Who is among you that fears the LORD, that obeys the voice of his servant, that walks in darkness, and has no light?…
I. THE EFFICIENT CAUSES OF THIS WOEFUL, DESPERATE, DARK CONDITION OF GOD'S CHILD.
1. God's Spirit. The Spirit is not the direct efficient or positive cause of them. The Spirit of God may concur in this darkness that befalls His child.
(1) Privatively. He may suspend His testimony, and the execution of his office of witnessing adoption.
(2) Positively. He may further proceed to reveal and represent God as angry with His child for such and such sins formerly committed, and make him sensible thereof; not barely by concealing His love, but by making impressions of His wrath upon his conscience immediately, and not by outward crosses only.
2. A man's own guilty and fearful heart.
3. Satan. He works upon(1) carnal reason,
(2) guilt of conscience,
(3) jealousies and fears.
II. THE CASES WHEREIN GOD LEAVES HIS CHILDREN UNTO THIS DARKNESS.
1. Extraordinary; as —
(1) Out of His prerogative.
(2) In ease He means to make a man eminently wise, and able to comfort others.
(3) In case of extraordinary comforts and revelations.
(1) In case of carnal confidence.
(2) For neglecting such special opportunities of comforts and refreshings as God hath vouchsafed; as for the neglect of holy duties, wherein God did offer to draw nigh to us.
(3) In case of not exercising the graces which a man hath; when Christians are, as it were, between sleeping and waking.
(4) In case of some gross sin committed against light, unhumbled for, or proving scandalous, or of old sins long forgotten.
(5) In case of a stubborn spirit under outward afflictions.
(6) In case of deserting His truth, and not professing it and appearing for it when He calls us to do it.
(7) In case of unthankfulness, and too common an esteem had of assurance, and of freedom from those terrors and doubtings which others are in.
III. THE ENDS FOR WHICH GOD LEAVETH HIS CHILDREN UNTO THIS DARKNESS.
1. To show His power and faithfulness, in upholding, raising up, and healing such a a spirit again as hath been long and deadly wounded with reward terrors.
2. As to know the power of Christ's resurrection, so the "fellowship, of His sufferings;" that thereby the soul may be made more "conformable to Him."
3. To put the greater difference between the estate of God's children here, and that hereafter in heaven.
4. To let us see whence spiritual comforts and refreshings come: that God alone keeps the keys of that cupboard, and alone dispenseth them how and when He pleaseth.
5. Other ends God hath, to make trial of our graces and a discovery of them. The same end that God had in leading His people through "the great wilderness, where no water was," where "scorpions stung them," which was to prove them, etc.; the same ends hath God in suffering His people to go through this desert, barrenness, and darkness, where no light is, and where terrors of the law do sting them — for His dealings then were types of God's dealings with His people new — to prove them, and to make trial of their hearts.
(1) There is no grace God tries more than the grace of faith.
(2) Of all temptations none try it more than desertion of God's countenance.
(3) In these conflicts of faith with desertions consisteth the height of our Christian warfare.
6. As it makes for the trial and discovery of graces, so it is a means sanctified to increase them, and to eat out corruptions.
(1) It is a means to destroy the flesh.
(2) To humble.
(3) To bring in more assurance and establishment.
(4) It trains you to fear God more, and to obey Him.
(5) To set believers' hearts a-work to pray more and more earnestly.
(6) It causeth them to prize the light of God's countenance the more when they again obtain it, and so set a higher price upon it, and to endeavour by close walking with God, as children of light, to keep it.
( T. Goodwin.)
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.
WEB: Who is among you who fears Yahweh, who obeys the voice of his servant? He who walks in darkness, and has no light, let him trust in the name of Yahweh, and rely on his God.