Sermon 2812. Causes and Cure of Fainting
A SERMON INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S DAY, JANUARY 4, 1903.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON THURSDAY EVENING, JUNE 7, 1877.
"Hegives power to the faint." Isaiah 40:29.
THE connection in which these words stand is very suggestive. The previous verse says, "Have you not known? Have you not heard?The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, faints not, neither is weary. There is no searching ofHis understanding." He has the perfection of power and also of wisdom. Unbelief is based upon absurdity, but faith rests uponreason and fact. This may not, at first sight, seem to be true, but it really is. To believe in the almighty and all-wiseGod is the most rational thing in the world-to disbelieve Him is both the most wicked and the most irrational thing. Whena child of God begins to distrust his Father, it must be because he doubts either God's memory or His power. It seems utterlyabsurd, as well as grievously wrong, to suspect the Lord of fainting or being weary. The moment we give utterance to sucha sentiment, we feel as if we must at once withdraw the words. It is so altogether ridiculous and absurd to speak thus ofHim who made the heavens and the earth and who supports all things by the word of His power! How can He fail or faint? TheSelf-Existent One, from whom all the power that ever was, or is, or shall be, and must primarily come-how can He fail or faint?Then would the sun grow dim at noon! Then would earth dissolve and Heaven pass away if once faintness could seize the Deitywho supports all things!
We know better and we ought, therefore, to act better. And as we feel that He cannot faint or be weary, we ought not to harbora single doubt concerning His fainting. How can He faint? It is He that gives power to the faint! When faintness comes anywhere,it does not come to Him-it comes to you who doubt. You are like a reeling man who thinks that it is the earth that reels,or like a person travelling in a train who, for the moment, forgets that he is moving and thinks that the trees and hedgesare all swiftly rushing by him! It is not God who changes-it is you who have changed. It is not He that is weary-it is youwho are weary. It is not He that is faint-it is you that are fainting. And here comes, in this blessed Truth of God, for yourencouragement-that you may be revived from this faintness-instead of Him fainting, God, "gives power to the faint."
I. First, I will endeavor to answer the question, WHAT MAKES US FAINT?
We will first consider the case of the awakened sinner, the man who does not know that he is saved and who, perhaps, is notyet converted. But he is, to some extent, under the gracious influence of the Spirit of God, for he has been awakened fromhis sleep of sin and has begun to pray. It very commonly happens that when persons are in this condition, they are seizedwith faintness. What is it that makes them feel faint?
Well, first, they may very well faint, for they have made a most alarming discovery. They were not aware of their true position,but they suddenly find themselves lost. Their own righteousness, which appeared to them to be like fair, white linen, hasproven to be only filthy rags. Their own merits, which seemed to them to be a great heap of gold, are shown to be just somuch dross. They fancied that they were rich, increased with goods and had need of nothing, but they find themselves wretched,miserable, poor, blind and naked. They see themselves condemned of God on account of sin and they also see before them, withan awful astonishment, the burning lake of Hell-and they cannot tell whether their next step will not plunge them into thedread abyss from which there will be no escape! Is it amazing that when a man first realizes all this, he is filled with terror,the cold sweat stands on his brow and he is ready to faint? Indeed, if it were not
for the goodness of God in only revealing the sinner's danger to him, in a measure, I would not wonder if when men saw themselvesin their true state, they were to lose their reason!
It has not seemed at all strange to me that men have gone mad when they have suddenly found out where they were and wherethey were likely to be in a very short time! I have had to bless God that so few cases of that kind have occurred and I havenever wondered when I have seen the horror and distress of mind of persons who have discovered their lost condition. Someof you who are now sitting very comfortably in your seats-if you only knew what it is to be already condemned because youhave not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God-if you could but catch the meaning of these words, "He thatbelieves not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on him." If you discovered that this was no myth, orfiction, but an awful reality, like a cloud charged with deadly electricity you, also, would be ready to faint!
Sometimes, too, awakened sinners faint for another reason, namely, that they have tried to escape from their dangerous position,but they have not succeeded. What long and laborious attempts at self-salvation, awakened souls will make! They will denythemselves many pleasures, they will subject themselves to a great deal of toil, they will resolve, pray, cry and fret-yetit all ends in failure. A man trying to save himself is like a prisoner on the treadmill, perpetually stepping, but nevermounting an inch higher. He is like a blind horse in a mill-he goes round, and round, and round, but makes no real advance.What can he do? He is trying to weave a substantial garment out of spiders' webs! He is attempting, with worthless works,to make a perfect righteousness! It was no small blessing for Israel when it could be said of them, "He brought down theirheart with labor; they fell down and there was none to help. Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and He savedthem out of their distresses." The sooner an end comes to all self-righteous attempts to obtain salvation, the better! Thendoes the man's soul faint within him. Then is he like one who is at sea in a storm, who has tugged at the oar, or has triedto use the sail, but can make no headway, or escape the fury of the tempest. "They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunkenman, and are at their wit's end." Thus are they faint.
We have known some grow so faint through a sense of sin and dread of its punishment-and a consciousness of their own inabilityto save themselves-that they have even wished to die. Yet, when they have looked at their condition aright, they have askedthemselves what use death would be to them? It would be as when a man escaped from a lion and a bear slew him. Or as if aweary man leaned upon a wall and a serpent that was hidden in a cranny, bit his hand. For a man, loaded with sin, to die,is for him to be damned! Well might he choose to die if death meant annihilation-but there is that dread of something afterdeath, that appearing before the Judgment Seat of Christ, that terrible sentence from Him that sits upon the Throne of God,"Depart, you cursed!" This is what makes a man faint and causes him to dread both to live and to die. Then does he say, withJob, "My soul chooses strangling and death rather than my life." Yet he dare not actually choose it, for he dreads what wouldcome after it. So he is faint, and well may he be!
Perhaps also, at such a time, a sore trouble may happen to the man, for, in the parable of the prodigal son, it appears thathe was quite as much influenced by the peculiar circumstances without as by his sense of sin within. We have often known thesoul that has been under distress because of sin, to also fall into distress through temporal trouble. It has seemed as ifthe hand of God had gone out against him and he cries out in his agony, "You hunt me as with fierce dogs that would gladlytear me to pieces! You make me the target of all Your arrows. You do not give me space in which to swallow my spittle betweenone trial and another!" Then the troubled soul faints beneath the hand of God who seems to say to him, "You have sinned againstMe; and if you faint, now that I have begun to deal with you, what will you do by-and-by? If, in the land of peace, whereinyou trust, My hand is too heavy for you, what will you do in the swellings of Jordan? If you faint when I do but come againstyou with footmen, what will you do when you have to contend with horses-when I put forth My might to punish My rebelliouscreatures?" When this happens, the soul is utterly brought into the dust of death, ground down, faint and ready to die."
Now I pass on to another character, namely, the child of God in his fainting fits, but fainting fits of a peculiar class whichare especially sinful-for there is a degree of sinfulness about some of these faintings which is not to be found in others.For instance, sometimes the children of God faint through lack of faith David said, "I had fainted unless I had believed tosee the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." So, the cure for fainting is faith-and, therefore, the best way toprevent fainting is to believe. He who believes shall not fall into this state of pain, prostration, inaction and similitudeof death. Child of God, are you fainting because you do not believe your Father's promises? I must not begin
to comfort you until, first of all, I have rebuked you! Why do you doubt your God? On what ground do you distrust His faithfulness?Have you ever had cause to think that He will fail you? Put your finger on anything that He has ever done to you that willgive you even a shadow of justification for mistrust of Him! O Man, if unbelief is at the bottom of your faintness, repentof it and pray to be forgiven! Surely the Lord deserves to be trusted by His own children, if not by anybody else! If anyonewill persist in distrusting Him, led it be the sinner. But as for you, the chosen people of His love, the favored ones ofHis heart-will you doubt Him? A man might bear almost anybody's distrust sooner than that of his beloved wife or darling child-andshall the Lord have distrust from you whom He has so highly favored by His own eternal love? Pray Him both to forgive andto banish your unbelief!
Again, some are brought into a state of faintness through a selfish need of resignation. A specimen of that kind of characterwas that strange-tempered old Prophet, Jonah. You remember that "the Lord God prepared a gourd and made it to come up overJonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceedingly glad of the gourd.But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day and it struck the gourd that it wi-thered...And the sun beat uponthe head of Jonah, so that he fainted and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live. AndGod said to Jonah, Do you well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry even unto death." It was notonly the heat of the sun that caused him to faint-it was also the heat of his temper! Evil tempers inside of us do more tocause us to faint than all the sultry weather outside of us. If we will not let God have His way with us. If we are like childrenin a tantrum and begin quarrelling with our Father, or with one another. If we try to be masters in God's house and lordsover God's heritage, seeking to rule His household according to our own will and way-do you wonder that when we get into thesulks, by-and-by, we begin to faint? Some of those who have lost dear children seem as if they will not forgive God for takingthem. They keep on fretting and pining for years after the bereavement. They go to the drawer and take out the little socksand the toys-and weep over them in a fashion which shows that they are not resigned to the will of God. It is not for us toharshly censure them, but I think it is for them to cease from such a rebellious course of action and to ask God that theymay not faint through a lack of obedience and resignation to His will.
There are children of God, also, who fall into faintness through trusting in themselves. In the chapter from which our textis taken, it is said, "Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall." Why is that? It isbecause the youths felt themselves able to do anything! Up or down, mile after mile, they could leap, run and jump, for theywere so strong. And then, at last, they fainted, for they had nothing to sustain them but their own strength. And as for theyoung men-they said that the boys were always so impetuous and spent their strength too soon, but they, themselves, had stayingpower-so they felt that they could keep up the pace. But the Prophet says, they "shall utterly fall." So will it be with anyof us who begin to trust in our own strength! Before long we shall come to the end of our force. The strongest sinew in anarm of flesh will crack, sooner or later. The brightest thought of the most brilliant intellect will one day die out in darkness.Being made of clay and being born of woman, we cannot expect that we should last forever. The worst of it is that this faintnesswill sometimes come to the strong just when they most need all their strength-when they feel, "If ever we needed all our witsabout us and all the vigor of our physical frame, it is now." It is just then that the collapse will probably come, for faintnessis sure to follow if we once begin to trust in ourselves!
Then faintness may also arise from another cause which is sinful, namely, neglect of prayer. Did not our Savior say that "menought always to pray, and not to faint"? And did He not imply by that form of expression that if they did not pray, they wouldbe sure to faint? We have a choice of these two courses-either to wait upon the Lord and so to renew our strength, or elseto be overpowered by faintness. Is the path to your secret place of prayer overgrown? Do you seldom retire for private fellowshipwith your God? Has your heart forgotten your privilege of momentary, continuous communion with the Most High? Do you liveas though you had quarreled with God and would have no more dealings with Him? If so, you will surely faint before long-andit is a blessed thing for you that it should be so, for it would be truly terrible for us to appear to be strong without prayer.It is a sign of something radically rotten within when a man can apparently be just as holy and as earnest without prayeras he is with it. You cannot really know the power of the life of God if you are able to live without prayer, for, just asa man who is unable to breathe, soon faints, so must a person spiritually faint if he does not pray.
Now I am going to mention some other reasons why children of God fall into faintness. And one is the length of the way. Somepilgrims faint because the way is so very long. We can do a great deal at a spurt, but we are not able to keep it up. We havea great many people who come among us and who even enter the Church who are splendid fellows for a short time. If they couldget to Heaven in a one mile race, they would surely win the prize, but they have no staying power in them. They are like thoseGalatians to whom the Apostle Paul wrote, "You did run well; who did hinder you that you should not obey the truth?" Whatis needed is perseverance in well-doing, perseverance under slights, misrepresentations and slanders, perseverance when itmeans tugging and toiling at the oars, perseverance when there is no smile of recognition, but when there is many a frownfrom those who misjudge your work. And it is under such difficulties that men are apt to faint. It is not even 10 or 20 yearsof an unsullied profession that will suffice-our Lord said, "He that endures to the end shall be saved." You would not careto live in your house if it were only half built-you must go on to the crowning of the edifice if it is to be fit for a habitation.Who that has realized how great are the difficulties of persevering in Divine Grace does not feel that, for this task, wemust have Divine power? Otherwise, however far we may have gone, we shall tire, faint and walk the ways of God no more. Iknow of no doctrine that seems to me to show such a splendor of Divine Grace as the doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints,for if the Lord does, indeed, keep His people faithful to the end, as He assuredly will, then is it a veritable marvel ofGrace, for, oftentimes, they are ready to faint by the way.
Others are ready to faint because of the heaviness of their burden. We are not all burdened alike, but, I daresay, if we couldform a right estimate, we should find that we are more equally weighted than we imagine. Sometimes the poor judge that theyhave a monopoly of trouble, but if they could see how much unhappiness there is in the homes of some of those who are rich,or the lack of health that is the lot of many who live in the midst of abundance, they might be more content to carry theirown cross. Yet are there some to whom the burden is peculiarly heavy. Some of God's children seem pressed down under doubleloads and they are often ready to faint. The remedy for their condition is to get double Grace and double strength from theLord their God, but, until they do, their soul will feel faint and weary.
Another frequent cause of your faintness is a sense of your own weakness. It is not that your burden is really heavier thanit was, but you do not feel as if you can carry it any longer. The flesh is weak and the spirit sympathizes with the flesh,and grows weak, too. You cannot do what you did when you were younger. The difficulties which you once smiled at, now oppressyou. By reason of the length of your years, the grasshopper has become a burden! Well, then, you must look to the Strong forstrength and then no faintness will overpower you-but if you do not, your weakness will soon bring you into a sad state.
Yet another frequent cause of faintness is the spirit, itself, sinking. There is a certain condition in which the heart seemsto go down, down, down, down, down. I know not how to describe it, but everybody who has ever had that painful experienceknows what it is. You can hardly tell why you are so depressed-if you could give a reason for your despondency, you mightmore easily get over it, but, like David, you cry to your own heart, "Why are you cast down, O my Soul? And why are you disquietedwithin me?" You try to argue with yourself to find out the reason why you are so despondent and why you look at the blackside of everything and imagine that things will go amiss which will turn out right, after all. Your friends tell you thatyou are nervous, and there is no doubt that you are, but that does not alter the case. I will not blame you. I will, however,say to myself, and urge you to say to yourself, "Hope you in God: for you shall yet praise Him, who is the health of yourcountenance and your God." Better still, I pray our sympathizing Savior will say to you, "Let not your heart be troubled;you believe in God, believe also in Me"-and on His loving bosom you will leave all your sorrows and your cares.
There are some children of God who get faint through lack of spiritual food. There are some Christians who are so situatedthat they cannot get proper nourishment for their souls. It is not in every country village or town that Jesus Christ is sopreached that the souls of God's people are fed. And among all the troubles a godly man can have, a dreary Sabbath is aboutthe worst-when the sheep look up, but they are not fed-when it is not the Gospel that is preached, but another gospel, whichis no Gospel at all-when there are fine words and grand elocution, but nothing for the heart to stay itself upon. In suchcircumstances it is small wonder if the best of God's children begin to faint! Be thankful, Brothers and Sisters, if you areprivileged to enjoy a soul-feeding ministry! And if you are not so favored, try to make up for it by being doubly diligentin searching the Scriptures and feeding upon the Word in private.
Still, at the same time, it is a great deprivation to a child of God if he is not supplied with spiritual food. I thoughtit was a good prayer of the deacon who thanked God that the minister had put the food down in a low rack where the sheep couldget at it. There are some who put the provender in such a high rack that it could only be reached by giraffes! God's childrenneed to have the Bread of Life broken up in small pieces for them, and to have the Truth of God made very simple and plainso that they can understand it. May all of us who teach or preach always try to do that and, remembering the folly of others,let us avoid it ourselves!
Sometimes, God's children also faint when they are in adversity. Solomon said, "If you faint in the day of adversity, yourstrength is small." That is true and our strength is often thus proved to be small. Many a man who thinks that he is rejoicingin the Lord, is really rejoicing in his prosperity-but adversity tries him-it is to him what the fining pot is to silver.Under adversity, we begin to faint and especially if, coupled with that adversity, there is the rebuke of God. Oh, how wefaint when we are rebuked of Him! I know of nothing that more readily makes a man faint than that God should look at him withangry eyes. He has trouble in the home and no consolation. He has loss of property, but, above all, loss of fellowship withhis God! The promises are no longer sweet to him. Prayer is like a dead letter. Waiting upon God seems to be in vain. TheLord says to those who are in this condition, "I have withdrawn Myself from you. As you have walked contrary to Me, I alsowill walk contrary to you." Under such circumstances, it is necessary for the child of God to ask for more Grace and strengthso that he may wrestle and pray until he gets a blessing. But the tendency of the poor deserted spirit is to begin to faintbecause the Lord seems to be favorable no more.
There are some who become faint through increasing infirmitywhich makes them unfit for such service as they formerly rendered.When David, in his later years, went out to battle against the Philistines, we are told that he waxed faint and would havebeen slain by a giant if Abishai had not succored him. Yet, in former days, he had killed a lion and a bear, and the greatGoliath of Gath! It was a dreadful thing for David to wax faint at such a time as that, just in the middle of the fray, buta like experience has happened to many of the Lord's champions in order to teach His people that the best of men are but menat the best-and that the strongest of them are only strong in God's strength-and that they will be as weak as water if theLord should leave them to themselves!
II. Now I want to show you how the Lord deals with His fainting people-"He gives power to the faint. I must just briefly mentionmany points, that you may meditate upon them at your leisure.
See how tenderly the Lord deals with His fainting people. He does not desert them when they are faint, saying, "They are nolonger any use to Me. They can do nothing for Me, I will leave them where they are." No, but, "He gives power to the faint."Observe that He does not merely comfort the faint, or rebuke or reprove them. That would not help them much when they werefainting. But He does what we cannot do for fainting people-He gives them power. That is the best way to deliver them fromtheir faintness! Even if no cheering word is whispered in your ear, if power is given to you, if your pulse is quickened andyour spirit is filled with new energy, your faintness will soon be over. This is what the Lord does for you when "He givespower to the faint."
What sort of power does He give to the faint? Well, you may be sure that He does not give them any of their own. That hasall gone from them. The very image of death is stamped upon them. See how pale they look! Note how the blood seems to havefled from their faces-their own power has all gone from them. So, my Brothers and Sisters, when the Lord gives power to thefaint, it is His own power that He gives to them! What a blessing it is to feel that it is His power that is working in you!To attain such an end as that, a man may well be content to have all his own power bled out of him. Let it run out at everyvein till the last drop of it is gone, that I may then be filled with the power of God! He gives His power to the faint because,in their faintness, there is room for the display of His power. Their power has all departed, so now His power comes in.
When God gives power to the faint, you may rest assured that it will be sufficient for the emergency, for He has all-sufficientpower and He never gives to His people merely half the power or a tenth of the power that they need-He gives them all thepower that they require! His promise is, "As your days, so shall your strength be."
The mercy is that the power that God gives is a power that the devil can neither defeat nor take away. If He has given youthat power, it shall be yours as long as you need it. That power neither man nor devil can take away from you, but, throughit, you shall be enabled to tread down all your adversaries and conquer all your difficulties. There is wondrous power inthe weakness which leads us to faint away on the bosom of God and so to be made strong in the Lord and, in the
power of His might, to swoon into unconsciousness and then to find our all-sufficiency in our God! To get out of life of acarnal kind by swooning into the image of death and then being raised into newness of life by the resurrection power of theLord Jesus Christ! That is the kind of power which God gives to the faint.
Why is it that He gives this power to the faint? Well, I think it is because in His great goodness He looks out for thosewho need it most. As we, if we are wise, give our alms to the most destitute, God gives His power to those who require itmost-those who are fainting for lack of it.
Then, next, He gives it to them because they will praise Him most for it. When the fainting ones receive the power that Godgives to them, they will say that it is of the Lord and not of themselves.
They will be the people to receive this power because they will be sure to use it. I think that when a person who has beenfaint, receives power from God, he will likely be sympathetic, tender and gentle towards others. At least that is how he shouldbe. If a man is always strong, how can he sympathize with God's weak and afflicted people? I have known a dear Brother whohas never had an hour' s illness in his life, seek to sympathize with me when I have been in great pain. But it was like anelephant trying to pick up a pin-he cannot do it, it is not in his line. But he who has been faint and thenhas received powerfrom God is the man who knows what faintness means-and so is gentle towards other fainting ones as a nurse is with the littlechild committed to her charge. Hence the Lord entrusts power to His fainting children because He knows that they will be sympatheticand use it wisely and well.
What, Beloved Friends, is the conclusion that we may draw from our text? Is it not this? If God gives power to the faint,let us be thankful if we have fainted and have been revived by Him. I do not refer to any sinful kind of fainting when I speakthus, but I mean what the Apostle Paul means when he says, "Most gladly, therefore, will I rather glory in my infirmities,that the power of Christ may rest upon me." But let us have done with fainting for the future because, if God gives powerto the faint, if He has given us His power, we ought to have no more fainting, now that we have received God's power! So letus henceforth seek to live in the energy of that Divine might above the faintness to which the flesh is prone.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: ISAIAH40.
Verse 1. Comfort you, comfort you My people, says your God.' 'They need it, and they shall have it. Mind, O my servants, thatyou give it to them. Comfort you, comfort you My people, says your God."
2. Speakyou comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: forshe has received of the LORD'S hand double for all her sins. The first meaning of these words was that, as Jerusalem had passedthrough a time of great tribulation, she should have a season of rest. But the grand Gospel meaning to you and to me is thatour Lord Jesus has fought our battle and won the victory for us-that He has paid our debt and given to Divine Justice thedouble for all our sins and, therefore, our iniquity is pardoned! One would think this is enough to make anyone happy. Itis the best thing that even Isaiah could say, or that God, Himself, could say by the mouth of Isaiah, when his object wasto comfort the Lord's tried people.
3, 4. The voice of him that cries in the wilderness, Prepare you the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highwayfor our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight,and the rough places plain. When God means to come to men, nothing can stop Him or block up His road. He will level mountainsand fill up valleys, but He will come to His people somehow or other. And when He comes to them, if He finds many crookedthings about them, He will make the crooked straight and the rough places He will make plain.
5. And the Glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD has spokenit. And since He has spoken it, it must come to pass. "Has He said, and shall He not do it?" With Him, to say anything isto will its accomplishment!
6-8. The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flowerof the field: the grass withers, the flower fades: because the spirit of the LORD blows upon it: surely thepeople are grass.The grass withers, the flower fades: but the word of our God shall stand forever Yes, the dearest ones that we have
are but flesh, so they wither and pass away like the green herb. Have you been bereaved, my believing Friend? Well, you maystill say to your Lord, in the words of our hymn-
"How can I bereaved be,
Since I cannot part from Thee?'
The mower with the sharp scythe outs down the grass, but he cannot touch the secret source of our hope, joy and confidencein God and, above all, he cannot touch the God in whom we confide!
9. O Zion, that brings good tidings, get you up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that brings good tidings, lift up yourvoice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!If the chief, the best, theholiest city has found her God. If Jerusalem has been thus favored, let her sing the gladsome tidings over the hilltops tothe most distant cities of the land and say to them, "Behold your God!" If you have seen your Lord, Beloved, proclaim thegood news to those who have well nigh forgotten that there is a God. Say to them, "Behold your God! He is still to be seen,by the eye of faith, working graciously in the midst of the earth."
10-11. Behold, the lord GOD will come with a strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him: behold, His reward is with Him,and His work before Him. He shall feed His flock like a shepherd: He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them inHis bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. He knows their weakness, their weariness, their pain and how incapablethey are of speedy and long travelling. He is very tender and full of pity and He will gently lead them.
12-14. Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and meted out Heaven with the span, and comprehended the dustof the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? Who has directed the Spirit ofthe LORD, or being His counselor has taught Him? With whom took He counsel, and who instructed Him, and taught Him in thepath of judgment, and taught Him knowledge, and showed to Him the way of understanding? And yet, Beloved, we sometimes actas if we were God's teachers, as if we had to instruct Him in what He should do! And because we cannot see our way, we almostdream that He cannot. And because we are puzzled, we conceive that Infinite Wisdom must be at a nonplus, but it is not so.He was full of wisdom when there was no one with whom He could take counsel-and He is still wise in the highest degree!
15. Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket. Not a bucketful, but just a drop that remains in the bucket after you thoughtit had been completely emptied.
15. And are counted as the small dust of the balance. Remember that this is said of "the nations." China, India, Europe, Africa-withall their teeming multitudes are only like the small dust of the balance that is blown away by the slightest puff of wind!
15, 16. Behold, He takes up the isles as a very little thing. And Lebanon. With all its forests of cedar. "Lebanon" -
16. Is not sufficient to burn. Think of all the cedars of Lebanon as being on fire, like some great forest fire, yet not beingsufficient to supply the wood for God's altars!
16. Nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering. Whether it is the wild or the tame beasts that are on that mountainrange, they are not sufficient for a burnt offering unto the Most High.
17. All nations before Him are as nothing; and they are counted to Him less than nothing, and vanity. As if they were themere shadow of something and had no more influence over Him than as if they did not exist!
18. To whom, then, will you liken God?This is a strong argument against idolatry, against the worship of God under any visibleform whatever-"To whom, then, will you liken God?"
18. Or what likeness will you compare unto Him?The heathen did make these supposed likenesses of God. Here is a descriptionof the process by which they manufactured their idol gods.
19. The workman melts a graven image, and the goldsmith spreads it over with gold. The rough metal is cast in a certain fashionand then the goldsmith puts on it his thin plates of gold,
19. And casts silver chains. To adorn it.
20. He that is so impoverished that he has no offering. The poor man who cannot manage to make a god of gold- 20. Choosesa tree that will not rot. A good piece of heart of oak or enduring elm.
20. He seeks unto him a cunning workman to prepare a graven image, that shall not be moved. Fix it firmly, drive the postdown far into the earth so that it may be an immovable god!
21-26. Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from thefoundations of the earth?It is He that sits upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers,that stretches out the heavens as a curtain, and spreads them out as a tent to dwell in: that brings the princess to nothing,He makes the judges of the earth as vanity. Yes, they shall not be planted, yes, they shall not be sown: yes, their stockshall not take root in the earth: and He shall also blow upon them, and they shall wither and the whirlwind shall take themawayas stubble. To whom, then, willyou liken Me, or shallIbe equal?says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high. Suppose itto be night time-"Lift up your eyes on high"-
26. And behold who has created these things. These wondrous worlds, these stars that sparkle in the firmament!
26. That brings out their host by number. For God knows the number of them all and the name of every separate world that movesin the vast expanse of space!
26. He calls them all by names by the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, not one fails. They are not proppedup with pillars, nor hung upon some mighty ropes, yet they continue to occupy the spheres appointed to them by God. He hangsthe world upon nothing and keeps it in its place by the perpetual out-going of His power!
27. Why say you, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, My way is hid from the LORD, and my judgment is passed over from my God? What?When He has not forgotten one of all those mighty hosts of stars and when not a sparrow falls to the ground without His notice-howcan you dream that He has forgotten you, or that your way is hidden from Him?
28-31. Have you not known?Have you not heard that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, faintsnot, neither is weary? There is no searching of His understanding. He gives power to the faint; and to them that have no mightHe increases strength Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: but they that wait uponthe LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shallwalk and not faint.