3017. Seeing God’s Goodness Here

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No. 3017-52:589. A Sermon Delivered On Thursday Evening, August 1, 1867, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Published On Thursday, December 6, 1906.

I would have fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. {Ps 27:13}


For other sermons on this text:

   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 766, “Believing to See” 757}

   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3017, “Seeing God’s Goodness Here” 3018}

   Exposition on Ps 27 Ro 8:14-17 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2573, “Unparalleled Suffering” 2574 @@ "Exposition"}

   Exposition on Ps 27 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2396, “Eternal Life!” 2397 @@ "Exposition"}

   Exposition on Ps 27 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2541, “Mr. Moody’s Text” 2542 @@ "Exposition"}

   Exposition on Ps 27 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2947, “Royal Emblems for Loyal Subjects” 2948 @@ "Exposition"}

   Exposition on Ps 27 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3017, “Seeing God’s Goodness Here” 3018 @@ "Exposition"}

   Exposition on Ps 27 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3444, “Keeping the Soul Alive” 3446 @@ "Exposition"}


1. We were favoured with very much of God’s goodness, last Sabbath evening, when we considered the rule of grace in guiding a believer’s life, namely, that, instead of seeing in order to believe, he has learned to believe in order to see. {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 766, “Believing to See.” 757} “Unless I had believed to see,” says the psalmist, “I would have fainted”; and we should never have known true refreshment, nor enjoyed the comforts of the Lord, but should have been full of doubts, and distracted with fears, if we had not learned the sacred art of believing although we did not see, or even believing in spite of what we did see; or believing in order that we might see, fully expecting that sight would inevitably follow if our faith were only simple and true.

2. Those of you who were present, last Sabbath evening, will remember that I restricted my remarks, for the most part, to the one matter of our salvation. I tried to show to seekers that, instead of looking for evidences of salvation first, and then believing in Christ, they were to believe in Christ in order to obtain those evidences; — that, instead of looking to their repentance, and then having confidence in Christ, their repentance sprang from their confidence in Christ; — that, instead of saying, “We are not fully sanctified, and therefore fear we are not saved”; they were to remember that the certainty of their being saved by grace, through faith, would be, to their minds and hearts, the great motive power by which they would be enabled to obtain that sanctification which cannot be theirs as long as they remain in legal bondage, and have doubts about being “accepted in the Beloved.” There were some set at liberty last Sabbath evening, who had really known the Lord for years, but were afraid to say definitely that they had trusted in Christ, and that, therefore, they were saved. May God grant that all of us may not only come to Christ, but may we also exercise a simple, childlike faith, which just takes God’s Word as it stands in this blessed Book, believes it, receives it, lives on it, asks no questions concerning it, and will allow none to be asked by others.

3. On this occasion, I propose to make a particular application of the general principle of our text. David was a man of many troubles. Especially in the latter part of his life, he was incessantly in the furnace; and he says that he should have “fainted” under these many troubles if he had not “believed to see,” in the particular matter of his trials, “the goodness of the Lord” in that land which is the special sphere of trouble. David believed to see the goodness of the Lord, not only in the glory land up there, but also in this land here below. He believed to see the goodness of the Lord, not merely when he emerged from the furnace, but also while he was in it. As a pilgrim and a stranger, he believed to see the goodness of the Lord during the days of his pilgrimage. He did not always see it, but he believed to see it; he believed in it, and anticipated it; and, by believing in it, he actually did come to see it with the eye of his mind, and to rejoice in it.

