“From Strength to Strength”

“How amiable are thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts! My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God” —Psalm 84:1,2

DAVID SPENT MANY hours meditating upon the Lord and his prophetic Word. Being occupied as a shepherd from his youth, David had the time and solitude necessary for contemplation. Working close to nature both day and night made him aware of the great Creator’s wisdom, power, and love, manifested in the usefulness and beauty of the earthly home planned and executed by God for man’s pleasure. The psalmist’s writings reflect his love for Jehovah for all these mighty works. Likewise the Lord’s dear saints of this age also spend as much time as possible in meditation upon God’s Word resulting in a growing appreciation of Jehovah and a continuing endeavor to become more and more like him.

In Psalm 84:2,3 (from the Leeser Translation, and vss. 1,2 from King James) we read David’s words: “How lovely are thy dwelling-places, O Lord of hosts! My soul desired, yea, it also longed for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh shout with joy unto the living God.” Every soul that hungers and thirsts after righteousness longs to be separated from the evil of this present world, and to enter that state which will obtain when God’s promised kingdom is abroad upon the earth, when all things in heaven and earth will praise the Lord—when all mankind will have communion with God as Adam enjoyed it before his disobedience and fall from favor. How great a shout of joy will go up unto God from the hearts and voices of every man, woman, and child when the restitution work is complete, and when God will receive the praise and glory due his holy name!

Verse 4 (3 in the King James Translation) is also more understandable when read from the Leeser Translation. (It is unlikely that swallows or sparrows would have made nests in the altars of the Tabernacle, as suggested by the King James Translation, since they were almost constantly in use.) Leeser says: “Even as the sparrow hath found a house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young:—(have I found) thy altars, O Lord of hosts, my King, and my God.”

This is a prophecy representing the experiences of the Head and the body of the Lord’s annointed, and not only an account of the personal experiences and feelings of the prophet. Both the Brazen Altar and the Golden Altar of the Tabernacle picture the rest and the peace of the saints through their faith in the sacrifices offered thereon. The Brazen Altar in the Court speaks of that great ransom sacrifice of Christ; and the Golden Altar in the Holy, pictures, not only God’s acceptance of our Lord’s sacrifice for sin, but our acceptance as joint-sacrificers with him—accepted through the merit of Jesus’ sin-offering on our behalf.

“Happy are they who dwell in thy house: they will be continually praising thee.” (vs. 5) These words express the joy of all who now, or ever, shall enjoy a place in the Father’s house. And the sixth verse tells us: “Happy is the man whose strong confidence is in thee, (all) whose heart reflecteth upon the paths of righteousness.” The happy journey of the consecrated toward their heavenly home is expressed so beautifully in these words. While here we read of the joy of those trusting in God, verse seven advises us of the fact that, although joyful in the Lord and his blessed promises for the future, the present time is still one of conflict—of disappointment and sorrow—the valley of the shadow of death—in which, nevertheless, the holy ones may sing for joy and rejoice evermore looking forward to future blessings: “Passing through the valley of weeping, they will change it into a spring: also the early rain covereth it with blessings.” What an expressive symbolism of the blessings to come at the hands of Jesus, the Savior of mankind, and his bride, the church, when the fruits of their labors are enjoyed by all the willing and obedient. The dry and barren desert will be changed into a spring!

For all the world of mankind, life under the permission of evil has been a valley of weeping; it is a desert that is barren and dry. It has been very difficult for all, but particularly for those who walk in the Master’s footsteps. They are living sacrificial lives, and endure many trials and temptations, as the deceiver, the Adversary, attempts to draw them from their chosen pathway.

Although our earthly experiences differ greatly one from another, the Lord permits each of them for our individual spiritual development. At the same time he makes every provision for our needs so that, by relying upon him, we may be successful in our Christian walk. God provides the necessary spiritual refreshment; he revives us when we are weary and discouraged, and as we learn to live and lean upon him completely, he supplies our needs more and more completely.

The early rain (vs. 7, Leeser, or 6 in King James) seems well to represent the Pentecostal blessing of the Holy Spirit upon the church, which quickly followed the presentation by our Lord to Jehovah of the merit of his great offering for sin. The latter rain will be the outpouring of the Millennial blessings after the great time of trouble is past. Rain is an apt picture of that which is needed for life and for luxuriant growth.

“They [those faithful ones who have consecrated their lives to walk in Jesus’ footsteps] go from strength to strength, each of them appeareth before God in Zion.” (vs. 8) Here we read of the time when the progressive journey toward Zion has been accomplished, Zion being the goal of the bride of Christ. She is said to be on Mount Zion with her Lord during the Millennial Age. (Rev. 14:1) This is an individual walk, not a congregational one, despite the fact that we are walking along the same pathway, with the same goal, and with the same Lord as our helper and guide. Verse eight is the inspiration for the title of this article: “From Strength to Strength,” emphasizing the individual growing process whereby our faith becomes stronger with each preceding victory of faith.

