A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Evening, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *5/15/2013
Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage. [Ps 119:54]
1. The one hundred and nineteenth Psalm is said by many to consist of detached sentences, and to be rather a chest of gold rings than a chain of united golden links; yet the position of this verse is somewhat remarkable, for the verse before it runs like this: — “Horror has taken hold on me because of the wicked who forsake your law.” Most of you know for yourselves what that sentence means; for if you hear a man swear in the streets, your blood runs cold with horror; and when you think of what has been said by blasphemers against the person of our divine Lord, and against the divine truths of revelation, you are horrified that men should have had the audacity to think — much less to say — such wicked things against the Most High. David rightly said, “Horror has taken hold on me,” and then he added our text; as if he would say, “I am horrified that they should break the law of God, and tread it underfoot, for to me it is an intense delight: ‘Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.’ What they scorn is my song. What they consider dross is gold to me. How can they treat such precious truths contemptuously?” He is horrified at the thought that what is to him the very soul of his life, and the life of his soul, should be to them a cast-off and a hate. Surely some connection is visible here: these rings are evidently linked to each other.
2. It is good to notice the following verse. David writes, “I have remembered your name, oh Lord, in the night, and have kept your law,” — as much as if he had said — It is not always daylight with me; but when it is, your statutes are my song. My sun is not always above the horizon; but when it is dark with me, and I am in trouble, I do not forget you. You are still my solace. I remember your name, and I am comforted. If I may not see your face, it is a joy to remember your name; for those who know your name will put their trust in you. If I can only remember your name when my spirits sink, I shall have my soul sustained and upheld until the daylight shall again break in upon my spirit. Is there not much sweetness in this hopeful assurance, much to make our text overflow with meaning?
And now I invite you to consider the text itself. It seems to me to
talk about three things, three things which concern us. The first is
a pilgrim; who is, secondly, a singing pilgrim; and this
brings before us, thirdly, his song-book; — “your statutes have
been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.”
Sweet strains to me thy laws have been,
Sweet music in my heart,
Where on my lonely pilgrimage
I sojourn all apart.
4. I. First, here is A PILGRIM.
5. David was a type of all who are true disciples of Jesus. They are all pilgrims. A pilgrim is a person who is travelling through one country to another. If we are true to our profession, we are pilgrims with an emphasis; for, first, we belong to another country. We were not born here with respect to our highest nature. When we were born in the most emphatic sense we were born from another country altogether; “not by blood, nor by the will of the flesh, but by God.” “Unless a man is born again” — “from above,” says the margin — “he cannot see the kingdom of God.” We have been born from above. Our birth makes us citizens of the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. We are aliens, foreigners, strangers in this world. One said of old, “I am a stranger with you, and a sojourner, as all my forefathers were”; and another said, “I am a stranger in the earth”; indeed, all the faithful confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. Jesus, our leader, said, “You are not of the world, even as I am not of the world”; and the beloved disciple said, “You are from God, little children, and the whole world lies in the evil one.”
6. We are hurrying through this world as through a foreign land. We are in this country, not as residents, but only as visitors, who take this country en route for glory. Ungodly men live as if they never meant to die. All their plans and preparations are evidently arranged for staying in this country; but if God has instructed you properly, you know assuredly that you shall die, and you have become familiar with the thought of departing from these shores. Here you have no continuing city, but are like the tent-dwelling patriarchs, who by their very abodes confessed that they looked for a possession yet to be given to them. You do not look only upon all other men as mortal, but upon yourselves as such; nor do you at all regret it; you would not stay here for ever if you could. You know that you are emigrants to the land of the unsetting sun, and these lands are only traversed on the road to your eternal inheritance. This is a rare knowledge, unique to the godly. You may bring an unconverted man to be conscious of his mortality, but you cannot get him to believe that he is going to another land. Indeed, he is going, he is going, he is going where he does not wish to go. He is hurried to the land of confusion and dismay, where the shadow of death for ever rests on hopeless spirits. You do not wonder, therefore, that he tries to avoid remembering this troublesome fact, and that he journeys on with his eyes shut, trying to forget that his life’s voyage will ever end. To you, dear friends, your passage through this world is not a transit to somewhere or to anywhere; for you know where you are going. As Jesus said to the disciples, “Where I go you know, and the way you know”: you know which way Jesus went, and you know that you will go the same way; for he has promised that where he is there you shall also be. One of his solemn declarations was, “Because I live, you shall live also”; and one of his last prayers put this promise into the form of authority and claim — “Father, I will that they also, whom you have given to me, be with me where I am; so that they may behold my glory.”
