2845. Lacking Moisture

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Lacking Moisture

No. 2845-49:397. A Sermon Delivered On Thursday Evening, September 20, 1888, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Published On Thursday, August 20, 1903.

And some fell on a rock, and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. {Lu 8:6}

 For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 308, “Parable of the Sower, The” 299}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2845, “Lacking Moisture” 2846}
   Exposition on Lu 8:1-21 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2843, “Seed by the Wayside” 2844 @@ "Exposition"}

1. In this parable of the sower, there is great discrimination of character, not only between those who produce fruit and those who produce nothing, but also between those who produce fruit in different degrees, — not only between the fruitful and the fruitless, but also between various forms of fruitlessness. The reasons are given, not in general, but in detail, why this failed, and that failed, and the other failed. All this points to discrimination in hearing. When there is discrimination in the preacher, as there should always be, there should be an equal discrimination in the hearer, and each one should try to take for himself that special part of the Word which is intended for him.

2. The true preacher, especially our great Lord and Master, resembles a portrait painted by a real artist, which always looks at you; no matter where you are in the room, to the right, or to the left of it, its eyes seem to be fixed on you. So does our Lord, whenever he preaches, look at us. May he look at us in that way just now, and may we catch his eye as he gazes on us; and may the preacher also seem to be looking straight at you, because you are on the watch for that particular part of the truth which specifically concerns you! If there is anything hopeful and cheering in the sermon, may it come to you who are mourning and doubtful! If there is anything arousing, may it come to those of you who happen to be tinged with self-confidence!

3. Coming to our text, I think it suggests to us three observations; first, let us note well that there is a reception of the Word of God which fails to be effective, secondly, we shall enquire why it fails in these cases; and, thirdly, we shall consider how this failure is to be avoided.

4. I. First, THERE IS A SOWING THAT COMES TO NOTHING. There is even a reception of the seed into the soil which disappoints the sower.

5. This failure was not because the seed was bad. It was the same seed which, in the good soil, produced thirty, sixty, or a hundredfold. You know that, sometimes, when we do not succeed in impressing our hearers, we condemn ourselves, perhaps very justly. If men are not saved, the preacher must not put the blame on divine sovereignty; he must blame himself. He must also ask himself, “Have I really preached the truth? Have I preached it in a right spirit? Have I preached different truths in due proportion? Have I given the most weight to what is of primary importance, and have I put what is secondary in its proper position?” We, poor sowers, often chastise ourselves for our failures; or, if we do not, we ought to do so; otherwise, we shall never improve. May God help us to preach better, to love men’s souls more, and to be more earnest in seeking to bring them to Christ! I intend this wish for myself and for all of you who love the Lord.

6. But there was no fault to be found with the seed that fell on the rock, although it did not result in a harvest. The seed was good, thoroughly good. The sower got it from his Master, and his Master’s granary contains no seed which will not grow. True preachers can say with the apostle Peter, “We have not followed cunningly devised fables.” We have preached to you the Word of God; so that, whenever we put our head on our pillow, we can truly say that we have not preached what we thought, or what we imagined, but we have declared what we believe to be revealed in this blessed Book of God. That is the good seed that we sow; and if it does not grow in you, it is not the fault of the seed, it is your own fault. There is something about you that hinders it. Will you think of that, dear hearer, if you are unconverted?

7. But, in the next place, the failure was not from lack of receptiveness. Those hearers, who are like the seed sown on the rock, do receive the seed. We are expressly told that by our Lord himself: “Those on the rock are those, who, when they hear receive the Word with joy.” We have hearers who take in all we say, perhaps too readily; they hear indiscriminately. There are some hearers who are like a sponge; they suck up all, good, bad, and indifferent. If they hear of a clever, oratorical preacher, they speedily run after him. What he preaches, or whether he preaches with the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven, is not a matter about which they enquire. They have not much depth of earth, but what little earth there is takes in the seed. There is not enough depth of earth for the seed really to grow; yet they do, in some kind of way, receive it. I am not going to pile up indiscriminate censure on this receptiveness. It is a briar on which a rose may grow; but, still, it is a briar until it is properly grafted. Receptiveness may easily be carried too far, and men may even ruin themselves by being too ready to receive what they hear, — not by being too ready to receive properly the real Word of Truth, but by receiving it in the wrong way. Do they reject what you say? No, they are not earnest enough to do that. Do they doubt what you preach? No, they have not gone as far aside as that. Do they argue against the gospel? Oh, no; they have not fallen into that form of depravity! They take in what they hear. They do not do much with it. There is not enough grace in their heart, after they have nominally received the Word, to cause it to grow. There is a lack somewhere, not a lack of receptiveness, but a lack in another direction.

