Sermon 2282. David's Prayer in the Cave
INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, NOVEMBER 13, 1892.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, MAY 18, 1890.
"Maschil of David; A Prayer when he was in the cave." Title of Psalm 142.
"A PRAYER when he was in the cave." David prayed when he was in the cave. If he had prayed half as much when he was in thepalace as he did when he was in the cave, it would have been better for him. But, alas, when he was king, we find him risingfrom his bed in the evening, looking from the roof of the house, and falling into temptation. If he had been looking up toHeaven-if his heart bad been in communion with God-he might never have committed that great crime which has so deeply stainedhis whole character.
"A prayer when he was in the cave." God will hear prayer on land, on the sea and even under the sea. I remember a Brother,when in prayer, making use of that last expression. Somebody who was at the Prayer Meeting was rather astonished at it andasked, "How would God hear prayer under the sea?" On enquiry, we found out that the man who uttered those words was a diverand often went down to the bottom of the sea after wrecks. And he said that he had held communion with God while he had beenat work in the depths of the ocean. Our God is not only the God of the hills, but of the valleys, also! He is God of bothsea and land. He heard Jonah when the disobedient Prophet was at the bottom of the mountains and the earth with her bars seemedto be about him forever. Wherever you work, you can pray! Wherever you lie sick, you can pray! There is no place to whichyou can be banished where God is not near-and there is no time of day or night when His Throne is inaccessible!
"A prayer when he was in the cave." The caves have heard the best prayers. Some birds sing best in cages. I have heard thatsome of God's people shine brightest in the dark. There is many an heir of Heaven who never prays so well as when he is drivenby necessity to pray. Some shall sing aloud upon their beds of sickness, whose voices were hardly heard when they were well.And some shall sing God's high praises in the fire, who did not praise Him as they should before the trial came. In the furnaceof affliction the saints are often seen at their best! If any of you tonight are in dark and gloomy positions-if your soulsare bowed down within you-may this become a special time for peculiarly prevalent communion and intercession! And may theprayer of the cave be the very best of your prayers!
I shall, tonight, use David's prayer in the cave to represent the prayers of godly men in trouble. But, first, I will talkof it as a picture of the condition of a soul under a deep sense of sin. This Psalm of the cave has a great likeness to thecharacter of a man under a sense of sin. I shall then use it to represent the condition of a persecuted Believer. And, thirdly,I shall speak of it as revealing the condition of a Believer who is being prepared for greater honor and wider service thanhe has ever attained before.
I. First, let me try and use this Psalm as a picture of THE CONDITION OF A SOUL UNDER A DEEP SENSE OF SIN.
A little while ago you were out in the open field of the world, sinning with a high hand, plucking the flowers which growin those poisoned vales, and enjoying their deadly perfume. You were as happy as your sinful heart could be, for you weregiddy, careless and thoughtless-but it has pleased God to arrest you. You have been apprehended by Christ and you have beenput in prison-and now your feet are fast in the stocks. Tonight you feel like one who has come out of the bright sunshineand balmy air into a dark, noisome cavern where you can see but little, where there is no comfort, and where there appearsto you to be no hope of escape.
Well, now, according to the Psalm before us, which is meant for you as well as for David, your first business should be toappeal to God. I know your doubts. I know your fears of God. I know how frightened you are at the very mention of His name,but I charge you, if you would come out of your present gloom, go to God at once! See, the Psalm begins, "I cried unto theLord with my voice; with my voice unto the Lord did I make my supplication." Get home and cry to God with your voice; butif you have no place where you can use your voice, cry to God in silence-only cry to Him! Look Godward. if you look any otherway, all is darkness. Look Godward. There, and only there, is hope. "But I have sinned against God," you say. But God is readyto pardon-He has provided a great Atonement through which He can justly forgive the greatest offenses. Look Godward and beginto pray!
I have known men who have hardly believed in God, do this, but they have had some faint desire to do so and they have cried.It has been a poor prayer and yet God has heard it. I have known some cry to God in despair. When they hardly believed thatthere could be any use in it, still it was that or nothing, and they knew that it could not hurt them to pray and so theytook to their knees and they cried. It is wonderful what poor prayers God will hear, and answer, too! Prayers that have nolegs to run with and no hands to grasp with, and very little heart, but still, God has heard them and He has accepted them.Get to your knees, you who feel yourselves guilty! Get to your knees if your hearts are sighing on account of sin! If thedark gloom of your iniquities is gathering about you, cry to God and He will hear you!
