3110. Faintness And Refreshing

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No. 3110-54:445. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Published On Thursday, September 17, 1908.

And he arose, and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food for forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God. {1Ki 19:8} {a}

1. I. My first observation on this passage is, that THE GREATEST OF BELIEVERS ARE SOMETIMES SUBJECT TO FAINTING FITS.

2. The apostle James tells us that “Elijah was a man subject to the same passions as we are,” and this fact was very clearly revealed on the occasion to which our text refers. Otherwise he seemed, in most things, to be superior to the ordinary run of men, a kind of iron prophet,—what if I call him THE PROPHET OF FIRE?—the man whose whole life seemed to be a flash of flame,—a mighty, burning, ecstatic love and zeal towards the cause of God. But Elijah had his flaws, even as the sun has its spots. Strong man though he was, he was sometimes obliged to faint, even as the sun sometimes suffers an eclipse. His fainting, too, took a form which is very common among the saints of God; he cried, “Oh Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my forefathers.” {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2725, “Elijah Fainting” 2726} A desire to depart, when it arises from wisdom and knowledge, and from a general survey of things below, is very proper; but when a wish to die is merely the result of passion, a kind of quarrelling with God as a child sometimes quarrels with his parents, it has more of folly in it than of wisdom, and much more of petulance than of piety. It was a remarkable thing that the man who was never to die, for whom God had ordained an infinitely better lot, the man who was to be carried to heaven by a whirlwind, in a chariot of fire drawn by horses of fire,—the man who, like Enoch, was “translated that he should not see death,”—should pray to die like this.

3. We have here a memorable proof that God does not always answer prayer literally, though he always does in effect. He gave Elijah something better than what he asked for, so he really did hear and answer his prayer. But it was strange that Elijah should have asked to die, and it was blessedly kind on the part of our Heavenly Father that he did not take his servant at his word, and snatch him away at once, but spared him, so that he might escape the sharpness of death. There is, beloved, a limit to the doctrine of the prayer of faith. We are not to expect that God will give us everything for which we choose to ask. We know that we sometimes ask, and do not receive, because we “ask amiss.” If we ask contrary to the promises of God,—if we run counter to the spirit which the Lord would have us cultivate,—if we ask anything contrary to his will, or to the degrees of his providence,—if we ask merely for the gratification of our own ease, and without an eye to his glory, we must not expect that we shall receive; yet, when we ask in faith, nothing doubting, if we do not receive the precise thing asked for, we shall receive an equivalent, and more than an equivalent for it. As one remarks, “If the Lord does not pay in silver, he will in gold; and if he does not pay in gold, he will in diamonds. If he does not give you precisely what you ask for, he will give you what is more than tantamount to it, and what you will greatly rejoice to receive in lieu of it.”

4. However, Elijah’s faintness took this particular form of a desire to die; nor is this very uncommon, especially among the hard-worked and most eminent servants of God.

5. This fainting fit is easily to be accounted for. It was the most rational thing in the world for Elijah to be sick at heart, and to desire to die. Can you not see him standing alone on Mount Carmel? There are the priests of Baal surrounding the altar; they grow warm with excitement; they cut themselves with knives and lancets, but all in vain; then, with laughter and irony, the prophet tells them to cry aloud to their absent or sleeping god, Baal; and, eventually, the solemn testing time comes; he tells them to pour water on his altar, and into the trench around it, and over the young bull and the wood on which it was laid. There he stands, a lonely man believing in the invisible God, and believing that the invisible God can do what the visible Baal cannot do. He puts the whole matter to this one test, “The god that answers by fire, let him be God.” Great must have been the excitement of his flaming soul. If one could have felt his mighty heart beating just then, one might have wondered how his ribs could hold so marvellous an enigma. When “the fire of the Lord fell,” conceive, if you can, his holy rapture, his delirious joy; and think of him in the fury of the moment, when he cried, “Take the prophets of Baal; do not let one of them escape”; {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1058, “No Quarter” 1049} and when he took them down to the Brook Kishon, and with his own hands began the slaughter of the men condemned by the Mosaic law to die, because they had perverted the people of Israel from the worship of the Most High God.

