3243. The Vine Of Israel

by Charles H. Spurgeon on May 20, 2021

No. 3243-57:145. A Sermon Delivered On Thursday Evening, May 9, 1878, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Published On Thursday, March 30, 1911.

On behalf of the British Society for the Propagation of the Gospel among the Jews.

Return, we beseech you, oh God of hosts: look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine. {Ps 80:14}

1. I feel somewhat constrained on this occasion, because of the specialty of my subject. I have been persuaded by the Society to preach on behalf of the Jews, but my mind does not quite run in the direction which is prescribed for it. I have been so in the habit of preaching the gospel to everyone, knowing neither Jew nor Gentile, barbarian, Scythian, bond, nor free, that the very recognition of anything like nationality and specialty is somewhat difficult for me. I do not think that the recognition of the distinction is wrong; no, I think it is right, but it is so unusual that I scarcely feel at home. I would sooner, by a thousand times, take a text, and preach the gospel to sinners or to saints than discourse on a special nationality; yet it is necessary, and therefore let it be done; and I trust the Holy Spirit may make our meditation profitable. Assuredly, if there is any distinction which might be maintained, and I think there is none, for that distinction of Jew and Gentile seems to me to be wiped out and obliterated,—if there is any distinction, we may, at least, remember what lingeringly exists between the seed of Israel and the nations, for God’s election of old fell on them, and when the old world lay in darkness, gleams of light gladdened their eyes. To them belonged the oracles. They were long the sole preservers of precious truth, which they have handed down to us; and if through their unbelief we have taken their place, we can only remember who occupied it for so many centuries, and we can only look with extraordinary tenderness and affection and earnest desire to that elder family whom the Lord loved for so long, and towards whom, I think, his love still burns, as shall be seen when the day comes in which he shall gather Israel again to himself.

2. We shall view the prayer of the text in its reference to Israel. “Return, we beseech you, oh God of hosts: look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine.” The vine was particularly a type of Palestine and the Jewish nation. When this Psalm was written, the Gentiles were not in the psalmist’s mind, but only Israel. So let us speak of Israel now, and let us pray to God that he will return in mercy, behold in pity, and visit this vine, and the vineyard which his right hand has planted.

3. I. First, let us reflect on WHAT AN AMOUNT OF INTEREST SURROUNDS THIS VINE,—this chosen people.

4. Brethren, Israel has a history compared with which the annals of all other nations are only poor and scanty. Israel is the world’s aristocracy, and her history is the roll-call of priests and kings to God. At the very beginning, what interest attaches to the planting of this vine! The psalmist speaks of the Lord bringing the vine out of Egypt, and casting out the nations so that he might find a trench in which he might place Israel’s roots, so that she might strike deep, and take possession of the soil. But what wonders God performed in the removal of Israel from the soil of Goshen, where her vine seemed to have taken deep root, until the wild boar of Egypt began to uproot her! Never can we forget what he did at the Red Sea. Even at the very mention of the name, we feel as if we could sing to the Lord who triumphed gloriously, and cast the horse and his rider into the depths of the sea. What marvels he performed all through the wilderness, when he turned the rock into a pool of water, and made refreshing streams to follow his chosen along the burning sand! Neither can we forget the Jordan; our hearts begin to sing at the mention of the name,—What ailed you, oh Jordan, that you were driven back when the Lord’s ark led the way through the depths of the river, and the priests stood still in the midst, while all the hosts of his people passed over dry-shod? Neither can we fail to exalt as we think of the planting of the vine in Canaan. Did you not see the walls of Jericho tottering in ruins at the sound of the ram’s horns when Israel gave her shout, for the Lord was in the midst of his people? Therefore the sword of Joshua struck the Canaanites until they were utterly destroyed; the sun stood still on Gibeon, and the moon in the valley of Ajalon, because the Lord listened to the voice of a man, working marvellously with his people, so that he might settle them in the land which he gave to their forefathers,—the land which flowed with milk and honey.

