2433. Heman’s Sorrowful Psalm

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No. 2433-41:469. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, September 25, 1887, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, October 6, 1895.

But I have cried to you, oh LORD; and in the morning my prayer shall come before you. {Ps 88:13}

1. What misery of soul some people endure before they find peace with God! There is no need that it should be so with them; their anguish often arises from a mistake. The gospel is very simple; it is just, — “Believe and live.” He who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ is not condemned; he at once receives pardon, and passes from death to life, and he shall never come into condemnation. But a very large number of people will not go on the straight road to heaven. They cannot believe that it is the right road; so they get troubled in their thoughts, tumbled up and down in their minds, as John Bunyan puts it, and they go staggering over dark mountains, stumbling and falling, wounding and bruising themselves, and it is long before they come out into the light and joy of peace in believing. I would commend you young people especially to take the straight way to salvation by trusting in Jesus just as you are. You shall, by doing so, avoid the poor pilgrim’s Slough of Despond, and very many other things that might trouble and burden you; but, as I know that many do go all around, and so get troubled and perplexed, I am going to talk to them from these words of the psalmist.

2. This good man, Heman the Ezrahite, went by this rough round-about road that some of you have taken, and so he found himself in terrible places. He seems to have been brought about as low as a man can be brought; but all the while there was this fact in his favour, he continued praying. He prayed; he would pray; he could not be made to stop praying. If, by some process or other, Satan could have dragged him from the mercy seat, he would have had the diabolical hope of his ultimate destruction; but as long as the man would stay on his knees, repeating his earnest cry to God for mercy, it was not possible that he could be destroyed. I may be now addressing some who, in the depth of their trouble, have been praying to God, not always with a brave believing heart, but still with intense sincerity and earnestness; and now it has come to this impasse with them, the evil spirit says, “Do not pray any more. Give it up. It is of no use. God will never hear you.” If that is your temptation, dear friend, may the Holy Spirit come to your rescue while I talk familiarly with you in his name!

3. First, from this Psalm, learn how to pray. Secondly, from the psalmist’s example, resolve to pray in your very worst case. After I have spoken on these two points, I shall close by giving you some reasons why you will find it wise to pray like this.

4. I. First, then, from this Psalm, LEARN HOW TO PRAY.

5. A great many people make a mistake about what prayer really is; they seem to think that it consists in repeating a form of words, but it does not. The witch of old used to mutter certain phrases, and she pretended that she performed great wonders by repeating such and such words backwards; but there was no real power about her words, it was sheer superstition to believe in her incantations. Please, beloved friends, do not rely on prayer as a kind of witchcraft, for it is nothing better than witchcraft to believe that the mere utterance of certain sacred words and phrases can have any appreciable effect either on yourselves or on God. Prayer is the longing of the soul to hold communion with the Most High, the desire of the heart to obtain blessings from his hands. James Montgomery happily described what real prayer is when he wrote, —

    Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire,
       Utter’d or unexpress’d
    The motion of a hidden fire,
       That trembles in the breast.
    Prayer is the burden of a sigh,
       The falling of a tear;
    The upward glancing of an eye,
       When none but God is near.
    Prayer is the simplest form of speech
       That infant lips can try;
    Prayer the sublimest strains that reach
       The Majesty on high.
    Prayer is the contrite sinners voice
       Returning from his ways;
    While angels in their songs rejoice,
       And cry, “Behold he prays!”

6. If you would pray properly, you will do wisely to copy the writer of this Psalm; and, first, tell the Lord your case. In this Psalm, Heman makes a map of his life’s history, he puts down all the dark places through which he has travelled. He mentions his sins, his sorrows, his hopes (if he had any), his fears, his woes, and so on. Now, that is real prayer, laying your case before the Lord. Go to your room, and shut your door, and tell the Lord all about yourself. Do you lack words? Well then, use no words. Tell him all simply by the movements of your thought, for God can read the thoughts of men. Act as if you, like Hezekiah, were opening a letter, and spread it out before the Lord, hide nothing from him. It is true that you cannot hide it, for he knows all about you; but still do not try to conceal anything from your God. Tell him about your life of sin, tell him of your vain attempts to make yourself better, tell him of your many failures, tell him of your false hopes, tell him of all your blunders and mistakes; and then say, “Lord, I do not even now fully understand my own case, but you do. Do with me according to your own wisdom and prudence, and please save your servant.” That is the way to pray, this is how the psalmist prayed. Try the same plan as soon as you get home; indeed, do not delay, but pray like this at once. Open your heart to God, and spread your case before him.

