Sermon 3368. Fathomless
A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, AUGUST 21, 1913.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"Your judgments are a great deep." Psalm 36:6.
CONSIDER the word, "judgment," in whatever light you please, this sentence is true. There is much of mystery connected withthe terrible calamities which afflict the earth, devastate nations, destroy cities and sweep away the relics of the past.There is much of mystery about the judgments of God upon the wicked in this life-how they prosper for awhile and are suddenlycut down-how they grow fat like oxen and then are taken away to the shambles. The judgments of God regarding the wicked inthe world to come are also "a great deep," not to be spoken of with levity. A solemn subject is that of the future punishmentof the ungodly-"a great deep," a deep where some, I am afraid, speculate so deeply that the risk they run is imminent-theymay drown themselves in Hell.
But I prefer tonight to take the text as it may refer to God's dealings with His own people. He deals with them in judgment,not, I think, penally, vindicating the inflexible justice of the Law by the terrible vengeance He inflicts on the transgressoras He will deal with the wicked at the last dread assize. I mean not that. I rather interpret it of the salutary disciplineand painful chastisements of God's hand which are called "judgments" in Scripture. They do not come by chance, nor upon usat all merely as a matter of sovereignty, but they are sent in wisdom, because God judges them to be necessary. They are weighedout to us with discretion-given to us by prudence. It is a sweet name, I think, for afflic-tion-not that I look upon afflictionas a judgment upon me for sin, which I cannot do, now that I have seen sin punished in Christ, but I look at my afflictionsas being sent to me according to the all-wise judgment of a kind Father, not at all without consideration, but always accordingto His Infinite wisdom and prudence, dealt out in measure and at proper times, according to the Infinite judgment and wisdomof God. In a word, they are called, "judgments," not because they are judicial, but because they are judicious!
Now, these dealings of God with His servants, always wise and prudent, are frequently like great deeps. This evening I shallsimply work out three or four thoughts which arise out of that metaphor.
I. THE DEALINGS OF GOD WITH HIS PEOPLE ARE OFTEN UNFATHOMABLE.
We cannot discover the foundation or cause and spring of them. Some of God's servants who are earnestly desirous to providethings honest in the sight of all men, though they are industrious and energetic and use proper prudence, do not find themselvesable to prosper in trade. They are thwarted in all their purposes. There seems to be a kind of fatality connected with alltheir enterprises. If they do but touch a business or a bargain which will turn into gold with the traffic of others, it meltsunder their hand into dross. Now, it is not always that this can be explained. "Your judgments are a great deep"-a matterto be perceived as a fact, but not to be explained by reasoning.
Sometimes in a family a dear child is born and is a great comfort to its parents. It seems, indeed, to be sent in love, toheal some old wound and to make the house happy! And then just as suddenly as it came, it is removed. Why? Ah, here, again,is another deep which a mother's anxious heart would like to fathom, but which it is not for her to explore. It is a greatdeep.
Children will be spared to us and just when they are ripening to manhood and womanhood, and we hope to see them settled andestablished in life, it happens-as it happened to one of our beloved friends in this Church this afternoon- that we have tostand at the open grave, and say, "Earth to earth, dust to dust." Why God takes away the holy and the good, the amiable andthe lovely when they appeared to be most useful, we cannot understand. It is a great deep.
Oftentimes, too, it happens that when a man is surrounded by his family and all his household are dependent upon his exertionswith a business just beginning to prosper, while he bids fair to live for many years, he is cut down as in a moment-his wifeis left a widow-his children are orphans. He seems to be taken away at the very worst time, just when he could least be spared.The anxious wife may say to herself, "Why is this?" but she can only say in return, "I cannot comprehend it, it is a greatdeep."
I might thus go on recounting instances, but they have transpired before us all in our lifetime. And if they have not occurredto us yet, they certainly will. Trials and troubles will come upon us quite beyond our measuring line. We shall have to dobusiness in deep waters where no plummet can by possibility find a bottom! "Your judgments are a great
But why does the Lord send us an affliction which we cannot understand? I answer, Because He is the Lord. Your child mustnot expect to understand all his father does, because his father is a man of ripened intellect and understanding, and thechild is but a child. You, dear Brother, however experienced you may be, are but a child and, compared with the Divine mind,what intelligence have you? How can you expect, therefore, that God shall always act upon a rule which you shall be able tounderstand? He is God and, therefore, it becomes us oftentimes to be dumb, to sit in silence and feel and know it must beright, though we equally know we cannot see how it is so.
