2654. Wakeful and Watchful Eyes

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Wakeful And Watchful Eyes

No. 2654-45:613. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, August 13, 1882, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, December 24, 1899.

Behold, he who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. {Ps 121:4}

Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden to the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait on the LORD our God, until he has mercy on us. {Ps 123:2}

1. Notice, dear friends, that both these texts begin with the word “Behold.” That word is meant to attract the readers’ attention. In some books, which are intended to be sensational, you are asked to behold, and when you look, there is nothing to see; but when God’s Word tells you to behold what it has to say, you may be sure that the exclamation is not superfluous or misleading. It would be a marring of the Word of God to leave out even one of its smallest expressions; and, therefore, when we see this word “Behold” placed at the beginning of each of these texts, we may rest assured that there is in both of them something worth noting, worth examining and considering, and worth remembering and carrying away.

2. A very useful series of discourses might be preached on the “Beholds” of the Old and New Testaments, which culminate in John the Baptist’s “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”; and Pilate’s “Behold the man”; and still more in our Lord’s own message to John, “Behold, I come quickly.” But two Old Testament “Beholds” are to furnish us with a theme of meditation at this time. It is somewhat exceptional that they both relate to eyes. The first tells us about God’s eyes: “Behold, he who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.” His eyes are never closed; no feeling of weariness or need of slumber ever causes them to be heavy and to shut. And the second text tells us about our eyes: “Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden to the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait on the Lord our God, until he has mercy on us.”

3. See, brethren, both our texts speak about eyes, and they ask for the use of our eyes by saying “Behold,” which is as though God said to us, “I am going to tell you about my eyes, which never slumber; therefore, look and see, for you shall always find them open, and always watchful over you.” Then the next text tells us about our eyes, and reminds us how God gives to his people clear and keen eyesight, so that they observe all the motions of their Master’s hand, and are glad to note them, and prompt to do as he directs. I have put these two texts together because I hoped that, when you saw with joy how the eye of the Lord is on the righteous, and his ear is open to their cry, you would then feel that it was an appropriate return that your eyes should be on the Lord your God, and that your ears should be open to receive his teaching and to learn his commands. May God grant that this may be the result of the sermon on these two texts!

4. I. First, then, I am to speak to you concerning THE WAKEFUL EYES OF THE LORD OUR GOD. We are told, in our first text, that the Lord, who keeps Israel, shall neither slumber nor sleep.

5. We learn from these words, first, that the Lord keeps Israel. Read the 121st Psalm through, and you will find the word “preserve” or “keep” or “keeper” repeated many times. God himself has undertaken the work of keeping his people; it is his high office to preserve those who are his own chosen ones.

6. “He who keeps Israel.” By this expression we understand that the Lord keeps his people as a shepherd keeps his flock. There is a great depth of meaning in that word “keep” as it is used like this; for a shepherd keeps the sheep by feeding them, by supplying all their needs, and also by guarding them from all their adversaries. He keeps the flock with vigilance so that it is not diminished either by the ravaging of the wolf or by the straying of the sheep. Both by night and by day, even an ordinary shepherd takes great pains and the utmost care to preserve his sheep; while “our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep,” who was brought again from the dead, uses his omnipotence, his omniscience, and all his divine attributes in the keeping of his sheep. Oh beloved, if you are indeed his people, and the sheep of his pasture, rest assured that he will preserve you! You are in good keeping, for he is the good Shepherd, and the great Shepherd, and the chief Shepherd; and he will perform all the duties of his office well and faithfully, so that he may securely keep all whom his Father has committed to him.

7. Another comparison may equally well illustrate the meaning of this expression. The Lord keeps his people, not only as a shepherd keeps his sheep, but as a king keeps his jewels. These are rare and precious things which are his special treasure, and he will not lose them if he can help it. He will go to war sooner than be deprived of them. He will put them in the most secure chest that he has in his strong room, and set his most faithful servants to guard the place where they are stored. He will charge those who have the custody of his crown-jewels to take a full and accurate account of them, and to be careful to examine them from time to time to see that they are all there, for he greatly prizes them, and is not willing for one of them to be lost. They probably cost him a great price; or, if not, they are part of his royal inheritance, and of the glory and honour of his kingdom, so he desires to keep them all. Even so does the Lord Jesus keep his people, for they are his jewels. He delights in them, they are his honour and his glory. They cost him a greater price than they can ever believe. He hides them away in the treasure chest of his power, and protects them with all his wisdom and strength. Concerning those who feared the Lord, and thought on his name, it is written, “ ‘They shall be mine,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘in that day when I make up my jewels.’ ” It is God’s work to keep his own jewels; he does not commit them even to the custody of the tall archangel who stands nearest to his throne, but the Lord himself keeps them, and no one shall be able to pluck them out of his hands.

