Meditations In the Psalms

Taken from The Treasury of David by Charles Spurgeon

Part III: Psalms 31-45

The Psalms

"Into Your hand I commit my spirit."
(Ps. 31:5)

When those hands fail me, then am I indeed abandoned and miserable! When they sustain and keep me, then am I safe, exalted, strong, and filled with good. Receive me, then, O Eternal Father, for the sake of our Lord's merits and words. For he, by his obedience and his death, has now merited from you everything which I do not merit of myself. Into your hands, my Father and my God, I commend my spirit, my soul, my body, my powers, my desires. I offer up all into your hands. To them I commit all that I have hitherto been, that you may forgive and restore all--my wounds, that you may heal them; my blindness, that you may enlighten it; my coldness, that you may inflame it; my wicked and erring ways, that you may set me forth in the right path; and all my evils, that you may uproot them all from my soul. I commend and offer up into your most sacred hands, O my God, what I am, which you know far better than I can know--weak, wretched, wounded, fickle, blind, deaf, dumb, poor, bare of every good, nothing, yea, less than nothing on account of my many sins, and more miserable than I can either know or express. Lord God, receive me and make me to become what he, the divine Lamb, would have me to be. I commend, I offer up, I deliver over into your divine hands all my affairs, my cares, my affections, my successes, my comforts, my labors, and everything which you know to be coming upon me. Direct all to your honor and glory. Teach me in all to do your will, and in all to recognize the work of your divine hands; to seek nothing else, and with this reflection alone to find rest and comfort in everything. (Fra Thome de Jesu)


"For I said in my haste,
I am cut off from before Your eyes."
(Ps. 31:22)

Let us, with whom it was once night, improve that morning joy that now shines upon us. Let us be continual admirers of God's grace and mercy to us. He has gone before us with his goodness when he saw nothing in us but impatience and unbelief. When we were like Jonah in the belly of hell, his bowels yearned over us, and his power brought us safe to land. What did we do to hasten his deliverance or to obtain his mercy? If he had never come to our relief till he saw something in us to invite him, we had not yet been relieved. No more did we contribute to our restoration than we do to the rising of the sun or the approach of day. We were like dry bones without motion and without strength (Ezek. 37:1-11). . . . Who is a God like to our God who pardons iniquity, transgression, and sin? who does not retain his anger forever? who is slow to wrath and delights in mercy? who has been displeased with us for a moment but gives us hope of his everlasting kindness? Oh, what love is due from us to Christ who has pleaded for us when we ourselves had nothing to say, who has brought us out of a den of lions and from the jaws of the roaring lion! Let us say, as Mrs. Sarah Wright did, "I have obtained mercy, who thought my time of mercy past forever. I have hope of heaven, who thought I was already damned by unbelief. . . . The goodness of God is unsearchable. How great is the excellency of his majesty that yet he would look upon such a one as I." (Timothy Rogers)


"And in whose spirit there is no deceit."
(Ps. 32:2)

Here, says he, is a description of a sincere soul--one in whose spirit there is no deceit. But I find much deceit in me; therefore, I am not the sincere one. Now this is a very weak, yea, false inference. By a spirit without deceit is not meant a person who has not the least deceitfulness and hypocrisy remaining in his heart. To be without sin and to be without deceit, in this strict sense, are the same--a prerogative here on earth peculiar to the Lord Christ, "Who did no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth" (1 Pet. 2:22). And, therefore, when we meet with the same phrase attributed to the saints--as to Levi, "Iniquity was not found in his lips (Mal. 2:6), and to Nathanael, "Behold an Israelite indeed in whom is no deceit" (John 1:47)--we must sense it in an inferior way, which may suit with their imperfect state here below . . . Wipe your eyes again, poor soul, and then if you read passages wherein the Spirit of God speaks so highly and hyperbolically of his saints' grace, you shall find he does not assert the perfection of their grace, free from all mixture of sin. Rather it is to comfort poor drooping souls, who from the presence of hypocrisy are ready to overlook their sincerity as if it didn't exist at all. The Spirit of God expresses his high esteem of their little grace by speaking of it as if it were perfect, and their hypocrisy none at all. (William Gurnall)


