2784. “Non Nobis, Domine!”

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“Non Nobis, Domine!”

No. 2784-48:289. A Sermon Delivered On Thursday Evening, May 16, 1878, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, June 22, 1902.

Not to us, oh LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for your mercy, and for your truth’s sake. {Ps 115:1}

1. Every careful reader can see the connection between this 115th Psalm and the one which precedes it. In the 114th Psalm, we see the gracious and grateful Jews sitting around the passover table, having eaten the lamb, and singing about the miracles of Jehovah at the Red Sea and the Jordan. It must have been a very jubilant song that they sang; I think I can hear them singing, “What ailed you, oh you sea, that you fled? you Jordan, that you were driven back?” When that joyful hymn was finished, and the cup of wine was passed around the table, they struck another note. They remembered their sad condition, as they heard the heathen say, “Where is their God now?” They remembered that, perhaps for many a year, there had been no miracle, no prophet, no public vision, and then they began to chant a prayer that God would appear, — not for their sakes, but for his own name’s sake, that the ancient glory, which he won for himself at the Red Sea and the Jordan, might not be lost, and that the heathen might no longer be able to tauntingly say, “Where is their God now?” because the wonders performed by God should cause them to tremble before him. You remember that, when the Israelites came up out of Egypt, and were marching through the wilderness, the Lord put “the dread of them and the fear of them” on all the nations in their track, so that they were half defeated through the terror that had made them almost like dead men in the presence of the mighty God of Israel. So, the psalmist’s prayer here is, practically, “Lord, do the same again; — not for our sakes, but for your own name’s sake; — that once again the heathen all around may know that there is a God in the midst of Israel, and that they may be forced again to tremble as they did before, and no longer blaspheme or defy the God of Jacob.” These observations will, I hope, show you how suitably this Psalm would be chanted while the paschal supper was still proceeding.

2. Now let us take the words of our text by themselves, and examine them under the gracious guidance of the Holy Spirit. They are, I think, instructive to us in five ways.

3. I. First, they furnish us with A POWERFUL PLEA IN PRAYER: “Not to us, oh Jehovah, not to us, but to your name give glory, for your mercy, and for your truth’s sake.”

4. There are times when this is the only plea that God’s people can use. There are other occasions when we can plead with God to bless us, for this reason or for that; but, sometimes, there come dark experiences, when there seems to be no reason that can suggest itself to us why God should give us deliverance, or bestow a blessing on us, except this one, — that he would be pleased to do it in order to glorify his own name. Moses is an example of how this plea prevails with the Lord. When he was on the mount with God, and Jehovah threatened to destroy the idolatrous Israelites, Moses pleaded: “Why should the Egyptians speak, and say, ‘For mischief he brought them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of I will give to your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever.’ And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do to his people.” Joshua also used the same plea when he said to the Lord, after Israel’s defeat at Ai, “What will you do for your great name?” He could not say, “Lord, hear me for Israel’s sake,” for they were utterly unworthy. He did not dare to say, “Deliver us for my sake”; he did not have enough conceit or self-righteousness to present such a plea as that. He could not even say, “Hear us for Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob’s sake,” for the people had broken the covenant which God had made with their forefathers; so he pleaded with the Lord, “Think of your own honour; think of your great name; think of your reputation among the heathen”; and so he prevailed. It is noteworthy that that awful attribute of holy jealousy, which, under some aspects, is like a terrible flame, is the very one which helps us when everything else fails. Jehovah is very jealous of his own honour, and hence it is that, when the heathen say, “Where is their God now?” he answers their taunt by ceasing to chasten his people; — not for their sakes, but for his own mercy and truth’s sake, so that the heathen may not think him unmerciful to his people, nor be able to accuse him of being unfaithful to his covenant.

5. Brothers and sisters, in all your times of distress, you will do well to urge this plea with the Lord. Possibly, you are pleading for a certain class of men or women who have grossly sinned; it may be that you have, on your heart, the case of one person who has gone to great lengths of iniquity. You can always plead, “Lord, save that sinful soul, to make your grace all the more illustrious. Do it so that others, who have witnessed his sin, may admire your wonderful compassion; — that his relatives and friends, who have heard his blasphemies, and been horrified by them, may see what you can do when you make bare your almighty arm, and magnify your deeds of grace.”

