Back to Contents
52. What Is Your Comfort?
This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me. Psalm 119:50
IN some respects the same event happens to us all: to good men, to great men, to well-instructed men, as well as to the wicked, the obscure, and the ignorant. Each of these can speak of "my affliction." "The heart knoweth his own bitterness" (Prov. 14:10).
It is a grand matter when "my affliction" is in each case balanced by "my comfort." It was so in David's case, and he is a fair representative of all believers. How is it with each one of our hearers?
I. BELIEVERS HAVE THEIR PECULIAR COMFORT. Each tried child of God can say, "This is my comfort."
1.This, as different from others. Worldly men get their drops of comfort from such sources as they prefer; but the godly man looks to his experience of the Word, and says, "This is my comfort" (Ps. 4:6).
2.This, as understanding what it is. He knew his consolation as well as he knew his tribulation. He was not like Hagar, who could not see the well which was so near her (Gen. 21: 19).
3.This, as having it near at hand. He does not say that, as if he pointed it out in the distance; but this, as grasping it.
4.This, as pleading in prayer that which he had enjoyed; urging upon the Lord the mercy already received.
II. THAT COMFORT COMES FROM A PECULIAR SOURCE. "Thy word hath quickened me."
1. In part it is outward.
The word of God, full of promises, is our comfort (Rom. 15:4).
The word of God, full of records of his goodness, is the confirmation of our confidence (Ps. 77:5-10).
The word of God, full of power, is our strength (Eccles. 8:4).
2. In part it is inward: "Thy word hath quickened me?"
In past experience he had felt the power of the word in raising him,
In all things it had been a source of quickening to him.
- Into life from death (Ps. 116:8).
- Into energy from lethargy (Song of Sol. 6:12).
- Into higher life from lower (Ps. 119:67).
- In present experience he was then feeling its power in making.
- His mind less worldly.
- His heart more prayerful.
- His spirit more tender.
- His faith more simple.
If the word has done and is doing all this, we may expect it to do more, and to magnify its power in our complete rescue.
III. THAT COMFORT IS VALUABLE UNDER PECULIAR TRIALS.
1. Hope deferred. Study the context. "Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope" (verse 49). Quickening enables us to hope on.
IV. THAT THE FORM OF OUR COMFORT IS A TEST OF CHARACTER.
2. Trial endured (verse 50). Comfort is most needed in trouble, and there is no comfort like quickening.
3. Scorn suffered. "The proud have had me greatly in derision" (verse 51 ). We care nothing for mockers when we are lively in spiritual things.
4. Sin of others. "Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked" (verse 53). More grace will enable us to bear up under abounding sin.
5. Changes. Read carefully verse 54. The Bible has a song for all seasons, and a psalm for all places.
6. Darkness: "in the night" (verse 55). There is no night-light like the Word, enlightening and enlivening the heart.
1. Some look to wealth: when their corn and their wine are increased, they say, "This is my comfort?' They mind the main chance: they are worldly (Luke 12:19).
2. Some seek to dreams and visions, omens and fancies, impressions and presentiments: they are superstitious.
3. Some run to sin, drink, gaming, worldly company, dissipation, opium: they are wicked.
4. Some resort to their fellow men for advice and assistance: they are unwise, and will be disappointed (Jer. 17:5).
- What is your comfort?
- Has this blessed volume quickened you?
- If so, look to it under all trials, for it will never fail you.
The Rev. E. Paxton Hood says, "When I visited one day, as he was dying, my beloved friend Benjamin Parsons, I said, "How are you today, sir?" He said, "My head is resting very sweetly on three pillows infinite power, infinite love, and infinite wisdom." Preaching in the Canterbury Hall in Brighton, I mentioned this some time since; and, not many months after, I was requested to call upon a poor but holy young woman, apparently dying. She said, "I felt I must see you before I died. I heard you tell the story of Benjamin Parsons and his three pillows; and when I went through a surgical operation, and it was very cruel, I was leaning my head on pillows, and as they were taking them away, I said, 'Mayn't I keep them?' The surgeon said, 'No, my dear, we must take them away. "But,' said I, 'you can't take away Benjamin Parsons' three pillows: I can lay my head on infinite power, infinite love, and infinite wisdom.'"
