Sermon 2166. Experience and Assurance
A SERMON DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, SEPTEMBER 28, 1890,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"Because You have been my help, therefore in the shadow of Your wings will I rejoice." Psalm 63:7.
In their time of trouble the children of God return to their Father. It is according to their newborn nature to seek Him fromwhom it came. The believing heart is like the needle in the compass-you may turn it round with your finger east and west-butwhen you withdraw the pressure, it will, beyond all doubt, tremble backward towards its pole. With God, the regenerate heartis in its proper position. A mystic something draws the new life towards the Source from where it came. We may, alas, by theforce of temptation, or by the demands of business, or by an overpowering lethargy become indifferent to our highest love-butthis cannot long continue-we can never rest except in God! The winds of trouble blow the dove of our soul back to the ark.Our heart repents of its wanderings when they bring it into a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. Then we long afterDivine refreshments and cannot be quiet till we have them. Then we cry, "O God, You are my God; early will I seek You"!
The soul, in coming back to God, will be greatly helped by meditation. Hence the Psalmist says, "My soul shall be satisfiedas with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips: when I remember You upon my bed, and meditateon You in the night watches." The soul feasts when it meditates! I am afraid these eager days leave little space for meditation,yet there is no exercise more nourishing to faith, love and all the Graces. David says, "I remember You; I meditate on You."A transient thought of God may bless us largely, even as a touch of the hem of the Savior's garment healed a woman of herplague. But to meditate upon Him is, as it were, to lean our head upon His bosom and enjoy full fellowship in His love. Oh,for more meditation! It would mean more Grace, more joy!
The photographer can take an instantaneous photograph and so can we, by ejaculatory prayer and vehement desire, obtain immediatehelp from Heaven. But in a certain state of the atmosphere the object needs longer exposure-needs, in fact, that its imageshould rest longer upon the sensitive plate before it will completely imprint itself. Meditation does, as it were, set theLord long before the soul so that it receives His image more completely. Happy is he who can say, "I have set the Lord alwaysbefore me"! Thoughts of God are as when a man climbs a hill, looks upon a landscape and cries out exultingly, "How beautifulis this scenery!"
But if you would have a figure of meditation, you must see that man standing on the hilltop for a long space of time and markingthe features of the landscape. Look, yonder is the spire of a village church! Mark the cottages nestling around it! Thereflows a river and, hard by, a broad sheet of water, like a looking glass, reflects the sun. Mark the distant range of hillsand the woods and wilds which lie between. Note well the valley bronzed with a thousand fields of corn divided like a gardenby hedgerows. Such a view as this is instructive and abides in the memory. He understands the country best who has seen mostof it-and we know the Lord, by His Spirit-far better by quiet meditation than by any other means.
We not only remember our God once, but we remember, and remember, and remember, and remember again till memory flowers intomeditation. Thoughts of God crop the herbage, but meditation chews the cud-and it is the chewing of the cud which yields nourishment.Oh, that you and I may often cheer our sleepless hours by heavenly meditations, for thus shall the pure in heart see theirGod and thus shall they enter into the closest fellowship with Him! Among our subjects for meditation should be God's graciousdealings with us. David meditated upon his whole life in the light of its connection with God. He read his diary through andspecially dwelt upon the points where he had come into contact with the Invisible and the Infinite. He remembered the helphe had received from Omnipotence. He knew God best by special times of gracious aid.
After all, it is not what we read in the Bible, but what we feel in the heart which actually gives us our best acquaintancewith God. A hundred biographies of other men will not make so much impression upon us as the knowing of God in our own personalexperience. If we can say of Him, "You have been my help," we shall meditate upon Him to good purpose.
Once more-when the heart comes back to God, riding in the golden chariot of meditation, the natural instinct is to speak toHim. Hence my text is not only the Word of God, but a word with God! The Psalmist does not direct the words of the text tous, but to God Himself-"Because You have been my help, therefore in the shadow of Your wings will I rejoice." Beloved, itis a delightful thing to converse with God! Do you indulge this habit? If the Lord is your Father, should you not, as a child,speak with Him every day? If you are married to Christ, should not the spouse speak with her Well-Beloved? It were very strangeif she did not! Private devotion ought to be a dialogue between the soul and God- by the Scripture the Lord speaks to us-andby prayer we speak to Him.
