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Unto Thee will I cry, O Lord my Rock.
The prayer of a saint in distress
I. He prays that God would graciously hear and answer him now that, in his distress, he called upon him (Psalms 28:1-2). Observe--
1. His faith in prayer. “O Lord, my rock.”
2. His fervency in prayer. “Unto Thee will I cry”--as one in earnest, being ready to sink unless Thou come in with seasonable succour.
3. How solicitous he is to obtain an answer. “Be not silent to me.”
4. His plea.
(1) The sad despair he should be in if God slighted him. “If Thou be silent to me,” etc. If God be not my friend, appear not to me, and appear not for me, my hope and my help is perished.
(2) The good hopes he had that God would favour him. “I lift up my hands,” etc. The most holy place, within the veil, is here called “the oracle.” That was a type of Christ; and it is to Him that we must lift up our eyes and hands, for through Him all good comes from God to us. It was also a figure of heaven (Hebrews 9:24); and from God, as our Father in heaven, we are taught to expect answers to prayer.
II. he deprecates the doom of wicked people (Psalms 28:3).
1. Save me from being entangled in the snares they have laid for me.
2. Save me from being infected with their sins, and from doing as they do.
3. Save me from being involved in their doom.
III. he deprecates the just judgments of God upon the workers of iniquity (Psalms 28:4). This is not the language of passion or revenge; nor is it inconsistent with the duty of praying for our enemies. But--
1. Thus he would show how far he was from complying with the workers of iniquity.
2. Thus he would express his zeal for the honour of God’s justice in governing the world.
3. This prayer is a prophecy that God will, sooner or later, render to all impenitent sinners according to their deserts. Observe, he foretells that God will reward them, not only according to their deeds, but “according to the wickedness of their endeavours”; for sinners shall be reckoned with, not only for the mischief they have done, but for the mischief they would have done, which they designed, and did what they could to effect. And if God go by this rule in dealing with the wicked, sure He will do so in dealing with the righteous, and will reward them, not only for the good they have done, but for the good they endeavoured to do, though they could not compass it.
IV. he foretells their destruction for their contempt of God and his hand (Psalms 28:5). Why do men question the Being or attributes of God but because they do not duly regard His handi-works which declare His glory, and in which the invisible things of Him are clearly seen? Why do men forget God, and live without Him--nay, affront God, and live in rebellion against Him, but because they consider not the instances of that wrath of His which is “revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and Unrighteousness of men”? Why do the enemies of God’s people hats and persecute them, and devise mischief against them, but because they “regard not the works” God has wrought for His Church, by which He has made it appear how dear it is to Him? (Isaiah 5:12). (M. Henry, D. D.)
A cry for help
1. To the right person.
2. At the right time.
3. With the right motives.
4. In the right way. (J. E. Scott.)
The instincts of the heart
I. the sense of dependence upon God. How sweet it is to say unto God, “My Rock.” This gives confidence in life and in death. Said a dying saint (the Rev. John Rees),” Christ in His person, Christ in the love of His heart, and Christ in the power of His arm, is the rock on which I rest; and now” (reclining his head gently on the pillow), “Death, strike.”
II. craving for fellowship with God.
1. God s silence deprecated as the greatest evil.
2. God’s fellowship sought as the greatest good:
(4) Through faith in the mercy of God.
III. confidence in the eternal justice of God.
1. Deliverance sought from the doom of the wicked.
2. Retribution craved.
IV. gratitude foe the goodness of God.
1. For answered prayers.
2. For assistance in time of need.
3. For assurance of hope.
V. exulting joy in the saving strength of God.
VI. trust in the ultimate triumph and blessedness of God’s people. (W. Forsyth, M. A.)
A supplication metaphorically expressed
I. The object of prayer is here given in metaphor.
1. His nature. “Rock.” What so immutable, abiding?
(1) Deep in the nature of every man is the desire for some object on which to settle its confidence and its love.
(2) The human spirit, without a fixed centre, is like the sea--never at rest.
(3) All outside the soul is unsettled and shifting as the clouds. “Riches take to themselves wings and flee away;” friends drop into the grave. The soul wants a Rock amidst this surging sea.
2. His attitude. “Silent.” Even Christ on the cross exclaimed, “My God,” etc. Does not this prove man’s intuitive belief in the fact that fellowship with the Great Father is happiness? Whatever may be man’s theoretical credenda concerning the Eternal, his primitive faith is, that happiness is attained only by close communion with Him.
