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Natural Emblems Of Spiritual Life
By A. B. Simpson
The Dawn, Birth And Dew
"Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning : thou hast the dew of thy youth." Psalms 110:3
THIS obscure passage of Scripture is a remarkable one in many ways. The Psalm from which it is taken is one of the chief prophetic pictures of Christ in the Old Testament. It is a Messianic Psalm of wondrous beauty. It gives us a view first of the Saviour, and then of His people. Jesus is here addressed by David, who is himself a king, as his king and lord. It is a confusing passage to those who reject the divinity of Christ in our time, as it was to the Pharisees eighteen hundred years ago, who were unable to answer the simple question: "How then doth David in spirit call him Lord?"
There are two Lords spoken of here. The first must undoubtedly be the Father, the other is the Son; but they are both Lord, and hence equally divine. The meaning is that the Father said unto the Son, sit thou at my right hand. The Son is represented as Lord God, equal with the Father, and bearing the same great name.
Again we see Him represented as a priest; not of the Aaronic line, but a priest of another order, that of Melchizedek - a patriarchial priest who received his commission from no people or time or race, but stood out distinct from them all as a type of Christ's eternity. This Melchizedek met Abraham after the slaughter of the Eastern kings and blessed him in the Holy Ghost. He was, however, not only priest, but king. So Jesus fills both places also. He stands in the place of atonement, making everything right between an offended God and sinful man. He settles the question of right and wrong forever. He meets the guilty heart, and gives it comfort and rest. He washes its stains away and heals its wound. Then as a loving friend He gives sympathy and help in time of trial. He is, indeed the eternal God, but He is also the sympathizing friend, giving comfort and cleansing and spiritual help as they are needed.
We see Him also as the conqueror, going forth in battle against His enemies and slaying them in the power of His might, a mighty conqueror to whom many captives submit, and whom none can resist. He does not stop until He has obtained universal sway over all the tribes of earth. He will smite terribly in the day of His wrath, and will lift up His head in triumph over His enemies in the Millennium. Then will He deliver up the Kingdom to His Father. There is a two-fold attitude of Christ presented here. First He is sitting down in confidence and rest. Then He is marching in battle garments, and, weary, stops at the brook to drink and then lifts up his head refreshed.
There are several practical views given in this Psalm of the people of God.
1. They are a subjugated, conquered people, and yet not unhappily so. "Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power." They are represented as having yielded cheerfully to their conqueror. They have given a glad surrender, and have become captives of love, which naturally follows a whole-hearted subjugation.
2. They are not only a conquered people, but they have entered into service for their Master. They are not alone in this, but are followed by the whole host of the redeemed. It is a beautiful picture, whose meaning can be gathered by looking at it a little closely. They are not conscripts torn from the captives of war merely, but they are free-will offerings, who have given themselves in willing and entire sacrifice, wholly yielded to their Lord and King, not only as slaves, but as loving, devoted servants, watching for opportunities to serve a beloved Lord. There is in them a willingness to be in His service; a gladness at the thought of being absolutely possessed by Him, and a readiness for any service or any sacrifice in His cause.
These things are characteristic of Christ's true service and people, and anything less than that is displeasing to Him. We should not render service to our Lord because it is our duty, but it should spring from glad gratitude, and from such deep devotion to Him that nothing could tempt us from it. We become so closely united to Him that we lose our personality even. The essence of Christian holiness is the death of the believer and his life in Christ afterward. It is the fulfillment of this picture when His people give themselves fully and freely to Him and to His work. How often Christian life is tarnished and mutilated by the things that are held back from Him. What He wants is a whole-hearted surrender. He does not want a present from us to buy something from Him but a voluntary offering of loving, loyal hearts in complete and joyful sacrifice.
His people are not only to be servants, but they are to be willing to receive from Him all that He gives. This may call for many a sacrifice and many a tear. Such men only can become good soldiers, and if there is not this spirit of submission among the forces there can be no real victory. There are thousands of people today ready to follow a popular leader, who would leave him when his popularity dies. There are not so many who can stand loyally, no matter how their leader is looked upon. Shall we hesitate to surrender ourselves wholly to Him today, and shall we not realize as we say the word which makes us wholly yielded, and as we bow our heads in His presence that gladness has taken away all fear?
3. His people are to be holy and beautiful. It will become a holy offering. It will shine with holy beauty. "Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power, in the beauties of holiness." This describes the array that His people shall be clothed in. Leaving for a moment the figure of conquest, the Psalmist describes the garments of His people. They are of great variety of texture and of ornament. There are the white robes of purity and the red robes of victory. They are many-colored, representing the varied harmony of Christian holiness, which has not only the stern virtues, but the gentler ones of peace and charity and tender sympathy, of hopefulness and gladness; all things, indeed, that relate to beauty of character. It is not only righteousness that God wants from us, but loveliness also. Are you wearing these beautiful robes, beloved? as you stand before Him, His conquered subject, His devoted servant, His submissive follower; have you taken from His hand your glorious garments, the beauties of holiness, and are you walking in them always?