"The earth is full of the goodness of Yahweh."
(Ps. 33:5)

If we reflect on the prodigious number of human beings who constantly receive their food, raiment, and every pleasure they enjoy from their mother earth, we shall be convinced of the great liberality with which nature dispenses her gifts. And not only human beings, but an innumerable quantity of living creatures besides--inhabitants of the air, the waters, and the earth--are daily indebted to nature for their support. Those animals which are under our care are still indebted to the earth for their subsistence; for the grass, which nature spontaneously produces, is their chief food. The whole race of fishes, except those which men feed for their amusement, subsist without any of their aid. The species of birds which is perhaps the most despised and most numerous is the sparrow. What they require for their support is incredible, but nature takes care to feed them. They are, however, but the smallest part of her children. So great is the quantity of insects that ages may pass before even their species and classes can be known. . . . On what can all these creatures subsist? . . . It is the God of nature who has poured into her bosom this inexhaustible store of riches. He provides each creature with its food and dwelling. For them he causes the grass and other herbs to grow, leaving each to select its proper food. And, however lowly many creatures may appear to us, he feeds and assists them all.

O Almighty God, how manifest is your greatness! You do what the united efforts of all mankind would fail to accomplish. You have given life, and breath, and being to all creatures that live in the air, the waters, or the earth. Surely you will do for your believing people what you do for animals and insects! When we are filled with doubts and fear, let us consider the ravens whom the Lord feeds when they cry. Let them and all creatures beside, which man takes no care of, teach us the art of contentment. The great Author of nature knows all our needs. Let us cast our every care on him, for he cares for us. And may we come boldly to the throne of grace in faith and sincerity that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help us in every time of need. (Christopher Christian Sturm)


"The counsel of Yahweh stands forever,
The plans of his heart to all generations."
(Ps. 33:11)

He changes not his purpose, his decree is not frustrated, his designs are accomplished. God has a predestination according to the counsel of his will, and none of the devices of his foes can thwart his decree for a moment. Men's purposes are blown to and fro like the thread of the gossamer or the down of the thistle, but the eternal purposes are firmer than the earth. "The thoughts of his heart to all generations." Men come and go, sons follow their sires to the grave, but the undisturbed mind of God moves on in unbroken serenity, producing ordained results with unerring certainty. No man can expect his [own] will or plan to be carried out from age to age. The wisdom of one period is the folly of another, but the Lord's wisdom is always wise, and his designs run on from century to century. His power to fulfill his purposes is by no means diminished by the lapse of years. He who was absolute over Pharaoh in Egypt is not one whit the less the King of kings and Lord of lords today. Still do his chariot wheels roll onward in imperial grandeur, none being for a moment able to resist his eternal will. (Charles Spurgeon)


"The angel of Yahweh encamps all around those who fear Him,
And delivers them."
(Ps. 34:7)

The covenant angel, the Lord Jesus, at the head of all the bands of heaven, surrounds with his army the dwellings of the saints. Like hosts entrenched, so are the ministering spirits encamped around the Lord's chosen, to serve and succour [support], to defend and console them. On every side the watch is kept by warriors of sleepless eyes, and the Captain of the host is one whose prowess none can resist. "And delivers them." We little know how many providential deliverances we owe to those unseen hands which are charged to bear us up lest we dash our foot against a stone. (Charles Spurgeon)


"But those who seek Yahweh shall not lack any good thing."
(Ps. 34:10)

Take a survey of heaven and earth and all things therein, and whatsoever upon sure ground appears good, ask it confidently of Christ. His love will not deny it. If it were good for you that there were no sin, no devil, no affliction, no destruction, the love of Christ would instantly abolish these. Nay, if the possession of all the kingdoms of the world were absolutely good for any saint, the love of Christ would instantly crown him monarch of them. (David Clarkson)


"Seek peace and pursue it."
(Ps. 34:14)