4. We all know that this world is a very unpromising field for faith; according to our varied experiences, we must all subscribe to the declaration that this earth is, more or less, a vale of tears, that it is not our rest, for it is polluted. There are too many thorns in this nest for us to rest comfortably in it. This world is under the curse, so it still produces thorns and thistles, and in the sweat of our brow we eat our bread until we return to the earth out of which man was at first taken. If this world really were to be our home, it would be a terrible fate for us; if we were always to live in this huge penal settlement, it would be sad indeed for us to know that we had continually to dwell where the shadow of the curse always lingers, and where we have only the shadow of the cross to sustain us under it. But faith comes into this unpromising field, and believes that she shall see the goodness of the Lord even here. She rushes into the fiercest fight that ever rages here, fully believing that she shall see the banner of the Lord’s mercy and truth waving even there. She bears the burden and heat of the earthly toil, and expects to experience the lovingkindness of the Lord beneath it all. She knows that she will see more of her God in the land beyond the flood; but, still, she believes to see the goodness of the Lord even in this land of the living which is so distracted and disturbed with sorrows and cares, and trials and tribulations.

5. I want to show you, first, that faith is infallibly persuaded of God’s goodness here; secondly, that she expects clearly to see that goodness here; and, thirdly, that it is this expectation and belief which sustain the soul of the tried believer.

6. I. First, then, FAITH IS INFALLIBLY ASSURED OF THE GOODNESS OF THE LORD IN THIS TIME-STATE.

7. She is persuaded of this from what she knows about God himself. She could not believe that he could be otherwise than good. She reads the promise recorded in his Word, and she believes that they are all true and reliable. She can detect nothing that is unkind or selfish in any of them; they are all couched in the softest, gentlest, and most consoling words. The language used seems to her to have been selected on purpose to handle her case, and to make the promise suitable and sweet to her sorrowing heart. She feels sure that God could not be unkind. With the psalmist, she cries, “Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart”; and though, like the psalmist, she may have to write afterwards, “But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had almost slipped”; yet she stands firmly by her first declaration, “Truly God is good to Israel,” however much surrounding circumstances may seem to prove the contrary; she knows that, from the necessity of the divine nature, God must be good to his people both here and hereafter.

8. When faith turns to the Bible, and reads the history of the Lord’s people, she sees that God has been good to them; and, knowing that he is “the same yesterday, and today, and for ever,” she draws the cheering inference that he will also be good to her. Inasmuch as she can distinctly see that the trials and difficulties of the saints, in the olden times, always accomplished their lasting good, she is convinced, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that her trials and troubles, overruled by the same loving Lord who cared for them, will work her lasting good, and that God will bless her now as he blessed his saints in the olden time.

9. Perhaps some of you have faith, but yet, possibly through lack of thought, you have not exercised it on this particular point. If you are given to murmuring against God, you will often think thoughts which you would not like to hear or to see in spoken or written language. If someone should say to you, “God has been very unkind to you; I am sure that you cannot see the goodness of God displayed in your life,” you would at once turn around on such a slanderer, and defend the character of your God from such an unjust accusation. Although you often murmur against the Lord in your spirit, yet, if another person should say in words what you have felt in your heart, you would then see the wickedness of your murmuring, and you would also see that, in the depths of your soul, there is a firm confidence in the goodness of God to you. You need to stir up that holy fire, and set it blazing, so that you may get comfort from its warmth; for it is true, and it must be true, that God is now good, and always good, and good to the highest possible degree of goodness to all his children, in their worst calamities, and their darkest seasons of sorrow.

10. But there are some conditions of life in which it is really a trial to faith to believe in the goodness of the Lord, as, for example, that of long-continued, dire poverty. Some of God’s best saints are so poor that they not only lack luxuries, but they even lack the very necessities of life. As a rule, possibly without exception, God does give his people bread and water; but, sometimes, the bread is only a very small portion, and the cup of water is a very tiny one. I have known a child of God, who has said to me, “I have struggled hard against poverty; I have undertaken first this and then that, but, in every case, I have failed. My little vessel has tried to enter the harbour of prosperity, but the cruel winds have always driven it back again into the rough sea of adversity. If I had been a spendthrift; if I had been wasteful in the days of my prosperity, or if I had not used my substance for the cause of God, I could understand my failure. If God would again entrust me with ample means, I would cheerfully give to his cause, as I used to do; but, alas! I have nothing left after my daily needs are supplied.” Unbelief asks, “Can this be the goodness of the Lord?” But Faith answers, “Yes, it is, and it must be; I should faint in this poverty, I should give up in despair if, under all my trials and hardships, I were not sure of the goodness of God to me. If I were even starving to death, God should still have a good word out of my dying mouth. Even if he should let me die of starvation, it must be right, and he must be good.”

