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we see those who promised themselves years wherein to enjoy their newly-acquired wealth, cut short, and called in an instant to their great account: we see it continually before our eyes: the messenger of death is sent to many, who think of their end as little as any of us can do; and the sentence,
“ Thou fool, this night shall thy soul be required of thee," is executed without any previous notice or expectation. If it be thought that still, if not in their own persons, yet in their heirs, they enjoy the things for which they have laboured; I answer, that they are often deprived of those very heirs, on whose aggrandizement they had set their hearts; and are constrained to leave their wealth to others who are comparatively strangers to them. Moreover, supposing their destined heir to succeed to their wealth, they little know what effect it may have upon him, and whether he may not dissipate it all in a tenth part of the time that it took them to amass it. Solomon mentions this as a very great drawback upon human happiness : “ I hated all my labour which I had taken under the sun; because I should leave it to the man that shall be after me; and who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool ? yet shall he have rule over all my labour wherein I have laboured, and wherein I have shewn myself wise under the sun. This is also vanity.” It is probable that Solomon saw how weak his son Rehoboam was: and certainly, of all the instances that ever occurred of the vanity of human grandeur, this is the greatest: for Solomon's head was scarcely laid in the grave, before ten of the tribes out of the twelve revolted from his son, and, instead of being his subjects, became his rivals and enemies': and in the space of five years afterwards, all the treasures, with which Solomon had enriched both his own house and the temple of the Lord, were taken away by an invading enemy; and brazen shields were made by his son to replace the golden shields with which the temple had been adorned. How strongly does this illustrate those words of David which immediately follow my text! “Surely every man walketh in a vain shew: surely they are disquieted in vain : he heapeth up riches, and cannot tell who shall gather them.” Assuredly, all our feelings, whether of hope or fear, whether of joy or sorrow, whether for ourselves or others, would be moderated, if only the thought of the transitoriness and uncertainty of human affairs were once duly impressed upon our minds: “ those who have wives, would be as though they had none; those who weep, as though they wept not; and those who rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; those who buy, as though they bought not: and those who use this world, as not abusing it:" the one thought, I say, how “transient every thing in e Eccles. ii. 18, 19. 1 1 Kings xü. 16, 19. 8 1 Kings xiv. 25-27.
this world is,” would produce in us, if not an indifference to the concerns of time, yet at least a moderation in our regard for them”.]
2. To augment our diligence in preparing for eternity
[Who that considered the uncertainty of life, would defer the concerns of his soul, which are of more importance than ten thousand worlds! It were rather to be expected that such an one would give neither sleep to his eyes nor slumber to his eyelids, till he should have secured, beyond a possibility of doubt, the favour of his God. One would think that every hour spent in any other pursuit should be grudged by him; and that, whatever efforts were made to divert his attention to any other subject, he should say with Nehemiah, “ I am doing a great work, and cannot come down." With what care, under such impressions, would a person read the word of God! With what humility would he attend divine ordinances! With what strong crying and tears would he present his supplications at the throne of grace! How, in all that he did, would he resemble those who contended in the Olympic games, running, wrestling, fighting as for their very life! The man with the avenger of blood close at his heels would not exert himself more to reach the city of refuge, than such a one would in
fleeing from the wrath to come. It is only those who promise themselves days and months to come, that can sleep at their post, and dream of more convenient seasons, which may never arrivek
In this view then I cannot too earnestly entreat you to offer, each of you for yourselves, the prayer of David, "Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am!"- - And I beseech you to get his estimate of human life so graven on your hearts, that you may walk under the influence of it to the latest hour of your lives. In a word, My heart's desire and prayer to God for every one of you
be wise as to redeem your time,” and be so taught to number your days as to apply your hearts unto wisdom?."] h 1 Cor. vii. 29–31.
i Neh. vi. 3. k Jam. iv. 13, 14.
1 Ps. xc. 12.
DLXIX. DAVID'S SUCCESS IN PRAYER AN ENCOURAGEMENT TO US. Ps. xl. 1–3. I waited patiently for the Lord, and he inclined
unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God. Many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.
THIS psalm undoubtedly refers to Christ, being expressly applied to him by an inspired Apostle ; and so applied, as to have the whole weight of the Apostle's argument depending on the truth and propriety of his citationa. Yet it certainly refers to David also, who, in some parts of it, speaks in his own person, and, in others, in the person of the Messiah. It is in this way that the prophetic writings generally speak: there will be found in them a primary or historical sense, and a secondary or mystical sense ; the two senses being sometimes more blended, and sometimes more distinct. Here, as in several other psalms, some parts of the psalm are more applicable to David, and others to the Messiah. To David, we conceive, the words which we have just read more immediately belong : and, as spoken by him in his own name, they will lead me to set before you, I. His conduct in a season of deep distress
What the particular distress was, we are not informed. Sometimes the language which he here uses has respect to sufferings under persecution. Thus in the 69th Psalm he says, “ I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing; I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me. Deliver me out of the mire, and let me not sink: let me be delivered from them that hate me, and out of the deep waters b.” Again, in the 142d Psalm ; “ Attend unto my cry; for I am brought very low: deliver me from my persecutors; for they are stronger than I: bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name.” But in the psalm before us, he speaks more particularly as under the pressure of sin: “Innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up: they are more than the hairs of my head; therefore my heart faileth med.” On this account I understand a Heb. X. 4-9.
