Isaiah 41:10


Israel in captivity, hoping for return from exile, but fearing lest its enemies should prevail and the desire of its heart be defeated, might well delight in such reassuring words as these. In the battle and burden of our life we also gladly welcome them to our hearts.

I. SOURCES OF DISQUIETUDE.

1. The strength of the forces which are against us. "All they that were incensed against thee;" "they that strive with thee;" "they that war against thee." We may say as Paul said, "There are many adversaries." There are the evil tendencies of our own nature not yet extirpated; there are the vicious, the ungodly, the half-hearted men, who act injuriously upon us; and there are the "principalities and powers" of the evil spiritual world.

2. The weight of the burden of responsibility laid upon us. We are God's servants, his children, his spokesmen, his representatives. He is our God (ver. 10), and we owe to him the faithful discharge of varied and weighty obligations.

3. Our personal feebleness. "Thou worm Jacob;" "Ye men [mortals]of Israel." Who is sufficient for all these things? With our bodily weakness, our mental poverty and our spiritual failures, with the limitations of our humanity, we look forward to the work which we have to do, to the sufferings we shall be called to bear, to the battle we shall have to fight, with serious apprehension. We are inclined to give way to "fear," to allow ourselves even to "be dismayed."

II. OUR STAY IN GOD.

1. His sympathizing presence. "I am with thee." The presence of a friend or of a parent in the time of trouble is, in itself and independently of any expectation of help, a reassuring thought. That God our Divine Father, that Christ our unfailing Brother and Friend is with us, is by our side, with purest interest and tender sympathy in his heart, - this is a strength and a stay to our trembling hearts.

2. His strengthening aid. "I am thy God: I will strengthen thee," etc. God helps his people

(1) by making their difficulties to disappear, so that "they that are against them are as nothing;" e.g. the drowning of the Egyptian host, and the slaughter of the army of Sennacherib; or, and more often,

(2) by imparting courage and strength to overcome them. He "holds our right hand;" he inspires us with skill and energy to act, with fortitude to endure, with patience to persist, with victorious strength. He "always causeth us to triumph."

3. His faithful, redeeming word. When he is not actually interposing on our behalf we may rest on his sure promise. He has assured. us of our ultimate triumph, not only for ourselves, but for the cause of truth and righteousness in which we are engaged. On this word we may absolutely build.

(1) It is a Divine word; "he is our God" (vers. 10, 13).

(2) It is the word of one whose faithfulness cannot fail; it comes from him whose hand is "the right hand of his righteousness."

(3) It is the word of One whose compassion is well proved. He is "the Lord, our Redeemer." - C.







Fear thou not; for I am with thee.
I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH GOD ADDRESSES HIS PEOPLE. They are poor and needy. It is necessary that God should have room in which to work. Emptiness to receive Him; weakness to be empowered by Him. It is into the empty branch that the vine-sap pours; into the hollowed basin that the water flows; the weakness of the child gives scope for the man's strength.

II. THE ASSURANCES THAT HE MAKES TO THEM. No height, however bare, nor depth, however profound, can separate us from His love.

III. THE DIVINE PROVISION FOR THEIR NEED. Life is not easy for any of us, if we regard the external conditions only: but directly we learn the Divine secret, rivers flow over bare heights in magnificent cascades; fountains arise in the rock-strewn sterile valleys; the wilderness becomes a pool (vers. 17, 18). To the ordinary eye it is probable that there would appear no difference. Still the tiny garret, and the wasting illness; still the pining child; still the straitened circumstances — still the deferred hope. But the eye of faith beholds a paradise of beauty, murmuring brooks filling the air with melody, leafy trees spreading their shade. What makes the difference? What does faith see? How is she able to work such transformations?

1. Faith is conscious that God is there, and that His presence is the complement of every need. To her eye common desert bushes burn with His Shechinah

2. Faith recognises the reality of an eternal choice, that God has entered into a covenant which cannot be dissolved, and that His love and fidelity are bound to finish the work He has commenced.

3. Faith knows that there is a loving purpose running through every moment of trial, and that the Great Refiner has a meaning in every degree of heat to which the furnace is raised; and she anticipates the moment when she will see what God has foreseen all the time, and towards which He has been working.

4. Faith realises that others are learning from her experiences lessons which nothing else would teach them; and that glory is accruing to God in the highest, because men and angels see and know and consider and understand together that the hand of the Lord hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it (ver. 20).

(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)

I. THE SPEAKER. The words derive all their importance from this. So many are our enemies, so mighty, so subtle, so malignant, so ceaseless in their attacks, that all finite beings would be powerless to help. We want Omniscience, Omnipotence, Omnipresence on our side. A patience, a compassion, a pity, a love that belongs only to God. We want One to help who embraces all being, all time, all eternity. We want even more than this. We want One who has engaged all these perfections on our behalf. We want even more than this: One who stands in the tenderest relation to us in all these. And such is the Speaker of these words.

II. THE PERSONS TO WHOM SPOKEN. Literally to His ancient people. But spiritually to all the people of God, the true descendants of Jacob, everywhere, in all ages. They need them in every stage of their journey, every moment of their lives, every step they take. They are strangers on the earth. The world is a strange place to them, and they are strangers in it. The path which their are treading was never trod by them before. The religion of the world is not theirs; its habits, amusements, principles, practice, are all foreign to them. It is a strange land, and hostile too, for there is much in it that opposes them. They are sailors on a stormy ocean, where sun and stars in many days appear not, and no small tempest lies on them. They are soldiers in a field of hard fighting; their enemies vastly out-number them, overmatch them, and besides this, in themselves they are but weak, yea, powerless, and, unless perpetually encouraged, timid.

III. THE WORDS THEMSELVES. "Fear not." He says it more than seventy times in the Scripture.

(J. H. Evans, M. A.)

! — Three times within the compass of a few verses, the exhortation, "Fear not," is given.

I. THE EXHORTATION. "Fear not." A great honour comes to anyone who is thus addressed by God. It shows that God cares for that person, and desires to live on terms of intimacy with him; for God binds His friends to Him by ties of love as well as reverence. True religion differs from false in this respect. How wonderful to hear God say to any man, "Fear not"; because all have reason to fear Him. Ever since Adam hid himself in the garden, fear has been characteristic of our attitude towards God. We sin against Him. He hates and punishes sin. Does it not look like mockery for us sinners to be told, "Fear not"? Terror often disappears as a fuller knowledge is gained of the object which caused it. Friday trembled all over on first meeting Robinson Crusoe; but soon his terror vanished. Much of our fear of God arises from ignorance; and will vanish when the light of the knowledge of God in Christ dawns on our souls.

II. THE GROUNDS ON WHICH THIS INJUNCTION IS BASED. Remember that God never gives His children a stone when they ask Him for bread. If He says, "Fear not," He means it. Why "Fear not"? "I am with thee," He assures Israel How tenderly God speaks to Israel in vers. 8, 9. His voice is like that of a mother crooning to her child — Israel, whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham My friend, I have taken thee, and called thee, and chosen thee, and not cast thee away. God is nearer to us than He was to even the Old Testament saints. Immanuel means "God with us."

III. THIS TEACHES US TO CLING TO CHRIST ALL THROUGH LIFE. Lord Chamberlain Leslie was once riding through a dangerous ford with the Queen of Scotland sitting behind, in the old fashion, and fastened to him by a belt. As she slipped backwards during the steep ascent, out of the river, the Lord Chamberlain shouted encouragingly, "Grip fast." "Ay," said Her Majesty, "gin the buckle baud" They landed safely, and to make security double sure in the future, two additional buckles were sewed on to the belt. God's command to us regarding Christ is, "Grip fast." The bond that binds a believing sinner to Him will never break. Why, then, should we fear?

(D. A. Mackinnon, M. A.)

I. THE TEMPER OF SPIRIT that the Lord aims to reduce His people unto. "Fear not; be not dismayed." Quietness, settledness, and undauntedness of spirit.

II. THE COURSE HE TAKES to reduce them to it. A proposal of motives and arguments of sufficient effect and prevalency to pull down vain fear out of the heart.

(T. Crisp, D. D.)

I. WHAT IT IS FOR A PERSON NOT TO FEAR, nor be dismayed. Fear is a very distracting, disturbing, confounding passion; it is a kind of besetting passion that makes men lose themselves, especially if it be in the extremity of fear; it ariseth from an apprehension of some unavoidable, insupportable evil growing upon a person, and occasioned either by some symptoms of that evil, or by some messenger or other relating it, or by some foresight of it in the eye. Now, as evil appears greater or lesser, and more or less tolerable, so the passion of fear is more or less in persons.

II. WHAT THE PEOPLE OF GOD SHOULD NOT FEAR. There is a threefold fear; a natural, a religious, and a turbulent fear. A natural fear is nothing else but such an affection as is in men by nature, that they cannot be freed from; such a fear was in Christ Himself, without sin. A religious fear is nothing but an awful reverence, whereby people keep a fit distance between the glorious majesty of God and the meanness of a creature. A turbulent fear is a fear of disquietness. Now all disquieting fear is that which the Lord endeavours to take off from His people.

