Lions Lacking But The Children Satisfied
“The young lions do lack and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.”
RIGHT truly did Paul say, “Whereby He has given unto us exceeding great and precious promises,” for surely this promise is exceeding great indeed. In the entire compass of God’s Holy Word, there is not to be found a precious declaration which can excel this in sweetness, for how could God promise to us more than all things? How could even His infinite benevolence stretch the line of His grace farther than it has gone in this verse of the psalm?–“They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.” There is here no reserve, nothing is kept back, there is no solitary word of exception. There is no codicil in this will striking of the smallest portion of the estate. There is no caveat put in to warn us that there are domains upon which we must not intrude. A large field is laid before the children of God. A wide door is open and no man can shut it. “They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.”
Now, we shall notice, first of all, the Christian character beautifully delineated. “They that seek the Lord.” Secondly, we shall notice a promise set in a glorious light by a contrast, “they shall not want any good thing,” although the young lions do lack and suffer hunger.“ And thirdly, we shall consider whether we cannot bring some evidence to prove the fulfillment of the promise.
First, we have here a very short, but very beautiful DESCRIPTION OF A TRUE CHRISTIAN–he is said to “seek the Lord.” “They that seek the Lord (or Jehovah, as the original has it) shall not want any good thing.” Ah, Beloved, if some of us had the drawing up of this description we should have made it too narrow. Possibly some of you might have said, “They that seek the Lord in the established Church, within the pale of the State religion, shall not lack any good thing.”
Others might have said, “They that seek the Lord in the orthodox Calvinistic manner shall not lack any good thing.” Others might have said, “They that seek the Lord in the Baptist fashion, or the Methodist fashion, or some other, shall not lack any good thing.” But it is not written so. It is written, “They that seek the Lord,” in order that it may take in the Lord’s people of all classes and denominations and all shades of character. It is a description very brief, yet full and comprehensive, including Christians in all stages and positions. Now let me show you that the Christian, in whatever portion of his spiritual history he may be, is one that seeks the Lord.
We commence with conviction of sin. That is where God begins with us and no man is a Christian unless the Holy Spirit has revealed to him his own entire helplessness, his want of merit and absence of power ever to accumulate merit in the sight of God. Well, then, the man who is under a conviction of sin and feels his need of a Savior–what is he doing? What is his occupation, now that he is hungering and thirsting after righteousness? Why, he is seeking the Lord! Ask him what is his one want and he will say, “Christ is all my desire–I rise early in the morning and the first thought I have is, ‘O that I knew where I might find Him!’
“I am in my business and my prayers go up to Heaven like hands searching for Jesus. And when I lie down again upon my bed, my heart says ‘I seek Him whom my soul loves–I seek Him, but I find Him not.’ ” Such a man will offer prayer. Why? Not because there is any merit in it, not because he will be praised for it, but to seek the Lord. He turns the pages of Scripture, not as he would a book of philosophy, from curiosity, or for mere instruction, but to seek the Lord. He has one passion, one desire–to seek the Lord. For that he would barter his life and be content to have his name cancelled from the register of men below, if he might but find the Lord Jesus. He desires above everything to have his name recorded in some humble place in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
Are you thus in the dim morn of spiritual life seeking the Lord? Is He your one object of pursuit? Rejoice then and tremble not, for the promise is to you in this earlier stage of your calling, when you are only just struggling into being, “They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.”
But let us go a stage further on, when the Christian has found the Savior and is justified–when he can say, in those sweet words I so often repeat–
“Now, freed from sin I walk at large,
My Jesus' blood’s my full discharge.”
You will find that he has not left off seeking the Lord. No, he seeks now to know more of Him. He seeks to understand more of the heights and depths and lengths and breadths of the love of Christ, which passes knowledge. I ask anyone here who has an assurance that he is a pardoned man, thoroughly justified and complete in Christ–are you not seeking the Lord? “Oh,” you say, “I thirst, I long to know more of Him, I feel that all I have ever known of Him is like the whispering of the sea in the shell, while the awful roar of the sea itself has not yet reached my ears.
