2535. An Exceptional Plea In Prayer

by on

No. 2535-43:445. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, April 27, 1884, By C. H Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, September 19, 1897.

I said, “LORD, be merciful to me: heal my soul; for I have sinned against you.” {Ps 41:4}

1. This was one of David’s sayings: “I said.” It was a saying that was worth saying, and it is worth re-saying again: “I said, ‘Lord, be merciful to me.’ ” How often he said it, we do not know; the more often, the better. There is no day too bright for saying it, and there is no night too dark for saying it. “I said, ‘Lord, be merciful to me.’ ” Every one of David’s sayings was not worth repeating; for he said some things that he had to retract. “I said in my haste,” he said, on one occasion; and, possibly, what he said in his haste he repented of at his leisure. But this saying in our text needs no retracting, it only needs repeating; and, until we enter heaven, we may keep on saying it: “I said, ‘Lord, be merciful to me.’ ” I have never heard of Christ rebuking anyone for speaking like this. He who said, “God, I thank you that I am not as other men are,” received no commendation from the Lord Jesus Christ; but he who said, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner,” went down to his house justified rather than the other. This is a good saying, a true saying, a humble saying, and a gracious saying; and I say again, the more often it is repeated, the better: “I said, ‘Lord, be merciful to me.’ ”

2. Observe that this is a saying to the Lord: “I said, ‘LORD, be merciful to me.’ ” You hear people say, when they are talking and gossiping, “I said to her, and she said to me,” or, “He said to me, and I said to him,” — such and such and such and such. Well, what does it matter what you said or what they said? Very likely it is not worth repeating, nor the answer that was made to it; much of what is said may be summed up in the Dunottar Castle motto: —


It all comes to nothing; it is only breath vainly spent, which would be far more wisely expended, if it were, as the poet Cowper said, —

    “To heaven in supplication sent.”

How much better it would be if each one of the parties concerned said, “Lord, be merciful to me!” If we would speak twice to God and only once to men, or if we even reached so happy a proportion as at least to say as much to God as we say to our fellow men, how much healthier, and happier, and stronger, and more heavenly, and more holy should we become! You need not try to remember all that you have said to your fellow men, — probably much of that is best forgotten; but it is good to remember what you have said to your God, if it is anything like this saying of the sweet psalmist of Israel, “I said, ‘Lord, be merciful to me.’ ”

3. Let this be one of our sayings as well as David’s. Just as he said, “Lord, be merciful to me,” so I am sure I ought to say it, and I think, dear friends, you ought to say it, too. If there is anyone here who thinks that he has grown so good that he does not need to pray, “Lord, be merciful to me,” I am very thankful for once that I am not as that man is, for he must be eaten up with pride. He cannot be right in his heart who will not pray for mercy, and, surely, he has received no mercy who does not feel his need for more mercy. God can scarcely have begun to work in that man who thinks that he no longer needs to make confession of sin, or seek mercy from God. David tells us, “I said, ‘Lord, be merciful to me,’ ” and I advise you to make this one of your sayings also. People sometimes say, “It is an old saying,” and that is supposed to be its commendation. Well, this also is an old saying. A young man says, “My father used to say such and such”; and I have no doubt that, if you had a godly father, he used to say much that was worth remembering, and worth repeating, and you cannot do better than use your father’s words, especially if they were like David’s on this occasion. Let it be reported of you in your biography, if it is ever written, “This was one of his sayings; he often said, ‘Lord, be merciful to me.’ ”

4. Notice, also, that this was the saying of a sick man, and of a sick saint. “I said, ‘Lord, be merciful to me.’ ” It is not written, “I said, ‘Lord, you are unmerciful to me in chastening me; you deal too severely with me in placing me on this sick-bed, and causing me to lie here until the bed grows hard as a rock beneath me.’ ” No, there is no complaining here, though there is petitioning; there is no murmuring, though there is supplicating. “I said, ‘Lord, be merciful to me.’ ” When you get well again after an illness, it will be a great comfort if you can look back and feel, “I did not complain, but the chief cry from my sick-bed was, ‘Lord, be merciful to me.’ ”

