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6/15/2019     Yesterday     Tomorrow
     Psalm  9 - 16


Psalm 9

I Will Recount Your Wonderful Deeds

Psalm 9 To the choirmaster: according to Muth-labben. A Psalm of David.

1 I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart;
I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
2 I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.

3 When my enemies turn back,
they stumble and perish before your presence.
4 For you have maintained my just cause;
you have sat on the throne, giving righteous judgment.

5 You have rebuked the nations; you have made the wicked perish;
you have blotted out their name forever and ever.
6 The enemy came to an end in everlasting ruins;
their cities you rooted out;
the very memory of them has perished.

7 But the LORD sits enthroned forever;
he has established his throne for justice,
8 and he judges the world with righteousness;
he judges the peoples with uprightness.

9 The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
10 And those who know your name put their trust in you,
for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.

11 Sing praises to the LORD, who sits enthroned in Zion!
Tell among the peoples his deeds!
12 For he who avenges blood is mindful of them;
he does not forget the cry of the afflicted.

13 Be gracious to me, O LORD!
See my affliction from those who hate me,
O you who lift me up from the gates of death,
14 that I may recount all your praises,
that in the gates of the daughter of Zion
I may rejoice in your salvation.

15 The nations have sunk in the pit that they made;
in the net that they hid, their own foot has been caught.
16 The LORD has made himself known; he has executed judgment;
the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands. Higgaion. Selah

17 The wicked shall return to Sheol,
all the nations that forget God.

18 For the needy shall not always be forgotten,
and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever.

19 Arise, O LORD! Let not man prevail;
let the nations be judged before you!
20 Put them in fear, O LORD!
Let the nations know that they are but men! Selah


Psalm 10

Why Do You Hide Yourself?

Psalm 10 1  Why, O LORD, do you stand far away?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

2  In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor;
let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised.
3  For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul,
and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the LORD.
4  In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him;
all his thoughts are, “There is no God.”
5  His ways prosper at all times;
your judgments are on high, out of his sight;
as for all his foes, he puffs at them.
6  He says in his heart, “I shall not be moved;
throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity.”
7  His mouth is filled with cursing and deceit and oppression;
under his tongue are mischief and iniquity.
8  He sits in ambush in the villages;
in hiding places he murders the innocent.
His eyes stealthily watch for the helpless;
9  he lurks in ambush like a lion in his thicket;
he lurks that he may seize the poor;
he seizes the poor when he draws him into his net.
10  The helpless are crushed, sink down,
and fall by his might.
11  He says in his heart, “God has forgotten,
he has hidden his face, he will never see it.”

12  Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up your hand;
forget not the afflicted.
13  Why does the wicked renounce God
and say in his heart, “You will not call to account”?
14  But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation,
that you may take it into your hands;
to you the helpless commits himself;
you have been the helper of the fatherless.
15  Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer;
call his wickedness to account till you find none.

16  The LORD is king forever and ever;
the nations perish from his land.
17  O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted;
you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear
18  to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.


Psalm 11

The LORD Is in His Holy Temple

Psalm 11 To the choirmaster. Of David.

1 In the LORD I take refuge;
how can you say to my soul,
“Flee like a bird to your mountain,
2 for behold, the wicked bend the bow;
they have fitted their arrow to the string
to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart;
3 if the foundations are destroyed,
what can the righteous do?”

4 The LORD is in his holy temple;
the LORD’s throne is in heaven;
his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.
5 The LORD tests the righteous,
but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.
6 Let him rain coals on the wicked;
fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.
7 For the LORD is righteous;
he loves righteous deeds;
the upright shall behold his face.


Psalm 12

The Faithful Have Vanished

Psalm 12 To the choirmaster: according to The Sheminith. A Psalm of David.

1 Save, O Lord, for the godly one is gone;
for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man.
2 Everyone utters lies to his neighbor;
with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.

3 May the Lord cut off all flattering lips,
the tongue that makes great boasts,
4 those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail,
our lips are with us; who is master over us?”

5 “Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan,
I will now arise,” says the Lord;
“I will place him in the safety for which he longs.”
6 The words of the Lord are pure words,
like silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
purified seven times.

7 You, O Lord, will keep them;
you will guard us from this generation forever.
8 On every side the wicked prowl,
as vileness is exalted among the children of man.


Psalm 13

How Long, O Lord?

Psalm 13 To the choirmaster. Of David.

1 How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

3 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
4 lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
6 I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.


Psalm 14

The Fool Says, There Is No God

Psalm 14 To the choirmaster: Of David.

1 The fool says in his heart,
“There is no God.”

Romanian proverb, "A fool's tongue cuts his own throat"

They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds;
there is none who does good.

2 The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man,
to see if there are any who understand,
who seek after God.

3 They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt;
there is none who does good,
not even one.

4 Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers
who eat up my people as they eat bread
and do not call upon the Lord?

5 There they are in great terror,
for God is with the generation of the righteous.
6 You would shame the plans of the poor,
but the Lord is his refuge.

7 Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!
When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people,
let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.


Psalm 15

Who Shall Dwell on Your Holy Hill?

Psalm 15 A Psalm of David.

1 O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent?
Who shall dwell on your holy hill?

2 He who walks blamelessly and does what is right
and speaks truth in his heart;
3 who does not slander with his tongue
and does no evil to his neighbor,
nor takes up a reproach against his friend;
4 in whose eyes a vile person is despised,
but who honors those who fear the LORD;
who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
5 who does not put out his money at interest
and does not take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be moved.


Psalm 16

You Will Not Abandon My Soul

Psalm 16 A Miktam of David.

1 Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
2 I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”

3 As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
in whom is all my delight.

4 The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
or take their names on my lips.

5 The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
6 The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

7 I bless the LORD who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
8 I have set the LORD always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.

11 You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

The Reformation Study Bible



What I'm Reading

Psalm 9 Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)

By Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)

     TITLE. To the Chief Musician upon Muth-labben, a Psalm of David. The meaning of this title is very doubtful. It may refer to the tune to which the Psalm was to be sung, so Wilcocks and others think; or it may refer to a musical instrument now unknown, but common in those days; or it may have a reference to Ben, who is mentioned in 1 Chronicles 15:18, as one of the Levitical singers. If either of these conjectures should be correct, the title of Muth-Labben has no teaching for us, except it is meant to show us how careful David was that in the worship of God, all things should be done according to due order. From a considerable company of learned witnesses we gather that the title will bear a meaning far more instructive, without being fancifully forced:   ( like today )   it signifies a Psalm concerning the death of the Son. The Chaldee has, "concerning the death of the Champion who went out between the camps," referring to Goliath of Gath, or some other Philistine, on account of whose death many suppose this Psalm to have been written in after years by David. Believing that out of a thousand guesses this is at least as consistent with the sense of the Psalm as any other, we prefer it; and the more especially so because it enables us to refer it mystically to the victory of the Son of God over the champion of evil, even to enemy of souls (verse 6). We have here before us most evidently a triumphal hymn; may it strengthen the faith of the militant believer and stimulate the courage of the timid saint, as he sees here THE CONQUEROR, on whose vesture and thigh is the name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

     ORDER. Bonar remarks, "The position of the Psalms in their relation to each other is often remarkable. It is questioned whether the present arrangement of them was the order to which they were given forth to Israel, or whether some later compiler, perhaps Ezra, was inspired to attend to this matter, as well as to other points connected with the canon. Without attempting to decide this point, it is enough to remark that we have proof that the order of the Psalms is as ancient as the completing of the canon, and if so, it seems obvious that the Holy Spirit wished this book to come down to us in its present order. We make these remarks, in order to invite attention to the fact, that as the eighth caught up the last line of the seventh, this ninth Psalm opens with an apparent reference to the eighth:

"I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart;
I will shew forth all thy marvellous works.
I will be glad and rejoice in thee. (Compare Song 1:4; Revelation 19:7)
I will sing to THY NAME, O thou Most High." Verses 1, 2.

     As if "The Name," so highly praised in the former Psalm, were still ringing in the ear of the sweet singer of Israel. And in verse 10, he returns to it, celebrating their confidence who "know" that "name" as if its fragrance still breathed in the atmosphere around.

     DIVISION. The strain so continually changes, that it is difficult to give an outline of it methodically arranged: we give the best we can make. From verses 1 to 6 is a song of jubilant thanksgiving; from 7 to 12, there is a continued declaration of faith as to the future. Prayer closes the first great division of the Psalm in verses 13 and 14. The second portion of this triumphal ode, although much shorter, is parallel in all its parts to the first portion, and is a sort of rehearsal of it. Observe the song for past judgments, verses 15, 16; the declaration of trust in future justice, 17, 18; and the closing prayer, 19, 20. Let us celebrate the conquests of the Redeemer as we read this Psalm, and it cannot but be a delightful task if the Holy Ghost be with us.


EXPOSITION

     Verse 1. With a holy resolution the songster begins his hymn; I will praise thee, O Lord. It sometimes needs all our determination to face the foe, and bless the Lord in the teeth of his enemies; vowing that whoever else may be silent we will bless his name; here, however, the overthrow of the foe is viewed as complete, and the song flows with sacred fulness of delight. It is our duty to praise the Lord; let us perform it as a privilege. Observe that David's praise is all given to the Lord. Praise is to be offered to God alone; we may be grateful to the intermediate agent, but our thanks must have long wings and mount aloft to heaven. With my whole heart. Half heart is no heart. I will show forth. There is true praise to the thankful telling forth to others of our heavenly Father's dealings with us; this is one of the themes upon which the godly should speak often to one another, and it will not be casting pearls before swine if we make even the ungodly hear of the loving-kindness of the Lord to us. All thy marvellous works. Gratitude for one mercy refreshes the memory as to thousands of others. One silver link in the chain draws up a long series of tender remembrances. Here is eternal work for us, for there can be no end to the showing forth of all his deeds of love. If we consider our own sinfulness and nothingness, we must feel that every work of preservation, forgiveness, conversion, deliverance, sanctification, etc., which the Lord has wrought for us, or in us is a marvellous work. Even in heaven, divine loving-kindness will doubtless be as much a theme of surprise as of rapture.

     Verse 2. Gladness and joy are the appropriate spirit in which to praise the goodness of the Lord. Birds extol the Creator in notes of overflowing joy, the cattle low forth his praise with tumult of happiness, and the fish leap up in his worship with excess of delight. Moloch may be worshipped with shrieks of pain, and Juggernaut may be honoured by dying groans and inhuman yells, but he whose name is Love is best pleased with the holy mirth, and sanctified gladness of his people. Daily rejoicing is an ornament to the Christian character, and a suitable robe for God's choristers to wear. God loveth a cheerful giver, whether it be the gold of his purse or the gold of his mouth which he presents upon his altar. I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High. Songs are the fitting expression of inward thankfulness, and it were well if we indulge ourselves and honoured our Lord with more of them. Mr. B. P. Power has well said, "The sailors give a cheery cry as they weigh anchor, the ploughman whistles in the morning as he drives his team; the milkmaid sings her rustic song as she sets about her early task; when soldiers are leaving friends behind them, they do not march out to the tune of the 'Dead March in Saul,' but to the quick notes of some lively air. A praising spirit would do for us all that their songs and music do for them; and if only we could determine to praise the Lord, we should surmount many a difficulty which our low spirits never would have been equal to, and we should do double the work which can be done if the heart be languid in its beating, if we be crushed and trodden down in soul. As the evil spirit in Saul yielded in olden time to the influence of the harp of the son of Jesse, so would the spirit of melancholy often take flight from us, if only we would take up the song of praise.

     Verse 3. God's presence is evermore sufficient to work the defeat of our most furious foes, and their ruin is so complete when the Lord takes them in hand, that even flight cannot save them, they fall to rise no more when he pursues them. We must be careful, like David, to give all the glory to him whose presence gives the victory. If we have here the exultings of our conquering Captain, let us make the triumphs of the Redeemer the triumphs of the redeemed, and rejoice with him at the total discomfiture of all his foes.

     Verse 4. One of our nobility has for his motto, "I will maintain it;" but the Christian has a better and more humble one, "Thou hast maintained it." "God and my right," are united by my faith: while God lives my right shall never be taken from me. If we seek to maintain the cause and honour of our Lord we may suffer reproach and misrepresentation, but it is a rich comfort to remember that he who sits on the throne knows our hearts, and will not leave us to the ignorant and ungenerous judgment of erring man.

     Verse 5. God rebukes before he destroys, but when he once comes to blows with the wicked he ceases not until he has dashed them in pieces so small that their very name is forgotten, and like a noisome snuff their remembrance is put out for ever and ever. How often the word "thou" occurs in this and the former verse, to show us that the grateful strain mounts up directly to the Lord as doth the smoke from the altar when the air is still. My soul send up all the music of all thy powers to him who has been and is thy sure deliverance.

     Verse 6. Here the Psalmist exults over the fallen foe. He bends as it were, over his prostrate form, and insults his once vaunted strength. He plucks the boaster's song out of his mouth, and sings it for him in derision. After this fashion doth our Glorious Redeemer ask of death, "Where is thy sting?" and of the grave, "Where is thy victory?" The spoiler is spoiled, and he who made captive is led into captivity himself. Let the daughters of Jerusalem go forth to meet their King, and praise him with timbrel and harp.

     In the light of the past the future is not doubtful. Since the same Almighty God fills the throne of power, we can with unhesitating confidence, exult in our security for all time to come.

     Verse 7. The enduring existence and unchanging dominion of our Jehovah, are the firm foundations of our joy. The enemy and his destructions shall come to a perpetual end, but God and his throne shall endure for ever. The eternity of divine sovereignty yields unfailing consolation. By the throne being prepared for judgment, are we not to understand the swiftness of divine justice. In heaven's court suitors are not worn out with long delays. Term-time lasts all the year round in the court of King's Bench above. Thousands may come at once to the throne of the Judge of all the earth, but neither plaintiff nor defendant shall have to complain that he is not prepared to give their cause a fair hearing.

     Verse 8. Whatever earthly courts may do, heaven's throne ministers judgment in uprightness. Partiality and respect of persons are things unknown in the dealings of the Holy One of Israel. How the prospect of appearing before the impartial tribunal of the Great King should act as a check to us when tempted to sin, and as a comfort when we are slandered or oppressed.

     Verse 9. He who gives no quarter to the wicked in the day of judgment, is the defence and refuge of his saints in the day of trouble. There are many forms of oppression; both from man and from Satan oppression comes to us; and for all its forms, a refuge is provided in the Lord Jehovah. There were cities of refuge under the law, God is our refuge-city under the gospel. As the ships when vexed with tempest make for harbour, so do the oppressed hasten to the wings of a just and gracious God. He is a high tower so impregnable, that the hosts of hell cannot carry it by storm, and from its lofty heights faith looks down with scorn upon her enemies.

     Verse 10. Ignorance is worst when it amounts to ignorance of God, and knowledge is best when it exercises itself upon the name of God. This most excellent knowledge leads to the most excellent grace of faith. O, to learn more of the attributes and character of God. Unbelief, that hooting nightbird, cannot live in the light of divine knowledge, it flies before the sun of God's great and gracious name. If we read this verse literally, there is, no doubt, a glorious fulness of assurance in the names of God. We have recounted them in the "Hints for Preachers," and would direct the reader's attention to them. By knowing his name is also meant an experimental acquaintance with the attributes of God, which are every one of them anchors to hold the soul from drifting in seasons of peril. The Lord may hide his face for a season from his people, but he never has utterly, finally, really, or angrily forsaken them that seek him. Let the poor seekers draw comfort from this fact, and let the finders rejoice yet more exceedingly, for what must be the Lord's faithfulness to those who find if he is so gracious to those who seek.

"O hope of every contrite heart,
O joy of all the meek,
To those who fall how kind thou art,
How good to those who seek.
"But what to those who find, ah, this
Nor tongue nor pen can show
The love of Jesus what it is,
None but his loved ones know."

     Verse 11. Being full of gratitude himself, our inspired author is eager to excite others to join the strain, and praise God in the same manner as he himself vowed to do in the first and second verses. The heavenly spirit of praise is gloriously contagious, and he that hath it is never content unless he can excite all who surround him to unite in his sweet employ. Singing and preaching, as means of glorifying God, are here joined together, and it is remarkable that, connected with all revivals of gospel ministry, there has been a sudden outburst of the spirit of song. Luther's Psalms and Hymns were in all men's mouths, and in the modern revival under Wesley and Whitefield, the strains of Charles Wesley, Cennick, Berridge, Toplady, Hart, Newton, and many others, were the outgrowth of restored piety. The singing of the birds of praise fitly accompanies the return of the gracious spring of divine visitation through the proclamation of the truth. Sing on brethren, and preach on, and these shall both be a token that the Lord still dwelleth in Zion. It will be well for us when coming up to Zion, to remember that the Lord dwells among his saints, and is to be had in peculiar reverence of all those that are about him.

     Verse 12. When an inquest is held concerning the blood of the oppressed, the martyred saints will have the first remembrance; he will avenge his own elect. Those saints who are living shall also be heard; they shall be exonerated from blame, and kept from destruction, even when the Lord's most terrible work is going on; the man with the inkhorn by his side shall mark them all for safety, before the slaughtermen are permitted to smite the Lord's enemies. The humble cry of the poorest saints shall neither be drowned by the voice of the thundering justice nor by the shrieks of the condemned.

     Verse 13. Memories of the past and confidences concerning the future conducted the man of God to the mercy seat to plead for the needs of the present. Between praising and praying he divided all his time. How could he have spent it more profitably? His first prayer is one suitable for all persons and occasions, it breathes a humble spirit, indicates self-knowledge, appeals to the proper attributes, and to the fitting person. Have mercy upon me, O Lord. Just as Luther used to call some texts little bibles, so we may call this sentence a little prayer-book; for it has in it the soul and marrow of prayer. It is multum in parvo, and like the angelic sword turns every way. The ladder looks to be short, but it reaches from earth to heaven.

     What a noble title is here given to the Most High. Thou that liftest me up from the gates of death! What a glorious lift! In sickness, in sin, in despair, in temptation, we have been brought very low, and the gloomy portal has seemed as if it would open to imprison us, but, underneath us were the everlasting arms, and, therefore, we have been uplifted even to the gates of heaven. Trapp quaintly says, "He commonly reserveth his hand for a dead lift, and rescueth those who were even talking of their graves."

     Verse 14. We must not overlook David's object in desiring mercy, it is God's glory: "that I may show forth all thy praise." Saints are not so selfish as to look only to self; they desire mercy's diamond that they may let others see it flash and sparkle, and may admire Him who gives such priceless gems to his beloved. The contrast between the gates of death and the gates of the New Jerusalem is very striking; let our songs be excited to the highest and most rapturous pitch by the double consideration of whence we are taken, and to what we have been advanced, and let our prayers for mercy be made more energetic and agonizing by a sense of the grace which such a salvation implies. When David speaks of his showing forth all God's praise, he means that, in his deliverance grace in all its heights and depths would be magnified. Just as our hymn puts it:—

"O the length and breadth of love!
Jesus, Saviour, can it be?
All thy mercy's height I prove,
All the depth is seen in me.

     Here ends the first part of this instructive Psalm, and in pausing awhile we feel bound to confess that our exposition has only flitted over its surface and has not digged into the depths. The verses are singularly full of teaching, and if the Holy Spirit shall bless the reader, he may go over this Psalm, as the writer has done scores of times, and see on each occasion fresh beauties.

     Verse 15. In considering this terrible picture of the Lord's overwhelming judgments of his enemies, we are called upon to ponder and meditate upon it with deep seriousness by the two untranslated words, Higgaion, Selah. Meditate, pause. Consider, and tune your instrument. Bethink yourselves and solemnly adjust your hearts to the solemnity which is so well becoming the subject. Let us in a humble spirit approach these verses, and notice, first, that the character of God requires the punishment of sin.

     Verse 16. Jehovah is known by the judgment which he executeth; his holiness and abhorrence of sin is thus displayed. A ruler who winked at evil would soon be known by all his subjects to be evil himself, and he, on the other hand, who is severely just in judgment reveals his own nature thereby. So long as our God is God, he will not, he cannot spare the guilty; except through that one glorious way in which he is just, and yet the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. We must notice, secondly, that the manner of his judgment is singularly wise, and indisputably just. He makes the wicked become their own executioners. "The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made," etc. Like cunning hunters they prepared a pitfall for the godly and fell into it themselves: the foot of the victim escaped their crafty snares, but the toils surrounded themselves: the cruel snare was laboriously manufactured, and it proved its efficacy by snaring its own maker. Persecutors and oppressors are often ruined by their own malicious projects. "Drunkards kill themselves; prodigals beggar themselves;" the contentious are involved in ruinous costs; the vicious are devoured with fierce diseases; the envious eat their own hearts; and blasphemers curse their own souls. Thus, men may read their sin in their punishment. They sowed the seed of sin, and the ripe fruit of damnation is the natural result.

     Verse 17. The justice which has punished the wicked, and preserved the righteous, remains the same, and therefore in days to come, retribution will surely be meted out. How solemn is the seventeenth verse, especially in its warning to forgetters of God. The moral who are not devout, the honest who are not prayerful, the benevolent who are not believing, the amiable who are not converted, these must all have their own portion with the openly wicked in the hell which is prepared for the devil and his angels. There are whole nations of such; the forgetters of God are far more numerous than the profane or profligate, and according to the very forceful expression of the Hebrew, the nethermost hell will be the place into which all of them shall be hurled headlong. Forgetfulness seems a small sin, but it brings eternal wrath upon the man who lives and dies in it.

     Verse 18. Mercy is as ready to her work as ever justice can be. Needy souls fear that they are forgotten; well, if it be so, let them rejoice that they shall not alway be so. Satan tells poor tremblers that their hope shall perish, but they have here the divine assurance that their expectation shall not perish for ever. "The Lord's people are a humbled people, afflicted, emptied, sensible of need, driven to a daily attendance on God, daily begging of him, and living upon the hope of what is promised;" such persons may have to wait, but they shall find that they do not wait in vain.

     Verse 19. Prayers are the believer's weapons of war. When the battle is too hard for us, we call in our great ally, who, as it were, lies in ambush until faith gives the signal by crying out, "Arise, O Lord." Although our cause be all but lost, it shall be soon won again, if the Almighty doth but bestir himself. He will not suffer man to prevail over God, but with swift judgments will confound their gloryings. In the very sight of God the wicked will be punished, and he who is now all tenderness will have no bowels of compassion for them, since they had no tears of repentance while their day of grace endured.