6. You may be emboldened to urge that plea, notwithstanding the vileness of the person for whom you plead. In fact, the sinfulness of the sinner may even be your plea so that God’s mercy and lovingkindness may be seen all the more resplendently by all who know of the sinful soul’s guilt. And if your prayer should not be on behalf of some gross transgressor, but on behalf of a fallen church; — suppose it should be for a church that has lost its first love, a church that has turned aside from the truth, a church which has ceased to be zealous, a church like that of Laodicea, fit only to be spewed out of the mouth of Christ; — you may still come before him, and say, “Lord, revive it; — not for that church’s sake, for you might as well make it a desolation, like Shiloh, where the ark of the covenant was at the first; — but do it for your name’s sake, that all may see that you can trim the lamp when it already smokes, and gives out a nauseous stench; — that you can take the fig tree before it is utterly barren, and dig around it, and fertilize it, and make it produce fruit, oh you wondrous Vinedresser of the vineyard!” I leave that thought with you, suggesting that, in your solitude when you withdraw to pray, — I mean you who, like Jacob, have your Jabboks and your Peniels, — you will find that this is one of the mightiest weapons that you can wield in that secret midnight conflict. There is a sacred art of gripping even the Angel of the covenant in that time of mysterious wrestling. Say, “For Christ’s sake, for God’s name’s sake, for his love’s sake, for the gospel’s sake”; — for all these are mightily prevalent pleas with the Most High.

7. Let me just whisper a word in the ear of anyone who has scarcely learned to pray. Poor sinner,

    “Laden with guilt and full of fears,” —

you say, “How can I plead with God for mercy? I have rejected it for years; I have been often rebuked, and I have hardened my neck; I fear I have no plea with which to urge my suit in craving God’s mercy.” Here is one for you to use; say to him, “For your mercy and your love’s sake, have pity on me, the least deserving of all your creatures; for, surely, if you will only save me, it will be an eternal wonder to men and to angels. If you will save me, then I will sing, —

    All thy mercy’s depths I prove,
    All its heights are seen in me.”

8. I remember one, who said, “Oh, if the Lord Jesus Christ will only pardon me, he shall never hear the end of it!” And this is what all poor guilty souls may truly say, “Should there be mercy for such a sinner as I am, — so old a sinner, — so daring a sinner, — so God-provoking a sinner? Will God’s grace blot out my sin? Will the Lord put me into his family, and call me his child? Then, tell it in the depths of hell, and let all the demons know what great things God can do; and tell it in the heights of heaven, and let all the principalities and powers there learn new music as they sing of the greatness of the lovingkindness of the Lord, who can pardon and save the very chief of sinners.” I suggest that every seeking sinner here should plead the name of God, and plead the glory of Christ; plead that he will be honoured, that men will magnify his great name and the preciousness of his atoning blood, and the power of his gospel, if it shall save you. This is a good plea; take care that you use it.

9. II. Now, secondly, my text appears to me to embody THE TRUE SPIRIT OF PIETY: “Not to us, oh Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for your mercy, and for your truth’s sake.” That is to say, true religion does not seek its own honour.

10. Self-seeking is the exact opposite of the spirit of a true Christian. He would rather strip himself, and say, “Not to me, but to you, oh Lord, be all honour and glory!” He seeks no crown to put on his own head; twice he refused to wear it. Even if the world would press it on him, he says, “Not to me; not to me.” He does not wish for honour; he is finished with self-seeking; his one great object now is to glorify God: “To your name give glory, for your mercy, and for your truth’s sake.” Do you not think, dear friends, that, if this is the true spirit of religion, we shall very often have to condemn ourselves for being so faulty in it?

