The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms. He drives out the enemy before you, giving the command, 'Destroy him!'
I. THE SUBLIMITY OF THIS PROMISE. IS there one who can open his mind sufficiently to take in anything like the grandeur of this thought? To think realizingly of God at all is to many a difficulty. It shows how little we do think of him; how habitually our minds are occupied with other objects; that when we wish to bring even his existence clearly before our minds, we find it difficult to do so. It is not a difficulty which would be felt if our relations with God were close and intimate, if our communion with him was habitual, if we were trying to live continually as in his presence and under his eye. "I believe in God the Father Almighty!" Is not that just what most of US do not do? Is there one who would not tremble far more in the presence of many of his fellow-mortals than he ever does at the thought of standing in the presence of his God? What sort of a belief is it which leaves us so destitute of all real apprehension of what God is, and even of a habitual realization of the feeling that he is? We think of him, but often how coldly, how distantly, how notionally, how unbelievingly! We speak of "revivals," but, sooth to say, we need a revival of living belief in the first article of the Creed. We need to have our eyes opened, thought set to work, faith made more real. If that were given, then should we know, as we had never known before, how wonderful, how sublime, how infinitely grand a thing it was to have this God as our Refuge, and to know that underneath us were these everlasting arms. If it is difficult to attain to a steady persuasion even of God's existence, vastly more difficult is it to frame a just conception of his eternity. Before worlds were, God existed; when they shall have waxed old and disappeared, he shall exist still. Time flows, but, like the rock in the midst of the stream, which, from its stable base, laughs at the flood whose impetuous course it overlooks; so, amidst the flow of ages, God endures, "the same yesterday, today, and forever." Does it not, then, seem as something incredible that this eternal God should constitute himself a Home and Refuge for weak, sinning, mortals; should even stoop to press himself on such mortals as a Friend, Savior, Protector, Support, Helper? If we see nothing strange in this, it is impossible that anything should seem strange to us; if we can believe this, we need not stumble at much else in revelation. For this is just the central truth the Bible has to tell. It tells of a God, infinite, everlasting, almighty, inflexibly righteous, unutterably pure, incomprehensibly great and wise and good; from whom men have indeed wandered in numberless paths of error; but who has revealed himself for the very purpose of bringing them back to himself, that they may be saved from death and may enjoy eternal life; who will by no means clear the guilty, but who waits to be gracious to every penitent sinner returning to his care; and who has provided all means for that return in the atonement of his Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, and in the grace of his Holy Spirit. That is the message the Bible has to bring, and it is nothing else than the almighty and eternal God offering himself, in his grace, as a Refuge for our otherwise defenseless souls; stretching out, those everlasting arms of which the text speaks, to draw us to himself and save us from otherwise inevitable ruin. Say not, you do not need this refuge! The son of man is not yet born who does not need it, and who will not one day, whether he does so now or not, acknowledge that he needs it. And say not, you will delay in seeking it! for even could a day or a year be guaranteed in which to rethink the question now proposed, it is plainly folly in itself, and grievous dishonor done to God, that so vast and glorious an opportunity should stand for a single day unimproved; that God should sue to you, and you refuse his gracious invitations. Rather, "seek the Lord while he may be found," etc. (Isaiah 55:6).
II. THE COMPREHENSIVENESS OF THIS PROMISE. View it in three relations. In relation:
1. To our temporal existence. Having God as our Refuge does not indeed imply that we are to have a great abundance of this world's possessions, or be absolutely free from cares and sorrows. It does not secure that we are to be either the richest or the least tried of all around us. God knows how often it is otherwise. Some of the best of God's saints have been, like Paul, the worst off of humankind. "They were stoned, they were sawn asunder," etc. (Hebrews 11:37). Was God therefore not the "Refuge" of those saints because they were so ill off in this life, or did the "everlasting arms" not sustain them? Or was it not in the midst of these "great fights of afflictions" that they first realized how true a Refuge God was to them? When Paul was at his work, "in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of his countrymen, in perils of the heathen, in perils of the city, in perils of the wilderness, in perils of the sea, in perils of false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in lastings often, in cold and nakedness" (2 Corinthians 11:24-28), had God in these circumstances falsified his promise, and failed to be a Refuge to him? The question needs only to be put to be its own answer. Yet it is certain that, even in outward things, God is a Refuge for his people, and that under his care they ordinarily enjoy both unusual blessing and a quite especial protection. Jesus teaches us to trust our Father in heaven, while of course using the means he gives us, for all our temporal necessities (Matthew 6:25-34). He pledges himself that, so long as it is the Father's will that we should live in the world, we shall be protected from harm, and suitably provided for. This was David's confidence, expressed in many of the psalms, and it has been the confidence of all God's people. Experience verifies that the good man's dwelling is the "munitions of rocks;" his bread is given him, his water is sure (Isaiah 33:16).
