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"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

Some commentators suppose that these words are intended to apply to the Saviour. We see no ground for this conclusion. Others imagine that there may be a reference to him under the case of Zedekiah. However this may be, the passage may be used, not to prove any doctrine, but to remind us of several things pertaining to the Lord Jesus, and fully established in the Scriptures of Truth.

Such as his office: "The anointed of the Lord;" the very meaning of the word Messiah in the Old Testament, and of Christ in the New. Prophets, priests, and kings were anointed at their consecration. He was all these. And therefore he is said to be anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows. Here the term imports majesty; and he is the King of glory, the King of saints, the King of nations. "With my holy oil have I anointed him."

Such is the estimation in which he is holden by his subjects: "The breath of our nostrils." He is not so regarded by others. The world knew him not. The Jews received him not. He is now, as to the multitude, despised and rejected of men. This was the case once with his own people. They acknowledged it, and look back with shame and sorrow upon a period — and with some of them it was a long period — during which he had no form nor comeliness, nor any beauty that they should desire him. But he has been revealed in them. And now he appears fairer than the children of men, and altogether lovely. Faith makes him precious. He is their righteousness and strength, their glory and joy, all their salvation and all their desire. We may be excessive in our attachment to a creature, but we can never think too highly of him. It was idolatry in these Jews to call their prince the breath of their nostrils, but Jesus is really and absolutely so to us. How dear; how important; how indispensable!

"This flesh of mine might learn as soon
To live, yet part with all my blood;
To breathe when vital air is gone.
Or thrive and grow without my food."

Such is their expectation from him, "Of whom we said. Under his shadow we shall live among the heathen." The Israelites were literally among the heathen, surrounded as they were with the Gentile nations. This was also the case with the first Christians. Yea, they were not only encompassed by them, but intermixed with them. In one house dwelt an idolater, in the next, a worshipper of God. A Pagan and a Christian laboured together in the same field, or the same manufactory. We should not undervalue the outward advantages of Christianity. How much more privileged are we, than our missionary brethren! They live under his shadow, but it is among the heathen; while we have our Sabbaths, and temples, and preachers, and our fellow-Christians, with whom we take sweet counsel together. Though there are no heathens among us, nominally, and as to dispensation, yet there are some who know nothing doctrinally, and many who know nothing spiritually — many who are without God in the world, and who hate and oppose, as far as they are allowed, the religion we experience. And how often is a righteous soul vexed with the filthy conversation of the ungodly, and con- constrained to sigh, "Woe is me, that I dwell in Mesech!" But whatever be the disadvantages of our condition, there is a shadow, and his shadow, under which we can live. A shadow from the heat — not the shadow of a summer-cloud only, but of a great rock in a weary land; the shadow of a tree yielding, not only shade, but fruit; according to the acknowledgment of the Church, "I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste." So it is said, "They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine; the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon." His shadow means protection, and all the blessings of his empire. The reign of some rulers is like the shadow of a vulture over the bird of prey, or as a hurricane over the flooded meadow, and the stripped forest. But let the children of Zion be joyful in their King. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

Such is his apprehension and suffering: "He was taken in their pits." They watched him, and persecuted him through life. At length he was betrayed into the hands of his enemies, and they insulted him, and crucified him, and laid him in the grave. Then his disciples said, "We trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel." "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."

But here correspondence becomes contrast. No type, no image, no illustration, can do justice to him; and when examined, it will always be found to teach more by unlikeliness, than by conformity. Zedekiah's subjects had their hopes disappointed and destroyed by his arrest; and when carried away, and imprisoned at Babylon, he could no longer defend or comfort them. But Jesus is our hope, notwithstanding his apprehension and death, yea, and in consequence of it. He is made perfect through sufferings. And thus it is that he brings many sons unto glory. When he fell into the hands of his enemies, they thought they had completely succeeded. But their triumph was short. He fell; but in dying he overcame. And then was the judgment of this world, and then was the prince of this world cast out. We therefore glory in his Cross: there he becomes the author of eternal salvation. He died for us, and rose again; and because he lives, we shall live also.

Let us then live under his shadow — securely live, nobly live, joyfully live; not only having life, but having it more abundantly.

And let us invite others to come, and share with us. "In that day shall ye call every man his neighbour under the vine, and under the fig-tree."

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

 
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