Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 9, 1961
NUMBER 43, PAGE 5,14a

From A Preacher's Note-Book

James W. Adams, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

"Lord, How Long?"

"Lord, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked triumph?" (Psa. 94:3) The Psalmist looked about him and saw the seeming triumph of wickedness on every hand and thus cried out in despair to God. Such has been the poignant cry from the hearts of men from almost the beginning. Such must often have been the cry of righteous Noah of antediluvian times during the long period of 120 years of almost fruitless preaching as he observed the men of his time whose thoughts were "only evil continually." How often this sad prayer must have been upon the lips of Joseph during that period when he suffered at the hands of his jealous brothers and the lying lips of Potiphar's lustful spouse. Many times in the caves of the mountains, in cold and in hunger, must David have prayed this prayer as he fled from the murderous hands of Saul. How often must it have burst from the lips of Jeremiah as he wept over the transgressions of apostate and putrefying Israel. How very, very often it must have been in the heart and upon the lips of Paul, the apostle of Christ, as he suffered beatings, stonings, imprisonment, rejection by brethren, and finally death for preaching Christ. How many, many times this cry must have been wrung from the hearts of Christians as they were gored by wild bulls, torn by ravenous lions, and burned at the stake in the great arena at Rome under the persecuting Caesars. Then during the long night of the Dark Ages, how often the despairing cry, "How long, Lord?", must have been moaned by those who sought to serve God in harmony with the teaching of His word. How often it must have been upon the lips of the gallant, courageous souls of the Reformation who died for no greater crime than to seek to return the word of God to the people or to reform the scarlet-attired Harlot who sat so securely upon the seven hills of Mystical Babylon. How often it must have fallen from the lips of the sacrificing, persecuted Restorers of the 19th century as they and their holy plea for a "restoration of New Testament Christianity" were everywhere anathematized. Yes, and how often it falls from the lips of the faithful even now in the face of rampant Catholicism, Denominationalism, Skepticism, Sensuality, and a threatened universal defection among hitherto "loyal churches," even as it did a generation ago when the forces of liberality carried the churches into digression and the formation of a new sect, the "Christian Church."

However, even though the precise answer to the question, "Lord, how long?", may not be known, we are not, even as the Psalmist was not, left without consolation and an answer. Hear the Psalmist as he affirms: "....the Lord will not cast off his people, neither will he forsake his inheritance. But judgment shall return unto righteousness: and all the upright in heart shall follow it.... But the Lord is my defense; and my God is the rock of my refuge. And he shall bring upon them their own iniquity, and shall cut them off in their own wickedness: yea, the Lord our God shall cut them off. (Psa. 94: 14, 15, 22, 23) Hear the Spirit-filled Paul as he says, "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day." (2 Tim. 1:12) It is right for me to be concerned and even alarmed at the "triumphs of the wicked," but not to the point of discouragement and despair. My refuge and duty lies in righteousness and fidelity to God and His word. Being assured that "God will not cast off his people" and will "cut the wicked off in their wickedness" and that "he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him," I should never become discouraged, grow weary, or faint in despair. (JWA)


The Israelites "murmured against God" in the wilderness and fell by the thousands for their sin. Their complaining shut the doors of the "Promised Land" in their faces. Their chance of a "beginning again," their hope of breathing the "free air of liberty" were blighted forever by their whining. Too many of us shut the doors of Spiritual opportunity in our faces because of our chronic complaining. "Fate" is always our enemy. "Circumstances" are never for us kind. The following poem by Sam Walter Foss presents some age-old wisdom in a homely, poetical comparison:

Land On Your Feet

You take a cat up by the tail,

And whirl him round and round,

And hurl him out into the air,

Out into space profound, He through the yielding atmosphere

Will many a whirl complete;

But when he strikes upon the ground He'll land upon his feet.

Fate takes a man, just like a cat, And, with more force than grace,

It whirls him wriggling round and round, And hurls him into space;

And those that fall upon the back,

Or land upon the head,

Fate lets them lie there where they fall-

They're just as good as dead.

But some there be that, like the cat,

Whirl round and round and round,

And go gyrating off through space,

Until they strike the ground;

But when at last the ground and they Do really come to meet,

You'll always find them right side up-They land upon their feet.

And such a man walks off erect, Triumphant and elate,

And with a courage in his heart

He shakes his fist at fate;

Then fate with a benignant smile Upon its face outspread,

Puts forth its soft, caressing hand And pats him on the head.

And he's fate's darling from that day, His triumph is complete;

Fate loves the man who whirls and whirls,

But lands upon his feet.

That man, what e'er his ups and downs, Is never wholly spurned,

Whose perpendicularity

Is never overturned.

Infidel Robert Owen argued at length in his debate with Alexander Campbell that every man was the creature of his environment, hence not responsible for what he was. A great many people, not theoretically infidels, actually and practically take this skeptical viewpoint when they excuse themselves for what they are on the ground of the unkindness of fate and circumstances. Man, made in the image of God, can bend his circumstances so as to make them do him service, however unfavorable they may be. Like the master of ancient sailing vessels, he can adjust his sails to catch the adverse winds and make them speed him on his journey. Let's learn to "land upon our feet." (JWA)