6. And now do you see him as he goes to the top of Carmel, and engages in prayer? He has conquered God once by bringing down fire from heaven; he has overcome Baal and his prophets, and left their dead bodies, heaps upon heaps, by the brook’s side. Now he goes up to conquer heaven once more, by asking not for fire, but for water. He prays, and seven times he tells his servant to go and look for the answer. At last, a little cloud is seen; the heavens begin to blacken. Elijah sends his servant to tell Ahab the king that the rain is coming, and then girds up his loins, and runs before the king’s chariot as though he were as young of heart and as active of limb as ever. With such a hard day’s work, such stern mental toil, such amazing spiritual exercises, it is a wonder that the man’s reason did not reel; but instead of that, there came on that reaction which, as long as we are mortal men, must follow strong excitement; and he now feels depressed and heavy, and a woman’s threat cows him who could not once have been cowed by armed hosts. He who looked to heaven, and was not afraid of all its fires, is now afraid of Jezebel, because she swears that she will put him to death. It is not unusual that it should have been so, for it is just like human nature. Peter is so bold that he cuts off the ear of Malchus; and yet, when a little maid comes in, and accuses him of being a friend of Jesus, he denies it with oaths and curses. The boldest sometimes tremble, and it may easily be accounted for on natural principles.

7. Do you notice how very opportunely these fainting fits come? Elijah did not faint when God’s honour was at stake at the top of the mountain. There he stands, as if nothing could move him. He did not faint when it was the time to kill the priests of Baal. With keen eye and strong limb, he dashes at them, and accomplishes his mighty victory. He did not faint when it was time to pray; who ever does faint on his knees? But he does faint when it is all over, and when it does not much matter whether he faints or not. There is no particular reason why he should not; he may well learn more of God’s strength and of his own weakness; he may well be laid aside now that his work is done. Have you never noticed, dear friends, that God wisely times the seasons when he allows you to fall into depression of spirits? He does not touch the sinew of your thigh while you are wrestling with the angel; he makes you limp when the victory is over, but not until then. “I thank God,” many a Christian may say, “that when I have been cast down and dispirited, it was at a time when it did not do such fatal mischief to me, and to the cause of God, as it would have done if it had occurred at another time.” Is not the promise, “As your days, so shall your strength be,” a very suggestive one? When you have a heavy day’s work to do, you will have the needed strength; but when you have a day of rest, you will have no strength to waste. There shall be no vigour given to spend on our own pride, or to sacrifice to our own glory. The battle is fought, and then the strength to fight it is taken away; the victory is won, and therefore the power to win it is removed, and God’s servant is made to go and lie down and sleep under a juniper tree, which was, perhaps, the best thing he could do.

8. And these fainting fits, to which God’s children are subject, though evil in themselves, prevent greater evils. Elijah would have been something more than a man if he had not felt conceited and proud, or, at least, if there had not been in him a tendency to elation of spirit, when he thought of the greatness and the splendour of the deeds he had accomplished. Who among us, at any rate, could have borne so much honour as God put on him, without lifting our heads to the very stars? So he is made to faint. He is constrained now to admit, what I am sure he always knew and felt in his heart, that all the glory must be given to God, and not to the poor frail instrument which he was pleased to use. Graciously God sent this fainting fit to check him in what would have involved him in a far more serious fall.

9. This depression of spirits, doubtless, taught Elijah a great lesson. It needed strong teaching to instruct him. Elijah was not a man to be taught by ordinary teachers. If he could have walked into a place where others of God’s servants were ministering, I think they would all have sat down, and said, “Let Elijah speak; who among us can teach him?” The mightiest of God’s servants might be silent before him; and therefore God himself teaches him. Some servants of the Lord are taught by God in a way which is quite unknown to others. There is a path which the eagle’s eye has not seen, and which the lion’s whelp has not travelled,—a path of secret chastisement, as well as of secret revelation. Those whom God honours in public, he often chastens in private; those men who shine most as candles of the Lord’s own right-hand lighting, are sometimes made to feel that they would be only a snuff if the grace of God should depart from them. God has ways of teaching all of us in our bones and in our flesh, but he especially knows how to do this with those on whom he puts any honour in his service. You must not marvel, if God should be pleased to bless you to the conversion of souls, that he should also make you sometimes smart. Remember that Paul, with all his grace, could not be without “a thorn in the flesh.” There must also be “a messenger of Satan to buffet you,” lest you should be exalted above measure, so may you learn to submit cheerfully to a discipline which, though painful to you, your Heavenly Father knows to be wise!