11. There are others of God’s children, whose trials come from constant sickness; and some forms of illness are so trying that we are apt to ask ourselves why we should be subjected to them. I talked, this morning, with an aged sister in Christ, who, years ago, had an accident by which her head was so severely injured that, every alternate day, her pain is almost unbearable. She can never go up to the house of God because the sound of the preacher’s voice, or of the singing of the congregation, would be more than she could endure. When we talked together, gently and softly, concerning the things of God, she quoted to me this verse: “I know, oh Lord, that your judgments are right, and that you in faithfulness have afflicted me.” {Ps 119:75} If anyone asks, “Can it be the goodness of the Lord to keep away one who really loves his house, and prizes his ordinances, and to send her such a serious sickness?” — we must reply, “Yes, it must be right. We cannot see how God’s goodness can be revealed like this, but we are to believe that it is.” I may be addressing some others, who are subject to particularly trying infirmities, which disqualify you for the work you love, and the field of service where you have long been so happy and useful. Well, dear friends, in such a case as that, you must believe to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living in making your life to be one of sickness, and weariness, and pain.

12. The same rule also applies to our bereavements. How mysterious are the acts of providence in this matter! Many, whom we cannot afford to lose, are taken away from us; while others, who seem to do no good, continue to live. Death appears to spare the hemlock, and to cut down the oak and the cedar. Where there is a man who only encumbers the ground, he is often allowed to remain; while others, who are like pillars of Christ’s Church, are taken away. I know a little village, where there were only a few poor inhabitants, and one man of wealth, whom I very greatly esteemed. Towards the small salary of the pastor in that village, my friend contributed three fourths, if not nine-tenths. He was the mainstay of that little Christian community. When I found him, last week, very ill with fever, and joined with other friends in earnest prayer that his life might to spared, it seemed to us absolutely essential to the welfare of that village church that he should be kept here at least a little longer. But now that the Lord has taken him home to himself, what can we say? We must not begin to criticize what God has done, but say to him, “We are sure that whatever you do is right; it cannot be wrong, it cannot be unkind; it must be the kindest thing that could have ever happened, the very thing which we should have wished to happen if we could have known what you know, and if we could have formed our judgment on the same principle as swayed your infallible judgment.”

13. We sometimes imagine that we should like to make a slight alteration in some of the arrangements of divine providence. We would not interfere with the great wheels that are always revolving, but just here and there, where a small cog rather inconveniently touches our personal interests, we would like to have it so altered as to leave us alone; but, remorselessly, as we sometimes imagine, the great wheels grind on, our comforts are taken from us, and our joy is destroyed. What then? Why, let us still say, “Lord, not our will, but yours be done”; and let us kiss the hand that wields the rod as much as the one that bestows choice gifts on us. It is far easier for me to say this than it is for you that poor widow to carry it out, — easier for me to say it than it is for that weeping mother, who has seen all her children taken from her to the silent tomb. But, my sisters, my brothers, if it is harder for you, then so much the more earnestly would I urge you to say it; for the very difficulty of the submission, when you have rendered it, would prove the sincerity of your confidence in your God, and bring all the more glory to him. So, as we take our friends and relatives to the grave, and commit the precious dust to the earth, let us still believe to see the goodness of the Lord even there. If we do not look at our sorrows in that light, we shall faint under our repeated losses and bereavements; but if that is the light in which we view them, we shall see a glory gilding even the graves that cover the bodies of our departed loved ones, and shall rejoice in the full assurance of the goodness of the Lord to us, and even more to those who have gone to be “for ever with the Lord.”