Sometimes, you know, in conversation with a friend, you have not much to say. Very well. You listen while your friend speaks.When prayer is not urgent, read your Bible and hear what God, the Lord, shall speak. And when you have heard His voice youwill usually find it in your heart to pray to Him. If the prayer is soon over, because you have expressed all your thoughts,then let the Lord speak again and you listen diligently. But do speak to the Lord! Realize His Presence and then speak toHim as a man speaks with his friend. God has no dumb children, but He has some who hold their tongues to a fault when theyare with Him. I fear that these same people use their tongues to a fault when they are away from Him.
O Brothers and Sisters, speak with God! This is the noblest use of speech. If half our talk with men were silenced and ourtalks with God were multiplied 10 times, it would be well. May I ask a question of every professing Christian? Have you spokenwith God this morning? Do you allow a day to pass without conversation with God? Can it be right for us to treat the Lordwith mute indifference? No! Let us often turn our hearts and our lips heavenward and say, "Thus will I bless You while I live:I will lift up my hands in Your name." Does not our Lord love to hear us speak? Listen to His loving appeal in the sacredCanticle-"O My doves, that are in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let Me see your countenance,let Me hear your voice; for sweet is your voice and your countenance is comely."
With this as a preface, I now invite you to the text itself, which is a stanza of David's song unto the Lord. "Because Youhave been my help"-This is experience. "Therefore in the shadow of Your wings will I rejoice"-this is expectation, or, viewingit in a still brighter light, "I will rejoice"-this is assurance. Here are three subjects to dwell upon. God help us to climbthese three rounds of the ladder of light-experience, expectation, full assurance! If we stop at the top when we get thereit may not be amiss. But if we have to begin again, let us rehearse matters in the same order-more experience, clearer expectationand fuller assurance.
I. First, then, EXPERIENCE-"You have been my help." Experience is the child of faith and, strange to say, experience is thenurse of faith. No man can expect to experience the fulfillment of the promise till he believes the promise. But they believethe promise best who have had most experience of God's faithfulness. David had experienced Divine help. He distinctly tracedmany of his deliverances to Divine help. He says, "You have been my help." David did not ascribe his success in life to apowerful patron for he had none. I have heard men sigh for the bondage of patronage. One has cried, "If I were taken up bysome great man, I should succeed in life."
David had no patronage-on the contrary, he encountered strong opposition. His brothers pushed him into the rear and even hisfather kept him minding the sheep. In later life Jonathan was his friend, but he was not his patron for that generous princealways felt that David was his superior. If you have God for your Friend, you need not cringe before great men, for you shalljoyfully say unto the Lord, "You have been my help." Cursed is he that trusts in man and makes flesh his arm. But blessedis he that trusts in the Lord and whose hope is the Lord. Neither does David ascribe his success in life to himself. Thereis no doubt that he was a man of genius, cast in a poetic mold and it is also clear that he was a valiant man, born for deedsof daring and high enterprise. He was also a man of judgment and counsel and as apt for government in peace as in war.
With all his faults, there is no more royal character upon the pages of Scripture than David, King of Israel. But he doesnot sacrifice to his own sword, or magnify his own bow. We read no word of his about his being a self-made man. No, rather,he sings, "It is God that subdues the people under me." Brethren, have there not been instances in your lives
in which the Lord has evidently interposed to help you? I can see His hand clearly in places wherein no other help would havebeen sufficient. If anyone had to sketch my life, he could not do it fully unless I were, from my own secret thoughts, tosupply certain gaps. Without God the Believer's life is inexplicable. The Romans used to speak of Deus ex machinus, God appearingin an unexpected manner in the midst of a history to rescue the hero and change the scene. This is no figure of speech inthe life of faith.
Every now and then we have witnessed a distinct interposition-a stretching out of the Divine hand-an inroad of the supernatural.To us has it been true, "He bowed the heavens also, and came down." Others might think our experience fanatical if we wereto tell it as we see it, but this we cannot help. To us it has been a real manifestation of the Divine thoughtfulness on ourbehalf. Looking back upon our lives we cannot help saying deliberately and as cool a statement of fact-the Lord has been ourhelp. There, and there, and there we mark certain turning points in our life which cannot be accounted for to our own mindson any other theory than that here the Creator came into contact with His creature-the Redeemer stooped over His redeemedand the Comforter worked upon the soul which He indwelt. Yes, "O triune Jehovah, You have been my help!"
