A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Evening, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *7/17/2012
Quicken me according to your word. [Ps 119:25]
1. You will frequently find David uttering this petition; it is a favourite prayer of his: “Quicken me, oh Lord!” And, since David was like the rest of us — indeed, his experience is the mirror of the experience of all believers — you may depend upon it we all have great need to pray as he did: “Quicken me, oh Lord!” If he felt a coldness and deadness frequently stealing over him, so do we. Did he find it hard to endure such a wretched state, so ought we also to loathe and abhor it. And since he cried to the strong for strength, and knew that quickening must come from God, we ought to know — I trust we do know — the same resource under the same necessity. Therefore let it be our prayer now, and let the same prayer be repeated often: — “Quicken me, oh Lord, according to your word.”
2. How are we to understand this quickening? It means, of course, making alive, keeping alive, and giving more life, — in a word, enlivening. He was alive: he was a spiritual man, or else he would not have asked for life; for dead men never pray, “Quicken me.” It is a sign that there is life already when a man is able to say, “Give me life, oh Lord!” This is not the prayer of the unconverted; it is the prayer of a man who is already regenerate, and has the love of God in his soul: “Quicken me, oh Lord, according to your word.” Quickening, of course, comes to us at first by regeneration. It is then that we receive spiritual life; and just as there is no natural life in the world except that of which God is the author, so assuredly in the new world there is no spiritual life except what God has created. The first quickening is what comes upon us when we begin to feel our need of a Saviour, when we begin to perceive the preciousness of that Saviour, and when with a feeble finger we touch the hem of the Saviour’s garment: then we are quickened into newness of life. But that spiritual life needs to be kept alive every day. It is like the life of a fire, which must be fed with fuel and supported with air. It is like our natural life, which needs food to sustain it, and needs to breathe the atmosphere in order to perpetuate it. We are as much creatures of God’s power in our continuing to live as in our beginning to live; and, spiritually, we owe as much to divine grace that we remain believers as we do when we became believers. As soon as we receive spiritual life, this prayer is most proper as a sacred instinct, “Lord, continue this life in my soul, continue to quicken me; for, if you do not, I have no life in myself apart from you, and I should die if I were severed from you, as does a branch when severed from the vine. Continue therefore, good Lord, to quicken me.”
Obviously, too, some special invigoration and excitement of life must
be implied here. The trees are alive all through the winter. Their
substance is in them when they shed their leaves. The vitality is not
extinct, though our poet of “The Seasons” sings —
How dead the vegetable kingdom lies:
How dumb the tuneful choir!
A divine act of power secretly maintains the life, hidden away until the spring-time comes. Then the chains of frost are broken, the congenial warmth begins to light upon the sealed buds, the sap flows, and the trees in their reviving tints and bursting buds give such promise of returning foliage and flower that in a very special sense they may be said to be quickened. As soon as the sap begins to rise, the buds swell, the leaves unwrap themselves, and the concealed flowers gradually open: a quickening comes over what was alive, and what had been kept alive all through its dreary, wintry time. So, beloved, you see, first of all, God gives us life, then he maintains life, and then at times and seasons (oh that they were more frequent, and even without intermission!) he gives vigour to that life, so that it becomes more visible and mighty; and then it is that in a conspicuous manner the quickening is seen. I wish that he would lead some poor sinner to pray in the very first sense of the word: “Lord, quicken me; give me life”: it would be a sign that life was coming. I wish that every Christian would incessantly pray the prayer in the second sense: “Quicken me, Lord” — that is, “Continually keep me faithful and true to your word.” And then, thirdly, I wish that we would all go on to the third sense, and say, “Lord, enliven me, revive me, lift me up to a higher life, fill me with more of your Holy Spirit, and so make me more truthful and more like your ever-living Son Jesus, who has life in himself.”
4. Having thus introduced to you the prayer, I would use the psalm to explain it — to explain, rather, the experience which commends the prayer to our constant use.