God sends us trials of this sort for the exercise of our Divine Graces. Now, is there room for faith? When you can trace it,you cannot trust it. If you can understand all that He does, there is room, then, for your judgment rather than for your faithand for your reliance on His judgment. But when you cannot understand it, submit yourself to Him! Say, "I know that God isgood. Though He slays me, yet will I trust in Him; though I walk in darkness and see no light, yet shall not an unbelievingword cross these lips, for He is good and must be good, become of me what may." Oh, then it is that faith is faith, indeed-thefaith that brings glory to God and strength to your soul! Here is room, too, for humility. Knowledge puffs up, but the feelingthat everything is beyond our knowledge, that we are nonplussed and cannot under-stand-the sense of ignorance and incapacityto understand the dealings of God-brings humility to us and we sit down at the foot of Jehovah's Throne. Beloved, I thinkthere is hardly a Grace which the Christian has which is not much helped by the deeps of God's judgments. Certainly love hasfrequently been developed to a high degree in this way, for the soul at last comes to say, "No, I will not ask the reason-Iwill not desirethe reason-I do so love Him! Let His will stand for a reason. That shall be enough for me. It is the Lord-letHim do what seems good to Him." We love not those whom we are always bringing to book and questioning about all they do, butwhen love comes to perfection it admires all, it believes all to be right and to be perfect. And so, when love comes to perfectionwith reference to the most perfect God, then it is that everything that is done is endorsed without examination-everything,even though it is shrouded in darkness-is believed in without a question. It must be right, for You, Lord, have done it!
Many other reasons why God calls His people thus to feel His judgments occur to me. One I may give, then I will leave thispoint. We have sins which we cannot fathom, dear Brothers and Sisters, and it is little marvel, therefore, if we have alsochastisements which we cannot fathom! There are depths of depravity within our heart that call for other deeps, as deep callsunto deep, and there are consequences of sin within us which we are not able yet to reach, consequences that are followingus in secret and damaging us in very vital point. It needs that the medicine should be of a searching kind to follow the diseaseinto the recesses of our soul where understanding cannot pry. Some of those deep judgments are like secret, potent, subtlemedicines, searching out certain secret devils that have found their way into the caverns of our spirit and hidden there.Perhaps an affliction which I can understand is meant to direct my attention to some known sin- but it may be that the trialwhich I cannot understand is dealing deadly blows against a mortal ill, which, if not thus destroyed, might have been solemnlyprejudicial to my own spirit.
I leave that thought with you-expect that God's judgments will sometimes be unfathomable. In the next place-if God's judgmentsare a great deep-
II. THEN THEY ARE SAFE SAILING.
Ships never strike on rocks out in the great deeps. Children, perhaps, may fancy that a shallow sea is the safest, but anold sailor knows better. While they are off the Irish coast the captain has to keep a good look out, but while he is crossingthe Atlantic he is in far less danger. There he has plenty of room and there is no fear of quicksands or of shoals. When thesailor begins to come up the Thames, then it is that there is first one sandbank and then another, and he is in
danger, but out in the deep water, where he finds no bottom, he is but little afraid. So, mark you, in the judgments of God.When he is dealing out affliction to us, it is the safest possible sailing that a Christian can have. "What?" says one, "trialsafe?" Yes, very safe. The safest part of a Christian's life is the time of his trial. "What? When a man is down, do you sayhe is safe?" "Yes, for then he need fear no fall! When he is low, he need fear no pride. When he is humbled under God's hand,then he is less likely to be carried away with every wind of temptation. Smooth water on the way to Heaven is always a signthat the soul should keep wide awake, for danger is near! One comes at last to feel a solemn dread creeping over one in timesof prosperity. "You shall fear and tremble because of all the good that God shall make to pass before you," fearing not somuch lest the good should depart as lest we should make an ill use of it and should have a canker of sloth, or self-confidence,or worldliness growing up in our spirits! We have seen many professed Christians who have made shipwreck-in some few instancesit has been attributable to overwhelming sorrow-but in ten cases to the one, it has been attributable to prosperity! Men growrich and, of course, they do not attend the little Chapel they once went to-they must go somewhere where a fashionable worldwill worship! Men grow rich and immediately they cannot keep to that road of self-denial which once they so gladly trod. Theworld has got into their hearts and they need to get more. They have got so much and they must get more! An insatiable ambitionhas come over them-and they fall-and great is the sorrow which their fall brings to the Church! Great the mischief which itdoes to the people of God!
