Sermon 3318. How to Read the Bible
A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 5, 1912.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON THURSDAY EVENING JUNE 21, 1866.
"Till I come, give attendance to reading." 1 Timothy 4:13.
OF course this counsel and exhortation is intended primarily as a direction to Christian ministers and especially to youngChristian ministers. They must read much if they are to be profitable to others as preachers. There used to be a very stupidconceit in some sections of the Church, that if a minister read extensively, he would only give forth stale truth, or whatsome simpletons called, "dead men's brains." Men have now learned, however, that he will be most fresh and original in hisown thoughts who most diligently cultivates his mind by studying and pondering the thoughts of other minds. He who never quotes,will never be quoted, and he who does not read is not very likely to be read. Of course the first thing the minister needsis to be taught of the Spirit, but then the question is-How does the Spirit teach? He teaches, no doubt, mainly through theWord and through our own experimental acquaintance with that Word. But if He pleases to reveal a Truth of God to another man,and I will not read that Truth as it has been recorded by that other man, I have neglected the teaching of the Spirit of God.You know, with regard to the Savior's miracles, that there was not one of them that was unnecessary. He never did a thingby miracle which could have been performed by the ordinary laws of Nature. So it is with the teaching of the Spirit-I haveno right to expect that the Spirit will reveal Truth to me without the use of a book when I can find it out for myself withthe book. "The Holy Spirit helps our infirmities," but not our idleness! He is given to us on purpose that He may help uswhen we are weak, but not that we may be indulged where we are slothful. I have sometimes had the unutterable misery of listeningto a sermon which has been professedly dictated by the Spirit of God, but in which it was clear that the preacher had neverthought upon the subject before he spoke-and I can only say that I was quite at a loss to perceive any peculiar beauty inthe sermon, nor did I see anything at all which made it a source of edification superior to a sermon which had been preparedby someone else. I thought I detected a good many traits of human ignorance-and but very few traces of the working of theHoly Spirit.
There are many young fellows here tonight who are preparing for the ministry. I shall not, however, enlarge on this point,but shall only press on their earnest consideration and their most devout meditation. This Inspired exhortation, which isnot mine, nor even an Apostle's only, but the exhortation of the Holy Spirit of God through the Apostle- "Give attendanceto reading." If, Brothers, you would bless God's Church and train up a band of really intelligent Christians, do not be alwaysappealing only to the emotions, but also give out good, sound, strong Gospel Doctrine- and illustrate the Doctrine, so asto expound and comment to others. Do this especially by reading the words of the greatest masters in Scripture theology-andthese will prove your delightful and dear companions and your splendid helpers in making your ministry richly profitable toyour hearers.
This, however, is not our special subject for tonight. This same exhortation so peculiarly suitable to the minister, willsuit all his hearers, too, because the ministry is not a religious caste peculiar to some few, but we are, all of us, to teachothers according as God shall teach us! And in order that we may be useful in our sphere, as the minister is in his, we mustadopt the same means to fit ourselves for our high privilege and to prepare us to be used by God. As the minister withoutreading will have but little power, so will it be with Christians in general. "Give attendance to reading" is an exhortationwhich I would press upon most of you, especially those of you who have leisure and who are not called to exhausting laborswhich take up all your time.
I am not, however, going to keep so closely to my text as merely to exhort you to read. I want to ask you to read God's Word!That seems to me to be the Christian's book. You may read other books and your mind may thereby be well-furnished with spiritualthings, but if you keep to the Word of God, though you may be deficient in many points of a liberal education, you will notbe deficient in the education that will fit you for blessed service here, for the service of skies, for communion with Godon earth and communion with Christ in Glory!