"The best relief that mourners have,
It makes our sorrows blest;
Our fairest hope beyond the grave,
And our eternal rest."
"Speak to me now in Scripture language alone," said a dying Christian. "I can trust the words of God, but when they are the words of man, it costs me an effort to think whether I may trust to them."
I would, when dying comforts fly, As much as when they present were, Upon my living joy rely: Help, Lord, for here I daily err. Ralph Erskine
I was questioning my spiritual life, I who have so long been a preacher to others. I entered a little rustic assembly. An unlettered man preached the gospel, he preached it heartily; my tears began to flow; my soul leaped at the very sound of the Word of the Lord. What a comfort it was to me! How frequently have I thought of it since! The Word did revive me; my heart was not dead to its influence; I was one of those happy people who know the joyful sound. Assurance was bright in my soul the Word had quickened me.
What energy a text will breathe into a man' There is more in one divine sentence than in huge folios of human composition. There are tinctures of which one drop is more powerful than large doses of the common dilutions. The Bible is the essence of truth; it is the mind of God, the wisdom of the Eternal. By every word of God men are made to live and are kept in life.
Charles Hadden Spurgeon
53. Open Praise and Public Confession
I will praise Thee with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto Thee. I will worship towards Thy holy temple, and praise Thy name for Thy lovingkindness and for Thy truth: for Thou hast magnified Thy word above all Thy name. In the day when I cried Thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul. Psalm 138:1-3
DAV1D was vexed with rival gods, as we are with rival gospels. Nothing is more trying to the soul of a true man than to be surrounded with vile counterfeits, and to hear these cried up, and the truth treated with contempt.
How will David act under the trial? For so should we act. Our text informs us. He will:
I. SING WITH WHOLE-HEARTED PRAISE. "I will praise thee with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto thee."
1. His song would openly show his contempt of the false gods: he would sing whether they were there or no. They were such nothings that he would not change his note for them.
2. It would evince his strong faith in the true God. To the teeth of the adversary he glorified Jehovah. His enthusiastic wholehearted song was better than denunciation or argument.
3. It would declare his joyful zeal for God: he sang to show the strong emotion of his soul. Others might be pleased in Baal; he greatly rejoiced in Jehovah.
4. It would shield him from evil from those about him; for holy song keeps off the enemy. Praise is a potent disinfectant. If called to behold evil, let us purify the air with the incense of praise.
II. WORSHIP BY THE DESPISED RULE. "I will worship toward thy holy temple."
1. Quietly ignoring all will-worship, he would follow the rule of the Lord, and the custom of the saints.
2. Looking to the Person of Christ, which was typified by the Temple. There is no singing like that which is directed towards the Lord Jesus, as now living to present it to the Father.
3. Trusting in the one finished Sacrifice, looking to the one Great Expiation, we shall praise aright.
4. Realizing God himself; for it is to God he speaks, "towards thy holy temple.'' Music which is meant for the ear of God is music indeed.
III. PRAISE THE QUESTIONED ATTRIBUTES. "I will praise thy name for thy loving kindness, and for thy truth."
1. Loving kindness in its universality.
- Loving kindness in its specialty.
- Grace in everything. Grace to me. Grace so much despised of Pharisees and Sadducees, but so precious to true penitents.
- Concerning the grace of God, let us cling close to the doctrine and spirit of the gospel all the more because the spirit of the age is opposed to them.
- Historic accuracy of Scripture.
- Absolute certainty of the gospel.
- Assured truthfulness of the promise
- Complete accuracy of prophecy.
It is ours in these evil days to hold to the infallible inspiration of the Word, and to affirm it in unmistakable terms. No wonder that men rush off to find an infallible church in Popery, or rely upon their own infallible reason, when once they doubt the plenary inspiration of the Bible.
IV. REVERENCE THE HONORED WORD. "Thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name."
God has magnified His sure word of testimony beyond all such revelations as we receive through creation and providence, though these declare God's name. The Gospel word is:
1. More clear. Words are better understood than nature's hieroglyphs.
2. More sure. The Spirit Himself sealing it.
3. More sovereign. Effectually blessing believers.
4. More complete. The whole of God is seen in Christ.
5. More lasting. Creation must pass away; the Word endures for ever.
6. More glorifying to God. Especially in the great Atonement.
V. PROVE IT BY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE. "In the day when I cried Thou answeredst me;' etc.
He had used his knowledge of God derived from the Word:
1. By offering prayer. "I cried." What do men know of the bud, and grace of God and the virtue of His Word if they have never prayed?