5. First, brethren, I would assign some reasons why you need quickening; secondly, I would point out some motives to seek it; thirdly, we shall mention some ways in which it is accomplished; and fourthly, we will suggest pleas, such as the psalmist used, for obtaining it.
6. I. THERE ARE MANY REASONS WHY WE SHOULD SEEK QUICKENING.
7. You cannot overlook what is confessed in the text because of the deadening influence of this world: “My soul cleaves to the dust: quicken me according to your word.” We are surrounded with dust. We are associated with dust. The best and brightest things that are in this world are made of dust; and as for ourselves, although we have within us a new and higher life that has no fraternity with the dust, there is an old life belonging to us which is brother to the dust — which says to the worm, “You are my sister.” “Dust you are, and to dust you shall return,” is true of every one of us. Yet, beloved, we cannot feed on the dust; that shall be the serpent’s food, it may not be ours. The new life in us craves for something higher, but the old nature tries to be contented with dust. It clings to it; the dust cleaves to it, and it cleaves to the dust. You know how the care and cross, the work and worry of a busy day will often dampen your ardour in prayer and disqualify your thoughts for devout meditation. You cannot think much of treasure laid up in heaven if you think a great deal of this world’s goods. Riches are often a dangerous encumbrance to those who seek after righteousness; they steal the heart away from God. Matthew Henry, in his own pithy style, warns us that the care in getting, the fear in keeping, the temptation in using, the guilt in abusing, the sorrow in losing, and the responsibility of giving account for gold and silver, houses, and lands, accumulate a heavy burden for him to bear who would have a conscience void of offence towards God and towards man. And yet if you have very little of this world’s wealth you will find poverty a trying ordeal. The cares of poverty, like those of property, often break the calm repose which our faith ought to enjoy. If things go smoothly with you in business, then those smooth, deceitful streams bear you away from God; and, if they go roughly with you, then in the deep and in the storm you are too apt to forget the Lord or to murmur against his providence. There is nothing in this world to help a Christian; it is all against him. The world holds us to itself as tightly as it can: it acts like birdlime to us. When we would mount on the wings of eagles we are often like the eagle that you see in the gardens where they keep such creatures: there is a chain on our foot, and we cannot rise. Our soul cleaves to the dust. Now, since this is the case, and since you cannot get out of the world, pray that you may rise superior to its influence. You men of business, you heads of families, you who guide and you who follow, you who are sociable and you who are solitary, all of you must still be in the world and mix with men of the world, therefore cry to God, yes, cry mightily, “Lord, deliver us from the deadening influence of the world in which we live! Quicken us, we beseech you, from day to day!”
8. A second reason for our need for quickening lies in the influence of vanity of what is actually sinful. Refer to the thirty-seventh verse: — “Turn away my eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken me in your way.” As we go around in the world we see a great deal of what is injurious to us. The sins of others leave some kind of stain upon the conscience. I question whether you can read a newspaper and scan the story of a murder or a robbery, or survey with more distant glance in any book of history the sin of your fellow men, without being in a degree injured by it. We are compelled to see in our daily callings much of vanity and sin; we do not merely read about profanity but we hear the oath. You enter into a railway coach, and you cannot always avoid hearing conversation which is the opposite of pure: you go into your house, and, unless you are happily situated so that all are Christians, there will be a great deal of which you cannot approve, and which can be of no benefit to your soul. Besides, the whole world runs after its own idols: each man seeks for his own, and not the things of Christ, and all these things are vanity. “ ‘Vanity of vanities,’ says the Preacher, ‘all is vanity.’ ” Our eyes are often fascinated by the glitter and the glare of these vanities. The world puts on a very beautiful complexion; she attires her head and paints her face like Jezebel, and it is not always easy, like Jehu, to detest her, and to say, “Fling her down, and let the dogs consume her.” We have nothing to do with this vain world. We are not citizens of this land. But, truly, Madam Bubble, as Bunyan calls her, with her purse and her person, continually presenting herself, is enough to make even Standfast himself to stagger, and he needs to fall on his knees, and cry, “Quicken me, oh Lord, and turn away my eyes from beholding vanity.” So there is a second good reason why we should look for quickening.