3. His salvation. “Lest I be like them who go down into the pit.” From what a pit does the great God deliver His people--
(1) The pit of uncorrectable depravity.
(2) The pit of unpardonable guilt.
(3) The pit of unrelievable despair.
II. The nature of the prayer is here given in metaphor.
1. Prayer has respect to a special manifestation of God. “Toward Thy holy oracle.” What the “Mercy Seat” was to the Jew, Christ is to humanity in these last times--the Temple in which God is to be met, and where the Shekinah radiates--Emmanuel--God with us. Man in prayer requires that his Deity should appear as a local personality.
2. Prayer is the elevation of the soul to God. “I lift up my hands.” The lifting up of the hands symbolizes the lifting up of the heart. (Homilist.)
Be not silent to me, lest if Thou be silent to me I become like them that go down into the pit.
The Silences of God
The instinct of religion is to cry to God. The personal providence of God is the reason of prayer. The psalmist is in trouble, and as he prays his imagination suggests what it would be if God were silent to him.
I. Is God silent to our prayers? We pray expecting His answer. Prayer is not the mere utterance of surcharged hearts, like Lear’s raving to the winds. There is moral benefit in simple desire, and that desire grows by utterance. The Rock may not speak to us, but we can lean against it and find shelter under it. But the idea of God speaking to us is as essential for prayer as our speaking to Him. We ask for response, not merely that He would listen. In what sense may God be silent to a praying man? It is a possibility, and as such it is deprecated. Perhaps David was impatient because the answer did not at once come. Sometimes the answer may follow at once, as the thunder-clap the lightning. “I will, be thou clean,” was the instant answer to the leper’s cry. But the answer to the Syro-Phoenician, to the centurion, to the disciples in the storm, to the sisters of Lazarus, were purposely delayed. The long winter is not a capricious delay of spring; it prepares for a fuller, a more luxuriant life. Surely was not the Father, in this sense, silent to the well-beloved Son Himself when He prayed in His agony, thrice, “Father, if it be possible.” His cup might not pass, but “He was heard in that He feared.” Our hasty desires are often not wise. The thing demanded might send “leanness into our souls.”
II. there are other silences that perplex us. What is the meaning of many of God’s laws--the economy of violence, of death, of death as the condition of life? Why are the secrets of Nature so hidden? Why did not God tell at the first what powerful generations have just discovered? Wherefore do the wicked prosper? Why is God silent when His people are wronged with impunity and success? No doubt, much that we call God’s silence is speech that is unheard. It is not His silence, but only our deafness. Christianity has taught us how to regard suffering itself as a gospel.
III. concerning his kingdom we are perplexed. “Lord, are there few that be saved’?” He is silent to our curiosity even when prompted by benevolence.
IV. in spiritual things, again, we often think, in our obtuseness, that God is silent. We do not always hear God’s voice in our own souls. The Babel voices of passion drown it. He that will do the will of God shall know of the doctrine. Some men see and hear God everywhere; others never see or hear Him at all. To the spiritual soul God’s world is a whispering gallery--dead stones speak.
V. to such a soul the thought that God may be silent to him is intolerable. He would be as those who perish. Every delay was painful. The Divine Fatherhood has such meaning to us that we cannot bear “the hiding of God’s face.” This is the meaning of all the great yearnings after God with which the Psalms are full. To be thrown upon the mystery and sin and trouble of life, “all the burden and the mystery of this unintelligible world,” without God is, to a religious soul, intolerable. How terrible to think of men to whom God is always silent, who are spiritually so deaf that they cannot hear, and to whom, if they could hear, God has no words that He could speak but of rebuke. There are men who all their lives have been saying prayers but have never prayed, and to whom God has never spoken. What if the silence should never be broken? (H. Allen, D. D.)
The silence of God
I shall treat the subject mainly from the standpoint of those to whom the silence of God is a burden, more or less perplexing, mysterious.
I. while complaining of God’s silence, are you really so certain that he is silent? What if God has been speaking distinctly and repeatedly, while from faults of your own you have not heard Him? There are two pre-requisites to the catching of God’s voice! Listen for it in the proper quarter. Many miss the Divine message because they fail to realize how often it comes to us in the ordinary and the commonplace. “Where is the Christ?” do you ask?--“the Christ that I need to save me, to guide me?” Why, in the weekly sermons you hear, in the daily Scriptures you read, in the temporal experiences that befall you, in the spiritual aspirations that stir in you. Lay your ear to the things that are close to you: customary ordinances, customary providences, as well as your yearnings and anxieties for a better life. Christ is speaking in these.
