Tuesday, October 13, 2009
WAITING AT WISDOM'S GATES
"Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors."
In the Scriptures, no more than two classes of people are declared to be in the world. The one class is called "the blessed of the Lord," and the other "the cursed of the Lord," or "the people of God's curse."
This latter class contains all the "vessels of wrath fitted to destruction"; all "the generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet are not washed from their filthiness"; all the "generation of vipers that cannot escape the damnation of hell"; in short, all "whose names are not written in the Lamb's book of life," who are not among those whom Jesus has "redeemed unto God out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation."
The former class, to which the characters spoken of in the text belong, contains all who are "chosen by God the Father in Christ before the foundation of the world, that they should be holy and without blame before Him in love"; all whom He "predestinated to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace wherein He has made them accepted in the Beloved; in whom they have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace" (Eph. 1:3-7); all whom the Lord the Spirit "quickens into spiritual and eternal life" (Eph. 2:1); and all to whom Jehovah says, "I have loved you with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn you" (Jer. 31:3).
Of both these classes, or of the characters which make up these two distinct families, the Holy Spirit has given in His Word plain and striking descriptions. He has drawn their likenesses with His Divine and unerring hand, and has clearly separated the sheep from the goats, "the chaff from the wheat," and "the precious from the vile." In the text we have exhibited to us the portrait of a blessed character, an heir of God, and a joint-heir with Christ. His features are drawn from the life by the Spirit of life with the pencil of Divine Truth, and happy are we if we can trace any of these features in the fleshy tables of our hearts, and discover any conformity to the image of Jesus in our souls. May it be our happiness to feel that we are of the "blessed of the Lord," while attending to the description of the blessed man of whom Wisdom speaks. May "the light of life" shine upon the Word, and shine into our hearts, that although we may only see through a glass darkly, we may be enabled to hear the still small voice of the Lord saying to our souls, "Unto you is the word (and power) of this salvation sent."
"Blessed is the man who hears Me, watching daily at My gates, waiting at the posts of My doors."
The first thing to be attended to in endeavoring to enter into these words, is to understand who is the speaker. By the context we find that it is one whose name is "Wisdom," one who is holy, omniscient, omnipotent, and eternal; one who was "before all things, and by whom all things consist"; who, from everlasting, "from the beginning, before the earth was, was with the Lord, as one brought up by Him; who was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him, rejoicing in the habitable parts of His earth, and having His delights with, or His affections set upon, the sons of men." In short, the speaker in my text is clearly the same with Him of whom it is written, "Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6): "Christ, the power of God and the Wisdom of God unto them which are called both Jews and Greeks" (1 Cor. 1:24).
Now this Divine, almighty, and all-wise Person is the promised Prophet of whom Moses wrote—Jehovah the Redeemer, who teaches those whom He calls to profit, and leads them in the way wherein they should go. He is here exhibited to us as a wise and affectionate mother, in which character He was well known to His people (Isaiah 49:15; 66:13), giving instruction to her children, and encouraging them to be "patient continuance in well-doing." Immanuel Jesus, says to all the elect family, "Hearken unto Me, you children; for blessed are those who keep My ways, Hear instruction and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed is the man that hears Me, watching daily at My gates, waiting at the posts of My doors."
By none but those who esteem themselves to be "fools" and "simple ones" is the teaching of Wisdom really valued. The wise and prudent of this world, the self-sufficient Pharisees, the unhumbled professor of the Gospel, agree in despising and counting it as a thing of nothing. But Wisdom makes all her blessed children to know and feel their great need of her Divine instruction; she causes them to hear her voice, and to turn at her reproof; she pours out her Spirit unto them, and makes known to them her words (Proverbs 1:23); the entrance (or opening) of which gives light and understanding to the simple (Psalm 119:130). But does Wisdom speak with an audible voice? Can the ears of the body catch the sound, and the natural understanding comprehend her words? No! Wisdom's voice is audible only to the new creature, which hears it in the impressions that she makes upon the heart, and in the mysterious leadings of her providence. It is "with the heart man believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." "When You said, Seek My face, my heart said unto You, Your face, Lord, will I seek."