The most desirable things are not the easiest to be obtained. What is more lovely to the imagination than the tranquility of peace? But this great blessing does not voluntarily present itself; it must be sought. Even when sought, it often eludes the grasp. It flies away and must be pursued. The man of a peaceable carriage must be cautious not to give offense when needless, or, when it may innocently be spared. Another part of the peaceable man's character is not to take offense, especially in small matters which are hardly worth a wise man's notice. If any needless offense has been either given or taken, we must endeavor to put a stop to it as soon as may be. If a difference is already begun, stifle it in the birth and allow it not to proceed farther. (Condensed by Spurgeon from Dr. Waterland's Sermon in J. R. Pitman's Course of Sermons on the Psalms, 1846)


"The eyes of Yahweh are upon the righteous."
(Ps. 34:15)

He observes them with approval and tender consideration. They are so dear to him that he cannot take his eyes off them. He watches each one as carefully and intently as if he were the only creature in the universe. (Charles Spurgeon)


"False witnesses did rise up;
They laid to my charge things that I knew not."
(Ps. 35:11)

You will say, "Why does God permit wicked people to lay to the charge of the godly such things of which they are innocent? God, if he pleased, could prevent it and stop the mouths of the wicked, so that they should not be able to speak against his children." Answer: As all things work for the best to them who love God, so this works for the good of God's people. God does permit it for the good of his people, and thus he frustrates the hopes of the wicked. They intend evil against the godly, and God disposes of it for good. As Joseph said to his brethren, "You intended evil against me, and God disposed of it for good," so we may say to those who falsely slander God's people, "You intended evil against the people of God, but God disposes of it for good."

There is a fivefold good that God brings out of it for his people. First, God does by this means humble them, and brings them to examine what is amiss; so that even though they be clear of that crime laid to their charge, yet they will then examine whether there is something else amiss between God and them. They will search their hearts and walk more humbly, and cling more closely to the Lord. Second, God does by this means bring them more often upon their knees--to seek him, to plead their cause, and to declare their innocency. How often did the prophet speak to God when the wicked falsely accused him. How often did he make his moan to God at the throne of grace, beseeching him to plead his cause and to keep him close in his way, that the wicked might not rejoice at his downfall! So when God's people see what it is that delights the wicked--the godly falling into such and such a sin--then the godly will pray more earnestly with David, "Lord, lead me in a right path because of my observers." Then they will pray more earnestly for God to keep them from falling into that sin which the wicked desire. Third, God does use the reproach of the wicked as a preventative medicine against that crime which the wicked lay to their charge. If God should leave the godly on their own for even a little time, they might fall into that sin. So every godly man and woman may now say, when they are falsely accused, "It is God's mercy that I did not fall into that sin laid to my charge." God uses wicked people's tongues as a warning. So let us consider, if the wicked thus rejoice without a cause, what would they do if they had just cause? By the help of God this shall be a warning to me forever to watch against that sin. For the time to come I will pray more against it than I have done, and watch more against that sin than I have done. Through God's help they shall never have occasion to rejoice over me. Truly, I believe many a child of God can say by experience, that he never should have prayed and watched against such a sin so much had not God used the tongues of the wicked as a preventative medicine. "I knew not my own heart, but that I might have fallen into such and such a sin had not God by this means hedged up my way with thorns." Fourth, God does by this means exercise the graces of his people, by letting them undergo bad report as well as good report. He tests whether they will cling close to him in all conditions (Ps. 44:15-17). Fifth, God does by this means teach them how to judge of others when they are falsely accused. For the time to come, they will not receive a false report against their neighbor; they will know the truth of a matter before they believe it. In addition, they will know how to comfort others in the same condition. Thus God disposes of it for good, and thereby makes the wicked the servant of his people in that very thing which the wicked desired. In respect to the godly, God uses the wicked as the rod and wisp to scour off the rust of their graces and to correct their security. And when the rod has done its work, then it is thrown into the fire. (Zephaniah Smyth's Sermon, "The Malignant's Plot," 1647, liberty taken in some rewording)


"They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house."
(Ps. 36:8)

I once heard a father tell that when he moved his family to a new residence, where the accommodation was much more ample and the substance much more rich and varied than that to which they had previously been accustomed, his youngest son, yet a lisping child, ran around every room and scanned every article with ecstasy, calling out in childish wonder at every new sight, "Is this ours, father? and is this ours?" The child did not say "yours." And I observed that the father, while he told the story, was not offended with the freedom. You could read in his glistening eye that the child's confidence in appropriating as his own all that his father had was an important element in his satisfaction. Such, I suppose, will be the surprise, joy, and appropriating confidence with which the child of our Father's family will count all his own when he is removed from the comparatively low condition of things present and enters the infinite of things to come. When the glories of heaven burst upon his view, he does not stand at a distance like a stranger saying, "O God, these are thine." He bounds forward to touch and taste every provision which those blessed mansions contain, exclaiming as he looks in the Father's face, "Father, this and this is ours!" The dear child is glad of all the Father's riches, and the Father is more glad of his dear child. (William Arnot)


"Commit your way to Yahweh, trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass."
(Ps. 37:5)

When we bear the burden of our own affairs ourselves and are chastised with anxiety, lack of success, and with envying the ungodly who prosper better than we do, the best remedy is first to do our duty as we are enabled in the use of means. Then let us cast the care of the success over on God, as the plowman does when he has harrowed his land. Let the burden of it rest on God and let us not take it off him again, but put our mind to rest, resolved to take the harvest in good part as he shall send it. (David Dickson)


"Rest in Yahweh, and wait patiently for Him."
(Ps. 37:7)

Take the case of one who, with a load greater than his strength, has been toiling some steep and broken path, when suddenly he finds it lifted off and transferred to another whose strength he knows to be more than equal to the task and in whose sympathy he can securely trust. What would his feeling be but one of perfect rest, and calm reliance, and joyous freedom as they went on their way together? And such is the blessedness of rolling our care upon the Lord--in weakness we are resting on superior strength, in perplexity and doubt we are resting on superior wisdom, in all times of trial and hard service we can stay ourselves on the assurance of his perfect sympathy. . . . What is "resting in God," but the instinctive movement and upward glance of the spirit to him; the confiding all one's griefs and fears to him and feeling strengthened, patient, hopeful in the act of doing so? It implies a willingness that he should choose for us, a conviction that the ordering of all that concerns us is safer in his hands than in our own.

A few practical remarks: (1) Our "resting patiently" in the Lord applies only to the trials which he sends, not to the troubles which even Christians often make for themselves. There is a difference in the burdens that come in the way of duty and those that come through our wandering into other ways. We can roll the one upon the Lord, but with the other our punishment may be to be left to bear them long, and to be bruised in bearing them. (2) The duty here enjoined is to be carried through all our life. We all admit that patient waiting is needed for the great trials of life, but may not acknowledge so readily that it is needed as much for little, daily, commonplace vexations. But these are as much a test of Christian principle as the other. (3) This resting in God is a criterion of a man's spiritual state. It needs a special faculty of discernment, a new sense to be opened in the soul, before our fallen nature can understand or desire it. (James D. Burns)


"But the meek shall inherit the earth,
And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace."
(Ps. 37:11)

Not the hot stirring spirits who bustle for the world shall have it, but the meek who are thrust up and down from corner to corner and hardly suffered to remain anywhere quietly in it. This earth, which they seem most deprived of, they only shall have and enjoy. When the Lord has made it worth the having, then none shall have it but they. "They shall inherit the earth." The earth is the Lord's. These are the children of the Lord, and they shall inherit his earth. When the Lord takes it into his own possession and enjoyment, they shall succeed him in the possession and enjoyment of it. It is their right, and shall descend unto them by right, by inheritance. It is the Lord's right, and by the Lord shall descend to them as their right. They cannot yet have it, for the Lord has it not yet; but when the Lord has it, it shall fairly descend to them. This accursed earth they shall never have; but when it is taken into the hands of the Lord and blessed by the Lord, then it shall be theirs. Then it shall be inherited by the children of blessing. (John Pennington)


"Yahweh knows the days of the upright."
(Ps. 37:18)

His foreknowledge made him laugh at the proud, but in the case of the upright he sees a brighter future, and treats them as heirs of salvation. Ever is this our comfort, that all events are known to our God, and that nothing in our future can take him unawares. No arrow can pierce us by accident, no dagger smite us by stealth. Neither in time nor in eternity can any unforeseen ill occur to us. Futurity shall be but a continual development of the good things which the Lord has laid up in store for us. (Charles Spurgeon)