10. Moreover, these fainting fits, to which God’s servants are subject, are profitable, not only for those who have them, but for others. To compare small things with great, a foolish idea sometimes gets into the minds of our hearts, that surely the minister can never be much cast down. Young converts sometimes think that old saints can never know such contentions within, such doubtings, such humblings of spirit, as they feel. Ah! but whether they are dwarfs or giants, the experience of Christian men is amazingly alike. There are lines of weakness in the creature which even grace does not efface. “When the peacock looks at his fair feathers,” says old Master Dyer, “he may afterwards look at his black feet”; and so, whenever the brightest Christian begins to be proud of his graces, there will be sure to be something about him which will remind others as well as himself that he is yet in the body. I forget how many times it is that Ezekiel is called, in the book of his prophecy, “the son of man.” I counted them the other day, and I do not find the same title applied to any other prophet so often as it is to him. Why is this? Why, there never was another prophet who had such eagle wings as Ezekiel had; it was given to him to soar more loftily than any other; hence he is always called, “the son of man,” to show that he is only a man after all. Your highest people, your most elevated saints, are only sons of fallen Adam, touched with the same infirmities and weaknesses as their fellow creatures, and liable, unless grace prevents, to fall into the same sins as others fall into.

11. I think these are good and sufficient reasons why the strongest believers often experience the most oppressive weakness.


13. Elijah had often been fed in a remarkable way; ravens had ministered to his needs at one time, and at another time an impoverished widow had boarded him; but on this occasion he is to be fed by an angel. The best refreshments are to be provided for him at the worst time, and he might well have said, “You have kept the best wine until now, when I needed it the most.” The food that he ate at Cherith had to be brought to him every morning and every evening, but the food which was given to him now lasted him for forty days and forty nights; and though the widow’s cruse did not fail, yet he needed constantly to resort to it; but in this case one meal, or rather a double meal, was sufficient to last him during six weeks of journeying. He was supernaturally awakened; he found food suitable for him—a cake and a cruse of water all ready for him, and he only had to rise and take it.

14. Now, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ,—for I now speak only to you,—have you never found that, in times when heart and flesh have both failed, you have been privileged to receive some special help from heaven? Sometimes it has come to you in the form of a full assurance of your interest in Christ. Your heart was very heavy; the work you had before you seemed to be much too arduous for you; your spirit quailed before your enemies; the weight of your trouble was too much for you; but just then Jesus whispered softly into your ear that you were his. You had doubted before whether you really were Christ’s, but you could not doubt it any longer; the Spirit bore witness with your spirit that you were born by God, and you could—

   Read your title clear,

   To mansions in the skies.

It is exceptional how this assurance acts in two ways. It is the great cure for us when we are soaring too high. When Christ’s disciples had cast out demons, he said to them, “Notwithstanding do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.” And this, too, is the cure for us when we fall too low. Do not mourn over this, but still “rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.” Many an old saint, sitting in a chimney-corner under an accumulation of aches, and pains, and weaknesses, and sorrows, has sung,—

   When I can read my title clear

      To mansions in the skies,

   I bid farewell to every fear,

      And wipe my weeping eyes.

   Should earth against my soul engage,

      And hellish darts be hurled,

   Then I can smile at Satan’s rage,

      And face a frowning world.

Bless God for the full assurance of faith, for it will yield you food in the strength of which you may go on for forty days and forty nights. May God give us to feed on it constantly! But, sometimes, he gives us the richest meal of it just when we are in our weakest state, and are ready to give up in despair.