8. The failure, also, was not caused through lack of heat. There was a hard rock, with a little soil on it, just enough to take in the seed. That rock needed to be broken up, ground to powder, and made into good soil; but since it was not broken up, when the sun shone, the rock reflected all the heat, and gave great warmth to the soil in which the seed was lying, so that it grew very fast, for it was in a kind of greenhouse. We have many hearers who, if enthusiasm could save them, would have been saved long ago. On Sundays, they are very soon warmed up, and there is so little of them that the heat of the sun soon penetrates to their rocky nature. The heat is reflected, and immediately they are all ablaze. I know them; they are very nice people to preach to. How excited they become! They are ready enough to shout “Hallelujah!” They speedily receive the Word, but there is no depth about them, so they do not retain it. They will do anything that we want them to do. They are not only enthusiastic, but they soon grow fanatical. I am not blaming them for this. If there were something else to go with it, it would be a good thing. The gardener or florist likes a good bottom heat to make his plants grow rapidly, but if it is all heat, if it is a dry heat, and nothing else, very soon they are scorched to death. The little moisture, that was in them at first, makes them grow rapidly; but when that is exhausted, they are soon withered. I do not deny that it is quite a pleasure to meet a warm-hearted man. We have plenty of people around who are either cold or only lukewarm. If they give you their hand, you feel as if you had laid hold of a fish, it is so cold. We like to meet hearers who respond to our appeals with kindly friendliness, and who, when the Word is brought before them, display a warmth of feeling towards it. These are very hopeful people; I cannot say more about them. Their name is Hopeful, but they do not always grow into Faithful. They give us great encouragement; but, alas! they often cause us great discouragement.

9. Then, again, this failure was not caused through lack of joy, for we are told by our Saviour that they received the Word with joy. Oh, they are so happy! They feel that they are saved, and they are full of joy; and the main reason why they believe that they are saved is that they are so happy. Well, there is something in being joyful; I do not like to see people who seem to have a religion that disagrees with them. True religion does indeed make us glad. But then, my dear friends, if your only evidence of the possession of grace is that you are so happy, you may be unhappy tomorrow, and what will be your state then? Our human nature is so constructed, and our body has so much influence on our mind and soul, that we can soon become very low in spirit, and scarcely know why we are in such a condition. That joy is part of the fruit of the Spirit, I cheerfully acknowledge; but there are many joys that are not fruits of the Spirit at all, for they are earth-born and carnal; and there is often a so-called religious joy which is the fruit of carnal excitement and supposed conversion, and not the result of a real saving knowledge of God.

10. Perhaps, if these people had received the Word with sorrow, — if they had received it with a broken heart, and a contrite spirit, — if they had received it tremblingly, in the very depth of their souls, — if they had gone home to cry to God in secret prayer, instead of rejoicing in open exaltation, there might have been evidences in them of a deeper, better, truer, and more enduring work. These people had joy, and plenty of it. I am not saying anything against their joy; it was not the point in which they failed. They failed somewhere else, as I shall try to show you presently.

11. And, once more, they did not fail from lack of eagerness and speed in receiving the truth. They received it at once, and the seed sprang up at once. Just because they had no depth of earth, it sprang up all the faster. The wheat that fell on the shallow soil covering the rock grew immediately; it sprang up because of the very absence of the element that was necessary to bring it to perfection. I believe in instantaneous conversion. I believe that the new birth must be instantaneous, — that there is a moment when a man is dead, and another moment when he is alive; — and that, just as there is a certain instant when a child is born, so there is an instant when we become the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ. But there is also a supposed conversion which is undone as quickly as it is done. There are to be found, in some churches, men who have grown amazingly fast. They were drunkards two weeks ago, and they are taking the lead among experienced Christians today. Well, it may rightly be so. God acts according to his own sovereign will, and he can work such wonders of grace and miracles of mercy. But it may turn out that a thing that grows very fast does so because it will not stand firm, and will not last long. We have to deal with so many who are always procrastinating and putting off; and, therefore, it seems a good fault when men are hasty about these things, — it is a blessed fault, if a fault at all. Yet it did so happen that, while these people were excellent in that direction, they failed in another, and failed in a fatal way, of which I have now to speak.


13. The seeds that fell on the trodden path, while they were lost to the farmer, did feed the birds, at any rate; but these on the rock did not. They quickly sprang up, and were soon withered, and good-for-nothing. They promised much, but it came to just nothing at all. And, in this way, some of those, who appear to be the most hopeful, may cause us most grief by being our greatest disappointments.

14. Now why was this? Luke tells us, and no other Evangelist tells us, that it was because they “lacked moisture.”

15. Does this not mean, first of all, that they lacked the influences of the Divine Spirit? When we speak of spiritual dew, we refer to the operation of the Holy Spirit. When we talk about the river of the water of life, we mean those sacred things which come streaming down to us from the throne of God through the working of the Spirit of God. These people lacked that moisture. They were converted, as far as they were converted at all, through the eloquence of the preacher; and a man, who is converted by eloquence, can be unconverted by eloquence. Or they were converted by the zeal and earnestness of Christian people. But, if you were converted by one man, another man can unconvert you. All that is from man goes to be unravelled, all the spinning and the weaving of earthly machinery can be pulled to pieces; but the work of God’s grace endures for ever. Have you, my dear hearer, felt the power of the Holy Spirit first withering you up? “The grass withers, the flower fades: because the Spirit of the Lord blows on it.” Has he ever dried up, in you, all that was of yourself, and turned the verdant meadow into a barren wilderness? It must be so with you at first; there is no sure work which does not begin with emptying and pulling down. Has the Spirit of God ever so worked in you as a spirit of bondage, shutting you up in prison under the law, fixing your hands in handcuffs, and your feet in fetters, putting you in the stocks, and leaving you there? If you have never known anything about that experience, I am afraid you have so far “lacked moisture.”

16. Then, when the Spirit of God comes to a soul that is broken down like this, he reveals Christ as a Saviour for that sinner, — a full Saviour for the empty sinner. And, oh, how sweetly does the soul rejoice as it perceives the suitability, fulness, and freeness of Christ; and looks to Jesus, and trusts him! Have you ever felt that sacred moisture which softens the heart so that it sweetly yields to Christ, — that moisture which refreshes the heart, and makes it bloom again with a holy hopefulness and delight in Christ? Oh my dear hearers, what we say about the Holy Spirit is no mere talk; it is a matter of fact! “You must be born again,” — born from above. You must be partakers of the Spirit of God, or else all your religion, however beautiful it may appear to be, will wither when the sun has risen with burning heat.

17. Now, my brothers and sisters in Christ, you find that everything goes badly with you when you lack moisture. One of our brethren sometimes says to me, after a service, “Oh, sir, there will be good done today, for there was dew around!” I know what he means, and hope you do also. You have a little flower at home, which you keep in the window, — a geranium, or perhaps a fuchsia. You place great value on it, because of its associations; but perhaps you have been out for a week, and when you come back, it looked so droopy that it seemed as if it must die, and you soon discovered the reason why. It was quite dry: “it lacked moisture.” You gave it some water, and it soon began to revive. These plants are kept alive by moisture. But when they lack moisture, the more the sun shines on them, or the warmer the room is, the worse it is for them. They need moisture, and so do we, poor plants that we are. We need the Holy Spirit; and if the Lord does not water us daily from the living springs on the hill-tops of glory, we shall certainly die. So take heed, brothers and sisters, that you do not lack the moisture of the Holy Spirit’s gracious influence.

18. Why did these people lack it? There was moisture in the air. It is evident that the other seed, which produced thirty, sixty, or a hundredfold, had moisture; yet this, which was in the same air as the other “lacked moisture.” There were morning dews, and there were mists and rains; yet these seeds on the rock “lacked moisture.” The reason was, that there was a lack of power to retain the moisture in the soil. When it came down, it ran off again, or speedily evaporated, because there was a rock, and only very little earth on the top of it to hold the moisture, and all that came there soon disappeared. There are many people who seem to be like this rocky soil; they have no receptiveness for the Divine Spirit; they manage to do without him.

