Sermon 2346. Earth's Vanities and Heaven's Verities
A SERMON INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S DAY, FEBRUARY 4, 1894.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON THURSDAY EVENING NOVEMBER 7, 1889.
"Surely every man walks in a vain show: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heaps up riches and knows not who shall gatherthem. And now, Lord, what wait I for? My hope is in You. Deliver me from all my transgressions: make me not the reproach ofthe foolish." Psalm 39:6-8.
These are solemn words. Sometimes we have a more joyful theme than this, but I believe that, spiritually, as well as naturally,it is better to go to the house of mourning than to the house of feasting. A meditation of a quiet kind, on things not asthey are in fiction, but as they prove to be in fact, is always salutary. There is a great mass of sorrow in the world andall of us meet with something, every now and then, to calm our spirit and cool our blood. So, tonight, if we think a littleof the fleeting character of this world, and of the real world where certainty, alone, is to be found-and if we school ourselvesto learn facts and realities, by the blessing of God's Spirit-we may go away even more lastingly refreshed than if our heartswere made to leap for joy by meditation upon some transporting theme.
I will have no further preface. There is too much in the text, itself, to allow time for a lengthy introduction. Therefore,notice, first, that David records his view of human life-"Surely every man walks in a vain show: surely they are disquietedin vain: he heaps up riches and knows not who shall gather them." Then, next, David expresses his own emotions in contemplationof these things-"And now, Lord, what wait I for? My hope is in You." And, then, in the third place, David offers an appropriateand necessary prayer, for he cries, "Deliver me from all my transgressions: make me not the reproach of the
I. First, then, let us notice that in our text DAVID RECORDS HIS VIEW OF HUMAN LIFE.
You will notice that he puts, "surely," twice over in this verse, and with the, "verily," of the fifth verse, which has thesame meaning, but might have been translated, "surely," he has uttered the same word three times, "surely, surely, surely,"or, if you please, "verily, verily, verily." He half reminds us of his greater Son, the Son of David, whose speech was oftenemphasized with that sacred assuring word, "Verily, verily, I say unto you." David here seems to tell us that there is nothingsure except that nothing is sure. "Surely," he says, "nothing on earth is sure. Verily there is not verity, or happiness,anywhere here below." There is a land of verities. There is a home of "surelies"-some of us are on the way there and alreadyhave the earnest of our inheritance. But as for you who have your portion in this life, you have vanity, not verity- changeis written on everything earthly.
Having thus given us the keynote of certainty-for the Psalmist did not write haphazardly, but he wrote what he knew. He wrotewhat he had experienced and he wrote under the Inspiration of the Spirit of God-we should the more carefully look at whathe has written. If it is so, surely, let us be sure to know what it is.
And, first, he seems to me to speak of life as a walk. And of that he says, "Surely every man walks in a vain show." Thenhe speaks of life as a worry. And of that he says, "Surely they are disquieted in vain." And then he speaks of life as a success,as men call it. And of that he says, "He heaps up riches and knows not who shall gather them."
David first speaks of life as a walk. He seems to have had in his mind the idea of a great procession-"Surely every man walksin a vain show." If you choose to go to the Lord Mayor's show next Saturday, you may see a vain show, and may know preciselywhat David meant. Such things were more common in Oriental countries than they are with us, but whether it is the Lord Mayor'sshow or any other, it is a picture of what this mortal life is! The procession, if you see it, or if you do not see it, butonly read and hear of it, may remind you of what life is-what you see of it is all show. There are
kings in the show, princes in the show and heroes of old time in the show. But there are neither kings, nor princes, nor heroesthere in reality! It is all show and such is this mortal life to a large extent.
Among some classes of society, show is everything-they must "keep up appearances." Just so and, all the world over, that isabout all there is-"appearances"-a vain show! If you want reality, you cannot see it-only the unseen is real. If you wantshadow, you can see it-"the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal."
1 wish we could get a hold of that idea as a practical thing-that everything we can see is shadow, but what we cannot seeis the real substance. When we talk about faith, men call us "visionary." Well, well, you may call us that if you like, forwe have a vision of a very high order. But we beg to return the word to you in its ordinary meaning, for if you make yourtreasure of what you can see and handle, you are the visionaries-for this is but a vain show in which you rejoice and thatwhich you see with your eyes is but a vision-a dream that vanishes when one awakens! Earthly life is only a show.
Oh, Friends, I wish we really thought this! We would not be so hot-brained as we are if we said to ourselves, "These are onlyshadows." We would not be so vexed and worried as we are if we often said to ourselves, "These are shadows. I could not seethem if they were not. If they were real, they would not be perceptible to my senses-they would only be perceptible by thehigher faculty of faith." "Surely every man walks in a vain show." It is a show and nothing more.
But it is a passing show, for David does not say, "Surely every man sits down in a vain show and remains in the same place,"but, "every man walks in a vain show." It is with life as with a procession which passes before your eyes. It comes- listento the shouts of the people! It is here in a few minutes. There are the people crowding the streets! But presently it hasvanished and is gone. Does not life strike you as being just that? I remember, oh, I remember so many figures in the procession!I have seemed to stand as at a window, though that, itself, has been but seeming, for I also have been in the procession.I remember the great hearty men of my boyhood, whom I used to hear pray-they are now singing up yonder! Then, when I thinkof you, dear Friends, I remember a long procession of saintly men and godly women who have all passed before me and have goneinto Glory. What a host of friends we have in the unseen world, "gone over to the majority!" As we get older, they reallyare the majority, and our friends on earth are outnumbered by our friends in Heaven! Some of you will fondly remember dearones who have passed away in the procession, but please remember that you, also, are in the procession. Though they seem tohave passed before you, you have been passing along with them and you may reach the vanishing point before long! And thenthere will be this talk among the brotherhood you love, "he, too, has gone," or, "she has fallen asleep," for we are all walkingas in a procession and passing away to the land of substance and reality!
A show which is passing away is, in itself, if it is measured by this mortal life, vain-"a vain show." To a man who has nohope hereafter, it is all, "vanity of vanities; all is vanity." Within the narrow compass of this poor globe there is nothingthat is worth a man's opening his mouth to ask for or to receive. Take the broader, larger circle of the heavens and there,within that boundless circumference, there is something to be found that is worth finding! Dwell in God and you have somethingsubstantial! Dwell out of God and you make "much ado about nothing." Life is a vain show when it is lived apart from God.
If you will only consider, for a minute, you will see that it is so. Think of the armies of Babylon and Assyria, the palacestheir kings built, the mighty cities that they built-where are they now? Think of the Medes and Persians, with all their pompand power-where are their glories now? And Greece-her palaces and her temples are a desolation. Listen to the tramp of Romanarmies up the Via Sacra-listen to the acclamations of the people as they climb the very chimney-tops to see the conquerorscome home-where have they all gone? Fame did but blow one blast upon her bronze trumpet and the echoes sounded, for a while,and then there was silence. "Surely every man walks in a vain show." Get the idea of a procession and you have caught thethought which David would convey to you. Such, too often, is the whole of a man's life- just the passing of a pageant-andnothing more.
The Psalmist then speaks of life as a worry, and he says, "Surely they are disquieted." So they are. How few people are sofree from the spirit of the things of this world as to pass through this life quietly? If we could once live in the eternities,we would be calm, still and restful. But we live by the moment and the day and we are all on the worry, the fidget, the fret,the fume and we know no real rest. The work of this world, if carried on only as for this world, is well described here- "Surelythey are disquieted in vain." See how they begin life, eager for its joys, its honors, its wealth. Note how they plod, toiland labor. How much of brain-work is done by the light of the midnight oil! Many a man agitates his mind and wearies his spirittill his life is lost in finding a livelihood. They are trying to live and lo, life is gone! And they wake up and
wonder how it is that they have let it go and have not really lived at all. Some are all for getting, never for enjoying inany measure. When such men get wealth, it is not sufficient for them. When they get twice that, they are still eager for moreand live on in a perpetual worry.
Then one has more than another and envy comes in-of all passions, one of the most wearing-and when a man has, at last, allhe thought he would ever need, then he is afraid of losing it! Now he is anxious about this and worried about that, and frettingabout the other. Believe me, there are no people who take the fret of life so much as those who ought to have sense enoughnot to-"having food and raiment" they are not "therewith content"-and having taken all that is good for them to carry, theyare like a traveler who, having one good substantial staff to help him in his walking, must carry a bundle of sticks withhim, and so loads himself unnecessarily. Is it not so?
Did you ever stand in the Bourse at Paris, or did you ever, by any chance, hear the noise of our own Stock Exchange? The latterplace is more difficult to see than the former, but when I have stood upstairs in the Bourse in Paris, and have looked downupon the raving multitude below, I have wondered whether if bedlam had been emptied out, there would be more noise, more uproar,more calling out, more pushing and rushing, first this way, and then that way! I could not understand what they were doing!Perhaps that made the scene appear the more maddening. Every man seemed all alive and as though he would eat up every otherman in the place!
And I believe that the Bourse is but a picture of mercantile life everywhere-competition, competition, everybody buying cheaplyand grinding down everybody that works, and then complaining that, in his turn, he is ground, too-his own measure being measuredback to him! Ah me, what a life it is! Had David penned this Psalm, today, he might have written in capital letters, "SURELYTHEY ARE DISQUIETED IN VAIN!" Oh, for a little quiet! Oh, for time to think! Oh, for opportunities to get near to God andunload all your thoughts and all your cares before Him-and then to go away feeling patience mingled with joy, and joy withthe expectation of unutterable bliss, helping us to really live, instead of being disquieted in vain!
Well, next, David passes on to speak of life as a success, and he mentions those who were supposed to have been successfulin life, though, mark you, it is not success in life, after all, to accumulate riches. When you read in The Illustrated LondonNews that somebody died, "worth" such and such, do not believe it! A man is not worth what he has when he dies! A man maynot be worth two-pence-although he may possess a million, he, himself, is worth nothing-poor grabber of everything! But yousay such and such a man died and left Â£200,000. Yes, there are several of us who, when we die, will leave much more than that.I shall leave all the world behind me and there are many others here who will do the same- and leave all the millions thatthere are, all the estates that ever were and all the treasures of the world! And I suppose that every one of us, when hedies, will leave everything behind him, for shrouds have no pockets and men carry nothing with them into their graves.
But even when a man is successful in heaping up riches, see how David describes it-"He heaps up riches." That is all-he doesnot partake of them. He does not use them, he merely heaps them up. He accumulates without enjoyment. When a man has foodand raiment, and has what he needs for comfort, all that he has beyond, if counted by thousands, might as well be a thousandpins as a thousand pounds, so far as any good it is to him! But the bigger heap will not give more comfort, for there is theadditional anxiety of taking care of it. When riches are consecrated to God's Glory, they assume quite another character,but I am now talking about this world and the mere possession of its treasures. David calls it the heaping up of riches andthat is all that it is, getting a big heap, like children do at the seaside-one gets a bigger heap of sand than another has,but what is the good of that?
The Psalmist also says that when the man heaps up riches, he, "knows not who shall gather them." He hoards without security.This is probably an allusion to the husbandman who has cut down his corn and put the sheaves together. And then at night,before he can gather them into the garner, much less before he can thresh out the grain and grind it, some marauder comesand runs off with it all. The miser heaps up his gold, but he does not know who may gather it. Have we not seen the fruitof many years toil vanish in an hour? The reaping of a lifetime has disappeared by a panic in a moment.
"He heaps up riches and knows not who shall gather them." He leaves his wealth without pleasure. The Psalmist alludes to thefact that men cannot tell what will become of their possessions when they die. I am sure that there is many a man who wouldturn in his grave if he knew what was being done with his hard-earned wealth! To live wholly to enrich somebody about whosecharacter you know so little seems a poor objective in life. And yet it is the only objective which
many are pursuing. Without chick or child, it may be, still men will go on scraping together riches for some unknown heirwho, if they knew him, would be, perhaps, beneath their contempt-yet they go on working like slaves for one who will neverbe grateful to them when they are dead!
Now does not the whole of this put together make up a very sorry picture? Yet it is true of the worldling, of the man whohas no hope hereafter-of the man who has never projected his soul, by Grace, into the spiritual and the heavenly realm!
II. And now, glad to get away from this part of our subject, we notice how DAVID EXPRESSES HIS OWN EMOTIONS IN CONTEMPLATIONOF THESE THINGS.
And first, he has come to a decision. Having turned these matters over, he begins the expression of his own feelings, thus,"And now, Lord." I like that mode of speech. It is a great thing to come to God with a, "now." You know how the Lord comesto us. He says, "Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord." I like a man, sometimes, to come close up to God andsit down, and seem to say, "Now, Lord, You see that I have realized the vanity of this world. I may well let it all go, forit melts away in my hands-it is a mere shadow which is not worth living for-and I have to live in eternity with You. I haveto live in Heaven or in Hell. O my God, bring me to my bearings! Bring me close up to You and let us reason together, andhave the question out. And now, Lord." Every moment is solemn if we would but make it so, but there are certain turning pointsin life when a man has had his eyes opened to see the fallacy of his former pursuits, when, stopping where the roads meet,he looks up to the signpost and says, "And now, Lord, guide me. Help me to take the right turn, to avoid the shadow and toseek after that which is substantial. Now, Lord."
I also like this expression of David's emotions because he consults with God. "Every man walks in a vain show, but," he says,"and now, Lord, there is no vanity with You, no deception, no delusion with You, behold, I turn away from this mirage, whichjust now deluded me, to You, my God, the Rock of my salvation, and I look to You. And now, Lord." I would to God that somebodyhere would say, "I have to spend eternity somewhere. I will not waste this present time and live as if this world were all,but I will lift up my prayer, tonight, and say, Now, Lord. Now that I have passed my childhood and am a young man. Now thatI have reached my 21st birthday. Now that I am 30, forty, fifty-now that my hair is turning gray it is time for me to be wiseif ever. Now, Lord." And if I am so unhappy as to have a person here who has advanced to the very end of his lease and hasbecome 70 and yet is still living for a world that is slipping away from him, I would to God that the Holy Spirit would makehim say, tonight, "And now, Lord. Now I seek You, now I turn to You."
You can see at once that David feels that he is out ofplace, for he says, "Lord, what wait I for?" He says, "What wait I for?I can see what these fools are waiting for-they are waiting to take their place in the show. They put on their masqueradinggarments and go out there to take part in the pageant. But I will not go there. I do not belong to any of the classes thatmake up that show. What wait I for, then? I see the men worried in vain, but, Lord, I have learned to trust in You. Then,what wait I for? And, O my God, I see how others clutch the treasure which they cannot keep, which is not worth the having,for they are soon to leave it, or it quickly leaves them. By Your Grace I am not after that kind of thing. Now, Lord, whatwait I for?" He is like a fish out of water, he is a man out of his native country, evidently a stranger and an exile, whois turning to his God. He is a fellow-stranger with his God and he says to Him, "Now, Lord, what wait I for?"-a question onlyGod, Himself, can fully answer!
You observe, also, that he has his eye on the future. He is a man who is waiting for something. Faith is a high virtue. Andwaiting upon God is a flower that grows out of it. "What wait I for? I have not found it yet. I am waiting for it, for herewe have no continuing city, but we seek one to come." Our treasure is not here-it is away there upon the eternal hills, whereChrist sits at the right hand of God! The man described in our text is a waiting man whose chief delight is now in a worldthat is to come.
And you observe, lastly, on this point, that he is a man whose hope is in God. "My hope is in You." I have no earthly expectations,but I say, "My Soul, wait you only upon God, for my expectation is from Him." "Hopes of ever finding anything here which canfill me, or content me, I have long ago abandoned. And now, Lord, my hope is in You. It is only You, my God, that I desire,and if I get You, if I am filled with You, if You abide in me, if You transform me into Your image. If You deign to use mefor Your Glory. If You will take me Home to dwell with You where Jesus is, this is what I wait for, and I wait for nothingelse." We are expectant of good things to come. We are not inhabitants of this country, we are citizens of the New Jerusalemwhich is above! We are only shipwrecked, here, for a while, and exiled from Home until the boat
shall come to ferry us across the stream to the land where our true possessions lie and where our best Beloved is! Life, light,love and everything to us is He who has gone as our Forerunner to the place which He has prepared for them that love
III. Now I close by noticing that DAVID OFFERS AN APPROPRIATE AND NECESSARY PRAYER. "Deliver me from all my transgressions:make me not the reproach of the foolish." After all, we are here, Brothers and Sisters. We do not know how long we may haveto stay here and there are things which we need while we are here. Well, what are they? Send in your requests! What do youneed?
David puts down what he needs. "He needs, first, to be delivered from trouble," says somebody. No, he does not say anythingabout that. He prays, "Deliver me from all my transgressions." "He needs to be delivered from that headache, that heartache,that pain in the limbs, that depression of spirit." Nothing of the sort! The prayer of this godly man is, "Deliver me fromall my transgressions."
That is, first, he prayed for deliverance from sins committed. "Lord, put all my sin away, so that I may be clean every whitfrom every sin that I have ever committed." Can that be? Oh, yes, it is so with many of us! We are washed in the blood ofthe lamb and that washing is perfect washing-it leaves no stain behind it! If you believes in the Lord Jesus Christ, He hastaken your sin upon Himself-He has put your sin away by the great blood shedding! It is not on you any longer. It has evenceased to be, according to that wonderful text, "The iniquity of Israel shall be sought for and there shall be none; and thesins of Judah, and they shall not be found." What a blessed thing it is to live with no cloud, whatever, between your souland your God-to know that every sin is blotted out by the Atonement of Christ and that your heavenly Father looks upon youwith delight and favor-even as a child of God and does not chide you! O happy, happy, happy man who walks in the Light ofGod, as God is in the Light, and so has fellowship with God while the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses him from allsin! David's first prayer is for deliverance from sins committed. If you get it answered in your case, you will not walk inany vain show and you will not be worried at all, much less, "disquieted in vain."
Next, he prays to be delivered from the assaults of sin. Who is there, here, that is not tempted? If anyone says, "I am abovetemptation, or beyond temptation," well, that person must have gone far in pride and carnal security-he is eaten up with theleprosy of self-deceit! We are all tempted and every day we need to pray, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us fromthe Evil One." "Deliver me from all my transgressions. Lord, do not let me sin; let me not in heart, or thought, or word,or deed, offend You." Oh, if we could but be perfect, so that we could never manifest an ugly temper, never speak a wry word,never have an evil thought! Oh, if we could but be perfect! Ah, Sirs, this is the riches we covet, to be perfectly free fromevery tendency to sin! If we could but get to that, then we should have got to Heaven, for that is Heaven-to be perfectlydelivered from sin! Well, well, we shall have that perfection! God will give it to us, but let us make this the subject ofour daily prayer, "Deliver me from all my transgressions."
David also prayed for deliverance from peculiarly dangerous sins. Allow me to put an emphasis on one little word in my text,"Deliver me from all my transgressions." I am afraid that we all have some special sin that is our sin more than it is anybodyelse's-some tendency, hereditary-perhaps some liability to a particular form of sin. I believe that if some Brothers and Sisterswere ever tempted to hilarity, they would not transgress in that direction, for they were born in November, and they havea fog in their very soul! There are some others, who, if they were tempted to great depression, would not transgress in thatway, for they have sunlight in their souls and their eyes always twinkle with a natural merriment! Some men are not temptedto be misers-it would be a mercy if they were, for they are such dreadful spendthrifts! Some men are never tempted to be lavish-Ihalf wish that the devil or someone better would tempt them, that way, for they are so mean and it is so hard to get evena three penny piece from them to help the best of causes! Satan is pretty well acquainted with us-he sees the joints in ourharness, he knows to what sins we are specially inclined-and if it is so in sinners, it is also so in saints! We all haveneed to pray, "Deliver me from all my transgressions, especially from the sins to which I am most liable. Lord, save me fromthem." I invite you, dear Friends, to pray this prayer of David.
And then, also pray the other-"Make me not the reproach of the foolish. If I am to be reproached, let me be reproached bywise men. Make me not the reproach of the foolish."
Thus, David prayed for deliverance from deserved dishonor. Oh, may God grant that none of you, whom He has called to a higherand better life, and made to long for Glory and eternity, may ever make the enemy to blaspheme, or give them real reason fordespising you! God keep us from falling! O Christian men, women, Christ has been more wounded by His friends
than by His foes! We do not mind what the infidel has to say. At least we would not mind it if we did not, at times, helphim to say sad things by our inconsistency. We feel the point of the arrow and the smart of the wound is acute, but far keeneris it to feel that our own wrong-doing feathered the arrow which the enemy shot from his bow! God keep us from that evil!May we never lend a feather from our wings with which to furnish an arrow against Christ or His cause!
David also prayed to be preserved from undeserved defamation. "Make me not the reproach of the foolish." If you live the lifeof an angel, foolish persons will soon spread an evil story against you. Unless the Lord holds their tongues, they will nothold them. Pray, then, that you may be preserved from slander. If it comes, may it be real slander, with no truth in it, butmay God preserve you even from that, for it is a cruel thing and cuts to the quick!
Again, David prayed for deliverance from spiritual disappointment. And may we also be preserved from all disappointments concerningour trust in God! If we trusted in God and He did not deliver us, we would be, indeed, the reproach of the foolish. We comeout boldly for the Truth of God and stand alone-and yet that Truth never vindicates us! Why, then, we shall be the reproachof the foolish! We pray that we may not be put to shame and that God's bare arm may defend His own cause and we believe itwill be so.
And last of all, in his prayer, "Make me not the reproach of the foolish," David pleads for deliverance from dreadful tauntsat the last. May I never be lost and then forever have to bear this reproach! You know, the thought has sometimes come tome that if I am not true, and if at the Last Great Day the Master should say, "I never knew you, depart, you cursed" how willthose who have to depart with me turn round, and say, "And you, and you? You talked to us! You preached to us! And yet you,yourself, are here?" This would be to suffer shame as did the king of Babylon when he went down to the Pit and the kings whomhe had slain began to say to him, "Have you become like one of us?" How they gloried over their conqueror, himself, shut upin Hell, conquered by the Almighty God! Professors, I beseech you to pray this prayer, tonight, "Make me not the reproachof the foolish." Be sincere, true men, lest on the last day you not only have the wrath of God to bear, but the shame andthe everlasting contempt which your fellow sinners will heap upon you while you lie there, after all your profession, a castaway!
The Lord grant His blessing to those who are to be baptized tonight! May they be faithful to the end and may others of us,who have confessed Christ years ago, be kept from sin! May we all trust Christ tonight! If we never trusted Jesus before,let us begin at once, each one saying, "Now, Lord, what wait I for? My hope is in You." May we all come to Jesus and findeternal life in Him! Amen, and amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: PSALM39
To the chief Musician, even to Jeduthun, A Psalm of David.
David dedicated some Psalms to Asaph and one or two to Jeduthun. Some of this chief musician's family appear to have remainedsingers as late as the time of Nehemiah. It is a great honor to be a singer in the House of God. Ungodly men have no rightto lead the Psalmody-only redeemed lives can sing aright the song of redemption. I reckon that it is almost as wrong to havean unconverted person to lead the singing as it would be to have an unconverted man to preach the Gospel. David was in a greatheat of spirit, and much tried, when he wrote this Psalm. There is little that is cheerful in it, yet there is much that maycheer us. Sometimes, when we are unusually thoughtful, we are more likely to be blessed than at other times. Specific gravityis better than specific levity-there are some who have a great deal of the latter quality.
Verse 1. I said. "I thought it, and at last I said it. I resolved. I determined upon it and I registered the vow."
1. I will take heed to my ways. Men never go right by accident-he who is heedless is graceless. A holy life is a life thatcomes of taking heed.
1. That I sin not with my tongue. He who keeps his tongue can keep all the rest of his body. The tongue is the helm of theship and if that is well managed, the ship will be steered aright. How many sins of the tongue there are-proud words, falsewords, trifling words, unclean words! I cannot mention the whole list. The tongue is the best thing in the world or the worstthing, according to how it is used.
1. I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me. "I may feel free when I am with God's people. Then Imay wear my heart upon my sleeve, for there are no claws to scratch at it. But when I am with the wicked, I must not castmy pearls before swine. I must be careful what I say, for they will be sure to misunderstand and misrepresent me."
2. I was dumb with silence. Ah, me! How often we do wrong even when we try to do right! He tried not to sin with his tongue,so he was silent, but silence, itself, may be a sin of the tongue! God forgive our idle silence and silence our idle words!I do not think we often sin this way, but silence may sometimes be more wicked than speech even though at other times, speechis silver and silence is golden. If silence is sometimes better than speech, it may also be worse. So poor David, like a pendulum,swings first, this way, and then the other way. Yet he went too far in the silent direction.
2. I held my peace, even from good. Which he should not have done. A dumb sorrow is a heavy sorrow.
2. And my sorrow was stirred. Or "troubled." Water, while it is quiet, may look clear, the sediment lies still at the bottom.But if you stir it, you see all there is in it. So is it with sorrow-when it is stirred, you find its bitterness.
3. My heart was hot within me. The fire was kept in his heart-it was not allowed space to break forth-so his heart was hotas an oven.
3. While I was musing, the fire burned. He grew so hot with grief that he was compelled to speak.
3. Then spoke I with my tongue. I am not sure that he did not sin then. We sin if we are silent and we sin if we speak, forwe are such sinful creatures. It would have been better, perhaps, if David had said, "Lord, help me to take heed to my waysand rule, You, over my tongue," for as it was, you see, he could not manage his tongue. He was either too fast or too slow.However, this time he spoke well, for he spoke to God. More talk to God and less chat to men-and we would be wiser and better!
4. LORD, make me to know my end. It is greatly wise for us to be familiar with our last hours. There is much to be discoveredin the shroud, the mattock and the spade.
4. And the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am. A bubble is more substantial than I am-a littlehandful of dust, easily blown in the wind-rather an appearance than a reality! Ah, me, little do we know, any of us, how frailwe are!
5. Behold You have made my days as an handbreadth. How short is our life! It is just a span and no more,
5. And my age is as nothing before You. What multitudes of generations of men have come and gone! An angel might have cried,long before, "Man is but a thing of yesterday compared with the eternal God." God created the first star that twinkled outof the primeval darkness. "The everlasting hills," as we call them, are but infants of a day compared to Him. Therefore, manmay truly say, "My age is as nothing before You."
5. Verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah. The best man is only man at the best and when he is athis best, he is nothing but vanity. It is strange that he should get vain of his best state, when his best is only vanity!
6. Surely every man walks in a vain show. He is a shadow walking among shadows. 6. Surely they are disquieted in vain. Theyfret and fume about nothing.
6. He heaps up riches and knows not who shall gather them. He is busy with a rake, but another will be busy with a fork. Whatthe miser gathers the spendthrift scatters.
7. And now, Lord, what wait I for. "Do I wait to gather riches for another to squander? Do I wait to worry myself? Do I waithere to walk as a vanity in the midst of vanities? No, Lord, I am waiting for something better than that!"
7. My hope is in You. Here the Psalmist steps off the sand and puts his foot on the Rock. Happy is the man who can say tothe Lord, "My hope is in You."
8. Deliver me from all my transgressions. When he gets near to God, he sees himself to be a sinner.
8, 9. Make me not the reproach of the foolish. I was dumb, I opened not my mouth because You did it. That is fine silencewhen a man will not complain because his affliction comes from the hand of God! There is something better, even, than that-whena man breaks the silence and begins to praise God under the rod! A mute Christian smarting under the rod is a wonder of Grace,but a singing Christian under a cutting stroke is a still greater miracle of mercy! Such ought all Christians to be.
10. Remove Your stroke away from me: I am consumed by the blow of Your hand. When God smites, He never plays at chastisementand there are times when His blows are very heavy, and then the smitten one cries out, "Remove Your stroke away from me. Iam consumed by the blow of Your hand."
11. When with rebukes You correct man for iniquity, You make his beauty to consume away like a moth. Stout, he is reducedto a shadow. Comely and beautiful, he is wrinkled and looks like a skeleton. Joyful and blithe, he ends his day in mourning.Ah, dear Friends, we who have joy, calm and peace ought to be very grateful! Praise God while you can, for it may be thata dark night will follow the bright day. Oh, for Grace to praise God even then! That is the best of music that comes fromGod's nightingales! Music by night is music, indeed. But when God corrects men, how soon He takes them down!
11, 12. Surely every man is vanity. Selah. Hear my prayer, O LORD. "If I cannot do anything else, I can pray, and I will pray."That is the best relief that mourners have-"Hear my prayer, O Lord."
12. And give ear unto my cry; hold not Your peace at my tears. "Do not see me weeping and yet refuse me comfort and relief.Do not, I pray You, hear my cry, and yet turn Your back upon me."
12. For I am a stranger with You. Notice, not a stranger to You, but, "a stranger with You. You are a stranger in Your ownworld and I, also, am a stranger here." Men will not entertain the King, for they know Him not, therefore-
"'Tis no surprising thing, That we should be unknown: The Jewish world knew not their King God's everlasting Son."
"I am a stranger with You." There is a sweet familiarity about this expression, as if the Psalmist said, "Lord, I am not athome. I am a stranger here and You, too, are a stranger. Men will not acknowledge You. Therefore, Lord, sympathize with me.Hold not Your peace at my tears, for I am a stranger with You."
12. And a sojourner, as all my fathers were. "You are my Host. I am Your guest. You entertain me. Lord, look at my tears!When the good man entertains a stranger, he is kind-he pours oil and wine into his wounds. Lord, do so with me! You are theGood Samaritan and I am a stranger with You-a sojourner, a temporary guest with You in this world-as all my fathers were."
13. O spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go hence, and be no more. There is much sweet comfort, here, thoughthe Psalm reads like a dirge, rather than a hymn. God give us, if we are obliged to sing such words as these, to sing themwith a full belief that the Lord will hear us, will bless our trials to us and make them work our lasting good!