The next thing to do is make a full confession. David says, "I poured out my complaint before Him; I showed before Him mytrouble." The human heart longs to express itself. An unuttered grief will lie and smolder in the soul till its black smokeputs out the very eyes of the spirit. It is not a bad thing, sometimes, to speak to some Christian friend about the anguishof your heart. I would not encourage you to put that in the first place-far from it-but still, it may be helpful to some.But, anyway, make a full confession unto the Lord. Tell Him how you have sinned. Tell Him how you have tried to save yourselfand broken down. Tell Him what a wretch you are, how changeable, how fickle, how proud, how wanton, how your ambition carriesyou away like an unbridled steed! Tell Him all your faults, as far as you can remember them. Do not attempt to hide anythingfrom God-you cannot do it, for He knows all. Therefore, hesitate not to tell Him everything-the darkest secret-the sin youwould not wish, even, to whisper to the evening's gale. Tell it all! Tell it all!
Confession to God is good for the soul. "Whoever confesses and forsakes his sins shall have mercy." I press upon any of youwho are now in the gloomy cave, that you seek a secret and quiet place and, alone with God, pour out your heart before Him.David says, "I showed before Him my trouble." Do not think that the use of pious words can be of any use- it is not merelywords that you have to utter-you have to lay all your trouble before God. As a child tells its mother its griefs, tell theLord all your griefs, your complaints, your miseries, your fears! Tell them all out and great relief will come to your spirit!So, first, appeal to God. Secondly, make confession to Him.
Thirdly, acknowledge to God that there is no hope for you but in His mercy. Put it as David did, "I looked on my right handand beheld, but there was no man that would know me." There is but one hope for you-acknowledge that. Perhaps you have beentrying to be saved by your good works. They are altogether worthless when you heap them together. Possibly you expect to besaved by your religiousness. Half of it is hypocrisy-how can a man hope to be saved by his hypocrisy? Do you hope to be savedby your feelings? What are your feelings? As changeable as the weather! A puff of wind will change all your fine feelingsinto murmuring and rebellion against God! Oh, Friend, you cannot keep the Law of God! That is the only other way to Heaven.The perfect keeping of God's Commandments would save you if you had never committed a sin! But, having sinned, even that willnot save you, now, for future obedience will not wipe out past disobedience. Here, in Christ Jesus, whom God sets forth asa Propitiation for sin, is the only hope for you! Lay hold on it. In the cave of your doubts and fears, with the clingingdampness of your despair about you, chilled and numbed by the dread of the wrath to come, yet venture to make God in Christyour only confidence-and you shall yet have perfect peace!
Then, further, if you are still in the cave of doubt and sin, venture to plead with God to set you free. You cannot presenta better prayer than this one of David in the cave, "Bring my soul out of prison that I may praise Your name." You are inprison tonight and you cannot get out of it by yourself. You may get a hold of those bars and try to shake them to and fro,but they are fast in their sockets-they will not break in your hands. You may meditate, think, invent contemplate, but youcannot open that great iron gate! But there is a hand that can break gates of brass and there is a power
that can cut in sunder bars of iron! O man in the iron cage, there is a hand that can crumble up your cage and set you free!You need not be a prisoner. You need not be shut up. You may walk at will through Jesus Christ the Savior! Only trust Himand believingly pray that prayer, tonight, "Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise Your name," and He will set youfree! Ah, sinners praise God's name when they get out of prison! I remember how, when I was set free, I felt like singingall the time and I could quite well use the language of Dr. Watts-
"Oh, for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer's praise!"
My old friend, Dr. Alexander Fletcher, seems to rise before me now, for I remember hearing him say to the children that whenmen came out of prison, they did praise him who had set them free. He said that he was going down the Old Bailey one day andhe saw a boy standing on his head, turning cartwheels, dancing and jumping about in all manner of ways, and he said to theboy, "What are you doing? You seem to be tremendously happy." And the boy replied, "Ah, old gentleman, if you had been lockedup six months and had just got out, you would be happy, too!" I have no doubt that is very true. When a soul gets out of afar worse prison than there ever was at Newgate, then he must praise "Free Grace and dying love," and, "ring those charmingbells," again, and again, and again, and make his whole life musical with the praise of the emancipating Christ!
