2911. “Cases Of Conscience”

by on
Share:
“Cases Of Conscience”

No. 2911-50:565. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, Early In The Year 1862, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Published On Thursday, November 24, 1904.

For my iniquities are gone over my head: like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me. {Ps 38:4}

 For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2911, “Cases of Conscience” 2912}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3347, “Things to be Remembered” 3349}
   Exposition on Ps 38 Isa 53 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2911, “Cases of Conscience” 2912 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on Ps 38 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2385, “Another Lesson From Manasseh’s Life” 2386 @@ "Exposition"}

1. I have a special purpose before me this evening. I shall endeavour to describe the state of the sinner’s heart when it has been awakened, when conscience is activated, when sin and the judgment of God on it occupy the mind’s attention, — that period which John Bunyan describes, in his “Pilgrim’s Progress,” as being spent between the City of Destruction and the wicket-gate, — that state of mind in which a man is found when he flees from his former sin, and desires to escape from the wrath to come, but has not yet found the way of salvation so as to experience his own pardon and forgiveness through the great atonement made on the cross.

2. In fulfilling this intention, I propose, first, to speak of the terrors which frequently accompany conviction of sin; secondly, to describe the cases of some who, while really convicted of sin, are, nevertheless, strangers to those terrors; and then to address a few words of advice, both to those who are severely broken by cruel fears, and those, on the other hand, who are more gently brought to Christ.

3. I. There is A GREAT AND APPALLING TERROR OF MIND WHICH FREQUENTLY ACCOMPANIES CONVICTION OF SIN. The experience, which I shall try to describe, has not been that of all those who are brought to Christ. I must make, as it were, a broad outline, — an open sketch, without filling it in, — a picture in which many, though certainly not all, may be able to read the story of their own passage through the Slough of Despond.

4. Usually, when grace comes into the heart, one of the first things that attends it is a kind of undefinable fear. The man does not know how or why it is that he has such a fear; he felt safe enough before, but now the very ground under his feet seems to be rotten. He played with sin, thinking it was only a trifle; but, suddenly, he is made to tremble by it. He finds that the serpent has a sting, and he is afraid of it. Sometimes, by night, he will be scared with visions in his dreams; and, by day, something more vivid than visions will appear before him. He now begins to believe that there is a hell, that there is a just God, that sin must be punished, that he has sinned, and that, therefore, he must die. He does not know what he is to do; but he feels that something must be done, either by himself or by someone else, for his soul is very afraid. To a greater or lesser extent, he has first this fear of punishment, which afterwards, through the grace of God, grows into a fear of sin.

5. Then, as this fear increases, a kind of turmoil and unrest lays hold of the man. David tells us his own experience and his prayer when he was in such a state as I am trying to describe: “Oh Lord, do not rebuke me in your wrath: neither chasten me in your hot displeasure. For your arrows stick firmly in me, and your hand presses on me heavily. There is no soundness in my flesh because of your anger; neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin.” That is the case with a man under conviction of sin; he is restless and ill at ease. Those things which he once thought were pleasures, now seem to him to be very wearisome. If he still seeks the amusements which once charmed him, they only sicken him now, he cannot bear to look at them. He has such a sad heart within him that he does not want to have songs sung to him, for they seem to be out of place for such a man as he feels himself to be. The psalmist’s words just describe him now: “Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted. Their soul abhors all kinds of food; and they draw near to the gates of death.” The companions of such a man cannot understand what is the matter with him; they think that he is suffering from a fit of melancholy. So, indeed, he is; but I pray that it may not be a mere fitful spasm, but that it may continue in him, and that it may be increased and intensified until he is “dead indeed to sin, but alive to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The man’s melancholy will then give place to “joy unspeakable and full of glory.” He then begins to be a quiet stay-at-home. He tries to find rest there; but, somehow, even his own family does not afford him the peace it once did. His wife thinks that something strange has come over him; and if she herself is not converted, it must be quite incomprehensible to her. But if she should ever be led out on the same pilgrimage, she would understand that this is a part of the footsteps of the flock, — one of the first of the footstep of the straying sheep when the Shepherd comes to bring them back.