7. Then, the next rule of prayer is, pray naturally. Note that the psalmist says, “Oh Lord God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before you.” Children are very eloquent when they cry, you have no need to teach them the arts of oratory or of posturing; when they really want a thing, they cry all over until they get it. That is the way truly to pray; when you so want the blessing, that your heart and your flesh cry out for the living God, you will not need to trouble about words. Your eyes shall aid you with their liquid pleas, your breath shall assist you as you sigh and sob, every part of your being shall help you as you stretch out your hands to God. The best prayer is, like a cry, the most natural expression of the sorrow and the need of the heart. Come like that to God; get upstairs into that little room where no eye but the Lord’s shall see you, and there cry to him, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” That is the way to pray, not to repeat some pompous form which may have been useful to saints in ages gone by, but to let your very soul pour itself out like water before the Lord in the most natural way that it can find.

8. But you must also notice, in the first verse, what is very essential to prayer. The psalmist says that he cried day and night before God. This makes a wonderful difference in prayer. Praying is not whistling to the winds, it is crying before God, — speaking to God. You can not see him, but he is there; then tell him your case. You cannot hear his footfall to remind you of his presence, but he is there, so ask for what you want; deal directly with God. Remember what Paul wrote to the Hebrews: “He who comes to God, must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.” Believe that God is, and that he hears prayer, and you shall find it to be so in your own experience. I challenge any man to put this matter to the test, and see if he does not find it as I say. There never was one yet who came to God like this, and God sent him away empty. Poor trembling soul, go to your God; if so far your prayers have been earnest, but you have left out this one important point that you have not really prayed to him, then begin at once in a better style. You may write a hundred letters to a friend, but you will never receive an answer to them if you do not properly address them, and put them into the mail; so, many people forget to address and mail their prayers by really presenting them before God.

9. Next, dear friends, this Psalm will help you in prayer if you read properly its first words: “Oh Lord God of my salvation.” Pray with this belief fixed in your mind, that your help must come from God, and pray expecting salvation from the Lord. It is true, whether you know it or not, that you are lost, and that only God himself can save you. Pray, in the full belief of that fact; go to God with this thought in your mind, and this utterance out of your mouth: “Oh Lord, I am lost, unless you help me; I am undone, unless you come to my rescue; and here I am at your mercy seat, crying to you, ‘Lord, save me.’ ” Do not go to so-called priests; do not go to ministers or to Christian friends with any idea that they can help you one bit; but go straight away to God, applying to him through our Lord Jesus Christ, and it is not possible that he should turn you away. Try it and see. Some of us who were certainly as guilty as you can ever be, have tried this plan, and we have found mercy; and we are therefore all the more earnest in entreating you and all other sinners to do the same.

10. Further, dear friends, that you may pray properly, notice that the psalmist prayed often. In the first verse he says, “I have cried day and night before you.” Further on he says, “I have called daily on you.” I like those morning prayers of which our text speaks: “In the morning my prayer shall come before you.” I remember, as a lad, when I was seeking the Saviour, getting up with the sun so that I might get time to read gracious books and to seek the Lord. When I look back on it, I can see why the word was blessed to me when I heard the gospel preached in that Methodist Chapel at Colchester, because I had, before that, been up early crying to God for the blessing. There are some people here who do not know what it is like early in the morning. You never did in your lives see the sunrise, did you, unless you got up earlier than usual one winter’s morning? I have often proved that the early morning is the best part of the day. The dew of the morning has medicine in it to drive away many a disease. A little while all alone in the morning might prove to be the time in which God would meet you; will you not try it? But the psalmist says that he also prayed at night; perhaps, when others were asleep, he stole from his couch, and bowed his knee, and cried to God. When all is hushed and still, — and there is, even in London, an hour of that kind, somewhere between three and four o’clock in the morning, when the streets cease for a while their almost perpetual grind, and the air is still and quiet, — it is wonderful how you may be helped to pray by the silence that is all around you. Oh friend, if you are not saved, I would beseech you to get up in the dead of night, and, cry to God for salvation. I would advise you not to go to your beds, nor to think of falling asleep, until you have believed in Jesus to the saving of your soul, lest you should never wake up in this world, but should wake up in that state in which there is no hope for ever for those who have died impenitent. Dear hearts, cry often, cry continually to God, until he gives you this salvation, and after that I know you will always cry to him, for you will not be able to help it. Prayer will then become your daily breath, and you will pray then as naturally as your lungs now heave with the breath of life. But pray often, even as Heman did.

11. The psalmist tells us also that he prayed with weeping and mourning. Read verse nine: “My eye mourns by reason of affliction: Lord, I have called daily on you.” That is a blessed style of praying, when the prayers are salty with penitential tears. If your heart is breaking with repentance and sorrow for sin, you will break down the bars which shut you out of hope and peace. If you will give up your sin; if you mourn over your sin; if you sigh and cry to become gracious and holy, you shall prevail before long, for God may permit a weeping penitent to stand for a while at mercy’s door, but he can never send that penitent away empty, for it is written over that door (I can read the golden letters): “Whoever comes to me I will in no wise cast out.” While God lives, never shall a sinner truly come to him, and yet be cast out. I say again, go and try it, go and try it, and you shall find it to be even so.

12. Once more, you will perhaps find prayer more successful if you follow the psalmist’s way of praying pleadingly. Notice how he puts it in the tenth verse: “Shall the dead arise and praise you?” Plead with God; if you are in earnest, you will soon find pleas that you can use with him. “Lord, save me; it will glorify your grace to save such a sinner as I am. Lord, save me, otherwise I am lost for all eternity; do not let me perish, Lord. Save me, oh Lord, for Jesus died. By his agony and bloody sweat, by his cross and passion, save me.” I am going over the kind of pleas I used when I took my arguments, and came before the throne of grace, and said, “I will not go away, I will not leave the mercy seat unless you bless me.” Surely, you can find some reason why you should be saved. Do not look for it in any merit of your own, otherwise you will look where you will never find it; but look to his free grace and sovereign love, to the heart of God, and to the bleeding wounds of Jesus, and say to God, “Lord, I cannot, I will not, let you go unless you bless me.” If you pray in that way, it will not be long before the morning light of salvation will break in on your troubled spirit.

13. II. This leads me now, briefly, to speak on my second division: from the psalmist’s example, RESOLVE TO PRAY IN YOUR VERY WORST CASE.

14. I want to go over the Psalm again very rapidly, to remind you of the writer’s experience. This man of God was, first, full of troubles. Notice what he says in the third verse: “My soul is full of troubles.” Yet he prayed. When you are full of troubles, go to God with them, that is the very time when you most need to pray. “But,” you say, “Mr. Spurgeon, you do not know all that I have to think about.” No, but I do know that, the more you have to think about, the more reason you have to go to God in prayer about it. That was a grand argument of Martin Luther when he said to his friend, “I have a very busy day today; I have so much work to do that I am afraid I shall not get through it all, I must have at least three hours’ prayer, or else I shall not have time to get through all my toil.” The more work he had to do, the more prayer he felt that he needed. Is that not right? The more loads you have to drag, the more horses you need; and the more work there is to be done, the more reason there is for crying to God to help you to do it. That is not a waste of time; on the contrary, it is the best use of time that anyone can have.