2. To our spiritual existence. God is the soul's
(1) spiritual Savior. Though our Lord and Judge, it is only in his bosom, in his forgiving grace, we can find refuge from our sins, from the unhappiness they cause us, and from the ruin they have brought upon us. The child that has offended his parent may seek the whole world through in vain for the rest he can find at once by coming back, confessing his sin, and being forgiven. God has devised means "that his banished be not expelled from him" (2 Samuel 14:14). The way is open. "O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thy help" (Hosea 13:9).
(2) Unfailing Retreat in trouble. No matter what storms beat without, what blessings of an outward kind are given or withheld, what threatening forms the enmity of man may assume, the soul has in God a Retreat, a place of resort and Refuge, which never fails it. There it dwells in a region of love, breathes an atmosphere of peace, holds a communion with the Father of spirits, which only grows the sweeter the longer life lasts, and the more the outward cup is bitter to the taste. In this inward home of the spirit it renews its strength and drinks of living waters, has meat to eat which the world knows not of, finds satisfaction for its deepest needs (Habakkuk 3:17, 18).
(3) Unfailing Support. He upholds the soul. Has the believer trials to come through? He is upheld to bear them. Has he temptations to face? He is upheld to conquer in them. Has he work to do? He is upheld and strengthened to perform it. Has he enemies to fight? His courage is sustained, and he is made "more than conqueror." But for the upholding of the "everlasting arms," how many of God's saints would never have come through what they have experienced!
3. To our eternal existence. "The eternal God," etc. Heavenly and eternal existence are wrapped up in this promise. God does not make his eternity a refuge for beings of a day. There would be an utter disproportion between an everlasting dwelling-place and a creature of some three score years and ten. All eternal good is here implied, and this crowns the promise and carries it beyond all comprehension of its greatness. "Eye hath not seen," etc. - J.O.
The eternal God is thy refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms.I. MAN NEEDS A REFUGE AND A SUPPORT. "We make mistakes, and men misunderstand and misinterpret them, and a word or a look fans the flame and makes a foe, and our heart craves for someone to fly to who knows our sincerity and will look kindly on our error. We feel the din and bustle, the agitation, and anxiety, and restlessness of active life; our spirits often are fretted by it, our hands hang down and are weary, and we want One by our sides, ever present, ever powerful, and ever loving, to cheer, uphold, and encourage us. We realise daily our own weakness. Resolutions are made and broken. Where shall I find a refuge from self, a refuge from sin, a refuge from an accusing conscience, a refuge from coming wrath, in the hour of death, in the day of judgment, and through the ages of eternity?
II. JUST SUCH A REFUGE AS MAN NEEDS IS PROVIDED FOR HIM BY GOD.
III. WHAT SUCH A NEED, AND SUCH AN OFFER, DEMAND OF US.
1. Your first step is to fly to Jesus as your refuge. Do you ask how? Have you not read or heard of the homeless poor in London, and the refuges prepared for them? Numbers who have no home to cover their heads and no morsel of food to sustain their fainting bodies, hasten all shivering amidst the storm, night after night, and wait hours at the door of some rooms prepared by Christian charity to receive them for a night's lodging and a night's food. They have no recommendation but their poverty. Go thus to Jesus, realising your spiritual poverty, and pleading your spiritual need.
2. Your next step is to rest in Him, as an everlasting support.
I. THE ETERNAL GOD IS THY REFUGE. It is an impressive figure; one, moreover, we well can understand, in the mouth of Moses. The idea is borrowed, doubtless, from that wild and awful mountain scenery of which the aged lawgiver had seen so much in his experience of the Sinai peninsula. There, amid those lonely and tremendous heights, with here and there some majestic rock standing isolated from the rest, like a solitary watchtower and frontier fortress of the desert; amid such scenes as this, as all travellers can tell, the mind of man is over-mastered with a sense of human insignificance. What more natural than that Moses should draw from these Titanic battlements and buttresses a picture, however inadequate, of the omnipotence of the Creator; a parable of the Rock of Ages; an emblem of the Divine Power Himself; a similitude of that Tremendous and Ineffable Being, who is indeed the only abiding Refuge and Stronghold of the soul of man; the Rock, the Fortress, the Castle, the Tower of Strength, the House of Defence, to which it may always resort?
