2296. Saints Guarded From Stumbling

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No. 2296-39:85. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, February 19, 1893.

Now to him who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with very great joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and for ever. Amen. {Jude 1:24,25}

For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 634, “Christians Kept in Time and Glorified in Eternity” 625}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2296, “Saints Guarded from Stumbling” 2297}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2994, “Jude’s Doxology” 2995}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3074, “Danger, Safety, Gratitude” 3075}
   Exposition on Jude 1 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2412, “Special Benediction, A” 2413 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Jude 1 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2994, “Jude’s Doxology” 2995 @@ "Exposition"}
   {See Spurgeon_SermonTexts "Jude 1:25"}

1. The point and pith of what I may have to say will lie in the alteration of this text made by the revision of the New Testament. The 1881 English Revised Version reads like this, “Now to him who is able to guard you from stumbling.” I am not going to speak at any length on the rest of the text; but shall dwell mainly upon this remarkable alteration, which certainly gives the meaning of the original better than the rendering in the Authorized Version.

2. To begin, then, here is a doxology. Jude is writing about very practical subjects indeed; his short epistle is of the most practical kind; but he cannot finish it without a doxology of praise. Is there any work which we should complete without praise to God? Prayer should always have praise mingled with it. The preaching of the gospel, or the writing of it, the teaching of the young, and every other form of Christian service, should be combined with the spirit of praise. I think that I may say of praise what we read of salt in the Old Testament, “salt without prescribing how much.” You cannot have too much of praise. “With all your offerings you shall offer salt,” and “with all your offerings you shall offer praise.” It seems delightful to me to notice how the apostle Paul stops almost in the midst of a sentence to fall to his knees, and utter a doxology of praise to his God. And here Jude, with burning words denouncing sin, and urging believers to purity, cannot conclude his epistle without saying, “Now to him who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with very great joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and for ever. Amen.”

3. Beloved friends, we may well continue to praise God, for our God continues to give us reasons for praise. If we will only think, we shall begin to thank. If we will only consider even the mercies of the present, we shall break out with ascriptions of praise to him. At this very moment, every believer here has a reason for a doxology. My text begins with “Now,” and closes with “now and for ever.” The praise of God should be given at the present time; and it is to be perpetually carried on, therefore now is the time for it to be rendered: “both now and for ever. Amen.”

4. Consider, then, dear brother or sister, you have at this moment a cause for ascribing praise to God, and you have this reason for it, at any rate, that he is able to guard you from stumbling; his ability is to be employed for your good; his power is intended for your keeping. Oh, sing to the Lord a new song tonight, with heart and soul bless him, who is able to guard you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with very great joy!

5. I. Coming to the text at once, I shall notice, first, THE DANGER TO BE DREADED. It is “stumbling.” What is that?

6. Well, first of all, it is a lesser form of falling. A horse may stumble and not fall; yet it is a kind of falling. If there is much stumbling, it will be a fall. Now, there are faults, to which the child of God is very liable, which do not amount to actual falling; but they are stumblings. Like David, we have to say, “My feet were almost gone; my steps had almost slipped.” We are not actually down; it is a wonder that we are not. We have not broken our knees; but we were within an inch of doing so; a little more, and we should have fallen to our serious harm. The text speaks of “Him who is able to guard you from stumbling,” to preserve you from the smallest form of grieving the Spirit, or the faintest trace of sin, which would not amount to a fall. The Lord can keep you from what is not a fall, but what might lead to it. I want to set a high standard before you tonight. Jude does not say that you are able to guard yourselves from stumbling, for you are not; but the ascription of praise is to him who is able to guard you even from stumbling, and to present you, not only pardoned, but faultless before the presence of his glory with very great joy.

7. Stumbling is, next, not only a form of falling, and a matter therefore to be grieved over, but it is a prelude to falling. Often, we first stumble, and then, after a while, down we go. If we could recover ourselves from the stumble, we should not have to pick ourselves up from the fall. Long before the child of God falls into public sin, and injures his character, those who watch him will have perceived his stumbling. He kept up, just kept up; but you wondered that he did. He kept on, perhaps for months; but as you looked at him, you said to yourself, “I am afraid that he will come to something worse. I feel sure that he will have a stumble, and another stumble, and then another stumble, and he will be down eventually.” Oh, that a child of God could notice his own stumblings, then he would soon be delivered from them! But it is too often with us, to change the metaphor, as Hosea says, “Grey hairs are here and there on him, yet he does not know it.” He is getting feeble, he is becoming prematurely old; but he has not seen the change in the colour of his hair. He has not looked in the mirror of the Word recently, so he is unconscious that he is declining. If Satan cannot conquer Mansoul by storming it, he sometimes triumphs by sapping and mining, gradually undermining the walls, and getting a secret entrance in that way. May the Lord make us very watchful, so that we may not be ignorant of Satan’s devices, and may our Saviour guard us even from stumbling, for then we shall be kept from falling!