1. The people of God need not be afraid of their sins. I do not say they must not be afraid to sin (Romans 8:1).

2. Neither ought we to fear the sins of others. They cannot do God's people any hurt.

3. They that have God for their God must not be afraid of men.

III. WHAT THE FRUIT OF FEAR IS; or what prejudice or disadvantage fear and dismayedness bring along with them.

1. Fearfulness of spirit casts many slanders upon God. Upon His power, His faithfulness, His care and providence, the freeness of His grace, the efficacy of the sufferings of Christ.

2. As it respects God's service.

(1)It is the cut-throat of believing.

(2)It is prejudicial to all religious duties: it is a damper to prayer.It makes all duties merely selfish. Fear puts a man beside his wits, that while he is in such a .passion, he is to seek for common ways of safety; so that, whereas men think that fear will help them to avoid danger, commonly, in amazement, you shall have people stand still, not able to stir to save themselves. Besides, this fear is such a torment, that commonly those evils so much feared, prove not so hurtful nor evil to a person as the present fears; and, besides this, it many times doth not only daunt the spirit of a man in himself, but proves very dangerous to others.

IV. GOD'S MOTIVES, by which He attempts to prevail over the spirits of His people, not to be afraid or dismayed, come what can or may. God is our God.

1. What is it for God to be our God? While you have all things else but this, you have the rays of the sun; while you have this, you have the sun itself in its brightness and lustre. "I am thy God," is as much as to say, Thou hast a propriety in Me. God's all-sufficiency reaches beyond all wants.

2. What a person hath in this. There are three particulars whereby specially you may observe what great treasure people have in having God.

(1)In regard of the quality of the treasure.

(2)In regard of the virtue of it. The quintessence of all virtues is in Him.

(3)In regard of the sovereignty, universality, and variety of help in it.

3. How it is so well with those that are the Lord's. God, in giving Himself unto persons, gives Himself to be communicated unto them at sundry seasons, and in divers kinds and measures, and yet so that He will be the judge of the fitness of the time.

4. How He becomes their God, and upon what terms. The gift of Him is as cheap as it is rich. He never looks the creature should bring anything that he might procure it.

5. How He will be found of them. The way of finding out God efficiently to be our God, is the Spirit of the Lord. God makes Himself known passively to be the God of His people, by the word of His grace, and faith laying hold upon it revealed, and more subordinately in prayer, fasting, receiving of the Lord's supper, and such ordinances, so far as they are mixed with faith.

(T. Crisp, D. D.)

Many good people are full of fears. Bunyan says of Mr. Fearing, "He was a man that had the root of the matter in him, but he was one of the most troublesome pilgrims that I ever met with in all my days." Many things may help us to conquer our fears.

I. IT IS WRONG TO FEAR. We are quite safe in God's hands, and fear is really unbelief. It dishonours God.

II. IT PREVENTS US FROM DOING OUR DUTY. If a gardener is afraid to sow his seed he will have no flowers, or if the farmer is afraid to plough he will have no crop. If a boy is afraid it is of no use to try for the prize, he will not get it. Fear is ruinous to our work.

III. IT DISCOURAGES OTHERS (Numbers 13:31-33; Numbers 14:1). Fear kept the Israelites out of the promised land.

IV. IT IS UNNECESSARY. We are afraid because the dangers seem so great, or the work so hard, and ourselves so weal But we forget who is for us — more than all that can be against us.

1. God is with us.

2. God is our God. What a possession God is!

(1)Vast.

(2)Rich.

(3)Secure.

(4)Everlasting.

3. God will strengthen us as He did David and Samson.

4. He will hold us up by His right hand. Who then can lay us low? Away then with fear for ever.

(R. Brewin.)

I. GOD'S PEOPLE PASS THROUGH ADVERSITY.

II. TRIBULATION STRENGTHENS GOD'S PEOPLE.

III. GOD IS WITH HIS PEOPLE IN THE DAY OF THEIR TROUBLE.

IV. A PERSONAL ENCOURAGEMENT. "I am with thee."

1. Your fellow-men may ridicule you because you have become religious.

2. In your trade you may have to pass through much tribulation.

3. You may have felt much fear about making a profession of your faith.

4. Temporal calamity often visits the people of God.

5. There may be affliction and pain coming to you.

V. AN INVITATION TO SINNERS. You say this invitation is not in the text. Never mind, I must go over hedge and ditch to call the sinner to Jesus.

(W. Birch.)

Homiletic Review.
The missionary could not take with him a higher word of manifold comfort than is here contained.

I. THE COMMAND.

1. "Fear not, thou." Fear throws a paralysis over the senses and faculties of man, so that flight and safety are more thought of than holding one's ground, or making headway against the enemy.

2. "Be not dismayed." If one have fear, he loses both courage and hope; and in this state no valuable work can be done. The soldiers of the first French Revolution Were destitute of fear, and by nothing dismayed; hence, all the armies of Europe prevailed not against them, until, in the terms of Carlyle, they had provoked all men, and the Gaelic fire had kindled another kind of fire — the Teutonic kind.

II. ITS GROUND.

1. "I am with thee." God promised Moses that His presence should go with him; and without that, said Moses, send me not up.

2. "For I am thy God." It is Jehovah that speaks, who created the universe and governs it still.

3. "I will strengthen thee." God will renew not merely such strength as is natural to us, but a surplusage of strength for special service. In the strength of heavenly food and drink" Elijah "went forty days and forty nights."

4. "Yea, I will help thee." Joseph in Egypt, or Daniel in Babylon, would have been destroyed by their enemies, and would never have become prime ministers but for the Divine interposition.

5. "Yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness." The right hand is an emblem of power — here, of omnipotent power — so that the work of righteousness which you do shall never cease. Truth is omnipotent, and shall rule the eternal years.

III. ITS ENCOURAGEMENT.

1. If God be for us in mission work, who can be against us?

2. If He favour and command it, how can it ever cease? Deus vult, said Peter the Hermit, and for two centuries the Crusades flamed on high.

3. If truth and righteousness he eternal, how bold and hopeful ought the missionary to be! The Gospel is stronger than the strongest battalions.

(Homiletic Review.)

I. THE CHRISTIAN'S FEARS. It may be asked why does the Christian fear? I answer, because of his knowledge. Do you say, "If this be so, then ignorance is bliss"? I answer, No. I do not say that our knowledge causes our danger, I only say it produces our fear. I may be in danger and not know it; but my ignorance does not diminish my danger; it rather increases it. See Captain Williams in the Atlantic. He is asleep in his cabin; maybe dreaming of wife, and home, and joys to come. He knows nothing of the rocks ahead on which, in a few moments, the vessel may dash, and where many a precious life will soon be gone for ever. If he were awake, there would be agony in his face instead of a smile; but there would be a chance of escape. His knowledge would produce fear, but might lead to safety. So with the sinner; he enters upon this year amidst smiles and songs, and little dreams that ere the next year comes he will be in eternity. If he were to awake there would be deep anxiety, but that anxiety might end in life and heaven. The Christian, however, is awake.

1. He knows that he is on trial for eternity.

2. That he is surrounded by enemies.

3. He knows himself: every day he lives he makes discoveries of his character that fill him with shame and sorrow. His constant acknowledgment is, "By the grace of God I am what I am."

4. He knows that many a fellow-soldier has fallen.

II. THE CHRISTIAN'S ENCOURAGEMENT.

1. There is the assurance of God's presence.

2. There are several exceeding great and precious promises. Conclusion — "To whom wilt thou flee for help? and where wilt thou leave thy glory?" Talk about destitution, there are none so destitute as those who have no God.

(C. Garrett.)

There is no virtue more highly and widely esteemed than courage, and no vice more generally detested than cowardice. Courage makes heroes, and amongst the ancients, at least, heroes were second in rank to the gods. Amongst savage tribes it may almost be said that courage is the only virtue, for without it all other good qualities lose their value, and where it exists it covers a multitude of sins. This is also the virtue which children most admire. Jack the Giant Killer is a story of perennial interest to the children. Nor is hero-worship a thing unknown among older people.

I. THE NEED FOR COURAGE. Courage is the quality which enables one to resist. It is the power to say "No."

II. THE NATURE OF COURAGE. Courage displays itself in many ways. It may be seen on the battlefield, and in the quiet endurance of difficulties in the home. It may be seen in maintaining unpopular opinions amid difficult or dangerous circumstances, or in meeting death with unblanched cheek. What is courage?

1. Courage is not blindness to danger. It is no virtue to be unconcerned in the presence of dangers, about which one is totally ignorant. The greatest courage often goes along with the keenest sense of danger. The young officer who was fighting by the side of an old veteran was surprised to find his face blanched with fear. The young man being reckless of danger himself, asked with considerable surprise, "You are not afraid, are you?" "I am afraid," was the reply; "and if you were half as afraid as I am you would run." Two of our Lord's disciples once displayed the courage of ignorance. When Christ asked them if they were able to drink of the cup which He should drink, and be baptized with His baptism, they readily replied that they were able. They -were unconscious of the greatness of the task to which they were willing to pledge themselves.

2. Courage is a true estimate of dangers. "Knowledge is the antidote to fear." "Courage is equality to the problem before us." Socrates was condemned to drink the hemlock cup because he taught the youth of Athens noble truths about God, which were esteemed by the authorities as heresy. He might have won his life by a recantation, or an apology to his judges. He preferred death, when the executioner brought in the poison cup, the friends who were gathered round him wept, and Socrates alone was calm. He explained to them that he knew it was a dangerous thing to tell a lie; but that it might even be a blessing to die. At least he would not do what he knew to be evil, in preference to suffering what might possibly be evil, or what might even prove a blessing. The lie was the greater danger.

III. MOTIVES FOR COURAGE. The possession of such courage is to be coveted. How is it to be gained? what motive can be found sufficient to inspire one to such acts of bravery?

1. Pity for the oppressed.

2. Consciousness of companionship.

3. Knowledge that the cause is God's.

(R. C. Ford, M. A.)

There is no doubt of the fact that we have all some fears, and that there are moments when we are dismayed, for life stands connected not only with to-day and man, but with God and eternity. The words of our text come to those who are faithful.

I. THE REASONS WHY SOME OF GOD'S PEOPLE HAVE OCCASION AT TIMES TO FEAR AND EVEN TO BE DISMAYED.

1. Our own nature is our enemy. In its depravity, in its ungodliness, the flesh lusteth against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary the one to the other.

2. Then there are these things that surround us, and those people who constitute the world around.

3. Then there is the great enemy. God often teaches us our inability. Is it not a solemn thing to stand in the midst of these enemies with that other world coming., and Christ to be the Judge? Is it not a solemn life when we think of all its responsibilities, if we are not found looking to the true source and finding the true power?

II. THE ENCOURAGEMENT IN THE TEXT.

1. "Fear thou not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God." Do not imagine for a moment that it is your wants that bring to you this succour. The tendency with us all is always to make it our doing. Let us lay aside the thought that we have any power, and remember that from first to last it is all of grace. The first encouragement, then, is found in the Divine presence: "I am with thee."

2. But there is yet a deeper depth. Sometimes the spirit of dismay comes over us. What will be the end? Cast away? What does the prophet tell us in regard to our covenant-keeping God? "Be not dismayed, for I am thy God." Here is the most endearing relationship in the universe! There is not an angel in heaven but feels as he thinks of God that he is all safe. Now it is the same relationship between us and God; nay, it is a more sanctified one, for it is a relationship which exhibits the infinitude of His love, the unspeakableness of His mercy.

3. "I am thy God, I will strengthen thee." One of the finest things that one finds after affliction is when the strength is returning and weakness is departing. There is a gladness and a gratitude in connection with such an experience as this which only those who have been afflicted can know. The downcast ones who are in the depths and ready to perish, ready to faint by the way, in that condition hear a voice; and what does it say to them? "I will strengthen thee."

4. That is not all. "I will help thee." Now this implies one step further. It implies that you and I have a burden, and as we are going through the world we are carrying it; but the burden is too heavy for us. We are tired; we are overloaded, and there is one Traveller by our side who can help us.

5. Then His support is effectual. "Yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness." There is no left-hand work with God; no sinister work; it is all right-hand work with Him. And then all that is with it and all that it introduces is righteousness. I know of no encouragement like this text if we properly appreciate it.

(A. M. Brown, LL. D.)

God can be God and fearless, but we can scarcely be creatures and fearless. Still less is it likely that sinful creatures should be fearless. It is more than the Father looks for under the present mode of our existence. But when the fearful thing is coming down, or when the children see it looming in the distance and are frightened, and they catch the Father's countenance, and see that He is not frightened, it wonderfully reassures the poor children to see a fearlessness on the Father's face. Heaven is full of "Fear nots." And if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, it will break out of your midnight, and up from your deepest valley too, that voice of the Father, the All-in-all.

I. The meaning of the word is that GOD IS OUR ALL-SUFFICIENCY, and not dis-related, but related to us.

II. CONSIDER THE USE THE CHILDREN SHOULD MAKE OF THIS SUFFICIENCY OF THEIR FATHER. See what liberties we take with God's earth — We get stones wherever we like. They are not our stones. And we get gold wherever we like, and we get iron wherever we like, and we get coal wherever we can. I hope the day will come when, even without thought or intention, we shall, from the new nature of our being, take up God as easily as the blade of grass takes up atmosphere and light. Let us enter our home — enter and be comforted, as all helpless things are, to find their source of supply so near. And let us not leave our nest and then fret that our rest is gone, but abide encircled by the everlasting strength.

(J. Pulsford.)

We sometimes speak very lightly of doubts and fears; but such is not God's estimate of them- Our Heavenly Father evidently considers them to be great evils, extremely mischievous to us, and exceedingly dishonourable to Himself, for He very frequently forbids our fears, and as often affords us the most potent remedies for them. "Fear not" is a frequent utterance of the Divine mouth. "I am with thee" is the fervent, soul-cheering argument to support it. Martin Luther used to say, that to comfort a desponding spirit is as difficult as to raise the dead; but, then, we have a God who both raises the dead from their graves and His people from their despair. Saul was subject to fits of deep despondency, but when David, the skilful harper, laid his hand among the obedient strings, the evil spirit departed, overcome by the subduing power of melody. My text is such a harp.

I. WE SHALL NOTE THE TIMES WHEN ITS SWEET STRAINS ARE MOST NEEDED. Occasions when comfort is needed are many; for some there be, who, like the willow, will only flourish in a soil which is always wet with consolation. If their mothers did not bear them with sorrow, like Jabez, they commenced very early on their own account to accumulate a heritage of woe. As John Bunyan would say, they need not be afraid of the Slough of Despond, for they carry a slough within their own hearts, and are never out of it, or it is never out of them. They are plants which flourish best in shady places, among the damps of sorrow. They delight most to dwell in the Valley of Humiliation; and when they are journeying through that peaceful vale, like Mr. Fearing, they could lie down and kiss the flowers, because the place is so suitable to their meek and lowly spirit. There is something sadly weak about this state of experience, though there is also much to admire: these are they whom the Master carries in His bosom, and doth gently lead. More or less, believers need consolation at all times, because their life is a very peculiar one.

1. Yet are there special occasions when the Comforter's work is needed, and one of these certainly is when we are racked with much physical pain. Many bodily pains can be borne without affecting the mind, but there are others whose sharp fangs insinuate themselves into the marrow of our nature, boring their way most horribly through the brain and the spirit: for these much grace is wanted

2. When the trouble comes in another shape, namely, in our relative sorrows, borne personally by those dear to us.

3. When all the currents of providence run counter to us.

4. Some of us know what it is to hear this voice of God in the midst of unusual responsibilities, heavy labours, and great enterprises.

5. Did you ever stand, as a servant of God, alone in the midst of opposition? Have you heard the clamour of many, some saying this thing, and some the other — some saying, "He is a good man," but others saying, "Nay, but he decieveth the people"? Did you never feel the delight of saying, "The best of all is, God is with us; and, in the name of God, instead of folding up the standard, we will set up our banners." If you have ever passed through that ordeal, then have you needed the words, "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God." "Who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass?"

6. We shall want this word of comfort most of all when we go down the shelving banks of the black river.

7. After death, we read in this Word of great events, what shall happen to us; but we feebly comprehend the revelation. Solemnities shall follow which may well strike a man with awe as he thinks upon them. What about that future? Why, faith can look forward to it without a single tremor; she fears not, for she hears the voice of the everlasting God saying to her, "I am with thee." Thus have I mentioned a few of the occasions in which this harp sounds most sweetly. All through life I may picture the saints as marching to its music, even as the children of Israel set forward to the notes of the silver trumpets.

II. We come to you, harp in hand, and pray you DISTINCTLY TO HEAR ITS NOTES. The sweetness of all the notes melt into each other, but now we shall touch each string severally and by itself, and if you have an educated ear you will hear that which will solace your souls. "Fear thou not; for I am with thee." What does it mean?

1. "I am with thee in deepest sympathy." When you suffer, you suffer not a new pang; Christ knew that pain long ago.

2. The Lord is with us in community of interests. That is to say, if the believer should fail, God himself would be dishonoured. Luther rejoiced greatly whenever he felt that he had brought God into his quarrel. "Well," said he, "if it were I, Martin Luther, and the Pope of Rome who had to fight it out, I might well despair; but if it be the Pope against Martin Luther and Martin Luther's God, then woe be unto Antichrist." God is in the quarrel of the man who attacks error; God is in the quarrel of the man who is trying to do good, to reclaim his fellow-creatures from sin, and to establish the kingdom of Christ. Ay, and when you can quote a Divine promise, God is engaged in your affairs, because if He do not keep that promise, He is not true. It is with us as it is with the timid traveller in the Alps, who is attended by a faithful guide. He shivers as he passes under overhanging cliffs, or glides down shelving precipices, or climbs the slippery steeps of glaciers, but if his guide has linked himself with him he is reassured. The guide has said, "You are trembling, sir, but the way is safe; I have passed it many a time with many a traveller as weak as you are. But to reassure you and make you feel how safe you are, see here!" and he straps a rope round the traveller and round himself. "Now," says he, "both of us or neither. We shall both get safely home or neither."

3. The next string of the harp gives this sound, "I am with thee in providential aid." In the old days of the post horses, there were always relays of swift horses ready to carry onward the king's mails. It is wonderful how God has His relays of providential agents; how when He has done with one, there is always another just ready to take his place.

4. God is with us in secret sustaining power. He well knows how, if He do not interpose openly, to deliver us in trouble, to infuse strength into our sinking hearts. I have read of those who bathe in those baths of Germany which are much impregnated with iron, that they have felt after bathing as if they were made of iron, and were able in the heat of the sun to cast off the heat as though they were dressed in steel. Happy indeed are they who bathe in the bath of such a promise as this, "I am with thee!"

5. There is a way by which the Lord can be with His people, which is best of all, namely, by sensible manifestations of His presence, imparting joy and peace which surpass all understanding.

III. MEDITATE MUCH UPON THE SWEETNESS OF THOSE NOTES.

1. The comfort of my text excels all other comfort under heaven.

2. There is all the comfort here that heaven itself could afford. The Manx people have for their motto three legs, so that whichever way you throw them they are sure to stand; but as for the saints, it is impossible for them to be thrown down by misfortune, or even by the infernal powers. We shall stand, for God upholds us. Now divide the words, and view them separately. "I AM." Know you what this meaneth? God is selfexistent, eternal, independent, sitting on no precarious throne, nor borrowing leave to be. It is no other than "JEHOVAH," "JAH," "I AM." who has become the Friend of His people. Note the tense of it — not "I was," not "I shall be," but "I am." We have yesterday, to-day, and for ever, the same great "I am." "I am" — what? "I am with thee," poor, feeble thing as thou art.

IV. Though I have spoken of my text as a harp yielding rarest music, yet IT NEEDS THAT THE EAR BE TUNED BEFORE ITS MUSIC CAN BE APPRECIATED. It is not every man that understands the delights of harmony, even in ordinary music. So there are tens of thousands of men who know nothing at all of what it is to have God with them. Yea, this would be their dread; they would be glad to escape from God if they could.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

To whom are these words spoken? We must not steal from God's Scripture any more than from man's treasury. They were spoken —

1. To God's chosen ones (ver. 8).

2. To those whom God has called (ver. 9).

3. They are God's servants, doing His will (ver. 8).

4. They are those whom He has not rejected from His service, in spite of the imperfections of which they are penitently conscious (ver. 9). To these every honey-dropping word of this text belongs.

I. A VERY COMMON DISEASE OF GOOD MEN — FEAR.

1. This disease came into man's heart with sin (Genesis 3:8).

2. Fear continues in good men because sin continues in them.

3. Fear coming in by sin, and being sustained by sin, readily finds food upon which it may live.

4. If fear finds food within, it also readily finds food without. Poverty, sickness, etc.

5. In certain instances the habit of fearing has reached a monstrous growth.

6. Even the strongest of God's servants are sometimes the subjects of fear (1 Kings 19:4).

II. GOD'S COMMAND AGAINST FEAR. "Fear thou not; be not dismayed." That precept is absolute and unqualified; we are not to fear at all Why?

1. Because it is sinful. It almost always results from unbelief, the sin of sins.

2. It feeds sin.

3. It injures yourself.

4. It weakens the believer's influence and so causes mischief to others.

III. THE PROMISES WHICH GOD GIVES TO PREVENT PEAR AND DISMAY.

1. Many a man fears because he is afraid of loneliness. You are not alone, because God is with you.

2. Men fear they may lose all they have in the world, and they know very well that if they lose their property they usually lose their friends. Your goods may go, but your God will not.

3. Fear sometimes arises from a sense of personal weakness. "I will strengthen thee." God can, if He wills it, put Samson's strength into an infant's arm.

4. Some fear that friendly succour will fail. If the work on which we have set our hearts is God's work, He will send to our aid all the succour we need.

