In every thing give thanks—1 Thes. 5:18.
Having the condition of heart which is in fellowship with the Lord and fully devoted to the doing of His will, the Lord's people not only implore His blessing at the beginning of each day, and present their thanks at the close of each day, but in all of life's affairs they seek to remember that they have consecrated their all to the Lord, and by faith look up to Him in all the affairs of life; and in proportion to the importance of their undertakings they, by faith, realize the association of God's providence with all the interests of life and give thanks accordingly. This is the will of God concerning us; He wills that we live in such an attitude of constant regard for His will and for His blessing; and He wills it in respect to us because it will be the condition most favorable to our progress in our narrow way, and which will best assist us in making our calling and election sure—Z '03, 25 (R 3135).
The noble natural man recognizes the appropriateness of gratitude for benefits; yet frequently, because of our shortsightedness in overlooking the fact that our untoward experiences, though working earthly disadvantages, are means of great spiritual blessings to us, we fail to give thanks for them. These, as well as toward experiences, should be regarded as blessings calling upon us to render thanks to the Lord. All things work together for good to them that love God. Therefore let us give thanks for all things—the hard and the easy, the joyful and the sorrowful, the toward and the untoward. All of them are love letters and tokens from our dear Father and are intended to work our truest, highest good—P '34, 110.
Parallel passages: Eph. 5:20; Col. 1:12; 2:7; 3:15-17; 4:2; Psa. 50:14, 15; 105:1, 5; 106:1; 107:1, 2, 15, 22; Joel 2:26; Phil. 4:6; 1 Tim. 2:1; 4:3, 4; Heb. 13:15.
Hymns: 324, 9, 19, 37, 55, 199, 219.
Poems of Dawn, 131: Count Your Blessings.
Tower Reading: Z '02, 12 (R 2935).
Questions: Have I been thankful in everything this week? How? Why? With what results?
DO not count, when day is o'er,
Daily loss from life's rich store;
But the gains, however small,
Count them daily, one and all:
Every sweet and gracious word,
Every pleasant truth you've heard;
Every tender glance and tone,
Every kindly deed you've known;
Every duty nobly done,
Every rightful victory won—
Treasure all, and count them o'er
As a miser counts his store.
But if bitter word or thought
Have a bitter harvest brought;
If some foeman hath assailed you,
Or the friend most trusted failed you;
If unkindness and untruth
Have to you brought saddest ruth,
Blot the score without delay—
Keep no record of the day.
Keep no record of the care,
Loss and cross we all must bear;
On the page of memory write
Only what is fair and bright.
Let all evil things go by;
Still, with brave endeavor, try
Simple joys to multiply.
Thus you'll learn how large a sum
Will with faithful reckoning come.
Long as after cloud and rain
Blessed sunshine comes again,
Long as after winter's gloom
Summer roses bud and bloom,
Long as we have with us here
One sad heart that we may cheer,
Long as love gilds sorrow's cross,
Life's rich gain o'erpays the loss.
"He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head." —Psalm 110:7.
OUR TEXT refers directly to our Lord Jesus, and secondly to all the members of the church, his body, each one of whom must share his experiences—walking in his steps and drinking of the same "brook," if they would in due time share with their Lord in his exaltation, to glory, honor, and immortality; this exaltation being represented in our text by the expression, "lift up the head." In ancient times as at present, human language was full of figures and symbols, water representing truth, and drinking of water representing appropriation of the truth, namely, wisdom (See Prov. 18:4); and lifting up the head, exaltation.—See Gen. 40:13.
Our text is given as the reason for the glorious blessings and honors predicted of the Christ and described in the preceding verses of the same psalm. Let us notice these. The first verse is directly applied to our Lord by the Apostles (Acts 2:34; Heb. 1:13; I Pet. 3:22), and our Lord applied the same to himself. (Matt. 22:44.) A figure of speech is again employed, descriptive of our Lord's relationship to the Father in Glory; he is not literally seated beside him at his right hand, but he has been honored with a superior station, a position above all others—he specially is at the right hand of divine power. Nor does his second coming hinder or change this relationship; at his second coming he will still be at his Father's right hand as he himself, declared (Matt. 26:64.) At the Father's right hand during the Millennial Age, the Father, through him, shall subdue all things to himself—put down all opposing authority and insubordination; blessing those who come into heart-harmony with his kingdom of righteousness, and destroying from the earth all who after fair knowledge of good as well as evil, choose the evil. These will be considered as followers of Satan instead of followers of God, and the second death, we are specifically told, is for the Devil and his messengers, servants.—Matt. 25:41.