David felt it was so and he avowed it without hesitation. Furthermore, these words imply that David had often experiencedthis help. He does not make this statement in reference to one solitary incident in his life, or he would have said, "Youwere once my help." He sees a continuity in the loving kindness of the Lord his God. He means, "You have all along been myhelp." When he was a youth and kept his father's flock, there came a lion and took a lamb out of his flock-and he, with dauntlesscourage-rushed upon the monster and saved the lamb from between his jaws. Another day a bear pounced on one of his helplesscharge and the brave youth killed it. God helped him in those days of solitude in the wilderness.
None saw his daring deeds, but he communed with God and worked bravely, so as to prepare himself to be the shepherd and delivererof the Lord's own flock. In his early youth the Lord was his strength and his song. Soon he was taken away from solitude andintroduced into public life and the Lord was his help. He had a strange introduction to the world. I might almost say thathe was slung out into public life like a stone from his own sling. A gigantic Philistine stalked before the hosts of Israel,defying the servants of God to single conflict. Young David undertook to answer the champion's defiance and then was fulfilledhis brave words to King Saul, "Your servant slew both the lion and the bear and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be asone of them." He ran to him in the name of the Lord Jehovah, the God of Israel, whom he had defied and presently he returnedto Saul bearing the braggart's gory head. "Because You have been my help," was David's way of accounting for his slaying thelion, the bear and the giant.
In later life David had to attend in the court of envious Saul and he behaved himself wisely. He would confess to the Lordthe reason for his wise behavior in these words, "Because You have been my help." Put upon difficult enterprises, he achievedthem. Jealously envied by the king, he gave him no ground for a charge, for God was his help. Driven at length into exile,to become the leader of a band of men hunted like a partridge upon the mountains, his life was still preserved-the Lord washis help. While yet a wanderer, he met with a great heart-breaking trouble. While he had been away from Ziklag, where hismen were in residence, a band of marauders came upon the city, took the women and children captive and burned the city withfire.
When he and his band came back to the place, each man had to grieve over his ruined home, stolen substance and wife and familycarried off. The rough men spoke of stoning David, for their hearts were bitter with a great sorrow. Then we read that, "Davidencouraged himself in the Lord his God," and very soon his mourning was turned into dancing- the captives were recovered,the spoil was reclaimed and the men-at-arms were glad. Truly David could say, "You have been my help." I cannot go throughall the life of David, but I hope you are familiar with it. In doing his duty as patriot and king, God was his help and enabledhim to walk uprightly in his government. In his sufferings the Lord was his help and enabled him to be calm and brave. Inthe time of danger God was his help and kept him from the hand of the enemy.
And now, in this Psalm, though David is in the wilderness of Judah and probably hunted by his own son, yet he sings unto theLord, "You have been my help." Beloved Friends, I do not want you to stop with David any longer. I beg you, now, to come nearerhome and review your own lives. I cannot, of course, give a sketch of the histories of all here assembled, but many of themwill run on this wise-as a Believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, your life was a hard fight in
the beginning and many a time you were ready to perish. Perhaps you began very low down in the scale and when you were aboutto rise, misfortune dragged you down. Many things were against you, but the Lord was your help.
In your own person you have suffered sickness, but when you have tossed upon the bed, in great anguish, God has been yourhelp. You have experienced trial in your family. There are graves in the cemetery which you will never forget. Half your heartlies buried beneath the sod. Yet the Lord has been your help. When you hoped, by industry, to succeed, the times suddenlyturned and swept away your gains. It seemed as if you could not prosper. You can say today, "I was brought low and the Lordhelped me." You are not in the workhouse. You have not been through the bankruptcy court. You still find that promise true,"Your bread shall be given you and your waters shall be sure." You joyfully say this day, "O Lord, You have been my help."
As for me, the very spot on which I stand bears witness to the loving kindnesses of the Lord. On this platform I have endureddeep distress of mind while preaching to you and I have feared lest I should not be able to speak aright in the name of theLord. But now, concerning these 37 years of my ministry, I joyfully say, "You have been my help." Most of you, in your variouswalks of life, will have had occasion, again and again, to bless the Lord who has been your help.
