3268. The Saviour’s Silence

by Charles H. Spurgeon on June 24, 2021
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No. 3268-57:445. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, October 9, 1864, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Published On Thursday, September 21, 1911.

But he answered her not a word. {Mt 15:23}

 

For other sermons on this text:

   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2481, “Faith Victorious” 2482}

   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2841, “Prayer — Its Discouragements and Encouragements” 2842}

   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3268, “Saviour’s Silence, The” 3270}

   Exposition on Mt 13:1-23 15:13-28 1Co 3:17-23 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3393, “Wheat in the Barn” 3395 @@ "Exposition"}

   Exposition on Mt 15 Ps 42 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3268, “Saviour’s Silence, The” 3270 @@ "Exposition"}

   Exposition on Mt 15:10-31 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2597, “Prayer for Everyone, A” 2598 @@ "Exposition"}

   Exposition on Mt 15:18-31 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2481, “Faith Victorious” 2482 @@ "Exposition"}

   Exposition on Mt 15:21-28 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2446, “Carte-Blanche” 2447 @@ "Exposition"}

   Exposition on Mt 15:21-39 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2253, “Perseverance of Faith, The” 2254 @@ "Exposition"}

 

1. The diary of a physician, one would think, must necessarily be deeply interesting. What a variety of cases must come under the doctor’s observation in the course of one year! And some of these must be very strange cases indeed. The details of their cure, if one could understand them, and if the doctor would only translate his hard Latin terms, must be of greatest interest.

2. But you need not wish to read them, for you have here, in this Gospel according to Matthew, the diary of the greatest of all physicians — Jesus Christ — who healed all kinds of diseases, and who handled cases of the most particular and eccentric kind. Our gracious Master always walked the hospital, for the whole world was that to him, and whenever he went his supreme business here below was by touch, or look, or word, to bestow healing on the soul and body. His cures were gratis: this was something to be admired, but he also journeyed to his patients. It is generous when the physician treats freely those who came crowding to his door, but our Master — the beloved physician — travelled to the utmost end of his all-embracing circuit so that he might meet and bless all who dwelt in it. There were some who lived just over the edge and verge: just beyond the people to whom he was specifically sent; and when he touched the borders of Tyre and Sidon, the Syro-Phoenician woman came and shared in the healing reserved for the Jews. This is great comfort for some of us. However sin-sick we may be, it is Jesus Christ’s great office to heal: it is his honour to lay hold of the severely wounded and helpless and restore health to them. And if by reason of infirmity we cannot come to him, he is ready to come to us, and if we will not come by reason of impenitence, such is the force of his love, that he comes unasked for. Oh! Jesus Christ, Master, able to heal a soul impotent or willing, and to work new cures by your undecaying power, come to this great crowd, mightier by far than ever gathered around Bethesda’s porch, and let your healing presence remain with us tonight!

3. Let us now come closely to the case before us. It is quite familiar to most of us. It was that of a poor woman whose daughter was plagued, and who had come to ask Christ to hear her. In a few pathetic words she uttered her passionate desire. Our Lord was usually ready to answer at once: his generous heart overflowed with sympathy, and was eager to gratify the longing soul; but on this occasion, “he answered her not a word.” He went on with his preaching and other works, and this needy, distracted woman was apparently ignored — ”He answered her not a word.” That is our topic for tonight.

4. We shall first, then, have a word to say on, The silence of the Saviour; then we shall notice in the second place that, Though he was silent he was not unkind; and then to finish with, in the third place, that, Though the answer was delayed, this good woman was not discouraged, and not denied.

5. I. Let us think then on, THE SAVIOUR’S SILENCE.

6. Generally, our Lord was like the father in the parable, eagerly on the look out for the returning sinner, but here he seems distant, reserved, and when appealed to, silent. Usually the tear was waiting to weep in sympathy with those who wept, but now his eyes are strangely dry, and his soul seemed not to be stirred by the mother’s earnest entreaty. Generally, there was no need to ask, he looks at distress, and like the Good Samaritan is moved with compassion and hurries to help. But here he is sought with tears, entreated with pathetic persistency, yet “he answered her not a word.”