"For my iniquities have gone over my head;
Like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me."
(Ps. 38:4)

It is of singular use to us that the backslidings of the holy men of God are recorded in Holy Writ. Spots appear nowhere more disagreeable than when seen in a most beautiful face or on the cleanest garment. And it is expedient to have a perfect knowledge of the filthiness of sin. We also learn from them to think humbly of ourselves, to depend on the grace of God, to keep a stricter eye upon ourselves lest perhaps we fall into the same or more grievous sins. (Herman Witsius)


"For in you, O Yahweh, I hope."
(Ps. 38:15)

A man who is to go down into a deep pit does not throw himself headlong into it or leap down at all adventures, but he fastens a rope at the top upon a crossbeam or some sure place and so lets himself down by degrees. In the same way let yourself down into the consideration of your sin, hanging upon Christ. And when you are gone so low that you cannot endure any longer, but are ready to be overcome with the horror and darkness of your miserable estate, do not dwell too long at the gates of hell lest the devil pull you in. But wind yourself up again by renewed acts of faith, and "fly for refuge unto the hope that is set before you" (Heb. 6:18). (Thomas Cole)


"I said, 'I will guard my ways, lest I sin with my tongue;
I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle.' "
(Ps. 39:1)

No lesson so hard to be learned by us here as the wise and discreet government of the tongue. David promised a singular care of this, "I will guard," etc. Socrates reports of one Pambo, an honest well-meaning man, who came to his friend desiring him to teach him one of David's Psalms. He read to him this verse. He answered: this one verse is enough, if I learn it well. Nineteen years after he said, in all that time he had hardly learned that one verse. (Samuel Page)


"He heaps up riches."
(Ps. 39:6)

This is the great foolishness and disease especially of old age, that the less way a man has to go, he makes the greater provision for it. When the hands are stiff and fit for no other labor, they are fitted and composed for scraping together. (Robert Leighton)


"I was mute, I did not open my mouth,
Because it was You who did it."
(Ps. 39:9)

This had been far clearer if it had been rendered, "I am silenced, I will not open my mouth." Here we have a nobler silence [than that of vs. 2], purged of all sullenness, and sweetened with submission. Nature failed to muzzle the mouth, but grace achieved the work in the worthiest manner. How like in appearance may two very different things appear! Silence is ever silence, but it may be sinful in one case and saintly in another. What a reason for hushing every murmuring thought is the reflection, "because You did it"! It is his right to do as he wills, and he always wills to do that which is wisest and kindest. Why should I then arraign his dealings? Nay, if it be indeed the Lord, let him do what seems him good. (Charles Spurgeon)

God is training up his children here. This is the true character of his dealings with them. The education of his saints is the object he has in view. It is training for the kingdom; it is education for eternity. . . . It is the discipline of love. Every step of it is kindness. There is no wrath nor vengeance in any part of the process. The discipline of the school may be harsh and stern, but that of the family is love. We are sure of this, and the consolation which it affords is unutterable. Love will not wrong us. There will be no needless suffering. Were this but kept in mind there would be fewer hard thoughts of God among men, even when his strokes are most severe. I know not a better illustration of what the feelings of a saint should be in the hour of bitterness than the case of Richard Cameron's father. The aged saint was in prison "for the Word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ." The bleeding head of his martyred son was brought to him by his unfeeling persecutors, and he was asked derisively if he knew it. "I know it, I know it," said the father as he kissed the mangled forehead of his fair-haired son. "It is my son's, my own dear son's! It is the Lord! good is the will of the Lord who cannot wrong me or mine, but who has made goodness and mercy to follow us all our days." (Horatius Bonar the "The Night of Weeping," 1847.)