11. For example, suppose, in preaching the gospel, a man has, even as a small part of his motive, that he may be esteemed an eloquent person, or that he may have influence over other men’s minds; — I will not suppose that he has so sordid a motive as worldly gain; — but I need not “suppose” what I have suggested, for it is lamentably true that this mixture of motives may steal over the preacher’s soul. Ah! but we must fight against this evil with all our might. Someone once told Master John Bunyan that he had preached a delightful sermon. “You are too late,” said John, “the devil told me that before I left the pulpit.” Satan is very adept in teaching us how to steal our Master’s glory. Yet, if we ever speak properly, it is because we are taught by the Spirit, and not because of our own wisdom. Even when we have had the undoubted help of the Holy Spirit, we are far too apt to attribute at least a little of the power to ourselves. But a true servant of the Lord Jesus Christ loathes himself when he finds that this evil habit has fastened itself on him; and he cries, “No, Lord; not to me, not to me, but to your name give all the glory and praise.” We are to preach so as to glorify God, not to glorify ourselves; and the man who occupies the pulpit merely so that he may demonstrate his own cleverness, ought to be immediately hurled from it, for he has no right there whatever. “Glory be to God,” should always be the preacher’s motto.

12. And since it should be so with our preaching, do you not think that the same thing is true concerning our praying? Are there no petitions, presented at prayer meetings, in which there is at least some idea that we are saying very proper things, and very pretty things, and that people will think we have a great gift of prayer? Did you never have such a feeling as that steal over you? Yet, my brother, the only prayer of the right kind is what is offered for the glory of God. If I turn from your public prayers, and look into your private supplications, shall I not see self there?

13. The right spirit in which to do everything is to do all for the glory of God. In alms-giving, for example, — a practice which, I trust, will never die out, though there are some who tell us that it is wicked to give to the poor; — in alms-giving, is it not possible to do it simply to get rid of the applicant, or to satisfy your own conscience, or that you may be thought generous? That is not right; we must give our alms to God alone. Do not let our right hand know what our left hand gives, for it is not to man that we are giving it, but as to the Lord. Let our thank offering be dropped into the box, and nothing be said about it. Let us get as far as possible from the spoiling glance of the human eye, so that the whole act may be as a spring shut up, a fountain sealed, something done for Jesus, and for Jesus only, that he may have it, and have all the glory for it.

14. And in any service that you may render, do you not know that it must be done simply and only for Christ’s sake if it is to be acceptable to him? Yet, often, you can scarcely appoint a man to ussher, or to give out a hymn, or to teach a Sunday School class, but the “great I” will be sure to lift its head unless it is constantly kept under. Pride grows apace, like other bad weeds. Yet remember that, whatever we do in order that we may make ourselves the end and object of it, is spoiled in the doing, and is not pleasing to God. Indeed, we are not offering it to God; we are offering it to ourselves. May we never be swayed by the fear of man, or the wish to win human approbation! May we do what we believe to be right, because it is right, and because we wish to honour and glorify God in doing it; and when we are rendering any service to the Master, let us never even wish for human eyes to see it. That is the true spirit of piety; may God grant that we may have it to the full! But, often, we cherish another kind of spirit. Even the sweet singer among you may be singing a hymn “to the praise and glory of God,” yet be thinking to himself or herself, all the while, “Do not those who are listening to me think that I have a very sweet voice?” Or, possibly, you are in the Sunday School, and you feel, “Well, now, I really am one of the most efficient teachers here. They must think a great deal of me, or they ought to, at any rate.” Very often, even in the household, when we have done a little thing, we congratulate ourselves on it, and feel that everyone ought to pat us on the back, and burn a little incense in our honour. Ah, dear friends, if we think anything like this, may the Lord speedily drive it out of us! Such poor creatures as we are, if the Lord would let us be door-mats for all his saints to wipe their dirty boots on, it would be an honour for us. If he only allows us to be hewers of wood or drawers of water, like the Gibeonites of old, — and if he accepts what we do, it will be all by his grace. But for us to be independent, to live for ourselves, and to want honour and glory for ourselves; — this will never do. We say, of some people, that they are “poor and proud”; and, truly, that is what we are when we begin to boast. Lord, take away our pride; our poverty will not matter so much then!

15. III. I leave that point, and come, thirdly, to use the psalmist’s words in yet another sense. I think that the spirit of my text is A SAFE GUIDE IN THEOLOGY.

