2839. “Prisoners Of Hope”

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“Prisoners Of Hope”

No. 2839-49:325. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, August 5, 1877, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, July 12, 1903.

As for you also, by the blood of your covenant I have sent out your prisoners out of the pit where there is no water. Turn to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope: even today I declare that I will render double to you. {Zec 9:11,12}

 For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2839, “Prisoners of Hope” 2840}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2883, “Prisoners Delivered” 2884}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3106, “Freedom Through Christ’s Blood” 3107}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3240, “Blood of Christ’s Covenant, The” 3242}
   Exposition on Zec 9; 10 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3240, “Blood of Christ’s Covenant, The” 3242 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Zec 9 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2883, “Prisoners Delivered” 2884 @@ "Exposition"}
    {See Spurgeon_SermonTexts "Zec 9:12"}

1. This passage unquestionably has to do with our Lord Jesus Christ and his salvation. We are not at all in doubt about this matter, for the context is very clear. If you begin to read at the ninth verse, you will see that we have, from that place on to our text, much prophetic information concerning our Lord and his kingdom. We read, first, something about his own way of triumph, — his way of conducting himself in his kingdom: “Rejoice greatly, oh daughter of Zion; shout, oh daughter of Jerusalem: behold, your King comes to you: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” We know that the prophet does not speak like this of any man except our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the King who put aside the pomp and pageantry in which Eastern monarchs delighted, and instead of riding on a horse, he mounts a lowly donkey; if he must ride in procession through the streets of Jerusalem, it shall be in that meek and humble guise. The King of the kingdom of grace is not high and lofty, haughty or proud, but condescends to men of low estate. The Pharisees and scribes murmured, “This man receives sinners, and eats with them,” and it was quite true. He is a King, and of a very royal nature, but his kingdom is not that of pomp and show, of force and oppression. He is just and righteous, but he is also lowly, gentle, and kind. The little children flocked around him while he was here below; and, now, the meek and lowly ones of mankind delight to serve him. How glad I am that I can say to any of you, who have not yet yielded yourselves up to him, that you need not fear to become the subjects of Jesus, the Son of God, for he is so gentle a King that it shall always be for your profit and pleasure, and never to your real loss, or sorrow, to bow down before his gracious sceptre. We do not have to set before you a Pharaoh or a Nebuchadnezzar; Jesus of Nazareth is a King of quite another kind. Therefore, “kiss the Son, lest he is angry.” Bow before him, and let him be your only Lord and King. You see, then, that this ninth verse refers to our Lord Jesus, and tells us something concerning his personal and official character.

2. The next verse goes on to describe the weapons by which he wins his victories; or, rather, it tells us what they are not. Not by carnal weapons will Christ ever force his way among the sons of men, for he says, “I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off.” Mohammed may conquer by the sword, but Christ conquers by the sword which comes out of his mouth, that is, the Word of the Lord. His empire is one of love, not of force and oppression. He subdues men, but he does it by his own gentleness and kindness, never by breaking them in pieces, and destroying them on a gory battle-field. Let others cement an empire with blood if they wish but Jesus does not do so. “He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow, and cuts the spear asunder; he burns the chariot in the fire.”

3. The same verse reveals to us more concerning the nature of Christ’s kingdom: “He shall speak peace to the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth.” There have been universal monarchies in the past, but there shall never be another until Christ shall come again. Four times God has foiled those who have attempted to assume the sovereignty of the world; but, in due time, there shall come One who shall reign over all mankind. He is not of earthly mould, though he is indeed the Son of man. He is descended from no line of modern princes, and bears no imperial name among the sons of men, yet he is the Prince of the house of David and his name is the Son of God. He shall break all other kingdoms and empires in pieces, snapping the swords of the mightiest warriors, gathering sceptres beneath his arm in sheaves, and casting all earthly crowns beneath his feet, for only he is King of kings and Lord of lords.

    Kings shall fall down before him,
       And gold and incense bring;
    All nations shall adore him,
       His praise all people sing:
    For he shall have dominion
       O’er river, sea, and shore,
    Far as the eagle’s pinion
       Or dove’s light wing can soar.

4. So I have shown you that this passage, in its proper context, relates to the Lord Jesus Christ and his salvation, so now we will consider its special teaching.

5. In our text, we have three things. The first is, a divine deliverance: “As for you also, by the blood of your covenant I have sent out your prisoners out of the pit where there is no water.” Secondly, we have a divine invitation: “Turn to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope”: and, thirdly, a divine promise: “Even today I declare that I will render double to you.”