5. When I think of such a planting, it seems to me that this vine can never be given up to be utterly burned with fire after such wonders as these. It is not God’s custom to cast away a people for whom he has done so much. The beginning of Israel’s national history is by far too grand to close, as we fear it must, if we judge only according to carnal reason. An era brighter and more glorious must surely dawn, and the Lord must bring again from Bashan, and lead up his chosen nation from the depths of the sea. Once again he will make bare his arm, even he who cut Rahab, and wounded the dragon, and the whole earth shall behold all Israel, both spiritual and national, singing in one joyful song the song of Moses the servant of God, and of the Lamb. The very planting of the nation makes us feel the deepest possible interest in its welfare. Oh God, behold, and visit this vine, as the vineyard which your right hand has planted!

6. Let us reflect again on the prosperity of Israel, and the wide influence which the nation exercised for centuries. I am keeping closely to the Psalm, which is really my text, for we are told that, after the planting of the vine, “the hills were covered with its shadow, and its boughs were like the goodly cedars. She sent out her boughs to the sea, and her branches to the river.” No nation has ever exercised such an influence on the thought of the world as the Jewish people have done. I grant you that some other nations exercised greater influence on the world’s art and sculpture, and the like; for Israel shunned much of art and science, not greatly to her loss, especially since the reason for it was so greatly to her gain. But the idea of one God, which the Lord had graciously written on the hearts of his elect people, though it took many an age to erase the natural lines of idolatry which nature had imprinted there,—that idea of the unity of the Godhead is a treasure handed to us by the seed of Abraham. The grand truths which were contained in type and shadow, and outward ordinance, and given to the chosen people of God, exercised a far more powerful influence over the world than, perhaps, most of us have ever dreamed. I feel certain that the religion of Zoroaster came from the Jews. I believe that much of whatever is pure in Eastern religions might be distinctly traced to the teachings of Moses, to gleanings of the Israelite vintage which were carried to the nations through their commerce and intercommunication; perhaps directly and distinctly by the teachings of Jews who journeyed there as exiles in captivity.

7. The earth had become corrupt even in father Abraham’s time; and though, here and there, there might have been found godly individuals like the patriarch Job, adhering to the simple worship of the one only God, yet, for the most part, the whole world was sunken in idolatry, and the light came to it, and remains in it, gleaming strangely in the darkness, like flashes of lightning amid the blackness of a tempest: that light always came, as I believe, by the way of Israel. The original light of tradition grew dimmer and dimmer, and threatened to die out, for in transmission from father to son its brightness was sadly beclouded with human error. But the truth retained much of its vitality and purity in the midst of Israel, and from Israel it influenced the rest of the nations. In the days of Solomon, how proudly did the temple stand on its holy hill, beautiful for location, the joy of the whole earth, the one Pharos {a} of the midnight sea of humanity! That little country—we often forget what a very little district Palestine occupied,—was, nevertheless, the very queen among the nations. From far-off Sheba they came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and to other lands the rumour of his glory extended, and all his greatness was connected with the worship of God, for she who came from Sheba came to hear all the wisdom of Solomon “concerning the Lord his God.” So that little land influenced all lands, and transmitted far-off down the centuries what was known of the ever-blessed God among the people. To me it seems so sad that she who sat over against the treasury should now be poor; that she who laid the daily showbread before the Lord should now be famished; that she who furnished the temple, and brought the offering, should now turn away from the one only Sacrifice, and should these many days remain without priest or temple. Alas! poor Israel; our hearts take the deepest interest in you, and we pray the Lord to look down, and behold, and visit this vine, when we remember the days of your glory, and all the splendour of the revelation of the Most High in the midst of his people.

8. Nor does the interest become one particle the less when we come to the time of Israel’s decay. She would imitate the heathen, and go aside to false gods; nothing could cure her of it. She was chastened again and again, and at last, it came to banishment, and the people were scattered. Alas, for the tears that Judah and Israel shed! What sea could hold them all? How were God’s people made to smart, and cry, and groan! Let the waters of Babylon tell how salty they flowed with Judah’s griefs. How could they sing the Lord’s song in that strange land? What a history of woe has Israel’s story been! And then, when they were brought back cured of idolatry, as, thank God, they most effectively are, there came an equally mournful decay; for formalism, the absence of all spiritual life,—the mere observance of outward ritual, came in the place of idolatry, and the people in whom all the nations of the earth were blessed had the Christ among them, but refused him. “He came to his own, and his own did not receive him.” Woe worth the day! Speak of it with sevenfold sorrow. He came for whom they long had waited—Israel’s hope,—and they refused him; yes, they crucified him.

