I am sure David must have known something about that fear when, as a boy, he watched his sheep out on the lonely hills at night. But David learned that there was One who was able to protect him by night as well as by day. It was God. And so he wrote of God: “He that keepeth thee will not slumber. God is thy keeper. God is thy shade upon thy right hand. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night, nor for the arrow that flieth by day; for the pestilence that walketh in darkness.... It shall not come nigh thee.”
Let us remember that no real harm can come to us unless it comes from within ourselves. God is our protector. In His love we can trust by day, and in His care we can lay us down to sleep at night without a fear.
There is a story in the Old Testament which says that once upon a time the trees gathered together to choose a king to rule over them.
First they invited the olive-tree; but the olive-tree said it was too busy bearing fruit. Then they asked the fig-tree to be king; but the fig-tree had its work to do, and also declined. Next they waited upon the vine with an invitation; but, like the others, it did not wish to be their king.
Finally the trees asked the bramble to accept the position, and the bramble gladly agreed. The first order it gave was for all the trees to take shelter under its branches or be burned with fire. That sounds just like a prickly, thorny, little bramble, does it not?
That is usually the way of people who like to lord it over other people when they have no ability for it. There are some who want to do so when they are at a party. They want to be the hitching-post to which all the people are tied when they talk. If the bramble takes the form of a boy, he wants to be captain of his team, or he will not play. If it happens to be a girl, she insists upon everybody playing the game she wants, or she will go home in a sulk. These people cannot agree long with anybody. They are quarrelsome and peevish.
Some boys and girls are like horses: they make good single-drivers, but they will not work with anyone else. Some horses go well enough alone, but when you hitch them with another horse they crowd, or bite, or kick it. They cannot “go double,” as we say. That is the bramble-nature showing out in a horse.
This is a bad trait, whether you find it in a horse, a man or woman, a boy or girl. Christ says: “You know the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them. Not so shall it be among you; but whosoever would become great among you shall be your minister; and whosoever would be first among you shall be your servant.” Jesus also said, “I am meek and lowly in heart.” So must all His followers be.
If you are getting any of the bramble-nature, and want to lord it over everybody, you had better give it up. Some of the unhappiest people in the world are bramble-bush kings.