15. When you are full of trouble, pray all the more. “Ah!” one says, “I gave up praying, sir, because I was in such trouble.” Foolish brother! Foolish sister! Another says, “I went down in the world until I felt that I had not any clothes fit to come in.” Clothes fit to come in? Any clothes are fit to come in, if you have paid for them. “Oh!” another says, “but I was so troubled that I did not like to come.” What! not go to the house of the Lord when you need comfort most? That is the time when you ought certainly to come. Please do not stay away from the outward means of grace when you are in trouble; but especially do not stay away from God himself when you are tried and perplexed. When you are as full of trouble as you ever can be, then is the time to pray the most.

16. Next, it seems that the psalmist was ready to die:“ My life draws near to the grave.” Well, do not stop praying because you are ready to die. Now, surely, is the time to pray more earnestly than ever.

    Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath,
       The Christian’s native air;
    His watchword at the gates of death:
       He enters heaven with prayer.

If you are going to die, die praying; do not let the fear of death stop your praying, that would be folly indeed.

17. Moreover, the psalmist had given himself up:“ I am counted with those who go down into the pit.” Well now, if you have given yourself up, yet still pray. I know that you say, “Sir, I am in despair.” Well, offer one more prayer, brother; one more prayer; and if you should not get comfort then, I will come to you, and say yet again, “One more prayer.” If you despair of everything else, yet do not despair of the mercy of God. Your extremity will be the Lord’s opportunity. Keep on praying; as long as you are outside of hell, still keep on praying, and so you shall never go there, for no praying soul can ever be cast away from the presence of God. Keep on praying, please, if the worst comes to the worst.

18. I imagine that I hear you say, “Oh, but I have no strength left!” Well, then, you are just like Heman, without strength, for he said, “I am as a man who has no strength.” Pray all the more if that is your case; if you do not have strength to kneel, fall flat on your face, and pray to God, but keep at it, hold on to it. If you can scarcely hold on, yet somehow or other get a grip of the divine promise, and plead for God’s mercy for the sake of Jesus, and you shall never perish.

19. I do not know whether I am spreading my net widely enough; but there may be one who says, “I am forgotten.” Then listen to what Heman says: “I am like the slain who lie in the grave, whom you remember no more: and they are cut off from your hand.” Man, if you have written yourself down as lost, if you have given up all prayer, if you never open your Bible, if you have resolved never again to come to the house of God because you despair of mercy, yet, I beseech you, know that it is a lie that deceives you. Still there is hope for you. Believe that Jesus still receives sinners — indeed, such sinners as you are, and go to him by believing prayer, and you shall still find mercy. There are many records of men and women who have been in despair through guilt for twenty years or even a longer period and then have been divinely delivered. I remember one case, that of Mr. Timothy Rogers, who was twenty-eight years in despair, and yet came out to light and liberty, and wrote a wonderful book on trouble of mind, which has been a comfort to many other afflicted souls. Do not despair even if Satan seems to have gripped you, and to be dragging you down to the bottomless pit. As long as you still live, the gospel woos you, and entreats you to believe in Jesus Christ, for still there is room in the heart of God and in the love of God for such a sinner as you are. Please, do not cease to cry to God; still continue calling on him until he gives you a comforting answer.

20. Perhaps you say, “I feel the wrath of God so heavily.” What if you do? Go and plead the mercy of God in Christ; and since Christ, in the place of sinners, bore his Father’s wrath, go and rest in that great vicarious sacrifice. “But I have no one to speak to,” another says. Never mind if you do not; that is all the more reason why you should pray to God, and plead with God, who will not leave you. “But I am distracted, ” another says. Yes, and you will be distracted, and I should not wonder if you went out of your mind, unless you will go to God as you are, and implore him to look at your distractions, and to lay his gentle hand on you, and to restore you to yourself, and then to restore you to himself. I wish I knew how to plead with each one of you, personally. I feel that I want to go down these stairs, and around these galleries, and to pick out men and women who are being tempted not to pray again, and to give each of them a brotherly grip of the hand, and to say, “Do not cease to plead for your life; do not cease to look to Jesus on the tree. Hope in him; it is Satan’s desire to ruin you by leading you to despair. Cheer up and believe that mercy’s gate is still open to you. Come and welcome, and you shall in no wise be cast out.”

21. III. Now I finish with A FEW REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD KEEP ON PRAYING, and why you should add to your prayer, a simple confidence in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

22. This is the first reason. Suppose, dear friend, — and I do not like even to suppose such a thing, — but, for the sake of argument, suppose that what your despair says is true, that you will perish. Then, you cannot lose anything by prayer, can you? Remember what we sang a few minutes ago, —

    I can but perish if I go;
       I am resolved to try;
    For if I stay away, I know
       I must for ever die.

I repeat that you cannot lose anything by prayer. “Oh!” I have said to myself, when broken down under a sense of sin, “God cannot be angry with me for crying to him for mercy. Surely that cannot be an increase of my guilt — that I dare to say, ‘Lord, forgive me.’ The worst criminal before a judge may at least beg for mercy; so I will put in my plea, in broken words, and with many tears. I cannot lose anything by praying; therefore, I will certainly continue to pray to the Lord.”

23. Moreover, dear friends, it is not so great a thing, after all, to have to continue to ask. It is not so hard a thing for me to be made to wait a little while. As a sinner, I kept God waiting for me long enough, indeed, far too long. He called, but I would not come; what wonder if now he keeps me waiting? Shall I be petulant, and say, “I will wait no longer?” Oh, the many sermons I have heard and thrown aside! Oh, the many times the Spirit of God has touched my conscience, and I have resisted his strivings! Ought I therefore to be at all surprised if now he should say to me, “You must wait a bit at mercy’s gate, for I will have you knock, and knock, and knock again before I let you in”? Oh, no; it is not so hard a thing, and it will pay me for waiting! When he finally opens the gate, I shall think very little of the many prayers and tears that I have offered to him; I shall be so overjoyed to get inside that I shall bless him even for keeping me waiting. Therefore, my soul, press on; keep on praying, for what if he should, after all, hear you? Oh poor heart, what if, after all, your sin should be forgiven you, and you should become a child of God? Oh you forlorn one, what if the light of heaven should yet shine in on your heart, and all the bells of holy joy should ring within your spirit? What if it should be so? And it will be so if you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. It may be that you are within an inch of salvation even now. Let me tell you, if you are only looking to Jesus, you have salvation already. One trustful glance at him on the cross, and you are saved, saved now, and saved for ever. May God grant that it may be so with you!

24. At any rate, do not cease to pray, for he to whom you pray is a gracious God. The widow who went to the unjust judge was persistent, and prevailed with him, unjust as he was; but you are pleading with a loving God, who gave his Son to die for sinners. Take good heart; you will not plead in vain, for he loves to hear your prayers. He must, he will, answer you, for he is a God of grace.

25. Besides, if he does not save you, will he be a gainer by it? And if he does save you, will he be a loser by it? Oh, no, dear heart! If he will save you, it will increase his honour and his glory. Why, you yourself will tell everyone what a good God he is, will you not? And your friends and your neighbours, when they see you saved, such a sinner as you are, will begin to say to each other, “Here is a wonder of grace. See what God has done for this man. Let us come and seek him, too.” It is not to God’s disadvantage to save you, now that Christ has died. Therefore, take heart, and be of good courage.

26. Moreover, he has heard others. He who speaks to you now boldly tells you that God heard him. “I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. …… This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.” Come along with you, whoever you are. I am sure you can pray as well as I did when I first sought his face. I am sure you know about as much of the gospel as I did when I first looked to him, for I did not really know the truth until I heard that word, “Look! Look! Look!” That is about all I know even now. I look at Jesus, and he looks at me. I am looking to Jesus, and I am relieved of all my burden. That is the whole story. Look to him, and you shall be relieved, too. If others have been saved, why should not you be saved? Therefore, take heart, and still cry mightily and believingly to him.

27. More than that, the Lord has promised to hear you. Listen: “Call on me in the day of trouble: I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” Here is another precious promise: “Whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” There is a big “whoever.” Let me repeat that text: “Whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” The Lord does hear prayer; do not let any unbelief on that point linger any longer in your heart. He will hear you now sitting in your pew. Try it; try it; if you have been praying for months, and yet no peaceable answer has come to you, resolve this moment that you will never cease your entreaties until he grants you the desire of your heart.

28. I am looking at many young men and maidens here; how I wish that they would all look to Jesus even now! Oh, that at least some of you, dear young friends, might begin to be Christians from this very hour! The harvest is past, the summer is almost ended, and you are not saved; but before the leaves fall from the trees, yield yourselves to Jesus. There are some boys and girls here; may the Lord grant that they may, while they are still children, trust in Jesus, and be saved! But most of you are men and women in midlife, and many, very many of you, are aged people. Have you found Christ, dear friend? Are there any of you old folks who are without Christ? I cannot figure you out, — grey-headed, and yet unconverted; what is to become of you? In the order of nature, you must soon die. The young may die, but the old must. Oh, that you would not rest in your declining years until all is right for eternity! You know what accidents are constantly occurring, and how suddenly men pass into eternity! A man has heart disease, and without a moment’s warning he is hurried before his Maker’s judgment bar. Prepare to meet your God, and do so by believing in him whom God has presented to be the Saviour of men, even the Lord Jesus Christ, who died, “the Just for the unjust, so that he might bring us to God.” May God bless you, dear hearers! All of us shall never meet again on earth; that is not possible among these thousands from all quarters of the globe, but may the sincere penitent prayer of all the unsaved among us be so heard that we may all meet in heaven! Amen and Amen.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Ps 88}

A Song or Psalm for the sons of Korah, to the chief Musician on Mahalath Leannoth, Maschil of Heman the Ezrahite.

I think that this is the darkest of all the Psalms; it has hardly a spot of light in it. The only bright words that I know of are in the first verse; the rest of the Psalm is very dark, and very dreary. Why, then, am I going to read it? Because, it may be, there is some poor heart here that is very heavy; you cannot tell out of this great crowd how many sorrowing and burdened spirits there may be among us; but there may be a dozen or two people who are driven almost to despair.

My dear friend, if this is your case, I want you to know that someone else has been just where you are. Remember how the shipwrecked man on the lonely island all of a sudden came on the footprints of another human being; so here, on the lone island of despondency, you shall be able to trace the footprints of another who has been there before you. Hear how he prays: —

1. Oh LORD God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before you:

It was only a cry, a cry as of an animal in pain, or at best the cry as of a child that has lost his mother: “I have cried day and night before you.”

2. Let my prayer come before you:

“Give me an audience, oh Lord. Do not shut the door in my face. My prayer has been knocking, knocking, knocking, at your gate; open to it. ‘Let my prayer come before you.’ ”

2. Incline your ear to my cry;

“Stoop down to me out of heaven, oh Lord. Bow that ear of yours to hear even my feeble and unworthy cry. I know that I do not deserve it. I know that it will be a great act of condescension on your part; but ‘incline your ear to my cry.’ ”

3. For my soul is full of troubles:

“Full of troubles, brimming over with grief, and every drop of it is as bitter as gall.”

3, 4. And my life draws near to the grave. I am counted with those who go down into the pit:

“They consider me as a dead man. Those who see the lines of fierce despair on my face think that I cannot live long: ‘I am counted with those who go down into the pit.’ ” These were his pleas in crying to God, —

    Distresses round me thicken,
       My life draws nigh the grave;
    Descend, oh Lord, to quicken,
       Descend, my soul to save!

4. I am as a man who has no strength:

Here is one, in the time of manhood when he should be strongest, who even says, “I am as a man who has no strength.” This subject may not interest some of you, just now; but it is here, so we must mention it; and it may be needed even by you one of these days. Bright eyes are not always bright, and the earthly joy that leaps and dances does not remain for ever. The day may come when you will turn to this Psalm with the two eights to it, and find comfort in it because it describes your case also.

5. Free among the dead, —

A freeman of the sepulchre, at home at death’s dark door: “Free among the dead,” —

5. Like the slain who lie in the grave, whom you remember no more: and they are cut off from your hand.

This is perhaps the most awful depth of the whole Psalm. The writer bemoaned that he was not remembered even by God any more, and that he was cut off from God’s hand; at least he thought so.

