us bravely breast the dark billows. Let us remember that we are not alone in the storm. God is near us all the time; and what time our spirit is overwhelmed, let us fly unto him, whom David well describes as the Rock that is higher than we.
He maketh light to arise in the darkness for the upright even now. He will not put upon us more than we are able to bear. After we have suffered awhile, He will establish, strengthen, settle-even now. And at the end of the dark journey, there waits a welcome whose sweetness and joy it hath not entered into our hearts to conceive.