8. I think that I can put this matter pretty plainly. You must have known, you must have read about, or you must have seen, some people, whom you believe to be true and real Christians; and in their lives there is nothing glaringly wrong, nothing that is so offensive that they can be excluded from the church, or for which their Christian friends would condemn them as hypocrites; yet, somehow, their lives are, to say the least, questionable, doubtful. There is good in them; but that good is blotted. We trust that there is in them a true desire to be right; but there are so many sad failures in their lives that they seem to stumble to heaven rather than to run there. Now, our desire is that our life may not be of that kind; and therefore we would lay hold upon this text, and plead it before the throne, “Lord, you are able to guard us from stumbling, be pleased to do so, to the praise of the glory of your grace!”

9. You will see that stumbling is itself a form of evil, if you think of another phase of it. There were some who stumbled at the doctrine of Christ in his own day. He had a number of followers who kept with him up to a certain point; but when the Saviour said, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you,” they went back, and walked no more with him. They could not understand what he meant, and they murmured, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So, being staggered and stumbled by the depth of this great mystery, they turned aside, and walked no more with him. Beloved, we want God so to uphold us and guard us that, whatever the teaching of his Holy Word may be, we shall receive it without a demur. I know that there are some Christian people who stumble over one doctrine, especially if they hear someone denounce it; and there are others who are staggered by another doctrine, because they have met some very wise man, who knows better than the Word of God, and says that it cannot be true. In these days, there is very great liability to this kind of stumbling, especially among Christians who do not read their Bibles much; and I am sorry to say that there are plenty of such Christians. They read magazines, or perhaps works of fiction, rather than the sure Word of God; and so they are easily caught in the snare of the fowler. Many professing Christians do not know what God’s Word really teaches, so they are not established in the faith; they do not know even the elements of the doctrines of Christ, they have not examined the immutable foundations of the faith, and they are staggered. And truly, the mysteries of the kingdom are so deep, and the teachings of Christ are so contrary to the reasonings of flesh and blood, that we need not wonder if some stumble. Let us cry to him who is able to guard us from stumbling that, with steady step, we may press on in the way of life, and never be ashamed of truth, lest truth should be ashamed of us. Let us believe what the Bible says, however difficult the believing may be, because God has said it. This should always stand for us as the grand master-argument, not the reasonableness of the doctrine, not because it commends itself to our judgment, but the fact that God has said it; that ends all debate. Christ is able to guard from stumbling concerning doctrine.

10. Many others stumble at the cross. Strange to say, the cross of Christ has always been the stumbling-stone for the ungodly, and for mere professors. What! the cross of Christ an occasion of stumbling? Why, it is the very centre of apostolic teaching: “We preach Christ crucified.” Nowadays, there are two great points of attack; the one is the inspiration of Scripture, and the other is the substitutionary work of our Lord Jesus Christ. The enemies of the cross will not have a crucified Saviour; they stumble at what is the very foundation of our faith. The Lord will keep us from stumbling at Christ’s cross, I am quite sure. It is the rock of our refuge, the pillar of our hope.

11. The cross that Christ carried involves one for us to carry. No sooner does a Christian man become a believer, and confess Christ in baptism, than he is sure to meet some who immediately revile him. He has to take up his cross. A working man among sceptical companions, a young girl in a bookbinding warehouse, a wife who has an ungodly husband, as soon as they come out boldly on the side of Christ, immediately they have a cross to carry; and this causes a great many to stumble. Persecution and ridicule are too much for them; eventually they are offended, that is, they stumble at the cross. They would have Christ, but not any shame for Christ’s sake; they are like Mr. Pliable, who set out to go to the Celestial City, but when he tumbled into the Slough of Despond with Christian, he said that, if he could only get out on the side nearest to his own house, Christian might have the Celestial City all to himself, for he could not go through a slough to get there. How many there are of this kind, fearful ones; cowardly ones! But there is a God who is able to guard us from stumbling, and I trust that he will do so. May we never stumble because of anything that happens to us for Christ’s sake! May we take joyfully the spoiling of our goods, if needs be; yes, and suffer death itself, if it should ever come to that, sooner than turn aside from bearing the cross after the crucified Christ!