6. This turmoil and unrest of spirit will grow, eventually, into a burdensomeness of heart, just as Bunyan describes Christian with a burden on his back, which made him sigh and groan. You remember how he pictures the pilgrim: — “I saw a man clothed with rags, standing in a certain place, with his face from his own house, book in his hand, and a great burden on his back. I looked, and saw him open the book, and read in it; and as he read, he wept and trembled; and not being able to contain himself any longer, he broke out, with a lamentable cry, saying, ‘What shall I do?’ ” The man, of whom I am speaking, comes to just such a state as this. He has his no visible burden on his shoulders, yet he has on his heart a load so heavy that it threatens to crush him to the very dust, and to drive him to utter despair. It may be that, through the persuasion of his former companions, he is led to indulge in sin as he was accustomed to do; but if so, in the sin he is wretched, and after the sin he is far more miserable than he was before. He may sing; but, even while he is singing, he will be like the man, who could amuse others with his funny sayings, while his own heart was heavy within him. And this becomes the man’s constant state of mind; not only can he find no rest, night nor day, but all the while he has to carry his heavy burden wherever he may be; and he cries to the Lord, with David, “Day and night your hand was heavy on me; my moisture is turned into the drought of summer.”

7. This state of mind will continue, with some men, until they come, at last, to utterly loathe themselves. They might even adopt the language of David in the Psalm from which I have taken my text: “I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long. For my loins are filled with a loathsome disease; and there is no soundness in my flesh.” There was one, who said that he wished he had been a frog or a toad, — anything rather than a man, — when he realized how sinful he had been; so detestable did he appear in his own sight for having sinned, and deliberately sinned, against such light, against such love, against such longsuffering, — for having rejected Christ, grieved the Holy Spirit, and despised the only precious blood which can cleanse from sin. All these things come up before the man’s mind, and he thinks that no doom is too bad for him. “No,” he says; “I once thought that it was an unjust thing for a man to be cast away for all eternity; but now I feel that, whatever you do with me, oh God, it will be impossible for you to be too severe! I deserve all that your infinite justice can bring on me. I will be quite willing to sign my own death-warrant, and to set my seal to my own condemnation, and say that it is just.”

8. Loathing himself and his life, his sin and his pleasures, and loathing even his very existence, the man, if left to himself, will often undergo such terror of conscience that even his body will begin to feel it. His mortal frame, sympathizing with his immortal spirit, will grow sick. There have been some, with whom I have myself had to deal, who have had severe sickness through conviction of sin, and, for a little while, it did seem as if the only hope for them to be able to live at all was for them to find immediate pardon through the blood of Jesus Christ. There have been some, I do not doubt, who have almost been bereft of their senses when they have seen sin in its true colours. Thank God, dear friends, if you have never come to this; and if you have, thank God for it. There are thousands, who have passed through that experience, and yet, through the thickest darkness, have come into the brightest light.

9. The man, who is the subject of this conviction, will also have a perpetual consciousness of feebleness, as David says, in the eighth verse of this Psalm, “I am feeble and severely broken.” The strong man suddenly becomes weak as a little child; the very wise man, the keen critic, the severe judge of others, suddenly becomes gentle, tender-hearted, soft in spirit. He does not now sit in judgment on any other man, for he has enough to do in standing before the judgment bar of his own conscience, and he dreads lest he should soon be judged and condemned by his God. He used to talk, in days gone by, a great deal about the dignity and might of man; but, now, he knows more about human depravity and weakness. At one time, he used to say, “I can believe in Christ whenever I like; I can be saved whenever I please”; salvation seemed to him a very easy matter in those days; but, now, it seems to him to be the hardest thing in the world to believe in Christ. His cry now is, —

    But oh! for this no strength have I,
    My strength is at thy feet to lie.

He does not find fault with sermons as he used to do; if they only reach his heart, and bring to him ever so little comfort, he is pleased and thankful. He is glad enough now to eat his food off the poorest platter if he can only get food for his soul. He feels that, if the Lord would only send him his pardon, even if it came by a limping messenger, he would not trouble about the messenger, but he would prize the pardon that he brought. He is brought very low; the high-soaring spirit lies in the dust, and out of the dust cries, “Lord, save me, or I perish.”