4. They are to be born of the dawn and bathed in the dew of eternal youth.
The third picture the Psalmist gives us is also one of exquisite beauty. "The beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning." Holiness and beauty belong to the morning. The light of the glorious day is the mother of purity. So should we bound out of the morning by the power and grace of God. The morning is the time of singing and of perfume, of gladness and brightness and freshness. So God's willing people are ever to be bright and joyous.
The morning is the time of freshness and vigor. Refreshed by the sleep of the night, the sons of men go forth to their toil in renewed strength. So God's children, who are the children of the day, are ever to be full of exhilerant strength and vigor.
The day-time is the time of service. The children of the day are not to rest, but are to go forth to labor in the harvest-field until the evening.
Perhaps more than of anything else the day is the time of hopefulness. The dark night has passed away, and we can look into the future without fear. The children of the day are the children of hope. Life is not a sad night to them. All that has passed away, and before them lie only bright fields of light, glorious privileges of service, and marvelous possibilities of exalted Christian character and purpose. All these lie ahead of them in the fresh morning. There are plans of usefulness to be carried out for the dark world, and there are blessed prospects of spiritual growth, and of service for the dear Lord, that not even the grave itself can blight. For there are brighter prospects even beyond that, which are imperishable and can never fade away. Are you in this spirit of brightness friends? Are you going forth to your service ever hopeful and glad, as children of the day? Have you forgotten the shadows, and left them far behind you? Then, indeed, are you shining with the brightness and fullness of the morning light.
"Thou hast the dew of Thy youth." This is a little different from the other thought - an added feature to it. It seems as though one could not get the freshness of the morning without having also the freshness of the dew to fertilize and cool the plants. This is born of the vapors, and comes through the air of the night and the early morning. It typifies, not only the glorious seal upon our consecration, but the daily renewing Spirit. There must come into our lives not only the rich showers of grace, but the crystal drops of dew, each day. The rain comes sometimes in heavy torrents and washes out great holes in the ground, and breaks down great trees, and does much damage. The dew is always helpful, and never injures anything.
The rain sometimes falls so quickly that the ground cannot take it in, and so it runs off and does little good. The dew is never lost. It is caught by each tiny flower-cup, and every drop is retained, although so small as to be almost imperceptible, and it passes into the structure of the plant and strengthens it. So it is with the grace of God, when it is received in this way. Day by day the soul is revived, and grows strong by absorbing the heavenly dew. Oh! it is glorious to be able day by day and moment by moment to lie upon His heart, and drink in of His very life, and grow thereby. How is it with us this morning, dear friends?
Have we given ourselves to Him as a freewill offering? Are we robed in the beauties of holiness? Have we come from the womb of the morning? Have we been drinking of the dew? Let us come out of all darkness of the night. Let us look at the breaking day. Let us breathe in the refreshing dew with which the air is full. Let us enlarge our capacity to take in this refreshment to our parched spirits. Then let us go forth as those who have sat down under His shadow with great delight, and found His fruit sweet to our taste, and carry some of this refreshment to others.
There is another view of this last clause that I often love to think of, and that is, Christ has the dew of His youth always. There is much help in this thought, for it teaches us to look to Him for freshness, to trust Him for quickening us, and so to be ever unweary in Him. He is not worn and haggard and old, but He is ever fresh as the morning and sparkling as the dew. He has something to give us today which we have never had before, and which will come fresh and sweet from His lips and refresh us like morning dew. He has always been young and He is ever ready to give us of His freshness which shall fall like dew upon our spirits. What is it we long for most in a garden, dear friends? It is sweetness, is it not?
This is true also of the spiritual garden. The dew of the morning will be followed there also by the sweet breath of flowers and song of birds. I do not mean human sweetness. That will not stand the strain of the day's heat, but it is the sweetness and joy that is a part of our Lord. So, beloved, when you are weary, like the flowers at evening, get this spiritual refreshing from Him, and go forth as the morning with a heart glad and sweet, because you have been blown upon by the breath of God. This is only following our glorious Lord. He, too, drank of the brook in the way and so lifted up His head, and so will He enable us to go forth conquering and to conquer these times of refreshing in His blessed presence.
Oh, that you might get such a view of Him this morning as would make it impossible for little things ever to fret you again! The petty cares and silly trifles that have troubled you so much ought rather to fill you with wonder that you can think so much about them. Oh, if you have the dew of His youth shall go forth as the morning and fulfill the promise of a glorious day! What a difference it has made in life since we have seen it was possible to do this.
How easy it seems now when the little troubles come, to draw a little closer to Christ, to drink a little more of that fountain of life, to get a little nearer to that loving heart and to draw in great draughts of refreshing and strength from it. How clear it makes the brain for work. Coming to Him thus, heavy and dull and tired; how rested you become and able to spring forth again ready for work. I am so glad this morning that Christ is not tired. He is as fresh as He was years ago; He is a glorious conqueror; He is ever the victorious Christ.
Let Him take you today, and He will cause you to see in Him the invincible Leader; He will cause you to become His willing subject; He will dress you in the beauties of holiness, and He will send you forth in the morning light with the dew of His youth upon you, sparkling with the freshness drawn from Him as you have come close to His loving heart. May He thus draw us close to Him today, and fill our hearts with the comfort of His love.