12. And this stumbling sometimes happens, not only at the doctrine of Christ, and at his cross, but at the precepts he has given. If we are to be Christ’s, we must obey him. “You call me Master and Lord: and you say well; for so I am.” But one will stagger at one command of Christ, and another at another. Though Christ tells us to love each other, there are some who can do anything but love. They can give their bodies to be burned, but they have no love. When Christ tells us to walk in integrity before all mankind, there are some who can do many good things, but they like little sly practices in trade, and they stumble at Christ because of those evil ways. You know there are many ways in which people try to be as little Christians as they can be, so as just to get into heaven. Miserable wretches, they want to save their souls, and yet after all to follow the ways of the world. So they stumble at the precepts of the Holy Christ. They cannot put up with commands like his, which lay the axe at the root of the tree. If you are kept by him who is able to guard you from stumbling, you will love every way of Christ, and every word of Christ, and your prayer will be, “Teach me your statutes,” and your heart will willingly obey every precept of the Lord.

13. Once more, there are some who are staggered by the experience of believers. I speak now especially to young beginners. You have begun to be believers in Christ, and you have been very, very happy. I am very glad that you are. Long may your happiness continue! But there is another who has been, perhaps, in the way of the Lord for a few months; and suddenly a depression of spirit has come over him, and he says to himself, “Oh, dear me, is this the way of God’s people?” I remember that, within a week after I had found joy and peace in believing, I began to feel the uprisings of inbred sin, and I cried out, “Oh wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” I did not know that such a sigh and cry never could come out of an unbelieving heart, that there must be a new heart and a right spirit within the man to whom sin is a burden, and who loathes it. I did not know that then; and I wondered whether I could be a child of God at all. Oh, there are strange experiences for those who are on the road to heaven! You remember how John Newton sings —

   I asked the Lord that I might grow
      In faith, and love, and every grace
   Might more of his salvation know,
      And seek more earnestly his face.
   I hoped that in some favoured hour
      At once he’d answer my request,
   And by his love’s constraining power,
      Subdue my sins, and give me rest.
   Instead of this he made me feel
      The hidden evils of my heart,
   And let the angry powers of hell
      Assault my soul in every part.

The good man began to discover more and more his own sinfulness, and he said, “Lord, is this the way to holiness?” and he stumbled for a moment. Oh beloved, it is only the grace of God that can make us feel that, whatever experiences we have within us, our faith looks to a living Christ, who never changes, and we rest in his finished work. Whether we are up or whether we are down, whether we sing or whether we sigh, we look beyond our changing moods to him who loved us, and gave himself for us. Yet many have stumbled by their own inner experiences, not understanding them. There is only One who can guard us from such stumblings.

14. So, then, dear friends, to close this description of stumbling, if we are guarded from stumbling we shall certainly be kept from falling. This is an inclusive blessing. It includes preservation from a falling into outward sin; and especially all final falling, all fatal falling. Christ is able to guard us from stumbling; much more is he able to preserve us from falling away, from utterly departing from the faith. But we would do that if it were not for his guardian care. There is nothing that the worst of men have done which the best of men could not do if they were left by the grace of God. Do not think so much of yourself as to imagine yourself incapable of even the greatest crime. That very thought proves that you are capable of committing any crime. I think that it is Mr. Cecil who says, “I thought myself humble, one day, when I said that I wondered that I should have sinned as I had done in such a way; whereas,” he said, “if I had been truly humble, I should not have wondered that I sinned like that; I should have wondered at the grace of God that kept me from even greater sin; and I should have understood that my natural tendencies all went towards evil, and that the marvel was that they did not master me, and lead me farther into evil than I had gone.” Oh, beloved, we must be kept by God himself, or else stumbling, falling, foully and fatally falling, will be our lot! From that, however, the Lord will preserve us who are truly his.

15. So much, then, upon the danger to be dreaded.

16. II. Now, I must be somewhat more brief on the second point, THE PRIVILEGE TO BE ENJOYED: “Now to him who is able to guard you from stumbling.”

17. Well, beloved friends, it is a great privilege to be guarded from stumbling, for it is a privilege that we greatly need. I was thinking of the many things that make us liable to stumble. There is, first, our weakness. It is the weak horse, you know, that stumbles and falls. It is out of condition, out of health, and down it goes. And we are weak, very weak. Then, consider the many roads that we have to travel. Here is a man who is a preacher, a husband, a father, an employer. Some of you are tradesmen, or workmen; and beside your daily occupation, you have all your domestic relationships. Now, what you need is to be guarded all around from stumbling. We have heard of one who was all right at home, but he was quite the opposite outside his house. I have heard of another who was an excellent man in the church; but if you had asked his wife about him, she would not have liked to describe him. A man may be a very good man at a prayer meeting; but he may be a very poor hand when you get him at his work. I have known some move very slowly indeed at that time; no one would have liked to pay them by the day. Now, it is an evil thing when a Christian is bad anywhere; but it is a grand thing, and only God can enable us to attain to it, when we do not stumble in any one of the ways which we have to go, but are always kept walking uprightly.