6. I. So, first, we are to think of A DIVINE DELIVERANCE.

7. This must be a matter of personal experience; and, therefore, I should like that everyone, whom I am now addressing, should say to himself or herself, “Do I know anything about this divine deliverance in my own heart and life? If I do not, I have grave cause to fear concerning my condition in the sight of God; but if I do, let me be full of praise to God for this great mercy, that I have a share in this divine deliverance: ‘As for you also, by the blood of your covenant I have sent out your prisoners out of the pit where there is no water.’ ”

8. Do all of you, dear friends, know anything about the pit where there is no water? Were you ever conscious of being in it? Regarding it as a state of spiritual distress, do you understand what it means to be in such a comfortless condition? It was a common custom, in the east, to put prisoners into deep pits which had been dug in the earth. The sides were usually steep and perpendicular, and the prisoner, who was dropped down into such a pit, must remain there without any hope of escape. According to our text, there was no water there, and, apparently, no food of any kind. The object of the captors was to leave the prisoner there to be forgotten as a dead man out of mind. Have you ever, in your experience, had such a thing happen to you? There was a time, with some of us, when we suddenly woke up to find that all our imagined goodness had vanished, that all our hopes had perished, and that we, ourselves, were in the comfortless condition of men in a pit without even a single drop of water to mitigate our burning thirst. Well do I remember that period in my own history, when I looked on my past life, which I had thought was proper enough, and saw it to be all stained and spoiled by sin. I could get no comfort from the memory of my past attention to religious exercises. I had been very diligent indeed in attending the means of grace and also in private devotion; but these cups of water had all become empty; I could not find one single drop in them that could cheer me, for I discovered that, since my heart was not right with God, all my prayers had been quite unavailing; and that, when I had gone up to the house of God, since my heart was not in the services, God had not accepted me, but had said to me, “Who has required this from you, to tread my courts?” I tried what good resolutions would do, but I gained no comfort from them, for I failed to keep them. I tried what attempts at improving myself in various ways would lead to; but, alas! the more I strove to make myself better, the more I discovered some new evil within my heart which I had not previously seen, so that I could say with the poet, —

    The more I strove against its power,
    I sinned and stumbled but the more.

If I sought after water in my comfortless condition, I only found myself to be more intensely eaten up with thirst. Do you know what all this means? You need to know it, for this is the condition into which God usually brings his children before he reveals himself to them.

9. The condition of being shut up in a pit where there is no water is not only comfortless, but it is also hopeless. How can such a prisoner escape? He looks up out of the pit, and sees, far above him, a little circle of light; but he knows that it is impossible for him to climb up there. Perhaps he attempts it; but, if so, he falls back, and injures himself, and there he must lie, out of sight, and out of hearing, at the bottom of that deep pit, with no one to help him, and quite unable to help himself. Such is the condition into which an awakened conscience brings a man. He sees himself to be lost through his sin, and he discovers that the law of God is so intensely severe, — though not unduly so, — and the justice of God is so stern, — though not too stern, — that he cannot possibly hope for any help from them in his efforts to escape out of the pit in which he lies fallen as a helpless, hopeless prisoner.

10. Nor is that all. A man, in such a pit as that, is not only comfortless and hopeless, but he is also in a fatal condition. Without water, at the bottom of a deep pit, he must die. Sooner or later, — and he almost wishes it might be sooner, — he must expire. Life itself becomes a burden to him. I have known a soul, — I do not say that it is so with everyone to the same degree, — but I have known a soul to feel within itself as if the pangs of hell had already begun. It feels itself so utterly condemned even by its own judgment, and so certain to be condemned by the righteous judgment of God, that it writes itself down as already among the condemned, and gives itself up as completely lost. Many of God’s children have known this experience to the fullest possible extent; and all of them have been, in some measure, brought into the pit where there is no water.

11. But concerning those who have believed in Jesus, our text is true, and God can say, “I have sent out your prisoners out of the pit where there is no water.”

12. Are you out of the pit, my brother or sister? Then it is certain that you came out of it, not by your own energy and strength, but because the Lord delivered you. Divine power, and nothing but divine power, can deliver a poor law-condemned conscience from the bondage under which it groans. Let a man once know his real state by nature, as he is in the sight of God, — let him see how the curse of death is written on all his efforts and hopes, and then let him come out into light and liberty, and he will say, “The Lord has done it all. The Lord has done great things for me, for which I am glad.”