A little girl, in the providence of God, was born deaf and dumb. She was received and instructed at an institution established for these afflicted ones. A visitor was one day requested to examine the children thus sadly laid aside from childhood's common joys. Several questions were asked, and quickly answered by means of a slate and pencil. At length the gentleman wrote, "Why were you born deaf and dumb?" A look of anguish clouded for the moment the expressive face of the little girl; but it quickly passed as she took her slate and wrote, "Even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight." (Mrs. Rogers in "The Shepherd King")


"And Your thoughts toward us cannot be recounted to You in order."
(Ps. 40:5)

The divine thoughts march with the divine acts, for it is not according to God's wisdom to act without deliberation and counsel. All the divine thoughts are good and gracious towards his elect. God's thoughts of love are very many, very wonderful, very practical! Muse on them, dear reader; no sweeter subject ever occupied your mind. God's thoughts of you are many; let not yours be few in return. "They cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee." Their sum is so great as to forbid alike analysis and numeration. Human minds fail to measure or to arrange in order the Lord's ways and thoughts. And it must always be so, for he has said, "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." No maze to lose oneself in like the labyrinth of love. How sweet to be outdone, overcome and overwhelmed by the astonishing grace of the Lord our God! "If I would declare and speak of them," and surely this should be the occupation of my tongue at all seasonable opportunities, "they are more than can be numbered." Far beyond all human arithmetic they are multiplied; thoughts from all eternity, thoughts of my fall, my restoration, my redemption, my conversion, my pardon, my upholding, my perfecting, my eternal reward. The list is too long for writing and the value of the mercies too great for estimation. (Charles Spurgeon)


"Sacrifice and offering You did not desire;
My ears You have opened.
Burnt offering and sin offering You did not require.
Then I said, 'Behold, I come;
In the scroll of the book it is written of me.' "
(Ps. 40:6)

In these words an allusion is made to a custom of the Jews to bore the ears of such as were to be their perpetual servants, and to enroll their names in a book, or make some instrument of the covenant. "Sacrifice and burnt offering thou wouldst not have;" but because I am thy vowed servant, bored with an awl and enrolled in thy book, "I said, Lo, I come; I delight to do thy will, O my God." These words of the Psalm are alleged by S. Paul, Heb. 10, but the first of them with a most strange difference. For whereas the Psalmist has, according to the Hebrew verity, "Sacrifice and burnt offering thou wouldst not: my ears thou has bored or digged," S. Paul reads with the LXX, "A body thou hast prepared or fitted me." What equipollency [equivalence] can be in sense between these two? This difficulty is so much the more augmented because most interpreters make the life of the quotation to lie in those very words where the difference is, namely, that the words "A body thou hast prepared me" are brought by the apostle to prove our Savior's incarnation; whereunto the words in the Psalm itself ("my ears hast thou bored, or digged, or opened"), take them how you will, will in no wise suit. I answer, therefore, that the life of the quotation lies not in the words of difference, nor can do, because this epistle was written to the Hebrews, and so first in the Hebrew tongue where this translation of the LXX could have no place. And if the life of the quotation lay here, I cannot see how it can possibly be reconciled. It lies therefore in the words where there is no difference, namely, that Christ was such a High Priest as came to sanctify us, not with legal offerings and sacrifices but by his obedience in doing, like a devoted servant, the will of his Father. Thus, the allegation will not depend at all upon the words of difference, and so they give us liberty to reconcile them: "my ears hast thou bored," says the Psalmist, i.e., Thou hast accepted me for a perpetual servant, as masters are wont, according to the law, to bore such servants' ears as refuse to part from them. Now the LXX, according to whom the apostle's epistle reads, thinking perhaps the meaning of this speech would be obscure to such as knew not that custom, chose rather to translate it generally, "Thou hast fitted my body," namely, to be thy servant in such a manner as servants' bodies are wont to be. And so the sense is all one, though not specified to the Jewish custom of boring the ear with an awl, but left indifferently applicable to the custom of any nation in marking and stigmatizing their servants' bodies. (Joseph Mede)


"I delight to do Your will, O my God."
(Ps. 40:8)

The will of God to redeem sinners by the incarnation and death of Jesus Christ was most grateful and pleasing to the very heart of Christ. . . . (1) It became Christ to go about this work with cheerfulness and delight that thereby he might give his death the nature and formality of a sacrifice. In all sacrifices you shall find that God had still a regard, a special respect, to the will of the offerer (Ex. 35:5, 21; Lev. 1:3). (2) It ought to be so in view of the unity of Christ's will with the Father's. (3) This was necessary to commend the love of Jesus Christ to us for whom he gave himself. That he came into the world to die for us is a mercy of the first magnitude. But that he came in love to our souls, and underwent all his sufferings with such willingness for our sakes, this heightens it above all apprehension. (4) It was necessary to be so for the regulating of all our obedience to God, according to this pattern; that seeing and setting this great example of obedience before us, we might never grudge nor grumble at any duty or suffering that God should call us to.

