Sermon 3110. Faintness and Refreshing
A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 1908.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mountof God." 1 Kings 19:8.
[An Exposition of the greater part of the chapter from which the text is taken is given with Sermon #2828, Volume 49.]
I. My first observation upon this passage is that THE GREATEST BELIEVERS ARE SOMETIMES SUBJECT TO FAINTING FITS.
The Apostle James tells us that "Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are." And this fact was very clearly manifeston the occasion to which our text refers. Otherwise he seemed, in most things, to be superior to the ordinary run of men,a sort of iron Prophet-what if I call him THE PROPHET OF FIRE-the man whose whole life seemed to be a flash of flame-a mighty,burning, ecstatic love and zeal towards the cause of God? But Elijah had his flaws, even as the sun has its spots. Strongman though he was, he was sometimes obliged to faint, even as the sun sometimes suffers an eclipse. His fainting, too, tooka form which is very common among the saints of God. He cried, "O Lord, take away my
life; for I am not better than my fathers." [See Sermon #2725, Volume 46-ELIJAH FAINTING] A desire to depart, when it arisesfrom wisdom and knowledge, and from a general survey of things below, is very proper. But when a wish to die is merely theresult of passion, a sort of quarreling with God as a child sometimes quarrels with its parents, it has more of folly in itthan of wisdom and much more of petulance than of piety! It was a remarkable thing that the man who was never to die, forwhom God had ordained an infinitely better lot, the man who was to be carried to Heaven by a whirlwind in a chariot of firedrawn by horses of fire-the man who, like Enoch, was "translated that he should not see death"-should thus pray to die!
We have here a memorable proof that God does not always literally answer prayer, though He always does in effect. He gaveElijah something better than that for which he asked, so He really did hear and answer his prayer. But it was strange thatElijah should have asked to die-and blessedly kind was it on the part of our Heavenly Father that He did not take His servantat his word and snatch him away at once, but spared him, that he might escape the sharpness of death. There is, Beloved, alimit to the Doctrine of the Prayer of Faith. We are not to expect that God will give us everything for which we choose toask. We know that we sometimes ask and do not receive because we "ask amiss." If we ask contrary to the promises of God-ifwe run counter to the spirit which the Lord would have us cultivate-if we ask anything contrary to His will, or to the decreesof His Providence-if we ask merely for the gratification of our own ease and without an eye to His Glory, we must not expectthat we shall receive. Yet, when we ask in faith, nothing doubting-if we receive not the precise thing asked for, we shallreceive an equivalent and more than an equivalent for it! As one remarks, "If the Lord does not pay in silver, He will ingold. And if He does not pay in gold, He will in diamonds. If He does not give you precisely what you ask for, He will giveyou that which is more than tantamount to it and that which you will greatly rejoice to receive in lieu thereof."
However, Elijah's faintness took this particular form of a desire to die-nor is this very uncommon, especially among the hard-workedand most eminent servants of God.
This fainting fit is easily to be accounted for. It was the most rational thing in the worldior Elijah to be sick at heartand to desire to die. Can you not see him standing alone upon Mount Carmel? There are the priests of Baal surrounding thealtar. They wax warm with excitement. They cut themselves with knives and lancets, but all in vain. Then, with
laughter and irony, the Prophet bids them cry aloud to their absent or sleeping god, Baal, and by-and-by the solemn testing-timecomes. He bids them pour water on his altar and into the trench around it-and over the bullock and the wood on which it waslaid. There he stands, a lonely man believing in the invisible God-and believing that the invisible God can do what the visibleBaal cannot do! He puts the whole matter to this one test, "The god that answers by fire, let Him be God." Great must havebeen the excitement of his flaming soul. If one could have felt his mighty heart beating just then, one might have wonderedthat his ribs could hold so marvelous an enigma! When "the fire of the Lord fell," conceive, if you can, his holy rapture,his delirious joy! And think of him in the fury of the moment, when he cried, "Take
the Prophets of Baal! Let not one of them escape." [See Sermon #1058, Volume 18-NO QUARTER] And think of him as he took themdown to the Brook Kishon and, with his own hands, began the slaughter of the men condemned by the Mosaic Law to die becausethey had perverted the people of Israel from the worship of the Most High God!