II. "AND UNDERNEATH ARE THE EVERLASTING ARMS." The idea suggested here goes much further than the bare notion of protection from storms and troubles without; it suggests also that God offers to the soul of man the comfort of His love, the welcome to a Father's heart; it reminds us, irresistibly, of the unwearying pity of the Good Shepherd, rescuing the sheep that was lost, bearing it in the strong arms of His everlasting love, receiving the little ones into His enfolding embrace, gathering the lambs with His arm, carrying them in His bosom.
(H. B. Ottley, M. A.)
I. FROM THE ILLUSIONS, THE DISAPPOINTMENTS, THE INEXORABLE WEARINESS OF LIFE. "Vanity of vanities," saith the Preacher, "all is vanity." "Few and evil have been the days of the years of my pilgrimage." Each man soon finds for himself that these are not common places, but sad realities. God has two ways of leading men to Him through the narrow gate of disappointment — one by refusing our desires, to show us that they are not according to righteousness; the other, by granting them, and sending leanness withal into our souls. I hardly know which of the two experiences causes the most bitter disappointment. And yet to be led by these facts into gloom or pessimism is entirely to misunderstand their nature, and would be the most fatal of all errors. For why does God deal thus with us? It is simply His way of convincing us that this earth is not our home, that here we have no abiding city, that if we are in any way to fulfil the true law of our life we must set our affections on things above, and not on things on the earth.
II. FROM THE INSOLUBLE MYSTERIES OF LIFE. We cry aloud for surer knowledge, and while to the froward and presumptuous there comes back no answer except the echo of their own voice, even for humbler and faithful questioners there is only the whisper, "What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter." There is silence and there is darkness. Our vaunted science cannot break that silence and cannot dissipate that gloom. Yes; but faith can speak to us even though there be neither voice nor language, and can shed upon our path a light which is not of earth. We see not, nevertheless we believe. The mystery ceases to be so oppressive when humility accepts it and hope enlightens it, for then we soon realise that, after all, we know all that it imports us to know. Though the walls of an impenetrable darkness are around us, the lamp of conscience is in our hand, and it shines on the clear though narrow path of duty.
III. FROM SIN, FROM OUR EVIL SELVES, FROM THE GUILT OF THE PAST, FROM THE WEAKNESS OF THE PRESENT, FROM THE DREAD OF THE FUTURE. For each true penitent the handwriting of ordinances that was against us is torn asunder and nailed to Christ's Cross, and there will be granted to us, not only pardon for the past, but also strength and grace to help in time of need. And when, at last, each of us is laid on the bed of death, and the moment has come when we must enter into the presence of God and see our souls, with every mask of hypocrisy, conscious or unconscious, torn away — what can help us then? "The Eternal God is our refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms."
1. God is His people's shelter.(1) Even when they are under the yoke. Even some of those who are never converted, have sense enough to feel at times that the service of Satan is a hard one, yielding but little pleasure, and involving awful risks. Some men cannot long go on making bricks without straw, without being more or less conscious that they are in the house of bondage.(2) When captivity is led captive, God becomes the refuge of His people from their sins.(3) He is also their refuge in times of want.(4) When their enemies rage.(5) When their falls into sin had cursed the people of God, and provoked the Most High, so that He sent fiery serpents among them, even then the Eternal God was their refuge. When we are conscious that sin has brought us into any mischief or sorrow, we are apt to fed — "I must not go to God with this, because it is clearly the natural and inevitable result of my sin, it is a rod of my own making." Yes, but we may go even with that, for if the Lord should send the fiery serpents, still, you must fly into the arms of that very God who has sent the serpents to bite you; for it is He, and He alone, who can lift up the brazen serpent before your tearful eye, and give yon life through looking thereon.