9. My tongue will not attempt to tell what came of it, when his blood was on them and on their children. Earth never saw a more terrible sight than the siege and destruction of Jerusalem. Then they sold the ancient people of God for a pair of sandals, and the precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, were esteemed as clay pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter. The enemy ploughed the holy place, and sowed it with salt, and the seed of Abraham were scattered to the four winds of heaven. Alas! the evil did not cease when the last stone was overthrown, but wrath followed the fugitives. Through many, many centuries Israel was persecuted—shame covers my face,—persecuted by those who called themselves Christians. The blood of Israel hangs in great gouts on the skirts of Rome, and will bring down on that thrice-accursed system the everlasting wrath of the Most High; for did they not grievously oppress the Jews in Spain and every other Catholic country, remorselessly hunting them down as if they were unfit to live; torturing them in ways that it would be impossible for us to describe, lest your cheeks should blanch as you heard the horrible story? The men who were of the same nationality as the Christ of God were so hated by the professed followers of Jesus that no indignities were thought to be great enough, and no severities to be fierce enough, for execution on those they thought to be the execrable Jews.

10. Thank God, such persecution is over now,—let us hope for ever, at least in the Western world. The nation would have been stamped out, however, if Rome’s tender mercies could have accomplished their will. Go to the Ghetto today, in the Jews’ quarter in Rome, and see the church, as I have done, in which a certain number of Jews were compelled to hear a sermon, once in the year, levelled at their own nationality and faith, and over the door of which is written what from such a quarter is a deliberate insult to them, “To Israel he says, ‘All day long I have stretched out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.’” Truly it would be so eternally if the hands of Rome were the hands to be stretched out, when she encouraged if she did not command the racing of Jews in the Corso, {b} and the pouring of contempt on them in the rudest manner. Israel would never worship images, saints, and virgins. Blessed were they as a nation for this thing at least, that they utterly rejected the idolatry of which Rome is shamelessly guilty. It would be far better to be no Christian than to think Popery to be Christianity, for it is one of the vilest forms of idolatry that ever came from the polluted heart of man. Alas, poor Israel, what have you suffered? What tongue can tell your woes? I feel obliged, compelled to apply to Israel the language which Byron applied to Rome, when he called her “the Niobe {c} of nations,” and considered all sorrows beside hers only petty misery:—


   What are our griefs and sufferance? Come and see

   Jerusalem in heaps, and plod your way

   O’er steps of broken thrones and temples.


Look, too, on a princely people crushed under persecution, labouring and finding no rest. Princes were hung up by their hands; the faces of elders were not honoured. Then was fulfilled Jeremiah’s Lamentation, “How is the gold become dim! How is the most fine gold changed! Those who fed delicately are desolate in the streets: those who were brought up in scarlet embrace dunghills.”

11. But we will not end here, my brethren. The interest which we feel with regard to Israel, and which makes us pray, “Lord, visit this vine,” rises as we think of its future. I am no prophet or interpreter of the prophecies, but this much seems clear to me,—that the Lord Jesus Christ, the King of the Jews, will have dominion over them, and they shall be converted, and shall acknowledge him to be the Messiah who was promised to their forefathers; so the New Testament teaches us as well as the Old. It seems to me that we may work for the conversion of Israel with the absolute certainty that, if we do not see it ourselves, yet it shall be seen; for the natural branches of the olive, which for a while were cut off, shall be grafted in again, and so all Israel shall be saved. The future of the Gentiles in the fulness of its glory can never be accomplished until, first of all, the Jews shall be gathered in. You shall have no millennial day, or full brightness of Messiah’s glory, until there, by Jordan’s streams and Judah’s deserted hills, where once the Saviour worked, and walked, and preached, the song shall yet again arise of hallelujah to the God of Israel.

12. One more thought, and then I leave this point of the interest we take in Israel; we must for ever take a special interest in the Jews, because from them came our Lord. He was so completely a man that one forgets that he was a Jew, and, perhaps, for the most part it is best that we should, for he is more a man than a Jew; but, still, “he did not assume the nature of angels, but he took up the seed of Abraham.” Jesus is the Son of David. The Jews have a part in him after the flesh which we do not have; and, amid all the privileges which we enjoy, we can well afford to let them have everything that they can claim; and they can certainly prove a special kinship to him whom our soul loves. Oh, if it were for nothing else but that our Saviour was from the Jews, we ought to love them, and make them the subject of our prayers and of our earnest efforts! Surely the mention of that will suffice, and I need not say so much as one solitary word more. Interest in the Jews, indeed, is a very wide subject, and we have said enough for the present purpose.