My objective this evening is to say a few things about how to read the Bible. Last Thursday night we spoke at length uponGod's Word as to its excellencies. TonightI think it fitting that we should speak a little about how to read that Word withgreatest profit to our souls. In doing so we shall hope to consider seven precepts all bearing powerfully upon this importantmatter. Our first precept shall be-
I. READ AND DEPEND on the Spirit of God. How often do we open the sacred Book and read a Chapter through, perhaps at familyprayer, or perhaps in our own private devotions and, having read from the first verse to the last, we shut up the book thinkingwe have done something very right and very proper-and in a vague way somehow profitable to us? Very right and very proper,indeed, and yet, right and proper as the thing is, we may really have gained nothing thereby! We may, in fact, have only drilledourselves in the merely external part of religion and may not have enjoyed anything spiritual, or anything that can be beneficialto our souls if we have forgotten the Divine Spirit through whom the Word has come to us!
Ought we not even to remember that in order to properly understand the Holy Word we need to have the Holy Spirit to be Hisown ExpositorTThe hymn says concerning Providence-
"God is His own interpreter And He will make it plain"
and certainly it is so with regard to the Scriptures! Commentators and expositors are very useful, indeed, but the best expositoris always the author of a book, himself. If I had a book which I did not quite understand, it would be a very great convenienceto me to live next door to the author, for then I could run in and ask him what he meant. This is just your position, Christian!The Book will sometimes puzzle you, but the Divine Author, who must know His own meaning, is always ready to lead you intoits meaning! He dwells in you, and shall be with you, and Christ Jesus said, "When He, the Spirit of Truth is come, He shalllead you into all Truth."
But to understand the Word is not enough. We also need that He makes us to feel its power. How can we do this except throughthe Holy Spirit? "Your Word has quickened me," O God, but it is only as You did quicken me through it. The Word of God isto be read literally, but, "it is the letter that kills." Only "the Spirit gives life" and, excellent as are its statements,yet even they have no spiritual force in themselves! Unless the Holy Spirit shall fill them, even they shall become as wellswithout water and as clouds without rain. Have you not often found it so yourselves? I appeal now to your own experience.You have sometimes read a portion of Scripture and the page has seemed to glow, your heart has burned within you and you havesaid that the Word came home to you with power.
Just so, but it was the Holy Spirit who was bringing it home to your spirit in its true power and making it a sweet savorof life unto life to you! At other times, you may have read the very same page and painfully missed the sweetness which onceyou had tasted-and lost the lovely light that once flashed from it upon your mind's eye!
Everything must depend upon the Spirit speaking through it, for even the light of the Word of God is, to a great extent, butmoonlight. That is to say, it is a reflection of the light which streams from God, Himself, who is the one true source oflight. If God shines not upon the Word when we read it, then the Word shines not back upon us, but becomes a dark Word tous, or as one says, "rather an obscuration than a Revelation, rather concealing God from us, than revealing Him to us." Lookup, reader! The next time the Book is in your hands, look up before you open it-and while your eyes are running down the page,look up and pray that God would shine upon it! And when the Chapter is finished and you put the Book away, take a minute,again, to look up and ask His blessing. If by reading the Scriptures we were only always reminded of the Holy Spirit. If wegot no other good from the Scripture, itself, except the turning of our souls to think upon that Divine and blessed One, thatwould be, in itself, an inestimable blessing! Do read, then, thoughtfully remembering the great Author.
Our second precept is-
II. READ AND MEDITATE.
There is no exercise more out of fashion, nowadays, than meditation! And yet, to use Brookes' expression, "it is a soul-fatteningduty." The cattle crop the grass, but the nutrition comes from the chewing of the cud! Reading is the gathering together ofour food, but meditation is the chewing of the cud, the digesting, the assimilating of the Truth of God! I quarry out theTruth when I read, but I smelt the ore and get the pure gold out of it when I meditate! Ruth gleaned, but afterwards she threshed.The reader is the gleaner, but he who meditates is the thresher, too. For lack of meditation the Truth of God runs by us andwe miss and lose it. Our treacherous memory is like a sieve-and what we hear and what we read runs through it and leaves butlittle behind-and that little is often unprofitable to us by reason of our lack of diligence to get thoroughly at it. I oftenfind it very profitable to get a text as a sweet morsel under my tongue in the morning and to keep the flavor of it, if Ican, in my mouth all day!