2. God is our mansion, our dwelling, our abiding place.(1) At home one feels safe. So, when we get to our God, not bolts of brass nor gates of iron could guard God's people so well as that wall of fire which Jehovah is to all His chosen.(2) At home we take our rest. When I get to my God, no servile work have I to do, no hewing of wood and drawing of water, like a Gibeonite, in God's house; but here! am, His servant, happy in His service, and finding sweet rest in what I do for Him.(3) At home we let our hearts loose. We feel at ease. So is it when we are with our God. I dare tell Him what I dare not tell anyone else; there is no secret of my heart which I would not pour into His ear; there is no wish that might be deemed foolish or ambitious by others, which I would not communicate to Him; for surely if "the secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him," the secrets of them that fear Him ought to be, and must be, with their Lord.(4) It is at home, if anywhere, that a man is thoroughly happy and delighted. He takes his soul's best solace there; his eyes sparkle most at his own fireside; whatever the man may be abroad, with all his cares and his troubles, he looks to getting home, as going to the place of his delight. So I trust it is with us and our God.(5) It is for home that a man works and labours.
3. God is our support, and our support just when we begin to sink.(1) At certain seasons the Christian sinks very low in humiliation. But the great atonement is still under all.(2) The Christian sometimes sinks very deep in sore trial from without. Loss of property. Bereavement. You cannot sink so low in distress and affliction, but what the covenant grace of an ever-faithful God will be still lower.(3) Possibly you are sinking very deep down, under trouble from within. You have felt such vexations of spirit as you never thought you could have known; you have waged such a conflict as you never dreamed of; the fountains of the great deep have been broken up; and, as a deluge, sin threatens to cover your spirit, and drown all the life in your heart. You cannot even there be brought so low as Christ was, for what did He say — "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?"(4) This also I may give you by way of comfort, in any weary labours in which you may be engaged.(5) At last, when death comes, the promise shall still hold good.
II. THE FUTURE.
1. Here is a Divine work. Before yon get to your difficulties, your God will have removed them.
2. A Divine word. Whatever sins we have, there is only one thing to be done with them, and that is, to "destroy them."
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
I. WHERE? "Underneath" is a region into which we cannot see. We associate the subterranean with all that is dark and hidden, and because of this it is often regarded as terrible. Life will soon end: what is death? What is the immediate result of death? What shall we feel when we are traversing those tracks unknown, and finding our way to the judgment seat of God? Not knowing, except that little which has been revealed to us, we are all too apt to conjecture terrors and invent horrors, and so to begin trembling concerning that which we do not understand. What a comfort it is to be told by the voice of inspiration that "Underneath are the everlasting arms"! "Underneath" — the word arouses thought and inquiry. Everything ought to be sound, solid, and substantial there. "Underneath" must be firm, for if that fails we fail indeed. We have been building, and our eyes have been gladdened with the rising walls, and with the towering pinnacles; but what if something should be rotten "underneath"? Great will be the fall thereof, if we have built as high as heaven, if the sand lie underneath, yielding and shifting in the day of flood. Let us look more closely into this most important matter. "Underneath are the everlasting arms."
1. That is, first, as the foundation of everything. If you go down, down, to discover the basement upon which all things rest you come ere long to "the everlasting arms." The things which are seen are stayed up by the invisible God. He is the foundation of creation, the fountain and source of being, the root and basement of existence. "Underneath" everything "are the everlasting arms." Most true is this with regard to His Church. He chose her and redeemed her to Himself: the very idea of a church is from the Lord alone.
2. "Underneath are the everlasting arms," in the sense of being the bottom and end and object of everything. Underneath the best events are the arms of love to make them good, and underneath the worst that can happen are the selfsame everlasting arms to moderate and overrule them. As the design, and object of all, "underneath are the everlasting arms."
3. I take the text, "Underneath are the everlasting arms," to mean next that the arms of God are there as the preservation of His people. Holiness, strength of faith, and ultimate perfection are the things which we must daily aim at, but it is a blessed consolation that when through infirmity or carelessness we do not fully maintain our consecrated walk we are not therefore cast away forever, for it is written, "Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with His hand." "Underneath are the everlasting arms."
4. The everlasting arms are the rest of His people. If these everlasting arms are always outstretched to preserve me lest I totter in weakness and fall into destruction, then on those arms let me lean my whole weight for time and for eternity. That is the practical lesson of this choice word.
5. The text gives a promise of exaltation. The merciful God is great at a deadlift.
II. WHAT IS IT WHICH IS BENEATH US? The everlasting arms.
1. The arms of everlasting purpose. We have to deal with one whose gifts and calling are without repentance.
2. The arms of everlasting love. Love has hands and arms with which it draws us, and these are at this moment underlying all the dealings of God with us.
3. The arms of power. Strength is needed to uphold the people of God lest they fall to their confusion, and that strength is always ready, nay, it is always in exercise. He is able to keep thee from falling and to present thee faultless, and He will do it.