These helps rendered to David had been very choice ones. He had often been helped in special ways. God had taken great careof him. He was the favorite of Providence and the darling of Heaven. Has it not been so with some of you? Have you not enjoyedchoice morsels of experience? Are there not incidents in your life which you could scarcely tell lest the hearer should smileat your credulity and you should be found casting pearls before swine? To some of us, most special mercies have been vouchsafedand we have treasured them as choice things. I was rather astonished to learn that in the Hebrew the help is expressed bymuch the same word which is used in Genesis to describe the position of woman to man. God made Eve to be a helpmeet for Adamand here the Almighty God has been to us as suitable a help as the helpmeet He made for man!
Some of us have a dear one who has been our best earthly help and that in the best and happiest manner conceivable-a helpexactly answering to our heart's needs. David had found in his God a help of the kind which he needed-a help tenderly, wisely,Divinely suited for his every need. The Lord had answered to His servant's needs and desires and had been his very presenthelp, yielding wisdom for his folly and power for his weakness-and comfort for his sorrow. Wonder of wonders, that God theOmnipotent and Almighty should become a help in all things meet for man! Is not this a joyous thing? Have we not found itso? Confess this tender fact to your God and rejoice every day in the quiet of your own soul, saying, "You have been my help."
God has been to us a very timely help. Has He not appeared in the very nick of time? Had there been another moment's delay,it had been all over with us. But in our extremity the Lord found His opportunity. How speedily He came-
"On cherub and on cherubim Full royally He rode And on the wings of mighty wind Came flying all abroad. And so delivered Hemy soul:
Who is a Rock but He? He lives- Blessed be my Rock!
My God exalted be!"
Just when our own life ebbed out, the Divine life flowed in. Just when joy died within us, hope was born and our spirit revived.
God's help has also been continuous to us. Though at the present moment there may seem to be a break and we are in the wildernessof Judah where the Lord is rather thirsted for than seen, yet this is only an apparent break. Beloved, up to now there hasbeen no pause in the goodness of God to us! In the time of our darkness we could not see the link but, looking back, we cansee it now. Life has been to us a continuous chain of love with every link well forged upon the anvil of power by the hammerof Wisdom. The Lord has never failed us. Did He not say, "I will never leave you, nor forsake you"? and has it not been so?Up hill and down dale, in the dark and in the light, in summer and in winter the constancy of God's help has been proved.His faithfulness is a fountain of delight to us. The Lord has always been our help!
Observe, also, that the Lord has granted us educative mercy. David says, "Because You have been my help." He says not thatHe has worked everything for us, but He has set us working, also. You see, if you do a thing for a man, it is well. But ifyou help him to do it, it may be better for him, for thus he learns the way. It is true that in many deeds of Divine Grace,the Lord does not help-He does all the work Himself. He chose us before we chose Him and without our choice of Him He quickenedus. We could not help in our own quickening. He renewed us-we could not help in our own renewal. He, by His own power, madeus new creatures and changed our hearts and gave us His Holy Spirit-we could not help in this, for this must be God's ownunaided work.
God made the grass, the grass did not help in its own creation-but God helps the grass to grow-and the grass grows by theDivine power. In the same manner, after we have come to spiritual life, then God helps us. Donne says, "God has not left meto myself. He has come to my succor. He has been my help-but then, God has not left out myself- He has been my help, but Hehas left something for me to do with Him and by His help." We work because He makes us work and helps us in it. We bring forthfruit as branches of the vine, but He supplies the sap, so that He says, "From Me is your fruit found."
Lord, You have been my help-I began with stammering a few sentences for You-but You have opened my mouth to show forth Yourpraise. Did you not begin with a faint confession of Christ? And now you dare to stand in the front of the battle! The Lordhas so helped you that you have been trained for the conflict-"He teaches my hands to war and my fingers to fight." Help notonly promotes the work, but it blesses the man, himself, by stimulating his powers and developing them! Blessed be the nameof the Lord! He has not carried us like babes, but He has taught us to walk with Him as men and we are the stronger becausewe can say, "You have been my help."
I close this first head when I have noticed the personal experience of the text-"Because you have been my help." Oh, I likethat word my! My help." If David had said, "Because you were Abraham's help," there would have been good argument in it, forthe experience of another man ought to encourage our faith. Suppose he had said, "Because You were Jacob's help," or "Moses'help"? It would have been good reasoning. But, oh, it strikes more surely and comes more closely home to a man's heart whenhe can say, "Because You have been my help." An infidel once sneered at a poor woman and said, "How do you know the Bibleis true?" She answered, "I have experienced the truth of it." He replied, "Your experience! That is nothing to me."
