“There be many that say: Who will show us any good? Lord, lift Thou up the light of Thy countenance upon us. Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased. I will both lay me down in peace and sleep: for Thou, Lord, only maketh me dwell in safety.” Psalm 4:6-8

If there is one question which is asked in our day it certainly is this: Who will show us any good? We hear it in many forms and in many languages by un­told millions of poor anxious souls. And no wonder. If at any time, the world at present surely is wrapped up in trouble, evil and misery. Cartoonists picture to us the old world as a woebegone figure, bleeding from many wounds. On every side we see and hear of unrest, suspicion, distrust, malignity and every o­ther kind of evil.

And in the midst of all this chaotic, thoroughly miserable world we hear the oft-repeated cry: Who will show us any good?

And the answers are not slow in coming. If there be many that ask, there are also many that make an­swer and say: Come to me; follow my example; ac­cept this or that form of government, belief or the­ory of thought and action—and you surely will find good, abiding good for your every hunger and thirst.

I It seems to me, dear reader, that the text referred to lends itself to a New Year’s meditation.

It is clear to all my readers that the question will not be answered satisfactorily by the world. The world has forfeited the right to lead us, itself, the gen­erations of miserable humanity. To put it rather crudely: The world has made a mess of things. It is advisable to close our ears to her promises of peace and rest. After 6000 years of misery she gave us world war No. 2.

The first thing we must attend to is the question: what is meant by good? Who will show us any good? But what do you mean by good? The answer need not disturb us if we are willing to listen to God’s Word. There are many places in the Bible that tell us what is good, but I will point you to Micah 6:6. “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of thee but to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God?” There you have a definition of good that is really good. If you have that, you are happy for time and for eternity.

But I hear a thousand voices telling me: But who can do that? Who is there that did justly and loved mercy in all his thoughts and words and deeds? And who walked humbly with his God? And the answer is: There is no one. Ever since our first father and mother fell into sin, we do just the reverse: we act unjustly, we hate mercy and we walk proudly before the very face of God. That is a matter of history. The history of the world is a commentary to the truth of that terrible indictment.

But how then shall we arrive at that which is real­ly good?

The answer you find in the text which I selected for our meditation. It comes to us in the form of a prayer: Lord, lift Thou up the light of Thy counten­ance upon us!”

You see, when I said that there was no one who e­ver did justly, loved mercy and walked humbly with his God, I failed to tell you that there is just one exception. And that one is Jesus of Nazareth. Yes, He is God to be praised forever, but He is also man, true man, just as you and I. And in His perfect manhood, He fulfilled all the things that God requires of man. From babyhood in Bethlehem to manhood on the aw­ful cross of Golgotha, He did justly, He never wavered, He fulfilled all righteousness, even though it brought Him to lowest hell, He loved mercy, O yes, He certain­ly loved mercy. Ask that of His sheep. They will tell you that He is so wondrously merciful, that He brought them up out of the pit of despair and set their feet upon the Rock of Ages. He is so merciful that He saved all His sheep to the uttermost and set them in heavenly places with Himself. Ask it of the murder­er on the cross. And he will tell you of the mercy of Jesus. When there was no hope anywhere, when the world and the church combined in their just condem­nation, this murderer found grace in His sight. And when he asked for Jesus’ remembrance, he heard the merciful and glorious answer: Verily, verily, I say unto thee: this day thou shalt be with Me in paradise! Was Jesus not merciful? He loved mercy so much that He, in order to be able to show mercy, endured the cross, despised the shame and descended into hell.

And he walked humbly with His God. When God said to Him: My Son, you must fulfill the law for all My sheep and You must pay for all the sins of the same sheep, so that You must taste and empty and swallow up eternal death for those which I gave to Your charge, He said: Speak, Lord, Thy Servant heareth. And He heard and He did and He suffered everlasting agony. We have heard His pitiful crying: O My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?

Yes, Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled all the require­ments of goodness. And for that reason the Lord God has highly exalted Him. He is at rest in heaven. He has seen the reward of all His terrible labors of the cross. And he sings the song of the Lamb of God. And the angels listen in rapture.

And that story of Jesus and His love is the good which my text refers to. The inspired psalmist knows this. And therefore he asks God: Lord, lift up the light of Thy countenance upon us!

I will try and explain it. You see, the light of God’s countenance is Jesus. The countenance, the face of God is His dear Son. And that. Face beams with the light of the eternal God. When we saw Jesus walking, sojourning in Galilee and Judea, we saw God the Fa­ther, the triune covenant God in all His virtues. When Jesus’ disciple Philip asked Him and said: Jesus, please, show us the Father! Jesus answered: Philip, am I so long time with you and do you now ask Me: show us the Father? Know you not that I am in the Father and that the Father is in Me? He who has seen Me has seen the Father. O yes, the Gift of Jesus is the gift of the very Face and Heart of God, All the justice, love and mercy of God is in Jesus. If you receive Him, you receive the Father that sent Him.

The light of God is the embodiment of all His good­nesses, praises, wonders, virtues. And they all con­verge in our Savior Jesus Christ.