5. So I have briefly introduced to you one of the sayings of a sick saint, — a sick king, and that king was David, the man after God’s own heart; and I believe that this saying of his was after God’s own heart, and that this prayer was pleasing in the ears of the Most High: “I said, ‘Lord, be merciful to me.’ ” So now I will try to show you that our text contains, first, a prayer:“ Lord, be merciful to me”; next, a confession: “I have sinned against you”; and then, thirdly, a plea, and a very exceptional plea it is: “I said, ‘Lord, be merciful to me: heal my soul; for I have sinned against you.’ ”

6. I. First, here is, A PRAYER: “Lord, be merciful to me.”

7. It may mean, — and I daresay it did mean, at least in part, — “ Mitigate my pains.” Oh beloved, when you feel a heart throbbing and palpitating, or when the swollen limb seems as if it were laid on an anvil, and beaten with red-hot hammers, when the pain goes through you again and again, until even the strong man is ready to cry out in his agony, and the tears start unwillingly to the eyes, this is a good prayer to present to God, “Lord, be merciful to me.” I have sometimes found that, where medicine has failed, and sleep has been chased away, and pain has become unbearable, it has been good to appeal to God immediately, and to say, “Oh Lord, I am your child; will you allow your child to be so tortured with pain? Is it not written, ‘Just as a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear him?’ Lord, be merciful to me.” I can solemnly assert that I have found immediate respite from paroxysms of extreme pain in answer to a simple appeal to the fatherhood of God, and a casting myself on his mercy; and I do not doubt that I am also describing the experience of many others of God’s afflicted children. When grieved with severe physical pain, you will find, dear friends, that the quiet resignation, the holy patience, and the childlike submissiveness which enable you just to pray, “Lord, be merciful to me,” will often bring a better relief to you than anything that the most skilled physician can prescribe for you. You are permitted and encouraged to act like this; when the rod falls heavily on you, look up into your Father’s face, and say, “Lord, be merciful to me.”

8. But that is not all that David meant, I am quite sure, for, next, he must have meant, “Forgive my sins.” You can see, by his prayer, that his sins were the heaviest affliction from which he was suffering: “Be merciful to me: heal my soul; for I have sinned against you.” And, believe me, there is no pain in the world that at all approximates to a sense of sin. I said to a dear friend, who is greatly depressed at this time, “I should like you to have a little rheumatic gout, just to take your thoughts off your mental anxiety.” “Oh!” she said, “it would be a great pleasure to me to have that form of suffering rather than my present depression of spirit”; and I am sure that it is so, and if that depression of spirit is mingled with the thought of sinfulness, and you are afraid — although, perhaps, in your case there may be no basis for fear because you really are God’s child, — but if you become afraid that you are not pardoned and forgiven, that fear will cut into you worse than a wound from a sword. It will make your blood boil more than would the poison of a cobra in your veins, for there is nothing so venomous as sin. So David meant, “I said, when I felt my sin, — I said, when my spirit sank within me, — ‘Lord, be merciful to me. Be merciful to me.’ ”

9. Sinners’ prayers suit depressed saints. The prayer of the tax collector is, after all, my every-day prayer. I have what I may call a Sunday prayer, a prayer for high days and holy days; but my every-day prayer, the one that I can use all through the week, the one that I can pick up when I cannot pick up anything else, is the tax collector’s prayer, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” That prayer is “the bairn’s prayer,” such as you would teach a child to pray; it is the prayer of the poor prostitute, the prayer of the dying thief, “Oh God, be merciful to me!” It is a blessed, blessed prayer, and I charge you never to cease from using it in the sense that our Lord taught it to his disciples, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

10. But that is not all that there is in this prayer. I think that David, when he said, “Lord, be merciful to me,” also meant, “Fulfil your promises.” “You have said of the man who considers the poor, ‘The Lord will deliver him in time of trouble.’ Lord, be merciful to me, and deliver me in the time of my trouble. You have said, ‘The Lord will preserve him, and keep him alive.’ Lord, be merciful to me, preserve me, and keep me alive. You have said that you will not deliver him to the will of his enemies; Lord, be merciful to me, and guard me from my foes. You will strengthen him on the bed of languishing; Lord, be merciful to me, and strengthen me. You will make all his bed in his sickness; Lord, make my bed.” It is a very difficult thing to make a sick man’s bed easy; and I should think that it was even harder to make the kind of bed that David was accustomed to lie on. We often have a soft bed with plenty of feathers in it, yet, after we have been lying on it for a month, it gets very hard. No matter if it is a bed of down, it seems as if it were made of stone, and one is apt to think that it is made very badly when it is made extremely well. But I should think that the mattresses they used in the East must have been so hard that it needed God himself to make soft beds for sick people then, so the Lord comes in with this gracious promise, “I will make all his bed” — bolster, pillow, covering, and all, — “I will make all his bed in his sickness. I will help him. I will comfort him. I will make him patient. I will enable him to bear all my will.”

