A Brook On The Way
by Dr. Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
(Chapter 10 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, From Vapor to Floods)
"The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool. The Lord shall send the rod of Thy strength out of Zion: rule Thou in the midst of Thine enemies. Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: Thou hast the dew of Thy youth. The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. The Lord at Thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of His wrath. He shall judge among the heathen, He shall fill the places with the dead bodies; He shall wound the heads over many countries. He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall He lift up the head." Psalm 110.
This Psalm looks forward to the coming of Christ in Bethlehem. The Psalmist is projecting his vision to the first coming of Jesus, not the second coming, although that is included, I think. The basic outlook is toward the coming of Christ for the first time. It pictures the week of suffering that is called sometimes the Passion Week. (This is found in Psalm 109 too.) It pictures the week of suffering from the time that He set His face toward Jerusalem to be crucified, buried and then to rise from the dead. It is pictured as a journey. He was going for the last time. Oh, how he must have suffered as He realized that His days were numbered! Then came the awful time of suffering in Gethsemane, when the perspiration fell like drops of blood from His brow. Then as He went on to Caiaphas' court where He was tried in a mock trial, and on to Pilate, from Pilate on to Herod, then back to Pilate. Thee was the scourging with the cat-o'-nine-tails, a long whip with nine different prongs on it. He was hit 39 times across the back. Isaiah 52:14 says that He was beaten so much that you could not tell that He was a human being. Following that, the cross was placed upon Him and He was led up to Calvary. There was the crucifixion, and there was the shame and suffering on the cross, the nakedness and the dogs licking His wounds, the back-handing and the plucking of His beard, the mocking, the making fun of Him as a king, the crown of thorns on His head, and the other events that tell of the suffering of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In this awful time of suffering, we find an unusual statement, "He shall drink of the brook in the way." This brook symbolizes a refreshing drink of water. That brook is a stream that has fresh water from which one need not fear to take a drink.
This Psalm is likened to a king in battle. Here is a king leading his forces. The day is hot. The desert is arid and dry, and the king comes to a place where there is a refreshing brook. He says, "There is a brook in the way." The king stops on a hot day, and gets the refreshment of the brook.
Now what is the "brook in the way" of Christ? This brook is a little stream that runs across the week of suffering in the life of Jesus Christ. Get the picture, very carefully, and you will find a beautiful truth. Here is Jesus in His week of suffering. It is not a time to laugh. There is no enjoyment as far as we can see. Everything is dark and gloomy, the suffering of shame, the suffering of the crown of thorns, the suffering of the agonies of the cross. It is a week we call "a week of passion." Yet trickling across that week of passion, like a brook in the way, something refreshed Him. Something delighted Jesus in that week of suffering, and it is called, "a brook in the way." Like a fresh stream would bring refreshment to a weary traveler, there was something trickling across the path of Jesus, in the darkest week of His life, so that it was like a "brook in the way."
What was this refreshing oasis over which Jesus crossed, that gave Him refreshment like a brook in the way? Was it the home of Mary and Martha, where He spent His last night before being tried? Was it the home of Mary and Martha and Lazarus where they served Him, worshipped Him, cooked for Him, and loved Him? Was that the oasis? I do not know. Maybe it was. Maybe this brook in the way, this little refreshing stream of water, this stream that trickled across the path of Jesus was the wonderful time spent with Mary and Martha and Lazarus in their home. I do not know.
What was this refreshing oasis? What was the refreshing brook in the way? Was it the love of Mary Magdalene, that woman whose body had been possessed of seven devils, out of which Jesus had cast them? She, no doubt, loved Him more than anybody on the face of the earth. She stood with Him when all others had forsaken Him. She stood beside the sepulchre when no one else did. She was there first in the morning when all others had fled. Was the love of Mary Magdalene the brook in the way?
What was this refreshing oasis that crossed the path of our Lord through the week of suffering? Was it the thief who cried for mercy by saying, "Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom"?
Jesus replied, "Today thou shalt be with Me in Paradise."
Was not Jesus dying that sinners might be saved? Was not this the purpose for which He came into the world? Even now, in His death, there cries a thief, "Lord, don't forget me. Remember me when Thou comes into Thy kingdom." Was this the brook in the way? Maybe it was.