9. Sometimes we shall have need to cry for quickening because we are surrounded by deceivers. Turn to the eighty-seventh and eighty-eighth verses: — “They had almost consumed me upon earth; but I did not forsake your precepts. Quicken me after your lovingkindness; so I shall keep the testimony of your mouth.” If you are often assailed by foes, and if those foes happen to be the men of your own household, if they jeer at your faith, if they make a jest of holiness on purpose to grieve you, you will need a great deal of grace not to be ruffled. To always be a dove, to be a dove in the midst of ravens: to always be a lamb, to be a lamb in the midst of wolves, is not so easy. He must have much spiritual life who shall be able, wisely and discreetly, to behave himself in the midst of those who lie in wait to entrap him in every word that he says. Remember how David acted in the court of Saul, when Saul eyed him. Unsullied purity is the safest policy. Though Saul eyed David he could not see any fault or find any charge that he could bring against him. Oh that all of you young people, especially those of you who are subjected to scorn and contempt because of your fidelity to Christ, may be doubly clothed with grace, — may you be, indeed, quickened to the full spiritual life, so that you may stand the test of persecution and reproach, of suspicion and disparagement, of misrepresentation and slander, which is sure to come upon you. Do not pray to be rid of the grievance: rather rejoice that you are considered worthy to suffer shame for your Saviour’s sake. You may pray if you like that the distress may be lightened, because your strength is small; you may pray that your flight is not in the winter; but do not make that the special object of your petition. Rather pray for grace to endure it. Pray for life, spiritual life, so that you may throw it off. I suppose that, in order to prevent disease, it is a good thing to remove the cause of the disease, and take away everything that produces ill savours in the air; but the sure thing is for the man himself to be vigorous concerning his own life. I have no doubt many die in moderately healthy localities because they have no stamina, they are constitutionally weak, while the young man who is in robust health, may even pass through a pestilential district, and be for hours in the midst of miasma, without falling prey to its deadly influence, simply because the life that is in him resists the miasma. Your business, dear friend, if you live in the midst of those who are set on fire by hell, who pour out venom against you, is to pray, — “Lord, quicken me so that I may have so much spiritual life that these deleterious influences may not be ruinous to me. Deliver me from them when it is your will; but meanwhile let me have such a full tide of life that I may be able to endure what I must encounter without being injured by it.”
10. Another reason for seeking quickening will be found in the hundred and seventh verse: “I am afflicted very much: quicken me, oh Lord, according to your word.” in seasons of affliction we are very apt to fall into a dark, cold, dead state of mind. We have known people in poverty — I have often been severely pained by it, when members of this church who have become very poor, have given up attendance at the house of God. I could understand their reasons far better than I could appreciate them. Their pride was doubtless wounded, because they could not dress as they used to do, though I am sure no one here thinks any better of you for dressing yourselves in fine clothes. I do not think so much of you myself. Since they could not dress quite so well they felt they could not mix as they did with some with whom they were once equal in circumstances. So they have turned aside from the way. It is a sad thing when they do so. I am much saddened by it. I hope none of you ever will. You ought to think that you will be more welcome at the house of God when you are in trouble than you ever were before; and if you lose your earthly possessions, it is all the more reason why you should seek to hold more firmly to heavenly riches. If you are in pain, too, that kind of affliction has a great tendency to distract the mind. Who can think when the brow is throbbing? Who can be calm when every vein becomes a road for the hot feet of pain to travel on? It is not easy. Well now, we have reason, when we feel weak, when we feel that the mind is suffering in sympathy with the body, to cry, “Lord, let grace triumph over nature. Let your Spirit have power — your blessed comforting Spirit — to lift me up above the weight which now is laid upon me, so that I may glory in tribulation also, because the power of God rests upon me.” You look upon a weight as a heavy matter which keeps you down, but engineers know how to make a weight lift you up. A little adjustment of ropes and pulleys and such like contrivances, and the weight shall lift you up. And the Lord knows how to make our afflictions minister to our quickening, as we shall have to show you directly; but in themselves they deaden us. They do not assist, but rather hinder; and so, whenever they come, then is the time for us to pray with special emphasis, “Quicken me, oh Lord, according to your word.” So I have endeavoured to show you from the psalm itself some of the reasons why we need quickening.