14. Another matter may, perhaps, have greatly troubled some of you, namely, your unanswered prayers. You have been praying for certain people for a long time; but, so far, you have received no answer to your supplications. There is a brother here, who has prayed for years for the conversion of his wife; yet she is still unconverted. If he yields to unbelief, he will have many difficult questions to answer. God has said, “Ask, and you shall receive”; you have asked for a thing which, apparently, is for God’s glory, yet you have not received it; and this will sometimes be a staggering blow to the earnest pleader. Some of you have prayed, as I have done, for the life of a friend, or you have sought some other favour from the hands of God, but he has not granted it. I believe there is a brother here, who has carried an unanswered prayer around with him for ten or a dozen years. I have known cases of believers praying for thirty years, and yet not obtaining what they asked for; and some of them, like the worthies of old, have “died in faith, not having received the promises.” They have not lived to see one of their children converted, yet their children have been converted, and saved through their prayers too, long after the parents slept in their graves.

15. In the cases of unanswered prayers, there is always the temptation to believe that God has not been faithful to his promises; so that this bitter draught of unbelief is an addition to the sorrow which you feel at your failure at the mercy seat. This is the time when you will faint unless you believe to see the goodness of the Lord even here and now. You must feel that, in any case, God’s will must be done. You must still continue to pray, for you do not know what God’s will is; but you must pray with resignation, after your Saviour’s perfect model in the garden of Gethsemane, “Nevertheless not as I will, but as you will.” You will be comforted and helped if you can look at your unanswered prayers in that light.

16. And, dear brethren, there is another thing that will sometimes press on you very heavily, namely, the desertions which occasionally fall to the lot of the believer concerning his communion with God. Sometimes, we are left in the dark. Whether you are or not, I know that I have been where I could not see sun, or moon, or stars, or even get so much as a look from my Master to cheer my sad heart, or a word from his mouth to make my spirit glad. At such times, we must remember that ancient message, “Who is among you who fears the Lord, who obeys the voice of his servant, who walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and rely on his God.” If you cannot see, you must believe to see; and if your heart feels like a stone, still believe that Christ is your life; and if, instead of holy meditations, your soul is racked with blasphemous temptations and evil thoughts, still hold on to Jesus, sink or swim. If, instead of clear evidences of salvation, you are half afraid that the Lord has forsaken you, and given you up, and you fall into an unbelieving frame of mind, go again to the fountain filled with blood, that this sin, like all others, may be washed away. Trust Christ all the more “when the enemy shall come in like a flood”; for, then, “the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.” Those must be strange Christians who never have any conflict raging within their souls. If that is true Christian experience, I wish I could get it; — to be always at peace and at rest, and never again have to wrestle with sins, and doubts and fears. But, beloved, if we cannot attain to that position, — and I believe that most of us cannot, — let us still walk by faith; for, by doing so we shall walk triumphantly even under the discouragements of our inward spiritual conflicts.

17. One other point I must mention, and then I will leave this part of the subject. For many believers, the sharpest trials they ever have to endure arise from troubles connected with the Church of Christ. What a grief it is to the godly when any portion of the Church of Christ does not prosper; — when bickerings arise among the members, when one brother or sister is jealous of another, and when all our attempts to repair the breach only make it worse. It must be very trying for some of you to have to go, on the Lord’s day, to listen to a minister who does not edify you, but rather provokes you to wrath; or to attend church meetings, as I know that some do, and find them anything but a means of grace; or to have to meet professors who, in their common conduct and conversation, instead of leading you onward and upward, do you as much mischief as if they were men of the world. It is sad to see even one of God’s ministers sound asleep, and to see other professing Christians careless and worldly, and to see the whole ship of the Church like the vessel described by the {a} Ancient Mariner, — 


   As idle as a painted ship

   Upon a painted ocean;


when there was no motion, no advance; when — 


   “The very deep did rot.”


