2798. Sweet Stimulants For The Fainting Soul

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Sweet Stimulants For The Fainting Soul

No. 2798-48:457. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, In The Winter Of 1860, By C. H. Spurgeon, At New Park Street Chapel, Southwark.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, September 28, 1902.

Oh my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore I will remember you from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar. {Ps 42:6}

1. Here is a common complaint of God’s people; and here are two remedies, which David, wisely guided by God, administers with discretion. Let us direct our meditation in this order; first, let us talk about the complaint; and then, secondly, let us look into the divine medicine chest, and use the remedies provided there.

2. I. LET US TALK ABOUT THE COMPLAINT: “Oh my God, my soul is cast down within me.”

3. We do not know what was the precise reason why David’s soul was cast down. Perhaps it was because he had been driven out of the royal city by his own son, — the son whom he had petted and pampered, and made a rod for his own back by it. We are pretty sure that he was now denied the privilege of going up to the house of God; he could not now join with the multitude who kept holy day. These two things probably worked together to cast his spirit down, — his absence from the tabernacle, and the reason for that absence.

4. I am not sure, however, that these two things combined would have been enough to cast down David’s spirit, if it had not been for a more bitter ingredient in his cup of sadness. There have been good men, in circumstances similar to David’s at that time, who even then could gird up the loins of their mind, and hope to the end. When bitten by what is sharper than a serpent’s tooth, — an ungrateful child, and debarred from the house of God, they have even then been able to sustain themselves on the Lord, and to rejoice in the Most High God. The real reason for the psalmist’s distress was, no doubt, that God had, at least to some degree, hidden his face from him, and therefore the flowers of his graces all drooped, and his joy, which previously sparkled in the sunlight of God’s countenance, was now dim and dark. Troubles may distress the outward man, but they cannot distress the soul of the child of God while he feels the Lord Jehovah to be his everlasting strength. Yes, it sometimes happens that the very pressure, which weighs down the scale of his earthly hopes, tends to lift up the opposite scale of his spiritual peace. As long as God is with him, trials are nothing, for he casts them on Jehovah; but once let God withdraw from him for a while, and he is troubled; that mountain, which seemed to stand firm, begins to rock and reel and to prove the instability and insufficiency of all mortal grounds of confidence.

5. The reasons for our being cast down are very numerous. Sometimes, it is pain of body; perhaps, a wearing pain, which tries the nerves, prevents sleep, distracts our attention, drives away comfort, and hides contentment from our eyes. Often, too, it has been debility of body; some secret disease has been sapping and undermining the very strength of our life, and we did not know that it was there, while we have been drawing near unwittingly to the gates of death. We have wondered that we were low in spirits, whereas it would have been a thousand wonders if we had not been depressed. We have marvelled that we have been cast down, whereas the physician would tell us that this was only one of many symptoms which proved that we were not right in our bodily health. Not infrequently some crushing calamity has been the reason for depression of spirit. Trial has succeeded trial, all your hopes have been blasted, your very means of sustenance have been suddenly snatched from you; while all your needs have remained, the supplies have been withdrawn from you. At other times, it has been bereavement that has brought you down very low. The axe has been at work in the forest of your domestic joys. Tree after tree has fallen; those from whom you picked the ripest fruits of sweet companionship and kindred fellowship have been cut down by the ruthless woodsman; you have seen them taken away from you for ever so far as this world is concerned. Or else it may be that you have been slandered, — your good has been evil spoken of, your holiest motives have been misinterpreted, your most divine aspirations have been misrepresented, and you have gone around as with a sword in your bone while the malicious have taunted you, saying, “Where is your God now?” The cases of depression of spirit are so various that it must be indeed a rare panacea, a marvellous remedy, which would suit them all. Yet, when we come to speak of the remedies mentioned in our text, we shall find them suitable to most of these cases, if not to all; — and to all in a degree, if not to the fullest extent.