But a man in trouble-did you ever notice a real child of God in trial? How he prays! He cannot live without prayer! He hasgot a burden to carry to his God and he goes to the Mercy Seat again and again. Notice him under depression of spirits. Howhe reads his Bible! He does not now care for that lighter literature which beguiled him many an hour before. He needs thesolid promise, the strong meat of the Kingdom of God! Do you notice now how he hears? That man does not care a fig for yourflowers and your fine bits of rhetoric-he needs the Word of God! He needs the naked Doctrine. He needs Christ! He cannot befed on whims and fancies. He cares a great deal less about theological speculation and ecclesiastical authority-he needs toknow something about eternal love, everlasting faithfulness and the dealings of the Lord of Hosts with the souls of His people,of the Covenant and of the suretyship engagements of Christ! Ah, this is the man who, if you notice him, walks tenderly inthe world. He walks holding the world with a very loose hand. He expects to be often in the way, and hopes to be up out ofthe way, for the world has lost its attraction for him!
I say again, God's judgments are a great deep, but they are safe sailing and, under the guidance and Presence of the HolySpirit, they are not only safe but they are advantageous. I greatly question whether we ever grow much in Grace, except whenwe are in the furnace! We ought to do so. The joys of this life with which God blesses us ought to make us increase in Graceand gratitude, ought to be a sufficient motive for the very highest form of consecration, but, as a rule, we are only drivento Christ by a storm-the most of us, I mean. There are blessed and favored exceptions, but most of us need the rod, must haveit and do not seem to learn obedience except through chastening-the chastening of the Lord! Here I leave that second thought.Thirdly, God's judgments are a great deep- III. BUT THEY CONCEAL GREAT TREASURE.
Down in those great depths, who knows what there may be? Pearls lie deep there-masses of precious things that would make themiser's eyes gleam like a star. There are the wrecks of old Spanish galleons lost these centuries ago and there they lie,huge mines of wealth, but far down deep! And so with the deep judgments of God. What wisdom is concealed there, and what treasuresof love and faithfulness and what David calls, "very tenderness," "for in very tenderness," he says, "have You afflicted me."There is as much wisdom to be seen in some of the deep afflictions of God-if we could but understand them, we would see asmuch wisdom in them as in the creation of the world! God smites His people artistically. There is never a random blow. Thereis a marvelous degree of skill in the chastening of the Lord. Hence we are told not to despise it, which, in the strongestmeaning of it, means that we are to honor it! We honor the chastisements of our parents, but infinitely more the chastisementsof God. "For they verily chastened us for a few days after their own pleasure, but He for our profit," and there is a wayof chastening us for profit.