7. This is all the more remarkable as we remind ourselves that this woman had a distinct sense of need. There is no vagueness or cloud concerning her desire. She utters most precisely the yearning of her heart. She knew what she longed for, and that intensely, and yet — yet — she had no immediate answer. Is this not the case with many of you? You want a Saviour, have cried to him for months. That little room can witness the prayers and tears, and since no answer has come you have said, “It is because I do not feel my need enough.” But that may not be the real reason at all. Repentance is necessary, but much which is called by that name is not true repentance. Terrors of conscience are not repentance; though they may lead to it. And though you may never have been filled with alarms, yet if you are sorry for sin, hate sin, and would be rid of it root and branch, your repentance is genuine. The thing to be enquired about is not quantity but quality. For even deep repentance is not an absolutely essential thing for salvation.

 

   All the fitness he requireth,

   Is to feel your need of him.

 

Your repentance may be true and your sense of need deep, and yet you may have to wait, and wait, and wait still, before his peace floods your soul.

8. Besides this, this poor woman knew where to come for help. She knocked at the right door. She asked for “mercy, mercy.” This was her one plea. And if we come to God with any other plea we do not know who we are seeking, and to whom we are speaking. This woman was deeply humbled with a sense of unworthiness, but she turned even that into an argument for the Saviour’s compassion, for the mercy of God. I know there are some who fear that because they have not heard, “Your sins are forgiven you,” that they have not come to Christ properly. No! this woman came properly, and yet for the present she is kept without a word. If we come to Christ at all we do come properly. I have often said, “There is no true coming — which can be wrong.” “No man can come to me, unless the Father who has sent me draws him.” So if God draws, he cannot draw the wrong way. Looking for the mercy of Christ, trusting the merits of his sacrificial death, then you have come and come properly to the door of mercy. And yet you may for a time not have a word to comfort you.

9. Yet again, this woman had some clear idea of our Lord’s character. She calls him “Lord.” Her first appeal is, “Have mercy.” Her second, “Help me.” But in both it is to the Lord she appeals. She had some vision of his Deity, his omnipotence, even more than some of his disciples. Nor need this surprise us. A deep sense of need often reveals to us Christ’s all-sufficiency. And yet with all this insight into our Lord, “he answered her not a word.” So you may know the Master, sit at the foot of his cross and view the flowing of the precious blood, your eyes be familiar with his marred visage, your faith have beheld him exalted on high, and have no doubt concerning the might of his Deity, and the sympathy of his manhood, and yet though saved, may have no joy of salvation. Doubtless you shall never see death, but as yet you have no exhilaration of life.

10. This woman, too, had a humble but determined faith. Our Lord admired and extolled this, for he said, “Oh! woman, great is your faith!” She had faith before her wishes were granted: and we may have faith that saves and yet have no sweet assurance. There are, I believe, multitudes who have trusted Christ, who are described by the prophet Isaiah as, “walking in darkness, and seeing no light.” There are many who, believing, have eternal life, but have not yet entered into the peace and joy that are its fruits. They have their title-deeds; they are saved; but they do not read them clearly. Heaven is theirs, but their eyesight is imperfect, and so “the mansion in the skies” is still in the land of far distances. Christ may have heard you in his heart, without having answered you in your ear; he may have filed your prayer in heaven, but for some reason, may permit you for a time to struggle without comfort and without light.

11. Yet once again, notwithstanding all this, she was a soul Christ meant to bless. There was never a question in his heart whether he would heal her daughter. He had ordained to give her what she sought for — had never for an instant meant to deny it; it had always been stored for her on high. He willed once and for all that she should go away in peace. And so, wearisome nights may have been appointed for you, strong crying and tears; but keep on, for if God has given you genuine faith he must give you eternal salvation, unless he breaks his promise, which he can never do. He must save those who come to him through Jesus Christ. Your business is with his command, and when you have obeyed, and believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, then, even if you weep in the dark, your tears will be for your spiritual strengthening.

12. This was my own case for nearly five years. If ever a soul prayed with anguish I know I did. I could never rest. God had put the desire after his Son into my heart, and I could never rest satisfied until I had heard the Father whisper, “You are mine.” Some drops of mercy fell, but the next day they were all dried up. Sometimes I seized hold of a promise, but it appeared to melt away in my hand. Though only a child I read over his Word, looking for something to suit my case: but nothing would come until God’s appointed day had struck, and then the darkness vanished and light came and I rejoiced in Jesus and the light which only he can give. Many who are ordained to eternal life, are still held back, as John Bunyan was, for many a day and even years, in doubt and perplexity and trouble. “He answered her not a word.”