And now do you see him as he goes to the top of Carmel and engages in prayer? He has conquered God once by bringing down firefrom Heaven. He has overcome Baal and his prophets-and left their dead bodies, heaps upon heaps, by the brook's side. Nowhe goes up to conquer Heaven once more, by asking not for fire, but for water! He prays and seven times he bids his servantgo and look for the answer. At last, a little cloud is discerned-the heavens begin to blacken. Elijah sends his servant totell Ahab the king that the rain is coming. And then he girds up his loins and runs before the king's chariot as though hewere as young of heart and as active of limb as ever! With such a hard day's work, such stern mental toil, such marvelousspiritual exercises, is it a wonder that the man's reason did not reel? But instead thereof, there came on that reaction which,as long as we are mortal men, must follow strong excitement-he now feels depressed and heavy-and a woman's threat cows himwho could not once have been cowed by armed hosts! He who looked to Heaven and was not afraid of all its fires, is now afraidof Jezebel because she swears that she will put him to death! It is not marvelous that it should have been so, for it is justlike human nature. Peter is so bold that he cuts off the ear of Malchus and yet when a little maid comes in and accuses himof being a friend of Jesus, he denies it with oaths and curses! The boldest sometimes tremble-and it may easily be accountedfor on natural principles.
Do you notice how very opportunely these fainting fits come? Elijah did not faint when God's honor was at stake at the topof the mountain. There he stands as if nothing could move him! He did not faint when it was the time to slay the priests ofBaal. With quick eyes and strong limbs he dashes at them and accomplishes his mighty victory. He did not faint when it wastime to pray-who faints on his knees? But he does faint when it is all over! And when it does not much matter whether he faintsor not. There is no particular reason why he should not-he may well learn more of God's strength and of his own weakness.He may well be laid aside now that his work is done. Have you never noticed, dear Friends, that God wisely times the seasonswhen He allows you to fall into depression of spirits? He does not touch the sinew of your thigh while you are wrestling withthe angel-He makes you limp when the victory is over, but not till then! "I thank God," many a Christian may say, "that whenI have been cast down and dispirited, it was at a time when it did not work such fatal mischief to me and to the cause ofGod as it would have done if it had occurred at another season." Is not the promise, "As your days, so shall your strengthbe," a very suggestive one? When you have a heavy day's work to do, you will have the needed strength. But when you have aday of rest, you will have no strength to waste. There shall be no vigor given to spend upon our own pride, or to sacrificeto our own glory. The battle is fought and then the strength to fight it is taken away! The victory is won and, therefore,the power to win it is removed and God's servant is made to go and lie down and sleep under a juniper tree, which was, perhaps,the best thing he could do.
And these fainting fits, to which God's children are subject, though evil in themselves, prevent greater evils. Elijah wouldhave been something more than a man if he had not felt conceited and proud, or, at least, if there had not been in him a tendencyto elation of spirit when he thought of the greatness and the splendor of the deeds he had worked. Who among us, at any rate,could have borne so much honor as God put upon him without lifting our heads to the very stars? So he is made to faint. Heis constrained now to admit what I am sure he always knew and felt in his heart-that all the Glory must be given to God andnot to the poor frail instrument which He was pleased to use. Graciously did God send this fainting fit to check him in whatwould have involved him in a far more serious fall!
This depression of spirits, doubtless, taught Elijah a great lesson. It needed strong teaching to instruct him. Elijah wasnot a man to be taught by ordinary teachers. If he could have walked into a place where others of God's servants
were ministering, I think they would all have sat down and said, "Let Elijah speak! Who among us can teach him?" The mightiestof God's servants might be silent before him and, therefore, God Himself teaches him. Some servants of the Lord are taughtby God in a way which is quite unknown to others. There is a path which the eagle's eyes have not seen and which the lion'swhelp has not traveled-a path of secret chastisement as well as of secret Revelation. Those whom God honors in public, Heoften chastens in private. Those men who shine most as candles of the Lord's own right-hand lighting are sometimes made tofeel that they would be but a snuff if the Grace of God should depart from them. God has ways of teaching all of us in ourbones and in our flesh, but He specially knows how to do this with those upon whom He puts any honor in His service. You mustnot marvel if God should be pleased to bless you to the conversion of souls, that He should also make you sometimes smart.Remember that Paul, with all his Grace, could not be without "a thorn in the flesh." There must also be "a messenger of Satanto buffet you," lest you should be exalted above measure! So may you learn to submit cheerfully to a discipline which, thoughpainful to you, your Heavenly Father knows to be wise!