Now, that is my advice to you who are in the cave through soul-trouble. May God bless it to you! You need not notice anythingelse that I am going to say tonight. If you are under a sense of sin, heed well what I have been saying, and let other peoplehave the rest of the sermon that belongs more especially to them.
II. I pass on to my second point. This Psalm may well help to set forth THE CONDITION OF A PERSECUTED BELIEVER.
A persecuted Believer? Are there any such nowadays? Ah, dear Friends, there are many such! When a man becomes a Christian,he straightway becomes different from the rest of his fellows. When I lived in a street, I was standing, one day, at the window,meditating what my sermon should be, and I could not find a text, when, all of a sudden, I saw a flight of birds. There wasa canary which had escaped from its cage and was flying over the slates of the opposite houses-and it was being chased bysome 20 sparrows and other rough birds. I thought of that text, "My heritage is unto me as a speckled bird; the birds roundabout are against her." Why, they seemed to say to one another, "Here is a yellow fellow! We have not seen the likes of himin London. He has no business here-let us pull off his bright coat-let us kill him, or make him as dark and dull as ourselves."That is just what men of the world try to do with Christians! Here is a godly man who works in a factory, or a Christian girlwho is occupied in folding books, or some other work where there is a large number employed-such persons will have a sad taleto tell of how they have been hunted about, ridiculed and scoffed at by ungodly companions. Now you are in the cave.
It may be that you are in the condition described here and you hardly know what to do. You are as David was when he wrotethe third verse, "When my spirit was overwhelmed within me." The persecutors have so turned against you and it is so new athing to you as a young Believer, that you are quite perplexed and hard put to it to know what you should do. They are sosevere, they are so ferocious, they are so incessant! And they discover your tender points and they know how to touch youon the raw places that you really do not know what to do! You are like a lamb in the midst of wolves-you know not which wayto turn. Well, then, say to the Lord, as David did, "When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then You knew my path." Godknows exactly where you are and what you have to bear. Have confidence that when you know not what to do, He can and willdirect your ways if you trust Him!
In addition to that, it may be that you are greatly tempted. David said, "They privily laid a snare for me." It is often sowith young men in a warehouse, or with a number of clerks in an establishment. They find that a young fellow has become aChristian and they try to trip him up. If they can, they will get up some scheme by which they can make him appear to havebeen guilty, even if he is not. Ah, you will need much wisdom! I pray God that you may never yield to temptation, but mayhold your ground by Divine Grace. Young Christian soldiers often have a very rough time of it in the barracks, but I hopethat they will prove themselves true soldiers and not yield an inch to those who would lead them astray.
It will be very painful if, in addition to that, your friends turn against you. David said, "There was no man that would knowme." Is it so with you? Are your father and mother against you? Is your wife or your husband against you?
Do your brothers and sisters call you "a canting hypocrite"? Do they call you a "Methodist," or a "Presbyterian," not knowing,themselves, the meaning of the words? Do they point the finger of scorn at you when you get home? And often, when you go fromthe Lord's Table, where you have been so happy, do you have to hear an oath the first thing when you enter the door? I knowthat it is so with many of you. The Church of Christ in London is like Lot in Sodom. In this particular neighborhood, especially,it is hard for Christian people to live at all. You cannot walk down the streets anywhere without having your ears assailedwith filthy language-and your children cannot be permitted to run these streets because of the abominable impurity that is,on every hand, round about us.
Things are growing worse with us, instead of better. They who look for brighter times must be looking with their eyes shut.There is grave occasion for Christians to pray for young people who are converted in such a city as this, for their worstenemies are often those of their own household. "I should not mind so much," says one, "if I had a Christian friend to flyto. I spoke to one the other day and he did not seem to interest himself in me at all." I will tell you what hurts a youngconvert. Here is one just saved. He has really, lovingly, given his heart to Christ and the principal or manager where heworks is a Christian. He finds himself ridiculed and he ventures to say a word to this Christian. He snuffs him out in a moment!He has no sympathy with him. Well, there is another old professing Christian working near at the same bench and so the youngconvert begins to tell him a little about his trouble, but he is very grumpy and Cross.
