Sermon 2873. Who Loves Christ More?
A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, MARCH 3,1904.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON THURSDAY EVENING, FEBRUARY 3, 1876.
"There was a certain creditor who had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they hadnothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me, therefore, which of them will love him more? Simon answered and said,I suppose that he to whom he forgave more. And He said unto him, You have rightly judged." Luke 7:41-43.
When we commence the Christian life, it is very natural that we should say to ourselves, "We do not wish to be second-rateChristians, or ordinary Christians-much less to prove like the Laodicean professors, neither cold nor hot, or, like thoseof whom the Apostle John wrote, "They went out from us, but they were not of us." I like to see the holy ambition of the youngconvert who desires to bring forth much fruit to the Glory of God-to love Christ much and manifest that love by every possibleact of devotion to Him. Truly, my dear Friends, you need not be as your fathers have been, for we have often provoked theLord and have many times done what we ought not to have done. There is plenty of room for improvement upon the past generationand we would earnestly urge those of you who are commencing the heavenly race to run faster than we have run-to keep youreyes more steadfastly fixed upon the goal-and to continue more resolutely in the right way than we have done. We do not desirethat you should imitate our mistakes, or that you should fall into our backslidings. We wish that yours might be the highestconceivable form of Christian life and we know that if it is to be so, there must be in you intense love to Christ.
My objective, at this time, is to give some directions which, perhaps, the Spirit of God will bless, especially to beginners,that they may be taught to love Christ much and manifest that love as this woman did. It may be that some of us who have beenfor years on the right road, may also get stirred up to greater zeal and devotion to our Lord. Possibly, we may hear our Mastersaying to us, as He said to the angel of the church of Ephesus, "I have somewhat against you, because you have left your firstlove." If His Spirit shall make our love to burn more vehemently, we may be able to start anew and after a better fashionin the work and service of our Lord. This were "a consummation devoutly to be wished."
With this end in view, I shall begin by speaking upon the fact that we must all be saved in the same manner. Whatever ourdesires may be to outrun others in the Christian race, we must begin by being saved in exactly the same manner as others are.Then, secondly, I shall try to show that it will help to increase our love if we have a deep sense of our own sinfulness.And then, thirdly, provided we have this deep sense of sin and, in consequence, possess a burning love to Christ, this willlead us to show our love very much as this woman did.
I. First, then, whatever our desires may be to serve our Master to the utmost-to be in the front rank of His servitors-yetwe MUST BEGIN WHERE OTHERS BEGIN.
There is the same door of entrance for us as that which was opened to the very chief of sinners, for there is no differencebetween one sinner and another in the sight of God, as far as the plan of salvation is concerned. There may be many differencesin other matters but, in the matter of salvation, there is nothing which places one man in a different position from another,or which allows him to be saved in any other way than the one way which God has laid down for a sinner's salvation.
You notice, in the parable before us, that both the parties were in debt-"the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty"-butthey were both in debt. So, if some men have plunged into the grossest vice and defiled themselves, and polluted their lives,they are certainly in debt five hundred pence. But if others have been kept from overt acts of transgression, yet, since theirhearts have gone astray from God and since, with their desires, and with their lips, and in many respects even in their actions,they have broken His holy Law, they also are in debt. Fifty pence, it may be, but still, they are in debt. There is not oneamong us who can stand before the Most High and say to Him, "I owe nothing to Your justice for I have never infringed Yourrighteous Laws." Any man who would say that would be a liar, and the truth would not be in him. If we say that we have nosin, or that we have not sinned, we lie in the face of the living God and in the teeth of our own conscience, too! So, weare all in debt, even if the amount differs in each case.
We also learn from the parable that, although both the parties were in debt, neither of them had anything with which to meetthe liability-"they had nothing to pay." One only owed fifty pence, but, then, he had not the fifty pence. No, he had noteven one penny out of the fifty required to meet the amount. The other debtor owed five hundred pence and his plight was justthe same, for he had nothing to pay. It sometimes happens that the man who owes the most, has the most to pay, but it is notso here. He has nothingto pay. And sometimes the man who owes but very little, may be the one who has something with whichto meet his obligations. He has pulled up just at the right time and though he is insolvent, yet he can almost meet the debt.
But it is not so here. He has nothing to pay. Neither of them could produce so much as a single penny and that is your caseand mine, dear Brothers and Sisters-we have nothing to pay. All that we have, or ever shall have, is already due to God. Ifthere were any assets, they would not belong to us and there is nothing in reserve-nothing that we can look for, that willdrop in, towards the close of life, with which all our old scores can be wiped out. Under the Law of God, there is nothingfor us but debt, debt, debt! And even if we had the power to pay our old debts, new ones would soon swallow up all our capital.But we have nothing with which to meet our old debts. "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with allyour soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself," is still God's daily demandupon us. And if we were able to meet it, it would not in any way make up for the deficiencies of the years that have goneby. Here we all stand upon an equality-we are all in debt and we have, none of us, anything with which to pay that debt.
And here is the glory of God's mercy in dealing with sinners who believe in Jesus. In the parable of the two debtors, we aretold that the creditor freely forgave them both He did not say to either of them, "I will set you a certain time and you shallpay me so much a week until you clear it off." Oh, no, he forgave them both-wiped the score out altogether! He did not askanything of them, for he knew that they had nothing. He forgave them, says the text, frankly, that is, freely. He did notforgive one of them because his debt was a misfortune which he could not avoid, but he frankly forgave them both. He did notlook for any worthiness in either of them, or expect anything from either of them, but, as an act of pure gratuitous favor,because he delighted to show kindness to his poor debtors, he said, "There, go home, both of you. I shall never ask you forthe amount of your debts again. I have crossed it off my book though I have received nothing whatever from you."
Now, this is just what the Lord, in His infinite mercy, does for all poor sinners who come and trust His Son. He gives thema receipt in full, for there is One who has paid the debt for them! All glory be to His name-it has been paid in full! But,as far as we are concerned, the Lord does not give us pardon because of our tears, or prayers, or repentances, or even becauseof any merit in our believing, for our very believing is marred by unbelief-but He forgives us freely. And He does not forgiveus because He thinks that in the future we shall improve upon the past. Oh no, we are His workmanship when we do improve andit is He who must have the credit of our improvement. But He forgives us freely, "according to the riches of His Grace," passingby iniquity, transgression, and sin, and remembering not the wickedness of His people, "because He delights in mercy."
Here, then, we are all on the same level and if any young Christian thinks that he starts with an advantage over others, hemakes a great mistake-and he had better go back and start where all pilgrims to Zion must start-at that wicket gate whichJohn Bunyan describes, or, better still, at that Cross where Christian lost his load and from where he went on his way rejoicing!You must come down from that high horse, young man-your birthright is not worth a farthing to you, your church attendanceand your chapel attendance are not worth a single penny to you-you must trust in Chr-
ist just as a harlot or as a thief must! It is true that you have been moral and I thank God for it. It is true that you havebeen preserved from contamination with an ungodly world and I thank God for it. But, still, in the matter of the soul's salvation,"other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." Faith in the atoning Sacrifice of Christ is theway of salvation for the most immoral and for the most moral, too! You and I, dear Friend, must go together to the Lord Jesusand see in Him the full Atonement made and the utmost ransom paid-and then we must accept, as poor bankrupt sinners, the freegift of a full discharge through the Sovereign Mercy of God whom we have offended.
It is absolutely essential for us to begin here, for, if we do not start our Christian life rightly, we shall never make progressin it. If there is a mistake in the first course of bricks laid, or if the foundation is not well dug out, or if things aredone improperly at the beginning, there are sure to be all sorts of mischief in the rest of the building. Therefore, I chargeyou, begin by coming to Christ as naked sinners needing to be clothed. Do not come to Him in the filthy rags of your self-righteousness,seeking to have a piece of His spotless robe of righteousness tacked on, for that can never be! If you think of passing yourcounterfeit coin with Christ's pure gold, you are making a fatal mistake. I charge you to begin as lost, ruined and condemnedsinners-for that is what you really are. Coming to Christ like that and trusting in Him, you shall be saved, you shall beadopted into the Divine family, you shall be sanctified in Christ Jesus and, in due time, you shall be glorified through Him,and through Him alone!
II. Now, secondly, I want to show you how our lives may become more intense than the lives of many other professing Christiansare through our love being more fervent than theirs. In order to attain that end, WE MUST HAVE A DEEP SENSE OF OUR OWN SIN."Which of them will love him more?" "I suppose he to whom he forgave most."
I can imagine someone saying, "I was never, in very deed, as great a sinner as some have been. Must I, therefore, love Christless than those who have been greater sinners than I have? Will this morality of mine-in which I do not trust for a momentand concerning which I do not speak boastingly-will this put me at a disadvantage in comparison with others? Shall I neverattain to such love as that woman had who was a sinner?" Listen, my Friend. Suppose that the man who owed 500 pence only thoughtthat he owed fifty. He would not love the creditor, who forgave him, any better than the one who really did owe the 50 pence,would he? It was not the amount forgiven, as you will readily see, which was the cause of the greater or lesser love-it wasthe consciousness of the amount-the realization of its greatness, which would be the cause of the greater love! I do not doubtthat there are some very great sinners who have been forgiven, who yet do not love Christ much and, on the other hand, thereare some who, in the judgment of men and, perhaps, in the judgment of God, are nothing like such great sinners, who, nevertheless,love Christ more-the reason being that these greater sinners never had such a deep sense of the enormity of sin as these,comparatively speaking, lesser sinners have had. The question turns, you see, not so much upon the actual amount of debt,as upon the consciousness of the magnitude of that debt-not so much, in the matter of love, upon the indebtedness, as uponthe senseof that indebtedness, so that you who have been kept in the ways of morality before you were converted, may rightlyplace yourselves among the greatest debtors and, perhaps, may love Christ even more than some others do who have actuallybeen grosser offenders, but who have never been awakened to such a full sense of their sinfulness as you have had, and, consequently,do not think themselves to be the greatest debtors to God. It is, dear Friends, a deep sense of our sinfulness, coupled withthe perfect consciousness of our forgiveness, that will work in us intense love to Christ.
Let me further say that anyone who has been forgiven very great open sin ought, certainly, to have the greatest and strongestmotive for love to Christ. You cannot always tell how love comes into the heart. I do not deny the duty of love, but lovedoes not come merely as a duty. You love your mother, or you love your wife and it is your duty to do so, but you could notbe made to love either of them simply by being told that it was a duty! You do it because of the natural impulse within yourheart which moves you to love. In like manner, love to our Heavenly Father and love to Christ is, no doubt, a duty, but itis much more than a mere matter of duty. That is a cold sphere for love to live in and she soon gets away from the polar regionsof duty to the more tropical climate of the Garden of Gethsemane and the place called Calvary. She loves because she cannothelp loving-because she must love! The gratitude within her heart is so great that she cannot help loving the Lord who hasdone so much for her!
I hope that is the case with any of you who were once drunkards, or who had lost your character, or who had sinned againstGod in an open way and even dared, perhaps, to blaspheme His holy name. As you think that over, oh, how your heart ought toburn with love to your Lord! You remember how Paul writes concerning adulterers, drunks and all sorts
of grossly sinful people-and then says, "Such were some of you, but you are washed." This should bring tears to the eyes ofall whom it concerns-"But you are washed"-you are singing your Savior's praises, though once a profane or licentious songwould have suited you better! You are now bowing your knees in prayer, though once those knees never knew what it was to makean obeisance before the Most High! You are loving Him, now, with all your heart, though once you saw no beauty in Him thatyou should desire Him. Brothers and Sisters, I will not say that you ought to love Christ much-rather will I say that I feelsure that you do! If you realize what He has done for you, you cannot help loving Him much! And I trust that in the outpouringand manifestation of love, yours will be a life as vigorously good as once it was shamefully bad-a life as full of the fireof Heaven as once it was full of the fire of Hell-a life as much above the common life of men as once it was below what thelife of men really ought to be. God grant that it may be so with you!
Now I will address myself to those who thank God-without any of the Pharisaic spirit-but very humbly thank God that they werenot allowed to run into the same excess of riot as others, but were early brought to a knowledge of the Savior. I say to you,dear Friends, that you, also, may be among those who love Christ much if you have a very deep sense of sin. A venerable servantof God whom most of you know and respect, has made a remark which I fully endorse. He says that he has noticed that the deepestconvictions of sin do not come, as a rule, to men of coarse life, but to those who have been of upright moral character. Myown observation has taught me that, very often, drunks and other persons who have lived openly evil lives, when they are converted,are brought all of a sudden to Christ and made to rejoice in Him-while some of us who were kept from such sins as they havecommitted, have had a far greater sense of horror and terror indicted upon us than they have ever experienced! I have manytimes found that the deepest sense of sin has been felt where the actual sin has been the least. There are, no doubt, exceptionsto this rule, but I believe it is the rule-and the explanation is that the ungodly man, by a long life of sin, has so searedhis conscience that even when the Spirit of God comes to him, he has not that delicate, acute sense of sin which another manhas, who, by God's Grace, has never been permitted to blunt the edge of his conscience.
I will tell you another thing. I believe that in many Christians, the sense of sin is much stronger 10 years after they havebeen saved than it is at the time of their conversion. There is not any despair mixed with it and the fear of punishment hasgone-but a sense of horror at the terrible guilt of sin will sometimes come over a Christian who is far advanced in the Divinelife. No, the further he is advanced in the Divine life, the more will horror take hold of him whenever he sees sin, evenin others, but still more in himself! Some glib professors talk of having got out of the 7th of Romans- I hope they will growin Grace until they get into the 7th of Romans! It seems to me as if they were in the 1st of Romans, so they have a long wayto travel before they will get into the 7th of Romans. The nearer you get to perfection, the more horrified you feel becauseof the sin that still remains in you! And the more horror you feel at your sin, the more intense will be your gratitude tothe bleeding Savior who has put that sin away. And, in consequence, the more intense will be your love to Him.
I charge you, Christian people, if you want your piety to be increased, never to blunt your sensibility of sin. Do not beginto look at sin in any light which takes away any of it blackness. The devil himself is not as bad as sin is, for it is sinthat made the devil. Satan was a holy angel until sin came into him, but sin itself was never anything else but sin-a horriblething, and it never will be anything else but sin, look at it in whatever way you may! Some have spoken of sin as being merelya failure, or a slight slip. God keep you, Beloved, from ever using such language as that! Sin, in a child of God, is a damnablething-as damnable as it is most atrociously wicked-and if it were not for the Grace of God, which takes it away, the brightestsaint would soon be banished from God's Presence. Sin is always an evil thing, but in a child of God it is a worse thing thanin worldlings, for he sins against greater light and knowledge than they possess.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, if you desire to cultivate, as I trust you do, the feeling that you owe your Lord 500 pencewhich He has freely forgiven you, you must often think of the spirituality of the Law of God. We think, at first, that theTen Commandments only mean what we see on the surface. And if we have not broken them, we feel happy. Or if we have brokenthem, then we feel some conviction of sin. But the longer we live and the more the Spirit of God deals with us, the more wediscover that the Law contains the condemnation of every evil thought, temper and imagination. Think, for instance, when wecome to discover, in connection with the command, "You shall not kill," that he who is angry with his brother without a causeis a murderer! Who among us has completely escaped that sin? Do angry thoughts
ever arise in our heart? Ah, then we begin to discover that we have broken that Commandment and that, in this sense, we aremurderers! And we find that there are more men who have broken that Law than have been put to death by their fellow men. Itis just the same with each of the Commandments. I need not go into the details of them, but may the Spirit of God make youoften go into the details till you look into your own life and are horrified and say, "Why, where we fancied we saw righteousness,we see ourselves altogether condemned before the all-seeing eyes of God."
If you would have a sense of sin, in the next place, endeavor more and more to appreciate the excellency of God. O You holy,holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts, when I think of some of Your creatures and compare myself with them, self-conceit may set mymind at ease-but when I look up to You and remember that the heavens are not clean in Your sight, and that You charge Yourangels with folly, I feel afraid to come into Your Presence! In the visions of the night, when we have thought upon the purityand spirituality of God, our hair has been ready to stand on end as we have realized how far we are from such perfection asHis-and we have been ready to cry with Job, "I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear: but now my eyes see You. ThereforeI abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." If the Holy Spirit will teach you to feel like that, then you will love JesusChrist for having had pity upon you and provided a way by which all your sinfulness could be taken away!
Another blessed sharpener of our sense of sin is a consciousness of sin's tendency-knowing what sin really is and what itwould do if it could have its way without those blessed checks which Omnipotence put upon it. What would sin do if it could?What didit do when God gave it liberty? It took God Himself and accused Him, brought Him before its bar and there the sinnerdared to sit and judge his God-yes, and to condemn his God and even to slay his God! This is what sin always does wheneverit can. "The fool"-that is, the ungodly man-has said in his heart, "There is no God." He means, "No God for me. I do not needany God. If I could have my own way, there would not be any God." And every offense against God's Law is a wish, on our part,to be greater than God-to have our way instead of God having His way-in a word, to push God off His Throne that we might sitthere in His place! O Sin, I cannot but hate you, now that I see you red with the blood of the Son of God! I cannot but abhoryou, now that I see that you would let Hell loose into this world if you could do so! A Christian cannot help hating sin inproportion as He loves God who has forgiven Him all His trespasses.
One thing which has often made me feel great tenderness of soul is a sense of the Divine Love. If you ever offend a personand that person, instead of being in the slightest degree angry, lets fall a tear, but says nothing. And if you hear afterwardsthat he has been laying himself out for your good and that the very thing about which you were angry was really intended tobe a blessing to you, oh, you feel as if you could never forgive yourself! To do a wrong thing is bad at any time, but todo a wrong to the One who is so good and so kind as God is-oh, have you not often said to yourself, "How could I have donethis? I am one of God's chosen people. He loved me before the foundation of the world, though I did not know it. Christ wrotemy name on His hands and on His heart-and shed His blood to redeem me-yet I did not know it. I even ridiculed His name andyet, all the while, He had prepared a place in Heaven for me and He had made up His mind that He would save me, that His Gracewould seek me! I did not know anything about it and I went on in the frivolity and foolishness of my heart against Him." Thisthought makes sin appear exceedingly sinful, as being committed against a God who is all goodness and altogether love andmercy-and so we feel ourselves to be indebted 500 pence- not merely fifty.
Above all, dear Friends, I know of nothing that can make us more sensitive about our guilt, and conscious of it, than therealization of what Jesus Christ is to us. I think this poor woman was helped to weep by the sight of His feet. They had notbeen pierced, then, but I know that it helps us to weep in penitence when we can see His dear, His blessed feet that werepierced for our sins, and look upon His hands and remember His words, "These are the wounds that I received in the house ofMy friends." And then look into His side and see that the gash goes right to His heart and, all the while, realize that eachof our sins became a nail and unbelief the spear to pierce His hands, and feet, and side. That wonderful love of Jesus Christto us has never changed. It has never been repressed by our ingratitude, or made to cease even by our forget-fulness of Him.He loved us even to the death and, after death, He has continued to love us still! He loves us so that He cannot be contenteven in Heaven until He gets us there with Him. Being Himself there as our Head, He is determined to bring all His membersthere.
Just look at Jesus Christ a minute, and then look at sin. Oh, what a loathsome thing, what a monster it then appears! I amsure, dear Friends, if you are beginning to think little of sin, it must be because you have been thinking little of JesusChrist. You cannot have met your best Friend lately, or else you would never parley with His enemy. O Beloved, lie in Christ'sbosom where all the sweetest perfumes are! Rest your head upon His breast where the myrrh, and aloes, and cassia are to befound and you will never crave the leeks and garlic of Egypt! After having been with Him and eaten of the heavenly manna,you would not be able to eat the dust and ashes of this foul world! So, in proportion as you get near to Jesus, you will hatesin and you will love Him who bore your sin, and carried it all away that you might be free from it forever!
There are many other topics I might mention so as to sharpen your sense of sin, but I pray the ever-blessed Spirit to keepyour mind and heart sensitive towards sin, for you can be sure of this-that you can never exaggerate your own guiltiness inGod's sight. When you have the lowest notion of yourself, you are getting the nearest to the truth. When you feel your sinto be exceedingly sinful, you do not even yet know how sinful it is, for-
"God only knows the love of God"- and God only knows the sinfulness of man! Perhaps, if any man among us could see his sinas it really is, he would go mad. I am persuaded that, sometimes, God spares men who have been great sinners, the horriblerevelations which He gives to others because they could not bear them! If they did ever see themselves as they are, they mightbe driven to despair. So He sometimes leads them by easier ways than He does some others and He thus gives to others the opportunityof putting themselves down among the 500 pence debtors and to love Him more because, after all, they are conscious of havinghad the most forgiven.
III. My time has fled, so I must only say very briefly, in the third place, that IF WE GET A BURNING LOVE FOR JESUS CHRIST,IT WILL BE WELL FOR US TO SHOW IT AS THIS WOMAN DID. How shall we do it?
First, by desiring to be near Him. This woman, in her desire to be near Christ, came right up to His feet. Augustine admiresthe gracious audacity of this woman. She had been very bold when she was a sinner-her shamefacedness was gone when she wasa sinner and it was also gone when she was a saint. May we, too, love Christ so much that we cannot be content to live ata distance from Him, but may we be among those who follow the Lamb wherever He goes and abide close beside Him!
The next point in her for us to imitate is the boldness of her confession. Some of Christ's disciples came to Him by night,but this woman came to Him by day. They dared not approach Him when anybody saw them, but she cared not who saw her. I wouldthat you who love Jesus much were as bold as she was in the acknowledgment of your faith. Come out and confess Christ, saying,"I have had much forgiven-therefore I will tell the whole world of what the Lord has done for me."
Then, next, this woman had deep humility, for, bold as she was, she rendered the lowliest service that she could to Christ.May you be such willing slaves to Him that washing His feet will be the work in which you delight! If I may but wash His feet-helpHis poor people-look after a few infants in the Sunday school-do any little thing for Him-if I can only have some smiles fromHim, though they are only such as come to menials, I will be glad to get them.
Then, imitate this woman's penitence. She bathed His feet with her tears-so you show Him how deep and true is your repentance.It is well not to make a show of repentance to men except by your actions. But let your whole life and your inmost soul makea show of it before Christ. Wash His feet with your tears. Refresh Him with your contrition.
After washing His feet with her tears, this woman wiped them with the hairs of her head. Imitate her self-denying service.Show your love to Jesus in some special way. I do not know what particular form your service may take, but let it be someloving, tender, self-denying work for your dear Lord and Savior. Make a perfect consecration of yourself to Him, as this womandid. May the Holy Spirit help you to do so! But you will never do it unless you have a deep sense of sin, so, Brothers andSisters in Christ, I come back to that point because that is the chief thought I want to leave in your mind. Do you feel sinto be a bitter and hideous thing? And do you feel yourself to be a great sinner? You will never pray so well as when you havea tear in your eye. You will never serve God so well as when you have been standing in the publican's place and saying, "God,be merciful to me a sinner."
I am persuaded that we, ministers, do not preach with effect if we preach as if we were wonderful saints looking down on you,poor sinners. Oh, no! When we are, ourselves, tender in spirit, God helps us to be tender to the humble and con-
trite among our hearers! Out of our hearts, by the gracious working of the Holy Spirit, comes power that helps others to behumble and contrite before God. We are nothing to boast of, so let us never boast. Though we are accepted in the Beloved,and perfect in Christ Jesus, forgiven, saved forever, (blessed be His name!), yet this is no reason for us to lift ourselvesup, but to lift Christ up! It is a cause for gratitude, but not for conceit. So we will feel that we have had much forgiven,and will love Him much who has freely forgiven us all our trespasses. May He help us to do so, and His shall be the praiseforever and ever! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: PSALM116.
In this Psalm, David tells us his experience with regard to God and with regard to men.
Verse 1. Ilove the LORD, because He has heard my voice and my supplications. Answered prayer is a good reason for loving God.David was in his right senses and he was, by no means, a fool, yet he declared that God had answered his prayers and, therefore,he loved Him. And this is not only David's experience, but there are thousands of us who can say that God has heard our prayersand, therefore, we love Him. How can we help doing so?
2. Because He has inclined His ear unto me, therefore will I call upon Him as long as I live. If a beggar in the street wereto say to us, "Because you have relieved me once, I will beg of you as long as I live," we would not be pleased to hear himsay that-but God loves to hear us say that to Him! He wishes us to resolve that because we have been successful in prayeronce, we will call upon Him as long as we live! Now David explains the circumstances which led him to pray.
3. The sorrows of death compassed me. "I seemed to be shut in-surrounded by a circle of difficulties and terrors! 'The sorrowsof death compassed me.'"
3. And the pains of Hell got hold upon me. They seemed to seize him as a lion seizes his prey.
3, 4. I found trouble and sorrow. Then called I upon the name of the LORD; O LORD, I beseech You, deliver my soul His prayerwas a very short one, but very much to the point. Words make not prayer-they often burden it, and prevent it from flying-
"Prayer is the soul's sincere desire"
and David, in a few earnest words, expressed that desire-"O Lord, I beseech You, deliver my soul."
5. Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yes, our God is merciful. All who have ever tried Him have proved Him to be so-mercifulto forgive our sin-merciful to help us in the time of trouble-merciful to strengthen us in the performance of our duty. "OurGod is merciful."
6. The LORD preserves the simple. Those who are of a single mind-who have no double meanings and concealed motives-those whoknow their own ignorance and weakness and who, therefore, dare not trust in themselves.
6. I was brought low, and He helped me. David could speak for himself and he did so without the slightest hesitation. Canyou, dear Friends, after making trial of God's love and Grace, say of Him, "I was brought low, and He helped me"? If you can,then bear this testimony to His praise and glory!
7. Return unto your rest, O my soul; for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you. Man's soul is like the dove that Noah sentout from the ark. It flew over the wide waste of waters, seeking rest, but finding none, so, at last, with weary wings, itmade its way back to the ark. And, Soul, you will never rest till you come back to your Creator and Redeemer! You may flyto the pleasures and follies of this world but they can furnish no real rest for you. If you would rest, you must come backto your God.
8. 9. For You have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. I will walk before the LORDin the land of the living. "Let my fellow creatures think what they will of me, I will not care about their judgments, I willonly think of God." This is the highest, noblest, happiest style of living-to "walk before the Lord." Why, there are somemen who dare not even call their souls their own! They are afraid of their next-door neighbors, or of some great kinsman whosets the fashion for them. But the man who walks before the Lord will think only of the verdict of the Most High and willcare nothing about what men will say.
10, 11. I believed, therefore have I spoken: I was greatly afflicted: I said in my haste, all men are liars. He felt thathe could not trust them. He had come into such trouble that men would be deceivers even against their own will, for, even
when they would have helped him, he found that they could not. He had looked to them as worthy of his confidence and had foundthem fail him. Therefore he said that as far as reliance upon them was concerned, "All men are liars." Well, what then?
12. What shall I render unto the LORD for all His benefits toward me? "Though men have failed me, the Lord has not. If friendsall prove to be false, He is still true. 'What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits toward me?'"
13-15. I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presenceof all His people. Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints. It matters not where they die-in the dungeonsof the Inquisition, or on the sickbed of poverty and obscurity-God is always with them. The deathbed of a saint is one ofthe places where God often makes His Glory to be best seen. From the lips of dying men and women some of us have heard strangesayings-sweeter than any that ever fell from poet's tongue or pen! We have heard words which it was almost unlawful for aman to utter, save only for those who were in the very suburbs of Heaven- almost in Glory-even while they spoke with us onearth. "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints." Will yours be a saintly death, dear Friend, or willit, on the other hand, be a death of gloom and sorrow? God grant that you may die the death of His people because you havelived the life of His people!
16. O LORD, truly I am Your servant; I am Your servant, and the son of Your handmaid: You have loosed my bonds. How pleasedDavid was to be God's servant! Yet he says, "You have loosed my bonds." To serve God is to be free! We are never truly freeuntil we bow our willing necks to the yoke of the Most High. Then we break every chain and snap every fetter. He is the freeman whom our God makes free-all the rest are slaves.
17-19. I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows untothe LORD now in the presence of all His people, in the courts of the LORD'S house, in the midst of you, O Jerusalem. Praiseyou the LORD.