11. Now, then, you dear saints of God who are in trouble, here is a prayer that is suitable for every one of you: “Lord, be merciful to me.” Should you get very badly off, then plead the promise, “You have said, ‘Food shall be given him, his waters shall be sure’; Lord, be merciful to me.” Are you going down in the world? Remember that it is written, “No good thing will he withhold from those who walk uprightly,” and cry, “Lord, be merciful to me.” This prayer is appropriate after every promise.

12. I know that I am addressing some who are not yet saved, but I wish that this prayer might get into each one of their hearts: “Lord, be merciful to me.” Keep on praying it until you obtain the mercy. Every five minutes in the day, wherever you are, let your heart go beating, — beat, beat, beat, beat, — to this tune, “Lord, be merciful to me. Be merciful to me. Be merciful to me.” You cannot have a prayer that will better suit your lips.

13. So far I have spoken of only half the psalmist’s prayer; the other half of it is, “Heal my soul.” David does not pray, “Heal my eye; heal my foot; heal my heart; heal me, whatever my disease may be”; but he goes at once to the root of the whole matter, and prays, “Heal my soul.” Oh you sick men, be more anxious to have your soul healed than to have your body cured! What does David mean by this portion of his prayer?

14. He means, I think, first, “Heal me, Lord, of the distress of my soul! My soul is afflicted with an appalling disease, and is brought very low: ‘Lord, heal my soul.’ I am so sad, so very frightened, such terrors pass before my eyes, my soul has gotten morbid, melancholy, despondent, and depressed, ‘Lord, heal my soul.’ ” The Lord is the great Soul Healer; therefore go to him with this prayer, “Lord, heal me of the distress of my soul.”

15. But add also this meaning to the petition: “Lord, heal my soul of the effect of sin.” Every sin brings on another sin; and the continuance in sin makes the tendency to sin stronger. “ ‘Heal my soul, Lord.’ If I was once a drunkard, and I have given up the evil thing, yet the thirst will come; heal my soul of it. If I have been a man of the world, and have made unrighteous gains, the tendency to do so again will be strong in me when the opportunity occurs; ‘Heal my soul, Lord.’ That I may forget the lewd songs I used to sing, the lascivious sights I once delighted in, the immoral lusts that once ate up my life, ‘Heal my soul, Lord.’ ” It is one thing to be forgiven, it is another thing to be delivered from the result of a long life of sin; yet God can do even that, so pray, “Lord, be merciful to me, and pardon me. Heal my soul, and sanctify me.”

16. I think that David also meant by this prayer, “Heal me of my tendency to sin.” He seemed to say, “Lord, I shall sin again if I am not healed. I have an evil tendency in me, and an old nature which is inclined to sin; if you do not heal me of this disease, there will be another eruption on the skin of my life, and I shall sin again.” When a man sins outwardly, it is because he has sin inwardly. If there were no sin in us, no sin would come out of us; but there it lies, sometimes, concealed. I do not think it is ever a good thing to sin; that cannot be, but I have known a man to be tempted, and to fall into sin, who has discovered by his fall how much of sin there always was in him. It is something like the breaking out of a disease in the skin; it would not have broken out if it had not been there before; and the outbreak, however grievous it is, may be useful by driving the sufferer to seek a cure, and so he becomes thoroughly healed. This is the meaning of David’s prayer, “Heal my soul, for I have sinned. Heal me, so that I may not sin again.”

17. II. The second part of our subject is, A CONFESSION: “I have sinned against you.” I do not want simply to have these words in my mouth, to tell them to you; I wish that I could put them into your mouths, oh you unconverted ones, that you might say them to God! Let us briefly consider what is meant by this confession, “I have sinned against you.”

18. First, it is a confession without an excuse. David does not say, “I have sinned against you, but I could not help it,” or, “I was severely tempted,” or, “I was in trying circumstances.” No; as long as a man can make an excuse for his sin, he will be a lost man; but when he dares not and cannot frame an excuse, there is hope for him. “I have sinned against you,” is a confession without an excuse.

19. Further, it is a confession without any qualification. He does not say, “Lord, I have sinned to a certain extent; but, still, I have partly balanced my sins by my virtues, and I hope to wipe out my faults with my tears.” No; he says, “I have sinned against you,” as if that were a full description of his whole life. He bows his knee, and just confesses to God, “Lord, I give up everything in the way of self-defence or self-justification; ‘I have sinned against you.’ ”

20. But notice, also, that this confession is without insincerity. When some people say, “We have sinned,” you can tell by their manner that they think they are by their confession complimenting God. You talk with them, and they say, “Oh, yes, sir; we are all sinners!” Yes, they are all sinners, like the monk who said that he had broken all the commandments, and was the most wicked man in the world. So one of his companions asked him if he had broken the first commandment, another asked about the second, then the third, the fourth, the fifth, and all the rest, and to each one he kept saying, “No, I never broke that in my life.” They enquired about the whole ten, and he declared that he had never broken one of them; yet this was the man who had confessed that he had broken all ten, and there are men who say that they are sinners, yet they do not mean it; and a sham sinner will only have a sham saviour; that is to say, a man who only pretends to be a sinner, and does not believe he is guilty in the sight of God, will not have a Saviour. Christ only died for real sinners, those who feel that their sin is truly sin.

    A sinner is a sacred thing,
    The Holy Ghost has made him so;

and if I am happy enough to find a man who includes himself with real sinners, I tell him to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and expect that, by doing so, he will find a real Saviour who will cleanse him from sin by his precious blood.

21. I wanted you to notice that there was sincerity about David’s confession of sin, for, in the next verse, he says, “My enemies speak evil of me.” He was not going to confess sin which he had not committed; and when men spoke against him, he said, “They speak evil of me.” Well, but, David, how can they speak evil of you when you confess that you are so bad? “Indeed!” he says, “but I have not done what they charge me with; I confess that I have sinned against God, but I have not sinned against him in the way they say I have. So far as their charges are concerned, I am innocent and pure. What I confess is that I have sinned against God.” I like a man, when he makes a confession of sin, not to be carried away into the use of proud expressions without meaning, but to speak with judgment, and to acknowledge and confess only what is true. This is the excellence of David’s confession, that he admits to what no sinner will ever admit to until the grace of God makes him do it: “I have sinned against you.” Hear him again in the fifty-first Psalm: “Against you, you only, have I sinned, and done this evil in your sight.” Hear the prodigal: “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight, and am no more worthy to be called your son.” The essence of sin is that it is sin against God. It is wrong to do any harm to your neighbour; but, after all, you and he are only two subjects of the great King and Lord of all. It is high treason to sin against God; and, often, that sin, of which men think the least, God thinks the most. That spiritual sin, of which some say, “Oh, that is a mere trifle!” — that forgetting of the Creator, that ignoring of the only Redeemer, this is the sin of sins, the damning sin which kindles the flames of hell; and it is a good thing, and a right thing, when a man’s confession of sin has David’s confession at the very core of it, “Lord, be merciful to me: heal my soul; for I have sinned against you.”

22. III. Now I close by noticing A PLEA, and a very exceptional plea it is. The psalmist’s prayer is followed by a confession, and, strangely enough, the confession is the argument of the prayer. Listen to the text again: “I said, ‘Lord, be merciful to me: heal my soul.’ ” Why? “For I have sinned against you.”

23. That is a very startling and remarkable way of pleading, but it is the only right one. It is such a plea as no self-righteous man would urge. The Pharisee keeps to this strain, “Lord, be merciful to me, for I have been obedient, I have kept your law.” Oh foolish, self-righteous man, do you not see that you are shutting the door in your own face? You say, in effect, “Be merciful to me, for I do not need any mercy.” That is what it practically comes down to, and therefore you are contradicting your own prayer. If you have kept the law from your youth up, and you have been so good and so obedient, you do not need any mercy from God; why, therefore, do you ask for it? No man who thinks himself better than his neighbours, strictly upright, honourable, and worthy of reward, will ever bow his knee, and cry to God, “Have mercy on me, for I have sinned against you.” He pleads, on the contrary, “Have mercy on me, for I am a most respectable man; I pay everyone twenty shillings in the pound; I have brought up my family most admirably; have mercy on me.” I say again, he asks for charity, and then says, “I do not want it; give me your charity, oh God; but I am not one of the poor beggars that crawl about the street, I am as well-to-do as anyone.” No one but the poor will value the charity of men, and no one but the guilty will value the charity of God. If you are not a sinner, Christ as a Saviour has nothing to do with you. He came into the world to save sinners; and as for you who think yourselves righteous, this is what he says about you, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” As Mary sang, “He has filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he has sent away empty.” Let them feed themselves if they have such an abundance as they say. This, then, is the kind of plea that a self-righteous man would not urge.

24. This is, further, such a plea as a carnal reasoner could not urge, for he could not see any reason or argument in it. “Am I to appeal to my God for mercy, and for soul-healing, on the basis that I have sinned? Why!” he says, “there is no plea in that.” But he who has been to Christ’s school, and learned the logic of the cross, will know that there is no argument equal in force to this: “Lord, I have sinned, I need mercy; give it to me, Lord. I have sinned, and therefore I have no right whatever to expect anything from you; therefore, glorify yourself by the freeness and spontaneity of your abounding grace. Lord, I have sinned, and this sinning has destroyed me; therefore, have compassion on me. This sinning is like a deadly disease within my soul; therefore, great Physician, come and heal me. This sinning has killed me; therefore, make me alive. This sinning has damned me; therefore, come and save me.” That is the best pleading in all the world; and, after all, it is the common pleading that men make use of with their fellow men. When one comes to me begging, what does he say? In nine cases out of ten, he tells me what is not true; that I can vouch for, but I always notice that he never pleads like this: “Now, sir, I want you to give me help because I do not need it very much; I am not at all badly off, I have about as much as I want already; but I thought that I would take to begging because it is a genteel kind of occupation.” You never hear him talk like that. I remember giving a man, who came to me begging with bare feet, a pair of patent leather boots. They were nearly worn out, but I thought that he might make some use of them, and he put them on; but he was not so foolish as to go begging in them. At the first gateway he came to, he pulled them off, and I met him, ten minutes later, without the boots, except that he had them slung over his back, ready to sell to the first likely customer. He knew that rags are the best livery for a beggar; if he would succeed in his calling, then the fouler and the more ragged he looks the better for him, for so he appeals to our sense of pity. At any rate, that is the way to beg from God. Do not go and smarten yourself up, and say, “Lord, I am pretty decent as I am; be merciful to me.” No; but go in your rags, go just as you are, in all your sin, and filthiness, and weakness, and poverty, and insignificance, and so appeal to the compassion and the mercy of God. This is sound common sense that I am talking. Suppose there had been a battle, and I were a soldier who had been wounded, and lay on the plain, and the surgeon and the men with the ambulance were going around to see who needed their help; if they came to me, I do not think I should say, “Well, doctor, I have got a bullet in here somewhere; but it has not gone in very far, I daresay it will be all right; you can leave me here.” Oh, no! I should say, “I am afraid, doctor, that this bullet is very near my heart; you had better let your men pick me up, and attend to me quickly, or I may be dead very soon.” I certainly would not try to make myself out to be better than I was, and I would be glad to be attended to at once; and what folly it is when a man tries to comfort himself, as a sinner, by finding all his filthy rags of self-righteousness, and saying, “Lord, I do not think there is very much the matter with me.” Oh soul, if you only knew it, the whole head is sick, and the whole heart is faint, from the crown of your head to the soles of your feet you are covered with wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores. There is only a step between you and death, — between you and hell, if you have never been washed in Jesus’ precious blood. Therefore, do not set up your lying pretences; do not paint yourself up, like Jezebel, for you cannot in that way make yourself beautiful in the sight of God. You must go to him with all your wrinkles, and all your foulness, and everything else that is hideous, and say, “Lord, I have no beauty, I have no merit, nothing to plead, nothing to urge, but my guilt. ‘Heal my soul; for I have sinned against you.’ ” Then you shall be saved. When a man cannot pay to God a penny in the pound of all his debts, then he will be frankly forgiven all; but as long as he promises that he will make a partial payment, and do his best to pay what he owes to divine justice in the hope that Jesus Christ will make up the rest, there is no hope for him. The Lord Jesus Christ will not be a mere make-weight {a} for you. Do you think that you are to get into the scale, with your beautiful righteousness, and that you are to be accounted someone of great importance, and that Christ is to do the little that you cannot do; that it is to be “Christ & Co., ” or rather, “Self & Co., ” and that you are to be the head of the firm, and Christ to be a kind of silent partner? He will not do it; it would be a disgrace to Christ to yoke you with him in such a way. You might as well yoke a gnat with an archangel as think of your going in to help Christ to save you. To join a filthy rag from off a dunghill with the golden garments of a king or a queen, cannot be permitted. Christ will be everything, or else he will be nothing; you must be saved entirely by mercy, or else not at all. There must not be even a trace of the fingers of self-righteousness on the acts and documents of divine grace. It must be all by grace; “and if by grace, then it is no more by works; otherwise grace is no more grace.” There can be no more mingling of the two together as the basis of hope than oil will mix with water, or fire will burn beneath the sea. You cannot be saved by your own merits. Oh, then, I implore you, breathe this prayer to God, “Lord, be merciful to me; pardon me, for you do have mercy on sinners, and here is one. You heal the sick, and here is one. Lord, I trust you; I lay my sins on Jesus, I lay my soul-sickness at his dear feet. Lord, save me.” It is all done if you trust Jesus; you are a saved man. Just before I came in to this service, I saw a young brother whom I intend to propose to the church, and who last Sunday came to me, after the morning sermon, and said, “Sir, I am saved, and I know I am”; and as I spoke to him, I thought that I knew it, too. Why should there not be many others in the same blessed condition? What is the use of preaching, what is the use of this crowd coming together, and going away again, unless men believe in Christ? Look to Jesus, and be saved. If you look, you shall be saved now. May the Lord lead you to look at this very moment, and to him be praise for ever and ever! Amen.