4. The arms of immutability.
5. The arms of everlasting blessing.
III. WHEN? The only answer is now and for evermore.
1. Now; at this moment, the everlasting arms are underneath us. The life of a Christian is described as walking by faith, and to my mind walking by faith is the most extraordinary miracle ever beheld beneath the sun. Walking on the waves, as Peter did, is a type of the life of every Christian. I have sometimes likened it to ascending an invisible staircase far up into the clouds. You cannot see a step before you, but you wind up towards the light. When you look downward all is dark, and before you lies nothing visible but cloud, while beneath you yawns a fathomless abyss. Yet we have climbed, some of us, now for years up this perpetually ascending stair, never seeing an inch before us. We have often paused almost in horror, and asked in wonder, "What next, and what next?" Yet what we thought was cloud has proved to be solid rock; darkness has been light before us, and slippery places have been safe.
2. So it shall be forever and forever, for the arms are everlasting in their position as well as their power. Now thou hast come to die; thou hast gathered up thy feet in the bed; the death sweat stands upon thy brow: thou art sinking so far as this life is concerned among the sons of men, but underneath thee shall then be the everlasting arms. Beautifully has Bunyan described confidence in death, when he pictures the pilgrims passing the river. Christian cried out to young Hopeful, "I sink in deep waters, the billows go over my head, all his waves go over me." Then said Hopeful, "Be of good cheer, my brother, I feel the bottom, and it is good." Thus shall it be with you. You shall feel the bottom of death's chill river, but you shall say "it is good"; for underneath are the everlasting arms. Then comes the last plunge, and we shall be as when a man stands on the edge of a precipice and leaps over into the clouds below him. You need not fear to take your last farewell and drop into your Father's arms, for underneath you shall be the everlasting arms; and oh, how sweetly shall you be caught up together with the Lord in the air, pressed to the bosom of the great Father, and borne upward into the heaven of heavens.
IV. WHAT THEN?
1. Let us look underneath. It is well to look underneath an outward providence when it frowns darkly upon you, for it conceals the eternal purpose of love.
2. Let us lean heavily. God loves His children to treat Him with entire confidence. Your load is no burden to Him.
3. Let us rise confidently. Be not afraid of high doctrines, or high enjoyments, or high attainments in holiness. Go as high as you like, for underneath you are the everlasting arms. It would be dangerous to speculate, but it is safe to believe.
4. Let us dare unhesitatingly, and be very courageous for our God. Are you called upon to lose everything for Christ? Go on and leap like Curtius into the gulf for your Lord Jesus, for underneath you are the everlasting arms. Does your Master call you to an enterprise which seems impossible? Nevertheless, if God has called you to it, attempt it, for He rendereth to every man according to his work. Remember what was said: "If Master Jesus say to me, 'Sam, you jump through that brick wall,' I jump. It is Sam's business to jump. it is Massa's work to make me go through the wall." So it is with you. It is yours to leap forward when the captain gives the watchword, and in confidence to attempt what mere nature cannot achieve, for the supernatural is still with us. Underneath us are the everlasting arms.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
I. THE QUARTER THAT IS THUS HONOURABLY SECURED. "Underneath."
1. The point of mysterious assault. You may be tempted by Satan, but it shall only be in a measure; God will not let him put forth all his diabolical strength.
2. The place of our daily pilgrimage. Some of you go forth to your daily labours, and you find the place of your service to be a real wilderness, full of trial and everything that is unpleasant to you. Yet look again, with eyes touched with heaven's eye-salve, and instead of seeing the bitter poverty, and the grinding toil, and the daily trial, you will begin to see that God is in it all, and "underneath are the everlasting arms."
3. The place of perilous descent. You cannot go so low but that God's arms of love are lower still.
4. A matter of intense concern. Examine your foundations.
5. The secret of singular discoveries that will yet be made. Perhaps some of us are in sore perplexity; we cannot understand the Lord's providential dealings with us. He does not always tell us the reason for His actions; we might not understand if He did, but we may rest assured that He is working out purposes of infinite love. He ceases not to care for us even when things appear to be at their very worst. I bear my willing witness to the faithfulness of God; I am not so old as some, but I am old enough to have gone through fire, and through water, and I am here to testify that I have not been burned by the one, nor drowned by the other. Cannot many of you say the same? In your sorest trials, and in your hottest furnaces, has He not been specially present with you, and bestowed great blessings upon you?
