Sermon 2839. 'Prisoners of Hope'
A SERMON INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, JULY 12, 1903.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, AUGUST 5, 1877.
"As for you also, by the blood ofyour covenant Have sent forth your prisoner out of the pit wherein is no water. Turn youto the stronghold, you prisoners of hope: even today do I declare that I will render double unto you." Zechariah 9:11,12
THIS passage unquestionably has to do with our Lord Jesus Christ and His salvation. We are not at all in doubt about thismatter, for the connection is exceedingly clear. If you begin to read at the 9th verse, you will see that we have, from thatplace on to our text, much prophetic information concerning our Lord and His Kingdom. We read, first, something about Hisown manner of triumph and His way of conducting Himself in His Kingdom-"Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughterof Jerusalem: behold, your King comes unto you: He is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upona colt the foal of an ass." We know that the Prophet speaks not thus of any man save of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Kingwho put aside the pomp and pageantry in which Eastern monarchs delighted and, instead of riding upon a horse, He mounts alowly ass. If He must ride in procession through the streets of Jerusalem, it shall be in that meek and humble guise. TheKing of the Kingdom of Grace is not high and lofty, haughty or proud, but condescends to men of low estate.
The Pharisees and scribes murmured, "This Man receives sinners, and eats with them," and it was quite true. He is a King,and of a right royal nature, but His Kingdom is not that of pomp and show, of force and oppression. He is just and righteous,but He is also lowly, gentle and kind. The little children flocked around Him while He was here below and, now, the meek andlowly ones of mankind delight to serve Him. How glad I am that I can say to any of you who have not yet yielded yourselvesup to Him that you need not fear to become the subjects of Jesus, the Son of God, for He is so gentle a King that it shallalways be for your profit and pleasure, and never to your real loss or sorrow, to bow down before His gracious scepter! Wehave not to set before you a Pharaoh or a Nebuchadnezzar. Jesus of Nazareth is a King of quite another kind. Therefore, "kissthe Son, lest He be angry." Bow before Him and let Him be your only Lord and King. You see, then, that this 9th verse refersto our Lord Jesus and tells us something concerning His personal and official Character.
The next verse goes on to describe the weapons by which He wins His victories. Or, rather, it tells us what they are not.Not by carnal weapons will Christ ever force His way among the sons of men, for He says, "I will cut off the chariot fromEphraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle-bow shall be cut off." Mohammed may conquer by the sword, but Christconquers by the sword which comes out of His mouth, that is, the Word of the Lord! His empire is one of love, not of forceand oppression. He subdues men, but He does it by His own gentleness and kindness, never by breaking them in pieces and destroyingthem upon a gory battlefield. Let others cement an empire with blood if they will, but Jesus does not do so. "He makes warsto cease unto the end of the earth. He breaks the bow, and cuts the spear in sunder. He burns the chariot in the fire."
The same verse reveals to us more concerning the nature of Christ's Kingdom-"He shall speak peace unto the heathen: and Hisdominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth." There have been universal monarchiesin the past, but there shall never be another till Christ shall come again. Four times has God foiled those who have attemptedto assume the sovereignty of the world, but, in due time, there shall come One who shall reign
over all mankind. He is not of earthly mold, though He is, indeed, the Son of Man. He is descended from no line of modernprinces and bears no imperial name among the sons of men, yet He is the Prince of the house of David and His name is the Sonof God. He shall break all other kingdoms and empires in pieces, snapping the swords of the mightiest warriors, gatheringscepters beneath His arm in sheaves, and casting all earthly crowns beneath His feet, for He alone is King of kings and Lordof lords!-
"Kings shall fall down before Him
And gold and incense bring.
All nations shall adore Him,
His praise all people sing-
For He shall have dominion
Over river, sea, and shore,
Far as the eagle's pinion
Or dove's light wring can soar." Thus I have shown you that this passage, in its proper connection, relates to the Lord JesusChrist and His salvation, so now we will consider its special teaching.
In our text, we have three things. The first is, a Divine deliverance. ' 'As for you also, by the blood of your covenant Ihave sent forth your prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water." Secondly, we have a Divine invitation.''Turn you to thestronghold, you prisoners of hope." And, thirdly, a Divine promise. "Even today do I declare that I will render double untoyou."