18. And then, you know, it is the pace that makes some people stumble. See the pace we have to go now. When I think of our dear old fathers in the country, I almost envy their quiet lives; not up too early, and seldom going to bed very late, not much to do, leading very steady kinds of lives. They travelled by broad-wheeled wagons, and we fly over the ground by express trains, and want to go twice as quickly as we can, and all the while we have so much to do.

19. And, then, it is not only the pace, dear friends, but it is the loads that some of you have to carry. Oh, the weights that are piled upon some of God’s people in their business! Only God can keep an overloaded heart from stumbling; and the ways are very rough just now. You hardly meet anyone in business who does not say, “Ah, we have a rough bit of ground to travel over now; stone in plenty, and no steam-roller!” But there is One who is able to keep you from falling.

20. Perhaps there are some of you who do not have to travel over a rough bit of road; your path is very smooth; you have all that heart can wish for, and every comfort that you could desire. You want to be guarded from stumbling, for you are on a very slippery road. If there has been a thaw, and then a frost comes on at night, the road may be very pretty to look at, but it is very bad for a horse’s feet; and so prosperity is a very slippery way for God’s people. The Lord must keep them from falling, or they will go down with a crash.

21. Then there is the length of the road as well as the other things I have mentioned. If we had to serve God only for a short time, one might easily do it; but we may have to go on for fifty years, sixty years, seventy years, eighty years. I think, sometimes, that if martyr days were to come, and they would burn me quickly, I could endure it; but it would be a terrible trial to be roasted over a slow fire; yet our lives are often so prolonged, and filled with trial and temptation, that it is like being roasted alive by a slow fire. The road is long, and the pace has become very trying, so we may easily stumble; but the text gives us good cheer, for it tells us of him who is able to guard us from stumbling.

22. It is not only necessary for us to be kept, but it is very gracious on Christ’s part to keep us. Beloved, what if you should have this text fulfilled in you, so that, through a long and trying life, you should so live that, when your enemies wanted to find fault with you, they would not know where to begin? Live so that if they look you up and down, they will have to say of you as they said of Daniel, “We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God.” Oh, if you should go down to the grave faultless, — not that any of us can be in ourselves faultless in the sight of God, — but if you live such blameless lives that no one shall be able to say evil of you, but shall be compelled to confess that in you the life of Christ has been reflected in your measure, what a privilege it will be! And this is the privilege set before you in the text, that you shall not stumble.

23. What distress you will be saved from if you are guarded from stumbling! A stumbling Christian has to be a sorrowing Christian. When a child of God stumbles, and knows it, he very soon takes to weeping, and humbling himself in the presence of his God. But if you are kept by the grace of God, you will be saved from many a bitter pang, and helped to go from joy to joy, and grace to grace.

24. What a blessing such a person is to other people in the Church of God! Without saying anything against our fellow Christians, we know where our respect and confidence usually go. When we have seen brothers and sisters, who have been upheld and sustained in trial and temptation, and have not stumbled, we take delight in them. Those of us who are younger and weaker, go and hide, as it were, under the shadow of their wing.

25. And what a blessing such people are to the world! Those are the true saints who help to spread the gospel of Christ. A holy life is a missionary enterprise. An unstumbling life is an incentive to others to run along the heavenly road, trusting in the divine power to guard them also from stumbling.

26. Best of all that I have to say is this, that this privilege is attainable: “To him who is able to guard you from stumbling.” “Oh!” one says, “if I just get to heaven, it will satisfy me.” Will it? Please do not talk so. Just to get in, like a tempest-tossed barque, waterlogged, or like a wreck just towed into the harbour at last, — well, it is a great mercy to get to heaven in any way; but that is a poor way of getting in. Better would it be to steam into the harbour, with a full cargo, and plenty of passengers on board, and all the flags flying to the honour of the Great King and Pilot, who has guarded you through the storm, that “an entrance shall be ministered to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” May it be so with you! Oh, that we may not have to send out the tugs, and tow you into the harbour; but that instead, you may come in, with a fleet of little ships behind you, able to say, “Here I am, and the children whom you have given me!” This is a privilege worth having, and it cannot be attained except through him who is able to guard you from stumbling.

27. III. Now I will lead you on, in the third place, with great brevity, to remember THE POWER WHICH BESTOWS THIS PRIVILEGE.

28. To be guarded from stumbling throughout a long life, is not of ourselves. It is not to be found in our own experience; not even in the means of grace alone. That same power that made the heavens and the earth, and keeps the earth and heavens in their places, is needed to make a Christian, and to keep him standing before the sons of men.