16. When I am going to read the Scriptures, to know what I am to believe, to learn what is to be my creed, even before I open my Bible, it is a good thing to say, “Not to us, oh Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for your mercy, and for your truth’s sake.” This is, to my mind, a test of what is true and what is false. If you find a system of theology which magnifies man, flee from it as far as you can. If the minister, whom you usually hear, tries to make man out to be a very fine fellow, and says a great many things in his praise, you should let him have an empty place where you have been accustomed to sit. This shall be an infallible test for you concerning anyone’s ministry. If it is man-praising, and man-honouring, it is not from God. The negro said, of a certain preacher in America, “He do make God so great.” I wish that it might be said of all of us that our preaching made God great. That plan of salvation that makes man to be a somebody, is a wrong one, depend on it; for he is a nobody, and nothing. That kind of preaching which leaves a great deal for man to do, and tells him he can do it well, brethren, let those people who are so very good, and strong, and great, go and listen to it; but as for you and me, — at any rate, for most of us, — we know that, by nature, we are dead in trespasses and sins, that our strength is perfect weakness; and, therefore, the kind of preaching that exalts man does not suit our experience. We do not ask for it, nor do we want it. It will poison those who receive it, for it does not come from God.

17. This is why I believe in the doctrines of grace. I believe in divine election, because someone must have the supreme will in this matter, and man’s will must not occupy the throne, but the will of God. The words of Jehovah stand firm like the great mountains, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. The sovereignty of God is a doctrine which lifts him up high, and therefore I accept it, and reverently bow before it. According to some men, it seems that salvation is mainly the work of the creature. Christ died for him, but Christ may have died in vain unless he, by something that he does, makes Christ’s death effective. I do not believe that kind of teaching, because it throws the onus of redemption, after all, on man, and makes him to give efficacy to the redemption of Christ. Indeed, truly; but I believe that those, for whom Christ gave himself as a ransom price, shall surely be his for ever; and that he did really redeem them, and does not need them to add anything to make that everlasting ransom price sufficient and available for their deliverance.

18. There are some who seem to think that the sinner takes certain steps towards God before God comes to him; but it is not so. The sinner is dead, and life must come to him from God before he can stir from the grave, or even have a wish to stir from it. And there are some who teach that, after man is saved, he still needs to keep himself and confirm himself in grace; in fact, that his salvation depends on himself. But it is not so; for he who has called us, and saved us, has given us gifts which are without repentance, which he will never take back; and having once loved us, he will love us to the end. We are firmly persuaded that he who has begun a good work in us will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. From top to bottom, salvation is all by the grace of God. From its first letter, Alpha, to its last letter, Omega, it is all grace, grace, grace. There is no room for human merit, and no room for confidence in self whatever; there is room for good works, yet no room for glorifying in them, “for we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.” You know that jewellers have certain tests by which, if you take them a ring or a coin, they can tell you at once whether it is gold or silver. Here is a test for you to apply, and by it you may tell whether a thing is true or not. Does it glorify God? Then, accept it. If it does not, if it glorifies man, — puts human will, human ability, human merit, into the place of the mercy and the grace of God, — away with it, for it is not food fit for your souls to feed on. I wish that all Christians were more concerned for the glory of God than they are. Surely, then, they would become sounder in doctrine than many are nowadays.

19. IV. The fourth way of using our text is this. It seems to me to be A PRACTICAL DIRECTION IN LIFE.

20. You want to know, young man, how to direct your steps properly, and how to cleanse your way. This text will help you, dear brother, in the selection of your sphere of service. You will always be safe in doing what is not for your own glory, but which is distinctly for the glory of God. Have you been offered two jobs? Are they equally remunerative, or equally difficult? Select that one in which you may hope to glorify God more than you could in the other. This is the voice behind you which says, “This is the way; walk in it.” Are you choosing a profession, or seeking an honourable career in life? Then, please, let this text guide you. Adoniram Judson, full of ambition, seeking a great name, found this text, and rebelled against it; but he says that all his bright visions for the future seemed to vanish as these words sounded in his soul, “Not to us, oh Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory.” Are you going to live, young man, to get glory for yourself? It will not do; it will not do. If the Lord loves you, he will not let it be so. “But what, then, am I to do?” you ask. Why, labour so as to live, in any calling, that you may bring glory to God in it.