     Verse 20. One would think that men would not grow so vain as to deny themselves to be but men, but it appears to be a lesson which only a divine schoolmaster can teach to some proud spirits. Crowns leave their wearers but men, degrees of eminent learning make their owners not more than men, valour and conquest cannot elevate beyond the dead level of "but men;" and all the wealth of Croesus, the wisdom of Solon, the power of Alexander, the eloquence of Demosthenes, if added together, would leave the possessor but a man. May we ever remember this lest like those in the text, we should be put in fear.

     Before leaving this Psalm, it will be very profitable if the student will peruse it again as the triumphal hymn of the Redeemer, as he devoutly brings the glory of his victories and lays it down at his Father's feet. Let us joy in his joy, and our joy shall be full.


     Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) served for 30 years at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London. He was the great Victorian preacher and was one of the most influential people of the second half of the 19th Century. At the heart of his desire to preach was a fierce love of people, a desire that meant he did not neglect his pastoral ministry. It is estimated that during his lifetime he spoke to 10 million people, and he became known as the "Prince of Preachers." His works fill over 60 volumes; and more than a century after his death, his sermons and devotional texts continue to challenge and touch Christians and non-Christians alike with their biblical grounding, eloquent text, and simple encouragement.

     C.H. Spurgeon Books |  Go to Books Page

Psalm 9

By Don Carson 4/5/2018

     At the beginning of the American Experiment in democracy, the Founding Fathers adopted several stances, accepted by few today, that were deeply indebted to the Judeo-Christian heritage. This is not to say that the Founding Fathers were all Christians. Many weren’t; they were vague deists. But among these biblical assumptions was the belief that human beings are not naturally good and have potential for enormous evil.

      For that reason, when the Fathers constructed their political system, they never appealed to “the wisdom of the American people” or similar slogans common today. Frankly, they were a little nervous about giving too much power to the masses. That is why there was no direct election of the president: there was an intervening “college.” Only (white) men with a stake in the country could vote. Even then, the branches of government were to be limited by a system of checks and balances, because for the Fathers, populist demagoguery was as frightening as absolute monarchy.

     Certainly one of the great advantages of almost any system of genuine democracy (genuine in this context presupposes a viable opposition, freedom of the press, and largely uncorrupted voting) is that it provides the masses with the power to turf out leaders who disillusion us. In that sense, democracy still works: government must be by the consent of the governed. Yet the primitive heritage has so dissipated today that politicians from all sides appeal to the wisdom of the people. Manipulated by the media, voting their pocketbooks, supporting sectional interests or monofocal issues, voters in America and other Western democracies do not show very great signs of transcendent wisdom. Worse, we labor under the delusion (indeed, we foster the delusion) that somehow things will be all right provided lots of people vote. Our system of government is our new Tower of Babel: it is supposed to make us impregnable. The Soviet empire totters; other nations crumble into the dust, Balkanized, destroyed by civil war, tribal genocide, grinding poverty, endemic corruption, Marxist or some other ideology. Not us. We belong to a democracy, “rule by the people.”

     Not for a moment should we depreciate the relative good of living in a country with a relatively high level of income, a stable government, and some accountability. But such blessings do not guarantee righteousness. “The LORD reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment. He will judge the world in righteousness; he will govern the peoples with justice” (Ps. 9:7-8).

     Hear the voice of Scripture: “Arise, O LORD, let not man triumph; let the nations be judged in your presence. Strike them with terror, O LORD; let the nations know they are but men” (Ps. 9:19-20).

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Don Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and co-founder (with Tim Keller) of The Gospel Coalition. He has authored numerous books, and recently edited The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures (Eerdmans, 2016).

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Psalm 10

By Don Carson 4/6/2018

     Psalm 10 continues the theme of the justice and judgment of God, now slanted away from the more immediate and personal issue of justice for David when he feels betrayed by his enemies and toward a more general treatment. Where is God when evil people triumph? “Why, O LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” (10:1).

     In Psalm 10:2-11, the wicked man is described in a composite picture. He arrogantly preys on weaker people (10:2). Far from showing any self-restraint, he boasts of his appetites “and reviles the Lord” (10:3). The sad fact of the matter is that “in all his thoughts there is no room for God” (10:4). Yet it is not difficult to find wicked people who are extraordinarily prosperous, even while they defy all the laws of God (10:5). The wicked man’s explosive arrogance seems to put him above lesser mortals, and he is touted in the papers as the one who gleefully pronounces to himself, “Nothing will shake me; I’ll always be happy and never have trouble” (10:6). Nevertheless he curses his opponents, and spreads lies and malice with his tongue (10:8). In the worst cases he stoops to murder, whether directly as in gang warfare, mob violence, and terrorist attack, or indirectly through ruthless schemes that crush the helpless (10:9-10). And what does he think of God? “God has forgotten; he covers his face and never sees” (10:11).

     The psalmist now addresses God directly (10:12-15): “Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless” (10:11). He reminds himself that God does see all the trouble and grief that befall this broken race; he does consider it; in his own time, he does take it in hand (10:14). That is why the victim and the orphan wisely commit themselves “to you” (10:14). So much evil is done in secret and will not be exposed by the ordinary judicial process. The psalmist therefore calls to God for justice: “Break the arm of the wicked and evil man; call him to account for his wickedness that would not be found out” (10:15).

     The closing verses (10:16-18) find the psalmist reminding himself that God’s scale of timing is less urgent than ours: “The LORD is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish from his land” (10:16). The scale that anticipates the dissolution of nations is not meant to dispel confidence that God also concerns himself with the minuscule scale of individual calamity. Rather, it is another way of saying that “the wheels of God’s justice grind exceeding slow, but they grind exceeding fine.”

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Don Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and co-founder (with Tim Keller) of The Gospel Coalition. He has authored numerous books, and recently edited The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures (Eerdmans, 2016).

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Psalm 10 Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)

By Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)

     Since this Psalm has no title of its own, it is supposed by some to be a fragment of Psalm 9. We prefer, however, since it is complete in itself, to consider it as a separate composition. We have had instances already of Psalms which seem meant to form a pair (Psalm 1 and 2, Psalm 3 and 4) and this, with Psalm 9, is another specimen of the double Psalm.

     The prevailing theme seems to be the oppression and persecution of the wicked, we will, therefore, for our own guidance, entitle it, THE CRY OF THE OPPRESSED.

     DIVISION. Verse 1, in an exclamation of surprise, explains the intent of the Psalm, viz., to invoke the interposition of God for the deliverance of his poor and persecuted people. From verse 2 to 11, the character of the oppressor is described in powerful language. In verse 12, the cry of the first verse bursts forth again, but with a clearer utterance. In the next place (verses 13-15), God's eye is clearly beheld as regarding all the cruel deeds of the wicked; and as a consequence of divine omniscience, the ultimate judgment of the oppressed is joyously anticipated (verses 16-18). To the Church of God during times of persecution, and to individual saints who are smarting under the hand of the proud sinner, this Psalm furnishes suitable language both for prayer and praise.


EXPOSITION

     Verse 1. To the tearful eye of the sufferer the Lord seemed to stand still, as if he calmly looked on, and did not sympathize with his afflicted one. Nay, more, the Lord appeared to be afar off, no longer "a very present help in trouble," but an inaccessible mountain, into which no man would be able to climb. The presence of God is the joy of his people, but any suspicion of his absence is distracting beyond measure. Let us, then, ever remember that the Lord is nigh us. The refiner is never far from the mouth of the furnace when his gold is in the fire, and the Son of God is always walking in the midst of the flames when his holy children are cast into them. Yet he that knows the frailty of man will little wonder that when we are sharply exercised, we find it hard to bear the apparent neglect of the Lord when he forbears to work our deliverance.

     "Why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble?" It is not the trouble, but the hiding of our Father's face, which cuts us to the quick. When trial and desertion come together, we are in as perilous a plight as Paul, when his ship fell into a place where two seas met (Acts 27:41). It is but little wonder if we are like the vessel which ran aground, and the fore-part stuck fast, and remained unmoveable, while the hinder part was broken by the violence of the waves. When our sun is eclipsed, it is dark indeed. If we need an answer to the question, "Why hidest thou thyself?" it is to be found in the fact that there is a "needs-be," not only for trial, but for heaviness of heart under trial (1 Peter 1:6); but how could this be the case, if the Lord should shine upon us while he is afflicting us? Should the parent comfort his child while he is correcting him, where would be the use of the chastening? A smiling face and a rod are not fit companions. God bares the back that the blow may be felt; for it is only felt affliction which can become blest affliction. If we were carried in the arms of God over every stream, where would be the trial, and where the experience, which trouble is meant to teach us?

(1 Pe 1:5–6) 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,   ESV

     Verse 2. The second verse contains the formal indictment against the wicked: "The wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor." The accusation divides itself into two distinct charges, —pride and tyranny; the one the root and cause of the other. The second sentence is the humble petition of the oppressed: "Let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined." The prayer is reasonable, just, and natural. Even our enemies themselves being judges, it is but right that men should be done by as they wished to do to others. We only weigh you in your own scales, and measure your corn with your own bushel. Terrible shall be thy day, O persecuting Babylon! when thou shalt be made to drink of the winecup which thou thyself hast filled to the brim with the blood of saints. There are none who will dispute the justice of God, when he shall hang every Haman on his own gallows, and cast all the enemies of his Daniels into their own den of lions.

     Verse 3. The indictment being read, and the petition presented, the evidence is now heard upon the first count. The evidence is very full and conclusive upon the matter of pride, and no jury could hesitate to give a verdict against the prisoner at the bar. Let us, however, hear the witnesses one by one. The first testifies that he is a boaster. "For the wicked boasteth of his heart's desire." He is a very silly boaster, for he glories in a mere desire: a very brazen-faced boaster, for that desire is villainy; and a most abandoned sinner, to boast of that which is his shame. Bragging sinners are the worst and most contemptible of men, especially when their filthy desires, —too filthy to be carried into act, —become the theme of their boastings. When Mr. Hate-Good and Mr. Heady are joined in partnership, they drive a brisk trade in the devil's wares. This one proof is enough to condemn the prisoner at the bar. Take him away, jailor! But stay, another witness desires to be sworn and heard. This time, the impudence of the proud rebel is even more apparent; for he "blesseth the covetous, whom the Lord abhorreth." This is insolence, which is pride unmasked. He is haughty enough to differ from the Judge of all the earth, and bless the men whom God hath cursed. So did the sinful generation in the days of Malachi, who called the proud happy, and set up those that worked wickedness (Malachi 3:15). These base pretenders would dispute with their Maker; they would—


"Snatch from his hand the balance and the rod,
Rejudge his justice, be the god of God."

     How often have we heard the wicked man speaking in terms of honour of the covetous, the grinder of the poor, and the sharp dealer! Our old proverb hath it,—

"I wot well how the world wags;
He is most loved that hath most bags."

     Pride meets covetousness, and compliments it as wise, thrifty, and prudent. We say it with sorrow, there are many professors of religion who esteem a rich man, and flatter him, even though they know that he has fattened himself upon the flesh and blood of the poor. The only sinners who are received as respectable are covetous men. If a man is a fornicator, or a drunkard, we put him out of the church; but who ever read of church discipline against that idolatrous wretch, —the covetous man? Let us tremble, lest we be found to be partakers of this atrocious sin of pride, "blessing the covetous, whom Jehovah abhorreth."

     Verse 4. The proud boastings and lewd blessings of the wicked have been received in evidence against him, and now his own face confirms the accusation, and his empty closet cries aloud against him. "The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God." Proud hearts breed proud looks and stiff knees. It is an admirable arrangement that the heart is often written on the countenance, just as the motion of the wheels of a clock find their record on its face. A brazen face and a broken heart never go together. We are not quite sure that the Athenians were wise when they ordained that men should be tried in the dark lest their countenances should weigh with the judges; for there is much more to be learned from the motions of the muscles of the face than from the words of the lips. Honesty shines in the face, but villainy peeps out at the eyes.

     See the effect of pride; it kept the man from seeking God. It is hard to pray with a stiff neck and an unbending knee. "God is not in all his thoughts:" he thought much, but he had no thoughts for God. Amid heaps of chaff there was not a grain of wheat. The only place where God is not is in the thoughts of the wicked. This is a damning accusation; for where the God of heaven is not, the Lord of hell is reigning and raging; and if God be not in our thoughts, our thoughts will bring us to perdition.

     Verse 5. "His ways are always grievous." To himself they are hard. Men go a rough road when they go to hell. God has hedged-up the way of sin: O what folly to leap these hedges and fall among the thorns! To others, also, his ways cause much sorrow and vexation; but what cares he? He sits like the idol god upon his monstrous car, utterly regardless of the crowds who are crushed as he rolls along. "Thy judgments are far above out of his sight:" he looks high, but not high enough. As God is forgotten, so are his judgments. He is not able to comprehend the things of God; a swine may sooner look through a telescope at the stars than this man study the Word of God to understand the righteousness of the Lord. "As for all his enemies, he puffeth at them." He defies and domineers; and when men resist his injurious behaviour, he sneers at them, and threatens to annihilate them with a puff. In most languages there is a word of contempt borrowed from the action of puffing with the lips, and in English we should express the idea by saying, "He cries, 'Pooh! Pooh!' at his enemies." Ah! there is one enemy who will not thus be puffed at. Death will puff at the candle of his life and blow it out, and the wicked boaster will find it grim work to brag in the tomb.

     Verse 6. The testimony of the sixth verse concludes the evidence against the prisoner upon the first charge of pride, and certainly it is conclusive in the highest degree. The present witness has been prying into the secret chambers of the heart, and has come to tell us what he has heard. "He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved: for I shall never be in adversity." O impertinence runs to seed! The man thinks himself immutable, and omnipotent too, for he, he is never to be in adversity. He counts himself a privileged man. He sits alone, and shall see no sorrow. His nest is in the stars, and he dreams not of a hand that shall pluck him thence. But let us remember that this man's house is built upon the sand, upon a foundation no more substantial than the rolling waves of the sea. He that is too secure is never safe. Boastings are not buttresses, and self-confidence is a sorry bulwark. This is the ruin of fools, that when they succeed they become too big, and swell with self-conceit, as if their summer would last for ever, and their flowers bloom on eternally. Be humble, O man! for thou art mortal, and thy lot is mutable.

     The second crime is now to be proved. The fact that the man is proud and arrogant may go a long way to prove that he is vindicative and cruel. Haman's pride was the father of a cruel design to murder all the Jews. Nebuchadnezzar builds an idol; in pride he commands all men to bow before it; and then cruelly stands ready to heat the furnace seven times hotter for those who will not yield to his imperious will. Every proud thought is twin brother to a cruel thought. He who exalts himself will despise others, and one step further will make him a tyrant.

     Verse 7. Let us now hear the witnesses in court. Let the wretch speak for himself, for out of his own mouth he will be condemned. "His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and fraud." There is not only a little evil there, but his mouth is full of it. A three-headed serpent hath stowed away its coils and venom within the den of its black mouth. There is cursing which he spits against both God and men, deceit with which he entraps the unwary, and fraud by which, even in his common dealings, he robs his neighbours. Beware of such a man: have no sort of dealing with him: none but the silliest of geese would go to the fox's sermon, and none but the most foolish will put themselves into the society of knaves. But we must proceed. Let us look under this man's tongue as well as in his mouth; "under his tongue is mischief and vanity." Deep in his throat are the unborn words which shall come forth as mischief and iniquity.

     Verse 8. Despite the bragging of this base wretch, it seems that he is as cowardly as he is cruel. "He sitteth in the lurking places of the villages: in the secret places doth he murder the innocent: his eyes are privily set against the poor." He acts the part of the highwayman, who springs upon the unsuspecting traveller in some desolate part of the road. There are always bad men lying in wait for the saints. This is a land of robbers and thieves; let us travel well armed, for every bush conceals an enemy. Everywhere there are traps laid for us, and foes thirsting for our blood. There are enemies at our table as well as across the sea. We are never safe, save when the Lord is with us.

     Verse 9. The picture becomes blacker, for here is the cunning of the lion, and of the huntsman, as well as the stealthiness of the robber. Surely there are some men who come up to the very letter of this description. With watching, perversion, slander, whispering, and false swearing, they ruin the character of the righteous, and murder the innocent; or, with legal quibbles, mortgages, bonds, writs, and the like, they catch the poor, and draw them into a net. Chrysostom was peculiarly severe upon this last phase of cruelty, but assuredly not more so than was richly merited. Take care, brethren, for there are other traps besides these. Hungry lions are crouching in every den, and fowlers spread their nets in every field.

     Quarles well pictures our danger in those memorable lines,—


"The close pursuers' busy hands do plant
Snares in thy substance; snares attend thy wants;
Snares in thy credit; snares in thy disgrace;
Snares in thy high estate; snares in thy base;
Snares tuck thy bed; and snares surround thy board;
Snares watch thy thoughts; and snares attack thy word;
Snares in thy quiet; snares in thy commotion;
Snares in thy diet; snares in thy devotion;
Snares lurk in thy resolves; snares in thy doubt;
Snares lie within thy heart; and snares without;
Snares are above thy head, and snares beneath;
Snares in thy sickness; snares are in thy death.

     O Lord! keep thy servants, and defend us from all our enemies!

     Verse 10. "He croucheth and humbleth himself, that the poor may fall by his strong ones." Seeming humility is often armour-bearer to malice. The lion crouches that he may leap with the greater force, and bring down his strong limbs upon his prey. When a wolf was old, and had tasted human blood, the old Saxon cried, "Ware, wolf!" and we may cry, "Ware fox!" They who crouch to our feet are longing to make us fall. Be very careful of fawners; for friendship and flattery are deadly enemies.

     Verse 11. As upon the former count, so upon this one; a witness is forthcoming, who has been listening at the keyhole of the heart. Speak up, friend, and let us hear your story. "He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten: he hideth his face; he will never see it." This cruel man comforts himself with the idea that God is blind, or, at least, forgetful: a fond and foolish fancy, indeed. Men doubt Omniscience when they persecute the saints. If we had a sense of God's presence with us, it would be impossible for us to ill-treat his children. In fact, there can scarcely be a greater preservation from sin than the constant thought of "Thou, God, seest me."

     Thus has the trial proceeded. The case has been fully stated; and now it is but little wonder that the oppressed petitioner lifts up the cry for judgment, which we find in the following verse:—

     Verse 12. With what bold language will faith address its God! and yet what unbelief is mingled with our strongest confidence. Fearlessly the Lord is stirred up to arise and lift up his hand, yet timidly he is begged not to forget the humble; as if Jehovah could ever be forgetful of his saints. This verse is the incessant cry of the Church, and she will never refrain therefrom until her Lord shall come in his glory to avenge her of all her adversaries.

     Verse 13. In these verses the description of the wicked is condensed, and the evil of his character traced to its source, viz., atheistical ideas with regard to the government of the world. We may at once perceive that this is intended to be another urgent plea with the Lord to show his power, and reveal his justice. When the wicked call God's righteousness in question, we may well beg him to teach them terrible things in righteousness. In verse 13, the hope of the infidel and his heart-wishes are laid bare. He despises the Lord, because he will not believe that sin will meet with punishment: "he hath said in his heart, Thou wilt not require it." If there were no hell for other men, there ought to be one for those who question the justice of it.  Is this not today? So many say there is no hell.

     Verse 14. This vile suggestion receives its answer in verse 14. "Thou hast seen it; for thou beholdest mischief and spite, to requite it with thy hand." God is all-eye to see, and all-hand to punish his enemies. From Divine oversight there is no hiding, and from Divine justice there is no fleeing. Wanton mischief shall meet with woeful misery, and those who harbour spite shall inherit sorrow. Verily there is a God which judgeth in the earth. Nor is this the only instance of the presence of God in the world; for while he chastises the oppressor, he befriends the oppressed. "The poor committeth himself unto thee." They give themselves up entirely into the Lord's hands. Resigning their judgment to his enlightenment, and their wills to his supremacy, they rest assured that he will order all things for the best. Nor does he deceive their hope. He preserves them in times of need, and causes them to rejoice in his goodness. "Thou art the helper of the fatherless." God is the parent of all orphans. When the earthly father sleeps beneath the sod, a heavenly Father smiles from above. By some means or other, orphan children are fed, and well they may when they have such a Father.

     Verse 15. In this verse we hear again the burden of the psalmist's prayer: "Break thou the arm of the wicked and the evil man." Let the sinner lose his power to sin; stop the tyrant, arrest the oppressor, weaken the loins of the mighty, and dash in pieces the terrible. They deny thy justice: let them feel it to the full. Indeed, they shall feel it; for God shall hunt the sinner for ever: so long as there is a grain of sin in him it shall be sought out and punished. It is not a little worthy of note, that very few great persecutors have ever died in their beds: the curse has manifestly pursued them, and their fearful sufferings have made them own that divine justice at which they could at one time launch defiance. God permits tyrants to arise as thorn-hedges to protect his church from the intrusion of hypocrites, and that he may teach his backsliding children by them, as Gideon did the men of Succoth with the briers of the wilderness; but he soon cuts up these Herods, like the thorns, and casts them into the fire. Thales, the Milesian, one of the wise men of Greece, being asked what he thought to be the greatest rarity in the world, replied, "To see a tyrant live to be an old man." See how the Lord breaks, not only the arm, but the neck of proud oppressors! To the men who had neither justice nor mercy for the saints, there shall be rendered justice to the full, but not a grain of mercy.

     Verses 16, 17, 18. The Psalm ends with a song of thanksgiving to the great and everlasting King, because he has granted the desire of his humble and oppressed people, has defended the fatherless, and punished the heathen who trampled upon his poor and afflicted children. Let us learn that we are sure to speed well, if we carry our complaint to the King of kings. Rights will be vindicated, and wrongs redressed, at his throne. His government neglects not the interests of the needy, nor does it tolerate oppression in the mighty. Great God, we leave ourselves in thine hand; to thee we commit thy church afresh. Arise, O God, and let the man of the earth— the creature of a day —be broken before the majesty of thy power. Come, Lord Jesus, and glorify thy people. Amen and Amen.


The Treasury of David (3 Volumes Set)

     Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) served for 30 years at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London. He was the great Victorian preacher and was one of the most influential people of the second half of the 19th Century. At the heart of his desire to preach was a fierce love of people, a desire that meant he did not neglect his pastoral ministry. It is estimated that during his lifetime he spoke to 10 million people, and he became known as the "Prince of Preachers." His works fill over 60 volumes; and more than a century after his death, his sermons and devotional texts continue to challenge and touch Christians and non-Christians alike with their biblical grounding, eloquent text, and simple encouragement.

