Slippery Places Psalm 73:18

Slippery places.—Psa_73:18.

I expect you think they are about the happiest places in the world and I quite agree with you. What a high old time you can have when the frost comes and you go skimming down the long slides, or flying over the ice on your skates, or sailing down the hills on your sled! If you get a fall and a bump or two it only adds to the fun. You pick yourself up and are none the worse. Yes, that kind of slippery place is just splendid.

But the slippery places I am thinking of are not a bit like that. They are covered with thick black mud, and if you fall down you come up all muddy and dirty —that is to say, if you don’t sink altogether in the mire.

Now perhaps you are wondering where these places are, because of course you want to avoid them. Well, they are to be found in any place where we are in danger of doing wrong. When we are with bad companions, we are in a very slippery place. When we are doing something we would rather our mother did not see us do, we are in a slippery place. When we are tempted to tell a lie to shield ourselves from punishment, or copy our school work to save ourselves trouble, we are in a slippery place. When we are very sure of ourselves, sure that nothing could tempt us to do wrong, that nothing could ever make us fall however much other people might tumble down, then we are in a very slippery place indeed, and the slightest push from behind will send us sprawling in the mud.

1. The first thing I want to say about these slippery places is—never walk into them of your own accord.

There was a young fox once who was just setting out in life. He didn’t know very much about it, but he had the sense to ask the advice of those older and wiser than himself. So he went to his father and asked him to tell him some trick by which he could get away from the hounds if they were chasing him. Father Fox was a wise old gentleman, and he bore several scars which showed that he had been through many a tough fight. But when his son asked him that question he shook his head. “No, my dear boy,” said he, “I can tell you of no such trick. In my experience, the best plan is to keep out of the hounds’ way.”

And that is the safest way to deal with the slippery places—keep out of their way. Sometimes they are disguised. They look very safe and pleasant till we try to walk on them. But more often they are well advertised. There is a big danger board up with letters a foot long which the eyes of conscience can read only too well; and if we come to grief on them it is our own fault.

A good old man tells us how, when he was a small boy, a minister came to his home and gave him a piece of wise advice which he never forgot. “When in trouble,” he said, “kneel down and ask God’s help; but never climb over the fence into the devil’s ground and then kneel down and ask help. Pray from God’s side of the fence.” And that just means, don’t run into temptation, don’t walk on to the slippery places of your own accord.

2. But sometimes we find ourselves in a slippery place through no fault of our own. Sometimes we are suddenly met by a big temptation although we have tried to keep to the firm, straight path. And all of a sudden our feet feel very shaky, and we are terribly afraid we shall fall in the mud. What are we to do then? Well, there are just two things we can do.

First, we must plant our feet as firmly as we can and walk on steadily and carefully till we reach safer ground. God sometimes lets temptations come to us in order that, in conquering them, we may become stronger and better and braver.

And, second, we must remember that God is holding us up. If you look up the second last verse of the second last book in the Bible you will find a beautiful sentence that the minister often repeats at the end of the service. It begins, “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling” or, as the Revised Version of the Bible puts it, “Now unto him that is able to guard you from stumbling.” And I want you to remember these words every time you find yourself in a slippery place.

Have you seen your mother helping your little baby brother to walk? She puts her hands under his arms and holds him up so that he cannot fall. And God is just like that. He puts His strong hands under our arms, and if we lean on Him we need never stumble, however slippery our path.