The description of the Millennial Kingdom is continued by the Prophet, who declares, "Jehovah shall send the rod of thy strength out of (or through) Zion"—primarily the Church, the "Bride," the "body" of Christ; the rod or sceptre or authority shall be exercised through the Church, by the Lord Jesus the Head of the Church, under the divine commission,—"Rule thou in the midst of thine enemies." This is not in any measure fulfilled yet. Jesus when in the flesh did not rule in the midst of his enemies, and the Church has not thus ruled; on the contrary, both he and his followers have been subject to the powers that be, and the violent have taken the kingdom by force and have despitefully used the Head and the body members. (Matt. 11:12.) The enemies are not yet made the footstool of the Lord, Zion has not yet been glorified, and Messiah's sceptre or authority has not yet gone forth therefrom. On the contrary we are still in "this present evil world," we still wait for the completion of the elect Church that together she may be glorified with her Lord—enter into His glory—when he, the due time having come, "shall take unto himself his great power and reign;"—then the nations will be angry, etc., (Rev. 11:18) and divine wrath will come upon them; and following that "day of wrath" shall come the promised blessing, upon all who shall demonstrate under the good opportunities of that Millennial Kingdom, that they love righteousness and hate iniquity.
This latter class—those who during the Millennial age, during that day of his presence, shall become the Lord's people (I Cor. 15:23)—are referred to by the Prophet when he says,—"Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power." The day of his power is not yet here, as the poet declares: "Wrong and evil triumph now." The "Prince of this world" still rules and is "god of this world" as the Apostle asserts; because our Lord has not yet taken to himself his great power nor begun his reign. The people who shall be willing in the day of his power are not, therefore, the saints of this Gospel age: these latter are only the "first fruits unto God of his creatures" and are willing before the day of his power—willing to hear the Shepherd's voice and to follow him; willing to sacrifice all and to lay down their lives in his service, for the brethren.
Evidently, therefore, those referred to as "Thy people" who shall be willing in the day of Christ's power, the Millennial Age, are those whom our Lord represents as his "sheep," in the parable of the sheep and the goats. They are those who after the Son of Man shall be seated on the throne of his glory, and after his Church is seated with him in his throne, and after the judgment or trial day for the nations, the world, is ended,—after the knowledge of the Lord has filled the earth, after it has gradually proved the savor of life unto life, or death unto death to the world, shall be found truly "his people,"—willing, nay, glad to serve him when they know him and understand his will. As his sheep they will desire to follow in the way of righteousness, truth and holiness; as his people they will not need to be coerced further, but learning the truth in the day of his power, when the adversary is bound and when the eyes of their understandings are opened, they will be willingly his people. And all who shall not then become willingly his people will be esteemed his enemies, "goats," angels or messengers or servants of the adversary, and be destroyed with him in the Second Death.
"In the beauties of holiness, from the womb of the morning thou hast the dew of thy youth." That is to say, as morning after morning comes forth fresh and vigorous as its predecessor, as the sun grows not old and feeble, so with Messiah, and so also with those accepted as the members of his body, they will have perpetually the freshness and vigor of youth,—glory, honor, immortality, the divine nature—this is part of the blessing that is promised, and which will result, our text tells us, from drinking of the brook in the way.
Having told us of the kingly power and authority of Messiah, it is appropriate that the Lord through the prophet explains to us that Messiah's priestly office is to be also of a higher type than the earthly,—that his priest and kingly offices are to be blended and united as was typified in Melchisedec, who was both king and priest. Our Lord when on earth was not of the Aaronic priesthood, nevertheless, Aaron was his type, and the sacrifices which Aaron performed were typical of the "better sacrifices" performed by the antitypical priest, in the laying down of his own life and in the consecration and sacrifice also of all those who are his during this Gospel age, who thus "fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ." By and by our High priest will have completed all that was illustrated in the Aaronic type, he will have finished the Day of Atonement sacrifices, and then the glory promised will follow,—instead of a suffering priesthood there will be "a royal priesthood"—a reigning priesthood.—I Pet. 2:9; Rev. 5:10.
Then follow assurances that this glorious priest-king will prosper, that his reign of righteousness will be successful; the assurance being that God will be at his right hand supporting him and bringing matters to a successful issue,—smiting down kings and wounding the heads over many countries, and subduing all things mightily. The great day of trouble coming is very generally referred to as "the day of Jehovah," the day of His wrath, although it will be under the direct supervision of our Lord Jesus, for the purpose of introducing and establishing his Millennial dominion.
These, foregoing, descriptions of the greatness of Messiah and his kingdom, lead up to our text; and it, as before suggested, is given as the reason why so great blessings, honors, and dignities and authority are conferred. "He shall drink of the brook in the way; therefore shall he lift up the head—[be exalted.]"
LEARNING OBEDIENCE BY THE THINGS SUFFERED.