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Psalm 11 Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)

By Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)

     SUBJECT. Charles Simeon gives an excellent summary of this Psalm in the following sentences:—"The Psalms are a rich repository of experimental knowledge. David, at the different periods of his life, was placed in almost every situation in which a believer, whether rich or poor, can be placed; in these heavenly compositions he delineates all the workings of the heart. He introduces, too, the sentiments and conduct of the various persons who were accessory either to his troubles or his joys; and thus sets before us a compendium of all that is passing in the hearts of men throughout the world. When he penned this Psalm he was under persecution from Saul, who sought his life, and hunted him 'as a partridge upon the mountains.' His timid friends were alarmed for his safety, and recommended him to flee to some mountain where he had a hiding-place, and thus to conceal himself from the rage of Saul. But David, being strong in faith, spurned the idea of resorting to any such pusillanimous expedients, and determined confidently to repose his trust in God."

     To assist us to remember this short, but sweet Psalm, we will give it the name of "THE SONG OF THE STEADFAST."

DIVISION. From 1 to 3, David describes the temptation with which he was assailed, and from 4 to 7, the arguments by which his courage was sustained.


EXPOSITION

     Verse 1. These verses contain an account of a temptation to distrust God, with which David was, upon some unmentioned occasion, greatly exercised. It may be, that in the days when he was in Saul's court, he was advised to flee at a time when this flight would have been charged against him as a breach of duty to the king, or a proof of personal cowardice. His case was like that of Nehemiah, when his enemies, under the garb of friendship, hoped to entrap him by advising him to escape for his life. Had he done so, they could then have found a ground of accusation. Nehemiah bravely replied, "Shall such a man as I flee?" and David, in a like spirit, refuses to retreat, exclaiming, "In the Lord put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Flee as a bird to your mountain?" When Satan cannot overthrow us by presumption, how craftily will he seek to ruin us by distrust! He will employ our dearest friends to argue us out of our confidence, and he will use such plausible logic, that unless we once for all assert our immovable trust in Jehovah, he will make us like the timid bird which flies to the mountain whenever danger presents itself.

     Verse 2. How forcibly the case is put! The bow is bent, the arrow is fitted to the string: "Flee, flee, thou defenceless bird, thy safety lies in flight; begone, for thine enemies will send their shafts into thy heart; haste, haste, for soon wilt thou be destroyed!" David seems to have felt the force of the advice, for it came home to his soul; but yet he would not yield, but would rather dare the danger than exhibit a distrust in the Lord his God. Doubtless the perils which encompassed David were great and imminent; it was quite true that his enemies were ready to shoot privily at him.

     Verse 3. It was equally correct that the very foundations of law and justice were destroyed under Saul's unrighteous government: but what were all these things to the man whose trust was in God alone? He could brave the dangers, could escape the enemies, and defy the injustice which surrounded him. His answer to the question, "What can the righteous do?" would be the counter-question, "What cannot they do?" When prayer engages God on our side, and when faith secures the fulfillment of the promise, what cause can there be for flight, however cruel and mighty our enemies? With a sling and a stone, David had smitten a giant before whom the whole hosts of Israel were trembling, and the Lord, who delivered him from the uncircumcised Philistine, could surely deliver him from King Saul and his myrmidons.   ( The Myrmidons were a legendary people of Greek mythology, native to the region of Thessaly. During the Trojan War, they were commanded by Achilles, as described in Homer's Iliad. ) There is no such word as "impossibility" in the language of faith; that martial grace knows how to fight and conquer, but she knows not how to flee.

     Verse 4. David here declares the great source of his unflinching courage. He borrows his light from heaven—from the great central orb of deity. The God of the believer is never far from him; he is not merely the God of the mountain fastnesses, but of the dangerous valleys and battle plains.

     "Jehovah is in his holy temple." The heavens are above our heads in all regions of the earth, and so is the Lord ever near to us in every state and condition. This is a very strong reason why we should not adopt the vile suggestions of distrust. There is one who pleads his precious blood in our behalf in the temple above, and there is one upon the throne who is never deaf to the intercession of his Son. Why, then, should we fear? What plots can men devise which Jesus will not discover? Satan has doubtless desired to have us, that he may sift us as wheat, but Jesus is in the temple praying for us, and how can our faith fail? What attempts can the wicked make which Jehovah shall not behold? And since he is in his holy temple, delighting in the sacrifice of his Son, will he not defeat every device, and send us a sure deliverance?

     "Jehovah's throne is in the heavens;" he reigns supreme. Nothing can be done in heaven, or earth, or hell, which he doth not ordain and over-rule. He is the world's great Emperor. Wherefore, then, should we flee? If we trust this King of kings, is not this enough? Cannot he deliver us without our cowardly retreat? Yes, blessed be the Lord our God, we can salute him as Jehovah-nissi; in his name we set up our banners, and instead of flight, we once more raise the shout of war.

     "His eyes behold." The eternal Watcher never slumbers; his eyes never know a sleep. "His eyelids try the children of men:" he narrowly inspects their actions, words, and thoughts. As men, when intently and narrowly inspecting some very minute object, almost close their eyelids to exclude every other object, so will the Lord look all men through and through. God sees each man as much and as perfectly as if there were no other creature in the universe. He sees us always; he never removes his eye from us; he sees us entirely, reading the recesses of the soul as readily as the glancings of the eye. Is not this a sufficient ground of confidence, and an abundant answer to the solicitations of despondency? My danger is not hid from him; he knows my extremity, and I may rest assured that he will not suffer me to perish while I rely alone on him. Wherefore, then, should I take wings of a timid bird, and flee from the dangers which beset me?

     Verse 5. "The Lord trieth the righteous:" he doth not hate them, but only tries them. They are precious to him, and therefore he refines them with afflictions. None of the Lord's children may hope to escape from trial, nor, indeed, in our right minds, would any of us desire to do so, for trial is the channel of many blessings.

"Tis my happiness below
Not to live without the cross;
But the Saviour's power to know,
Sanctifying every loss.

Trials make the promise sweet;
Trials give new life to prayer;
Trials bring me to his feet—
Lay me low, and keep me there.

Did I meet no trials here—
No chastisement by the way—
Might I not, with reason, fear
I should prove a cast-away?

Bastards may escape the rod,
Sunk in earthly vain delight;
But the true-born child of God
Must not—would not, if he might."

William Cowper.

     Is not this a very cogent reason why we should not distrustfully endeavour to shun a trial? — for in so doing we are seeking to avoid a blessing.

     Verse 6. "But the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth:" why, then, shall I flee from these wicked men? If God hateth them, I will not fear them. Haman was very great in the palace until he lost favour, but when the king abhorred him, how bold were the meanest attendants to suggest the gallows for the man at whom they had often trembled! Look at the black mark upon the faces of our persecutors, and we shall not run away from them. If God is in the quarrel as well as ourselves, it would be foolish to question the result, or avoid the conflict. Sodom and Gomorrah perished by a fiery hail, and by a brimstone shower from heaven; so shall all the ungodly. They may gather together like Gog and Magog to battle, but the Lord will rain upon them "an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone:" Ezekiel 38:22. Some expositors think that in the term "horrible tempest," there is in the Hebrew an allusion to that burning, suffocating wind, which blows across the Arabian deserts, and is known by the name of Simoom. "A burning storm," Lowth calls it, while another great commentator reads it "wrathwind;" in either version the language is full of terrors. What a tempest will that be which shall overwhelm the despisers of God! Oh! what a shower will that be which shall pour out itself for ever upon the defenceless heads of impenitent sinners in hell! Repent, ye rebels, or this fiery deluge shall soon surround you. Hell's horrors shall be your inheritance, your entailed estate, "the portion of your cup." The dregs of that cup you shall wring out, and drink for ever. A drop of hell is terrible, but what must a full cup of torment be? Think of it—a cup of misery, but not a drop of mercy. O people of God, how foolish is it to fear the faces of men who shall soon be faggots in the fire of hell! Think of their end, their fearful end, and all fear of them must be changed into contempt of their threatenings, and pity for their miserable estate.

     Verse 7. The delightful contrast of the last verse is well worthy of our observation, and it affords another overwhelming reason why we should be stedfast, unmoveable, not carried away with fear, or led to adopt carnal expedients in order to avoid trial. "For the righteous Lord loveth righteousness." It is not only his office to defend it, but his nature to love it. He would deny himself if he did not defend the just. It is essential to the very being of God that he should be just; fear not, then, the end of all your trials, but "be just, and fear not." God approves, and, if men oppose, what matters it? "His countenance doth behold the upright." We need never be out of countenance, for God countenances us. He observes, he approves, he delights in the upright. He sees his own image in them, an image of his own fashioning, and therefore with complacency he regards them. Shall we dare to put forth our hand unto iniquity in order to escape affliction? Let us have done with by-ways and short turnings, and let us keep to that fair path of right along which Jehovah's smile shall light us. Are we tempted to put our light under a bushel, to conceal our religion from our neighbours? Is it suggested to us that there are ways of avoiding the cross, and shunning the reproach of Christ? Let us not hearken to the voice of the charmer, but seek an increase of faith, that we may wrestle with principalities and powers, and follow the Lord, fully going without the camp, bearing his reproach. Mammon, the flesh, the devil, will all whisper in our ear, "Flee as a bird to your mountain;" but let us come forth and defy them all. "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." There is no room or reason for retreat. Advance! Let the vanguard push on! To the front! all ye powers and passions of our soul. On! on! in God's name, on! for "the Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge."


The Treasury of David (3 Volumes Set)

     Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) served for 30 years at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London. He was the great Victorian preacher and was one of the most influential people of the second half of the 19th Century. At the heart of his desire to preach was a fierce love of people, a desire that meant he did not neglect his pastoral ministry. It is estimated that during his lifetime he spoke to 10 million people, and he became known as the "Prince of Preachers." His works fill over 60 volumes; and more than a century after his death, his sermons and devotional texts continue to challenge and touch Christians and non-Christians alike with their biblical grounding, eloquent text, and simple encouragement.

     C.H. Spurgeon Books |  Go to Books Page

Psalm 12 Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)

By Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)

     TITLE. This Psalm is headed "To the Chief Musician upon Sheminith, a Psalm of David," which title is identical with that of the Psalm 6, except that Neginoth is here omitted. We have nothing new to add, and therefore refer the reader to our remarks on the dedication of Psalm 6. As Sheminith signifies the eighth, the Arabic version says it is concerning the end of the world, which shall be the eighth day, and refers it to the coming of the Messiah: without accepting so fanciful an interpretation, we may read this song of complaining faith in the light of His coming who shall break in pieces the oppressor. The subject will be the better before the mind's eye if we entitle this Psalm: "GOOD THOUGHTS IN BAD TIMES." It is supposed to have been written while Saul was persecuting David, and those who favoured his cause.

     DIVISION. In the first and second verses David spreads his plaint before the Lord concerning the treachery of his age; verses 3 and 4 denounce judgments upon proud traitors; in verse 5, Jehovah himself thunders out his wrath against oppressors; hearing this, the Chief Musician sings sweetly of the faithfulness of God and his care of his people, in verses 6 and 7; but closes on the old key of lament in verse 8, as he observes the abounding wickedness of his times. Those holy souls who dwell in Mesech, and sojourn in the tents of Kedar, may read and sing these sacred stanzas with hearts in full accord with their mingled melody of lowly mourning and lofty confidence.


EXPOSITION

     Verse 1. "Help, Lord." A short but sweet, suggestive, seasonable, and serviceable prayer; a kind of angel's sword, to be turned every way, and to be used on all occasions. Ainsworth says the word rendered "help," is largely used for all manner of saving, helping, delivering, preserving, etc. Thus it seems that the prayer is very full and instructive. The Psalmist sees the extreme danger of his position, for a man had better be among lions than among liars; he feels his own inability to deal with such sons of Belial, for "he who shall touch them must be fenced with iron;" he therefore turns himself to his all-sufficient Helper, the Lord, whose help is never denied to his servants, and whose aid is enough for all their needs. "Help, Lord," is a very useful ejaculation which we may dart up to heaven on occasions of emergency, whether in labour, learning, suffering, fighting, living, or dying. As small ships can sail into harbours which larger vessels, drawing more water, cannot enter, so our brief cries and short petitions may trade with heaven when our soul is wind-bound, and business-bound, as to longer exercises of devotion, and when the stream of grace seems at too low an ebb to float a more laborious supplication. "For the godly man ceaseth;" the death, departure, or decline of godly men should be a trumpet-call for more prayer. They say that fish smell first at the head, and when godly men decay, the whole commonwealth will soon go rotten. We must not, however, be rash in our judgment on this point, for Elijah erred in counting himself the only servant of God alive, when there were thousands whom the Lord held in reserve. The present times always appear to be peculiarly dangerous, because they are nearest to our anxious gaze, and whatever evils are rife are sure to be observed, while the faults of past ages are further off, and are more easily overlooked. Yet we expect that in the latter days, "because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold," and then we must the more thoroughly turn from man, and address ourselves to the Churches' Lord, by whose help the gates of hell shall be kept from prevailing against us. "The faithful fail from among the children of men;" when godliness goes, faithfulness inevitably follows; without fear of God, men have no love of truth. Common honesty is no longer common, when common irreligion leads to universal godlessness. David had his eye on Doeg, and the men of Ziph and Keilah, and perhaps remembered the murdered priests of Nob, and the many banished ones who consorted with him in the cave of Adullam, and wondered where the state would drift without the anchors of its godly and faithful men. David, amid the general misrule, did not betake himself to seditious plottings, but to solemn petitionings; nor did he join with the multitude to do evil, but took up the arms of prayer to withstand their attacks upon virtue.

     Verse 2. "They speak vanity every one with his neighbour." They utter that which is vain to hear, because of its frivolous, foolish, want of worth; vain to believe, because it was false and lying; vain to trust to, since it was deceitful and flattering; vain to regard, for it lifted up the hearer, filling him with proud conceit of himself. It is a sad thing when it is the fashion to talk vanity. "Ca'me, and I'll ca'thee." is the old Scotch proverb; give me a high sounding character, and I will give you one. Compliments and fawning congratulations are hateful to honest men; they know that if they take they must give them, and they scorn to do either. These accommodation-bills are most admired by those who are bankrupt in character. Bad are the times when every man thus cajoles and cozens his neighbour. "With flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak." He who puffs up another's heart, has nothing better than wind in his own. If a man extols me to my face, he only shows me one side of his heart, and the other is black with contempt for me, or foul with intent to cheat me. Flattery is the sign of the tavern where duplicity is the host. The Chinese consider a man of two hearts to be a very base man, and we shall be safe in reckoning all flatteries to be such.

     Verses 3, 4. Total destruction shall overwhelm the lovers of flattery and pride, but meanwhile how they hector and fume! Well did the apostle call them "raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame." Free-thinkers are generally very free-talkers, and they are never more at ease than when railing at God's dominion, and arrogating to themselves unbounded license. Strange is it that the easy yoke of the Lord should so gall the shoulders of the proud, while the iron bands of Satan they bind about themselves as chains of honour: they boastfully cry unto God, "Who is lord over us?" and hear not the hollow voice of the evil one, who cries from the infernal lake, "I am your lord, and right faithfully do ye serve me." Alas, poor fools, their pride and glory shall be cut off like a fading flower! May God grant that our soul may not be gathered with them. It is worthy of observation that flattering lips, and tongues speaking proud things, are classed together: the fitness of this is clear, for they are guilty of the same vice, the first flatters another, and the second flatters himself, in both cases a lie is in their right hands. One generally imagines that flatterers are such mean parasites, so cringing and fawning, that they cannot be proud; but the wise man will tell you that while all pride is truly meanness, there is in the very lowest meanness no small degree of pride. Caesar's horse is even more proud of carrying Caesar, than Caesar is of riding him. The mat on which the emperor wiped his shoes, boasts vaingloriously, crying out, "I cleaned the imperial boots." None are so detestably domineering as the little creatures who creep into office by cringing to the great; those are bad times, indeed, in which these obnoxious beings are numerous and powerful. No wonder that the justice of God in cutting off such injurious persons is matter for a psalm, for both earth and heaven are weary of such provoking offenders, whose presence is a very plague to the people afflicted thereby. Men cannot tame the tongues of such boastful flatterers; but the Lord's remedy if sharp is sure, and is an unanswerable answer to their swelling words of vanity.

     Verse 5. In due season the Lord will hear his elect ones, who cry day and night unto him, and though he bear long with their oppressors, yet will he avenge them speedily. Observe that the mere oppression of saints, however silently they bear it, is in itself a cry to God: Moses was heard at the Red Sea, though he said nothing; and Hagar's affliction was heard despite her silence. Jesus feels with his people, and their smarts are mighty orators with him. By-and-by, however, they begin to sigh and express their misery, and then relief comes post-haste. Nothing moves a father like the cries of his children; he bestirs himself, wakes up his manhood, overthrows the enemy, and sets his beloved in safety. A puff is too much for the child to bear, and the foe is so haughty, that he laughs the little one to scorn; but the Father comes, and then it is the child's turn to laugh, when he is set above the rage of his tormentor. What virtue is there in a poor man's sighs, that they should move the Almighty God to arise from his throne. The needy did not dare to speak, and could only sigh in secret, but the Lord heard, and could rest no longer, but girded on his sword for the battle. It is a fair day when our soul brings God into her quarrel, for when his bare arm is seen, Philistia shall rue the day. The darkest hours of the Church's night are those which precede the break of day. Man's extremity is God's opportunity. Jesus will come to deliver just when his needy ones shall sigh, as if all hope had gone for ever. O Lord, set thy now near at hand, and rise up speedily to our help. Should the afflicted reader be able to lay hold upon the promise of this verse, let him gratefully fetch a fulness of comfort from it. Gurnall says, "As one may draw out the wine of a whole hogshead at one tap, so may a poor soul derive the comfort of the whole covenant to himself through one promise, if he be able to apply it." He who promises to set us in safety, means thereby preservation on earth, and eternal salvation in heaven.

     Verse 6. What a contrast between the vain words of man, and the pure words of Jehovah. Man's words are yea and nay, but the Lord's promises are yea and amen. For truth, certainty, holiness, faithfulness, the words of the Lord are pure as well-refined silver. In the original there is an allusion to the most severely-purifying process known to the ancients, through which silver was passed when the greatest possible purity was desired; the dross was all consumed, and only the bright and precious metal remained; so clear and free from all alloy of error or unfaithfulness is the book of the words of the Lord. The Bible has passed through the furnace of persecution, literary criticism, philosophic doubt, and scientific discovery, and has lost nothing but those human interpretations which clung to it as alloy to precious ore. The experience of saints has tried it in every conceivable manner, but not a single doctrine or promise has been consumed in the most excessive heat. What God's words are, the words of his children should be. If we would be Godlike in conversation, we must watch our language, and maintain the strictest purity of integrity and holiness in all our communications.

     Verse 7. To fall into the hands of an evil generation, so as to be baited by their cruelty, or polluted by their influence, is an evil to be dreaded beyond measure; but it is an evil foreseen and provided for in the text. In life many a saint has lived a hundred years before his age, as though he had darted his soul into the brighter future, and escaped the mists of the beclouded present: he has gone to his grave unreverenced and misunderstood, and lo! as generations come and go, upon a sudden the hero is unearthed, and lives in the admiration and love of the excellent of the earth; preserved for ever from the generation which stigmatised him as a sower of sedition, or burned him as a heretic. It should be our daily prayer that we may rise above our age as the mountain-tops above the clouds, and may stand out as heaven-pointing pinnacle high above the mists of ignorance and sin which roll around us. O Eternal Spirit, fulfil in us the faithful saying of this verse! Our faith believes those two assuring words, and cries, "Thou shalt," "thou shalt."

     Verse 8. Here we return to the fount of bitterness, which first made the psalmist run to the wells of salvation, namely, the prevalence of wickedness. When those in power are vile, their underlings will be no better. As a warm sun brings out noxious flies, so does a sinner in honour foster vice everywhere. Our turf would not so swarm with abominables if those who are styled honourables did not give their countenance to the craft. Would to God that the glory and triumph of our Lord Jesus would encourage us to walk and work on every side; as like acts upon like, since an exalted sinner encourages sinners, our exalted Redeemer must surely excite, cheer, and stimulate his saints. Nerved by a sight of his reigning power we shall meet the evils of the times in the spirit of holy resolution, and shall the more hopefully pray, "Help, Lord."


The Treasury of David (3 Volumes Set)

     Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) served for 30 years at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London. He was the great Victorian preacher and was one of the most influential people of the second half of the 19th Century. At the heart of his desire to preach was a fierce love of people, a desire that meant he did not neglect his pastoral ministry. It is estimated that during his lifetime he spoke to 10 million people, and he became known as the "Prince of Preachers." His works fill over 60 volumes; and more than a century after his death, his sermons and devotional texts continue to challenge and touch Christians and non-Christians alike with their biblical grounding, eloquent text, and simple encouragement.

     C.H. Spurgeon Books |  Go to Books Page

Psalm 13 Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)

By Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)

     OCCASION. The Psalm cannot be referred to any especial event or period in David's history. All attempts to find it a birthplace are but guesses. It was, doubtless, more than once the language of that much tried man of God, and is intended to express the feelings of the people of God in those ever-returning trials which beset them. If the reader has never yet found occasion to use the language of this brief ode, he will do so ere long, if he be a man after the Lord's own heart. We have been wont to call this the "How Long Psalm." We had almost said the Howling Psalm, from the incessant repetition of the cry "how long?"

DIVISION. This Psalm is very readily to be divided into three parts: the question of anxiety, 1, 2; the cry of prayer, 3, 4; the song of faith, 5, 6.


EXPOSITION

     Verse 1. "How long?" This question is repeated no less than four times. It betokens very intense desire for deliverance, and great anguish of heart. And what if there be some impatience mingled therewith; is not this the more true a portrait of our own experience? It is not easy to prevent desire from degenerating into impatience. O for grace that, while we wait on God, we may be kept from indulging a murmuring spirit! "How long?" Does not the oft-repeated cry become a very HOWLING? And what if grief should find no other means of utterance? Even then, God is not far from the voice of our roaring; for he does not regard the music of our prayers, but his own Spirit's work in them in exciting desire and inflaming the affections.

     "How long?" Ah! how long do our days appear when our soul is cast down within us!


"How wearily the moments seem to glide
O'er sadness! How the time
Delights to linger in its flight!"