13. II. In the second place we see that THOUGH THE SAVIOUR WAS SILENT, HE WAS NOT UNKIND.

14. He had good reasons for refusing to give her a word. Here is one. It is his delight to put faith to the test. Great kings have always had exploits performed before them for their pleasure. And in order to prove faith’s mighty power the Lord God often sends it on strange errands. He delights to see the daring it can display when relying on his power. He said to it when only a stripling, “Go and cut off the giant’s head!” and faith did it. He said, “Go and encircle the city and destroy it, and rush rejoicing over the ruined walls”; and faith did it. Again he said, “Go and for my sake enter the burning fiery furnace”; and faith did it and came out unscathed. “Go to the lions’ den,” said the king; and faith went and shut the lions’ mouths. And our Lord, finding faith incarnate in this poor woman, puts it to the test. Her faith now has to struggle with the King himself. Do not be alarmed! Jesus said, “It is not good to take the children’s food and cast it to the dogs”; and she answered, “True, Lord: yet the dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” So the King tests faith, and puts the crown on its head as he answers: “Oh! woman, great is your faith!” So with some of you, seeking Jesus, but not yet finding him. He knows your faith, but he delays comfort, to let men see what that faith will do; and when that is done, he will disperse the clouds and fill your soul with rejoicing. I have no doubt the Saviour did this, not for his pleasure, but for her profit. It is good for a man to bear the yoke in the youth of his faith. The Spartans would never have been a nation of conquerors if they had not been trained in the school of hardness in their childhood. They had to smart, and struggle, and sometimes feel the pangs of hunger, so that in the day of battle they should never retreat from the strongest foe. So we may have severe temptations to meet before reaching heaven, and he is hardening us. Just as the florist takes the plants from the hothouse into the open air to harden them, so the Lord removes us from the light and warmth of his loving countenance and hardens us so that frosts shall not wither us if they come eventually.

15. The Saviour, too, may have had an eye to the onlookers. Towards us who today are the onlookers on the fine exhibition of this woman’s faith, surely he had a gracious purpose. Surely he did it so that there might be a well of comfort and instruction for troubled souls in ages past, in this age, and in ages yet to come. Who knows? This woman was kept for a time in suspense, for your comfort poor woman, for you young man, with your poor despairing soul. “There,” he seems to say, “In this one case I will set an example to all who do not at once get comfort: so that they may see that their faith shall yet prevail. If they still believe and continue to plead until I come, then the answer shall be peace.” Jesus was not unkind, even in his silence.

16. III. The last point for our reverent study is this, THOUGH THE ANSWER WAS DELAYED, THIS WOMAN WAS NOT DISCOURAGED NOR DENIED.

17. When she could not get a word, she did not go away and sulk, as some professed penitents do, but gathered more boldness. She appears to have come nearer to the Lord, for we read in the twenty-fifth verse, “then she came and worshipped him.” As if standing in the outer circle, she now pushed through the crowd and came nearer — but not irreverently — she came to worship. Herein she gives us all a lesson. If we have had no answer to our pleading, do not give up, but go nearer to Christ. Make it more solemnly the resolve of your soul that you have real dealings with him. Some people rest satisfied with saying a number of phrases beginning one way, and ending with “Amen.” I do not like to rise from my knees until I have had assured dealings with the Master. There are fifty words to the air, but it is the one word with the Master which accomplishes our soul’s purpose. Lay hold on the cross, put your fingers by faith into the print of the nails, thrust your hand in his side, and realize that he is really there. And this shall be your way of obtaining true comfort.

