How did this man of God live in the statutes of God! In the day they were his pilgrim song—in the night his happy meditation. And, truly, if we can ever spend the waking moments of the night with God, "the darkness is no darkness with us, but the night shines as the day." Many a tried believer has found this cordial for the restlessness of a wakeful night more restorative to the quiet and health of his earthly frame, than the most sovereign specifics of the medical world. "So He gives His beloved sleep." And if in any night of affliction we feel the hand of the Lord grievous to us, do we not find in the remembrance of the Lord a never-failing support? What does our darkness arise from, but from our forgetfulness of God, blotting out for a while the lively impressions of His tender care, His unchanging faithfulness, and His mysterious methods of working His gracious will? And to bring up as it were from the grave, the remembrance of God's name, as manifested in His promises, and in the dispensation of His love; this is indeed the "light that is sown for the righteous," and which "springs up out of darkness." It is to eye the character of the Lord as All-wise to appoint, Almighty to secure, All-compassionate to sympathize and support. It is to recollect Him as a "father pitying his children;" as a "friend who loves at all times," and who "sticks closer than a brother." And even in those seasons of depression, when unwatchfulness or indulgence of sin have brought the darkness of night upon the soul, though the remembrance of the name of the Lord may be grievous, yet it opens the way to consolation. It tells us, that there is a way made for our return; that "the Lord waits, that He may be gracious;" and that in the first step of our return to our Father, we shall find Him full of mercy to his backsliding children. Thus, though "weeping may endure for a night, joy comes in the morning."
Study the Lord's revelation of His own name; and what more full perception can we conceive of its support in the darkest midnight of tribulations? "And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him (Moses), and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed—The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty." Can we wonder that such a name as this should be exhibited as a ground of trust? "The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runs into it and is safe." "Those who know Your name will put their trust in You." Even our suffering Lord appears to have derived support from the remembrance of the name of the Lord in the night of desertion, "O my God, I cry in the daytime, and You do not hear; and in the night-season, and am not silent. But You are holy, O You who inhabits the praises of Israel!" And from the experience of this source of consolation, we find the tempted Savior directing His tempted people to the same support, "Who is among you who fears the Lord, who obeys the voice of His servant, who walks in darkness, and has no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God."
The main principles of the Gospel are involved in this remembrance of the Lord's name. Memory is the storehouse, in which the substance of our knowledge is treasured up. Recollections without faith are shadowy notions. But we have confidence that our God in Himself—and as engaged to us—is all that the Bible declares Him to be. How vast then are our obligations to His dear Son—the only medium, by which His name could be known or remembered, "who has" so "declared Him!" And here is the spring of practical religion. We shall keep His law when we remember His name. A sense of our obligations will impel us forward in diligence, heavenly-mindedness, and self-devotedness in our appointed sphere. Obedience will partake far more of the character of privilege than of duty, when an enlightened knowledge of God is the principle of action.
"I have remembered your name, O LORD, in the night." When others slept I woke to think of you, your person, your actions, your covenant, your name, under which last term he comprehends the divine character as far as it is revealed. He was so earnest after the living God that he woke up at dead of night to think upon him. These were David's "Night-Thoughts." If they were not "Sunny Memories" they were memories of the Sun of Righteousness. It is well when our memory furnishes us with consolation, so that we can say with the Psalmist—Having early been taught to know you, I had only to remember the lessons of your grace, and my heart was comforted. This verse shows not only that the man of God had remembered, but that he still remembered the Lord his God. We are to hallow the name of God, and we cannot do so if it slips from our memory.
"And have kept your law." He found sanctification through meditation; by the thoughts of the night he ruled the actions of the day. As the actions of the day often create the dreams of the night, so do the thoughts of the night produce the deeds of the day. If we do not keep the name of God in our memory we shall not keep the law of God in our conduct. Forgetfulness of mind leads up to forgetfulness of life.
When we hear the night-songs of revelers we have in them sure evidence that they do not keep God's law; but the quiet musings of gracious men are proof positive that the name of the Lord is dear to them. We may judge of nations by their songs, and so we may of men; and in the case of the righteous, their singing and their thinking are both indications of their love to God: whether they lift up their voices, or sit in silence, they are still the Lord's. Blessed are the men whose "night-thoughts" are memories of the eternal light; they shall be remembered of their Lord when the night of death comes on. Reader, are your thoughts in the dark full of light, because full of God? Is his name the natural subject of your evening reflections? Then it will give a tone to your morning and noonday hours. Or do you give your whole mind to the fleeting cares and pleasures of this world? If so, it is little wonder that you do not live as you ought to do. No man is holy by chance. If we have no memory for the name of Jehovah we are not likely to remember his commandments: if we do not think of him secretly we shall not obey him openly.