2. By narrating the answer. "Thou answeredst me," etc. We are God's witnesses, and should with readiness, care, frequency, and courage testify what we have seen and known.
3. By exhibiting the strength of soul which was gained by prayer. This is good witness-bearing. Show by patience, courage, joy, and holiness what the Lord has done for your soul.
- Our Lord is above all others.
- Our joy in Him surpasses all other joy.
- Therefore will we delight in Him and extol Him beyond measure.
Singing unto Jehovah before the gods was good for David's own soul It is perilous to attempt a secret fidelity to God, it is so apt to degenerate into cowardice. A converted soldier tried at first to pray in bed, or in some secret corner, but he found it would not do; he must kneel down in the barrack-room before the others, and run the gauntlet of the men's remarks; for until he had done so he had not taken his stand and he felt no peace of mind. It is needful for our spiritual health that we come out distinctly upon the Lord's side.
The effect of whole-heartedness is very manifest. Even prejudiced persons put up with a great deal in a service when they see that those engaged in it are enthusiastic. "It was very singular;' said one who attended a Revival Service, "and I should have laughed outright, only I saw the tears running down an old sailor's cheeks as he sung the hymn with all his might."
Observe carefully the little points in a divine command: worship "towards the holy temple." Nothing is little when God's will is concerned. I knew a youth who had wished to be baptized, but his friends kept him back. When he fell ill, he fretted because he had not confessed his Lord according to the Scripture. "But Isaac," said his mother, "you know baptism will not save you." "No, mother," he replied, "of course it will not, for I am saved. But when I see Jesus in heaven I should not like Him to say, 'Isaac, it was a very little thing I asked of you; did you not love Me enough to do it?'" It is the non-essentiality of the precept which makes it such an important test of obedience.
We do not intend to place Scripture on a lower level than science; on the contrary, we claim for it the chief place. By science the name and character of the Lord may be dimly read; but His Word is magnified above all other manifestations, for therein the revelation is more full and clear. Observations made by sunlight are not to be revised by moonlight glances: the reverse is the correct process. You tell me what you gather from my Father's works; but I have His mind in His own words, written with His own pen, and I prefer my information to yours.
Charles Hadden Spurgeon
54. Flight to God
I flee unto thee to hide me. Psalm 143:9
WHAT a mercy it is for us all that David was not an untried man! We have all been enriched by his painful experience. He was
A man so various that he seemed to be
Not one, but all mankind's epitome.
May it not be a blessing to others that we also are tried? If so, ought we not to be right glad to contribute our quota to the benefit of the redeemed family?
David may be our example; let us flee unto God as he did. We shall profit by our foes if we imitate this prudent warrior in his habitual way of escaping from his enemies.
The great point is, however, not only to see what David did, but to do the like promptly, and constantly. What, then, is essential in order to our copying the man of God?
I. A PERCEPTION OF DANGER. No man will flee if he is not afraid; there must be a knowledge and apprehension of danger, or there will be no flight.
1. Men perish in many instances because they have no sense of danger. The noxious air is not observed, the sunken reef is not seen, the train rushes to collision unwarned. Ignorance of danger makes the danger inevitable.
- Men will dare to die without fear of hell.
- Men will sin and have no dread of any ill consequences.
- Men will play with an evil habit and will not believe in its power to enslave them.
- Men will toy with a temptation and refuse to see how certain it is to lead them into actual wrong-doing.
2. Every man is really in danger. The sinner is asleep on the top of a mast. Young and old are both in jeopardy. Even the saints are in peril of temptation from many sources.
3. Some dangers are slowly perceived. Those connected with sweet sin, those which grow out of a boastful mind, those which are countenanced by the example of others, etc. The more dangerous the serpent, the less likely to be seen.
4. The spiritual man is led to perceive dangers by inward monitions, by a spiritual sensitiveness which is the result of devotion, by experience, by perceptible declensions, or by observing the effect of certain things upon others.
