Reading Time: 6 minutesDarkness Is No Problem For God
– a few lessons from Psalms 18
In the darkest, thickest clouds of our experience; God is there. God has it under control. We are in His hands, and we may look to Him for guidance, and strength.
He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies. At the brightness that was before him his thick clouds passed,(Psalms 18:11-12)
He made darkness his secret place – God is represented as dwelling in the thick darkness, Deut 4:11; Psalms 97:2. This representation in the place before us is peculiarly proper; as thick heavy clouds deeply charged, and with lowering aspects, are always the forerunners and attendants of a tempest, and greatly heighten the horrors of the appearance: and the representation of them, spread about the Almighty as a tent, is truly grand and poetic.” (Adam Clark Commentary).
From Psalms 18, we can know that in our distress we may also cry out to God. The voice of the sufferer may be weak and solitary, but it reaches through the gates of pearl and moves creation! Luke 8:46.
Psalms 18:4 The sorrows of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid. Psalms 18:5 The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me. Psalms 18:6 In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears. Psalms 18:7 Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth. Psalms 18:8 There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it. Psalms 18:9 He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under his feet. Psalms 18:10 And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind. Psalms 18:11 He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.
“Sorrows of death, sorrows of hell, in our distress, darkness was under His feet, the earth shook and trembled, God was angry, God came down to us, at our level, even though “darkness was under His feet,” God rode upon a cherub; and He flew on the wings of the wind, our Lord made darkness His secret place, God’s pavillion, and round about Him round about were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies: all of these things were going on and yet, God was there. He was and is present for His people in their need. I sometimes wonder if part of our problem is simply that we do not ask God for enough. Unanswered prayers, in the midst of our thick clouds, could they be because we have not asked for the right thing, or that we have not asked God for something bigger?
The confident claim of the righteous, Psalms 18:20-26. We cannot boast a righteousness of our own, but we stand in Christ. We are full of impurity and evil, but we may claim at least integrity of motive. Compare Psalms 18:26 with Lev 26:21-24. The wind blows in one direction; you can walk against it or with it-it’s your choice.” (FB Meyer).
Determination Increases Will Power: As you confess before others and God, your confidence in the Lord, additional strength is imparted to you. Determine to praise Him. With firm determination comes increased will power; and soon you will find that you cannot help praising Him. I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies. (Psalms 18:3).
His pavilions round about Him were . . . thick clouds of the skies.
The Ministry Of The Cloud: His pavilions are thick clouds! Then the cloud is not a destructive libertine, some stray, haphazard, lawless force, the grim parent of shadow and chill and tempest. “His pavilions are thick clouds.” The clouds are the dwelling places of God. He lives in them; He moves through them; He pervades them with the gentle ministries of grace and love. “The clouds drop down their dew.” Then the clouds are more than shutters; they are springs. They do more than exclude the sunlight; they are the parents of the fertilizing rains, and the drenching mists and dew. It is something of a triumph when we have got thus far in our religious faith. The cloud may hide the light; it does not destroy it. The cloud does not disprove the light; it is really the proof of the light. Without the warm and genial light there could be no cloud; the cloud is the creation of light. When, therefore, the cloud is forming, it means the sun is working. The light is having it’s effect.
Raindrops can be traced to sunbeams. Love yearns to send a gentle rain, and so love prepares a cloud. So, the cloud is part of the answer to our prayer for dew. If, therefore, I have been asking my God for a softening, fertilizing rain, I must not be discomfited by the appearance of a chilling, the darkening, and the thick cloud. If I have been asking for a drenching baptism of dew, I must not lose my heart when there comes a confusing mist. We asked the Lord to bless our nation; there came a chilling disappointment; the answer was in a cloud! Have you ever noticed how many of the dispositions of the perfected life can only be richly gained in the baptism of shadow and tears? And when I contemplate the dispositions which are the creations of the Spirit I feel that for their perfect nourishing something is needed of moistness and of shade. Here is a short list of the beautiful things:
“Love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” I am more inclined to call them ferns than flowers! I don’t think they would come to any luxurious profusion and beauty if they were grown in the prolonged and cloudless glare! Here is an exquisite fern—“gentleness.” Where will you find it growing in richest profusion? You will find it growing in the life that has known the shadow and the tear. There is no touch so tenderly gentle as the touch of the wounded hand. Jesus was wounded in the house of His friends. (Zech 13:6).
There is no speech so insinuatingly sympathetic as the speech of those who have been folded about by the garment of night. Grieving over lost loved ones, for example, we can know that Jesus has already been there; and He has carried our sorrows.” (Isa 53:4.). So we simply go where Jesus has already been. And gentleness is a fern, and it requires the ministry of the cloud. Here is another rare and beautiful fern—“long suffering.” How can you grow that in the “garish day”?
“Long suffering” is a fern, and it needs the ministry of the cloud. (Exodus 34:6, Eph 4:2). And is it otherwise with the ferns of “goodness” and “love”? How this love fern expands when life passes into the shadow; when our loved one is laid low, in the grave, how love puts on strength and beauty, whether the loved one is peasant, spouse, child, or anything else.
Now, I do not think we have any difficulty in perceiving the influence of the cloud in the individual life. “in my distress Thou hast enlarged me.” (2 Sam 22:37) “You enlarged my path under me, So my feet did not slip.” (Psalms 18:36)
Enlarged! It is a very spacious word, and includes the complementary meanings of broadening and enrichment. “In my cloud experience Thou hast enriched me!” A person goes into the cloud rough and boorish, and full of domineering aggression, and they emerges from its ministry strangely softened and refined! They entered the cloud hard and dry as a pavement; they emerge with disposition suggestive of the fernery. “In my distress God has enriched me!”
But the cloud experience is not only the minister of enrichment, but also of enlargement! It is in the cloud that people can grow the fern of a spacious tolerance. Narrowness is transformed to breadth. In the personal life, if it were not for the cloud we should become and remain dry and infertile as The Hills of Gilboa. It is the providential cloud that calls forth the hidden growth, the sleeping ferns, and transforms, the dust heap into a thing of grace and beauty.
Is it otherwise with the ministry of the cloud in the sphere of the home? There is many a family which never realises its unity until it is enveloped in the folds of a chilling cloud. Health and luxury are too often divisive; sickness and sorrow are wondrous cements. Luxury nourishes a thoughtless individualism; adversity discovers hidden and profounder kinships. “We shall know each other better when the mists have roiled away!” Ah! but we sometimes never know each other until we meet together in the mist! It is in the common cloud that the family finds its kinship.
It is in our sorrow that deep calleth unto deep, and our communion with Christ can be revealed. I lost my wife to cancer recently and its been a challenging, sometimes “thick cloud,” yet just yesterday God answered a prayer that my wife and I had about me living in a beautiful mountain wilderness area. God opened the way to where usually “only rich people can go,” and I am sending this weekly out from my new home here.
The intense, thick darkness, in the clouds of our experience, are the opportune time to connect with God. When we are as devoted as Elijah was and possess the faith that he had, God will reveal Himself as He did then. When we plead with the Lord as did Jacob, the results that were seen then will again be seen. Power will come from God in answer to the prayer of faith. In the darkest, thickest clouds of our experience; God is there. There IS Light in the clouds. What Do You See In Your Clouds?”
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