It is a dreadful thing when there is such a horrible deathlike calm as this; yet, even amid such trials as these, we must believe to see the goodness of the Lord. We must still believe that the great Head of the Church has not forgotten her, that in her darkest times he still wears her name on his heart, and that he will still return to her in mercy, cast out all her enemies, repair her broken walls, and cause the banner of his love to float again over her citadel.

18. II. Now, secondly, and very briefly, FAITH NOT ONLY BELIEVES IN THE GOODNESS OF THE LORD, BUT SHE EXPECTS TO SEE IT EVEN HERE.

19. Sometimes, she sees it very soon. God does not guarantee to let his people see here the reason for all his providential dealings with them, but he does occasionally do so. There is many a believer who has lived to see the goodness of God to him. Bernard Gilpin’s case was a very clear one. As he was on his way to London to be burned at the stake, his leg was broken, and he had to stop on the road. He said it was all for the best, and so it was; for, when he reached London, the bells were ringing, for Queen Mary was dead, and Queen Elizabeth I had come to the throne, so he was not burned, the breaking of his leg had saved his life. Some of us have also seen the goodness of the Lord displayed under very strange circumstances. It was so in connection with that terrible calamity at the Surrey Gardens Music Hall. {b} Notwithstanding all the sorrow and suffering that it brought on us, as we now look back on it, we see how God, by means of that calamity, called public attention to the preaching of the Word; and I have no doubt that, for every life that was then lost, a thousand souls have since been saved from going down to the pit, so let God’s name be praised for that gracious overruling of a terrible crime. You may not have to wait even a day before you will distinctly see the goodness of the Lord; but you must believe it before you see it. It must be a matter of duty to you now to believe it; and then, eventually, it may be a matter of privilege to you to see it.

20. But faith does not always expect to see the goodness of God here at once. She knows that this is the land of mist and fog, and she is glad if she can see even one step before her. Indeed, and she is quite satisfied to go on even if she cannot see a step before her. She puts her foot down on what seems to be a thick cloud, but she finds the ground solid beneath her. Without seeing where she is going, she takes the next step, relying on the faithfulness of God, and again she is safe; and so she pursues her way in the thick darkness, and with greater joy than those who see far ahead, and compliment themselves on their shrewdness. She knows that the day has not yet dawned, for the shadows have not yet fled away, so, while she is in this mortal state, she walks by faith, not by sight.

21. Faith understands, too, that man is not endowed with that degree of judgment which might enable him, at present, even if the light were clearer, to see the goodness of the Lord distinctly. With such an intellect as he now has, a child is not likely to see the wisdom of his father in the use of the rod. Even if he is a well-instructed child, he may still scarcely be able to see it. The father is the better judge; he has seen more of life, he knows what the child does not know, and foresees what the child does not even dream of. How can I, who can only see a little pool in front of me, judge how the Lord should manage the great ocean? Here I am sailing my tiny toy boat on a pond; and am I to lay down rules of navigation for God in steering the leviathans of the deep across the shoreless seas? Here I am, an ant of an hour, creeping around on the little ant-hill which I call my home; and am I to judge how God manages all the affairs of time and eternity? Down, you foolish pride; what do you know? You are wise only when you know that you are a fool; but you are such a fool that you do not know even that until God teaches it to you. Lie down, then, and trust where you cannot understand.

22. Faith also knows that, at present, she cannot see the whole plan and procedure of God’s providential dealings with men. We cannot fairly judge the working of providence by gazing at a part of it. There is an old joke about a student, who took one brick to the market in order to show the people what kind of house he had to sell; but who could accurately judge a house by looking at a single brick? Yet this would be less foolish than trying to judge the goodness of the Lord by the transactions of an hour. If, instead of trying to measure, with a foot-ruler, the distance between Sirius and the Pleiades, we would just believe that God has measured that vast distance to an inch, and leave such measurements to the almighty mind which can take in the whole universe at one sweep, how much wiser it would be on our part! God sees the end from the beginning; and when the great drama of time shall be complete, then the splendour as well as the goodness of the Lord will be seen. When the whole painting shall be unrolled in one vast panorama, then we shall see its matchless beauty, and appreciate the inimitable skill of the Divine Artist. But, here, we only look at one little patch of shade, or one tiny touch of colour, and it appears to us to be rough or coarse. It may be that we shall be permitted, in eternity, to see the entire picture; and, meanwhile, let us firmly believe that he who is painting it knows how to do it, and that he, who orders all things according to the counsel of his own will, cannot fail to do what is best for the creatures whom he has made, and preserved in being.