Moreover, these fainting fits to which God's servants are subject, are not only profitable to those who have them, but toothers. To compare small things with great, a foolish idea sometimes gets into the minds of our hearer that surely the ministercan never be much cast down. Young converts sometimes think that old saints can never know such contentions within, such doubting,such humbling of spirit as they feel. Ah, but whether they are dwarfs or giants, the experience of Christian men is amazinglyalike! There are lines of weakness in the creature which even Divine Grace does not efface. "When the peacock looks at hisfair feathers," says old Master Dyer, "he may afterwards look at his black feet." And so, whenever the brightest Christianbegins to be proud of his graces, there will be sure to be something about him which will remind others as well as himselfthat he is yet in the body! I forget how many times it is that Ezekiel is called, in the book of his prophecy, "the son ofman." I counted them the other day and I do not find the same title applied to any other Prophet so often as it is to him.Why is this? Why, there was never another Prophet who had such eagle wings as Ezekiel had! It was given to him to soar moreloftily than any other! And therefore he is always called, "the son of man," to show that he is but a man after all. Yourhighest people, your most elevated saints are but sons of fallen Adam, touched with the same infirmities and weaknesses astheir fellow creatures and liable, unless Grace prevents, to fall into the same sins as others fall into!
I think these are good and sufficient reasons why the strongest Believers often experience the most oppressive weakness.
II. Now let us turn to a second thought, which is this-WHEN BELIEVERS DO HAVE FAINTING FITS, THEY WILL RECEIVE EXTRAORDINARYREFRESHMENTS.
Elijah had often been fed in a remarkable manner. Ravens had ministered to his necessities at one time and at another timean impoverished widow had boarded him. But on this occasion he is to be fed by an angel. The best refreshments are to be providedfor him at the worst season! He might well have said, "You have kept the best wine until now, when I needed it the most."The food that he ate at Cherith had to be brought to him every morning and every evening, but the food which was now givento him lasted him for 40 days and 40 nights-and though the widow's cruse did not fail, yet he needed to apply to it constantly.But in this case, one meal, or rather a double meal, was sufficient to last him during six weeks of journeying! He was supernaturallyawakened. He found food convenient for him-a cake and a cruse of water all ready at his hand-he had only to rise and takeit!
Now, my dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ-for I now speak only to you-have you never found that in times when heart andflesh have both failed, you have been privileged to receive some special help from Heaven? Sometimes it has come to you inthe form of a full assurance of your interest in Christ Your heart was very heavy. The work you had before you seemed to bemuch too arduous for you. Your spirit quailed before your enemies. The weight of your trouble was too much for you, but justthen Jesus whispered softly into your ear that you were His! You had doubted before whether you really were Christ's, butyou could not doubt it any longer-the Spirit bore witness with your spirit that you were born of God and you could-
"Read your title clear, To mansions in the skies!"
It is amazing how this assurance acts in two ways. It is the great cure for us when we are soaring too high. When Christ'sdisciples had cast out devils, He said to them, "Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you,
but rather rejoice because your names are written in Heaven." And this, too, is the cure for us when we fall too low. Mournnot over this, but still "rejoice because your names are written in Heaven." Many an old saint, sitting in a chimney cornerunder an accumulation of aches, pains, weaknesses and sorrows, has sung-
"When I can read my title clear
To mansions in the skies,
I bid farewell to every fear
And wipe my weeping eyes!
Should earth against my soul engage,
And hellish darts be hurled-
Then I can smile at Satan's rage,
And face a frowning world."