7. If an Italian now in England passes through France on his way to the Eternal City, he stays at Paris, or Lyons, or Marseilles, on his journey; but all the while he is not a Frenchman, he is an Italian. Wherever he stops on the road, he says to himself, “This is not Rome. This is not the place of my nativity. I have no citizen rights here; I am going onward to my own dear city, and I must hurry as best I may until I reach it.” That is the condition of the Christian: his face is steadfastly set to go to the New Jerusalem, and nothing must detain him. A pilgrim in the old crusading times started out to reach Jerusalem. You know how many were attacked with that insanity in those times; I do not commend them, but I use the illustration in all soberness. The Crusader journeyed on foot across Europe. Whenever he came in sight of a goodly city, whether it was Vienna, or Constantinople, he stood and gazed upon the towers, the spires, the minarets; and when he had done so, he turned to his companion and said, “A fair sight, my friend; but it is not the Holy City to which you and I are journeying.” So, whenever God brings us to any place, however pleasant or delightful it may be, it is for us to say, “A fair sight, and God be thanked for it; but it is not the Golden City yet.” Our gardens are not Paradise, our homes are not the Father’s house on high, our comforts are not our heaven, our halting-places are not the everlasting rest. We must not rest contented here below. We have not come to that promised land of which God has spoken to us in his covenant. If we were mindful of the place from which we came out, truly we have had many opportunities to return; but we are not mindful of it; our whole desire lies in the opposite direction; our citizenship and civic privileges connect us with a city whose jewelled walls and shining streets are waiting for our coming. Our Captain cries to us, “Forward.” Our possessions lie beyond the river. Our everlasting abode is in another land. We are, then, pilgrims born in another country, passing through this world to an inheritance beyond.
A pilgrim’s main business is to get on and pass through the land as
quickly as he may. You will remember how Israel desired to pass
through the land of Sihon, King of Heshbon, and Moses offered these
terms — “Let me pass through your land: I will go along by the highway,
I will neither turn to the right hand nor to the left: I only will
pass through on my feet.” Sihon would not allow them to pass on these
conditions; neither will the world grant us a similar privilege. The
tribes had to fight their way, and so must we. All we ask for is a
road. We may also beg the loan of six feet of earth for a sepulchre,
but all else we will forego if we may all the better proceed towards
our inheritance. Not how to remain here in comfort, but how to pass
through the land in holiness is our great question. Sometimes we are
homesick, and then we are weary of this wilderness, and pine for the
land which flows with milk and honey. We hear the inviting heralds
and the songs of those who hold high festival in the palaces above,
therefore we groan being burdened, and long to end the days of our
Let me go, oh speed my journey,
Saints and seraphs lure away.
Oh, I almost feel the raptures
That belong to endless day.
Oft methinks I hear the singing
That is only heard above.
Let me go, oh speed my going,
Let me go where all is love!
9. As pilgrims, it is true in our case that most of our relatives are not in this country. We have a few brothers and sisters with us who are going on the pilgrimage, and we are very thankful for them; for good company cheers the way. It is pleasant when Christiana can take her dear friend Mercy with her, and when her boys Matthew and James can go, and Mr. Great-Heart with them. Though, if need be, Christian must leave Christiana and all the rest behind if they will not go with him, still it is much more pleasant to see them going on the pilgrimage with us. Yet the majority of those dear to us are already over there. If I may not say the majority by counting heads, yet certainly in weight the great majority will be found to be in the far country. Where is our Father? Where except in heaven? And where is our Elder Brother? Is he not there too, at the right hand of God? And where is the Bridegroom of our soul? the truest and best Bridegroom with whom we are joined in a marriage union, which death cannot sever? Where, I say, is the Bridegroom of our souls? We know very well. And may not the bride desire the happy period of the home bringing — the joyful marriage feast, the supper of the Lamb? Where our Father is, and where Jesus is, must needs be our own country, and we are exiles until we reach it.
10. If we have a clear eye for spiritual relationships, see what a host of our nearest and dearest ones have gone across the river already, and are in the glory land. Multitudes, multitudes are there: Gad, a troop comes, an innumerable host. We are come to “the general assembly and church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven.” Let us, therefore, go on with great speed: let us not think to tarry here, for our best friends and kindred have entered into their rest, and it becomes us to follow after them.