Let us consider and examine whence it came to be so pleasant and acceptable to Jesus Christ to come into the world and die for poor sinners. (1) That in his sufferings there would be made a glorious display and manifestation of the divine attributes. (2) Another delightful prospect Christ had of the fruit of his sufferings was the recovery and salvation of all the elect by his death. And though his sufferings were exceedingly bitter, yet such fruit of them as this was exceedingly sweet. (3) Add to this the glory which would redound to him from his redeemed ones to all eternity; for it will be the everlasting employment of the saints in heaven to be ascribing glory, praise, and honor to the Redeemer. Did Christ find pleasure in abasement and torment, in suffering and dying for me, and can I find no pleasure in praying, hearing, meditating, and enjoying the sweet duties of communion with him? Did he come so cheerfully to die for me, and do I go so dead-heartedly to prayers and sacraments to enjoy fellowship with him? Was it a pleasure to him to shed his blood, and is it none to me to apply it and reap the benefits of it? O let there be no more grumblings, lazy excuses, shiftings of duty, or dead-hearted and listless performances of them after such an example as this. Be ready to do the will of God; be also ready to suffer [for] it. And as to sufferings for Christ, they should not be grievous to Christians who know how cheerfully Christ came from the bosom of the Father to die for them. What have we to leave or lose in comparison with him? What are our sufferings to Christ's? Alas! there is no comparison. There was more bitterness in one drop of his sufferings than in a sea of ours. To conclude: your delight and readiness in the paths of obedience is the very measure of your sanctification. (Charles Spurgeon, condensed from John Flavel)


"Blessed is he who considers the poor;
Yahweh will deliver him in time of trouble."
(Ps. 41:1)

The compassionate lover of the poor thought of others and therefore God will think of him. God measures to us with our own bushel. Days of trouble come even to the most generous, and they have made the wisest provision for rainy days who have lent shelter to others when times were better with them. The promise is not that the generous saint shall have no trouble, but that he shall be preserved in it, and in due time brought out of it. How true was this of our Lord! Never trouble deeper nor triumph brighter than his, and glory be to his name, he secures the ultimate victory of all his blood-bought ones. Would that they all were more like him in putting on bowels of compassion to the poor. Much blessedness they miss who stint their alms. The joy of doing good, the sweet reaction of another's happiness, the approving smile of heaven upon the heart, if not upon the estate--all these the miserly soul knows nothing of. Selfishness bears in itself a curse, it is a cancer in the heart; while liberality is happiness and makes fat the bones. In dark days we cannot rest upon the supposed merit of almsgiving, but still the music of memory brings with it no mean solace when it tells of widows and orphans whom we have succoured [assisted], and prisoners and sick folk to whom we have ministered. (Charles Spurgeon)

A Piedmontese nobleman, into whose company I fell at Turin, told me the following story. "I was weary of life, and after a day such as few have known, and none would wish to remember, was hurrying along the street to the river when I felt a sudden check. I turned and beheld a little boy who had caught the skirt of my cloak in his anxiety to solicit my notice. His look and manner were irresistible. No less so was the lesson I would learn. 'There are six of us, and we are dying for lack of food.' 'Why should I not,' said I to myself, 'relieve this wretched family? I have the means, and it will not delay me many minutes. But what if it does?' The scene of misery he conducted me to I cannot describe. I threw them my purse, and their burst of gratitude overcame me. It filled my eyes, it went as a cordial to my heart. 'I will call again tomorrow,' I cried. Fool that I was to think of leaving a world where such pleasure was to be had, and so cheaply!" (Samuel Rogers)


"That I may requite them."
(Ps. 41:10)