“I have heard the whisperings of Christ in some little mercy and I have heard His bounties sing of bottomless, eternal, unchangeable love–but oh, I long to plunge into the sea itself, to bathe myself in the broad ocean of His infinite generosity and love to me.” No Christian ever fancies that he knows enough of his Master. There is no Christian who has found the Lord who does not desire to be better acquainted with Him. “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go,” is the cry of the man who has had his sins forgiven. He sits down at the feet of Jesus and looks up to Him and says, “Master, teach me more, I am a little child. You are a great Instructor. Oh, I long to love and learn more of You.” He is ever seeking the Lord–and in this more advanced stage, the promise to him is, “They that seek the Lord shall not want any good things.”
But go a little further on, when the Christian has scarcely ever a shadow of a doubt of his acceptance. He has progressed so far in spiritual life that he has attained to the stature of a perfect man in Christ Jesus. His faith has become so confident, that–
“His steady soul does fear no more
Than solid rocks when billows roar.”
He can read his “title clear to mansions in the skies.” He has climbed the Delectable Mountain. His feet are standing fast upon a rock and his goings are established. But even then he is seeking the Lord. In the highest flights of his assurance, on the topmost pinnacle of his faith, there is something yet beyond.
When he had sailed farthest into the Sea of Acceptance, there are Fortunate Isles that he has not reached. There is an ultima thule, a distant land, that he has not yet seen. He is still seeking the Lord. He feels that he has “not yet attained,” he is still “pressing forward to the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” But then he seeks the Lord in a different fashion–he seeks Him that he may put a crown on His Head. He is not seeking him for mercy, but to give Him praise. Oh, that my heart could find You! That all its strings might sing sweet music to You. Oh that my mouth could find Your ear and that I might bid it open and listen to the whisper of my song.
Oh that I knew where You did dwell, that I might sing hard by the eaves of Your habitation and that You might hear me forever–that I might perpetually send the songs of my gratitude up to Your sacred courts. I seek You that I may break the alabaster box of praise on Your dear sacred head. I seek You that I may put my soul upon the altar and sacrifice my living self to You. I seek You, that I may go where cherubim are singing, whom I envy, because they–
“All night long unwearied sing
High praises to the Eternal King.”
I will seek You in business, that there I may adorn the doctrine of God my Savior in all things. I will seek You in my songs that I may hymn Your praise. I will seek You in my musings, that I may magnify the Lord in my thoughts. I will seek You in my words, that my conversation may show forth Your praise. I will seek You in my gifts of benevolence, that I may be like my Savior. I will seek You forever, for I have attained enough to know that I am Yours and You are mine.
Though I have nothing else to ask of You, seeing you have given me Yourself–though You are–
“Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh,
My Kinsman near allied by blood,”
though now my soul stands perfect in You and–“Not a shadow of a spotCan on my soul be found,"yet still I will seek You–seek to honor You–seek to kiss those blessed feet that bled for me–seek to worship that dear "man who once on Calvary died,” and put crowns of eternal unfading honor upon His blessed, thorn-crowned, but now exalted brow.
Then bring the Christian to the last period of life, to the brink of death. Set him on those hoary rocks that skirt the edge of Jordan. Let him sit there, looking down at the dark stream rolling rapidly below, not afraid to wade in, but rather wishing to die that he may be with Jesus. Ask the old man what he is doing and he will answer, “Seeking the Lord.” But I thought you had found Him many a year ago, Old Man. “So I have but when I found Him I sought Him more. And I am seeking Him now–seeking Him that I may be complete in Him, at His appearing. That I may be like Him when I shall see Him as He is.
“I have sought to understand more of His love to me and now I do not know it all. I know as much as mortal can know, I am living in the land of Beulah. See this bunch of spices? Angel hands have brought it to me, a present from my King–here are tokens of His love, His mercy and His grace. And do you see yonder the golden light of the Celestial City? And did you hear just now the sweet singing of the angels?” “No, no,” says the young man, “I hear them not.” “But,” the old man replies, “I am on the edge of Jordan and my ears are open, whereas yours are dull. Still I am doing what I have done all my lifelong–seeking the Lord. And till this pulse shall cease its perpetual beating, I will still seek Him, that dying, I may clasp Him in my arms, the antidote of death.”
