God is Our Refuge (Psalm 36)
“The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes” (Psalm 36:1).
The action reveals the heart. The bitter waters of the stream show the bitter source from which they flow. The evil character of the fruit shows the wild nature of the tree. Written clear and plain is the serious fact “There is no fear of God before” them.
And as we look upon the wrong around, we are conscious of wrong within our own heart. The evil expressed in the acts of others is the same evil which is latent in our fallen nature and ready to manifest itself if occasion offer.
Sin is around. Sin is within. Man—self—cannot be trusted. This truth has been fully manifested in the rejection of Christ. Man at his best has been shown to be altogether vanity, and more, altogether evil (Gen. 6:5; 8:21). “The thought of his heart”—man’s heart, your heart, my heart, by nature—“is evil continually.”
Well it is if we have been brought to acknowledge this, and to turn from man in the flesh, with his fallen nature and evil course, to God Himself, and to find in Him our
present and everlasting. To those who do this in His grace, a new nature is given, and a new power to walk, for the glory of God and for the good of others.
“Oh, that another man might arise in me,
That the man that is might cease to be.”
Such was the cry of the poet. It is this which comes to pass in the Christian. “Another Man,” Christ, becomes the believer’s life as He is the believer’s salvation, and the Holy Spirit within the believer forms Christ within him that He may be expressed in the life. In the death of Christ “the man that is,” “the man of sin and shame,” has ceased to be, for God and for faith. In the risen life of Christ the Christian lives. Blessed indeed to be linked with Him. “I would be ashamed to be a man if it were not for Christ. I am glad to be a man because of Him,” said one long since. We are now and for ever linked with Him who is the Man of God’s pleasure, the Son of Man whom He has made strong for Himself (Ps. 80:17). In Him God has been glorified. Honour indeed it is to be associated with Him, His Father our Father, and His God our God.
The psalmist turns from sinful man as totally untrustworthy, and finds his refuge in God (Ps. 36:5).
“Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens.” Above the reach of puny man is the mercy of God—that which is in His heart, that which He expresses towards man, His fallen creature. And nought but His mercy will do for any. Who of us has any claim upon God except for judgment? Mercy is His prerogative, and He shows it abundantly.
“Thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.” He is true to His word, and ever fulfils His promises in His own time. “None can stay His hand or say, What doest Thou?”
“Thy righteousness is like the great mountains,” stable, and sure, and strong, firm and towering in strength are all His dealings And all are in perfect consistency with all that He is in His nature and in His attributes.
“Thy judgments are a great deep”—mighty and mysterious as the ocean. Fathomless are His ways to us oftentimes, but they are Perfect. His actions are sublime.
Heaven, the clouds, the mountains, the deep, all are called in their vastness to figure for us the wonderful character of the workings of God with His own. And in His greatness as Creator He is thoughtful of His creatures, “Thou preservest man and beast.”
As He ponders it all, David, the servant of the Lord, exclaims, “How excellent is Thy loving kindness, O God; therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Thy wings.” Safe shelter this from sin around and sin within.
The God whose love has been shown in the cross, the God “who spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all,” that God is the Christian’s shelter and salvation. He who knows all has provided for all in the work of His beloved Son. So faith sings,
“Under the shadow of Thy wings
Thy people dwell secure.”
The present, permanent, perfect love of our God, is our abiding haven of peace and joy. And there is our
in God Himself and His provision
“They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of Thy house; and Thou shalt make them drink of the river of Thy pleasures.”
The fatness and fullness of the entertainment put before the believer is past expression. The blessedness of the believer is “better felt than tellt,” as the Scots have it. The Holy Spirit gives the sense of abundant, abiding satisfaction, which is deeper than all words can express. We feed on the fatted calf, as the prodigal of Luke 15 at his father’s board in the joy of his father’s blessing. Truly, “our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.” This is our portion even now. In a desert world where none can ever say, “Enough,” here it is the heart is “satisfied with favour and full of the blessing of the Lord.” The fatness and the fountain are for our enjoyment now as they will be in the Father’s house eternally.
“For with Thee is the fountain of life; in Thy light shall we see light.” All of blessing for us has its source in Him our God. Eternal life is ours. Christ the Son of God is that eternal life which was with the Father. He has been manifested here. “In Him was life and the life was the light of men.” That life is ours. To share with Him His delights, His joys before the Father’s face, to share them now, to share them for ever—this is the gift of God to all who believe. In the light of the revelation we walk. There it is that we see light, and knowing the joyful sound of His salvation walk before Him in the light of His countenance. Blessing indeed is this.
All that is left is to add, “Oh, continue (draw out at length) Thy loving-kindness unto them that know Thee; and Thy righteousness to the upright in heart.”
As to David of old, God has spoken of blessing for us for a great while to come. We can but say, “Do as Thou hast said.”
The love that gave Christ rests upon us, and His saints shall be
till the travelling days are over and the threshold of the glorious home of our God shall be crossed.
Sheltered, satisfied, sustained. Well may our hearts sing praise unto our God.
Help and Food 1929