23. III. So, finally, THERE IS A WONDERFULLY SUSTAINING INFLUENCE ABOUT THIS PRACTICAL BELIEF IN THE GOODNESS OF THE LORD.

24. There is a man lying on the surgeon’s operating table, and the skilful surgeon has to cut deeply; why does the man endure that operation? Because he believes it is for his lasting good. He believes that the surgeon will not cause him any more pain than is absolutely necessary, and therefore he lies quietly, and endures it all. But imagine that any of us were there, and that we thought that the surgeon intended to do us harm instead of good. Then we would rebel; but the conviction that it is all right helps us to play the man, and to bear the pain with patience. That should be your attitude towards God, my dear friend. May your belief in his goodness enable you to bear the sharp cuts of the knife which he is using on you!

25. He must have been a bold man who was the first to plough the ground, all to bury bushels of good, golden wheat in the earth; but, nowadays, our farmers do it as a matter of course. They go to the granary, take out what is very valuable, go off to where they have made the death trench ready to receive it, and cast it in there, knowing that, unless it is cast in there to die, it will not produce a harvest. But they believe to see the harvest that will spring from it; every farmer, when he sows his wheat, has the golden sheaves before his mind’s eye, and the shouts of the harvest home ring in anticipation in his ear; and, therefore, he parts with his treasured supply of wheat, and parts with it cheerfully. So, dear friends, let us part with our friends, and part with our health, and part with our comforts, and part with life itself if that is necessary, believing that “our light affliction, which is only for a moment, works for us a far more great and eternal weight of glory.”

26. Let me just add that, if there is such sustaining power about believing to see the goodness of the Lord even here, what must result from the even higher belief of seeing the goodness of the Lord in another and better world than this? The expectation of that bliss may well bear us up on its wings far above all the trials and troubles of this present life; so let us entreat the Holy Spirit to administer to us this heavenly cordial. Then, in the strength of the Lord, let us go out to serve him, with body, soul, and spirit, to the highest degree that is possible for us.

27. If there are any of you who have never believed, let me just tell you what is necessary before I close my discourse. The way of salvation is this, — Believe God’s Word; believe that your Maker cannot lie; trust his Son, whom he has given to be the Saviour of all who trust him; and rely on what his Word has declared: “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life.” If you trust in Christ, even if you do not have a fraction of other evidence of your salvation, you are a saved soul on that evidence alone. Cast yourself on him, and you shall find that declaration to be true for you, “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life.” But if you do not believe, remember that this declaration is equally true, “he who does not believe the Son shall not see life; but, the wrath of God rests on him.” May God save all of you from that awful doom, for his dear Son’s sake! Amen.


{a} The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is the longest major poem by the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge written in 1797-1798. See Explorer "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rime_of_the_Ancient_Mariner"
{b} Surrey Hall Disaster: On Sunday morning, October 19, 1856, Spurgeon was to preach for the first time at Surrey Gardens Music Hall. The building had seating for over ten thousand people and was one of the largest auditoriums in England at that time. The young preacher arrived early at the Hall and was amazed to see the streets and garden area thronged with people. When the doors were opened, the people entered quickly and soon the place was full. Wisely, Spurgeon started the service earlier than the time announced. He led in prayer and then announced a hymn, which the large congregation sang reverently. He then read Scripture and commented on it, and this was followed by a pastoral prayer. As he was praying, voices began to shout “Fire! Fire! The galleries are giving way! The place is falling!” Spurgeon stopped praying and did his best to calm the people, but the damage had been done. In the stampede that followed, seven people were killed and twenty-eight injured. Spurgeon tried to preach, hoping that that would arrest the crowd, but the tumult and the shouting were even too much for the prince of preachers. He then asked the people to sing a hymn as they exited in an orderly manner, and he himself left in a state of shock. He spent the next week in a broken condition, wondering if he would ever preach again.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Ps 27}