10. Besides and beyond all this, his soul gets to be in a terrible agony of desire. It has come to this with him, — that he must have mercy, that he must be saved. He feels as if he could not take a denial, — that it would be better for him to die than to continue to live in such a state as in what he finds himself. He can use the words of our hymn, —

    Wealth and honour I disdain,
    Earthly comforts all are vain;
    These can never satisfy,
    Give me Christ, or else I die.

He has the same kind of look that you may have seen on the faces of starving people when, at last, a loaf is set before them. It is bread they need, — bread! So this spiritually starving man feels that he must have provision for his soul, or he will expire. There is something terribly startling in the cry of “Fire!” in the dead of night; but the cry of “Bread! Bread!” seems to come from the very vitals of humanity, and to reach the very centre of our hearts. It will be so with this man’s prayer at last. It is not a matter of “may be” with him; he cannot bear to look on salvation in the light of a perhaps or a maybe; he feels that he must have it, that he cannot take a denial. He agonizes, and groans, and cries to God, “Lord, save me! Lord, save me! God be merciful to me a sinner!”

11. We have known some who have gone even further than this until, at last, their prayer has been mingled with despair rather than with faith. They have prayed to God for deliverance; they have, in some sense, looked to Christ on the cross; yet they have not seemed able to believe that there could be power in him to save them. Some of us have known what it was to have the great Judge of all put on the black cap, and pronounce the sentence of death on us. We have gone into the condemned cell, and waited there, really expecting to be led out to execution, and to hear the Lord say to us, “Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” I cannot tell you what is the intense delight of a heart, that has been prostrate in the dust, when it receives full remission, free forgiveness. It mounts as high now as it was accustomed to descend into the depths.

12. I will mention only one more characteristic of this man under conviction of sin, he probably feels himself to be a solitary person. David says, in this Psalm, “My lovers and my friends stand aloof from my sore; and my relatives stand afar off.” The man under conviction of sin feels that he is quite alone, that he has no one in the world to help him. I have frequently noticed that young people, in this condition, have been afraid to mention to their own parents, or to their minister, what they feel. If we try to probe them a little, to find out what is the matter, they are very loathe to tell us, because it seems to them that they are the only people who ever felt as they do. I believe that almost all those, who come to Christ, think that they are very exceptional people, — very odd people. I know I thought that there never could be any other sinner so bad as I was, and that no one could ever have felt the horror of great darkness that I felt. Little did I think that the path I was treading then, instead of being trodden by one solitary pilgrim was the beaten track of hundreds of thousands of pilgrims.

13. II. Now, secondly, I shall endeavour to show you that IT SHOULD NOT BE A REASON FOR TURMOIL FOR ANY OF YOU IF YOU HAVE NOT BEEN SPIRITUALLY EXERCISED TO THE SAME EXTENT AS OTHERS.

14. Dear friends, all the distress, that is felt by the mind when under conviction of sin, is not the work of the Spirit of God, though some of it is. I cannot draw the line, and say exactly how far it is the Spirit’s work; but, certainly, there is a portion of this horror and distress which does not come from God. Therefore, learn this lesson, — that it is not necessary for you to traverse the whole ground by every other sinner’s experience in passing from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God’s dear Son.

15. No doubt, part of the horror I have been describing comes from Satan. He does not want to lose those who have been his subjects. He sees that one, who was once a very contented slave, begins to feel his chain to be irksome, and longs to escape from the cruel servitude; and, therefore, Satan brings out his great whip to frighten him, tells him that he must not attempt to escape, or he will flog him for his past sins. So the poor wretch crouches down at his feet, and Satan says, “Now is my only chance to prevent him from escaping. Servants of the infernal powers, attack him, vex him, torment him, insinuate every doubt, and every fear, and every blasphemy that you can. This is our only opportunity; he will be out of gun-shot soon; it is now or never with us. Let us leave no stone unturned to break his heart, and ruin him, before he gets peace through Christ.” No doubt that evil spirit, who “worries whom he cannot devour,” has very often tried to trouble poor sinners because he knew that they were about to escape from his domain. It is not necessary, brethren, and it is not desirable, that you and I should know all this horror; what comes from Satan, we should think ourselves happy to escape.