Was it the women who stayed until the end? Peter was out cursing in the garden. Judas had betrayed Him with a kiss on His brow. The disciples had forsaken Him and fled. Thank God, a little handful of women stood beside the cross. They tried to give Him something to help His sufferings, and they did give their loyalty. Was this the brook in the way? I do not know.
The Bible does not tell us what it was. We do not know exactly what it was, but we do know there was something in the week of suffering of Jesus Christ that was as refreshing to Him as a spring would be to a weary traveler going across a desert. It was a brook in the way. I do not know what it was, and I shall not advance to you what I think it was, but I would like to suggest two thoughts to you.
1. Every Christian Should Be a Brook in the Way.
So many times in my life I have met such brooks. Have you in your life been weighted down with your load of heartaches and problems? Have you thought life was not worth living? Have you wondered if you could make the day? Then suddenly in a wonderful way, God sent to you a person who was a brook in the way. Maybe a smile when no one else was smiling, maybe a pat on the back when no one else would give it, maybe an encouraging word when no one else could quite give an encouraging word, was to you like a brook in the way. Don't you think it would be a wonderful thing to help the weary traveler, help carry his load with a pat on the back, a smile, or an "I love you," or maybe a helping hand? You and I should be a brook in the way for others.
I was thinking last night of Tommy Ford. He was one of my deacons in a country church in east Texas. He was saved shortly after I became pastor of the little country church. I baptized Tommy shortly after I got there. What a wonderful man! What a sweet wife! What a fine family! What a brook in the way! We had some problems there in the church. Some of the people didn't think I was old enough to pastor a church. Through many heartaches Tommy and his family were a brook in the way.
When I was pastoring in Garland, one night after we had had a little problem which no one knew much about, Jack Barber (God bless him) came tome and said, "Preacher, come to our house and have refreshments after the service." We did. )He didn't know about the problem.) The next time we had a problem, again Jack didn't know about it, but God had a way of telling him to say, "Preacher, come to our house tonight for refreshment." We would. In the six years and eight months that I was Pastor there, we ate in the Barber home only a half dozen times, but every time it was a time we were discouraged and needed help the most. He was a brook in the way.
Everybody is having a difficult time. There ought to be some brooks. There ought to be some people to cheer others on the way. There ought to be some folks who are brooks in the way. Everybody is having a tough time. Everybody is having problems. Nobody needs your insults. Nobody needs your crabby disposition. Nobody needs you criticism. Nobody needs your gossip. Nobody needs you slander. Everybody is having a tough time; everybody has fear of Communism; everybody is afraid of the atomic bomb; everybody is afraid about heart attacks; and everybody is afraid about cancer; everybody is concerned about Vietnam; everybody has a heart that is heavy and broken. Let's see to it that every one of us is a brook in the way, to encourage people in a time of suffering and sorrow.
2. Have a Brook in the Way.
What do you mean, Preacher? I mean this: You should have a brook in the way. I know you are having it rough. I know you have troubles and problems, difficulties and heartaches. I know that, but have a brook in the way.
Now you say, "Preacher, what is the 'brook in the way' for me?" One brook in the way is the church. Every church ought to be a brook in the way. What do I mean by that? I mean that I want the First Baptist Church in Hammond to be the kind of a church that can be a brook in the way to all who attend. When you walk in the doors of this church, I want you to feel refreshed. The church is a brook in the way.
There are folks here this morning whose hearts are heavy and broken and who are discouraged and lonely. There ought to be a brook in the way as we stand to read the Scripture, hear announcements, preach, fellowship, and sing.
People sometimes come to our church and they say, "Pastor, you don't have a morning worship service."
I say, "Yes, we do. We just don't worship like you do. We have a brook in the way, not a stagnant stream. We don't have a cesspool. We want to have something you can drink and be refreshed. When you come to First Baptist Church of Hammond, we want you to have a place where you can lay your burdens down for awhile and rejoice that we serve a living Saviour! There are people here this morning that are sick, I mean, very sick. They don't know how long they will live. They wonder if this will be the last Christmas they will see. I say, "Oh, my God, let the First Baptist Church be a brook in their way. In their time of suffering, may there appear a refreshing stream across their path like trickled across the path of our Lord Jesus Christ." May the church service this morning be a refreshing brook in your path like a refreshment in a dreary world or an oasis for a traveler on a desert. May this be a brook in the way.
