Sermon 2468. Solitude, Silence, Submission
A SERMON INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, JUNE 7, 1896.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, JUNE 13, 1886.
"He sits alone and keeps silent, because He has borne it upon him. He puts his mouth in the dust; if so be there may be hope."Lamentations 3:28,29.
THUS the Prophet describes the conduct of a person in deep anguish of heart. When he does not know what to do, his soul, asif by instinct, humbles itself. He gets into some secret place, he utters no speech, he gives himself over to moaning andto tears, and then he bows himself lower and yet lower before the Divine Majesty, as if he felt that the only hope for himin the extremity of his sorrow was to make complete submission to God and to lie in the very dust before
It seems to me that such conduct as this, which is characteristic of every truly gracious man in his hour of trouble, shouldalso be the mark of all who are seeking God's Grace-those who are not yet saved, but who are conscious of their need of salvation.I must, surely, be speaking right into the heart of some who are feeling the crushing weight and heavy burden of their guilt.If you cannot do anything else, dear Friends, do what these two verses say, in order that, afterwards, you may be able totake that grand Gospel step of faith in Jesus Christ which will certainly bring you into peace andjoy!
Those of you who have the Revised Version will notice a correction which has been made long ago by all competent scholars-"Lethim sit alone and keep silent, because He has laid it upon him. Let him put his mouth in the dust; if so be there may be hope."It does not matter which way you read the passage, because the conduct of one gracious man is virtually a precept to another,yet it is satisfactory to find that if we are under the burden of sin, we are here commanded to do as the Prophet did in histime of need.
My objective, just now, is to explain this line of conduct, in the hope that some who are in trouble will at once heartilyfollow it.
I. First, then, observe that in the time of great trouble, HOLY SOLITUDE is commended to us-"Let him sit alone."
I earnestly advise you who are under concern of soul to seek to get alone and to be quiet and thoughtful in your solitude-notmerely to be alone, but to sit by yourself like a person in the posture of thought. When a soul is under a deep sense of sin,the more it can be alone, the better. That sense of sin will be increased by the loneliness and when it becomes intolerable,it is highly probable that in that loneliness the way of its removal will be discovered. In this age we all live too muchin company-and in a great city like this, we are busy from morning to night, and we do not get the opportunities for quietreflection which our forefathers were known to take. I am afraid, therefore, that our religion is likely to become very superficialand flimsy for the lack of solitary, earnest thought. Men, nowadays, usually go in flocks- someone leads the way and the restfollow him like sheep that rush through a gap in the hedge! It would be better for us if we deliberated more, if we used ourown judgment, if we drew near to God in our own personality and were resolved that whatever others might do, we would seekto be personally guided by the Lord Himself.
I commend solitude to any of you who are seeking salvation, first, that you may well study your case as in the sight of God.Few men truly know themselves as they really are. Most people have seen themselves in a mirror, but there is another mirrorwhich gives true reflections, into which few men look. To study one's own self in the light of God's Word and carefully togo over one's condition, examining both the inward and the outward sins-and using all the tests which are given us in theScriptures-would be a very healthy exercise. But how very few care to go through it! Yet, beloved Friends, if it is a wisething to look well to your business, how much more ought you to look to the business which concerns your immortal souls!
If a true shepherd will not neglect his flocks and his herds, should not a wise man care about his thoughts, his feelingsand his actions? Must it not be a wretched condition not to know whether one is saved or not? I sometimes hear people expresssurprise if they are asked whether they are saved-yet in what ignorance of your own soul's state must you be if you have neverput that question to yourself, or if, when it is put, you feel inclined to give no answer to it! I press this matter homeupon you and if you would be saved, you must first know that you are lost! If you would seek to be healed, you must firstlearn that you are sick! It is not possible that you will repent unless you are aware of your sin. It is not likely that youwill look to Christ unless you first know what it is for which you are to look to Him!
Therefore, I pray you, set apart some time every day, or at least some time as often as you can get it, in which the businessof your mind shall be to take your longitude and latitude, that you may know exactly where you are. You may be drifting towardsthe rocks and you may be wrecked before you know your danger. I implore you, do not let your ship go at full steam througha fog, but slacken speed a bit and heave the lead to see whether you are in deep waters or shallow. I am not asking you todo more than any kind and wise man would advise you to do. Do I even ask you more than your own conscience tells you is right?Sit alone a while, that you may carefully consider your case.
Get alone, again, dear Friend-especially dear young Friend-that you may diligently search the Scriptures. I am often astoundedat the ignorance there still is of what is written in God's Word! Many persons who have even been in Sunday schools for yearsseem to be totally unaware of the most plain Truths of the Gospel of God's Grace! How can we know what is revealed unlesswe read and study it for ourselves? Alas, the dust upon many men's Bibles will condemn them! God has been pleased, in thisBook, to give us the revelation of the way of salvation and we ought to rush to the Book with eager anxiety to know what Godhas said in it! But instead of doing so, though we can get a Bible for sixpence and, perhaps, have a copy in every room inour house, how little do we read it! If you truly desire to be saved, get alone for the earnest and hearty study of the Wordof God!
How often you may meet with persons who profess to be infidels, yet if you press them closely enough, you will find that theyhave never even read the New Testament through! There are many more who are in doubt and anxiety, yet they have never goneto see what are the promises of God and what the Lord is ready to do for them that seek Him. I beseech you, as sensible andreasonable beings, do not let God speak to you and refuse to hear! You need to be saved from sin! In this Book God has revealedthe way of salvation, therefore do not shut up the Book, fasten the clasps and leave it neglected. Oh, Book of books, themap of the way to Glory! That man invokes a terrible curse upon his own head who refuses to study you! He does, in effect,shut the gate of Heaven against himself and bar the road to everlasting bliss! If you would be saved, dear Friend, sit alone,consider your case and then study God's thoughts concerning it.
Get alone, further, that you may commune with your God. After we have once learned the way, we can commune with God anywhere-amidstthe roar and turmoil of the crowded city, or on the top of the mast of a ship-but, to begin with, it is best to be alone withthe Lord. My dear Hearer, have you ever spoken to God in all your life? Have you ever realized that there is such a King inthe room with you? There is such a King! It is He who made you and who has preserved you up to this good hour! You are, surely,not prepared to deny His existence? And if you are not, I beseech you, do not ignore that existence and live as if there wereno God! Oh, speak with Him at once! Perhaps five minutes' earnest speech with Him may be the turning point of your life. "Iwill arise and go to my father," was the turning point with the prodigal-and it may be the same with you.
"Oh, but I feel so guilty!" Then get alone and say that to the Lord! "But I do not feel as I ought." Then get alone and tellthat to God. "Oh, but I-I am such an unbelieving being!" Get alone and tell out all the truth to the Lord-do not entertaina thought or a feeling which you dare not tell Him. Do not imagine that you can hide anything from Him, for He reads yourinmost heart. Then take that heart and lay it bare before Him and say with the Psalmist, "Search me, O God, and know my heart:try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." As one of God'screatures, I could not bear to think that I had seen the glory of the midnight stars, or warmed myself in the brightness ofthe noonday sun and yet had never spoken to Him who made them all and myself as well! One of our sweetest joys on earth isto speak with Him in prayer and praise, to call Him, Friend, and to be on terms of sweet familiarity with the Most High. Ido pray you, then, get alone for these three purposes, first, to consider your case. Next, to study the Scriptures concerningyour case And then that you may speak with God in prayer.
Get alone, also, for one more reason, and that is that you may avoid distraction. I think that, on the Lord's Day, when peoplego home, after service, they sometimes make a mistake in talking with those who do not feel as they feel. If the arrows ofGod have entered your heart, go home alone. If there has been anything in the sermon which has been for your comfort as aChristian, go home alone. If there was anything in the sermon which has been for your warning as a sinner, go home alone.How often may even godly and gracious people talk upon some theme that may rob their fellow-Believers of all the good theyhave received in God's House and, as for unconverted persons, I am sure that if they ever feel impressed under the Word, itwill be their utmost wisdom to take care of that first impression-and not let it be driven away by foolish or frivolous conversation.
Some of us are old enough to remember the day before there were matches of the kind we now use. And early on a frosty morningsome of us have tried to strike a light with flint and steel, and the old-fashioned tinderbox. How long we struck, and struck,and watched, and waited and, at last, there was a little spark in the tinder! And then we would hold the box up and blow onit very softly, that we might keep that little spark alight till we had kindled the fire that we needed. That tenderness overthe first spark is what I invite everyone to practice in spiritual matters! If you would be saved-if there is anything likefeeling in your heart, if there is any good desire in your soul, do not begin to talk as soon as you get out of the Tabernacle-thatwould be like placing the lid on the tinder and putting the spark out! But get alone, blow on that spark, for perhaps it maycome to a flame and you may find salvation! I advise all persons under sorrow of soul, somehow or other to break right awayfrom their companions! When the day's work is done, let them, each one, say to themselves, "I am not going out with that frivolousperson, nor shall I sit in the house with those who will be talking of trifling matters. I have a soul that needs salvationand I must have my soul saved now. I cannot afford to be in this giddy company."
"Let him sit alone." That is good advice which the Prophet gives in the text-and I desire to press it upon every awakenedperson who desires to find the Savior!
II. The text goes on to say, in the next place, that we should practice SUBMISSIVE SILENCE-"Let him sit alone and keep silent."
In what respects should seeking souls keep silent? I answer, first, if the burden of sin is pressing upon you, be sure toabstain from all idle talk, for if the idle talk of others, as I have reminded you, can distract your thoughts, how much morewould your own! It ill becomes a man, who is on the brink of Hell, to be laughing and jesting! When God is angry with you,can you make mirth? I can understand how you can be merry when once you have come back to the great Father's House and thefatted calf is killed and your Father rejoices over you. But while you are still covered with your sins and are not yet sureof God's forgiveness, sit silent! It is the best thing you can do-quietness becomes you. Lay your finger on your lips tillyou have something better to speak of than you have as yet. Keep silent, then, from all idle talk.
Keep silent, also, in another respect. Do not attempt to make any excuse for your sin. Oh, how ready sinners are with theirexcuses! A man says, "But, Sir, I have a besetting sin." Do you not think that a great many people make a mistake about besettingsins? There was a man who used to get drunk and he said that it was his besetting sin. But his brother said, "No, Sam, itis your upsetting sin!" And so it was. If I were to go, tonight, across Clapham Common and half-a-dozen men were to surroundme and rob me of my wallet, then I should be beset. But if I were to know that there were thieves there, and yet I walkedacross the common on purpose to meet with them, you could not say that they had beset me-you would say that I was a fool towalk into their hands! The besetting sin is that which a man fights against and wars against with all his soul, yet is overcomeby it. Do not lay any stress upon that, as though your being beset by sin was any excuse to you, especially if you go intothe ways of sin.
You go and sit with those who drink and then wonder that you get drunk? You go and associate with those who swear or singlewd songs and then you wonder that, the next time you try to pray, a nasty verse of a bad song comes up? It is your own faultif you go and willfully mingle with sinners! How can you be a child of God? No, when you know that anything is a sin, stayaway from the temptation! He that does not want to get wet should not go out into the rain. Instead of your excuse makingyour case any better, it makes it worse! Therefore, keep silent before your God.
And next, keep silent from all complaining of God. No man is truly saved while he sets himself up as the judge of God, yetthis is the practice of many men. If you give them the Word of God, they begin to pull it to pieces! They ask, "Is God sosevere that He will mark our faults? Does He take notice, even, of our evil thoughts? Can it really be true that for everyidle word that a man shall speak, he will have to give an account in the Day of Judgment?" And then, after judging God tobe too strict and harsh in His dealings with poor fallible flesh and blood, they go on to snatch from His hand the balanceand the rod and sit upon their little throne-and dare to question the decrees of the great Judge of All! "It would be wrong,"they say, "to cast men into Hell and to punish with eternal wrath the sins of a short life!" And then they begin to traverseall the teaching of Scripture and to quibble with this and object to that! O Sirs, if you would be saved, you must give upthis wickedness! This kind of conduct will damn you as surely as you live!
When prisoners are tried by an earthly judge and are condemned to die, if they are permitted to speak, they can have no hopeof obtaining mercy by criticizing the judge and questioning the law! Of course they are not guilty, poor innocents! "It isthe harsh law," they say, "that is to blame." But the law must maintain its majesty against such quibblers and it cannot stoopto mercy, or sheath its sword while a man is in that humor! So, Sinner, sit alone and keep silent. Presume not to judge yourGod! Behold, He comes with clouds! The trumpet will soon proclaim His appearing and they who were so free to judge their Makerwill cry in another tone when that great day has, at last, come! With the earth reeling beneath their feet and the heavens,themselves, on fire, they will beg the rocks to fall on them and the hills to hide them from the face of Him that sits uponthe Throne-and from the wrath of the Lamb! Go, you guilty one! Sit still and hold your tongue-and bring your rebellious heartto submission! Shall the flax contend with the fire, or the stubble fight with the flame? What can you do in warring withyour Maker?
Sit alone and keep silent, next, from all claims of merit. I know that the tendency of the human heart is to say, "I am noworse than other people. I am a good Chapel-going, Church-going, Psalm-singing person! I give to the poor, I say my prayersand attend to all that sort of thing." You will never obtain mercy while you have a word of that kind to plead! Until youare like a vessel turned upside down and drained of every drop of human merit, there is no hope of salvation for you! Youmust sit alone and keep silent about those good works of yours, for they are all a lie and you know it. You have never donea good work in your life-you have either spoiled it by your selfish motives before it, or by some carelessness in it, or bysome vainglorious pride after it. At the best, you are nothing but a boasting Pharisee, and though you may wash the outsideof your cup and platter, yet your heart is full of wickedness and your soul is steeped in sin. O man, talk no more so exceedingproudly, but sit still and hold your tongue about merit and what you think you deserve before the holy God! There is no wayof mercy for any of us until we shut our mouths and utter not a single boastful word, but stand guiltily silent before theLord.
I think it is well, too, when a poor sin-burdened soul is silent before God and unable to make any bold speeches. I recollectthat when I was first seeking the Lord, I heard some good people talking about their confidence in God. I had to hold my tongue,for I could not say a word about that matter. I heard a young friend say that he had found Christ, but I had to hold my tongue,for I knew that I had not found Him. And even after I had found Him, there were times when I dared not say so. I felt in myspirit the question, "Am I self-deceived, or am I not? And if I have spoken pretty boldly since that time, even now, occasionally,I feel that same silence creeping over me. It would have been well if Peter had been silent when he said to his Lord, "Althoughall shall be offended, yet will not I." I like a man who knows not only how to speak, but how to sit still-but that sittingstill part is hard work to many.
There came a young man to Demosthenes to learn oratory. He talked away at a great rate and Demosthenes said, "I must chargeyou double fees." "Why?" he asked. "Why," said the master, "I have first to teach you to hold your tongue and afterwards toinstruct you how to speak." The Lord teaches true penitents how to hold their tongues. They open not their mouth when He haslaid trouble upon them. And even in the company of good people they are sometimes dumb with silence and hold their tongueeven from good. It is not an ill thing that they should act thus, for often the will of the Lord is not done with words and,sometimes, that silence which is frost of the mouth is thaw of the soul. And the heart flows best before God when even praisesits silent on our tongues. O Beloved, in your hour of darkness because of your sin, sit still and hold your tongue, for itis oftentimes the way of peace to the soul!
III. Now I shall ask your special and patient attention for just a few minutes to the third point, which is, PROFOUND HUMILIATION-"Lethim put his mouth in the dust; if so there may be hope." Upon this matter I would earnestly address those who are not yetsaved, but who desire to be.
Dear Friends, it often happens that men do not obtain peace with God because they have not come low enough. The gate of Heaven,though it is so wide that the greatest sinner may enter, is, nevertheless, so low that pride can never pass through it. Youmust stoop if you would enter Heaven! "Let him put his mouth in the dust." I believe that this precept is needed by very manyand that, when they obey it, they will get peace, but never till then. "Let him put his mouth in the dust." Oriental monarchsrequire very lowly reverence from their subjects-it is not in keeping with our manners and customs-but the similitude holdsgood in our relation to the Lord God. When we come before Him, we must prostrate ourselves till we bow our mouths in the dust.What can this expression mean? "Let him put his mouth in the dust; if so there may be hope."
It means, first, that there must be true, humble, lowly confession of sin. You say that you have been praying, yet you havenot found peace? Have you confessed your sins? This is absolutely necessary! Confess your sins to me, you ask? No, thank you.I do not want to hear your confession. It would do me much harm and it could do you no good to tell them to me. It is to Godalone that this confession should be made. Some men have never really made a confession of their sin to God at all-they havedone it in such general and insincere terms that it did not amount to a confession. Go enter your chamber, shut the door andget alone. And there, with words or without words, as you find it best, acknowledge before God your omissions and commissions-whatyou have done and what you have not done. Pour out the whole story before God and cry with the publican, "God be mercifulto me a sinner." Do not cloak or dissemble before the Almighty! Let all your sins appear. Take a lowly place-not simply bea sinner in name-but confess that you are a sinner in fact and deed. I believe that some of you are in darkness much longerthan you need to be because you do not stoop to a humble confession of your sin. Let the lances into this ugly gathering ofyours that brings you so much inflammation of mind and pain of spirit! Let your confession flow like water before God! Pourout your heart before Him! Acknowledge your sins, take the place of a sinner, for this is a great way towards finding salvation-"Ifso there may be hope."
Further than that, dear Friends, when it is said that we are to put our mouths in the dust, it means that we are to give upthe habit ofputting ourselves above other people and finding fault with others. How often is the value of our penitence destroyedbecause we have looked at Mistress Somebody and said, "Well, I am guilty, but still-well, I am not such a hypocrite as Mrs.So-and-So." What have you to do with her? "Oh," says another, "I know I have been a bad man, but then I-I-I have never beenas bad as old So-and-So." What have you to do with him? Here you are, pretending to be humble, yet you are as proud as Lucifer!I know you-you are like that man who went up to the Temple and pretended that he was going to pray. And then he said, "God,I thank You that I am not as other men are" and so forth-"nor even as this publican"-turning his eyes in disdain towards thetrue penitent!
There is many a man who says, "I am a sinner, but then I am a total abstainer and wear the blue ribbon-that is a good thing,is it not?" Yes, it is, but not if you trust in it for salvation! "Oh, but," says another, "I know that I have not lived asI ought, but I have always paid 20s. in the pound." So ought every honest man, but what is there to be proud about in that?Are you going to get to Heaven by paying 20s. in the pound to a man and not a penny in the pound to God? Yet that is oftenthe way of men! Or else, perhaps, we are accusing others while we pretend that we are, ourselves, humble. We must get ridof all such bad habits if we want the Lord to have mercy upon us! I believe a sincere penitent thinks himself to be the worstman there is and never judges other people, for he says in his heart, "That man may be more openly guilty than I am, but verylikely he does not know as much as I do, or the circumstances of his case are an excuse for him." A woman, convinced of sin,says, "It is true, that woman has fallen and her life is full of foulness, but, perhaps, if I had been tempted as she wasand had been deceived as she was, I would have been even worse than she is." Oh, that we might all give up that habit of judgingother people and put our mouths in the dust in self-abasement before God!
I think that putting our mouths in the dust also means that we realize our own nothingness in the Presence of God. We havenothing to say, nothing to claim, nothing to boast of-if the Lord should never look upon us in mercy, yet we could not complain.If He were to banish us from His Presence forever, yet we could not open our mouths to accuse Him, but must say, "You arejust when You judge. You are clear when You condemn." That, dear Friends, is putting your mouth in the dust-feeling that,in God's sight, you are only like the dust. If you have sought the Lord and have not found him, I exhort you to sink yourselflower! Believe that you have no strength, that you have no righteousness, that you are truly lost and ruined and undone, thatyou are nothing but a mass of loathsomeness before the thrice-holy God and bow before Him with this conviction in your heart,"if so there may be hope."
I am not going to preach upon the last part of the text because the time has almost gone and, also, for another reason-I havenot to say to you, "If so there may be hope." There is hope for any man, or woman, or child here-I like to say, "child," aswell as, "man, or woman," because I believe that children are often the best part of my congregation! Last Monday week, wehad five children before the Church, one after the other, whose testimony for Christ was quite as clear as that of any ofthe elders among us! What an important part of the congregation the boys and girls make up! I believe that there are almostas many saved among the little ones, now, in this congregation as there are of grown-up people, perhaps even more. Well now,if any of you who are guilty-whether old or young-come before the Lord, confess your sin and trust in Christ for mercy-youshall have mercy! I do not know who you are and I do not care who you are-but whoever shall come and confess his sin in alllowliness of heart, and in faith, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ- he shall have mercy!
Christ sits on His Throne of Grace and stretches out the silver scepter. Bow before Him and He will forgive your sin! Thefountain is opened for sin and for uncleanness-if you are sinful and unclean, come to the fountain that Christ has openedand which the devil cannot close-and wash and be clean this very hour! God in infinite mercy is ready to forgive! His heartyearns over the wanderers. He stretches out His hands and entreats you to come back and He is grieved until you return! Ifthere is in your heart any sorrow for having sinned against your God-if there is any anxiety to come back to Him, come back!If you do but turn your face towards Him, while you are yet a great way off, He sees! He will have compassion on you! He willrun to you! He will embrace you! Fall into His arms right now! Believe in His Son! Trust yourself with Jesus, for He has neveryet failed any who trusted Him. Make Him the Trustee of your soul, for He is a Trustee who can be trusted! Deposit in Hishands your spirit, for He is able to keep that which you commit to Him against that day.
We are getting into summer and I feel very anxious that none of my hearers should have to say, "The harvest is past, the summeris ended and we are not saved." Then, before the harvest comes, now that the summer is just beginning, may the Lord inclineyour hearts to come and put your trust in Jesus! Many of you are from the country. You have come to see London. Of all thesights possible to you, the best will be, first, to see yourselves, and then to see your Savior! There is no exhibition likethe exhibition of the love of God in Jesus Christ to guilty sinners! May this be the best day you have ever lived becauseit shall be the first day you have ever truly lived with the life of God in your soul! I pray the Lord to bless my words toeach of you without exception! Surely, there is not anybody here who would wish to be left out! God bless you all, for Christ'ssake! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: LAMENTATIONS 3:1-33;55-58.
We are about to read a chapter which is full of sorrow. While you are listening to it, some of you may be saying, "We arenot in that condition." Well then, be thankful that you are not! And while you hear of the sorrows of others, bless God forthe joys you, yourself, experience. At the same time, remember that there is a way of sorrow which leads, at last, to restand piece. There is truth in the words of the poet Cowper-
"The path of sorrow, and that path alone, Leads to the land where sorrow is unknown." If you have never known the sorrowsof the weeping Prophet, or anything like them, I am not sure that you should congratulate yourselves, for there is a brokennessof heart that is worth more than the whole world! There is a crushed and bruised spirit in which the Lord delights and whichis a token for good to the one who possesses it.
Verses 1, 2. I am the man that has seen affliction by the rod of His wrath. He has led me, and brought me into darkness, butnot into light. Some of us recollect when we used to go into our room, shut the door and read such a chapter as this and say,"Here is a description of my true condition." We were once broken in pieces, torn asunder through a terrible sense of sin.Our thoughts were like a case of knives perpetually pricking us and, at such a time, these were our words as well as the wordsof Jeremiah, "He has led me, and brought me into darkness, but not into light."
3, 4. Surely against me is He turned; He turns His hand against me all the day. My flesh and my skin has He made old; He hasbroken my bones. Conviction of sin seems to dry up the very sap of our life till we become withered with age. Worse than theagony of a broken bone is the pain of a broken heart. When the Holy Spirit convinces of sin, believe me, it is no child'splay. In the case of some of us, it was sore wounding.
5. He has built against me-"As if He deliberately built walls to stop up my way and erected castles from which to attack mysoul, 'He has built against me.'"-
5. And compassed me with gall and travail. "He has shut me up in a circle of bitterness."
6, 7. He has set me in dark places, as they that are dead of old. He has hedged me about, that I cannot get out: He has mademy chain heavy. Like a prisoner in his dungeon who has to wear manacles and fetters.
8. Also when I cry and shout, He shuts out my prayer. That is the worst trial of all, for there is comfort in prayer. Butwhen even that seems denied you, into what a terrible state of sorrow is your heart brought!
9-11. He has enclosed my ways with hewn stone, He has made my paths crooked. He was to me as a bear lying in wait, and asa lion in secret places. He has turned aside my ways and pulled me in pieces: He has made me desolate. You who remember thatexperience, bless God that you have passed through it, that you have gone over that rough road into the place of peace andrest in Christ! You who have never known this path, it will be well for you when you do, difficult as you may find it.
12. He has bent His bow and set me as a mark for the arrow. "Every sermon I hear seems a shot at me, every text of Scriptureseems an arrow aimed at me."
13. He has caused the arrow of His quiver to enter into my loins. "They are not merely shot at me, but they have actuallyhit me; they have wounded me; they have pierced me in vital parts."
14-17. I was a derision to all my people; and their song all the day. He has filled me with bitterness, He has made me drunkwith wormwood. He has also broken my teeth with gravel stones, He has covered me with ashes. And You have removed my soulfar offfrom peace: I forgot prosperity. "It seems so long ago since I was prosperous that I forget what it was like! I havebeen so troubled that I do not remember what it was to be at ease."
18-21. And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the LORD: remembering my affliction and my misery, the wormwoodand the gall. My soul has them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me. This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.Notice that in all his sorrow, this man still had hope! His soul was humbled and, therefore, he had hope. I think that inthe New Zealand language, the word for hope is, "swimming thought"-the thought that swims when everything else is drowned!Oh, what a mercy it is that hope can live on when all things else appear to die!
22. It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. Hear that, troubled heart! Youare not yet destroyed, you are still in the land of the living-as we say-"on praying ground and pleading terms with God.""It is of Jehovah's mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not."
23, 24. They are new every morning: great is Your faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, says my soul; therefore will I hopein Him. "With all my troubles, losses and griefs, I still have a God! Therefore will I hope in Him."
25. The LORD is good to them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeks Him. Even though it is out of the depths of the utmostdistress that you seek God, you shall find Him to be good to you. He is hard to none, unkind to none. Only go and test Himand try Him-and you shall find that it is even as I say.
26, 27. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD. It is good for a man that hebears the yoke in his youth. And it is not bad for him if he keeps on bearing it in his old age! Our shoulders always needthe yoke. We are such uncertain creatures that we cannot bear too much freedom, even from sorrow!
28-31. He sits alone and keeps silent, because He has borne it upon him. He puts his mouth in the dust; if so there may behope. He gives his cheek to him that smites him: he is filled full with reproach. For the Lord will not cast offforever. Whatmusic there is in that line! He may put you away for a while and seem to leave you, but, "the Lord will not cast off forever."God may seem to put us away from Him, but it is written, "He hates putting away "There is no divorce between Christ and thesoul that is once espoused to Him! Their separation shall not be perpetual, for nothing shall be able to separate us fromthe love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
32, 33. But though He causes grief, yet will He have compassion according to the multitude of His mercies. For He does notafflict willingly nor grieve the children of men. Now notice, in the 55th verse, what came to the Prophet after all this sorrow-
55, 56. I called upon Your name, O LORD, out of the low dungeon. You have heard my voice: hide not Your ear at my breathing,at my cry. Sometimes our prayers get to be so very weak that they are only a breathing. Yet we must never forget that "Prayeris the breath of God in men, returning from where it came." And "Praying breath is never spent in vain."
57, 58. You drew near in the day that I called upon You: You said, Fear not. O Lord, You have pleaded the causes of my soul.What a comfort it is that Christ in Heaven is our great Advocate and that He has pleaded the causes of our soul before theThrone of God!
58. You have redeemed my life. He who is our Advocate is also our Redeemer and, therefore, we are doubly safe! Glory be toHis name!