I. So, first, we are to think of A DIVINE DELIVERANCE.
This must be a matter of personal experience and, therefore, I should like that everyone whom I am now addressing would sayto himself or herself, "Do I know anything about this Divine Deliverance in my own heart and life? If I do not, I have gravecause to fear as to my condition in the sight of God. But if I do, let me be full of praise to God for this great mercy-thatI have a share in this Divine Deliverance-'As for these also, by the blood of your covenant I have sent forth your prisonersout of the pit wherein is no water.'"
Do all of you, dear Friends, know anything about the pit wherein is no water? Were you ever conscious of being in it? Regardingit as a state of spiritual distress, do you understand what it means to be in such a comfortless condition?It was a commoncustom, in the past, to put prisoners into deep pits which had been dug in the earth. The sides were usually steep and perpendicular-andthe prisoner who was dropped down into such a pit must remain there without any hope of escape. According to our text, therewas no water there and, apparently, no food of any kind. The objective of the captors was to leave the prisoner there to beforgotten as a dead man out of mind. Have you ever, in your experience, realized anything like that?
There was a time, with some of us, when we suddenly woke up to find that all our fancied goodness had vanished, that all ourhopes had perished and that we, ourselves, were in the comfortless condition of men in a pit without even a single drop ofwater to mitigate our burning thirst! Well do I remember that period in my own history, when I looked upon my past life whichI had thought was proper enough, and saw it to be all stained and spoiled by sin! I could get no comfort from the recollectionof my past attention to religious exercises. I had been very diligent, indeed, in attending the means of Grace and also inprivate devotion, but these cups of water had all became empty. I could not find one single drop in them that could cheerme, for I discovered that as my heart was not right with God, all my prayers had been quite unavailing! And that when I hadgone up to the House of God, since my heart was not in the services, God had not accepted me, but had said to me, "Who hasrequired this at your hand, to tread My courts?" I tried what good resolutions would do, but I gained no comfort from them,for I failed to keep them! I tried what attempts at improving myself in various ways would lead to, but, alas, the more Istrived to make myself better, the more I discovered some fresh evil within my heart which I had not previously seen, so thatI could say with the poet-
"The more I strived against its power, I sinned and stumbled but the more." If I sought after water in my comfortless condition,I only found myself to be more intensely eaten up with thirst! Do you know what all this means? You need to know it, for thisis the condition into which God usually brings His children before He reveals Himself to them!
The condition of being shut up in a pit wherein is no water is not only comfortless, but it is also hopeless. How can sucha prisoner escape? He looks up out of the pit and sees, far above him, a little circle of light, but he knows that it is impossiblefor him to climb up there. Perhaps he attempts it, but, if so, he falls back and injures himself-and there must he lie, outof sight and out of hearing, at the bottom of that deep pit-with none to help him and quite unable to help himself. Such isthe condition into which an awakened conscience brings a man. He sees himself to be lost through his sin and he discoversthat the Law of God is so intensely severe-though not unduly so-and the Justice of God is so stern, though not too stern-thathe cannot possibly hope for any help from them in his efforts to escape out of the pit in which he lies fallen as a helpless,hopeless prisoner!
Nor is that all. A man in such a pit as that is not only comfortless and hopeless, but he is also in a fatal condition. Withoutwater, at the bottom of a deep pit, he must die. Sooner or later-and he almost wishes it might be sooner-he must expire. Lifeitself becomes a burden to him! I have known a soul-I say not that it is so with all to the same degree-but I have known asoul feel within itself as if the pangs of Hell had already begun! It feels itself so utterly condemned, even by its own judgment,and so certain to be condemned by the righteous judgment of God, that it writes itself down as already among the condemnedand gives itself up as completely lost! Many of God's children have known this experience to the fullest possible extent-andall of them have been, in some measure, brought into the pit wherein is no water!
But concerning those who have believed in Jesus, our text is true, and God can say, "I have sent forth your prisoners outof the pit wherein is no water."
