"Bring me a Minstrel"

A Word to Christians whose Lives are out of Tune

Three kings: the heathen Edomite, the apostate Jehoram, and the godly Jehoshaphat; a strange alliance this — an alliance that pleased the devil well, but that grieved the God of Judah to the heart. No wonder that disaster, swift and sure, followed upon the campaign, for how could that prosper in which a child of God took part which had been conceived and carried into execution without any reference to the Lord, and in association with those who hated Him?

So these kings went, and "they fetched a compass of seven days' journey: and there was no water for the host;" and it seemed as though the fears of Israel's monarch were to be realized. "Alas! that the Lord hath called these three kings together, to deliver them into the hand of Moab."

Then turned the thoughts of Jehoshaphat to Jehovah; then desired he to know, for the first time in that ill-starred venture, what the Lord would say; and, wonderful mercy! even while he cried out for a prophet, Elisha, the man of God, stood before him.

Mark well this fact, for it will be a help to us in our exercises as we proceed with our subject. We learn from it, as from many other incidents in the Word, that the thoughts of God's saints never turn to Him in vain; no matter what their circumstances, or the cause of them, He is ready to answer even while they call: "They cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and He bringeth them out of their distresses." How great are the compassions of our God!

But the discord of that unholy alliance distressed the prophet; it jarred upon his spirit, which had been tuned in communion with God, and he would have said nothing at all but for the fact that a saint of God in trouble stood before him. But ere he could speak the word of the Lord the minstrel must be brought: in figure, harmony must take the place of discord.

Let us turn from the picture to the lesson. There are thousands of Christians bemoaning the lack of blessing. In spite of apparent diligent search, they do not find the waters of refreshing; their spiritual life is a desert, like unto "the wilderness of Edom." Their service and religious exercises have become a matter of routine, and in some cases a burden; and they wonder why!

In the majority of cases the reason is not far to seek: it is association with the world, unholy alliance with the godless for the pursuit of things which satisfy ungodly desires. In every case it is because the life is out of harmony with God.

A minstrel is needed, one who can take up the life and tune the chords of it, so that the discordant present may give place to the melody of a life in subjection to God. The Holy Ghost is the blessed Minstrel who has come from heaven with this purpose in view. But how easily and soon do Christians forget that the Holy Spirit of God dwells within them, how easily and soon do the vain things of this world and of man attract the mind and heart, so is the heavenly Minstrel grieved, the life drops out of harmony with God, and the waters neither spring up in praise nor flow out in blessing.

Christ is the key to which every note in our lives must be pitched, and we must know, and the Holy Ghost is here to teach us, where Christ is, and why He is there. He is on the throne, crowns of God's approval shine upon His glorious head, and we gladly own the rightness of this. But have we realized why He is there? He is there, of course, because the Father delights to honour Him; He is there, of course, because He is abundantly worthy of that place of pre-eminent glory; He is there, of course, because none other place in the universe but the right hand of the Majesty on high is suitable to the One who fully carried out the will of God in making expiation for sin. But He is also there because the world rejected Him; He is there because the world cast Him out, nailing Him to a cross of shame. His exaltation in heaven is God's glorious answer to the ignominy that was awarded Him by a world that hated Him.

Let us contemplate this great and solemn truth; let us contemplate it in the presence of God, and give place in our souls for its meaning — for the meaning of the cross of Christ. In Paul, the apostle, we see a man in whose life the cross held sway, "God forbid," said he, "that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord, by which the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world" (Gal. 6:14). He could not play the traitor to his Lord by accepting honour from the world that crucified Him. And if he remained in it, it was only that he might drag men out of it, that he might win their hearts for the One who filled his own with worship, so that they might be, even as he was, "not of this world," even as Christ was not of it. Let us take this same road, and say to the One who loved us and gave Himself for us:

"I bind Thy shame upon my brow,
  Earth's only crown for me"

If our lives are concordant to the world, they are discordant to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; and if they are discordant to God everything else must be wrong. The Scripture, which carries with it all the authority of God, shows clearly that there can be no harmony between God and the world, and it will allow no compromise with the world on the part of those who are God's. Paul asks "What fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? . . . Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing" (2 Cor. 6:14-17). John tells us that "if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (1 John 2:15). James is stronger than all, for he says, "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity against God? Whosoever then will be a friend of the world is an enemy of God" (Jas. 4:4). These words need no comment, they are self-explanatory, and if, by any subtle reasoning by "the god" and "prince of this world," we have been led into compromise with the world our unfaithfulness in this respect is the cause of the low spiritual tone in the soul. All such unfaithfulness is sin, and the way of restoration is by confession. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:8).

Other things than worldliness also spoil the music and grieve the Holy Spirit; selfish living, hard thoughts and harsh words about our fellow Christians; an unforgiving spirit, indifference to the claims of Christ. Each one knows for himself wherein he fails, and where failure is there repentance must be. But how blessed it is to know that the Lord stands near us in unchanging love.

"How sweet 'tis to discover,
  If clouds have dimmed my sight,
When passed, eternal Lover,
  Toward me as e'er, Thou'rt bright."

But He will have truth in the inward parts, and there must be the confessing and the forsaking of what is not of God.

Where there is confession there will be restoration to communion with God, and the Holy Ghost will bring us into unison with God by making Christ all in all to us. If He has His way with us He will bring us into full accord with Christ in glory, and keep us right as regards the world, and make every chord in our being sound out its full-souled praise to God.

And every word of God will then be sweet to us, and the waters of refreshing will flow into our souls from the living fountain of all good, making our lives to yield fruit for God.