Now, Brothers and Sisters, I said there were treasures concealed in the great deeps which we cannot yet reach, and so in thegreat deeps in which God makes us to do business there are great treasures that we cannot come upon at present. We do not,perhaps, as yet, receive, or even perceive, the present and immediate benefit of some of our afflictions. There may be noimmediate benefit-the benefit may be for hence and to come. The chastening of our youth may be intended for the ripening ofour age. "It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth." The affliction of today may have no reference to the circumstancesof today, but to the circumstances of 50 years ahead! I do not know that that blade required the rain on such a day, but Godwas looking not to February as such, but to February in its relation to July, when the harvest should be reaped. He consideredthe blade not merely as a blade and in its present necessity, but as it would be in the full corn in the ear. There are certainmarks that an artist makes upon the block that you cannot see the reason of as yet-and they spoil the apparent likeness ofthe block and marble to the image which you know he wishes to produce-but then those lines are to be worked out, by-and-by!They are scratches now, but they will be lines of beauty soon, when he comes to finish them. So, a present trial may evenlame us for present service, damage us-I will even go the length of saying-for years to come and make us go groaning and brokenhearted,so as to be of comparatively little service to the Church and of very little joy to ourselves. But then afterwards-afterwardsas Paul puts it-it bears the peaceable fruits of righteousness in those that are exercised thereby. Why will you not let theLord have time? Why will you be in a hurry? Why will you stand at His elbow and perpetually say, "Explain this today and showme the motive and reason of this in this present hour"? A thousand years in His sight are but as yesterday when it is past,and as a watch in the night! The mighty God takes mighty time in which to work out His grand results! Therefore, be contentto let the treasures lie at the bottom of the deep for awhile. But then faith may see them. Faith can make the deep translucenttill it sees the treasure lying there-and it is yours and though you may not at this hour be able to be at it-yet you shallhave it, "for all things are yours." Everything that is stored up in the great deep of the Eternal Purpose, or in the deepof the manifest judgment, everything there belongs to you, O, Believer! Therefore rejoice in it and let it lie there tillsuch a time as God may choose to raise it for your spiritual enrichment. God's judgments are a great deep-
IV. AND THEY WORK MUCH GOOD.
The great deep, though ignorance thinks it to be all waste-a salt and barren wilderness-is one of the greatest blessings tothis round world! If, tomorrow, there should be "no more sea," although that may one day be a blessing, it would not be sotoday, but the greatest of all curses! It is from the sea that there arises the perpetual mist which, floating by-and-byein mid-air, at last descends in plenteous showers on hill and vale to fertilize the land. The sea is the great heart of theworld-I might say the circulating blood of the world! We must have it. It must be in motion. Its tides, like a great pulse,must be felt, or the world's vitality would cease. There is no waste in the sea-it is all needed. It must be there. Thereis not a drop of it too much. So with our afflictions which are Your judgments, O God! They are necessary to our life, toour soul's health, to our spiritual vigor. "By all these," said one of old, "do men live, and in all these is the life ofmy spirit." Rising up from my trouble is the constant mist which is afterwards transformed into sacred dew, which moistensmy life. "It is good for me that I have been afflicted," said David. "Amen!" say all the afflicted ones. A thousand sick bedsshall bear witness to the blessedness of the trial. A thousand losses and crosses that have been borne by the faithful nowhelp the sweetness of the harmony of everlasting hymns in the land of the blessed. "Oh, blessed cross," said one, "I fearlest I should come to love you too much! 'Tis so good to be afflicted!" May God grant to us that at all times, instead oftrying to fathom the deep, we may understand that it is useful to us and be content. Lastly, if God's judgments are a greatdeep-
V. THEN THEY BECOME A HIGHWAY OF COMMUNION WITH HIMSELF.
We thought at one time that the deep separated different peoples-that nations were kept asunder by the sea. But lo, the seais today the great highway of the world! The rapid ships cross it with their white sails, or with their palpitating enginesthey soon flash across the waves. The sea is the world's great canal-a mighty channel of communication. And so, Brothers andSisters, our afflictions-which we thought in our ignorance would separate us from our God-are the highway by which we maycome nearer to God than we otherwise could! They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business on the great waters, thesesee the works of the Lord and His wonders in the deep. You that keep close in shore and have but small trials, you are notlikely to know much of His wonders in the deep-but if you are made to put out far to sea, where deep calls unto deep and thenoise of God's waterspouts astounds the spiritual mariner, then it is that you shall see God's wonders-wonders of faithfulness,wonders of power, wonders of wisdom, wonders of love! You shall see them and you shall rejoice to see them! These troublesshall be as fiery chariots to bear you up to God. Your afflictions, wave upon wave, shall wash your soul, like a tempest-tossedboat, nearer to the haven. Oh, but this is a blessed thing when God's judgments bring us nearer to Him! Old Quarles has aquaint idea when he represents God as swinging
a flail in judgment-he says if you would get away from it, you must got close to His hands, and then you are out of the reachof the swing of the blow. Get close up to God and He will not smite! Get near to God and the trials cease!