Bless God for the full assurance of faith, for it will yield you food in the strength of which you may go on for 40 days and40 nights. May God give us to feed on it constantly! But sometimes He gives us the richest meal of it just when we are inour weakest state and are ready to give up in despair.
We have known the Lord feed His people, sometimes, with another Truth of God, namely, the Doctrine of His own greatness andgrandeur. A sight of the greatness of God is a very blessed stay to us under a sense of our littleness. There you lie, brokenand bruised, like an insect that has been crushed. You look up and the light flashes through the dark cloud and you beholdsomething of the greatness and the Glory of God and you think, "What are my troubles? He can bear them! What are all my griefs?They are only as the small dust of the balance to Him. Why should I faint or grow weary when He upon whom I lean faints not,neither is weary? Underneath me are His everlasting arms. He is mighty, though I am a thing of naught. He is wise, thoughI am lost, bewildered and foolish. He is faithful, though I am doubting and trembling."-
"The more His glories strike our eyes"-
the less apt shall we be to die of despair! We shall feed upon this food as Elijah did upon his cake baked upon the coalsand, like he, we shall go in the strength of it for forty days!
Sometimes, too, we have known the blessedness of feeding upon the assurance that the cause of God will be ultimately triumphant.I remember when, like a broken, bruised and worthless thing, I seemed set aside from Christian service and from my work forGod which I loved. It seemed to me as though I should never return again to preach the Word. I marveled how the work of myhands under God would fare and my spirit was overwhelmed within me. I made diligent search after comfort, but found none.My soul took counsel within herself and so increased her woes, but no light came. I shall never forget the moment when, allof a sudden, these words came to me, "Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him a name which is above everyname; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in Heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ
is Lord, to the Glory of God the Father." [See Sermon #101, Volume 2-THE EXALTATION OF CHRIST] This was Mr. Spurgeon's firstSermon after the Surrey Gardens catastrophe. The full story of that memorable period is told in C. H.
Spurgeon's Autobiography, Vol. II, Chapter 1, "The Great Catastrophe at the Surrey Gardens Music Hall." At once I thought,"What matters it if I, the
soldier, fall upon the battlefield, if my great Captain is safe? Jehovah reigns! Christ is exalted!" Then I seemed to lookupon my own being set aside-my shame, my reproach, my death, or anything else that might befall me-as not being worth a moment'sthought because the King stood yonder and the blood-red flag waved in triumph! O God, Your Truth must conquer in the end!Your foes must flee! What if they gain some petty advantage here and there along the line? What if they do make a breach hereand there in the bulwarks of our Zion? They shall fly like chaff before the wind in the day when You appear! The battle isYours, O Lord, and You will deliver them into our hands before long! Let the ultimate triumph of the Truth of God solace youwhen you are discouraged because you have seemed to labor in vain and spend your strength for naught. Be of good cheer-theConqueror who comes with dyed garments from Bozrah, is still in the midst of His Church! This cake baked on the coals hasoften given food to poor fainting Elijahs.
A conviction, too, of the sympathy of Jesus Christ with them has often been very dainty food and a precious cordial to mourningspirits. This is, perhaps, the very first Doctrine we teach the bereaved and sick saints. We tell them that "in all theirafflictions He was afflicted." And probably there is no verse that is sung more often and with greater sweetness than thisone-
"How bitter that cup no heart can conceive, Which He drank quite up, that sinners might live! His way was much rougher anddarker than mine- Did Christ, my Lord, suffer and shall I repine?"
It makes pain so glorious when you think that the very same pain shoots through Him as through you, that there is not so muchpain truly in the finger as there is in the head, that the head is indeed the true seat of all the sensitiveness. It is notso much Christ's people who suffer, as it is Christ, Himself, suffering in them. Does it not make the Cross glorious whenyou bear it with the thought that it is Christ's Cross you are carrying? To suffer poverty for Christ's sake is a very differentthing from suffering poverty in the abstract. To be despised for the Gospel's sake is a different thing from being despisedfor any other reason for, to be reproached for Christ is honor-and to suffer for Christ is pleasure! A mother will sit upnight after night to nurse her darling child. She would not do it for anyone else for any money you could offer her-and thoughshe grows very weary, she goes to her work and does for her child what she would not and probably could not do for any otherchild. So some of us would do for love what we would not think of doing for gain. And when we know that we are doing and sufferingfor Christ-and feel that Christ is with us in it all, it becomes a very blessed cordial and we-
"Rejoicein deep distress"-
since Jesus Christ is with us!