19. Now let me warn you of certain things that indicate a lack of moisture. The first is, doctrine without feeling. You believe the Bible doctrine concerning Christ. I am glad that you do; but dry doctrine, without the bedewing influence of the Spirit of God, is just a granite rock out of which you will get nothing whatever. You say that you believe the doctrine of human depravity; but have you ever really felt it, and mourned over it? You say that you believe the doctrine of redemption; but have you ever proved the power of the precious blood of Jesus? Have you ever been melted at the sight of the cross? You say that you believe the doctrine of effectual calling; but have you been effectively called by grace? You say that you believe the doctrine of regeneration; but have you been born again? If not, you lack moisture. I have known some brethren, who have been so “sound” that they have been nothing but sound. “Sixteen ounces to the pound,” they said they were. I thought that they were seventeen ounces to the pound, and that the last bad ounce spoiled the other sixteen. You may be amazingly orthodox, and yet be lost. That hard-pan of rock must be broken up, and ground to powder, so that the moisture may get to the seed. Of what avail is doctrine without feeling?

20. It is equally worthless where there is experience without humiliation. I mean that some talk about having felt this, and having felt that, and they boast about it. Some of them have even thought that they have become perfect, and they glory in it. Well, they lack moisture. As soon as you get side by side with them, you feel a lack of something, you do not quite know what it is. It is dry experience; perhaps it is boiling hot, but it is very dry. There is no bowing before the Lord in a humble confession of unworthiness; no understanding of what it is to feel the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should loathe ourselves, as condemned criminals ought to do. I pray the Lord to save us from an experience, however perfect it seems, which is not moist, — which does not have a living tenderness worked into it by the power of the Spirit of God. Avoid, then, experience without humiliation.

21. Shun also practice without heart-love. I have known some brothers and sisters, who have been most exact and precise in all their conduct. I have thought that they scarcely ever sinned, and I have not wondered that they did not, because there did not seem to be enough juice in them to sin; they did not appear to have any human nature in them. They were just like dry pieces of leather; never excited; never getting into a bad temper; they did not seem to have any temper, either bad or good. They never say a word too hastily; they always measure things out very exactly; yet a lack of love is a fatal lack. I knew one, whom I greatly esteemed as a minister of the Word for many years. I esteemed him for his regularity of conduct. I believe that he got up to the tick of the clock, that he had family prayer to the tick of the clock, and that he did everything in the same methodical manner. I remarked to him once, “There are many people, all around your chapel, who are living in the depths of sin; do you ever get any of them into your place of worship?” “No,” he replied, “I do not want to get them in.” I asked, “Why?” “Well,” he answered, “they are mostly prostitutes and thieves; what could I do with such people?” Then I saw that it was possible to be regular, and precise, and good, up to a certain point, and yet to have no moisture; and since the moisture was not there, of course no thief or prostitute would go to hear him, he was too dry for them. It is an awful thing to have a Pharisaic practice, perfect when looked at by the casual eye, yet without the life and light of love; and, therefore lacking moisture.

22. Beware, dear friends, of a belief that never had any repentance connected with it, for that is another way in which the lack of moisture is revealed. There are some people who are willing to believe a great deal; but you never hear of them groaning because of sin, or confessing it with a broken heart in true humility before God. To trust in repentance without faith, would be ruinous to the soul; but to have a kind of faith without repentance, would be also ruinous. If faith never has tears in its eyes, it is a dead faith. He, who has never wept because of his sin, has never really had his sin washed away. If your heart has never been broken on account of sin, I will not believe that it was ever broken from sin; and if your heart is not broken from your sin, you are still at a distance from your God, and you will never see his face with acceptance.

23. Beware, also, of a confidence that is never associated with self-distrust. Yes, my dear sir, speak as boldly as you will, be as brave as you may for your Master; but, at the same time, be very lowly in spirit. Let your own weakness be seen, as well as your Master’s strength. While you glory in Christ’s merits, confess your own sinfulness, and admit that, in yourself, you are nothing. We can never have too much confidence in God; but, unless it is associated with deep self-distrust, it will lack moisture, and it never will produce any real harvest for God.

24. Beware, also, of action without spirituality. We have many people of that kind, who are very active in serving God in one way and another. Oh that everyone was, if it were in a right spirit! They are busy from morning to night, but there is no prayer, and no dependence on God, mixed with their efforts; but that will not do. That is all wasted activity. However busy we may be, we shall accomplish nothing unless we receive from the Holy Spirit all the power with which we work, and are dependent on him for the success of every word we say. Beware of having so much to do that you really do nothing at all because you do not wait on God for the power to do it properly.