     Time flies with full-fledged wing in our summer days, but in our winters he flutters painfully. A week within prison-walls is longer than a month at liberty. Long sorrow seems to argue abounding corruption; for the gold which is long in the fire must have had much dross to be consumed, hence the question "how long?" may suggest deep searching of heart. "How long wilt thou forget me?" Ah, David! how like a fool thou talkest! Can God forget? Can Omniscience fail in memory? Above all, can Jehovah's heart forget his own beloved child? Ah! brethren, let us drive away the thought, and hear the voice of our covenant God by the mouth of the prophet, "But Zion said, The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me." "For ever?" Oh, dark thought! It was surely bad enough to suspect a temporary forgetfulness, but shall we ask the ungracious question, and imagine that the Lord will for ever cast away his people? No, his anger may endure for a night, but his love shall abide eternally. "How long wilt thou hide thy face from me?" This is a far more rational question, for God may hide his face, and yet he may remember still. A hidden face is no sign of a forgetful heart. It is in love that his face is turned away; yet to a real child of God, this hiding of his Father's face is terrible and he will never be at ease until, once more he hath his Father's smile.

     Verse 2. "How long shall I take counsel, in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily?" There is in the original the idea of "laying up" counsels in his heart, as if his devices had become innumerable but unavailing. Herein we have often been like David, for we have considered and reconsidered day after day, but have not discovered the happy device by which to escape from our trouble. Such store is a sad sore. Ruminating upon trouble is bitter work. Children fill their mouths with bitterness when they rebelliously chew the pill which they ought obediently to have taken at once. "How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?" This is like wormwood in the gall, to see the wicked enemy exulting while our soul is bowed down within us. The laughter of a foe grates horribly on the ears of grief. For the devil to make mirth of our misery is the last ounce of our complaint, and quite breaks down our patience; therefore let us make it one chief argument in our plea with mercy.

     Thus the careful reader will remark that the question "how long?" is put in four shapes. The writer's grief is viewed, as it seems to be, as it is, as it affects himself within, and his foes without. We are all prone to play most on the worst string. We set up monumental stones over the graves of our joys, but who thinks of erecting monuments of praise for mercies received? We write four books of Lamentations and only one of Canticles, and are far more at home in wailing out a Misere than in chanting a Te Deum.

     Verse 3. But now prayer lifteth up her voice, like the watchman who proclaims the daybreak. Now will the tide turn, and the weeper shall dry his eyes. The mercy-seat is the life of hope and the death of despair. The gloomy thought of God's having forsaken him is still upon the psalmist's soul, and he therefore cries, "Consider and hear me." He remembers at once the root of his woe, and cries aloud that it may be removed. The final absence of God is Tophet's fire, and his temporary absence brings his people into the very suburbs of hell. God is here entreated to see and hear, that so he may be doubly moved to pity. What should we do if we had no God to turn to in the hour of wretchedness?

     Note the cry of faith, "O Lord MY God!" Is it not a very glorious fact that our interest in our God is not destroyed by all our trials and sorrows? We may lose our gourds, but not our God. The title-deed of heaven is not written in the sand, but in eternal brass.

     "Lighten mine eyes:" that is, let the eye of my faith be clear, that I may see my God in the dark; let my eye of watchfulness be wide open, lest I be entrapped, and let the eye of my understanding be illuminated to see the right way. Perhaps, too, here is an allusion to that cheering of the spirits so frequently called the enlightening of the eyes because it causes the face to brighten, and the eyes to sparkle. Well may we use the prayer, "Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord!" for in many respects we need the Holy Spirit's illuminating rays. "Lest I sleep the sleep of death." Darkness engenders sleep, and despondency is not slow in making the eyes heavy. From this faintness and dimness of vision, caused by despair, there is but a step to the iron sleep of death. David feared that his trials would end his life, and he rightly uses his fear as an argument with God in prayer; for deep distress has in it a kind of claim upon compassion, not a claim of right, but a plea which has power with grace. Under the pressure of heart sorrow, the psalmist does not look forward to the sleep of death with hope and joy, as assured believers do, but he shrinks from it with dread, from which we gather that bondage from fear of death is no new thing.

     Verse 4. Another plea is urged in the fourth verse, and it is one which the tried believer may handle well when on his knees. We make use of our arch-enemy for once, and compel him, like Samson, to grind in our mill while we use his cruel arrogance as an argument in prayer. It is not the Lord's will that the great enemy of our souls should overcome his children. This would dishonour God, and cause the evil one to boast. It is well for us that our salvation and God's honour are so intimately connected, that they stand or fall together.

     Our covenant God will complete the confusion of all our enemies, and if for awhile we become their scoff and jest, the day is coming when the shame will change sides, and the contempt shall be poured on those to whom it is due.

     Verse 5. What a change is here! Lo, the rain is over and gone, and the time of the singing of birds is come. The mercy-seat has so refreshed the poor weeper, that he clears his throat for a song. If we have mourned with him, let us now dance with him. David's heart was more often out of tune than his harp, He begins many of his psalms sighing, and ends them singing; and others he begins in joy and ends in sorrow; "so that one would think," says Peter Moulin, "that those Psalms had been composed by two men of a contrary humour." It is worthy to be observed that the joy is all the greater because of the previous sorrow, as calm is all the more delightful in recollection of the preceding tempest.

"Sorrows remembered sweeten present joy."

     Here is his avowal of his confidence: "But I have trusted in thy mercy." For many a year it had been his wont to make the Lord his castle and tower of defence, and he smiles from behind the same bulwark still. He is sure of his faith, and his faith makes him sure; had he doubted the reality of his trust in God, he would have blocked up one of the windows through which the sun of heaven delights to shine. Faith is now in exercise, and consequently is readily discovered; there is never a doubt in our heart about the existence of faith while it is in action: when the hare or partridge is quiet we see it not, but let the same be in motion and we soon perceive it. All the powers of his enemies had not driven the psalmist from his stronghold. As the shipwrecked mariner clings to the mast, so did David cling to his faith; he neither could nor would give up his confidence in the Lord his God. O that we may profit by his example and hold by our faith as by our very life!

     Now hearken to the music which faith makes in his soul. The bells of the mind are all ringing, "My heart shall rejoice in thy salvation." There is joy and feasting within doors, for a glorious guest has come, and the fatted calf is killed. Sweet is the music which sounds from the strings of the heart. But this is not all; the voice joins itself in the blessed work, and the tongue keeps tune with the soul, while the writer declares, "I will sing unto the Lord."

"I will praise thee every day,
Now thine anger's past away;
Comfortable thoughts arise
From the bleeding sacrifice."

     Verse 6. The Psalm closes with a sentence which is a refutation of the charge of forgetfulness which David had uttered in the first verse, "He hath dealt bountifully with me." So shall it be with us if we wait awhile. The complaint which in our haste we utter shall be joyfully retracted, and we shall witness that the Lord hath dealt bountifully with us.


The Treasury of David (3 Volumes Set)

Don Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and co-founder (with Tim Keller) of The Gospel Coalition. He has authored numerous books, and recently edited The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures (Eerdmans, 2016).

     Don Carson Books |  Go to Books Page

Psalm 14 Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)

By Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)

     TITLE. This admirable ode is simply headed, "To the Chief Musician, by David." The dedication to the Chief Musician stands at the head of fifty-three of the Psalms, and clearly indicates that such psalms were intended, not merely for the private use of believers, but to be sung in the great assemblies by the appointed choir at whose head was the overseer, or superintendent, called in our version, "the Chief Musician," and by Ainsworth, "the Master of the Music." Several of these psalms have little or no praise in them, and were not addressed directly to the Most High, and yet were to be sung in public worship; which is a clear indication that the theory of Augustine lately revived by certain hymn-book makers, that nothing but praise should be sung, is far more plausible than scriptural. Not only did the ancient Church chant hallowed doctrine and offer prayer amid her spiritual songs, but even the wailing notes of complaint were put into her mouth by the sweet singer of Israel who was inspired of God. Some persons grasp at any nicety which has a gloss of apparent correctness upon it, and are pleased with being more fancifully precise than others; nevertheless it will ever be the way of plain men, not only to magnify the Lord in sacred canticles, but also, according to Paul's precept, to teach and admonish one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in their hearts unto the Lord.

     As no distinguishing title is given to this Psalm, we would suggest as an assistance to the memory, the heading—CONCERNING PRACTICAL ATHEISM. The many conjectures as to the occasion upon which it was written are so completely without foundation, that it would be a waste of time to mention them at length. The apostle Paul, in Romans 3, has shown incidentally that the drift of the inspired writer is to show that both Jews and Gentiles are all under sin; there was, therefore, no reason for fixing upon any particular historical occasion, when all of history reeks with terrible evidence of human corruption. With instructive alterations, David has given us in Psalm 53 a second edition of this humiliating psalm, being moved of the Holy Ghost thus doubly to declare a truth which is ever distasteful to carnal minds.

     DIVISION. The world's foolish creed (verse 1); its practical influence in corrupting morals, 1, 2, 3. The persecuting tendencies of sinners, 4; their alarms, 5; their ridicule of the godly, 6; and a prayer for the manifestation of the Lord to his people's joy.


EXPOSITION

     Verse 1. "The fool." The Atheist is the fool pre-eminently, and a fool universally. He would not deny God if he were not a fool by nature, and having denied God it is no marvel that he becomes a fool in practice. Sin is always folly, and as it is the height of sin to attack the very existence of the Most High, so it is also the greatest imaginable folly. To say there is no God is to belie the plainest evidence, which is obstinacy; to oppose the common consent of mankind, which is stupidity; to stifle consciousness, which is madness. If the sinner could by his atheism destroy the God whom he hates there were some sense, although much wickedness, in his infidelity; but as denying the existence of fire does not prevent its burning a man who is in it, so doubting the existence of God will not stop the Judge of all the earth from destroying the rebel who breaks his laws; nay, this atheism is a crime which much provokes heaven, and will bring down terrible vengeance on the fool who indulges it. The proverb says, "A fool's tongue cuts his own throat," and in this instance it kills both soul and body for ever: would to God the mischief stopped even there, but alas! one fool makes hundreds, and a noisy blasphemer spreads his horrible doctrines as lepers spread the plague. Ainsworth, in his "Annotations," tells us that the word here used is Nabal, which has the signification of fading, dying, or falling away, as a withered leaf or flower; it is a title given to the foolish man as having lost the juice and sap of wisdom, reason, honesty, and godliness. Trapp hits the mark when he calls him "that sapless fellow, that carcase of a man, that walking sepulchre of himself, in whom all religion and right reason is withered and wasted, dried up and decayed. Some translate it the apostate, and others the wretch. With what earnestness should we shun the appearance of doubt as to the presence, activity, power and love of God, for all such mistrust is of the nature of folly, and who among us would wish to be ranked with the fool in the text? Yet let us never forget that all unregenerate men are more or less such fools.

     The fool "hath said in his heart." May a man with his mouth profess to believe, and yet in heart say the reverse? Had he hardly become audacious enough to utter his folly with his tongue? Did the Lord look upon his thoughts as being in the nature of words to Him though not to man? Is this where man first becomes an unbeliever?—in his heart, not in his head? And when he talks atheistically, is it a foolish heart speaking, and endeavouring to clamour down the voice of conscience? We think so. If the affections were set upon truth and righteousness, the understanding would have no difficulty in settling the question of a present personal Deity, but as the heart dislikes the good and the right, it is no wonder that it desires to be rid of that Elohim, who is the great moral Governor, the Patron of rectitude and the Punisher of iniquity. While men's hearts remain what they are, we must not be surprised at the prevalence of scepticism; a corrupt tree will bring forth corrupt fruit. "Every man," says Dickson, "so long as he lieth unrenewed and unreconciled to God is nothing in effect but a madman." What wonder then if he raves? Such fools as those we are now dealing with are common to all time, and all countries; they grow without watering, and are found all the world over. The spread of mere intellectual enlightenment will not diminish their number, for since it is an affair of the heart, this folly and great learning will often dwell together. To answer sceptical cavillings will be labour lost until grace enters to make the mind willing to believe; fools can raise more objections in an hour than wise men can answer in seven years, indeed it is their mirth to set stools for wise men to stumble over. Let the preacher aim at the heart, and preach the all-conquering love of Jesus, and he will by God's grace win more doubters to the faith of the gospel than any hundred of the best reasoners who only direct their arguments to the head.

     "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God," or "no God." So monstrous is the assertion, that the man hardly dared to put it as a positive statement, but went very near to doing so. Calvin seems to regard this saying, "no God," as hardly amounting to a syllogism, scarcely reaching to a positive, dogmatical declaration; but Dr. Alexander clearly shows that it does. It is not merely the wish of the sinner's corrupt nature, and the hope of his rebellious heart, but he manages after a fashion to bring himself to assert it, and at certain seasons he thinks that he believes it. It is a solemn reflection that some who worship God with their lips may in their hearts be saying, "no God." It is worthy of observation that he does not say there is no Jehovah, but there is no Elohim; Deity in the abstract is not so much the object of attack, as the covenant, personal, ruling and governing presence of God in the world. God as ruler, lawgiver, worker, Saviour, is the butt at which the arrows of human wrath are shot. How impotent the malice! How mad the rage which raves and foams against Him in whom we live and move and have our being! How horrible the insanity which leads a man who owes his all to God to cry out, "No God"! How terrible the depravity which makes the whole race adopt this as their hearts desire, "no God!"  See the next article, Names of God.

     "They are corrupt." This refers to all men, and we have the warrant of the Holy Ghost for so saying; see the third chapter of the epistle to the Romans. Where there is enmity to God, there is deep, inward depravity of mind. The words are rendered by eminent critics in an active sense, "they have done corruptly:" this may serve to remind us that sin is not only in our nature passively as the source of evil, but we ourselves actively fan the flame and corrupt ourselves, making that blacker still which was black as darkness itself already. We rivet our own chains by habit and continuance.

     "They have done abominable works." When men begin with renouncing the Most High God, who shall tell where they will end? When the Master's eyes are put out, what will not the servants do? Observe the state of the world before the flood, as pourtrayed in Genesis 6:12, and remember that human nature is unchanged. He who would see a terrible photograph of the world without God must read that most painful of all inspired Scriptures, the first chapter of the epistle to the Romans. Learned Hindoos have confessed that the description is literally correct in Hindostan at the present moment; and were it not for the restraining grace of God, it would be so in England. Alas! it is even here but too correct a picture of things which are done of men in secret. Things loathsome to God and man are sweet to some palates.

     "There is none that doeth good." Sins of omission must abound where transgressions are rife. Those who do the things which they ought not to have done, are sure to leave undone those things which they ought to have done. What a picture of our race is this! Save only where grace reigns, there is none that doeth good; humanity, fallen and debased, is a desert without an oasis, a night without a star, a dunghill without a jewel, a hell without a bottom.  After over 126 years the status of man is so much worse than in Spurgeon's day. I can only pray that God's will be done ... and I know it will be.

     Verse 2. "The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men." As from a watchtower, or other elevated place of observation, the Lord is represented as gazing intently upon men. He will not punish blindly, nor like a tyrant command an indiscriminate massacre because a rumour of rebellion has come up to his ears. What condescending interest and impartial justice are here imaged! The case of Sodom, visited before it was overthrown, illustrates the careful manner in which Divine Justice beholds the sin before it avenges it, and searches out the righteous that they perish not with the guilty. Behold then the eyes of Omniscience ransacking the globe, and prying among every people and nation, "to see if there were any that did understand and seek God." He who is looking down knows the good, is quick to discern it, would be delighted to find it; but as he views all the unregenerate children of men his search is fruitless, for of all the race of Adam, no unrenewed soul is other than an enemy to God and goodness. The objects of the Lord's search are not wealthy men, great men, or learned men; these, with all they can offer, cannot meet the demands of the great Governor: at the same time, he is not looking for superlative eminence in virtue, he seeks for any that understand themselves, their state, their duty, their destiny, their happiness; he looks for any that seek God, who, if there be a God, are willing and anxious to find him out. Surely this is not too great a matter to expect; for if men have not yet known God, if they have any right understanding, they will seek him. Alas! even this low degree of good is not to be found even by him who sees all things: but men love the hideous negation of "No God," and with their backs to their Creator, who is the sun of their life, they journey into the dreary region of unbelief and alienation, which is a land of darkness as darkness itself, and of the shadow of death without any order and where the light is as darkness.

     Verse 3. "They are all gone aside." Without exception, all men have apostatized from the Lord their Maker, from his laws, and from all the eternal principles of right. Like stubborn heifers they have sturdily refused to receive the yoke, like errant sheep they have found a gap and left the right field. The original speaks of the race as a whole, as a totality; and humanity as a whole has become depraved in heart and defiled in life. "They have altogether become filthy;" as a whole they are spoiled and soured like corrupt leaven, or, as some put it, they have become putrid and even stinking. The only reason why we do not more clearly see this foulness is because we are accustomed to it, just as those who work daily among offensive odours at last cease to smell them. The miller does not observe the noise of his own mill, and we are slow to discover our own ruin and depravity. But are there no special cases, are all men sinful? "Yes," says the Psalmist, in a manner not to be mistaken, "they are." He has put it positively, he repeats it negatively, "There is none that doeth good, no, not one." The Hebrew phrase is an utter denial concerning any mere man that he of himself doeth good. What can be more sweeping? This is the verdict of the all-seeing Jehovah, who cannot exaggerate or mistake. As if no hope of finding a solitary specimen of a good man among the unrenewed human family might be harboured for an instant. The Holy Spirit is not content with saying all and altogether, but adds the crushing threefold negative, "none, no, not one." What say the opponents to the doctrine of natural depravity to this? Rather what do we feel concerning it? Do we not confess that we by nature are corrupt, and do we not bless the sovereign grace which has renewed us in the spirit of our minds, that sin may no more have dominion over us, but that grace may rule and reign?

     Verse 4. Hatred of God and corruptness of life are the motive forces which produce persecution. Men who having no saving knowledge of divine things, enslave themselves to become workers of iniquity, have no heart to cry to the Lord for deliverance, but seek to amuse themselves with devouring the poor and despised people of God. It is hard bondage to be a "worker of iniquity;" a worker at the galleys, or in the mines of Siberia, is not more truly degraded and wretched; the toil is hard and the reward dreadful: those who have no knowledge choose such slavery, but those who are taught of God cry to be rescued from it. The same ignorance which keeps men bondsmen to evil, makes them hate the freeborn sons of God; hence they seek to eat them up "as they eat bread,"—daily, ravenously, as though it were an ordinary, usual, every-day matter to oppress the saints of God. As pikes in a pond, eat up little fish, as eagles prey on smaller birds, as wolves rend the sheep of the pasture, so sinners naturally and as a matter of course, persecute, malign, and mock the followers of the Lord Jesus. While thus preying, they forswear all praying, and in this act consistently, for how could they hope to be heard while their hands are full of blood?

     Verse 5. Oppressors have it not all their own way, they have their fits of trembling and their appointed seasons of overthrow. There—where they denied God and hectored against his people; there—where they thought of peace and safety, they were made to quail. "There were they"—these very loud-mouthed, iron-handed, proud-hearted Nimrods and Herods, those heady, high-minded sinners—"there were they in great fear." A panic terror seized them: "they feared a fear," as the Hebrew puts it; an undefinable, horrible, mysterious dread crept over them. The most hardened of men have their periods when conscience casts them into a cold sweat of alarm. As cowards are cruel, so all cruel men are at heart cowards. The ghost of past sin is a terrible spectre to haunt any man, and though unbelievers may boast as loudly as they will, a sound is in their ears which makes them ill at ease.

     "For God is in the generation of the righteous." This makes the company of godly men so irksome to the wicked because they perceive that God is with them. Shut their eyes as they may, they cannot but perceive the image of God in the character of his truly gracious people, nor can they fail to see that he works for their deliverance. Like Haman, they instinctively feel a trembling when they see God's Mordecais. Even though the saint may be in a mean position, mourning at the gate where the persecutor rejoices in state, the sinner feels the influence of the believer's true nobility and quails before it, for God is there. Let scoffers beware, for they persecute the Lord Jesus when they molest his people; the union is very close between God and his people, it amounts to a mysterious indwelling, for God is in the generation of the righteous.

     Verse 6. Notwithstanding their real cowardice, the wicked put on the lion's skin and lord it over the Lord's poor ones. Though fools themselves, they mock at the truly wise as if the folly were on their side; but this is what might be expected, for how should brutish minds appreciate excellence, and how can those who have owl's eyes admire the sun? The special point and butt of their jest seems to be the confidence of the godly in their Lord. What can your God do for you now? Who is that God who can deliver out of our hand? Where is the reward of all your praying and beseeching? Taunting questions of this sort they thrust into the faces of weak but gracious souls, and tempt them to feel ashamed of their refuge. Let us not be laughed out of our confidence by them, let us scorn their scorning and defy their jeers; we shall need to wait but a little, and then the Lord our refuge will avenge his own elect, and ease himself of his adversaries, who once made so light of him and of his people.

     Verse 6. Natural enough is this closing prayer, for what would so effectually convince atheists, overthrow persecutors, stay sin, and secure the godly, as the manifest appearance of Israel's great Salvation? The coming of Messiah was the desire of the godly in all ages, and though he has already come with a sin-offering to purge away iniquity, we look for him to come a second time, to come without a sin-offering unto salvation. O that these weary years would have an end! Why tarries he so long? He knows that sin abounds and that his people are down-trodden; why comes he not to the rescue? His glorious advent will restore his ancient people from literal captivity, and his SPIRITUAL seed from spiritual sorrow. Wrestling Jacob and prevailing Israel shall alike rejoice before him when he is revealed as their salvation. O that he were come! What happy, holy, halcyon, heavenly days should we then see! But let us not count him slack, for behold he comes, he comes quickly! Blessed are all they that wait for him.


The Treasury of David (3 Volumes Set)

Don Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and co-founder (with Tim Keller) of The Gospel Coalition. He has authored numerous books, and recently edited The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures (Eerdmans, 2016).

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Psalm 15 Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)

By Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)

     SUBJECT, &c. This Psalm of David bears no dedicatory title at all indicative of the occasion upon which it was written, but it is exceedingly probable that, together with the twenty-fourth Psalm, to which it bears a striking resemblance, its composition was in some way connected with the removal of the ark to the holy hill of Zion. Who should attend upon the ark was a matter of no small consequence, for because unauthorized persons had intruded into the office, David was unable on the first occasion to complete his purpose of bringing the ark to Zion. On the second attempt he is more careful, not only to allot the work of carrying the ark to the divinely appointed Levites (1 Chronicles 15:2), but also to leave it in charge of the man whose house the Lord had blessed, even Obed-edom, who, with his many sons, ministered in the house of the Lord. (1 Chronicles 26:8, 12.) Spiritually we have here a description of the man who is a child at home in the Church of God on earth, and who will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever above. He is primarily Jesus, the perfect man, and in him all who through grace are conformed to his image.

