2702. “Marvellous Lovingkindness”

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“Marvellous Lovingkindness.”

No. 2702-46:553. A Sermon Delivered On Thursday Evening, October 20, 1881, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, November 25, 1900.

Show your marvellous lovingkindness. {Ps 17:7}

 For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2702, “Marvellous Lovingkindness” 2703}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3470, “Earnest Entreaty, An” 3472}
   Exposition on Ps 17 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2702, “Marvellous Lovingkindness” 2703 @@ "Exposition"}

1. The Lord’s people, in the time of their trouble, know where to go for comfort and relief. Being taught by God, they do not hew out for themselves broken cisterns, which can hold no water; but they turn to the ever-flowing fountain, they go to the well-head, — even to God himself; and there they cast themselves down, and drink to the full. David, when he wrote this Psalm, was evidently in very great distress; and, therefore, he says, “I have called on you, for you will hear me, oh God: incline your ear to me, and hear my speech.” What he wanted was his God; as Dr. Watts expresses it, —

    In darkest shades if he appear,
       My dawning is begun;
    He is my soul’s sweet morning star,
       And he my rising sun.

2. Believers draw comfort both from God’s ordinary and extraordinary dealings with them, for they regard God’s lovingkindness as being both an ordinary and an extraordinary thing. I have heard of a good sister who, when a friend narrated to her some very gracious dealing of God, was asked the question, “Is it not very amazing?” and she replied, “No; it is not amazing, for it is just like him.” Begging her pardon, and admitting the great truth that she meant to convey, I think it is still more amazing that it should be “just like him.” The wonder of extraordinary love is that God should make it such an ordinary thing, that he should give to us “marvellous lovingkindness,” and yet should give it so often that it becomes a daily blessing, and yet remains still marvellous. The marvels of men, after you have seen them a few times, cease to excite any wonder. I suppose there is scarcely a building, however costly its materials, and however rare its architecture, as to which, sooner or later, you will not feel that you have seen enough of it. But God’s wonderful works never pall on you. You could gaze on Mont Blanc, or you could stand and watch Niagara Falls, yet never feel that you had exhausted all its marvels. And everyone knows how the ocean is never the same twice. Those who live close to it, and look on it every hour of the day, still see God’s wonders in the deep.

3. That God should bless us every day, is a theme for our comfort. God’s ordinary ways charm us. The verse before our text says, “ ‘I have called on you, for you will hear me, oh God.’ I know you will, for the blessing that I am about to ask from you is a thing that I have been accustomed to receive from you. I know you will hear me, for you have heard me in the past; it is a habit of yours to listen to my supplications, and to grant my requests.” I hope we can argue in a similar way; yet, at the same time, God’s people draw equal comfort from the extraordinary character of the mercies he bestows on them. They appeal to him to show them his “marvellous lovingkindness,” to let them see the wonderful side of it as well as the common side of it, to let them behold his miracles of mercy, his extravagances of love, his superfluities of kindness; — I scarcely know what words to use when talking about what the apostle Paul calls “the riches of his grace, in which he has abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence,” “the very great riches of his grace in his kindness towards us through Christ Jesus.”

4. I want, on this occasion, to dwell on the extraordinary side of God’s lovingkindness; and, using our text as a prayer, to say to the Lord in the language of David, “Show your marvellous lovingkindness.” Sometimes, a man is brought into such a condition that he feels that, if God does not do something quite out of the common order of things, he will assuredly perish. He has now come to such an impasse that, if some extraordinary grace is not displayed towards him, it is all over with him. Well, now, such a brother may think that God will not give this extraordinary grace to him; he may be troubled at the idea that some marvellous thing is needed. It is to meet that suggestion of unbelief that I am going to address you now.

5. I. And my first remark is, that ALL THE LOVINGKINDNESS OF GOD IS MARVELLOUS.

6. The least mercy from God is a miracle. That God does not crush our sinful race, is a surprising mercy. That you and I should have been spared to live, — even though it would only to exist in direst poverty, or in severe sickness, — that we should have been spared at all, after what we have been, and after what we have done, is a very marvellous thing. The explanation of the marvel is given in the Book of Malachi: “I am the Lord, I do not change; therefore you sons of Jacob are not consumed.” If God had possessed such a short temper as men often have, he would have made short work of us all; but he is gracious and longsuffering, and therefore he is very patient with us. The very least mercy that we ever receive from God is a very wonderful thing; but when we think of all that is meant by this blessed word “lovingkindness” — which is a compound of all kinds of sweetnesses, a mixture of fragrances to make up one absolutely perfect perfume, — when we take that word “lovingkindness,” and think over its meaning, we shall see that it is a marvellous thing indeed that it describes.

7. For, first, it is marvellous for its antiquity. To think that God should have had lovingkindness towards men even before the earth was, that there should have been a covenant of election, — a plan of redemption, — a scheme of atonement, — that there should have been eternal thoughts of love in the mind of God towards such a strange being as man, is indeed marvellous. “What is man, that you are mindful of him? and the son of man, that you visit him?” Read these words now with the tears in your eyes: “I have loved you with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you”; and when you know that this passage refers to you, tell me if it is not “marvellous lovingkindness.” God’s mind is occupied with thoughts concerning things that are infinitely greater than the destiny of any one of us, or of all of us put together; yet he was pleased to think of us in love from all eternity, and to write our names on his hands and on his heart, and to keep the memory of us perpetually before him, for his “delights were with the sons of men.” This antiquity makes it to be indeed “marvellous lovingkindness.”

8. Next, think of its discriminating character, that God’s lovingkindness should have come to the poorest, to the most illiterate, the most obscure, and often to the most guilty of our race. Remember what Paul wrote about this matter: “not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, God has chosen, yes, and things which are not, to bring to nothing things that are: so that no flesh should boast in his presence.” Dr. Watts expresses the same thought in his verses, —

    When the Eternal bows the skies
       To visit earthly things,
    With scorn divine he turns his eyes
       From towers of haughty kings.
    He bids his awful chariot roll
       Far downward from the skies,
    To visit every humble soul,
       With pleasure in his eyes.

God’s choice is marvellous. I know of no better word to apply to his lovingkindness to his chosen than what is applied in the text: “your marvellous lovingkindness.”

    What was there in you that could merit esteem,
       Or give the Creator delight?
    “’Twas even so, Father,” you ever must sing,
       “Because it seem’d good in thy sight.”

There is no other explanation of this wondrous mercy, this “marvellous lovingkindness,” than the poet gives, —

    His love, from eternity fix’d upon you,
       Broke forth, and discover’d its flame,
    When each with the cords of his kindness he drew,
       And brought you to love his great name.

So, beloved, think over the antiquity of God’s lovingkindness, and then of its discriminating character, and surely you will be full of adoring wonder.

9. After that, think also of the self-sacrificing nature of his lovingkindness, — that, when God had set his heart on man, and had chosen his people before the foundation of the world, then he should give — what? Himself. Indeed, nothing short of that; — that he should not only give us this world, and his providence, and all its blessings, and the world to come, and all its glories; but that, in order for our possession of these things, he should give his own Son to die for us. Well might the apostle John write, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” It was not that Christ died for us when we were righteous, “for scarcely for a righteous man will one die”: “but God commends his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” “When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” Isaiah had long before explained the mystery: “It pleased the Lord to bruise him: he has put him to grief.” You who love your children, to lose one of whom would be worse than to die, can understand a little of what must have been the Father’s love for you in giving up his only-begotten Son so that you might live through him. Dwell on this great truth, dear friends, meditate on it, and ask the Holy Spirit to lead you into its heights, and depths, and lengths, and breadths, for these lips cannot fully speak of its wonders. As you think over the Lord’s ancient lovingkindnesses which were always from eternity, his distinguishing love towards his redeemed, and his self-sacrificing love in giving up his Only-Begotten, you will be obliged to say, “It is marvellous lovingkindness; it is marvellous lovingkindness indeed.”