15. We have known the Lord to feed his people, sometimes, with another truth, namely, the doctrine of his own greatness and grandeur. A sight of the greatness of God is a very blessed support for us under a sense of our littleness. There you lie, broken and bruised, like an insect that has been crushed. You look up, and the light flashes through the dark cloud, and you behold something of the greatness and the glory of God, and you think, “What are my troubles? He can bear them. What are all my griefs? They are only as the small dust of the balance to him. Why should I faint or grow weary when he on whom I lean does not faint, neither is weary? Underneath me are his everlasting arms. He is mighty, though I am a thing of naught. He is wise, though I am lost, and bewildered, and foolish. He is faithful, though I am doubting and trembling.”

   “The more his glories strike our eye,”—

the less apt shall we be to die of despair; we shall feed on this food as Elijah did on his cake baked on the coals, and, like him, we shall go in its strength for forty days.

16. Sometimes, too, we have known the blessedness of feeding on the assurance that the cause of God will ultimately be triumphant. I remember when, like a broken, bruised, and worthless thing, I seemed set aside from Christian service, and from my work for God, which I loved. It seemed to me as though I should never return again to preach the Word; I wondered how the work of my hands under God would fare, and my spirit was overwhelmed within me. I made diligent search after comfort, but found none; my soul took counsel within herself, and so increased her woes, but no light came. I shall never forget the moment when, suddenly, these words came to me, “Therefore God also has highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” {b} At once I thought, “What does it matter if I, the soldier, falls on the battle-field, if my great Captain is safe? Jehovah reigns; Christ is exalted.” Then I seem to look on my own being set aside, my shame, my reproach, my death, or anything else that might befall me, as not being worth a moment’s notice, because the King stood over there, and the blood-red flag waved in triumph. Oh God, your truth must conquer in the end; your foes must flee. What if they gain some petty advantage here and there along the line? What if they do make a breach here and there in the bulwarks of our Zion? They shall fly like chaff before the wind in the day when you appear; the battle is yours, oh Lord, and you will deliver them into our hand before long! Let the ultimate triumph of the truth solace you when you are discouraged because you have seemed to labour in vain, and spend your strength for naught. Be of good cheer, the Conqueror, who comes with dyed garments from Bozrah, is still in the midst of his Church. This cake baked on the coals has often given food to poor fainting Elijahs.

17. A conviction, too, of the sympathy of Jesus Christ with them has often been very dainty food and a precious cordial for mourning spirits. This is, perhaps, the very first doctrine we teach the bereaved and sick saints. We tell them that “in all their afflictions he was afflicted.” And probably there is no verse that is sung more often, and with greater sweetness, than this one,—

   How bitter that cup no heart can conceive,

   Which he drank quite up, that sinners might live!

   His way was much rougher and darker than mine;

   Did Christ, my Lord, suffer, and shall I repine?

It makes pain so glorious when you think that the very same pain shoots through him as through you, that there is not so much pain truly in the finger as there is in the head, that the head is indeed the true seat of all the sensitiveness. It is not so much Christ’s people who suffer, as it is Christ himself suffering in them. Does it not make the cross glorious when you bear it with the thought that it is Christ’s cross you are carrying? To suffer poverty for Christ’s sake is a very different thing from suffering poverty in the abstract. To be despised for the gospel’s sake is a different thing from being despised for any other reason; for, to be reproached for Christ is honour, and to suffer for Christ is pleasure. A mother will sit up night after night to nurse her darling child; she would not do it for anyone else for any money you could offer her; and though she grows very weary, she goes to her work again, and does for her child what she would not, and probably could not, do for any other child. So some of us would do for love what we would not think of doing for gain; and when we know that we are doing and suffering for Christ, and feel that Christ is with us in it all, it becomes a very blessed cordial, and we—

   “Rejoice in deep distress,”—

since Jesus Christ is with us.