Progress along our journey is made as we grow in the spiritual fruits and graces. How do we grow stronger and more like our Master? Let us consider some of the sources of our strength. Surely we receive encouragement and stimulation from our gatherings together at conventions; in our regular class study meetings; in testimony meetings together; singing praises to our Heavenly Father and his blessed Son; in listening to the audio and video taped discourses of brethren; of reading the Word, and the helps the Lord has provided at this end of the age. We have the scripture, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, … and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Rom. 10:25), because our Father knew how much strength and benefit we would receive from this association.

We increase in strength through our individual prayers—fellowship and communion with God; individual study of his Word and all the helps available to us today; as well as lifting up our hearts and our minds in song to him at any time. And we have many opportunities to share with those of like precious faith in the witness work. All of these activities strengthen us and build us up in spiritual things. Time made for including any and all of the activities mentioned is time well spent on things eternal, as we have all, no doubt, experienced.

“O Lord God of Hosts, hear my prayer: give ear, O God of Jacob. (Thou) our shield, behold, O God, and look upon the face of thy anointed. For better is a day in thy courts than a thousand (elsewhere): I would rather choose to wait at the threshold of the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. For a sun and a shield is the Lord God; grace and glory will the Lord give: he will not withhold any good from those that walk with integrity. O Lord of hosts, happy is the man that trusteth in thee.”—vss. 9-13, Leeser

Here the saint of God is represented as waiting at the threshold during the present life for admission into the Father’s house. To such the Lord God is a sun and a shield! As a sun to enlighten us he shines upon our pathway and into our hearts. He fills us with a sense of his greatness and perfection; and as a shield he protects us from all of the fiery darts of the Wicked One. So our desire and earnest endeavor should be, more and more, to trust in him for grace and strength to be worthy to dwell in the Lord’s house.

Even during the difficult life chosen by the true Christian, he continues to walk in the narrow path joyously, endeavoring to be pleasing to the Heavenly Father, and ultimately found faithful. The follower of Christ finds cause to rejoice no matter what the outward conditions may be. They know that all things are working together for their good because this is promised in God’s word. (Rom. 8:28) The Apostle Paul admonishes in Philippians 4:4 to “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.” These words reflect the very essence of Christian living. Rejoicing, however, with sobriety—not boisterously—is appropriate. Loud demonstrations are not necessary, but we should be able to rejoice in the Lord “at all times”!—Wilson’s Diaglott

Let us consider some of the promises of God’s Word that help us to appreciate our Creator and find cause to rejoice. In Psalm 19:3,4, Leeser Translation, we read, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handy-work. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech, there are no words, their voice is not heard. [Nevertheless] Their melody extendeth through all the earth, and to the end of the world their words.”

These words take our minds back to the time of Creation, and to the magnificence of the heavens. Gazing into the glories of the midnight sky is just breathtaking. Particularly when you are away from the dazzling lights of cities, the stars are so bright and so beautiful that it makes us think of David’s words here in Psalm 19. How silently but magnificently the heavens declare the glory of God!

Today scientists are still learning more and more about the universe. They send out space satellites with telescopes to probe the skies; and from these satellites, which are not encumbered with the atmosphere surrounding the earth, they have a clearer vision to study the universe. Much of what they formerly believed concerning the universe has had to be rejected. Writings and interpretations from earlier studies were limited, but each decade they can probe further into space, discovering more wonders.

It is interesting to note that nothing that has been discovered by scientists can take away from the glory of God, nor his greatness in creating the earth or of the vastness and grandeur of the universe! This gives us foundation for an even greater conviction that the Biblical account of Creation is the truth, and it describes God’s great wisdom and power necessary to accomplish his grand designs.

Again, David, the sweet singer of Israel, also wrote these words of praise: “O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens. … When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him?”—Ps. 8:1-4

This is still another method of going from strength to strength. We see in Creation God’s Wisdom, Justice, Love and Power displayed! As we consider the four majestic attributes of our God, we know we can lean upon him to carry us through this time of testing and learning upon which we are now embarked, and come off “more than conquerors through his strength.”—Rom. 8:37

Going from strength to strength in our daily walk means that we will live closer to the Lord. The more we realize the divine direction, the more we shall make use of the means he has provided for our strengthening. Let us rejoice in the Lord that we have the privilege of walking in the narrow way, faithfully making use of all his grand provisions, and going ‘from strength to strength’.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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