2. Listen for it with the necessary sympathy. Otherwise, though close to the sphere where God speaks, with His messages ringing all round about you, you may miss or mistake their meaning; they will be no real messages to you. Who are those that appreciate the poet’s message? Only such as have a portion of the poet’s soul. Who are those that appreciate the musician’s message? Only such as have a portion of the musician’s taste. And who are those that appreciate the Divine message? Only such as have an element of the Divine character, that raises you to the knowledge of the Divine, instals you into fellowship with the Divine.
II. in complaining of God’s silence, are you sure that his silence will continue? Remember the Syro-Phoenician woman. If your prayer be a prayer for simple relief, cud if you are careful to ask for it in the right spirit, willing to wait for it till the right time, you need not lose heart, though Christ at the outset be silent. The speaking will surely follow. And meanwhile through the very silence Christ may work by blessing as well as by speech. He may keep you waiting for a time that faith may be strengthened, that hope may be fanned, that love may be refined, that patience may be perfected, that desire may be purified.
III. in complaining of God’s silence, are you sure it would be good for you if he spoke? (John 16:12). He meets many a question that goes up to Him about concealed things in life and doctrine with a shake of the head, the attitude of reticence and of reserve. And the reason is this--the knowledge of such matters is meanwhile unsafe. A modern religious writer has beautifully said that the key to God’s silence on many points is to be found in the simple words, “We shall be changed,” and the fact that God waits till the change takes place.
IV. in complaining of God’s silence, are you sure you are not provoking him to keep silence? how? By sin that is wilfully indulged in, or sin that is insufficiently repented of-inadequately realized and confessed (Psalms 66:18). “But,” you say, “I have grieved over my iniquity.” Yes, but there is grieving and grieving. Have you renounced it? Have you renounced the fruits of it? Have you gone to God with such an absence of self-justification and self-excuse as to say, “I and not another have done this thing, and against Thee and not another has this thing been done”? For if not, grieve as you may, plead as you may, be prepared for God’s silence.
V. in complaining of God’s silence, are you sure you are giving him the opportunity to speak? “Truly,” says the psalmist, “my soul waiteth upon God.” It ought rather to read, “is silent to God.” A friend told me some time ago that a Christian lady startled him with a question worth the repeating. She first asked, “Do you pray? Yes.” “And how long do you remain on your knees, after you have prayed, waiting for an answer? Well,” he said, “it is strange; I never thought of doing that at all.” We forget the duty of stillness, of quietness. We forget the duty of now and again being silent to God in the attitude of expectancy and recipiency. (W. A. Gray.)
The silence of God
I think it was Thomas Carlyle who used those pathetic words when speaking of the Deity: “He does nothing.” The world moved ever onwards; men and Women struggled and loved and hated; vice lifted its head unblushingly in our streets, and dishonesty and cruelty worked havoc in the peace of the universe. And yet the God of purity and of justice never seemed to interfere. The world ran riot, and He put not forth His lined; men cried to Him for help and deliverance, and He remained for ever silent. Now, this Eternal silence has had a twofold effect upon men. In one class it has given rise to defiance; in another it has given rise to despair. The unbeliever challenges the Divine interference, and when silence is the answer to his demand he denies the power of the Eternal Spirit; the man of faith appeals to God for light and leading, and the silence nearly drives him to desperation. There is nothing more trying to the faith of men than this silence, or seeming silence, on the part of God. Does God speak to you, or is He silent? Is the silence of the universe for you ever broken by the mysterious voice of an Unseen Being? Can you with the eye of sense look at the heavens above you, and with the eye of faith pierce the eternal blue, and believe that the God who lives in the universe is a Being who has ears but heareth not, who has eyes but seeth not, who has a heart but knows nothing of the wants and needs of that broken heart of yours? If prayer does nothing else for a man, it at least bears him up on the wings of faith, far from the vexing trifles of the present into the unknown region where the Father dwells; and no one can live for a moment in that holy place without hearing the voice of God. “Prayer purifies,” says Richter; and purity is the voice of God. Again, we may hear the Divine voice in Nature if we open our ears to its sound. That voice was for ever in the ears of the psalmist; he heard the voice of God in the hurricane and in the calm. And the reason why men to-day do not hear God speaking to them in Nature is simply that they allow the murmur of the world to stifle the whisper of heaven To hold