No Changes
Psalm 55:19
God shall hear, and afflict them, even he that stays of old. Selah. Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God.

Who can they be — where can they live, of whom it can be said that they have not changes! Can they be inhabitants of this world of which, if one thing can be said of it with greater certainty than another, it is that it is a scene of perpetual change! "Change and decay in all around I see." No changes! We must not take the expression in a hard and narrow literal sense, or it would be true of no man. Many changes Come alike to all, and one at the end of life of which Job speaks when he says, "All the days of my appointed time will I wait until my change come." The changes of which the psalmist speaks must mean changes that disturb, changes that unhinge all plans end arrangements, changes which frustrate hopes. These are the changes which some men have not, and because they have them not they fear not God. Our subject, therefore, is — the perils of an undisturbed life.

I. HOW IS THIS? Freedom from change was never intended to work such sad result, but quite the reverse. It is due not to absence of change, but to the man's own perverse and perverting heart. He turns the sweet into the bitter, the healthy into the poisonous. It is man's eye which is evil, because God is good. The fact that a man's life has not been wrecked by storms or rent by great upheaving sorrows should appeal to the man's gratitude. He should say, "What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits towards me? I will take the cup of salvation, and will call upon the name of the Lord." But it is melancholy to see what a strange power the heart has to turn good into evil. It is like some plants which can elaborate and secrete out of bright sunshine and pure air and water the very elements of death. Such are the men who have no changes, and therefore — mark the word — "therefore they fear not God." They have no changes. They devise their plans, and they all succeed. Whatever they touch turns into gold, All the vessels they launch on the great sea of life have prosperous voyages, and return heavily laden with a rich cargo. Their neighbours have losses and misfortunes, but they, never. Now, this wonderful exemption from sudden and sharp vicissitudes tends to engender self-confidence. They are prone to imagine that their better fortune is due to better management. And no doubt not a little may be said in favour of their view of the case. For business, like every other thing, has its own laws, the observance of which will for the most part conduce to prosperity. But such prosperity has a melancholy tendency to produce forgetfulness of God. And when it has gone on for years in an unbroken stream, and a stream swelling and deepening with the years, then is this tendency seen, and this sore temptation felt in their most horrible forms. Because they have no change, therefore, etc. And the like may be said of unbroken, uninterrupted health. But others besides have frequently no changes. The circle of their social life seems wonderfully free from infraction, and that for a long period. It seems as if the ordinary calamities of life could not reach them. There has been no darkening of the windows, there has been no grave to purchase, there has been no hearse at the door. The deepest fountains of sorrow have been unopened, there has been no yearning, unavailing as it is keen, "for the touch of a vanished hand, and the sound of a voice that is still." And what is the result, what at least is too often the result? Therefore they fear not God. His blessings have been so constant and so great that they do not fear Him. They think that to-morrow will be as to-day, and still more abundant. The absence of change produces hardness of nature. As one of the greatest blessings is tenderness of heart, so one of the greatest perils in life is that the heart should become hardened. A healthy heart is one which is open to all Divine influences and to all just human appeals. A man becomes practically useless as his heart loses power of sympathy. Hence is change so needful for us would we succour the sorrow of others. But a man cannot do this if he has never known sorrow of his own, if he be one who has "no changes." Ah! if the world were made up of no other class of men than these, life would be a fearful thing. It is well that there are some hearts that cannot be thus steeled, hearts that can feel for others, and that can feel for others because frequently they have themselves known sorrow and trouble. No heart has had a thorough education which has not passed through the school of grief. Until it has sat in this class it is crude and narrow and hard. The tendency of continued prosperity, or exemption from calamity, is to create in the mind a sense of claim upon God, and a sense of wrong when the interruption comes. When the usual blessing does not make its appearance at the usual time, the man looks up under a sense of wrong, and upbraids the Providence which seems to have forgotten him. Why has it forgotten him? Why should he be deprived of his usual mercies? And instead of reckoning up all the years during which his table has been spread and his cup has run over, and bursting forth in a song of thanksgiving for all he has received, he complains of God for the removal, or even the diminution, of his comforts. The absence of change produces neglect of eternity. Nothing is more certain than this, and nothing is more natural. When men are settled in any condition which yields them satisfaction they long to remain in it. To live for the present life is as natural as to live in it; and it is the main temptation we have all to overcome to set our affection on things which are on the earth. It is wonderful how men get reconciled by habit even to a state which is by no means the happiest; but when it is one of comfort they have no desire to see it altered or disturbed. "Soul, take thine ease," is a very common feeling among those whose circumstances are on the whole fairly pleasant. They get settled in their lives. They have their portion in this life; and they do not think of another life, nor care to think of it. How many will have to thank God for ever for the blow which swept away in a night the wealth in which they trusted. It was then that for the first time they understood the meaning of the words, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal." How many, too, who have forgotten God in the days of their vigour, have found Him on their beds when the strength has gone from them like water from the summer brook. And some have needed a still greater change. But even these changes may fail. Some have borne them all, and still fear not God. Happy the man that has learnt to place his hope in God.

(Enoch Mellor, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: God shall hear, and afflict them, even he that abideth of old. Selah. Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God.

WEB: God, who is enthroned forever, will hear, and answer them. Selah. They never change, who don't fear God.

Life's Vicissitudes
Top of Page
Top of Page