I have noticed some Christian people who appear to be shut up in themselves and they do not seem to notice the troubles ofbeginners in the Divine Life. Let it not be so among you! My dear Brothers and Sisters, cultivate great love to those who,having come into the army of Christ, are much beset by adversaries! They are in the cave. Do not disown them-they are tryingto do their best-stand side by side with them. Say, "I, too, am a Christian. If you are honoring that young man with yourridicule, let me have my portion of it! If you are pouring contempt upon him, give me a share of it, for I, also, believeas he believes."
Will you do that? Some of you will, I am sure. Will you stand by the man of God who vindicates the Lord's revealed Truths?Some of you will, but there are plenty of fellows who want to keep a whole skin on their body, and if they can sneak awayout of any fight for the right, they are glad to get home and go to bed-and there slumber till the battle is over. God helpus to have more of the lion in us and not so much of the cur! God grant us Grace to stand by those who are out and out forGod and for His Christ, that we may be remembered with them in the day of His appearing!
It may be that the worst point about you is that you feel very feeble. You say, "I should not mind the persecution if I feltstrong, but I am so feeble." Well, now, always distinguish between feeling strong and being strong. The man who feels strongis weak! The man who feels weak is the man who is strong! Paul said, "When I am weak, then am I strong." David prays, "Deliverme from my persecutors; for they are stronger than I." Just hide yourself away in the strength of God. Pray much. Take Godfor your refuge and your portion. Have faith in Him and you will be stronger than your adversaries. They may seem to pullyou over, but you will soon be up again. They may set before you puzzles that you cannot solve. They may come up with theirscientific knowledge and you may be at a discount-but never mind that-the God who has led you into the cave will turn thetables for you one of these days! Only hold on and hold out, even to the end.
I am rather glad that there should be some trouble in being a Christian, for it has become such a very general thing, now,to profess to be one. If I am right, it is going to be a very much less common thing than it is now for a man to say, "I ama Christian." There will come times when there will be sharp lines drawn. Some of us will help to draw them if we can, whenmen shall not wear the Christian garb, but bear the Christian name and act like worldlings, and love the amusements and thefollies of worldlings. It is time that there was a division in the House of the Lord and that the "ayes" went into one lobby,and the "nays" into the other lobby. We have too long been mixed together! And I, for one, say, may the day soon come whenevery Christian will have to run the gauntlet! It will be a good thing for genuine Believers. It will blow some of the chaffaway from the wheat. We shall have all the purer gold when the fire gets hot and the crucible is put into it, for then thedross will be separated from the precious metal. Be of good courage, my Brothers and Sisters, if you are now in the cave-theLord will bring you out of it in His own good time!
III. Now, to close, I want to speak a little about THE CONDITION OF A BELIEVER WHO IS BEING PREPARED FOR GREATER HONOR ANDWIDER SERVICE.
Is it not a curious thing that whenever God means to make a man great, He always first breaks him in pieces? There was a manwhom the Lord meant to make into a prince. How did He do it? Why, He met him one night and wrestled with him! You always hearabout Jacob's wrestling. Well, I dare say he did, but it was not Jacob who was the principal wrestler-"There wrestled a manwith Him until the breaking of the day." God touched the hollow of Jacob's thigh and put it out of joint before He calledhim "Israel," that is, "a Prince of God." The wrestling was to take all his strength out of him and when his strength wasgone, then God called him a prince. Now, David was to be king over all Israel. What was the way to Jerusalem for David? Whatwas the way to the throne? Well, it was round by the cave of Adullam. He must go there and be an outlaw and an outcast, forthat was the way by which he would be made king. Have none of you ever noticed, in your own lives, that whenever God is goingto give you an enlargement and bring you out to a larger sphere of service, or a higher platform of spiritual life, you alwaysget thrown down? That is His usual way of working! He makes you hungry before He feeds you! He strips you before He robesyou! He makes nothing of you before He makes something of you! This was the way with David. He is to be king in Jerusalem,but He must go to the throne by the way of the cave. Now, are any of you here going to Heaven, or going to a more heavenlystate of sanctification, or going to a greater sphere of usefulness? Do not wonder if you go by the way of the cave. Why isthat?
It is, first, because if God would make you greatly useful, He must teach you how to pray! The man who is a great preacherand yet cannot pray, will come to a bad end. A woman who cannot pray and yet is noted for the conducting of Bible classes,has already come to a bad end. If you can be great without prayer, your greatness will be your ruin! If God means to blessyou greatly, He will make you pray greatly, as He does David who says in this part of his preparation for coming to his throne,"I cried unto the Lord with my voice: with my voice unto the Lord did I make my supplication."