You know, trials are sometimes weights to keep men down, but you have seen many a machine in which one weight going down liftsanother weight up. And there is a way by faith of adjusting the consecrated pulleys so that the very weights of your afflictionmay lift you up nearer to God! The bird with a string and a stone to its feet cannot fly and yet there is a way that God hasof making His birds fly even when they are tied to the ground! They never mounted till they had something to pull them down!Never ascended till they were compelled to descend! They found the gates of Heaven not up there, but down here! The lowerthey sank in self-estimation, the nearer they came to the everlasting God who is the foundation of all things!
Thus, Brothers and Sisters, I have brought you to the last thought-may the Holy Spirit bring you to make it your own. MayGod's deep judgments lead you to deeper communion.
Dear child of God, you that are in trouble tonight, the voice of that trouble is to you-get nearer to God! Get nearer to God.God has favored you, favored you with an extraordinary means of growth in His Grace. To use Rutherford's simile, He has putyou down in the wine cellar in the dark. Now begin to try the wines on the lees well-refined. Now get at the choice treasuresof darkness! He has brought you on to a sandy desert-now begin to seek the treasures that are hid in the sand. Believe thatthe deepest afflictions are neighbors always to the highest joys and that the greatest possible privileges lie close by thedarkest trials. If the bitterer your sorrow, the louder your song at the last-there is a reason for that-and that reason faithmay discover and experience live upon.
May God bless the tried ones here! But there are some here, perhaps, who are in trial and have no God to go to. Poor souls!Poor souls! Poverty and no God! Sickness and no God! A life of toil, and no Heaven! A slavery of penury on earth and thendriven forever away from God's Presence! Oh, how pitiable! How pitiable! Pity yourselves and remember that it need not alwaysbe so. You may have a Heaven, you may have present bliss. Here is the Gospel-"He that believes and is baptized shall be saved."Oh, if you can but trust Him who bled upon the Cross, you shall have comfort for your present trouble! You shall have pardonfor your past, present and future sins! The Lord bless each one of you, for Christ's sake. Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: PSALMS 73; 37:1-10.
TITLE, "A PSALM OF ASAPH." He was a great singer, but he could not always sing. In the first part of the Psalm he felt ratherlike groaning than singing-and you shall find that those who sing the sweetest the praises of God sometimes have to hang theirharps upon the willows and are silent. The strong temptation through which Asaph passed is one which is very common. You findanother account of it in the 37th Psalm. It may help your memory to notice that it is the 37th and the 73rd Psalm (transposethe figures) which are both upon the same subject-the temptation caused to the people of God by the prosperity of the wicked.
Verse 1. Truly, God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart It must be so. Whatever argument my soul may holdabout it, I will set that down, to begin with as a certainty-"Truly, God is good to Israel." He cannot be unkind or unfaithfulto His own people! It cannot be possible, after all-however things may look-that God is a bad God and a bad Master to Hisown servants!
2. But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well near slipped. Am I, then, one of His people or not? I know Heis good to them, but how about myself? Perhaps some here will never question themselves in that way, and if they were ledto do so, they would think it was of the devil. I do not think so. I think it is rather of the devil to keep us from questioningourselves. I remember what Cowper said-
"He that has ne ver doubted of his state, He may-perhaps he may-too late." Let us delight in full assurance, but let us keepvery clear of presumption and that assurance which cannot bear self-examination is presumption, depend upon it! When a mandeclines to search himself and test himself, there is something
doubtful, if not rotten in his estate-and it is time he began to say, "As for me, my feet were almost gone: my steps had wellnear slipped." This is how it came about-
3. ForI was envious at the foolish, when Isaw the prosperity ofthe wickedI know that wicked men are fools. Asaph and Davidhad often said that before. Yet says he, "I was a greater fool, still, that I was envious of these fools-when I saw the prosperityof the wicked."
4, 5. For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men; neither arethey plagued like other men. Many of them keep up a hypocritical profession through a long life and die in a stupefaction-sothat conscience never awakens and they pass out of the world loaded with guilt-and yet talk about being accepted before God!How can this be? Where is the justice of it?
6. Therefore pride compasses them about as a chain. As kings wear chains of gold, so is their pride to them.
6. Violence covers them as a garment They are not ashamed of it. They get to be so bold in sin that they wear it as an outsidecloak!
7. Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish Superfluities! They never have to ask where a mealwill come from. They have more than they need.
8. They are corrupt and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily. They set their mouth against the heavens.Suchbig mouths-such blasphemous words-have they, that they attack God Himself! There is nothing too high for them to drag it down-nothingtoo pure for them to slander. "They set their mouth against the heavens."
9. And their tongue walks through the earth.Like the lion seeking its prey, they take long walks in their slander. Nobodyis safe from them.
10. 11. Therefore his people return here: and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them. And they say, How does God know?And is there knowledge in the Most High?'God's sorrowing children have to drink of the bitter cup while these proud ones areeating of the fat of the land!
12-14. Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches. Verily I have cleansed my heart invain, and washed my hands in innocence. For all the daylong have I been plagued, and chastened every morning. When Asaph gotinto this unbelieving state of mind, it looked as if all his care of his character and all his desire to serve God were wasted,for the wicked prospered, while he was chastened! It is a strong description which he gives of his state. "All the daylonghave I been plagued." Not by the half-hour, but by the whole day-plagued and weeping as soon as he was out of bed-chastenedevery morning! He almost seemed to be sorry that he was a child of God, to be so roughly handled. He almost, but not quite,wished that he could take the portion of the wicked, that he might enjoy himself as they did and might prosper in the worldas they did.
15. If I had said, I will speak thus, behold, I would have offended against the generation of Your children. That was verywise of Asaph. He thought, but he did not speak. Some persons say, "You may as well out with it." You may as well keep itin! No, a great deal better-if you have it in your own heart, it will grieve yourself-but if you speak it out, you will grieveothers. If you wear sackcloth, Brothers and Sisters, wear it round your own loins, but do not wear it as your outside garment.There is enough sackcloth in the world without your flaunting it before everybody else's face! If you must fast, rememberyour Master's words, "You, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that you appear not unto men to fast." He gaveus that precept in order to avoid Pharisaic ostentation, but we may also follow it from another motive, namely, that we maynot spread sorrow in the world. There is enough of depression of spirit, enough of despondency, enough of heartbreak withoutour saying a word to increase it among the sons of men-
"Bear and forbear, and silent be- Tell no man your misery,"
lest you bring another into it, unless, indeed, you meet with a strong man who can help you. Then you may tell your sorrowto get relief. But tell it not to the children.
16. When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me. "Too painful" to keep it. "Too painful" to speak it out and grieveother people.
17. Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood their end. Asaph went to his God. He got to Christ, whom he foresaw,for the Person of Jesus Christ is the sanctuary of God! Some people call these buildings sanctuaries. They have no authorityfor so doing. "God dwells not in temples made with hands." He may have done so under the Old
Covenant, but not now. Christ is the sanctuary of God and when we get to Him and come into fellowship with God in Him, thenwe begin to learn something! "Then understood I their end."
18. Surely You did set them in slippery places. There they are-on a mountain of ice, bright and glittering! Up aloft, whereothers see, admire and wonder at them. But oh, how dangerous their pathway!
18. You cast them down into destruction. They are not left to slip, but a hand overthrows them-flings them down from the heightsof their prosperity to the depths of unutterable woe!
19, 20. How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! They are utterly consumed with terrors. As a dream when oneawakes, so, O Lord, when You awake, You shall despise their image. As if God slept today and let these images of prosperityexist as in a dream, but by-and-by He wakes. His time of judgment comes and where are these prosperous men? They have gone.The "baseless fabric of a vision" has melted into thin air and "left not a wreck behind." It is not. It is gone!
21. Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins. I felt a heart-pain. I felt my whole nature go amiss, as ifthere had been calculi causing the deepest possible misery in my reins.
22. So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before You. I saw no farther than a goose! Like a beast that cannot lookinto the future, I judged these men by today-by the pastures in which they fed and the fatness which they gathered there."I was as a beast before You." Now notice the splendid connection of these two verses. I will read them again-the 22nd andthe 23rd . "So foolish was I and ignorant, I was as a beast before You."
23. Nevertheless I am continually with You: You have held me by my right hand. What a strange mixture a man is! And a godlyman is the strangest conglomerate of all! He is a beast and yet continually with God. View him from one side-he is ignorant.View him from the other and he has an unction from the Holy One and he knows all things! View him from one point of the compassand he is naked, and poor, and miserable! View him from another quarter and behold he is complete in Christ and "acceptedin the Beloved!" They know not man who do not know that every true man is two men!
24. You shall guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to Glory. I, the fool that envied fools, yet, "You shallguide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to Glory."
25. Whom have I in Heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside You. Now he has got out of the temptation!He is not going to seek for prosperity that he may rival the wicked in their wealth. No! He sees that in having God, he hasall he needs. Even though he should continually be plagued all the day long, and chastened every morning, his portion in Godis quite enough for him. He will not murmur anymore!
26. My flesh and my heart fails. I see what a poor thing I am. I allowed my flesh and my heart to get the mastery over meand I got caught in this trap.
26, 27. But God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever. For, lo, they that are far from You shall perish: Youhave destroyed all them that go a whoring from You. A strong word, but none too forcible, for every heart that seeks delightaway from God is an unchaste heart. It has got away from true purity even for a moment in pouring out its love upon the creature.
28. But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all Your works.
PSALM 37. Verse 1. Fret not yourself because of evildoers, neither be you envious against the workers of iniquity. A commontemptation. Many of God's saints have suffered from it. Learn from their experience. Avoid this danger. There really is nopower in it when once the heart has come to rest in God. But it is a sad affliction until the heart does get its rest. "Fretnot because of evildoers."
2-4. For they shallsoon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shallyou dwell in the land, and verily you shall be fed. Delight yourself also in the LORD. Make Him your delight, and take carethat you do really delight. Feel a fullness of joy in Him.
4. And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Because when the heart delights in God, then its desires are all suchas God can safely grant. He does not say to every man, or even to every praying man, "I will give you the desires of yourheart," but, "Delight yourself in the Lord," and then He will.
5. Commit your way unto the LORD. Give it up to Him to rule it, and to guide you and lead you in every step. "Commit yourway unto the Lord."
5, 6. Trust also in Him and He shall bring it to pass. And He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and yourjudgment as the noonday. It is better to trust our character with God than with the ablest counselor. Scandal may pass overa fair name for a while and cloud it, but God is the avenger of all the righteous! There will be a resurrection of reputations,as well as of persons at the Last Great Day. Only we must commit it to God.
7, 8. Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him: fret not yourself because of him who prospers in his way, because of theman who brings wicked devices to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not yourself in any wise to do evil A fretfulspirit soon comes to be an angry spirit-and when we begin to be jealous of evildoers, we are very apt to become evildoersourselves! Many an honest man has snatched at hasty gain because he was envious of the prosperity of the unrighteous. Andthen he has pierced himself through with many sorrows in consequence. But "fret not yourself in any wise to do evil." Thereis an old proverb that it is hard for an empty sack to stand upright. Therefore, when you are in temporal trouble, ask theLord to fill you with His Grace, for then you will stand upright and, by-and-by, you shall be delivered.
9. For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shallinherit the earth. If there is anything goodto be had here, men that wait upon God shall have it! If there is any grain of wheat amidst these heaps of chaff, Believersthat are trusting the Lord shall find them!
10. For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be. How transient are their joys! Their wealth which they accumulate,the beauty which they think is upon their estate-all this is but as the painted colors of the bubble, which is scarcely seenbefore it vanishes. Will you envy this? Will you envy a little child his playthings, which will be broken in an hour? Willyou envy a madman the straw crown which he plaits and puts upon his head when he thinks himself a king? Oh, be not so foolish!Your inheritance is eternal and you are immortal! Why should you envy the creature of an hour? "For yet a little while, andthe wicked shall not be."
10. Yes, you shall diligently consider his place. His mansion, his house, the grand figure that he cut in society.