But when may a man be said to have heard the voice of Wisdom? When does he give evidence of having received her Divine impressions, her heavenly and powerful operations, through the Spirit, in his heart? When a man is made to feel that he is in the hand of the holy, just, and sin-avenging Jehovah, against whom he has sinned; when his transgressions and iniquities are set before him in the light of God's countenance; when he feels himself to be justly condemned (by the law which he has broken) to the second death, and to the endurance of the wrath of God forever and ever. When the depravity, deceitfulness, and desperate wickedness of his heart is discovered to him, and he is left to cry in the bitterness of his soul, "Woe is me, for I am undone; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty"; when, like the leper, he covers his lip, and goes forth crying, "Unclean, unclean," and puts his mouth in the dust, if so be, there may be hope; when like Hezekiah, he turns his face to the wall, and weeps sore in secret before the Lord; when a sense of his darkness, ignorance, impotency, and unprofitableness, makes him cry "O Lord, I am oppressed, undertake for me"; when he finds all human cisterns to be broken, and that vain is the help of man; when he feels that he is shut up and cannot come forth; when a strong conviction of the ability of Jesus to save and heal him is in his heart, and he cries unto Him to deliver him from going down to the pit; when nothing short of the Lord the Spirit's application of the love, blood, and righteousness of Jesus to his heart and conscience will satisfy him; and the spirit of grace and supplication is poured out upon him, enabling him to pour out his soul before God, to acknowledge the iniquity of his transgression, to sue for mercy, to beg for pardon, teaching, wisdom, light, and power, and to crave for one smile, one look of love, one word from Christ's lips, more than for his necessary food. I say, when he has experienced these things, he has heard more than the voice of natural conscience; more than the word of man; more than the letter of the oracles of truth. He has heard the voice of the Lord, which is powerful and full of majesty, that breaks the cedars in Lebanon, and makes the hinds to calve.
As one who was dead and in his grave, he has heard the voice of the Son of God, and has been quickened by Him (John 5:25). He has heard the words of Wisdom: her voice has sounded in his soul, and has produced this wonderful change; and to him these words now apply, "The ear that hears the reproof of Wisdom shall abide among the wise." Happy, says Wisdom, is the man that is in such a state; yes, "Blessed is the man that hears Me."
Again. When he who has climbed in over the wall, that has taken up a profession of religion without feeling its power, whose religion has hitherto been "feeding upon ashes," and who has never known the strait gate and narrow way, is awakened by the solemn feeling that "that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit, and that except a man be born from above, he cannot see or enter into the kingdom of God"; when the sluggard awakens from his slumber, and the man that was asleep upon the top of the mast has his eyes opened to see his danger, and his heart and mouth opened to implore assistance, when the Spirit Jehovah has blown upon the bosom, and all its glory withers away; when natural knowledge of Divine truth, formal prayer, mock spirituality, feigned love, and presumptuous confidence become "a heap and desperate sorrow"; when examining himself whether he be in the faith, and trying himself by the test of God's Word, his faith is found to stand not in the power of God, but in the wisdom of man, his hope to be a false one, his love only fleshly and excited feelings, his zeal a spark from the fire of his own kindling, his wisdom folly; when he sees Tekel written upon his forehead and he trembles lest he should be lost after all his profession; when he cannot find that God has begun a good work in him, and yet lifts up his voice and entreats the Lord to have mercy upon him, and lead him in the way everlasting; when his spirit is broken with grief and sorrow, his strength has failed him and is gone, his beauty is turned into corruption, his sweet smell becomes a stink, and his girdle a rent; when, under these feelings, he is constrained to sit alone and keep silence, to separate from those he once walked with, and to esteem those to be the excellent of the earth that he once despised; when he feels the vanity of all teaching but Divine teaching, the folly of all wisdom which comes not from "the Spirit of Wisdom," and the abomination of all religion that is not planted in the heart by God's own hand; when he besieges the throne of grace with fervent petitions that he may not go on deceiving and being deceived, but that he may know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent; that he may have godly sorrow bestowed upon him, to work in his soul repentance not to be repented of; and that he may have the fear of God, which is the beginning of wisdom, put into his heart, with faith, hope, and love, a tender conscience, godly sincerity, truth, uprightness, meekness, and humility. Then he may be said to have heard the still small voice of Wisdom, to have heard her rod, and who has appointed it. He has then the features of a "blessed" man; "Blessed is the man that hears Me."