DIVISION. The first verse asks the question; the rest of the verses answer it. We will call the Psalm THE QUESTION AND ANSWER.


EXPOSITION

     Verse 1. THE QUESTION. Jehovah. Thou high and holy One, who shall be permitted to have fellowship with thee? The heavens are not pure in thy sight, and thou chargest thine angels with folly, who then of mortal mould shall dwell with thee, thou dread consuming fire? A sense of the glory of the Lord and of the holiness which becomes his house, his service, and his attendants, excites the humble mind to ask the solemn question before us. Where angels bow with veiled faces, how shall man be able to worship at all? The unthinking many imagine it to be a very easy matter to approach the Most High, and when professedly engaged in his worship they have no questionings of heart as to their fitness for it; but truly humbled souls often shrink under a sense of utter unworthiness, and would not dare to approach the throne of the God of holiness if it were not for him, our Lord, our Advocate, who can abide in the heavenly temple, because his righteousness endureth for ever. "Who shall abide in thy tabernacle?" Who shall be admitted to be one of the household of God, to sojourn under his roof and enjoy communion with himself? "Who shall dwell in thy holy hill?" Who shall be a citizen of Zion, and an inhabitant of the heavenly Jerusalem? The question is raised, because it is a question. All men have not this privilege, nay, even among professors there are aliens from the commonwealth, who have no secret intercourse with God. On the grounds of law no mere man can dwell with God, for there is not one upon earth who answers to the just requirements mentioned in the succeeding verses. The questions in the text are asked of the Lord, as if none but the Infinite Mind could answer them so as to satisfy the unquiet conscience. We must know from the Lord of the tabernacle what are the qualifications for his service, and when we have been taught of him, we shall clearly see that only our spotless Lord Jesus, and those who are conformed unto his image, can ever stand with acceptance before the Majesty on high.

     Impertinent curiosity frequently desires to know who and how many shall be saved; if those who thus ask the question, "Who shall dwell in thy holy hill?" would make it a soul-searching enquiry in reference to themselves they would act much more wisely. Members of the visible church, which is God's tabernacle of worship, and hill of eminence, should diligently see to it, that they have the preparation of heart which fits them to be inmates of the house of God. Without the wedding-dress of righteousness in Christ Jesus, we have no right to sit at the banquet of communion. Without uprightness of walk we are not fit for the imperfect church on earth, and certainly we must not hope to enter the perfect church above.

     Verse 2. THE ANSWER. The Lord in answer to the question informs us by his Holy Spirit of the character of the man who alone can dwell in his holy hill. In perfection this holiness is found only in the Man of Sorrows, but in a measure it is wrought in all his people by the Holy Ghost. Faith and the graces of the Spirit are not mentioned, because this is a description of outward character, and where fruits are found the root may not be seen, but it is surely there. Observe the accepted man's walk, work, and word. "He that walketh uprightly," he keeps himself erect as those do who traverse high ropes; if they lean on one side over they must go, or as those who carry precious but fragile ware in baskets on their heads, who lose all if they lose their perpendicular. True believers do not cringe as flatterers, wriggle as serpents, bend double as earth-grubbers, or crook on one side as those who have sinister aims; they have the strong backbone of the vital principle of grace within, and being themselves upright, they are able to walk uprightly. Walking is of far more importance than talking. He only is right who is upright in walk and downright in honesty. "And worketh righteousness." His faith shows itself by good works, and therefore is no dead faith. God's house is a hive for workers, not a nest for drones. Those who rejoice that everything is done for them by another, even the Lord Jesus, and therefore hate legality, are the best doers in the world upon gospel principles. If we are not positively serving the Lord, and doing his holy will to the best of our power, we may seriously debate our interest in divine things, for trees which bear no fruit must be hewn down and cast into the fire. "And speaketh the truth in his heart." The fool in the last Psalm spoke falsely in his heart; observe both here and elsewhere in the two Psalms, the striking contrast. Saints not only desire to love and speak truth with their lips, but they seek to be true within; they will not lie even in the closet of their hearts, for God is there to listen; they scorn double meanings, evasions, equivocations, white lies, flatteries, and deceptions. Though truths, like roses, have thorns about them, good men wear them in their bosoms. Our heart must be the sanctuary and refuge of truth, should it be banished from all the world beside, and hunted from among men; at all risk we must entertain the angel of truth, for truth is God's daughter. We must be careful that the heart is really fixed and settled in principle, for tenderness of conscience toward truthfulness, like the bloom on a peach, needs gentle handling, and once lost it were hard to regain it. Jesus was the mirror of sincerity and holiness. Oh, to be more and more fashioned after his similitude!

     Verse 3. After the positive comes the negative. "He that backbiteth not with his tongue." There is a sinful way of backbiting with the heart when we think too hardly of a neighbour, but it is the tongue which does the mischief. Some men's tongues bite more than their teeth. The tongue is not steel, but it cuts, and it's wounds are very hard to heal; its worst wounds are not with its edge to our face, but with its back when our head is turned. Under the law, a night hawk was an unclean bird, and its human image is abominable everywhere. All slanderers are the devil's bellows to blow up contention, but those are the worst which blow at the back of the fire. "Nor doeth evil to his neighbour." He who bridles his tongue will not give a licence to his hand. Loving our neighbour as ourselves will make us jealous of his good name, careful not to injure his estate, or by ill example to corrupt his character. "Nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour." He is a fool if not a knave who picks up stolen goods and harbours them; in slander as well as robbery, the receiver is as bad as the thief. If there were not gratified hearers of ill reports, there would be an end of the trade of spreading them. Trapp says, that "the tale-bearer carrieth the devil in his tongue, and the tale-hearer carries the devil in his ear." The original may be translated, "endureth;" implying that it is a sin to endure or tolerate tale-bearers. "Show that man out!" we should say of a drunkard, yet it is very questionable if his unmanly behaviour will do us so much mischief as the tale-bearers insinuating story. "Call for a policeman!" we say if we see a thief at his business; ought we to feel no indignation when we hear a gossip at her work? Mad dog! Mad dog!! is a terrible hue and cry, but there are few curs whose bite is so dangerous as a busybody's tongue. Fire! fire!! is an alarming note, but the tale-bearer's tongue is set on fire of hell, and those who indulge it had better mend their manners, or they may find that there is fire in hell for unbridled tongues. Our Lord spake evil of no man, but breathed a prayer for his foes; we must be like him, or we shall never be with him.

     Verse 4. "In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the Lord." We must be as honest in paying respect as in paying our bills. Honour to whom honour is due. To all good men we owe a debt of honour, and we have no right to hand over what is their due to vile persons who happen to be in high places. When base men are in office, it is our duty to respect the office; but we cannot so violate our consciences as to do otherwise than contemn the men; and on the other hand, when true saints are in poverty and distress, we must sympathize with their afflictions and honour the men none the less. We may honour the roughest cabinet for the sake of the jewels, but we must not prize false gems because of their setting. A sinner in a gold chain and silken robes is no more to be compared with a saint in rags than a rushlight in a silver candlestick with the sun behind a cloud. The proverb says, that "ugly women, finely dressed, are the uglier for it," and so mean men in high estate are the more mean because of it. "He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not." Scriptural saints under the New Testament rule "swear not at all," but their word is as good as an oath: those men of God who think it right to swear, are careful and prayerful lest they should even seem to overshoot the mark. When engagements have been entered into which turn out to be unprofitable, "the saints are men of honour still." Our blessed Surety swore to his own hurt, but how gloriously he stood to his suretyship! what a comfort to us that he changeth not, and what an example to us to be scrupulously and precisely exact in fulfilling our covenants with others! The most far-seeing trader may enter into engagements which turn out to be serious losses, but whatsoever else he loses, if he keeps his honour, his losses will be bearable; if that be lost all is lost.

     Verse 5. "He that putteth not out his money to usury." Usury was and is hateful both to God and man. That a lender should share with the borrower in gains made by his money is most fitting and proper; but that the man of property should eat up the poor wretch who unfortunately obtained a loan of him is abominable. Those who grind poor tradesmen, needy widows, and such like, by charging them interest at intolerable rates, will find that their gold, and their silver are cankered. The man who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord must shake off this sin as Paul shook the viper into the fire. "Nor taketh reward against the innocent." Bribery is a sin both in the giver and the receiver. It was frequently practised in Eastern courts of justice; that form of it is now under our excellent judges almost an unheard-of thing; yet the sin survives in various forms, which the reader needs not that we should mention; and under every shape it is loathsome to the true man of God. He remembers that Jesus instead of taking reward against the innocent died for the guilty.

     Verse 5. "He that doeth these things shall never be moved." No storm shall tear him from his foundations, drag him from his anchorage, or uproot him from his place. Like the Lord Jesus, whose dominion is everlasting, the true Christian shall never lose his crown. He shall not only be on Zion, but like Zion, fixed and firm. He shall dwell in the tabernacle of the Most High, and neither death nor judgment shall remove him from his place of privilege and blessedness.

     Let us betake ourselves to prayer and self-examination, for this Psalm is as fire for the gold, and as a furnace for silver. Can we endure its testing power?


The Treasury of David (3 Volumes Set)

     Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) served for 30 years at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London. He was the great Victorian preacher and was one of the most influential people of the second half of the 19th Century. At the heart of his desire to preach was a fierce love of people, a desire that meant he did not neglect his pastoral ministry. It is estimated that during his lifetime he spoke to 10 million people, and he became known as the "Prince of Preachers." His works fill over 60 volumes; and more than a century after his death, his sermons and devotional texts continue to challenge and touch Christians and non-Christians alike with their biblical grounding, eloquent text, and simple encouragement.

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Psalm 16 Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)

By Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892)

     TITLE. MICHTAM OF DAVID. This is usually understood to mean THE GOLDEN PSALM, and such a title is most appropriate, for the matter is as the most fine gold. Ainsworth calls it "David's jewel, or notable song." Dr. Hawker, who is always alive to passages full of savour, devoutly cries, "Some have rendered it precious, others golden, and others, precious jewel; and as the Holy Ghost, by the apostles Peter and Paul, hath shown us that it is all about the Lord Jesus Christ, what is here said of him is precious, is golden, is a jewel indeed!" We have not met with the term Michtam before, but if spared to write upon Psalms 56, 57, 58, 59, and 60, we shall see it again, and shall observe that like the present these psalms, although they begin with prayer, and imply trouble, abound in holy confidence and close with songs of assurance as to ultimate safety and joy. Dr. Alexander, whose notes are peculiarly valuable, thinks that the word is most probably a simple derivative of a word signifying to hide, and signifies a secret or mystery, and indicates the depth of doctrinal and spiritual import in these sacred compositions. If this be the true interpretation it well accords with the other, and when the two are put together, they make up a name which every reader will remember, and which will bring the precious subject at once to mind. THE PSALM OF THE PRECIOUS SECRET.

     SUBJECT. We are not left to human interpreters for the key to this golden mystery, for, speaking by the Holy Ghost, Peter tells us, "David speaketh concerning HIM." (Acts 2:25.) Further on in his memorable sermon he said, "Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; he seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption." (Acts 2:29-31.) Nor is this our only guide, for the apostle Paul, led by the same infallible inspiration, quotes from this Psalm, and testifies that David wrote of the man through whom is preached unto us the forgiveness of sins. (Acts 13:35-38.) It has been the usual plan of commentators to apply the Psalm both to David, to the saints, and to the Lord Jesus, but we will venture to believe that in it "Christ is all;" since in the ninth and tenth verses, like the apostles on the mount, we can see "no man but Jesus only."

     DIVISION. The whole is so compact that it is difficult to draw sharp lines of division. It may suffice to note our Lord's prayer of faith, verse 1, avowal of faith in Jehovah alone, 2, 3, 4, 5, the contentment of his faith in the present, 6, 7, and the joyous confidence of his faith for the future (8, 11).


EXPOSITION

     Verse 1. "Preserve me," keep, or save me, or as Horsley thinks, "guard me," even as bodyguards surround their monarch, or as shepherds protect their flocks. Tempted in all points like as we are, the manhood of Jesus needed to be preserved from the power of evil; and though in itself pure, the Lord Jesus did not confide in that purity of nature, but as an example to his followers, looked to the Lord, his God, for preservation. One of the great names of God is "the Preserver of men," (Job 7:20,) and this gracious office the Father exercised towards our Mediator and Representative. It had been promised to the Lord Jesus in express words, that he should be preserved, Isaiah 49:7, 8. "Thus saith the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people." This promise was to the letter fulfilled, both by providential deliverance and sustaining power, in the case of our Lord. Being preserved himself, he is able to restore the preserved of Israel, for we are "preserved in Christ Jesus and called." As one with him, the elect were preserved in his preservation, and we may view this mediatorial supplication as the petition of the Great High Priest for all those who are in him. The intercession recorded in John 17 is but an amplification of this cry, "Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are." When he says, "preserve me," he means his members, his mystical body, himself, and all in him. But while we rejoice in the fact that the Lord Jesus used this prayer for his members, we must not forget that he employed it most surely for himself; he had so emptied himself, and so truly taken upon him the form of a servant, that as man he needed divine keeping even as we do, and often cried unto the strong for strength. Frequently on the mountain-top he breathed forth this desire, and on one occasion in almost the same words, he publicly prayed, "Father, save me from this hour." (John 12:27.) If Jesus looked out of himself for protection, how much more must we, his erring followers, do so!

     "O God." The word for God here used is EL (Heb.), by which name the Lord Jesus, when under a sense of great weakness, as for instance when upon the cross, was wont to address the Mighty God, the Omnipotent Helper of his people. We, too, may turn to El, the Omnipotent One, in all hours of peril, with the confidence that he who heard the strong crying and tears of our faithful High Priest, is both able and willing to bless us in him. It is well to study the name and character of God, so that in our straits we may know how and by what title to address our Father who is in heaven.

     "For in thee do I put my trust," or, I have taken shelter in thee. As chickens run beneath the hen, so do I betake myself to thee. Thou art my great overshadowing Protector, and I have taken refuge beneath thy strength. This is a potent argument in pleading, and our Lord knew not only how to use it with God, but how to yield to its power when wielded by others upon himself. "According to thy faith be it done unto thee," is a great rule of heaven in dispensing favour, and when we can sincerely declare that we exercise faith in the Mighty God with regard to the mercy which we seek, we may rest assured that our plea will prevail. Faith, like the sword of Saul, never returns empty; it overcomes heaven when held in the hand of prayer. As the Saviour prayed, so let us pray, and as he became more than a conqueror, so shall we also through him; let us when buffeted by storms right bravely cry to the Lord as he did, "in thee do I put my trust."

     Verse 2. "O my soul, thou hast said unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord." In his inmost heart the Lord Jesus bowed himself to do service to his Heavenly Father, and before the throne of Jehovah his soul vowed allegiance to the Lord for our sakes. We are like him when our soul, truly and constantly in the presence of the heart-searching God, declares her full consent to the rule and government of the Infinite Jehovah, saying, "Thou art my Lord." To avow this with the lip is little, but for the soul to say it, especially in times of trial, is a gracious evidence of spiritual health; to profess it before men is a small matter, but to declare it before Jehovah himself is of far more consequence. This sentence may also be viewed as the utterance of appropriating faith, laying hold upon the Lord by personal covenant and enjoyment; in this sense may it be our daily song in the house of our pilgrimage.

     "My goodness extendeth not to thee." The work of our Lord Jesus was not needful on account of any necessity in the Divine Being. Jehovah would have been inconceivably glorious had the human race perished, and had no atonement been offered. Although the life-work and death-agony of the Son did reflect unparalleled lustre upon every attribute of God, yet the Most Blessed and Infinitely Happy God stood in no need of the obedience and death of his Son; it was for our sakes that the work of redemption was undertaken, and not because of any lack or want on the part of the Most High. How modestly does the Saviour here estimate his own goodness! What overwhelming reasons have we for imitating his humility! "If thou be righteous, what givest thou him? or what receiveth he of thine hand?" (Job 35:7.)

     Verse 3. "But to the saints that are in the earth." These sanctified ones, although still upon the earth, partake of the results of Jesus' mediatorial work, and by his goodness are made what they are. The peculiar people, zealous for good works, and hallowed to sacred service, are arrayed in the Saviour's righteousness and washed in his blood, and so receive of the goodness treasured up in him; these are the persons who are profited by the work of the man Christ Jesus; but that work added nothing to the nature, virtue, or happiness of God, who is blessed for evermore. How much more forcibly is this true of us, poor unworthy servants not fit to be mentioned in comparison with the faithful Son of God! Our hope must ever be that haply some poor child of God may be served by us, for the Great Father can never need our aid. Well may we sing the verses of Dr. Watts:


"Oft have my heart and tongue confess'd
How empty and how poor I am;
My praise can never make thee blest,
Nor add new glories to thy name.
Yet, Lord, thy saints on earth may reap
Some profit by the good we do;
These are the company I keep,
These are the choicest friends I know."

     Poor believers are God's receivers, and have a warrant from the Crown to receive the revenue of our offerings in the King's name. Saints departed we cannot bless; even prayer for them is of no service; but while they are here we should practically prove our love to them, even as our Master did, for they are the excellent of the earth. Despite their infirmities, their Lord thinks highly of them, and reckons them to be as nobles among men. The title of "His Excellency" more properly belongs to the meanest saint than to the greatest governor. The true aristocracy are believers in Jesus. They are the only Right Honourables. Stars and garters are poor distinctions compared with the graces of the Spirit. He who knows them best says of them, "in whom is all my delight." They are his Hephzibah and his land Beulah, and before all worlds his delights were with these chosen sons of men. Their own opinion of themselves is far other than their Beloved's opinion of them; they count themselves to be less than nothing, yet he makes much of them, and sets his heart towards them. What wonders the eyes of Divine Love can see where the Hands of Infinite Power have been graciously at work. It was this quicksighted affection which led Jesus to see in us a recompense for all his agony, and sustained him under all his sufferings by the joy of redeeming us from going down into the pit.

     Verse 4. The same loving heart which opens towards the chosen people is fast closed against those who continue in their rebellion against God. Jesus hates all wickedness, and especially the high crime of idolatry. The text while it shows our Lord's abhorrence of sin, shows also the sinner's greediness after it. Professed believers are often slow towards the true Lord, but sinners "hasten after another god." They run like madmen where we creep like snails. Let their zeal rebuke our tardiness. Yet theirs is a case in which the more they haste the worse they speed, for their sorrows are multiplied by their diligence in multiplying their sins. Matthew Henry pithily says, "They that multiply gods multiply griefs to themselves; for whosoever thinks one god too little, will find two too many, and yet hundreds not enough." The cruelties and hardships which men endure for their false gods is wonderful to contemplate; our missionary reports are a noteworthy comment on this passage; but perhaps our own experience is an equally vivid exposition; for when we have given our heart to idols, sooner or later we have had to smart for it. Near the roots of our self-love all our sorrows lie, and when that idol is overthrown, the sting is gone from grief. Moses broke the golden calf and ground it to powder, and cast it into the water of which he made Israel to drink, and so shall our cherished idols become bitter portions for us, unless we at once forsake them. Our Lord had no selfishness; he served but one Lord, and served him only. As for those who turn aside from Jehovah, he was separate from them, bearing their reproach without the camp. Sin and the Saviour had no communion. He came to destroy, not to patronize or be allied with the works of the devil. Hence he refused the testimony of unclean spirits as to his divinity, for in nothing would he have fellowship with darkness. We should be careful above measure not to connect ourselves in the remotest degree with falsehood in religion; even the most solemn of Popish rites we must abhor. "Their drink offerings of blood will I not offer." The old proverb says, "It is not safe to eat at the devil's mess, though the spoon be never so long." The mere mentioning of ill names it were well to avoid,—"nor take up their names into my lips." If we allow poison upon the lip, it may ere long penetrate to the inwards, and it is well to keep out of the mouth that which we would shut out from the heart. If the church would enjoy union with Christ, she must break all the bonds of impiety, and keep herself pure from all the pollutions of carnal will-worship, which now pollute the service of God. Some professors are guilty of great sin in remaining in the communion of Popish churches, where God is as much dishonoured as in Rome herself, only in a more crafty manner.

     Verse 5. "The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup." With what confidence and bounding joy does Jesus turn to Jehovah, whom his soul possessed and delighted in! Content beyond measure with his portion in the Lord his God, he had not a single desire with which to hunt after other gods; his cup was full, and his heart was full too; even in his sorest sorrows he still laid hold with both his hands upon his Father, crying, "My God, my God;" he had not so much as a thought of falling down to worship the prince of this world, although tempted with an "all these will I give thee." We, too, can make our boast in the Lord; he is the meat and the drink of our souls. He is our portion, supplying all our necessities, and our cup yielding royal luxuries; our cup in this life, and our inheritance in the life to come. As children of the Father who is in heaven, we inherit, by virtue of our joint heirship with Jesus, all the riches of the covenant of grace; and the portion which falls to us sets upon our table the bread of heaven and the new wine of the kingdom. Who would not be satisfied with such dainty diet? Our shallow cup of sorrow we may well drain with resignation, since the deep cup of love stands side by side with it, and will never be empty. "Thou maintainest my lot." Some tenants have a covenant in their leases that they themselves shall maintain and uphold, but in our case Jehovah himself maintains our lot. Our Lord Jesus delighted in this truth, that the Father was on his side, and would maintain his right against all the wrongs of men. He knew that his elect would be reserved for him, and that almighty power would preserve them as his lot and reward for ever. Let us also be glad, because the Judge of all the earth will vindicate our righteous cause.

     Verse 6. Jesus found the way of obedience to lead into "pleasant places." Notwithstanding all the sorrows which marred his countenance, he exclaimed, "Lo, I come; in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart." It may seem strange, but while no other man was ever so thoroughly acquainted with grief, it is our belief that no other man ever experienced so much joy and delight in service, for no other served so faithfully and with such great results in view as his recompense of reward. The joy which was set before him must have sent some of its beams of splendour a-down the rugged places where he endured the cross, despising the shame, and must have made them in some respects pleasant places to the generous heart of the Redeemer. At any rate, we know that Jesus was well content with the blood-bought portion which the lines of electing love marked off as his spoil with the strong and his portion with the great. Therein he solaced himself on earth, and delights himself in heaven; and he asks no more "GOODLY HERITAGE" than that his own beloved may be with him where he is and behold his glory. All the saints can use the language of this verse, and the more thoroughly they can enter into its contented, grateful, joyful spirit the better for themselves, and the more glorious to their God. Our Lord was poorer than we are, for he had not where to lay his head, and yet when he mentioned his poverty he never used a word of murmuring; discontented spirits are as unlike Jesus as the croaking raven is unlike the cooing dove. Martyrs have been happy in dungeons. "From the delectable orchard of the Leonine prison the Italian martyr dated his letter, and the presence of God made the gridiron of Laurence pleasant to him." Mr. Greenham was bold enough to say, "They never felt God's love, or tasted forgiveness of sin, who are discontented." Some divines think that discontent was the first sin, the rock which wrecked our race in paradise; certainly there can be no paradise where this evil spirit has power, its slime will poison all the flowers of the garden.