13. There is this further comfort that, if he has set us free, we are free indeed. It is only God who can deliver a bondaged conscience; but when it is delivered by him, it need not be afraid of being dragged back to prison any more. If a criminal breaks out of his cell, and is found, at any time, by the officers of the law, he may be arrested, and taken back to prison; but if the sovereign of the realm has set him free, he is not afraid of all the policemen in the world, he walks around the streets as a man who has a right to his liberty because of the authority which has granted it to him. Now, believer, God has brought you up out of all your trouble because of your sin. He has delivered you from all sense of guilt concerning it; and since he has done it, you are not afraid that it has been done unjustly, and you are, therefore, not afraid that you will be recommitted to prison, and be once more held in forced confinement. The Lord has delivered you, so you are delivered for ever. Who can curse those whom God has blessed? Who can condemn those whom God has justified? Who can again enslave the soul that God himself has set free?

14. But how has he done this great work? This is one of the principal clauses of our text: “As for you also, by the blood of your covenant I have sent out your prisoners out of the pit where there is no water.” The people of God are set free from their bondage by the blood of the covenant. The blood of Jesus Christ has sealed, and ratified, and fulfilled the covenant of grace for all who believe in him. It happened like this. We had sinned, and we were, therefore, put into the pit of condemnation. In order for our release, Jesus came forward, and put himself into our place, — became our Substitute, and promised that he would pay blood for blood for all that was due from us to God. Glory be to his holy name, he paid it all. In the bloody sweat of Gethsemane, — in his bleeding hands, and feet, and side, — in the agony of his soul even to death, — he paid all that was due on account of his people’s sin; and, now, the debt being discharged, the prisoners are set free. “By the blood of your covenant,” says God, who has a right to say it, “I have sent out your prisoners out of the pit where there is no water.”

15. Beloved friends, I trust that you will never be weary of listening to the doctrine of substitution. If you ever are, it will be all the more necessary that you keep on hearing it until you cease to be weary of it. That doctrine is the very core and essence of the gospel. To attempt to cloud it, or to keep it in the background is, I am persuaded, the reason why so many ministries are not blessed to the conversion of souls, and give no comfort to those who are in distress of heart on account of sin. Let this stand, once and for all, as our declaration of what the gospel teaches, that God “has made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; so that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” “The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” “With his stripes we are healed.” They laid on his back many cruel stripes which we deserved to receive, and into his heart they thrust the sword which otherwise must have been thrust into our heart. If any man is freed from a guilty conscience and from the dread of hell, by any means apart from the blood of Jesus Christ, I pity him from my very soul. He had better go back to his prison-house again, and never come out of it until this key is used to unlock the door, — the substitutionary sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the last dread hour of death, when conscience looks at sin as it really is, and no longer is blinded, nothing can bring it peace but the blood of the Lamb. Nothing can give the soul repose, when it is about to meet its God, except the knowledge that Christ was made a curse for us so that we might be blessed in him.

16. No prisoners are set free except by the blood of Jesus; and, beloved, since the blood of the covenant is Godward, the means of our coming out of the pit where there is no water, so it is the knowledge of Christ as suffering in our place that sets the captive free. Are any of you in great heaviness because of your sin? Are you obliged to confess that your lives have been such that you could always weep over them? Is your sleep often disturbed at night by reason of the conviction that your years have been spent in vanity and transgression? Are you asking for mercy? Are you seeking rest? My dear friend, there is no doctrine that will ever give you true rest except the doctrine of the cross of Jesus Christ. Listen to it whenever you can. Seek out those preachers who preach most about the precious blood of Jesus. Read most those books which tell of Jesus as the great atonement for human guilt. Study diligently the writings of the four Evangelists, and, especially, those parts of the narrative which describe the death and resurrection of our dear Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. Sit down at the foot of the cross in contemplation, and never move away from it until from the cross the light comes streaming into your darkened spirit, so that you will be able to say, “I see it now. The Son of God suffered so that I might not suffer. He was made the Victim so that I might go free. Justice was magnified in him so that mercy might be magnified in me.” You will never be delivered in any other way.