But there are other ways in which the blessed man hears the voice of Wisdom. "My people," says the Lord, "are bent to backsliding." And there is no blessed man who is not sensible of the truth of this declaration. Wisdom speaks to her backsliding children, and makes them know that they have committed two evils: in forsaking her, the fountain of living waters, and hewing out to themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, which can hold no water. Thus, when he who has backslidden in heart from Wisdom's ways, who has got entangled in the snares of his sinful heart, the world that lies in wickedness and the father of lies; when he who has "mingled himself among the people," and has become as "a cake not turned," unsavory to the world, and burdensome to the church, lukewarm, carnal, and careless; when he to whom neither heavenly things nor earthly things afford satisfaction; when he who has not heart for the former, and is condemned and unhappy in the latter; when such a one begins to feel the error of his way, to bemoan himself, to look upwards, and confess his sin to the Lord; to loathe himself and to cry "Turn me, and I shall be turned"; to long for the snare in which he is held to be broken, to be enabled once more to feel the Lord to be near; to be permitted to draw near unto Him without alarm, weariness, or aversion; to walk in His ways, to rejoice in His smiles, and to tremble at His frowns; to delight himself in God, to seek His glory; when he "accepts the punishment of his iniquity," "smarts under his wounds," groans under his hardness, roars like a bear, and mourns sore like a dove; when he is brought to lie in the dust, covered with shame, and is sometimes a little cheered by a word of encouragement for a moment resting upon his drooping spirit, producing softness, contrition, self-abasement, and greater desire to be permitted to touch the hem of Wisdom's garment; when his conscience no longer lets him do violence to it without striking "a dart through his liver," and every backward step adds "grief to his sorrow"; when he is constrained to attend to and to obey the commands that are laid upon his heart, although it mortifies his pride and debases him in the sight of man so to do; when, though his prayer seems to be shut out from the Lord, and a cloud is upon the Throne of Grace, he yet calls, cries, and shouts, nor can give Wisdom any rest until she hears and answers; then he hears her voice, and Wisdom, sooner or later, makes him feel that "blessed is the man that hears" her.
Thus, then, Wisdom's voice is heard in conviction of sin, in the breaking down and rooting up of false religion, and in the convincing of the backslider that his ways are crooked and bitter. But has she no voice to declare where are her footsteps in providence, and her ways in love, mercy, grace, and faithfulness? Has this gentle, affectionate, and wise mother no kind words for her children, no promises, no consolations for her burdened and mourning family? She has! She does not use the rod alone; she does not only wound, kill, and bring down; she has words of healing, words of restoring, words of deliverance, words of gracious instruction, of tender faithfulness. In providential trials she often causes her blessed children to feel and confess that there was a needs-be for the affliction. She calls them to her feet, to make known their wants, and puts words into their hearts that they may plead with her and prevail. The blessed Spirit enlightens their eyes to see her smiles in the parting of the clouds, and sometimes to discern her good will where, to reason, there is no trace of it.
Many have found, and still find, that seasons of temporal calamity are made by Wisdom, the way of entrance to her chambers, and the way of approach to her bosom. Greater nearness to her, more dependence upon her almighty arm, more confidence in her mercy and goodness, a deeper sense of her power to deliver, and of the fullness of her blessed words, are more frequently found in adversity than were felt in prosperity. Something secret, but strong, keeps the blessed man looking to his gentle mother for help and protection, something causes him to take shelter under her outspread wings; and although unbelief would sink him with despondency, something is communicated to him which holds him up, and constrains him to say, "I will trust You, though You slay me." He believes that he will be extricated from his difficulty, but how, he cannot tell. He feels that he cannot fall, but he sees not how he can stand. He believes that assistance will be afforded but he cannot guess from what quarter it will come. Here he often hangs, like a balance blown upon by the winds; sometimes the scale of faith and hope is the more weighty, and sometimes that of fear and doubt. And thus he is kept, until Wisdom suddenly comes to her temple, and causes her voice to be heard in the deliverance which she brings.
