Click to donate today!
THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW
‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust in him.’
It is not certain that we know the exact meaning of the words of the old Patriarch Job, but we find just the same thought in the perfectly understood words of another sufferer, ‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me, Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.’ Let us try to find some help here.
You know your own heart’s bitterness. The world has brought you disappointment. You think you deserved better of it than you have got. You have sowed, but you have not reaped. You have trusted, but have not been trusted in return. Perhaps you are equally distressed about religious matters. Out of a hundred souls, it seems to you that ninety are living without God; and you find deadness and darkness all about you. Within, you find a heart doubting and growing hard from incessant weary looking for a God Who hides Himself.
And if this were all—if we could know nothing but what we see and experience—it would be a life so doubtfully good that it would be hard to say it is always worth living.
I. But one of the great blessings which the Word of God, spoken through His Church, and written in the Scripture, brings is this: that it does not allow for a moment that these innumerable evils are any reasons for dismay. ‘Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.’ It is a picture in half a dozen words, which is at least as dark as our darkest experience. ‘Though I walk through this, I will fear no evil.’ ‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.’ The words are common even to staleness. But if you have that light given you—and for it do pray on—then nothing can be more helpful to you than the short simple words, ‘I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.’
II. Let us bring these words into the daylight of common life.—One great reason of our distress, and our want of comfort when things are happening which give us pain, is that we grow up with a fixed impression that if God is dealing with us kindly the process must be pleasant. We do not think young people can imagine anything really to be good and worth having unless it is enjoyable. And older people require a great deal of training and trying, and much reflection upon it, and years of steady pressure of some sort before they can quite say from their heart, ‘I thank Thee, O God! for this bitter cup.’ Now the words of Job take us further, ‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.’
‘ Though He slay me.’ God did not intend, as we know, to allow Satan to take away Job’s life; there was (but Job did not know it) store of even earthly good before him. But Job did not reason thus. He did not reason as some do, ‘I am in trouble about money, but I will not fear. In some way or other God will send me what I want.’ His faith was one which went deeper. ‘Though He slay me, and I have no earthly reward; though the sun should never shine out from these clouds again; though the tide should never turn and the money never come, yet will I trust Him.’ This is a far deeper and more refined trust. This trust that somehow or other He will see our faithfulness and make all bright is a happy one, and not one to be looked down upon; for it is a great triumph over human nature and human doubt. But there is a trust which goes far beyond this. It is that which Job seems to have had, if we rightly translate his words. ‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him; though my trust does not lead to anything pleasant, bright, or good to me. Though I never get my will, and the last page of my life’s history is still a record of pain, I will trust in Him.’ He who has been given help to say this from his heart, has learned O how much deeper a lesson! He has learned to know that the will of God must be right, and ought to be done even if it costs us our lives. It is a lesson that we are slow to learn that our happiness, our enjoyment, our success are not the great things that even God must stoop down to consider with respect. If in the pursuit of the glorious end He has set before Him, the pure and perfect triumph of love and goodness over all things evil, you and I and another must seem to lose all and fail, should He not do it, and should not I, if I trust Him perfectly say, ‘Do Thy great will, O God’?
III. There are two or three things which may lighten the burden of saying, ‘Thy will be done,’ when that will seems purely painful.
( a) There is a feeling of strange peace which is sure to flow into a heart which is conquering its desire to be the guide of its destiny. For it brings with it a certainty that He who is thus fully trusted is so good and so strong that He will somehow and somewhere in His love give back what we have willingly lost for His sake.
( b) The heart that trusts thus cannot possibly think the limit of this life to be the end of our personal existence. For trust in God’s wisdom and consent to His will also involve dependence on His word, and His promise is sure—‘I shall dwell in the House of the Lord for ever.’
—Archdeacon G. R. Wynne.
‘ “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him,” is not the highest expression of faith. Death is not the last trial of the daughters and sons of God. It may be, it often is, preceded by a brief, sharp Gethsemane. But “Jesus can make a dying bed as soft as downy pillows are,” and He does it for His people. Even those who make no open profession of Christianity often die their quiet little deaths tranquilly enough. The sharpness of the pang is more frequently for others than for themselves. There is so much that loosens us from the love of life and teaches us as the years pass that there are many things worse than dying. But is there any thought so desolating as that of facing a great bereavement? When the sufferer’s case grows grave, when the signs of peril multiply, it often seems as if the very foundations of faith were reeling, and we wonder whether the strain can be borne. To be able to say, “Though He slay him, though He slay her, yet will I trust in Him,” is only possible to those who are rooted and grounded in the love of God.’
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Job 13". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12