16. Another part of this agony, no doubt, arises from ignorance. If some of those poor weeping souls knew more, they would sorrow less, and suffer less. In John Bunyan’s “Grace Abounding,” you can trace very clearly that very much of the conflict that he had to endure was the result of his utter ignorance. He knew very little about spiritual things; at first, he had only one book, “The Poor Man’s Pathway to Heaven.” He does not appear to have attended much on the ministry in his early days, so he had not learned much about the kingdom of heaven, and he was in a state of great darkness when he found his way to Christ. But I do not think that you and I, beloved, who have been from our youth up instructed in the things of God, — if we know the plan of salvation, if we know that simple faith in the precious blood will save us, — should desire to pass through these extraordinary agonies and rackings of conscience and heart.

17. Besides, a part of this experience may also come from constitutional tendencies. There are some, who seem to have been born on the darkest nights of the whole year; and, on every possible occasion, they look rather at the spots on the sun than at the sun itself. Their observations are rather directed to the whirlpools and the barren deserts than to the gently flowing rivers and green pastures. They have a very keen apprehension of the snakes and other reptiles, but not of the flowers and the birds. They were born in gloom, and they seem to carry the gloom of their nativity to their graves; and it seems very natural, and very likely, — since the Spirit of God does not change our physical constitutions, though he does change our moral nature, — that there should be in such people, coupled with that conviction which is the work of the Spirit, a tendency to certain fears and tremblings, which spring only from the flesh, and are not the work of the Spirit of God.

18. These few remarks may help to put some here, who have been wanting to experience these terrors, on the right track; and they will not, I hope, pray for such a thing any more. Am I addressing any, who think they are not saved because they have not known such terrors as some others have experienced? Let me remind you, dear friends, that there are many of the true children of God who have never known these horrors. I suppose there are many, in this church, over which I am overseer, who have not known these terrors from experience. They know what repentance of sin is, but they have not known the horror of great darkness. Certainly, in Scripture, we do not have many such cases recorded. I do not think that Lydia, whose heart the Lord opened, ever went through such an experience as David did in this matter. It may be that the apostle Paul did, for he had scales on his eyes, and it may be that the blindness of his body was only a picture of the darkness of his mind. But I do not think that Peter, and James, and John, and those other disciples whom Christ called while they were fishing, or engaged in other occupations, knew much about this kind of experience. They knew what repentance of sin was, — notice that; and that is the Spirit’s work beyond any doubt; but they do not appear to have known that terror which springs from the flesh, or rises from the pit of hell.

19. Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, since many of the children of God have not felt these horrors, do not look on those, who have felt them, as models for your imitation; and do not condemn yourself because you have not gone through an experience similar to theirs. While it is quite certain that some good people have known these terrors, you must remember that there may have been special reasons, in their case, why it was so with them. What a blessing it has been to others that John Bunyan, who seems to be my chief illustration tonight, passed through such an experience; for, if he had not done so, he could not have written his “Grace Abounding” and “Pilgrim’s Progress.” But you and I do not expect to write a “Pilgrim’s Progress.” We do not have that special work to do; but Bunyan had; and, therefore, we do not need the special training through which he had to pass. Certain metals, that will have to endure an extraordinary stress, have to pass through an annealing process; but other substances, which are not put to so severe a test, need not be prepared in the same stern way. The apostle Paul traces many of his deep troubles and holy triumphs to the qualifications with which he was prepared for ministering to the saints: “Whether we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.” Beyond a doubt, there are some servants of God, who have a great work to do in deep waters. In the course of their lifetime, they are to contend with Satan in a very special way, so the Lord gives them a special training, so that they may become good soldiers of Jesus Christ from the very beginning of their career. None of you may have to do the work of Luther or Calvin; you will not all have to go out to address multitudes, as Whitfield did; and you do not, therefore, need the special training which was necessary for them.