Are you out of the pit, my Brother or Sister? Then it is certain that you came out of it, not by your own energy and strength,but because the Lord delivered you! Divine Power and nothing but Divine Power can deliver a poor law-condemned consciencefrom the bondage under which it groans! Let a man once know his real state by nature, as he is in the sight of God-let himsee how the curse of death is written upon all his efforts and hopes, and then let him come out into light and liberty, andhe will say, "The Lord has done it all! The Lord has done great things for me, whereof I am glad!"
There is this further comfort that ifHe has set us free, we are free indeed. It is only God who can deliver a conscience inbondage-and when it is delivered by Him, it need not be afraid of being dragged back to prison anymore. If a criminal breaksout of his cell and is found at any time by the officers of the law, he may be arrested and taken back to prison. But if thesovereign of the realm has set him free, he is not afraid of all the policemen in the world! He walks about the streets asa man who has a right to his liberty because of the authority which has granted it to him. Now, Believer, God has broughtyou up out of all your trouble because of your sin. He has delivered you from all sense of guilt concerning it and as He hasdone it, you are not afraid that it has been done unjustly and you are, therefore, not afraid that you will be re-committedto prison and be once more held "in durance vile." The Lord has delivered you, so you are delivered forever! Who can cursethose whom God has blessed? Who can condemn those whom God has justified? Who can again enchain the soul that God, Himself,has set free?
But how has He done this great work??This is one of the principal clauses of our text-"As for you also, by the blood of yourcovenant I have sent forth your prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water." The people of God are set free from their bondageby the blood of the Covenant! The blood of Jesus Christ has sealed, ratified and fulfilled the Covenant of Grace to all whobelieve in Him. It was on this wise-we had sinned and we were, therefore, put into the pit of condemnation. In order to ourrelease, Jesus came forward and put Himself into our place-became our Substitute and promised that He would pay blood forblood for all that was due from us to God. Glory be to His holy name, He paid it all! In the bloody sweat of Gethsemane-inHis bleeding hands and feet and side-in the agony of His soul even unto death-He paid all that was due on account of His people'ssins and now, the debt being discharged, the prisoners are set free! "By the blood of your covenant," said God, who has aright to say it, "I have sent forth your prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water."
Beloved Friends, I trust that you will never be weary of listening to the Doctrine of Substitution! If you ever are, it willbe all the more necessary that you keep on hearing it until you cease to be weary of it. That Doctrine is the very core andessence of the Gospel. To attempt to cloud it, or to keep it in the background is, I am persuaded, the reason why so manyministries are not blessed to the conversion of souls and give no comfort to those who are in distress of heart on
account of sin. Let this stand, once and for all, as our declaration of what the Gospel teaches, that God "has made Him tobe sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." "The Lord has laid on Him the iniquityof us all." "With His stripes we are healed." They laid upon His back many cruel stripes which we deserved to receive andinto His heart they thrust the sword which otherwise must have been thrust into our heart. If any man is freed from a guiltyconscience and from the dread of Hell by any means apart from the blood of Jesus Christ, I pity him from my very soul. Hehad better go back to his prison, again, and never come out of it until this key is used to unlock the door-the substitutionarySacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ! In the last dread hour of death, when conscience looks at sin as it really is and no longeris blinded, nothing can bring it peace but the blood of the Lamb! Nothing can give the soul repose, when it is about to meetits God, except the knowledge that Christ was made a curse for us that we might be blessed in Him.
No prisoners are set free except by the blood of Jesus and, Beloved, as the blood of the Covenant is Godward-the means ofour coming out of the pit wherein is no water-so it is the knowledge of Christ as suffering in our place that sets the captivefree. Are any of you in great heaviness because of your sin? Are you obliged to confess that your lives have been such thatyou could always weep over them? Is your sleep often disturbed at night by reason of the conviction that your years have beenspent in vanity and transgression? Are you asking for mercy? Are you seeking rest? My dear Friend, there is no Doctrine thatwill ever give you true rest except the Doctrine of the Cross of Jesus Christ! Listen to it whenever you can. Seek out thosepreachers who preach most about the precious blood of Jesus. Read most those books which tell of Jesus as the great Atonementfor human guilt. Study diligently the writings of the four Evangelists and, especially, those parts of the narrative whichdescribe the death and Resurrection of our dear Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. Sit down at the foot of the Cross in contemplationand never move away from it till from the Cross the Light of God comes streaming into your darkened spirit, so that you willbe able to say, "I see it now! The Son of God suffered that I might not suffer! He was made the Victim that I might go free!Justice was magnified in Him that mercy might be magnified in me!" You will never be delivered in any other way.