Wisdom can speak by an angel; by the ravens and brook; by a prophet; by fire from Heaven; by preserving her children unhurt in the flames; by shutting the mouths of the lions; by slaying Goliath by the hand of a stripling, armed with a sling and a stone; by multiplying the loves and fishes; by restoring the sick child to health; by opening the eyes of the blind, making the lame man to leap as a deer, and the tongue of the dumb to sing. Wisdom never lacks for means, nor can any deafness prevent her voice from being heard when she deigns to speak. Sweet is her voice to those who hear it; powerful is her arm unto those in whose behalf it is revealed; loving is her heart to those that lie near her bosom; and full of consolation are her breasts to those whom she causes to seek and be satisfied therewith.
Wisdom's voice, then, drives fear away and brings comfort and thankfulness, in providential things; and does it not effect the same in spiritual concerns? Yes! Here too she speaks; here is she heard. When bowed down under an accumulation of guilt, sin, and misery, and the soul is faint within, because Wisdom has so long kept silence, and has seemed inattentive to the groaning and sighing of the prisoner; when fears of destruction are many, and the cable is strained to the utmost, and seems just ready to snap and sever the vessel from the anchor by which it is held; then does Wisdom speak, then her "fear not" is heard; then does she sprinkle her peace-speaking blood upon the guilty conscience, or give power to the faint, to lay hold upon some merciful declaration, gracious invitation, or cheering promise. She speaks away all the guilt, and fills the soul with peace and joy in believing, or helps it with a little help, and strengthens it with a little strength, as she sees good.
To some she speaks with more, and to some with less power. Some hear her voice of love and mercy frequently and clearly, and some rarely and faintly. But all her children do hear her voice, and experience, in measure and degree, the blessedness of her words to the weary, heavy-laden, destitute, guilty, and forlorn. Some hear it on their knees, and some when walking by the way and conversing or meditating on the things pertaining to salvation. Some hear it under the preached Word, and some in reading the Word. Some hear it in a text applied verbatim, and some in the substance of a text gradually distilling its dew upon the soul. But in whatever degree or in whatever way Wisdom's voice is heard, the like effects are produced, the like spices flow out; sensible relief, grace, mercy, and goodness are felt, which lead the soul to repentance; brokenness of heart, humility, and abasement of self are found; the sinner is brought low, and the Savior is exalted; the creature lies in the dust, and the Creator fills the throne; unbelief is silenced, and faith is heard; pride is stained, and a meek and lowly spirit is put on; fear and torment are cast out, and love is shed abroad in the heart; Christ is All and in all, and the creature is nothing. O blessed is the man who hears this voice, who has come to the blood of sprinkling, which speaks better things than that of Abel; for says Wisdom, "Blessed is the man who hears Me." None but the blessed long to hear this voice; they alone hear Wisdom speaking, in reproofs and pardon, in chastisement and mercy, in darkness and in light, in sorrow and in consolation, in warnings and in promises, in death and in life.
But another thing is said of the blessed man. He does more than hear Wisdom's voice: he watches at Wisdom's gates. "Blessed is the man who hears Me, watching daily at my gates" (Proverbs 8:34). And what are these gates at which the blessed man watches? By Wisdom's gates I understand those places where Wisdom speaks by those whom she calls her maidens—ministers called and taught by the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ. Among the Jews, counsels were held in the gates of the city; causes were heard and decided, and judgment was given; the oppressors were condemned, and the oppressed were delivered; property was redeemed, and contracts were entered into.
So, also, in Wisdom's gates, where Wisdom presides and speaks, teaches and directs, these things spiritually, are done, and heavenly business is transacted. At her gates she assembles and gathers together her children, to speak to them and to give them good counsel. Here she reveals the secrets of their hearts; passes judgment upon what is false and evil; takes away their rotten props; drives them out of their refuges of lies; exposes the deceit of their hearts; opens them to receive the truth, and to attend unto the things that are spoken by her; brings redemption into the soul; saves it from the oppressor, from the delusions of Satan, and the accusations of conscience; and sweetly reveals her pardon and peace. Here she strengthens the weak hands, and confirms the feeble knees; comforts the distressed, satiates the longing soul; fills the empty soul with good things; opens blind eyes, unstops deaf ears, circumcises the heart; and makes the lame to leap as a deer, and the tongue of the dumb to sing. Here righteous judgment is given; a true balance is held, and right and just weights are put therein; and the Lord is known to be a God of judgments, by whom actions are weighed.