11. II. Now, let us pass on to describe SOME OF THE MOTIVES FOR SEEKING QUICKENING. They are very many.
12. Seek it because of what you are. You are a Christian, and therefore already alive to God. Life seeks more life; it is its natural tendency. If there is life in a tree it seeks to put out its branches; and when it has had its spring growth spurt, you will notice that it then begins to seek for its midsummer growth spurt; and when the midsummer growth spurt is over, the tree always has an eye to the growth spurt of the next spring; and before the old leaves go there is every preparation made for the new leaves. Life is always striving after more life. It is a law of nature. There is a propagation continually progressing in which life develops and multiplies itself. Now, if you have the life implanted by the Holy Spirit you will long for more. If you do not long to have more life, it surely must be because you have no life. The living man will be sure to cry to God that he may have life more abundantly.
13. The next motive is not only because of what you are, but because of what you ought to be. Here is a question for you: I will leave you to answer it: “What manner of people ought we to be in all holy conduct and godliness?” We sometimes like to work out a problem. There is one to solve. Draw a picture, if you can, of what you ought to be. I will tell you, if you draw that picture exactly, what it will be like. It will be like Jesus Christ. That is the answer to this question — “What manner of people ought we to be?” Now Christ was full of life. Although he did not strive or cry, or lift up his voice, or cause it to be heard in the streets by way of seeking after popular acclaim, yet what life was in him. He was full of life to the brim. There was nothing stagnant, indifferent, or purposeless in any of his actions or in all his career. Why, the life of Christ was so full that it seemed to flow out, even on to his garments, so that when they touched his garments power went out of him. How full must he have been of the living force — the inward power! Oh beloved, we ought to be so. Since we are redeemed, since we are quickened by Christ, since we are members of his body, since we belong to him, we ought to consider ourselves dead to sin, but alive to God by Jesus Christ. Above all men who live, the Christian ought to live at the most vigorous rate. We have a race to run; we must not creep and crawl, or we shall not win the prize. We have a battle to fight; should we sheath our sword, take off our armour, and go to sleep, how can we overcome our enemies? We have an agony to endure, according to his power that works in us mightily, and there cannot be this resisting to blood, striving against sin, unless all our passions are aroused and all our powers are stirred for the wondrous inward strife. We ought to ask for quickening because of what we ought to be.
14. Then, we ought to ask for quickening because of what we shall be. “It does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” Brother, you are to be a pure spirit in heaven: be spiritual now. Brother, you are to sing among the angels; rehearse the music now. Brother, you are to see his face that is like the sun that shines in its strength: do not let your eyes be blinded by dust now. Let them be clear, as clear as they can be in this dusty atmosphere of earth. Brother, you are to sit upon the throne with Christ, for he says, “Just as I have overcome, and have sat down with my Father upon his throne, so also you shall sit with me upon my throne”: see where you are to be, and behave yourself accordingly. You cannot maintain the dignity of your high calling, or your heavenly destiny, unless you have an abundance of spiritual life, therefore pray, “Quicken me, oh Lord.”