As we look into the Word for testimony upon the subject, we find that our dear Master did indeed learn certain lessons of experience; as the apostle declares, he "learned obedience in the things which he suffered." Not that he had ever been disobedient to the Father's will, but that his testing at the time that he came into the world to do the Father's will was of a character and of an intensity such as never before had been brought to him nor any other creature. His obedience attested his love to the Father, attested his faith in the Father's love and justice; and in all these things he fully approved himself of the Father; he overcame every trial, he drank frequently of the brook of wisdom, in connection with these lessons. Moreover, it was expedient that he, to be the great High Priest of mankind, should be touched with a feeling of their infirmities, and therefore that he should be tempted in all points like as his followers are tested—along the line of personality, of self will; along the line of worldly ambition; along the line of faith and trust; along all the lines of obedience to God's plan. He drank deeply of the cup, and rejoicingly said, "The cup which my Father hath poured for me, shall I not drink it?"—John 18:11.
And now we come to a point of special interest in our text; for we perceive that if it was necessary for our glorious Lord from the heavenly courts to drink of the brook of experience, and gain wisdom by the things he suffered, endured, and thereby to demonstrate his confidence in God, it is equally necessary that all the members of his body should likewise drink of the brook in the way, if they would hope to share with the Lord in the Kingdom blessings—glory, honor and immortality, the divine nature.
Our dear Master's time for drinking at the brook is past, yet the lessons and encouragements therefrom are still before us in the Scripture records. It is now our time to drink of the brook of experience,—to learn the lessons that are necessary to our preparation for the Kingdom. It is not enough that we have tasted of the brook of experience, that we have learned something of obedience, that we have endured some trials, that on some occasions we have learned obedience through the things we have suffered; we must continue drinking until we can gladly say—Father, thy will, not ours be done! If we drink not of the brook in the way we shall not share in the glory to follow.
Some of the Lord's people not discerning the matter in its true light, are disposed to pray that they may be spared from trials and temptations; whereas they ought to understand that the trials and difficulties of the consecrated are witnesses of the spirit that they are children of God, and are under his training and preparation for a glorious share in the Kingdom, to which he has called us. Because if we are not tried we cannot be "overcomers"; if we do not suffer with him, and learn to endure hardness as good soldiers, and to esteem our trials and difficulties from the right standpoint, and to count it all joy when they come to us, knowing their object and knowing the Lord's sustaining grace and strength, we will not be "fit for the Kingdom."
Others interpret the trials of life as evidences of divine disfavor, and fail to realize that they are designed of the Lord to shape and polish our characters and thus to work out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Because of their misunderstanding they are profited little by many of life's experiences through which they are called to pass—they feel the rod, but not discerning the loving purpose behind it, they fail to learn the lesson intended. Let us become more and more awake, more and more alive to the things of God,—to the facts of the case as he presents them to us in his Word—to our call to joint-heirship to the Kingdom, and incidentally to the drinking of the brook of experience and wisdom in the way that will fit and prepare us for the glories to follow.
Drinking of the brook does not, however, imply that we sorrow and are disconsolate above others; on the contrary, those who drink of the brook properly are full of joy. As the apostle declares, they are enabled in everything to give thanks unto God,—in life's difficulties, as well as in its pleasures—even as he again says, Count it all joy when ye fall into divers difficulties, knowing that under divine providence they will work out for you a greater blessing. (James 1:2.) It is the world, which must also share its part of life's difficulties, that sorrows as those who have no hope, or who have false hopes. The apostle points out side by side the world's condition and the Church's condition under the trials and difficulties of this present evil world, saying, "The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain until now, waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God." Then he explains the position of God's people, begotten of his spirit, who are walking in the Lord's footsteps, and drinking of the brook in the way, saying, "We ourselves also groan within ourselves waiting for the adoption, to wit, the deliverance of the body"—the body of Christ, the Church. This hope, which we have, gives a changed coloring and silver lining to every dark and troubled subject which comes to us in common with mankind; so that inspired by draughts from the brook we can sing in the house of our pilgrimage, even though as yet we must also groan, because we are in this imperfect tabernacle, this unsatisfactory mortal body.
We want to ask the Lord, our Master and Head, that he will bless us more and more, as with fresh zeal we shall endeavor faithfully and rejoicingly to drink of the brook of life's experiences, and gain wisdom therefrom that will fit and prepare us for his service by and by; and which will the better fit and prepare us for his service also in the present time, and enable us by his grace to show forth his praises in all the trying circumstances and vicissitudes of life so as to glorify him in our bodies and spirits which are his. Let us, as we drink of the brook, take a lesson from the little birds, which when drinking repeatedly lift the head as though giving thanks to God. Let us continually give thanks to our Lord for every taste of life's experience, for every lesson, for every trial—appropriating them all to our spiritual development. The time for lifting up our heads in glory is nearing, too, and already the Master directs that seeing (with the eye of faith) the evidences of their approach, we may lift up our heads and rejoice, knowing that our redemption draweth nigh.—Luke 21:28.