The Morning Watches— John MacDuff, 1852
“In the morning, O Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You — and wait in expectation.” Psalm 5:3
“Turn to me, and have mercy upon me, for I am desolate and afflicted.” — Psalm 25:16
“O God, I come to You this morning, rejoicing in the simple but sublime assurance that “the Lord reigns.” Your judgments are often “a great deep.” May it be mine ever to own Your sovereignty, and to rest satisfied with the assurance, “He has done all things well.”
It is indeed my comfort to know that “my times” are not in my own hands, but in Yours. When in vain I seek to explain the mystery of Your inscrutable doings, may I be enabled implicitly to trust Your unswerving rectitude and faithfulness. The kindest and best of earthly parents may err — they may be betrayed into unnecessary harshness and severity — but You, O unerring Parent, will not, and cannot inflict one unneeded stroke. I can own Your wisdom where I cannot discern it. I can trust the footsteps of love where I cannot trace them.
I look back with adoring wonder on all Your marvelous dealings towards me in the past. “When my foot slipped, Your mercy, O Lord, held me up.” How many tear-drops have been dried by You! How many sorrows have been soothed by you! How many dangers have been averted by you! Instead of wondering at my trials, I have rather reason to marvel at Your forbearance. What are my heaviest afflictions in comparison with the deservings of sin? Lord, if they had been in proportion to my guilt, I could not have had one hour of joy.
Give me grace not only to bear all, and to endure all, but to glory in all which Your chastening love sees fit to appoint. Affliction is your own appointed training-school for immortality. If I need such training, Lord, withhold it not. Rather subject me to the severest ordeal of fatherly discipline, than leave me to vex You more with my guilty departures and backsliding. I will confide in the tenderness of Your dealings — that You will conduct me by no rougher path than is really needful. You have given Your Son for me! After such a pledge of Your love, may it never be mine to breathe one murmuring word.
For all in sorrow, Lord, I pray that they may take their sorrows to the “Man of sorrows.” May they be willing to forget their own light afflictions as they behold His bleeding wounds. Blessed God, what a source of joy to the whole family of the afflicted, that the exalted Head and elder Brother has Himself tasted sorrow’s bitterest cup! Lord Jesus, You who have suffered so much for me, grant that by patience and uncomplaining submission I may be enabled to “glorify you in the fires.”
All my beloved friends I commit to Your care. May the Lord be their everlasting portion. Forbid that I should have to mourn in them what would be bitterer than the pang of all earthly bereavement — that they are bereft of Your favor. Make them Yours, and in the midst of life’s vicissitudes and changes, may we all look forward to that better time, and that better world, where sorrow and sighing shall forever flee away. And all I ask is for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
“Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul.” Psalm 143:8