13. II. Now, secondly, WHAT IS IT THAT THE JEWISH PEOPLE NEED? We have been exhorted by all these things to pray for this vine. What is it that is needed?

14. The answer of our text is, “Look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine.” A visitation from God is the one necessary thing for Israel. For what purpose should God visit the Jews, then? I say, brethren, it is the one essential thing in order to give them spiritual life. Our acquaintances with the interior of the Jewish commonwealth at the present time is not very large; but some of us have observed that there are two kinds of Israelites. Some are devout,—devout men with some of whom it has been our privilege to have hearty fellowship in matters of common interest touching the things of God. When we have spoken together of the providence of God and of faith in the divine mercy, we have been much of the same mind. In the recent debate brought on by Colenso, {d} we were able, in comparing notes, to feel the same zeal for the value of the Old Testament and for the glory of the ever-blessed God. Whether we were Christians or Jews, we were equally zealous to repel the infidel assaults of the famous master of arithmetic. We meet now and then with men whose sincerity and devotion we could not doubt at all: oh that their sincerity led them to search the Scriptures, and to examine the claims of our Lord Jesus! Such men lament that many of their people seem to have no religion, or—what is almost the same thing,—to have nothing more than the outward form. Their being of the Israelite nationality is distinctly recognised, and never for a moment held back; the Sabbath is almost universally hallowed, for which let Israel put to shame many so-called Christian lands; much is done that is commendable, much which exhibits high integrity and uprightness; but yet to a large extent the nation is sunk in worldliness and misled by superstition. Oh, that God would visit the Jew, and endow him with an enquiring and unprejudiced heart, with longing after the God of his forefathers, with a deeper reverence and a truer zeal for the glory of Jehovah!

15. The visitation of God may well be entreated that he would next grant enlightenment to his people, taking away the veil which has been cast over their eyes, and enabling them to see the true Messenger of the covenant. There are thousands of Israelites today who only need to know that Jesus is the Messiah, and they would as gladly accept him as any of us have done. It seems to us so strange that they can read the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, and so many other plain passages of the prophets and of the psalms, without seeing that the Man of Nazareth is the Christ of God; yet they do read, but the veil is on their hearts so that they do not perceive Christ in their interpretations. Alas, that the Son of righteousness should shine, and Israel should be in darkness! With many of the seed of Abraham there is an honest desire to receive whatever can be shown to be the truth of God. If the Lord will touch their eyes and remove the scales; what an enlightenment on the whole nation would follow! A nation would be born in a day. What joy for us, what honour for God, what happiness for themselves, if they might only be delivered from their present alienation! Oh God, only you can do this; we cannot. All arguments seem to be in vain, but behold, and visit this vine!

16. When the spiritual life of the nation shall have been revived, and there shall be an enlightenment of the intellect, they will only need the Spirit to work on the heart. Even as the Holy Spirit has quickened and regenerated us, so must it be with them, for there is no difference between Jew and Gentile in this matter. The same regenerated work is needed,—the same enlightening of the Holy Spirit; and if the Lord will do this, our hearts shall be very glad.

17. III. WHAT THEN CAN WE DO? We are great debtors to Israel, what can we do for her?

18. Some people are always afraid of telling Christian people to do anything. They mutter between their teeth, “The Lord will do his own work,” and they are afraid that they should be interfering with God’s prerogatives. Ah, my dear brethren, I am not afraid that some of you will ever do the Lord’s work, for you do not do your own; that part which you can do is neglected. Do not be so mightily frightened lest you should be too active. It is God’s work to visit Israel, and gather out his people, and only he can do it; but he works by means. What then would he have us do?