And, you know, a man who is a pilgrim thinks that land to be his
country in which he expects to remain the longest. Through the
country which he traverses he makes his way with all speed; but when
he gets home he lives at his leisure, for it is the end of his toil
and travail. What a little part of life shall we spend on earth! When
you and I have been in heaven ten thousand years we shall look back
upon those sixty years we spent here as just nothing at all: their
pain a pin’s prick, their gain a speck, their duration the twinkling
of an eye. Even if you have to tarry eighty or ninety years in this
exile, when you have been in heaven a million years the longest life
will seem no greater than a thought, and you will wonder that you
said the days were so weary and the nights so dreary, and that the
years of sickness dragged such a weary length along. Ah me, eternal
bliss, what a drop you make of our sea of sorrow! Heaven covers up
this present grief, and so much overlaps it that we could fold up
myriads of such mournings and still have garments of joy enough to
clothe an army of the afflicted. We make too much of this poor life,
and this fondness costs us dearly. Oh for a higher estimate of the
home country, with its delights for evermore! then the trials of a
day would exhale like the dew of the morning, and scarcely secure an
hour of sorrow. We are only here time enough to feel an April
shower of pain, and we are gone among the unfading flowers of the
endless May. Therefore let us not make the most of the least, and the
least of the most; but let us put things in their proper order, and
allot to brief life its brief consideration, and to everlasting glory
its weight of happy meditation. We are to dwell throughout eternity
with God! Is that not our home? That is not a man’s residence into
which he enters at the front door and in a moment passes out at the
back, and is gone never to return, as though it were a mere passage
from one street to another; and yet this is about all that believers
do with respect to this poor world. That is a man’s home where he can
sit down at his ease and look on all around him as his own and say —
Here will I make a settled rest,
While others go and come,
No more a stranger or a guest,
But like a child at home.
Yes, this shows that we are pilgrims, because we are here for so short a time compared with the length of time we shall spend in the dear country beyond.
One thing that always identifies us as pilgrims is this, — that we
are treated by the people of this land as strangers. Different
cultures reveal their nationality by their speech, their dress, their
manners, and their habits. What is perfectly natural in a Dutchman
seems ridiculous to a Frenchman, while the customs of a Chinaman
horrify a Briton. As we who are of the hill country pass through
these lowlands the people discover our foreign character, and take a
wondering interest in us, sometimes of a friendly kind, but more
often of a hostile kind. They wonder where we are from, and since
they cannot figure us out they often come to the conclusion that we
are acting a part, and are nothing better than hypocrites and
pretenders. They, of course, are honest, and all who are not like
them must be false and contemptible. This suspicion and ill will does
not happen to all professors, but more or less it falls to the lot of
all genuine Christians. They cannot be hidden, and yet they cannot be
understood, for their life is hidden. Gladly would they pass
incognito through the land, but the men of the world will not
have it so. They soon discover the pilgrim strangers, and they think
them very odd. I suppose they are so, if judged by the customs of the
world. We do not drop into the ways and customs of the ungodly; for
our Master said to us, “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works
of darkness, but rather reprove them.” Hence, in this world, the true
Christian is as strange as a Red Indian in Cheapside. People do not
understand saints, they cannot figure them out; for they are
constructed upon different principles from other men, and often do
things which men consider foolish, unmanly, and absurd; for the laws
which govern them are not such as the world esteems. Hence it happens
that the ungodly forge a strange name for a Christian; they cannot
make head or tail of him, and so they set him up in their chamber of
horrors, and fix a nickname upon him. They declare very positively,
“He is mad.” Blessed madness! Another time they say, “He is a
hypocrite.” One cries, “It is all pious platitudes” another, “It is
fanaticism.” Those are all expressions by which the world shows that
it cannot figure us out. Are you surprised when they use such titles?
You ought to be very much surprised if they do not use them. If the
utterly worldly man says, “I perfectly understand you,” then say to
yourself, “Then I am like you, for if I had been different from
you — if God’s grace had given me a different way of thinking — you would
have been sure to find fault with me.” Oh, never be afraid of the
world’s censure, brethren; its praise is much more to be dreaded.
When Socrates was told, “Such a man speaks well of you today,” the
philosopher was by no means gratified, but concluded that he must
have done something amiss that such a fellow should speak well of
him. Take censures out of a foul month to be your highest praise,
but praises out of such mouths are worse than abuse. We are
strangers, speckled birds, curious creatures, beings who are
twice-born, who have a new life which is an enigma to ungodly men.
“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but cannot
tell where it comes from, or where it goes: so is everyone who is
born by the Spirit.” He is an unaccountable person. “You cannot tell
where he comes from or where he goes.” He who finds redemption and
eternal life in Jesus is judged to be a strange, out-of-the-way
being. He who looks for his happiness in the world to come is made a
pilgrim by it, and that is to men of this world a kind of gipsy life,
fictitious, romantic, absurd, and impractical. We who are indeed such
accept our appointed condition, and the scorn which often comes with
it, and henceforth we break loose from bonds of time and sense to
seek another country, — that is, a heavenly.