17. I hope I am not addressing any who will remain for a long time in the pit where there is no water. I did so myself, but I blame myself now for having done so. I must also somewhat blame the preachers whom I heard, because they did not make plainer to me the truth that all that was needed was already done, and that I had only to accept it as having been done for me. Liberty was provided for me; I only had to trust in Jesus, and I would at once be free. Dear heart, if you are lying in Giant Despair’s castle, if you have been beaten with his crab-tree cudgel until every bone in your body is sore, and your heart is ready to break, this is the key which will open every lock in Doubting Castle if you can only use it: “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin,” — even us guilty sinners, who have so much sin to be cleansed from; believing in this truth, trusting in Jesus, we are “accepted in the Beloved.” How gloriously God has brought some of us out! We are not now in the pit where there is no water. We are for ever set at liberty, and our heart leaps at the very sound of Jesus’ name. Now our peace is like a river, and our soul is very glad because of the lovingkindness of the Lord.

18. II. I shall not be able to dwell for long on the second point of my discourse, which is, A DIVINE INVITATION GIVEN.

19. Those who were prisoners in the pit where there is no water were prisoners without hope, yet God has set them free. But sometimes they get into prison again; they ought not to do so, but they do. Even after Giant Despair is slain, the pilgrims’ troubles are not all over, and, sometimes, saved men and women get into a despondent state, then comes this gracious invitation, “Turn to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope.” Do you grasp the thought that is intended to be conveyed by these words? You have been taken out of the pit, and there, close beside you, is the castle of refuge; so, the moment you are drawn up out of the pit, run to the castle for shelter. The parallel to this experience is to be found in the fortieth Psalm, where David says that the Lord had brought him up out of the horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set his feet on a rock, and established his goings; and now that you are delivered from your prison pit, you are to go and dwell in the fortress, the high tower, which the Lord has so graciously prepared for you.

20. The promises of God in Christ Jesus are the stronghold to which all believing men ought to turn in every time of trouble, and Jesus Christ himself is still more their Stronghold in every hour of need. Sheltered in him, you are indeed surrounded with protecting walls and bulwarks, for who is he who can successfully assail the man who is shielded and guarded by the great atoning sacrifice of Christ? Yet you will often feel as if you were still in danger. When you feel like that, immediately turn to the Stronghold. Do you doubt whether you are saved? Then, run to Christ at once, and so destroy the doubt. Do you mourn your slackness in prayer, and does the devil tell you that you cannot be a Christian, or you would not feel as you do? Then, immediately run to Christ. Has there been, during this day, some slip in language, or has there even been some sin in overt act? Then, immediately run to Christ; turn to the Stronghold. Does darkness veil your Lord’s face from you? Do you see no bright promise gleaming out of the gloom? Does God himself seem as if he had ceased to be gracious to you, and to have shut up his heart of compassion towards you. Then, immediately run to Jesus; turn to the Stronghold. Never try to fight your own battle with Satan, but run away to Christ at once. Be willing to be called a coward rather than attempt to stand in your own strength. Let this be the proof of your bravery, that you flee away to Christ your Stronghold without delay. “The conies are only a feeble folk, yet they make their houses in the rocks.” You do not call the conies cowardly because they run among the rocks to find shelter. They know where their stronghold lies, and they resort to it in all times of danger. So, again I say to you, dear brothers and sisters, never try to combat sin and Satan by yourselves, but always flee away to Christ. Inside that Stronghold, the most powerful guns of the enemy will not be able to injure you; but if you leave the shelter of your Master’s protecting atonement, and come out into the plain to contend against your adversary in your own strength, you will be in imminent peril of being destroyed. Therefore, in the words of my text, I say to you, “Turn to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope.”

21. I must not enlarge on this point, but I do want all my brothers and sisters in Christ, and especially all who are coming to the communion table, to go afresh to Jesus Christ their Lord and Saviour. You were delivered from the pit years ago; you know that you were; though, perhaps, you have a little question about it at times. But, at the present moment, you are very dull and heavy; possibly, even the weather may help to make you feel like that. It is very unsafe to judge our state by our feelings; they are poor, uncertain tests at best, and they may greatly mislead us if we trust in them. Let us, rather, go all together to the cross where our Lord hung, and let us still go on with him as we began at the first. Let each one of us cry to him, with Dr. Watts, —

    A guilty, weak, and helpless worm,
       On thy kind arms I fall;
    Be thou my strength and righteousness,
       My Jesus, and my all.