18. Nor was this all. When she came nearer like this, she cried more earnestly. The disciples said, “Send her away: for she cries after us.” But her cry came to him with a plaintive pathos in her words. She wept — she cried — such a cry as a mother wails out over her dying child. It seemed to hold in it these words, “I must have this blessing, give it to me or I will die, you Son of David. I am not one who speaks with the lips only, my heart cries to you. Hear a woman’s heart that breaks, unless you speak the comforting words to her.” Ah! cold prayers will never open the gates of heaven, you must go and knock, and knock, and knock, and knock again if you would make the celestial portals swing open. You must use the golden knocker not with a languid tap, but with the loud stroke of one who must get entrance, for the cold sleet of the everlasting storm is already falling, and if shut out, there will be “weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.” Remember how powerfully the Saviour himself exhorted to do this, in his parable of the persistent friend who needed bread for his friend, come to him after a journey, and who never rested until he secured it from his neighbour, though he roused him out of bed at midnight to obtain it. Homely is the picture; but notable is its meaning and lesson. You must knock, and knock, and knock, and redouble your blows — take heaven by storm — for as our Lord declared, “The kingdom of heaven suffers violence,” so be numbered with the violent, who “take it by force.” The longer you are made to wait, the more earnestly you must pray, and your prayers will yet prevail.

19. But I want us particularly to notice, that the longer she prayed the shorter became the prayer. You may generally measure the worth of prayer by this rule — the longer the worse, the shorter the better. She began, “Have mercy on me, oh Lord, you Son of David: my daughter is grievously vexed with a demon.” That is a good prayer, but the next is shorter. “Lord, help me!” It is just those prayers that win the day. It would be good if we remembered to let our words be few when we come before the Most High. When we get intensely and solemnly earnest before God we generally have more thoughts than words — more intensity than sentences. Some may say, “I cannot pray at all”; but if God has given you desire for his mercy you can surely pray, “Lord, help me.” That is not too long for memory or for time. “Lord, help me.” You can pray that before going to work in the morning, pray it at night, however late you may return. Some say the Lord’s prayer; but please do not to do so if you are unconverted. How can you say, “Our Father,” unless you are saved and belong to the family of God? What right have you to call him “Father,” unless you have passed from death to life? Use it when the spirit of adoption is yours, but not until then. This is an infinitely better prayer for you, “Lord, help me.” It makes no profession but of helplessness. It confesses “I cannot help myself, I am most unworthy and most needy. Lord, help me to repent; break my heart for me; help me to believe; to keep from sin; to serve you, and to be like Jesus Christ himself.” I cannot suggest a prayer shorter or more full of meaning. It was not, however, the prayer, but her faith that captured the heart, and commanded the blessing of the Lord. She would not let go of her hold on him, and she would not take “No” even out of his own month. She knew he must be true. Now, sinner, Christ has said, “He who believes in me is not condemned.” If you believe in Christ you are not condemned, and though the delays to your prayers may seem to say you are condemned, believe it is seeming only, and that he must and will keep his promise to save every sinner who trusts him. Do not let even your conscience fill you with fear. I wish you would say, “I will believe that Jesus Christ died for me. I will cast myself on him. I am black — I believe that he will wash me; I am foul and evil, but I will believe in him to create me anew. I have nothing, but I take Christ to be my All in all. Here, tonight, I trust him, just as I am I trust him to bring me where he is to dwell with him for ever.”

20. If God enables you to do this depend on it your eternal life is sure. May God help you to pray and believe like this, then before long you shall go your way, and “according to your faith, so it shall be done to you.” May the Lord dismiss you with his blessing for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Mt 15 Ps 42}

1. Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying,

Our Lord had been busily engaged in healing the sick, and now these pettifoggers {a} came all around him to try and worry him. They were a kind of mosquito swarm to Christ, had he not been a perfect man they might have worried him.

2. “Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat food.”

“Why do your disciples transgress the traditions of the elders?” Generally a good man is held responsible for the actions of his followers. If they cannot find fault with Christ they will find fault with his disciples, who must have been men of admirable character when even the scribes and Pharisees had no worse charge to bring than the following: “For they do not wash their hands when they eat food.” The Saviour must have been gentle, indeed, to bear with such people as these; it would have given us the fidgets to have such folks all around us. Here he is healing the sick, curing the lepers, feeding the hungry, and these people are talking about washing their hands. Oh! how many religious people there are who are occupying their time about nothing of vital importance at all, questions of washing their hands or something of that kind.

3. But he answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?

He did not condescend to answer their question, but posed them with another.