David is in the darkness of sorrow; his enemies are many and mighty, and they are dead set against him, and seek to utterly destroy him; but he finds his comfort where every true believer must always seek his solace, that is, in his God. So sweetly does the psalmist sing.

1. The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

David leaves the broken cisterns of the earth, which can hold no water, and goes directly to the divine fountain-head. He does not say, “Ahithophel is my light, Uzzia, the Ashterathite, is my friend and my joy”; but he says, “Jehovah is my light.” Candles soon burn out, but the sun shines on; and, eventually, “the sun shall be turned into darkness” but Jehovah, our God, is “the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” David does not say, “Joab is the strength of my life; Benaiah and the Cherethites are my body-guard”; but he says, “Jehovah is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?” It is the height of Christian faith to find everything good in God, and it is an evil hour for us when we begin to trust in anything except in him. Build your foundation for eternity on a firm and unyielding soil, oh believer and let every stone that is laid on it be quarried from the Rock of ages.

2. When the wicked, even my enemies and my foes, came against me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.

If we are on the Lord’s side, the defeat of our enemies shall be total and final; they shall fall to the ground. They may be very many, and very varied, so as to be described under two names, — enemies and foes; they may be very ferocious, so that, like the wild beasts of the forest, they are ready to tear the flesh of their prey, and devour it; and they may be able to make such attacks as actually to come against us; but, just at the moment when they think they shall be able to swallow us up, our God will intervene for our deliverance. It is marvellous how near to the edge of the precipice of ruin the Lord sometimes lets his people go, yet he always delivers them just at the right moment, and causes their enemies to stumble and fall.

3. Though a host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this I will be confident.

True and simple faith in God alone always creates courage. It is the man who is trusting in the creature who is the coward; but he who truly trusts in the Creator becomes a hero. Faith is the food on which God would have his children fed; so, if you would do deeds of daring, lean only on God, and then you shall have your heart’s desire.

4. One thing I have desired from the LORD, that I will seek after;

A true Christian is a man of one idea, but that one idea is the noblest that ever possessed the human mind, or influenced the human heart. This idea is one which not only finds a lodging in his brain, but he carries it on in the practice of his daily life: “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that I will seek after.” And what is that one thing?

4. That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.

That is, to gaze on the mystery of God in Christ, for is not Christ “the beauty of the Lord?” He is properly called “the brightness of his Father’s glory, and the express image of his person”; So all that we need on earth, or in heaven, is a perpetual vision of Jesus Christ: “to behold the beauty of the Lord,” and constantly to be enabled to present our petitions in his temple, and to receive gracious answers of peace to our supplications.


   Father, my soul would fain abide

   Within thy temple, near thy side;

   But if my feet must hence depart,

   Still keep thy dwelling in my heart.


5. For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion:

The pavilion was the many coloured tent of the king, embroidered with needlework, and richly furnished. It was always placed in the centre of the encampment, so that, if there were a night attack, the enemy must first break through the ranks of the armed men before reaching the royal pavilion. So, the Christian is put into the very centre of the Lord’s host. God’s sovereignty encloses him, and God’s angels surround him; and the enemy must first break through the angelic guard, and overcome all the heavenly powers, before any one believer can be destroyed.

5. In the secret of his tabernacle he shall hide me;

“The secret of his tabernacle” was the Holy of holies, into which no man but the high priest ever entered, and even he only entered it once a year; but, now, the Christian is admitted into the holiest place of all, through the sacrifice of Christ, and Christ’s atonement and the sovereignty of God join together to make the Christian’s position absolutely safe for ever.