I like to turn it over and over again in my mind, for any one text of the Scriptures you will find to be like the kaleidoscope.Turn it one way and you say, "What a fair Truth of God is this!" Turn it another way and you see the same Truth, but underhow different an aspect! Turn it yet once more-and keep doing it all day-and you will be amazed and delighted to find in howmany lights the same Truth will appear and what wonderful permutations and combinations you can find in it! When you havebeen doing this all day, you will be compelled to feel that there is an infinity about even one text, so that you can nevercompletely comprehend it but find it still is beyond you! If you get a passage of Scripture given you, do not quickly giveit up because you do not immediately seize its force and fullness. The manna which fell in the wilderness would not keep sweetbeyond one day-if kept over unto the second, it bred worms and stank. But there was one portion of manna which was put intoa golden pot and laid up in the Ark of the Covenant which never lost its sweetness and heavenly nutriment! And there is away of keeping the precious portions of God's Word that are given you today, in such a manner that you may go in the strengthof it for forty days and continue to find fresh food in the same text day after day, and even month after month! But thisis only to be done by meditatingupon it. Our hymn has a fable in it when it says that the-
Blow soft over Ceylon's isle."
Voyagers who have been there, tell us that they have never smelt "the spicy breezes," for the cinnamon yields no perfume tillit is bruised and broken! And certainly God's Word is exceedingly full of perfume, but not till it has been graciously bruisedby reverent and loving meditation. You cannot get the sweetness and fragrance from it till you have smitten it again and againin the mortar of thought with the pestle of recollection. Meditate, then, upon these things!
"But how can we meditate," asks one, "when we have so many things to think of?" But "one thing is necessary," and it is necessarythat the Christian should mediate upon the things of God! I know you must give your minds to many things and I cannot askyou not to do so, but whenever you have time to rest, then let your minds come back to the old home. The birds of the airare all day long picking up their food, but they go straight away to their roost at night, and so when the day's businessis over and the daily bread has been gained, fly to your nest and rest your soul in some precious portion of God's Word. Duringthe day, too, whenever you are freed from anxiety, let your mind dart upwards-and it will help you to do so if you take atext and make it as wings that enable you to fly to ponder heavenly things. Read and meditate!
The third rule for our guide should be-
III. READ AND APPLY. What I mean is just this. Do not read the Bible as a Book for other people. Do not read it merely tosay, "Yes, it is true. Very true. I believe its Doctrines to be the Revelation of the Infallible Mind of God, Himself." Butalso endeavor in reading a page of the Scriptures, always to see how much it belongs to you. For some of you there is verylittle in the Word of God except threats. Pray God to help you to feel the solemnity even of the threats, for if you feeldeeply the threats, now, you may be delivered from the tragic fulfillment of them by-and-by! If you are made to tremble underGod's Word, you may never be made to tremble under God's hand. If you feel the wrath to come, now, you may never have to feelit in the next world. Ask God that His threats may drive you out of your sins and drive you to seek pardon in Christ. Thenwhen you read descriptions of the human heart and the Fall, the corruption and the depravity of our nature, look and see yourselvesas in a mirror and say of each man as you hear of his sin, "I am such a man as this was, and if I do not fall into preciselythe same sin, yet the possibility and peril of it is in my heart and I could do so, but for God's restraining Grace." Takethe very histories home to your heart and find a point in them, either of encourage-
ment or of warning for yourselves. As for the Doctrines, remember that a Doctrine kills except as it is personally graspedand as you feel your interest in it. I have known some rejoice greatly in the Doctrine of Election who were never elected,and some who were very pleased with the Doctrine of Justification by Faith, but who had no faith by which to be justified!I have known of some, too, who gloried in Final Perseverance, but who, if they had finally persevered would certainly havebeen in Hell, for they were on the road there! It is one thing to know these Truths of God, and even to fight for them withthe zeal and bitterness of a controversialist, but it is quite another thing to enjoy them as our own heritage and our portionforever! Ask the Lord to show you your interest in every Truth and do not be satisfied until you have an assured personalinterest in them! Especially let this be so with the promises. "I will never leave you, nor forsake you!" Well, it is a veryfine promise, but if it is read to me thus-"I will never leave you, nor forsake you," what a transformed and glorified promiseit then becomes! Stout old Martin Luther used to say, "All vital religion is in the personal and possessive pronouns." Isit not so? "When you pass through the river I will be with you, the floods shall not overflow you!" Oh, truly, such a promiseis as a cluster of Eshcol, but it is in Eshcol's valley and I cannot reach it there! The promise applied is the cluster broughtto me just where I amand I can receive it and delight myself in its luscious sweetness!
Take care, none the less, to seek for the application of precepts. Some are always looking out for other people's duty andare great judges and critics for what others ought to do. "Who are you that judges another man?" To his own master he standsor falls. See what precepts are binding upon yourselfand then, as a child of God, be your feet swift to run in the way ofHis commandments. Read the Bible as a man reads his relation's will-to find what legacy there is in it for himself. Do withthe Bible as the sick man does with the doctor's prescription-follow it by personally doing what it bids you. Ask God notto let your Bible be another man's Bible, but your own Bible-God's own mouth speaking to your soul of the things which makefor your peace.
Fourthly-and this is very hard work-IV. READ AND PRACTICE. If you do not do this, you are reading to your own condemnation!If you read, "He that believes on Him is not condemned," if you believe not, then you are "condemned already," because youhave not believed on the Son of God! The Gospel is a very solemn thing to every man because if it is not a savor of life untolife, since it must always be a savor of some sort-it therefore becomes a savor of death unto death! Some seem as if theyread the Bible in order to know how not to do-the more God commands, the more they will not obey! Though He draws them, theywill not come to Him. And when He calls them, they will give Him no answer. A sorry, sorry heart is that which so uses God'sWord as to make it an aggravation of its sin! Our life ought to be-and if God's Grace is much in it, it will be-a new translationof the Bible. Speak of bringing the Bible down into the vernacular! Well, this is it! The worldling's Bible is the Christian.He never reads the Book, but he reads the disciple of Christ and he judges the Christian religion by the lives of its professors!The world will learn better and will more likely be brought to know Christ when the lives of Christians are better, and whenthe Bible of the Christian Life shall be more in accordance with the Bible of Christian Doctrine! God make us holy! Sanctifyus, spirit, soul and body, and then we shall be made finely serviceable both to the Church and to the world! Read and practice!But we shall only be able to do this as God the Holy Spirit shall help us. Then let us-
V. READ AND PRAY. This is, perhaps, coming back almost to the first point, that is, read with dependence on the Holy Spirit.But I desire to impress a rather different thought upon your souls. Martin Luther says he learned more by prayer than he everlearned in any other way. A stone-breaker was one day on his knees breaking flints when a minister came by and said, "I seeyou are doing what I often do, breaking up hard things." "Yes, Sir," was the answer, "and I am doing it in the way in whichyou must do it, on my knees."
A passage in Scripture will often open up when you pray over it, which will defy mere criticism or looking to expositors.You put the text into action and then you comprehend it. I suppose if a man were studying anatomy and had never seen the bodyin life, he might not be able to know what a certain ligature was for, or such a bone-but if he could set that body moving,then he might understand the use of all the different parts, supposing he were able to see them. So when a text of Scripturelies, as it were, dead before us, we may not be able to understand it-but when by prayer the text grows into life and we setit in motion-we comprehend it at once! We may hammer away at a text sometimes in meditation and strike it again and again,and yet it may not yield to us, but we cry to God, and immediately the text opens and we see concealed in it wondrous treasuresof Divine Wisdom and of Grace!
But the prayer should not be merely that we may understand the text. I think we should pray over every passage in order thatwe may be enabled to get out of it what God would impart to us. A text is like a treasure chest which is locked-and prayeris the key to open it-and then we get God's treasure! The text is God's letter, full of loving words, but prayer must breakthe seal. When reading goes with praying and praying goes with reading, then a man goes on both his feet, the bird flies withboth his wings! To only read is unprofitable-to pray without reading is not so soul-enriching, but when the two run together,they are like the horses pulling the chariot and they speed along right merrily!
Read and pray Christian! But take care you do not read without watering your reading with your prayer. Paul may plant andApollos may water, but God gives the increase! And even in this blessed Book, Moses may plant and David may water, but prayermust cry to God or else the increase will not come! Now in the sixth place-
VI. READ AND TRY. Try what you hear. Try what you profess. Try what you read. Goldsmiths keep bottles of acid by which theytest everything that is offered them for sale, to see whether it is gold or merely tinsel. And the Christian should keep God'sWord near at hand and treasured in the soul, to test thereby all that he hears. "Prove all things; hold fast that which isgood." Many hearers believe all that is said because of the person who declares it to them. This is not according to Christ'smind! We ought to receive nothing as vital religious truth except it is sent us from above! And however much we may respectthe pastor or the teacher, we must not so give up our judgment to any man as to receive his teaching merely because he choosesto utter it. Bring every form of the Truth of God that is delivered to you, though it may glitter with oratory and seem reasonableand proper, to the test of Scripture! It is very difficult, however, to get men to do this. They seem to fancy that you havesinister motives the moment you tell them so. There is a conservatism in the nature of us all with regard to our religiousfaith which is right enough if it were balanced by another principle. To hold fast what I know is right, but to be willingto receive or to do anything that God would teach me to receive or do is more right still. I must know what it is to whichI hold fast, or else I may be injuring myself by the fixedness by which I stand to what I have learned. The woman of Samariasaid, "Our fathers worshipped God in this mountain." That is the argument of numbers of persons. "Our fathers did so-and-so."This would be a capital argument supposing that our fathers were always right, but a very absurd argument supposing that theywere wrong! I hope we are not like that early Saxon who asked where his father and all his ancestors had gone-and when hewas told they were no doubt lost-he replied to the missionary that he would rather go where they were than become a Christianand be separated from them!
There are some who seem to be of this blood and boast in it. Their ancestors believed this or that, and they desire to followthem. Many there are who profess doctrines they have never learned and which they do not really know and grasp. They havethe shell but they never reach the kernel. Is not this the case with many of us here tonight? If you even have a Doctrineof God in your mind, find out the text or texts which prove it! If there should happen to be other texts which seem to pointthe other way, do not cut and pare any of them down, but accept all and wait until the Spirit reveals wherein they reallyagree! Scripture is not to fit your opinions, but your opinions to conform to the blessed Word! There is a fable of a foolishgardener who had a tree that would persist in growing oddly. He did not like to restrain it and, therefore, had a wall builtfor it to grow upon. I think the man was far wiser who let the wall alone and changed the tree! There are people who are veryapt to alter Scripture to suit their views, pulling out one word until it is never so long, dropping another, or completelychanging the meaning of it, though everybody knows that it is the forced and unnatural one, or else tinkering up a text tillit will fit some crank or peculiarity of theirs. This is not reverence! It is not treating God's Word as it ought to be treated.God's Word is no nose of wax to be shaped according to our fancies-or anybody else's. Though nobody else should say what hemeans, God always does. He would not have us talk in language that is capable of half-a-dozen meanings-and He does not talkso Himself. He speaks so plainly that if we are candid and desire to know what He means, it is not difficult to do so, especiallyif we go to Him for it. Let us, then, take this advice and try the spirits whether they are of God and, like the noble Bereans,search the Scriptures whether these things are so-and so read the Scriptures and try what we read.
And, lastly, the text is significantly followed by, "Give attendance to reading, to exhortation." I will, therefore, say inthe seventh place-
VII. READ AND TELL OUT what you read.
This will be an effectual way of imprinting it upon your own memory. When you read a passage of Scripture and have any enjoymenttherein, go to your sick neighbor and tell what God has said to you. If you meet an ignorant one
when you know somewhat of the things of God, tell them to him. Nations are enriched by the interchanges of commerce and soare Christians! We each have something that another has not and he has something that we need. Let us trade together. "Thenthey that feared the Lord spoke often, one to another," and it is very good that they should do so. Our talk is, alas, toooften very frivolous-there is much chaff but little wheat. If we would but talk more of Scripture and establish it as a fashionamong Christians, we would grow much faster and stronger, and be wiser in the things the Kingdom.
