For the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it: and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it.
The Lord, by the prophet Isaiah, had a message for the people of Israel when they entered into covenant, as the prophet earlier said (Isaiah 28:14), with hell and with death. Ahaz, the king of Judah, is known for his wickedness and idolatry. Because of his wickedness, Judah was vexed by their enemies, including the kingdom of Israel to the north of them, and Syria. When a prophet interceded with the kingdom of Israel to not hold their brethren captive, the Israelites carried the captives back to Judah. You would have thought that Ahaz would have learned, but rather than turn to the Lord and repent of his wicked ways, he sent to the Assyrians for help. The Edomites and the Philistines were also invading Judah at that time.
The result of asking the king of Assyria for help was this:
2 Chronicles 28:20–21 — “And Tilgath-pilneser king of Assyria came unto him, and distressed him, but strengthened him not. For Ahaz took away a portion out of the house of the LORD, and out of the house of the king, and of the princes, and gave it unto the king of Assyria: but he helped him not.”
So much for a treaty!
Ahaz was a rebel against the Lord from the beginning of his reign, and in the times of distress, the record says, he trespassed “yet more against the LORD” (2 Chronicles 28:22).
Hezekiah, Ahaz’s son, was very much unlike his father. He is known as one of the greatest of Judah’s kings. He rebelled against the Assyrians, but then, when the Assyrians invaded, even he gave them the tribute money and more. The Assyrians invaded anyway (2 King 18). Would Hezekiah seek help from Egypt? He was warned not to by the word of the Lord through the prophet Isaiah in chapter 30, and Rab-shakeh, one of the military leaders of Assyria said the same to Hezekiah’s men, that Egypt would be of no help.
This is the context of Isaiah 28:20. Your enemies will not back off if you make a treaty with them. You cannot payoff a thug for protection and expect it to go well. And some people promise the world and help and are incapable and really of no help. All promise comfort, but turn out to be the comfort of a bed that is too short, and a blanket that is too small.
At the church where I have been attending, the pastor, in his message, referred us to a message from 1960 from a Baptist minister speaking about the direction that the United States would take at that time. The question was would the nation take a turn to godliness, or to more government. Well, we now see where that led, didn’t we?
Much of it caused me to think about many of the things to which we turn to be our comfort, only to find a bed too short and a blanket to small. Realizing the context of this verse, the people to whom it was written and why, along with the prophetic implications, we can and should learn from this.
“Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will trust in the name of the LORD our God.” — Psalm 20:7
So many unworthy things we lean on rather than the Lord!
Where will we place our trust? Who will protect us? Some will say that we should trust our government and authorities to protect us. Indeed, some will say that we should trust them exclusively and give all ability to protect ourselves against evil-doers to the government. Yet in so many other things they do not trust the government. Others live life thinking of nothing but self protection and self defense. Some trust in government, and some in guns…
Understanding the times, that these are evil days and this is a present evil world, it would sure not be wise to trust in fallible, corrupt men to be our only protection, and neither is it wise to lean on our own arm of flesh as the solution to our problems. For sure, the instructed Christian must know that we are promised no sure deliverance from all harm as the people of Judah were promised if they would only turn to the Lord away from their idols and their sins. We are assured that “we must through much tribulation enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). But we do know the hope set before us in Christ:
Romans 8:35–39 — “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Will we look for our comfort in economics and financial success? Is capitalism the solution to all of our ills and if we get back to free markets will all be well? In general, no. Capitalism is not the bed that will bring us lasting comfort. I am not saying this as against a free economic system where those who work the land, plant the seeds, and water the soil are the ones that reap the benefit of the harvest. There is nothing wrong with private ownership of property, and in fact it is assumed in the commandment “thou shalt not steal”, but it is not the bed that will provide comfort, nor the blanket that will provide warmth.
1 Timothy 6:10–11, 17–19 — “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. … Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”
If we are successful in business, as Christians, we certainly should be grateful and use it for God’s glory and Christ’s gain. We also may freely enjoy it, for God has freely given some riches to enjoy. But to trust in these riches is sure folly. They truly are here today and gone tomorrow. I do not speak directly here to the unbeliever, because to him, without Christ, this world and its systems are all he has. As a nation too, “capitalism”, laissez faire or otherwise, will not save a nation. Righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness (not defined as capitulation to evildoers, by the way) is what the man of God should seek after, and the nation that claims to be “One Nation Under God” (how I wish it truly was) should seek the same.