And when the inspired poet asks God: Lift Thou up upon us the light of Thy countenance, he asks for two things. First he wants to see the light of God. And that light shines in Golgotha most of all, and the record of it is in the Word of God, the Bible. He wants the Word to be shown to him. And, second, he wants that light to penetrate his heart. The Bi­ble is not enough. Millions have read the Bible who are irretrievably lost. You must have Jesus, the light of Gods’ face, in the heart. And that is the operation of the Holy Ghost. When that happens you will be a happy man or woman or child. Then you will ex­perience what we hear further on in the text: you will sweetly sleep and rest. For God will make you to dwell in safety. You may be in Russia under the dic­tator, in prison or concentration camp, you may be forsaken of man and hated by him, but when you have the light of God shining in your heart, you will sweet­ly sleep. A little while of suffering and you will be ushered into the palaces of the heavenly King by the angels of God. And you will see the light of the eternal sun who will never set. There sahll be no night there.

Dear reader, if that happens you will say with the apostle Paul: For God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Is it not wonderful? I would ask you in all sincerity: what can the world of­fer in the face of all this beauty? Well, I will tell you or, rather, the text will tell you.

The best that the world will give is corn and wine. They may even increase the measure to you. Corn and wine are the staples of almost luxurious living. Yes, there is that in the world that will fill your stomach. You may even smile after your hearty meal and the cup of wine may flow over, making glad the heart of man.

But I would warn you. Do not build anything on that gladness. In it are the very seeds of eternal misery and suffering of hell. If you have no more than the increase of corn and wine, you are poor in­deed. The poet says: Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased. And no wonder. When God lifts up over your weary heart the light of the gospel of Je­sus Christ, you have a gladness that is eternal, heav­enly, glorious. It will fill all your real needs. That heart of yours needs that light, no matter who you may be. Without it, you are miserable even in the midst of overflowing bins of corn and vats of wine. You are created in the image of God and need to lie in His arms, looking up into the eyes of God, in order to be really happy. Safe in the arms of Jesus, we sing, and well we may. There is safety and plenty and joy unspeakable in the flock and the fold of Christ.

Corn and wine and gladness. Yes, that is your por­tion if you are a simple mortal, of the earth earthy. But if you have no more than that, you will even taste sorrow in the midst of your laughing and mirth. That is one of Solomon’s wise proverbs. There will be a gnawing and clawing grief in the depths of you. Be­cause you will miss the only real good there is: and that is the triune covenant Jehovah in the Face of Jesus of Nazareth.

The poet, however, boasts of a better, an exceeding gladness. It is the gladness when you have found your God. In Him is light, heavenly light. Of that light we often sing. Listen: Jehovah is my light, and my salvation near; who shall my soul affright, or cause my heart to fear? While God my strength, my life sustains, secure from fear my soul remains. Uplifted on a rock, above my foes around, amid the bat­tle shock, my song shall still resound; then joyful of­ferings I will bring; Jehovah’s praise my heart shall sing! Yes, it is a little bit of heaven.

And I would have you note, dear reader, that this wondrous gladness and trust is given, it is put into my heart, says the poet. No man can give it to you, be he ever so persuasive. No, it is God who does it. And He does it by His Word and Holy Ghost. And I assure you that this happens right around you in these days of the latter ages. And He shall continue to do so, until all God’s elect are safe and time ended. And then they shall continue their gladness in heaven for evermore. Here on earth we were glad, it is true and we also sang. But our voice would sometimes break: there is the light affliction which is but for a moment. But it is real, nevertheless. The children of God, the Christian Church of all the ages, are sometimes given over into the hand of evil-doers who hate God and therefore also hate the church. And then it is that our voice will sometimes break. But never fear. Those glad souls who have the light of God’s face lifted up upon their hearts will continue to sing: the warbling of their song is surpassing sweet. For they love God and follow Jesus.

Yes, it is the reason why the poet concludes: I will both lay me down in peace and sleep: for Thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.                                                                 .

You see, when all your needs are fulfilled, when no danger threatens, you are at peace. Peace, wonderful state! What is peace? Peace is that state of your heart and your soul and your mind where you love God, His laws and works. It is that state of man where all rebellion against God is rooted out of him and where he lives the life of God Himself. You may say that peace is that state where the heartbeat of God and of His child beat in unison.

Is it a wonder then that this man will lay himself down and sleep? If I may know that God is for me, who then could ever be against me? If He did not spare His only begotten Son but gave Him up for me, what then can be against me? Oh no, all things work together for good unto those that love God. There­fore, he will lay him down and sleep. He is safe, everlastingly safe.

Have no fear, God will make him to dwell in safe­ty. That does not mean that you will have no troubles and trials, pains and miseries. No, I could make out a case for the theme that God’s people have even more troubles than the worldlings. No, but it means this: God will turn all things to his profit. It is the portion of those who have the light of God in their heart. They will sing the psalms of David in the depths of the dungeons. Take away everything this man has in this sorry earth. Bring him to the stake and burn him with fire. He is safe in the arms of Jesus. If you will, please, step a little closer to that burning stake, you will hear him sing. Listen: In God’s love abiding I have joy and peace. More than all the wic­ked, though their wealth increase. In His care confid­ing, I will sweetly sleep, for the Lord my Savior, will in safety keep!

Say not that this is fiction! The pages of your his­tory book will testify that this saint sang on the burn­ing pyre. A little more suffering and the angels came to bring his soul to heaven. And there he will con­tinue his song. But there its melody is sweeter. Here on earth he saw a little bit, but there he can see per­fectly that which makes glad the heart of man. It is the light of God’s face in Jesus! Amen.

G. Vos