Cheerful, oh Lord, at thy command
I bind my sandals on;
I take my pilgrim’s staff in hand,
And go to seek the better land,
The way thy feet have gone.
13. II. But now, secondly, according to our text, the believer is A SINGING PILGRIM: “Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.”
He does not say “my song” only, but “my songs,” in the plural, as if
he had been a great singer, and given to singing, which proves that
pilgrims to heaven are a merry kind of people after all. They have
their trials, some trials more than those which other men know; but
then they have their joys, and among these joys are sweet delights
such as worldlings can never taste. On the whole, Moses is right in
his judgment of the Lord’s people: “Happy are you, oh Israel.”
“Blessed are the people,” says the Psalmist, “who know the joyful
sound. They shall walk, oh Lord, in the light of your countenance.”
Holy pilgrims are happy; theirs is not the caravan of despair, but
the march of those who go from strength to strength. I hear a voice
objecting, “You give a rose colour to facts, for some religious
people are very gloomy.” I do not dispute the fact. For sure some
days are dark, and yet day is not the time of darkness: even noon may
be dim, and yet noon is not the hour of gloom. On earth all men must
eat some bitter herbs, whether they eat the paschal lamb or not.
Moreover, all are not truly godly who profess to be so. They imagined
they were religious, and therefore felt themselves bound to keep up
the profession: surliness and gloom are part of the buttressing by
which they keep up the flimsy structure of their piety. Their
religion is not real, and so they make it terrible. If your cheek is
painted you know that its ruddy line may yield to a handkerchief or
to a drop of perfume, and therefore you keep your distance and appear
reserved. The countryman’s rubies are not so soon dissolved; the
roses of robust health are not so speedily uprooted. I have known
people who painted themselves up as Christians, and they felt it
incumbent upon them to look very demure, or else their paint would
have come off. They thought that they must add melancholy to their
profession to imitate holiness. False notion. The gloom betrays the
child of darkness. “But we do measure people’s piety by the length of
their faces,” one says. Do you? So do I, and I like them short — the
shorter the better. Those who draw very long faces do it as a matter
of pretence, and this is utterly to be condemned, for Jesus says that
the Pharisees had such countenances that they might appear to men to
fast, but they were hypocrites to the core. Let me tell you for a
certainty — for I have the experience of many to back me up in it — that
there is a quiet, rippling rill of intense comfort in a Christian’s
heart, even when he is cast down and tried, and at other times when
trials are lightened there are cascades of delight, leaping cataracts
of joy, whose silver spray is as pure as the flash of the fountains
of Paradise. I know that there are many here who, like myself,
understand what deep depression of spirit means, but yet we would not
change our lot for all the mirth of fools or pomp of kings. No man
takes our joy from us: we are singing pilgrims, though the way is
rough. Amid the ashes of our pains live the sparks of our joys,
ready to flame up when the breath of the Spirit sweetly blows on
it. Our latent happiness is a more choice inheritance than the
sinner’s riotous glee. When suffering greatly, and scarcely able to
stand, I was met by one who has long enjoyed robust health and
unbroken prosperity. His mind is coarse, and his tongue grates like a
file, and he is ever fond of expressing his rational ideas as
proof that he is a superior person. With sarcastic politeness he
stood before me, and said, “Dear, dear, what a sufferer you are! But
it is what may be expected, for whom the Lord loves he chastens.” I
had barely time to admit that the chastening had been severe before
he added, “You are very welcome to love which shows itself in that
fashion; for my part, I would rather be without it, and enjoy the use
of my limbs. I can do better without your God than with him.” Then
the hot tears scalded my eyelids and forced themselves a passage. I
could bear the pain, but I could not endure to hear my God evil
spoken of. I flamed up in indignation, and I cried, “If instead of
having pain in my legs I had a thousand agonies in every limb of my
body I would not change places with you. I am content to take all
that comes from God’s love. God and his chastening are better than
the world and its delights.” Truly I know it to be so. My soul has
a greater inner gladness in her deep despondency than the godless
have in their high foaming merriments. Yes, and even pain is tutor to
praise, and teaches how to play upon all the keys of our humanity
until a more complete harmony comes from us than perpetual health
could have produced. Was not Herbert right when he wrote of man’s
double powers of grief, and then found in them double founts of
But as his joys are double,
So is his trouble.
He hath two winters, other things but one:
Both frosts and thought do nip
And bite his lip;
And he of all things fears two deaths alone.
Yet even the greatest griefs
May be reliefs,
Could he but take them right, and in their ways.
Happy is he whose heart
Hath found the art
To turn his double pains to double praise.