29. “To him who is able to guard you from stumbling.” God has this power. He has power over all circumstances. He can so arrange the trials of your life that you shall never be tempted beyond what you are able to bear; he has power also over Satan, so that, when he desires to have you to sift you as wheat, the Lord can keep him back. God will not allow him to overcome you.

30. Best of all, God has power over our hearts. He can keep us alive with holy zeal; he can keep us so believing, so loving, so hoping, so watching, so fully obedient, that we shall not stumble at his Word, or stumble at anything else.

31. Jude speaks of “the only wise God,” so that, God’s power is joined with wisdom. He knows your weakness, and he can guard you against it. He knows your tempters, and he can thrust them aside, or help you to overcome them. It is the wise God, as well as the strong God, who is able to guard you from stumbling. He knows where the stumbling-stones are, and where your weakness is; and he can and he will bring you safely through.

32. Yet once more, the One who guards us from stumbling is our Saviour as well as the only wise God. It is his business to save you. It is his office to save you, and save you he will. Commit yourself tonight to his guardian care, and walk with him. That is a high favour, that you may not only be kept from falling, but even be guarded from stumbling, to the praise and glory of his grace.

33. I have been very brief where I should have liked to enlarge.

34. IV. I finish with this point, THE GLORY WHICH IS DUE TO CHRIST FOR THIS PRIVILEGE. If we are guarded from stumbling, we may take no credit for ourselves; but we must lay the crown at the feet of him to whom the power belongs.

35. If he has kept us from stumbling until now, let us praise him for the past. Oh, what a mercy to have had this keeping year after year! Notwithstanding many imperfections and follies, which we have had to confess, yet we have been kept from any grievous stumbling that would have dishonoured the holy name of Christ. Bless God tonight that you have been kept from stumbling today. I do not know where you have been; but I have no doubt you have been where you might have slipped if you had been left by the Spirit of God. You have been in the shop; you have been in the home; you have been in the street; you have been on the Exchange; you have been among ungodly men. Indeed, and even among Christian men, you can soon commit yourself, and trip up. If you have been kept today, do not say, “How good I am!” No, no, no; say, “Now to him who has guarded me from stumbling, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and for ever.”

36. Now, will you begin to praise him for the future as well? You have not experienced it yet; but remember that verse which we often sing, —

   And a new song is in my mouth,
      To long-loved music set;
   Glory to thee for all the grace
      I have not tasted yet.

Begin to thank the Lord that he will keep you from falling in the future. Bless him that he will present you faultless before the presence of his glory with very great joy.

37. And the next time that danger comes to you, praise him that he can guard you from stumbling. Tomorrow morning, perhaps, you have a difficult task before you. You are looking forward, in the course of the week, to something that will be very trying. Well, praise God now, that he is able to guard you from stumbling. But oh, what a song we will give him when we are once over the river! When we climb the celestial hills, when we enter heaven, and find ourselves among the white-robed, blood-washed throng, I wonder which one of us will praise him most. Well, let us not wait until then; but let us begin here; let us rehearse the music of the spheres now. Let us say, “Now to him who is able to guard us from stumbling, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and for ever.”

38. This sermon does not belong to all of you, I am sorry to say. I wish that it did; but remember, dear hearer, that he who can keep the saint from stumbling, can bring the sinner into the right way. The same grace that can preserve the child of God from falling into sin can bring you out of sin; and since we have to look entirely to Christ, certainly you must do so. May the Lord lead you to look tonight beyond yourself, and your feelings, and your doings, and trust in the Lord Jesus, who died, but lives again, and lives to save guilty men! Whoever believes in him has everlasting life; and he will bring them into his way, and keep them from stumbling, and present them among the rest of his blood-washed, to praise his name for ever. May the Lord bless this meditation for Christ’s sake! Amen.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Ps 91}

1. He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain under the shadow of the Almighty.

It is not every man who dwells there; no, not even every Christian man. There are some who come to God’s house; but the man mentioned here dwells with the God of the house. There are some who worship in the outer court of the temple; but “he who dwells in the secret place of the Most High” lives in the Holy of Holies; he draws near to the mercy seat, and stays there; he walks in the light, as God is in the light; he is not one who is sometimes on and sometimes off, a stranger or a guest, but like a child at home, he dwells in the secret place of the Most High. Oh, labour to get into that blessed position! You who know the Lord, pray that you may attain to this high condition of dwelling in the inner shrine, always near to God, always overshadowed by those cherubic wings which indicate the presence of God. If this is your position, you “shall remain under the shadow of the Almighty.” You are not safe in the outer courts; you are not protected from all danger anywhere except within the veil. Let us come boldly there; and, when we once enter, let us dwell there.

2. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; I will trust in him.”