18. And how often has God given much comfort to his people, when they were ready to give everything up, by vision of heaven? Did you ever have such a vision? It will sometimes steal softly over your spirit, especially in severe sickness, when heaviness and uneasiness seem to bring you to the very gates of the grave. You do not hear the bells of heaven with your ears, nor do stray notes of angels’ harps greet you, nor do you see the white-robed hosts with your natural eyes, but your soul sees and hears it all. God sometimes brings his people into “the land of Beulah” before they would have reached it in the order in which John Bunyan puts it in his allegory. Some of us have been to the very gates of heaven; we have had such foretastes of heaven that we feel that we can now fight the fight, and cheerfully wait—

   “Our threescore years and ten,”—

if the Lord pleases to spare us for so long, because the crown at the end is so glorious; and that we can journey through the wilderness because the Canaan is so worthy of all that we can do or suffer that we may enter it. Beloved, a vision of Jesus Christ and a vision of heaven will be enough to solace the most downcast among you; and where you gladly would hang your harp on the willows, if Jesus Christ shall appear to you, and his Father shall smile on you, and his Spirit shall actively work on your hearts, and heaven’s gate shall be opened to you, then you will snatch up your harp, and wake it to the sweetest melodies in praise of sovereign grace. You Elijahs, who are now saying, “Let me die,” change your tune, for there is a cake baked on the coals provided for you, so arise and eat it.


20. Elijah was not fed so that he might get strong, and then waste his strength. There are no sinecures {c} in God’s service. All his true servants are real workmen; and when they have strength given to them by him, it is not that they may show what fine fellows they are, but that they may toil on in their Master’s cause. The soldier is a smart-looking fellow on parade in days of peace,—and may be long before he shall have any reason to do anything more than show himself at such times,—but God’s soldiers are always on active service; and as sure as the Master ever gives them a double round of ammunition, he intends for them to fire it all. If ever he gives them a new sword, it is because they will soon need it, and whenever he is pleased to furnish them with new armour, it is because he knows that they will require the sacred panoply. {d} There are no superfluities in the provisions of God’s grace.

21. What did Elijah have to do? Having fed on this angels’ food he had to go on a long solitary journey. I wonder whether you can imagine it,—a journey of forty days and forty nights! It does not seem to me, from what I gather from the story, that he ever stopped; certainly he did not stop to take refreshments, but went right away into the wilderness, having probably left his servant at Beersheba the whole time. He never saw the face of man all the while. He fasted more amazingly than Moses did, who fasted on the mountain in peace and quietness; this mysterious prophet fasted, and at the same time he was taking giant strides in the lonely wilderness, startling the beasts of prey, treading the infrequented tracts of the wild goats and the gazelles with ever-onward foot; on through the day’s burning heat, and the night’s black shadows, never pausing for forty days and forty nights! A strange march was that; but, sometimes, God calls his people to something very much like it. Strange, weird like, and solitary is your soul, and no one can walk with you where you have to go; you have to take strides that will suit no one else. You have to go a way that has not been trodden previously by anyone else. The Master has called you to special suffering, if not to special service; you have no pioneer, and no companion. I suppose every person, who is called to serve God in a remarkable manner, or to suffer for him in a particular way, must have noticed the solitariness of his own life. Do not tell me about solitude being only in the wilderness; a man may have plenty of company there; the worst solitude is what a man may have among millions of his fellow creatures. Look at that solitude of Moses. When Moses had his heaviest cares on him, with whom could he hold any real communion? With the seventy elders? As well might an eagle have stooped to have communion with so many sparrows. They were far beneath him; they did not have hearts large enough to commune with the great-souled Moses. You will say, perhaps, that Aaron might have done so. Indeed, truly, a brother’s heart is a very cheering one when it beats to the same tune as your own, but Aaron was a man of an altogether different spirit from Moses, and no one would think of comparing the two men. Moses is like some of those colossal figures that are cut in the Egyptian rocks, or that stand amid the ruins of Karnak; he seems to have been one of those great spirits of the grand olden time before the stature of men had declined, and he is all alone. He bears the people in his heart, and throughout his life is a solitary man. Such, too, was Elijah. Now, perhaps you will have special feasting on Christ, because in your trial or in your labour you will have to learn that there is a secret you cannot tell to anyone except your God, that there is a bitterness with which no other heart can experience, that there are heights and depths through which you will have to pass, and will have to pass alone. Do not wonder, dear friends, if these words should come true to you in days to come. Do not marvel if that verse we sometimes sing should happen to be suitable to you on this quiet, peaceful evening,—

   We should suspect some danger nigh,

   When we perceive too much delight.