silent communings with the silent God you must leave the bustle of the world behind you. It is not often that God speaks to a man through the noise of his hammer in the workshop, or the columns of his ledger in the office, or the pages of his bank-book. Leave these things behind and go away and seek God’s face in the lonely valley or on the silent, hillside. There you will discover the truest part of your manhood, you will see that the life of thought is the nearest akin to that of God, and in every blade of grass you will see the mystery of the Divine workmanship, in every peeping flower you will see the Eternal smile, in the murmur of the mountain streamlet you will hear the music of the angels, in the breeze which kisses your cheek you will feel the breath of God. We hear the voice of God also in the voice of conscience within us. If you stifle that voice it will become fainter day by day till it altogether dies away; if you listen to its appeal it will ultimately lead you to where you may see God face to face. Once more, the voice of God may come to you in the memory of the past. Your life must have been a very uneventful one if you cannot look back upon it and see many stages plainly marked which give the lie to the assertion of the silence of God, if you cannot point to many struggles, many victories, and also many defeats in your life’s history where you heard the voice of God breaking the silence around. But, above all, do we hear the voice of God in the memory of departed friends and comrades. There is a great deal more meaning than we think of in the words, “He being dead yet speaketh.” The memory of the departed lifts us up to higher things, and we hear their voices calling us to walk nobly and endure manfully. The memory of a dead parent often keeps a young man’s feet from walking in the paths of sin; the memory of a dead friend stimulates us to a higher ideal and a nobler end. What man who has a dear child in the eternal kingdom does not feel better and purer and more Christ-like when he thinks of that angel face smiling upon him in tender affection? (A. Warr, M. A.)
The seeming silence of God
The seeming silence of God means human incapacity and dulness. This is the obstacle to hearing. There is an eternal reality corresponding with the ancient phrase, “Communion with God.” But this implies more than the existence of the Heavenly voice. It implies organs made sensitive to it. The material world is full of sounds which are constantly failing upon ears that are too dull or too deaf to hear them. We speak of the silence of the sea, of the silence of the night, of the silence of the mighty mountain. But to men with ears, to men not wanting in “the vision and the faculty divine,” these things are unceasingly eloquent with speech. To some God does not seem to speak because there has been no preparation for hearing. Where the soul is filled with the noise of mundane voices, the Divine voices which are resounding through its chambers cannot be distinguished. The man who cries despairingly to God, “Be not silent to me,” needs to remember that it is himself more than God that needs to be stirred. He must set himself to understand the language in which the Divine One is wont to communicate with the human spirit. Even among men the spoken and the written word are not the only methods of intercommunication. To the trained eye of friendship many an important message may be conveyed without the use of any audible or written word. We speak to God in a voice audible, but He may answer us in impressions, in impulses, and similar. And this language, the language of the spirit of the unseen God, cannot be understood without any instruction. The one who rushes into the Divine presence with petitions, his soul full of earth’s voices, having never learned even the alphabet of the spiritual world, cannot expect to understand the answer he may receive, any more than a man ignorant of the telegraph code could interpret the dots and dashes which he is given to understand are the reply to a communication which he has flashed along the speaking wires. To the aspiring, sensitive soul, God is never silent. (J. Hunter, D. D.)
Give them according to their deeds.
Saints desire God to punish sinners
I. why impenitent sinners deserve to be punished. Their wickedness lies in their endeavours, or intentions, to do evil. All their free, voluntary exercises are entirely selfish and criminal, for which they deserve to be punished.
II. some sinners more deserve to be punished than others. One may design to take away a man’s property, another may design to take away a man’s life, and another may design to destroy a nation. These are all bad designs; but the second is worse than the first, and the third is worse than the second. Ill desert is always in proportion to the ill design of the agent; and the ill design of the agent is always in proportion to the magnitude of the evil he designs to do.
III. what is implied in God’s punishing finally impenitent sinners according to their deserts.
1. According to the duration of their deserts, i.e. for ever.
2. According to the degrees of their guilt. Christ expressly declares that it shall be more intolerable for some sinners than for others in the day of judgment.