David was not as one of the common people, but a king appointed by God and invested with authority, and it is not from an impulse of the flesh, but in virtue of the nature of his office, that he is led to denounce against his enemies the punishment which they had merited. (John Calvin)


"My soul thirsts for God, for the living God."
(Ps. 42:2)

There are three respects especially in which our God is said to be the "living God." First, originally, because he only has life in himself, and of himself, and all creatures have it from him. Secondly, operatively, because he is the only giver of life unto man. Our life, in the threefold extent and capacity of it, whether we take it for natural, or spiritual, or eternal, flows to us from God. Thirdly, God is said to be the "living God" by way of distinction, and in opposition to all false gods. (Thomas Horton)


"Then I will go to the altar of God."
(Ps. 43:4)

"Then will I go . . . unto God." The expression of going to God implies submission and friendship. Submission--I will go and pay my homage to him as my Sovereign. I will go and hear what he says, I will go and receive his orders. Friendship--I will go and consult him and converse with him as a friend, and be thankful that in such a troublesome and ensnaring world I have such a friend to advise with. I will go and tell him my griefs; how greatly I am distressed with some particular disorder in my body, or with some disturbance in my family, or with some disappointment in my worldly circumstances, or (which is worse than all of them together) with a sad darkness in my soul. I will go and tell him my joys, for even in this vale of tears my heart is sometimes glad, and my glory rejoices. I will go and tell him of my sins. He knows them, indeed, already, but he shall hear them from me. I will go and tell him my fears; how greatly I am distressed at times, when I perceive this or the other corruption so strong which I thought had received its death wound . . . how I tremble when I have by my folly provoked the Lord to leave me, for fear he will never return again, etc. I will go and tell him my hopes, for some hope I have amidst all my discouragements. . . . I will go and tell him all this. I will unbosom and unburden my whole heart to him, and if my necessities did not drive me to him, I should go to him from inclination. (Condensed by Spurgeon from Samuel Lavington)


"For they did not gain possession of the land by their own sword."
(Ps. 44:3)

The Lord's part in a work is best seen when man's part, and all that he as an instrument has done or could have done in it, is declared null; being considered as separate from God who moved the instruments and by them did work what he pleased. (David Dickson)


"For I will not trust in my bow, nor shall my sword save me."
(Ps. 44:6)

The less confidence we have in ourselves or in anything beside God, the more evidence have we of the sincerity of our faith in God. (David Dickson)


"Gird Your sword upon Your thigh, O Mighty One."
(Ps. 45:3)

"Thy sword." The word of God is compared to such a weapon, for the apostle informs us that it is quick, or living, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of the soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and laying open the thoughts and intents of the heart. It must be observed, however, that this description of the word of God is applicable to it only when Christ girds it on and employs it as his sword. Of what use is a sword, even though it be the sword of Goliath, while it lies still in its scabbard or is grasped by the powerless hand of an infant? In those circumstances it can neither conquer nor defend, however well suited it might be to do both in the hand of a warrior. It is the same with the sword of the Spirit. While it lies still in its scabbard or is wielded only by the infantile hand of Christ's ministers, it is a powerless and useless weapon; a weapon at which the weakest sinner can laugh, and against which he can defend himself with the utmost ease. But not so when he who is the Most Mighty girds it on. Then it becomes a weapon of tremendous power, a weapon resistless as the bolt of heaven. "Is not my word like a fire, and a hammer, saith the Lord, which breaks the rock in pieces?" It is indeed, for what can be more efficacious and irresistible than a weapon sharper than a two-edged sword, wielded by the arm of omnipotence? What must his sword be whose glance is lightning? Armed with this weapon, the Captain of our salvation cuts his way to the sinner with infinite ease, though surrounded by rocks and mountains, scatters his strongholds and refuges of lies, and with a mighty blow cleaves asunder his adamant heart and lays him prostrate and trembling at his feet. Since such are the effects of this weapon in the hand of Christ, it is with the upmost propriety that the Psalmist begins by requesting him to gird it on, and not suffer it to be inactive in its scabbard or powerless in the feeble grasp of his ministers. (Edward Payson)


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