{a} Make-weight: A person or thing of insignificant value thrown in to make up a deficiency or fill a gap. OED.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Ps 41; 42}

You will see, dear friends, from these holy songs, that the saints of God in those olden days were not screened from trials and troubles, but were tempted in all points like we are. If we happen to be in similar trying circumstances, let us take comfort from their experiences; the footsteps of the flock that has gone before should make the sheep feel that it is not lost.

Psalm 41 To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.

1. Blessed is he who considers the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.

David delivered others, and God will deliver him. When he is poor and needy, God will think of him, even as he considered the poor and the needy when they cried to him.

2, 3. The LORD will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed on the earth: and you will not deliver him to the will of his enemies. The LORD will strengthen him on the bed of languishing: you will make all his bed in his sickness.

God will be condescendingly gentle to such as are kind and gentle to the poor. If we love God first, and then exhibit the result of that love in our care for the poor and the needy, we shall certainly be repaid, for he who gives to the poor lends to the Lord, and the Lord will pay him back, — sometimes in his own coin, and more often in a coin of heavenly currency. Let us take note of this, and let us never harden our heart against the poor and the needy in the time of their extremity.

4. I said, “Lord, be merciful to me”:

David had been very kind to the poor at all times; but when he gets into trouble, he does not plead that, he just mentions it, but the main stress of his pleading is quite in another direction, namely, for mercy: “I said, ‘Lord be merciful to me.

4, 5. Heal my soul; for I have sinned against you.’ ” My enemies speak evil of me, “When shall he die, and his name perish?”

But good men do not die to please wicked men, and sometimes, when the good men have been dead, and buried, and their memory has been insulted by the wicked, they have risen up again in their posthumous influence. Good men live too long for the wicked, but they live as long as God wills that they should; they are immortal until their work is done. The story of Wycliffe is only a typical case of what has often happened. When the monks gathered around his bed, and expected that their opponent would soon be gone, he said, “I shall not die, but live,” and so he did; and even after he had died, he continued to be a living power in the land; indeed, we do not know how much of the blessings we enjoy as the result of the light that was shed on England by “the morning star of the Reformation.”

6. And if he comes to see me, he speaks vanity: his heart gathers iniquity to itself; when he goes abroad, he tells it.

Those are bad visitors to the sick who, when they speak, talk only nonsense or what galls the sufferer; and then, when they go out, begin to tell an idle tale against him to his injury.

7-9. All who hate me whisper together against me: they devise harm against me. “An evil disease,” they say, “cleaves firmly to him: and now that he lies he shall rise up no more.” Yes, my own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, who ate my food, has lifted up his heel against me.

Many a child of God has had his character whispered down by slanderers, many a man has had a hard time of it through the evil speaking of men of the world; yes, even the Lord of saints and the King of pilgrims knew what it was to find a traitor in his most familiar friend, and to receive the basest ingratitude from one who had eaten his food. Do not be carried away with too much sorrow if you are slandered or betrayed; better men than you have suffered through this fearful evil. Therefore, take the trouble to your Lord, and bear it with such patience as he will give you.

10, 11. But you, oh LORD, be merciful to me, and raise me up, so that I may repay them. By this I know that you favour me, because my enemy does not triumph over me.

“He may think that he shall triumph over me, he may even begin in his mind to divide the spoil; but he shall never really get it: ‘My enemy does not triumph over me.’ ”

12, 13. And as for me, you uphold me in my integrity, and set me before your face for ever. Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting, and to everlasting. Amen, and Amen.

That is the sick man’s praise; it is full of fervour and full of life. Let us never rob God of the revenue of his praises; let us not have such a cupboard love for him that we only praise him when he gives us good things. Let us bless his name just as much when he takes away, when he afflicts, when he chastises. That is true praise which comes from the bed of affliction, and from a heart that is severely broken with sorrow.

Now in the next Psalm we find the good man in trouble again.

42:1. Just as the hart pants after the water-brooks, so my soul pants after you, oh God.

“Just as the hart pants” or “brays.” And if such is your soul’s panting after God, you shall have what you pant for. Sooner or later, God will reveal himself in grace to the man who cries after him in this way.

2. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God: —

“My soul, my very soul, thirsts for God, the living God.”

2, 3. When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night, while they continually say to me, “Where is your God?”

That is another of the taunts of the ungodly. Just now, they said, “When shall he die, and his name perish?” Now they cry, “Where is your God? You said that he would help you; you were sure that he would comfort you; you were confident that he would draw near to you; and now you are crying and panting after him, and have not gotten what you want: ‘Where is your God?’ ”

4. When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: —

That is not a good thing to do; if you do pour your soul out, do not pour it into yourself again. There is little gain when you merely empty your grief out of yourself into yourself. I have known many a man to lay his burden down, and then take it up again immediately. That is poor economy; the way to get rid of the sorrow is to pour out your hearts before God. There is no wisdom in doing what the psalmist says he did: “I pour out my soul in me”: —

4, 5. For I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude who kept the holy day. Why are you cast down, oh my soul? And why are you disquieted in me?

You see, the psalmist here talks to himself. Every man is two men; we are duplicates, if not triplicates, and it is good sometimes to hold a dialogue with one’s self. “Why are you cast down, oh my soul?” I always notice that, as long as I can argue with myself about my depressions, I can get out of them; but when both the men within me go down at once, it is a downfall indeed. When there is one foot on the solid rock, the other comes up to it pretty soon.

5. Hope in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.

“I know I shall; he will yet look at me. I shall not always be in the dark; therefore, let me begin at once to praise him.” It is good sometimes to snatch a light from the altars of the future, and with it to kindle the sacrifices of the present: “I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.”

6. Oh my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore I will remember you from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar.

From the little hill I will think of all your former love, — all the sacred spots where you have met me, all the lonely places where you have been my comfort, and all the joyful regions where you have been my glory. I will think of these, and take comfort from them, for you are an unchanging God; and what you did for me previously, you will do for me again and yet again.

7. Deep calls to deep at the noise of your waterspouts: all your waves and your billows are gone over me.

Here is a great storm; here is a man, not merely on the sea, but in the sea; with not only some waves beating on him, but with all of them going over him; and those are not common waves, but God’s waves. That is a Hebraism for the biggest waves, Atlantic billows; all these have gone right over him, yet see how he swims. Hope in God always crests the stormiest billow.

8, 9. Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer to the God of my life. I will say to God my rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”

See what liberties saints take with God; how they reason with him, how they argue with him; and God loves them to do so. Are you not pleased with your child when he urges reasons why you should do this or that for him? You are glad to see that he has mind enough to think of these things, and confidence enough in you to expect you to be affected by his pleadings; and the Lord loves his people to discourse with him. “Cause me to remember,” he says, “let us plead together.” “ ‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the Lord.” If we reasoned more with God, we should reason less with ourselves. There is a good reason for reasoning with God, but it is often unreasonable to reason with yourself.

10, 11. As with a sword in my bones, my enemies reproach me; while they say daily to me, “Where is your God?” Why are you cast down, oh my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

It is curious to see the duplicate man here; he talks to himself as “you,” and yet he says “I.” “Hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance.” First, he said, “I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance”; now it is “the health of my countenance.” When God helps us with his countenance, then our own countenance soon grows bright and healthy. “Who is the health of my countenance,” says the psalmist; and then he comes to the sweetest note of all, “and my God.”

    For yet I know I shall him praise,
    Who graciously to me,
    The health is of my countenance,
    Yea, mine own God is he.

Oh, that is a sweet word! May each of us be able to reach it! Amen.

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Stated — ‘Jesus Only’ ” 537}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Contrite Cries — Deliver Me” 594}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Contrite Cries — ‘Bless Me, Even Me Also, Oh My Father!’ ” 607}

Gospel, Stated
537 — “Jesus Only”
1 When wounded sore the stricken soul
      Lies bleeding and unbound,
   One only hand, a pierced hand,
      Can salve the sinner’s wound.
2 When sorrow swells the laden breast,
      And tears of anguish flow,
   One only heart, a broken heart,
      Can feel the sinner’s woe.
3 When penitence has wept in vain
      Over some foul dark spot,
   One only stream, a stream of blood,
      Can wash away the blot.
4 ‘Tis Jesus’ blood that washes white,
      His hand that brings relief,
   His heart that’s touch’d with all our jays,
      And feeleth for our grief.
5 Lift up thy bleeding hand, oh Lord;
      Unseal that cleansing tide;
   We have no shelter from our sin,
      But in thy wounded side.
               Cecil Frances Alexander, 1858.

The Christian, Contrite Cries
594 — Deliver Me <8.7.>
1 Mercy, mercy, God the Father!
      God the Son, be thou my plea!
   God the Holy Spirit, comfort!
      Triune God, deliver me!
2 Not my sins, Oh Lord, remember,
      Not thine own avenger be;
   But, for thy great tender mercies,
      Saviour God, deliver me!
3 By thy cross, and by thy passion,
      Bloody sweat and agony,
   By thy precious death and burial,
      Saviour God, deliver me!
4 By thy glorious resurrection,
      Thine ascent in heaven to be,
   By the Holy Spirit’s coming,
      Saviour God, deliver me!
5 In all time of tribulation,
      In all time of wealth, in the
   Hour of death, and day of judgment,
      Saviour God, deliver me!
                  John S. B. Monsell, 1863.

The Christian, Contrite Cries
607 — “Bless Me, Even Me Also, Oh My Father!”
1 Lord, I hear of showers of blessing
      Thou art scattering, full and free;
   Showers, the thirsty land refreshing;
      Let some droppings fall on me,
                                 Even me.
2 Pass me not, oh gracious Father!
      Sinful though my heart may be;
   Thou might’st curse me, but the rather
      Let thy mercy light on me,
                                 Even me.
 3 Pass me not, oh tender Saviour!
      Let me love and cling to thee;
   I am longing for thy favour;
      When thou comest, call for me,
                                 Even me.
 4 Pass me not, oh mighty Spirit!
      Thou canst make the blind to see;
   Witnesser of Jesus’ merit,
      Speak the word of power to me,
                                 Even me.
 5 Have I long in sin been sleeping,
      Long been slighting, grieving thee?
   Has the world my heart been keeping?
      Oh forgive and rescue me,
                                 Even me.
 6 Love of God, so pure and changeless,
      Blood of God, so rich and free,
   Grace of God, so strong and boundless,
      Magnify them all in me,
                                 Even me.
 7 Pass me not, this lost one bringing,
      Satan’s slave thy child shall be,
   All my heart to thee is springing;
      Blessing other, oh bless me,
                                 Even me.
                        Elizabeth Codner, 1860.

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.

Spurgeon Sermon Updates

Email me when new sermons are posted:

Privacy Policy

Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Learn more

  • Customer Service 800.778.3390