Next, the man whom God would greatly honor must always believe in God when he is at his wits' end. "When my spirit was overwhelmedwithin me, then You knew my path." Are you never at your wits' end? God has not sent you to do business in great waters, for,if He has, you will reel to and fro and be at your wits' end, in a great storm, before long! Oh, it is easy to trust whenyou can trust yourself, but when you cannot trust yourself-when you are dead beat, when your spirit sinks below zero in thechill of utter despair-then is the time to trust in God. If that is your case, you have the marks of a man who can lead God'speople and be a comforter of others.
Next, in order to greater usefulness, many a man of God must be taught to stand alone. "I looked on my right hand, and behold,but there was no man that would know me." If you need men to help you, you may make a very decent follower. But if you needno man and can stand alone, God being your Helper, you shall be helped to be a leader. Oh, it was a grand thing when Lutherstepped out from the ranks of Rome! There were many good men round him who said, "Be quiet, Martin. You will get burnt ifyou do not hold your tongue! Let us keep where we are, in the Church of Rome, even if we have to swallow down great lumpsof dirt. We can believe the Gospel and still remain where we are." But Luther knew that he must defy Antichrist and declarethe pure Gospel of the blessed God! And he must stand alone for the Truth of God even if there were as many devils againsthim as there were tiles on the housetops at Worms! That is the kind of man whom God blesses! I would to God that many a youngman here might have the courage to feel, in his particular position, "I can stand alone, if need be. I am glad to have mymaster and my fellow workmen with me, but if nobody will go to Heaven with me, I will say farewell to them and go to Heavenalone through the Grace of God's dear Son."
Once more, the man whom God will bless must be the man who delights in God alone. David says, "I cried unto You, O Lord: Isaid, You are my refuge and my portion in the land of the living." Oh, to have God as our refuge and to make God our portion!"You will lose your job! You will lose your income. You will lose the approbation of your fellow men." "Ah," says the Believer,"but I shall not lose my Portion, for God is my Portion! He is job, and income, and everything to me-and I will hold by Him,come what may." If you have learned to "delight yourself in the Lord, He will give you the desires of your heart." Now youare come into such a state that God can use you and make much of you-but until you make much of God, He never will make muchof you! God deliver us from having our portion in this life, for, if we have, we are not among His people at all!
He whom God would use must be taught sympathy with God's poor people. Hence we get these words of David, in the sixth verse,"I am brought very low." Mr. Greatheart, though he must be strong to kill Giant Grim and any others of the giants that infestthe Pilgrim path, must be a man who has gone that road himself if he is to be a leader of others. If the Lord means to blessyou, my Brother, and to make you very useful in His Church, depend upon it, He will try you. Half,
perhaps nine-tenths of the trials of God's ministers are not sent to them on their own account. They are sent for the goodof other people. Many a child of God who goes very smoothly to Heaven, does very little for others. But another of the Lord'schildren who has all the ins and outs and changes of an experienced Believer's life, has them only that he may be better fittedto help others! That he may be able to sit down and weep with them that weep, or to stand up and rejoice with them that rejoice.
So then, dear Brothers who have got into the cave, and you, my Sisters, who have deep spiritual exercises, I want to comfortyou by showing you that this is God's way of making something of you. He is digging you out! You are like an old ditch-youcannot hold any more-and God is digging you out to make more room for more Grace. That spade will cut sharply and dig up sodafter sod, and throw it to one side. The very thing you would like to keep shall be cast away and you shall be hollowed out,and dug out, that the word of Elisha may be fulfilled, "Make this valley full of ditches. For thus says the Lord, You shallnot see wind, neither shall you see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water." You are to be tried, my Friend, thatGod may be glorified in you!
Lastly, if God means to use you, you must get to be full of praise. Listen to what David says, "Bring my soul out of prison,that I may praise Your name: the righteous shall compass me about; for You shall deal bountifully with me." May God give tomy Brothers and Sisters here, who are being tried for their good and afflicted for their promotion, Grace to begin to praiseHim! It is the singers that go before-they who can praise best shall be fit to lead others in the work. Do not set me to followa gloomy leader. Oh, no, dear Sirs, we cannot work to the tune of "The Dead March in Saul"! Our soldiers would never havewon Waterloo if that had been the music for the day of battle! No, no! Give us a rejoicer-"Sing unto the Lord who has triumphedgloriously; praise His great name again and again." Draw the sword and strike home! If you are of a cheerful spirit, gladin the Lord and joyous after all your trials and afflictions, and if you can rejoice more because you have been brought solow, then God is making something of you and He will yet use you to lead His people to greater works of Grace!