Come along, my brother, you have been a child of God for fifty years, but still keep on coming to Jesus, even as Peter writes, “To whom coming,” — perpetually coming, — “as to a living stone, disallowed indeed by men, but chosen by God, and precious.” You know how Dr. Guthrie, when he was dying, wanted those around him to sing to him “one of the bairns’ hymns,” for he wanted to have the bairns’ faith, that is, a childlike faith, implicitly trusting in him. Those who have gone the furthest in the divine life still do well to walk in Christ just as they received him at the first. This is my own desire, — I nothing, Christ everything; I guilty, Christ my righteousness, in whom my sin is all blotted out; I in myself condemned, but in Christ absolved and accepted. Come along, all of you who have met with nothing but failure; you who are at your best, and you who are at your worst; you who are rejoicing, and you who are sorrowing; you who are strong, and you who are weak; — all together, let us come to the fountain filled with blood, and let us again prove that it still cleanses us from all sin.

22. III. Our last words are to be concerning THE DIVINE PROMISE with which our text ends: “Even today I declare that I will render double to you.” I want you to plead this promise in prayer; if you do so, and God fulfils it in your experience, you will then understand it better than you could with any explanation of mine.

23. First, if you, who have been delivered from the pit where there is no water, continually turn to Christ, you shall have twice as much joy as you ever had sorrow. The grief that we had before we found Christ was a very mountain of sorrow, but how has it been with you since you came to Jesus? Speak for yourselves, brothers and sisters, now; let your own hearts say how it has been with you. Have you not, after all, had twice as much joy as you have had sorrow? I know that it has been so with me; my heart was full, almost to bursting, when it was full of sorrow; but when I found Christ, it seemed to be not only full of joy, but to be plunged into an ocean of bliss. Oh, the unspeakable delight of the soul that has found peace in Jesus after having been long in bondage to sin and Satan! I think I have told you before that I heard Dr. Alexander Fletcher once say, when he was preaching, that, on one occasion, passing down the Old Bailey; he saw two boys, or young men, jumping, and leaping, and standing on their heads, and going through all kinds of antics on the pavement. He said to them, “Whatever are you doing?” But they only clapped their hands, and danced more joyfully than before; so he said, “Boys, what has happened to you that you are so glad?” Then one of them replied, “If you had been locked up for three months inside that prison, you would jump for joy when you came out.” “A very natural expression,” said the good old man, and told them to jump away as long as they liked. Indeed, and when a soul has once been delivered from the pit where there is no water, it has a foretaste of the joy of heaven. The possession of Christ is, indeed, not only double bliss, for all its sin, but much more than double. I have known saved souls, when newly converted, act so that their neighbours have thought that they were out of their minds, and have said, “What ails them?” Their mouths have been filled with laughter, and their tongue with singing, and they have said, “The Lord has done great things for us, for which we are glad.” And, poor bondaged heart, if you can believe in Jesus, he will give you double joy for all the sorrow that you have been feeling for these last weeks, or months, or even years. “Ah!” you say, “if he would do that, it would be indeed joyful for me”; and it shall be joyful.

24. More than that, God gives his servants the double of all that they expect. When we come to our Lord, it is as it happened when the queen of Sheba came to Solomon. She said that the half had not been told to her; and if you raise your expectations to the highest point that you can reach, you who come to Christ will find them far exceeded in the blessed realization. He is indeed a precious Christ for all who believe in him; but he is a hundred times more precious than you can ever imagine. You think that it must be a delightful thing to be saved; so it is, but it is ten thousand times more delightful than you suppose. You have read the Scriptures, and have prized the blessings of grace of which you have read there; but you have not prized them at anything like their proper value. There shall be double rendered to you, who are the people of God who have known the most of the divine love, and have for years sat at your Master’s feet. As yet, you do not know the half of what he will reveal to you in his own time and way. Only have patience, and rest your souls on him while pressing forward in the heavenly race. It is better up ahead. The land has been full of silver mercy, but it shall be full of golden mercy yet. You have gone through green pastures, and by still waters, but there are richer pastures and deeper streams up ahead. The fulness of joy is not yet revealed to you; press on, and you shall discover it, and delight in it.