20. But I again remind you that you must have what is the work of the Spirit; you must have repentance and abhorrence of sin; but what is beyond this, which God employs as a disciplinary training for some of his servants, it is not necessary for all of you to have. If you had felt such horrors as others have experienced, you might not have been in your right senses now. The Lord, who tempers the wind to the shorn sheep, has tempered the Spirit’s convictions to you. Possibly, you are of a feeble constitution, and you could not safely pass through what some strong men have endured. Your spirit may be so tender, your mind may be so susceptible, that it would have been broken if it had been subjected to the rough handling that others have had. You know that a physician, when he seeks to cure a number of patients, treats them in various ways. He gives a good dose of medicine to a strong soldier, and lets it work its way; but if he has to deal with a feeble girl, he gives her only a small dose, lest the larger quantity should kill her. So our Lord, when he is curing us of the evil disease of sin, acts differently in different cases; and, with some of us, he works very gently.

21. It is not necessary for me to say any more on this point, except to remind you that these horrors and terrors are not essential for salvation, or else they would have been commanded. Faith and repentance, the essentials for salvation, are commanded: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you.” “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.” “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved.” The things that are essential to salvation are put very plainly in the Scriptures. I do not read anywhere the Word of God, “Be tempted by the devil, and you shall be saved.” I do not read, “Feel a horror of great darkness, and you shall be saved.” I do not find the Lord commanding you to despair, in order that you may be saved. So far from these things being essential for salvation, they are often stumbling-blocks in the way of sinners seeking the Saviour, and devices of the devil from which may God deliver us! To doubt, for example, whether Christ can save me, is a heinous sin. To think that my case is so bad that God cannot blot out my sin, is to doubt his omnipotence, and to do him grievous dishonour. For me to despair of receiving the mercy of Christ, is to do despite to that generous and self-sacrificing Saviour who bled to death on Calvary’s cross. To think that he is either unable or unwilling to forgive us, is to add to our former offences; and what is in itself sinful cannot be a help to salvation. What is, in itself, the very climax and culminating point of human guilt — to doubt the love, and kindness, and mercy of God, — cannot, in any sense, be a desirable thing in any child of God. To repent, is one thing; but to despair, is quite another matter. To dread sin, and to loathe it, is one thing; but to doubt the power of the blood of Christ to cleanse from all sin, is quite another.

22. III. Now, having handled these two points, let me close with WORDS OF ADVICE TO BOTH THESE CLASSES OF PEOPLE WHOM I HAVE BEEN DESCRIBING.

23. Dear friends, you who are frightened and alarmed, vexed and troubled, I know what you are saying, “Oh, that we could escape from this misery!” There is another friend, over there, who has never had these fears, and he is saying, “I wish I had them; for, if I had them, there would be some hope for me.” If you do no have them, you want them; and if you do have them, you want to get rid of them; there is no pleasing you, either way. But good physicians do not seek to please their patient, but to cure them; it is not their aim to make the medicine palatable, but to make it effective. So, the Lord does not study our wishes, but gives what is best for us, and we are very foolish to wish to have it otherwise.

24. Let me remind you, who are in terror because of sin, that; the only way to escape from that terror properly is to flee at once to Jesus. As a good old woman, who had long been accustomed to read “The Pilgrim’s Progress,” wisely said, “No doubt Mr. Bunyan described what he went through before he found Christ, but he did not picture the way of salvation as he might have done. Evangelist ought to have said to the pilgrim, ‘Do you see that cross over there, and do you see Jesus, the Son of God, made flesh, and bleeding and dying there? Look to him, and you shall be saved; trust him, and your sins shall be all put away at once.’ That is the true gospel which gives peace to troubled hearts.” So I say to you, poor troubled friend, and to you who are not troubled, flee away to Christ. Trust the Son of God to save you, and he will save you. Trust him to put away all your past guilt, and he will do it. Trust him to keep you in the future, and he will bestow on you his promised aid. Trust him with the enormous load of your sin, and he will take it on his shoulders, and roll it into the Red Sea of his atoning blood. Trust him with the foul disease of your evil habits, and with the touch of his healing finger you will be made whole. Do not say, “I am too miserable to rest on him,” but rest on him, however miserable you may be. Do not say, “I am not in a fit state to come to Christ”; for, whatever state you are in, you are fit to come to Christ. He needs no fitness in you, except that, just as you are, you trust in “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” May the Holy Spirit enable you to do so! I will not argue with you about your doubts and fears, your “ifs” and your “buts.” This is God’s command to you, poor sinner, “Trust in Christ.” So, do not dare to disobey it; but may the Holy Spirit constrain you to obey it, for then you shall go on your way rejoicing because your sins, which are many, are all forgiven you.