I know one who, when he was a young man, read all day until evening came and then went every evening and preached. The preachingin the evening of what he had read during the day stamped and fastened the Truths of God upon his own mind and made them unspeakablyprofitable to him! When you have read for an hour or so, spend another half-hour in communicating to a child, or a servant,or a seeker, or to some bed-ridden saint the thing that has enriched and helped you.
How I would press this upon you, everyone, my dear Brothers and Sisters, who are members of this Church. We owe very manyof the conversions that have been worked here to the personal exertions of our Church members. God owns our ministry, butHe also owns yours. It is to our delight at Church Meetings that when converts come, they often have to say that the Wordpreached from the pulpit was blessed to them, and yet I think that almost as often they say it was the Word of God spokenin some of the classes, or in the pews-for not a few of you have been spiritual parents to strangers who have dropped in!Continue doing this! Let our congregation be full of these spiritual sharpshooters who shall pick out, each man his man, andwho shall fire with the gun of the Gospel directly at each individual!
Of course, if you know nothing, you can tell nothing. If you have never read anything which by the blessing of God has beenbrought powerfully home to your own soul, do not attempt to speak to others. There must be something begun in your own soul,first, but if you have been brought into personal contact with Divine Truth, let it be the first impulse of your soul to-
"Tell to the sinners round
What a dear Savior you have found."
The woman of Samaria left her water pot and went into the city, and said, "Come, see a Man that told me all things that everI did; is not this the Christ?" My Beloved, let us do the same! I do not know a living thing, even a wild flower in the hedge,but seeks to prolong the existence of its species. The foxglove sheds its seeds all down the banks-no matter how tiny theflower may be, it seeks to produce its like. So you, Christian, who are the noblest work of God, should not be satisfied unlessyour life is a continually spreading around of the Truth of God which has been made vital to you and will be new life to others!
What a grand crown and close to this night's service it would be could we be used of God to bring a soul from darkness tolight, and from slavery to liberty! We cannot do it of ourselves, but God may help us. Would you not walk a mile, yes, manymiles to do it? Well, you need not walk miles! It is quite possible that the very person who, as it were by chance, is sittingnext to you tonight, is the person whom God has predestinated to be blessed and to be blessed by you! At any rate, try it.There shall be nothing lost, there may be much gained. Why has God taught the Truth to you? For your own good? Yes, but youare not to be selfish! Be you, at least, as unselfish as the three lepers who, when they found the Syrian camp deserted andan abundance of gold and silver, said, "We do not well to stay here. This is a day of good tidings; let us go in the cityand tell." Dear Friend, you do not well if you read only for yourself! Having read, go out and tell what you have read, andthe blessing shall come into your own bosom, even if it goes not out to others! And you shall be blessed and God shall beglorified!
I would press this, in conclusion, upon some of you who are not converted. Often men have come to Christ by reading the Scriptures.Attend upon a preached ministry, but do also read and search the Scriptures. I recollect when I was seeking Christ. I readDoddridge's Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul, but the book muddled me much, though it is a very admirable book insome respects. Then I read Alleine's Alarm, and then Baxter's Call to the Unconverted, and all these only plowed my heartmore and more. But the comfort which I got came out of God's Word. It was from that precious text, "Look unto Me and be yousaved, all you ends of the earth." Then I got light! Turn you away from all human books to the Divine Book, and from all humanhelpers to Him upon whom help is laid and who is mighty to save!
Read God's love in the Book of Atonement upon the Cross, written in the crimson lines of the Savior's flowing blood and streamingveins! Look to Christ and trust in Him, and you shall live! May God bless you for Jesus' sake.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: PSALM 119:105-115.
Verse 105. Your Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path We are walkers through the city of this world and weare often called to go out into its darkness-let us never venture there without the light-giving Word of God, lest we slip.Each man should use the Word of God personally, practically and habitually, that he may see his way and see what lies in it.When darkness settles down upon all around me, the Word of the Lord, like a flaming torch, reveals my way. We would not knowthe way, or how to walk in it, if Scripture, like a blazing flambeau, did not reveal it. It is a lamp by night, a light byday and a delight at all times! David guided his own steps by it and also saw the difficulties of his road by its beams.