15. Now, to come back to the psalmist’s own confessions and reflections; he gives us another motive for seeking this in the eighty-eighth verse: “Quicken me according to your lovingkindness; so I shall keep the testimony of your mouth.” We need quickening in order to obey. If our life decays, then the power of sin will get the mastery over us. We cannot go in the way of obedience and punctuality and scrupulous care and inward heartiness, unless we are daily quickened. I am sure you want to be holy, brothers and sisters. I am sure you do. Well, then, pray, “Quicken me.” There is no such thing as dead holiness, it must be living holiness, and you must be made alive in order to be obedient, for there is no such thing as dead obedience. To the altar of God they brought up birds, and they brought beasts, but they never brought fish; and why? Because they could not bring fish there alive, and there must be no sacrifice presented to God except what has life. Ask for life, so that you may have obedience.
16. Look at the one hundred and seventh verse and you have another reason for seeking quickening, because it will be your comfort. “I am afflicted very much: quicken me, oh Lord, according to your word”; or, better still, at the fiftieth verse, “This is my comfort in my affliction: for your word has quickened me.” Do you need comforting? Get quickening: do not so much ask the Lord to give you sweet promises, as to give you inward life, for in life there is always light. “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” Just as the light is the life, so the life is the light; and when you get the life of God within your soul, you will get the comfort of God. I urge you to seek quickening, then, if you are under any distress, because it will be the quickest means of your finding consolation in it.
17. Look also at the eighty-seventh and the eighty-eighth verses, to which we have already referred, and you will see that we ought to seek quickening as the best security against attacks of enemies. We need not examine how we can meet the foe, or with what argument we can refute his sophistries, or with what weapons we can overthrow him. “Quicken me, oh Lord,” is still the prayer, even though they threaten to consume us from off the face of the earth. We only have to keep close to the precepts of God and pray for quickening, and we shall be “more than conquerors through him who loved us.”
18. The use of the word “quicken” will be seen in the ninety-third verse. “I will never forget your precepts: for with them you have quickened me.” We are always in danger of forgetting God’s precepts; but to invigorate our memories, and to fortify our hearts, we must get quickening. Nothing can make a man so secure in walking rightly, and defying all the attacks of his enemies, as the reception of spiritual life. The young man can only cleanse his way by taking heed to it according to God’s word; but he cannot take heed to his way if he is not alive in the way. Life is the great thing. Look at a pool of water when it stands still — how it becomes grown over with weeds, how stagnant and defiled it is: but give it an outlet, and let it run down into that brook among the stones; let it leap in little cascades on its way down to the river. It is alive now, and see how pure it gets, refining as it goes, dropping all the filthiness it had accumulated before, becoming itself sweeter and clearer, because of life. So it must be with us. We must have life; otherwise we shall forget God’s precept, and lose the purity of life, unless quickening is given to us abundantly.
19. If I wanted just one thrilling motive to rouse the reluctant, I would resort to this — the terrible consequences of losing spiritual life: I do not mean the effect of losing it altogether, but of lacking it in its obvious display. Alas that it should be so easy to give so many illustrations! But I could tell you of many congregations and churches where there is no more evidence of vitality, growth, increase, than if they were all dead. I do not say that there is no spiritual life, but there is none in the sense in which I am using the term. They have fallen into a deep sleep, and the members of the church are cold, apathetic, and spiritless. Life among them is at the lowest ebb. You cannot be sure they breathe; breathe — I mean — a breath of prayer. Some of them have not been to a prayer meeting they could not tell when, do not know when they ever did go; and when they attend Sunday services not a few of them literally sleep, and the rest of them sleep with their eyes open. The minister dozing, dreaming, snoring, talking in his sleep — that is what his preaching is like. There is plenty of preaching like that — an inarticulate snoring of the everlasting gospel. The preacher, perhaps, reads, or else he repeats what he has laboriously committed to memory, and says it as a school boy does his lesson, and he is glad when it is over: for he considers that preaching twice on a Sunday wears him out, dear man! And well it