     Verse 7. "I will bless the Lord, who hath given me counsel." Praise as well as prayer was presented to the Father by our Lord Jesus, and we are not truly his followers unless our resolve be, "I will bless the Lord." Jesus is called Wonderful, Counsellor, but as man he spake not of himself, but as his Father had taught him. Read in confirmation of this, John 7:16; 8:28; and 12:49, 50; and the prophecy concerning him in Isaiah 11:2, 3. It was our Redeemer's wont to repair to his Father for direction, and having received it, he blessed him for giving him counsel. It would be well for us if we would follow his example of lowliness, cease from trusting in our own understanding, and seek to be guided by the Spirit of God. "My reins also instruct me in the night seasons." By the reins understand the inner man, the affections and feelings. The communion of the soul with God brings to it an inner spiritual wisdom which in still seasons is revealed to itself. Our Redeemer spent many nights alone upon the mountain, and we may readily conceive that together with his fellowship with heaven, he carried on a profitable commerce with himself; reviewing his experience, forecasting his work, and considering his position. Great generals fight their battles in their own mind long before the trumpet sounds, and so did our Lord win our battle on his knees before he gained it on the cross. It is a gracious habit after taking counsel from above to take counsel within. Wise men see more with their eyes shut by night than fools can see by day with their eyes open. He who learns from God and so gets the seed, will soon find wisdom within himself growing in the garden of his soul; "Thine ears shall hear a voice behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand and when ye turn to the left." The night season which the sinner chooses for his sins is the hallowed hour of quiet when believers hear the soft still voices of heaven, and of the heavenly life within themselves.

     Verse 8. The fear of death at one time cast its dark shadow over the soul of the Redeemer, and we read that, "he was heard in that he feared." There appeared unto him an angel, strengthening him; perhaps the heavenly messenger reassured him of his glorious resurrection as his people's surety, and of the eternal joy into which he should admit the flock redeemed by blood. Then hope shone full upon our Lord's soul, and, as recorded in these verses, he surveyed the future with holy confidence because he had a continued eye to Jehovah, and enjoyed his perpetual presence. He felt that, thus sustained, he could never be driven from his life's grand design; nor was he, for he stayed not his hand till he could say, "It is finished." What an infinite mercy was this for us! In this immovableness, caused by simple faith in the divine help, Jesus is to be viewed as our exemplar; to recognize the presence of the Lord is the duty of every believer; "I have set the Lord always before me;" and to trust the Lord as our champion and guard is the privilege of every saint; "because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved." The apostle translates this passage, "I foresaw the Lord always before my face;" Acts 2:25; the eye of Jesus' faith could discern beforehand the continuance of divine support to his suffering Son, in such a degree that he should never be moved from the accomplishment of his purpose of redeeming his people. By the power of God at his right hand he foresaw that he should smite through all who rose up against him, and on that power he placed the firmest reliance.

     Verse 9. He clearly foresaw that he must die, for he speaks of his flesh resting, and of his soul in the abode of separate spirits; death was full before his face, or he would not have mentioned corruption; but such was his devout reliance upon his God, that he sang over the tomb, and rejoiced in vision of the sepulchre. He knew that the visit of his soul to Sheol, or the invisible world of disembodied spirits, would be a very short one, and that his body in a very brief space would leave the grave, uninjured by its sojourn there; all this made him say, "my heart is glad," and moved his tongue, the glory of his frame, to rejoice in God, the strength of his salvation. Oh, for such holy faith in the prospect of trial and of death! It is the work of faith, not merely to create a peace which passeth all understanding, but to fill the heart full of gladness until the tongue, which, as the organ of an intelligent creature, is our glory, bursts forth in notes of harmonious praise. Faith gives us living joy, and bestows dying rest. "My flesh also shall rest in hope."

     Verse 10. Our Lord Jesus was not disappointed in his hope. He declared his Father's faithfulness in the words, "thou wilt not leave my soul in hell," and that faithfulness was proven on the resurrection morning. Among the departed and disembodied Jesus was not left; he had believed in the resurrection, and he received it on the third day, when his body rose in glorious life, according as he had said in joyous confidence, "neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption." Into the outer prison of the grave his body might go, but into the inner prison of corruption he could not enter. He who in soul and body was pre-eminently God's "Holy One," was loosed from the pains of death, because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. This is noble encouragement to all the saints; die they must, but rise they shall, and though in their case they shall see corruption, yet they shall rise to everlasting life. Christ's resurrection is the cause, the earnest, the guarantee, and the emblem of the rising of all his people. Let them, therefore, go to their graves as to their beds, resting their flesh among the clods as they now do upon their couches.

"Since Jesus is mine, I'll not fear undressing,
But gladly put off these garments of clay;
To die in the Lord is a covenant blessing,
Since Jesus to glory through death led the way."

     Wretched will that man be who, when the Philistines of death invade his soul, shall find that, like Saul, he is forsaken of God; but blessed is he who has the Lord at his right hand, for he shall fear no ill, but shall look forward to an eternity of bliss.

     Verse 11. "Thou wilt shew me the path of life." To Jesus first this way was shown, for he is the first begotten from the dead, the first-born of every creature. He himself opened up the way through his own flesh, and then trod it as the forerunner of his own redeemed. The thought of being made the path of life to his people, gladdened the soul of Jesus. "In thy presence is fulness of joy." Christ being raised from the dead ascended into glory, to dwell in constant nearness to God, where joy is at its full for ever: the foresight of this urged him onward in his glorious but grievous toil. To bring his chosen to eternal happiness was the high ambition which inspired him, and made him wade through a sea of blood. O God, when a worldling's mirth has all expired, for ever with Jesus may we dwell "at thy right hand," where "there are pleasures for evermore;" and meanwhile, may we have an earnest by tasting thy love below. Trapp's note on the heavenly verse which closes the Psalm is a sweet morsel, which may serve for a contemplation, and yield a foretaste of our inheritance. He writes, "Here is as much said as can be, but words are too weak to utter it. For quality there is in heaven joy and pleasures; for quantity, a fulness, a torrent whereat they drink without let or loathing; for constancy, it is at God's right hand, who is stronger than all, neither can any take us out of his hand; it is a constant happiness without intermission: and for perpetuity it is for evermore. Heaven's joys are without measure, mixture, or end."


The Treasury of David (3 Volumes Set)

     Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) served for 30 years at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London. He was the great Victorian preacher and was one of the most influential people of the second half of the 19th Century. At the heart of his desire to preach was a fierce love of people, a desire that meant he did not neglect his pastoral ministry. It is estimated that during his lifetime he spoke to 10 million people, and he became known as the "Prince of Preachers." His works fill over 60 volumes; and more than a century after his death, his sermons and devotional texts continue to challenge and touch Christians and non-Christians alike with their biblical grounding, eloquent text, and simple encouragement.

     C.H. Spurgeon Books |  Go to Books Page

Psalms 16

By Don Carson 4/9/2018

     Observe the pattern of capital letters: “I said to the LORD, ‘You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing’” (Ps. 16:2). In other words, addressing Yahweh (“LORD”), David confesses him “Lord,” his Master; then he adds, “Apart from you I have no good thing.”

     (1) Looked at one way, these words delimit what is good, and thereby almost define the good. Nothing is ultimately good if it is abstracted from God. It may be good in a relative sense, of course. The Lord made the sun and pronounced it good, and good it is: it provides all of this world’s energy. Yet abstracted from the knowledge of God, it became an object of worship among many ancient peoples (called Ra in Egypt — and the covenant community itself could get caught up in syncretistic sun worship, Ezek. 8:16), and attracts a different kind of sun worshiper today. We may enjoy reasonably good health; surely that is a good thing. But suppose we use our energy to do what is selfish or evil, or deploy the blessings the Lord entrusts to us simply to order our lives as autonomously as possible? Apart from the Lord, we “have no good thing.”

     (2) Looked at another way, the text is literally true. Since God is the Creator of all, then no good thing that we enjoy has come to us apart from him. “Every good and perfect gift is from above,” James writes (1:17). Paul asks, “What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” (1 Cor. 4:7). So our first order of business ought to be gratitude. Apart from the Lord, we “have no good thing.”

     (3) Yet the text is certainly more visceral than that. Its tone is closer to the words of Asaph: “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Ps. 73:25-26). In comparison with knowledge of our Maker and Redeemer, nothing else is worth very much, whether in this life or in the life to come. Apart from the Lord, we “have no good thing.”

     (4) The text will trigger in some minds other “apart from” passages. Perhaps the best known is John 15:5, where Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing”. Apart from the vine, we branches bear no fruit; and apart from him we “have no good thing.”

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Don Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and co-founder (with Tim Keller) of The Gospel Coalition. He has authored numerous books, and recently edited The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures (Eerdmans, 2016).

     Don Carson Books |  Go to Books Page

Read The Psalms In "1" Year

Psalm 64

Hide Me from the Wicked
64 To The Choirmaster. A Psalm Of David.

5 They hold fast to their evil purpose;
they talk of laying snares secretly,
thinking, “Who can see them?”
6 They search out injustice,
saying, “We have accomplished a diligent search.”
For the inward mind and heart of a man are deep.
7 But God shoots his arrow at them;
they are wounded suddenly.
8 They are brought to ruin, with their own tongues turned against them;
all who see them will wag their heads.
9 Then all mankind fears;
they tell what God has brought about
and ponder what he has done.

10 Let the righteous one rejoice in the LORD
and take refuge in him!
Let all the upright in heart exult!

ESV Study Bible

The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Translated by Henry Beveridge

     CHAPTER 12.

OF THE DISCIPLINE OF THE CHURCH, AND ITS PRINCIPAL USE IN CENSURES AND EXCOMMUNICATION.

This chapter consists of two parts:--I. The first part of ecclesiastical discipline, which respects the people, and is called common, consists of two parts, the former depending on the power of the keys, which is considered, sec. 1-14; the latter consisting in the appointment of times for fasting and prayer, sec. 14-21. II. The second part of ecclesiastical discipline relating to the clergy, sec. 22-28.

Sections.

1. Of the power of the keys, or the common discipline of the Church. Necessity and very great utility of this discipline.

2. Its various degrees. 1. Private admonition. 2. Rebukes before witnesses. 3. Excommunication.

3. Different degrees of delinquency. Modes of procedure in both kinds of chastisement.

4. Delicts to be distinguished from flagitious wickedness. The last to be more severely punished.

5. Ends of this discipline. 1. That the wicked may not, by being admitted to the Lord's Table, put insult on Christ. 2. That they may not corrupt others. 3. That they themselves may repent.

6. In what way sins public as well as secret are to be corrected. Trivial and grave offences.

7. No person, not even the sovereign, exempted from this discipline. By whom and in what way it ought to be exercised.

8. In what spirit discipline is to be exercised. In what respect some of the ancient Christians exercised it too rigorously. This done more from custom than in accordance with their own sentiments. This shown from Cyprian, Chrysostom, and Augustine.

9. Moderation to be used, not only by the whole Church, but by each individual member.

10. Our Saviour's words concerning binding and loosing wrested if otherwise understood. Difference between anathema and excommunication. Anathema rarely if ever to be used.

11. Excessive rigour to be avoided, as well by private individuals as by pastors.

12. In this respect the Donatists erred most grievously, as do also the Anabaptists in the present day. Portraiture by Augustine.

13. Moderation especially to be used when not a few individuals, but the great body of the people, have gone astray.

14. A second part of common discipline relating to fastings, prayer, and other holy exercises. These used by believers under both dispensations. To what purposes applied. Of Fasting.

15. Three ends of fasting. The first refers more especially to private fasting. Second and third ends.

16. Public fasting and prayer appointed by pastors on any great emergency.

17. Examples of this under the Law.

18. Fasting consists chiefly in three things--viz. time, the quality, and sparing use of food.

19. To prevent superstition, three things to be inculcated. 1. The heart to be rent, not the garments. 2. Fasting not to be regarded as a meritorious work or kind of divine worship. 3. Abstinence must not be immoderately extolled.

20. Owing to an excess of this kind the observance of Lent was established. This superstitious observance refuted by three arguments. It was indeed used by the ancients, but on different grounds.

21. Laws afterwards made to regulate the choice of food. Various abuses even in the time of Jerome. Practically there is no common ecclesiastical discipline in the Papacy.

22. The second part of discipline having reference to the clergy. What its nature, and how strict it formerly was. How miserably neglected in the present day. An example which may suit the Papists.

23. Of the celibacy of priests, in which Papists place the whole force of ecclesiastical discipline. This impious tyranny refuted from Scripture. An objection of the Papists disposed of.

24. An argument for the celibacy of priests answered.

25. Another argument answered.

26. Another argument answered.

27. An argument drawn from the commendation of virginity as superior to marriage. Answer.

28. The subject of celibacy concluded. This error not favoured by all ancient writers.

1. The discipline of the Church, the consideration of which has been deferred till now, must be briefly explained, that we may be able to pass to other matters. Now discipline depends in a very great measure on the power of the keys and on spiritual jurisdiction. That this may be more easily understood, let us divide the Church into two principal classes--viz. clergy and people. The term clergy I use in the common acceptation for those who perform a public ministry in the Church. [591] We shall speak first of the common discipline to which all ought to be subject, and then proceed to the clergy, who have besides that common discipline one peculiar to themselves. But as some, from hatred of discipline, are averse to the very name, for their sake we observe,--If no society, nay, no house with even a moderate family, can be kept in a right state without discipline, much more necessary is it in the Church, whose state ought to be the best ordered possible. Hence as the saving doctrine of Christ is the life of the Church, so discipline is, as it were, its sinews; for to it it is owing that the members of the body adhere together, each in its own place. Wherefore, all who either wish that discipline were abolished, or who impede the restoration of it, whether they do this of design or through thoughtlessness, certainly aim at the complete devastation of the Church. For what will be the result if every one is allowed to do as he pleases? But this must happen if to the preaching of the gospel are not added private admonition, correction, and similar methods of maintaining doctrine, and not allowing it to become lethargic. Discipline, therefore, is a kind of curb to restrain and tame those who war against the doctrine of Christ, or it is a kind of stimulus by which the indifferent are aroused; sometimes, also, it is a kind of fatherly rod, by which those who have made some more grievous lapse are chastised in mercy with the meekness of the spirit of Christ. Since, then, we already see some beginnings of a fearful devastation in the Church from the total want of care and method in managing the people, necessity itself cries aloud that there is need of a remedy. Now the only remedy is this which Christ enjoins, and the pious have always had in use.

2. The first foundation of discipline is to provide for private admonition; that is, if any one does not do his duty spontaneously, or behaves insolently, or lives not quite honestly, or commits something worthy of blame, he must allow himself to be admonished; and every one must study to admonish his brother when the case requires. Here especially is there occasion for the vigilance of pastors and presbyters, whose duty is not only to preach to the people, but to exhort and admonish from house to house, whenever their hearers have not profited sufficiently by general teaching; as Paul shows, when he relates that he taught "publicly, and from house to house," and testifies that he is "pure from the blood of all men," because he had not shunned to declare "all the counsel of God" (Acts 20:20, 26, 27) Then does doctrine obtain force and authority, not only when the minister publicly expounds to all what they owe to Christ, but has the right and means of exacting this from those whom he may observe to be sluggish or disobedient to his doctrine. Should any one either perversely reject such admonitions, or by persisting in his faults, show that he contemns them, the injunction of Christ is, that after he has been a second time admonished before witnesses, he is to be summoned to the bar of the Church, which is the consistory of elders, and there admonished more sharply, as by public authority, that if he reverence the Church he may submit and obey (Mt. 18:15, 17). If even in this way he is not subdued, but persists in his iniquity, he is then, as a despiser of the Church, to be debarred from the society of believers.

3. Put as our Saviour is not there speaking of secret faults merely, we must attend to the distinction that some sins are private, others public or openly manifest. Of the former, Christ says to every private individual, "go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone" (Mt. 18:15). Of open sins Paul says to Timothy, "Those that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear" (1 Tim. 5:20). Our Saviour had previously used the words, "If thy brother shall trespass against thee" This clause, unless you would be captious, you cannot understand otherwise than, If this happens in a manner known to yourself, others not being privy to it. The injunction which Paul gave to Timothy to rebuke those openly who sin openly, he himself followed with Peter (Gal. 2:14). For when Peter sinned so as to give public offence, he did not admonish him apart, but brought him forward in face of the Church. The legitimate course, therefore, will be to proceed in correcting secret faults by the steps mentioned by Christ, and in open sins, accompanied with public scandal, to proceed at once to solemn correction by the Church.

4. Another distinction to be attended to is, that some sins are mere delinquencies, others crimes and flagrant iniquities. In correcting the latter, it is necessary to employ not only admonition or rebuke, but a sharper remedy, as Paul shows when he not only verbally rebukes the incestuous Corinthian, but punishes him with excommunication, as soon as he was informed of his crime (1 Cor. 5:4). Now then we begin better to perceive how the spiritual jurisdiction of the Church, which animadverts on sins according to the word of the Lord, is at once the best help to sound doctrine, the best foundation of order, and the best bond of unity. Therefore, when the Church banishes from its fellowship open adulterers, fornicators, thieves, robbers, the seditious, the perjured, false witnesses, and others of that description; likewise the contumacious, who, when duly admonished for lighter faults, hold God and his tribunal in derision, instead of arrogating to itself anything that is unreasonable, it exercises a jurisdiction which it has received from the Lord. Moreover, lest any one should despise the judgment of the Church, or count it a small matter to be condemned by the suffrages of the faithful, the Lord has declared that it is nothing else than the promulgation of his own sentence, and that that which they do on earth is ratified in heaven. For they act by the word of the Lord in condemning the perverse, and by the word of the Lord in taking the penitent back into favour (John 20:23). Those, I say, who trust that churches can long stand without this bond of discipline are mistaken, unless, indeed, we can with impunity dispense with a help which the Lord foresaw would be necessary. And, indeed, the greatness of the necessity will be better perceived by its manifold uses.

5. There are three ends to which the Church has respect in thus correcting and excommunicating. The first is, that God may not be insulted by the name of Christians being given to those who lead shameful and flagitious lives, as if his holy Church were a combination of the wicked and abandoned. For seeing that the Church is the body of Christ, she cannot be defiled by such fetid and putrid members, without bringing some disgrace on her Head. Therefore that there may be nothing in the Church to bring disgrace on his sacred name, those whose turpitude might throw infamy on the name must be expelled from his family. And here, also, regard must be had to the Lord's Supper, which might he profaned by a promiscuous admission. [592] For it is most true, that he who is intrusted with the dispensation of it, if he knowingly and willingly admits any unworthy person whom he ought and is able to repel, is as guilty of sacrilege as if he had cast the Lord's body to dogs. Wherefore, Chrysostom bitterly inveighs against priests, who, from fear of the great, dare not keep any one back. "Blood (says he, Hom. 83, in Mt.) will be required at your hands. If you fear man, he will mock you, but if you fear God, you will be respected also by men. Let us not tremble at fasces, purple, or diadems; our power here is greater. Assuredly I will sooner give up my body to death, and allow my blood to be shed, than be a partaker of that pollution." Therefore, lest this most sacred mystery should be exposed to ignominy, great selection is required in dispensing it, and this cannot be except by the jurisdiction of the Church. A second end of discipline is, that the good may not, as usually happens, be corrupted by constant communication with the wicked. For such is our proneness to go astray, that nothing is easier than to seduce us from the right course by bad example. To this use of discipline the apostle referred when he commanded the Corinthians to discard the incestuous man from their society. "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump" (1 Cor. 5:6) And so much danger did he foresee here, that he prohibited them from keeping company with such persons. "If any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one, no not to eat" (1 Cor. 5:11). A third end of discipline is, that the sinner may be ashamed, and begin to repent of his turpitude. Hence it is for their interest also that their iniquity should be chastised, that whereas they would have become more obstinate by indulgence, they may be aroused by the rod. This the apostle intimates when he thus writes --"If any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed" (2 Thess. 3:14). Again, when he says that he had delivered the Corinthian to Satan, "that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus" (1 Cor. 5:5); that is, as I interpret it, he gave him over to temporal condemnation, that he might be made safe for eternity. And he says that he gave him over to Satan because the devil is without the Church, as Christ is in the Church. Some interpret this of a certain infliction on the flesh, but this interpretation seems to me most improbable. (August. de Verb. Apostol. Serm. 68)

     Christian Classics Ethereal Library / Public Domain

     Institutes of the Christian Religion


  • Life & Writing
    of C.S. Lewis - One
  • Life & Writing
    of C.S. Lewis - Two
  • Life & Writing
    of C.S. Lewis - Three

#1   Walter Hooper

 

#2   Walter Hooper

 

#3   Walter Hooper

 


     Devotionals, notes, poetry and more

coram Deo
     10/1/2011    Death, Disease & the Gospel

     I was sixteen when my father died. It was a Sunday evening in late September of 1992 when I heard the news of his death. I had just returned from work when my mother came into my room in tears. My father was born in 1924, and his first son was killed in a hunting accident in 1969 at the age of eighteen. In 1986, my youngest sister was diagnosed with a disease that was projected to take her life by age 20. But despite these tragedies, my experiences are not altogether unique. Death and disease come to every family, and all of us have painful stories that daily weigh heavily on our hearts and minds. Our stories all have a similar theme because we are all sons of Adam, in whom we all died because we all sinned in him and fell into a state of sin and misery with him.

     As a pastor, and having served now in some sort of ministerial capacity for sixteen years, I have witnessed many deaths and have held the hands of countless men and women and boys and girls who are themselves suffering from some sort of disease or dealing with the death or disease of a loved one. I dare not begin to count the number of teenagers, moms, and dads who have attempted or committed suicide, and I never seem to be able to forget the faces of those who have died as I knelt at their bedsides holding their hands.

