2432. Kept From Iniquity

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No. 2432-41:457. A Sermon Delivered On Thursday Evening, September 22, 1887, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, September 29, 1895.

I kept myself from my iniquity. {Ps 18:23}

1. In our reading we had a very wonderful description of God’s delivering mercy towards his servant David. He was very particularly tried in the court of Saul; he deserved so well from the king that it was doubly hard for him to be treated so badly. He had been the deliverer of his country when he killed Goliath, yet he was hunted as if he had been the grossest of malefactors. He had to flee for his life, like a partridge on the mountains, and all the while, no doubt, Saul and his partisans accused him of all kinds of evil. There was scarcely any bad thing which they did not attribute to David; but he was upright before God, and he dared to challenge the investigation of the Most High, for he was sincere and true to the core. He proved by his conduct that he was so; for when Saul was in his hands, on two memorable occasions when he might readily have taken his life, he disdained to do so. He would not stretch out his hand against the Lord’s anointed, and in great grace, in his own good time, God was pleased to deliver his servant. If men blow out the candle of a Christian’s reputation, God will light it again; if he does not do so in this life, remember that at the resurrection there will be a resurrection of reputations as well as of bodies: “Then the righteous shall shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” It is, after all, of very little account what is said by men whose breath is in their nostrils. “They say. What do they say? Let them say.” Let them talk until they have finished talking; it little matters what they say; yet, to a sensitive spirit, like that of David, the tongue is a very sharp instrument; it cuts like a razor, and pierces even to the bones. He felt, therefore, the slander of many, and was sometimes greatly troubled by it. However, God was pleased to work a very marvellous deliverance for him. It seemed as if the Lord would sooner shake the earth to atoms, and crush the arches of heaven, than fail to deliver his servant. He will still do so, depend on it. “He shall never allow the righteous to be moved.”

2. David attributes his providential deliverance to the mercy of God by which he had been kept clear in his conduct: “I kept myself from my iniquity.” Whatever you do, if you do right, God will see you through; but, whoever you may be, if you turn aside to crooked ways, you will soon fall into a bog. If you try to carve for yourself, you will probably cut your own fingers. He who thinks that he can do better by suppressing truth, or by speaking falsehood, or by acting contrary to the dictates of his conscience, will find that he has made a great mistake. So trust in God in order to hold to your integrity. “Let your eyes look right on, and let your eyelids look straight before you.” Ponder the path of your feet, and God will bring you through as surely as he is alive, which is saying much more than if I said as surely as you are alive; for, as the Lord lives, before whom we stand, he will not forsake the righteous, nor cast off those who serve him faithfully.

3. This is the passage we have to consider, “I kept myself from my iniquity.” Here is, first, a personal danger:“ my iniquity.” And, secondly, here is a special guard:“ I kept myself.” And then, thirdly, here is a happy result. David could say, as he looked back on his life, “I kept myself from my iniquity.” There was no boasting in this declaration; but since his enemies accused him falsely, like an honest man he defended himself, for he was able to truthfully say, “I kept myself from my iniquity.”

4. I. Well now, here is, first, A PERSONAL DANGER: “my iniquity.”

5. This is a dreadful possession to have in the house; a man had better have a cage of cobras than have an iniquity, yet each of us has to deal at home with some special form of sin. It is said that there is a skeleton in every closet. I do not know whether that is true; but I do know that there is something very similar to a skeleton, that is, the body of this death with which we all have to deal; and it takes a special form in each good man. There is some particular sin which he may call “my iniquity.” Not only is there the general iniquity which affects the whole race, but each man has his own particular form of it: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way.” There is a general sin, but there is a particularity in it, too; each man has his own way of sinning, so that he can speak of “my iniquity.”

6. Let us think of the particular form of iniquity which some of us have to deal with. It takes its speciality, perhaps, from our natural constitution. He who judges all men to be alike does them an injustice. There are some who have very little tendency to a particular form of evil, but they have a very great inclination towards some other sin. Some are sanguine; they are expecting great things, and they fall into the sin of expecting to drink sweet waters from the cisterns of this world. There are some of quite another temperament, who are inclined to despondency, perhaps to suspicion; they may fall into doubt, or various forms of unbelief, and even into despair, which will be very grievous to the God who is always gracious. There are some men who, from their very parentage, are inclined to drunkenness or to unchastity. There are others, favoured by God with a godly ancestry who, if they were left to themselves, would not probably fall into either of these forms of sin, yet they might be proud of their own integrity, and proud of their own uprightness; and is not pride as great a sin as those more visible transgressions? Depend on it, my dear friend, you have some tendency unique to yourself, and there is a special point where you are open to the attacks of temptation. Happy will that man be who so knows himself that he sets a double watch against that backdoor through which the adversary is apt to creep in in the dark. Particular constitutions may lead to special forms of sin, and it behoves the godly man to keep himself from his own iniquity.

7. Our tendency is to decry the particular form of sin that we find in others. We hold up our hands as if we were quite shocked. Better look in the mirror than look out at the window. Looking out of the window, you see one for whom you are not responsible; but looking in the mirror, you see one of whom you must give account to God, and you will do well to ask God to keep that one. You will, likely enough, within a day’s march, not see a much worse man than he is, if you know him well. I remember Mr. Berridge’s quaint joke. He had the portraits of many ministers hanging all around his room; and he would say to his friend, “Here is Whitfield, here is Wesley, here is So-and-so”; and then, leading his visitor to a mirror, he would say, “Here is the devil.” Yes, he is somewhere around there where you are looking. If you look long enough, you may detect some of his handiwork at any rate, for there is something of his work about us all. Sin, therefore, may be something particular to constitution.

8. But any man may also know that “my iniquity” may be engendered by education. How impressionable we are in childhood! We bear the print of our mother’s fingers when we are fifty years of age, and it is not gone from us even when we are old and grey-headed. Things that were done at our father’s home are likely to be done in our own home. Things that we saw, things that we heard, when we were very young, may remain with us, and help to mould our whole life. May God help us to look back on our early training so as to discover the defects of it, and, not laying the sin on others, which would be a wicked perversion of the truth, yet let us remember that, since we lived in a sinful generation, we have acquired some taint from it, and we need to watch against the sins which were taught to us when we were young, especially any of you who have been rescued by grace out of homes of drunkenness and debauchery! I bless the Lord that there are many here who have been brought by sovereign grace out of the very dens of iniquity. There are some here who are, so far as they are aware, the only ones of all their household who know the Lord; and when they go home tonight, it will be a great pain to them, as they cross the threshold, to think how very different the atmosphere will be from what was in the house of God where they have worshipped. Well, my dear brother or sister, we sympathize with you in your trial, and pray the Lord that you may carefully watch so that you may be kept from your iniquity.

9. No doubt there are certain forms of iniquity which grow out of our particular condition. The young man has his iniquity; it is not the iniquity of the aged. The young man is tempted to sinful pleasure, the old man to covetousness. Each period of life has its own special snare. Pray, I beseech you, young people, middle-aged people, old people, pray to the Lord that you may be kept from the particular iniquity of that part of the life passage through which you are going. He who leaves the shores of England for Australia may ask for the guardian care of God while yet the white cliffs of Albion have scarcely melted from his view. Let him ask God’s blessing as he passes through the middle passage of the Suez Canal; but let him not forget to pray when the captain tells him that, within a few days, he will come in sight of the southern shore. No, all along we need keeping.

10. It is so with our condition of life with respect to our outward circumstances. The rich man has his temptations. Few know how great they are, or they would not labour so eagerly after riches. It is as hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven as for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. It is a natural impossibility, for so many difficulties surround the possession of riches; but with God all things are possible. Yet the poor man will not find that he has a much larger hole to go through. His constrained circumstances will not materially help him. Agur did well to pray, “Give me neither poverty nor riches.” There are particular trials in each condition; and even the middle way between the two is not without its own special temptations; so that, whether you have much or little, pray to God that you may keep yourself from your iniquity.

11. There are iniquities which come through prosperity. I have never yet prayed to God to preserve me in going up in a balloon, for I have never had any idea of entering one; but whenever you prosper very greatly, and especially when you prosper very fast, you are very like a man going up in a balloon. If people knew the danger, they would send in prayers to the Monday night prayer meeting, asking that the Lord would have mercy on the man who is greatly prospering, for there are very particular trials surrounding that condition. Oh, that men might be kept from that cleaving to the world and letting the Saviour go, which so often follows on great success in life!

12. But equally must he pray who is in adversity. Oh, the ills of adversity! The worst ill of all is the tendency to doubt God, and to stretch out your hand into iniquity in order to remove the heavy load. Pray to the Lord, you who are losing everything, that he will keep you from your iniquity. You need not pray, like Pharaoh, “Take away the frogs”; but pray like David, “Take away my iniquity.” That is the prayer of the true child of God.

13. I may be speaking to some who have great talents. Well, you have need to pray, “Lord, keep me from my iniquity,” for great talent is a very dangerous thing for a man to possess, a charge which needs great grace. And, if you have only one talent, your iniquity may be to wrap it in a napkin, and hide it in the earth. There is a temptation in the one talent as well as in the five. Therefore, pray to the Lord to keep you from that iniquity which is often the accompaniment of the particular condition in which you are found.

14. Brothers, there are some of you who have need to pray this prayer in reference to your calling. I do not think that any calling is free from temptation, but there are some positions in which the temptation is very terrible. I need not go into what surrounds many of you in business, when everyone seems to “cut the thing fine,” as they say, and to cut the truth much finer than anything else, and say a great deal that is not true, under the notion that somehow or other it will help his business. If there are customs in your business which all others follow, and which you know to be wrong, do not adopt them; but say, “Lord, keep me from my iniquity.” You need not begin to say, “Those grocers, those milk dealers, those tax collectors, all have their iniquities.” Think about your own; quite enough iniquities may crowd into your shop without your thinking about the shops of other people. Pray to the Lord that you may be kept from your iniquity.

15. And, oh beloved, what iniquities there are which surround us all in daily life! Into what company can you go without being tempted? In this city, at the present time, the position of a Christian is very much like that of Lot in Sodom. I speak what I know; I do not exaggerate the conditions which surround the lives of some Christian working men and Christian working women who are not able to let their children go into our streets by reason of the filthiness of the language that they would hear. Even all around this house of prayer is a very cauldron of iniquity, so that many say, “We cannot live there, and we do not know where to live to keep our children out of the temptations which now surround them.” I do not say that one age is worse than another, but I do say that the particular trials of today should make Christians walk very near to God; and, instead of loosening and relaxing the lines of our religious profession, let us tighten them as much as we ever can, and seek to be thoroughly Nonconformist, not conforming to the world, to be out-and-out Dissenters, dissenting from the ways of this ungodly generation.

16. Still, to help you to determine your iniquity, I will make one or two more remarks. It is likely to be that iniquity which you have most often fallen into in your past life. What has been your sternest struggle? Against quickness of temper? Then, that is your iniquity. Doubt and unbelief? That is your iniquity. Has it been covetousness? Has it been slowness to forgive any who have offended you? Has it been gossiping and mixing untruth with your talk? That is your iniquity. Whatever it is which so far has stained your life, that is probably the thing which will stain it again unless you watch, and call in the power of the Holy Spirit for your protection. That sin which you find yourself readily committing, which you drift into without any effort, indeed, which you drift into when you are making a great many efforts not to do it, that is your iniquity. What you have returned to after having smarted for it, what you have vowed you would never be guilty of again, and which yet has in a moment, like the gushing out of some hidden spring of water, carried you away with a rush, — that is your iniquity. Oh, how can you keep yourself from it unless God shall keep you? Cry to the Most High to enable you to keep yourself from your iniquity. That is your iniquity which has overtaken you even after you have prayed against it, and laboured against it, that you have concluded that surely you will never do it again, and yet you have done it.

17. Let me tell you one thing more; what you do not like to hear condemned, what you do not like the preacher to mention, what makes you to wriggle in your seat, and feel, “I wish he would not say that, he is coming too close to home,” that is your iniquity. And if you cannot bear that your wife should speak to you about it, or that your brother or your sister should give you a friendly word of advice concerning it, what you are most loathe to hear, probably has to do with your iniquity. We may often judge ourselves by this test. It is what you are most loathe to hear that you have the most need to hear; instead of being angry with him who points it out to you, you should be willing to pay him for doing it. When you go to your doctor, and ask him to examine you, if he says, “There is something a little amiss with the heart, or with the lungs,” do you knock him down? Do you get angry with him for telling you the truth? No, you pay him his fee, and thank him even for imparting bad news. And should we not thank those who rebuke us, and tell us about our faults? When God does not send you a faithful friend, I pray him to send you an honest enemy, who will deal straightly with you, and let you know where your weakness is, so that you may then cry to God, “Lord, keep me from my iniquity.”

18. II. Now, secondly, in our text there is A SPECIAL GUARD: “I kept myself from my iniquity.”

19. Someone may perhaps say, “I have a special temptation, but I am going to set a guard against it.” Let me ask you first who you are; are you a child of God? Have you passed from death to life? If you say, “No,” I am not referring to you in this part of my subject. You must be born again, you must go by faith to Jesus Christ, and ask for cleansing in his precious blood, and renewal by the Holy Spirit; but I am now talking to the child of God, the man who has spiritual life. I speak to you, my dear brother, because you can, by God’s grace, keep yourself from your iniquity. How are you to do that?

20. Well, first, you must find out what it is. You must get a clear idea of your own iniquity. Ask the Lord to search you, and try you, and know your ways. When you have found out what that iniquity is, then endeavour to get a due sense of its foulness and guilt in the sight of God. Ask the Lord to make you hate most that sin to which you are most inclined. Remember that you are a child of God; it ill becomes you to be friendly with any of the King’s enemies. Remember that Christ has bought you; you belong to him, you should not be the slave of any sin, you must not be such if the life of God is in you. The life of God in the soul hates sin; you cannot take pleasure in any sin if you are indeed a regenerate man or woman. Therefore, I say to you, try to get a sight of the heinousness of your particular sin and the danger which attends it, so that, as you become aware of the extraordinary horror of it, you may set that in opposition to your tendency to do it.

21. Then, be resolved in the power of the Holy Spirit that this particular sin shall be overcome. There is nothing like hanging it up by the neck, that very sin, I mean. Do not fire at sin indiscriminately; but, if you have one sin that is more to you than another, drag it out from the crowd, and say, “You must die if no other does. I will hang you up in the face of the sun.” Strive against your anger; strive against your covetousness; strive against your envy; strive against your bad temper, your malice, if that is your fault; for there are some who are very slow to forgive. Strive against it until you get your foot on its neck. “I cannot do it,” one says. Why, the Lord has said that he will bruise Satan under our feet shortly! Surely, if you are to have the devil under your foot, you can get all sin under your feet by God’s help; and you must do it. It is a part of that work that must be accomplished in us to bring every thought into captivity to divine grace. You are not able to subdue the least sin apart from Christ; but, by the help of the Holy Spirit, there is nothing that can master you. I tell you that, if you let any sin master you, you will be lost. If any sin should remain unconquered, you are ruined; for this is the way of salvation, the absolute conquest of every sin through the grace of the Holy Spirit. It must be so with you before you can enter heaven, and you are able to overcome it in the power of Jesus Christ. If you have an iniquity that more than another haunts you, then keep away from all that tempts you to do it. Is there a house where your company is much liked, but where you are never able to come away without having fallen into sin? Keep away from that house. It is often one of the most essential things in young converts that they should leave the company in which they once sported. You may go into some company to do good; but watch that you are strong enough to resist the evil, for it does not always do for those who have very little strength to attempt to pull others out of the fire; they may be pulled into it themselves. No, come out from among them, be separate; do not touch the unclean thing. You have no business to be in that place where it becomes almost necessary that you should sin; that necessity should warn you not to go there.

22. The true path of safety is to pray and believe against all sin. We conquer sin by faith in Christ. This is the axe that will cut down the upas tree, {a} and there is no other that will do it. Believe in Jesus Christ the Saviour, who died for you; and then believe in him as living again, and willing to help you in every conflict against sin. Go, having Christ crucified with you, and ask him to crucify your sin, and nail it up to his cross. So you shall be helped to overcome; but there must be care, and prayer, and watchfulness, and trust, and continual looking up to the Lord for grace. Only by this can you say, “I kept myself from my iniquity.”

23. III. Thirdly, I conclude with A HAPPY RESULT.

24. David says, “I kept myself from my iniquity.” He does not say that he could not sin, but that he would not, and he did not. When a wicked man gets old, he may say, “I do not sin like those young people.” No, because you cannot; it has been well said that there is many an old man who, if you could put young eyes in him, would behave the same way as he used to do. That is not what we want; it is not the failure to commit a sin because your passions have grown colder, or your strength has left you; it is a change of heart that is needed. “I kept myself from my iniquity”; that is, “though it would try to tempt me, and did so, and I might have yielded to it, yet by the grace of God I would not yield.”

25. I do pray, my brothers and sisters, that, if we live ten, twenty, thirty, or fifty more years, we may be able to say, without any boasting, but in deep humility before God, “By his great grace, by trust in Jesus, I kept myself from my iniquity,” because, if we do so, see what a blessing it will be for us, for it will be for us a reason for our being brought out of the trouble. If when you are in need, if when you are under temptation, God helps you to keep straight, you will come out all right at the last. What a number of stories I might tell here about young men, who were great losers at first by being godly; but they kept themselves right, and they had to thank God for it ever afterwards. I know, at this present moment, a personal friend who was a banker’s clerk. On a certain day, he was told to do something which he judged to be, speaking plainly, dishonest; and he told the manager that he could not do it, whereupon he received a month’s notice. It was a country bank, and he was not sent to do the business at once; and he had time to think the matter over. He had a wife and children; and when he went home, it was not easy to tell the wife that the excellent job that he held would be vacated within a short time. But he stood firm in his integrity, he said that he was sure God would bring him safely through, and he never had even the slightest thought of doing other than what he had said he would do. It was within twelve months that he obtained the position of manager for that very bank, and it belongs to him at this moment; he very speedily became a man in a much better position than he could have expected to have obtained, simply from the fact that it had been proved that he could be trusted. It is not always so; some people have to be under a cloud for a long time; but, in the long run, if you as a child of God will only stand firm, God will not let you be a loser. If he does, it shall be your glory to lose everything sooner than tarnish your character. You shall find it an even greater joy to lose all things for Christ than it would be to gain the whole world by doing anything that was wrong. If you are able to say, “I kept myself from my iniquity,” then you shall also be able to say with David, “I will love you, oh Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer I will call on the Lord, who is worthy to be praised.”

26. Next, if you act like this, it will be a triumph of divine grace. Brethren, we want to show the world what grace can do, and every member of the church ought to feel that he must be on his best behaviour to prove what the grace of God has done in him. What discredit is brought to Christ by professed Christians who are so like worldlings that, if you put them under a microscope, you could not tell the difference between them? If you can do what worldlings do, you shall go at last where worldlings go. If grace does not make you to differ from them, it is not the grace of God, it is all a sham. We ought to feel that Christ’s honour is in danger by our bad behaviour, and so live that we can glorify our Father who is in heaven by our good works, keeping ourselves from our iniquity.

27. For again, this will be our best testimony to others. It is good to preach as I do, with my lips; but you can all preach with your feet, and by your lives, and that is the most effective preaching. The preaching of holy lives is living preaching. The most effective ministry from a pulpit is what is supported by godliness from the pew. May God help you to do this!

28. And, lastly, what a sweet peace this will give to your conscience! Though we know we are saved by grace, hear this, you ungodly. There is no way of salvation for you, or for us, but by the grace of God through Jesus Christ; yet when we are saved, the evidence to our own soul of that work of grace on our nature is very sweet when we can say, “I have kept myself from my iniquity.” A well spent life, a life that is pure, a life that has been consecrated to usefulness, a life in which there has not been a turning aside to the right hand or to the left, helps us to lie down with comfort on our death-bed, and bid farewell to all our dear ones and feel that we are leaving behind us the legacy of a gracious example in which we do not glory, but for which we give God the glory, and thank and praise his holy name. Begin at the cross; there is the source of your salvation. Then go, and live like the living Saviour. May God help you to do so, for Christ’s sake!

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Ps 18:1-20} {b}

To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, the servant of the LORD, who spoke to the LORD the words of this song in the day that the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul: And he said, —

Notice that, though David was a king, he does not say so, but he prefers the higher title, “The servant of Jehovah.” He served his God by his song. Oh, that all who led our psalmody would serve God in it! It should always be with deep devotion that we sing the praises of God. “Who spoke to the Lord the words of this song.” He did not speak them to us; he spoke them to the Lord. Singing is particularly as an address to God; but neither prayer nor praise should be addressed to men.

David “spoke to the Lord the words of this song, in the day that the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies.” It is always good to sing when a deliverance is still new; if we do not praise the Lord in the day of our deliverance, we are not likely to praise him many days afterwards. We remember how it is written that, when the Lord delivered Israel at the Red Sea, “Then they believed his words; they sang his praises.” So time your psalm as God times his mercies.

1. I will love you, oh LORD, my strength.

Not only, “I do love you,” but “I will love you.” Some resolutions are rash, and should not be made; but this is a resolution that we may well make. We are bound to make it if we have experienced the lovingkindness of the Lord. If God is our strength, then in the strength of God we may say, “I will love you, oh Lord. I will love you, if others do not. Whatever else I may have to love, I will love you. My relationship to you shall never be a cold one: ‘I will love you.’ My whole nature shall go out towards you.”

2. The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer;

“My rock in which I hide; my fortress in which I am secure; my deliverer who in a thousand ways brings me out of every peril.” What a text those two words would make! I would like to preach from them: “My deliverer.” Why, that is a name that runs through the whole story of redemption, and the whole history of providence. It is a title which we may use towards God in heaven as well as on earth: “My deliverer.”

And now, as the psalmist advances in his song, he gives a very sweet title to the Lord, —

2. My God,

At first, the Lord was to him, “Jehovah” — a name of awe and majesty; but now, on covenant terms with God, he uses a name of bold affection and near approach: “My God.”

2. My strength,

That is the second time he has used that title; it is one that will bear repeating again and again: “My strength.”

2. In whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.

What a blessing it is that we can look on God under so many aspects, and in every aspect feel him to be ours! “My God, my strength, my buckler, my salvation, my high tower.” To set those personal pronouns side by side with every blessed metaphor, and to call God ours under every emblem which we can heap together, this is the way to be indeed cheered and comforted. Calvin says, on this verse, that the saint is armed from head to foot, and even above his head, for he has given to him the horn of salvation to lift on high. God is everything to us, beloved. We need nothing outside of him; if we think we do need it, it is better to do without it than to have it.

3. I will call on the LORD, who is worthy to be praised:

David first said, “I will love,” now he says, “I will call.” The “I wills” of the Psalms have furnished various writers with an admirable subject: and they may supply you with a profitable line of meditation: “I will call on the Lord, who is worthy to be praised.” “I will mix praise with my prayer.” There is no praying like that; if you have prayer in one hand, have praise in the other. The mixture of these two perfumes will make an extremely sweet incense to present to the Lord. To praise and pray, to pray and praise, is an admirable way of living. Have I not often told you that it resembles our breathing? By prayer we breathe in, and by praise we breathe out.

3. So I shall be saved from my enemies.

Saved singing, saved praying; what a happy way to be saved, — calling on God, and magnifying his name!

Now follows a marvellous passage descriptive of the psalmist’s deliverance, one of the most wonderful pieces of poetry ever composed in any language. David begins by describing his previous position.

4. The sorrows of death encompassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid.

Death had tied him down with the ropes of pain; they completely encompassed him. He seemed like one who was shipwrecked, struggling for his life; or he stood like a hunted stag in the midst of a pack of hounds.

5. The sorrows of hell encompassed me all around: the snares of death confronted me.

He could not stir a step without falling into a trap of some kind or other. What an awful picture this is! I can hardly imagine that the case could be painted in much blacker colours. No one except God could help him, it is evident; for his sorrows were the sorrows of death. The floods that surged around him were the floods of ungodly men; and there are no wild beasts so much to be dreaded as ungodly men. They can do more harm to us than lions in their dens can. David’s sorrows were the sorrows of hell, and the snares that lay in his pathway were the snares of death.

6. In my distress I called on the LORD, and cried to my God:

He puts together the two names, “Jehovah” and “my God.” He says that he called on Jehovah, and he cried to his God. He began with calling, and he went on to crying. The longer we pray, the more intense our prayer becomes. David prayed like this in his distress. Every way except one was shut up, so that he could not escape; but there was a way open upward. Our enemies can never block up that way; you can always run the blockade, my brethren, if you know the way of sailing upward. You can never be shut out of the port of prayer, you will always find a harbour of refuge by crying to God.

6. He heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.

The music from all the harps of the redeemed and from the songs of cherubim did not so engross those blessed ears that they could not hear David’s cries. A child’s cry will get to a father’s ear. It was so with the psalmist; his was a cry full of anguish, and it entered into the ears of God. It did not go to the saints, and all around through human mediators; but it went directly to God’s ears.

7. Then the earth shook and trembled; also the foundations of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was angry.

Nothing touches God’s heart like an injury done to a child of his. “He was angry,” and he only stamped his foot, and the solid earth began to rock and tremble. He who laid the foundations of the universe can soon shift its corner-stones if he pleases; and even the hills that send their roots so deep are easily moved by him.

8. There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and devouring fire from his mouth; coals were kindled by it.

This is oriental imagery representing the indignation of the Most High. He is not subject to passions like ours, but he is described like this in order that we may understand his action. It is a high strain of poetry to teach us how God is moved by the affliction of his people. Just as the hot breath comes from a man’s nostrils, so it is represented as if a smoke came from God’s nostrils; and just as when a man opens his mouth to speak in anger, so God is represented as speaking that a fire issued from his mouth to devour the enemies of his people.

9, 10. He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under his feet. And he rode on a cherub, and flew: yes, he flew on the wings of the wind.

He trod on the arch of the sky, and bent it beneath his divine weight. The cherubim are represented as standing over the mercy seat, as though waiting there to perform errands of mercy; and the Lord is said here to ride on a cherub, and to fly on the wings of the wind. God comes swiftly for the deliverance of his people. You consider him to be slow; but he is not slow in the fulfilment of his promises as men count slowness. When you shall understand all things, — if ever that shall be, — you will see how speedily he flew to your rescue.

11. He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion all around him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.

No one can see God in the sunlight; but faith can see him in the dark, and can believe that the darkest providences are only the pavilion of Jehovah’s love.

12. At the brightness that was before him his thick clouds passed, hailstones and coals of fire.

The psalmist heaps together all the terrors of nature to show how God stirs all things up for the rescue and the defence of his people. Over the head of all this blackness and these flames of fire you hear a voice: —

13. The LORD also thundered in the heavens, and the Highest gave his voice; hailstones and coals of fire.

Woe to him who strives with his Maker! See how readily, when the Lord comes out as a man of war (Jehovah is his name,) he scatters all his adversaries.

14, 15. Yes, he sent out his arrows, and scattered them; and he shot out lightnings, and confused them. Then the channels of waters were seen, and the foundations of the world were exposed by your rebuke, oh LORD, at the blast of the breath of your nostrils.

He did not have to stretch out his hand: it was only his breath that shook the earth, and set the heavens on fire.

16. He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters.

The psalmist saw another Moses, whose name meant, “I drew him out of the water”; and this is one of the names of Christ. Out of many waters he was drawn, our glorious Covenant-Head, and all his people are to be baptized into his name.

17. He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from those who hated me: for they were too strong for me.

They were not too strong for God, and it almost seems as if he would not have come on the scene if they had not been too strong for David. While David could fight them, he might fight them; “but when they were too strong for me,” he says, “he delivered me.” Oh, what a glorious thing it is to be placed where you cannot help yourself, because then it shall be written, “He delivered me!” Let the heroes of the earth boast about all their mighty deeds; as for us, we will boast even in infirmity, for then the power of God rests on us.

18, 19. They confronted me in the day of my calamity: but the LORD was my support. He brought me out also into a large place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me.

There is another wonderful text for a sermon: “He delivered me.” The first I gave you was “my deliverer.” Now here is the explanation of his assuming that title: “He delivered me, because he delighted in me.”

20. The LORD rewarded me according to my righteousness; he has restored me according to the cleanness of my hands.

For David had been slandered; they laid all kinds of evil to his charge, and God therefore came out for his defence, because his heart was right with the Lord. It was God’s grace that made him right, and the grace that had preserved him from sinning now delivered him from being slandered.

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 18” 18 @@ "(Version 2)"}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 18” 18 @@ "(Version 1)"}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Desires After Holiness — Conformity To Christ” 650}

{a} Upas: A fabulous tree alleged to have existed in Java, at some distance from Batavia, with properties so poisonous as to destroy all animal and vegetable life to a distance of fifteen or sixteen miles around it. OED. {b} Exposition missing in original copy by Electronic Bible Society.



Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 18 (Version 1)
1 Oh God, my strength and fortitude,
   Of force I must love thee;
   Thou art my castle and defence
   In my necessity.
2 My God, my rock, in whom I trust,
   The worker of my wealth;
   My refuge, buckler, and my shield,
   The Horn of all my health.
3 In my distress I sought my God,
   I sought Jehovah’s face;
   My cry before him came; he heard
   Out of his holy place.
4 The Lord descended from above,
   And bow’d the heavens most high,
   And underneath his feet he cast
   The darkness of the sky.
5 On cherub and on cherubim
   Full royally he rode,
   And on the wings of mighty winds
   Came flying all abroad.
6 And so deliver’d he my soul:
   Who is a rock but he?
   He liveth — Blessed be my Rock!
   My God exalted be!
                  Thomas Sternhold, 1562.
Psalm 18 (Version 2)
1 No change of times shall ever shock
   My firm affection, Lord, to thee;
   For thou hast always been my rock,
   A fortress and defence to me.
2 Thou my deliv’rer art, my God,
   My trust is in thy mighty power;
   Thou art my shield from foes abroad,
   At home my safeguard and my tower.
3 Let the eternal Lord be praised,
   The rock on whose defence I rest;
   O’er highest heavens his name be raised,
   Who me with his salvation blest.
4 Therefore to celebrate his fame
   My grateful voice to heav’n I’ll raise;
   And nations, strangers to his name,
   Shall thus be taught to sing his praise.
                        Tate and Brady, 1696.
Psalm 18 (Version 3)
1 Just are thy ways, and true thy Word,
   Great Rock of my secure abode:
   Who is a God beside the Lord?
   Or where’s a refuge like our God?
2 ‘Tis he that girds me with his might,
   Gives me his holy sword to wield:
   And while with sin and hell I fight,
   Spreads his salvation for my shield.
3 He lives, (and blessed be my Rock!)
   The God of my salvation lives;
   The dark designs of hell are broke;
   Sweet is the peace my Father gives.
4 Before the scoffers of the age,
   I will exalt my Father’s name;
   Nor tremble at their mighty rage,
   But meet reproach, and bear the shame.
5 To David and his royal seed
   Thy grace for ever shall extend:
   Thy love to saints, in Christ their head,
   Knows not a limit, nor an end.
                           Isaac Watts, 1719.


Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 18 (Version 1)
1 Oh God, my strength and fortitude,
   Of force I must love thee;
   Thou art my castle and defence
   In my necessity.
2 My God, my rock, in whom I trust,
   The worker of my wealth;
   My refuge, buckler, and my shield,
   The Horn of all my health.
3 In my distress I sought my God,
   I sought Jehovah’s face;
   My cry before him came; he heard
   Out of his holy place.
4 The Lord descended from above,
   And bow’d the heavens most high,
   And underneath his feet he cast
   The darkness of the sky.
5 On cherub and on cherubim
   Full royally he rode,
   And on the wings of mighty winds
   Came flying all abroad.
6 And so deliver’d he my soul:
   Who is a rock but he?
   He liveth — Blessed be my Rock!
   My God exalted be!
                  Thomas Sternhold, 1562.
Psalm 18 (Version 2)
1 No change of times shall ever shock
   My firm affection, Lord, to thee;
   For thou hast always been my rock,
   A fortress and defence to me.
2 Thou my deliv’rer art, my God,
   My trust is in thy mighty power;
   Thou art my shield from foes abroad,
   At home my safeguard and my tower.
3 Let the eternal Lord be praised,
   The rock on whose defence I rest;
   O’er highest heavens his name be raised,
   Who me with his salvation blest.
4 Therefore to celebrate his fame
   My grateful voice to heav’n I’ll raise;
   And nations, strangers to his name,
   Shall thus be taught to sing his praise.
                        Tate and Brady, 1696.
Psalm 18 (Version 3)
1 Just are thy ways, and true thy Word,
   Great Rock of my secure abode:
   Who is a God beside the Lord?
   Or where’s a refuge like our God?
2 ‘Tis he that girds me with his might,
   Gives me his holy sword to wield:
   And while with sin and hell I fight,
   Spreads his salvation for my shield.
3 He lives, (and blessed be my Rock!)
   The God of my salvation lives;
   The dark designs of hell are broke;
   Sweet is the peace my Father gives.
4 Before the scoffers of the age,
   I will exalt my Father’s name;
   Nor tremble at their mighty rage,
   But meet reproach, and bear the shame.
5 To David and his royal seed
   Thy grace for ever shall extend:
   Thy love to saints, in Christ their head,
   Knows not a limit, nor an end.
                           Isaac Watts, 1719.


The Christian, Desires After Holiness
650 — Conformity To Christ <8.7.>
1 Love divine, all loves excelling,
      Joy of heaven, to earth come down:
   Fix in us thy faithful mercies crown;
      All thy faithful mercies crown;
   Jesus, thou art all compassion;
      Pure, unbounded love thou art;
   Visit us with thy salvation,
      Enter every trembling heart.
2 Come, almighty to deliver,
      Let us all thy grace receive;
   Suddenly return, and never,
      Never more, thy temples leave;
   Thee we would be always blessing;
      Serve thee as thy hosts above;
   Pray, and praise thee, without ceasing:
      Glory in thy perfect love.
3 Finish, then, thy new creation,
      Pure and spotless let us be;
   Let us see thy great salvation,
      Perfectly restored in thee:
   Changed from glory into glory,
      Till in heaven we take our place,
   Till we cast our crowns before thee,
      Lost in wonder, love, and praise!
                        Charles Wesley, 1747

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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