Sermon 2645. 'The Time of Jacob's Trouble'
A SERMON INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DRY, OCTOBER 22, 1899.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON THURSDAY EVENING, JUNE 29, 1882.
"It is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it." Jeremiah 30:7.
GOD here calls the Jews by the name of Jacob. These were His people in a very special sense, for He had chosen them from amongall the nations of the earth and had brought them near Him that they might be His own portion, His inheritance. Yet upon thesepeople He laid many stripes and visited them with sore chastisements. It is true that they were a sinful people, though theywere, in many respects, better than other nations who were, for a long while, allowed to go unpunished. Year after year, theheathen prospered in war and had success in other ways-but as for God's own people, waters of a full cup were wrung out tothem. As soon as the Lord had a people, they began to suffer. We learn this very early in their history, for, after Isaac,the child of promise, was born, it was not very long before Ishmael-"he that was born after the flesh persecuted him thatwas born after the Spirit."
And, as that persecution began early, it has continued late, for the Apostle adds, "Even so it is now." There is still anenmity between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman-and the seed of the woman is made to feel the serpent's maliceso that, what with a chastising God and a biting serpent, the children of God are pretty sure to be often in trouble! Andwhen, by Grace, you see them in their glittering ranks above, and ask, "Who are these which are arrayed in white robes, andfrom where did they come?" This will be the summary of the answer concerning them all, "These are they which came out of greattribulation and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." "The sacramental host of God's elect,"in its march through the world, may be tracked by its own blood! Read both ancient and modern history and what will you findbut an account of the suffering and the triumphs of the people of God? Even to this day we have to cut a lane through theenemy and fight our way to Heaven in a stern hand-to-hand conflict. God has not yet prepared "flowery beds of ease" for anyof us, nor shall we be "carried to the skies" in ambulances of luxury. We shall have to fight if we are to reign and we shallhave to suffer if we are to ultimately reach the land of perfect blessedness!
This is "the time of Jacob's trouble," even this day, this present life! Thank God it is but a day and will come to an end.But this is not the time of Jacob's joy. He does have some delights, even here, but his great joy is reserved for the hereafter.This is rather the time in which the sinner rejoices and fattens himself as for the slaughter. But God's people must expectto find that this is "the time of Jacob's trouble."
But, dear Friends, the other Truth in our text is equally attested by history-"he shall be saved out of it." How gloriouslyGod's people have been saved all along their line of march! Their campfires still show their trail and those camp-fires havebeen the burnings of the furnace that God has set up for the trying and purifying of His chosen people. But nowhere have theybeen destroyed, though everywhere they have been in affliction! They had a very narrow escape from destruction in Haman'sday-the enemy then thought that he would utterly cut off the people of God from the face of the earth. Haman thought thathe had managed everything so well that his wicked scheme had to succeed. The king's mandates had already gone out and on acertain day all the Jews would be put to death. But you know how Esther, at the peril of her life, went into the king's presenceto plead for her nation and, soon, new edicts were sent out and the chosen people put their enemies to death! And they, themselves,were not destroyed.
Haman was hanged on the gallows that he had fixed for Mordecai, for the hated Jew belonged to the seed which cannot be crushed,to the immortal race which can never die out! God's people may be often trodden down, like the grass of the field, but, asthe grass springs up again and even outlive the men who tread upon it, so will it be with God's people even to the end! Thisis "the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it." Christ's Church shall live and flourish when her persecutorslie in ignominious graves! Herod thought that he could crush the chosen seed, but he was eaten by worms-while the Church ofGod still lived on. The tyrant was soon swept away and so shall all be who lift their puny hands against the people of theMost High!
It would be a very profitable subject, if one had the time to work it out, to see how true this verse is in relation to theJewish people and to God's own elect ones. "It is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it." ButI want at this time, to get at individuals. You know that God's Truth, in Scripture, is like a crystal. You may take a greatmass of it and if you break that crystal into fragments, every little piece will be of the same form, for every division ofthe crystal is crystallized after the same fashion! In like manner, you can split God's Truth up so as to apply it to individuals,and then you can further divide it and apply it to each separate incident in the life of every man-and it will still holdgood-for the Truth of God is always true and the faithful promise of God is applicable to every part of the Christian's life.
I am going to speak to persons who are in trouble and I thought I would take up a series of trials as illustrated by the lifeof Jacob-not so much referring to his descendants, who are here called, Jacob, but speaking concerning Jacob, himself. Hewas a much-tried man and one reason for that was that he had a great deal in him that had to be driven out. And much of itcould not be gotten out of him except with a severe shaking. Abraham, the father of the faithful, was a far grander man inevery way. Isaac was of a calm and quiet spirit, but Jacob was naturally a worldly man. He is the father of the Jews, a businessman, a scheming man, a man who is determined not to be overreached, but who is, perhaps, more likely to overreach others.Jacob was too much of a man until God broke him down-he certainly was a man of a very distinct type-and he has perpetuatedthat type in the whole Jewish nation to this day. I sometimes think that the Jews seem rather to have descended from Jacobthan from Abraham, though, of course, they have really come from Abraham, throughJacob. I have already reminded you that Jacobwas a man who had great trouble. There was a great deal of husk to that corn and, therefore, it needed a good deal of threshing.
I. Now, looking at Jacob's career in detail, I note that he began his life as an individual apart from the family by a trialwhich must have been a very heavy one-HE HAD TO LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER. It must have been especially painful to him togo away from his mother, Rebekah, who had had so much of the handling of him, so much of the making of him and, I must add,so much of the spoiling of him. And now, because he has treated his brother Esau unfairly and has robbed him of his blessing,coming before his father with a lie in his right hand, he must leave his home and go among strangers. Possibly I am addressingsome who are now undergoing that experience. To leave home for the first time, whatever your age may be, is usually very painful.Some of us have known what it was to lie awake at night, when we had said good-bye to father and mother and were far awayfrom them. Some of you have, perhaps, crossed the sea and left dear ones behind-that first night on board ship, away fromall you loved-you sobbed yourself to sleep. These changes must come. We cannot always live in the family nest-we must go outof it and make nests of our own. But when the parting comes, it is often a hard task-not to coarse, rough natures-but thenI do not suppose such people are here. Gentle, kind, delicate souls-these are they who most feel the separation from thosewho are dear to them!
In Jacob's case there was a bitter ingredient which I hope is absent from yours. The separation came very much as the resultof his own fault and his mother's fault. They must have felt it very keenly when they were caused to part from one another.Their scheming had won the blessing away from Esau, but now they had the shady side of the blessing-and the shady side ofa blessing is, for a while, not materially different from a curse. Yet, by-and-by, that very shady side becomes a marvelousblessing to the soul! When Jacob started off alone upon his weary way, he journeyed on till, at night, he lighted upon a certainplace and took of the stones of that place for his pillow, for that was "the time of Jacob's trouble." But, ah, dear Friends,how sweet was the second part of our text to him! May it be equally precious to you-"but he shall be saved out of it."
He lies down to sleep and he is saved out of his troubles as soon as he has fallen asleep, for, in his dream, he sees a mysticladder, the foot of which is on earth, but the top reaches to Heaven-a marvelous vision of that way by which we shall ascendto God-the Lord, Himself, having first come down to us in the Person of His dear Son. It was worth while being away from homeand having such lodgings as that-to have such a dream! Jacob did not mind the cold and heavy night dews, for there was a dewfrom the Lord that refreshed his spirit! It mattered little to him that the beasts of prey might be round about him, for theangels of God were ascending and descending between him and the Throne of the Infinite One! Let it be the same with you, also,dear Friend. If it is with you, "the time of Jacob's trouble" because you are separated from those you love, now get intoall the closer union with your God! Now begin to use that ladder, that wondrous means of communication between your immortalspirit and the immortal God! Through Christ Jesus, look up to your Father who is in Heaven-carry on a sacred commerce betweenyour soul and the heavenly world and seek to be spiritually enriched thereby!
It would be a blessed thing if you were no longer able to rely upon an arm of flesh, that you might be obliged to come andrest upon the unseen arm of God. It shall be a gainful loss to you to have lost your mother's care, but to have come nearerto the Most High! I grieve, sometimes, when I see how God's people manage to live a great way off from Him and yet appearto be quite comfortable, and to have all that they could wish. But I am glad when any one of them is thrust right out of allharmful associations and so is drawn nearer to God, for when God says, "Come you out from among them, and be you separate,"if we do not at once obey His command, He has many ways of making us come out and it may be that we have to come out in afashion that is exceedingly painful. Yet, however trying it is, it matters little if we but get nearer to Him! We may evensing-
"Nearer, my God, to Thee-
Nearer to Thee!
Even though it be a cross
That raises me,
Still all my song shall be,
'Nearer, my God, to Thee -
Nearer to Thee!'"
Dear young Friend, you who are just now all alone, in trouble and have come in here in the hope of receiving some comfortingmessage, I trust that God has meant this part of the sermon to be a word especially for you.
II. Jacob's next trouble was that HE GOT TO HIS UNCLE LABAN. "Laban"-read his name backwards and it is "Naball" There wasnot a great deal of difference between the two men, for they were both of a churlish disposition. La-ban was a hard, grindingtaskmaster to Jacob. He cheated him whenever he could, robbed him in all manner of ways, changed his wages when he thoughthis remuneration was too large, while, by night, the cold devoured the poor shep-herd-and by day, the heat was most trying.Yet Laban never had such a faithful servant as his nephew Jacob-and God blessed Laban for Jacob's sake. I really think thatI may say of that period in the Patriarch's life, "This is the time of Jacob's trouble," for it is a very hard thing to workfor an unthankful master and, after all your trouble and pains, to get no word of gratitude or love. Laban ought to have lovedJacob, for he was both his nephew and his son-in-law. Jacob's wives were the daughters of Laban and their father ought tohave been kindly disposed towards him. But both the father and the sons seem to have treated him rather as an enemy than asa friend and so he had hard times all the while he was with them. Perhaps some of you are saying, "Ah, Sir, you do not knowmy circumstances! Mine is hard and grinding labor. I am bowed down by it and I seem to have no sympathy whatever, even fromthose who ought to be kind to me." Well, dear Friend, Jacob, you see, went that way, and you may be content to endure, fora while, the same lot as that eminent Patriarch. But, truly, it is a bitter grief and I can understand your saying, "Woe isme, that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar!" "Oh that I had wings like a dove! For then I would flyaway and be at rest."
Now listen to the second half of our text and believe that as it came true to Jacob, it shall also come true to you-"It iseven the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it." And he was saved out of it! He might have never left Padanaramif he had not been forced out of it-and it was his duty to get back, as soon as he could, into the promised land-and therelive the separated life. The very hardness of the burdens that were put upon him weaned him from the house of Laban and madehim willing to bear the hardships of a wandering life-which must have seemed little compared with those which he endured withchurlish Laban. My dear tried Friend, God is working out some great end for you through your troubles! It is good for youngpeople to bear a certain amount of burden-not that this excuses those who oppress them and exact more than is right from them,but, "it is good for a man that he bears the yoke in his youth."
I believe that the drinking out of the bitter cup early in life is often followed by a long stretch of peaceful rest, besidesteaching us many a useful lesson which, otherwise, we might never have learned!
You would like to have all things arranged according to your own wishes, would you not? And then you would grow up and belike a bull unaccustomed to the yoke! But that is not God's method. You have to be tamed and trained while you are young-youhave to bear the yoke and, oftentimes, you may cry to God because it seems to gall your unwilling shoulders. But then, inlater years, you will be of a tender spirit, yourself, and so you will be the more ready and able to sympathize with thosewho are down-trodden and persecuted. And you will often have to bless God for those early afflictions which taught you wisdomand fitted you to be the helper of others. Be always more earnest to do your duty than to be at ease. Be more concerned tobe right than to be happy! Be more determined to act uprightly than to secure the rewards of your work. God will lay themup in store for you and you shall have them in due season. Bear, and forbear, and still bear-remember how the saints of Godhave often had to endure harsh usage from those who ought to have loved them-and be content to bear the cross which they carriedbefore you.
III. Now I must pass on to notice Jacob's next trouble. He has got away from Laban and he starts off with his family and hisflocks and herds. Now HE REMEMBERS HIS BROTHER ESAU whom he had treated so badly and, behold,
Esau is coming to meet him with 400 armed men! Now, if it were "the time of Jacob's trouble" when he was under La-ban's power,surely this is even worse than any trial that went before, for will not Esau come with his armed men and smite Jacob and destroythe mothers and the children? Is he not full of wrath against him for what he did long ago? And has he not just causefor thatwrath?
This is, indeed, "the time of Jacob's trouble." He sends all that belong to him across the brook and he spends the night inprayer-not sweet and tranquil prayer such as is our privilege to often enjoy, but we read, "There wrestled a Man with himuntil the breaking of the day." We generally lay the stress upon the thought that Jacob wrestled with the Angel. No doubthe did, but the Bible does not say so-it says, "There wrestled a Man with him." There was a great deal in Jacob that neededto come out and this Angel came and wrestled with him in order to get it out! And Jacob's victory was not won until the Angelhad touched the hollow of his thigh so that he should always need to lean upon a staff even till he died. His weakness hadbeen proven and he had been overcome-and then it was that heovercame and became a prevailing prince, having power with Godand with men!
But, oh, that was a dark night for Jacob! Try to put yourselves into his position, when, even in his prayers, he was disturbed,"and there wrestled a Man with him until the breaking of the day." His heart, surely, must have been ready to break withinhim, yet the whole of our text is true of that memorable night, "This is the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be savedout of it." And was he not? Ah, yes, and the joys of Peniel shall always exceed the sorrow with which the wrestling of Penielis commenced! When he went, limping upon his thigh, to join his family, his grief was gone and his fear was removed. God hadappeared to him, so all would be well, all was safe, all must be right, for God had heard his cry and he had obtained theblessing!
He was delivered out of his trouble, but how strangely it came about! When Esau came, he was full of love. Instead of warbeing in his heart, sweet words were upon his lips! If he had not altogether forgiven Jacob, yet, at any rate, he was willingto say nothing about the past and he spoke like a true and noble brother! This is a Truth of God which we often forget-thatGod has absolute power over men's hearts. You say that somebody is going to betray you-that is more than he can do unlessGod letshim. Somebody threatens to do a very dreadful thing to you and you feel that you are quite in his power. Yes, butso is that man quite in God'spower-and God can turn him whichever way He likes! You are afraid to meet him, you say. Well,just pluck up your courage and go to him-and you shall, perhaps, find that he is now your friend-the very person that youhave looked upon as your worst enemy! This has frequently happened. God, who struck down Saul of Tarsus when he was aboutto destroy the saints at Damascus, is quite as able to strike down the most violent person when he is about to do mischiefto any of His children. Never mind about Esau-be more concerned to give up what the Angel intends to wrestle out of you andto hold Him fast, and say, "I will not let You go, except You bless me." God will speak to Esau and He will take care of youand you shall yet go on your way rejoicing!
IV. Jacob goes on till he gets to Succoth and he is so pleased to be quiet, and at rest, that HE SEEMS TO FORGET HIS GOD,for he builds a house for himself and booths for his cattle, and does not continue to live the wandering life that he should!Therefore God soon sends him a trouble. His sons, in the most brutal manner, destroy the men of Shechem, taking them at unawaresand murdering them, so that Jacob's name was made to stink, as he said, among all the tribes. And any oneof those tribes wasquite able to come and destroy him-but if they had banded together, they would have swept him and his family off the faceof the earth! Jacob is very much afraid concerning this and now, I think, when he is going into the midst of the Canaanitesand all the inhabitants of the land are justly indignant against his sons, we may again say, "This is the time of Jacob'strouble.'" It is a trouble and no mistake about it. There might be some senti-mentalism about his sorrowing on leaving home.There might be some compensation for his hard treatment by Laban. We may suppose that there was too much suspicion of Esauin his third trouble-but now this is a real trial-"I shall be destroyed, I and my house."
"It is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it." And, oh, how wonderfully was he saved out of it,for the Lord put a fear on all the people round about! He seemed to say to them, "Touch not My anointed" and, though willingenough to fall upon Jacob, and to slay his wives and children, and take his property, they left them all alone! It is trulymarvelous how God can make our enemies to be at peace with us! There are more people than Daniel who have slept in the lions'den-yes, and found soft pillows on the lions' manes and slept soundly among them! "My God has sent His angel, and has shutthe lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me," said Daniel, and often have others of God's servants felt that they have beendelivered in the same way! I remember a poor man who used to preach and who, in a sermon, once gave a description of Danielin the lions' den. He said, "I do not think the painters make the lions look as fierce as they really were. In most of thepictures, they look as if they could not possibly have eaten Daniel, they are so meek and mild, as if they had padlocks ontheir jaws. But they were real lions and hungry lions, too, as was proved by the way in which they ate up Daniel's enemies."He said he believed that when Daniel was thrown into the den, they all came rushing towards him to devour him, but an angelflew down from Heaven and said to them, "Hush!" And they all lay as still as possible at the Prophet's feet.
No doubt it was something like that and, sometimes, when the enemies of God's people are most infuriated, He seems to sayto them, "Hush!" and they cannot touch them. Why did the Romanists not burn Luther? I never could make that out. If I hadbeen the Pope, I think I would have got rid of him someway or other. Yet nobody could touch Luther! They made short work ofJohn Huss and Jerome of Prague, but, even when the princes and prelates had Luther before them at the Diet of Worms, theydid not destroy him! It could not be, for God meant that Luther should die in his bed, notwithstanding all the rage of theenemy! Therefore, if it is a time of trouble with us, let us rest and be quiet, for surely we shall be saved out of it.
V. Was this the end of Jacob's troubles? Oh, dear, no! All his life he must have troubles of one sort or another. HE HAS ADEAR SON WHOM HE FAVORS and he has made a coat of many colors for him, such as young princes wear. This young man is differentfrom all his brothers. He has a gentle spiritual nature. God has spoken to him and worked upon him most graciously. The Lordis evidently with him and his father's heart goes out to the young dreamer and he dotes upon him. You know the story of howhis brothers, after a while, bring Joseph's coat dipped in sheep blood and hold it up before the poor old father. And theysay, "This we have found: know now whether it is your son's coat or not." Oh, this-this is "the time of Jacob's trouble"!
All those other troubles are nothing at all compared with this one which will surely break the old man's heart! Joseph! DearJoseph, worth more than all the others, is taken away, "an evil beast has devoured him. Joseph is, without doubt, torn inpieces." Jacob will go to his grave sorrowing because his beloved Joseph is taken away from him. Now shout it to the endsof the earth-"This is the time of Jacob's trouble!" If any of you have had a favorite child and you have allowed all the tendrilsof your heart to entwine themselves about it. And if that child is suddenly taken away, it leaves a mark upon the heart thatwill never be erased in time. I have known the father, if he has been an ungodly man, become rebellious against God from thattime forth-there is a bitterness infused into his unbelief that was never there before. But even a gracious man has gone sorrowfullyand sadly all his days after some dear child has been taken away-a child of so much promise-a child who was so gracious andwho seemed to be such a help to the father, and likely to lift the family up to a better condition of things. Yet, Josephis gone, and this is "the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it."
And was he not? It took a long time for him to see it, but when he wept on Joseph's neck and when he saw him as the secondruler over all the land of Egypt-and when Joseph came down to him and brought his two sons, and Jacob said,
"I had not thought to see your face: and, lo, God has showed me, also, your seed"-then did he know that God had deliveredhim out of his trouble and multiplied the blessing exceedingly abundantly above what he asked or even thought!
Now, dear Friends, if this is your case, be satisfied about the dear child whom the Lord has called Home to Himself. "Ah,"you say, "there is no mistake about it. I know that my child is dead." Yes, but I also know that your child is alive! Come,shall we quarrel over it? You say that he is dead-I say that he lives. God knows that that dear one, taken away in infancy,or taken away as a gracious child, lives! Did you ever notice that passage which says that God gave Job twice as much as hehad before? "Yes," you say, "but He did not give him twice as many children, did He? He gave him exactly the same number again,did He not? Then how did He give him twice as much as he had before?" Why, because those first ones that were dead were stillhis! You know how Wordsworth puts it, "We are seven." Though some were gone, yet they were still seven-and Job counted allthose that were gone as his-and then, with the others, he didhave twice the number in his family than he had before!
So, Beloved, count your dear ones as though they were still with you, and wait patiently till you meet them again. Refrainfrom undue weeping, for they shall come again from the land of their captivity. Your dead ones shall live again! Mother ofmortals, you did well to weep, but your children live, so you are the mother of immortals Then why do you sorrow? Dry youreyes and bless God that you have another link with Heaven and that you have helped to fill the choirs that, day without night,circle the Throne of God with hallelujahs!
VI. Is Jacob through with his troubles yet? No, no, no! He has got out of one trouble, but he has got into another-
"A Christian man is never long at ease-
When one trouble's gone, another does him seize," which, if it is not good poetry, was written by John Bunyan, and is goodsound truth! JACOB'S NEXT TIME OF TROUBLE AROSE THROUGH A FAMINE IN THE LAND. The death of Joseph, as his father thought,seemed a dreadful thing, but a famine of bread that will kill the whole family is a great deal worse trouble! There is nothingto eat, so what will become of them? There is corn in Egypt, however, and the good old man sends his sons down there to buyfood. And on the back of that comes another trouble, for when they return home, they say that the lord of the land will notlet them have any more corn unless they take Benjamin back with them. But Jacob cannot spare Benjamin and, depend upon it,this is the last ounce that will break the camel's back! Says the old man, "Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and you willtake Benjamin away? All these things are against me." This, this has to be "the time of Jacob's trouble." Surely, he is nowin the very depths of it! But Benjamin must go, notwithstanding all that his father may say. Jacob must part with his lastidol and God will make us part with our last idols, too. Therefore mind what you set up in your house as idols, for it iswritten, "The idols He shall utterly abolish."
That was "the time of Jacob's trouble," but the Lord delivered him out of it! You need not that I should stay to tell youhow sweetly the Lord was working on Jacob's behalf all the while. Joseph was in Egypt to keep the whole family alive in thetime of famine. Benjamin came back all right and they all went down into Egypt and sojourned there. And just as surely asJacob was delivered, so shall you be. When the worst comes to the worst, then the best of the best will come. When the wholestore of bread seems gone, then shall you find this promise true, "Bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure."
VII. Well, that is the end of Jacob's trouble unless I add what I hardly think I dare call a trouble. JACOB HAD TO
GATHER UP HIS FEET IN BED AND DIE. I do not think that it was a trouble to him. The few and evil days of his pilgrimage werenow over and he was to meet his fathers, and his fathers' God. Yet still, it matters not who we are, if we look only at theearthlyside of death, it isa trouble to die. No one can go down into the disembodied state without having some sort of fear.The immortal tenant, however badly lodged, still seems to love the house of clay. But whether it was a trouble to Jacob, ornot, certainly he was saved out of it. He dies with benedictions on his lips and he falls asleep to awake in Glory and thereto sit down with Abraham and Isaac at the feast of everlasting blessedness! It was well with Jacob and it shall be well withyou who believe in Jesus! You, also, shall say, "I have waited for Your salvation, O Lord." And that salvation will come atexactlythe right time! You have tarried till the fourscore years are ended. You are getting somewhat weary amidst the toiland infirmities of a body that is inclining to the tomb. Be of good courage! To such as you are-
"It is not death to die."
If you are in Christ, you shall fall asleep in Him and then you shall be "forever with the Lord."
But perhaps there is some poor soul here saying, "I have not got any comfort out of the sermon because all my trouble is aboutmy sin. I have not lost a child. I am not suffering through a famine. My great sorrow is concerning my sin, my sin, my sin!It haunts me. It eats like a canker into my spirit. It withers all my joys. It turns my life almost into a Hell." I know whereyou are, dear Friend, for I have been that way myself. "This is the time of Jacob's trouble." There is no trouble like genuineconviction of sin! Racks, scorpions, death-these are troubles to be laughed at compared with the weight of guilt pressingon the conscience, the sight of an angry God and the fear of the wrath to come! "This is the time of Jacob's trouble; buthe shall be saved out of it." The Lord Jesus Christ has come to save just such as you are! To you He extends His pierced hand.He waits to receive you just as you are. Look to Him! Look to Him! Look to Him, you lost and ruined! Look and live, for ina look at Him there is life for you! Your trouble is great, but you shall be saved out of it though your sins were more numerousthan the stars and each one more weighty than the world! Do but look to Him-take your eyes off yourself and fully gaze onHim who bore your sins in His own body on the Cross!
Do you trust Him? Then you are saved! Your sin is gone-it is buried in His sepulcher. God has forgiven you all your transgressionsfor Jesus' sake! Go on your way rejoicing! "This is the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it." God blessyou, for Jesus' sake! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: PSALM31.
To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.
This Psalm was meant to be sung, therefore it was dedicated to the chief musician. Yet it is a Psalm of which at least halfis very sorrowful. All our hymns were not meant to be joyous ones. God permits us to take a wide range in our Psalmody andto express the feelings of our heart whatever they may be. You will see here and there the Light of Christ shining on thisPsalm. If it does not shine on Him, at any rate He shines on it.
Verse 1. In You, O LORD, do I put my trust. Is that true of you, dear Friends? Never take your trust upon trust, but be quitesure that you trust in God. If it is so, acknowledge it and never be ashamed to say, "In You, O Lord, do I put my trust."
1-3. Let me never be ashamed: deliver me in Your righteousness. Bow down Your ear to me; deliver me speedily: be You my strongrock for an house of defense to save me. For You are my rock and my fortress; therefore for Your name's sake lead me, andguide me. See how logical David is with his, "for," and, "therefore"? It is the very essence of prayer to be able to urgepleas with God and to say to Him, "Do it for this reason," or, "Therefore, do it for such another reason." I would that we,all of us, studied more fully this blessed art of pleading with God-bringing forth sound arguments as we approach Him.
4. Pull me out of the net that they have laid privately for me: for You are my strength. How sweetly and blessedly he pleads!"'You are my strength.' I cannot get out of this net, I am entangled in it, but You can pull me out, for, 'You are my strength.'"
5. Into Your hands I commit my spirit: You have redeemed me, O LORD God of Truth. This is a blessed prayer-a holy resolutionwhich we may use every day in the week all through our lives.
6. I have hated them that regard lying vanities: but I trust in the LORD. "In Jehovah." David had no patience with those whotrusted in gods of wood and stone. He knew very little, indeed, of that spurious charity which leads some men to speak respectfullyeven of idolatry! David was "a good hater" and there is something gracious about that when the thing hated is really hatefuland something which ought to be hated!
7. I will be glad and rejoice in Your mercy. David makes the cymbals clash together-"I will be glad and rejoice in Your mercy."
7. For You have considered my trouble; You have known my soul in adversities. I t is said to be the highest wisdom to knowyourself, but, to my mind, it is a much better thing for God to know you! You may know yourself and fall into despair-butif God knows you and you know God, there is abundant room for you to hope in His mercy.
8, And have not shut me up into the hand of the enemy: You have set my feet in a large room. "You have given me a broad placeto live and You have given me abundance to eat there." So David praises and blesses his God. But now see how the note falls.From the highest point of the scale, he suddenly descends to the very lowest. "We spend our years as a tale that is told"-andsuch a tale is sometimes very joyful-but sometimes it is full of woe.
9, 10. Have mercy upon me, O LORD, for I am in trouble: my eyes are consumed with grief, yes, my soul and my belly. For mylife is spent with grief and my years with sighing. Sighing is better than sinning, any day. Though we may deplore that ourlife melts away in sighs, it is better that it should go so than that it should be wasted in sins.
10, 11. My strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones are consumed. I was a reproach among all my enemies, but especiallyamong my neighbors, and a fear to my acquaintance: they that did see me outside fled from me. He was in such a sorry plightthat men would not acknowledge him! They were afraid that they should be disgraced by being found in his company! It is asad condition for a man of God, like David, to be found in-for others to be afraid to be seen speaking to him.
12, I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind: I am like a broken vessel. An old pot, flung on the dunghill, as of no furtheruse.
13, 14. For I have heard the slander of many: fear was on every side: a while they took counsel together against me, theydevised to take away my life. But I trusted in You, O LORD. Now the strain will mount again! It is faith that tunes the royalsinger so that he rises to heights ofjoy though just now he had sunk so low!
14, 15. I said, You are my God. My times are in Your hands. He had put his spirit there-"Into Your hands I commit my spirit."And now he says, "My times are in Your hands."
15-19. Deliver me from the hand of my enemies, and from them that persecute me. Make Your face to shine upon Your servant:save me for Your mercies' sake. Let me not be ashamed, O LORD; for I have called upon You: let the wicked be ashamed, andlet them be silent in the grave. Let the lying lips be put to silence which speak grievous things proudly and contemptuouslyagainst the righteous. Oh how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for them that fear You. If he was not tastingof it, just then, he blessed God that it was laid up for him, put by in store.
19, 20. Which You have worked for them that trust in You before the sons of men! You shall hide them in the secret of YourPresence from the pride of man: You shall keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues. What a blessing thatis-to be separated from the noise and strife and the malignant calumny of wicked men! God has a blessed way of keeping Hisservants away from all such evils.
21, 22. Blessed be the LORD: for He has showed me His marvelous kindness in a strong city. For I said in my haste, I am cutoff from before Your eyes: nevertheless You heard the voice of my supplications when I cried unto You. "If we believe not,yet He abides faithful: He cannot deny Himself." The Psalmist was full of doubts and he said, "I am cut off," but, nevertheless,God heard the prayer of His poor mistrusting servant and brought him out of his distresses!
23, 24. Olove the LORD, allyou His saints: for the LORD preserves the faithful, and plentifully rewards theproud doer. Beof good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, allyou that hope in the LORD.