     Death and disease are a part of life. In one way or another, we are all faced with death and disease every day of our lives. Even though people today are isolated more than ever from real community and more insulated by a façade of creature comforts, we cannot escape the harsh realities of death and disease all around us. Every day we hear reports from other parts of the world about foreigners dealing with death and disease. Every day we hear about friends and colleagues trying desperately to cope with death and disease. Every day we ourselves consider the realities of death and disease that will eventually come to each of us and to each of our loved ones, if our Lord should tarry in His return.

     Because of the unrelenting nature of death and disease, we might be tempted to try to run from death and hide from disease while striving with all our might never to think on such matters. But in doing so our striving would not only be vain but sinful. Just as the Puritans spoke of dying well, so we need to be reminded that it is not a question of if and when we will die, but how we will die and how we will cope with the daily realities of death and disease — will we stand and shake our fists at God in bitter anger or will we kneel in prayer and in humble dependence on our Lord and on the promises of the gospel of Jesus Christ by the sustaining power of the Holy Spirit, glorifying God and enjoying Him now and at the hour of our death? For the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away — blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1).

     click here for article source

     Dr. Burk Parsons (@BurkParsons) is editor of Tabletalk magazine, senior pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., a visiting lecturer at Reformed Theological Seminary, and a Ligonier Ministries teaching fellow. He is editor of John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology.

Ligonier     coram Deo (definition)

American Minute
     by Bill Federer

     The Legend of Robinhood speaks of Richard the Lionhearted. Upon his return to England after crusading in the Holy Land, he took back the throne from his brother John. After his death, though, John again ruled oppressively. The angry barons responded by capturing London and on this date, June 15, 1215, surrounded John on the plains of Runnymeade. There the arbitrary power of the King was forever limited when they force him to sign the Magna Carta. It ends with the words: "for the salvation of our souls, and the souls of all our… heirs, and unto the honor of God."

American Minute

Lean Into God
     Compiled by Richard S. Adams

God is a circle whose centre is everywhere
and circumference nowhere.
--- Timaeus of Locris
Tim Burton: The Monster and the Crowd: A Post-Jungian Perspective


If the people of God would diligently keep their hearts, their communion with each other would be unspeakably more inviting and profitable. … It is the fellowship which the people of God have with the Father and with the Son, that kindles the desires of others to have communion with them. I tell you, that if saints would be persuaded to spend more time and take more pains about their hearts, there would soon be such a divine excellence in their conversation, that others would account it no small privilege to be with or near them. It is the pride, passion and earthliness of our hearts, that has spoiled Christian fellowship. … Whence come their uncharitable censures of their brethren, but from their ignorance of themselves? Why are they so rigid and unfeeling towards those who have fallen; but because they do not feel their own weakness and liability to temptation? (Galatians 6:1).Why is their discourse so light and unprofitable when they meet; but because their hearts are earthly and vain? My brethren, these and similar things are what have spoiled Christian fellowship, and made it so dry and disgusting, that even many Christians are weary of it; and therefore they seek in retirement, that happiness, which the society of saints was designed to afford.
--- John Flavel
The Whole Works Of John Flavel: Late Minister Of The Gospel At Dartmouth, Devon, Volume 1...

The biggest thieves of all are the lazy people who could work but won’t, the people who consume what others produce but produce nothing for others to use. The ‘sluggard’ and the ‘slothful man’ are mentioned at least seventeen times in Proverbs, and nothing good is said about them.
--- Warren Wiersbe
Be Skillful (Proverbs): God's Guidebook to Wise Living (The BE Series Commentary)

... from here, there and everywhere

The Shema: Spirituality and Law in Judaism
     CHAPTER 9 / “Blessed Be the Name of His
     Glorious Kingdom Forever and Ever” (1)


(1)     The verse permits a number of different translations. The late Dr. Philip Birnbaum, for instance, insists upon “Blessed be the name of His glorious majesty forever and ever” (see his Ha-Siddur ha-Shalem [New York: Hebrew Publishing Co., 1949], introduction, p. xvi). But because this and other translations do not affect our theme substantively, we shall forego any detailed attempt at a more accurate translation.

     This verse is non-biblical in origin. In chapter 3 we mentioned the Talmud’s explanation as to why this verse is recited in an undertone: it was not recited by Moses, but was uttered by Jacob on his deathbed, and therefore we compromise by whispering it.

(a)     Praise of the Creator. The Mishnah records that this verse was recited by the congregation after the High Priest, officiating at the Yom Kippur service in the Holy Temple, uttered the Tetragrammaton “in purity and holiness” (Yoma 35b).

(b)     The Eternity of God. Barukh shem kevod is a longer form of the well-known amen, indicating assent or belief, except that it is more inclusive in that it comprehends the element of the eternity of God as well. The Mishnah teaches that on the occasion of a public fast, the congregation responds to the blessings uttered by the reader (ḥazzan) with the word amen. The Gemara limits this practice to a service being conducted outside the Temple; in the Temple itself one must respond with the more elaborate formula, Barukh shem kevod (Taanit 16b). The Talmud offers as the source of this halakha the verse in Nehemiah (9:5): “Stand up and bless the Lord your God for ever and ever; and blessed be Your glorious name which is exalted above all blessing and praise.” This verse links God’s eternity with the praise of God’s Name: Barukh shem kevod.

(c)     The Liturgical Sanctification of the Divine Name (kiddush Hashem bi’devarim). The Halakha teaches that the divine Name is sanctified not only by an act of martyrdom, and not only by exemplary moral conduct, but also by proclaiming faith in God’s holiness in public prayer. In all such cases of liturgical kiddush Hashem, such as the recitation of the Kaddish, Kedushah, or Barkhu, the mitzvah is performed in the form of a dialogue: the reader issues the summons to perform the sanctification, and the congregation responds. The verse Barukh shem kevod represents such a response to the mention of the divine Name(s) in the Shema. (2)

(2)     This may explain why the verse is recited after pronouncing a doubtful blessing, i.e., if one is in doubt whether it is obligatory to recite a berakha. To forego the blessing, if it is indeed required, is to refrain knowingly from blessing God when the Halakha demands it; to recite it when it is not required is to violate the commandment not to take the Lord’s Name in vain. The responsive nature of the liturgical sanctification is first mentioned in Sifre (to Haazinu, 32.), giving other illustrations and offering biblical warrant. See my Halakhot ve’Halikhot, pp. 39–41.

     These three major themes found in Barukh shem kevod aptly reflect the first verse of the Shema, which explains why this traditional verse is paired with the biblical verse, the Shema itself. The Shema obviously expresses “praise of the Creator.” It also implies God’s eternity: the three mentions of divine Names in the Shema refer to God’s sovereignty before creation, during the existence of the universe, and after the destruction of all creation. (3) And the Shema and Barukh shem kevod are paired as responsive affirmations of the holiness of God, both sanctifying the divine Name. (4)

(3)     R. Eliezer of Worms, quoted by the biblical exegete R. Baḥya in his commentary to Deut. 6:4; and see Jerusalem Talmud, cited in Yalkut Shimoni to Va-et’ḥanan, 836.

(4)     Interestingly, confirmation of these three central points that Shema and Barukh shem kevod have in common comes from an analysis of the Atta hu paragraph recited after the very first reading of the Shema at the beginning of the Morning service (the keriat shema de’korbanot). See too in lyyun Tefillah in Siddur Otzar ha-Tefillot, who noticed the relationship of this passage to Barukh shem kevod without explicating it. It can be argued that this seems to be in accord with the Ziditchover as opposed to the R. Shneur Zalman—R. Ḥayyim interpretation. This is supported especially by the last four words of the passage, which are in the form of a supplication, thus bearing out the view of the Ziditchover that Barukh shem kevod is essentially a prayer rather than an affirmation or proclamation of a tenet of faith.

     Given all the above conflicting or at least divergent interpretations, what kavvanah ought one entertain while reciting the Shema? From the retort to R. Jeremiah in Berakhot 13a (see chapter 6), we learn that the recitation of the Shema should be neither rushed nor dragged out too long so that others are disturbed. In those synagogues where the entire congregation recites the Shema (or at least the first verse) in unison, this problem is exacerbated because the time for the intense mental concentration of kavvanah is strictly limited. Does this mean that one should change this custom or avoid such synagogues that may seem too “modern” in their overemphasis on decorousness? While there is much to be said for individual variation even during communal prayer, there are countervailing values that must be considered. Singing—not only reciting—the Shema by the entire congregation in unison is recommended by the Midrash in no uncertain terms: (5)

(5)     However, the Gemara obviously did not know or approve of it, otherwise the dialogue between R. Jeremiah and R. Aḥa b. Jacob hardly makes sense.

     “You who dwells in the gardens, the companions hearken to your voice; cause me to hear it. Make haste, my beloved, and be like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of spices.” (Song of Songs 8:13, 14)

     When Jews gather in the synagogues and read the Shema with focused attention, with one voice … and with one melody, so that they all conclude [the recitation] together, the Holy One says to them, “You who dwell in the gardens,” when you are companions (because you read the Shema in unison), I and My [angelic] retinue “hearken to your voice.” But when Jews read the Shema in disorder, one earlier and one later, thus not focusing their kavvanah in [reciting] the Shema, the Holy Spirit cries out, saying, “Make haste, my beloved, and be like a roe or a young hart”—referring to the supernal hosts who emulate My glory with one voice and with one melody, “upon the mountains of spices”—in the highest of the high heavens.

     Any of the various meditations already mentioned is acceptable as an appropriate kavvanah. One can, in light of the midrash mentioned earlier, intend to address our Father Jacob and proclaim, to him as it were, that we still do and always will worship the One God who covenanted with him and his children. Indeed, one can even reflect on this while saying the word “Hear O Israel” and then refocus one’s thoughts on the usual interpretation, namely, that we are repeating Moses’ address to his people Israel.

     The simplest kavvanah is to meditate, when we say “the Lord is our God,” on unifying the various dichotomies that cluster about these two Names. This thought should immediately be followed by the eschatological meditation, that is, that this unification is something we Jews now accept wholeheartedly and that the rest of the world will yet accept—at the time of the final redemption.

     After these initial meditations, one has a variety of options. One can think of the Talmud’s minimalist or comprehensive meditation—that God is omnipresent in space and, perhaps (following Rav Kook), in time as well—even though the Talmud recommended this kavvanah only when time is limited. Or, one may focus on the exclusivist interpretation advocated by a number of the Rishonim.

     After these meditations have been practiced so that they can be fit into a reasonable time span such as mandated by R. Ḥiyya b. Abba to R. Jeremiah in the Talmud, one can proceed to the complex level of kabbalistic interpretations. Here one can focus one’s intention either on R. Shneur Zalman and R. Ḥayyim’s acosmic view or on the directional interpretation of the Ziditchover. If one chooses the former, one need not bear in mind the Talmud’s meditation, because the acosmic notion transcends that of omnipresence. If the Ziditchover’s, it is sufficient in its own right, even though it does not comprehend the Talmud’s interpretation. (That, however, should not prove disturbing because, as has been said, the Talmud was concerned only with time constraints, not with the content of the kavvanah.)

     Obviously, it is not possible to practice all these meditations at one and the same recitation, especially if one is just beginning to prepare for more complex kavvanot. It is better to divide the various meditations among the four daily recitations of the Shema. (10) Thus, in the course of the day, one can “cover all bases,” thereby guiding one’s prayer via the most cogent interpretations of the holiest verse in all of the Torah.

(10)     The four times are as follows: the two times mandated halakhically, namely, the Shema as part of the Morning (Shaḥarit) service and the Evening (Maariv) service; the Shema recited before the reading of the sacrificial order (korbanot) as part of the preliminaries to Shaḥarit; and the Shema recited before retiring at night (keriat shema she’al ha-mittah).


  The Shema: Spirituality and Law in Judaism

History of the Destruction of Jerusalem
     Thanks to Meir Yona

     CHAPTER 20.

     Herod Is Confirmed In His Kingdom By Caesar, And Cultivates A Friendship With The Emperor By Magnificent Presents; While Caesar Returns His Kindness By Bestowing On Him That Part Of His Kingdom Which Had Been Taken Away From It By Cleopatra With The Addition Of Zenodoruss Country Also.

     1. But now Herod was under immediate concern about a most important affair, on account of his friendship with Antony, who was already overcome at Actium by Caesar; yet he was more afraid than hurt; for Caesar did not think he had quite undone Antony, while Herod continued his assistance to him. However, the king resolved to expose himself to dangers: accordingly he sailed to Rhodes, where Caesar then abode, and came to him without his diadem, and in the habit and appearance of a private person, but in his behavior as a king. So he concealed nothing of the truth, but spoke thus before his face: "O Caesar, as I was made king of the Jews by Antony, so do I profess that I have used my royal authority in the best manner, and entirely for his advantage; nor will I conceal this further, that thou hadst certainly found me in arms, and an inseparable companion of his, had not the Arabians hindered me. However, I sent him as many auxiliaries as I was able, and many ten thousand [cori] of corn. Nay, indeed, I did not desert my benefactor after the bow that was given him at Actium; but I gave him the best advice I was able, when I was no longer able to assist him in the war; and I told him that there was but one way of recovering his affairs, and that was to kill Cleopatra; and I promised him that, if she were once dead, I would afford him money and walls for his security, with an army and myself to assist him in his war against thee: but his affections for Cleopatra stopped his ears, as did God himself also who hath bestowed the government on thee. I own myself also to be overcome together with him; and with his last fortune I have laid aside my diadem, and am come hither to thee, having my hopes of safety in thy virtue; and I desire that thou wilt first consider how faithful a friend, and not whose friend, I have been."

     2. Caesar replied to him thus: "Nay, thou shalt not only be in safety, but thou shalt be a king; and that more firmly than thou wast before; for thou art worthy to reign over a great many subjects, by reason of the fastness of thy friendship; and do thou endeavor to be equally constant in thy friendship to me, upon my good success, which is what I depend upon from the generosity of thy disposition. However, Antony hath done well in preferring Cleopatra to thee; for by this means we have gained thee by her madness, and thus thou hast begun to be my friend before I began to be thine; on which account Quintus Didius hath written to me that thou sentest him assistance against the gladiators. I do therefore assure thee that I will confirm the kingdom to thee by decree: I shall also endeavor to do thee some further kindness hereafter, that thou mayst find no loss in the want of Antony."

     3. When Caesar had spoken such obliging things to the king, and had put the diadem again about his head, he proclaimed what he had bestowed on him by a decree, in which he enlarged in the commendation of the man after a magnificent manner. Whereupon Herod obliged him to be kind to him by the presents he gave him, and he desired him to forgive Alexander, one of Antony's friends, who was become a supplicant to him. But Caesar's anger against him prevailed, and he complained of the many and very great offenses the man whom he petitioned for had been guilty of; and by that means he rejected his petition. After this Caesar went for Egypt through Syria, when Herod received him with royal and rich entertainments; and then did he first of all ride along with Caesar, as he was reviewing his army about Ptolemais, and feasted him with all his friends, and then distributed among the rest of the army what was necessary to feast them withal. He also made a plentiful provision of water for them, when they were to march as far as Pelusium, through a dry country, which he did also in like manner at their return thence; nor were there any necessaries wanting to that army. It was therefore the opinion, both of Caesar and of his soldiers, that Herod's kingdom was too small for those generous presents he made them; for which reason, when Caesar was come into Egypt, and Cleopatra and Antony were dead, he did not only bestow other marks of honor upon him, but made an addition to his kingdom, by giving him not only the country which had been taken from him by Cleopatra, but besides that, Gadara, and Hippos, and Samaria; and moreover, of the maritime cities, Gaza 31 and Anthedon, and Joppa, and Strato's Tower. He also made him a present of four hundred Galls [Galatians] as a guard for his body, which they had been to Cleopatra before. Nor did any thing so strongly induce Caesar to make these presents as the generosity of him that received them.

     4. Moreover, after the first games at Actium, he added to his kingdom both the region called Trachonitis, and what lay in its neighborhood, Batanea, and the country of Auranitis; and that on the following occasion: Zenodorus, who had hired the house of Lysanias, had all along sent robbers out of Trachonitis among the Damascenes; who thereupon had recourse to Varro, the president of Syria, and desired of him that he would represent the calamity they were in to Caesar. When Caesar was acquainted with it, he sent back orders that this nest of robbers should be destroyed. Varro therefore made an expedition against them, and cleared the land of those men, and took it away from Zenodorus. Caesar did also afterward bestow it on Herod, that it might not again become a receptacle for those robbers that had come against Damascus. He also made him a procurator of all Syria, and this on the tenth year afterward, when he came again into that province; and this was so established, that the other procurators could not do any thing in the administration without his advice: but when Zenodorus was dead, Caesar bestowed on him all that land which lay between Trachonitis and Galilee. Yet, what was still of more consequence to Herod, he was beloved by Caesar next after Agrippa, and by Agrippa next after Caesar; whence he arrived at a very great degree of felicity. Yet did the greatness of his soul exceed it, and the main part of his magnanimity was extended to the promotion of piety.

     The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Wars of the Jews or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem, by Flavius Josephus Translator: William Whiston

The War of the Jews: The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem (complete edition, 7 books)

Proverbs 19:14
     by D.H. Stern

14     A house and wealth are inherited from ancestors,
but a sensible wife is from ADONAI.


Complete Jewish Bible : An English Version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B'Rit Hadashah (New Testament)
My Utmost For The Highest
     A Daily Devotional by Oswald Chambers

                Get a move on

     In the Matter of Drudgery. And beside this, … add. --- 2 Peter 1:5.

     You have inherited the Divine nature, says Peter (v. 4), now screw your attention down and form habits, give diligence, concentrate. “Add” means all that character means. No man is born either naturally or supernaturally with character; he has to make character. Nor are we born with habits; we have to form habits on the basis of the new life God has put into us. We are not meant to be illuminated versions, but the common stuff of ordinary life exhibiting the marvel of the grace of God. Drudgery is the touchstone of character. The great hindrance in spiritual life is that we will look for big things to do. “Jesus took a towel …, and began to wash the disciples’ feet.”

     There are times when there is no illumination and no thrill, but just the daily round, the common task. Routine is God’s way of saving us between our times of inspiration. Do not expect God always to give you His thrilling minutes, but learn to live in the domain of drudgery by the power of God.

     It is the ‘adding’ that is difficult. We say we do not expect God to carry us to heaven on flowery beds of ease, and yet we act as if we did! The tiniest detail in which I obey has all the omnipotent power of the grace of God behind it. If I do my duty, not for duty’s sake, but because I believe God is engineering my circumstances, then at the very point of my obedience the whole superb grace of God is mine through the Atonement.


My Utmost for His Highest

Manafon
     the Poetry of RS Thomas


                Manafon

Have I had to wait
  all this time to discover
  its meaning-that rectory,
  mahogany of a piano
  the light played on? What
  it was saying to the unasked
  question was: 'The answer
  is here.' The woman was right;
  she knew it: the truth china
  can tell in a cool pantry;
  the web happiness can weave
  that catches nothing but the dew's
  tears. The one flight over
  that valley was that
  of the wild geese. The river's
  teeth chattered but not
  with the cold. The woman tended
  a wood fire against my return
  from my wanderings, a silent entreaty
  to me to cease my bullying
  of the horizon. There was a dream
  she kept under her pillow
  that has become my nightmare.
  It was the unrecognized conflict
  between two nations; the one happy
  in the territory it had gained,
  determined to keep it; the other
  with the thought he could kiss the feet
  of the Welsh rainbow. I was shown
  the fact: a people with a language
  and an inheritance for sale;
  their skies noisy with armed aircraft;
  their highways sluices for their neighbours'
  discharge. If I wet my feet
  it was in seas radiant but not with well being.
  I retire at night beneath stars
  that have gone out. I stand
  with my friends at a cross-road
  where there is no choice. No matter;
  that nightmare is a steed I am
  content to ride so it return
  with me here among countrywomen
  whose welcome is warm at the grave's edge.
  It is a different truth, a different
  love I have come to, but one
  I share with that afflicted remnant
  as we go down, inalienable to our defeat.


Residues

Searching For Meaning In Midrash
     D'RASH


     A youngster spray paints his name in graffiti on the side of a school building. When he's caught, he appears in court with his parents and his attorney. "My client is extremely remorseful," says the lawyer. "This is the first time he has been in trouble with the law, and he is truly sorry for what he did." And the parents add, "Your honor, we're willing to pay the costs of removing the graffiti from the school." The judge listens, nods, and then responds. "Your son's remorse is a good first step. But he should learn from his mistake. Your paying the costs of the repair won't accomplish this. Even his working off these costs is not enough. The best way for this young man to learn a lesson from this unfortunate incident is for him to undo what he has done."

     And then he addresses the accused: "In some cases, young man, that's impossible. When a car is stolen and wrecked, or when a friend's reputation has been hurt, Humpty Dumpty just can't be put back together again. But in the case before this court, the damage can and should be repaired by the accused. This court finds you guilty and orders you to remove the graffiti from the school building. You may use tools and cleaning agents but no human agents. This is something you should do with your own two hands."

     "/ANOTHER D'RASH

     "Wait just a minute, Rabbi Yitzḥak! A pair of pants made out of fig leaves? You've got to be kidding! How long do you think those would have lasted?

     "It doesn't take a genius to figure out that fig-leaf clothing isn't very durable. But you just have to turn the page in the Bible to see that God eventually had to make more long-lasting clothing for Adam and Eve:

     "And the Lord God made garments of skins for Adam and his wife, and clothed them. (Genesis 3:21)

     "It's all well and good for God to tell Adam and Eve: "You broke it, now you fix it!" But the childlike first couple didn't do such a great repair job with those fig leaves. God had to step in anyway after the damage was done to make things right.

     "Imagine if our penal system was based on the maxim "You have ruined things! Take a thread and sew it up!" Rabbi Yitzḥak might tell us: "What's the point of just incarcerating criminals? They will only learn how to be better criminals. Society should demand that they make amends to those they have wronged. That way, the victims would be compensated. And the perpetrators would get the chance to do real teshuvah, and in doing so would become at last positive members of society."

     "Such a criminal justice system looks good on paper, but could it really work? Crimes against property might be easily compensated, but how does one make amends for crimes against persons? Telling a murderer or a rapist to "take a thread and sew it up" is not only foolish, but cruel to the victims. Ultimately, it is society, not the sinner, that has to make things right.

     "A little boy makes a mess in his room. A parent can order the child to clean it up, but it's likely that an even bigger mess may result. Or the parent can clean it up by herself, and the child will have learned nothing. Or the parent can take the child by the hand, showing him, directing him how to clean up his own mess. And maybe then the lesson would be learned.

     "You can't expect someone to take needle and thread and fix a tear if they don't know how to sew.


