Singing In Safety

    When God established Israel in Canaan he had seven cities of refuge appointed. In the event of certain things occurring those who had been the cause of them might flee into one of these cities of refuge. No matter how many enemies such a person had or how intent the enemies were on taking his life they dare not disturb him within the bounds of the city of refuge. If he went out of that city he did so at his own peril.

  Jesus Christ is our city of refuge. In him we are ever safe. Out of him there is no safety. The wise man said, "The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe" (Prov. 18:10). After the Lord had delivered David from all his enemies he said, "The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; the God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my Savior; thou sayest me from violence" (II Sam. 22: 2-3).

  These figures of speech are not merely poetic imagery. They express a great truth. God is our refuge and strength, a present help in time of trouble. He is exactly what these scriptures represent him to be. He is not a God afar off who cares nothing for our prosperity or safety. He is not bound by the chains of his own laws so that he is unable to do anything for us. He is not unwilling to help us in our times of need. No, he is truly our strong tower, into which we may run and be safe. Those who obey and trust him are safe. He does not promise his help and then neglect to give it. He does not raise expectations of safety in us only to disappoint us in the hour of peril. No, "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures." He takes away the fear because he takes away the danger. It is written, "Whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe" (Prov. 29: 26). Through Hosea God said, "In that day will I make & covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground: and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth, and will make them to die down safely" (Hosea 2:18). This is a figurative language, but it expresses a great truth. No matter who are our enemies, no matter what threatens us, God will master the situation. He will make his people to lie down safely in a safe place, secure in his unfailing care.

  When we feel we are safe from all our enemies, when we feel we are protected most amply, when we believe there is nothing at all to cause us concern, we can sing in safety. It is thus that God would have us sing in our Christian life. He would have us with that confidence in him which trusts him unfalteringly. He would have us believe that in his care we are safe.

  Being safe and having the assurance of our safety are two altogether different things. We may feel safe when we are in great danger if we are ignorant of that danger. We may be concerned for our safety when there is no danger, if we are unaware of our safety. It is important then that we know whether or not we are safe. When are we safe? When we are trusting in God. When we are obeying him. When we are in his care. But many who are truly in his care and who might lie down in safety and whose hearts might be free from anxiety or any sense of disturbing care are disturbed and troubled and filled with forebodings that are altogether needless.

  No matter how safe we may be we cannot feel safe unless we believe we are safe. As long as we question our safety there can be no feeling of security. As long as we question God's care of us we shall feel insecure. It is necessary therefore that we believe God's promises of our safety; that we cease to question them altogether. We should rely upon them without fear. When we repose implicit confidence in his Word we may have a sense of safety in his protecting care and realize there is a wall of his love about us that cannot be penetrated by any enemy.

  With this attitude of heart, questioning is lost in trust. A sense of security brings comfort and rest. The writer of the old song expressed his confidence, that tho his Father has many dear children to look after, "He will never forget to keep me." That is the attitude of faith. That is the attitude of heart out of which we can sing in safety. This blessed secret of trust is the secret of the singing heart, and until we have learned this and put it into practice we cannot sing the song of restful trust; we cannot sing from a heart undisturbed.

  We should cultivate a sense of our security by considering that we are secure. We should reject all feelings of insecurity, because they are based on groundless fears. So many of us cultivate our fears. We develop a sense of insecurity by continually questioning our safety. We cultivate feelings we do not desire to have and then wonder why we have them. We cultivate a sense of insecurity by letting our minds dwell upon the possibility of insecurity, by considering the dangers that may threaten us and the possibility of evil that lies in things.

  We should do just the opposite of this—cultivate a sense of security by considering God's faithfulness and by familiarizing ourselves with his promises, by considering how great he is and the marvelous power he can exert and the great love he has that will naturally cause him to exert this great power to keep us safely. We may feel safe, or we may feel unsafe, as we choose. Some Christians are always troubled and worried about what is going to happen while others rest in God and worry not in the least for the future. It is a different attitude of mind; that is all. We can have whichever attitude we cultivate.

  When we trust we are care free. When we are care free the song will rise, the song of trust and confidence. One who had this experience wrote,

"I no trouble and no sorrow
Seek today, nor will I borrow
Gloomy visions of the morrow,
In my Jesus all is blest."