b Ps. lxix. 1, 2, 14. c Ps. cxlii, 6, 7.
his distress to have arisen chiefly on account of sin, under a sense of which,
1. He “ waited patiently upon the Lord”—
[He betook himself to prayer. And where should a weary and heavy-laden sinner go, but unto his God; or how should he approach his God, but in a way of humble, fervent, and continual supplication? In what manner he prayed, he tells us in another psalm: “Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord: Lord, hear my voice ; let thine ear be attentive to the voice of my supplication! If thou, Lord, shouldst mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared. I wait for the Lord; my soul doth wait; and in his word do I hope." He was not like those who "pour out a prayer only when God's chastening is upon them;" he would call upon his God day and night; and never cease to wrestle with him, till he had prevailed?.] 2. He “waited patiently for the Lord”—
[He well knew how often he had turned a deaf ear to the voice of God; and therefore, how justly God might turn a deaf ear to him. Yet he hoped in the multitude of God's tender mercies. He came not pleading any merits of his own, nor trusting in any outward services whatever: he knew that God required not the sacrifice of bulls and of goats to expiate sin, but faith in that better sacrifice which should in due time be offered for the sins of the whole world; and he came pleading the merit of that sacrifice, and trusting that through it he should ultimately find acceptance. However long therefore God should withhold an answer of peace, he would wait, and patiently too, without murmuring; satisfied, if, after ever so many years of continued supplication, God should at last say to him, "Fear not; thy sins, which are many, are forgiven thee."]
The wisdom of this conduct may be seen in, II. The benefit he derived from it
God “ inclined his ear to him, and heard his cry;" and, in answer to his supplications, vouchsafed' to him, 1. Liberty
[The image under which David depicts his unpardoned state is
very beautiful and just. He was as one in " an horrible pit, and sunk in miry clay.” Say, ye who know what it is to be shut up, as it were, under a sense of guilt, and an apprehension of God's wrath, whether any words can adequately describe the darkness, the misery, and the bondage of a soul so circumstanced? The state of Jeremiah, when cast into a dungeon, and sunk in the mire, and ready to perish with hunger”, was distressing to flesh and blood: but what was that to a sinner shut up in hourly expectation of the wrath of an offended God? Oh! it is inexpressibly tremendous: no tongue can tell how a soul trembles, and sinks, and faints under such appalling apprehensions, as are called by the Apostle, "a certain fearful looking-for of judgment and fiery indignation to consume it” –
e Ps. cxxx. 1-5. See also Ps. xxxviii, 1–6. Gen, xxxii. 26. Hos. xii. 3, 4.
& ver. 6-11.
But from this state David was delivered by means of fervent and persevering prayer. Who will say that he was not well repaid for waiting, for waiting patiently upon the Lord, and for the Lord? Had his supplications been unintermitted for ten thousand years, they would have been well compensated by such an answer as this at last. And, if a promise of such an answer after such a period were given to any one that is now gone beyond redemption, we may well conceive with what ardour he would commence, and prosecute his labour through the appointed time: the very hope of deliverance at last would more than half annihilate the anguish with which despair has already overwhelmed his soul.] 2. Holiness
[When God, by a sense of pardoning love, “ brought David up out of an horrible pit, and out of the miry clay,” he at the same time “set his feet upon a rock, and established his goings.” What that rock was, we are at no loss to determine: it was no other than “the Rock of Ages,” the Lord Jesus Christ, who is “ sure foundation” to all who stand upon him', and who will impart of his own stability to all who put their trust in him. « On this Rock the whole Church is built ; nor shall the gates of hell prevail against itk." It is not pardon only that we obtain by union with the Lord Jesus Christ, but strength also, to walk steadfastly in the ways of God. Separate from him, we can do nothing': united to him by faith, we can do all thingsm: and so established shall our hearts be by his grace, that we may defy all the powers of darkness, and already, by anticipation, enjoy our final triumph^." What a fruit then was here of persevering prayer! Yet so shall all who wait patiently upon their God be favoured: they shall be “turned from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan unto God.”] 3. Joy
[“ A new song was now put into the mouth of David, even praise unto his God.” And praise is indeed a “new song to one who is but just brought to peace with God through
h Jer. xxxviii. 6, 9, 10.
i Isai. xxviii. 15. k Matt. xvi. 18. 1 John xv. 5.
m Phil. iv, 13. n Zech, iv. 7. Isai. xli. 14–16. Rom. viii. 35-39.