6, 7. You have laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the depths. Your wrath lies heavy on me, and you have afflicted me with all your waves. Selah.

Very properly here comes a “Selah.” Such a strain on the harp-strings had put them all out of tune; so the players had a notice to retune their harps, and the singers were told to lift up the strain of their song. It seems to me as if the writer here lifted his head above the waves of the tempestuous sea, and still kept on swimming.

8. You have put away my acquaintance far from me; you have made me an abomination to them: I am shut up, and I cannot get out.

This is the utterance of a soul imprisoned in solitary confinement, no one able to come to it to breathe out consolation: “You have put away my acquaintance far from me. They cannot come to me, and I am shut up, and I cannot get out to them.”

9. My eye mourns by reason of affliction: LORD, I have called daily on you, I have stretched out my hands to you.

Now hear how the psalmist pleads with the Lord. Prayer is always best when it rises to pleading. The man who understands the sacred art of prayer becomes a special pleader with God.

10. Will you show wonders to the dead? Shall the dead arise and praise you? Selah.

“Shall the dead arise, and praise you?” Not in this life, though the godly will praise the Lord in the world to come. But now, when a Christian man dies, God loses a chorister from the choirs of earth, there is one the less to sing his praises here; and the psalmist therefore pleads: “Lord, if I live, you can show your wonders to me; but will you show your wonders to the dead? If I am alive, I can praise you; but shall the dead arise, and praise you?”

11, 12. Shall your lovingkindness be declared in the grave? or your faithfulness in destruction? Shall your wonders be known in the dark? and your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?

He pleads that, if he dies, he shall not be able to declare the mercy of the Lord. God will lose a singer from his earthly choir, a witness from his earthly courts, a testifier of his lovingkindness, and faithfulness, and righteousness.

13. But I have cried to you, oh LORD; and in the morning my prayer shall come before you.

“I will be up early, before you come to me. I will be first to approach you. I will greet the rising sun with my rising prayer.”

14. LORD, why do you cast off my soul? Why do you hide your face from me?

Note again the earnestness of the psalmist’s pleadings. We have had many of them already; each verse has, I think, had at least two pleadings in it. If you would be heard with God, take care that you reason with him, and press your arguments with the Most High. He delights in this exercise of persevering supplication which will take no denial.

15-18. I am afflicted and ready to die from my youth up: while I suffer your terrors I am distracted. Your fierce wrath goes over me; your terrors have cut me off. They came all around me daily like water; they engulf me altogether. You have put lover and friend far from me, and my acquaintance into darkness.

There the Psalm ends. It is a sorrowful wail, and it comes to a close when you do not expect it to finish. It really has no finish to it, as when men wind up their songs with proper finales; but it is broken off, like a lily snapped at the stalk.

I have read this eighty-eighth Psalm to you as an example of persevering prayer. The man who wrote it — “Heman the Ezrahite” — kept on praying even when he did not seem to be heard, and so he is a pattern to us.

Yet notice how the next Psalm begins: “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord.” It is not always the sorrowful sackbut that is to be in our hand; we can play the joyful harp as well. “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever.” “I will never stop praising him.” “With my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.”

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Invitations — None That Come Cast Out” 505}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Invitations — The Successful Resolve” 514}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Expostulations — The Stranger At The Door” 515}
 The Sword and the Trowel
 Table of Contents, October, 1895.
 “The Soul-Winner.” Information concerning “Another New Book by C. H. Spurgeon,” with Specimen Chapter on “How to Induce our People to Win Souls.”
 The Three N’s. Address to the Students of the Pastors’ College. By Thomas Spurgeon.
 “The Throne of Grace.” Poetry, by E. A. Tydeman.
 The March of the Months. No. X. By H. T. S.
 “Our Own Men” and their Work. XXII. Pastor William Whale, Brisbane, Queensland (with Portrait).
 Aut Dominus, aut Nolus. A Plea for the Doctrines of Grace, commonly called Calvinistic. Pastor Hugh D. Brown’s Conference Paper.
 A Talk about the “Text Union.” By Charles Spurgeon.
 Seed-Thoughts from C. H. Spurgeon’s Sermons. Selected by J. D. Kilburn, St. Petersburg.
 Mr. Patrick’s Work in Tangier. By Edward H. Glenny, Honorary Secretary of the North Africa Mission.
 Notices of Books.
 Notes. (Pastor Charles Spurgeon’s birthday celebration at Greenwich. Pastor Thomas Spurgeon’s welcome home to the Tabernacle. Death of Elder Romang, with Portrait. The Treasury of David, in Monthly Parts. The Spurgeon Memorial Sermon Society. The Church of England and Dancing. Baptismal Regeneration. Mr. Andrew Murray at the Great Assembly Hall, Mile End Road. Report of the Spezia Mission. College. C. H. Spurgeon’s Evangelists. Orphanage. Colportage. Personal Notes, by Mrs. C. H. Spurgeon.)
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Gospel, Invitations
505 — None That Come Cast Out
1 Hark! ‘tis the Saviour’s voice I hear,
   Come, trembling soul, dispel thy fear;
   He saith, and who his word can doubt?
   He will in no wise cast you out.
2 Doth Satan fill you with dismay,
   And tell you Christ will cast away;
   It is a truth, why should you doubt?
   He will in no wise cast you out.
3 Approach your God, make no delay,
   He waits to welcome you today;
   His mercy try, no longer doubt,
   He will in no wise cast you out.
4 Lord, at thy call, behold! I come,
   A guilty soul, lost and undone:
   On thy rich blood I now rely,
   Oh, pass my vile transgressions by.
                        Samuel F. Smith, 1850.

Gospel, Invitations
514 — The Successful Resolve
1 Come, humble sinner, in whose breast
      A thousand thoughts revolve,
   Come, with your guilt and fear oppress’d,
      And make this last resolve:
2 “I’ll go to Jesus, though my sin
      Hath like a mountain rose;
   I know his courts, I’ll enter in,
      Whatever may oppose.
3 “Prostrate I’ll lie before his throne,
      And there my guilt confess;
   I’ll tell him I’m a wretch undone,
      Without his sovereign grace.
4 “I’ll to the gracious King approach,
      Whose sceptre pardon gives;
   Perhaps he may command my touch,
      And then the suppliant lives.
5 “Perhaps he will admit my plea,
      Perhaps will hear my prayer;
   But if I perish, I will pray,
      And perish only there.
6 “I can but perish if I go;
      I am resolved to try;
   For if I stay away, I know
      I must for ever die.
7 “But if I die with mercy sought,
      When I the King have tried,
   This were to die (delightful thought!)
      As sinner never died.”
                        Edmund Jones, 1787.

Gospel, Expostulations
515 — The Stranger At The Door
1 Behold! a stranger’s at the door!
   He gently knocks, has knock’d before:
   Has waited long; is waiting still:
   You treat no other friend so ill.
2 But will he prove a friend indeed?
   He will; the very friend you need:
   The Man of Nazareth, ‘tis he,
   With garments dyed at Calvary.
3 Oh lovely attitude! he stands
   With melting heart and laden hands:
   Oh matchless kindness and he shows
   This matchless kindness to his foes!
4 Rise touch’d with gratitude divine,
   Turn out his enemy and thine,
   That hateful, hell born monster sin,
   And let the heavenly stranger in.
5 Admit him, ere his anger burn,
   His feet depart, and ne’er return:
   Admit him, or the hour’s at hand
   When at his door denied you’ll stand:
6 Admit him, for the human breast
   Ne’er entertain’d so kind a guest:
   Admit him, for you can’t expel;
   Where’er he comes, he comes to dwell.
7 Yet know (nor of the terms complain)
   Where Jesus comes, he comes to reign;
   To reign, and with no partial sway;
   Thoughts must be slain that disobey.
8 Sovereign of souls! thou Prince of Peace,
   Oh may thy gentle reign increase:
   Throw wide the door each willing mind;
   And to his empire all mankind.
                        Joseph Grigg, 1765.

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).

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