"No," she said, "that is very likely. But it is everything to me." And so it is. My experience may not convince another man,but my experience has rooted, grounded and settled myself. "But," says one, "Surely, you are open to conviction?" Yes, I amalways open to conviction. But there are some things upon which no man, nor angel, nor devil will ever alter my convictionsalready formed. There are a few things which we know-I mean things which we have experienced. If we have experienced the truthof them, then we are past all argument to the contrary-we are sure and certain, fixed and rooted. It seems to me that thereare two books which a Christian man ought to study-the one is this big Book, the inspired Word of God. The other is the littlebook of his own life. If the Believer lives long enough he will write into that little book all that there is in the greatBook, only he will change the tense.
When the great Book says, "I will do this, and I will do that," we shall find in the little book, "God has done so-and-so.In my own case the promise has been fulfilled." The little book will be the echo of the Inspired volume, the record of thefact that the Lord has done according to His Word of promise! Thus experience becomes a stay and a strength to the child ofGod in times of darkness or controversy. God grant that you may go on writing up your personal memoirs and thus confirmingthe witness of the Spirit! Are not our lives the proof of God's faithfulness? Is not this the sum and substance of them, "Youhave been my help"?
II. And now, secondly, EXPECTATION. David naturally expected that as God had been his help, so He would be his help. I likea text which has a, "because," in it followed up with a, "therefore." The text becomes a syllogism, an argument, a sure statement-becausesuch-and-such a thing is fact, therefore such another thing must be fact. God, who has helped us, will help us. Experiencebecomes argument and the argument carries conviction with it. What we have experienced of God's goodness is a revelation ofHimself-God's actions are Himself in motion! If, then, we have experienced God's power, He is powerful and we know that anythingis possible to Him. If I have experienced His acts of faithfulness, I conclude that He is always faithful and that He willkeep His promise and His Covenant and will be true to all those who trust in Him.
Suppose I have watched His ways for 40 years and have found Him to be the same yesterday and today? Then I conclude that Heis Immutable-the same in my age as in my youth-the same in my adversity as in my prosperity. I infer from the fact that Godhas been good to me that He will be the same to me all my days. Very well, then. As I am the same person, at least as faras my weakness and my necessity are concerned, I will go to God in the same way. The Lord is the same God in every respect-myneed is the same as ever it was-His supplies are the same as ever they were! His will to bless me is still the same and Hispromise to bless me is the same, for it stands guaranteed in His blessed Word. Therefore I will have the same faith and thesame hope in God. Looking back and making sure that the Lord has been my help up to now, I draw the conclusion that He willbe my help to the end of the chapter.
This reasoning is good, since you have to deal with an unchanging God. You could not reason in that way in reference to man.No. You say, "I cannot go to my friend, Brown, for help, for I have been to him already." You do not argue that you may freelygo again because you have been already. Far from it. You say, "I have received as much from him as I could reasonably expectand I must not become a burden to him." Or else it happens that your friend grows weary of you and answers you coldly-andso you feel that you can go no more to him. Earthly friends can be drawn upon so much that their generosity is exhausted andthey feel that you are unreasonable in your requests. If, therefore, you have changeable man to deal with, there will be nologic in your reasoning.
But when you think of Jehovah who changes not, then you may infer great things and the most severe logic will support you.He was my help, He is my help and therefore He will be my help, even to the end. This kind of argument is very sure to a man'sown self and he is the person most concerned. We know whom we have believed and we are persuaded that He will not fail us.We know what we do know and if we cannot tell it to others, we are none the less sure of it ourselves. The Lord has been ourhelp in very remarkable ways which put His graciousness beyond a doubt. And so our expectation is large and unquestioning-welook for endless, perfect, prompt and final deliverance from all evil. There is a force about personal experience which, tothe man himself, is irresistible and the conclusion that comes from it is to him as certain as the existence of God. The hammerof Thor, which would have broken the globe, is not more mighty than the argument ofpersonal experience before which all difficultiesof faith are dashed in pieces.