25. Then there is another dry thing, namely, zeal without communion with God; — zeal for extending the kingdom of Christ, zeal for spreading the denomination, zeal for the advance of a particular sect, zeal that is intolerant, probably; but, all the while, no careful walking according to God’s Word, no observing what God would have us to be zealous about, no humbling of ourselves in the presence of the great Lord of all, and no bathing of ourselves in the river of the water of life by fellowship with God.

26. So I might keep on showing you various ways in which people may have a great deal that is very good, yet it will all come to nothing because they lack moisture. But the seed cannot assimilate the dry earth until it is mixed with water, and held in solution, and spiritual life can only be fed by truth held in solution by the Holy Spirit. When he softens and prepares us, then our roots and rootlets take up the true nutriment, and we grow by it.

27. In the case of the seed on the rocky ground, there was, also, a deficiency of sensitive vitality. The seed grew for a time, and then became dry; and are there not multitudes of people, in our churches now, who are just like that? They are as dry as old hay, they have withered away. We cannot turn them out; but, oh, that we could turn life into them! Oh, that the water of life might flow all around them, so that they might live by it, and produce fruit for God!

28. I have said enough, if God shall bless it, to set many people searching their hearts to see whether this sacred moisture is there.

29. III. Now, to close, we are to CONSIDER HOW THE EVIL IS TO BE AVOIDED.

30. Well, first, let all of us cry to God to break up the rock. Rock, rock, rock, will you never break? We may scatter the seed on you, but nothing will come of it until that rock is broken. The great steam-plough needs to be driven right through men’s hearts until they are torn asunder, and the old rock of nature is ground to powder, made crumbly, and turned into good soil. Dear friend, do pray to God to make sure work of you. As far as you are concerned, the one thing you have to do is to believe in Christ Jesus, so that you may be saved. But a part of the process of your salvation is the taking out of you the heart of stone, and the giving to you of a heart of flesh. There is no true growing unless this takes place.

31. The next thing is, look well to spirituality. This moisture was a very subtle thing; men might easily overlook that dampness in the atmosphere, and in the soil, which was all-essential. Who can tell you what unction is? Yet a sermon without unction is a poor, worthless thing. There is a certain secret something which distinguishes a true Christian from a worldling or a mere professor; make sure that you have it. Do not be content with the Creed, baptism, the Lord’s supper, or anything else that is visible; but say, “Lord, give me the moisture that I need; give me that secret something without which I shall be lacking the very thing which I most need.” You cannot see your soul; you cannot fully tell what it is; yet you know that it is a something that keeps your body alive, and when that something is gone, the body becomes dead; so is all religion dead until it receives the life which comes from the moisture that so many lack.

32. That leads me further to say, look to the Holy Spirit. Be very tender towards the Holy Spirit. We preach Christ to you, as we are commanded to do; but we do not want you ever to forget the blessed Spirit, without whom nothing saving can ever be created in you. You cannot make yourself to be born again; even the faith that saves is the work of the Spirit of God, if it is the faith of God’s elect. Be zealous and tender, therefore, and walk carefully in reference to the Spirit of God, lest you grieve him.

33. Then I would say, next, try to avoid all dry heat. Do not work yourself up into a frenzy, and think that there is anything saving in it. The heat of excitement may be necessary, just as dust flies from the wheels of a chariot when it moves swiftly; but, just as the dust does not help the chariot, but is a nuisance to those who are riding in it, so it is with excitement. It does not help the true movement, and it is a nuisance to those who are living near to God.

34. Lastly, be constantly looking for that divine mystery of secret vitality which is called in the text “moisture.” I commend to you this prayer. “Lord, give me this blessed moisture. Saturate me through and through with the heavenly dew, the divine rain, so that I may grow, and produce fruit for the glory of your holy name.” May God bless you, for Jesus’ sake! Amen.

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 42” 42 @@ "(Version 1)"}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 40” 40}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Gospel, Invitations — ‘Seek, And Ye Shall Find’ ” 499}

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Ps 42}

We often read this Psalm, because we are very often in the same state that the psalmist was in when he wrote it, and the language seems to suit us at many times in our life.

1. Just as the hart pants after the water-brooks, so my soul pants after you, oh God.

It is the “hart” that pants; and, in the Hebrew, the word is in the feminine. The old naturalists say that the female has greater thirst than the male, and that it shows it more, having more feebleness of body, and less power of endurance. The hart is said to be, naturally, a thirsty creature, and when it has been long hunted, its thirst seems to be insatiable. The psalmist does not say, “My soul hungers,” but, “My soul thirsts.” Just as man can bear hunger much longer than he can bear thirst; he may continue without food for days, but not without drink; so the psalmist mentions the most thirsty creature, and the most ardent of the natural passions: “Just as the hart pants after the water-brooks.” He does not merely say, “after the brooks”; but, “after the water-brooks.”