  We might suppose that the author of these lines was a man whose life had been carefully guarded from trouble. We might suppose he had never known sorrow nor care, that he knew nothing of persecutions. On the contrary he was a man who suffered many things. He had been bitterly persecuted. He had suffered heartbreaking sorrow. He had been misrepresented and maligned. The tenderest ties of affection had been rudely broken. He had known bitter poverty. Yet in all these things his soul had triumphed, and when I knew him in the last year of his life I found him one of the most joyous Christians I had ever known.

  It is the privilege of every Christian to live in the one hundred twenty first Psalm. It is entitled "The Great Safety of the Godly Who Put Their Trust in God's Protection." Get your Bible and read it. Read it over and over; then let your soul establish itself in it, to abide in its security. Peter tells us we are "kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation" (I Pet. 1: 5). No doubt you have noticed how again and again we are led back to faith. We are kept through faith. If we are to be kept we must exercise faith. We must believe that God will keep us and trust him to do so. Faith is the most prominent element in the Christian life, and the most important element. Every road in the Scriptures leads to faith.

  Continuing, Peter tells us how we are kept—"Ready to be revealed in the last time." Kept in readiness for God's coming. Kept in readiness to meet the great judgment day with joy; in readiness to welcome our Lord's return. Yes, kept ready day by day for whatever the future holds for us; preserved by God's power from evil.

  There is another sense in which we are kept through faith. A fort is kept by a garrison. God places a garrison in us so the citadel of our soul may be kept inviolate. We are made partakers of his holiness, of his goodness, of his love, his mercy, his peace, and many other things. He himself dwells in us in a very real sense. Thus we are garrisoned and defended against all attackers.

  Faith also works to help us hold on to God. Some people are fearful that their hold upon him will be broken. They feel as tho they were hanging over a chasm of uncertainties and dangers, and only by holding on with their utmost strength can they hope to escape disaster. The real facts are illustrated by an incident that I once observed. A father took his little daughter by the arms and lifted her from the floor. She grabbed frantically at his arms with her hands and held on as hard as she could, fearing that he would let her fall. Seeing her fear he relaxed his grasp sufficiently to throw most of her weight upon her hands. She held tightly for a few moments, then her strength began to fail. She cried, "O Papa, Papa, I'll fall, I'll fall." Her father only smiled. Her grasp soon began to relax and she lost her hold with both hands, but she did not fall. Her father held her as tightly as before. She had been at no time in danger of falling.

  So God holds us. Our strength may not enable us to hold on to him securely. Sometimes we may feel our grasp upon him slipping. It may seem that we shall certainly fall. But we do not fall. His hands still hold us. We are safe in the midst of our fears. Ah, soul, do not be afraid; God will not let you go. He will hold fast to you with those great strong arms of his. His hold will never slip. Do not trust your own faith to hold on to him. Hold as you can, but rely upon him to hold you. Do not attempt to rely upon yourself, to hold all your weight. He does not expect it. He does not wish it. He wants the satisfaction of holding you, and having you have confidence enough in him to be unafraid but secure in your safety.

  God's ways are not our ways. Sometimes God's wisdom rather than his power protects us. He can make great barriers of trifles. The story is told of Felix of Uola and his followers who when fleeing from their pursuers took refuge in a cave. Just after they entered, a spider spun a web across the opening. The pursuers coming along glanced toward the cave but, noticing the spider's web across the opening, decided no one had entered there, so marched on. After they had passed out of sight Felix and his men came out. When he saw the spider's web Felix said, "With God a spider's web is an army. Without God an army is but a spider's web."'

  One thing we must learn—when God takes us out of trouble, or when he comforts and sustains us in our troubles, we must do nothing to bring trouble back upon us. We must let past things be past things. The following illustration points out a lesson we all need to learn: "A Christian lady had passed through some trouble and the Lord at the proper time had comforted her. But later she got to thinking over the thing again, and began to feel bad over it. Then the Lord said to her, 'I comforted you over this once; now if you go to thinking it over again you will have to bear it yourself."'

  Many of us go back into the past to bring up troubles through which we have been brought, and sorrows over which we have been comforted. With these we spoil the present. With these we crush the song of joy that would otherwise spring up in our hearts. Let us not act so unwisely.

  Living today, trusting God for today, realizing his care today, and letting yesterday and tomorrow look after the things that belong to them, we may realize the security of our souls in God and out of that sense of security we can sing songs of triumph and abounding joy.

 

 

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