IV. why good men desire that God would punish the finally impenitent according to their deserts.
1. It is the nature of true benevolence to love justice.
2. It is the nature of true love to God to desire that He may be glorified for ever.
3. To promote the highest good of the universe.
1. If the ill desert of sinners essentially and necessarily consists in their free, voluntary design to do evil, then neither the foreknowledge, nor purpose, nor agency of God can ever afford them the least ground or reason to complain of Him for punishing them for ever.
2. If good men, for good reasons, desire God would punish the finally impenitent according to their deserts, then they are prepared to rejoice when they shall see Him display the glory of His justice in their future and eternal punishment.
3. If good men desire God to punish the finally impenitent for ever, for the reasons that have been mentioned, then sinners will never have any just ground to reproach or complain of them for feeling and expressing such a desire.
4. If good men desire God to punish the finally impenitent for ever, then they have no more reason to disbelieve and oppose the doctrine of reprobation than the doctrine of election.
5. If guilt or ill desert consists in the evil intentions of the heart, then there is a wide difference between awakenings and convictions. Sinners are commonly awakened before they are convinced. It is one thing to be sensible of danger, another thing to be sensible of guilt.
6. If guilt or ill desert consists in the selfish and sinful affections of the heart, then we may see why moral sinners commonly experience the deepest convictions before they are converted. They are not so easily awakened and alarmed as more open and profligate sinners.
7. Since all guilt or ill desert consists in the evil affections of the heart, it is easy to see why good men have been so much borne down with the burden of sin. Job, David, and Paul had a deep and habitual sense of their great criminality and guilt. The reason was, they had experienced keen convictions of conscience before they were converted; and this made their conscience always tender afterwards. (N. Emmons, D. D.)
Blessed be the Lord, because He hath heard.
A thanksgiving truly inspired
These verses throw light upon the religious experience of the psalmist, and from them we learn--
I. That his experience testified of answers to his prayer. There are two ways in which God answers prayer--
1. Sometimes by granting the thing sought. Thus the prayers of Elijah, Moses, Hezekiah, were often answered, and thus the prayers of His people, in all ages, have sometimes been answered.
2. Sometimes by endowing the suppliant with the spirit of resignation to the Divine will. This is the most general, and the most efficient way. Acquiescence in the Divine will is the highest strength and happiness of moral beings.
II. That his experience assured him of divine assistance.
1. Strength What is the highest strength? Moral strength, strength arising from an unbounded confidence in God; strength to brave perils with a fearless heart; strength to endure trials without repining; strength “to labour and to wait.”
2. Shield. Jehovah was his protector. No weapons can penetrate Omnipotence. He is the All-sufficient Guardian of His people; “under them are His everlasting arms.”
III. That his experience involved a conscious trust in Jehovah. “My heart trusted in Him.” This is something more than to believe in His existence, His government, His claims, His Word; it is to exercise unbounded confidence in Him, in His character and procedure, in both His ability and disposition to help us. Because David trusted in Him, he said, “I am helped.” There is no help for the soul without this trust in God.
IV. That his experience was identified with exultant gratitude. “Therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth.” True religion is happiness; happiness was the end of Christ’s interposition. “These things have I spoken unto you, that your joy might be full.” There is no genuine religion where there is no happiness. (Homilist.)
A glorious answer
1. Immediately given.
2. Gratefully received.
3. Rejoicingly acknowledged. (J. E. Scott.)
The fact of answered prayer demonstrated
That God hears prayer is abundantly proved in the experience of George Muller and his successor in the management of his great orphanages. He made vast plans, requiring an annual expenditure of £46,000. He never went into debt. He had not a penny of assured income. And yet his orphans never went hungry to bed. He reckoned some 30,000 direct and wonderful answers to prayers received on the very day of his asking. He never made a request of man, but he received in this way of private prayer more than £800,000 to carry on his vast undertakings. Mr. W. T. Stead considers George Muller’s life to be a triumphant scientific experiment regarding the power of prayer. (A. R. Wells.)
The Lord is my strength and my shield.
A sacred solo
Note in the three sentences-there is in each that which is inward and that which is outward. “The Lord is my strength”--that is inward; “My shield”--that is outward. “My heart trusted in Him--inward; “I am helped”--outward. “My heart greatly rejoiceth”--inward; “With my song will I praise Him”--outward. It teaches us that truth and beauty of form are to be linked together: to be holy we need not to be uncouth. Slovenly preaching, doggerel verses and discordant singing are to be avoided in our worship.
