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Get All the Good You Can from Providences

{Since the Heavenly Trade Is the Best Trade…

Exhortation and Counsel to Professors of Christianity

Use Everything for Heavenly Advantages

Get All the Good You Can from Providences}

Get all the good you can from providences, both from favorable providences and frowning providences. These are the north and south winds that the beloved causes to blow on his garden that the spices might flow forth (Song of Solomon 4:16).1085 Providences, whether prosperous or afflicting, fulfill divine purposes and accomplish precious promises for saved souls; they are designed for the good of believers. Examine the providences of God if you want to get good from them. “Observable things,” said worthy Mr. Blair, “do follow those who are given to observation.” Does God bring you under smiling providences? Get some good from them. In these, the Lord writes legible characters of His covenant love to His people. Oh, read the tenderness, love, bounty, and faithfulness of God in them and lay them to heart. Get your heart to write back letters of love and return thankfulness to God. Receive giving providences with thankful hearts and the sacrifice of praise (2 Chronicles 29:31).1086 Let the Lord supply you concerning receiving as well as giving (Philippians 4:15).1087 If left-hand mercies1088 flow in on you, take heed lest those floods overflow their banks and destroy your affections for God and the circumspect way of life. Christian, it is a safe rule to fear your mercies as well as afflictions. There is usually less fear, therefore more danger from declared friends than declared enemies. It was the prayer of Queen Elizabeth to be delivered from her friends; she would fight against her enemies. Further, if you now have a spring-rain-fed stream of outward mercies, prepare for low water. The comforts of this world are not standing pools, but running streams and rolling seas that ebb and flow. Do not expect too much from them. Entertain your incoming mercies as strangers who have their time to go as well as come. “He said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord’” (Job 1:21 NASB).

Also get good from taking as well as giving providences; bless God for them. There is more self-denial and pure love to God expressed in such acknowledgments than in praises for bestowing mercy. Besides, divine grace flows as well through dry streambeds as through broad streams of outward comforts. It is the same hand of the Father that either strips off clothing or clothes His children. The fork,1089 as well as the rake,1090 belongs to the covenant of grace and peace. Neither love nor hatred is known by these things (Ecclesiastes 9:1).1091 Some have never found more than when they have lost all. The Lord often makes people’s losses their gains and their gain of earthly things their losses. Saul lost his donkeys and found a kingdom (1 Samuel 9:3; 10:1).1092 Shimei found his slaves and lost his life (1 Kings 2:40, 46).1093 Do not trust in earthly things for your happiness or comforts. How often do people prick their fingers to get a few fading roses that wither as soon as plucked. Think well of God under scattering providences and believe He loves you as much when He removes your mercies as when He gives them. Look to God in providences; see from whence those winds actually come that blow down your houses and scatter your comforts. Inquire why God contends with you (Job 10:2).1094 Does not that worm that devours your beloved plant (Jonah 4:7)1095 breed inside your carnal security, pride, unthankfulness, and abuse of earthly blessings while you had them? Search out the cause of God’s displeasure, acknowledge His justice and righteousness in it, humbly bear His indignation, bow down at His feet, kiss His rod and hear the rod’s voice. This is how to get good from the worst of providences.

1085Awake, O north wind, and come, O south wind! Blow upon my garden, let its spices flow. Let my beloved come to his garden, and eat its choicest fruits” (Song of Solomon 4:16 ESV).

1086Then Hezekiah said, ‘Now that you have consecrated yourselves to the Lord, come near and bring sacrifices and thank offerings to the house of the Lord.’ And the assembly brought sacrifices and thank offerings, and all those who were willing brought burnt offerings” (2 Chronicles 29:31 NASB).

1087And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only” (Philippians 4:15 ESV). Giving and receiving refer to Paul’s ministry to them and their meeting Paul’s temporal needs.

1088How blessed is the man who finds wisdom And the man who gains understanding. Long life is in her right hand; In her left hand are riches and honor” (Proverbs 3:13, 16 NASB).

1089In this context, the fork is used to bring to one a single bite at a time. See next footnote.

1090In this context, the rake is used to haul in large quantities with each stroke. See previous footnote.

1091For I considered all this in my heart, so that I could declare it all: that the righteous and the wise and their works are in the hand of God. People know neither love nor hatred by anything they see before them” (Ecclesiastes 9:1 NKJV).

1092Now the donkeys of Kish, Saul’s father, were lost. And Kish said to his son Saul, ‘Please take one of the servants with you, and arise, go and look for the donkeys’” (1 Samuel 9:3). “Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head, and kissed him and said: ‘Is it not because the Lord has anointed you commander over His inheritance?’” (1 Samuel 10:1 NKJV). Notice that it was actually Saul’s father’s donkeys that were lost.

109340So Shimei arose, saddled his donkey, and went to Achish at Gath to seek his slaves. And Shimei went and brought his slaves from Gath.” 46So the king commanded Benaiah the son of Jehoiada; and he went out and struck him down, and he died. Thus the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon” (1 Kings 2:40, 46 NKJV).

1094I will say to God, Do not condemn me; let me know why you contend against me” (Job 10:2 ESV).

1095But God appointed a worm when dawn came the next day and it attacked the plant and it withered” (Jonah 4:7 NASB).

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