25. Oh, what double joy shall come to us when we reach the land Beulah, and when we come to the brink of the river that has no bridge across it, where the angels are hovering, and waiting to welcome the spirits of the redeemed! When you dip your feet in Jordan’s chilly flood, you shall begin to hear the sonnets of the immortals. Your spirit shall be already, while it still lingers here, partaking in the bliss that is yet to be revealed; and then, when you have crossed that narrow stream, and the last sigh is over, how great will be the double that God shall render to you! I cannot tell you much about it; but in that land, you shall need no candle, neither light of the sun, the Lamb shall be its light, for the Lord God shall give you light, and you shall reign with him for ever and ever. What a contrast between where we began and where we are to stop, — the pit without water, and the bliss without alloy! What is the bridge that spans the great gulf between them, and carries us over into the glory-land? It is the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ; it is the blood of the everlasting covenant; so believe in it, trust your souls on Jesus now; and, then, rest assured that we will meet on the other side of Jordan, in the land of the hereafter, where the Lord shall reveal himself to us, and fill us with ineffable delight for ever and ever. May God grant it, for his name’s sake! Amen.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Ps 103}

1, 2. Bless the LORD, oh my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, oh my soul, and do not forget all his benefits: Three times the psalmist says, “Bless, bless, bless.” Come, my heart, wake up; awaken every faculty, but especially my memory: “Do not forget all his benefits.” Here is a list of some of them; as we read each one, let our hearts say, “Bless the Lord for that.”

3. Who forgives all your iniquities;

Hallelujah, bless the Lord for that! He who has felt the weight of his sin will leap for joy at the thought of the forgiveness of all his iniquities.

3. Who heals all your diseases;

He has restored some of us from the bed of sickness and extreme pain, and he is even now healing our spiritual diseases. Sometimes, it may be that he gives the bitter medicine, but it is so that “he heals all your diseases.” The process of sanctification is a healing process to the soul, so bless the Lord for it.

4. Who redeems your life from destruction;

Can you ever praise God enough for your redemption from a doom so great as to be the destruction of every hope, and of everything worth having? “Who redeems your life from destruction”; —

4. Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies;

There is around your head, even now, a halo of love, invisible to all but the eyes of grace and gratitude, — a bright, shining crown of lovingkindness and tender mercies. Have I not often told you that kindness is the gold of the crown, but that lovingkindness is the velvet to line the crown to make it sit softly on the brow? Mercies — these are the jewels; but the tenderness of the mercies is the ermine that makes the crown such that it cannot truly be said, “Uneasy lies the head that wears this crown.” No; but happy, happy, happy are all those who are crowned like this; bless the Lord if you are among them.

5. Who satisfies your mouth with good things; so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

There is an inward satisfaction that God gives to his people. They are not satisfied with themselves, but they are satisfied from themselves, — from that “well of water” which springs up within them “to eternal life.” What a mercy it is to be so satisfied as to become young again, — to feel your spiritual youth coming back to you, — to be young in heart even if you are old in body: “Your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Let me again pause here, and say, “Let us bless the Lord for this.” Do not let one of these mercies be passed over as if they made up a dry and uninteresting list, like the lots in an auctioneer’s catalogue; but let us bedew every one of these lines with a tear of heart-felt thankfulness.

6. The LORD executes righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.

Bless his name for this. In every age, he has broken the oppressor’s rod. For a while, his people may be made to smart; but, eventually, he hears their cries, and he avenges their wrongs.

7. He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the children of Israel.

Bless him for this. He does not hide himself from his people, so that they do not know “his ways” and “his acts.” Revelation is a constant source of thanksgiving for those who understand it through the teaching of the Spirit who inspired it. God might never have spoken to us, or we might not have lived in a world where God had condescended to reveal his will. But that is not the case: “He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the children of Israel.”

8. The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plentiful in mercy.

Surely, dear friends, we can all bless God for this truth; for, if he had been quick to be angry, where would we have been? If his mercy has been scanty, we should long ago have been destroyed, but he is “slow to anger, and plentiful in mercy.”

9. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.

Are you, just now, hearing the stern voice of his chiding? Does his anger, like a black cloud, seem to rest on you, and hide from you his reconciled face? Then, bless the Lord that “he will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever” against his own chosen ones.

10. He has not dealt with us according to our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.

Bless the Lord for that. Sweep your hand over the harp-strings so as to bring the sweetest music from them. How true it is of me and of you, “He has not dealt with us according to our sins!”

11. For just as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy towards those who fear him.

Immeasurable mercy, illimitable grace, blessed be his holy name!

12. As far as the east is from the west, so far he has removed our transgressions from us.

Here again I cannot tell how much we ought to bless him. It is not merely pardon of a temporary character that is given to us, but our sin is carried right away into a land of forgetfulness, so that it will never come back again to us. “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God who justifies.”

13. Just as a father pities his children, so the LORD pities those who fear him.

Let us praise him for his tender compassion over our weakness, his forbearance with our infirmity and waywardness.