If God feeds us with angels’ food, he intends us to do more than man’s work.

22. But I meant for you to notice, in the next place, that while Elijah was fed like this so that he might go a long and lonely journey, that he was sent on that journey so that he might be brought into more sympathy with God than before. Why did he have to journey “forty days and forty nights into Horeb the mount of God?” It is said that it was not more than eighty miles, and certainly does not appear to have been a hundred. Such a long time was not necessary for the distance; why, therefore, did Elijah take it? Do you not see that it is a day for a year? “Forty years long,” says Jehovah, “I was grieved with this generation” in the wilderness. Forty days and nights, therefore, must the Lord’s servant walk over the very tracks where Israel had pitched their tents, and God seemed to say to him, “Oh Elijah, do you lose your temper, and turn away from Israel, and ask to die, when I had to bear with my people for forty years, and yet, notwithstanding that, they now inherit the goodly land, and have come to Lebanon?” Beloved, the servants of God must frequently experience ingratitude, and unkind treatment, and harsh words, and cruel speeches from those whom they try to serve, and sometimes God’s own people are a greater plague to God’s ministers than are all the rest of the world besides. Well, what of that? Does not the Lord seem to say, “Now I will teach you what my compassions are, I will teach you what my patience must be; you shall have forty days’ walking in the wilderness to make you understand something of what I felt when, for forty years, I bore with the bad manners, and rebellions, and idolatries of this crooked and perverse people?” Is it not a grand thing, my brothers and sisters, to be made to have sympathy with God? I do not think most Christians understand this,—to be made to feel as God felt, so that you are enabled, as it were, to see things from God’s standpoint, and to begin to understand why he is angry with the wicked, and to magnify that matchless grace which bears so long with the sons of men. It may possibly happen, my brethren, that the Master has been feeding you on some special and dainty viand at his table, or under the ministry, or in earnest prayer, or in communion, or in meditation, in order that, in the future, you may have greater sympathy with him by treading, in your measure, the same path that he trod in years long gone by.

23. There is always a special reason when there comes a special mercy, and so, to conclude, I ask you to note that the Lord gave his servant this special benefit because he intended to give him a very special rebuke. “What are you doing here, Elijah?” was not the kind of language that Elijah had been accustomed to hear from his God. He could use such language himself on his fellow men, as he did when he spoke to Ahab, but he was not accustomed to hear such words spoken to him by God. Softer sentences had so far greeted his ear, but now God is about to rebuke him for running away from his work, for playing the coward, and for setting an example of unbelief; but before he rebukes him, he supplies all his needs, and gives him forty days’ strength. The Lord does not chasten his children when they are weak and sickly, “without,” as one says, “sustaining them with one hand while he strikes them with the other.” He will give you comforting grace as well as the privilege of chastisement. You cannot do without the rod, but you shall be enabled, on the strength of the food which he will give you, to bear up under it without your spirit utterly fainting.

24. Possibly God may have in store for some of us a special rebuke. He may intend to make some thundering passage in his Word come with terrific power to our souls. He may intend to lay us on a bed of sickness, and, therefore, now, by giving us strengthening food, he is preparing us for it, so that even when in the furnace we may be enabled to sing his praise.

25. I leave these thoughts with those of you who know the way of the wilderness. Those of you who do not will not care much about them; but I may pray God that the sinner, who knows nothing of these faintings, may be made to faint utterly until his soul dies within him with spiritual despair; and when he dies like this, then the Lord who kills will make him alive. When you have no power left, if you can throw yourself beneath the shadow of the cross, though your flesh may make you sleep there as Elijah did under the juniper tree, yet you shall hear a voice which shall tell you to arise, and in the great atonement of the Saviour you shall find a cake baked on what hot coals I will not now undertake to say. You shall find it such food to the weary spirit that, when you have partaken of it, poor sinner, you shall dare to go to the mount of God, even to Horeb, and face the terrible law of God, and ask, “Who shall lay anything to my charge?” Feeding on Jesus, mysteriously sustained by trusting in the efficacy of his precious blood, you shall go on until you shall see God face to face in his holy mount in glory, in the strength of him who said, “For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.”