You who are lowest down in the scale of visible joy, you who are broken in pieces like wrecks grinding upon rocks, you who are a mass of pain and poverty — you will give your Lord a good word, will you not? You will say, “Though he kills me, yet I will trust in him.” At our worst we are better off than the world at its best. Godly poverty is better than unhallowed riches. Our sickness is better than the worldling’s health. Our abasement is better than the sinner’s honours. We consider it better that we suffer pain like the torture of death than that we bathe in pleasure, and that pleasure is the result of sin. We will take God at all the discount you can put upon him, and you shall have the world and all the compound interest which you are able to get out of such a sham. God’s people sing: they are the children of the sun, birds of the morning, flowers of the day. Wisdom’s ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. We hear a music which never ceases, full toned and high ascending, and its soft cadences are with us in the night when darkness thickens upon darkness, and the heart is heavily oppressed. “Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.” Do you know that paradox? Some of us have learned it now for these many years.
15. It seems that the Psalmist had times of very special delight — high days and holidays; or, as the old records write, “gaudy days,” days of overflowing joys. “Your statutes have been my songs.” He was not always singing — at least, not at his highest pitch; but there were many brave times when he poured out a song. If you and I cannot always sing, we do sometimes turn to that sweet amusement, and while away the time. Remember how John Bunyan represents Mr. Ready-to-Halt, Mr. Feeble-Mind, and all the rest of them: when they had cut off Giant Despair’s head they danced, and Ready-to-Halt played his part upon his crutches. Indeed, we have our merry-makings, brethren, at which angels find themselves at home. Pilgrims can sing and touch the lively string. When the Lord kills Giant Despair for us we have our Psalms and Te Deums, [You God] and we praise the Lord upon the high-sounding cymbals. When we are brought from deep distress our God deserves a song, and he shall have it too. The heathen tune their hymns to great Diana or to Jove, and surely the living God shall not lack for praise. Our hearts are poured out with as great delight and merriment as when the wine vats overflow. We know nothing now about the spirit of wine, for it is evil; but the wine of the Spirit, ah, that is another thing; it fills the heart with a divine exhilaration which all the dainties of the world can never bestow.
16. The singing pilgrim is a man who has a world of joy within him, and is journeying to another world, where for him all will be joy to an even higher degree. He sings high praises to God, and blesses his name beyond measure, for he has reason to do so, reason which never slackens or lessens. Oh that we were always as we are sometimes, then our breath would be praise. David remembered his best times. He says, “Your statutes have been my songs.” He remembered that he sang, and sang often. I want some of you who are troubled tonight to rest with us for a while and remember when you were the Lord’s choristers and sang as heartily as any of the company. You have hung your harps on the willows. That is a bad thing to do, but it is better to hang your harp on the willows than to break it, for it may be taken down and used again for the Lord’s glory. Jesus, who has a tender heart for mourners, will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice. Do not think that the past has devoured all your happiness; hope lives, peace remains, and joy is on the wing. Recall those sweet songs you loved to sing. Recall them, I say, and find in them arguments for renewed praise. If you cannot graze in the pastures of delight and feed upon new joys, ruminate upon the old ones, and get from them rich nutriment for praise. Think of happier days, and be happier. Listen to the echoes of your former psalms, and begin to sing again. The thing that has been is the thing that shall be. “The Lord has been mindful of us, he will bless us.”
17. The Psalmist bears his testimony that though he may be mourning now yet he sang once. I wish that Christians whenever they feel discouraged and doubting would not begin telling everyone, “Oh, I am bowed down,” without saying also, “I was not always so. For years I was as free as a bird, and did not envy an angel; nor shall I be always sorrowful; I shall wear my plumes again and fill the air with my songs. I am not always going to be bowed down. I have sackcloth on my loins today, but I do remember when I was dressed in silken apparel, and rejoiced before the Lord. My sackcloth will not last long. ‘Weeping may endure for a night’: it is the time for dews. ‘But joy comes in the morning,’ that is the time for sunlight and for bird singing, and so it will be with me.” Remember what you used to do, dear friend, in the heyday of your faith; and tell others what you used to do so that they may not think you have always been a knight of the rueful countenance. Do not let the Hill Mizar and the Hermonites be quite forgotten. When “deep calls to deep,” say — “I will remember your former lovingkindnesses, and joys long past, and so I will put my trust in you.”
