"O God, Thy way is in the sanctuary . . . . Thy way is in the sea." Psalm 77:13, 19.
E. L. Bevir.
Christian Friend vol. 18, 1891, p. 297.
The end of the seventy-seventh psalm is full of interest to our souls, for we find there the way of God in two different aspects. It is a happy thing when one finds out where God's way lies, for it is one of rest and peace amidst so much to perplex and trouble the saint as he goes on through the world to glory.
Indeed the writer of this psalm had gone through great exercise and perplexity, and had found no good in looking into his own heart (v. 6); but a great change had taken place in his soul in the tenth verse in looking up to the Most High, and remembering the works of Jah. Now, the Christian does not merely enjoy the revelation of the millennial titles of God, or of His absolute deity (Jah), blessed though they be, but the full and intimate relationship with the Father. Bearing this in mind - that is, that we are Christians and not Jews - we may look at the principles which follow, as to God's way. May we, first of all, be truly in the enjoyment of the Father's love. (John 17:5.)
The first thing to notice is in the thirteenth verse, where we find that God's way is in the sanctuary. A perplexed saint (if he remain too long in his perplexity) is sure to look too low, and to become more troubled. The similarity between this verse and the seventeenth of the seventy-third psalm has been already pointed out; then again, there was great perplexity until the soul went into the sanctuary of God. Who can understand why God should allow the wicked to prosper, or the state of things around us in this world? Job's three friends made elaborate and erroneous speeches on the ways of God, till finally Job himself (who was not in the sanctuary) lost patience; and many philosophers of the same type have moralized since upon good and evil, and providential dealings, getting further away from the mark each time they moralize.
"O God, thy way is in the sanctuary": our hearts must be above the earth to understand God's way, and our minds also. It is when we freely enter into the sanctuary, and make known our requests with supplication and thanksgiving, that the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keeps our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. The sanctuary is high above all trouble. I once received a letter from an old servant of Christ, now with Him, in which he spoke of the bad weather in a springtime in North Germany, saying that "the swallows had all gone away in despair; but higher up the weather is fine and bright, and it is there that our hearts should be!" A little true prayer, and waiting upon God in the holiest, is infinitely better than any attempt at explaining His way.
"God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform."
God has given us more light than poor Cowper had, although we have not made very good use of it; and the free entrance by faith into the sanctuary makes everything clear. We can wait God's time, whilst we depend upon Him.
But there is another side to this. God's way (v. 19) is in the sea, and His paths in the great waters. Thunder, lightning, storm, and rain precede this verse, and the earth itself shakes. We should very much like to go quietly on to glory without foul weather, but this can never be; it is in the very midst of the storm and pathless sea that the way of God lies.
This was once literally accomplished when the disciples, toiling in rowing, were making but little headway upon the lake of Gennesareth, and beheld the Son of God walking upon the waves in the midst of the darkness. It is in the very midst of the great waters now that the way of God is known, there where no footprints are left, and faith knows this way. It is not by Moses and Aaron (verse 20) that God is now leading His people, but by the Holy Spirit Himself (Romans 8:14); and if we are thus led, we can go on quietly through the storm, walking in that way which is impracticable but to faith, but in which God is with us.
Thus if we are walking in God's way, our very path is a succession of miracles; we go on through the storm, through the deep waters, as sure-footed as though we were walking over a lawn. I suppose always that faith is truly in exercise.
There is something exceedingly beautiful in these two things, and our hearts are cheered as we think of the glory of Jesus in the Father's presence, and we enter there by faith. Doubt and perplexity vanish in the calm splendour of the sanctuary, and everything becomes plain. Then with renewed confidence we can go on through the winds and waves, finding in the very violence of the storm the way of God - of Him who has brought us to Himself, and made Himself known to us in such a way that we can implicitly trust Him amid the roaring of the tempest. May He give us to walk thus to His glory! E. L. B.