106. I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep Your righteous judgments. Under the influence of the clear lightof knowledge he had firmly made up his mind and solemnly declared his resolve in the sight of God. Perhaps mistrusting hisown fickle mind, he had pledged himself in sacred form to abide faithful to the determinations and decisions of his God. Whateverpath might open before him, he was sworn to follow that only upon which the lamp of the Word of God was shining.
107. I am afflicted very much: quicken me, O LORD, according unto Your Word. According to the last verse he had been swornin as a soldier of the Lord, and in this next verse he is called to suffer hardness in that capacity. Our service of the Lorddoes not screen us from trial, but rather secures it for us! The Psalmist was a consecrated man and yet a chastened man. Quickeningis the best remedy for tribulation-the soul is raised above the thought of present distress and is filled with that holy joywhich attends all vigorous spiritual life-and so the affliction grows light.
108. Accept, I beseech You, the freewill offerings of my mouth, O LORD, and teach me Your judgments. He offers prayer, praise,confession and testimony-these, presented with his voice in the presence of an audience-were the tribute of his mouth untoJehovah. He trembles lest these should be so ill-uttered as to displease the Lord and, therefore, he implores acceptance.When we render unto the Lord our best, we become all the more concerned to do better. If, indeed, the Lord shall accept us,we then desire to be further instructed that we may be still more acceptable.
109. My soul is continually in my hand: yet do I not forget Your Law. He lived in the midst of danger. He had to be alwaysfighting for existence-hiding in caves, or contending in battles. This is a very uncomfortable and trying state of affairs,and men are apt to think any expedient justifiable by which they can end such a condition. But David did not turn aside tofind safety in sin. They say that all things are fair in love and war-but the holy man thought not so-while he carried hislife in his hand, he also carried the Law of God in his heart!
110. The wicked have laid a snare for me: yet I erred not from Your precepts. Spiritual life is the scene of constant danger-theBeliever lives with his life in his hand, and meanwhile all seem plotting to take it from him-by cunning if they cannot byviolence. We shall not find it an easy thing to live the life of the faithful. Wicked spirits and wicked men will leave nostone unturned for our destruction. David was not snared, for he kept his eyes open and kept near his God.
111. Your testimonies have I taken as an heritage forever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart. He chose them as his lot,his portion, his estate. And what is more, he laid hold upon them and made them so-taking them into possession and enjoyment.David's choice is our choice. If we might have our desire, we would desire to keep the commands of God perfectly. To knowthe Doctrines, to enjoy the promises, to practice the commands-be this a kingdom large enough for me!
112. I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes always, even unto the end. He was not half inclined to virtue, butheartily inclined to it. His whole heart was bent on practical, persevering godliness. He was resolved to keep the statutesof the Lord with all his heart, throughout all his time, without erring or ending! He made it his end to keep the Law untothe end and that without end.
113. I hate vain thoughts: but Your Law do I love. The opposite of the fixed and Infallible Law of God is the wavering, changingopinion of men! David had an utter contempt and abhorrence for this-all his reverence and regard went to the sure Word ofTestimony. In proportion to his love to the Law was his hate of man's inventions. The thoughts of men are vanity, but thethoughts of God are Truth.
114. You are my hiding place and my shield: I hope in Your Word. To his God he ran for shelter from vain thoughts! There hehid himself away from their tormenting intrusions and in solemn silence of the soul he found God to be his hiding place. Whencalled into the world, if he could not be alone with God as his hiding place, he could have the Lord with him as his shield-andby this means he could ward off the attacks of wicked suggestions.
115. Depart from me, you evildoers: for I will keep the commandments of my God. If we fly to God from vain thoughts, muchmore shall we avoid vain men. Evildoers make evil counselors. Those who say unto God, "Depart from us," ought to hear theimmediate echo of their words from the mouths of God's children, "Depart from us. We cannot eat bread with traitors."