Truly you are a God that hide yourself, O God of Israel, the Savior.
Surely thou art a God that hideth himself, O God of Israel, Saviour! (Cheyne's translation). This represents the average feeling of the captives. God's ways, though excellent, are not as man's ways; they are often hidden from men. They are mysterious ways; but faith rises above the mysteries, and calls them "good ways."
(1) God's plans are hidden in the counsels of eternity;
(2) God's work is often hidden in the variety of the agencies he employs; and
(3) God's results cause surprise and joy when they can be revealed. Dealing with this subject in a larger way, we inquire .
I. WHAT IS GOD TO MAN'S SEEING? In our pride of heart we are very unwilling to admit the limitation or imperfection of our faculties. We can know so much; why cannot we know God? We can see so much; why cannot we see God? Men are restless, and bitterly fret, because the dark mists still fringe and hide the "mountain-peak of a God." They say, "If it be so to our vision down in the plains of common life, then we will climb the hills of science, get up above, and look down on the peak, and shatter for ever the mysteries that surround him." Some expect to return to us with a scornful smile, prepared to say, "There is no God, only a high peak, which the unclouded sun gilds with a perpetual radiance; and this, shining through the clouds, made you think there was a God."
"Then all goes wrong: the old foundations rock;
One scorns at him of old who gazed unshod;
One, striking with a pickaxe, thinks the shock
Shall move the seat of God.
"A little way, a very little way (Life is so short), they dig into the rind,
And they are very sorry - so they say -
Sorry for what they find.
"O marvellous credulity of man!
If God indeed kept secret, couldst thou know
Or follow up the mighty Artisan
Unless he willed it so?"
(Jean Ingelow.) Human vision cannot see all round. When it can see the under-world and the within, world, it may begin to boast that it can see the beyond-world. But not till then. And what it does see it can only see imperfectly. Only sides and parts and aspects. With the great heap of human attainments lying before us, we may say, "Lo, these are parts of his ways; but the thunder of his power who can understand?" Do you want to see God all round and right through? Be assured of this: "No mortal vision, pure or sinning, hath seen the face." Better, far better, to adore and love the mystery of God and God's ways.
II. WHAT IS GOD BEYOND MAN'S SEEING? Man's foolish ambition is to see everything with his bodily eyes. Man's true wisdom is in knowing God through the soul-visions that are granted to faith. And, beyond our seeing of the clouds and the mystery, what is God?
1. To our seeing, there is much difficulty and mystery about God's ruling of the earth; but our souls know that he reigns in righteousness.
2. To our seeing, there is much cloud and mystery about God's providential dealings with us; but our souls know that he makes "all things work together for good."
3. To our seeing, the redemption of the human race from sin is a profound and awful mystery; but our souls know that Christ "shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied."
4. To our seeing, the future of the human race is all hung about with clouds and darkness. The very terms, "eternal life," "eternal death," are but folds of the wondrous veil that hides the unspeakable from our view; but our souls do enter into rest. Righteousness and love will preside over man's future, as truly as over the past and the present. We may rejoice in a God who hideth himself. We may be glad that the clouds hang low about him, that the mystery of him cannot be solved, and that he therefore calls for a great wondering, lowly adoration, and the perfect trust. Our God is within the grasp neither of our hand nor of our mind. Nothing in heaven above or earth beneath can be, in any full sense, a likeness of him. The grandest things do but hint his grandeur; the most lovely things do but suggest his loveliness; the truest things are but faint echoes of his truth. Away, beyond us, above us, he soars into the "light inaccessible " - our ever-blessed God, who, though he hideth himself, is our Saviour. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour.