February

February 1

There shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you must go, for you have not passed this way before.

Joshua 3:4

The ark going down into the Jordan pictured our blessed Savior going into the dark waters of judgment for us. He had to go on alone, none could share with Him in the work of making atonement for sin. Just as the people of Israel waited until there was a space of two thousand cubits between them and the ark, and did not enter the river bed till the floods were rolled back, so we, who had no part in the atonement, now obtain the benefit of that death which Jesus endured alone in order that we might be saved. We could only look on in awe-struck silence as He took our place and bore our penalty.

      Alone He bore the cross,

      Alone its grief sustained.

      His was the shame and loss,

      And He the victory gained;

      The mighty world was all His own,

      Tho’ we shall share His glorious throne.

—Swain

February 2

The manna ceased on the day after they had eaten the produce of the land.

Joshua 5:12

Manna was food for the wilderness. It represented Christ come down from heaven to sustain the souls of His people as they pass through this scene of desolation. He took the lowly place with them and as they feed on Him they are enabled to make progress on the pilgrim road. But the old corn of the land speaks of the risen Christ. The grain fell into the ground in death. In resurrection He becomes the food of His people as they enter by faith into their heavenly inheritance. He sits now exalted on the Father’s right hand, where faith beholds Him as the mighty victor. Occupied with Him, His saints become like Him, and become strong in the Lord and the power of His might.

      Rise, my soul! Behold, ‘tis Jesus.

      Jesus fills thy wondering eyes;

      See Him now in glory seated,

      Where thy sins no more can rise.

      God now brings thee to His dwelling,

      Spreads for thee His feast divine,

      Bids thee welcome, ever telling

      What a portion there is thine.

—J. Denham Smith

February 3

Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt, but I wholly followed the Lord my God.

Joshua 14:8

The greatness of the character of Caleb is expressed in his name. He was not of double heart. Mixed motives had no place in his life. He had settled it years before that he was to be entirely the Lord’s, and ever after he lived up to his name as the “whole-hearted.” Undoubtedly, the cause of much of our failure today is that we are so lacking in this spirit of devotion to the will of God. Of old, the disciples were exhorted that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord (Acts 11:23). Jesus declared, “If…your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light” (Matthew 6:22). When we sanctify the Lord God in our hearts and give Him the place of supreme authority all controversy is at an end, and the life is entirely under His control. This is the path of victory and blessing. No one can be successful in his Christian life who is endeavoring to have God and the world share his heart (1 John 2:15).

      All for Jesus, all for Jesus!

      All my being’s ransomed powers.

      All my thoughts and words and doings,

      All my days and all my hours.

      Let my hands perform His bidding.

      Let my feet run in His ways,

      Let my eyes see Jesus only,

      Let my lips speak forth His praise.

—Mary D. James

February 4

Not a word failed of any good thing which the Lord had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.

Joshua 21:45

What a testimony to the faithfulness of God! He fulfilled His word to the letter, whether in grace or in government, as He brought His people through the wilderness and into the promised inheritance. As they looked back they could say, “All that God promised He has accomplished.” So shall it be with those who now know Him as revealed in Christ Jesus. When we have ended our pilgrimage and we survey the way we have come from the vantage point of our eternal home in the Father’s house, we shall praise and adore Him. He saved us and guided us to an assured habitation, and His Word has been our confidence through all the journey.

      God, the Lord, shall never fail thee,

      He thy cause will undertake;

      All the way His hand shall hold thee,

      Faithful love can ne’er forsake.

      Rest then on His own sure promise,

      For His word He cannot break;

      To green pastures, by still waters,

      He will lead for His name’s sake.

      Everlasting joy awaits thee,

      When the earthly journey’s o’er;

      Waiting for thee in the glory

      There are pleasures evermore.

—F. Buckley

February 5

And they gave Hebron to Caleb, as Moses had said. Then he expelled from there the three sons of Anak.

Judges 1:20

Hebron means fellowship or communion. It speaks of that happy state which is the inheritance of the man of faith who, by overcoming all difficulties, puts fellowship with God above every other good, and refuses to be kept out of its enjoyment by the hosts of evil. The world rulers of this darkness, the wicked spirits in the heavenlies seek to hinder the believer from the present possession of the privileges which are his in Christ Jesus (see Ephesians 6:12). Of old the Anakim under the command of Arba had held this citadel and called it the city of Arba. But faith expelled the giants who defied the will of God and turned a scene of idolatrous rites and wicked revels into a place for communion with God. These powerful enemies typified the wicked spirits against which the believer is called to battle today. No foe can withstand him who dons the whole armor of God and defies them in the power of the Holy Spirit.

      Stand not in fear, thy adversaries counting,

      Dare every peril, save to disobey;

      Thou shalt march on, all obstacles surmounting,

      For I, the Strong, will open up the way.

      Wherefore go gladly to the task assigned thee.

      Having My promise, needing nothing more

      Than just to know, where’er the future find thee,

      In all thy journeying I go before.

—Frank J. Exley

February 6

Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, was judging Israel at that time. And she would sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the mountains of Ephraim. And the children of Israel came up to her for judgment.

Judges 4:4-5

In the book of Judges we have the story of Israel’s repeated failures and God’s marvelous intervention in grace, giving leader after leader to deliver His people from the deserved consequences of their own sins, when they turned to Him in repentance. He loved them too well to allow them to prosper in their rebellion against His word, but, on the other hand, He was ever ready to heed their cry when they humbled themselves before Him.

Ordinarily, it was some man of peculiar strength or ability who came to the front in the day of need and distress. But in chapters 4 and 5 we get the record of a woman judge, Deborah, raised up in sovereign grace to do more than a man’s part in giving victory to the oppressed people of God.

When we consider the times in which she lived, the story of this devoted and God-fearing woman seems all the more remarkable. Hers was a peculiar spiritual energy, coupled with sound common sense, which together made her the outstanding leader of her day. And through all her varied experiences she remained a modest and self-effacing woman, a wife and mother in Israel, exercising her divinely-given prerogatives in a manner at once wise and blameless. No trace of vanity, no arrogance or imperiousness are manifested in her behavior.

      “Lord, help me,”—so we pray,

      “Help me my work to do;

      I am so ignorant and weak;

      Make me more wise and true.”

      “Lord, help me do Thy work,”

      We pray when wiser grown

      When on the upward way

      Our feet have farther gone.

      “Lord, do Thy work through me.”

      So when all self we lose;

      His doing and His work,

      and we The tools His hand can use.

February 7

Awake, awake, Deborah! Awake, awake, sing a song! Arise, Barak, and lead your captives away, O son of Abinoam!

Judges 5:12

A faithful woman, who knew God and dared to risk all upon His word, meant more to Israel in this time of crisis than all else beside. God ever delights to honor faith. He can be depended upon never to fail those who put their confidence in Him. We today are not, as Christians, called to conflict with the armies of flesh and blood. Our warfare is with the unseen Satanic hosts and the worldly spirit of the age, but it is still true that we conquer our foes as we resist them in the spirit of Deborah—faith in the living God. Among the overcomers there are many heroines as well as heroes who have had the courage to attack entrenched evil of all kinds with the courage of a Deborah. Many a faltering Barak too has been roused to valiant service by the encouragement of some devoted woman who knew the mind of God and was unafraid in the face of gravest danger.

      There must be thorns amid life’s flowers, you know,

      And you and I, wherever we may go,

      Can find no bliss that is not mixed with pain.

      No path without a cloud. It would be vain

      For me to wish that not a single tear

      Might dim the gladness that you hold so dear.

      I am not wise enough to understand

      All that is best for you. The Master’s hand

      Must sometimes touch life’s saddest chords to reach

      Its sweetest music, and His child to teach

      To trust His love, till the long, weeping night

      Is all forgotten in the morning light.

      Trust, trust Him, then, and thus shall good or ill

      Your trustful soul with present blessing fill.

      Each loss is truest gain if, day by day

      He fills the place of all He takes away.

—Message, Ballarat

February 8

But the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon; then he blew the trumpet, and the Abiezrites gathered behind him.

Judges 6:34

It is literally, “the Spirit of the Lord clothed Himself with Gideon.” His history exemplifies the importance of obedience to the Word of God. The man of faith dares to move at God’s command even though, for the moment, the difficulties seem to be insurmountable, and the possibility of victory very remote. Gideon learned to know God in secret; therefore he ventured everything upon His Word in public.

The call of this young man came not when he was daydreaming, but when he was busy at his accustomed tasks on the farm of his father. He was threshing wheat to hide it from the Midianites when the angel of the Lord appeared to him and gave him his commission to be the leader and deliverer of Israel. In “the irresistible might of weakness” Gideon accepted the trust, and began his work by destroying the image of Baal in his own community, for true service for God must begin at home.

      Tis easy when the morning

      Appears at last to view

      To praise thy strong Redeemer

      Who burst the bondage through,

      But ‘tis the praise at midnight

      That gives the foe alarm,

      That glorifies thy Saviour,

      And bares His strong right arm,

      A conqueror thou wouldst be,

      Yea, more than conqueror thou,

      If thou wilt shout in triumph

      And claim the victory now;

      The prison-doors will open,

      The dungeon gleam with light,

      And sin-chained souls around thee

      Shall see Jehovah’s might.

February 9

Then he divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put a trumpet into every man’s hand, with empty pitchers, and torches inside the pitchers. And he said to them, “Look at me and do likewise; watch, and when I come to the edge of the camp you shall do as I do.”

Judges 7:16-17

Surely no other soldiers ever went to battle so strangely armed. Each man took an earthen pitcher, in which a torch was hidden, “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us” (2 Corinthians 4:7). The lamp in the pitcher set forth divine power working in frail humanity. In the other hand each man held a trumpet, which was to be used only as indicated at the appointed time. (See 1 Corinthians 14:8.)

All was quiet in the Midianite camp, when in the middle of the night the sleeping host was awakened by the blare of three hundred trumpets followed by the crashing noise of the same number of earthen pitchers. On every side flashing torches were seen, which might well suggest that they were surrounded by a great host. Gideon’s little force had been divided into three groups of a hundred each, under their respective captains, and all directly responsible to their ardent and patriotic chief. As the battle cry rang out, the Midianites were terrified, not knowing what to expect next. The terror of the unknown, always worse than reality, had gripped the foe and rendered them powerless for any concerted defensive or offensive action.

      Be strong!

      We are not here to play, to dream, to drift,

      We have hard work to do, and loads to lift;

      Shun not the struggle; face it. Tis God’s gift.

      Be strong!

      It matters not how deep entrenched the wrong,

      How hard the battle goes, the day, how long.

      Faint not, fight on! Tomorrow comes the song.

—Maltbie D. Babcock

February 10

The Philistines took him and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza. They bound him with bronze fetters, and he became a grinder in the prison.

Judges 16:21

Samson’s sad failure because he did not judge himself before God and put to death the members of his body (as Paul exhorts the Colossians to do, Colossians 3:5) is intended to be a lesson to all who seek to serve the Lord. His life might have ended very differently if he had set the will of God above his own fleshly desires. Yielding to sensuality, he became a castaway. God allowed him to be set to one side. Blind and fettered, he became the servant of the very people from whom he might have delivered Israel had he walked with God. In darkness and bondage he learned his lesson, but it was too late for him to be given the place again of the deliverer of Israel.

      Whatever dims thy sense of truth

      Or stains thy purity,

      Though light as breath of summer air,

      Count it as sin to thee.

February 11

There was a relative of Naomi’s husband, a man of great wealth, of the family of Elimelech. His name was Boaz. So Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, “Please let me go to the field, and glean heads of grain after him in whose sight I may find favor. “ And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.”

Ruth 2:1-2

There is a charm about the inspired Hebrew idyl, the book of Ruth, that cannot but appeal to every one of literary taste, whether its divine inspiration be recognized or not. But when we receive and believe it as part of the God-breathed Word, we see added beauties which the natural mind cannot discern. It is, emphatically, an unfolding of the story of redemption. Through Boaz, the kinsman-redeemer (Leviticus 25:25), Ruth, the stranger, is brought into the family of God and recognized as one of the covenant people. The great-grandmother of King David, she has her place in the ancestral line of our Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:5-6). By natural birth the Moabite was barred from the congregation of the Lord unto the tenth generation (Deuteronomy 23:3). By grace Ruth found an honored place among the mothers of Israel.

Jehovah had made special provision for “the poor and the stranger” (Leviticus 19:9, 10). By humbling herself in order to avail herself of that provision, Ruth attracted the notice of Boaz, and so this lovely Bible romance came to a happy conclusion.

      Grace, ‘tis a charming sound,

      Harmonious to the ear.

      Heaven with the echo shall resound

      And all the earth shall hear.

      O let Thy grace inspire

      My soul with strength divine;

      May all my powers to Thee aspire

      And all my days be Thine.

February 12

And Hannah prayed and said, “My heart rejoices in the Lord; My horn is exalted in the Lord. I smile at my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation.

1 Samuel 2:1

The story of Hannah and her son Samuel is one of perennial freshness and beauty, and is designed of God to be an encouragement and to some degree an example to all mothers. From the primeval promise as to the Seed of the woman bruising the serpent’s head, motherhood has ever been hallowed and safeguarded in the Word of God. Because the eternal Son of God chose to come to earth as a little helpless babe, to all outward appearance dependent on a mother’s care, all mothers have a special place in the divine order. Who can tell the far-reaching effects of a godly mother’s prayers, counsel, and example? The most hardened men melt when reminded of a good mother, no matter how far they have strayed from her precepts.

Surely, if anyone on earth needs really to know God and to live for Him before others, it is the mother of children, whose eternal destiny depends so largely upon their early training. As we study the story of Hannah’s yearning, her prayer, her promise, and her faithfulness, it should draw out all our hearts to that God who has said, “As one whom his mother comforts, So I will comfort you” (Isaiah 66:13).

      Hush, my dear, lie still, and slumber:

      Holy angels guard thy bed,

      Heavenly blessings without number

      Gently falling on thy head.

      How much better thou’rt attended

      Than the Son of God could be,

      When from heaven He descended,

      And became a child like thee!

      Mayest thou live to know and fear Him,

      Trust and love Him all thy days;

      Then go dwell forever near Him,

      See His face and sing His praise.

—Isaac Watts

February 13

I have told him that I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knows; because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them.

1 Samuel 3:13

In Eli, the high priest in Hannah’s day, we see a thoroughly good man who, however, was prone to misjudge others and yet was weak when it came to disciplining his own family. The fact that in his last days he was “old and heavy,” suggests that he was over-indulgent in regard to his personal habits, the pleasures of the table evidently having a strong appeal which he was not able to resist. In chapters two and four, we get enough information concerning him to enable us to form a reasonably accurate picture of his character. Coupled with real concern for the things of God was lack of ability to master his appetites and to “command his children and his household after him” (Genesis 13:19) in such a way as to glorify God in family life. Such men are often met with in Christian service, who possess many amiable qualities but are sadly lacking where they should be strong.

It is ever important to remember that the grace of God does not set aside the divine government. There are responsibilities that flow from grace which cannot be ignored with impunity. Lawlessness and legality are both opposed to grace. But a recognition of the divine authority and careful subjection to the government of God should flow from the knowledge of His unmerited favor. Fatherly discipline is expected of all who head up Christian households. Weakness here is a sign of low thoughts of the holiness and righteousness which are becoming in all who draw nigh to God.

      Thy heavenly grace to each impart,

      All evil far remove,

      And shed abroad in every heart

      Thine everlasting love.

      Oh, still restore our wandering feet

      And still direct our way;

      Till worlds shall fail, and faith shall greet

      The dawn of endless day.

February 14

Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, “If you return to the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths from among you, and prepare your hearts for the Lord, and serve Him only; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.

1 Samuel 7:3

Even before the death of Eli it became evident that Samuel was his divinely-appointed successor as judge in Israel. And so, after the disconcerting experiences of the Philistines in connection with the ark of the covenant led them to send it back to the people whose glory it was, we find the young prophet coming immediately to the front. Through his ministry there was a revival of interest in the worship of Jehovah and a true return to God on the part of many. God works through human instruments and He always has the man ready when the hour of blessing strikes. The history of the great awakenings throughout the centuries, first in Israel and then in the church of the new dispensation, is largely the story of the chosen servants prepared by God and subject to His will, who have been raised up to call an erring people to repentance and to bring them back to their only proper allegiance. Of these, Samuel stands out as one of the greatest of the whole army of the reformers.

      My Saviour, by His powerful word,

      Hath turned my night to day;

      And all those heavenly joys restored

      Which I had sinned away.

      Blest Lord, I wonder and adore,

      Thy grace is all divine;

      Oh, keep me, that I sin no more

      Against such love as Thine.

      Oh, speak that gracious word again,

      And cheer my drooping heart;

      No voice but Thine can soothe my pain,

      And bid all fear depart.

February 15

The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.

1 Samuel 13:14

It was in his confident trust that David was a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). He was in himself a sinner like all others (Romans 3:23), but he repented bitterly of his failures, which brought him so much unhappiness, and which entailed grave dishonor upon the sacred name so dear to him. He rested at last upon “the sure mercies of David” (Isaiah 55:3), that is, the divine promises, and his songs of joyous confidence in the God of his salvation have become the models for all true praise and worship. They have been loved by both pious Jews and devout Christians throughout all the centuries since he sang them in Judea so long ago.

      Thou Holy One of God!

      The Father rests in Thee;

      And in the savor of that blood

      That speaks to Him for me,

      The curse is gone—through Thee I’m blest,

      God rests in Thee—in Thee I rest.

      The slave of sin and fear,

      Thy truth my bondage broke;

      My willing spirit loves to bear

      Thy light and easy yoke;

      The love that fills my grateful breast,

      Makes duty joy, and labor rest.

      Soon the bright, glorious day,

      The rest of God shall come!

      Sorrow and sin shall pass away,

      And I shall reach my home!

      Then, of the promised land possessed,

      My soul shall know eternal rest!

—J. G. Deck

February 16

So Samuel said: Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king.”

1 Samuel 15:22-23

Saul’s life, or at least his official history, began well and gave promise of a most successful and brilliant career, but it ended in bitter disappointment. He has been rightly called “The man after the flesh.” As such, he possessed many admirable traits and at the start he seemed to be an ideal king. But his goodness was like the morning cloud that soon passes away. It was only the attractiveness of nature. We would like to believe that when “God gave him another heart” (1 Samuel 10:9), it means he was born again. But it seems rather to imply that he was given a new outlook on life, with new courage and new ambitions to fit him for the high office to which he was appointed. Apparently he never knew God in the true sense, as Samuel did before him, and as David did, who succeeded him. His life should be a solemn warning to those who would make a fair show in the flesh, emphasizing the importance of true repentance and genuine faith.

      Be this the purpose of my soul,

      My solemn, my determined choice,

      To yield to Thy supreme control,

      And in Thy kind commands rejoice.

      Oh, may I never faint or tire,

      Nor wandering leave Thy holy ways;

      Father, accept my souls desire,

      And give me strength to live Thy praise.

February 17

Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul…Then Jonathan and David made a covenant because he loved him as his own soul.

1 Samuel 18:1, 3

The beautiful record of the friendship between Jonathan, the heir to the throne of Israel, and David, the outlawed hero whom the people revered, is one of the most interesting and affecting stories in all literature. The Greek tale of Damon and Pythias is perhaps its nearest counterpart in secular literature.

It illustrates in a remarkable way that heart devotion to Christ, “great David’s greater Son,” which should characterize every truly converted soul. David’s victory over Goliath typifies Christ’s triumph over “him who had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14). It was this that won Jonathan’s heart and caused him to love David as his own soul. He should have challenged the giant, but David took his place. Henceforth the youthful victor had the preeminence in the mind of the prince-royal, who stripped himself to honor the deliverer of Israel (1 Samuel 18:1-4).

      Jesus, these eyes have never seen

      That radiant form of Thine;

      The veil of sense hangs dark between

      Thy blessed face and mine.

      I see Thee not, I hear Thee not,

      Yet art Thou oft with me;

      And earth hath ne’er so dear a spot

      As where I meet with Thee.

      Yet though I have not seen, and still

      Must rest in faith alone;

      I love Thee, dearest Lord, and will,

      Unseen, but not unknown.

      When death these mortal eyes shall seal,

      And still this throbbing heart,

      The rending veil shall Thee reveal,

      All glorious as Thou art.

—Ray Palmer

February 18

Jonathan took off the robe that was on him, and gave it to David, with his armor, even to his sword and to his bow, and his belt.

1 Samuel 18:4

It was as though he said, “What things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for” David, the one chosen of God to deliver Israel. In this Jonathan portrays the attitude of soul which all should manifest toward our Lord Jesus Christ who has overcome for us. He had the power of death in order that He might deliver those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. Jonathan’s actions said, “Nothing is too good for David, for him who took his life in his hand to set us free from the dread Philistine who had terrorized Israel for so long.” Surely we who owe all to Him who has wrought so much greater a deliverance should withhold nothing from Christ, who has brought us into “this grace in which we stand.”

      I had broken the law, and was sentenced to die;

      I knew I was guilty, had naught to reply,

      And my conscience tormented me sore;

      When my Friend came in view, showed His hands and His side,

      And told me that once in my stead He had died,

      That I might have life evermore.

      Such, then, is my Friend. Oh, I wish I could sound

      The praise of His name to earth’s uttermost bound!

      I would sound it again and again!

      Do you ask who it is that has stilled my complaints?

      Oh, listen, ye sinners! Oh, praise Him, ye saints!

      It is JESUS, the SAVIOUR OF MEN!

—R.H.T

February 19

So the two of them made a covenant before the Lord. And David stayed in the woods, and Jonathan went to his own house.

1 Samuel 23:18

Jonathan loved David and was devoted to him, but he never separated himself from the house of his ungodly father to throw in his lot entirely with the friend he esteemed so highly. This verse tells of the last time the two friends met. David continued in the place of rejection. Jonathan went back to his own house and was destined to die on Mount Gilboa when Saul was overthrown. His dream of association with David in the coming day when the kingdom would actually be his, was never fulfilled. The lesson for us is a salutary one. We are called to put the claims of Christ above all others-even above the closest natural ties. Our reward hereafter will answer to what we have suffered by identification with our rejected Lord now.

      No time for trifling in’ this life of mine;

      Not this the path the blessed Master trod.

      But strenuous toil; each hour and power employed

      Always and all for God.

      With ceaseless blessings from my Father’s hand

      My earthly path is every moment strawed;

      God ever thinks of me; should I not be

      Always and all for God?

—A. B. Simpson

February 20

David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.

1 Samuel 30:6

It was a dark day in David’s life, probably the most trying ordeal he had been called upon to pass through. Because of the disaster that had befallen the families of his devoted followers, even they questioned his wisdom and righteousness and threatened to stone him as though he were responsible for all that had taken place. Self-defence was useless. It would have been a waste of effort to explain. So he turned from man to God and found encouragement there. It is a great thing to put God between the soul and adverse circumstances. He never fails the one who confides in Him. David’s confidence was soon rewarded and his men realized as never before that God was with him.

      One there is above all others,

      Well deserves the name of Friend;

      His is love beyond a brother’s:

      Costly, free and knows no end.

      Which of all our friends to save us,

      Could or would have shed his blood?

      But our Jesus died to have us

      Reconciled in Him to God.

      Oh, for grace our hearts to soften!

      Teach us, Lord, at length to love;

      We, alas! forget too often

      What a Friend we have above.

February 21

Should Abner die as a fool dies?

2 Samuel 3:33

It was David who asked the question as he lamented the treachery of Joab in slaying Abner at the very time that the former captain of Saul’s host had yielded allegiance to him whom God had made king in Saul’s place. And the answer to the question must be in the affirmative. Abner did die as a fool dies. He had slain Asahel the brother of Joab, much against his own will, but in order to save his life. He was guilty of manslaughter. Joab was the avenger of blood. Hebron was a city of refuge. Abner was entitled to asylum there, but he left the place of safety to go out and discuss matters with Joab who treacherously slew him. Thus he died because he failed to avail himself of the protection that God had provided for him. Alas, how many there are who take the same foolish course! Christ is the only city of refuge today. Those who flee to Him find shelter from the avenger. Apart from Him there is no safety.

      Hail, sovereign love, which first began

      The scheme to rescue fallen man!

      Hail, matchless, free, eternal grace,

      Which gave my soul a Hiding Place!

      Should sevenfold storms of thunder roll,

      And shake this globe from pole to pole,

      No thunderbolt shall daunt my face,

      For Jesus is my Hiding Place.

February 22

Now, O Lord God, the word which You have spoken concerning Your servant and concerning his house, establish it forever, and do as You have said.

2 Samuel 7:25

This is faith’s response to the promises of God, “Do as You have said.” Nothing can turn aside that which God has planned. He works everything according to the counsel of His own will. He gives quietness none can disturb. He never promises one thing and does another. His Word is unchangeable and His covenant is everlasting. Overwhelmed with the assurances of blessing not only for the present but for a long time to come, David bows his head in the presence of God and puts his Amen to what He has covenanted. He who confides in the sure Word of the Lord will never be put to shame.

      I know not by what methods rare,

      But this I know, God answers prayer.

      I know that He has given His Word,

      Which tells me prayer is always heard, And will be answered, soon or late;

      And so I pray, and calmly wait.

      I know not if the blessing sought,

      Will come in just the way I thought,

      But leave my prayers with Him alone,

      Whose will is wiser than my own,

      Assured that He will grant my quest.

      Or send some answer far more blest.

February 23

So David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die.”

2 Samuel 12:13-14

In considering the subject of forgiveness of sins we need to remember that Scripture presents it in several different aspects. There is, first of all. the forgiveness which God gives to all who believe upon His Son (Acts 10:43; 13:38-39). This is perfect and complete, and is never repeated. The basis of it is the work of the cross, the blood of Christ shed for our redemption (Ephesians 1:7). He who comes to God as a sinner and puts his trust in the Lord Jesus passes from death to life (John 5:24) and is now a child of God, justified before His throne and accounted clear of every charge (Romans 8:33-34). His responsibility as a sinner having to do with the judgment of God is over for eternity. But now a new responsibility begins: that of a child having to do with his Father. If the child sins he loses fellowship and needs restorative forgiveness. This is granted when he comes to his Father in contrition, confessing his failure (1 John 1:9). There is a third and very important aspect of forgiveness which we may call governmental. In the government of God there are certain consequences of a temporal (and often a physical) character, which follow the commission of sin. These consequences go on for years, or God may in mercy remit them, if we walk humbly before Him. In David’s case most serious governmental consequences followed long after Nathan assured the penitent king the Lord had put away his sin.

      My sins forgiven, my fears removed,

      I know that Thou hast ever loved.

February 24

I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.

2 Samuel 12:23

David’s confidence as to life after death and heavenly reunion shines out brightly here. He knew the child was with God. He knew that he, in spite of his sad failure, was also a child of God, and so he could look on in faith to a day when he would find the babe again and never be separated again. What consolation does this assurance afford in the time of bereavement! Our loved ones who have died in Christ are not lost to us. They are with Him in paradise. It is not according to God’s plan that they should return to this earth life to communicate with us, but we know that when we too are absent from the body we shall be present with the Lord, and shall find again our loved ones gone before.

      And those dear loved of ours we miss so sorely,

      Do they not, too, all glad, expectant, wait?

      Till down the steeps of light, athrob with glory,

      They’ll throng—that shining host—from Heaven’s gate!

      We’ll meet them in that Resurrection morning!

      We’ll find each dear, familiar, longed-for face;

      We’ll know them e’en though radiant and transfigured;

      Once more we’ll clasp our own—oh, gift of grace!

—Mrs. Donald A. Day

February 25

For we will surely die and become like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. Yet God does not take away a life; but He devises means, so that His banished ones are not expelled from Him.

2 Samuel 14:14

The wise woman of Tekoah made her appeal to sentiment rather than to righteousness, therefore the return of Absalom was the prelude to a greater disaster than had yet befallen David. Many imagine that God acts as the king did, and brings back His banished without the settlement of the sin question. But His holy nature forbids this. He has indeed devised means to recover the sinner, but it has been at the cost of the life of His own beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Through His expiatory work on the cross God can be just and the Justifier of him that believeth on Jesus.

      He laid on Him the sinner’s guilt

      When came the appointed day,

      And by that blood on Calvary spilt

      Takes all our sins away.

      How glorious, blessed, and complete

      That finished work must be

      When God with man delights to meet.

      There He has met with me.

February 26

You are worth ten thousand of us.

2 Samuel 18:3

This was the estimate his devoted followers put upon David their king. To them his life meant so much that they would not have him venture into battle lest they be deprived of his leadership and his shepherd-care. It was their love and regard for him that led to such concern for his safety. In this David portrayed Him who is to His redeemed “the altogether lovely,” the “fairest of ten thousand.” His worth is beyond all comparison. All of the sons of earth together are not deserving of Him. And yet, in grace, He gave Himself for us. In order that sinners might be saved He sacrificed Himself. He, the infinite One, stooped to death to save poor lost sinners such as we.

      Hast thou heard Him, seen Him, known Him?

      Is not thine a raptured heart?

      Chief among ten thousand own Him,

      Gladly choose the better part.

      What has stript the seeming beauty

      From the idols of the earth?

      Not the sense of right or duty,

      But the sight of peerless worth.

      Not the crushing of those idols,

      With its bitter void and smart:

      But the beaming of His beauty,

      The unveiling of His heart.

February 27

Then Mephibosheth said to the king, “Rather, let him take it all, inasmuch as my lord the king has come back in peace to his own house.

2 Samuel 19:30

Mephibosheth was the lame son of Jonathan to whom David had shown the kindness of God for his father’s sake (2 Samuel 9). When David fled from Absalom he was unable, because of his infirmity, to go with his benefactor and was lied about and his motives in remaining behind misrepresented by his servant Ziba to whom David gave all the property of Mephibosheth because of the deception. Returning at last in triumph Jonathan’s son came to greet him and soon cleared himself of the charges of disloyalty. Sorry that he had mistrusted him, David gave instructions that Ziba and he should divide the land. In his answer Mephibosheth showed that David himself meant more to him than all his benefits. His heart was satisfied to have the king at home in peace. So Christ can satisfy every yearning of the heart, and all else counts as naught compared with Him.

      Take the world but give me Jesus,

      Let me have His constant smile,

      Then throughout my pilgrim journey

      Faith shall cheer me all the while.

February 28

He shall be like the light of the morning when the sun rises, a morning without clouds, like the tender grass springing out of the earth, by clear shining after rain.

2 Samuel 23:4

In such language David, in his last words, portrayed the coming to reign of “a righteous ruler over men, a ruler in the fear of God,” who is to spring from his house in due time and set up the kingdom which will never be destroyed. We are waiting still for His glorious advent. He came once in lowly grace to bring in redemption. He will come again to bring in the promised glory. What a relief it will be, after the long centuries of man’s misrule when the Lord Jesus shall show in His own times who is that blessed and only Potentate, King of kings and Lord of lords!

      Lamb of God, Thou soon in glory

      Wilt to this sad world return,

      All Thy foes shall quake before Thee,

      All that now despise Thee mourn.

      Then shall we at Thine appearing

      With Thee in Thy kingdom reign;

      Thine the praise and Thine the glory,

      Lamb of God for sinners slain.

—J. G. Deck

February 29

God said, “Ask! What shall I give you?”

1 Kings 3:5

Does He not know far better than we do what is good for us? Is it not then needless to come to Him with our requests? He who so reasons overlooks the fact that it is God Himself who bids us ask and who tells us, “Ye have not because ye ask not.” It is clear from this scripture that He has blessings prepared for us which He loves to give, but which will be withheld until we request them. He would have us realize that we have to do with a living God. When we go to Him in prayer and ask Him to give what is on our hearts—of which others know nothing—and then He opens His hand and gives so freely and so generously we have a positive demonstration that prayer Is more than a formal religious exercise. We have reached the ear of God and He has answered in His love and wisdom.

      My Father, this I ask of Thee;

      Knowing that Thou wilt grant the plea—

      For this, and only this, I pray.

      Strength for today—just for today

      I do not ask a lifted load,

      Nor for a smooth and thornless road;

      Simply for strength enough to bear

      Life’s daily burdens anywhere.

—E. E. Rexford