6. Let us pass now, from the most obvious, to the more subtle reasons for soul dejection. This complaint is very common among God’s people. When the young believer has first to suffer from it, he thinks that he cannot be a child of God; “for,” he says, “if I were a child of God, would I be like this?” What fine dreams some of us have when we are just converted! We imagine that we are going to sail immediately to heaven, and to have a prosperous voyage all the way; the wind is always to blow fairly for us, there is never to be a rough wave, no storm-cloud is to hover over the ship all the day long; and if there are any nights, the stars will be so brilliant that it will be as bright as day. Or, possibly, we imagine that we have come into a country where everyone will be kind to us, where all circumstances will be propitious for us, where everything will tend to nurture our piety, and our own hearts, truly, will for ever get rid of legal terrors and perilous alarms. Oh, silly creatures that we are if we dream so foolishly! We do not know what we are born to in our second birth; for, just as a man is born to trouble by his first birth, so when he is born a second time, he is born to a double share of trouble. Then, he was born to physical and mental trouble; but now that he is born again, he is born to spiritual trouble; and just as he shall have new joys, so he shall also have a long list of new sorrows.

7. All that, however, is unknown to us at the first; and when it happens to us, it surprises us. Am I now addressing one who is ready to exclaim, “I will give up all hope; I am sure I cannot be a child of God because I am so cast down”? Oh you simple soul, the most advanced saints suffer in just the same way! Men who have been for forty, fifty, sixty years, followers of Christ, complain that, sometimes, it is a question with them whether they have ever known Christ at all. There are seasons with them when they would, if they could, creep into any mouse-hole, and hide their heads, rather than be seen among God’s people, because they fear that they are hypocrites, and that the root of the matter is not in them. Why, I tell you, young Christians, that the most experienced believers, the men who have great doctrinal knowledge and much practical wisdom, the men who have lived very near to God, and have had the most rapt and intimate fellowship with their Lord and Saviour, are the very men who have their ebbs, and their winters, and their times when it is a moot point with them whether they do really love the Lord or not. Even the apostle Paul was not exempt from doubts and fears, for he wrote, “We were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears”; and, on another occasion, “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” The man after God’s own heart, even David, — a man of experience so deep that none of us can fully decipher, much less rival it, — a man of love so fervent that few of us can do more than aspire to catch the hallowed flame, — nevertheless, had to cry aloud, and that very often, “Oh my God, my soul is cast down within me!”

8. “But,” one says, “this deathlike faintness comes over me so often; therefore I cannot be a child of God.” Indeed, but let me tell you that, possibly, it will come even more often; or, should it come more seldom, if you shall have weeks of pleasure, or even months of enjoyment, it is just possible that your doubts will then be doubled in intensity, and your soul shall have even greater trials to experience. So great a Saviour is provided for our deliverance that we must expect to have great castings down from which we need to be delivered. Why, believer, what are one half of the promises worth if we are not the subjects of doubts and fears? Why has Jehovah given us so many shalls and wills but because he knew that we should have so many accursed ifs and perhapses? He would never have given us such a well-filled storehouse of comfort if he had not foreseen that we would have a full measure of sorrow. God never makes greater provision than will be needed; so, since there is an abundance of consolations, we may rest assured that there will be an abundance of tribulations also. There will be much fear and casting down, for each of us, before we see the face of God in heaven. This disease of soul-dejection is common for all the saints, there are none of God’s people who escape it altogether.

9. Let me go a step further, and say that the disease mentioned in our text, although it is extremely painful, is not at all dangerous. When a man has a toothache, it is often very painful, but it does not kill him. There have been some, who have foolishly and peevishly wished to die to escape from the pain, but no one does die from it. The lists of mortality are not swelled by its victims. And, in the same way, God’s children are much vexed with their doubts and fears, but they are never killed by them. They are a great trouble, but they are not like a mortal disease; they are severe vexations, but they are not deadly. Why, it is possible for you to have real faith, and yet to have the most grievous unbelief! “Oh!” you say, “how can faith and unbelief live together?” They cannot live together in peace, but they may dwell together in the same heart. Remember what our Lord Jesus said to Peter, “Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?” He did not say, “Oh you of no faith,” but “of little faith.” So there was some faith, though there was also much doubt. So, in the psalmist, there was some faith, — there was, indeed, a great deal of faith, — for he said, “Oh my God,” and it takes great faith truly to say “my God.” Yet is there not also great unbelief here? Otherwise, would his soul have been cast down at all? But, meanwhile, did he not have the yearnings of a living hope in God? If not, would he have dared to say, “Therefore I will remember you from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar?”

10. The fact is, we are the strangest mixture of contradictions that ever was known. We never shall be able to understand ourselves. God knows us altogether; but we shall never, at least in this life, completely comprehend ourselves. You remember that verse about the holy women at the sepulchre of Christ; after they had heard the angel’s message, “they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy.” What a strange mixture! On the one hand, we have the golden fruit of joy; and on the other hand, the black fruit of fear. So it makes a kind of checker work; there are blacks and whites, joys and sorrows, bliss and mourning, mingled together. The highest joy and the deepest sorrow may be found in the Christian; and the truest faith and yet the most grievous doubts may meet together in the child of God. Of course, they only meet there to make his heart a battle-field; but there they may meet, and his faith may be real while his doubts are grievous.

11. I would note, yet further, that not only is it possible for a man to be cast down like this, and yet to have true faith all the while, but he may actually be growing in grace while he is cast down; indeed, and he may really be standing higher when he is cast down than he did when he stood upright. Strange riddle! but we, who have passed through this experience, know that it is true. When we are flat on our faces, we are generally the nearest to heaven. When we sink the lowest in our own esteem, we rise the highest in fellowship with Christ, and in knowledge of him. Someone said, “The way to heaven is not upward, but downward.” There is some truth in the saying; though it is upward in Christ, it is downward in self; as Dr. Watts sings, —

    The more thy glories strike mine eyes,
       The humbler I shall lie.

The inverse is equally true; the humbler I lie at my Saviour’s feet, the more his glories strike my eyes. This very casting down into the dust sometimes enables the Christian to bear a blessing from God which he could not have carried if he had been standing upright. There is such a thing as being crushed with a load of grace, bowed down with a tremendous weight of blessings, having such blessings from God that, if our soul were not cast down by them, they would be the ruin of us. It is a good thing for us, sometimes, when fears frighten us, and prosperity distresses us. Some of you may not understand what I am saying, you will not until you have this experience of which I have been speaking; but it does so happen that bitters often do cleanse and sweeten the spiritual palate of God’s children, while there are sweets which make their mouth full of bitters. I know that I have myself had songs in the night after I have had groaning during the day; and, often, a salutary blow from God’s loving hand, though it has made me smart, has cured me of some other far more baneful smart. Where kisses wounded, blows have healed.

12. The Christian life is a riddle, and most surely are God’s people familiar with that riddle in their experience. They must work it out before they can understand it. So I say again that this casting down is consistent with the most elevated degree of piety. Depression of spirit is no index of declining grace; the very loss of joy and the absence of assurance may be accompanied by the greatest advancement in the spiritual life. Notice that, if it continues month after month, and even year after year, then it is a sign of great weakness of faith; but if it comes only occasionally, as clouds pass over our sky, it is good. We do not want rain all the days of the week, and all the weeks of the year; but if the rain comes sometimes, it makes the fields fertile, and fills the water-brooks; and after the shower has fallen, and the sun shines out again, it puts a new brightness on the face of nature, and makes the birds clear their throats, and sing a new song. The earth never looks so beautiful as when she rises up like one who has washed his face in the brook, and, in the shining water, shows the freshness of her verdure, and tells of the wondrous skill with which God has been pleased to adorn her. It is even so with the Christian when he comes out from great and severe troubles, his harp retuned, his psaltery vocal with praise, and his lips gratefully confessing to his God, “You have increased my greatness, and comforted me on every side.”

13. Painful as is this disease of soul-dejection, it is often very helpful for our spirit when we are obliged to cry, with David, “Oh my God, my soul is cast down within me.” To be cast down, is often the best thing that could happen to us. Do you ask, “Why?” Because, when we are cast down, it checks our pride. We are very apt to grow too big; it is a good thing for us to be taken down a notch or two. We sometimes rise so high, in our own estimation, that, unless the Lord took away some of our joy, we should be utterly destroyed by pride. Were it not for this thorn in the flesh, we should be exalted beyond measure.