And how often has God given much comfort to His people when they were ready to give all up, by a vision of Heaven? Did youever have such a vision? Softly will it sometimes steal over your spirit, especially in severe sickness, when heaviness anduneasiness seem to bring you to the very gates of the grave. You do not hear the bells of Heaven with your ears, nor do straynotes of angels' harps salute you, nor do you see the white-robed hosts with your natural eyes, but your soul sees and hearsit all! God sometimes brings His people into "the land of Beulah" before they fairly reach it in the order in which John Bunyanputs it in his allegory. Some of us have been to the very gates of Heaven. We have had such foretastes of Heaven that we feelthat we can now fight the fight and cheerfully wait-
"Our threescore years and ten"- if the Lord pleases to spare us so long, because the crown at the end is so glorious! Andthat we can journey through the wilderness because the Canaan is so worthy of all that we can do or suffer that we may enterit. Beloved, a vision of Jesus Christ and a vision of Heaven will be enough to solace the most downcast among you! And whereyou gladly would hang your harp upon the willows, if Jesus Christ shall appear to you and His Father shall smile upon you,and His Spirit shall actively work upon your hearts, and Heaven's gate shall be opened to you-then will you snatch up yourharp and wake it to the sweetest melodies in praise of Sovereign Grace! You Elijahs who are now saying, "Let me die," changeyour note, for there is a cake baked on the coals provided for you-so arise and eat it!
III. Let us observe, in the third place, that WHENEVER GOD THUS GIVES TO HIS CHILDREN VERY
REMARKABLE ENJOYMENTS, IT IS IN ORDER THAT THEY MAY GO ON IN THE STRENGTH OF THOSE
ENJOYMENTS FOR A LONG TIME.
Elijah was not fed that he might get strong and then waste his strength. There are no sinecures in God's service! All Histrue servants are real workmen and when they have strength given to them by Him, it is not that they may show what fine fellowsthey are, but that they may toil on in their Master's cause. The soldier is a smart-looking fellow on parade in days of peace-andlong may it be before he shall have cause to do anything more than show himself at such times-but God's soldiers are alwayson active service and as sure as ever the Master gives them a double round of ammunition, He means them to fire it all! Ifever He gives them a new sword, it is because they will soon need it! And whenever He is pleased to furnish them with fresharmor, it is because He knows that they will require the sacred panoply. There are no superfluities in the provisions of God'sGrace!
What had Elijah to do? Having fed upon this angels' food, he had to go a long solitary journey I wonder whether you can imagineit-a journey of 40 days and 40 nights! It does not seem to me, from what I gather from the story, that he ever stopped. Certainlyhe did not stop to take refreshments, but went right away into the wilderness, having probably left his servant at Beershebathe whole time. He never saw the face of man all the while. He fasted more wonderfully than Moses did, who fasted on the mountainin peace and quietness! This mysterious Prophet fasted and at
the same time he was taking giant strides in the lonely wilderness, startling the beasts of prey, treading the unfrequentedtracts of the wild goats and the gazelles with ever-onward feet! On through the day's burning heat and the night's black shade,never pausing for 40 days and 40 nights! A strange march was that, but sometimes God calls His people to something very muchlike it. Strange, weird-like and solitary is your soul-and nobody can walk with you where you have to go-you have to takestrides that will suit no one else. You have to go a way that has not been trodden before by any others. The Master has calledyou to special suffering, if not to special service. You have no pioneer and no companion. I suppose every person who is calledto serve God in a remarkable manner, or to suffer for Him in a particular way, must have noticed the solitariness of his ownlife. Do not tell me about solitude being only in the wilderness-a man may have plenty of company there-the worst solitudeis that which a man may have among millions of his fellow creatures. Look at that solitude of Moses. When Moses had his heaviestcares upon him, with whom could he hold any real communion? With the 70 elders? As well might an eagle have stooped to havecommunion with so many sparrows! They were far beneath him-they had not hearts large enough to commune with the great-souledMoses. You will say, perhaps, that Aaron might have done so. Yes, truly, a brother's heart is a very cheering one when itbeats to the same tune as your own, but Aaron was a man of altogether different spirit from Moses and nobody would think ofcomparing the two men! Moses is like some of those colossal figures that are cut in the Egyptian rocks, or that stand amidstthe ruins of Karnak-he seems to have been one of those great spirits of the grand olden time before the stature of men haddeclined-and he is all alone. He bears the people on his bosom and throughout his life is a solitary man.