Self-actualization is also not good bed to sleep on. The ancient Greek philosopher Socrates is quoted to have said “To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom”. The Apostle Paul has alot to say about the wisdom of this world in the first chapter of 1 Corinthians—to the “wise” Greeks, no less! King Solomon, had a wiser approach to wisdom:
Proverbs 1:7 — “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
The world speaks these days of finding your true self, and being true to yourself, as the height of morality. How absolutely foolish, yet this is the bed that the “wise ones” of this world will have you sleep on! That is certainly not the answer. The world in its wisdom knew not God, and all of the wisdom of this world still does not.
To continue still, the world’s best education will give no lasting comfort either. While having knowledge beats being ignorant, the world’s educational systems have taught us that their universities are an end in themselves. They have done such a good job of it that graduates leave with a huge debt for which they demand others pay. And what is the gain? Very many, even from Christian homes and backgrounds leave college as atheists (godless) or agnostic, which is interestingly from the Greek word ἀγνοέω, “agneo”, which is translated “ignorant”.
But even if this is not the case, the wisdom from the best of this world’s institution will leave us sleeping on that bed that is too short.
Jeremiah 9:23–24 — “Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.”
Some would just as soon leave all that behind and live the life described as “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die” (1 Corinthians 15:32). The advertising world sells this one hard. Whether it is the fun of the drunken party, the glamour (?) of smoking, the freedom of unrestricted drug use, or whatever else that is being sold that day, the message is the same: this is the best life, the life that you are really looking for. They certainly never show the lives cut short or ruined by these things, that will be on the news later when we hear of a drunken driving accident or a famous life cut short by a drug overdose.
And what of the sinful lifestyles sold as normal, bringing freedom, and something to be proud of! That is the message we hear today that when this becomes not only normal, but right, we will be on the right side of history! It is hard to believe that this is where we are, but it should not be a surprise. This is exactly where ungodliness of this world sells leads. And those caught up in it, what do they have but a bed too short and a blanket too small. All the pride in their sin does not change the mind of the righteous judge.
Romans 1:32 — “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.”
What about the bed that so many have chosen lately to rest their head, that of identity? Christian, do not try to get your identity from anything other than Christ! I don’t care what your worldly identity is or who you are in Adam. It is in Christ that there is hope, and a place to rest. All other identity is vanity wrapped in pride. We should not find ourselves caught up in the rabble rousing that so defines our age. Outside of Christ, there is no hope. In Christ is great hope and one of those great hopes to us in Christ is that our various identities in Adam are done away.
Colossians 3:9–11 — “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.”
Notice the goal is not a unification of all these divisions, but an abolition of them. Christ is all in all!
As Christians also, we should not be looking for or expecting to find societal acceptance, or a place at the table of this present evil world. We have no place here because at this present time, Christ is at the right hand of the Father waiting until His enemies are made His footstool. He is saving all who will come to Him by faith in His shed blood on the cross, but He is not presently claiming the world for Himself. That is the hope of the coming age. Don’t get me wrong, this world belongs to Him but He is presently waiting in grace for men and women to be saved before the great day of His wrath.
He is also not looking for a place in this world in the form of a world religion among a group of equals. It is salvation by the blood of His cross or nothing. The people of this world should look at us as not like them because we are not and should not blend in.
And while we are on acceptance, let’s talk about political victory. What hope do we have of a continuously well running society when fallible men are at the helm? The political victor that will accomplish all that we hope for is in exile right now. When that day comes, what a great and terrible day that will be for this world. We will then see who is on the right side of history. He will not make the world safe for democracy, but will rule it with a rod of iron and a scepter of righteousness. And it will be glorious. Until then, the best of our leaders are men at best and no matter who is steering the ship, we should live “soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:12–13).
These and other beds in which we all try to find our comfort will prove miserable comforters (Job 16:2).
As a Christian, find your comfort, your all in all, in Christ alone. If you are not saved, the false comforts of this world also will never suffice, and in the end, only death and hell await. But Christ is waiting on judgment to offer salvation to you if you will but believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and the gospel that saves, that Christ died for your sins and rose from the dead.
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved…” — Acts 16:31
Husband, father, engineer...Enjoys fishing, archery, guitar, running, and lifting, but most of all reading and studying God's Word.