This is a daring utterance, as if the psalmist would claim for himself the choicest privileges of any child of God. When you hear a glorious doctrine preached, it may be very sweet to others; but the honey lies in the particular application of it to you. You must, like the bee, go down into the bell of the flower yourself, and fetch out its nectar. “I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my” — then come three my’s, as if the psalmist could grasp the Triune Jehovah, — “my refuge, my fortress, my God; I will trust in him.’ ” What a grand word that is, “My God!” Can any language be loftier? Can any thought be more profound? Can any comfort be more certain?

3. Surely he shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler,

If you dwell near to God, you will not be deceived by Satan. In the light of the Lord you will see light; and you will discover the limed twigs and the nets and the traps that are set to catch you: “He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler.”

3. And from the noxious pestilence.

The pestilence is something that you cannot see. It comes creeping in, and fills the air with death before you perceive its approach; but “He shall deliver you from the noxious pestilence.” There is a pestilence of dangerous and accursed error abroad at this time; but if we dwell in the secret place of the Most High, it cannot affect us; we shall be beyond its power. “Surely,” oh, blessed word! there is no doubt about this great truth, “Surely, he shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler, and from the noxious pestilence.”

4. He shall cover you with his feathers,

The psalmist uses a wonderful metaphor when he ascribes “feathers” to God, and compares him to a hen, or some mother bird, under whose wings her young find shelter. Yet the condescension of God is such that he allows us to speak of him like this: “He shall cover you with his feathers.”

4. And under his wings you shall trust:

God is to his people a strong defence and a tender defence. “His wings” and “his feathers” suggest both power and softness. God does not hide his people in a casing of iron; their shelter is stronger than iron, yet it is as soft as the downy wings of a bird for ease and comfort. Just as the little chicks bury their tiny heads in the feathers of the hen, and seem happy, and warm, and comfortable under their mother’s wings, so shall it be with you if you dwell with your God: “He shall cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you shall trust.”

4. His truth shall be your shield and buckler.

He is armed twice who has God’s truth to be his shield and buckler.

5. You shall not be afraid for the terror by night;

Nervous as you are, and naturally timid, when you dwell near to God, your fears shall all go to sleep. That is a wonderful promise: “You shall not be afraid.” If it had said, “You shall have no reason for fear,” it would have been a very comforting word; but this is even more cheering, you shall not be afraid for the terror by night.

5. Nor for the arrow that flies by day;

Both night and day you shall be safe. Your God will not leave you in the glare of the sun, nor will he forsake you when the dampness of night dews would put you in peril. We, dear friends, may have secret enemies, who shoot at us, but we shall not be afraid of the arrow. There may be unseen influences that would ruin us, or cause us dishonour, or distress; but when we dwell with God, we shall not be afraid of them.

6, 7. Nor for the pestilence that walks in darkness; nor for the destruction that wastes at noonday. A thousand shall fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you.

When God takes his people to dwell in nearness to himself, and they have faith in this promise, I have no doubt that, literally, in the time of actual pestilence, they will be preserved. It is not every professing Christian, nor every believer who attains this height of experience; but only such as believe the promise, and fulfil the heavenly condition of dwelling in the secret place of the Most High. How could cholera or fever get into the secret place of the Most High? How could any arrows, how could any pestilence, ever be able to reach that secure abode of God? If you dwell there, you are invincible, invulnerable, infinitely secure.

8-10. Only with your eyes shall you behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your habitation; there shall no evil befall you,

“There shall no evil befall you.” It may have the appearance of evil; but it shall turn out for your good. There shall be only the appearance of evil, not the reality of it: “There shall no evil befall you.”

10, 11. Neither shall any plague come near your dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.

You remember how the devil misapplied this text to Christ. He was quite right in the application; but he was quite wrong in the quotation, for he left out the words “in all your ways.” God will help us in our ways if we keep in his ways. When we experience trouble and accident, we ought to enquire whether we are in God’s way. That famous old Puritan, holy Mr. Dodd, having to cross a river, had to change from one boat to another, and being little used to the water, he fell in, and, when he was pulled out, in his simplicity and wisdom he said, “I hope that I am in my way.” That was the only question that seemed to trouble him. If I am in my way, then God will keep me. We ought to ask ourselves, “Now, am I in God’s way? Am I really moving today and acting today as divine providence leads me, and as duty calls me?” He who travels on the King’s business, by daylight, along the King’s highway, may be sure of the King’s protection. “He shall give his angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.”

“Come here, Gabriel, Michael, and all the rest of you,” says the great King of kings to the angels around his throne; and when they come at his call, he says, “Take care of my child. Watch over him today. He will be in peril; allow no evil to come near him.”