These are the gates of righteousness, the gates of Wisdom; and here the righteous resort, and here the blessed man "watches." Yes, he watches. He does not go out of form or custom, or merely to hear a fine orator, or to satisfy conscience. No; he watches. As the criminal on the gallows watches and strains his eyes, looking to the skirts of the crowd and to the distant hills, if perhaps he may see the messenger of mercy, dispatched from the king's presence with the wished-for reprieve; as the sick patient anxiously looks toward the door, in expectation of the far-famed physician; as the shipwrecked mariner watches the dim spot in the horizon, in hopes it may prove to be a sail approaching for his deliverance; as the suitor watches the face of him to whom he presents his petition; or the beggar the opening of the gate in hopes of receiving an alms; even so does the blessed man watch at Wisdom's gates. He watches for some token for good, some message of peace, some sweet consolation; some sensible and powerful manifestation of love and freedom, mercy and grace; some interpretation of his case, and unraveling of his dark and difficult experience; some light on his path, some crumbs from the bread of life, some shinings and beams from the Sun of righteousness; some instruction in righteousness, some promise of good things; some proof that his spots are the spots of God's children, that he is not deceived, that he is in the way of life, and that he is among the jewels of the Lord.
He watches attentively, he longs earnestly, for these blessings. He goes to Wisdom's gates in hopes of hearing glad tidings; of being filled and rejoiced, of having pardon and peace sealed in his heart; of hearing Wisdom's voice, seeing her arm revealed, feeling her healing power—not to have his judgment only informed, but to have his heart affected; not to be seen of man, but to see the Lord's face and to have the light of His countenance lifted up upon him. Thus he watches at Wisdom's gates, in expectation of seeing and receiving from her hands a good and perfect gift.
"Blessed is the man who hears Me, who watches daily at my gates." The blessed man is said to attend daily, to hear and watch for Wisdom. Thus these blessed watchers watch daily, and wait for some hope, some comfort, some promise, some light and blessing from Wisdom. They are found at Wisdom's gates as often as they open, and they are able to come. There is no need to exhort them to go there. They require no entreaties. They are hungry and want food; needy and poor, and want to be enriched; naked, and want clothing; cold, and want to be warmed; miserable, and want to be comforted; guilty, and want to be pardoned. They do not mind walking a few miles to hear the Word, for the desire of their soul is towards it. They endure affliction, and watch continually, sometimes with more, and sometimes with less fervor.
Those who are very unlike Wisdom's watching children can be kept from hearing and watching because the road is long and rough, the weather cold or damp, or because some trifling obstacle is in the way. But observe the word "My": "who watches daily at My gates." "My sheep hear My voice, and a stranger they will not follow," says Christ. Thus blessed hearers and blessed watchers cannot sit under a legal or dry doctrinal ministry, in which Wisdom's voice is not heard, and be satisfied therewith. Though they would feign fill their belly with the husks which the swine eat, they cannot. It will not do for them; they must "eat good grain, its chaff having been blown away" (Isaiah 30:24). They cannot sit under a dead minister who exalts the creature, and exhorts him to do, what he feels he cannot do; for he has "the sentence of death" in himself, that he should not trust in himself (2 Cor. 1:9).
The blessed hearers and watchers will never be content with a legal preacher, or a dry though correct letter preacher. They want power, unction, experience, interpretation of their cases, and to have the footsteps of the flock (Song. 1:8) traced out, that they may go forth their way by them. There are thousands who are very attentive and regular at their churches and chapels, are very fond of being there early, and never miss when the doors are open, who are far from being among the number of the blessed hearers and watchers—for they can hear and watch like strangers, which blessed hearers and watchers cannot do. They can delight in the gates of Satan, transformed into an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14); but blessed hearers and watchers can approve of Wisdom's gates only.
