Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.
These are the words of a veteran, not of a raw recruit in the battle of life. A first disaster brings consternation; a ripened experience alone can take calamity calmly. God educates His servants by hard discipline, in conflict with the forces of evil; and He educates the world by calling it to watch the contest.
I. IN THE STRIFE BETWEEN GOOD AND EVIL, THE GOOD SEEMS TO BE FEARFULLY OVERMATCHED. The host of Midian were as grasshoppers for multitude, but the Israelitish army consisted of three hundred picked men. The Christians in workshops are but a feeble minority. Temples of vice are more crowded and longer open than Christian churches. The Devil's recruits far outnumber those of the Prince of Peace.
II. EVIL EVER APPEARS TO BE HANGING OVER THE HEADS OF THE GODLY. To take a Christian stand is to expose oneself to ridicule and to danger. The struggle seems to be a hopeless one, both against the evil without and the evil within. Many an earnest Christian is fearful at times, lest the evil within should finally overmaster him. There seem to be times when the spirit of the lotos-eaters takes possession of us, and we feel that we must take a rest, and let sin sweep over us. Were it not better to make peace with powerful evils rather than contend longer against them?
III. BUT THE THREAT OF DISASTER IS WORSE THAN THE REALITY. The Devil's bark is more frequent than his bite. Many a dark cloud passes without bursting with the threatening storm. The darkest hour is often that before the dawn. In any case, to treat a threatening evil as an actual one is to suffer needlessly. The coward dies a thousand deaths before he dies once. Courage! Do not yield to evil because the siege is a strait one.
IV. APPARENT ODDS ARE NO TEST OF ULTIMATE VICTORY. He who has not lost courage is master of the future. It is not true to say that "God is on the side of the biggest battalions." What of Gideon's three hundred, and the ten thousand Greeks at Marathon? What, too, of the immense hosts of the Spanish Armada? God's greatest victories have been won by the smallest and apparently most feeble forces.
V. THE SUFFERING OF APPARENT DEFEAT IN THE CAUSE OF RIGHT IS BUT SHARING THE BURDEN OF GOD. The hermit who stopped the gladiatorial contests at the cost of his own life, chose a nobler lot than they did who occupied seats of honour in the amphitheatre; and we all see it now, though few saw it then. We may do more for God's cause by our suffering than we could by our prosperity. "How can man die better?"
VI. THE CALM ENDURANCE OF CALAMITY BRINGS ITS OWN BLESSINGS. A regiment is of but little use in battle until it has been "shot over." The tried man is the blessed man. By such endurance we bring a nobler ideal nearer to men. And we secure the sympathy of the noblest souls for truth and righteousness.
(R. C. Ford, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.