HOW LONG, O LORD? WILL YOU FORGET ME FOREVER? [Ps.13:1]
The gently led nursing flock whose lambs are carried in the
bosom of the Good Shepherd [Isa.40:11], have not yet
known the God of darkness. Jubilant multitudes whose lips spill over
with â€œHosannaâ€? are nowhere to be found when three hours of gloom
shroud Golgothaâ€™s hill. Even disciples sleep through the agony of
For a season, observed our Lord about the multitudesâ€™
response to John, you were willing to rejoice in his light [Jn.5:35].
But were these gladsome throngs huddled about the Baptistâ€™s cell in
Herodâ€™s dungeon? They were not, but God was there.
And thus the God of darkness remained hidden to them.
They do not wish to meet Him thus. To them, God is Light; not in
the sense of blazing holiness and unapproachable magnificence, but
rather â€œlightâ€?, that is, pleasant, cheering, and warm. He is a superficial
benefactor who ministers comfort and contentment to shallow
admirers. To all such, happiness and ease are the hallmarks of
It is inconceivable in their minds that God could ever allow,
less send, darkness, distress, confusion, and unanswered silence.
God of â€œlightâ€? continuously pampers and coddles His darlings
they dash their foot against a stone. But they have never known
He has driven me away and made me walk in darkness and
light…in dark places He has made me dwell like those who
long been dead…even when I cry out and call for help, He shuts
prayer [Lam.3:2, 6, 8]. He has hedged up my way that
pass, and He has set darkness in my paths. He has stripped
my glory, and taken the crown from my head. He breaks me
on every side and I am gone; and my hope He has torn up
When confronted with such passages, the light-minded have
and ready explanation for this condition. â€œSimple,â€? they claim,
is punishing them for their sins.â€? Like Jobâ€™s miserable
counselors, they can conceive of nothing else. But this is not the case.
Jeremiah had not sinned. Job had not sinned. Listen to
Behold, I go forward but He is not there, and backward, but
cannot perceive Him; when He acts on the left I cannot behold
He turns to the right, I cannot see Him.
But He knows the way I take; when He has tested me, I shall
forth as gold. My foot has held fast to His path; I have kept
way and not turned aside. I have not departed from the
command of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more
my necessary food.
But He is in one mind and who can turn Him? And what
soul desires, that He does. For He performs what is appointed
me; and many such things are with Him. Therefore I am
troubled at His presence: When I consider, I am afraid of Him [Job
Even the man after Godâ€™s own heart passed through the valley
of the shadow of death [Ps.23:4]. Though God was there and David
trusted in the Lord, yet the face of God was hidden from Him
The sons of Korah had the same testimony. You have
rejected us and brought us to dishonor…You give us as sheep to be
eaten…all this has come upon us, but we have not forgotten You,
and we have not dealt falsely with Your covenant. Our heart has not
turned back, and our steps have not deviated from Your way, yet
You have crushed us in the place of dragons, and covered us with the
shadow of death…Arouse Yourself, why do You sleep, O
Lord?…Why do You hide Your face and forget our affliction and our
oppression? [Ps.44:9, 11, 17-19, 23, 24].
God Himself singled out Job as there was no one like him on
the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning
away from evil [Job 1:8]. Yet this very man encountered the God of
darkness as perhaps no other man has, before or since. Hear his cries!
The arrows of the Almighty are within me, their poison my
spirit drinks; the terrors of God are arrayed against me…but it is still
my comfort and in the pain which spares not, I would rejoice that
I have not denied the words of the Holy One [Job 6:2-4, 10].
Have I sinned? What have I done to You, O Watcher of
men? Why have You set me as Your target, so that I am a burden to
myself? [Job 7:20].
He who crushes me with a tempest, and multiplies my
wounds without cause; He does not allow me to get my breath, for
He fills me with bitterness [Job 9:17, 18]. God has delivered me over
to the ungodly and turned me over into the hands of the wicked.
I was at ease, but He has shattered me; He has taken me by the neck
and shaken me to pieces, and set me up for His target [Job 16:11,
He has cast me into the mire, and I have become like dust
and ashes. I cry out to You for help, but You do not answer me; I
stand up and You turn Your attention against me. You have become
cruel to me; with the might of Your hand you persecute me [Job
It is quite true that your sins have made a separation between
you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so
that He does not hear [Isa.59:2]. This we grasp as reasonable, having
a clear connection between cause and effect. We are comfortable with
such explanations as they make sense to us.
But this is not what we are discussing here. In this case, the
darkness spoken of is not attributable to the consequences of sin; quite
the contrary. Only those who are upright and godly will meet God in
this way. The immature and casual will not. Neither the half-hearted
and negligent nor the willful and complacent will be visited by the
God of darkness.
For Him to reveal Himself thus to them would scatter what
little faith they possess. They cannot be entrusted with such a
revelation. Their devotion is feeble, needing numerous props of
comfort, softness, and cheer to propel them on to continue following
What is described here is a determined and purposeful
withdrawal by God Himself from the soul who trusts Him indeed. It
is an obscuring of His appreciable presence, an eclipsing of the light
of His countenance.
God is the initiator of this season of gloom and terrors. The
devil is not the agent and sin is not the cause. The blackness of
darkness spoken of descends upon the soul of the righteous from the
Almighty God of love who dwells in unapproachable light, but who
now withdraws into the shrouds of night.