19. I answer, the first thing we can do is to pray for Israel. You believe in the power of prayer, do you not, my brother? Why, some of us can no more doubt the power of prayer than we can doubt the force of a steam-engine or the influence of the law of gravitation, because for us the effects and results of prayer are every-day things. We are in the habit of speaking with God about everything, and receiving replies which to us are as distinct as if he had spoken to us with words. We can speak boldly in prayer to God concerning Israel. No nation can be nearer to God’s heart than the Jews. We may be bold with the mighty God. We may open our mouth wide, for he will fill it. We may plead with him urgently in this way,—Will you not glorify yourself by the salvation of the Jews? What could you do that would more significantly strike the whole world with awe than if you were to turn this amazing nation to the faith of Christ? You have taught them the unity of the Godhead, you have burned this truth into their very souls; now teach them the Deity of your Son, who is one with you. Bring them to rejoice in the triune God with heart and soul, and all lands shall hear of it, and say with wonder, “Who are these?” Great God, were not these your messengers of old? When you wanted heralds, did you not look to Israel? You took James and John, and Peter and Paul. You will find such as these among them now, if you will call them,—both boastful Peters and persecuting Pauls, whom your grace can transform into mighty testifiers for the name of Jesus. Let us pray to God to do this. We can pray.

20. The next thing we can do is to feel very kindly towards that nation. I know all that will be said about converted Jews, and I lament that there should have been grave occasion given in many cases; but, for my part, I have been glad recently to smart a little for the sake of my Lord. I have said, “Well, it was a Jew who saved me; and even if this professed convert should have a hypocritical intention on my purse, I would rather be deceived by him that turn away an honest kinsmen of my Lord.” I do not marvel that there should be deceivers among the Jews, for have we not plenty of such in our churches, who, for the sake of loaves and fishes and money, creep in among us, pretending to be followers of Christ when their hearts know nothing about him? In all ranks and conditions of man, hypocrisy is sure to be found; but, for all that, we do not turn around and say, “The Gentiles are a bad lot. We will have nothing more to do with them, because two or three of them deceived us.” The Gentiles are always taking us in; we know they are, and still we have hope for them. And so must we always have hope for Israel, and instead of thinking bitterly and speaking bitterly, we must cultivate kindness of spirit both for those who become Christians and for those who remain in unbelief. I, for one, thank God that this land has now for several years swept away the civil restrictions on the Jew. He is no longer a stranger in the land, but he settles down in the midst of us, and exercises all the rights of citizenship. May the kindness of feeling which has prompted this change,—and it came, I think, mainly from earnest Christians,—lead the Israelites to think kindly of our faith!

21. Another thing we can do, dear friends, and that is, to keep our own religion pure. I do not marvel that Jews are not Christians when I know what kind of Christianity, for the most part, they have seen. When I have walked through Rome, and countries under Rome’s sway, and have seen thousands bow before the image of a woman carried through the streets,—when I have seen the churches crammed with people bowing down before pieces of bone, and hair, and teeth of dead saints, and such-like things,—I have said to myself, “If I were a worshipper of the one true God, I should look with scorn on those who bow before these cast clouts, and mouldy rags, and pieces of rotten timber, and I do not know what else besides. No, no, good Jew; do not join with this idolatrous rabble; remain a Jew rather than degrade yourself with this superstition! If the Lord has taught you to know that there is an unseen God who made the heavens and the earth, and who alone is to be worshipped,—if you have heard the voice of thunder which says, ‘Hear, oh Israel, the Lord your God is one God,’ stick with that, and do not go one inch beyond it, if the way before you invites you to the worship of things that are seen, and the reverence of men who call themselves priests, and the whispering out of every filthy thought into a confessor’s ear. No, no, no, Israel; you are brought very low, but you are far too noble to become an adorer of crosses and wafers, and pictures and relics.”

22. Even in our own land there is a good deal which one would not wish a Jew to regard as Christianity. To my mind, baptismal regeneration is about as glaring a piece of Popery as there is to be found in the world; and they can hear that lie publicly taught in England. Grievous, too, it is to my very heart that they may hear it among those who profess a purer form of faith than what we have spoken about. Try, brothers and sisters, to keep Christ’s religion as Christ taught it. Purify it. Let it come back to its original form.