8. This is not all, for we might multiply comparisons to almost any extent, and still not exhaust the meaning of the text. The Lord keeps his people as a governor keeps the city committed to his charge. He places his guards around the walls, he has his cannon on the battlements, to defend the place against those who besiege it, and he himself is constantly on the watch. Early in the morning, and late at night, he is on the walls; and through the night the watchmen keep their continual round, for the city must be preserved from scaling-ladders and from assaults of every kind. The Lord will not let even the suburbs of the New Jerusalem be conquered by the foe. He will preserve the holy city, his own Church, until the day when his Son shall come to reign in her for ever.

9. I find that, in all probability, the comparison here used is an allusion to the common custom of having guards to watch the tents of travellers passing through the desert. At this very time, if you were journeying through the Holy Land, you would find that, when you came to your camping ground, and nightfall drew on, there would be certain people employed to watch over the different tents; for, otherwise, the wandering robbers of the desert would soon enter, and take away your valuables, or even your life. I have noticed, in the books of two or three travellers, this observation, “We found it extremely difficult to obtain a tent-keeper who could stay awake all night.” One gentleman speaks of discovering a thief in his tent, and when he went outside to call the watchman, he found that the man had gone so soundly to sleep that he could only be aroused by one or two gentle kicks. When a man has been travelling with you all day, it is unreasonable to expect him to stay awake through the night to take care of you. Hence, see the beauty of the expression used by the psalmist: “Behold, he who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.” There shall be no deep sleep falling on him; no, there shall not even be a brief period of slumber, not even a wink of sleep shall ever overcome him. A man may say, “I am so tired that I cannot keep my eyes open”; but God does not say so.

10. Now turn to the second part of our first text: “Behold, he who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep, ” and think, first, of God’s eyes as never wearying of his people. I suppose that the fondest mother is sometimes glad when she can put her children to bed, and have a little peace and quiet. She at last grows weary even of their pretty ways, and she is willing to let them go out of her sight for a while. But the Lord never grows weary of his people. If some of you had such children as God has, you would never be able to endure their trying ways. No one but the God of infinite patience could bear with such a family as he has; any one of us might exhaust the patience of a hundred Jobs rolled into one; yet, proclaim it, and let even the angels hear it, we have not exhausted the patience of God. He has never been so wearied and worried by us as to say, “I must go to sleep, my children; and leave you to take care of yourselves.” Our Saviour’s eyes are never weary of looking at us, — those eyes that closed on the cross, and then that opened again, on the resurrection morning, like bright stars, those eyes that, from the heights of heaven, have looked down on the redeemed with ineffable delight of love, those eyes never grow weary of the chosen ones. Our Lord Jesus has such joy in his people as keeps him from ever being weary of them. That is one meaning of his never slumbering or sleeping.

11. The next is, that God is never forgetful of his people for a single moment. You and I forget things which we most need to remember. Have you not, my sister, often moved your ring from one finger to another so that you may say to yourself, “How did it come here?” and then remember the reason why you removed it? Yes, I know you have done so; and we have had a hundred ingenious inventions to keep us in mind of something that we wished not to forget; yet we have forgotten it, after all. The fondest human heart at times forgets; but that divine heart alone, never does; and those eyes which look down on us, with infinite love flashing out from them, are never sealed in the slumber of forgetfulness. We forget all things in our sleep, and lie completely indifferent to everything that is happening all around us; but God never does; he never forgets us, and he is never indifferent towards us. Oh, what a blessed truth this is!

12. Sleep also throws us into a condition in which we are incapable of helping ourselves. But God is never in such a state as that. He is always awake to show himself strong on the behalf of those who trust him. You will never have to call to him in vain, or get from him the answer, “I cannot help you now.” Elijah, in his irony, said that perhaps Baal was sleeping, or on a journey; and the idol-god was quite unable to deliver those who called on him; but our God, who made the heavens, is quick to hear the faintest cry of any one of his people. He is perpetually clothed with all might and energy; and if you only appeal to him, he will speedily fly to your relief, yes, he will fly on the wings of the wind; for he is prompt to deliver all those who put their case into his hands. God is never asleep in the sense that he is unable to help us.

13. And, moreover, God is never asleep in the sense that he ceases to consider us. I do not know whether you can catch the thought, so as to lay hold on it by faith; but we have an example of it in the 40th Psalm, where David says, “I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinks on me.” When? Now? Yes. Tomorrow? Yes. And yesterday? Yes. He was always thinking about us; and he is always thinking about us. The infinite mind of God can think of all things at once. You and I, in thinking of one thing, often forget another; but it is not so with God. He is so great that his centre is everywhere, and his circumference is nowhere; and you, dear brother or sister, may be the very centre of God’s thoughts, and so may I; and all his redeemed may at the same moment have his thoughts fixed on each one of them. Can you believe the wondrous truth that there never is a moment, night or day, in which the great mind of the Eternal ceases to think of you? Then, how safe you are with God always looking on you! How happy you ought to be with God always thinking of you! Yes, how joyful you ought to be because, even if others forget you, he never does! You remember how Cowper represents Alexander Selkirk, when far away on that island of Juan Fernandez, saying, —

    My friends, do they now and then send
       A wish or a thought after me?

He could not bear, in his loneliness, to be altogether forgotten by everyone; and none of us would like to be in that condition; but even if we were in such a plight, we could still find comfort in that ancient promise, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yes, they may forget.” It is rarely enough that mothers are so unnatural; still, “they may forget; yet,” says the Lord, “I will not forget you.” Oh, drink that down! Is it not a sweet draught? Of all the luscious drinks that men ever delighted in, there can be none with such flavour as this choice wine of covenant faithfulness.

14. So much, then, for our first text: “Behold, he who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.” I have only given you a few brief hints. Lay them up in your memories, and come with me to consider our second text: “Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden to the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait on the Lord our God, until he has mercy on us.”

15. II. The lesson of these words is, that THE WATCHFUL EYES OF THE SAINTS ARE FIXED ON THEIR GOD.

16. Which is the more wonderful text of the two? Certainly, it is a great marvel that God should always fix his eyes on us; but I think it is a greater marvel that you and I should ever be brought to fix our eyes on God. For God to look at his people, is according to his own nature; but for us to look at God, is something superior to human nature; it is the gift of God, and the work of sovereign grace. I think that both looks are to be regarded as miracles of mercy. For a child of God to be so sanctified that he always fixes his eyes on God, as a servant does on his master’s hand, — this is a very eminent degree of sanctification, and is a thing worthy to be looked at, and worthy to have the word “Behold” put before it. I wonder whether you and I ever yet reached such a height of consecration to God as to be able to truly use the language of this text.

17. Alas! in many cases we cannot get men’s eyes fixed on God at all. There is this natural world, with all its wondrous beauty; God has painted every flower bell, and tinged the clouds with the glory of the setting sun. He is everywhere; and yet men walk through his great house of nature, and — fools that they are! — they say, “There is no God.” It is hard to get men to see God. We put the Bible into their hands; they read it, and are interested in its stories, but they do not see God in it. Providence comes to their very doors with marvels, yet they say that they do not see God’s hand in anything that happens to them; and even when we preach, — and this is the woe of woes! — we cannot get men to look to the Lord. God knows that I have never tried to speak so that you should think of me for a single moment. I have sought to preach my sermon as plainly as I could, and to force it home on man’s hearts and consciences as God might help me; and yet, at the end of the sermon, often the hearer’s only remark is, “How did you like him?” It does not matter at all how you like him. Is that what we came here for, — to fiddle for you, as men do in your orchestras, or speak before you as if we were mere actors playing for your amusement? It is of no concern to us what you think of our style or manner; it is the truth itself which we would gladly drive home to you; it is that truth which, if we could, we would make you feel as the ox feels the sharp goad. It is the blessed doctrine of Christ crucified which we would have you feed on, as the hungry man devours the bread that is given to him, and does not care whether he ever knows the baker’s name, or not. Still, I must say again that it is a hard thing to get men to see God in anyway and anywhere. They look around, above, beneath, everywhere; but to get them to fix their eyes on God, “This is the work; this is the difficulty.”

18. The man of God, who wrote this 123rd Psalm, had been taught to look to God in a very remarkable way, and I call your attention to it, in the hope that many of you will do likewise. First, his eyes were reverentially fixed on the Lord. He looked to God’s hand, wherever it was, with deep reverence: “as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters.” He was, of course, talking about Oriental servants; — the Hebrew word bears the meaning of slaves; and travellers tell us that, when they go into the house of a wealthy person in the East, the master will give certain signs to his slaves, and refreshments are brought in; but, except when they are called, the servants stand at a distance, watching for the slightest motion of their master’s hands; they do not have the liberties that we happily accord to our servants; but they are just nothing and nobody, mere tools for their master to use as he pleases. And, as for the maidens, I have heard that the women in the East have a harder time of it with their mistresses than the men do with their masters, and that the lady of the house is a more severe taskmaster than her husband is. So the maidens watch their mistresses very carefully, for they are extremely afraid of them, and they look with great care and fear to see what “Madam” would have them do. Now, casting aside everything of human fear out of the comparison, this is the way in which we ought to look to God. He is in heaven; we are on earth. He is great; we are nothing. He is good; we are lumps of sin. It is for us, therefore, with the utmost reverence to seek to learn God’s will in every point, in his Word, and in his works, and at once, without question, reverently to do what he commands us.

19. The next point is, that the truly sanctified man looks to God’s hands with obedience as well as with reverence. Orientals, as a general rule, speak far less than we do, except when they sit around the fire, in the evening, and tell their tales. But an Eastern master seldom speaks. A gentleman went, some time ago, into an Eastern house, and as soon as he ever entered, the master waved his hand, and the servants brought in sherbet. He waved his hand again, and they brought dried fruits; then he moved his hands in a different way, and they began to spread the table; and, all the time, not a word was spoken, but they perfectly understood the motion of his hand. They had to look carefully to see how the master moved his hand, so that they might do what that motion meant. We do not have very much of that silent action among us; but, on board a steamboat, you may see the captain moving his hands this way or that, and the call-boy is ready at once to pass the word down to those who are in charge of the engine. That is just how the child of God should watch the hand of God, in the Bible, and in providence, so as to do at once whatever he plainly perceives to be his Lord’s will. Ah, me! I know some professing Christians who will not do God’s will until they have had a good whipping, or not until they have been chastened again and again. Remember that ancient injunction, “Do not be like the horse, or like the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near to you.” You know how the drivers have to pull at their reins; they say, “This creature is so hard in the mouth that we do not know how to manage him at all.” And some of God’s people are terribly hard in the mouth, they need very rough handling to make them move. Yet we ought to be different from horses and mules; we ought to be ready at once, at a beck, or a wink, or a nod, to know what God would have us do, and do it reverently and obediently.

20. Then, also, our eyes should be absolutely fixed on our Lord. The eyes of servants ought to be so directed to their masters that they not only see the sign, but obey it, whatever it means. It may be a very little thing, but yet the little thing should not be neglected. I would again say what I sometimes feel ashamed of having to say. I sometimes encounter a person who says, with regard to the matter of believers’ baptism, “Now, you know that baptism will not save me”; you base, miserable soul! Will you do nothing but what is necessary for your salvation? Is that the spirit that motivates you? Will you do only what is necessary to save your poor soul, which is hardly worth saving if you talk like that? It is too small a thing to be worth anything; but unless baptism will save your soul, you will not attend to it. “Well,” another says, “I have reversed the scriptural order; I have put my baptism before my believing.” Who gave you permission to alter the Lord’s order? If servants were to act like that, what mischief we should have! Suppose they were to bring us in our dessert before they brought in our dinner; — that would be a very small affair, yet it is important to observe the right order even in such matters. Or suppose we were to tell them to sweep the room, and dust it; and they should dust the room, and then sweep it. It is only altering the order, but you know what would happen. So it is with those who put baptism first and believing afterwards; it just spoils the whole transaction, and it violates the intention of God in the ordinance. You have no right to act like that.

21. I may remind you of a story which I think I told you some time ago. A poor youth earnestly wished to join the church, but his friends thought he was somewhat deficient in mental power, and that he had better not be baptized. He lay sick, and was evidently dying; and he said to his mother, “Mother, I wish I had been baptized, and joined the church.” She replied, “My dear boy, you know that being baptized would not have saved you; you will go to heaven because you have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ.” “Oh, yes!” he said, “I know that; you do not think I am so stupid as to imagine that baptism would save me. I know that has nothing to do with going to heaven; but when I get there, I shall see my Saviour, and, perhaps he will say to me, ‘Isaac, why did you not join the church?’ If I should say, ‘Lord, that was a very little thing,’ he would say, ‘Yes, then you might have done it to please me.’ ” That story is just to the point; the smaller the matter is, the more careful we should be to attend to it, if it would please the Lord Jesus Christ. Do not be so clever, you servants who imagine that you know better than your Master, for perhaps he may find someone else to be his servant if you behave like that. Suppose that I was starting on a journey, early in the morning, and I said to my servant, “I should like a cup of coffee before I start,” and suppose that, when I came down, she brought me a glass of cold water, I should ask her, “Why did you do that?” If she should reply, “Oh, sir, I thought that the water would be better for you than coffee!” I should say, “Well, I am very much obliged to you for thinking of me in that considerate way; but I shall have to engage another servant who does what she is told.” So I advise you not to alter or judge God’s Word, but to obey it. Do not begin to calculate as to whether what you read there is right in your sight, or in the eyes of other people; the one question for you is, — Has my Lord told me to do this? If so, then, just as the eyes of the maiden are to her mistress, so let your eyes be to the Lord your God.

22. Once more, our eyes are only to be turned to the Lord. The Eastern servant is not allowed to think; it is no business of his to have his eyes on his master’s guests; they are to be fixed on his master. And the maiden does not think it to be her business to watch the movements of the hand of the lady who calls to see her mistress; her eyes are to be on the hands of her mistress. She does not dare to take them off, for, perhaps, just when she is looking out of the window, or gazing in curiosity at some object, her mistress may be waving her hand, and she may not see it; and then there will be a serious scolding and possibly something worse when the mistress gets her alone. So you and I must not take our eyes off our God at any time; but his way, and his will must be our only law; and for this we must live, so that we may please him whose servants we are, for has he not bought us with his precious blood? So we are not our own, we are “bought with a price.”