21. Sometimes, my text will guide you how to choose between two courses of action that lie before you. Did I understand that you have had a little tiff with your brother or sister, and the question with you is, “What shall I do in this dispute?” Something says, “Go and apologise, and say that you were wrong”; but something else says, “Oh, but you know that we must not always be giving way, and yielding; because some people, if you give them an inch, will take a mile!” So, possibly, you do not know which course to take. Which is the one you do not wish to follow? Why! you do not like to humble yourself. Then, that is the plan you should adopt. What flesh revolts against, your spirit should choose. Say, “Not to us, oh Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory. I will do what will most honour my Lord and Master, and not what would best please myself.”

22. Or it may be that there are two ways in which you might serve God, and you are rather perplexed about which one to choose. One of them would give you a good share of honour; the other would involve more work, and you would not be likely to get much credit from it. You really do not know which of the two you ought to choose. I suggest, brother, that the probabilities are that that is the right one for you from which you will get the least credit; at any rate, I am afraid that, if you hold the scales impartially, as you think, your hand will incline just a little to give the preponderance to what would bring you into fame. Do not do so; discipline yourself so that you can say, “For my Master’s sake alone I will choose what shall be my course, and I will follow where he leads the way, seeking to give him all the glory.” That is a guide-post which, I think, will lead you out of many of the perplexities of life.

23. V. Now, fifthly, and lastly, my text seems to contain within itself THE ACCEPTABLE SPIRIT IN WHICH TO REVIEW THE PAST.

24. Brothers and sisters, this is the spirit in which to live. Has God blessed us? Do we look back on honourable and useful lives? Has our Sunday School class brought in souls for Christ? Have we been privileged to preach the gospel, and has the Lord given us converts? Then, let us be sure to stick to the text: “Not to us, oh Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory.” Now, young man, if you are beginning to serve the Saviour, and he has given you success, your conduct in this first time of testing may decide the rest of your life. “Just as the refining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold; so a man is to his praise.” There are very few men who can bear success; no one can do so unless great grace is given to them; and if, after a little success, you begin to say, “There now, I am a somebody; did I not do that well? These poor old fogies do not know how to do it; I will teach them”; — you will have to go into the back rank, brother, you are not able to endure success yet. It is clear that you cannot stand praise. But if, when God gives you blessing, you give him every bit of the glory, and clear yourself of everything like boasting, then the Lord will continue to bless you, because it will be safe for him to do so. He is not going to put his treasure, let me tell you, into the leaky vessels of self-exaltation. No, no; he wants good sea-going ships which bear at the masthead the flag on which is written, “Not to us oh Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory.”

25. Indeed, and when the time comes for us to die, this is the spirit in which to die, for it is the beginning of heaven. What are they doing in heaven? If we could look up there, what would we see? There are crowns there, laid up for those who fight the good fight, and finish their course; but do you see what the victors are doing with their crowns? They will not wear them; no, not they; but they throw them down at Christ’s feet, crying, “Not to us, oh Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory.” Brother, sister, living, dying, let this be your continual cry. If the Lord favours you, honours you, blesses you, always say, “Not to us, oh Lord, not to us, be the glory.” Are you prosperous in business? Do not be proud of your riches. Are you advancing in education? Do not boast about what you know, for there is a great deal more that you do not know. Has God given you a few converts? Do not begin thinking that you are a mighty soul winner, for there are many more yet to be won. The way up is downward. Your Master descended so that he might afterwards ascend, and fill all things; and your way of ascent must be downward, downward, downward, so that you become less, and less, and less. Say, over and over again, “Not to us, not to us,” until you utterly loathe the idea of human glory, and let the Lord have all the praise.

26. As a church, we can look back on many years of spiritual prosperity; but we must still sing, “ Non nobis, non nobis, non nobis, Domine. ” We can bless and magnify the Lord for unity, and peace, and harmony, and perpetual increase and success in all the works of our hands. Glory be to the Lord for it; but, just as Paul shook off the viper from his hand into the fire, so we would shake off everything that looks like attributing success to ourselves, even to our prayers, our tears, our devotion. Let all the glory be given to God alone, for —

    “To him all the glory belongs.”

27. Now I finish by saying that perhaps there is someone here, who is longing to be saved, and the only thing that stands in his way is that he will not come to this point, and say, “Not to us, not to us.” Ah, my friend! you want to be a little somebody; you want to do something, or be something. Brother, be nothing; for then Christ shall be your All-in-all. Remember that the end of the creature is the beginning of the Creator. When you are finished with every other confidence, then you can have confidence in God. May the Lord bless you for this purpose, for Jesus Christ’s sake! Amen.

{a} Non nobis, Domine :Latin: “Not to us, oh Lord.” Editor.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Ps 115}

This is one of the Hallel Psalms which were sung by the Jews at the feast of the Passover. It is highly probable that they were sung by our Lord on that memorable night when he instituted the sacred feast which is to be the perpetual memorial of his death, “until he comes.” They have, however, a message for us who are now gathered together here.

1, 2. Not to us, oh LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for your mercy, and for your truth’s sake. Why should the heathen say, “Where is their God now?”

They talk about what he did when he brought his people up out of Egypt; but they tauntingly ask, “Where is their God now?” You are not dead, oh God! Nor are you even becoming weak; will you not let the heathen know that they are resisting you in vain?

3. But our God is in the heavens:

Where they cannot see him. But that is just where he should be — in his own royal pavilion, seated on his own throne, — out of gun-shot of all his enemies, — where he can survey the whole world, where he is dependent on no one, but absolutely supreme over all: “Our God is in the heavens.”

3. He has done whatever he has pleased.

What a grand sentence that is! After all, his eternal purposes are continually being fulfilled. His decrees can never fail to be accomplished. He is not a thwarted and defeated God, — not one who has to wait on his creatures to know their pleasure; but “he has done whatever he has pleased.” How absolute and unlimited those words are! “Whatever he has pleased.” He has willed it, and he has done it. As for the heathen who say, “Where is their God now?” we may ask, in holy derision, “Where are their gods, and what kind of gods are they?” The psalmist gives the answer.

4. Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands.

Mere metal, — called precious metal, yet, if made into idols, no better than any other metal. This shows the amount that a man will spend on making for himself a god that is not a god; but what a fool he is to do so! How can a man call that a “god,” which did not make him, but which he himself made? “Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands.”

5. They have mouths, but they cannot speak:

I want you to notice how the psalmist seems to have an image before him, and he points first to its head, and mocks at its different parts; and then he points to its hands, and its feet, and he utters scathing sarcasm’s about the whole person of the idol-god.

5-7. They have eyes, but they cannot see: they have ears, but they cannot hear: they have noses, but they cannot smell: they have hands, but they cannot handle: they have feet, but they cannot walk: neither can they speak through their throat.

“They have mouths.” To carry out their idea of God, the makers of idols have given them mouths; but they cannot speak through them, they are dumb. Shall a man believe a dumb thing to be a god? The idols cannot communicate anything to him; it is not possible for them to speak any word of encouragement, or threatening, or promise: “They have mouths, but they cannot speak: they have eyes.” Some idols had precious gems placed in their heads, to appear like eyes; but they cannot see through them, for they are blind. Is it not an oxymoron, — a contradiction of terms, to speak of a blind god? What a blind man must he be who worships a blind god! “They have eyes, but they cannot see: they have ears.” Some Indian idols certainly have ears, for they have elephants’ ears, monstrous lobes; and I think, perhaps, the psalmist was referring to such ears as those. “They have ears,” he says, “but they cannot hear.” Then what is the use of their ears? You cannot communicate anything to them; so, why do you utter prayers to a thing that cannot hear what you say? Why do you present praises to images that do not know what you are saying? “They have ears, but they cannot hear.”

“They have noses.” I note the grim sarcasm of this remark of the psalmist; it reminds me of Elijah’s taunting words to the prophets of Baal, “Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping, and must be awakened.” The ancient Hebrews were not accustomed to treat idolatry with any kind of respect; they poured all kinds of ridicule on it. Nowadays, we are expected to speak very respectfully concerning all false religions, and some philosophers and divines tell us that there is something good in them all; and they say that modern Popery, with its many gods, and its rotten rags and cast clouts, which they call relics, is to be treated very delicately. Perhaps someone asks, “Is it not a religion?” Yes, a religion for fools; but not for those who think. “They have noses, but they cannot smell.” Their devotees fill the room with the smoke of incense; they burn sweet spices before the idols, but their nostrils are not gratified by it.

“They have hands,” says the psalmist; their makers give them hands, “but they cannot handle.” They cannot even receive the offerings presented to them. They cannot stretch out their hands to help their worshippers. They are without feeling, — so the original tells us; yet they have hands, but they are useless. “They have feet, but they cannot walk.” They could not even mount to their shrines by themselves, they must be lifted there, and fastened with nails into their sockets. One of the saddest sights to my mind, — too sad to be ludicrous, — is to see a Popish chapel, as I have often seen it, when the verger {b} is up on the top of the altar, taking down the various images, and dusting the dolls. He, of course, pays them no kind of reverence, but dusts them as your servant does the things in your bedroom or your living room. Yet these are the things that will be worshipped when the bell rings in an hour’s time, — these very things that have been dusted, and treated in this way, just like ordinary household ornaments. “They have feet, but they cannot walk: neither can they speak through their throat.” Their priests pretend that, by a kind of sacred ventriloquism, they make an articulate muttering; but the psalmist very properly says, “Neither can they speak through their throat.” They cannot whisper, they cannot even mutter; they cannot make even as much noise as a beast or a bird can; for they are lifeless and useless.

8. Those who make them are like them; so is everyone who trusts in them.

That is to say, they are as stupid and doltish as the idols they make. If they can bow down and worship such things as these, surely the worshippers are suited for the gods, and the gods for the worshippers. Now, brethren, remember that there is a spiritual idolatry that is very much in vogue nowadays. Certain “thinkers” — as they delight to call themselves, whose religion is known as “modern thought,” — do not accept the one living and true God as he reveals himself in the Old and the New Testaments; but they make a god out of what they are pleased to call their own consciousness. Truly, their idols are reason and thought — the work of men’s brains. Their god does not hear prayer, because it would be absurd, they say, to suppose that prayer can have any effect on Deity. Their god has little or no regard for justice; according to them, you may live as you like, but all will come right in the end. They hold out a “larger hope” that the wicked will all be restored to God’s favour; if that should be the case, there would be no justice left on the face of the earth or in heaven either.

All this is false. A god that a man can comprehend is not really a god at all. A god that I could excogitate from my own brain must, by necessity, be no god. There can only be the one God who is made known to us by divine revelation. God must be infinitely greater than the human mind; he must be beyond our utmost conception, — of whom we can know very little compared with what he really is, and that little he himself must reveal to us. Please beware of a god that you make for yourself. Take God as you find him in this Book, and worship him; otherwise, you will find that there may be mental idols as well as idols of silver, and gold, and wood, and stone.

“Praise the God of Abraham.” “The God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob,” he shall be called the God of the whole earth; “the God who led his people out of Egypt, the God of Sinai is the God and Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ”; and “this God is our God for ever and ever.” Ours is no new religion; it is the religion of Jehovah worship, and to this we will cling, whoever may oppose.

9-11. Oh Israel, trust in the LORD: he is their help and their shield. Oh house of Aaron, trust in the LORD: he is their help and their shield. You who fear the LORD, trust in the LORD: he is their help and their shield.

The first of this set of sentences seems to me to be addressed by way of exhortation, but the second is a kind of soliloquy in which the psalmist, having exhorted others to trust, says, “Well may they trust, for God is both their active and their passive Helper: their help and their shield.” Oh you who know him, and love him, you who are from the house of Israel, however other men may turn aside to idols, keep yourselves steadfast to Jehovah, and trust in him even when he is mocked and ridiculed! Oh you who are his ministers, the house of Aaron, especially devoted to his service, you know him best, and you should trust him most! Oh all of you, proselytes of the gate, who are not of the seed of Israel, still fear Jehovah, and trust in him, for he is your help and your shield!

12. The LORD has been mindful of us: he will bless us; he will bless the house of Israel, he will bless the house of Aaron.

He had been mindful of Israel, and this guaranteed that he would still bless his people. “The times are dark and cloudy,” the psalmist seems to say, “but by his ancient mercies, our faith is established, and our hope encouraged.”

13. He will bless those who fear the LORD, both small and great.

Now little ones, look for the blessing that is meant for you: “He will bless those who fear the Lord, both small and great.” Those who have very little faith, little joy, little grace, little growth, yet he will still bless.

14-16. The LORD shall increase you more and more, you and your children. You are blessed by the LORD who made heaven and earth. The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’S: but he has given the earth to the children of men.

This may in part account for the fact that he is not known, and not honoured among men. He himself is in heaven; and, for a while, he has left men to follow their own devices. Hence it is that they have set up false gods. But, whatever others may do, or not do, let us praise the name of the Lord.

17. The dead do not praise the LORD,

No song comes up from that dark cemetery, no praise ascends to God from those who are asleep in the grave. The living among them praise him in heaven, but “the dead do not praise the Lord.”

17, 18. Neither do any who go down into silence. But we will bless the LORD from this time on and for evermore. Praise the LORD.

“Praise the Lord,” that is “Hallelujah.” The Psalm could not end with a better note than that; so may all our lives end, for our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake! Amen.

{b} Verger: One whose duty it is to take care of the interior of a church, and to act as an attendant. OED.

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Adorable Trinity in Unity, Doxology to the Trinity” 152}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Work of Grace as a Whole — ‘We Will Rejoice In His Salvation’ ” 242}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “God the Father, Acts, Predestinating Grace — Gracious Election” 219}

The Adorable Trinity in Unity, Doxologies to the Trinity
1 Bless’d be the Father, and his love,
   To whose celestial source we owe
   Rivers of endless joy above,
   And rills of comfort here below.
2 Glory to thee, great Son of God!
   From whose dear wounded body rolls
   A precious stream of vital blood,
   Pardon and life for dying souls.
3 We give thee, sacred Spirit, praise,
   Who in our hearts of sin and woe
   Makes living springs of grace arise,
   And into boundless glory flow.
4 Thus God the Father, God the Son,
   And God the Spirit, we adore;
   That sea of life and love unknown,
   Without a bottom or a shore.
                     Isaac Watts, 1709.

The Work of Grace as a Whole
242 — “We Will Rejoice In His Salvation”
1 God of salvation, we adore
   Thy saving love, thy saving power;
   And to our utmost stretch of thought,
   Hail the redemption thou hast wrought.
2 We love the stroke that breaks our chain,
   The sword by which our sins are slain;
   And while abased in dust we bow,
   We sing the grace that lays us low.
3 Perish each thought of human pride,
   Let God alone be magnified;
   His glory let the heavens resound,
   Shouted form earth’s remotest bound.
4 Saints, who his full salvation know,
   Saints who but taste it here below,
   Join with the angelic choir to raise
   Transporting songs of deathless praise.
                  Philip Doddridge, 1755.

God the Father, Acts, Predestinating Grace
219 — Gracious Election <11.8.>
1 In songs of sublime adoration and praise,
   Ye pilgrims to Zion who press,
   Break forth, and extol the great Ancient of days,
   His rich and distinguishing grace.
2 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.
3 Oh, had he not pitied the state you were in,
   Your bosom his love had ne’er felt;
   You all would have lived, would have died too in sin,
   And sunk with the load of your guilt.
4 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.”
5 ‘Twas all of thy grace we were brought to obey,
   While others were suffer’d to go
   The road which by nature we chose as our way,
   Which leads to the regions of woe.
6 Then give all the glory to his Holy name,
   To him all the glory belongs;
   Be yours the high joy still to sound forth his fame,
   And crown him in each of your songs.
                     George Keith, 1787.

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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