5. Many a child of God is afflicted with a fear that he shall one day, in some unguarded moment, bring dishonour upon the Cross of Christ. This is a very natural, and in some respects a very proper fear. "I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness."

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

It was said of Simpson, the discoverer of chloroform, that his presence in a sick-room half cured his patients. Pain lost half its terror, and seemed to expect its dismission, once he stood by the sick.

(J. A. Davies, B. D.)

"Strengthen," "help," "uphold," a trinity of Divine forces, a triple wall of Divine protection. "If God be for us, who can be against us?"

(J. R. Macduff, D. D.)

When the late Dr. William Anderson lay dying, his friend, Mr. Logan, read this passage to him, and the noble old man at once seized it, and looking at his friend, said with great emphasis, "What a grand staircase that is up which to go to God!"

(C. Garrett.)

If Caesar could say to the fearful ferryman, in a terrible storm, "Be of good cheer; thou carriest Caesar, and therefore canst not miscarry," how much more may he presume to be safe that hath God in his company! A child in the dark fears nothing while he hath his father by the hand.

(J. Trapp.)

Sunday School Chronicle.
Zwingle, in spite of all the machinations of his enemies, went about unharmed. It was as though an unseen bodyguard encompassed him, and his enemies despaired of attaining their end. "God is with me," he said; "and with Him on my side I fear my enemies as little as the crag fears the ocean's foam."

(Sunday School Chronicle.)

Dr. Dale of Birmingham, towards the close of his life, made the following entry in his diary: "Of course, when Sir Andrew Clark was sent for, and — and — came, I understood that my position was regarded as critical. I was too weak, however, to be much moved by it — too weak to find much direct consolation in the eternal springs of strength and joy. God was a kind of background to everything — hardly discerned, but there; this was all."

(Life of R. W. Dale.)

Sunday School Chronicle.
"I go as alone," wrote General Gordon, as he started from Cairo to Khartoum, "with an infinite almighty God to direct and guide me, and I am so called to trust in Him, as to fear nothing, and, indeed, to feel sure of success."

(Sunday School Chronicle.)

I will help thee
I will, I will, I will. Oh, the rhetoric of God! Oh, the certainty of the promise!

(J. Trapp.)

Two persons are spoken of here: "I" and "thee." "I," the person speaking, is our God and Saviour; and "thee," the person spoken to, means everybody who needs His help and seeks it. There are four reasons why Jesus is the best Helper.

I. BECAUSE HE IS ALWAYS NEAR TO HELP. God is always near when people are in trouble. He always could help them if He saw it best. But sometimes He sees good reasons for not helping those who are in need.

II. BECAUSE HE IS ALWAYS ABLE TO HELP.

III. BECAUSE HE IS ALWAYS WILLING TO HELP. He may not always be willing to help us just at the time, or in the way we desire, — that may not be best; but in His own time and way He is always willing to help.

IV. BECAUSE HE IS ALWAYS KIND IN HELPING. There are some people who are willing and able to help others, and who do help them too, but it is done in a very rough manner.

(R. Newton, D. D.)

I. WHO MAKES THE PROMISE? A promise is nothing to me unless I have good security that it will be kept. When a man makes a promise to me that he will do so and so, I value the promise according to his ability and disposition to make it good. If, now, you read from verse 10, you will see who it is that promises help. It is a well-guaranteed promise. He who made you knows all about you. His knowledge of you is even more exact than is the watchmaker's knowledge of the delicate machinery which he takes apart and puts together again.

II. HOW MUCH WE ALL NEED HELP. We begin to need it in many ways as soon as we are born, and we never cease to need it as long as we live.

(J. W. Teal.)

A minister was one day bringing his books upstairs into another room, for he was going to have his study on the first floor, instead of downstairs, and his little boy wanted to help father carry some of the books. "Now," said the father, "I knew he could not do it, but as he wanted to be doing something, to please him and to do him good by encouraging his industry, I told him he might take a book and carry it up." So away he went, and picked out one of the biggest volumes — Caryl on Job or Poli Synopsis, I should think — and when he had climbed a step or two up the stairs, down he sat and began to cry. He could not manage to carry his big book any farther; he was disappointed and unhappy. How did the matter end? Why, the father had to go to the rescue, and carry both the great book and the little man. So, when the Lord gives us a work to do, we are glad to do it, but our strength is not equal to the work, and then we sit down and cry, and it comes to this, that our blessed Father carries the work and carries the little man too, and then it is all done and done gloriously.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

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