The Lord Looking on us
New Year's Message, January 1st, 1950
As we near the close of another period of time, it is our desire (following our usual custom) to look unto the LORD and ask Him to graciously give us a word, which — with His blessing upon the same — will prove a real help to His people for the new year, and which may serve to keep up their faith upon Him throughout the days which lie ahead. Here is the one which is now laid upon our heart: "Look upon me" (Psalm 119:132).
It is a very brief address unto the living God — yet much is contained in it, and most comprehensive is the same. It is . . .
an appeal unto the divine compassion,
a looking to God for help,
a request for divine mercy,
a petition for His favorable regard,
a begging Him to take notice of our need.
It is a very modest request, for the least discovery of the divine favor is welcome to a tried or afflicted soul. Any regenerate person regards it as a great favor for God to look upon him; and there is nothing he values so highly — as a token and sense of His approbation.
Since my looking unto You is often so slight, so formal, so distant, that little impression is made upon my heart — condescend to "Look upon me!" Grant me such a look as will melt me to tenderness and contrition. "Lift up the light of your countenance upon me" (Psalm 4:6), so that all darkness will be dispelled from my soul, that "the peace of God, which passes all understanding" (Phi 4:7) may be mine in increasing measure. Grant me such a sight of Your countenance, as will kindle my affections and draw out my heart unto You. Such a request is an expression of faith and hope: "Look down from your holy habitation, from Heaven, and bless" (Deu 26:15) — such a look is fraught with blessing!
As Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892) well put it: "If a look from us to God has saving virtue in it — then what may we not expect from a look from God to us!" It is much to be thankful for when this is really the desire of our hearts: when, instead of shrinking from God and dreading His notice of us — we have such confidence in His goodness and mercy that we cry, "Look upon me!"
There was a time when the LORD said unto you, "Look unto me, and be saved" (Isa 45:22), and by enabling grace, you did so; and now you say unto Him, "Look upon me!" Thus, we see how Christ and the believer speak one and the same language: and no marvel, for one and the same Spirit who dwells in the Head, dwells also in His members!
"Look upon me" is a word which every soul who is hungering and thirsting after Christ may well appropriate. It is one which is most suitable for each of them to lay hold of at the beginning of a new year, for — no matter what your circumstances may be — it will prove an appropriate one for every day and every hour in it. Though so short, this prayer is exceedingly full, and expresses all we need to say, whatever our situation is. Whether in prosperity or adversity, joy or sorrow, health or sickness, life or death — you will need nothing more than for the LORD to look upon you. Whether a babe or a mature saint — all your spiritual desires are summed up in this one expression.
All is well with the believer, when the LORD looks in a manifestative way upon him with a look of love. Christ cannot look upon one of His own, without His heart being drawn out to him, "for we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are — yet without sin." (Heb 4:15). Far otherwise: "In all their affliction — he was afflicted" (Isa 63:9). Ask the genuine Christian what his case is, and he will reply, "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing" (Rom 7:18). Ask him how this affects him, and he will say, "The heart knows his own bitterness" (Pro 14:10). But this makes way for him to put up this petition: "Look upon me!"
Is that the experience of the reader? It is frequently so with the writer. Thus, your case and mine are one and the same. Such experience consists of a knowledge of self and of sin; and this it is which fits us to live upon Christ — the sinner's Savior. "O LORD, I am oppressed; undertake for me" (Isa 38:14).
As none are freed from indwelling sin, so none are free from its workings and effects. Nor is any child of God exempted in this life from the sorrows and distresses which are the consequences of the same. As a regenerate soul is conscious of the activities of indwelling sin and their defiling effects — he cannot but grieve over the same; and such grief produces manifold disquietude of mind. Then it is that all of us are far too apt to lose sight of Christ and cast away our confidence in Him. Too often, the saints resort to reasoning, and draw gloomy conclusions — if not downright false inferences — from their uncomfortable feelings. But it ought not to be so. God allows His people to be brought frequently into such a condition that they may make fuller use of this prayer: "Look upon me!" When do you have most need for Him to look upon you? When sensible of your sins, and cast down by them! He gives us a clear sight of what we are by nature — to wean us from self, and cast us more upon Himself.
Sometimes we are sorely tried by our outward circumstances — when, to carnal reason, everything seems to have gone wrong — and we petulantly exclaim with Jacob, "All these things are against me!" (Gen 42:36). Yet they were not. His conclusion was, in fact, entirely erroneous, for all those things were working in his favor at that very time! Yet it often appears to us that everything is contrary to our best interests. Yes, my reader, God permits that testing, yes, orders those seemingly unpropitious circumstances. And why? To lead you from the creature — unto Himself. Were we not painfully conscious of our straits and needs, what occasion would there be for us to go unto the LORD with such a prayer, as "Look upon me!" What saint is there who has not found exactly suited to his case those words, "Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry unto you, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me [for I seem to have lost my way] to the rock that is higher than I!" (Psalm 61:1-2)?
It is a wonderful relief to the mind, to recall that Christ is the Savior of sinners, yes, of the very chief of sinners. To remember that He loved us before ever we loved Him. That He loved us when there was nothing but sin in us. We readily assent to that as sound doctrine; but when, in experience, we feel how sinful we still are — what complete failures we have proved to be — we are slow to give full and hearty consent thereto. That is because we are too much occupied with our wretched selves! We forget that the greater the skill of the physician, the more suited to him is a desperate and urgent case. All too frequently, we neglect coming to the great Physician. Do you feel there is none in more need of Him? Then say, "Look upon me!" Have compassion upon me, O LORD, even though I am not worthy to be called Your son. If He deigns to look upon us — and when did He ever cast out one who came to Him? — we are sure to be the better for it.
The LORD has said everything in His Word to encourage His people to turn unto Him. He declares: "Behold, I have engraved you upon the palms of my hands" (Isa 49:16). "But my kindness shall not depart from you" (Isa 54:10). "I will not turn away from them, to do them good. Yes, I will rejoice over them to do them good" (Jer 32:40-41). Christ regards His redeemed as His "brethren," as members of His mystical body, as the travail of His soul, and as the apple of His eye. Therefore, we may well cry unto Him, "Look upon me!" In so doing, you give Him His glory. O fellow believer, suffer what you may, experience whatever it is — but allow it not to weaken your confidence in your most gracious LORD. Say to Him, Did not You bear all my sins in Your own body on the tree? Have You not redeemed me from the curse of the Law, by being made a curse for me? Have You not loved me, even me, and washed me from my sins in Your own blood? Then "Look upon me" now!
If you are in health and strength, pray "Look upon me!" (Psalm 119:132) that they may be used to Your honor and praise. If you are being ill treated by friends and deserted by brethren, here is your relief. When sin has mastered and overthrown you, make this your recourse. When you can feelingly confess, "I am vile!" (Job 40:4), plead Isaiah 66:2. When bowed down with bereavement and your heart is too full to add more, say, "Look upon my affliction" (Psalm 25:18). If lying upon a bed of pain or the cold hand of death is nearing your brow, this is most suitable language to address the eternal Lover of your soul. You cannot have a need which He is unable to supply. He is interested in your body, as well as your soul — and is engaged to care for us in temporals, as well as spirituals. Nothing is too hard for Him. Such is His grace that "he gives power to the faint; and to those who have no might, he increases strength" (Isa 40:29). If we are spared through 1950, may each of us make frequent use of this prayer: "Look upon me!"