I. We have here A sure possession. With double grip the psalmist takes hold of God. “The Lord is my strength and my shield.” It is not anything belonging to the Lord, but the Lord Himself that he thus lays hold on. He also can say this has a large inheritance which death cannot wither, nor space compass, nor time limit, nor eternity explore. He may be short in pocket money, as owners of large estates sometimes are; but he is infinitely rich, for he hath real property and an indefeasible title to it. Notice how God is laid hold of--
1. Inwardly, as his strength. You cannot tell how strong you are if you can say this: what marvellous capacity for endurance. Increase of burden is nothing to groan at if there be increase of strength. And with this we can, also, do anything. Then--
2. There is the outward manifestation. God is our “shield.” “Where would you hide yourself,” said one to Luther, “if the Elector of Saxony should withdraw his protection?” He smiled and said, “I put no trust in the Prince of Saxony. Beneath the broad shield of Heaven I stand secure against Pope and Turk and devil.” So he did, so do we. And many of us can attest this.
II. A definite experience. “My heart trusted in Him and I am helped.” He does not say, “I trusted” as one who makes a profession with his lips, but “my heart trusted.” Happy the man who in his “heart” trusts. Did you ever notice the middle verse of the whole Bible? It is Psalms 118:8. “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.” The comparison will not bear a thought, the preference is infinite. May the heart always trust, and in God alone. Then we have the outward manifestation of the inward experience, “I am helped.” Not “I was,” nor “I shall be,” but “I am.” Old Master Trapp says, faith has no tenses, because faith deals with a God whose name is “I am.” With man we trust and are often disappointed or deceived, but never so with God.
III. A declared emotion. “Therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth, and with my song,” etc. Some people’s rejoicing is but skin deep. They laugh: their face is surfaced over with smiles, and their mirth bubbles up with silly glee. Nothing is more sad. You may perhaps have heard of Carlini, one of the most celebrated clowns of the beginning of this century, a man whose wit and humour kept all Paris in roars of laughter; but he himself had little share of the cheerfulness he simulated so well and stimulated so much. His comedies brought him no comfort; he was a victim of habitual despondency. He consulted a physician, who gave him some medicine, but advised him by way of recreation to go and hear Carlini. “If he does not fetch the blues out of you nobody will.” “Alas, sir,” said he, “I am Carlini.” And so often men make mirth for others, but live in gloom themselves. Not so the man who has laid hold on God. “My heart greatly rejoiceth.” And we should tell out our joy. “With my song will I praise Him.” Hard-worked mothers, toiling labourers, wearied servants, sing praise unto Him. The birds, the flowers, the many-tinted shells in depth of ocean, all praise Him. Do you the same. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
The Lord acknowledged and praised
I. the Lord acknowledged.
1. AS the source of strength.
2. As a shield.
(1) Against temptation.
(2) Against the fiery darts of Satan.
(3) Against the attacks of personal enemies.
II. the Lord trusted.
1. With the heart.
2. For the salvation of the soul.
3. For the power to keep from falling.
4. For help in every hour of need.
III. the Lord rejoiced is.
1. Because the soul is at peace with God.
2. Because of the consciousness of security in God.
3. Because of the manifested presence of God in the soul.
IV. the Lord praised.
1. For the manifestation of His power.
(1) To give strength in the hour of weakness.
(2) To give encouragement in the hour of despondency.
(3) To give light in the hour of darkness.
(4) To give inspiration in the hour of conflict.
2. For the manifestation of His love.
(1) In cleansing the heart from all sin.
(2) In inscribing the name in heaven.
(3) In the adoption of sons into the Divine family.
(4) In the blessed assurance of an eternal home in heaven. (O. T. Adams.)
The security of those who have God for their strength and shield
He is invulnerable whom God shields. The devil might spare his arrows, for not one of them will take effect on him whom God shields. David rested in his God in the midst of trouble, for God was a shield unto him. Oh, man, what about your fortifications? The French, yonder in Paris, put out statements and bulletins about the state of the fortifications--about the condition of the chain of forts that encircle their city. Now, as you walk around the walls of your own soul, have you got God as a shield? You, young fellow, are you shielded by God? Is God your shield? Have you covenanted with Jehovah? If you have, then--oh, hear it!--you are safe, for “the Lord is thy shield.” (J. Robertson.)
