Murmuring, its Cause and Cure
Psalm 120:5
Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar!

The disposition of which such words as these are the indication is familiar to all of us. We continually observe it. We at least occasionally experience it. It is the disposition to regard ourselves as unfortunate in our circumstances or surroundings, and to fasten upon them the responsibility of our own indolence or failure.

I. AIMLESSNESS IS THE MOTHER OF MURMUR. Take all the men you know who are always complaining of everything and every one, and I think you will find that they are persons who have no perceptible object in life, and of whose continued appearance upon the stage of this world you can give no account; except that it is not the will of Providence that they should die, and that it is not their own will that they should commit suicide.

II. THERE IS SUCH A THING AS SPIRITUAL AIMLESSNESS, and it is precisely the same in kind as that with which we are all familiar. It is of this that I am about to speak. It, too, is the parent of murmuring. From it springs dissatisfaction with our circumstances, impatience of our position, weariness of our enforced employments, and a general state of feeling leading up to such an exclamation as that of the text.

III. WHAT, THEN, DO I MEAN BY SPIRITUAL AIMLESSNESS? To make this clear we must understand what is spiritual aim. There are a great many kinds of aim connected with, and even tending towards, religious objects, and yet you may have any or all of them distinctly before you, and be all the while spiritually aimless. There is aim in the conversion of the heathen, the correction of religious error, the building of churches, the government of the Church in general, the improvement of ritual or of worship in some church in particular, the teaching of the young, the visiting of the sick, the comforting of the afflicted. But there is one from which all these ought to spring — one in which they ought all to centre — one to which they ought all to be subservient. That one is the salvation of your own soul. We all need to keep before our minds "the end (aim) of our faith even the salvation of our souls." That faith is "the substance of things hoped for: the evidence of things not seen." That faith includes — nay, that faith is a belief that "all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose" — that from His love neither tribulation, nor distress, nor persecution, nor famine, nor nakedness, nor peril, nor sword shall separate us, that, "in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us." And so, in proportion to the reality and constancy of that faith, will be our power to repress each rising murmur, of which I have taken the text as an example.

IV. AT THE VERY BEST SUCH A MURMUR IS THE EXPRESSION OF A REGRET THAT WE CANNOT DO MORE FOR GOD. And so its obvious corrective is the deepening of our conviction that even so He may be — nay, He certainly is — if we really "love Him above all things," doing more for us than if He "gave us our desire and sent leanness withal into our soul." Perchance we are right in our belief that other positions, companionships, or employments would tend to the fuller development of that part of our constitution — intellectual, moral, or spiritual — to which we feel as towards some favoured child. But are we so sure that the course we should mark out for ourselves would tend to the forming of our characters "all round"? No. We do not believe in the love of God if we do not believe that He is doing what is best towards such a formation of us; which, after all, is conformity, as far as we can be conformed hero below, to the perfect character of Him whoso name we bear, whose life is our example, whose death is our hope.

(J. C. Coghlan, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar!

WEB: Woe is me, that I live in Meshech, that I dwell among the tents of Kedar!

Mesech and Kedar
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