On a recent walk through the South Durham countryside we were pleasantly interrupted by familiar noises coming from a ramshackle cowshed at the side of the lane. On investigation, we
discovered a number of young calves hopefully making known their presence as feeding time approached.
Some weeks later, whilst reading through the prophecy of God’s servant Malachi (Messenger), I found this verse – the 2nd in the fourth chapter, speaking of those who are savingly joined to the Lord Jesus Christ – “Ye shall grow up as calves in the stall.”
At once the living illustration came to mind and I pondered with interest the value of our discovery in the light of God’s Word. Those who are likened to the calves in the stall are in the same verse described as those that fear the Name of the Lord, and in the book of Proverbs we read that “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” or wisdom. Indeed, God has chosen the weak things to confound the things that are mighty, and though in the eyes of this arrogant and “clever” world we may appear as little more than insignificant beasts, yet the Lord of Glory regards us as His jewels. (Mal. 3, 16-17).
Another contrast may be seen as we look at the Word by which the Holy Spirit describes “the proud . . . .and all that do wickedly,” (ch. 4, 1) they shall be as “stubble”. In some of the fields surrounding our farmyard there remained the worthless harvest residue of stubble, which in time would be either burnt off or ploughed in, never to appear again. Of proud and wicked men God’s Word says the enemies of the Lord “shall be devoured as stubble fully dry”. (Nahum 1, 10).
In conclusion, let us consider three characteristics of these
young calves in the stall, that we who are believers may draw comfort from this text.
Firstly – Calves in a stall are weak creatures, and which of us has not been made to feel our weakness. Which of us is not painfully aware that “we cannot do the things that we would”, but rather “when we would do good evil is present with us” so that as the needy calf we groan with our infirmity.
Secondly – The calves gave ample indication that they were hungry, and should not we, as new-born babes, desire (earnestly long for) the sincere milk of the Word (1 Peter 2, 2)?
Thirdly – They were secure – though the North Easterly wind howled about the ancient farm buildings and the gate rattled violently on its rusty hinge; and though storm clouds loomed across the darkening sky, yet for these young animals there was protection, shelter and provision – and in this raging, sinful world, shall we not find a defence in Him of whom Isaiah said. “A man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest”. Indeed, we shall, for the Lord of hosts has spoken to His people once and for all, saying “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms”.