Truly you are a God that hide yourself, O God of Israel, the Savior.
In God's dealings with individual men and with mankind at large, as with his people Israel, there are three stages.
I. THE REVELATION OF HIMSELF. "O God of Israel." The God who was thus addressed was, emphatically, a Revealing One. He was known to Israel as the One who revealed himself to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, to Moses and Aaron, to Samuel and David and Solomon, to all his holy prophets. We also know God as the Being who has revealed himself in nature, in the human reason and conscience, in providence, and more especially in Jesus Christ. We worship him as the God who "hath showed us light," who has made clear to us his nature, his character, his disposition toward us, his sinful children, the conditions under which he will receive and reinstate us.
II. HIS CONCEALMENT OF HIMSELF. "Thou art a God that hides[ thyself." We see this truth appearing in various directions.
1. In the processes of nature. The power of God is in all the beneficent forces of nature, working out for us the changes of the seasons, the bounties and the beauties of the earth, the wonders of human attainment; but his hand is unseen, his touch unfelt.
2. In his government of mankind. Israel did not understand what Jehovah was doing with her; as a nation she entirely misunderstood her mission. God concealed the purpose he had in his training and his providential treatment. The other nations of antiquity - Assyria, Persia, Egypt, Greece, Rome - were serving a Divine purpose; but they knew it not. It was "the mystery hid from the ages and generations."
3. In his redemption of our race. How little did the apostles, while they accompanied our Lord and ministered to his wants and witnessed his sufferings, imagine that he was laying the foundations of a spiritual and universal empire - a kingdom of truth and love! What a blessed purpose, what a grand design was concealed beneath the humble person and the peaceful ministry of the Son of man! And in all the subsequent outworkings of the Divine plan, how much has there been of Divine concealment! So that, as one has said, while these eighteen centuries have been anni Domini, we have had to lament -
"Years of the Lord are these,
But of a Lord away."
4. In his conduct of each human, life. We believe that God is ordering our lives, shaping and moulding them, determining their course, and deciding what shall be the witness they shall bear and the work they shall do - what shall be their contribution to the great campaign he is conducting. But, here again, his hand is all unseen. Often, generally, we cannot detect the unity, the plan, the purpose of our lives; it is because we walk by faith and not by sight that we are convinced of the presence of his intervening and overruling power. Many are the dark passages in the good man's career, when he is prompted to exclaim, "Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself."
III. HIS MANIFESTATION IN REDEEMING LOVE. The last word we have to use is a word which explains everything - "the Saviour." Israel is brought very low; God's face is hidden from his people; he seems to have forgotten them; but he comes in redeeming grace, and "with the saving strength of his right hand" proves himself their Refuge and their Friend. The human race goes from bad to worse, and, when it seems delivered over to corruption and ruin, there is born in the city of David a Saviour, Jesus Christ. The hour in our experience is dark, misfortunes have multiplied, disaster is imminent; but our extremity is his opportunity, and God appears in delivering power. "Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness." From the very edge of the precipice we are snatched by the strong and saving hand of God.
1. Circumstances of distress are no proof of God's absence. He may only be hiding his face for a while.
2. Let all souls in their integrity appeal for and anticipate a merciful and full redemption (Psalm 50:15). - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour.