Sermon 2894. The Sinner's Only Alternative
A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, JULY 28, 1904.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON A LORD'S-DAY EVENING, DURING THE WINTER OF 1861-2.
"Now therefore come, let us surrender to the army of the Syrians: if they keep us alive, we shall live; and if they kill us,we shall but die." 2 Kings 7:4.
OUTSIDE the gates of Samaria, at the time mentioned in our text, you might have seen four miserable beings, gaunt and thin,with that sharpness of eye and visage which is always the effect of protracted hunger. They were lepers, suffering from aloathsome disease and emaciated by starvation. They held, as it were, a miniature council of war, and the result of theirdeliberations was that they said to one another, "Why do we stay here to die? If we go into the city, even should we be permittedto remain there, famine is so rife that we would soon die. And if we continue to sit here, it is quite certain that we mustpine away and perish. Let us go to the camp of the Syrians-here is a little hope in that direction, though it may be a veryslender one. The Syrians may put us to death and so end our miseries. Perhaps death by the sword is preferable to death byfamine-at any rate, we can but die in any case. Let us choose the desperate alternative- let us take that course which, althoughit requires the greatest boldness, holds out some slight hope of success."
You know the result of their decision. They went to the Syrian camp, found that the host had fled, feasted themselves to thefullest and, possibly, began to appropriate some of the plunder that abounded all around them. Then, suddenly, the thoughtstruck them, "Here we have bread and corn in abundance, yet the people in Samaria are starving. This is a time of common distressso, though they did throw us out of the city, it would be a deed unworthy even of lepers if we left our fellow creatures withoutnews of our discovery. Let us go back and tell the good news to the people in the city, that their suffering may be relievedas our own has been." They did so and soon the famished crowds poured out of Samaria and fed to the fullest!
You are familiar with the narrative, so I will base upon it an argument which may prove useful to any enquiring ones who maybe here. There are probably with us some who have before them an alternative somewhat similar to the one mentioned in ourtext. If so, I hope they will imitate these poor lepers in their actions and, afterwards, count it their joyful privilegeto deliver to others a message as cheering as the one which these lepers carried to the famine-stricken people of Samaria!
I. First, then, THERE ARE SOME OF YOU WHO HAVE AN ALTERNATIVE PRESENTED TO YOUR CONSCIENCES.
There was a time when you were careless about eternal things, but that time has passed. You can look back, possibly only afew weeks, to the time when the Sabbath was to you a day of revelry, when the House of God was entirely neglected by you,when the Bible was a Book which you would not have read unless you had been flogged to read it and when prayer was a dutyand privilege that you utterly despised. But now your conscience has been somewhat awakened and though not thoroughly as yet,still partially you have begun to perceive that what is written in Scripture is true, that we have gone astray like lost sheep,that our iniquities have prevailed against us and that our very righteousnesses are as filthy rags. You have heard the Gospelpreached. It matters not where-whether in the cathedral, or in the theater, or anywhere else. But now that you have listenedto the Word, Satan has interposed and has said to you, "Christ will not receive such sinners as youare! The Grace of God wasnever intended for men who have degraded themselves as you have.
There may be hope for other men, but there is none for you-the gate of Mercy is fast closed against you and it has been saidof you, "'He that is filthy, let him be filthy still; he has disobeyed his God, let him receive the penalty for that disobedience.'"
Now you perceive that there are just two courses open to you. You can sit still, but then you know that you must perish. Oryou can go to Christ, but your fear is that you will still perish. Yet you can but die if you go to Him and He rejects you-butif you do not go to Him, you will surely perish. Even should you believe in Him, you fear that you may be lost-but if youdo not believe in Him, there is no hope at all for you. Should you go to Him in prayer? Your fears tell you that He may repelyou and say to you, "Get out! What right have you, who once cursed Me, to expect any favor from Me? You, who have scornedMy Grace a hundred times and defied My Law, what do you mean by falling upon your knees and entreating My mercy? Go away,ungrateful wretch, and perish in your sins!" Yet still this Truth of God is present to your mind-that if you do perish there,you do but perish, and it is quite certain that you will perish if you remain where you are! Let me try and work out thisquestion for you, sitting down by your side, as one of the leprous men may have sat down by his fellow. You know, my Friendand Brother, that should you die as you now are, it is absolutely certain that you will perish. Do not listen to Satan's lie-"Youshall not surely perish." You all know that the Bible is the Book of God. I can hardly believe any man who tells me that hedoubts whether the Bible is the Word of God. The Truth of Scripture is being so perpetually confirmed by all the discoveriesof those who travel in the land where it was written that I can scarcely credit the doubts concerning its authenticity asbeing honest.
But even if you reject the Word of God, you must believe that God is just. If there is a God, He must punish men for sinningagainst Him. How can any moral government exist if sin goes unpunished, if virtue and vice lead to the same end? Conscience,fallen though it is, and no longer like God's candle in the soul, still has sufficient Light of God left to assure men thatGod must punish sin! Supposing that you do accept the Word of God as true-you know that the unregenerate can never see theface of God with acceptance, that those who have not been cleansed from sin can never stand before the thrice-holy Jehovah,for there can by no means enter Heaven, anything that defiles! As to your ultimate fate, if you continue as you now are, therecan be no question the fire of Hell must be your everlasting portion! Now turn to the other alternative-there is for you atleast some hope there. Even your poor trembling heart admits that there is at least some hope that if you seek mercy, youshall find it. I can assure you that there is not only hope, but that there is certainty that you will obtain it! Jesus castsout none that come to Him and He freely receives the vilest of the vile!
But I put the matter now as your unbelief puts it-it is not an absolute certainly to you that Christ will reject you, is it?You are not quite sure that if you pray to Him, He will reject your petition, or that if the tears of penitence shall stealdown your cheek, God will refuse to pardon you. I am only stating the question as you yourself state it. If I were speakingaccording to my own convictions, I would, on the authority of God's Word, affirm again and again that if you come to Him throughJesus Christ, His Son, God will certainly receive you! But even putting it in your way, is it not the wisest course for youto say-
"If I perish, I will pray, And perish only there"?
Let us look at the matter in another light. It is certain that if you perish as you now are, you will perish without pityand without mercy. The Law of God, by which you are already condemned, knows nothing about forgiveness-and the Law providesno sacrifice for sin. If you perish without seeking mercy at the hands of Christ, there can be no mercy for you-rigorous,unabated, undiluted Justice must be your portion! But now, do you not feel that even if you could perish after coming to Godthrough Christ, yet you would not perish without having some ray of pity thrown upon you? Would there not be at least thisconsolation for you-"I did what God commanded me to do. I did come to Him and seek forgiveness. I did plead the precious bloodof Christ, yet He rejected me"? Do you not think that this would be balm to your spirit? But if you perish as you now are,you will have this thought ringing in your ears forever-"You heard of Christ but you believed not on Him. You lived wherethe Light of the Gospel was clearly shining, yet you shut your eyes to it. Christ was preached close to you, yet you refusedto trust Him. You would have none of His warnings-you put your fingers in your ears and ran on to destruction." But shouldyou perish after having sought mercy through Christ, you would be able to say, "I did seek it. I did knock, I did pray, Idid trust, I did yield my heart to God, yet I perished." If such perishing were possible-though we know that it is not-itwould be far preferable to perishing without having
sought the Savior in His own appointed way! For your own sake, then, I urge you to choose this alternative and I ask you tolet me take you by the hand and lead you to Him who, with arms outstretched, waits to welcome you that He may give pardonto the guilty, life to the dead and salvation to the lost!
Yet further, you ought to remember that all those who have continued in a state of nature have, without exception, perished.Not one, however high in station, however excellent in morality, however profound in learning, however lofty in fame has everbeen able to pass the threshold of Heaven except through the blood and merit of the Lord Jesus Christ! In the black list ofthe unregenerate, there is no exception to their condemnation. But take the other side and at least we can assure you, fromour own case, that even supposing that some perish though they trust in Christ-which is not true- yet there are some who donot! Certainly there are some who, in this life, receive the pardon of their sins and know that they have received it andwho, in death, are cheered with the prospect of a glorious immortality! Saul of Tarsus was led to repent of sin, though hesaid that he was the chief of sinners. Others in his day who had no more right to mercy than you have, sought and found it!And there are hundreds, yes, I might say thousands in this Tabernacle right now who could rise, if this were the proper seasonto do so, and each one say, "This poor man cried and the Lord heard him and delivered him out of all his troubles." Well,then, if God has, to your knowledge, saved some who have come to Him-I say that He saves all who come to Him through Christ!But I am dealing with the question from your standpoint-then it would be wise and right for you, also, to say-
"I'll to the gracious King approach,
Whose scepterpardon gives.
Perhaps He may command my touch,
And then the suppliant lives.
Perhaps He will admit my plea,
Perhaps will hear my prayer,
But if Iperish, I willpray
And perish only there.
I can but perish if I go!
I am resolved to try,
I know I must forever die." But you can go on to say, in the words of the same gracious writer-
"But if I die with mercy sought,
When I the King have tried,
This were to die (delightful thought)!
As sinner never died."
No, not one ever died thus! You would be the first who thus perished-so take this alternative and, as the Holy Spirit hasquickened you to make you feel your need of a Savior, I pray that the same Holy Spirit may lead you, this very hour, to plungeinto the stream-sink or swim-that whether you perish or are saved, you may say, "Your wounds, O Jesus, shall be my hidingplace! Your blood shall cleanse me from all sin! Your righteousness shall be my clothing! You, and You alone, shall be myAll-in-All."
II. Now I pass on to observe that THE DISCUSSIONS OF THESE LEPERS ENDED IN ACTION.
I wish this could be said of all of you. How many holy resolutions have been strangled in this House of Prayer? How many goodthoughts have been murdered in those pews? See if you cannot find their blood upon your own clothes. Many a time the tearwhich betokened the first rising emotion has been wiped away-and the emotion has gone with it. May it not be so now, but mayGod grant that, like the lepers, we may put into action what we think over and what, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, we resolveto do!
And, first, let me remind you that the action of these lepers was bold. Cowardice would have sat still and said, "It is truethat we shall perish if we remain here, but we will not go just yet to the Syrian camp. We are very hungry, but we may beable to go without food for another hour or so." And thus only the extreme pinch of starvation would have driven them out.The fear of a sword-thrust might have kept them still, but it did not. They said, "We will risk it. We know that it is a desperateexperiment, but, for better or for worse, for life or for death, we will go to the camp of the Syrians." So they said andso they did! And you will be wise if you act in the same fashion. It may seem a very bold thing for you,
my unknown but trembling Hearer, to think of going to Christ by faith. "Why," you say, "I have not the presumption to do soafter what I have been!" Perhaps some of you could tell of immoral conduct. Others could speak of the Gospel despised andof privileges neglected which make your guilt even more heinous and you say, "No, we do not have the face to go to Christ.We are too black, too guilty, too diseased. We cannot cover our sores, we cannot hide the leprosy which gleams in deadly whitenessfrom our brow. We cannot go, we dare not go!" But do you not recollect those lines of Hart's that we so often sing-
"Venture on Him, venture wholly, Let no other trust intrude! None but Jesus
Can do helpless sinners good"?
Oh, yes, do venture on Him! Though it seems impossible that God would receive you, He can do what would be impossible to allothers. O you blackest of the black and vilest of the vile, trust Him to pardon you, for He can do it! It surpasses your faith,does it? But it is God who has promised to pardon, so judge Him not by yourself! Measure not His ability by your rules! Fathomnot the depths of His Grace with your short-lined plummet! Honor Him by believing that even such a sinner as you are may findGrace and pardon-and find them now!
I recollect that John Bunyan, in his "Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners," says that there were times when he felt thathis sins were so great and his horror at them was so terrible that he must go to Christ at all costs. He said, "Though I sometimesused to think of Christ as of One who stood with a pike in His hand to push me back, yet my dire necessities came upon mewith such force that I would have run upon the very pike sooner than continue to endure my sin." Sinner, venture to run uponthe pike and you will find that there is no sword or pike in Christ's hands! And when you think that you are about to runupon the sword, He will clasp you in His arms, press you to His bosom and say to you, "I have blotted out, as a thick cloud,your transgressions and, as a cloud, your sins: return unto Me, for I have redeemed you."
O Sinner, if you think that my Master is a hard Master. If you think it would be too bold an action on your part to come toHim, you do not really know Him! I once thought Him to be such an One as myself. For five long years I thus slandered Himtill my heart was driven almost to despair and I was ready to choose strangling rather than life! I said it could not be thatChrist could ever forgive such a sinner as I was. I wrote bitter things against Him, as well as against myself, till at last,when I could stand it no longer, I came into His Presence with the rope around my neck, prepared to hear my sentence-but Iventured to give one look at Him and oh, what a change that look brought to me! My soul, at this hour, renews its transportsat the remembrance of the change that came over my spirit the moment I learned to believe in Jesus! The burden of my sin wasgone in an instant! My five years of agony were soon forgotten in the joy of being able to say, "I'm forgiven! I'm forgiven!"Then I could have shouted for joy because the love of God was shed abroad in my heart. Oh, that I could be the means of bringingeven one of you to trust my Master as I then trusted Him! I am sure, if you would do so, that you would find Him so good andgracious that you would say, "The half has never been told." I have never been able to tell the thousandth part of His love!I have tried to tell of His mercy, but how little of it have I been able to set forth! I have made but a poor daub where thereought to have been a fine picture of a Prince with every virtue shining in His face and love streaming from His eyes of compassion!
Poor troubled Soul, come and trust Him, even though it may seem to you to be a bold thing to do. Like the woman who stolea cure, so do you come behind Him and touch the hem of His garment. As the dog under the table, without leave or license,eats the crumbs that fall, do you the same. Though you think it is against law and against reason, still dare to believe inJesus! He will be better to you than all your fears-better even than your faith-and you shall find that you did not trustHim without a reason!
But while these lepers did a bold thing, I note that they did it unanimously. It is not said that three of them went to theSyrian camp, but that the fourth said, "No, I will not go now." It is not recorded that two of them said, "When we have amore convenient season, we will go." It was a mercy for them that they were all hungry, for, if they had not been, they wouldnot have gone where food was so abundant. It was also a mercy for them that they were all lepers-or else they might not havedared to go. What a mercy it is for you, Sinner, if you know that you are a sinner! What a blessing it is that you have notyet reached that state of mortification which is the prelude of eternal death! You feel as if you were shut out as these leperswere. I thank God for it, because now that you seem to be shut out of Israel, it may be that you
will begin to go to Israel's God and find mercy, help and hope in Him! You will not all go to Him tonight, but oh that youwould! There will come under our notice-our faith is in God that it shall be so-perhaps a dozen, or a score, each of whomwill say, "I will venture to trust Christ." "But what are they among so many?" While we bless God that we have so many sealsto our ministry, what a sorrowful reflection it is that so many thousands come into this place and go away unsaved!
There are many of you who can say, "The harvest is past, the summer is ended and we are not saved." Is it because the Gospelis not preached here? No, that cannot be the reason, for we know that the Truth of God is fully and faithfully preached here,yet we sow much and reap little compared with what our hearts desire! Is there anyone here who resolves to sit down and die?If you do so resolve, do it deliberately, but I pray the Lord to cause you to make the right decision. You will not decidearight unless He chooses for you-but if you will make the wrong choice, do it deliberately and do it solemnly. I wish youwould say it if you really mean it, for then I hope you would soon reverse it-"I intend to choose the pleasures of this worldand, from this time forward, to live without God and without Christ." If you talk like that, you may as well add, "and I meanto die and be damned," for that must follow if you continue in your present course. In that pew where you are, let your damnationwarrant be signed and sealed. "No," you say, "not so!" But, Sirs, you had better make that league with death and that covenantwith Hell rather than remain as some of you are-indifferent and careless! This is the great fault of our church-goers andchapel-goers. When we once get worldlings in to hear a sermon, they listen with attention and if they are impressed by whatthey hear, it often happens that the impression is a saving one. But with you who are used to hearing sermons, it is oftenmerely going from one place to another to listen to this preacher or that-as though the preaching of the Gospel was only intendedto amuse you.
How often you come to hear us, just as you go to see a popular actor, that you may spend an evening and be able, when youare asked, "Have you heard So- and-So?" to say, "Oh, yes! I heard him on such-and-such a night." Sirs, do you think we preachmerely for this? If you think so, it proves that you do not know us! Is it such a fine thing to make a display of ourselvesbefore you? Is it such a grand thing to have all your eyes fixed upon us? God knows that I would sooner break stones on theroad than be a minister if it were not for the hope of winning souls! I know of no life that has more trouble in it. I knowof no occupation that brings more awful despondency of spirit upon a man's mind than my ministry brings upon me. So, if Goddoes not enable me to win souls by it, I pray Him to deliver me from it! I would renounce my charge for all it ever bringsme in, or all the honor it ever gives me if it were not that sinners were saved, backsliders reclaimed and God glorified!I do pray you, Sirs, to shake off your indifference. Be honest even with the devil. If you mean to serve him, be preparedto take his pay. If you enjoy the pleasures of sin, be honest enough to let Satan have a reversionary interest in your soul-andlook forward to making your bed in Hell-be prepared to lie down in everlasting torments! Or else, I evoke you, by the loveof God before whom I stand-embrace that other alternative and fly to Him who will in no wise caste you out!
Bear with me while I again remind you that the action of the lepers was also instantaneous. They said, "We will go to thecamp of the Syrians," and at once they went. Too many are like that son who said, "I go, Sir," and went not. All of us whoare now Believers can recollect times, before our conversion, when we were impressed under solemn sermons, yet the impressionsoon passed off. Some of you can also remember how you made haste home from the service and hurried upstairs for quiet meditationand prayer. But the idle conversation of the afternoon dissipated the impression that had been made. Many there are who havefelt serious searching of heart under a sermon and who have said, "Please, God, spare us another day and we will think overthese things." But what do they say concerning them now? There is a gray-headed man over yonder-let him go back in thoughtto his early days. When he was a little boy, his mother had bright hopes concerning him. And when he was a lad, everybodylooked upon him as a young Timothy. But now he is more like Demas and his silvery hair is a reminder of the silver and goldwhich he obtained by forsaking God and loving this present evil world! And, all the while, the root of the matter was notin him. Gray-headed man, recall that early vow of yours which was registered in Heaven, but which you have broken!
There are men here, in the high tide of business, who, when they were much younger, resolved and re-resolved that they wouldserve the Lord-yet they are still as far from doing so as they ever were. If you wrote down your resolves in your pocketbook,I wish you would read them over again and read them with repentance as you say, "These vows were made in the power of theflesh and, therefore, they were broken-but the sin of breaking them remains upon my soul.
The lepers went instantly to the Syrian camp and so were saved from starvation. And we should go to Christ, not by long-protractedresolving, but by instantaneous submission as justification by faith is an instantaneous gift! The faith that saves is, doubtless,an instantaneous act! Believe in Christ, trust Christ and do it now, for, as soon as you have done that, you are saved.
We will leave this part of the subject when I have just remarked that these lepers were all well rewarded for what they did.Not one of them perished of famine-they were all saved. Not one came back empty-handed, but all were greatly enriched. Andnot one of you, seeking mercy through Christ, shall be refused, but all who are led by the Spirit to trust Christ shall beblessed, saved and adopted into the family of God!
III. I have no time for the last point except just briefly to refer to the fact that THE LEPERS NO SOONER FOUND WHAT WAS GOODFOR THEMSELVES THAN THEY WENT TO TELL IT TO OTHERS. And if you have found Christ, after you have rejoiced in Him and fed uponHim and enriched yourself with Him as your choicest Treasure, then go and tell others all you can about Him.
"Oh, but I cannot preach!" says one. Try, Brother! "But I cannot preach," you say again, "for I have tried to do so, but failed."Then write a letter, Brother, or speak a word for Jesus-
"Tell it unto sinners, tell, That you are saved from death and Hell." I cannot make out how some people keep this secret!I cannot keep any secrets and I am sure that I could not keep this one. No sooner does this secret get into the soul of aman than it tries to burn its way out! You recollect that when John Bunyan was converted, he said that he wanted to tell thevery crows on the plowed land all about it! And I think it will be the same with you when you find the Lord. If you have learnedthis great secret, you will want to tell it to your fellow workmen. Perhaps you are employed behind the counter, so when theshop is shut in the evening, you will be telling this secret to those who are with you in the common room. If you are a husband,you will never be content until you have told it to your wife. Or if you are a mother, I am sure you will want to be a preacherto your children. It is a great and holy fire which will burn and not smolder!
There was a spark once got into the stubble and the Angel of Discretion said to it, "Lie still, Spark, lie still! If you beginto burn, the next stalk will catch fire and then the next, and the next until the whole field will be ablaze-and then thehomestead and then the village itself will be burned down." But preach as he might, the fire would burn and the Angel of Discretionwell-near had his wings burned before he turned to flee. There are, in some of our churches, certain friends who are veryangels of prudence. They say, "Young men, do not try to speak for Christ too soon. Do not attempt to do it before you arefully qualified for the task." My dear Sirs, if God has told any man this secret, he cannot help telling it to sinners! Ifthe Lord has touched a man's lips with the live coal from the heavenly altar, his lips will burn as well as the coal! If theNew Life has been given to him, it must find a way out so as to convey the blessing to others!
What a mass of men there is constantly attending this place! I suppose that two-thirds of my usual congregation consists ofmen. What a noble band of men we would have if all were converted to Christ and then went forth as messengers for Christ tothe Church and to the world! Sirs, do you really know Christ and yet you have not witnessed for Him to others? Take care thatbefore the Great Tribunal of God you are not held responsible, through your neglect, for the ruin of your fellow men! Youyoung men of ability, educated in our grammar schools and trained in our colleges-it is a lamentable fact that all too often,if you join the church, you feel as if you had only to give it your name and not your whole self! If a man joins a rifle corps,he attends drill and throws himself into the whole affair with heart and soul, endeavoring to promote the interests of thecorps in every way that he can! But if he joins a church, it is as much as you can do to get him to drill once a year-andhe seems to have nothing to do but to stand at ease.
"O Sirs, when you join the Church, I hope you will give up your whole selves to it! If not, I pray you to withhold your names.Up, up, in the name of God and tell t starving London what the lepers told starving Samaria-that there is bread to be had!Do you say, "I am myself a sinner"? Your once leprous lips will not spoil the message if you have been to Christ and havetrusted in Him as your Savior. Do you say, "I am unworthy"? Ah, but He who took away your unwor-thiness, took away the disabilitywhich that unworthiness gives! You are not worthy to be called God's son by nature, but by Grace you may be worthy to be Hisambassador!
My poor Friend over there, you often weep because you cannot do more for Christ. Be of good courage and do all that you canfor Him. If you cannot speak to thousands, be content to speak to one. And if you cannot bring hundreds to the Savior, beglad if, now and then, you can bring one mourning soul to Him to be comforted. My dear Hearers and especially you who arethe members of this Church, if you have obtained mercy, I beseech you by the compassionate heart of your dying Redeemer, bythat hope you have that He will shortly come again, be instant in season and out of season, preach and teach the Truth ofGod, knowing that your labor shall not be in vain in the Lord. Oh, that in the day of Christ's appearing, it may be seen thatmany sheaves have been brought into the heavenly garner through your being stirred up to labor by the ministry in this Houseof Prayer!
To you, unpardoned Soul, I have spoken at length, and God knows how truly from my heart. Let me speak just this word oncemore before you go home. I am told that just under the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral there is the mark of a workman's hammer,where it is said that a man who was at work on the roof, fell down and there met with his death. I do not know where it is,but there may be the spot, in this House of Prayer, where a soul will be lost forever. This may be the moment when the waxupon that soul's death-warrant shall grow cold because its owner deliberately says, "I will have none of these things," andwhen God shall say, "You shall have none of them. I will leave you alone. Your conscience shall never be troubled again, butyou shall go through life in peace, you shall go to your death without any care and only in Hell shall you open your eyesto your true condition." God grant that it may not be so with any of you! Yet I feel as if it would be so with you unlessSovereign and Irresistible Grace shall prevent it and in that case, there will be a spot in this House of Prayer where a soulwill be born to God! What man will give his heart to Christ? Are there none of you who will do so? Must I go back to my Masterwith no joyful tidings? Is there no one here who will say-
"I'll go to Jesus, though my sin Has like a mountain rose. I know His courts, I'll enter in Whatever may oppose"?
Are there none who will do so? Great God, are all hearts hard? O Spirit of God, come now, in this solemn moment, and breakthe hearts of stone with the mighty hammer of the Word of God! Cut and wound with Your two-edged sword and then heal withYour wondrous ointment even now! I say no more, but leave it with Him. May it be so, for Jesus' sake! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: PSALM84.
May the Spirit of God bless to us every syllable of this familiar Psalm as we read it!
Verses 1, 2. How amiable are Your tabernacles, O LORD ofHosts! My soullongs, yes, even faints for the courts of the LORD:my heart and my flesh cries out for the living God. Perhaps the Psalmist would never have said, "How amiable are Your tabernacles,O Lord of Hosts!" if he had not been detained from them so long that he could truly say, "My soul longs, yes, even faintsfor the courts of the Lord." It is very sad, yet it is all too true, that we often need to be deprived of a mercy in orderto be made to value it aright. Would it not be wiser on our part if we prized our privileges while they were yet spared tous? Still it is a good thing to have our love to the assemblies of God's House increased by temporary absence from them. Seehow fervent was the Psalmist's desire. His longing turned even to fainting at the very thought that, perhaps, he would nevergo there again-"My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the Lord." And his very "flesh" also joined in the intenselonging of his soul. You cannot often get your flesh to do anything that is good, or to desire anything that is right, yet,sometimes, even our very body seems to be so swayed by the Holy Spirit that it is compelled to go in the right way!
3. Yes, the sparrow has found a house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even Your altars,O LORD ofHosts, my King, and my God. The Psalmist envies even the birds that twitter around the sanctuary and wishes thathe, too, had wings that he might fly to God's altar with them-and there take up his permanent abode.
4. Blessed are they that dwell in Your house. The Psalmist meant those priests who lived in the Temple and, in a spiritualsense, his words apply to those who dwell in God wherever they are and who can truly sing-
"Wherever we dwell, we dwell in Thee,
On the land or on the sea."
"Blessed are they that dwell in Your house"
4. They will still be praising You. Selah. Constant communion leads to constant adoration.
5. Blessed is the man whose strength is in You. Who throws his whole soul into the worship-not such as come up to the Houseof God and leave their hearts at home! "Blessed is the man whose strength is in You."
5, 6. In whose heart are the ways of them. (Or, better, "are Your ways"). Who passing through the valley of Baca (or, "Weeping")make it a well Finding solace in their suffering, sanctification and in their affliction.
6, 7. The rain also fills the pools. They go from strength to strength, everyone of them in Zion appears before God. Blessedare the pilgrims who are journeying to the upper Zion, the Jerusalem which is above, the mother of all the saints! The marginrenders it, "They go from company to company." Or it may mean, "They go from strength of faith to greater strength." And sothey pass on-
"Till each appears in Heaven at length."
8. O LORD God of Hosts, hear my prayer: give ear, O God of Jacob. Selah. "You are a prayer-hearing God. Did You not hear Jacobat the brook Jabbok? Then, O God of Jacob, also give ear to me! If I have not yet come to be like prevailing Israel, I amlike wrestling Jacob, so, give ear to me as You did to Jacob."
9. Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of Your anointed. We hold up Christ before His Father and say to Him-
"Him, and then the sinner see- Look through Jesus' wounds on me."
10. For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. He means, of course, better than a thousand spent anywhere
10. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. ' 'I had rather dust themats in Your house than sit on Satan's throne. I had rather wash the feet of Your saints, or perform any menial duties forthem, than rule over all the hosts in the realms of darkness."
11, 12. For the LORD Godis a sun andshield: the LORD willgive Grace andglory: no good thing willHe withhold from them thatwalk uprightly. O LORD of Hosts, blessed is the man that trusts in You. He will never walk uprightly unless he trusts in theLord, neither will he receive the fullness of the blessing except as he learns to trust to the fullest, for the Master stillsays, "According to your faith, be it unto you."