by Inglis Fleming
“There shall no evil happen to the just” (Proverbs 12:21).
Wonderful words of comfort to the tried and tested and troubled one, who walks in the fear of the Lord.
“NO EVIL.” How comprehensive are the words! How inclusive! How exclusive!
How inclusive! No evil of any kind or character whatsoever, in any time or in any place.
How exclusive! The just is surrounded by God Himself who is ever compassing His people. All evil is shut out. That which appears evil to us at first He can turn to our ultimate good. Out of the eater He brings forth meat and out of the strong He extracts sweetness.
Of old the alchemists sought to turn the base metals into gold. They spent time and travail, life and fortune in the vain endeavour. But this is the very way of our God. He turns the curse into the blessing. He makes “the wrath of man to praise Him” and the remainder He restrains.
“The end of the Lord,” in all that through which the patriarch passed, was his ultimate good. And it is interesting to see that the enemy—Satan—defeated himself in all his assaults against this great man of the east. And it is ever so.
It is evident that Satan had considered God’s servant well. He had studied the position with care. When challenged by God he answers. Hast thou not made a hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side?
Examining particularly, and scrutinizing closely the circumstances in which Job was found, he had been able to discover no point of attack.
A triple fortification was about the patriarch and his belongings; three God-made hedges.
A hedge about him.
A hedge about his house.
A hedge about all that he hath on every side.
He was well protected. His person, his family, his possessions.
What comfort is here for the believer! The care of God is about every one of His children.
The enemy has full knowledge of all about us and our concerns. But it is only as permitted of God, for His glory and for our good, that he can force a way through the fences set about us, in the wisdom and power and love of our God. Only just as far as it shall prove for our blessing in the end, will God permit any intrusion within the hedges He has made.
“No evil!” The day is nearing when we shall see how all has been wrought together in our lives according to the pattern determined upon by our God and Father. He “is wonderful in counsel and excellent in working” and He controls everything.
In His ceaseless, changeless love He makes all things work together for good to them that love Him. Little we understand now the why and the wherefore, of much that may happen to us. But the day is coming when we shall know even as we are known. Then we shall see how every detail of our life’s pathway has been ruled or overruled by the skilfulness of His hand of infinite power, and according to the integrity of His heart of infinite love.
Often did I watch my aged mother knitting and I wondered what she had in mind. One knitting pin would seem to get all the wool and then another would get it back again. At first the mimic warfare seemed incessant and without profitable result. But little by little the plan was developed and I began to see that there was some “rhyme and reason” in her labour. At last the work took definite shape and I beheld some article of use and comfort being produced. Then I saw what she had been after all the time. But she knew from the first stitch.
And so it is with the working together of the materials which make up our lives. “Known unto God are all His works from the beginning.” This is true of the great dispensations in the ages. It is true in the little details of the believer’s pathway. God has His thought and plan and patiently carries them into execution.
As in Joseph’s case. God was above all the ill-treatment he received. “As for you,” he said to his brethren, “Ye thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good. God knew from the commencement what the end would be and there shall no evil happen to the just.”
In my mother’s case, with her knitting, she would at times drop a stitch, or put in a wrong one, and I would see her undo her work in part pulling out the result of her careful movements.
Not so with God. No human weakness or imperfection is with Him. “As for God, His way is perfect” (Ps. 18:30). He never has to recall a word. He never has to undo any of His work. All from His hands is excellent indeed, and He never drops a stitch. Much should we like, at the time they are made that some stitches were dropped, for we see not why it is thus with us in our circumstances. But every stitch is necessary to the carrying out of His bright and blessed design for our ultimate good and blessing; “for our profit” on the one hand, as on the other hand “that we may be partakers of His holiness.”
Let us go on without a misgiving, saying with the Psalmist of old, “I will fear no evil for Thou art with me. Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.” His presence, His guidance, His omnipotence are on our part.
Thus we may take up the words of the hymn and say,
“My spirit on Thy care,
Blest Saviour, I recline:
Thou wilt not leave me to despair,
For Thou art love divine.
In Thee I place my trust,
On Thee I calmly rest;
I know Thee good, I know Thee just,
And count Thy choice the best.
Let good or ill betide.
All must be good for me;
Secure of having Thee in all,
Of having all in Thee.”
Thus shall we be kept in peace knowing that no evil shall come nigh unto our dwelling or to the dwellers therein.