You will readily confess that this description of a Christian is invariably correct. You may take the youngest child of God–yon little boy ten years old, who has just been baptized and received into the Church. Ask what he is doing? “Seeking the Lord.” Follow him till he becomes a middle-aged man with all the cares of life about him. Ask what he is doing then? Still he answers, “Seeking the Lord.” Put a few gray hairs upon his head and let him know that half a century has gone. Again, ask what he is doing? “Seeking the Lord.”
Then make his head all frosty with the winters of old age and ask him the same question. And he will still reply, “Seeking the Lord.” Take away those hairs until the head is entirely bald and the man is trembling on the grave. What is he doing then? “Seeking the Lord.” Yes, as long as we are in this body, whatever our position, or condition, this will ever apply to us–“They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.”
But let us not leave this one point without asking you one solemn question. Will you answer it? I beseech you to answer it to yourselves. Are you seeking the Lord? No, some of you there, if you only can have your bottle of wine and your fowl, that will satisfy you better than seeking the Lord. There is another–give you health and strength and let you enjoy the pleasures of this world and that will be better to you than seeking the Lord. There is another flying in the face of the Almighty, cursing and swearing–you are not seeking the Lord. Another is here this morning who once thought that he did seek the Lord but he has left off doing it now. He went away from us because he was not of us, for, “if he had been of us, he doubtless would have continued with us.”
There is a young woman who thought she sought the Lord once but she has gone astray–she has backslidden–proving after all that it was mere excitement. Would to God I could include you all in this promise this morning, but can I, dare I, must I? No, I must not. As the Lord lives, if you are not seeking the Lord, the devil is seeking you–if you are not seeking the Lord, judgment is at your heels. Even now, the swift-winged angel of Justice is holding the torch before the fierce messenger of vengeance who, with his naked dagger, is about to execute the wrath of God upon your spirit. Ah, take no lease of your lives–fancy not that you are to live forever. If you have not sought the Lord, as Jonathan Edwards said, “you stand over the mouth of Hell upon a single plank and that plank is rotten.”
You are hanging over Hell by a single rope and all the strands of the rope are creaking, snapping, breaking. Remember, after death, judgment. And after judgment, woe. And after woe, torment. For woe, woe, woe, must be forever. “The wrath to come! The wrath to come! The wrath to come!” It needs a damned spirit to start from the grave to preach to you and let you know something of it. But though one should rise from the grave with all the scars of all his torments upon him, with his hair all crisp by the hot fire of vengeance. Though his body were scorched in the flames which no abatement know. Though he should tell you with a tear at every word and a groan as a stop at every sentence and a deep sigh on every syllable, how horribly he feels, how damnably he is tormented–still you would not repent.
Therefore we will say little of it. May God the Holy Spirit seek you and then you will seek Him and you shall be turned from darkness to light, from the power of Satan unto God.
II. Now we come to THE PROMISE SET FORTH BY WAY OF CONTRAST. “They shall not want any good thing.” That is the jewel. “The young lions do lack and suffer hunger,” that is the foil to set off the jewel and make it shine more brightly. “They shall not want any good thing.” I can hardly speak of that, for there is too much to say. Did you never see a horse let into a wide field where the grass grew so thickly that he scarcely knew where to begin to eat? If not, you have seen children taken into the field where wild flowers grow. It is so full of them in their liveries of white and yellow that the children know not where to pluck first, they have so wide a choice.
That is how I feel when I have such a text as this–“They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.” We have heard of the celebrated check for a million pounds which has been preserved–here is one for millions of millions. Here is a promise wide as our wants, large as our necessities, deep as our distresses. There are some persons whose ambitious desires are very much like the Slough of Despond, which, though the king’s laborers cast in thousands of tons of good material, never could be filled up.
But the Lord can fill them. However bottomless our desires, however deep our wishes, however high our aspirations, all things meet in this promise, “They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.” We take it concerning things spiritual. Are we wanting a sense of pardon? We shall not want it long. Are we desiring stronger faith? We shall not want it long. Do you wish to have more love to your Savior, to understand more concerning inward communion with Jesus? You shall have it. “They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.”
