James Smith, 1865
"The Lord is good — unto those who wait for Him; to the soul who seeks Him!" Lamentations 3:25
The testimony of a well-tried man is always valuable, as a tried testimony; and if ever man was deeply and peculiarly tried, it was Jeremiah. His strong affections procured him strong afflictions; and his circumstances were such as few have ever been placed in. War, bloodshed, captivity, destruction, and desolation — all around him! Hated, misrepresented, imprisoned, tempted, and filled with pain and sorrow himself! While God seemed to leave him in the hands of men, and hide Himself from him. It was in such trials, that he learned the value of the truth; and in them, and after them, that he bore this testimony to the goodness of his God: "The Lord is good — unto those who wait for Him; to the soul who seeks Him!"
To whom is this promise made?"To the soul who seeks Him." The Scriptures are full of encouragement to seeking souls, for seeking is one of the characteristics of the Lord's own people.
They all seek to know Him, and so to know Him as to put their trust in Him.
They seek to receive from Him all needed blessings; the blessings of providence, and the blessings of grace.
They seek to commune with Him as with a father and a friend.
They seek to ascertain His will — and obtain grace to obey it.
They seek to realize a saving interest in His love, the enjoyment of His favor, and the fulfillment of His precious Word.
They seek Him in His own way — by earnest, fervent, persevering prayer.
Above and before everything else — they seek Him until they find Him.
"To those who wait for Him." The Lord will appear — but it shall be in His own time. The Lord will work for us — but it shall be in His own way. Abraham had to wait more than twenty years for Isaac; Jacob had to serve Laban as long; and Joseph had years of sorrow and imprisonment, until the iron entered into his soul. But none of them waited in vain; none were they ashamed of their waiting. Hope deferred, may make the heart sick; but when the desire comes — it is a tree of life.
Now, many of the Lord's people have to wait long for Him; and all have to wait more or less. He who inhabits eternity need not hurry; nor will He be hurried by His creatures; no, not even by His own people.
His purposes are formed,
His plans are drawn,
His times are fixed — and
He does exactly according to His will.
His people have to wait for Him — to work for them; they need that wrought in them, and done for them — which none but God can do. They apply to Him, plead with Him, expect from Him — but have to wait for Him.
His people have to wait for Him — to confer needed blessings upon them. He keeps His blessings in His own possession. He dispenses them with His own hand. He teaches His people their need of them, produces a desire for them, leads them to His throne to ask for them, and enhances their value by keeping them waiting for them.
His people have to wait for Him — to reveal Himself to them; the Most High God, like the sun, can only be seen in His own light. His people want to enjoy His manifestations, and to rejoice in His presence as a sin-pardoning God and gracious Father. For this they long, sigh, groan, and pray. The privilege is certain — but they must wait the Lord's time for the enjoyment of it.
His people have to wait for Him to confirm His Word to them. They read it, believe it, plead for it, hope for its fulfillment — but are kept waiting for its accomplishment. They wait with ardent desire, earnest longings, hearty prayers; in the way of His precepts, and in the observance of His ordinances. In waiting, they are blessed, and the end of their waiting — is the realization of the blessing waited for.
Hence, The testimony. "The Lord is good unto those who wait for Him; to the soul who seeks Him." This testimony was experimental — Jeremiah could say, "I have proved it." It was inspired — for he spoke as he was moved by the Holy Spirit. Its proof was, that God had testified His approbation of such; had, in all ages, sanctioned them; and had never failed, in the end, to satisfy them. Long did Jacob wait for the salvation of the Lord; but he died an old man, and satisfied.
Its OBJECT of waitingis to encourage faith, prayer, and patience; that we should believe — when we cannot see; pray on — when the Lord does not answer; and patiently wait — when everything seems to be against us. Another object is, to fortify us against doubt, fear, and temptation. It is so natural to doubt God's veracity and faithfulness — that we often fall into it before we are aware of it. It is so common to fear that God will not do as He has said — that we need constantly to be cautioned against it, and urged to resist it. We are all tempted to indulge hard thoughts of God, and to draw rash conclusions from His delays — that it is needful to fortify us against it. This testimony of the tried prophet is intended for this purpose.
Another object is, to do honor to God's veracity,
faithfulness, and benevolence. It is just saying:
"God is true — whatever you may feel, think, or say!
God is faithful — however you may fear, fret, and conclude!
God is good — however you may be tempted, tried, and harassed!
Your feelings, your circumstances, your rash conclusions — do not in the least affect God's character! He is good — after all that you have thought, said, or suffered. So good, that He is doing you the greatest possible good — by the very means which leads you to doubt whether He is good to you at all."
Seeking soul, God is condescending, beneficent, true to His Word, and He will bless you indeed. Your seeking Him — is a proof of His goodness to you, and is introductory of His bestowing blessings upon you. Your seeking Him — is not from chance, but from a Divine purpose; it is not from your nature — but from His grace; it is not the result of circumstances — but from the teachings of His Holy Spirit. You may not be aware of it, and it may be difficult to convince you at present that it is so; but you will both see and confess it by-and-bye. God will glorify His goodness and His grace in the experience of every seeking soul — and therefore in your soul, though at present you may think yourself the vilest of His creatures, and be writing the bitterest things against yourself. Your desires were kindled by His grace, are kept alive by His power, and will only expire in the full enjoyment of His glorious presence!
Dear friend, is it so — that the Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him? Then let us seek Him daily, nor be satisfied without a sense of His presence, a taste of His love, and the witness of His Spirit. Let us wait for Him continually — wait for Him until He appears to us, works for us, and bestows every needed blessing upon us! If we wait believing in His Word, hoping in His mercy, and looking out to see His hand — He will be sure to bless us. As it is written, "Whoever is wise — will observe these things," (His glorious works in providence and grace,) "even he shall understand the loving-kindness of the Lord."
Let us wait patiently. Let us not wonder — if He does not appear exactly at our time. Patience befits us — as poor, dependent, sinful creatures. Patience is required of us — as pensioners upon His bounty, suppliants at His throne, and expectants of His blessing.
Let us believe the testimony confidently: it is true; it has been well tried; it has stood the test. Yes, "the Lord is good, ready to forgive, plenteous in mercy unto all who call upon Him." He has been good to us, he is good to us now, and He will be good to us in all the future. His past goodness — should inspire us with confidence and courage, and fortify us against all our natural fears and Satan's temptations. O for grace to say, in reference to every trial, trouble, and need, "I will trust and not be afraid, for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song, He also has become my salvation!" "The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who put their trust in Him." "The goodness of God endures forever!"