5. He shall set me up on a rock.

The Rock of ages is immovable; it does not stir in the fiercest storm that ever rages. God is immutable, he remains the same for ever; so that we have three firm reasons for confidence, — God’s sovereignty, Christ’s sacrifice, and God’s immutability.

6. And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me: therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in his tabernacle: I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD.

Since David’s trust was in his Lord, all his praise was for his Lord; and where we place our confidence, there let us also display our gratitude. If we trust in men, it is not surprising if we worship and praise men; but if we trust only in God, our homage and gratitude will be laid at his feet.

7, 8. Hear, oh LORD, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also on me, and answer me. When you said, “Seek my face”; my heart said to you, “Your face, LORD, I will seek.”

Happy is the man who has a tender conscience, — whose heart is like the waves of the sea, which are easily moved by the breath of heaven; — so that, when God breathes on him by his Holy Spirit, his soul is moved and controlled by that Spirit.

9. Do not hide your face far from me; do not put your servant away in anger:

The sharpest trial a Christian can know is to be forsaken by his God. Just as the very pith of the agony of Christ on the cross lay in his being deserted by his Father, so the extremity of a believer’s anguish is found when he also has to cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Send us any other trial that you wish, oh Lord; but let us never lose the light of your countenance! We are rich in poverty, we are strong in weakness, we are healthful in sickness, we are living even in death while we have our God with us; but if our Lord shall once hide his face from us, we are in trouble indeed.

9. You have been my help; do not leave me, neither forsake me, oh God of my salvation.

Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, use your past experience to encourage you for the present; draw arguments from your past experience to use with God in prayer, even as David did: “You have been my help; do not leave me, neither forsake me, oh God of my salvation. When my soul was burdened with sin, you were my Helper. You did enable me to look to Christ when I lost friend after friend, when I passed through fierce conflicts with the devil; when I was sick, and health and strength failed me, you were my Helper.” Many of you can look back on a long life like this, and say to God concerning it all, “You have been my Helper”; and this gives you a foothold in your wrestling with the great Angel of the Covenant; so be sure that you grasp him firmly, and say, “Do not leave me, neither forsake me, oh God of my salvation.”

10. When my father and my mother forsake me,

They are not likely to do that; yet, if they should do so, what then?

10, 11. Then the LORD will take me up. Teach me your way, oh LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of my enemies.

This is a prayer which all Christians have good need to pray, for there are so many enemies who will, if they can, cause us to stumble, so many who watch for our halting, that we need to pray, “Lead me in a plain path, because of my enemies.” Yet let me also say to you that it does not matter how carefully and warily you may walk, nor how holy you may be, you will be sure to be slandered, indeed, and sometimes by Christian people, too. There are always someone to tell a lie, and others to repeat it, and some to believe in it, and even to rejoice in it. It would be a mercy if some people had no tongues; for, if they had none, they would commit far less sin than they do now.

12. Do not deliver me over to the will of my enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty.

David found enemies, and so will you, and the holier you are, the more you shall have of them. Birds pick the ripest fruit; the highest towers cast the longest shadows; and so it is that the highest holiness is generally the object of the most cruel attacks. Well, what are they to do who are passing through this trial? Do? Why, go to their God about that as well as about everything else.

13. I would have fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.

With troubles without, and fears within, and slanderers and enemies of all kinds around him, the Christian would have almost fainted; but faith puts the divine smelling salts to his nose, and as soon as ever the nose perceives the sweet perfume of God’s faithfulness, the man is revived: “I would have fainted, unless I had believed.” So, you see that you must do either the one or the other; you must either believe or faint, for, by unbelief and sin, a spiritual fainting fit will soon come on.

14. Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

Wait on no one else; wait only on him, and then you shall not be discouraged or faint-hearted; therefore, “Wait, I say, on the Lord.”

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

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Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

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