I hope I am not addressing any who will remain for a long time in the pit wherein is no water. I did so myself, but I blamemyself, now, for having done so. I must also somewhat blame the preachers whom I heard because they did not make plainer tome the Truth of God that all that was needed was already done and that I had only to accept it as having been done for me.Liberty was provided for me-I had but to trust in Jesus and I would at once be free. Dear Heart, if you are lying in GiantDespair's castle, if you have been beaten with his crab tree club till every bone in your body is sore and your heart is readyto break, this is the key which will open every lock in Doubting Castle if you can but use it- "The blood of Jesus ChristHis Son cleanses us from all sin"-even we guilty sinners who have so much sin to be cleansed from! Believing in this Truth,trusting in Jesus, we are "accepted in the Beloved." How gloriously God has brought some of us forth! We are not now in thepit wherein is no water. We are forever set at liberty and our heart leaps at the very sound of Jesus' name! Now is our peacelike a river and our soul is exceedingly glad because of the loving kindness of the Lord.
II. I shall not be able to dwell long upon the second head of my discourse, which is A DIVINE INVITATION GIVEN.
Those who were prisoners in the pit wherein is no water were prisoners without hope, yet God has set them free. But sometimesthey get into prison, again-they ought not to do so, but they do. Even after Giant Despair is slain, the pilgrims' troublesare not all over and, sometimes, saved men and women get into a despondent state. Then comes this gracious invitation, "Turnyou to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope." Do you catch the thought that is intended to be conveyed by these words? Youhave been taken out of the pit and there, close beside you, is the Castle of Refuge. So, the moment you are drawn up out ofthe pit, run to the castle for shelter. The parallel to this experience is to be found in the 40th Psalm where David saysthat the Lord had brought him up out of the horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set his feet upon a rock and establishedhis goings. And now that you are delivered from your prison pit, you are to go and dwell in the fortress, the high tower whichthe Lord has so graciously prepared for you!
The promises of God in Christ Jesus are the stronghold to which all believing men ought to turn in every time of trouble!And Jesus Christ, Himself, is still more their Stronghold in every hour of need. Sheltered in Him, you are, indeed, surroundedwith protecting walls and bulwarks, for who is he that can successfully assail the man who is shielded
and guarded by the great atoning Sacrifice of Christ? Yet you will often feel as if you were still in danger. When you feelso, turn directly to the Stronghold. Do you doubt whether you are saved? Then run to Christ at once and so destroy the doubt!Do you mourn your slackness in prayer and does the devil tell you that you cannot be a Christian, or you would not feel asyou do? Then run to Christ! Has there been, during this day, some slip in language, or has there even been some sin in overtact? Then run to Christ-turn to the Stronghold! Does darkness veil your Lord's face from you? Do you see no bright promisegleaming out of the gloom? Does God, Himself, seem as if He had ceased to be gracious unto you and to have shut up the heartof His compassion towards you? Then run to Jesus-turn you to the Stronghold! Never try to fight your own battle with Satan,but run to Christ at once! Be willing to be called a coward rather than attempt to stand in your own strength! Let this bethe proof of your bravery, that you flee to Christ, your Stronghold. "The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they theirhouses in the rocks." You do not call the conies cowardly because they run among the rocks to find shelter. They know wheretheir stronghold lies and they resort to it in all times of danger.
So, again I say to you, dear Brothers and Sisters, never try to combat sin and Satan by yourselves, but always flee away toChrist! Inside that Stronghold, the most powerful guns of the enemy will not be able to injure you. But if you leave the shelterof your Master's protecting Atonement and come out into the plain to contend against your adversary in your own strength,you will be in imminent peril of being destroyed! Therefore, in the words of my text, I say to you, "Turn you to the stronghold,you prisoners of hope."