"Blessed is the man who hears Me, who watches daily at My gates, who waits at the posts of My doors." Here is another mark of a blessed man: he waits at the posts of Wisdom's doors. But what are those doors? A door is that which we pass through to obtain entrance into a house, chamber, or private enclosure, and is the only lawful and proper inlet to those who come in a direct and blessed way. The Lord Jesus said of Himself, "I am the door" implying that none can enter into the fold, or bond of the covenant, but through Him. They must not only have a sight of Him afar off, but in experience or nearness to and entry into Him, before they can, as His sheep, lie down and feed in the fold of the covenant of grace, and delight themselves in God's everlasting, electing, redeeming, renewing, and preserving love.
Christ is Himself the Covenant, as it is said in Isaiah 42:6; and He is one of the Divine Covenaters (Zech. 9:11). In Him are hidden all the covenant stores of wisdom and knowledge, salvation and righteousness, mercy and truth, peace and life. Therefore, the soul that would enjoy these blessings must have more than a letter knowledge of them. He must handle and enjoy, taste and feast; and this he cannot do until, by the blessed Spirit, he has such a revelation of Jesus as to assure him he is "a man in Christ." The blessed man, who hears Wisdom, and watches at her gates, at which are laid up all manner of precious fruits (Song. 7:13), knows and feels this; he has such a savor of the preciousness which Jesus is and has in Himself, that he pants after the enjoyment thereof. He is not content to "go about Zion" and to "mark her walls and bulwarks," as thousands are; but he wants to find an entrance into Zion, to be brought into the citadel of safety, and the banqueting house of love, and therefore his eyes are up unto the Lord (Psalm 123:1, 2).
He is "looking unto Jesus" (Heb. 12:2), and waiting with anxiety and longing desires, in hope that He will put forth His hand, and take him in to Him, as Noah put forth his hand, and took into the ark the dove which had been fluttering over the waste of waters and drowned bodies, and could find no rest for the sole of her foot; not being able to rest on that which had destroyed so many, nor on the corruption which floated on every side.
He waits and knocks also at the posts of the doors of love, mercy, and salvation. He knows what they are in the letter, and has sometimes had glimpses and rays of the Sun of righteousness darting through them into his soul. He has been very near the free enjoyment of what his soul desires, even at "the posts." But he wants more than this: he wants to find an entrance into the doors, by assurance entering into him. He wants the witness of the Spirit, and the love of God shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Spirit. For these he begs and knocks, with sighs and groans, and hungerings and thirstings. Sometimes he fears the doors will never be opened to him, he is so vile and foul, unbelieving and hardhearted. He sees there is a "door of faith" (Acts 14:27) and a "door of hope" (Hosea 2:15), and hears that they are opened to waiting and troubled souls in the wilderness (Hosea 2:14). But he must have more than hearing these things as truths and blessed realities: he must enjoy and enter into them as such.
Now such a waiter has faith in Christ; but it is only like a drop of oil under the muddy water, which is struggling to rise to the top, or like cork caught in the seaweeds and held down thereby. Though it is in its nature to rise and ascend, it cannot. He has, then, faith to believe his need of these things, and to cry to the dear Lord to open to him, to let him in. He has faith and hope sufficient to keep him knocking and calling for admission; like a storm-beaten and shivering traveler at the door of an inn, the keeper whereof is in bed and asleep, and who, if he hears his voice, appears not inclined to rise and open to him. He waits for God to enable him to receive "the end of his faith, the salvation of his soul" (1 Peter 1:9); to convince him that he has "faith of the operation of God" (Col. 2:12). He cannot conclude that he has true faith, and that his is a good hope through grace (2 Thess. 2:16), until he can feel thereby assured he is elected, and born of God.
False professors, who are left-hand goats and not right-hand sheep, and so never hear the voice of Wisdom, get into the full assurance of faith very easily. Nothing is more simple to them. They say, "you have only to believe." But only to believe is as impossible to Wisdom's waiting children, as for them to grasp the whole sky with their hands, or to lay hold upon and enter into the sun. They feel their helplessness, weakness, unbelief, darkness, and blindness. They are like wayfaring men, who, although they may perchance be in the right way, cannot be assured thereby, because all behind and before, above and around them, is thick darkness; and they know not where they are, and are afraid to proceed, or go backwards lest they should fall into a bog or pit, or over a precipice; but they call and shout, in hopes of being heard and directed in the way. They stand still, and wait and watch for the break of day, for the light to visit them.