4-6. For God commanded, saying, ‘Honour your father and mother’: and ‘He who curses father or mother, let him die the death.’ But you say, ‘Whoever shall say to his father or his mother, "It is a gift, by whatever you might be profited by me"; and does not honour his father or his mother, he shall be free.’ So you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.

They actually taught that a man might escape the happy duty of helping his father and mother, the first duty surely of a son, by saying, “I have dedicated so much of my goods to the Temple and the worship of God that I cannot afford it.” There are not many in these days that talk that way; they generally cannot afford to dedicate anything to the Temple because they are keeping their father and mother, they go to the other extreme; but one way or another, men will if possible escape from moral or religious duty. Now God does not like that we should bring one duty to him smeared with the blood of another, and for a man to give his money to the Temple which he ought to have given to his father and mother was a violation of the strict law of God, and could not possibly be acceptable to him. So they made void the law of God by their traditions.

7-9. You hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, ‘This people draws near to me with their mouth, and honours me with their lips but their heart is far from me. And in vain they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.’”

Christ spoke very plainly to them, there is no dealing with hypocrites with kid-gloves; these nettles must be boldly grasped; and the Saviour did so. Brethren, stick to the Scriptures in doctrine and in precept; what have you to do with modern thought, the imaginations of men, the vain thoughts of crazy brains. Hold onto God’s thoughts, which are as high above men’s thoughts as the heavens are above the earth. One word of God is worth a whole world full of the thoughts of men, and time shall show us yet that it is so. We have only to wait, and we shall see that the thoughts of man are vanity, but the word of God endures for ever. “And he called the multitude” — one of the finest ways of rebuking the Pharisees and scribes — he seemed to turn his back on these gentlemen who knew so much.

10, 11. And he called the multitude, and said to them, “Hear, and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.”

Religion does not stand in meats and drinks and various washings or anything external: it lies in the heart; it is what comes out of the heart that is the true index of the character, not what is done externally.

12, 13. Then his disciples came, and said to him, “Do you not know that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?” But he answered and said, “Every plant, which my heavenly Father has not planted, shall be rooted up.

They stand like a grove of trees, men take shelter under their great knowledge, but God never planted them; and therefore they shall be pulled up; and he did pull them up without ceremony.

14. Leave them alone: they are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.”

So you need not trouble to shove them in, you leave them alone, it will come to an end. There are some forms of error which Christ may denounce, but which his disciples had better leave alone. There is a ditch ready and waiting for them somewhere or other.

15-20. Then Peter answered and said to him, “Declare to us this parable.” And Jesus said, “Are you also yet without understanding? Do you not understand yet, that whatever enters in at the mouth goes into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come out from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: these are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”

Eventually in the chapter we shall see thousands of people eating with unwashed hands, who could not have eaten at all, if it had first been prerequisite for them to wash their hands, for they were in a deserted place. Not that it is not good even to wash the hands and every other part of the flesh. It should be true of every Christian, “Having your bodies washed with pure water”; cleanliness should always go with godliness. But this was a mere ceremonial rite, a washing of the hands whether they needed it or not for form’s sake, and the Saviour pours contempt on it.

21, 22. Then Jesus went from there, and departed into the region of Tyre and Sidon. And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same region, and cried to him, saying, “Have mercy on me, oh Lord, you Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a demon.”

He made a long journey to go and meet one woman. An example of how far you and I ought to be willing to go to save a soul. “And behold a woman of Canaan came out of the same region.” She came a little way but he had come a long way. Perhaps some sinner has come here today. Ah, Christ has come too. The woman “cried to him.” Sinners and the Saviour will meet; for the sinners are seeking him and they will perhaps meet sooner than they expect. Perhaps she meant to have gone on a long journey, but he met her, and she cried to him, saying, “Have mercy on me oh Lord, you Son of David.” She knew his Deity, “Oh Lord.” She knew his humanity, “The Son of David.” She knew his royalty, “The Son of David.” She only had one prayer, “Have mercy on me.” That prayer suits me very well too, today; is it too humble for you? I pity you then. “Have mercy on me, oh Lord, you Son of David.” And yet her prayer was not for herself. “Have mercy on me, for my daughter is grievously vexed with a demon.” Many a mother feels that the greatest mercy to herself would be salvation for her child. How we are wrapped up in those who are the offspring of our body, how we desire their salvation, how careful we should be if they are saved, how should we pray for the children of others, that God would have mercy on mothers by healing daughters. “But he answered her not a word.” You may pray, and pray acceptably, and yet not get an immediate answer.

23. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, “Send her away; for she cries after us.”

She makes too much noise. Oh! the poor disciples! “She cries after us.” That she did not, she cried after the Master, not after them. Oh! the big disciples, how large they are, and how easily troubled. “She cries after us.”

24. But he answered and said, “I am not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

My mission as a prophet is to Israel, not to the Gentiles just now.

25-27. Then she came and worshipped him, saying, “Lord, help me.” But he answered, and said, “It is not fitting to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to the dogs.” And she said, “True, Lord: yet the dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”

Splendid faith, to determine that to heal her daughter would be after all to Christ nothing but to give her a lot of crumbs! She thought so much of him, he was so great in her estimate that much as she valued the healing of her daughter she considered it to be to his royal majesty only as a bit of dog’s food. Oh! splendid faith!

28. Then Jesus answered and said to her, “Oh woman, great is your faith: be it to you even as you wish.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

Write out, sir, a blank cheque, she may fill it in just as she likes, there is no limit to what God will give an unlimited faith. If we limit our faith, then we limit the Holy One of Israel. “And Jesus departed from to there.” He had done his business, he is always on the move, but never loiters.

29, 30. And Jesus departed from there, and came near to the sea of Galilee; and went up into a mountain, and sat down there. And great multitudes came to him, having with them those who were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and lay them down at Jesus’ feet; and he healed them:

What an assemblage and in the middle of a great hospital. What a sight for him to see all these sick people carried like so many burdens and then laid down at his feet! Cannot each one of us today bring someone? Think of someone, some friend of yours, who is yet unsaved. Take him on your back, no, carry him in your bosom, and bring him by faith and lay him down at Jesus’ feet just now. Who shall it be? Think about it!

31-34. Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be healed, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they gloried the God of Israel. Then Jesus called his disciples to him, and said, “I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now for three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.” And his disciples say to him, “From where should we get so much bread in the wilderness, as to feed so great a multitude?” And Jesus says to them, “How many loaves do you have?” And they said, “Seven, and a few little fishes.”

And I daresay they thought, “We shall need all these ourselves.” It was noble on their part that they were willing to give away all they had: every bit of it, little fish and loaves and all — hardly enough for the company, and yet they parted with it all at the Master’s bidding.

36. And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground.

I think I see him rising from the place where he sat, and saying, “Now you have been standing up and you are all hungry, sit down all of you.” What a sight to see them all dropping into their places. According to Mark they fell into order by rank, by hundreds and by fifties. What a Commander-in-Chief Christ is! When he makes a banquet it is not a scramble, it is always orderly, and when there is anything very disorderly it is generally because Christ is not there; if he is there, everything seems to fit into its place.

36. And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and broke them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.

“They did all eat and were filled.” I remember a country brother putting it, “And they did all eat,” which I think is very likely; they were very hungry they did all eat, and were filled; they were ravenous, but they were not short-changed.

37-39. And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up from the broken food that was left seven baskets full. And those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. And he sent away the multitude, and got into a boat, and came into the region of Magdala.

And if the women and children bore any proportion to most congregations they would make a larger number than the men. And then comes the finish, “And he sent away the multitude.” You and I if we had done this, would have let them stay for an hour while someone proposed and someone else seconded a vote of thanks for this good dinner that they had had, but not he. He fed them and then he sent away the multitude and got into a boat, and came into the region of Magdala. May we learn our Lord’s blessed absence of self-seeking!

Psalm 42

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

Hunted, hot, weary, thirsty, it must drink or die. You see the poor creature with the big tears in its eyes, with the sweat distilling from it, moving to and fro as it pants in its longing for the water; “even so does our soul long after God.” I must have my God. I must die if I do not have God. It is the refrain of our hymn, “Give me Christ, or else I die.” It is not verbal. It is the soul that is panting. And when you get very weary with the world and very heavy-hearted, — indeed, and when without any trouble you are led to see the emptiness of all carnal joys — then is the time when this panting comes.

2. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?