Do you desire to renounce you sins, to be able to overcome this corruption or that? To attain this virtue, or that excellency? “They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.” Is it adoption, justification, sanctification, that you want? “You shall not lack any good thing.”
But are your wants temporal? Do you want bread and water? No, I know you do not, for it is said, “Bread shall be given you and your water shall be sure.” Or, if you do want it somewhat, it shall come before long. It shall not be to starvation. David said, “I have been young and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” Do you want clothes? You shall have them. “He that clothes the lilies of the valley, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” Do you need temporary supplies. You shall receive them, for “your heavenly Father knows that you have need of these things.”
Whatever your desire, there is the promise, only go and plead it at the Throne and God will fulfill it. We have no right to look for the fulfillment of the promises unless we put the Promiser in mind of them, although truly, at times, He exceeds our desires or wishes. He gives us these promises as His notes of hand, His bills of exchange and if we do not take our notes to get them cashed at the Throne it is our fault, for the promise is just as good–“they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.”
But there is a contrast and we will proceed to that at once. “The young lions do lack and suffer hunger but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.” The old Psalter has it–“The rich had need and they hungered. But seekers of the Lord shall not be deprived of all good.” It appears that there is only the difference of a very little mark in the Hebrew between the words “mighty men” and “young lions.” But it is of very little consequence, for, doubtless “the young lions” are put by way of figure to denominate certain characters of men who do “lack and suffer hunger.”
There are certain men in the world who, like the lions, are kings over others. The lion is lord of the forest and at his roar others tremble. So are there men who walk about among us–noblemen, respectable, great, honorable–persons who are had in reverence and esteem and they suppose, sometimes, because they are lions they are sure never to have any spiritual hunger. They are great and mighty men. They have no need of a Savior. Are they not the elders of the city? Are they not mighty men of valor? Are they not noble and great? They are, moreover so excellent in their own esteem that their proper language seems to be when they come before their Maker’s bar–“Lord, I had not a very bad nature and wherein it was a little bad, I made the best of it! And wherein I did not do quite as well as I ought, Jesus Christ will make it up.”
Talk to these men about being depraved! “Rubbish!” they say. They know better–their heart is pure enough. They have no need of the Holy Spirit. They are young lions–you small mice may want it, but not they indeed! They have no need of another’s righteousness to cover them–their old shaggy mane is glory enough to them. But do you know these young lions “lack and suffer hunger”? Yes, even when we do not know anything about it. They can play bombast before men, but they “lack and suffer hunger” when they are alone.
A suspicion often crosses their minds that their righteousness is not good for much. They know very well that while they can make a long prayer the poor widow’s house sticks in their throat. That while they boast of their good works they are no better than they should be. You may think, perhaps, like David, that, “they are not plagued like other men.” But you don’t know that. They are very often plagued when they do not tell you. When they roar so loudly their mane scarcely covers their bare ribs.
“The young lions do lack and suffer hunger,” but, blessed be God, “they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.” Poor and helpless though they are, having no works of righteousness of their own, confessing their sin and depravity, they shall want no good thing. Is it not amazing? There is a poor sinner who has sinned against God and in every way dishonored His name. Yet he cannot lack any good thing–
“Poor, helpless worms in Christ possess,
Grace, wisdom, peace and righteousness.”
Again–by young lions we may understand men of cunning and men of wisdom. The lion goes out at night and prowls silently through the jungle. It has a keen scent and knows where to find its prey. It smells the fountain and knows that the antelope will go there to drink. When he comes, the lion crouches down, with wild eyes looks upon him and in a moment, before the antelope is aware, he is in the fangs of the lion. Men of cunning and wisdom–have you not seen such? Have you not heard their boastful exclamation, “Submit myself to a dogmatic preacher! No, Sir, I will not! Believe in the plenary inspiration of the Scriptures? I cannot believe in any such absurdity!
“Sit at the feet of Jesus and learn of Him in the Scriptures! No, Sir, I cannot! I like something to discuss. I like an intellectual religion. I cannot believe everything simply because God says it. I want to be allowed to judge for myself. Am I not wise and learned?” And when he sees us in distress, sometimes he says, “Nonsense! You have no brains! You poor Calvinists must be bereft of your senses.” And yet we can show as many men of sense as they can and we are not afraid of them, however much they glory in their wisdom.