It is clear that this is an accumulating argument. The young man who has known the Lord 12 months and experienced a greatdeliverance, is sure that the Lord is to be trusted. But when he has passed 20, 30, or 40 years of the same experience, hisassurance will be doubly sure! To a believer in Christ every day teems with Providences and mercies. This tree bears its fruitevery month and the fruit feeds faith wondrously. Every year is crowned with the loving kindness of the Lord and so, in oldage, the faithfulness of God is a fact which is no more argued, but enjoyed! When the Believer dies he has nothing to do butto die. He is assured by an argument which has grown out of 40 years' observation. He knows that God will help him, for Hehas helped him!
I stood by the side of a dear old friend and fellow helper yesterday. He is in his 92nd year and has taken to his bed throughweakness. Instead of seeking sympathy or speaking to me in a doleful style, he pleasantly observed, "You see I am higher inthe world than when you came last time, for I have left the parlor and come upstairs. Very soon I shall not be higher in theworld, but higher than the world." He said this with that same twinkle of the eye which I have noticed in him in the daysof his strength when he was equally full of Grace and wit. There was no fear of death to daunt or dampen his spirit! He knewnothing of such a feeling. "Ah," he said, "Isaiah was right when he described our experience in the passage, 'They that waitupon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and theyshall walk and not faint.'
"He begins flying, then goes to running and then to walking. But the Prophet calls this renewing his strength. It looks likelosing strength and speed, does it not? Ah, but (he said) you know flying is not a suitable thing for daily life- it is allvery well for young people, but it does not suit everyday life. Running is for another period, but it is not a practical pacefor a continuance. Quietly walking with God is a safe, lasting, everyday pace. You can keep on at that as Enoch did, tillyou walk away with God. I have now got to my walking days," said the grand old man. Then he went on to expound the Scriptureby other Scriptures. "John says, 'I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you.' That makes themmount up with eagles' wings above the guilt of sin!
"To the young men he says, 'I write unto you, young men, because you have overcome the Wicked One.' In that case there hasbeen struggling and exertion, like the running without weariness. But when he gets to the fathers, he says, 'I
write unto you, fathers,' not concerning a high joy, or a successful struggle, but 'because you have known Him that is fromthe beginning.' That is a walking, quiet, solid knowledge and it is the best of all."
What a happy talk we had! We were two merry men sitting on the brink of Jordan communing together with happy hearts-he of92 talking to me concerning all the way whereby the Lord had led us both since we knew each other these 34 years and more!Oh, yes, it is a blessed, blessed thing to grow in Grace as we grow in years and to increase our argument for faith as weincrease our experience!
That argument will remain unchanged in death. When the earth shall rock, the stars shall fall and the heavens shall be rolledup by the hand of God like a worn-out vesture. When the Great White Throne shall be seen and the sentence of the righteousJudge shall be heard, our confidence will still be the same-"You have been my help, and nothing shall separate me from Yourlove"!
III. Lastly, and somewhat briefly, ASSURANCE. Here comes the richest cluster which grows out of our subject. The Psalmistsays, "Therefore in the shadow of Your wings will I rejoice." Here is, first, contented assurance. David does not say, "Iam in trouble and I must get out of it somehow and therefore I must sin rather than fall under the hand of the enemy." No,he is quiet and patient. He does not make haste and demand immediate deliverance-he quietly waits the Lord's time and restsunder the all-covering wings. You hear no loud outcries from him-as of one struggling against fate.
The children of God, like sheep, are dumb before their shearers. David, grateful for past help, holds himself still and happilyawaits the purpose of the Lord. He manifests no fear, no fret, no hurry, no worry. Neither does he cast his eyes towards man."Fou have been my help," he says-and he looks that way. "My soul, wait you only upon God, for my expectation is from Him."But where is Joab? Where are the three mighties? Where are all the royal bodyguard? The enemy is cruel and thirsting for blood-doesDavid piteously beseech his watchmen to keep well their ward? No, he is calm and peaceful and sweetly says, "You have beenmy help; therefore in the shadow of Your wings will I rejoice."
David exhibited a very patient assurance. He likened himself to a young eagle beneath the mighty wings of its mother-"In theshadow of Your wings will I rejoice." You thought he would have said, "You will drive Your mighty talons into my adversariesand tear them to pieces." Or, "You will strike them as an eagle destroys its prey." No, he is not eager for the Lord to act-heis biding his time-no, waiting on the Lord's time. He is quite content to be under His wings. What the great eagle may do,he leaves to the future while he nestles down in perfect quietness. May God give us patience always to possess our souls inHim! It is not ours to hasten the Divine vengeance, nor to wish for a personal triumph. It is ours to feel the bliss of safetyin nearness to God.