10. Then go on to think of the marvellous constancy of it. That one should begin to love another, is not so very amazing; but that love, after it has been despised and poorly requited, should still continue, — that the sweet love of Christ should not long ago have curdled into jealousy, and from jealousy have soured into indignation, is an extraordinary thing. He loved us, brothers and sisters, when we did not even know him, and yet hated the Unknown; when we did not even dimly understand his love for us, and perhaps even ridiculed it, or at least neglected it. Yet he kept on loving us until he loved us into loving him. But even since then, what has been our character? Are you satisfied with what you have been towards the Well-Beloved? Are you content with your conduct towards the Bridegroom of your souls? I think that you are not; and yet, notwithstanding your lukewarmness, your backsliding, your dishonouring of his name, your unbelief, your pride, your love of others, he still loves you; and even now, if you are not enjoying fellowship with him, he has not gone away from you, for his word still is, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock.” He loves, he loves on, and he still loves. Many waters cannot quench his love, neither can the floods drown it. It is indeed “marvellous lovingkindness.” Can you think of a better adjective than that? I cannot, yet I am conscious that even it does not fully express the miraculous character of this all-enduring love which will not take our “No” for an answer, but still says, “Yes, — ‘yes, I will betroth you to me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth you to me in faithfulness: and you shall know the Lord.’ ” Oh, this wonderful, this matchless, this unparalleled, this inconceivable, this infinite love! No human language can adequately describe it, so let us sit still, and marvel at what we cannot even understand.

11. There is much in God’s lovingkindness to be marvelled at in its strange ingenuity. I might keep on with this topic for ever, applying one word and another to it; yet I should never have shown you even the tenth of its wonders, for it is an altogether inexhaustible theme. But it is wonderful how God deals with us with such a sacred ingenuity of tenderness. He seems to be always thinking of something for our good; while we, on our part, appear to be always testing his love in one way or another. Some new need is discovered only to receive, a new supply of grace. Some new sin breaks out only to be blotted out with the ever pardoning blood of Jesus. We get into new difficulties only to receive new aid. The further I go on my way to heaven, the more I admire the road as well as wonder at the goal to which that road shall bring me. “Oh world of wonders!” said John Bunyan; “I can say no less.” They tell us, nowadays, that the world is worn out, and that there is no joy in life, and nothing new to afford delight. Ah, me! they talk about the attractions of fiction and of the playwright’s art, and I do not know what else besides. They need to travel all around the world to get a new sensation; and many a man today is like the Emperor Tiberius, who offered large sums of money to anyone who could invent a new pleasure, meaning, alas! too often, a new vice, or a new way of practising it. But staying at home with Christ has more wonders in it than gadding abroad with all the wisest of the world. There is more to marvel at in half-an-inch of the way to heaven than there is in a thousand leagues of the ordinary pathway of unbelieving men. They call their joys by the name of “life,” and say that they must “see life”; but the apostle John tells us that “he who has the Son has life; and he who does not have the Son of God does not have life”; that is to say, he is dead. Death has its varieties of worms and rottenness; there are graveyards and graveyards, various processes and methods of corruption, and no doubt there is a science that men may learn in the cemetery, and call it life, if they like; but, oh! if they only once saw Christ on the cross, they would learn that they had been blind until then. If they only knew his lovingkindness, they would rejoice in it in the sick-room, in the long weary night-watches, when every bone prevented sleep; they would even recognise it in the arrows of death that struck wife, and child, and brother. They would see it, not only in the table loaded for the supply of hunger, and in the garments furnished for the cold, and in every common blessing of providence; but they would also see it in every despondency, in every deficiency, in every cross, and every loss; and, seeing it, they would keep on saying, “It is all for the best; it is far better than the best could have been if it had been left to me. It is marvellous; it is marvellous lovingkindness.” I believe that, when we get to heaven, one of the wonders of the glory-land will be to look back on the road over which we have travelled. It will be marvellous to note the way in which God has led us; and we shall, as our hymn puts it, —

    Sing with rapture and surprise,
    His lovingkindness in the skies.

I must now leave this part of my subject with you, only again urging you to think over the truth of which I have been speaking, that all God’s lovingkindness towards his people is marvellous.

12. II. Now, secondly, WE SHOULD DESIRE TO SEE THIS LOVINGKINDNESS. The psalmist says, “Show your marvellous lovingkindness”; and we ought to ask God to let us see it; and that, I think, in four ways.

13. First, let me see it with my intellect, so that I may adore. Help me, oh blessed Spirit, to see and understand what is the lovingkindness of God to my soul! I know that it is written of some that “they shall understand the lovingkindness of the Lord.” Let me be among the number of those truly wise ones. Oh Lord, make me wise to see, the purpose and intent of your providence as well as the providence itself! Make me wise to perceive how you have prepared your grace to deal with my depravity, how you adapt your upholdings to the slipperiness of the way, and to the feebleness of my feet. Often shed a ray of light on some passage in my life which, otherwise, I could not comprehend; and let the light stay there until I begin to see and to know why you did this and why you did that. “Show your marvellous lovingkindness.” I am sure, dear friends, that the lessons of a man’s own life are too often neglected; but there is in the life of any ordinary child of God, — let me pick you out wherever you may be, John, Mary, Thomas, — enough to fill you with wonder and admiration of the lovingkindness of the Lord if your mind is only sufficiently illuminated to perceive the hand of God in it, and to see what God purposed by it. He sometimes uses strange means for producing blessed results. With his sharp axe, he will cut down all our choice trees; as by a whirlwind or a tornado, he will devastate our gardens, and make our fields a desolation; and he will do it all in order that he may drive us away from the City of Destruction, and make us go on the pilgrimage to the Celestial City, where the axe can never come, and the leaves will never fade. In his mysterious dealings with us, the Lord often seems to push us backward so that we may go forward, and to deluge us with sorrow so that he may immerse us into blessing. That is his way of working wondrously; and if we only understood it, according to the prayer of the text, “Show your marvellous lovingkindness,” we should be full of adoring wonder.

14. The next meaning I would give to this prayer would be, Lord, show your lovingkindness to my heart, so that I may give you thanks. Lord, I know that you have been very good to me; but I pray you to show my heart how good you have been, by letting me see how unworthy I have been of your kindness. It is very profitable, sometimes, to sit down, and rehearse the lovingkindness of God, mingling with it penitential reflections on your own shortcomings. If you do this, you will at last break out with some such cry as this, “Why is all this mercy shown to me?” I know a dear brother in Christ, a clergyman, whose name is Curme; he divides it into two Latin words, “ Cur me,” so as to make it mean, “Why me? Why is all this goodness given to me, Lord?” And that is a question which I, too, would gladly ask, “Why me, Lord?”

    Why was I made to hear thy voice,
       And enter while there’s room;
    When thousands make a wretched choice,
       And rather starve than come?

Is this kindness, and this, and this, all meant for me? Can it really be intended for me? Such reflections as these will make me understand more than ever, how “marvellous” is God’s “lovingkindness” to me, and will fill my soul with adoring gratitude and thanksgiving.

15. Then, next, we ought to pray the Lord to show his “marvellous lovingkindness” to our faith, so that we may again confide in him. If he will cause the eye of our faith to see that he has this “marvellous lovingkindness” towards us, we shall be all the more ready to rely on him in all the straits into which we may yet be brought. Do you believe it, my dear friend? Brother in Christ, do you believe that God loves you? You know how sweet it is to be sure that your child loves you. Though he may well do so, because of his many obligations to you, yet it is sweet for his warm cheek to touch yours, and to hear him say, “Father, I love you.” But, oh! it is sweeter by far for God to say, “I love you.” Read the Song of Solomon through, and do not be afraid to appropriate the message of that sweet and matchless Canticle. Hear in it the voice of Jesus saying to you, “You are all fair, my love; there is no spot in you.” “You have ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; you have ravished my heart with one of your eyes, with one chain of your neck.” Such words as those may be sensuous to those who are sensuous, but they are deeply spiritual to those who are spiritual; and, oh, the bliss of having such words as those to come from the Christ of God to us! Why, sometimes, when our Lord speaks to us like this, we hardly know how to bear our excess of joy. I would not ask for a better holiday than to have one hour alone with Jesus; to be undisturbed by any earthly care, and just to think of nothing else but the love of God, — the love of God for me. Oh, that it were now shed abroad, in all its fulness, in this poor heart of mine! Oh love divine, what is there that can ever match your inexpressible sweetness? Truly it is “marvellous lovingkindness.” Again I ask you, — Do you believe this? Are you sure you do? Pray God to show it to your faith distinctly and clearly, so that you shall be absolutely sure of it, and practically depend on it whenever you need it.

16. One other meaning of the text may be, show your “marvellous lovingkindness” to me now in my experience, so that I may rest on you. Let me now, at this present moment, oh my God, experience something of that lovingkindness in my soul, in whatever condition I may happen to be, so that I may be so flooded with the consciousness of it that I may do nothing else but sit in solemn silence before you, and adore you, while beholding the blazing splendour of your love! I cannot say any more about this part of my theme, but must leave you to fill up the gaps in the sermon. This is not a topic on which one should venture to speak if he wants to say all that should or could be said on it.

17. III. So, thirdly, dear friends, I remark that IT SHOULD BE OUR DESIRE — and there are times when it should especially be our desire — TO SEE THIS “MARVELLOUS LOVINGKINDNESS” OF GOD DISPLAYED TO US IN ITS MARVELLOUSNESS.

18. I will make plain to you what I mean directly; and, first, we would see it as pardoning great sin. I expect we have here, in this assembly, at least one whose sin lies very heavy on his conscience. We do not find many such people come out to week-night services, but yet I thank God that they do come here. Your sin is very great, dear friend. I cannot exaggerate it, because your own sense of its greatness far surpasses any descriptions I could give. You feel that, if God were to pardon you, it would be a marvellous thing. If he were, in one moment, to take all your guilt away, and to send you home completely forgiven, it would be a marvellous thing. Yes, it would, it would; but please pray this prayer, “Lord, show your marvellous lovingkindness in me.” God is constantly doing wonders; then, glorify his name by believing that he can work this miracle of mercy for you. Do not be afraid even to sing, —

    Great God of wonders! all thy ways
       Are matchless, Godlike, and divine;
    But the fair glories of thy grace
       More Godlike and unrivall’d shine:
    Who is a pardoning God like thee?
    Or who has grace so rich and free?

Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved, and saved immediately. Trust him now; and marvellous though it will be to you, I have shown you that God’s lovingkindness is all marvellous, and that the extraordinary is ordinary with God, and that the marvellous is only an every-day thing with him. Pray for this “marvellous lovingkindness” to be revealed to you, and you shall have it. One said, “If God ever saves me, he shall never hear the end of it.” You may say the same, and resolve that, henceforth, having had much forgiven, you will love much; having been saved from great sin, you will tell it on earth, and tell it in heaven; and, if you could, you would even wish to make hell itself resound with the wondrous story, —

    “Tell it unto sinners tell,
    I am, I am out of hell; —

and what is more, I am on the road to heaven, for God’s ‘marvellous lovingkindness’ has been shown to me.”

19. So God’s lovingkindness may be seen as pardoning great sin; and next, it may be seen as delivering from deep trouble. I may be addressing some poor child of God who is severely perplexed. These are very trying times, and we constantly meet godly people, who have a sincere desire to provide things honest in the sight of all men, but who do not find it easy to do so. Some very gracious people have gotten into a tight squeeze; and however they will get out, they cannot imagine. If this is your case, dear friend, I expect you feel very much as John Fawcett’s hymn puts it, —

    My soul, with various tempests test’d,
    Her hopes o’erturn’d, her projects cross’d,
    Sees every day new straits attend,
    And wonders where the scene will end.

Well, now, if you are ever brought through all your troubles, it will be “marvellous lovingkindness” to you, will it not? Then, go to God with the prayer, “Show me your marvellous lovingkindness,” and he will do it. He will bring you up, and out, and through; — not, perhaps, in the way you would like to come, but he will bring you out in the best way. “Trust in the Lord, and do good; so you shall dwell in the land, and truly you shall be fed. Delight yourself also in the Lord; and he shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.” Always expect the unexpected when you are dealing with God. Look to see, in God, and from God, what you never saw before; for the very things, which will seem to unbelief to be utterly impossible, will be those that are most likely to happen when you are dealing with him whose arm is omnipotent, and whose heart is faithful and true. May God grant you grace, dear friend, to use the prayer of our text as the means of delivering you from deep trouble!

20. Here is another way to use it. I think you may pray it like this, — in any case, I mean to do so, whether you will or not, — “Lord, reveal your marvellous lovingkindness to me, so as to give me high joys and ecstasies of delight.” I sometimes envy those good people who never go up and never go down, always staying at one level; theirs must be a very pleasant experience indeed. Still, if ever I do get on the high horse, then I go up far beyond anything I can describe. If ever I do ride on the clouds, then I do not envy the people who keep along the smooth road. Oh, what deep depressions some of us have had! We have gone down to the very bottoms of the mountains, and the earth with her bars has seemed to be around us for ever; but, after just one glimpse of God’s everlasting love, we have been up there where the naked lightnings flash, resting and trusting among the tempests, near to God’s right hand. I think, no, I am sure we may pray for this experience. Should not the preacher of the Word wish to know the fulness of divine love? Should not the teacher of the young long to learn all that he can concerning God’s infinite love? Though this is the love that surpasses knowledge, should not every Christian wish to know all that is knowable of this great love of God? Then let us pray: “Show your marvellous lovingkindness.” It was truly said, “You cannot see God’s face, and live”; but I have been inclined to say, “Then, let me see God’s face, and die.” John Welsh said, when God was flooding his soul with a sense of his wondrous love, “Hold, Lord, hold! I am only a clay vessel, and you will break me.” If I had been there, and I could have borne no more, I would have said, “Do not hold, Lord; break the poor clay vessel, let it go all to pieces; but anyway, let your love be revealed in me!” Oh, that I might even die of this pleasurable pain of knowing too much of God, too much of the ineffable delight of fellowship with him! Let us be very venturesome, beloved, and pray, “Show your marvellous lovingkindness.”

21. And, when we have done that, I think we may raise this prayer for ourselves, concerning our own usefulness. You want to do good, dear brother, — dear sister. Well, then, pray to God, “Show me your marvellous lovingkindness, oh Lord! Use even such a feeble creature as I am. Let heaven, and earth, and hell itself, see that you can save souls by poor ignorant men as well as by inspired apostles and learned doctors. Lord, in my chapel, show your marvellous lovingkindness. Crowd it with people, and bring many of them to Christ. In my class, Lord, show your marvellous lovingkindness. If there never was a Sunday School class in which all were saved, Lord, let it be done in mine. Make it a marvellous thing.” A dear brother, who prayed at the prayer meeting before this service, kept on pleading that God would bless me again as he had done before. I liked that prayer; it was as if the friend meant to say to the Lord, “Whatever you did in years gone by, do the same over again. If ever it was a marvellous thing to see how the people thronged to hear the Word, Lord, make it still more marvellous.” I remember when some people called our early success “a nine days’ wonder.” Well, well, well, it has been a good long nine days, anyway. But, oh, that we might have another nine days like it, — just such another nine days! May God be pleased to send us as many conversions as we had at the first, — indeed, and I shall add, and ten times as many! And if ever there have been revivals in the Church of God that have been really marvellous, brothers and sisters, let us take up the cry, “Lord, show your marvellous lovingkindness again. Send us another Whitfield, and another Wesley, if such will be the kind of men who will bless the world. Send us another Luther, another Calvin, another Zwingli, if such are the men who will bless the world. Lord, send us another Augustine, or another Jerome, if such are the men by whom you will bless the world. But, in some way or other, Lord, show us your marvellous lovingkindness.” “Oh, but!” some would say, “we do not want any excitement. That is an awful thing, you know, — anything like excitement.” And, then, perhaps, they add, “We have heard so much of what has been done in previous revivals. It has all ended in smoke, and therefore we really dread the repetition of such an experience.” Well, then, brother, go home, and pray, “Lord, show me your moderate lovingkindness.” When you are on your knees, tonight, pray, “Lord, save half-a-dozen souls here and there.

    We are a garden wall’d around,
    Chosen and made peculiar ground;
    A little spot enclosed by grace
    Out of the world’s wide wilderness; —

Lord, make it even smaller, bundle us up even tighter, to the glory of your blessed name!” I do not think any of you can pray that prayer; you shall if you like; but, for my part, I intend to pray, and I hope many of you will join me in it, and may God hear us! “Show us your marvellous lovingkindness.” Oh, for some new miracle of mercy to be performed in the earth! Oh, for some great thing to be done, such as was done of old! Shall it be so, or not? On this promise it shall depend: “Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” But if our mouths are not open, we cannot expect to get the blessing: “According to your faith be it to you.” May the Lord grant that our faith may expect to see his “marvellous lovingkindness” displayed even more and more! Amen and Amen.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Ps 17}

1. Hear the right, oh LORD, attend to my cry, give ear to my prayer, that does not go out of insincere lips.

Good men are often slandered and misunderstood; and, at such times, the first verse of this Psalm will well fit their lips: “Hear the right, oh Lord.” And, at all times, it is a great blessing when a supplicant can say to God, “Give ear to my prayer, that does not go out of insincere lips.” It must be a dreadful thing to pray with lips that do not speak the truth. When men’s thoughts are far away from their prayers, and they are muttering pious words but their heart is absent, what a mockery it must be in the sight of God! A dead prayer, — who will acknowledge it? It is like the child who was smothered in the days of Solomon, whom neither of the two mothers would acknowledge to be hers. Beware of dead prayers. You may dress them up as finely as you like; but, if there is no life in them, what good are they?

2. Let my vindication come from your presence; let your eyes behold the things that are upright.

It is the appeal of a slandered man to the highest court; he takes his case into the Court of King’s Bench, and asks God himself to give the verdict concerning what he had done. It is a good case that will bear to be so investigated.

3. You have tested my heart; you have visited me in the night; you have tried me, and shall find nothing; I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.

Happy is the man who is not afraid for God to come to him suddenly in the night, or to pounce on him, as it were, at any hour of the day, for, whenever he comes, he will find his servant so acting that he will not mind who examines his conduct. He is keeping his lip, purposing that it shall not transgress God’s law, and he is ruling his whole body in the same way. Only the grace of God can enable us to do this.

4. Concerning the works of men, by the word of your lips I have kept myself from the paths of the destroyer.

Notice that verse, young man! There is much-needed teaching there for you. There are many “paths of the destroyer” in this wicked city of London, and all over the world; and it is only by taking heed to our ways, according to God’s Word, that we can hope to escape from them. How pleasant those “paths of the destroyer” often appear to be! How smooth and how alluring they are! All kinds of supposed delicacies and beauties will tempt you to go that way, and the foolish heart readily inclines to these indulgences; but happy is the man whose judgment is enlightened by God’s Word so that he avoids it, and passes by “the paths of the destroyer.”

5. Hold up my goings in your paths, so that my footsteps do not slip.

“I know that I am in your way; but, oh Lord, hold me up! I am like a horse that needs a careful driver, otherwise I shall trip and fall, in rough places or in smooth, ‘Hold up my goings in your paths,’ for I may fall even there. There are the sins of my holy things, so ‘hold up my goings in your paths, so that my footsteps do not slip.’ ”

6-12. I have called on you, for you will hear me, oh God: incline your ear to me, and hear my speech. Show your marvellous lovingkindness, oh you who save by your right hand those who put their trust in you from those who rise up against them. Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of your wings, from the wicked who oppress me, from my deadly enemies, who surround me. They are enclosed in their own fat: with their mouth they speak proudly. They have now surrounded us in our steps: they have set their eyes crouching down to the earth; like a lion that is greedy for its prey, and as it were a young lion lurking in secret places.

Many godly men have such cruel enemies as David had, so they will do well to pray as he did: —

13-15. Arise, oh LORD, disappoint him, cast him down: deliver my soul from the wicked with your sword: from men with your hand, oh LORD, from men of the world who have their portion in this life, and whose belly you fill with your hidden treasure: they are full of children, and leave the rest of their substance to their babes. As for me, —

“What do I possess? What is my portion? Am I full of substance, like the men of the world, or do I have little of this world’s wealth? It is of little consequence, for, ‘as for me,’ ” —

15. I will behold your face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake with your likeness.

That is our portion. May God grant that we may prize it more and more! Amen.

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “God the Father, Attributes of God — Lovingkindness” 196}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 18” 18 @@ "(Version 2)"}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Joy and Peace — Gratitude And Hope” 719}


God the Father, Attributes of God
196 — Lovingkindness
 1 Awake, my soul, in joyful lays,
   And sing thy great Redeemer’s praise:
   He justly claims a song from me,
   His loving kindness, oh, how free!
2 He saw me ruin’d in the fall,
   Yet loved me, notwithstanding all;
   He saved me from my lost estate,
   His loving kindness, oh, how great!
3 Though numerous hosts of mighty foes,
   Though earth and hell my way oppose,
   He safely leads my soul along,
   His loving kindness, oh, how strong.
4 When trouble, like a gloomy cloud,
   Has gather’d thick and thunder’d loud,
   He near my soul has always stood,
   His loving-kindness changes not.
5 Often I feel my sinful heart
   Prone from my Jesus to depart;
   But though I have him oft forgot,
   His loving kindness changes not.
6 Soon shall I pass the gloomy vale,
   Soon all my mortal powers must fail;
   Oh may my last expiring breath
   His loving kindness sing in death!
7 Then let me mount and soar away
   To the bright world of endless day;
   And sing with rapture and surprise,
   His loving-kindness in the skies.
                     Samuel Medley, 1787.


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


The Christian, Joy and Peace
719 — Gratitude And Hope
1 My soul, triumphant in the Lord,
      Shall tell its joys abroad;
   And march with holy vigour on,
      Supported by its God.
2 Through all the winding maze of life,
      His hand hath been my guide;
   And in that long-expected care,
      My heart shall still confide.
3 His grace through all the desert flows,
      And unexhausted stream:
   That grace on Zion’s sacred mount
      Shall be my endless theme.
4 Beyond the choicest joys of earth
      These distant courts I love;
   But oh, I burn with strong desire
      To view thy house above.
5 Mingled with all the shining band,
      My soul would there adore;
   A pillar in thy temple fix’d,
      To be removed no more.
                     Philip Doddridge, 1755.

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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