23. “Ah!” one says, “we have not come to that yet.” No, I fear you have not; but you ought to. There is no peace for us until we do. He who, either by omission or commission, neglects to do or goes beyond his Lord’s command, will find sorrow in his soul. Depend on it, the roots of our bitterest griefs strike into our sins; and, if our sins were overcome, the major part of our sorrows would be removed. Oh, that God would give us grace to be very tender in conscience, to tremble before him, as well as to rejoice before him, for in very deed the man who does not tremble at his Word has not yet learned to truly love him!

24. Now I must speak to some here who, perhaps, know nothing about all I have been saying, for they have lived without God. I will finish my sermon by just reminding you that this may do very well for this world, — though it is a poor business at the best, — but when you come to die, you will need God then. Now, when I die, and go to be with God, I know that Christ will not say to me, “I never knew you.” I am sure he cannot, because he has long known me. I was about to say that he has known me to his cost, for I have long been a beggar at his door every day, and I cannot live without him. I am naked, and poor, and miserable, apart from him. I always have some errand or other to make me go to him, — some sin to confess, or some need to be supplied. So he knows me well enough. You are sure to know a beggar who is always at your door. Perhaps he says that he has not been there before, but you reply, “Why! you have been here every morning for the last six weeks. I have always seen you begging here the first thing in the morning.” You cannot say that you do not know him; yet that is what will happen to those of you who have never sought the Lord Jesus Christ, and never prayed to him. Christ will say to you, “I never knew you.”

25. I feel that the position I occupy just now is a very solemn one; for, like the captain of a ship, I can see all over this place. Often, when I come here on a Sunday, someone says, “So-and-so has gone.” There is one gone out of that seat which you occupy, my friend. He was there last Sabbath day, but he has gone. And I can point to many of you, and say, “You are sitting in the seat where one used to sit whose face was very familiar to me, but he has gone home.” And some go to my great surprise; I have thought to see them again many times; and when I have missed them, I have said, “Oh, she has gone to the seaside for a little holiday”; but someone has said to me, “No, she is dead; she was suddenly taken away”; or, “he was called away only this last week.” Ah, me! Ah, me! And what faces I may be looking into now that I shall never see again! Give me your hand, my friend; for this is the last time I may ever speak to you. I implore you to get ready to go on that last long journey. Oh, do not die unsaved! I beseech you, do not attempt to enter the eternal world, with all its dread, without a Saviour. This is the way of salvation. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, trust yourself with him; put your soul, as a sacred deposit, into the hand of that dear Banker whose bank has never failed, — indeed, more, who has never lost a penny that was entrusted to him; and before you sleep, just rest in Jesus. May God help you to do so, for Christ’s sake! Amen.

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “God the Father, Attributes of God — Condescension” 194}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 119” 119 @@ "(Song 6)"}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 123” 123}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Stated — The Life Look” 538}

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Jer 30:1-22}

1, 2. The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, “Thus speaks the LORD God of Israel, saying, ‘Write all the words that I have spoken to you in a book.

We believe in verbal inspiration; and, though some people treat with contempt the very idea of words being inspired, be sure of this, if you do not have inspired words, you are not likely to get inspired men. Besides, words are to the thought what the shell is to the egg; and if you break the shell, you have destroyed the egg; somehow or other, the thought will ooze out unless it is conveyed in God’s own words. Observe that the Lord does not say to Jeremiah, “Write all the thoughts that I have given you”; but, “Write you all the words that I have spoken to you in a book.”

3. For, lo, the days come,’ says the LORD, ‘that I will bring again the captives of my people Israel and Judah,’ says the LORD: ‘and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their forefathers, and they shall possess it.’ ”

And so they did, and so they shall in an even fuller sense, for this is a promise that has fulfilments and fulfilments. Man’s promises, once kept, are ended; but God’s promises are perpetual; they are springing wells, which never run dry. What he fulfilled once, he often takes the opportunity to fulfil again on an even larger scale, as he will doubtless do for his ancient people in the latter days. You who are in spiritual captivity tonight may derive comfort from these words, “I will bring again the captives of my people.” It is the way of God to deliver the captives. What he does once, is only an indication of what he is in the habit of doing. It is God’s delight to devise means by which he will bring back his banished ones. So, in due time, he will end your captivity, and you shall enjoy the blessed liberty which is the portion of his people.

4, 5. And these are the words that the LORD spoke concerning Israel and concerning Judah. “For thus says the LORD; ‘We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace.

God hears his people’s voices when they cry; he knows the tone and accent which they use; and, sometimes, when he is listening to them, he hears “a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace.” Possibly that may be the condition of some who are here tonight; if so, may the Lord, who hears their cry, bring them out of their tremblings, and fears, and fill their mouth with laughter, and their tongue with singing!

6, 7. Ask you now, and see whether a man travails with child? Why do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness? Alas! for that day is great, so that there is nothing like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.

This passage evidently alludes to a time of very great distress, when men’s hearts were swollen within them as if they would burst for very grief. Not simply one here and there, but the great majority of the people seemed to be in severe trouble; even the stout-hearted ones began to feel inward pangs of affliction; yet it was then that the Lord said, “It is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.”

8. For it shall come to pass in that day,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘that I will break his yoke from off your neck, and will burst your bonds, and strangers shall no more enslave him:

Here is a word for you tried ones. God, who sometimes permits his child to wear the yoke of the oppressor, will take that yoke away. He will snap the bands that are around your neck, and enable you to rise into the glorious liberty with which Christ makes his people free. Oh bondaged ones, be of good comfort, and look for speedy deliverance through the power of the great Emancipator!

9, 10. But they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up for them. Therefore do not fear, oh my servant Jacob,’ says the LORD; ‘neither be dismayed, oh Israel: for, lo, I will save you from afar, and your seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and shall be in rest, and be quiet, and no one shall make him afraid.

There are great things in store for God’s ancient people Israel, and there is at least as much laid up for God’s spiritual Israel, for by them the greatest fulfilment of the promise shall be accomplished. They shall indeed be quiet, and no one shall make them afraid. Note that these are the very men who had their hands on their loins, and whose faces were pale with fright. These are those who were ready to die of heart-break; yet even they shall, by the rich grace of God, be in rest, and be quiet, and no one shall make them afraid. I wish that we could all experience the fulfilment of that promise even now; and that our gracious God would dwell with us as he is accustomed to dwell with those who bear his name, and so give us that blessed quiet and rest which we so much need.

11. For I am with you,’ says the LORD, ‘to save you: though I make a full end of all nations where I have scattered you, yet I will not make a full end of you: but I will correct you in measure, and will not leave you altogether unpunished.’

Look abroad, and see what God has done to Israel. This is particularly the time of Israel’s trouble, and the Jewish people were, perhaps, never more persecuted than they now are in certain parts; yet the Lord will not allow any nation to crush them, and he will himself avenge all wrongs that they suffer. He still says to them, “He who touches you touches the apple of my eye”; and it is very noteworthy that, whenever God has used any nation as a rod to chasten the Jews, — and he has used many in that way, — he has always broken that kingdom up when he has finished with it. Think of Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome; look at Spain, and see how base and despicable that nation has become because of its cruelty to the people of God. Now, if this is true of Israel after the flesh, depend on it that it is also true concerning God’s spiritual people. Though he will correct us when we deserve chastening, it will always be in measure, and he will not make a full end of us. God has measureless wrath against the ungodly for their measureless sin; but as for his own people, he has cast their sin behind his back, and only as a wise and faithful Father does he chasten them for their profit.

12-14. For thus says the LORD, ‘Your bruise is incurable, and your wound is grievous. There is no one to plead your cause, so that you may be bound up: you have no healing medicines. All your lovers have forgotten you; they do not seek you; for I have wounded you with the wound of an enemy, with the chastisement of a cruel one, for the multitude of your iniquity; because your sins were increased.

God never gave his people permission to sin; and sin in them is worse than sin in any other people, for they sin against more light, and more love; and therefore it grieves the Lord all the more, and he strikes all the more heavily; and, notice that, when God strikes, there is no one who can comfort us. A quaint old writer, whose book I was reading the other day, commenting on that part of the parable where the friend, disturbed at midnight, said, “My children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you,” wrote something like this, “When God is in bed, there are none of his children up to help us; if he does not open the door, there are none of his saints to give us a crust; all must come from him.” Therefore we must cry to him, and say, “Awake for my help, oh God; for all my lovers have forgotten me; they do not seek me in the time of my distress.” When God wounds us, men often desert us; and those who seemed to be most fond of us forsake us when God strikes us.

15, 16. Why do you cry for your affliction? Your sorrow is incurable for the multitude of your iniquity: because your sins were increased, I have done these things to you. Therefore all those who devour you shall be devoured; —

How striking is this sentence, and what a surprise it gives us as we read it! We might have thought, after the Lord had spoken as he did, that he would have given his people up to their enemies; but, instead of doing so, he says, “Therefore all those who devour you shall be devoured”;

16, 17. And all your adversaries, every one of them, shall go into captivity; and those who spoil you shall be a spoil, and all who prey on you I will give for a prey. For I will restore health to you, and I will heal you of your wounds,’ says the LORD; ‘because they called you an Outcast, saying, "This is Zion, whom no man seeks after."’

Did you notice that word, “therefore,” in the 16th verse? Can you see “therefore” in it, — any logical conclusion that could be drawn from the prophet’s premises? The argument seems to be, “Because your disease is incurable, therefore I will restore health to you. Because no one else can heal your wounds, therefore I will heal them.” It is a blessed thing to feel that you are incurable, for it is then that God will cure you. When there is an end of you, then you shall begin with God; but as long as you are full of self or sin, that passage shall be fulfilled to you, “He has filled the hungry with good things; and he has sent the rich away empty.”

18, 19. Thus says the LORD; ‘Behold, I will bring again the captives of Jacob’s tents, and have mercy on his dwellingplaces; and the city shall be built on her own mound, and the palace shall remain according to its own plan. And out of them shall proceed thanksgiving and the voice of those who make merry: and I will multiply them, and they shall not be few; I will also glorify them, and they shall not be small.

Well might the Lord introduce such a promise as this with the word, “Behold.” Again I remind you that these are the people who had their hands on their loins; these are those who were in severe trouble of soul, yet now they are merry, and full of gladness; and we also have learned to sing, —

    My mourning he to dancing turns,
       For sackcloth, joy he gives,
    A moment, Lord, thine anger burns,
       But long thy favour lives.

20, 21. Their children also shall be as previously, and their congregation shall be established before me, and I will punish all who oppress them. And their nobles shall be from among them, and their governor shall come from their midst; and I will cause him to draw near, and he shall approach to me: for who is this who engaged his heart to approach me?’ says the LORD.

There is One, whom we call Master and Lord, who approaches the throne of God on our behalf; One who fulfils that ancient word, “I have exalted One chosen out of the people.” Our glorious Saviour, through his humanity, is one of ourselves; and he appears before God on our behalf, blessed be his holy name!

22. And you shall be my people, and I will be your God.’ ”

Happy are we if we can rejoice in this precious truth.



God the Father, Attributes of God
194 — Condescension
1 Up to the Lord, that reigns on high,
   And views the nations from afar,
   Let everlasting praises fly,
   And tell how large his bounties are.
2 He that can shake the worlds he made,
   Or with his word, or with his rod,
   His goodness, how amazing great!
   And what a condescending God!
3 God, that must stoop to view the skies,
   And bow to see what angels do,
   Down to our earth he casts his eyes,
   And bends his footsteps downward too.
4 He overrules all mortal things,
   And manages our mean affairs;
   On humble souls the King of kings
   Bestows his counsels and his cares.
5 Our sorrows and our tears we pour
   Into the bosom of our God;
   He hears us in the mournful hour,
   And helps us bear the heavy load.
6 Oh, could our thankful hearts devise
   A tribute equal to thy grace,
   To the third heaven our songs should rise
   And teach the golden harps thy praise.
                        Isaac Watts, 1709.


Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 119 (Song 1)
1 Oh how I love thy holy law!
   ‘Tis daily my delight;
   And thence my meditations draw
   Divine advice by night.
2 How doth thy word my heart engage!
   How well employ my tongue!
   And in my tiresome pilgrimage
   Yields me a heavenly song.
3 Am I a stranger, or at home,
   ‘Tis my perpetual feast:
   Not honey dropping from the comb,
   So much allures the taste.
4 No treasures so enrich the mind,
   Nor shall thy word be sold
   For loads of silver well refined,
   Nor heaps of choicest gold.
5 When nature sinks, and spirits droop,
   Thy promises of grace
   Are pillars to support my hope,
   And there I write thy praise.
                     Isaac Watts, 1719.


Psalm 119 (Song 2)
1 Oh that the Lord would guide my ways
   To keep his statutes still!
   Oh that my God would grant me grace
   To know and do his will!
2 Oh send thy Spirit down, to write
   Thy law upon my heart!
   Nor let my tongue indulge deceit,
   Nor act the liar’s part.
3 From vanity turn off my eyes;
   Let no corrupt design,
   Nor covetous desires arise
   Within this soul of mine.
4 Order my footsteps by thy word,
   And make my heart sincere;
   Let sin have no dominion, Lord,
   But keep my conscience clear.
5 My soul hath gone too far astray,
   My feet too often slip;
   Yet since I’ve not forgot thy way
   Restore thy wandering sheep.
6 Make me to walk in thy commands,
   ‘Tis a delightful road;
   Nor let my head, or heart, or hands,
   Offend against my God.
                        Isaac Watts, 1719


Psalm 119 (Song 3)
1 My soul lies cleaving to the dust;
   Lord, give me life divine;
   From vain desires and every lust,
   Turn off these eyes of mine.
2 I need the influence of thy grace
   To speed me in thy way,
   Lest I should loiter in my race
   Or turn my feet astray.
3 When sore afflictions press me down,
   I need thy quickening powers;
   Thy word that I have rested on
   Shall help my heaviest hours.
4 Are not thy mercies sovereign still,
   And thou a faithful God?
   Wilt thou not grant me warmer zeal
   To run the heavenly road?
5 Does not my heart thy precepts love,
   And long to see thy face?
   And yet how slow my spirits move
   Without enlivening grace!
6 Then shall I love thy gospel more,
   And ne’er forget thy word,
   When I have felt its quickening power
   To draw me near the Lord.
                        Isaac Watts, 1719.


Psalm 119 (Song 4)
1 My soul lies grovelling low,
      Still cleaving to the dust:
   Thy quickening grace, oh Lord, bestow,
      For in thy word I trust.
2 Make me to understand
      Thy precepts and thy will;
   Thy wondrous works on every hand,
      I’ll sing and talk of still.
3 My soul, oppress’d with grief,
      In heaviness melts down;
   Oh strengthen me and send relief,
      And thou shalt wear the crown.
4 Remove from me the voice
      Of falsehood and deceit;
   The way of truth is now my choice,
      Thy word to me is sweet.
5 Thy testimony stands,
      And never can depart;
   I’ll run the way of thy commands
      If thou enlarge my heart.
                        Joseph Irons, 1847


Psalm 119 (Song 5)
1 Consider all my sorrows, Lord,
   And thy deliverance send;
   My soul for thy salvation faints;
   When will my troubles end?
2 Yet I have found ‘tis good for me
   To bear my Father’s rod;
   Afflictions make me learn thy law,
   And live upon my God.
3 This is the comfort I enjoy
   When new distress begins:
   I read thy word, I run thy way,
   And hate my former sins.
4 Had not thy word been my delight
   When earthly joys were fled,
   My soul oppress’d with sorrow’s weight,
   Had sunk amongst the dead.
5 I know thy judgments, Lord, are right,
   Though they may seem severe;
   The sharpest sufferings I endure
   Flow from thy faithful care.
 6 Before I knew thy chastening rod
      My feet were apt to stray;
   But now I learn to keep thy word,
      Nor wander from thy way.
                        Isaac Watts, 1719.


Psalm 119 (Song 6)
1 Oh that thy statutes every hour
   Might dwell upon my mind!
   Thence I derive a quickening power,
   And daily peace I find.
2 To meditate thy precepts, Lord,
   Shall be my sweet employ;
   My soul shall ne’er forget thy word;
   Thy word is all my joy.
3 How would I run in thy commands,
   If thou my heart discharge
   From sin and Satan’s hateful chains,
   And set my feet at large!
4 My lips with courage shall declare
   Thy statutes and thy name;
   I’ll speak thy words though kings should hear,
   Nor yield to sinful shame.
                           Isaac Watts, 1719


Psalm 119 (Song 7)
1 Father, I bless thy gentle hand;
   How kind was thy chastising rod;
   That forced my conscience to a stand,
   And brought my wandering soul to God!
2 Foolish and vain, I went astray
   Ere I had felt thy scourges, Lord;
   I left my guide, and lost my way;
   But now I love and keep thy word.
3 ‘Tis good for me to wear the yoke,
   For pride is apt to rise and swell;
   ‘Tis good to bear my Father’s stroke,
   That I might learn his statutes well.
4 Thy hands have made my mortal frame,
   Thy Spirit form’d my soul within;
   Teach me to know thy wondrous name,
   And guard me safe from death and sin.
5 Then all that love and fear the Lord,
   At my salvation shall rejoice;
   For I have hoped in thy word,
   And made thy grace my only choice.
                        Isaac Watts, 1719.


Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 123 <7s.>
1 Unto thee I lift my eyes,
   Thou that dwellest in the skies;
   At thy throne I meekly bow,
   Thou canst save, and only thou.
2 As a servant marks his lord,
   As a maid her mistress’ word,
   So I watch and wait on thee,
   Till thy mercy visit me.
3 Let thy face upon me shine,
   Tell me, Lord, that thou art mine
   Poor and little though I be,
   I have all in having thee.
4 Here to be despised, forgot,
   Is thy children’s common lot;
   But with thee to make it up,
   Lord, I ask no better cup.
                  Henry Francis Lyte, 1834.


Gospel, Stated
538 — The Life Look
1 There is life for a look at the Crucified One;
      There is life at this moment for thee;
   Then look, sinner — look unto him, and be saved —
      Unto him who was nail’d to the tree.
2 It is not thy tears of repentance or prayers,
      But the blood that atones for the soul:
   On him, then, who shed it, believing at once
      Thy weight of iniquities roll.
3 His anguish of soul on the cross hast thou seen?
      His cry of distress hast thou heard?
   Then why, if the terrors of wrath he endured,
      Should pardon to thee be deferr’d?
4 We are heal’d by his stripes; — wouldest thou add to the word?
      And he is our righteousness made:
   The best robe of heaven he bids thee put on:
      Oh! couldest thou be better array’d?
5 Then doubt not thy welcome, since God has declared,
      There remaineth no more to be done;
   That once in the end of the world he appear’d,
      And completed the work he began.
6 But take, with rejoicing, from Jesus at once
      The life everlasting he gives:
   And know, with assurance, thou never canst die,
      Since Jesus, thy righteousness, lives.
7 There is life for a look at the Crucified One;
      There is life at this moment for thee:
   Then look, sinner — look into him and be saved,
      And know thyself spotless as he.
                  Amelia Matilda Hull, 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).

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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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