may, in the way he does it. It wears his people out as well. They have no enterprise, the surrounding neighbourhood is not evangelized by them, they do not increase, they do not think of increasing, in fact, they get fewer as the good people go home to heaven. Any attempt to do anything there would be looked upon as “an innovation”: yet they do something, they have a disturbance every now and then. They hold what they call a “church meeting,” which means in their case a spiritual bear-garden, [a] in which they show their life, and one minister is driven away and another and another — not that it is a fit place for anyone to desire to go to, you know, for there is very little to be had except abuse; but still that is the style of the thing, and there are hundreds of churches in England in that condition. Oh that the Lord would quicken them! May this place be reduced to ashes, and may the congregation be scattered to the four winds of heaven, sooner than it should become a huge mausoleum, a catacomb, of which it may be said “the dead are there.” Ah, it is bad to have “the means of grace” without the grace of the means, to have a name to live and to be dead. May God save us from it. Take heed to yourselves; some of the members of this church, I fear, are getting into that condition; yet not, I think, you who are present this evening. You would not, most likely, have been here on such a wet night as this if you did not have some care for the things of God, but I refer to those who are not here. When you get home tell them so; tell them what I have said about it, and then perhaps they will say, “Well, if the pastor always speaks severely of those who are not there we had better go, in order to escape his censures.”
20. III. Now let us mention briefly SOME OF THE WAYS BY WHICH THIS QUICKENING MAY BE ACCOMPLISHED IN US.
21. Of course the Lord himself must do it. In prayer it must be sought, because by his power it must be accomplished. The prayer is, “Quicken me, oh Lord, according to your word.” He does not expect the quickening from anything except a divine source. From where can life come except from the ever-living God? How can we expect that we should get life if while we seek the gratuity we totally forget the divine energy of him who alone can bestow it? In the thirty-seventh verse we are told how the Lord often quickens his people, namely, by turning their eyes away from beholding vanity. “Turn my eyes away from beholding vanity; and quicken me in your way.” The Lord sometimes takes the vanity away of which we made our idol; or else he takes us away from the idol, and does not permit us to find any contentment in it. Oh, it is half the battle to be weaned from the creature. It is half the battle, I say, to get the eyes off the vanity, for then you are likely to get your eyes turned upon your God. May he be graciously pleased to quicken some of you in that way.
22. In the fiftieth verse we find that God quickens his people by his word. “Your word has quickened me.” And the part of the word which he often blesses to this end is remarkable, for, in the ninety-third verse, it is written, “I will never forget your precepts; for with them you have quickened me.” Promises are quickening, doctrines are quickening, but David says, “Your precepts — with them you have quickened me.” If we preach frequently and earnestly the precepts of our Lord there are hearers who will complain and say, “The minister is getting legal.” No, brethren, it is you who are getting dead, for when you are alive you will love God’s precepts, and those precepts will quicken you. “But they pain me,” one says. That is often how people are quickened. While a person is drowning, we have heard that his sensations are often really delightful; but when he is fished out of the water, as soon as he ever begins to recover life, the blood begins to tingle in the veins, and the pain is intense. The pain of returning life is something terrible. Well, so it is with God’s precepts when he quickens us with them. These precepts pain us because they show us our shortcomings, expose to us our faultiness and humble us. Brother, that is the way to be quickened. When you are numbed, you know that is next door to being dead; but when that numbed flesh of yours begins to come to life again, — you have felt it, you must have felt it — when the blood begins to circulate by the rubbing, a sharp pain is created in the part that was numbed and painless before. Be thankful for the pain, that is an index of life. “I love your precepts, for with them you have quickened me.” May the Lord apply a text of Scripture to your soul with power, or let him send a word from the minister as he speaks in Jehovah’s name with a divine force, and you will soon feel the effect. Though you appeared to be dead, you will spring up and begin to live again. Have you not found it so very often? Have you not often found great revivings come to your sinking spirit? Pray the Lord to make his word always thus vivifying and enlivening to you.