I must not enlarge upon this point, but I do want all my Brothers and Sisters in Christ, and especially all who are comingto the Communion Table, to go afresh to Jesus Christ their Lord and Savior. You were delivered from the pit years ago. Youknow that you were, though, perhaps, you have a little question about it at times. But at the present moment you are verydull and heavy-possibly the weather has helped to make you feel like that. It is very unsafe to judge our state by our feelings-theyare poor, uncertain tests at the best-and they may greatly mislead us if we trust to them. Let us, rather, go all togetherto the Cross whereon our Lord did hang and let us still go on with Him as we began at the first. Let each one of us cry untoHim, with Dr. Watts-
"A guilty, weak, and helpless worm, On Your kind arms I fall! Be You my strength and righteousness, My Jesus, and my All."
Come along, my Brother, you have been a child of God for 50 years, but still keep on coming to Jesus, even as Peter writes,"To whom coming"-perpetually coming-"as unto a living stone, disallowed, indeed, of men, but chosen of God, and precious."You know how Dr. Guthrie, when he was dying, wanted those around him to sing to him "one of the babies' hymns," for he wantedto have the babies' faith, that is, a child-like faith, implicitly trusting in Him. They who have gone the furthest in theDivine Life yet do well to walk in Christ just as they received Him at the first. This is my own desire-I, nothing-Christeverything! I, guilty, Christ my righteousness in whom my sin is all blotted out! I in myself condemned, but in Christ absolvedand accepted! Come along, all of you who have met with little but failure! You who are at your best and you who are at yourworst-you who are rejoicing and you who are sorrowing-you who are strong, and you who are weak! All together, let us cometo the fountain filled with blood and let us again prove that it still cleanses us from all sin!
III. Our last words are to be concerning THE DIVINE PROMISE with which our text ends-"Even today do I declare that I willrender double unto you." I want you to plead this promise in prayer. If you do so and God fulfils it in your experience, youwill then understand it better than you could with any explanation of mine.
First, if you who have been delivered from the pit wherein is no water, continually turn to Christ, you shall have twice asmuch joy as ever you had sorrow. The grief that we had before we found Christ was a very mountain of sorrow, but how has itbeen with you since you came to Jesus? Speak for yourselves, Brothers and Sisters! Let your own hearts say how it has beenwith you. Have you not, after all, had twice as much joy as you have had sorrow? I know that it has been so with me-my heartwas full, almost to bursting, when it was full of sorrow-but when I found Christ, it seemed to be not only full ofjoy, butto be plunged into an ocean of bliss! Oh, the unspeakable delight of the soul that has found peace in Jesus after having beenlong in bondage to sin and Satan! I think I have told you before that I heard Dr. Alexander Fletcher once say when he waspreaching that, on one occasion, passing down the Old Bailey, he saw two boys, or young
men, jumping, and leaping, and standing on their heads and going through all sort of antics on the pavement. He said to them,"Whatever are you doing?" But they only clapped their hands and danced more joyously than before. So he said, "Boys, whathas happened to you that you are so happy?" Then one of them replied, "If you had been locked up for three months inside thatprison, you would jump for joy when you came out." "A very natural expression," said the good old man, and bade them jumpaway as long as they liked!
Yes, and when a soul has once been delivered from the pit wherein is no water, it has a foretaste of the joy of Heaven! Thepossession of Christ is, indeed, not only double bliss, for all its sin, but much more than double! I have known saved souls,when newly converted, act so that their neighbors have thought that they were out of their minds and have said, "What ailsthem?" Their mouths have been filled with laughter and their tongue with singing, and they have said, "The Lord has done greatthings for us, for which we are glad." And, poor sin-sick Heart, if you can believe in Jesus, He will give you double joyfor all the sorrow that you have been feeling for these last weeks, or months, or even years! "Ah," you say, "if He woulddo that, it would be, indeed, joyous for me." And joyous it shall be!