14. Besides, when this downcasting comes, it gets us to work at self-examination. That religion, which had begun to be a matter of form and ritual for us, becomes a thing to be considered in deeper earnest; we look at it as a real thing because of our real doubts. Often, I am sure, when your house has been made to shake, it has caused you to see whether it was founded on a rock. While your ship had nothing but fine weather, you sailed along too presumptuously; but when the storm threatened, it was then that you reefed your sails, and turned to your chart to find your latitude and longitude, fearing that there might be danger ahead. So your soul is blessed when you are made to examine yourself. A great loss in business has sometimes helped a man to become rich; for he has been more careful in his dealings afterwards. He has begun to change a system of trade which, perhaps, might have brought him to insolvency, and so his business has been put on a firmer footing than before. Even so, this downcasting of spirit, by leading us to search ourselves, may help, in the end, to make us all the richer in grace. When our soul is cast down within us, we begin to have closer dealings with Christ than we had before. A long continuance of calm induces listlessness. There is a way of taking Christ for granted. We begin to think that we can do without him; we imagine that we have so much money that we can do business on our own. But when gloomy doubts arise, we go back to the place where our spiritual life began, and we sing again, —

    Nothing in my hand I bring,
    Simply to thy cross I cling.

15. There is such a tendency, in all the branches of the living and true Vine, to try to produce fruit without deriving nourishment from the stem; so the Lord, every now and then, takes away the visible flowing of divine consolation, in order that we may consciously experience our entire dependence on him. When you and I were little boys, and we were out in the evening walking with our father, we sometimes used to run on a long way ahead; but, eventually, there was a big dog loose on the road, and it is astonishing how closely we clung to our father then. You remember how John Bunyan depicts that trait in the character of the children who went on the pilgrimage with their mother, Christiana. “When they were come up to the place where the lions were, the boys who went before were glad to cringe behind, for they were afraid of the lions; so they stepped back, and went behind. At this their guide smiled, and said, ‘Why now, my boys, do you love to go before when no danger does approach, and love to come behind as soon as the lions appear?’ ” It is just so with our doubts and fears. We run so far ahead that we lose sight of Christ; frightful things alarm us, and then we flee back again to the shadow of his cross. This experience is good and healthful for us.

16. One other benefit that we derive from being cast down is, that it qualifies us to sympathize with others. If we had never been in trouble ourselves, we should be very poor comforters of others. It would do most physicians good if they were required, occasionally, to drink some of their own medicine. It would be no disadvantage to a surgeon if he once knew what it was to have a broken bone; you may depend on it that his touch would be more tender afterwards; he would not be so rough with his patients as he might have been if he had never felt such pain himself. Show me a man who has never had a trial, and I will show you a man who has no heart. Above all things, save me from the man who has never had any trouble all his life; do not let me go into his house, or be near him anywhere else. If I am sick, do not let him even pass by my window, lest his shadow should fall on me, and make me worse; for he must be a cold-hearted, unsympathetic man, if he has never known a trial, and has never had to pass through the furnace of affliction. I know that, whenever God chooses a man for the ministry, and plans to make him useful, if that man hopes to have an easy life of it, he will be the most disappointed mortal in all the world. From the day when God calls him to be one of his captains, and says to him, “See, I have made you to be a leader of the hosts of Israel,” he must accept all that his commission includes, even if that involves a sevenfold measure of abuse, misrepresentation, and slander. We need greater soul-exercise than any of our flock, or else we shall not keep ahead of them. We shall not be able to teach others unless God teaches us first. We must have fellowship with Christ in suffering as well a fellowship in faith. Still, with all its drawbacks, it is a blessed service, and we would not retire from it. Did we not accept all this with our commission? Then we should be cowards and deserters if we were to turn back. These castings down of the spirit are part of our calling. If you are to be a good soldier of Jesus Christ, you must endure hardness. You will have to lie in the trenches, sometimes, with a bullet lodged here or there, with a sabre-cut on your forehead, or an arm or a leg shot away; where there is war, there must be wounds, and there must be war where there is to be victory.