Why is this? I think it is because there are many brooks that are dry at certain seasons, and the hart longs for those that have water in them. So the Christian thirsts, not only for the means of grace; they are the brooks, — but he longs for God in the means. When grace is in the means of grace, then they are water-brooks indeed. “So my soul pants after you, oh God.” He does not say, “So I pant after my former grandeur,” or “so I pant for my friend,” but “so my heart pants after you.” His soul had only one longing, one thirst, and every power and every passion had united itself to that one desire, “so my soul pants after you, oh God.”

2. My soul thirsts for God, —

It was a soul-thirst, not a throat-thirst; the thirst had gotten as far down as the soul, until the inner spirit was as dry as a man’s throat after a long journey through the desert. “My soul thirsts for God,” —

2. For the living God:

David had thirsted, you remember, for water from the well of Bethlehem that is within the gate, and he said, “Oh that one would give me a drink from the water of the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate!” But that was not living water; he had drunk from it before, yet he thirsted again; but now his soul thirsted for God, for the living God. Nothing but the cool refreshing living water of the living God can ever effectively quench human thirst.

2. When shall I come and appear before God?

He valued the assembly of God’s people because he believed that, there in a special way, he was “before God.” What a rebuke this is to those who despise public worship! We know some who say, “Well, we can read a good sermon at home, we can study the Scriptures there.” David was a great lover of God’s Word, and read it both day and night, yet even he could not dispense with the outward means of grace, the public assembly of the saints. “When shall I come and appear before God?” Brothers and sisters, let us look on our gatherings for worship as an appearance before God. You do not merely come to listen to the Lord’s minister, or to join in the sacred song of the congregation, but you come to “appear before God,” so that you may show yourself to him as his servants, and that he may reveal himself to you as your Lord. When you and I have been tossing on the bed of languishing, or have been detained on the sea, or have journeyed abroad, then we have learned to prize the means of grace more than ever.

3. My tears have been my food day and night, while they continually say to me, “Where is your God?”

The psalmist had sorrow within, and persecution without, and a Christian sometimes has to eat salty food. “My tears have been my food.” He finds very little sweetness or solace in such food as this; yet, after all, there is much in a Christian’s tears. It is a comfort to be able to shed tears of repentance, and tears of longing after God. There are some believers who still have tears for their food, yet they can say, “Thank God we are not dead if we can weep; we are not utterly left by God, if we can sigh after him; and so, though our tears are salt, they are nourishing to the spirit.”

“My tears have been my food day and night, while they continually say to me, ‘Where is your God?’ ” This is what our enemies always say to us when we are in trouble. This is what Queen Mary of Scotland said when the Covenanters were obliged to flee to the Highlands. “Where now is John Knox’s God?” But when her French soldiers were later put to the rout by the brave Scots, she found out where God was. This was the taunt at the St. Bartholomew massacre {a} in 1572 in France. As they stabbed the Protestants, the Papists cried, “Where is your God?” What a mercy it is that they do say this, for nothing brings God so soon to his people as the taunts of their enemies. If any man supposes that God has forgotten his people, and therefore insults them like this, God will come to them post-haste to rectify the mistake. “Where is your God?” He is coming to you, oh Christian; he is near you now!

4. When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holy day.

You see, brethren, the more a man enjoys the means of grace at one time, the more he grieves when he loses them. “I had gone with the multitude.” There is something very inspiring in worshipping God in a crowd; the joy is infectious, there is a holy contagion in it; as the sacred song floats upward from many joyful voices, we seem borne up on its billows of praise.

I like that word “holy day” even though it is rather like holiday, for our holy days should be our true holidays. There should be no rest for the Christian like the holiness of the Sabbath, the holiness should be the very joy of it. Keep it a holy day, and then it will be a holiday; try to make it a holiday, and then it will be neither a holiday nor a holy day.

At the memory of these past joys, the psalmist’s soul was poured out like water, his heart was as water spilt on the ground. See, brethren, how low a good man may come, and yet be safe; how near the rocks God’s ships may go, and yet not be wrecked.

5. Why are you cast down, oh my soul? And why are you disquieted in me? Hope in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.