Note, next, that it is the assurance of faith. "Because You have been my help, therefore"-what? "In the light of Your countenanceI will rejoice"? No-he had, then, but little light-he was "in the shadow." The wilderness cut him off from beholding God inthe sanctuary. If you cannot see the face of God, His shadow may give you peace. Lord, I will pray to You to lift up the lightof Your countenance upon me, but if You continue to hide Yourself, I will still trust You and be sure that You are the sameGod of Grace. Knowing that Your shadow is full of defense for me, I will rejoice therein. Notice also, it is continued assurance.We read not, in the shadow of Your wings have I rejoiced but, "I will rejoice." He is rejoicing and means to go on rejoicing!His joy no man takes from him. He will rejoice so long as he has a God to rejoice in.
The best of all is this is rejoicing assurance. The text does not say, "Because You have been my help, therefore in the shadowof Your wings will I trust," but, "in the shadow of your wings will I rejoice." That is going further than silent submissionor humble trust. David is in the dark, but, like the nightingale, he sings in it! When the Lord seems to hide Himself, thesoul remembers what the Lord was and resolves to be glad in Him as He was seen before. David lamented for Absalom, but herejoiced in God! He rejoiced that the wings of the Lord safely preserved him and though they cast a shadow over him he wouldrejoice in the shadow as the evidence that the wings were really there!
O child of God, rejoice in the Lord in the dark! There is no honor to you in rejoicing when everything goes well with you-yourfaith wins credit if it leads you to rejoice in God when everything runs counter to your comfort. I may be speaking to somedear Brother who, in his business, finds things going very cross and the current of his affairs sets strongly in the wrongdirection. Now is the time to show the difference between the joy of the spiritual life and that
which merely comes of the natural life. Rejoice in God and prove that your joy flows from the upper springs. "Rejoice in theLord always and again I say, Rejoice."
In conclusion, let me remark it is little wonder that so many do not understand trusting in God, for they have never triedit. Answers to prayer and fulfillment of Divine promises seem to them as idle tales. If we were to tell them what God hasdone for us, they would not believe us. There is William Huntington's, "Bank of Faith"-well, I would not endorse every wordof it, but I see no reason why it should not be accepted as a truthful narrative. When anybody calls it a "Bank of Nonsense,"as I have heard them do, I have answered, "It is because you do not know any better. Many other Believers could write booksequally marvelous."
Still, unbelievers will be sure to mock, for it is out of their line altogether. Years ago, a Red Indian went down to Washingtonand when he returned to his tribe he began telling them the wonders he had seen among the pale faces. At last he told themthat he saw a canoe fastened to a great ball rise up into the sky. One of his brother Indians shot him dead with his rifle-andleaping into the middle of the ring declared that such a liar was not fit to live another minute- and therefore he had killedhim. The statement was quite true, but as it was outside of Indian knowledge, the man was shot. So the experience of a Christianis so far removed from the worldling's line of things that he ridicules it-but it is true for all that.
Thousands of us can bear testimony to the Truth of the Gospel and we wish, above all things, that you would try it yourself!When you hear that those who trust in the Lord are delivered, I wonder some of you do not want to know our Savior. Yesterdaya poor person called on a brother minister and asked for a ticket to go to the gentleman who was curing rheumatism. My friendknew nothing about the gentleman. "Oh," she said, "he is at Croydon and he has been curing people who have been ill for years."The preacher knew nothing of any tickets, but the person said that her father had failed to see the gentleman and he wouldtry again.
Just so-from every quarter people will come where there is hope of being healed. How strange that men will seek help for theirbodies and not for their souls. There is One who can help in every case of soul-sickness, why not go to Him? We have beenhealed. Why do you doubt? He will be a faithful helper to all those who put their trust in Him. Why do you not seek Him? Weare honest people who bear witness of His helping us-why do you not believe us, so far as to try the Lord Jesus for yourselves?If you will not believe us, believe in God's own Book and say, "I will look to Jesus for help."
Oh, that you would trust the precious Jesus and His precious promises and His precious blood by that precious faith whosevery trials are more precious than gold! Then shall you find every help you need between this spot and Glory's gate. The Lordbring you to Jesus at once for His name's sake! Amen.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON- Psalm 63. HYMNS FROM "OUR OWN HYMN BOOK"-916, 34 (VER. I), 734.