More than that, God gives His servants the double of all that they expect When we come to our Lord, it is as it was when thequeen of Sheba came to Solomon. She said that the half had not been told her and if you raise your expectations to the highestpoint that you can reach, you who come to Christ will find them far exceeded in the blessed realization! He is, indeed, aprecious Christ to all who believe in Him-but He is a hundred times more precious than you can ever imagine! You think thatit must be a delightful thing to be saved and so it is, but it is ten thousand times more delightful than you suppose! Youhave read the Scriptures and have prized the blessings of Grace of which you have read there- but you have not prized themat anything like their proper value! There shall be double rendered unto you who are the people of God who have known themost of Divine Love and have for years sat at your Master's feet. As yet you know not the half of what He will reveal to youin His own time and way! Only have patience and keep your souls upon Him while pressing forward in the heavenly race. Theland has been full of silver mercy, but it shall yet be full of golden mercy! You have gone through green pastures and bystill waters, but there are fatter pastures and deeper streams on ahead! The fullness ofjoy is not yet revealed to you-presson and you shall discover it and delight in it!
Oh, what double joy shall come to us when we reach the land Beulah and when we come to the brink of the river that has nobridge across it, where the angels are hovering and waiting to welcome the spirits of the redeemed! When you dip your feetin Jordan's chilly flood, you shall begin to hear the sonnets of the immortals! Your spirit shall be already, while yet itlingers there, partaking in the bliss that is yet to be revealed and then, when you have crossed that narrow stream, and thelast sigh is over, how great will be the double that God shall render unto you! I cannot tell you much about it, but in thatland you shall need no candle, neither light of the sun-the Lamb shall be the light, for the Lord God shall give you lightand you shall reign with Him forever and ever!
What a contrast between where we began and where we are to leave off-the pit without water and the bliss without alloy! Whatis the bridge that spans the great gulf between them and carries us over into the Glory Lands? It is the finished work ofthe Lord Jesus Christ! It the blood of the Everlasting Covenant! So believe in it, trust your souls NOW on Jesus and thenrest assured that we will meet on the other side of Jordan, in the land of the hereafter where the Lord shall manifest Himselfunto us and fill us with ineffable delight forever and ever! God grant it, for His name's sake! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: PSALM103.
Verses 1, 2. Bless the LORD, O my soul: andall that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the LORD, Omysoul, and forgetnot all His benefits. Three times the Psalmist says, "Bless, bless, bless." Come, my Heart, wake up, awake every faculty,but especially my memory-"Forget not all His benefits." Here is a list of some of them-as we read each one, let our heartssay, "Bless the Lord for that."
3. Who forgives all your iniquities. Hallelujah, bless the Lord for that! He who has felt the weight of his sin will leapfor joy at the thought of the forgiveness of all his iniquities.
3. Who heals all your diseases. He has restored some of us from the bed of sickness and extreme pain and He is even now healingour spiritual diseases. Sometimes it may be that He gives the bitter medicine, but it is thus that "He heals all your diseases."The process of sanctification is a healing process to the soul, so bless the Lord for it.
4. Who redeems your life from destruction. Can you ever praise God enough for your redemption from a doom so great as to bethe destruction of every hope and of everything worth having? "Who redeems your life from destruction."
4. Who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies. There is about your head, even now, a halo of love, invisible toall but the eyes of Grace and gratitude-a bright, shining crown of loving kindness and tender mercies. Have I not often toldyou that kindness is the gold of the crown, but that loving kindness is the velvet to line the crown to make it sit softlyon the brow? Mercies-these are the jewels, but the tenderness of the mercies is the ermine that makes the crown such thatit cannot truly be said, "Uneasy lies the head that wears this crown." No, but happy, happy, happy are all they who are thuscrowned! Bless the Lord if you are among them.
5. Who satisfies your mouth with good things; so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. There is an inward satisfactionthat God gives to His people. They are not satisfied with themselves, but they are satisfied from themselves, from that "wellof water" which springs up within them "unto life eternal." What a mercy it is to be so satisfied as to get young again, tofeel your spiritual youth coming back to you-to be young in heart even if you are old in body. "Your youth is renewed likethe eagle's." Let me again pause here and say, "Let us bless the Lord for this." Do not let one of these mercies be passedover as if they made up a dry and uninteresting list like the lots in an auctioneer's catalog, but let us bedew every oneof these lines with a tear of heartfelt thankfulness!
