Psalm 3

The Tempter to my soul hath said,
“There is no help in God for thee:”
Lord, lift thou up thy servant’s head
My glory, shield, and solace be.

Thus to the Lord I raised my cry ;
He heard me from his holy hill ;
At his command the waves roll’d by;
He beckon’d, and the winds were still.

I laid me down and slept ; — I woke ;
Thou, Lord, my spirit didst sustain ;
Bright from the east the morning broke,
Thy comforts rose on me again.

I will not fear, though armed throngs
Compass my steps, in all their wrath ;
Salvation to the Lord belongs ;
His presence guards his people’s path

James Montgomery, Songs of Zion

For there stood by me this night the angel of God. Acts 27:23

For there stood by me this night the angel of God.
Acts 27:23

Tempest and long darkness, coupled with imminent risk of shipwreck, had brought the crew of the vessel into a sad case; one man alone among them remained perfectly calm, and by his word the rest were reassured. Paul was the only man who had heart enough to say, “Sirs, be of good cheer.” There were veteran Roman legionaries on board, and brave old mariners, and yet their poor Jewish prisoner had more spirit than they all. He had a secret Friend who kept his courage up. The Lord Jesus despatched a heavenly messenger to whisper words of consolation in the ear of his faithful servant; therefore he wore a shining countenance, and spake like a man at ease.

If we fear the Lord, we may look for timely interpositions when our case is at its worst. Angels are not kept from us by storms, or hindered by darkness. Seraphs think it no humiliation to visit the poorest of the heavenly family. If angel’s visits are few and far between at ordinary times, they shall be frequent in our
nights of tempest and tossing. Friends may drop from us when we are under pressure, but our intercourse with the inhabitants of the angelic world shall be more abundant; and in the strength of love-words, brought to us from the throne by the way of Jacob’s ladder, we shall be strong to do exploits. Dear reader, is this an hour of distress with you? then ask for peculiar help. Jesus is the angel of the covenant, and if his presence be now earnestly sought, it will not be denied. What that presence brings in heart-cheer those remember who, like Paul, have had the angel of God standing by them in a night of storm, when anchors would no longer hold, and rocks were nigh.

“O angel of my God, be near,

Amid the darkness hush my fear;

Loud roars the wild tempestuous sea,

Thy presence, Lord, shall comfort me.”

Charles H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening

THE AGES TO COME

“THE AGES TO COME!” What are they to be to me? How long are
they to last?

We pass into the new year asking these questions; for our days
move on with speed; our life is brief; its end is getting nearer; and
we seem sometimes to get a glimpse of the burying-place where we
may soon be laid, and almost to read our names upon the stone,
with the text beneath: “As for man, his days are as grass; as a flower
of the field, so he flourisheth: for the wind passeth over it, and it is
gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.” (Psalm 103:15,
16.)

Very near has death come to us during the past year. Loud have
been his knocks at our door. His trumpet has given no uncertain
sound. Six hundred sleepers in one minute sink beneath the wave,
as the blast seizes one of our strongest war vessels and plunges it
into the deep as if it were a child’s toy. Some of these sleepers were
ready. From their sinking vessel the eternal life-boat carried them at
once to their desired haven, and the ship was at the land whither
they went (John 6:21); for them that sleep in Jesus will God bring
with Him (1 Thess. 4:14). Others might not be ready, and no time
was left them to prepare; not even the brief time of common shipwreck;
not even the few hours given to the thief upon the cross.

Prepare then, O man, to meet thy God!

The governor of Paris lately requested the German commander to
give notice of the time when the bombardment of the “joyous city”
would begin. The German refused. No warning is to be given. In an
unexpected moment, when Paris is perhaps least expecting it, the
circle of dormant fire will blaze out, and the awful death-shower
commence. So, O man, shall it be with thee. In vain thou askest for
some warning, some intimation of thy coming foe. There shall no
sign be given, but the signs that are common to all; and these,
perhaps, thou art at this moment slighting. It is never too late,
indeed, to look to the brazen serpent, so long as the living eye can,
even dimly, see the glorious Healer. It is never too late to betake
thyself, with all thy sins, to the gracious “Son of the Highest,” so
long as thou art on this side of the deep gulf. It is never too late,
whilst thou art here, to wash in the blood, to put on the
righteousness, to receive the pardon, to drink of the water of life.

But how unlikely is it, that they who have forgotten these things in
life will remember them when the darkness of a dying hour is over
them. How difficult, even if they remember, to deal with divine
things, to realise the grace of the Gospel, to apprehend the peace
and healing of the cross, amid the pain, and weariness, and
weakness, of their dissolving frame!

The ancient heathens erected no altars to death amid their many
altars to their gods, known or unknown. They knew the last enemy
was inexorable. He would not be entreated. He would not be bribed.
He would not spare. Make sure, then, O man, of the life beyond
death, by believing in Him who is “Life eternal.” So shall death be
transformed from an enemy to a friend. It is said that one of old,
seeing an artist painting death as a skeleton with a huge iron scythe,
said, “Friend, should you not rather paint him as an angel with a
golden key?” To the man who knows not the cross, and the
forgiveness finished there, death must be the skeleton with the
scythe. To the man who has found life and peace in believing the
divine testimony to the great Sin-bearer and His work, death is the
angel with the golden key. Which of these two is He to be to you, O
fellow immortal? “He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the
second death.” Is that your hope? Is that a text which you expect to
place beneath your dying pillow? Or, if you are to have no pillow but
the heaving wave, or, it may be, the red turf of the battlefield, shall
you be able to take such a text to rest upon, when called hence,
perhaps in a moment, to receive the eternal judgment?

Horatius Bonar, How Shall I Go to God?