Who is among you that fears the LORD, that obeys the voice of his servant, that walks in darkness, and has no light?…
One cannot listen to these words without feeling that one needs to distinguish between the appearance and the reality of things. There are peculiarities in the lot of both the righteous and the wicked which baffle our expectations. The sufferings of the godly and the prosperity of the ungodly have always been a puzzle to thoughtful men. However confusing facts of this order may be, they very plainly constitute a most serious part of our earthly test and discipline.
I. THE DARKNESS AND THE LIGHT OF THE RIGHTEOUS.
1. The character of the righteous.
(1) He is animated by devout and reverential feeling towards God — he "feareth the Lord." This inward sentiment of reverence is the living root of all practical godliness.
(2) He rules his heart and life by the inspired Word of God — He "obeyeth the voice of His Servant." "His Servant" is the Servant of prediction, the Messiah of promise.
2. His trials. "That walketh in darkness and hath no light." It is literally, "darknesses." The shadows which fall upon our path are not one, but many. It is very startling, that men who revere God Himself, and obey His servants, obey even His chosen Servant of all, should ever "walk in darkness and have no light." Yet that is sometimes their lot. They may not only be in darkness for a short while, but may be called to "walk" in it. Walking denotes, not what is occasional, but what is habitual. Be thankful that you walk not in the pitch darkness of many a poor soul in our day, to whom nothing exists but matter and motion and force.
3. The consolations of the righteous.
(1) Study the "name of the Lord." His name declares His nature.
(2) Have faith in God. Trust.
(3) Leave the issue entirely to the Almighty. Let him "stay upon his God." The word is, "lean upon his God." The illustration is, a weak person leaning all his feebleness on a strong one,.and being upheld by his strength.
II. THE LIGHT AND THE DARKNESS OF THE WICKED.
1. The illusions of the wicked. Observe their activity.
(1) They "kindle a fire," The fire is kindled for the sake of its light, not for the sake of its warmth. The righteous often "walk in darkness and have no light;" not so the wicked. They know how to make their own light. They have great confidence in their own resources. They ply their abilities to banish their ills, and to provide themselves with satisfactions. Men must have at least the semblance of good, if destitute of the reality. The industry of men in the pursuit of imaginary blessings is very noteworthy, very melancholy, and very pitiful. They "compass themselves with sparks." I am not sure that "sparks" is the exact word that should have been used here. But it seems to be fire in some minute form. The impotence of mail is set forth and the inefficiency of his endeavours. He is very laborious. He surrounds himself with his artificial glimmers, and hopes to compensate their feebleness by their multitude. There are no Divine lights in the firmament of his night, and he fancies that the dim and dusky fiickerings which his own hands have multiplied about him are sufficient for his needs.
2. The seeming success of the, wicked. "Walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks that ye have kindled." It is as if the Almighty said to wilful and rebellious creatures: "Take your own way. Pursue your dream, and eat the fruits of your folly." The light of the wicked, like the darkness of the righteous, is not single but manifold. They "walk," too, amidst these lights, they live and delight themselves in "the light of their" own fires, and surrounded by "the sparks that they have kindled."
3. The doom of the wicked. "This shall ye have at My hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow.'(1) Men must lie down in sickness. Projects which flashed such alluring brightness grow very pale when health is gone and powers of enjoyment have fled. "Shade me from the lying glare," cries the defrauded sufferer, when the head is sick and the heart is weary.
(2) Every man must lie down to die. When that solemn hour arrives, the wasted fingers will enkindle no more lights, and the shrunken limbs move no more amidst them. The whole circle of self-deceptions with which you have encompassed your soul, shall sink and vanish together, like the last glimmer forsakes the expiring wick, and leave only a noisome ash behind. How different are the righteous and the wicked in their darkness! The righteous "leans," the wicked "lies down." "Leaning" is an act of spiritual power; "lying down" in the languors of dissolution, with chilling perspirations crawling on breast and brow, is impotent endurance. The righteous "leans" on God; the wicked sinks helpless and "lies down" to die. The righteous finds succour and salvation; the wicked, sorrow. "Leaning" is the moment of triumph; "lying down," of utter overthrow and ruin.
Parallel VersesKJV: Who is among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God.