But sometimes the poor Christian is frightened by them. He cannot answer their sophisms. He does not see his way through their labyrinths and cannot escape from their nets. Well, don’t try to escape from them. Let them talk on. The best answer is often silence. But do you know that these young lions, so gloriously self-sufficient, when in argument with you, in secrecy often “lack and suffer hunger”? There was never an infidel in the world that did not suffer spiritual hunger, though he might not confess it. His creed did not satisfy him. There was a hollow place, an aching void somewhere, which the world could never fill.
But “they that seek the Lord,” who take the Scriptures for their guide, who bow implicitly to the words of Jehovah, “do not lack any good thing.” They feel no hollow unoccupied–Christ has filled their hearts–and they are satisfied with His presence and His love. “The young lions do lack and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.”
Again–the young lions denote those who are very strong, so that they hope to save themselves and very swift in their course of profession. Some are very fierce in the matter of religion, very anxious to obtain salvation. And they are very strong, so that they think it scorn to borrow strength of another. Like the Jews, they follow after righteousness, but they do not attain it because they seek it by the works of the Law. Have you never seen what they will do? There is a goodly chapel they have built. They are engaged at six o'clock in the morning at prayers and repeat so many Ave Marias and Pater-Nosters.
Then comes the daily service, the “mass,” and all that rubbish–the messe–as they call it in France and verily a mess it is. Then they whip themselves, fetch blood from their bodies and perform all kinds of penances. Even among Protestants, merit-mongers have not quite disappeared. For there are many who are full of holy works in which they are trusting for salvation. The poor Christian says, “I cannot perform all these works. I wish it were in my power to serve the Lord more devoutly.” But do you not know that these “young lions do lack and suffer hunger”? The formalist is never satisfied with all his forms. The hypocrite is never contented. There is always something he misses that makes his heart ache.
Then we may take it in a temporal sense. Young lions may mean deep cunning schemers. Have you ever seen men with their thousand schemes and plans to make themselves rich–men who can overreach others–who are so subtle that you cannot see through them? Their instinct seems to be cunning. They are always lying in wait to take advantage of others. They prowl the world around to seize on the helpless widow and the defenseless orphan. Or, perhaps they may be following more legitimate schemes–such as are full of speculation and will involve the exercise of all their wits.
Surely such can live if others stand. But no, they are just the men who “lack and suffer hunger.” Their schemes all prove futile, the arrow which they shoot returns on their own head and wounds them. But they who lie gently down in passive faith, singing–
“Father, I wait Your daily will;
You shall divide my portion still,
Give me on earth what seems You best,
‘Till death and Heaven reveal the rest,”
do not lack any good thing.
Again–by “young lions” we may understand “rich men”–men who have abundance. We have known persons who have ridden in fine carriages and dwelt in noble mansions brought to the depths of poverty. Every now and then we hear of men, almost millionaires, who are turned out into the very streets. Kings have walked our soil without their crowns and nobles even now are living on our charity. Daughters of men in high positions have to work as menials and long sometimes to be allowed to do that. The rich sometimes “lack and suffer hunger. But they that wait on the Lord,” poor as they may be, “do not lack any good thing.”
Again–this may apply to you who earn your living by bodily labor. Perhaps you are a weak and sickly man. You are not one of the “young lions,” like your neighbor, a strong big fellow, who can earn his day’s wages without the least difficultly. He says to you, perhaps, “I shouldn’t like to be such a poor lean thing as you are. If you should be ill, what would become of you? You trust in Providence but I trust in my big arms. The best Providence is to take care of yourself–to go and eat a good dinner and keep yourself trim.” No, no! Have you not seen those young lions, “lack and suffer hunger”?
Our missionary can tell of strong men whom he visits who cannot find employment but are brought almost to starvation. While he finds that they that wait on the Lord lack no good thing. Don’t be afraid because you have a sick and weakly frame–labor as hard as you can–and be sure–if you wait on the Lord you will not lack any good thing.