Not sacraments, not sermons, but God. Not books, not even prayers, but God. Three times he puts it, “for God” — ”for the living God” — ”that I may come and appear before God.” We could not pant after an idol or an image; but we do thirst after a living God that he would come to our living souls. We feel as if we could not live without the living God. Is it so with you? You shall have your desire. If for a while he delays, he must come at the cry of his children.

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

That is a very stinging question, and the enemy knows that, and he takes care to ask it often of the Christian. “Where is your God?” “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” That was the bitterest bitter in Christ’s cup. When our adversaries think that we are altogether abandoned, and to cry, “Where is your God?” it is not surprising that we begin to weep until our tears become the salty food of every meal. “My tears have been my food day and night, while they continually say to me, ‘Where is your God?’”

4. When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me:

You could not help it. It is not the best thing in the world. Meditation is always good, but it needs to be done in a wise way; otherwise we may meditate ourselves into still deeper griefs. “I pour out my soul in me.”

4. For I had gone with the multitude,

Here were memories which made him sorrowful, but yet made him hopeful.

4. I went with them to the house of God,

There was a time when I had many with me, when I did not stand alone, — when they were glad for my company, and I for theirs. I did not go the wrong way, but I went with them to the house of God; and the house of God is all the more delightful because of the many who go to it.

 

   At once they sing, at once they pray;

   They hear of heaven and learn the way.

 

4. With the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude who kept the holy day.

And I felt it to be a true holiday. There are some that turn holy days into holidays. Blessed are those who turn holidays into holy days. It is indeed, a great solace for the heart to enjoy Christian fellowship, and to go with the many to the worship of God. But if he cannot — if his pathway is to be a lonely one, then let him still trust in God though I should not wonder that he has his grief.

5. Why are you cast down, oh my soul and why are you disquieted in me?

As old Master Trapp says, “David tries to talk David out of the dumps; and he does well.” Here were two Davids — David who was down and David who was up, and David draws David up. So you, too, if you are a little low tonight, should let your better, godlier self talk to yourself.

5. Hope in God:

If you cannot do anything else, still hope. The New Zealanders call hope “the swimming thought,” because when everything else is drowned up comes hope at the top of the wave. You cannot drown hope.

5. For I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.

Snatch from the altars of the future firebrands with which to kindle the altar of today. “I shall yet praise him.” I am not always going to be low. I have hung the harp on the willows, but I have not broken its strings. I shall take it down again. “I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.” If he only looks at us, — if he only has pity on us, — let us be content with that, and await his time.

6. Oh my God, my soul is cast down within me:

Is it not a blessed thing that, even when he is down, he says, “Oh, my God?” He gets hold of his God. He has lost his company, but he has not lost his God. See — ”my soul” — ”my God.” His God is as much his as his soul is his. He puts them together — ”my God” — ”my soul.”

6. Therefore I will remember you from the land of Jordan, and from the heights of Hermon, from the hill Mizar.

Were these places where he was then wandering? He would remember God wherever he was. He would remember happier days — times long past when he walked in fellowship with God. So let us remember how he kept his tryst with us in former days of sorrow, — how he revealed himself to us as he does not do to the world. He will do the same now. Let us be of good courage.

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

They are God’s waves and God’s billows; so he will not mind them. Our Father rules the stormiest depths, and the noisiest depths of the soul only speak as he permits them. Be of good cheer.

8, 9. Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer to the God of my life. I will say to God my rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”

He had tried his “whys” on himself. Now he comes with his “whys” to his God, and God will answer him. Our Father permits his children to plead with him. You are permitted to say, “Oh God, show me why you contend with me”; and he will be pleased to let you see the reason, or, if not, to give you faith enough to be satisfied without a reason.

10. As with a sword in my bones, my enemies reproach me; while they say daily to me, “Where is your God?”

This is rather monotonous. “Where is your God?” is all they can say. They are rather short of wit when they must always hang on to the same old taunt. If ever you hear of a new heresy, it is only an old heresy with a new soul put into it.

11. Why are you cast down, oh my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.


{a} Pettifogger: A legal practitioner of inferior status, who gets up or conducts petty cases; esp. in an opprobrious sense, one who employs mean, sharp, cavilling practices; a “rascally attorney.” 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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