17. II. I shall not say more about our being cast down, I have probably said sufficient about the disease, so now let us open the great medicine chest, and examine THE TWO REMEDIES mentioned here: “Oh my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore I will remember you from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, and from the hill Mizar.”

18. The first remedy for soul-dejection is, a reference of ourselves to God, as David says, “Oh my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore I will remember you.” If you have a trouble to bear, the best thing for you to do is not to try to bear it at all, but to cast it on the shoulders of the Eternal. If you have anything that perplexes you, the simplest plan for you will be, not to try to solve the difficulty, but to seek direction from heaven concerning it. If you have, at this moment, some doubt that is troubling you, your wisest plan will be, not to combat the doubt, but to come to Christ just as you are, and to refer the doubt to him. Remember how men act when they are involved in a lawsuit; if they are wise, they do not undertake the case themselves. They know our familiar proverb, “He who is his own lawyer has a fool for his client”; so they take their case to someone who is able to deal with it, and leave it with him. Well, now, if men do not have sufficient skill to deal with matters that come before our courts of law, do you think that you have skill enough to plead in the court of heaven against such a cunning old attorney as the devil, who has earned the name of “the accuser of the brethren,” and well deserves the title? Never try to plead against him, but put your case into the hands of our great Advocate, for, “if any man sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” So, refer your case to him; he will plead for you, and win the day. If you should attempt to plead for yourself, it will cause you a vast amount of trouble, and then you will lose the day after all.

19. Often, when I call to see a troubled Christian, do you know what he is almost sure to say? “Oh, sir, I do not feel this, — and I do fear that, — and I cannot help thinking the other!” That great I is the root of all our sorrows, what I feel, or what I do not feel; that is enough to make anyone miserable. It is a wise plan to say to such a one, “Oh, yes! I know that all you say about yourself is only too true; but, now, let me hear what you have to say about Christ. For the next twenty-four hours at least, stop thinking about yourself, and think only of Christ.” Oh my dear friends, what a change would come over our spirits if we were all to act like this! For, when we are finished with self, and cast all our care on Christ, there remains no reason for us to care, or trouble, or fret. That saying of Jack the Huckster, which I have often repeated, —

    I’m a poor sinner, and nothing at all,
    But Jesus Christ is my All-in-all; —

describes the highest experience, though it is also the lowest. It is so simple, and yet so safe, to live day by day by faith on the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me; to be a little child — not a strong man, but a little child, who cannot fight his own battles, but who gets Jesus to fight them for him; to be a little weak one, who cannot run alone, but who must be carried in the arms of the good Shepherd. We are never so strong as when we are weak, as Paul wrote, “When I am weak, then I am strong”; and we are never so weak as when we are strong, never so foolish as when we are wise in our own conceit, and never so dark as when we think we are full of light. We are generally best when we think we are worst; when we are empty, we are full; when we are full, we are empty; when we have nothing, we have all things; but when we imagine that we are “rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing,” we are like the Laodiceans, and do not know that we are “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” Oh, for grace to solve these riddles, and so to live, day by day, not on self but on the Lord Jesus Christ!