23. In the hundred and seventh verse we have another means of quickening which God frequently uses, namely, affliction. “I am afflicted very much: quicken me, oh Lord, according to your word.” God frequently employs adversity as a black poker to stir us up so that the flame of devotion may be all the brighter. When you observe the fire in your sitting room burning low and going out, you do not always put more coals on, but you stir it; and sometimes affliction does that for us. It stirs us and makes the life which was languishing to burst forth briskly. Be thankful if God stirs your fire.
Then, again, this quickening is sometimes accomplished in us by means
of divine comfort, as in the fiftieth verse: — “This is my comfort,
for your word has quickened me.” The great flush of comfort, the
sudden inflow of supreme joy, when you were much depressed — this has
greatly cheered and invigorated you; at least I know it has often
been so with me. When very despondent and sad at heart, I have felt a
soft stream, as though it were the Gulf Stream with its warm,
congenial temperature, flowing into my soul, melting all the icebergs
that had gathered around my heart, and I have wondered what it was.
How has my gratitude turned to my gracious God and found sweet
expression in that hymn —
Thy mercy is more than a match for my heart,
Which wonders to feel its own hardness depart,
Dissolved by thy goodness, I fall to the ground,
And weep to the praise of the mercy I’ve found.
You will often have proved, I do not doubt, how God uses the comfort of his Spirit to quicken his children.
25. IV. Our last point is to enquire WHAT ARE OUR PLEAS WHEN WE COME BEFORE GOD TO ASK FOR QUICKENING? What arguments shall we use?
26. Well, brethren, first use the argument of your necessity. Whatever that necessity is, particularize it, as David does in the hundred and seventh verse: — “I am afflicted very much; quicken me,” Or take our text, “My soul cleaves to the dust, quicken me.” Plead your needs like this. Your needs shall be the argument for the oil and wine. Your emaciation and your hunger shall be the argument for a feast. Show the Lord what you are and where you are. Confess it before him, and this shall be good pleading.
27. Also plead, if it is within your power to do so, the earnest desire that God has kindled in you. Read the fortieth verse: — “Behold I have longed for your precepts; quicken me in your righteousness.” This is as much as to say, “Lord, you have given me great longings after you. You gave me these cravings: will you not satisfy them? Do you torture me with the miseries of Tantalus? [b] Do you grieve me with a thirst which you will not gratify? Have you given me a hunger for the bread of heaven only for the sake of torturing me?” Beloved, if you have a desire, you may depend upon it the desire of the righteous shall be granted. God does not create the appetite without providing the food. If he makes you hunger and thirst after righteousness, remember the promise, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” They shall not have merely a little, a crumb or two to stave off their hunger of their stomachs, but they shall be filled. Go and plead that before God. “I have longed after your precepts; quicken me in your righteousness.” There is the second plea.
28. And then you may find a third in the very righteousness of God, as we have seen in the fortieth verse. Appeal to his righteousness. Do I see you recoil abashed? Do I hear you say, “Oh no; I could not appeal to that, for the righteousness of God must condemn me.” Wait a minute. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.” Why, the justice of God is on the side of the man who has received God’s promise, because it would be unjust of God to break it. He will not alter the thing that has gone out of his mouth. The Lord has given his word for it, that he will give his people life. The very fact of his having made them live at all is the proof that he intends to continue to make them live. Go and plead it, then. Say — “in your righteousness, oh Lord, quicken me.” David is very often harping upon that string. As I showed you in the reading, he twice appeals to God’s judgment, or his justice, that he would quicken him.