As one well remarks, Christian men have a great deal of indoor work to do. They have not only to question others, but they have to question themselves. “Why are you cast down, oh my soul?” Be very jealous, dear friends, of doubts, and fears, and despondency. Some of us are sometimes the subjects of these emotions, and this is pitiable; but when we try to pamper them, this is inexcusable. Endeavour to live above this turmoil; you cannot praise God, you cannot serve your fellow men, you cannot do anything well, when your soul is in an unsettled state. Hope in God is the best cure for this despondency. “Hope in God.” When you have no hope in yourself, nor in your graces, nor in your experience, “hope in God.” He is loving faithful, powerful, and true, so “hope in God.” “For I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.” “My countenance is wrinkled, and covered with sores through my sickness; but he is the help of my countenance, and I shall yet praise him.”

6. 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.

Oh, what a mercy it is to be able to look back on our past experiences of God’s mercy! How delightful it is to remember what the Lord was to us in days gone by, for he is still the same God. When you are like Paul in the great storm, when neither sun, nor moon, nor stars appeared for many days, it is very pleasant to remember that the sun, moon, and stars shone in the past, and that they will shine out again.

7. Deep calls to deep at the noise of your waterspouts: all your waves and your billows are gone over me.

When there is a great rain at sea, there is a particular kind of noise, as if the deep above were talking to the deep below. “Deep calls to deep”; and sometimes, the two deeps clasp hands, and then there is what we call a waterspout. The psalmist uses this as a picture of his sorrows, and it is very remarkable that sorrows seldom come alone. When the rain comes down on land, it calls to the little brooks, and they say, “Here we are,” and they go leaping down the hill-side, and speak to the rivulets, and they say, “Here we are,” and the rivulets speak to the rivers, and they say, “Here we are,” and they speak to the gulfs, and the gulfs to the broad sea, until “deep calls to deep.” So, little sorrows, great sorrows, overwhelming sorrows, come to the Christian, and they all seem to come at once. Indeed, not only do they come to us, but they go over us, until we cry, “All your waves and your billows are gone over me.” Surely, this language is an exaggeration, for it is only Christ who could say that; but, sometimes, when you and I are in a low dark frame of mind, we are apt to think that we have felt all the twigs of the rod, and that we could not be made to smart more. Little do we really know of it; may God grant that we may never know more than we do!

Now comes an exercise for faith, to be able, when down at the bottom of the sea, like Jonah, and at the mercy of every wave, to say with the psalmist in the next verse, —

8. Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer to the God of my life.

We shall not only have day-time grace, but night-time grace, too: “In the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer to the God of my life.” What a sweet title that is, “The God of my life,” the source of my life, the strength of my life, the comfort of my life, without whom my life is not life at all!

9. I will say to God my rock, “Why have you forgotten me?

He had been talking too much to himself; now he talks with his God.

9-11. Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy.” As with a sword in my bones, my enemies reproach me; while they daily say to me, “Where is your God?” Why are you cast down, oh my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

Notice how the psalmist had been growing. In the fifth verse, where the refrain comes in, it is very nearly the same as it is here, yet there is some difference. There it was, “I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance,” but here it is, “I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance” — Then it was God helping the poor wrinkled brow to turn towards heaven, now it is God himself giving the man joy and rest. Then there is the last utterance of the psalmist on that occasion, “My God.” He could not reach that note before, and when the Christian can say, “My God,” his troubles are over.

{a} The St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre in 1572 was a targeted group of assassinations and a wave of Catholic mob violence, directed against the Huguenots (French Calvinist Protestants) during the French Wars of Religion. The massacre began in the night of 23-24 August 1572 (the eve of the feast of Bartholomew the Apostle), two days after the attempted assassination of Admiral Gaspard de Coligny, the military and political leader of the Huguenots. The king ordered the killing of a group of Huguenot leaders, including Coligny, and the slaughter spread throughout Paris. Lasting several weeks, the massacre expanded outward to other urban centres and the countryside. Modern estimates for the number of dead across France vary widely, from 5,000 to 30,000. See Explorer "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Bartholomew%27s_Day_massacre"

The Sword and the Trowel

Edited by Pastor Thomas Spurgeon.

Monthly price 3d.; post free, 4d.

The September issue will contain the last of C. H. Spurgeon’s “Pictures from Pilgrims’s Progress,” which will then be issued, in book form, cloth gilt, at 3s. 6d. The volume will contain several “Pictures” which have not appeared in the Magazine, and will be beautifully printed and copiously illustrated.

