Nineteenth Day: "Yea, though I WALK through the valley."
There is probably no verse in Scripture with which we are more familiar than this. When the fear of death has taken hold upon us, we have said these words; and, when death was actually upon our loved ones, with shining faces they whispered this text.
There are two interpretations for this expression, the first of which is that the reference is not so much to the future as to the present. "A valley is a low place with mountains on either side. Enemies may be posted on these mountains to shoot their arrows at the traveler, as ever was the case in the East. The Psalmist, however, said he would fear no evil, not even the fiery darts of the wicked one; for the Lord was with him."
And David meant to say that in every trial of life, when enemies were on every hand, we need not lose hope. All the promises of God are ours for such a time as that, and the music of heaven cheers us on our way.
One of my friends, the Rev. Ford C. Ottman, has said:—
''One night from the old ruined castle of the Drachenfels I saw the sun set over the western hills, and heard the chiming of the evening bells along the Rhine; but darkness began to gather, and I must make my way to the little town at the foot of the mountain.
"Perhaps I was half-way down, when I came upon one of the most beautiful spots that it has been my privilege ever to see; it was a veritable bower of fairies; the branches of the trees were twined together; the moss was softer than the softest carpet under your feet.
''Passing through, while the shadows of the evening fell, that place suddenly became vocal with song. Never have I heard such music as that. I stood still in perfect wonder. It seemed almost like coming to the gates of heaven.
"When I arrived at the foot of the mountain, I told a friend of this experience. 'O,' said he, 'you were in the Nachtigallenthal, the Vale of the Nightingales; they sing there every night.'"
When the sun of your life has seemed to set and hope is well nigh dead, and no star of promised day seems to rise in the sky of your life, listen. You will hear him say, "I will never leave thee"; and your soul will make a quick response, "I will fear no evil."
There will be discouragements to-day and every day; but, as there is no valley without a well in it or a spring of water, you may in the midst of it all stoop and drink of the delight of his presence with you. Did he not say, I am with you in all your ways?
"IT IS BETTER FURTHER ON."
I hear it singing, singing sweetly,
Softly in an undertone;
Singing as if God had taught it,
It is better further on.''
Night and day it sings the same song,
Sings it while I sit alone.
Sings it so the heart can hear it,
It is better further on."
Sits upon the grave and sings it,
Sings it when the heart would groan,
Sings it when the shadows darken.
It is better further on."
Further on! how much further?
Count the milestones one by one?
No, no counting, only trusting,
"It is better further on.''
Suggestions for To-day.
1. What if the clouds are above you? Remember that ever since that day when "a cloud received him out of their sight" he has been behind every cloud. James Whitcomb Riley's verse is full of truth,—
"But always keep rememberin', when cares your path enshroud,
That God has lots of sunshine to spill behind the cloud."
2. Remember that it is a "walk through," and you need
not stop today where you halted yesterday.
3. What if you did fail? His love has not in any way wavered toward you. Those were sweet words of Browning's:—
"Have you found your life distasteful?
My life did, and does, smell sweet,
Was your youth of pleasure wasteful?
Mine I saved, and hold complete.
"Do your joys with age diminish?
When mine fail me, I'll complain.
Must in death your daylight finish?
My sun sets to rise again.
"I find earth not gray, but rosy;
Heaven not grim, but fair of hue.
Do I stoop? I pluck a posy;
Do I stand and stare? All's blue."
From The Secret of a Happy Day: Quiet Hour Meditations by J. Wilbur Chapman. Boston: United Society of Christian Endeavor, ©1899.