II. THE MANNER IN WHICH THIS QUARTER IS SECURED.
1. God Himself is close to us, guaranteeing the eternal safety of all who trust in Him. Even the false prophet, Mahomet, had a strong faith in God, — in Allah, — and when he fled for the first time, and hid in a cave with only one friend, his companion said to him, "Our pursuers are after us, and there are only two of us." "Stop," exclaimed Mahomet, "there are three, for Allah is here!" It was the utterance of a brave and grand faith; would that his whole career had been in harmony with it! Wherever there are two of God's people, there is Another with them, for God is there. Mr. Wesley said, as he died, "The best of all is, God is with us"; and that is the best of all, is it not?
2. The Lord's immutable purpose is being fulfilled. Where God's arms are, He is at work, and He is at work accomplishing His purposes of grace.
3. His inexhaustible patience is waiting its time. "Underneath are the everlasting arms," bearing up thy load, sustaining it with long endurance, while He keeps on working for thee — invisible, yet active on thy behalf.
III. THERE ARE TIMES WHEN THIS TEXT IS VERY PRECIOUS TO BELIEVERS.
1. When we are very sick and very feeble. It is delightful to feel that our feebleness impinges on Omnipotence; that, just when there is nothing left to us, then God comes in with His fulness, and bears us up.
2. When burdened with sore trouble, or oppressed with heavy labours. The most wonderful joys that ever were felt by mortal hearts, have been felt by men who, on the morrow, were to be burned at the stake; but whose very souls have danced within them because of the unspeakable delight which the presence of God has given to them. I think it was Socrates who said that "Philosophers could be merry without music." I take the statement from his mouth, and alter it, and say, Christians can be happy without happy circumstances; they can sometimes, like nightingales, sing best in dark nights. Their joy is not mere outward mirth. Sorrows fall upon them; yet, from the deep that lieth underneath, wells up yet more exceeding joy.
3. When trembling and shaking. Your wing feathers will grow by your very attempt to fly; the possibilities of grace are boundless; leave yourself to them. Be not always weak and trembling; God help you to become as a David, and you who are as David to become as an angel of the Lord!
4. The hour will come when everything will begin to melt away beneath your feet. Earthly comforts will fail you, friends will be unable to help you; they can wipe the clammy sweat from your brow, and moisten your lips with a drop of water, but they cannot go with you on the great voyage upon which you are about to be launched. When heart and flesh fail, then may the Lord speak to you the sweet words before us, "Underneath are the everlasting arms"! It will be a sinking to the flesh, but a rising to the spirit.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
1. One meaning is protection. A father puts his arm about his child when it is in danger. God protects His children. "Thou hast with Thine arm redeemed Thy people." "Be Thou their arm every morning." "His arm brought salvation."
2. Another meaning is affection. The father's arm drawn about a child is a token of love. The child is held in the father's bosom, near his heart. The shepherd carries the lambs in his bosom. John lay on Jesus' breast. The mother holds the child in her bosom because she loves it. This picture of God embracing His children in His arms tells of His love for them. His love is tender, close, intimate. He holds them in the place of affection.
3. Another thought suggested by an arm is strength. A mother's arm may be frail physically, but love makes it strong. When it is folded about a feeble child, all the power of the universe cannot tear the child away. We know what it is in human friendship to have one upon whose arm we can lean with confidence. There are some people whose mere presence seems to give us a sense of security. We believe in them. In their quiet peace there is a strength which imparts itself to all who lean upon them. Every true human friend is more or less a strength to us. Yet the surest, strongest human strength is but a fragment of the Divine strength. This is Omnipotence. "In the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength."
4. Another suggestion is endurance. The arms of God are "everlasting." Human arms grow weary even in love's embrace; they cannot long press the child to the bosom. Soon they lie folded in death. So pathetic is human life with its broken affections, its little moments of love, its embraces that are tom away in one hour. But these are everlasting arms — these arms of God. They shall never unclasp.
5. There is another important suggestion in the word "underneath." Not only do the arms of God embrace the child, but they are underneath — ever underneath. That means that we can never sink, for these arms will ever be beneath us, wherever we may be east. We cannot sink below them or out of their clasp. And when death comes, and every earthly thing is gone from beneath us, and we sink away into what seems darkness and the shadow of death — out of all human love, out of warmth and gladness and sweet life, into the gloom and strange mystery of death, still it will be only into the everlasting arms.
(J. R. Miller, D. D.)
(Prof. F. G. Peabody.)
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