Well may every pilgrim to heaven be a singing pilgrim, because he is
getting nearer every day to the land where it is all singing. There
are many delights in heaven, but the main thing about heaven is the
adoration of God. Oh, if I might once adore with my whole being, I
would ask never to do anything else for ever, but to melt away in
reverent worship of the blessed God. Oh, what singing that will be,
when you will sing your best, your heart made perfect to sing
worthily in accord with the place and theme. Oh for the music which
is all harmony and no discord! What music that will be when all the
dear voices which have been hushed, which we can hardly think of now
without a tear, will all ring out clearly the praises of God, — when
all the myriad voices that have gone before will join in full
chorus, — when all shall be perfect, and all shall be there, and all
shall praise God for ever. Come, pilgrim, sing, for you are going to
sing for ever. Now, rehearse your blessed anthem. Sing to the Lord
now, since you are to sing to the Lord world without end.
Such songs have power to quiet
The restless pulse of care,
And come like the benediction
That follows after prayer.
And the night shall be filled with music
And the cares that infest the day
Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs,
And as silently steal away.
19. III. Now, I must come to a close, for time admonishes me; and the last point was to be THE SONG-BOOK: “Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.”
The Bible is a wonderful book. It serves a thousand purposes in the
household of God. I remember a book my father used to have, entitled
“Family Medicine,” which was consulted when any of us fell sick with
childhood diseases. The Bible is our book of family medicine. In some
houses, the book they most consult is a “Household Guide.” The Bible
is the best guide for all families. This Book may be consulted in
every case, and its oracle will never mislead. You can use it at
funerals. There are no such words as those which Paul has written
concerning the resurrection of the dead. You can use it for
marriages — where else do you find such holy advice to a wedded pair?
You can use it for birthdays. You can use it for a lamp at night. You
can use it for a screen by day. It is a universal Book; it is the
Book of books, and has furnished material for mountains of books; it
is made of what I call bibline, or the essence of books. I am
preaching to you tonight as a man without books. I cannot get at any
of my books, for they are all packed away; but I have a library here
in having this one volume, which is, in fact, a number of books bound
together. This one Book is enough to last a man throughout his entire
life, however diligently he may study it. It seems that David, when
he was a pilgrim, used the part which he had of this blessed Book as
a song-book. It was nearly all history. What could he find to sing
about there? He sang the wars and victories of the God of Israel. You
and I have a bigger book than David had; can we say that, as
pilgrims, we use this blessed Book for songs? Truly we ought to do
so, for this is the book that started us on our pilgrimage. The
blessed teachings of this Book, sent home by the Holy Spirit, made us
flee from the City of Destruction, and made us seek the road that
leads to eternal life. We sing about this Book, for it is “perfect,
converting the soul.” It turned our feet from dangerous ways of
folly, sin, and shame. By the lessons of this Book —
Grace taught our soul to pray,
And made our eyes o’erflow,
and therefore we sing about the gracious statutes of the Lord.
21. We use this Book for a song-book, as pilgrims, because it tells us the way to heaven. We often sing as we come to a new place on the route, and bless God that we find the road to be just as we have read in the guide book, just as our divine Master said it should be. Well may we sing a song of gratitude for an infallible word.
We love this Book because it speaks of other pilgrims who have gone
this way. It is a Book full of stories of the worthies of old, of
whom it tells us, —
Once they were mourning here below,
And wet their couch with tears,
They wrestled hard, as we do now,
With sins, and doubts, and fears.
It is very delightful for us to read and know how they conquered, and to learn that all true pilgrims who keep to the high road will conquer too. So we sing of Gideon, and of Barak, of Jephthah, and of David, and, above all, of the great Prince of pilgrims who went that way. We love this Book because it describes the life and death of the Prince of pilgrims, even our Lord Jesus. We get many a sweet song concerning him, as we rehearse the story of what he did and suffered for us here below, and what he is doing for us now.
23. This Book tells us the privileges of pilgrims, both here and hereafter, and of the care which the Lord of pilgrims shows towards all who seek the better country.
24. Best of all, if better can be than what we have said already, we love this Book because it tells us about the place to which we are going. Oh, how it paints that city, not in many words, but in suggestive similes. How wonderfully it talks to us about our abode! Why, if it said no more than that “they shall be with me where I am, so that they may behold my glory,” we should know enough of heaven to make our hearts dance for joy. To be with Jesus where he is, to behold his glory, this is bliss pressed down and running over, more than our hearts can hold. Have you ever seen the heavenly country? Has your eye ever been permitted to rest upon it? “No,” one says, “certainly not. ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard.’ ” A very nice text, brother. Go on with it; go on with it. You may make God say what he does not mean if you quote half a text. He says, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, the things which God has prepared for those who love him; but God has revealed them to us by his Spirit.” Hence we know these joys by revelation, and that is the best of knowledge. The eye has not seen; but we have finished with seeing with eyes when we deal with spiritual things. Our ears have not heard: these are poor deaf things. At best they only hear mortal sounds; but we have an inward function, faculty, power of hearing without ears. God does not speak in audible tones to his children, and yet he speaks to them, and they hear him. We have a spirit which dispenses with fleshly faculties when it comes to deal with God. He has revealed to us something about the joy of communion with Christ; something about the joy of conquered sin; something about the joy of beholding his face, and praising and blessing his name. We know already something about the joy of being made like him, and one with him; and all this sets our feet on the top of Mount Clear, and puts the telescope to our eye: and if our hand is steady, as, thank God, sometimes it is, we see the city; and we long to enter it. “Your statutes have been my song in the house of my pilgrimage,” because there I read about what is to be my home when pilgrim days are over, and I shall see the Master face-to-face.
