Sermon 2353. "Out Of The Depths"
A SERMON INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S DAY, MARCH 25, 1894.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON THURSDAY EVENING, JANUARY 26, 1888.
"For innumerable evils have compassed me about: my iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; theyare more than the hairs of my head: therefore my heart fails me. Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me: O LORD make haste to helpme." Psalm 40:12,13.
You remember that these were the words of a man of God, a man after God's own heart, a man undoubtedly the possessor of theGrace of God. They were the words, also, of a preacher, one who could say, "I have preached righteousness in the great congregation...Ihave declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation: I have not concealed Your loving kindness and your Truth from the greatcongregation."
This teaches us that however eminent for Grace a man of God may be, it may happen to him, sometimes, that the thought of hissin may be paramount over his faith. There are times when the Lord seems to give His servants a new start. It is not a secondconversion, but it is something very like it. They are made to see, once more, the deformity of their character, the defilementof their nature, the inward sinfulness of their hearts-that they may prize more than ever that they have experienced the cleansingFountain of atoning blood and the wonderful power of the sanctification of the Holy Spirit. I mention this fact so that, ifany of you are in trouble like that described in the text, you may be comforted by knowing that there are the footprints ofa fellow Believer in this dark part of the way you have to travel. Others have been here before you! Others who were undoubtedlythe people of God, others who were saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation!
You have had to write bitter things against yourself-so have other people. Have you ever felt as though you were surroundedby sin so that you could not look up? You are not the first man who has been in such a plight and you are not likely to bethe last. This part of the road has been frequented by full many of the pilgrims bound to Zion's city. All the people of Godhave not taken this route-there are different ways of traveling along the road to Heaven. But some of the true saints of Godhave gone by this rough path and I mention this fact in order that no troubled heart may fall into despair because of thepainful experience through which it is passing at the present time.
I. In trying to describe a soul in the condition mentioned in our text, let me say, first, that we have evidently before usA SOUL BESET-"For innumerable evils have compassed me about: my iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not ableto look up; they are more than the hairs of my head."
The text describes a man who is, first, made to see the countless number of his sins. He did not know so much about them,before. He said that he was a sinner and he meant it, but then he wrote the words in very small letters. Now, a further enlightenmenthas been granted to him-the Spirit of judgment and of burning has come to deal with him-and now he writes the sentence, "IAM A SINNER," in capitals so large that he needs the whole sky and all the sea, as well, to make the page on which to emblazonthe terrible words. With an emphasis of which he used to know nothing, he now calls himself a sinner, for sins that he hadforgotten come up before his memory. Now he sees that there is a great number of sins in any one sin, like so many Chineseboxes shut up, one inside another.
Moreover, things which he formerly did not recognize as sins, he now perceives to be among the deadliest of transgressions.He realizes that the imagination of evil is sin, that sin is any lack of conformity to the perfection of God. Now he seemsas if he swarms with sins and yet, a short while ago he thought himself clean and pure in the sight of God! It is amazingwhat a ray of light will do-the sun suddenly shines into a room and the whole air seems full of innumerable
specks of dust dancing up and down in the sunbeam! The light does not make the room full of dust-it only shows you what wasalways there-but which you did not see until the sun shone in. And if a beam of God's true Light were to shine into some ofyour hearts, you would think very differently of yourselves from what you have ever done. I question whether any one amongus could bear to see himself as God sees him.
I think it is highly probable that if any man were to see his own heart as it really is, he would go mad! It would be a sighttoo dreadful for an awakened conscience and a sensitive reason to endure. And when the Lord comes to any of His servants andreveals sin in its true character, unless there is a corresponding revelation of the cleansing blood, it puts a man into avery dreadful condition of mind. He says that his sins are more than the hairs of his head. He feels that that is a very poorcomparison, so he says they are innumerable, they cannot be counted! In the process of trying to count them, we would havesinned, again, I know not how many times-sinned in our judgments about our sins-our thoughts about our sins would only increasethe number of them!
Now, this is no morbid feeling of a perverted brain! It is a true and strictly accurate statement of a sad fact. It is notpossible for any of us to think too badly of ourselves as we really are in the sight of God. Comfort does not come by tryingto lessen our sense of sin-it comes in a much better and more effectual way-as I will presently try to show you.
This man, then, is troubled by the number of his sins. He also seems to be greatly perplexed by a sort of Omnipresence ofsin, for he says, "Innumerable evils have compassed me about." He looks that way and says, "Surely there is a gap, there,I have not sinned in that direction." But no, there are sins in that quarter. He turns sharply round and he looks this wayand says, "Perhaps I shall find a lane, there, through which I may escape. I hope I have not sinned in that way." But whenhe steadily looks, he finds that he has sinned there, too. These innumerable evils have compassed him about. David said ofhis enemies, "They compassed me about like bees." They were all around him. When a swarm of bees gets about a man, they areabove, beneath, around, everywhere stinging, each one stinging-until he seems to be stung in every part of his body!
So, when conscience wakes up the whole hive of our sins, we find ourselves compassed about with innumerable evils-sins atthe board and sins on the bed, sins at the task and sins in the pew, sins in the street and sins in the shop, sins on landand sins at sea, sins of body, soul, spirit, sins of the eyes, of the lips, of the hands, of the feet-sins everywhere, everywheresins! It is a horrible discovery when it seems to a man as if sin had become well-near as Omnipresent with him as God is!It cannot be actually so, for sin cannot be everywhere as God is, but it is hard to say where sin is not when once conscienceis awake to see it. Our whole life, from our first responsible moment, even until now, appears defiled. There are sins evenin our holy things! Only half the heart is laid upon God's altar and the sacramental bread, itself, is defiled as it passesinto our mouth. Oh, it is dreadful when the heart is awakened to see that it is even so! "Innumerable evils have compassedme about."
But that is not all. This man is so beset with sin that it seems to hold him in a terrible grip. Read this-"My iniquitieshave taken hold upon me," as though they were so many griffins, or other monsters of the old fables. They come and fix theirclaws into him-they have taken hold upon him. Did any of you ever feel the grip of a single sin? I hope that you have, foryou have never been rightly delivered from it if you have never felt its grasp. I once knew a young man who had not a truesense of sin. He believed himself to be a sinner, but he never had a real conviction of sin. He was a working-man, steadyand upright, and he prided himself upon his sobriety and industry. One day, in some little frolic, he upset an oil can and,when his employer came in, and asked, "Who did that?" he said that he did not. No one ever found out who upset that oil can,but he knew that he did it. Knocking over that can was not, in itself, an act of criminality, but he felt mean and despicablebecause he had told a lie-and that lie fixed itself upon his heart, clawed at it and tore away at it so that he could notget away from its cruel clutches!
He came to the House of Prayer on the Lord's-Day to try to get rid of this iniquity that had taken hold upon him, but it keptits hold month after month, hissing in his ear, "You have been a liar." Nobody knew of it but himself, yet that one sin wasquite enough to take hold upon him and to fix him with an awful grip. It was in this House of God that he was delivered fromthat sin through the precious blood of Christ and I said within myself, when I heard the whole story, "Well, I am glad thatsin took hold of that young man, for there were many sins beside which he afterwards thought of and acknowledged with tearsbefore his God-but they had all passed by unnoticed, they had never laid hold on him as that one lie had!
Let me tell you, Friend, if you have a number of sins which have once taken hold on you, you will be something like a stagwhen the whole pack of hounds has seized him and his neck and his flanks and every bone in him seem to feel the hounds' teethgnawing at them. I speak what I know-I have felt these dogs upon me-and I have had to cry to God for deliverance! And perhapsI am speaking to some soul that is in that condition tonight. It is no child's play when this is the case. Here we have todeal with stern facts and it is only God, by some great act of Grace, who can set free a poor soul that is once beset in thisway!
Thus, you see, he realizes the countless number of his sins, he recognizes the almost Omnipresence of his sins and he feelsthe terrible grip of his sins tearing at his conscience-judging him, condemning him, breathing curses into him! Oh, if youknow this experience, you can follow me when I take you a little further along this dark, dreary road!
II. Here is, secondly, A SOUL BEWILDERED-"My iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up." Do youhear that, "not able to look up"? That is the only hope that a man has when he is under a sense of sin-his one way of escapeis by looking up! But the Psalmist says, "I am not able to look up."
Does it not mean, first, that he did not dare to look his sins in the face? He felt so guilty, so self-condemned, that, asthe judge, when he pronounces the death sentence, covers his head by putting on the black cap, so this culprit felt that hemust hide his own face! He wants to have a handkerchief tied over his eyes, for he is shocked at the sight that meets hisgaze. He dares not look up-that is, he cannot face his sin.
It means, also, that he is unable to excuse himself. He used to be as big a braggart as anybody. At one time, he could talkas glibly as anyone about there being no God and no Hell. But that kind of speech is all gone out of him now. The Lord cansoon knock such folly as that out of a man! Just one prick of the conscience and the boaster is brought to his knees-and hedoes not try to look up for a single moment to justify or excuse himself. All he can do is to hang his head and murmur, "Guilty,guilty, guilty." He knows, then, the meaning of Dr. Watts' lines-
"Should sudden vengeance seize my breath, I must confess You just in death. And, if my Soul were sent to Hell, Your righteousLaw approves it well." Now, I may talk to you, thus, and you may not feel the force of what I am saying. But if God dealswith you, it will be a different matter! You will then be brought into such a state of bewilderment that you will not be ableto face your sin, or excuse yourself, or even dare to think of it, the mere thought of it will be too horrible for you!
A man in this state of bewilderment dares not look up to read God's promises. I come to him and I say, "Friend, do you notknow that there is a Bible full of promises for such as you are? 'This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation,that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.'" I put my hand on his shoulder and I say, "Now,look at that promise." He cannot look up. We read, in the 107th Psalm, of some who were so ill that when the most dainty foodwas brought to them, they shook their heads, for they could not touch it-"Their soul abhors all manner of meat; and they drawnear unto the gates of death."
Well, that is the condition of this man. "But," you say, "my dear Fellow, look at this passage, 'All manner of sin and blasphemyshall be forgiven unto men.' 'Whoever confesses and forsakes his sins shall have mercy.'" "Ah," he says, "it is too late forme, it does not apply to me." Now, this is all a mistake, you know-the Lord is willing to receive you, my dear Hearer, howeverhorrible your offenses may have been! If you are up to your neck in blasphemy and iniquity, Christ can make you clean in amoment! He has such sovereign power that, with a word, He can forgive you. Yes, and with a word, He can change your natureand make a saint out of a sinner, an angel out of a very human devil-such power does Christ possess to save the vilest ofthe vile! So we say to the poor man, "Dear Friend, look up! Look up at God's promises."
Perhaps we try what effect the testimony of others will have upon him. We stand in front of him and we say, "Look at us fora moment." There was a dear Brother who prayed at the Prayer Meeting before the service-no doubt he is here somewhere-"Lord,save the big sinners, for," he said, "Lord, since you have saved me, I believe that you can save anybody." Now, that was goodpleading, and I can say the same. There are many here who would say to you, "We looked unto Christ and were lightened. Wecame with all our sin heavy upon us and we did but look to Jesus, and we found peace, rest, new hearts and changed lives!What He has done for us, He can do for you, for He has shown forth in some of us, as he did in Paul, all long-suffering fora pattern to all others who will believe in Him unto life everlasting."
Still, the man cannot look up. His sins have so bewildered him, his sense of guilt has so muddled his poor thoughts that hedares not look up-and yet he ought to! If I were suffering from a certain disease and a number of persons came to me and said,"We were afflicted exactly as you now are, but we went to Dr. So-and-So, and he cured us almost at once," I think that I wouldgo to that doctor and I would try the medicine that had healed others! Oh, I wish that some of you would try my Savior! Youyoung people-would God that you would try Him in your youth! You older ones, I pray that you may be led to Jesus, now, thoughyour sin rises like a mountain, for He is able to forgive and to save unto the uttermost all that come unto God by Him!
But this poor soul cannot yet look up, so we put our hand upon him, again, and we say, "But, dear Heart, if you will not lookto the promises in the Bible and you will not look to us who are specimens of what Divine Grace can do, yet do look to Jesuson the Cross. Have you ever heard the story of how He lived and how He died? Do you not know the meaning of those blessedwounds of His? He was the Son of God and He suffered all this for sinful men. He was pure, holy and innocent, yet He died,'the Just for the unjust, to bring us to God.' Must there not be great merit in the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ? Look up! Lookto Him! Look up to Jesus on the Cross."-
"There is life for a look at the Crucified One! There is life at this moment for thee! Then look, sinner-look unto Him andbe sa ved- Unto Him who was nailed to the tree." But it is no use for us to talk to him-his sins have taken hold upon himso that he cannot look up.
So we try again and we bid him look up to Jesus on the Throne. We say, "Do you not know that Jesus has risen from the dead?He has gone up into Heaven and He is at the right hand of God, making intercession for the transgressors. The business ofChrist in Heaven is to plead for sinners. Oh, how I wish that you would look up to Him! Do it!" Thus we plead, but our pleadingis not sufficient. Spirit of God, break these poor creatures away from their infatuation and help them, now, to just lookup to the living Savior who is seated at the right hand of God, pleading for the guilty, for such as they are! Dear Hearers,look to Jesus! Only trust Him! A look will do it. Look, look now! In God's name, I command you to look! In the name of JesusChrist of Nazareth, I do not merely advise, but, speaking by His authority, I bid you look and live! May He set His seal tothat command, as He did when Ezekiel bade the dry bones live and they did! But yet I know that, apart from the Eternal Spirit,the poor soul will not look up, though looking up is the only way to safety.
III. Follow me for just a few minutes more while I notice, in the third place, that here is A SOUL FAINTING-"My iniquitieshave taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of my head: therefore my heart failsme."
Why, that is the man who used to come in here as big as anybody, and now he cries, "My heart fails me." You used to sing aboveall the rest, did you not? And you despised those poor weeping ones. But now your lament is, "My heart fails me." When a man'sheart fails him, it is as when the standard-bearer of an army faints-everything gets in disarray.
"My heart fails me." You have come to a fainting condition and when the heart fails, death is approaching. You feel as ifyou must die, you are so utterly faint. You dare not hope. You have no energy-what can you do? "To will," you say, "is presentwith me, but how to perform that which is good I find not." You are the man who used to think that you could believe wheneveryou liked and jump into Sovereign Grace whenever you pleased! You do not find it so easy, now, do you?
"My heart fails me." This is the language of one in whom fear is working. Why, there is poor Mercy! Poor Mercy! You, as ayoung girl, said, "I will not come to Jesus yet. I can come to Him whenever I like." And now you are fainting outside thegate because the big dog barks at you and your heart fails you! Oh, lie not there to die, dear swooning one! Jesus Christwill come to you in all your faintness. Is it not written, "When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died forthe ungodly"? "When we were yet without strength." Now you see what there is in yourself, do you not? Nothing at all! Yourvery heart fails you and if Sovereign Grace does not interpose, you are lost, you know you are!
"Yes," you say, "that is quite true, I am lost." I am so glad that you confess this, for your confession proves that you arethe one whom God has chosen unto eternal life from before the foundation of the world! You are the sort for whom Jesus diedwhen He poured out His heart's blood. You are already called, by His Grace, to come to Him, for He said, "Come unto Me, allyou that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." You are the very character whom He describes as being the objectsof His love! Come to Him, just as you are, and cast yourselves upon Him. Fainting Heart,
do not wait till you are revived, but faint on the bosom of Jesus! Failing Heart, do not wait till you grow strong again,but come and confess your failure, your spiritual bankruptcy at Christ's feet! Remember, there are none who are declared tobe clear of all obligations but those who are bankrupts before the Lord, even as Joseph Hart sings-
"'Tis perfect po verty alone
That sets the soul at large.
While we can call one mite our own,
We have no full discharge."
"But I have no good feelings," says one. I am glad of it! Come to Christ for them. "But I cannot repent as I would, or believeas I would." Then listen to Hart again-
"True belief and true repentance, Every Grace that brings you nigh, Without money,
Come to Jesus Christ and buy."
He needs nothing from you but that you will agree to let Him be everything to you! "Free Grace and dying love"-I delight toring those charming bells! Oh, that every ear would welcome their blessed music! Poor fainting Heart, hear the gladsome tidingsof Free Grace and dying love, and catch at the message and rejoice in Christ tonight! The Lord grant that it may be so!
IV. I finish, as the time has nearly gone, by introducing this man to you once more. We have had a soul beset, a soul bewilderedand a soul fainting. But here is A SOUL PLEADING-"My iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up...Myheart fails me. Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me: O Lord, make haste to help me."
"Oh!" says one, "I would plead with God, but I do not know how to go to Him." Do you not? Did you ever teach your girl howto come to you when she needed anything? She comes and she says, "Father, I need so-and-so." You do not send her to school,do you, and pay so much a week to teach her that art? No, she knows it naturally. If there is anything to be got out of afather, trust a boy or a girl for knowing how to do it! You smile. Let that smile go a little deeper. Smile again, if youlike, that it may go right down deep. It is in this way that you should deal with God-just as your children, being evil, knowhow to ask good gifts of their father, so you should know how to ask good gifts ofyour Father who is in Heaven! And the morechildlike you can be in your praying, the better.
If your boy were to come in, tomorrow morning, and take out a prayer book and proceed to read the collect for the day in thesame kind of tone that you can hear it read in certain churches, and then say in the same tone, "Father, I know that you aregenerous and noble-hearted-be pleased to give me the valuable present of five shillings," you would cry out, "Boy, hold yourtongue, I cannot stand such nonsense!" But if he says, respectfully but earnestly, "Father, I shall be very grateful if youwill give me five shillings, for there is such and such a thing that I want to buy," you say at once, "Yes, my boy, certainly.Here is the money." That is to say, if you have it and consider it wise. I do not think that God is to be approached in adignified, stupid way, with intoned prayers and what Africans call, "palaver."
Come to God in the simplest way possible and tell Him all that is in your heart. Pour out your desires before Him, expectingthat He will hear you and answer you-and go your way rejoicing that you have such a God to go to! The easiest thing in theworld to a child of God should be to talk to his Father. He should not feel as if he had to put his best coat on in orderto approach the Lord. Let him stand out in the yard, in his shirtsleeves, and pray! Why not? Wherever you are, if you shouldwake up in the middle of the night, begin to pray! You would not think of going to see a person in your shirtsleeves, butyour boy may come to you like that whenever he pleases.
A person said to me, some time ago, "Would you mind telling me what to say when I pray? "I answered, Say what you feel. AskGod for what you desire." "But," she said, "I am such a poor ignorant woman that I would like you to tell me the words tosay." Then I thought of the passage in Hosea, "Take with you words, and turn to the Lord: say unto Him, Take away all iniquity,and receive us graciously." Thus, the very words were put into the suppliants' mouths and, in our text, David does, as itwere, make a prayer that is suitable for many of you. May the Lord put it into your mouths and hearts!
I will only briefly call attention to the drift of the prayer and, first, it is a prayer distinctly to God. This poor bewilderedheart does not look to itself, or to a priest, or to a sacrament-it turns to God and to God, alone, and says, "Be pleased,O Jehovah, to deliver me! O Jehovah, make haste to help me." Your only hope is in your God! Salvation must
come from God alone. You know how I pictured this matter some little time ago, about the baby picked up in the street. Thereis somebody who is going to tell us what that baby needs. He needs some milk and he needs to be washed. And he needs someclothes. He also needs nursing and he needs soothing to sleep. He needs-well, we can go on for a week and hardly tell allthat he needs. But I will put in one word what the baby needs, and that is, his mother. And you, poor Soul, you need-you need-youneed-you need so many, many things that I will not stay to mention them! I will put them into one word-you need your God!Nobody but He who made you can ever new-make you! Therefore, as you need remaking, re-creating, you need your God! Oh, poorProdigal, I know you need a new pair of boots and a new pair of trousers, and a good dinner and a great many other things-butmost of all, you need to go home to your Father! And if you go home to your Father, then you will get all the other thingsthat you need! Cry unto God, then, you who have never prayed before! May the Lord, the Holy Spirit, make you cry to your Godin Christ Jesus!
And then, do you notice the style of the prayer in our text? "Be pleased, O Jehovah, to deliver me." It is an appeal to thegood pleasure of God. There is no arguing of merit, there is no plea but that of God's good pleasure! He will have mercy onwhom He will have mercy-and He will have compassion on whom He will have compassion! Divine Sovereignty is not to be denied!No man has any right to God's Grace-if it is given to anyone, it is by the free favor of God- as He pleases and to whom Hepleases! Shall He not do as He wills with His own? But you, as a suppliant, must take this lowly ground-"Be pleased, O Jehovah,to deliver me, for Your mercy's sake, for Your goodness' sake! Universal Ruler as You are and able to save whom You will,for the rights of life and death are in the hands of the King of Kings, be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me!" That is the wayto plead with God.
And then you may, if you like, use that last sentence-"Make haste, O Jehovah, to deliver me!" You may plead urgency-you maysay, "Lord, if You do not help me, soon, I shall die. I am driven to such distress by my sin that if You do not hear me, soon,it will be too late! Innumerable evils have compassed me about, so that I am not able to look up. I am driven to such diredistress that my case is urgent; O Lord, help me now!" Oh, how I wish that such a prayer as that might go up from many andmany a heart in this audience! You are not truly awakened to a sense of your lost condition if you want to be saved tomorrow.If you are really convicted of sin, your prayer will be, "Make haste, O Lord, to deliver me." I pray that you may be broughtto that point, tonight, so that you may not dare to go to bed till you have found your God, or, if you must go to bed, maynot be able to sleep till you have found your Savior and put your trust in Him!
Dear Friends, may God save every one of you! Oh, how I would pour out my very soul in pleading with you if I thought thatlonger talk would lead you to Christ! But words are only air and wind. Eternal Spirit, Master of all hearts, come and dealwith men and lead them to Jesus, now! And unto the Triune Jehovah shall be the glory forever and ever! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: PSALM40.
To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.
If I were to read this Psalm all through as referring to Christ and to Christ, only, I would be correct in so doing, but still,there is such a unity between Christ and those who compose His mystical body that what is true of the Head is true of themembers. What is true of the Vine is true of the branches. What is true of Christ is true of those who are in Him. Therefore,this Psalm relates to David as well as to "great David's greater Son," and it also concerns everyone who is of the royal seed,every true Believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus the Psalm begins-
1. I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry. "I waited." "Do not beggars wait long at afellow creature's door for some pitiful alms, and should not I be content to linger at Mercy's gate for such great gifts asI am craving? "I waited patiently." Well may we tarry in patience till Jehovah's time to help since we know that, "Like asa father pities his children, so the Lord pities them that fear Him." And if He is full of pity, we can well afford to bepatient. "I waited patiently for Jehovah." Those who have been most mighty in prayer have sometimes had to wait for the answersto their supplications. Do not expect the Lord to hear you today or tomorrow. He may hear you before you speak, accordingto His promise, "Before they call, I will answer," but He may, for the trial of your faith, make you wait. Are you able towait? Then you are certain to receive a great blessing! "I waited patiently for the Lord, and He inclined
unto me," bowed down out of Heaven, inclined unto me, stooped to me, thought well of me and also of my prayer, "and heardmy cry."
2. He brought me up, also, out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.This is a wonderful song, full of rapturous joy. You know how Orientals were accustomed to cast their prisoners into pits-andthese pits were often horribly deep, dark and damp-and the mud at the bottom would be such that a man would sink in it. Davidsings of the Lord, "He brought me up, also, out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay." What a wonderful bringing up wasthis and, as God never does anything by halves, He did not let His servant slip back, again, for David added, "and set myfeet upon a rock." "He set my feet." When God sets a man's feet, those feet are well set! There is no sliding, no slipping!The Lord set David's feet upon a rock and, more than that, established his goings- made them firm, so that when he stirredhe did not stumble.
3. And He has put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God. Sing, then, Believer! You groaned often enough in thepit! Sing, now that you are on the rock! You were desolate enough in the dungeon. Sound aloud your grateful thanksgivings,now that your goings are established!
3. Many shall see it and fear, and shall trust in the LORD. There you have a picture of a sinner's conversion and its effects.The man sees the Lord's goodness to the child of God in distress. He fears-that is, he stands in awe of the great God-andthen he, also, believes! He trusts in the Lord. One saint makes many! One child of God brought up out of the horrible pitleads to the bringing up of a great many others in the same way.
4. Blessed is that man that makes the LORD his trust and respects not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies. If you trustin God, you will have no reverence for the proud, nor for those who turn aside from God's Word and teach falsehood. If youreally fear God, you will have no fear of men.
5. Many, O LORD my God, are Your wonderful works which You have done, and Your thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannotbe reckoned up in order unto You: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered. The child of God,reviewing the Lord's great goodness, feels that he can never count the mercies of God to Him and, as to telling them out,that can never be! It will be, perhaps, a part of our eternal employment to tell angels, principalities and powers in theheavenly places, the story of the loving kindness of the Lord which we have experienced here below. If we had no troubles,we would have nothing to tell, but now that we are led in a strange way, and into very difficult places, we can write anotherpage in our diary which will be worth reading in those days when fictions shall all have been consumed in the fire, but thegreat facts in the lives of the Lord's people shall make God to be admired in His saints forever and ever!
6-8. Sacrifice and offering You did not desire; my ears have You opened: burnt offering and sin offering have You not required.Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do Your will, O my God: yes, Your Lawis within my heart. Spoke I not truly when I said that the Christ of God is here? To whom is this passage one hundredth partso applicable as to the Lord Jesus, Himself? Does not Paul dwell upon this passage as teaching the putting aside of the oldCovenant Law and the bringing in of something better, even the obedience of Christ, our Savior? However, this evening, I wishto read the Scripture in reference to the saints-the Lord's own people. I trust that many of us, seeing that God does notdelight in ritualistic performances, or in the externals of religion as much as He does in the obedience of the heart, cancome to Him and declare with David, "I delight to do Your will, O my God." Beloved Friends, you are not what you ought tobe! You are not what you need to be. You are not what you shall be, but, tell me, are you ever happier than when you are consciouslydoing the will of God? Do you not find misery in sin and delight in holiness? If you can say that it is so with you, thenyou are bound for the Kingdom-you are on the way to complete victory over sin! Be of good cheer, He who has worked in youthis same thing, to delight to do the will of God, will grant you Grace to do it! He will shortly bruise Satan under yourfeet and your inbred corruptions shall yet be uprooted by the Spirit of His Grace.
9. I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O LORD, You know. This is whatJesus can say. He was the Prince of open-air preachers-the Great Itinerant, the President of the College of all preachersof the Gospel-and I trust that many of us here can also say that, according to our ability and opportunity, we have triedto tell of Christ to those round about us.
10. I have not hid Your righteousness within my heart; I have declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation: I have not concealedYour loving kindness and Your truth from the great congregation. If any of you have done so. If there has been a sinful reticenceabout the things of God. If, called to preach, you have not preached the full Gospel of God's Grace, the Lord forgive youand bring you out into a clear manifestation of what He has written within your hearts! We cannot tell what we do not knowand we ought not to try to do so-but what was engraved in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, we are bound to tell to others. Thisgas was lighted that it might shine and you received the Divine Fire that you might shine to the Glory of God. It may be that,in some dark hour, it shall afford you at least a little comfort to be able to say, "I have preached righteousness in thegreat congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O Lord, You know. I have not hid Your righteousness within my heart,I have declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation." You may be able to use it as an argument in prayer, as the Psalmistdoes-"I have not concealed Your loving kindness and Your truth from the great congregation, therefore,"-
11. Withhold not You Your tender mercies from me, O LORD: let Your loving kindness and Your truth continually preserve me.Depend upon it, God will take care of us if we take care of His Truth. If we, from cowardly reasons, keep back any part ofthe Gospel, God may leave us to defend ourselves. But if we conceal nothing that He has revealed to us. If we are faithfulto the Truth committed to our charge-that Truth will, itself, preserve us-and we shall know more and more of the loving kindnessof the Lord. But what a sad verse is the next one if it describes the experience of any of you who have known the Lord!
12. For innumerable evils have compassed me about: my iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up;they are more than the hairs of my head: therefore my heart fails me. If that is the condition of any whom I am addressing,be comforted by the remembrance that another has been along that dark road where you are now found! Follow his example inpraying to the Lord to deliver You-
13. Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me: O LORD, make haste to help me. Thus did David cry unto the Lord "out of the depths."Imitate his example if you are in similar circumstances. Say with good John Ryland-
"Out of the depths of doubt and fear, Depths of despair and grief, I cry; my voice, O Jesus, hear, And come to my relief!"
14-16. Let them be ashamed and confounded together that seek after my soul to destroy it. Let them be driven backward andput to shame that wish me evil. Let them be desolate for a reward of their shame that say unto me, Aha, aha. Let all thosethat seek You rejoice and be glad in You. Here is comfort for all poor trembling seekers-they are only seekers, but let usthank God that they are seekers, and let us say with the Psalmist, "Let all those that seek You rejoice and be glad in You."All true Christians, those who have found Christ, are still seekers, for, after finding Christ, they inflame their souls toseek Him more and more! So that our prayer, also, is, "Let all those that seek You rejoice and be glad in You"
16, 17. Let such as love Your salvation say continually, The LORD be magnified. But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinksupon me: You are my Help and my Deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God. The Lord bless to us the reading of this precious portionof His Word, for His name's sake! Amen.