Anguish, groaning, and weeping [Ps.6:3, 6], trouble [Ps.10:1],
forgotten [Ps.13:1], rejection, dishonor, abandonment, crushing,
affliction, and oppression [Ps.44:9-24], driven away in darkness
[Lam.3:2], misery and bitterness [Job 3:20, 21], grief and calamity,
arrows of the Almighty, poison, terror, and pain [Job 6:2-4, 10], set
as Godâ€™s target [Job 7:20], crushing, wounds, bitterness [Job 9:17, 18],
shattering and shaken [Job 16:11, 12], darkness, stripped, broken,
and uprooting [Job 19:8-10], cast into mire like dust and ashes and
persecution [Job 30:19-21].
All of these are ascribed to the hand of God coming upon His
faithful servant. No severer trial can be experienced. This plummets
one to the roots of the mystery of suffering; the godly seemingly
abandoned in dire straits while heaven keeps a silent vigil and sends
What will we do when the perceptible presence of God is
withdrawn? How will we respond when prayers echo unanswered in
hollow tones in our grieving ears? Will love wax cold when no
cheering affection is returned from on high?
Does trust decline when distress descends and deliverance
departs? Can we yet see Him who is unseen though He Himself has
hidden Himself in thick darkness? These are the issues raised by the
God of darkness.
If we believe only when results are evident, we are yet walking
by sight and not by faith. If we love when affection flows with its
warm tide of consolation, the root of self-love yet thrives in our breast.
When we fall from righteousness when the arrows of the Almighty
apparently â€œunjustlyâ€? enter our heart as His target, we betray a
counterfeit uprightness; one which is â€œrightâ€? only if things are â€œrightâ€?
God left him, to test him, to know all that was in his heart
[2 Chron.32:31]. He who will never leave or forsake you [Heb.13:5],
does just that: He leaves. Not in any ultimate or final sense, but to all
appearances and sensibilities, He forsakes.
Alone, with no discernable support from any created thing, no
human sympathy, and with no earthly encouragement, is a severe trial.
But to be abandoned by the Father in heaven, left to act upon inner
spiritual resolve and conviction which owes their source and existence
to the very God now absent, is the ultimate test. This transcends all
It is a test reserved for the mature. Only they will discern the
way of escape in this severest of trials. The young, uncertain, and
unstable would be tempted beyond what they are able if faced with
such. The Lord does not, therefore, test them in this way, for God is
faithful [I Cor.10:13].
But in the darkness, He will reveal Himself in a manner
otherwise unknowable. From Heman the Ezrahiteâ€™s Psalm 88, let us
learn from him who was made sick unto affliction [such is the meaning
of Mahalath Leannoth â€“ v.1].
Here was a godly man who cried day and night to the God of
his salvation [v.1], whose life was full of troubles [v.3], without strength
[v.4], forgotten and cut off from Godâ€™s hand [v.5].
Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the
deeps, Thy wrath lies hard upon me, and Thou hast afflicted me
with all Thy waves [v.6, 7].
No acquaintance visited or cheered him [v.8] as he daily
mourned in his affliction, unanswered by his God [v.9]. It seemed as
if his soul had been cast off because the face of God was hidden from
him [v.14]. Affliction, fear of death, and terrors were suffered under
the hand of God [v.15]. Compassed about with wrath and terrors,
with lover and friend removed far from him, is the ending of this
Psalm of mournful instruction [v.16-18].
We must take note of several things if we will profit from the
visitation of the God of darkness to our souls.
 It is godly, spiritual, and mature believers alone who will
meet the Lord in this way. We should therefore bow ourselves with
our mouths in the dust that we are graced with such a revelation.
 It is the God of heaven who casts the soul into this trial of
darkness. It is not the result of personal sin or from satanic attack.
God does it. We may therefore submit to it even with thanksgiving for
such a visitation.
 There is an end. It does not continue interminably. The
same David who cried, Why do You stand afar off, O Lord? Why do
You hide Yourself in times of trouble? [Ps.10:1], also broke forth in
joy, saying, Blessed be the Lord, because He has heard the voice of
my supplications. The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart
trusted in Him, and I am helped: Therefore my heart greatly
rejoices; and with my song will I praise Him [Ps.28:6, 7]. Thus it is
no permanent condition, not even in this life.
 The records of these deepest of all human afflictions have
been preserved by the Holy Spirit in the Word of God so that through
perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might
have hope [Rom.15:4].
 Through these passages we observe that the most saintly of
men have passed through such unspeakable sorrows under the hand
of God and thus we gain courage to face the same. As an example,
brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in
the name of the Lord. We count those blessed who endured. You
have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the end of the
Lordâ€™s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful
In the darkness we come to grips with the sovereign God
before whom we are helpless. Even godliness, prayers, and suffering
do not move Him. He does according to His will in the host of
heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can hold
back His hand or say to Him, â€œWhat have You done?â€? [Dan.4:35].
Nothing can be done but to lay our hand upon our mouth
and endure in utter trust whatsoever is laid upon us. It is the severest
trial; no earthly supports, no human sympathy, and the God of heaven
strangely withdrawn from His suffering saint. It is darkness indeed.
It is here that we discover that the God who creates light also
brings darkness; blessings of peace as well as calamity [Isa.45:7]. Life
flows from His hand, but so also does death [Deut.32:39]. The delight
and comfort of health is in His power along with sickness and
affliction [Ex.4:11]. He is the God of darkness as well as of light.
It had already become dark, and Jesus had not yet come to
them [Jn.6:17]. No, not yet. They were alone in the darkness and the
sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew [Jn.6:18]. It arose from
the throne of God and descended from heaven by sovereign decree.
He scatters the cloud of His light: It changes direction,
turning around by His counsels; that they may do whatever He
commands them on the face of the world in the earth. He causes it
to come, whether for correction, or for His land, or for mercy [Job
It is dark. You are alone in the perilous craft and Jesus has
not yet come. And it is here that you will meet the God of darkness.