25. To you, who have not felt such terrors as I have been describing, what shall I say? Do not displease the Lord by seeking for them; do not begin fretting and complaining because you have not been tried as others have been. If a child cries because he has not been whipped, he ought to have full satisfaction. If a young man should go to a physician, and complain that he was afraid he would not continue to live because he had not had the measles, or whooping cough, or scarlet fever, what would the physician say to him? The most likely reply would be, “Be thankful, sir, that you have not had those maladies.” If you cry because you have not had to smart under the Lord’s rod, it may be that you will have your desire granted to your cost! The Lord may say, “That sinner might have gone straight to the cross, but he would not; he wanted to go through the Slough of Despond, so he shall go through it; and he shall flounder around in it, with the frogs croaking in his ears, and the filth rolling into his mouth, for many a day, until he knows better than to dictate to his Heavenly Father.” If you have not gone to Sinai with Mr. Worldly-Wiseman, to hear its thunders, and to see its lightnings, be thankful that you have not. Flee from all these things to Christ, without asking him for a preparatory training in the terrors and horrors which some have had to experience. Trust in Christ, and you shall find salvation at once.

26. I was reading, the other day, the preface to the hymn of a very excellent writer. There is a passage, in the memoir, in which the author says that “he stuck by a feeling religion, and a feeling religion stuck by him.” Well, dear friends, I am afraid that many of you find that “a feeling religion” does stick by you; but I believe that is one of the worst kinds of religion in the whole world. It is a believing religion that saves the soul; and those who are so dependent on moods and feelings are in the seventh heaven of delight one day, and in the depths of despair the next. They go up and down so quickly because they are built on the sandy shifting foundation of their own emotions. Do not be so foolish, beloved; but build on what Christ did, on what Christ was, on what he is, and what he suffered. Building so you shall find him “the same yesterday, and today, and for ever”; and your hope, and faith, and comfort shall stay with you, since they are founded on the immovable Rock of Ages.

27. I have tried to preach the gospel simply tonight. Remember, souls, that the Word is not preached in vain. We are either “a savour of life to life” or “of death to death” to our hearers; which is it to you, dear friends? Is it a savour of death to death to you, oh impenitent sinner? And is it to you, oh penitent soul, a saviour of life to life? By this test you shall tell which it is, — if you now, from your heart, trust Christ, in obedience to the Lord’s command, then the gospel has saved you, and you may go in peace. “Woman, you are freed from your infirmity.” “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” Go your way, for the Lord has had mercy on you; glorify him in the family, and tell to others, wherever you can, what great things the Lord has done for you.

Expositions By C. H. Spurgeon {Ps 38 Isa 53}

I am going to read two portions of Scripture. In the first, — the thirty-eighth Psalm, — we shall hear a suffering servant of Jehovah crying out to his God.

38:1. Oh LORD, do not rebuke me in your wrath: neither chasten me in your hot displeasure.

“If you do rebuke me, do it gently, oh my Lord! If you do chasten me, do not let your displeasure become hot against your servant.”

2. For your arrows stick firmly in me, and your hand presses on me heavily.

God may aim his arrows even at his own children, and he may lay his hand very heavily on those whom he deeply loves.

3. There is no soundness in my flesh because of your anger; neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin.

David was under the afflicting hand of God even with regard to his bodily disease. He could have borne the pain if it had been merely physical; but there was a sense of sin mixed with it which made it sting him in his very soul.

4, 5. For my iniquities are gone over my head: like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me. My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness.

David had some painful old sores; I mean, old sins; and they seem to have broken out again and again; and when he wrote this Psalm, he was groaning in his spirit from the memory of them. His faith was at a low ebb, and his feelings were of the most bitter and sorrowful kind.

6. I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long.

Yet he was a true child of God all the while, for this is, according to its title, “A Psalm of David,” concerning whom the Lord said “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after my own heart, who shall fulfil all my will.” God’s flowers do not have sunlight twenty-four hours in the day. They have their night times, when it is not only dark, but it may also be heavy with the cold dew, or trying with a sharp frost.