20. Let me give you an illustration; it is the easily-imagined case of a poor old woman, who has no money of her own, but who has a rich friend, who says to her, “Come to my house every Saturday, and I will give you so much for a regular allowance; and if there is anything more that you need, I will pay for it; all your needs shall be supplied.” He does not give her a large sum of money all at once, for she might not know how to spend it wisely, or she might be robbed of it, but he gives it to her week by week. One Saturday morning, the old lady is full of fear and alarm. If you happen to call on her just then, you will hear her complaining, “I do not have a farthing in the world; I have just spent my last sixpence. I have no money in the bank, no houses from which I can collect the rent; I have nothing but these few things that you see here, how am I to live with only this?” If you did not know anything more about the woman, you would sit down, and pity her, would you not? As it gets to be nearly twelve o’clock, she says, “I must be going.” You ask, “Where?” She replies, “I am going to my friend who tells me to go to him every Saturday, and he will give me all I need.” “Why!” you exclaim, “you silly old soul, you have been telling me all this tale of poverty, and arousing my pity, when you are really a rich woman; just because you do not happen to have it in hand, you have been telling me this pathetic story, which really is not true.” In the same way, when I see an heir of heaven sitting down, and mourning and weeping because he does not have this, and he does not have that, and when I turn to the Scriptures, and read, “All things are yours; … and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s”; and I find promises like this, “All things, whatever you shall ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive”; or this, “The Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from those who walk uprightly”; — if I do not say this to the one who is murmuring without good reason, I say it to myself, for I have often been as foolish as the old woman of whom I spoke just now, “Oh you foolish self, how slow of heart you are to believe! How foolish you are to be sitting down like this, and bemoaning your own emptiness, when Christ is yours, with all his boundless fulness, when the Father’s love, and the Spirit’s power, and the Saviour’s grace, are all engaged to bring you safely through your trials, to rid you of your troubles, and to land you triumphantly in heaven!” Be of good cheer, then, tried and depressed believer, and apply this sacred remedy to yourself, remember the Lord, refer your case to him, and look to him for all that you need.

21. David’s other remedy for his soul, when it was cast down within him, was the grateful memory of the past when, by the Lord’s tender mercies, it was lifted up:“ therefore I will remember you from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar.” Look up your old diary; many of you have grey hairs, so your notebooks go back a long way. Let us read one or two of the entries. Why, here is a bright page! Though the one preceding it is black, and full of sorrow, this page is bright with joy, and jubilant with song. What do I read? I see written here, —

    I will praise thee every day!
    Now thine anger’s turn’d away,
    Comfortable thoughts arise
    From the bleeding sacrifice.

You wrote that verse in your diary just after you had found the Saviour, and your sins had been forgiven you for his sake. Well, then, although your harp is now unstrung, and you are not praising your Lord today, please remember that hour when you first knew his love, and to say, “If I had never received more than that one mercy from him, I must bless him for it in time, and bless him for it throughout eternity.” Here is another page in your diary; I see that you had been enduring some temporal trouble, and that your earthly friends had forsaken you; but that, in the middle of your trouble, just where I might have expected to find these words, “I am utterly cast down, for God has forsaken me,” I find written here, —

    When trouble, like a gloomy cloud
    Has gather’d thick and thunder’d loud,
    He near my soul has always stood,
    His lovingkindness, oh, how good!

Do you think that he is not standing by your side now? If there is a loud thundering, and if there is a thick darkness, will he leave you? Surely these reflections on what you have experienced in the past should lead you to trust in Christ for the present; and, as you remember all his dealings with your soul, you may well say, —

    Can he have taught me to trust in his name,
    And thus far have brought me to put me to shame?

God forbid that we should ever think that he was so cruel as to enlighten, and comfort, and cheer, and help us for so long, and then leave us at last to sink and to perish!

22. In this diary of yours, I also find one sweet record which is a great contrast to your present sad and gloomy state; you must have had a vision of Christ crucified, for you have written, —

    Here I’ll sit for ever viewing
       Mercy’s streams, in streams of blood;
    Precious drops! my soul bedewing,
       Plead and claim my peace with God.
    Truly blessed is this station,
       Low before his cross to lie;
    While I see divine compassion
       Floating in his languid eye.

Yet you, who have been at the foot of the cross, are afraid that you will be cast away at the last! You have known the sweetness of Jesus’ love, yet you are cast down! He has kissed you with the kisses of his lips, his left hand has been under your head, and his right hand has embraced you, yet you think he will leave you at last in trouble to sink! You have been in his banqueting house, and you have had such food as angels never tasted, yet you dream that you shall be cast into hell! Shame on you! Take off those robes of mourning, lay aside that sackcloth and those ashes, snatch your harps down from the willows, and let us together sing praises to him whose love, and power, and faithfulness, and goodness, shall be the same for ever.