Now, dear hearers, do you sing out of this holy Book? A country may
be judged by its songs; and so may an individual. Do you sing the
song of songs? Are God’s statutes royal music for you? A wise man
once said that he would permit anyone to make the laws of a country
if he had the making of the ballads, for these kindle the spirit and
shape the character. What do you sing, brother? What do you sing? I
leave that question as a heart-searching one — what do you sing? Or are
you one who never sings at all? Poor soul, how do you live here, and
where will you live hereafter? Where must non-singers go? May God
give you a singing heart, and may you sing to the Well-Beloved a song
touching the Well-Beloved, and keep on singing it “until the day
breaks and the shadows flee away.” May God bless you. Amen.
[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Ps 90]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Joy and Peace — Sing, Ye Saints” 713]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 119” 119]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 107” 107 @@ "(Song 1)"]
Just Published — The Report of Mrs. Spurgeon’s Book Fund is now
ready. This deeply interesting report for the past year may be had
from Messrs. Passmore and Alabaster, or any bookseller, for 6d. Post
free for seven stamps.
The Christian, Joy and Peace
713 — Sing, Ye Saints <8.7.>
1 Sing, ye saints, admire and wonder,
Jesus’ matchless love adore:
Sing, for Sinai’s awful thunder
Shall upon you burst no more.
2 Sing, in spite of Satan’s lying;
Sing, though sins are black and large;
Sing, for Jesus, by his dying,
Set you free from every charge.
3 Sing, though sense and carnal reason
Fain would stop the joyful song:
Sing, and count it highest treason
For a saint to hold his tongue.
4 Sing ye loud, whose holy calling
Your election plainly shows;
Sing, nor fear a final falling,
Jesus’ love no changes knows.
5 Sing, for you shall heaven inherit,
Sing, and ne’er the song have done:
Sing to Father, Son, and Spirit,
One in Three, and Three in One.
John Ryland, 1775.
Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 119 (Song 1)
1 Oh how I love thy holy law!
‘Tis daily my delight;
And thence my meditations draw
Divine advice by night.
2 How doth thy word my heart engage!
How well employ my tongue!
And in my tiresome pilgrimage
Yields me a heavenly song.
3 Am I a stranger, or at home,
‘Tis my perpetual feast:
Not honey dropping from the comb,
So much allures the taste.
4 No treasures so enrich the mind,
Nor shall thy word be sold
For loads of silver well refined,
Nor heaps of choicest gold.
5 When nature sinks, and spirits droop,
Thy promises of grace
Are pillars to support my hope,
And there I write thy praise.
Isaac Watts, 1719.
Psalm 119 (Song 2)
1 Oh that the Lord would guide my ways
To keep his statutes still!
Oh that my God would grant me grace
To know and do his will!
2 Oh send thy Spirit down, to write
Thy law upon my heart!
Nor let my tongue indulge deceit,
Nor act the liar’s part.
3 From vanity turn off my eyes;
Let no corrupt design,
Nor covetous desires arise
Within this soul of mine.
4 Order my footsteps by thy word,
And make my heart sincere;
Let sin have no dominion, Lord,
But keep my conscience clear.
5 My soul hath gone too far astray,
My feet too often slip;
Yet since I’ve not forgot thy way
Restore thy wandering sheep.
6 Make me to walk in thy commands,
‘Tis a delightful road;
Nor let my head, or heart, or hands,
Offend against my God.
Isaac Watts, 1719
Psalm 119 (Song 3)
1 My soul lies cleaving to the dust;
Lord, give me life divine;
From vain desires and every lust,
Turn off these eyes of mine.
2 I need the influence of thy grace
To speed me in thy way,
Lest I should loiter in my race
Or turn my feet astray.
3 When sore afflictions press me down,
I need thy quickening powers;
Thy word that I have rested on
Shall help my heaviest hours.
4 Are not thy mercies sovereign still,
And thou a faithful God?
Wilt thou not grant me warmer zeal
To run the heavenly road?
5 Does not my heart thy precepts love,
And long to see thy face?