6. The LORD executes righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed. Bless His name for this. In every age He has brokenthe oppressor's rod. For a while, His people may be made to smart, but, by-and-by, He hears their cries and He avenges theirwrongs.
7. He made known His ways unto Moses, His acts unto the children of Israel Bless Him for this. He does not hide Himself fromHis people, so that they do not know "His ways" and "His acts." Revelation is a constant source of thanksgiving to those whounderstand it through the teaching of the Spirit who inspired it. God might never have spoken to us, or we might not havelived in a world wherein God had deigned to reveal His will. But that is not the case- "He made known His ways unto Moses,His acts unto the children of Israel."
8. The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. Surely, dear Friends, we can all bless God forthis Truth, for, if He had been quick to be angry, where would we have been? If His mercy has been scanty, we should longago have been destroyed, but He is "slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy."
9. He will not always chide: neither will He keep His anger forever Are you, just now, hearing the stern voice of His chiding?Does His anger, like a black cloud, seem to rest upon you and hide His reconciled face from you? Then, bless the Lord that"He will not always chide: neither will He keep His anger forever" against His own chosen ones!
10. He has not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. Bless the Lord for that. Sweep yourhand over the harp strings so as to fetch the sweetest music from them. How true it is of me and of you, "He has not dealtwith us after our sins!"
11. For as the Heaven is high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him. Immeasurable mercy, illimitableGrace, blessed be His holy name!
12. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Here again I cannot tell how muchwe ought to bless Him. It is not merely pardon of a temporary character that is given to us, but our sin is carried rightaway into a land of forgetfulness, so that it will never come back again to us. "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God'select? It is God that justifies."
13. Like as a father pities his children, so the LORD pities them that fear Him. Let us praise Him for His tender pity overour weakness, His forbearance with our infirmity and waywardness.
14. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust. Some people do not remember that-they try to work us as if we weremade of iron. But the Lord is full of pity. He knows that we are nothing but a mass of animated dust which the wind can sooncarry away.
15. 16. As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourishes. For the wind passes over it, and itis gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more. In a very little time, unless Christ should first come in His Glory,
this is what will happen to all of us. A breath of fever-bearing wind, or some other disease borne on the wings of the windwill sweep over us and the strongest of us will wither in an hour.
17. But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him. Oh, bless Him for that! He doesnot die! He does not change! He does not fail any who trust Him!
17, 18. And His righteousness unto children's children: to such as keep His covenant, and to those that remember His commandmentsto do them. Let us bless God for His love to our sons and our daughters. Some of us have great joy in our children. I praythat all of you may have the same joy-that you may see that the Lord, who is your God, is also the God of your descendants,as the God of Abraham was the God of Isaac, and of Jacob, and of Joseph, and of Ephraim and Manasseh, from generation to generation.Grace does not run in the blood, but it often runs side by side with it. It is often the way with God, when He has blessedthe father, to bless the son for the father's sake. So you who are yourselves Believers may pray with great confidence foryour sons and daughters. Bless the Lord for this!
19. The LORD has prepared His throne in the heavens; and His Kingdom rules over all For this, also, we bless Him. If therewas any part of the world that He did not rule over. If there were any circumstances which He could not control. If therewere any events which happened without His permission. If He were not King everywhere, this would be an intolerable worldto live in! But now we bless Him because "His Kingdom rules over all."
20. Bless the LORD, you His angels, that excel in strength, that do His commandments, hearkening unto the voice of His word.David calls in the angels to help him to praise the Lord-he wants to do it well, but feels that he is weak and feeble, sohe calls in the best of help. We also sing-
"Angels, assist our mighty joys, Strike all your harps of gold! But when you raise your highest notes, His love can ne'erbe told."
21. Bless you the LORD, all you His hosts; you ministers of His, that do His pleasure. All who wait upon Him, whether angelsor men, or the lower creatures, are called upon to glorify His great name-and they do!
22. Bless the LORD, all His works in all places ofHis dominion: bless the LORD, O my soul Do you notice that there is nota single petition in the whole of this Psalm? It is all praise! And herein it is like Heaven, where they cease to pray, butwhere they praise God without ceasing! We cannot rise to that height here, but let us both praise and pray when we can.