12. They shall bear you up in their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone.

What royal protection we have, a guard of angels, who consider it their delight and their honour to wait upon the royal seed of the universe, for such are all the saints of God!

13. You shall tread upon the lion and adder: you shall trample underfoot the young lion and the dragon.

Strength and mastery may be united: “The young lion and the dragon”: but the child of God shall overcome them. Talk of St. George and the dragon! We ought to think more of the saint and the dragon. It is he who dwells in the secret place of the Most High, who, by God’s help, treads upon the lion and adder, and of whom it is written, “You shall trample underfoot the young lion and the dragon.”

14. Because he has set his love upon me, therefore I will deliver him

Does God take notice of our poor love? Oh, yes, he values the love of his people, for he knows where it came from; it is a part of his own love; the creation of his grace!

14. I will set him on high, because he has known my name.

Does God value such feeble and imperfect knowledge of his name as we possess? Yes; and he rewards that knowledge: “I will set him on high.”

15. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him:

Notice, that it is, “He shall,” and “I will.” The mighty grace of God “shall” make us pray, and the Almighty God of grace “will” answer our prayer: “He shall call upon me, and I will answer him.” How I love these glorious shalls and wills!

15. I will be with him in trouble;

“Whatever that trouble is, I will be with him in it. If he is dishonoured, if he is in poverty, if he is in sickness, if that sickness should drive his best friend away from his bed, still, ‘I will be with him in trouble.’ ”

15. I will deliver him, and honour him.

God puts honour upon us, poor dishonourable worms that we are. One old divine calls a man “a worm six feet long”; and it is rather a flattering description of him. But God says, “I will deliver him, and honour him.”

16. With long life I will satisfy him, and show him my salvation.

He will live as long as he wants to live. Even if he should have only a few years, yet he shall have a long life; for life is to be measured by the life that is in it, not by the length along which it drags. Still, God’s children do live to a far longer age than any other people in the world; they are on the whole a long-lived race. Those who fear God are delivered from the vices which would deprive them of the vigour of life; and the joy and contentment they have in God, help them to live longer than others. I have often noticed how long God’s people live. Some of them are speedily taken home; still this text is, as a rule, literally fulfilled, “With long life I will satisfy him, and show him my salvation.” He shall see God’s salvation even here; and when he dies, and wakes up in the likeness of his Lord, he will see it to the full. May that be the portion of each of us! Amen.

{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 91” 91 @@ "(Song 1)"}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 91” 91 @@ "(Song 3)"}
{See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Conflict and Encouragement — Faith Struggling” 624}


Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 91 (Song 1)
1 He that hath made his refuge God
   Shall find a most secure abode,
   Shall walk all day beneath his shade,
   And there at night shall rest his head.
2 Then will I say, “My God, thy power
   Shall be my fortress and my tower:
   I, that am form’d of feeble dust,
   Make thine almighty arm my trust.”
3 Thrice happy man! thy Maker’s care
   Shall keep thee from the fowler’s snare;
   Satan, the fowler, who betrays
   Unguarded souls a thousand ways.
4 Just as a hen protects her brood,
   From birds of prey that seek their blood,
   Under her feathers, so the Lord
   Makes His own arm his people’s guard.
5 If vapours, with malignant breath,
   Rise thick, and scatter midnight death,
   Israel is safe; the poison’d air
   Grows pure, if Isael’s God be there.
6 What though a thousand at thy side,
   At thy right hand, ten thousand died,
   Thy God his chosen people saves
   Amongst the dead, amidst the graves.
7 But if the fire, or plague, or sword,
   Receive commission from the Lord
   To strike his saints among the rest,
   Their very pains and deaths are blest.
8 The sword, the pestilence, or fire,
   Shall but fulfil their best desire;
   From sins and sorrows set them free,
   And bring thy children, Lord, to thee.
                        Isaac Watts, 1719.


Psalm 91 (Song 2)
1 There is a safe and secret place,
   Beneath the wings divine,
   Reserved for all the heirs of grace,
   Oh, be that refuge mine!
2 The least, the feeblest there may hide
   Uninjured and unawed;
   While thousands fall on every side,
   He rests secure in God.
3 The angels watch him on his way,
   And aid with friendly arm;
   And Satan, roaring for his prey,
   May hate, but cannot harm.
4 He feeds in pastures large and fair,
   Of love and truth divine,
   Oh child of God, oh Glory’s heir,
   How rich a lot is thine!
5 A hand almighty to defend,
   An ear for every call,
   An honour’d life, a peaceful end,
   And heaven to crown it all!
               Henry Francis Lyte, 1834.