23. Labour also to be Christians in ordinary life. If a Jew says, “I would like to see a Christian,” do not let him see a person full of superstitions. Let him see one who believes in the triune God, and who tries to live according to the commands of God, and who, when he talks about Jesus, lets you see the mind which dwelt in Jesus, the same mind being in him. When once the Church of God shall bear a clear testimony to the truth of God both with lip and life, great hindrances will be taken out of the way of Israel. I know you say, “Well, Jews ought to know that we hold a very different faith from Romanists.” I know that you think so, but I am not able to perceive how the Jews are to learn the distinction, for Papists are called Christians as much as we are. Their religion is dominant in some countries: it is prominent in every country. How is the Jew to know that it is not the religion of Christ? As he thinks that it is so, he declared that he will have nothing to do with it; and I for one cannot condemn him, but approve of his resolve. I only hope that, as the years roll on, we who worship God in sincerity, and have no confidence in the flesh, we who are saved by the faith which saved Abraham, who is our father after the spirit though not according to the flesh, that we, I say, may be able to bring this purer faith more clearly to the knowledge of Israel, and that God will lead his ancient nation to be fellow heirs with us. We must keep our doctrine pure, and hold it individually with clean hands and a pure heart, or we have not done all that we can for Israel.

24. This being done, I will next say that each one of us must evangelize with all his might. Do this not only among Jews, but also among Gentiles. Wherever you are, tell abroad the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Do not live a single day, if opportunity serves you, without testifying concerning the love of God which is revealed in the cross of Calvary. Your prayer should be for the whole Church of God, “Behold, and visit this vine.” And since a large number of God’s elect ones are as yet hidden in darkness, let us pray to the Lord that he would visit this vine, and make these branches to spring out into the light, so that on them also there may be rich clusters to his praise.

25. Brothers and sisters, we ourselves are saved, are we not? Come, before you go away, let the question be asked of you, Are you saved? Are you really believers in Jesus? Is the Christ formed in you? Have you believed that he is your Saviour? Are you trusting him now? Will you live for him? Are you consecrated to him, spirit, soul, and body? If you are, that is the first thing. If you are not, I cannot ask you to pray for Israel, or for anyone else, until first of all God has put a cry into your soul for yourselves. If you are saved, then let me ask myself and you, “Are we doing all we might for the honour and love of Jesus?” Sitting on these seats, might not many say, “We have not begun to live for Christ yet as we ought?” May the Lord quicken you!

26. There was a young man here, one Thursday night, when I closed with some such words as these, who derived lasting benefit from them. He was a gentleman doing a large business, to whom it had never occurred that he might preach Christ. It did occur to him that night, and he went to the town in which he lived, and began to preach in the streets immediately. He is now the pastor of a large church, though he still continues his business; and his is an example to be imitated by many. I wish that some young man might be quickened to feel that he must do something, for Israel perhaps, for Christ certainly. And you, sisters, may you feel a divine impulse on you while you pray God to visit the vine which he has planted! May he also visit you, and make you fruitful vines for his praise! May the Lord bless every one of you, for Christ’s sake! Amen.

{a} Pharos: The name of an island off Alexandria, on which stood a famous tower lighthouse, built by Ptolemy Philadelphus: hence the lighthouse itself. OED.
{b} Corso: A street in Italy in which races or festivals were held; a procession of carriages; a promenade; esp. a specific street in Rome. OED.
{c} Niobe: According to the Greek myth, Niobe boasted of her superiority to Leto because the goddess only had two children, the twins Apollo and Artemis, while Niobe had fourteen children (the Niobids), seven male and seven female. By using poisoned arrows, Artemis killed Niobe’s daughters and Apollo killed Niobe’s sons, while they practised athletics, with the last begging their lives. A devastated Niobe fled to Mount Sipylus and was turned into stone and, as she wept unceasingly, waters started to pour from her petrified complexion. Mount Sipylus indeed has a natural rock formation which resembles a female face, and it has been associated with Niobe since ancient times. See Explorer "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niobe"
{d} John William Colenso (January 24, 1814-June 20, 1883) was a British mathematician, theologian, biblical scholar and social activist, who was the first Church of England Bishop of Natal. …He was a polygenist; he believed in CoAdamism that races had been created separately.…Colenso claimed that each race had sprung from a different pair of parents, and that all races had been created equal by God. See Explorer "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Colenso"

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Ps 46}

To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, A Song on Alamoth.

This Psalm is often called “Martin Luther’s Psalm.” Whenever there was any great trouble, Luther used to say, “Let us sing the forty-sixth Psalm together, and then let the devil do his worst.” This is the Psalm, too, from which Mr. John Wesley preached in Hyde Park, at the time of a great earthquake. While the earth was shaking, and there was a great tempest, Mr. Wesley preached from the second verse: “Therefore we will not fear, though the earth is removed, and though the mountains are carried into the midst of the sea.”

1. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

All creatures have their places of refuge. “As for the stork, the fir trees are her house. The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats; and the rocks for the conies.” All men also have their places of refuge, though some are “refuges of lies.” But “God is our refuge and strength”; the omnipotence of Jehovah is pledged for the defence and support of his people.

“A very present help in trouble,”—one who is near at hand; always near, but nearest when he is most needed. Not much entreaty is required to bring him to the aid of his people, for he is close at hand and close at heart, “a very present help in trouble.”

2, 3. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth is removed, and though the mountains are carried into the midst of the sea; though its waters roar and are troubled, though the mountains shake with their swelling. {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1950, “Earthquake, but not Heartquake” 1951}

Here we have, you perceive, a mention of the greatest convulsions of nature, yet the believer does not fear. Doubtless, too, these verses are intended to be a picture of the great convulsions that take place in the providential dealings of God. States and kingdoms that seem to be as solid as the earth will one day be removed. Dynasties that seem as fixed and firm as mountains may soon be swept away into the sea of oblivion. We may have famine, and war, and pestilence, and anarchy, until the whole earth shall seem to be like the sea in a great storm; yes, hope may fail with many and the stoutest hearts may shake at its swelling; yet, let the worst come to the worst, God’s people are still safe. As one old writer says, “Though God should, to use his words concerning Jerusalem, wipe the earth ‘as a man wipes a dish, wiping it, and turning it upside down,’ yes, though he should break it into a thousand pieces, yet his people need not fear; for, if he does not protect them under heaven, he will take them up to be with him in heaven.” If heaven and earth could be mixed together, and chaos could return, yet still, as long as God is God, there is no reason for the believer to fear.

3. Selah.

We may well pause, and renew our confidence in the God who never has failed us, and who never will fail any who trust him.

4. There is a river, whose streams shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.

Whatever river may have been in the psalmist’s mind, it was the symbol of sovereign grace, flowing freshly and freely from the sacred fountain of eternal love, to make glad the people of God. And now we have the inspired Book, we have the preached Word, we have the many precious promises, we have the blessed Spirit himself, and all these make a glorious river, whose streams “make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High.”

5. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that very early.

The Hebrew expression is, “at the turning of the morning”; our marginal reading gives it, “when the morning appears.” “God shall help her at the turning of the morning.” At that time when the night is the blackest, just before the light begins to come, then God shall help his Church. Child of God, this promise is for you also. When the night gets thickest, and the gloom is the heaviest, then God shall help you “at the turning of the morning.” He may tarry for a while, but he will tarry no longer than is wise. You shall find, in looking back on God’s dealings with you, that, although he sometimes seemed to be long in coming to your help, and you cried out, “Lord, how long?” yet, after all, he did help you, and that “very early,” too.

6. The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.

God only has to speak, and his stoutest foe shall dissolve like snow when the sun shines on it.

7-9. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he has made in the earth. He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow, and cuts the spear asunder; he burns the chariot in the fire. {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 190, “The Desolations of the Lord, the Consolation of his Saints” 183}

Here the psalmist invites us to behold what God has done in the past. He has desolated the desolaters, and destroyed the destroyers. War has been a terrible scourge to mankind, but our God is Master even over war. When I look at the old ruined castles all over our land, I cannot help saying to myself and others too, “Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he has made in the earth,” and when I stumble on some broken-down abbeys, and monasteries, and Popish cathedrals, I can only wish that there were more of them, so that we might see many such desolations which the Lord has made in the earth. He will get the victory over all his foes, and break all his adversaries in pieces, however long he may wait before exerting his great power in judgment on them.

10. Be still, and know that I am God:—

Here is the command, and here is the reason which will help us to obey it. Do not judge the Lord hastily; do not murmur at his providential dealings with you. Do not be hurrying and scurrying here and there, but “be still.” In silence and in confidence shall be your strength. “Be still, and know that I am God”:—

10. I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

If God is willing to wait, you need not be impatient. His time is the best time, and he will be exalted in due time.

11. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.

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:

Privacy Policy

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

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

Learn more

  • Customer Service 800.778.3390