Such, too, was Elijah. Now, perhaps you will have special feasting upon Christ because in your trial or in your labor youwill have to learn that there is a secret you cannot tell to any but your God-that there is a bitterness with which no otherheart can intermeddle-that there are heights and depths through which you will have to pass and will have to pass alone. Donot wonder, dear Friends, if these words should come true to you in days to come. Do not marvel if that verse we sometimessing should happen to be suitable to you on this quiet, peaceful evening-
"We should suspect some danger near, When we perceive too much delight." If God feeds us with angels' food, He means us todo more than man's work.
But I meant you to notice, in the next place, that while Elijah was thus fed that he might go a long and lonely journey, thathe was sent on that journey that he might be brought into more sympathy with God than before. Why did he have to journey "fortydays and forty nights into Horeb the mount of God"? It is said that it was not more than 80 miles and certainly does not appearto have been a hundred. Such a long time was not necessary for the distance-why, therefore, did Elijah take it? Do you notsee that it is a day for a year? "Forty years long," says Jehovah, "was I grieved with this generation" in the wilderness.Forty days and nights, therefore, must the Lord's servant walk over the very tracks where Israel had pitched their tents.And God seemed to say to him, "O Elijah, do you lose your temper and turn away from Israel, and ask to die, when I had tobear with My people forty years and yet, notwithstanding that, they now inherit the goodly land and have come to Lebanon?"Beloved, the servants of God must frequently meet with ingratitude, unkind treatment, harsh words and cruel speeches fromthose whom they try to serve! And sometimes God's own people are a greater plague to God's ministers than are all the restof the world besides. Well, what of that? Does not the Lord seem to say, "Now I will teach you what My compassions are. Iwill teach you what My patience must be. You shall have forty days' walking in the wilderness to make you understand somethingof what I felt when, for forty years, I bore with the ill manners, rebellions and idolatries of this crooked and perversepeople"? Is it not a grand thing, my Brothers and Sisters, to be made to have sympathy with God? I do not think the most ofChristians understand this- to be made to feel as God felt so that you are enabled, as it were, to see things from God's standpointand to begin to understand why He is angry with the wicked-and to magnify that matchless Grace which bears so long with thesons of men! It may possibly happen, my Brothers, that the Master has been feeding you upon some special and dainty food atHis table, or under the ministry, or in earnest prayer, or in communion, or in meditation in order that, in the future, youmay have greater sympathy with Himself by treading, in your measure, the same path that He trod in years long gone by!
There is always a special reason when there comes a special mercy, and so, to conclude, I ask you to note that the Lord gaveHis servant this special benefit because He intended to give him a very special rebuke. ' 'What are you doing here, Elijah?"was not the sort of language that Elijah had been accustomed to hear from his God! He could use such
language, himself, to his fellow men, as he did when he spoke to Ahab, but he was not accustomed to hear such words spokento him by God! Softer sentences had greeted his ears, but now God is about to rebuke him for running away from his work, forplaying the coward and for setting an example of unbelief! But before He rebukes him, He supplies all his needs and giveshim 40 days' strength. The Lord does not chasten His children when they are weak and sickly, "without," as one says, "sustainingthem with one hand while He smites them with the other." He will give you comforting Grace as well as the privilege of chastisement.You cannot do without the rod, but you shall be enabled, on the strength of the food which He will give you, to bear up underit without your spirit utterly fainting.