29. Another, and a very sweet plea is that of God’s lovingkindness. Read the eighty-eighth verse: — “Quicken me according to your lovingkindness.” Look at the hundred and forty-ninth: — “Hear my voice according to your lovingkindness: oh Lord, quicken me according to your judgment.” And so again in the hundred and fifty-sixth: — “Great are your tender mercies, oh Lord: quicken me according to your judgments.” “Oh compassionate God, give me more life. Oh you who does not will the death of any, give me more life. Oh you who loves as a father loves, give me more life. Oh you who has engraven me upon the palms of your hands, quicken me; quicken me, I beseech you.” Are they not blessed pledges to lay hold on — his lovingkindness and his tender mercies? With such promises you will be sure to prevail.
30. And then what a comprehensive plea, is that of our text: — “Quicken me according to your word.” You have it in the twenty-fifth verse, and you have it in the hundred and seventh. He pleads the word of God. What that word was that David had to appeal to, it would rather puzzle me to tell you. His Bible was not so large nor nearly as full as ours. I do not find any promise of quickening before David’s time. Perhaps, a special promise had been given to him, or, at any rate, the promise is virtually in the Pentateuch: but certainly to us there is abundant testimony to be found in the word of God, for our Lord Jesus Christ himself has told us — “Whoever drinks from the water that I shall give him shall never thirst, but it shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” “I give to my sheep eternal life.” The Son of man has come not only that we might have life, but that we might have it more abundantly. Plead the promises, brother; plead the promises; and, as you plead them before the Lord, you may rest quite certain that God will be as good as his word; and, if you can plead the promise the promise will be surely fulfilled for you.
31. Beloved in Christ, do tenderly watch over your spiritual life, or otherwise you are hypocrites when you pray “quicken me.” Take heed lest you neglect the food of your souls. Do not go where your life would be in danger. Do not seek worldly company, do not indulge in worldly amusements. Keep out of all the deadening influences of the world as much as you ever can. Have you ever seen the Grotto del Cane near Naples? It has a deadly gas at the bottom of it, and they take a dog and throw him in, and when they drag him up again the dog looks as if he were dead; but by aid of a fresh water bath he comes around again. As they thus kill the poor dog half-a-dozen times a day, I do not envy him his experience. Indeed, I rather think if I were that dog I would lose no time in seeking another master. Yet there are some professing Christians that will go into bad company — get into the bad gas of temptation — and then they go and hear a sermon and get back their spiritual life again. I would advise you not to be like that poor dog, but to keep out of harm’s way. If you have life do your best to maintain it, and do not run the risk of suspended animation.
Knowing the worth and joy of life yourself, pray very earnestly that
God would give it to others. Look on the dead in sin, but not with
stony eyes. Look on them with tears. Even if I knew that my hearers
must be lost, I would pray God to help me to weep over them, because
our Saviour’s tears over Jerusalem, you remember, were accompanied
with a distinct indication that Jerusalem would be destroyed. “Oh,
that you had known, even you, in this your day, the things which
make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” Still he
wept. We have no such terrible knowledge about the destiny of any
man. We look hopefully upon you unconverted people, and we exhort you
because we expect you to believe in Jesus. We sincerely trust that
you will still be saved, and therefore we pray for you in hope. May
the Lord in infinite mercy lead you to feel for yourselves, and pray
for yourselves. — “Quicken me.” Do you feel that prayer welling up from
your soul? Does it rise from your heart? Then, already, there is
something of spiritual life there. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ,
and you shall have life, for he who said, “He who lives and believes
in me shall never die,” also said, “he who believes in me, though he
were dead, yet he shall live.” May God give you that living faith
which is the sign of the divine life. To him be glory for ever and
[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Ps 119:145-168]
[a] Bear-garden: A place originally set apart for the baiting of bears, and used for the exhibition of other rough sports, fig. a scene of strife and tumult. OED.
[b] Tantalus: Name of a mythical king of Phrygia, son of Zeus and the nymph Pluto, condemned, for revealing the secrets of the gods, to stand in Tartarus up to his chin in water, which constantly receded as he stooped to drink, and with branches of fruit hanging above him which always fled from his grasp; a rock is also said to have hung over him threatening to fall. OED.