Searching for Meaning in Midrash: Lessons for Everyday Living

Joel in His Time / Love So Amazing
     W. W. Wiersbe

     "Each prophet had his own unique approach to his own special message. Hosea's message was an application of his sad domestic trials, emphasizing God's jealous love; but Joel's message was an interpretation of a national calamity—a plague of locusts and a drought—and emphasized God's glorious kingdom.

     Joel may well have been the first of the writing prophets; he probably ministered in Judah during the reign of King Joash (835–796 B.C.). You find the record in
2 Kings 11–12 and 2 Chronicles 22–24. Joash came to the throne at the age of seven, and Jehoiada the priest was his mentor. This may explain why Joel says nothing about the king, since Joash was learning the job.

     Joel's major theme is the "day of the Lord" and the need for God's people to be prepared. "day of the Lord" is used in Scripture to refer to different periods when God sent judgment to His people, (The term "Day of the Lord" is used to describe the fall of Israel in 722 B.C. (
Amos 5), the fall of Judah in 586 B.C. (Ezek. 13:5), and the battle of Carchemish in 605 B.C. (Jer. 46:10). Each of these local calamities was a precursor of the worldwide judgment that is promised by the prophets and also by our Lord (Matt. 24; Mark 13).) but the main emphasis is on the future "day of the Lord" when the nations will be judged and Christ shall return to set up His glorious kingdom.

     Joel refers to three important events, each of which he calls a "day of the Lord." He sees the plague of locusts as an immediate day of the Lord (
Joel 1:1–20, the invasion of Judah by Assyria as an imminent day of the Lord (21:27), and the final judgment of the world as the ultimate day of the Lord (2:27–3:21). In the first, the locusts are a metaphorical army; in the second, the locusts symbolize a real army; in the third, the locusts aren't seen at all and the armies are very real and very dangerous.

     A Suggested Outline of the Book of Joel

Key theme: "the Day of the Lord" (
1:15; 2:1, 11, 31; 3:14)

Key verse:
Joel 2:12–13

I. The Immediate Day of the Lord —
1:1–20
  1. Hear! (elders, citizens) —
1:2–4
  2. Wake up! (drunkards —
1:5–7
  3. Mourn! (farmers) —
1:8–12
  4. Call a fast! (priests) —
1:13–20

II. The Imminent Day of the Lord —
2:1–27

(The "imminent" Day of the Lord refers to the future invasion of Judah by the Assyrians, when the land would be devastated and Jerusalem surrounded by armies. (See
Isa. 36–37; 2 Kings 18–19; and 2 Chron. 32.) This occurred during the reign of King Hezekiah (715–686 B.C.). Jerusalem was miraculously delivered from Assyria by the Angel of the Lord who killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night. However, not every Old Testament student sees a distinction between I and II. Some see II as an amplification of I. Regardless of how you outline the book, the message remains the same: each national calamity reminds us that the "Day of the Lord" is coming and we must be prepared.)

  1. The invading army, like locusts —
2:1–11
  2. The call to repent —
2:12–17
  3. The promise of restoration —
2:18–27

III. The Ultimate Day of the Lord —
2:28–3:21
  1. Before that day – Spirit poured out —
2:28–32
  2. During that day – judgment poured out —
3:1–16
  3. After that day – blessing poured out —
3:17–21

Be Amazed (Minor Prophets): Restoring an Attitude of Wonder and Worship (The BE Series Commentary)

“Magical” Documents"
     Dictionary Of Jesus And The Gospels

     The breadth of material included among the Dead Sea Scrolls is demonstrated by a group of documents which might be categorized as magical. One zodiac from Cave 4 is known to exist (4QZodiac / Magical text (unpublished) from Qumran Cave 4) but has not been published. It may be identical with an unpublished brontologion (predicting events using thunder), which comprises two fragmentary columns. Somewhat more can be said about the document known as 4Q Cryptic. This is an encoded series of horoscopes in which the author used a mixture of alphabets and wrote from left to right, the opposite of the usual direction for Hebrew. The text describes three people in reference to their astrological birth signs; this in turn is related to their physical and spiritual qualities. There are terminological parallels with the Manual of Discipline. Such texts indicate that astrological ideas had been assimilated very early and quite deeply by the Jews, in spite of the clear connection they apparently had with idolatry for the authors of the Hebrew Bible (for example, Is 47:13–14; Jer 10:1–3). This type of interest was more typical of popular Jewish religion in this period than has often been realized.

     Another zodiacal document, known as 4QMess ar, (Aramaic “Messianic” text from Qumran Cave 4) has been called a messianic horoscope. This very poorly preserved text contains the Aramaic phrase bḥyr ˒lh˒, the equivalent of the Greek phrase ho eklektos tou theou (the elect of God) witnessed by some manuscripts of
John 1:34. It is not certain, however, that this phrase is intended in a messianic sense. It occurs as part of a description of an unborn child, who is ascribed wisdom and precocious intellect. He is also to have a long life, and the success of his plans is assured by his position as the “elect of God.” The description of the child is clearly influenced by biblical descriptions of Solomon, and the text has no clear astronomical terminology. It might therefore better be considered an example of physiognomic literature, of which there are many Greco-Roman examples. It may actually describe the birth of Noah (compare 1 Enoch 106).

Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (IVP Bible Dictionary)

The Recovery of the Pseudepigrapha
     Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism

     For much of Western history, there were relatively few sources for Judaism between the Bible and the Mishnah. The Apocrypha, or deuterocanonical books, were traditionally (and still are) part of the Bible of the Catholic Church. This is a very small selection of Jewish literature from the period 200 B.C.E. to 100 C.E. It includes the books of Maccabees, major wisdom books (Ben Sira and Wisdom of Solomon) and pious tales (Tobit, Judith), but apocalyptic writings are conspicuous by their absence. (2 Esdras, which includes the apocalypse of 4 Ezra, is included in the Apocrypha but not in the deuterocanonical books that are part of the Catholic Bible.) The history of the period was well known because of the books of Maccabees and the writings of Josephus. In recent years these sources have been supplemented by archaeology, but few additional literary sources have come to light. Also, the great corpus of Philo of Alexandria’s works was transmitted by Christians, because of its similarity to the writings of the church fathers. The Hellenistic Jewish literature was of marginal interest for orthodox Jewish scholarship in the nineteenth century, but it was the subject of some important studies, notably in the work of Jacob Freudenthal (1874–1875; see Niehoff in Oppenheimer, ed. 1999: 9–28).

     There exists, however, an extensive class of writings attributed to Old Testament figures that is not included in the Apocrypha. These writings are called “pseudepigrapha” (falsely attributed writings). There is also a small number of pseudepigraphic writings attributed to figures of pagan antiquity, most prominently the Sibyl. Most of the Greek and Latin writings relating to the Old Testament, such as the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, were collected by J. A. Fabricius in his Codex Pseudepigraphus Veteris Testamenti in 1713. But many important works were preserved only in less widely known languages, such as Ethiopic, Syriac, and Old Church Slavonic. The translations from Ethiopic of the Ascension of Isaiah (1819) and 1 Enoch (1821) by Richard Laurence inaugurated a new era in the study of ancient Judaism. During the latter half of the nineteenth century, several more important pseudepigrapha came to light—Jubilees, 2 and 3 Baruch, 2 Enoch, the Apocalypse of Abraham, and the Testament of Abraham. These discoveries greatly enlarged the corpus of apocalyptic works from around the turn of the era and potentially provided resources for a new view of ancient Judaism. At the beginning of the twentieth century, there were landmark editions of the collected Pseudepigrapha in German (Kautzsch 1900; Riessler 1928) and English (Charles 1913), but editions of the individual books had been available from the late nineteenth century.

The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism
Take Heart
     June 15

     In all these things we are more than conquerors. --- Romans 8:37.

     Why should a Roman gallows, and the strange Man who hung there, haunt the imagination and the conscience of our race? (Classic Sermons on Suffering (Kregel Classic Sermons Series))

     It is because humankind, in the depths of the spirit, has always been conscious that in that Cross, God has spoken, and eternity has intersected history. We know that, past all our attempts to answer the problem of evil and suffering, here is God’s answer. Here, if anywhere, is the clue to solve the riddle [of life and the mystery of sorrow].

     It is not the fact of suffering that baffles us, for we can see that we need it; it is the frightful excess of the thing that seems so cruel and senseless. If God intends human sanctification, why couldn’t he have thought out some kindlier way?

     There is still another difficulty. We talk about suffering producing character. But it does not always have that effect. The beneficent influence of pain does not work automatically! In different lives, suffering produces different effects. One man loses his wife, and the loss makes him more tender and gentle. Another faces the same loss, and it makes him hard and sullen. One woman has a great sorrow, and it turns her to God. Another [has] a similar experience, and she is never seen inside a church again.

     Trouble, in itself, is neither positive nor negative. It is neutral; whether it is going to become positive or negative depends on the human reaction. Some have the grace to use it creatively, forcing trouble to yield up its hidden blessing. But we do not always rise to that. How often our negative reaction balks even his will to bless!

     This fact emerges—that our main concern with suffering is not to find an explanation; it is to find a victory. It is to lay hold on a power. Even if you possessed the answer to the riddle, had it written down to the last detail and could say, “There is the full and final explanation of the problem of pain,” that would not be enough, would it? For the pain itself would still have to be borne. That is the real demand of the human spirit—not the explaining of this thing, but grace and help to bear it. And that is why God gave us Christ.

     On every page of your New Testament the living God comes toward you, and he holds in his hands not the answer to the questions of the mind but something better and diviner: a liberating, reinforcing power for the soul!
--- James S. Stewart

Take Heart: Daily Devotions with the Church's Great Preachers

On This Day
     A Mob and a Boy  June 14

     England’s John Wycliffe embodied Protestantism long before Luther, and the Reformation could have broken out in England 130 years before it began in Germany. It was aborted, however, by a mob and a boy.

     During Wycliffe’s day, England was an unhealthy place. Few reached age 40. There was little public sanitation, and the stench of latrines, tanneries, and livestock sullied the air. The plague struck with frightening regularity—in 1361, 1368, 1375, 1382, 1390—taking one in three and nearly half the clergy. The population grew angry and social order deteriorated. A poll tax in 1380 sparked violence, and Wycliffe, finding himself quoted by rebel leaders, tried to distance himself from the revolt. But many felt his reformer’s message had contributed to the uprising.

     On June 10, 1381 mobs swarmed through Canterbury, sacking the palace of Archbishop Sudbury. On June 11 revolutionaries rolled like a flood toward London. “Now,” they said, “the reign of Christian democracy will begin and every man will be a king.”

     King Richard II hid in the Tower of London as the horde stormed the capital. The next Morning he agreed to meet with the insurgents in North London. Rebel leaders, unsatisfied with his answers, rushed back to the tower, seized Archbishop Sudbury while he was singing Mass in the chapel, forced his neck on a log, and hacked off his head (which required eight strokes to do the job). Mobs pillaged and murdered at will. The shaken king retired to his mother’s apartments near St. Paul’s Cathedral.

     The next Morning, June 15, 1381, Richard took the sacrament and rode out to face the rebels. When a skirmish erupted, he rode bravely toward the masses, shouting, “Sirs, will you shoot your king? I will be your captain; you shall have from me that which you seek.” The rebels hesitated, and the people sided with Richard. The tide turned. The king, his state, and the official Church of England were preserved; the revolt was crushed; William Courtnay, who hated Wycliffe, was named archbishop; and the Reformation was deferred until another day.

     King Richard II, incredibly, was only 14 years old.

     Who makes these things happen? Who controls human events? I do! I am the LORD. I was there at the beginning; I will be there at the end. Islands and foreign nations saw what I did And trembled as they came near.
--- Isaiah 41:4,5.

On This Day 365 Amazing And Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs And Heroes

Morning and Evening
     Daily Readings / CHARLES H. SPURGEON

          Morning - June 15

     “And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me.” --- Genesis 21:6.

     It was far above the power of nature, and even contrary to its laws, that the aged Sarah should be honoured with a son; and even so it is beyond all ordinary rules that I, a poor, helpless, undone sinner, should find grace to bear about in my soul the indwelling Spirit of the Lord Jesus. I, who once despaired, as well I might, for my nature was as dry, and withered, and barren, and accursed as a howling wilderness, even I have been made to bring forth fruit unto holiness. Well may my mouth be filled with joyous laughter, because of the singular, surprising grace which I have received of the Lord, for I have found Jesus, the promised seed, and he is mine for ever. This day will I lift up Psalms of triumph unto the Lord who has remembered my low estate, for “my heart rejoiceth in the Lord; mine horn is exalted in the Lord; my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies, because I rejoice in thy salvation.”

     I would have all those that hear of my great deliverance from hell, and my most blessed visitation from on high, laugh for joy with me. I would surprise my family with my abundant peace; I would delight my friends with my ever-increasing happiness; I would edify the Church with my grateful confessions; and even impress the world with the cheerfulness of my daily conversation. Bunyan tells us that Mercy laughed in her sleep, and no wonder when she dreamed of Jesus; my joy shall not stop short of hers while my Beloved is the theme of my daily thoughts. The Lord Jesus is a deep sea of joy: my soul shall dive therein, shall be swallowed up in the delights of his society. Sarah looked on her Isaac, and laughed with excess of rapture, and all her friends laughed with her; and thou, my soul, look on thy Jesus, and bid heaven and earth unite in thy joy unspeakable.


          Evening - June 15

     “He openeth, and no man shutteth.” --- Revelation 3:7.

     Jesus is the keeper of the gates of paradise and before every believing soul he setteth an open door, which no man or devil shall be able to close against it. What joy it will be to find that faith in him is the golden key to the everlasting doors. My soul, dost thou carry this key in thy bosom, or art thou trusting to some deceitful pick-lock, which will fail thee at last? Hear this parable of the preacher, and remember it. The great King has made a banquet, and he has proclaimed to all the world that none shall enter but those who bring with them the fairest flower that blooms. The spirits of men advance to the gate by thousands, and they bring each one the flower which he esteems the queen of the garden; but in crowds they are driven from the royal presence, and enter not into the festive halls. Some bear in their hand the deadly nightshade of superstition, or the flaunting poppies of Rome, or the hemlock of self- righteousness, but these are not dear to the King, the bearers are shut out of the pearly gates. My soul, hast thou gathered the rose of Sharon? Dost thou wear the lily of the valley in thy bosom constantly? If so, when thou comest up to the gates of heaven thou wilt know its value, for thou hast only to show this choicest of flowers, and the Porter will open: not for a moment will he deny thee admission, for to that rose the Porter openeth ever. Thou shalt find thy way with the rose of Sharon in thy hand up to the throne of God himself, for heaven itself possesses nothing that excels its radiant beauty, and of all the flowers that bloom in paradise there is none that can rival the lily of the valley. My soul, get Calvary’s blood-red rose into thy hand by faith, by love wear it, by communion preserve it, by daily watchfulness make it thine all in all, and thou shalt be blessed beyond all bliss, happy beyond a dream. Jesus, be mine for ever, my God, my heaven, my all.

Morning and Evening

Amazing Grace
     June 15

          IN TIMES LIKE THESE

     Words and Music by Ruth Caye Jones, 1902–1972

     Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68)

     Wars, earthquakes, famines, violence, drugs, child abuse, humanism, the occult, New Age …

     When world events and ideologies like these seem ominous and unsettling to us or when personal sorrows or tragedies confront us, where can we go but to the Lord? How comforting it is to know that we can always flee to Him and rest securely on our “Solid Rock.” During the fearful days at the height of World War II, when the stress and strain of daily living seemed almost overwhelming, the comforting hymn “In Times Like These” was written. In the midst of a busy day as a housewife, Ruth Caye Jones felt a direct inspiration from the Holy Spirit. She stopped her work to quickly put down both words and music just as they were given to her by God.

     Since that day the hymn has been a blessing to countless Christians at special times of need. It has brought comfort during illness, has been used widely at funerals, has encouraged and challenged Christian workers, and has drawn many to salvation. Mrs. Jones experienced for herself the consolation the words of the song could bring as she spent time recovering form serious surgery a few years after it was written.

     The Scriptures warn that world conditions will continue to get worse as we approach the end of this age and the return of Christ. In addition, we must prepare ourselves for the difficult times that come to everyone as life progresses. We can only remain firm when we know with conviction that our God is in control and that all things are working out for our ultimate good. In the meantime, we simply grip the “Solid Rock!”

     In times likes these you need a Savior; in times like these you need an anchor; be very sure, be very sure your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

     In times like these you need the Bible; in times like these O be not idle; be very sure, be very sure your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

     In times like these I have a Savior; in times like these I have an anchor; I’m very sure, I’m very sure my anchor hold and grips the Solid Rock!

     Refrain: This Rock is Jesus, yes, He’s the One; this Rock is Jesus, the only One! Be very sure, be very sure your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!


     For Today: Job 13:13, 15; 19:25, 27; Psalm 56:11; Isaiah 26:3, 4.

     Whatever difficulties might surround you just now, be certain that you can sing with conviction this musical testimony ---

Amazing Grace: 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions

De Servo Arbitrio “On the Enslaved Will” or The Bondage of the Will
     Martin Luther | (1483-1546)


     Sect. LVI. – THE third passage is from Moses, (Deut. xxx. 19.) “I have set before thy face life and death, choose what is good, &c.” — “What words (says the Diatribe) can be more plain? It leaves to man the liberty of choosing.” —

     I answer: What is more plain, than, that you are blind? How, I pray, does it leave the liberty of choosing? Is it by the expression ‘choose’? — Therefore, as Moses saith ‘choose,’ does it immediately come to pass that they do choose? Then, there is no need of the Spirit. And as you so often repeat and inculcate the same things, I shall be justified in repeating the same things also. — If there be a liberty of choosing, why has the ‘probable opinion’ said that “Freewill” cannot will good? Can it choose not willing or against its will? But let us listen to the similitude, —

     — “It would be ridiculous to say to a man standing in a place where two ways met, Thou seest two roads, go by which thou wilt, when one only was open.” —

     This, as I have before observed, is from the arguments of human reason, which thinks, that a man is mocked by a command impossible: whereas I say, that the man, by this means, is admonished and roused to see his own impotency. True it is, that we are in a place where two ways meet, and that one of them only is open, yea rather neither of them is open. But by the law it is shewn how impossible the one is, that is, to good, unless God freely give His Spirit; and how wide and easy the other is, if God leave us to ourselves. Therefore, it would not be said ridiculously, but with a necessary seriousness, to the man thus standing in a place where two ways meet, ‘go by which thou wilt,’ if he, being in reality impotent, wished to seem to himself strong, or contended that neither way was hedged up.

     Wherefore, the words of the law are spoken, not that they might assert the power of the will, but that they might illuminate the blindness of reason, that it might see that its own light is nothing, and that the power of the will is nothing. “By the law (saith Paul) is the knowledge of sin,” (Rom. iii. 20.): he does not say — is the abolition of, or the escape from sin. The whole nature and design of the law is to give knowledge only, and that of nothing else save of sin, but not to discover or communicate any power whatever. For knowledge is not power, nor does it communicate power, but it teaches and shows how great the impotency must there be, where there is no power. And what else can the knowledge of sin be, but the knowledge of our evil and infirmity? For he does not say — by the law comes the knowledge of strength or of good. The whole that the law does, according to the testimony of Paul, is to make known sin.

     And this is the place, where I take occasion to enforce this my general reply: — that man, by the words of the law, is admonished and taught what he ought to do, not what he can do: that is, that he is brought to know his sin, but not to believe that he has any strength in himself. Wherefore, friend Erasmus, as often as you throw in my teeth the Words of the law, so often I throw in yours that of Paul, “By the law is the knowledge of sin,” — not of the power of the will. Heap together, therefore, out of the large Concordances all the imperative words into one chaos, provided that, they be not words of the promise but of the requirement of the law only, and I will immediately declare, that by them is always shewn what men ought to do, not what they can do, or do do. And even common grammarians and every little school-boy in the street knows, that by verbs of the imperative mood, nothing else is signified than that which ought to be done, and that, what is done or can be done, is expressed by verbs of the indicative mood.

     Thus, therefore, it comes to pass, that you theologians, are so senseless and so many degrees below even school-boys, that when you have caught hold of one imperative verb you infer an indicative sense, as though what was commanded were immediately and even necessarily done, or possible to be done. But how many slips are there between the cup and the lip! So that, what you command to be done, and is therefore quite possible to be done, is yet never done at all. Such a difference is there, between verbs imperative and verbs indicative, even in the most common and easy things. Whereas you, in these things which are as far above those, as the heavens are above the earth, so quickly make indicatives out of imperatives, that the moment you hear the voice of him commanding, saying, “do,” “keep,” “choose,” you will have, that it is immediately kept, done, chosen, or fulfilled, or, that our powers are able so to do.

The Bondage of the Will   or   Christian Classics Ethereal Library

Psalm 9 - 16
     Brett Meador | Athey Creek


What About God’s Wrath? | Psalm 9:5-8
s2-216 | 7-14-2018





Psalm 9 - 13
m2-219 | 7-18-2018






Psalm 14 - 17
m2-220 | 7-25-2018





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Psalm 9 - 16
Lean-into-GOD





Lecture 30 Job Application
John H. Walton






How Badly Was the New Testament Corrupted?
Daniel Wallace | Veritas





Should We Fear Artificial Intelligence?
John Lennox | RZIM.org






Blessings Before Battles - Deuteronomy 20:5-7
10-29-2000 / S3103 | Jon Courson





Psalms 107-109
5-6-2015 / W7164 | Jon Courson






Transforming Effect of Loving Christ
John 21 | John MacArthur





The Fruit of the Spirit 3
Galatians 5:16–26 | John MacArthur






Psalm 16
John Piper | Desiring God





Psalms 10-15
9-10-2014 / W7136 | Jon Courson






Psalms 16-19
9-17-2014 / W7137 | Jon Courson





Psalms, L24 Messianic Psalms, 16, Part 1
Dr. Bruce Waltke






Your Neighbor As Yourself
Greg Carmer | Gordon College





Between Justice and a Hard Place
Marla Frederick | Gordon College






Uncommon Impact
Justin Blaney | Biola University





If You Can
Aaron Sams | Biola University






The Beauty and Blessing of Forgiveness, Part 1
John MacArthur





Part 2
John MacArthur






Misusing the Law
Carlton Wynne | 1 Tim 1:3-7
Westminster Theological Seminary





Overflowing Grace
Stephen Coleman | 1 Tim 1:12-17
Westminster Theological Seminary






The Great Christ Comet
Colin Nicholl
Socrates In The City