“As your days, so shall your strength be.” (Deuteronomy 33:25)
BELOVED, it seems a sad thing that every day must die and be followed by a night. We have seen the hills clad with verdure to their summit and the seas laving their base with a silver glory. We have stretched our eyes faraway and have seen the widening prospect full of loveliness and beauty and we have felt sad that the sunlight should ever set upon such a scene and that so much beauty should be shrouded in the oblivion of darkness. But how much reason have we to bless God for nights! If it were not for nights how much of beauty ever would be discovered?
Never should I have considered the heavens the work of Your fingers, O my God, if You had not first covered the sun with a thick mantle of darkness–the moon and the stars which You have ordained, had never been bright in my eyes, if You had not hid the light of the sun and bid him retire within the curtains of the west. Night seems to be the great friend of the stars–they must be all unseen by eyes of men were they not set in the foil of darkness. It is even so with winter. We might feel sad that all the flowers of summer must die and all the fruits of autumn must be gathered into their storehouses, that every tree must be stripped and that all the fields must lose their fair flowers.
But were it not for winter we should never see the glistening crystals of the snow. We should never behold the beauteous festoons of the icicles that hang from the eaves. Much of God’s marvelous miracles of hoarfrost would be hidden from us if it were not for the cold chill of winter, which, when it robs us of one beauty, gives us another. It takes away the emerald of verdure, it gives us the diamond of ice–it casts from us the bright rubies of the flowers, it gives us the fair white ermine of snow. Well now, translate those two ideas and you will see why it is that even our sin–our lost and ruined estate–has been made the means, in the hand of God, of manifesting to us the excellencies of His Character.
My dear Friends, if you and I had been without trouble we never could have had such a promise as this given to us–“As your days, so shall your strength be.” It is our weakness that has made room for God to give us such a promise as this. Our sins make room for a Savior. Our frailties make room for the Holy Spirit to correct them. All our wanderings make room for the Good Shepherd, that He may seek us and bring us back. We do not love nights, but we do love stars. We do not love weakness, but we do bless God for the promise that is to sustain us in our weakness. We do not admire winter, but we do admire the glittering snow. We must shudder at our own trembling weakness but we still bless God that we are weak because it makes room for the display of His own invincible strength in fulfilling such a promise as this.
In addressing you this morning, I shall first have to notice the self-weakness which is implied in our text. Secondly, I shall come to the great promise of the text. And then I shall try and draw one or two inferences from it before I conclude.
First, the SELF-WEAKNESS HINTED AT IN THE TEXT. To continue my metaphor, if this promise is like a star, you know there is no seeing the stars in the daytime when we stand here upon the upper land. We must go down a deep well and then we shall be able to discover them. Now, Beloved, as this is daytime with our hearts, it will be necessary for us to go down the deep well of old recollections of our past trials and troubles. We must first get a good idea of the great depth of our own weakness before we shall be able to behold the brightness of this rich and exceeding precious promise. A self-sufficient man can no more understand this promise than a coal heaver can understand Greek–he has never been in a position in which to understand it. He has never learned his own need of another’s strength and therefore he cannot possibly understand the value of a promise which consists in giving to us a strength beyond our own. Let us for a few minutes consider our own weakness.
You children of God, have you not proved your own weakness in the day of duty? The Lord has spoken to you and He has said, “Son of man, run and do such-and-such a thing which I bid you.” . .