April 14 PDF Print E-mail
"The breath of our nostrils, the anointed of the Lord, was taken in their pits, of whom we said, Under his shadow we shall live among the heathen." — Lamentations 4:20.

The words are spoken of Zedekiah, the last king of Judah. And two things are to be noticed and improved. First, How his people regarded him: they called him, "The breath of their nostrils." That is, he seemed as dear and necessary, as the air they respired. How prone are we to make too much of creatures. To love them properly is a duty; to over-value them, is folly and sin. Yet even Christians are in danger of this, according to the Apostle John: "Little children, keep yourselves from idols." And who can cast stones at Zedekiah's subjects? Is there no being who is the breath of our nostrils? Have we never made flesh our arm? Never said of a child, "This same shall comfort us?" Never called gold our hope? What is all sin, but a departure from God, a transferring of that fear, and confidence, and dependence, and homage to the creature, which are due to the Creator, God over all, blessed for evermore? Religion is nothing but a compliance with the demand, "My son, give me thine heart."

Secondly, observe how he disappointed them. They reposed their trust in him, and expected that under his empire they should enjoy security and happiness among the surrounding nations: "We said of him, Under his shadow we shall live among the heathen: but he was taken in their pits," — Alluding to his unsuccessful effort to escape, when Jerusalem was broken up — "all the men of war fled, and went forth out of the city by night by the way of the gate between the two walls, which was by the King's garden: but the army of the Chaldeans pursued after the king, and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho; and all his army was scattered from him. Then they took the king, and carried him up unto the king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath; where he gave judgment upon him." Thus painfully were their hopes deceived; and their idol, instead of defending and blessing them, was himself bereaved, and blinded, and imprisoned for life. "And the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes; he slew also all the princes of Judah in Riblah. Then he put out the eyes of Zedekiah; and the king of Babylon bound him in chains, and carried him to Babylon, and put him in prison till the day of his death." Thus liable are we to disappointment, when we confide in creatures. "The inhabitant of Maroth waited carefully for good; but evil came down from the Lord unto the gate of Jerusalem." "Behold," says Hezekiah, "for peace I had great bitterness."

The young are peculiarly exposed here, owing to their ignorance, and inexperience. Yet the older are not always wise. But we are the authors of our own disappointments. We disregard the notices of history, and observation, and the word of truth, and look for that from creatures which they are neither designed nor able to afford. There is no assurance of the continuance of any earthly possessions or enjoyments: they are liable to outward violence: they are corruptible in their qualities; they perish in the using.

And there is not only a physical, but a moral uncertainty in their duration; for when we look to them rather than God, God will either take them away, that we may make him the only strength of our heart, and our portion for ever, or, if he leaves them, he will take away the comfort from them, and render them our rebukes; for whatever we make the means of our forsaking or forgetting God, God will make the instrument of chastising us. We may therefore often read our sin in our sufferings; and it will be well if the remnant of Israel no more shall stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth.

Many have had reason to say. "It is good for me that I have been afflicted." The dispensation that removed a creature introduced them to the God of all grace, and the Valley of Achor became the door of hope. And so it has been, not only in the commencement, but in the progress of the divine life. The Lord's people have been enriched by their worldly losses, and, in the failures of human dependences, they have taken a fresh hold of his arm, and said, "I will trust, and not be afraid, for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation." A good man being observed to be as cheerful in adversity as he had been in prosperity, assigned as a reason, "When I had every thing about me, I enjoyed God in all; and now I have nothing, I enjoy all in God." And happy he, who when he abounds, can say, with the poet,

"To thee we owe our wealth and friends,
Our health, and safe abode:
Thanks to thy Name for meaner things;
But they are not my God."

And who, when he is abased, can say, with the Prophet, "Although the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation."

Morning Exercises For Everyday In The Year
By Rev. William Jay

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