II. A SENSE OF WEAKNESS. No man will flee for hiding if he feel able to fight the matter through in his own strength.
1. We are all weak and unable to cope with sin.
2. Some think themselves mighty men of valor, but these are among the very weakest of the weak.
3. Past failure should teach us not to trust our own strength.
4. In a deep sense of weakness we are made strong; in fancied strength lies the worst form of weakness.
III. A PRUDENT FORESIGHT. "I flee unto thee to hide me."
1. He would not venture into the danger or wait till it overtook him; but he took time by the forelock and fled. Often this is the highest form of courage.
2. Escape through fear is admirable prudence. It is not a mean motive; for Noah, "moved by fear, prepared an ark"
3. While we can flee we should, for time may come when we shall be unable. David says, "I flee"; he means, "I am fleeing, I always do flee unto thee, my God."
A man should not live like a beast, who sees no further than the meadow in which he feeds. He should foresee evil and hide himself; for this is common prudence (Prov. 22:3).
IV. A SOLID CONFIDENCE. "To thee to hide me. He was sure
1.That there was safety in God.
2.That he might flee to God.
3.That he might flee there and then.
V. AN ACTIVE FAITH. He did not lie passive, but aroused himself.
This may be clearly seen
1. In his fleeing to God. Directness, speed, eagerness.
2. In his after-prayers. "Teach me to do thy will; lead me; quicken me." See verses following the text.
Feathers for Wings
- Expect your share of enemies, and prepare for them.
- Secure your best friend. Be reconciled to Him in Christ Jesus
- Make constant use of Him. Flee to Him at all times.
From some sins there is no safety but in flight. Our French school book represented Mentor as saying to his pupil in the court of Calypso, "F1y, Telemaque; there remains no other mode of conquest but by flight!" "Flee youthful lusts"; they are not to be wrestled with, but fled from. Flight being thus needful, whither shall we flee but to our God? Who will so surely welcome, so securely defend, so permanently entertain? As the bird to its nest, and the coney to its rock, let us flee unto our God that we may be secure from every foe.
God's people often find by experience that the places of their protection are places of destruction. Well, when all other places fail, Christ will not fail. See how it was with David, Psalm 142:4-5. But when his hiding place at Ziklag was gone, yet his Savior was not gone; "He encouraged himself in the Lord his God" (1 Sam. 30:6). It is a mighty encouragement to believers that Christ is a hiding place: (l) he is a safe and strong hiding place (Isa. 33:16); Christ is a rock, and he that is in Christ is in the munitions of rocks; (2) he is a large hiding place; there is room enough for his elect; his skirt is large; (3) he is a hiding-place to the soul as well as to the body; (4) he hath undertaken to hide us; God hath committed all his elect to Christ, that He should hide them. Ralph Robinson
Under the influence of great fear the most timid creatures have sometimes fled to men for security. We have heard of a dove flying into a lady's bosom to escape from a hawk, and even of a hare running to a man for shelter. The confidence of the feeble secures the guardianship of the strong. He would be brutal indeed who would refuse protection to such simple reliance. Surely, if in our need we fly into the bosom of our God, we may be sure that love and majesty will unitedly smile upon us. There can be no question of that man's security who challenges by his faith the protection of the God of love. "He has trusted me and I will not fail him" has been the resolve of many an honorable man; how much more will it be the determination of the Lord!
A little party assembled in a shepherd's house in Nithsdale to hear Mr. Peden expound the Word of God. While thus engaged, the bleating of a sheep was heard. The noise disturbed the little congregation, and the shepherd was obliged to go out and drive the sheep away. While so engaged, he lifted up his eyes and saw, at a distance, horse soldiers coming towards his cottage. He hastened back to give the alarm. All instantly dispersed and hid themselves. Mr. Peden betook himself to the Cleft of the Rock, the Gave of Garrickfells, and soon the clatter of horses' hoofs and the ring of armor told him that his foes were at hand. But safe in the Cleft he sat unmoved, and through an opening saw them gallop past, without any suspicion that he whose life they sought was so near. From "Sunday Readings," by James Large
Charles Hadden Spurgeon