Give glory to the LORD your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble on the dark mountains, and…
I. IN THE ONWARD WAY OF YOUR LIFE DARK MOUNTAINS LIE BEFORE YOU, WHICH YOU MUST CROSS FOR YOUR FURTHER PROGRESS. We may travel for a time along the pleasant greensward of youth, but as we advance to our middle life and ripest years, we must expect to ascend acclivities, and clamber up steeps unknown to our earlier career. By and by, if we have not before met with them, we shall espy mountainous heights right across our road, and there will be no avoidance of them. These we must traverse, and they will tax all our strength to the utmost. "Man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upwards." One of these mountains may be that of worldly adversity, an obscure position in society, the want of a suitable opening, and the toil and sadness connected with insufficient means. Or it may be, whilst you are happily exempt from this, you have a more mountainous obstacle in your delicate and precarious health. Disappointments, too, reverses, losses, may trouble you as they trouble others, and make your life way uphill, stony, and rugged. You may find yourself, moreover, ere you are aware, clambering up to the top of a long and toilsome height, and when you gain the summit there yawns beneath you, on the other side, a terrific precipice, down which, if you fall, your destruction is inevitable. This is the hilltop of temptation, and to each of us there comes at intervals an evil day, when a solitary false step on our part will ruin us for this life and the future. We climb, too, a sharp mountain of sorrow when we stand by the bedside of those whom, though we love, we shall see them here no more, and presently follow the form that embodied them in its passage to the grave that shall hide it. Some, and it may be many, of these mountainous acclivities you will have to traverse. Look, and you will see them; then make ready for the steep ascent. There is one mountain height to which I have not referred, up which, if you have not yet crossed it, sooner or later you must travel. You are a stoner. Sin involves punishment. As surely as you have sinned, so surely you must reap the consequences. There will come a time to you, if it has not yet come, when your sin will cause you grief. This mountain, whether of repentance or remorse, may likely prove a steep and high one. It will be hard work for your soul to get up over it. It is these mountain ranges of our way that invest our life here with such awful solemnity and grandeur. The big sorrows that beset us, give a solid reality to our existence, and stamp it with dignity and worth. God's will is, that each of us shall he equal and superior to the life obstacles He has adapted to us. You must climb them; you can't help yourself; you must move onward.
II. THE NATURAL DARKNESS OF THESE MOUNTAINS WILL BE ALLEVIATED OR INTENSIFIED BY OUR RELATIONSHIP TO GOD. If you are right with God, and are giving Him glory in your life, God will be a light to you as you ascend your difficult way. And that light, too, will give you strength. You will see where you are, and whither you are going; the hilltop will not be so far off, the path thitherward, though meandering and tortuous, will be discernible, and the track of footsteps before you will give you cheer. Ay, and with the light of heaven around you, there will be the strength of heaven within you; and as the natural darkness of the mountain will be swallowed up in the light of heaven, so the weakness of your heart will be forgotten in the strength that is imparted. The Holy Spirit will testify that you are a child of God, an heir of the kingdom of heaven, for what son is he a father chasteneth not? And if, for a moment, you should fail, you will feel a hand helping you upward, and hear a voice cheering you onwards; and should it come almost to the worst, as with Jesus in Gethsemane, there will be an express angel from heaven to strengthen you. Should you, I say, when you come to these mountain troubles of your way, be in close relationship to God, giving glory to Him in your life, you will prove His presence and His help; you will see His light and His favour, and will find needful strength to enable you to prosecute your course. But should this not be so; should you, apart from God and alienate from His love, be pursuing your life career merely by the natural force which is derived from your animal and mental vigour; should you unexpectedly find yourself at the base of a mountainous trouble, whose steep sides ascend with a frightful incline, on whose summit, overhangs a portentous cloud, casting its deep shadows all along your appointed way — your situation will be deplorable indeed.
III. HOW MAY THESE, EVILS BE AVOIDED? "Give glory to the Lord your God." The Lord is your God, your Creator, your Proprietor, your Sustainer, your Provider, your Defender, your Helper, your Governor, your Guide. On Him you depend, and in Him you live. Without Him you are nothing; in Him you are complete and full. You are so constituted by Him, and have such capacities given you, that you can know Him, admire Him, love Him, and serve Him. He expressly made you that you should do this. It is the design of His creation, the intent of your existence. If you achieve this, you answer His purpose and satisfy His mind. If you fail in this, you thwart His intention and disappoint His expectation.
(W. T. Bull, B. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Give glory to the LORD your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and, while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness.
WEB: Give glory to Yahweh your God, before he causes darkness, and before your feet stumble on the dark mountains, and, while you look for light, he turns it into the shadow of death, and makes it gross darkness.