23. If there are any here who are strangers to all these things, I can only wish that they might even know our sorrows, in order that they might have an experience of our joys to treasure up in memory. Believers in Jesus are not a miserable crew; they have songs to sing, and they have good reason to sing them; they have enough to make them blessed on earth, and to make them blessed for ever and ever.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Ps 119:17-28}

17. Deal bountifully with your servant, so that I may live, and keep your word.

Oh Lord, I am your servant; yet, please, do not pay me wages according to my deservings, but according to the greatness of your mercy, “deal bountifully with your servant.” Little mercy will not be enough for such great sins and such great needs as mine. Deal very generously with your poor servant who is so full of needs, “so that I may live”; for, if you will only let me live, it will be by your bounty, since I do not deserve even that blessing. Only to have my life still spared, shall be regarded by me as a great favour from you. I do not want to live to please myself, for that would not be living at all, but “that I may live, and keep your word.” A holy life is the only true life, the only life that is really worth having; and he who has it has been dealt bountifully with by his God. I commend this verse to each servant of the Lord as a prayer that may he continually presented to him.

18. Open my eyes, so that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.

This is one of the first parts of God’s bountiful dealings with us. There is no mercy that is so great as mercy to one’s own person, to one’s own eyes, for example, which are such essential parts of ourselves. Lord, when you are dealing bountifully with me, I do not ask for riches, but I do ask that my eyes may be opened. I do not ask you to give me more than you have given in your Word, but I do ask for opened eyes with which I may perceive what you have put there, otherwise the beauties of your Word may be useless to me by reason of my blindness. This blessed Book teems with marvels; it is a world of wonders. It records many miracles, but every page of it is itself a miracle, and a mass of miracles; yet we must have them revealed to us, or we shall not discover them. Revelation itself must he revealed to every man individually by the Spirit of God, or else he will never see it.

19. I am a stranger in the earth: do not hide your commandments from me,

Humane men deal kindly with exiles; God has commanded us to be generous to strangers, and he will certainly be so himself. Lord, because of your love, I find myself like an exile among the sons of men; but do not be a stranger to me. What should I do, in this world, without you, and without your Word? “Do not hide your commandments from me.”

20, 21. My soul breaks for the longing that it has for your judgments at all times. You have rebuked the proud who are cursed, which do err from your commandments.

God cannot bear the proud; it is very seldom that they can bear each other; and if proud men loathe pride as they see it in others, you may rest assured that the good and great God will not tolerate it. How sternly he rebuked it in the angels that did not keep their first estate. How he rebuked it in Pharaoh! All through history, it may be seen how God has been continually abasing the proud, and giving grace to the humble.

22. Remove from me reproach and contempt; for I have kept your testimonies.

He had lived honestly and uprightly, and yet men slandered him. Was there ever a man on earth, who was good and true, who was not slandered? God himself was slandered in paradise by the old serpent, and the Lord Jesus was constantly being slandered by wicked men, so can any of us hope to escape the envenomed tongue of the slanderer? Yet it is very painful, and we may well pray to be delivered from it, especially if we can add, with the psalmist, “for I have kept your testimonies.”

23. Princes also sat and spoke against me: but your servant meditated on your statutes.

Sometimes, men can bear what the common crowd say; but to have the great ones of the earth speaking against them, is thought by some to be very hard. The psalmist says, “Princes also sat and spoke against me.” What did he do under such circumstances? Did he rise up in anger, and answer them? Or did he sit down, and consider how he could defend himself against them? Far from it: “Your servant meditated on your statutes.” He seems to say, “I did not think it was worth my while to leave the Scriptures, even for a moment, so as to speak to them; but I went on studying your Word, and left them to say what they pleased.” We shall be wise if we do likewise.

24. Your testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors.

While these princes were taking counsel against the psalmist, he also went and took Counsel’s advice against them; but that Counsel’s advice was the advice of the Word of God. He stuck to the Scriptures. Little as he had of them, yet he greatly prized that little. The Pentateuch furnished him with five inspired Counsellors to whom he resorted in his time of need. Let us imitate his example, especially since we have the complete canon of revelation to advise and counsel us.

25-28. My soul cleaves to the dust: quicken me according to your word. I have declared my ways, and you heard me: teach me your statutes. Make me to understand the way of your precepts: so I shall talk about your wondrous works. My soul melts for heaviness: strengthen me according to your word.

The Word of the Lord is available for quickening, teaching, and strengthening, as Paul wrote to Timothy, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished to all good works.” May that gracious Spirit, who inspired it, even teach us its inner meaning!

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 34” 34}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Conflict and Encouragement — Comfort In The Covenant Made With Christ” 634}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Conflict and Encouragement — Making God A Refuge” 622}

Either the date and location when this sermon was preached is incorrect or the hymns were added by publisher later when this sermon was printed. The hymn-book for the tabernacle was published not until September 1866, six years after this sermon was said to have been preached. The first sermon to have hymns included was sermon No. 1116, “Medicine for the Distracted” published June 8, 1873. {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1116, “Medicine for the Distracted” 1107} Editor.

Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 34 (Version 1)
1 Through all the changing scenes of life,
   In trouble and in joy,
   The praises of my God shall still
   My heart and tongue employ.
2 Of his deliverance I will boast,
   Till all that are distress’d
   From my example comfort take,
   And charm their griefs to rest.
3 Come magnify the lord with me;
   With me exalt his name;
   When in distress to him I call’d
   He to my rescue came.
4 Oh make but trial of his love;
   Experience will decide
   How blest are they, and only they,
   Who in his truth confide!
5 Fear him, ye saints, and you will then
   Have nothing else to fear;
   Make you his service your delight,
   He’ll make your wants his care.
                     Tate and Brady, 1696.

Psalm 34 (Version 2)
1 Lord, I will bless thee all my days,
   Thy praise shall dwell upon my tongue
   My soul shall glory in thy grace,
   While saints rejoice to hear the song.
2 Come, magnify the Lord with me;
   Come, let us all exalt his name:
   I sought the eternal God, and he
   Has not exposed my hope to shame.
3 I told him all my secret grief,
   My secret groaning reach’d his ears;
   He gave my inward pains relief,
   And calm’d the tumult of my fears.
4 To him the poor lift up their eyes,
   Their faces feel the heavenly shine;
   A beam of mercy from the skies
   Fills them with light and joy divine.
5 His holy angels pitch their tents
   Around the men that serve the Lord;
   Oh hear and love him, all his saints;
   Taste of his grace, and trust his word.
                           Isaac Watts, 1719.

The Christian, Conflict and Encouragement
634 — Comfort In The Covenant Made With Christ
1 Our God, how firm his promise stands
      E’en when he hides his face;
   He trusts in our Redeemer’s hands
      His glory and his grace.
2 Then why, my soul, these sad complaints
      Since Christ and we are one?
   Thy God is faithful to his saints,
      Is faithful to his Son.
3 Beneath his smiles my heart has lived,
      And part of heaven possess’d;
   I praise his name for grace received,
      And trust him for the rest.
                        Isaac Watts, 1709.

The Christian, Conflict and Encouragement
622 — Making God A Refuge
1 Dear refuge of my weary soul,
      On thee, when sorrows rise,
   On thee, when waves of trouble roll,
      My fainting hope relies.
2 To thee I tell each rising grief,
      For thou alone canst heal;
   Thy word can bring a sweet relief
      For every pain I feel.
3 But oh! when gloomy doubts prevail,
      I fear to call thee mine;
   The springs of comfort seem to fail,
      And all my hopes decline.
4 Yet, gracious god, where shall I flee?
      Thou art my only trust;
   And still my soul would cleave to thee,
      Though prostrate in the dust.
5 Hast thou not bid me seek thy face?
      And shall I seek in vain?
   And can the ear of sovereign grace
      Be deaf when I complain?
6 No, still the ear of sovereign grace
      Attends the mourner’s prayer;
   Oh may I ever find access
      To breathe my sorrows there!
7 Thy mercy seat is open still,
      Here let my soul retreat:
   With humble hope attend thy will,
      And wait beneath thy feet.
                           Anne Steele, 1760.

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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