Thus Wisdom's watching, waiting children feel what David was experiencing when he said, "O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning" (Psalm 130:2-6). Now a soul in this state is a "blessed" soul. He is a wise son; an heir of God, and a joint-heir together with Christ. Though under tutors and governors until the time appointed by the Father (Gal. 4:2), yet is he a true son, and not a bastard (Heb. 12:8); although he is but at the posts of Wisdom's doors, holding on by only a little hope, a little strength, a little light, a something which will not let him give up watching, but which keeps him looking for the morning, for the day-star to arise in his heart (2 Peter 1:19), and the Sun of righteousness with healing in his wings (Mal. 4:2), he is manifestly, though not to himself, one of God's children; yes, though he is like the chapped ground, which, parched with the droughts of summer, cleaves into deep fissures, and can only open its many mouths, and gape for the refreshing and reviving rain. For it is the blessed Spirit who has taught him that without Jesus he can do nothing; and that has made him open his mouth wide, that He might fill it (Psalm 81:10).
He may wait long, and seemingly in vain; but in the set time (Psalm 102:13) God will pour water upon him who is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground (Isaiah 44:3). He will show him that He has set before him an open door, and no man can shut it (Rev. 3:8), while like Hannah, he speaks and prays only in his heart (1 Sam. 1:13). God hears the voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace (Jer. 30:5). Wisdom sees him at the posts of her doors, though he cannot see that. Wisdom observes and cares for him. Wisdom will keep him watching as long as it is good for him, but not a moment longer.
There is a "set time to favor Zion," and it cannot be hastened nor retarded. The vision, says the Lord, is for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry (Hab. 2:3). Those who, like Simeon, are found waiting for the consolation of Israel (Luke 2:25), like Simeon will, before the earthly house of their tabernacle be dissolved, be blessed with holding their Savior in the arms of their faith, and will be enabled to say, "Lord, now let Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word, for my eyes have seen Your salvation" (Luke 2:28-30).
Thus a waiting soul is a blessed soul. "Blessed is (not shall be) the man who hears Me, who watches daily at My gates, who waits at the posts of My doors." He is a saved soul, though he cannot say my God and my Savior. He is not blessed because he hears, and watches and waits; but because he is blessed, therefore a hearing, watching and waiting spirit is given him. Patience is the fruit of the Spirit, and the Spirit puts forth no fruits but in elect souls. He who groans within himself, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of the body (that is, who waits until he shall be brought into the full enjoyment of the redemption of his body, which is redeemed as well as his soul; or who waits, longing to be rid of his body of death and corruption; who waits, desiring to be freed from sin, and to enjoy the full fruition of the adoption of the sons of God), is a blessed man (Romans 8:23).
And so is the man who, though sorely oppressed and cast down, is not destroyed, nor bereft of hope, nor able to consent to evil, but endures temptation (James 1:12). "Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord" (Psalm 128:1). "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted, etc., etc. (Matt 5:3-12).
Now in some one or more of these states all who are born of God are found; and all such though differing in the depth of their feelings and experience, are blessed persons, and hear Wisdom (not the mere words of man), nor or taken up with fine, empty oratory; not hear this or that good man, for Wisdom says "Blessed is that man who hears Me, who watches (not lounges listlessly) daily at My gates, who waits at the posts of My doors." Happy, blessed man that waits in the spirit for Jesus! God says he is blessed. He has blessed him, and none can curse him; neither Satan, nor the law, nor sin, nor man. Blessed is everyone who blesses him, and cursed is he who curses him. God will never be tired, however long the time may be to the watching, hearing soul. He may fear he will be cut off, but God declares He will preserve and keep him. "He who trusts in the Lord shall never be confounded or put to shame"; and therefore will the Lord wait—that He may be gracious unto you, and therefore will He be exalted, that He may have mercy upon you. For the Lord is a God of judgment, and leads in the way of righteousness, and in the midst of the paths of judgment (Proverbs 8:20). "Blessed are all those who wait for Him" (Isaiah 30:18).
By John Gadsby, 1843