14. For he knows our body; he remembers that we are dust.

Some people do not remember that, they try to work us as if we were made of iron. But the Lord is very compassionate. He knows that we are nothing but a mass of animated dust, which the wind can soon carry away.

15, 16. As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourishes. For the wind passes over it, and it is gone; and its place shall know it no more.

In a very little time, unless Christ should first come in his glory, this is what will happen to all of us. A breath of fever-bearing wind, or some other disease, borne on the wings of the wind, will sweep over us, and the strongest of us will wither in an hour.

17. But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,

Oh, bless him for that! He does not die; he does not change; he does not fail anyone who trusts in him.

17, 18. And his righteousness to children’s children: to such as keep his covenant, and to those who remember his commandments to do them.

Let us bless God for his love for our sons and our daughters. Some of us have great joy in our children, I pray that all of you may have the same joy, — that you may see that the Lord, who is your God, is also the God of your descendants, as the God of Abraham was the God of Isaac, and of Jacob, and of Joseph, and of Ephraim and Manasseh, from generation to generation. Grace does not run in the blood, but it often runs side by side with it. It is often the way with God, when he has blessed the father, to bless the son for the father’s sake, so you, who are yourselves believers may pray with great confidence for your sons and daughters. Bless the Lord for this.

19. The LORD has prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom rules over all.

For this also we bless him. If there was any part of the world that he did not rule over, if there were any circumstances which he could not control, if there were any events which happened without his permission, if he were not King everywhere, this would be an intolerable world to live in; but now we bless him because “his kingdom rules over all.”

20. Bless the LORD, you his angels, who excel in strength, who do his commands, listening to the voice of his word.

David calls in the angels to help him to praise the Lord; he wants to do it well, but feels that he is weak and feeble, so he calls in the best of help. We also sing, —

    Angels, assist our mighty joys,
       Strike all your harps of gold;
    But when you raise your highest notes,
       His love can ne’er be told.

21. Bless the LORD, all you his hosts; you ministers of his, who do his pleasure.

All who wait on him, whether angels or men, or the lower creatures are called on to glorify his great name; and they do so.

22. Bless the LORD, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the LORD, oh my soul.

Do you notice that there is not a single petition in this whole psalm? It is all praise; and herein it is like heaven, where they cease to pray, but where they praise God without ceasing. We cannot rise to that height here, but let us both praise and pray when we can.

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 103” 103 @@ "(Version 2)"}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 136” 136 @@ "(Song 1)"}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Peaceful Trust — Freedom From Care” 691}


Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 103 (Version 1)
1 My soul, repeat his praise,
      Whose mercies are so great;
   Whose anger is so slow to rise,
      So ready to abate.
2 God will not always chide;
      And when his strokes are felt,
   His strokes are fewer than our crimes,
      And lighter than our guilt.
3 High as the heavens are raised
      Above the ground we tread,
   So far the riches of his grace
      Our highest thought exceed.
4 His power subdues our sins;
      And his forgiving love,
   Far as the east is from the west,
      Doth all our guilt remove.
5 The pity of the Lord,
      To those that fear his name,
   Far as the east is from the west,
      He knows our feeble frame.
6 He knows we but dust,
      Scatter’d with every breath;
   His anger, like a rising wind,
      Can send us swift to death.
7 Our days are as the grass,
      Or like the morning flower;
   If one sharp blast sweep o’er the field,
      It withers in an hour.
8 But thy compassions, Lord,
      To endless years endure;
   And children’s children ever find,
      Thy words of promise sure.
                        Isaac Watts, 1719.


Psalm 103 (Version 2)
1 Oh bless the Lord, my soul!
      Let all within me join,
   And aid my tongue to bless his name,
      Whose favours are divine.
2 Oh, bless the Lord, my soul,
      Nor let his mercies lie
   Forgotten in unthankfulness,
      And without praises die.
3 ‘Tis he forgives thy sins;
      ‘Tis he relieves thy pain;
   ‘Tis he that heals thy sicknesses,
      And makes thee young again.
4 He crowns thy life with love,
      When ransom’d from the grave;
   He that redeem’d my soul from hell
      Hath sovereign power to save.
5 He fills the poor with good,
      He gives the sufferers rest;
   The Lord hath judgments for the proud,
      And justice for the oppress’d
6 His wondrous works and ways
      He made by Moses known;
   But sent the world his truth and grace
      By his beloved Son.
                        Isaac Watts, 1719.


Psalm 103 (Version 3) <8.7.4.>
1 Praise, my soul, the King of heaven;
   To his feet thy tribute bring!
   Ransom’d, heal’d, restored, forgiven,
   Who like me his praise should sing!
      Praise him! praise him,
      Praise him! praise him,
   Praise the everlasting King!
2 Praise him for his grace and favour
   To our fathers in distress!
   Praise him still the same as ever,
   Slow to chide and swift to bless!
      Praise him! praise him,
      Praise him! praise him
   Glorious in his faithfulness!
3 Father-like he tends and spares us,
   Well our feeble frame he knows;
   In his hands he gently bears us,
   Rescues us from all our foes.
      Praise him! praise him,
      Praise him! praise him,
   Widely as his mercy flows.
4 Frail as summer’s flower we flourish;
   Blows the wind, and it is gone;
   But while mortals rise and perish,
   God endures unchanging on.
      Praise him! praise him,
      Praise him! praise him,
   Praise the High Eternal One.
5 Angels, help us to adore him;
   Ye behold him face to face;
   Sun and moon bow down before him,
   Dwellers all in time and space.
      Praise him! praise him,
      Praise him! praise him,
   Praise with us the God of grace!
                     Henry Francis Lyte, 1834.


Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 136 (Song 1) <7s.>
1 Let us, with a gladsome mind,
   Praise the Lord, for he is kind:
   For his mercies shall endure,
   Ever faithful, ever sure.
2 Let us sound his name abroad,
   For of gods he is the God:
   For his mercies shall endure,
   Ever faithful, ever sure.
3 He, with all commanding might,
   Fill’d the new made world with light;
   For his mercies shall endure,
   Ever faithful, ever sure.
4 All things living he doth feed;
   His full hand supplies their need:
   For his mercies shall endure,
   Ever faithful, ever sure.
5 He his chosen race did bless
   In the wasteful wilderness:
   For his mercies shall endure,
   Ever faithful, ever sure.
6 He hath, with a piteous eye,
   Look’d upon our misery:
   For his mercies shall endure,
   Ever faithful, ever sure.
7 Let us then, with gladsome mind,
   Praise the Lord, for he is kind,
   For his mercies shall endure,
   Ever faithful, ever sure.
                           John Milton, 1645


Psalm 136 (Song 2) L.M.
1 Give to our God immortal praise;
   Mercy and truth are all his ways:
   Wonders of grace to God belong,
   Repeat his mercies in your song.
2 Give to the Lord of lords renown,
   The King of kings with glory crown;
   His mercies ever shall endure,
   When lords and kings are known no more.
3 He built the earth, he spread the sky,
   And fix’d the starry lights on high:
   Wonders of grace to God belong,
   Repeat his mercies in your song.
4 He fills the sun with morning light,
   He bids the moon direct the night:
   His mercies ever shall endure,
   When suns and moons shall shine no more.
5 The Jews he freed from Pharaoh’s hand,
   And brought them to the promised land:
   Wonders of grace to God belong,
   Repeat his mercies in your song.
6 He saw the Gentiles dead in sin,
   And felt his pity work within:
   His mercies ever shall endure,
   When death and sin shall reign no more.
7 He sent his Son with power to save
   From guilt, and darkness, and the grave
   Wonders of grace to God belong,
   Repeat his mercies in your song.
8 Through this vain world he guides our feet,
   And leads us to his heavenly seat;
   His mercies ever shall endure,
   When this vain world shall be no more.
                        Isaac Watts, 1719.


The Christian, Peaceful Trust
691 — Freedom From Care
1 I bow me to thy will, oh God,
      And all thy ways adore;
   And every day I live I’ll seek
      To please thee more and more.
2 I love to kiss each print where Christ
      Did set his pilgrim feet;
   Nor can I fear that blessed path,
      Whose traces are so sweet.
3 When obstacles and trials seem
      Like prison walls to be,
   I do the little I can do,
      And leave the rest to thee.
4 I have no cares, oh blessed Lord,
      For all my cares are thine;
   I live in triumph, too, for thou
      Hast made thy triumphs mine.
5 And when it seems no chance nor change
      From grief can set me free,
   Hope finds its strength in helplessness
      And, patient, waits on thee.
6 Lead on, lead on, triumphantly,
      Oh blessed Lord, lead on!
   Faiths pilgrim-sons behind thee seek
      The road that thou hast gone.
         Frederick William Fabry, 1852, a.

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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