There is a family this morning in this service whose boy perhaps yesterday landed in Vietnam. He came by my office this last week to tell me good-bye. He is one of our own boys. We knelt and prayed in my office and asked God to watch over him. Last Sunday he sat in this service. His parents, I'm sure, are here. Their hearts are heavy. Oh, let us be a brook in the way to people like that. In a time of suffering, when you heart is the heaviest, may it always be that when you come to First Baptist Church, there will be that lilt, delight, joy and thrill that will make the service refreshing, not some kind of a funeral where you come feeling bad and you go away feeling worse.
There are people in this service this morning who will face a Christmas Day for the first time without a father. There are people in this service who will face Christmas without a husband for the first time in years. There are people this morning who will face Christmas Day without a delight or joy, but with a dread because someone is gone. They have burdens and heartaches. God has placed across the path a place like this where they can come and feel the refreshment of the brook in the way.
There are people this morning in this service who will be beaten when they get home. As the choir sings, as we have the Lord's Supper, and as I try to preach, may this service be to you a brook in the way.
That is one reason why I put a little humor in my sermons. I don't think there's anything wrong with it. I think God is pleased. I don't think it ought to be inappropriate or obnoxious, but I certainly think that a little laughter here and there causes God to be pleased when His people, with burdens, heartaches, sorrows and loads to carry, have a little trickling brook in the way over which to cross, every Sunday morning and evening and Wednesday night.
There are folks who have had loved ones die. They need a brook in the way. I've walked in this pulpit time and time again when I was so discouraged I could hardly face the service or preach a sermon. As I stood to preach, the service was to me as a brook in the way. Before I got through preaching, I was refreshed. I felt better. Why? There was a brook in the way. How I thank God for this church! How I thank God for this place where we can come with our burdens and leave them! You can forget them for awhile, rejoice for awhile, "Hallelujah" for awhile and praise the Lord for awhile. A brook in the way.
As you have your burdens, problems, heartaches, sorrows and bereavement, I hope that this can always be a place where you can come and feel like, "There's a drink of water here."
I trust that hungry hearts that come to First Baptist can find a brook in the way. I trust that people who lay loved ones in the grave will look forward to Sunday where there is a brook in the way. I hope that those of you whose boy is in Vietnam can come to church and find a brook in the way. I hope you aged people who live alone find a brook in the way. What this old world needs this morning is a brook in the way!
Now wait a minute. A brook is to carry water. Jesus said, "I am the living water." Are you thirsty this morning? Are you thirsty for something this morning that you have not found? You are thirsting for Christ and you don't know it. Have you sought peace in the world? You will not find it there. You are thirsting for Christ and do not know it, for He is the Living Water! He is that refreshing brook. No one has ever come to Christ and been disappointed because Christ has always quenched everybody's thirst. "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters," said God in Isaiah 55:1. In Revelation 22:17 we find, "And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely." If you are thirsting for something in life, come to Christ and find in Him a brook in the way.
If you would take Jesus Christ as your Saviour, you would find that He is your brook in the way. He is that refreshment in the hour of trial. He is that load-carrier in time of a heavy load. He is that burden-bearer in times of burdens. He is that comforter in times of sorrow and bereavement. He is a brook in the way.
May I say this morning, be a brook in the way.
Look all around you,
Find someone in need,
Help somebody today.
Though it be a little,
A neighborly deed,
Help somebody today.
Help somebody today,
Somebody along life's way.
Let sorrow be ended,
The friendless befriended,
Oh, help somebody today!
Be that little brook that crosses the path of sorrow.
Then find in your church a brook in the way.
Then if you are not saved, turn your eyes upon Jesus. Put your faith in Jesus, and find in Him a brook in the way.
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“I am an old-fashioned preacher of the old-time religion, that has warmed this cold world's heart for two thousand years.” —Billy SUNDAY