And yet how slow my spirits move
Without enlivening grace!
6 Then shall I love thy gospel more,
And ne’er forget thy word,
When I have felt its quickening power
To draw me near the Lord.
Isaac Watts, 1719.
Psalm 119 (Song 4)
1 My soul lies grovelling low,
Still cleaving to the dust:
Thy quickening grace, oh Lord, bestow,
For in thy word I trust.
2 Make me to understand
Thy precepts and thy will;
Thy wondrous works on every hand,
I’ll sing and talk of still.
3 My soul, oppress’d with grief,
In heaviness melts down;
Oh strengthen me and send relief,
And thou shalt wear the crown.
4 Remove from me the voice
Of falsehood and deceit;
The way of truth is now my choice,
Thy word to me is sweet.
5 Thy testimony stands,
And never can depart;
I’ll run the way of thy commands
If thou enlarge my heart.
Joseph Irons, 1847
Psalm 119 (Song 5)
1 Consider all my sorrows, Lord,
And thy deliverance send;
My soul for thy salvation faints;
When will my troubles end?
2 Yet I have found ‘tis good for me
To bear my Father’s rod;
Afflictions make me learn thy law,
And live upon my God.
3 This is the comfort I enjoy
When new distress begins:
I read thy word, I run thy way,
And hate my former sins.
4 Had not thy word been my delight
When earthly joys were fled,
My soul oppress’d with sorrow’s weight,
Had sunk amongst the dead.
5 I know thy judgments, Lord, are right,
Though they may seem severe;
The sharpest sufferings I endure
Flow from thy faithful care.
6 Before I knew thy chastening rod
My feet were apt to stray;
But now I learn to keep thy word,
Nor wander from thy way.
Isaac Watts, 1719.
Psalm 119 (Song 6)
1 Oh that thy statutes every hour
Might dwell upon my mind!
Thence I derive a quickening power,
And daily peace I find.
2 To meditate thy precepts, Lord,
Shall be my sweet employ;
My soul shall ne’er forget thy word;
Thy word is all my joy.
3 How would I run in thy commands,
If thou my heart discharge
From sin and Satan’s hateful chains,
And set my feet at large!
4 My lips with courage shall declare
Thy statutes and thy name;
I’ll speak thy words though kings should hear,
Nor yield to sinful shame.
Isaac Watts, 1719
Psalm 119 (Song 7)
1 Father, I bless thy gentle hand;
How kind was thy chastising rod;
That forced my conscience to a stand,
And brought my wandering soul to God!
2 Foolish and vain, I went astray
Ere I had felt thy scourges, Lord;
I left my guide, and lost my way;
But now I love and keep thy word.
3 ‘Tis good for me to wear the yoke,
For pride is apt to rise and swell;
‘Tis good to bear my Father’s stroke,
That I might learn his statutes well.
4 Thy hands have made my mortal frame,
Thy Spirit form’d my soul within;
Teach me to know thy wondrous name,
And guard me safe from death and sin.
5 Then all that love and fear the Lord,
At my salvation shall rejoice;
For I have hoped in thy word,
And made thy grace my only choice.
Isaac Watts, 1719.
Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 107 (Song 1) <7s.>
1 Oh give thanks unto the Lord,
Praise his name with one accord;
Tell the wonders of his power,
Praise his goodness every hour.
2 Let his ransom’d church begin,
Whom he hath redeem’d from sin,
Gather’d from the east and west,
North and south, to enter rest.
3 Through the wilderness they stray,
In a solitary way;
Hungry, thirsty, tried and faint;
God attends to their complaint.
4 Led by him from day to day,
Right, although mysterious way,
To his city they shall come,
Habitation, rest, and home.
5 Oh that men would praise the Lord,
While his goodness they record;
All his wondrous words rehearse,
Who redeem’d them from the curse.
Joseph Irons, 1847.
Psalm 107 (Song 2)
1 How are thy servants blest, oh Lord!
How sure is their defence!
Eternal wisdom is their guide,
Their help, Omnipotence.
2 In foreign realms, and lands remote,
Supported by they care,
Through burning climes they pass unhurt,
And breathe in tainted air.
3 When by the dreadful tempest borne
High on the broken wave,
They know thou art not slow to hear,
Nor impotent to save.
4 The storm is laid, the winds retire,
Obedient to thy will!
The sea that roars at thy command,
At thy command is still.
5 In midst of dangers fears, and deaths,
Thy goodness we adore;
We praise thee for thy mercies past,
And humbly hope for more.
6 Our life, while thou preservest life,
A sacrifice shall be;
And death, when death shall be our lot,
Shall join our souls to thee.
Joseph Addison, 1712.