My heart trusted in Him; and I am helped.
The earlier and the later song
There are two actions of the heart--prophecy and memory. In the morning of life I look forward, “my heart trusted”; in the afternoon I look back, “my heart rejoiceth.” The morning trust comes before help; it is the prospect of the West seen from the crimson dawn. The afternoon joy follows help: it is the memory of the East seen from the setting sun. My heart is like the migration of the swallows. Every swallow makes its first migration in faith; but at the second its prophecy is turned into a memory. It is no more the heart trusting, but the heart rejoicing. My soul, which of thy migrations is the nobler? Is it the trusting or the rejoicing, the prophecy or the memory, thy journey from East to West, or thy travelling from West to East? The psalmist prefers Shy evening song--the song of memory. It is the swallow after migration. It is a song in spite of storm. It is a praise of life as it is. Faith may sing of the rose behind the thorn; but love sits upon the rose bush and smiles back upon the thorn. Faith journeys from Egypt to seek the promised land; love rests in the promised land, and blesses the journey from Egypt. Faith vows all worship if it shall come without pain to the Father’s house; love reposes in the Father’s house and says: “It was good for me to have been afflicted.” The song of memory is a song of praise. (G. Matheson, D. D.)
Save Thy people, and bless Thine inheritance; feed them also and lift them up for ever.
A prayer for the Church militant
Here are four choice blessings.
I. save thy people. This prayer may refer--
1. To their conversion.
2. Their sanctification.
3. Their recovery from backsliding.
4. Their deliverance from temptation.
5. The need of the whole church. If we pray this prayer we must try and save souls.
II. bless thine inheritance. After men are saved they have still many wants: such as--
1. Greater unity in the Church.
2. More earnestness.
3. More happiness.
When we pray this prayer select some out of God’s inheritance and pray especially for them. And take care practically to prove the sincerity of your prayer.
III. feed them also. Hence pray--
1. For ministers to be provided.
2. A clear insight into God’s truth.
3. Invoke communion with Christ. And here, also, see that we practically carry out this prayer.
IV. lift them up for ever. God’s people want lifting up, they are heavy by nature. They need it--
1. In character.
2. When in conflict; and--
3. At the last, that we may get home to be with God; (C. H. Spurgeon.)
An intercession sublimely catholic
This short prayer contains a sketch of the blessedness of the good--here called God’s people and His inheritance.
I. deliverance. “Save Thy people.” They are in danger. From what must men be delivered in order to be made happy? Sin. This is the great enemy.
1. Man must be delivered from its guilt. Sin resting on the conscience is the thundercloud of hell; this cloud must be “blotted out.”
2. Man must be delivered from its dominion. Man under the control of sin must be miserable. He has eternal battling with self, the universe, and God.
3. Man must be delivered from its consequences--remorse, despair, etc. From all this man must be saved, and the salvation can only be accomplished through Jesus Christ.
II. guardianship. “Feed them also,” that is, “take care of them.” Be to them what the faithful shepherd is to the sheep.
1. Ward off the enemy, Keep the lion and the wolf at a distance.
2. Restrain from dangers. Let not the flock fall over precipices, or go into bewildering thickets.
3. Supply with provisions. Lead them into “green pastures.” All this the Great Shepherd of souls does for His flock.
III. sustentation. “Lift them up for ever.” Deal tenderly with them, as the shepherd with the weaklings of his flock. It is said of Christ that “He shall lead His people like a flock,” etc. (Homilist.)
A benevolent prayer
1. For salvation.
2. For blessing.
3. For a Shepherd’s care. (J. E. Scott.)
The secret source of the saints’ supplies
An old Scotch baron was attacked by his enemy, who encamped before his gates, and would allow no provisions to enter them. He continued the siege long enough to have exhausted the supplies within, but there were no signs of capitulation. Weeks and months passed away, and yet no surrender. After a long time the besieger was surprised, one morning, to see a long line of fish, fresh from the sea, hung over the wall, as much as to say, “We can feed you; and surely you cannot starve us out so long as there are fish in the sea, for we have an underground connection with it, and the supply is exhaustless!” So Satan may besiege our gates, but he can never compel us to surrender, for our food comes, not through the gates, but from above, and through channels invisible to his eye, the supply of which is inexhaustible..
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Psalms 28". The Biblical Illustrator. https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany