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was the object of the Psalmist's regard. The fact is, that nothing so endears the Deity to the souls of men as answers to prayer; nor does any thing so encourage sinners to address him with unwearied importunity. The two first verses of the psalm are a kind of summary of the whole; setting forth in few words what he afterwards expatiates upon more at length: but though we shall, on this account, pass them over in our discussion, we shall not be unmindful of the resolution contained in them, but shall conclude our subject with commending it to your most serious attention.
The points which now call for our notice are, I. The troubles he had endured
[We know not for certain what these were ; but we are sure, that the psalm was written after the ark had been brought up to Mount Zion, and the worship of God had been permanently settled at Jerusalem : and therefore we apprehend, that is was written on occasion of David's deliverance from some overwhelming distress both of body and mind, resembling that specified in the sixth psalm b. The terms used in our text might indeed be interpreted of death only; because the word “hell” often means nothing more than the grave: but we rather think that terrors of conscience, on account of his sin committed in the matter of Uriah, had given a ten-fold poignancy to the fear of death, and that his experience was similar to that described in the 25th Psalm, where he says, “The troubles of my heart are enlarged; O bring thou me out of my distresses! Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins!"
But whatever was the precise occasion of David's sorrows, it is manifest, that, sooner or later, we must all be brought into a situation wherein his language will be exactly suitable to us. “ The sorrows of death ” will shortly "encompass us,” and “the pains of hell,” if we have not previously obtained a sense of reconciliation with God, will “get hold upon us ;” and, in the contemplation of an approaching eternity, "we shall find trouble and sorrow," such as in our present state of carelessness and security we have no conception of. O that we could but bring our hearers to realize that awful hour, when we shall look back upon our mis-spent hours with unavailing regret, and look forward to our great account with fear and trembling, wishing, if it were possible, that we might have a fresh term of probation allowed us, or that the hills and mountains might cover us from the face of our offended God! Let all, even though, like David, they be monarchs upon their thrones, know, that the time must shortly arrive, when the things of time and sense will appear in all their real insignificance ; and nothing will be deemed of any importance but the eternal welfare of the soul.]
a ver. 18, 19.
b Ps. vi. 2, 3.
c Ps. xxv. 17, 18.
Whatever his troubles had been, we have no doubt respecting, II. The means he had used for his relief from them
David had had recourse to prayer; “ Then called I on the name of the Lord; O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul!” This is the proper remedy for all our troubles
[“ Is any afflicted ? let him pray;" says an inspired apostle. And God himself says, “Call upon me in the time of trouble; and I will hear thee; and thou shalt glorify me.” Indeed, where else can we go with any hope of relief? If it be the death of the body that we dread, man can do nothing for us, any farther than it shall please God to employ him as an instrument for our good. If it be the death of the soul which we fear, who but God can help us ? Who can interpose between a sinner and his Judge ? If we betake ourselves to a throne of grace, and “pray unto our God with strong crying and tears,” we shall find that He " is able to save us from death:" but created powers are physicians of no value ---] We must however, in our prayers, resemble David
[Behold what humility and fervour were manifested in this petition ; “O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul !” Prayer does not consist in fluent or eloquent expressions, but in ardent desires of the soul : and it may as well be uttered in sighs and groans, as in the most energetic words that language can afford. “God knoweth the mind of the Spirit," by whose inspiration all acceptable supplications are suggested. Never was there a petition more pleasing to God than that of the publican, “God be merciful to me a sinner!” nor did any prove more effectual for immediate relief than that recorded in our text. Truly this is a comfortable consideration to the broken-hearted penitent: the greatness of his sorrows perhaps prevents the enlargement of his heart in prayer: but God estimates his prayers, not by their fluency, but by their sincerity; and that which is offered in indistinct and unutterable groans, is as intelligible and as acceptable to him, as if every request were offered in the most measured terms. Prayer thus offered, shall never go forth in vain.]
This appears from,
Most encouraging is the testimony which the Psalmist bears to the condescension and goodness of God
[Not a word intervenes between his petition for mercy and his acknowledgment of mercy received: "Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful.” Here the Psalmist marks the union of justice and mercy in the dispensations of God's grace towards him: and that union is invariable, whenever we plead before him that great sacrifice which was made for the sins of the whole world, and which has fully satisfied the justice of our God. Moreover, he represents this mercy as the common lot of all, who
in simplicity and godly sincerity implore it at God's hands; " The Lord preserveth the simple, and will never suffer one of them to perish. But then he brings it back again to his own experience, and acknowledges with heartfelt gratitude that God had received his prayer, and made him a most distinguished monument of his mercy.]
Such is the testimony which every contrite and believing suppliant shall be able to bear
[Yes; justice is on the Believer's side, as well as mercy. Whoever comes to God in the name of Christ, may plead, that all his debts have been discharged by his great Surety, and that all the glory of heaven has been purchased for him by his Redeemer's blood. Through this infinitely meritorious atonement God is reconciled to man, and “ the righteousness of Jehovah, no less than his mercy, is declared in the remission of sinsd." so that, “if we humbly confess our sins, God will be faithful and just in forgiving our sins, and in cleansing us from all unrighteousness." Let “the simple"-hearted penitent rejoice in this assurance; and let every one labour from his own experience to say, “ I was brought low, and he helped me.”]
In the close of our text we see, IV. The improvement which he made of his whole
experienceHe determined henceforth to make God “ the rest” of his soul
[Truly there is no rest for the soul in any other. We may renew our attempts to seek it in this lower world, but we shall find none, except in the ark of God. Indeed the great use of troubles is to bring us to a conviction of this truth: and, whatever we may have suffered from “ the sorrows of death," or “ the pains of hell,” we may bless and adore our God for the dispensation, if it dispose us at last to seek all our happiness in him -]
d Rom. iii. 25, 26.
e 1 John i. 9.
To the same “Rest” must we also continually return”
[As the needle of a compass which has sustained some violent concussion will continue its tremulous motion till it returns to the pole again, so must our souls do, if at any
time through the violence of temptation they be diverted for a season from their God. Not a moment's rest should we even wish to have, till we find it in him alone. In all his perfections we have “ chambers into which we may enter,” and in which we may enjoy security from every impending danger. His omniscience will prevent surprise: his omnipotence will defeat our most potent adversaries: his love will comfort us under our most painful circumstances : and his faithfulness will preserve us even to the end. Let our troubles then drive us to him, and our experience of past mercies determine us to “cleave unto him with full purpose of heart.”] ADDRESS—
[We now revert to the resolution announced by the Psalmist at the very beginning of the psalm : “ Because the Lord hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.” This shews how justly he appreciated the Divine goodness; that he regarded it as an inexhaustible fountain, from whence the whole creation may incessantly “ draw water with joy.” The very command which God himself has given us, attests the same, and proves, that it is no less our privilege than our duty to "pray without ceasing," to
pray, and not faint.” O Brethren, let every answer to prayer bring you back again more speedily to the throne of grace; and every communication of blessings to your souls make you more importunate for further blessings, till " your cup runneth over," and you are
filled with all the fulness of God.”]
GRATEFUL RECOLLECTIONS. Ps. cxvi. 8, 9. Thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine
eyes from tears, and my feet from falling : I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living.
IT is justly said by David, in another psalm, “ The works of the Lord are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure thereina:” and great indeed they will appear, to all who endeavour to trace them even in the narrow sphere of their own experience. David, it is true, had a greater variety
a Ps. cxi. 2.
of extraordinary incidents to enumerate, and of mercies to be thankful for, than almost any other person whatever ; but still there is no such difference between his experience and that of other men, but that his complaints may be poured out by them, and his thanksgivings be adopted by them. In the psalm before us he seems to have been delivered from some heavy afflictions; and to have been raised from the depths of sorrow to an extraordinary elevation of peace and joy. He had been encompassed with the sorrows of death, and the pains of hell had got hold upon him; but God, in answer to his prayers, had graciously delivered him from all his troubles.
In the words which we have just read, we see, I. His review of past mercies
God, it seems, had delivered, 1. His “soul from death”
[In its primary sense, we apprehend, these words refer to the death of the body. Saul had sought to the utmost of his power to destroy him: but God had on many occasions signally interposed for his protection, and had preserved him to the present hour. And have not we also reason to adore our God for the interpositions of his providence in our behalf? Though we have not been in similar circumstances with David, we have been exposed to many dangers, both seen and unseen; and have therefore just occasion to adopt before God the same expressions of reverential gratitude.
But we must doubtless include under these terms a deliverance from eternal death also b." David was assured that God had “ forgiven all his sins," not excepting those committed in the matter of Uriahd: well therefore might he magnify the grace which had been exercised towards him. And have not we also reason to magnify our God for having rescued our souls from perdition ? True; many of us, it is to be feared, are yet in an unpardoned state: nevertheless, even they have cause to bless God that they have not long since been consigned over to everlasting and irremediable misery; Millions of the human race have been cut off in their sins, though they had not, it may be, attained one half of the measure of iniquity that lies upon our souls: and yet they have been taken, and we left. O let us admire and adore this inscrutable mystery, and let us give unto God the glory due unto his name! b Compare Ps. lxxxvi. 13. and Isai. xxxviü. 17. c Ps. ciü. 3.
d 2 Sam. xii. 13.