26. May God bless every one of us, for Jesus’ sake! Amen.

{a} An Exposition of the greater part of the chapter from which the text is taken is given with sermon:— {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2828, “Startling!” 2829 @@ "Exposition"}
{b} {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 101, “The Exaltation of Christ” 96} This was Mr. Spurgeon’s first Sermon after the Surrey Gardens accident. The full story of that memorable period is told in C. H. Spurgeon’s Autobiography, Vol. II, Chapter 1, “The Great Catastrophe at the Surrey Gardens Music Hall.”
{c} Sinecure: Any office or position which has no work or duties attached to it, esp. one which yields some stipend or emolument. OED.
{d} Panoply: A complete suit of armour, the “whole armour” of a soldier. OED.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Ps 143}

1-3. Hear my prayer, oh LORD, give ear to my supplications: in your faithfulness answer me, and in your righteousness. And do not enter into judgment with your servant: for in your sight no man living shall be justified. For the enemy has persecuted my soul; he has struck my life down to the ground; he has made me to dwell in darkness, as those who have been long dead.

This is a very graphic description of David’s sorrow; and those who have ever come under the power of Satan so as to be crushed in spirit, and see all their hopes blighted and withered, know what David meant when he penned these words. Only think of a soul dwelling in darkness like a body that has been long dead, and shut up in the grave.

4. Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is desolate.

What a sad expression that is! It would be difficult to bring out all its meaning: “My heart within me is desolate”;—lonely, deserted, desponding, despairing, almost destroyed.

5. I remember the days of old; I meditate on all your works; I muse on the work of your hands.

This is a gracious exercise which tends greatly to the comfort of mourners; yet it does not always succeed, for God’s works cannot satisfy us, if God hides himself from us.

6. I stretch out my hands to you: my soul thirsts after you, as a thirsty land. Selah.

“My soul seems scarcely such a living thing as a thirsty stag panting for the cooling stream; but, as the parched earth, that cannot call to you, and yet gapes with open mouth as if she silently implored the rain, so it is with me.” God sends the dew to the grass which cannot call to him for it; then how much more will he send the dew of his grace to us who do cry to him for it, and with anguish thirst after it!

7, 8. Hear me speedily, oh LORD: my spirit fails: do not hide your face from me, lest I be like those who go down into the pit. Make me to hear your lovingkindness in the morning; for I trust in you: make me to know the way in which I should walk; for I lift up my soul to you.

What a dead “lift” {e} it is sometimes! Yet we must not let our soul lie in the gutter. By God’s help, we must lift it up; and the nearer the soul is lifted up to God, the more it comes into the light, and the more sure it is yet to obtain its liberty.

9, 10. Deliver me, oh LORD, from my enemies: I flee to you to hide me. Teach me to do your will; for you are my God: your spirit is good; {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1519, “At School” 1519}

“Make my spirit good!”

10, 11. Lead me into the land of uprightness. Revive me, oh LORD, for your name’s sake:

Do not these prayers suit you, my brothers and sisters? Do you not feel as if you were being taught how to pray by the reading of this Psalm? I think it must be so at least with some of you.

11, 12. For your righteousness’ sake bring my soul out of trouble. And in your mercy cut off my enemies, and destroy all those who afflict my soul: for I am your servant.

We cannot join in the prayers in this verse just as it stands, for we live in another age, in which we are taught to pray for our enemies, not against them; but as far as this verse relates to our spiritual enemies, our sins, and temptations, and Satanic foes, we pray that they may be utterly cut off, and that the very name of them may be blotted out from under heaven. May God hear that prayer, and answer it, for his dear Son’s sake! Amen.

{e} Dead lift: The pull of a horse, etc., exerting his utmost strength at a dead weight beyond his power to move. OED.

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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