I have talked to three kinds of people tonight. May God grant each of you Grace to take what belongs to you! But if you seeany of the first sort before you go out of the building-any who are in the cave of gloom under a sense of sin-if you wantto go to the communion, but feel that you ought to stop and comfort them, mind that you do the latter! Put yourself second!There is a wonderful work to be done in those lobbies and in those pews after a service. There are some dear Brothers andSisters who are always doing it-they call themselves my, "dogs"-for they go and pick up the birds that I have wounded! I wishthat they might be able to pick up many tonight. Oh, that some of you might always be on the alert to watch a face and seewhether there is any emotion there! Just paddle your own canoe alongside that little ship and see whether you cannot get intocommunication with the poor troubled one on board and say a word to cheer a sad heart. Always be doing this, for if you arein prison, yourself, the way out of it is to help another out! God turned the captivity of Job when he prayed for his friends.When we begin to look after others and seek to help others, God will bless us. So may it be, for His name's sake! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON PSALM57.
To the chief Musician, Al-Taschith, Michtaim of David, when he fled from Saul in the cave. This is one of the "Destroy not"Psalms, for that is the meaning of the title, Al-Taschith, which is used here, and in Psalms 58, 59 and 75. Michtaim of David. David's golden Psalm, "when he fled from Saul in the cave." In this Psalm we see the calmnessof David's heart when he was in great peril. He was a man of peace and to be hunted cruelly, as he was by Saul, greatly painedhim. Yet with all the sensitiveness of his nature, he did not fall into unbelief, for his sensitiveness was balanced by hisconfidence in his God. You will see how, greatly as he was afflicted, he was greatly strengthened.
Verse 1. Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me. He pleads twice, for his was an urgent case. He would have the Lordhelp him at once, for, perhaps, if the Lord's mercy came not to him at once, it would be too late. So he cried, "Be mercifulunto me, O God, be merciful unto me."
1. For my soul trusts in You This is the feather on the arrow of prayer that guides it straight to the heart of God! Thisis the condition attached to the promise, "According to your faith be it unto you." If you can truly plead that your soulis trusting in God, you may be assured that He will not deny you His mercy.
1. Yes, in the shadow of Your wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities are overpast. What a sweet realization thereis, here, of the power of God to protect him! Just as the little chick hides beneath the mother's wing and knows no fear,so says David, "in the shadow of Your wings will I make my refuge." There was no refuge to be seen, but David does not askto see-an unseen God is all that faith needs. If it is only a shadow, yet the shadow of Jehovah's wings is substantial enoughfor our confidence-"In the shadow of Your wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities are overpast." They will beoverpast-the worst calamity will not last forever. We shall think differently of these rough times, by-and-by. We ought notto give up in despair and cast away our confidence while we are in the thick of the fight. Until the calamities are overpast,it should be our joy to run under God's protecting wings and hide ourselves securely there.
2. I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performs all things for me. Faith is never dumb. True faith is a crying faith.If you have a confidence in God of such a kind that you do not need to pray, get rid of it! For it is of no use to you-itis a false confidence, it is presumption! Only a crying faith will be a prevailing faith. "I will cry unto God most high"-thevery height and sublimity of God is an attraction to faith, for though He is so high, He can and will stoop. Though God isso high, He can lift me up above the storm, for He is above it, Himself, and He can set me above it, too. "I will cry untoGod most high" and David sweetly adds, "unto God that performs for me." The translators have inserted the words, "all things,"and very properly, too. But David leaves, as it were, a gap, so that we may fill in anything that we please. Thus do we-
"Sing the sweet promise of His Grace, And the performing God."
He is not one who gives us promises and then puts us off without the thing promised-but He fulfils the promises He has made-Heis the Faithful Promiser! "God that performs for me."
3. He shall send from Heaven, and save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up. If He cannot find any means uponearth for saving David, He will send from Heaven to do it, but He will save him. God is sure to find an ark for His Noahsif the floods should cover the whole earth. And when they cannot be preserved any longer on the earth, He will take them awayto Himself in Heaven, but He will surely take care of His own-"He shall send from Heaven, and save me." If there were onlyone of His people in danger, He would rend the heavens in order to save him-"He shall send from Heaven and save me," not onlyfrom the danger to my life, but from danger to my character-"from the reproach of him that would swallow me up." Often, theenemies of the righteous are so fierce and cruel that they would, like some huge python, swallow up the godly man, devourhim, make an end of him, make one meal of him if they could. But God will not allow them to do so. He will send from Heavenand deliver us from the reproach of them that would swallow us up.
3. God shall send forth His mercy and His truth. The Psalmist had only prayed for mercy. Twice he had said, "Be merciful untome." But God always answers us more largely than we ask in our prayers. He does exceeding abundantly above what we ask oreven think. So His truth comes with His mercy, as a double guard to protect His people-"God shall send forth His mercy andHis truth."
4. My soul is among lions: and I lie even among them that are set on fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears andarrows, and their tongue a sharp sword. Yet, notice that David says, "I lie," there. That is the emphatic word and the forceof that word conveys this idea, "I recline there. I feel at ease, notwithstanding the danger of my position. I recline, andrest, even among them that are set on fire." Oh, the calm confidence of the faith that forgets the adversary when once shehas hidden herself under the shadow of Jehovah's wings! The description given of ungodly persecutors is very strong-"whoseteeth are spears and arrows." Their mouth seems to contain deadly armory-they have no molars to grind their food, they areall canine teeth, cruel, cutting. You must know some such critical spirits that seem to be all teeth, and whose every toothis a spear or an arrow. But their tongue is worse than their teeth, for it is not only a sword, but, "a sharp sword," a sharpenedsword. Oh, how tongues will cut and wound! You may heal the cut of a sword, but who shall heal the cut of a deadly, cruel,malicious, slanderous tongue? Yet for all that, David was not dismayed, but he
said, "I lie down among such men, my soul is among lions." Like Daniel among the lions, so does this man of God take his night'srest as calmly as though he were sleeping in his own bed at home.
5. Be You exalted, O God, above the heavens; let Your glory be above all the earth. David so rises above his present circumstancesthat he begins to praise his God. O Beloved, there is no condition in which God ought to be robbed of a song! What if I amsick? Yet my Lord must have my music, even if the harp strings are not well tuned. What if I am poor? Yet why should I bepoor towards Him and deny Him my need of praise? What if I am busy? Yet I must still find time for praising Him. How sweetlyDavid seeks to exalt and glorify his God, "Be You exalted, O God, above the heavens; let Your glory be above all the earth."
6. They have prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down: they have dug a pit before me, into the midst whereof theyare fallen themselves. They hunted him as they spread a snare for a bird, or as they sought to entrap a wild beast by digginga pit and covering it over that he might stumble into it. David scarcely has time to tell us of their devices before he discoversthat their plans have come to nothing-"they have dug a pit before me, into the midst whereof they are fallen themselves."You may go calmly on, my persecuted Friend, for those who seek to hurt the righteous will only hurt themselves-their bowsshall be broken, their arrows shall fall back into their own bosoms! Only be still and let the wicked alone-let God fightfor you-and you hold your peace.
7. My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise. That is enough for me, I will not stop my singingfor all my adversaries. Let them howl like lions, I will sing on! Let them dig their pits, I will sing on! I find this mybest employment, to keep on praising my God-
"All that remains for me
Is but to love and sing,
And wait until the angels come
To bear me to the King."
8. Awake, my glory; awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early. My tongue, the glory of my frame, be not silent!Bestir yourself! "I myself will awake early," or, "I will awake the dawning." I will call the sun up to be shining! I willbid him wake to shine to the honor of my Lord! With the earliest birds I will make one more singer in the great concert hallof God. I will not need more rest, or a longer time to myself to consider all my troubles-I will give my best time, the firsthour of the day, to the praise of my God.
9. I will praise You, O Lord, among the people: I will sing unto You among the nations. I will make the Gentiles hear it.They who know not the Lord shall be astonished when they hear me praising Him and they shall ask, "Who is this God of whomthis man makes so much?"
10. 11. For Your mercy is great unto the heavens, and Your truth unto the clouds. Be You exulted, O God, above the heavens:let Your glory be above all the earth. God give us that same calm praiseful frame of mind that David possessed if we are calledto endure such trials as fell to his lot!