Once more–the lion is a creature that overcomes and devours all others. We have some such in our society. You find them everywhere. They put their hand upon you and you feel you are in a vice. They understand Law better than you do–and woe be to you if you make a mistake! Won’t they take advantage of you? So in business they can always overreach you. Like sharks, if they do not devour you altogether, they leave you minus a leg or an arm. Yes, but you have seen these men, too, “lack and suffer hunger.”
And among all the miserable miscreants that walk the earth, there is none so destitute as the young lion that lacks and suffers hunger. He puts his money into a bag full of holes. And methinks Hell laughs at the covetous man, at him who grasps his neighbor’s wealth. “Ha! ha!” says the devil, “damn your soul to win nothing! Send your soul to Hell to win a dream! A thing which you had, but it is gone. You did grasp it–it was a shadow! Sold your immortal spirit to win a bubble which burst in your grasp.”
Christian, do not be concerned about temporal things–trust in God–for while “young lions do lack and suffer hunger, they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.”
III. And now, I come to the third part, which IS THE FULFILLMENT OF THE PROMISE. Time fails me and I shall not try to prove to you that God can in the ordinary course of His Providence make a distinction between the righteous and the wicked. That would be an easy task. While God has the hearts of all men under His control, He can make the rich give where He pleases. And He can influence the Church and those that love the Lord, always to take care of the Lord’s poor.
But I am going to state one or two facts by way of stimulating you to assist me in the noble enterprise of endeavoring the Baptists' Fund. It was instituted in 1717 in order to afford assistance to ministers in England and Wales who were in poverty and distress, in consequence of the inability of their Churches and congregations to furnish them with a competent maintenance for themselves and their families.
During nearly a century and a half, it has carried out, so far as its funds were sufficient, the benevolent purposes for which it was established. It publishes its accounts yearly. And from the last printed statement for 1854-5, it appears that in that year, one hundred and sixty-five cases were relieved in England and sixty-five in the Principality, by grants in money to the amount of £1,560, no one receiving a larger sum than £10 and no grant being in any case made where the minister’s income from every source exceeded £80. In addition to the money grants, books also of the value together of £155 have been presented to thirty-five poor ministers unable to purchase them.
Towards raising the necessary funds to meet these cases, collections are annually made in this and in eight or nine other Baptist churches in and about the metropolis. And when the number, character and circumstances of the objects to be relieved and the purpose for which the relief is afforded are considered, it will be well understood that this is no ordinary collection. We have the right of four votes, one for the pastor and three messengers sent by us, owing to our fathers having in olden times deposited £150 by way of starting the fund, the interest of which sum and of that given by other churches, is spent every year.
Different legacies having been left by other persons, a considerable sum has accumulated and I believe the yearly income is somewhere about £2,000 at the present time. We need, however, much more. I am not going to detain you long by telling you about the fund but I will read you one or two letters from the recipients. The first is from an old minister aged eighty. [It is thought best not to print these, lest the worthy men who wrote them should feel aggrieved.]
I think I need add nothing more to move you. There are many poor ministers now, who, when they go up the pulpit stairs, are obliged to hold their arms pretty close to their bodies lest they should rend their coats to pieces. And I have seen them with such coats on, as you would not like to put on if you were going into the meanest chapel in London. I have myself found livery for some of these holy men year by year, but one person cannot supply the necessities of all. I know the case of a preacher who walked to a chapel, within ten miles of this spot and preached in the morning and walked back again.
He also preached in the evening and had to walk back to his house. And what do you think the deacons gave him? The poor man had nothing else to live upon and he was nearly eighty years of age. When he had finished (oh, don’t hear it, you angels! Pray shut up your ears) they gave him–a shilling! That was for his day’s work.
Another Brother told me some time ago that he preached three sermons, walking eight miles and back again and going dinnerless all the while. And the deacons gave him the munificent sum of–half-a-crown! Oh, if you knew all the circumstances connected with the fund, you would not long restrain your benevolence. The funds are mostly given to those who preach the Gospel–Gospel ministers of the best sort–men who preach what we consider to be Gospel–Calvinistic sentiments. And the funds must always be given in that way, for so the deed directs it. I bless God for this Society and I ask you, under God, to take care of it, that while “the young lions do lack and suffer hunger,” the ministers of the Lord shall “not want any good thing.”