7, 8. For my loins are filled with a loathsome disease: and there is no soundness in my flesh. I am feeble and severely broken: I have roared by reason of the turmoil of my heart.

That is an expressive word that David uses: “I have roared.” He felt as if his prayers were more like the agonized cries of a wounded beast than the intelligent supplications of a human being, — least of all, of a man of God; and, sometimes, when the spirit is greatly bowed down, it cannot express itself in words, but has to be content with groans, and cries, and sobs, and tears.

9. LORD, all my desire is before you; and my groaning is not hidden from you.

What a sweet, sweet truth that is! Happy is that man, who, in the time of deepest darkness, can still grasp that truth, and hold it firmly. “Lord, my groaning is not hidden from you! I could only roar out my complaint, or groan it out; but you could hear it just as well as if I had ordered my words properly before you.”

10, 11. My heart pants, my strength fails me: as for the light of my eyes, it also is gone from me. My lovers and my friends stand aloof from my sore; and my relatives stand afar off.

“Relatives and friends alike all get away from me as far as they can, for they cannot bear to be in such sorrowful company.”

12, 13. Those also who seek after my life lay snares for me: and those who seek my harm speak mischievous things, and imagine deceits all the day long. But I, as a deaf man, did not hear: and I was as a dumb man who does not open his mouth.

Although David was a tried man, he was, at least at that time, a wise man. God did not leave his servant to act or to speak foolishly; and, beloved, when men are unjustly rebuking and reproaching you, there is nothing more wise than to act as if you did not hear them. It is the very acme of wisdom if you can keep quite quiet, and not answer them, — refusing to make any apologies or extenuations, — or even showing any sign that you have so much as heard what they have said.

14, 15. So I was like a man who does not hear, and in whose mouth are no reproofs. For in you, oh LORD, I hope: —

What sublime faith there is here! It is easy to have faith in sunshiny weather, — to have faith when you have the least need of it. There are plenty of people, who imagine they are believing in God when everything is going well with them. It is one thing to believe when you are lying at anchor in a peaceful harbour, it is quite another matter to believe when you are out at sea in a storm. David hoped in God when trouble had come on him wave after wave: “For in you, oh Lord, I hope”: —

15. You will hear, oh LORD my God.

“Even if I do not hear you, you will hear me; and if no man shall hear me, you will hear my prayer, and answer my supplication.”

16-20. For I said, “Hear me, lest otherwise they should rejoice over me: when my foot slips, they magnify themselves against me.” For I am ready to fall, and my sorrow is continually before me. For I will declare my iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin. But my enemies are vigorous, and they are strong: and those who hate me wrongfully are multiplied. Those also who render evil for good are my adversaries; because I follow what is good.

We need never be afraid of any man’s opposition when the reason for his being our adversary is that we “follow what is good,” as our translators quaintly express it.

21, 22. Do not forsake me, oh LORD: oh my God, do not be far from me. Hurry to help me, oh Lord, my salvation.

Now we shall see, as we read that wonderful fifty-third chapter of Isaiah not a man of God in trouble, but the Son of God in trouble; and we shall see him also like a deaf man who does not hear, “and like a dumb man who does not open his mouth.”

53:1-9. Who has believed our report? And to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he has no form nor beauty and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him, he was despised, and we did not esteem him. Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, struck by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was on him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he does not open his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? For he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people he was stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

Those wicked men were his enemies because he did “what is good.” Those who rewarded him evil for good were his adversaries, even as they are ours.

10. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him;

We might say the same of that tried child of God whose utterances we read just now: “It pleased the Lord to bruise him.”

10, 11. He has put him to grief: when you shall make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see the labour of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge my righteous servant shall justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

What gracious gospel words these are, even though they were recorded under the old covenant! Oh, how you who are full of iniquity, ought to grasp these inspired declarations, which so clearly present the substitutionary work of Christ on behalf of the guilty! If you understand your need of such a Saviour as he is, how these words ought to gladden your heart!

12. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he has poured out his soul to death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

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.

Spurgeon Sermon Updates

Email me when new sermons are posted:

Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Learn more

  • Customer Service 800.778.3390