Among other special items in the September Magazine will be a delightful article by Rev. Dinsdale T. Young on “C. H. Spurgeon’s Prayers in the Congregation.”

Passmore & Alabaster, Paternoster Buildings, London; and from all Booksellers.

Sermons in this series: —

{See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2842, “The Sower” 2843} {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2843, “The Seed By The Wayside” 2844} {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2844, “This Seed upon a Rock” 2845} {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2845, “Lacking Moisture” 2846} {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2846, “No Root In Themselves” 2847}

Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 42 (Version 1)
1 Like as the hart for water brooks
   In thirst doth pant and bray;
   So pants my longing soul, oh God,
   That come to thee I may.
2 My soul for God, the living God,
   Doth thirst: when shall I near
   Unto thy countenance approach,
   And in God’s sight appear?
3 My tears have unto me been meat,
   Both in the night and day,
   While unto me continually,
   Where is thy God? they say.
4 My soul is poured out in me,
   When this I think upon;
   Because that with the multitude
   I heretofore had gone:
5 With them into God’s house I went
   With voice of joy and praise;
   Yea, with the multitude that kept
   The solemn holy days.
6 Oh why art thou cast down, my soul?
   Why in me so dismay’d?
   Trust God, for I shall praise him yet,
   His count’nance is mine aid.
7 My God, my soul’s cast down in me;
   Thee therefore mind I will
   From Jordan’s land, the Hermonites,
   And e’en from Mizar’s hill.
8 At noise of thy dread waterspouts,
   Deep unto deep doth call;
   Thy breaking waves pass over me,
   Yea, and thy billows all.
9 Oh why art thou cast down, my soul?
   Why thus with grief opprest,
   Art thou disquieted in me?
   In God still hope and rest:
10 For yet I know I shall him praise,
   Who graciously to me,
   The health is of my countenance,
   Yea, mine own God is he.
                  Scotch Version, 1641, a.

Psalm 42 (Version 2)
1 As pants the hart for cooling streams,
   When heated in the chase,
   So pants my soul, oh God, for thee,
   And thy refreshing grace.
2 For thee, my God, the living God,
   My thirsty soul doth pine;
   Oh when shall I behold thy face,
   Thou Majesty divine?
3 I sigh to think of happier days,
   When thou, oh Lord, wert nigh:
   When every heart was tuned to praise,
   And none more blest than I.
4 Oh why art thou cast down, my soul?
   Hope still, and thou shalt sing
   The praise of him who is thy God,
   Thy health’s eternal spring.
                        Tate and Brady, 1696.

Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 40
1 I waited patient for the Lord,
   He bow’d to hear my cry;
   He saw me resting on his word,
   And brought salvation nigh.
2 He raised me from a horrid pit,
   Where mourning long I lay,
   And from my bonds released my feet,
   Deep bonds of miry clay.
3 Firm on a rock he made me stand,
   And taught my cheerful tongue
   To praise the wonders of his hand
   In a new thankful song.
4 How many are thy thoughts of love!
   Thy mercies, Lord, how great!
   We have not words nor hours enough,
   Their numbers to repeat.
5 When I’m afflicted, poor, and low,
   And light and peace depart,
   My God beholds my heavy woe,
   And bears me on his heart.
                        Isaac Watts, 1719.

Gospel, Invitations
499 — “Seek, And Ye Shall Find” <7s.>
1 Come, poor sinner, come and see,
   All thy strength is found in me;
   I am waiting to be kind,
   To relieve thy troubled mind.
2 Dost thou feel thy sins a pain?
   Look to me and ease obtain:
   All my fulness thou mayest share,
   And be always welcome there.
3 Boldly come; why dost thou fear?
   I possess a gracious ear;
   I will never tell thee nay,
   While thou hast a heart to pray.
4 Try the freeness of my grace,
   Sure, ‘twill suit thy trying case;
   Mourning souls will ne’er complain,
   Having sought my face in vain.
5 Knock, and cast all doubt behind,
   Seek, and thou shalt surely find;
   Ask, and I will give thee peace,
   And thy confidence increase.
6 Will not this encourage thee,
   Vile and poor, to come to me?
   Sure thou canst not doubt my will!
   Come and welcome, sinner, still.
                           Hewett, 1850.

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).

Terms of Use

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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