Psalm 91 (Song 3)
1 Ye sons of men, a feeble race,
   Exposed to every snare,
   Come make the Lord your dwelling place
   And try, and trust his care.
2 He’ll give his angels charge to keep
   Your feet in all their ways;
   To watch your pillow while you sleep,
   And guard your happy days.
3 “Because on me they set their love,
   I’ll save them,” saith the Lord;
   “I’ll bear their joyful souls above
   Destruction and the sword.
4 “My grace shall answer when they call;
   In trouble I’ll be nigh;
   My power shall help them when they fall,
   And raise them when they die.
5 “Those that on earth my name have known
   I’ll honour them in heaven:
   There my salvation shall be shown,
   And endless life be given.”
                           Isaac Watts, 1719.


Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 91 (Song 1)
1 He that hath made his refuge God
   Shall find a most secure abode,
   Shall walk all day beneath his shade,
   And there at night shall rest his head.
2 Then will I say, “My God, thy power
   Shall be my fortress and my tower:
   I, that am form’d of feeble dust,
   Make thine almighty arm my trust.”
3 Thrice happy man! thy Maker’s care
   Shall keep thee from the fowler’s snare;
   Satan, the fowler, who betrays
   Unguarded souls a thousand ways.
4 Just as a hen protects her brood,
   From birds of prey that seek their blood,
   Under her feathers, so the Lord
   Makes His own arm his people’s guard.
5 If vapours, with malignant breath,
   Rise thick, and scatter midnight death,
   Israel is safe; the poison’d air
   Grows pure, if Isael’s God be there.
6 What though a thousand at thy side,
   At thy right hand, ten thousand died,
   Thy God his chosen people saves
   Amongst the dead, amidst the graves.
7 But if the fire, or plague, or sword,
   Receive commission from the Lord
   To strike his saints among the rest,
   Their very pains and deaths are blest.
8 The sword, the pestilence, or fire,
   Shall but fulfil their best desire;
   From sins and sorrows set them free,
   And bring thy children, Lord, to thee.
                        Isaac Watts, 1719.


Psalm 91 (Song 2)
1 There is a safe and secret place,
   Beneath the wings divine,
   Reserved for all the heirs of grace,
   Oh, be that refuge mine!
2 The least, the feeblest there may hide
   Uninjured and unawed;
   While thousands fall on every side,
   He rests secure in God.
3 The angels watch him on his way,
   And aid with friendly arm;
   And Satan, roaring for his prey,
   May hate, but cannot harm.
4 He feeds in pastures large and fair,
   Of love and truth divine,
   Oh child of God, oh Glory’s heir,
   How rich a lot is thine!
5 A hand almighty to defend,
   An ear for every call,
   An honour’d life, a peaceful end,
   And heaven to crown it all!
               Henry Francis Lyte, 1834.


Psalm 91 (Song 3)
1 Ye sons of men, a feeble race,
   Exposed to every snare,
   Come make the Lord your dwelling place
   And try, and trust his care.
2 He’ll give his angels charge to keep
   Your feet in all their ways;
   To watch your pillow while you sleep,
   And guard your happy days.
3 “Because on me they set their love,
   I’ll save them,” saith the Lord;
   “I’ll bear their joyful souls above
   Destruction and the sword.
4 “My grace shall answer when they call;
   In trouble I’ll be nigh;
   My power shall help them when they fall,
   And raise them when they die.
5 “Those that on earth my name have known
   I’ll honour them in heaven:
   There my salvation shall be shown,
   And endless life be given.”
                           Isaac Watts, 1719.


The Christian, Conflict and Encouragement
624 — Faith Struggling <8s.>
1 Encompass’d with clouds of distress,
   Just ready all hope to resign;
   I pant for the light of thy face,
   And fear it will never be mine:
   Dishearten’d with waiting so long,
   I sink at thy feet with my load;
   All plaintive I pour out my song,
   And stretch forth my hands unto God.
2 Shine, Lord, and my terror shall cease
   The blood of atonement apply;
   And lead me to Jesus for peace,
   The rock that is higher than I:
   Speak, Saviour, for sweet is thy voice,
   Thy presence is fair to behold;
   I thirst for thy Spirit with cries
   And groanings that cannot be told.
3 If sometimes I strive, as I mourn,
   My hold of thy promise to keep,
   The billows more fiercely return,
   And plunge me again in the deep:
   While harass’d and cast from thy sight,
   The tempter suggests with a roar,
   “The Lord hath forsaken thee quite:
   Thy God will be gracious no more.”
4 Yet Lord, if thy love hath design’d
   No covenant blessing for me,
   Ah, tell me, how is it I find
   Some sweetness in waiting for thee?
   Almighty to rescue thou art,
   Thy grace is my only resource;
   If e’er thou art Lord of my heart,
   Thy Spirit must take it by force.
               Augustus M. Toplady, 1772.

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

Terms of Use

Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

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