Possibly God may have in store for some of us a special rebuke. He may intend to make some thundering passage in His Wordcome with terrific power to our souls. He may mean to lay us upon a bed of sickness and, therefore, now, by giving us strengtheningfood, He is preparing us for it, that even when in the furnace we may be enabled to sing His praise!
I leave these thoughts with those of you who know the way of the wilderness. Those of you who do not will not care much aboutthem, but I may pray God that the sinner who knows nothing of these faintings, may be made to faint utterly till his souldies within him with spiritual despair! And when he so dies, then the Lord who kills will make him alive! When you have nopower left, if you can throw yourself beneath the shadow of the Cross, though your flesh may make you sleep there as Elijahdid under the juniper tree, yet you shall hear a voice which shall bid you arise-and in the great Atonement of the Savioryou shall find a cake baked on what hot coals I will not now undertake to say. You shall find it such food to the weary spiritthat when you have partaken of it, poor Sinner, you shall dare to go to the mount of God, even to Horeb, and face the terribleLaw of God and ask, "Who shall lay anything to my charge?" Feeding on Jesus, mysteriously sustained by trusting in the efficacyof His precious blood, you shall go on till you shall see God face to face in His holy mount in Glory, in the strength ofHim who said, "For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed."
God bless every one of us, for Jesus' sake! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: PSALM143.
Verses 1-3. Hear my prayer, O LORD, give ear to my supplications: in Your faithfulness answer me, and in Your righteousness.And enter not into judgment with Your servant for in Your sight shall no man living be justified. For the enemy has persecutedmy soul; he has smitten my life down to the ground; he has made me to dwell in darkness, as those that have been long dead.This is a very graphic description of David's sorrow. And those who have ever come under the power of Satan so as to be crushedin spirit and see all their hopes blighted and withered know what David meant when he penned these words. Only think of asoul dwelling in darkness like a body that has been long dead and shut up in the grave.
4. Therefore is my spirit overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is desolate. What a sad expression that is! It would bedifficult to bring out all its meaning. "My heart within me is desolate"-lonely, deserted, desponding, despairing, almostdestroyed.
5. I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your works; I muse on the work of Your hands. This is a gracious exercisewhich tends greatly to the comfort of mourners, yet it does not always succeed, for God's works cannot satisfy us if God hidesHimself from us.
6. I stretch forth my hands unto You: my soul thirsts after You, as a thirsty land. Selah. "My soul seems scarcely such aliving thing as a thirsty stag panting for the cooling stream, but as the parched earth that cannot call to You, and yet doesgape with open mouth as if she silently implored the rain, so is it with me." God sends the dew to the grass which cannotcall to Him for it! Then how much more will He send the dew of His Grace to us who do cry to Him for it and with anguish thirstafter it!
7. 8. Hear me speedily, O LORD: my spirit fails. Hide not Your face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into thepit. Cause me to hear Your loving kindness in the morning; for in You do I trust cause me to know the way wherein I shouldwalk; for I lift up my soul unto You. What a dead "lift" it is sometimes! Yet we must not let our soul lie
in the gutter. By God's help, we must lift it up and the nearer the soul is lifted up to God, the more it comes into the light-andthe more sure it is yet to obtain its liberty.
Volume 26-AT SCHOOL] for You are my God: Your spirit is good.
"Make my spirit good!"
10, 11. Lead me into the land of uprightness. Quicken me, O LORD, for Your name's sake. Do not these prayers fit you, my Brothersand Sisters? Do you not feel as if you were being taught how to pray by the reading of this Psalm? I think it must be so atleast with some of you.
11, 12. For Your righteousness' sake bring my soul out of trouble. And of Your mercy cut offmy enemies, and destroy all themthat afflict my soul: for I am Your servant. We cannot join in the prayers in this verse just as it stands, for we live inanother dispensation in which we are taught to pray for our enemies, not against them, but as far as this verse relates toour spiritual enemies-our sins, temptations and Satanic foes-we do pray that they may be utterly cut off and that the veryname of them may be blotted out from under Heaven! May God hear that prayer and answer it, for His dear son's sake! Amen.