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GOD THE ALL-SUFFICIENT PORTION OF HIS PEOPLE.
Ps. xviii. 1-3. I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. The
Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust ; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised : so shall I be saved from mine enemies.
FROM the persecutions of God's saints in former ages, we derive this most important benefit: we see what was the power of divine grace in them for their support, and what its efficacy was to purify and exalt their souls. Had David never been oppressed by Saul, and never been driven from his throne by Absalom, what loss should we have sustained, in those devout compositions which were written in the midst of his trials, and which have brought down to us all the workings of his mind under them! In truth, no one can understand the Psalms of David, so as to enter into the spirit of them, unless he have been called, in some considerable degree, to suffer for righteousness' sake. The psalm before us was penned by David as an acknowledgment of the deliverances that had been vouchsafed to him from the hands of Saul, and of all his other enemies. And a sublimer composition can scarcely be found, in all the records of antiquity.
In the words which we have just read, we see, I. An ebullition of his gratitude
His mind was evidently full of his subject. He had been contemplating the wonderful goodness of God to him: and he bursts forth into this devout rapture: “I will love thee, O Lord, my strength!” Commentators have observed, that the word which is here used, expresses all that is tender and affectionate, and implies in it the strongest emotion of the soul. And this was justly called forth by his view of the divine perfections, and by his sense of God's unbounded kindness towards him.
And if he, from a sense of temporal mercies, was so inflamed with love to God, what should not we feel towards our incarnate God, the Lord Jesus Christ, in a review of all the wonders of Redeeming Love?
[View the Saviour in his personal excellencies; and then say what should be our feelings towards him
View him in the offices which he has sustained for us, as the Prophet, Priest, and King of his church; and then think what are the ejaculations which become you View him in the blessings you have already experienced at his hands; and, whilst you adopt the language of the prophet, “ In the Lord have I righteousness and strength," tell me with what frame of
should utter these words - It is said, that, “ not having seen him, we nevertheless love him; and that, believing in him, we rejoice in him with joy unspeakable and glorified:” and sure I am, that the glorified saints around the throne should scarcely exceed us in the ardour of our affections, whilst we exclaim, "Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.” In this, then, the Psalmist should be a pattern to us. We should be so in the habit of contemplating the Saviour's love, that the involuntary ebullition of our minds should be, "I do love thee, and I will love thee, O Lord, my strength; yea, I will love thee with all the powers of my soul.” This, I say, should be the language of our souls, when our feelings, too big for utterance, can at last find vent in words. ]
In connexion with this rapturous exclamation we have, II. A profession of his faith
David, from diversified trials, was forced to become a man of war; and to seek, by a mixture of courage and of skill, a deliverance from his enemies. Under the persecutions of Saul especially, he had recourse to strong holds and fortresses, where he might withstand his too powerful oppressor. But it was in God alone that he really found protection. As means, he had availed himself of local advantages, and personal courage, and armour both of a defensive and offensive kind: but it was God alone who had rendered them effectual for his preservation; and therefore he gives all the glory to God, saying, “ The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler (to defend
me), and the horn of my salvation (by whom I thrust down all my enemies), and my high tower.”
And shall not we, who have so much stronger enemies to contend with, acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ as standing in all these relations to us for our salvation ?
[Yes, in truth, long since had our great adversary the devil prevailed against us, if our adorable Emmanuel had not interposed for our deliverance. In him we have found refuge from all the curses of God's broken law - By him have we been strengthened in our inner man - And from him have we received the armour of heavenly temper, by which we have been enabled to maintain our conflict with all the enemies of our salvation --- If we have been “
strong, it has been in the Lord, and in the power of his might;" and it is he that must have all the glory of our preservation.
Behold, then, in what terms we should give glory to our great deliverer! We should acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ as our "all in all.” And, whilst we give him the glory of all that we have already received, we should trust him for all our future conflicts: and, contemplating fully all the powers that there are in him, we should learn to appropriate all of them to ourselves, and to say, “ He is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.” There should not be any thing in the Lord Jesus Christ but we should make it our own by faith, and claim it as our own in all the conflicts to which we may be called : and in every
time of trial we should address him in the words of Thomas, “ Lord, and my God."]
To this the blessed Psalmist adds, III. A declaration of his purpose
He did not think that God's relation to him would justify remissness or negligence on his part. On the contrary, he regarded it as his encouragement to call upon the Lord, and as a pledge to him of certain success.
And we, too, must bear in mind, that all our mercies must be obtained by prayer; and that in no other way can we hope to be saved from our enemies.
(We see how David prayed in a time of great trial : “Plead my cause, O Lord, with them that strive with me: fight thou against them that fight against me. Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for my help. Draw out also
the spear, and stop the way against them that persecute me: say unto my soul, I am thy salvation a.” It was thus that he brought down succour from on high, in every time of need. And it is in the same way that we must obtain help of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Though his promises to us are so free and full, yet “ he will be inquired of, to do these things for usb:” and “ if we ask not, neither shall we have.” Moreover, we must acknowledge him in all that we have already received, and confess him as "worthy to be praised:" for the command is, “In every thing, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God: and the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." It is in this way alone that victory can be secured: but if we use these means, we are certain to obtain it. If we live in the habit of fervent and believing prayer, we may, in the midst of conflicts, exult as more than conquerors ;” and behold, by anticipation, our great adversary as already “ bruised under our feet.”]
From this sublime passage we may see, 1. The true nature of vital religion
[Vital religion is not wholly speculative, nor is it altogether practical ; but a compound, if I may so say, of theory and of practice. We must have knowledge, even a knowledge of God in all his perfections, and of the Lord Jesus Christ in all his offices. Without this, there can be no right feeling towards the Supreme Being: no love towards him, no confidence in him, no communion with him. But, with just views of the Deity, we must also have suitable dispositions towards him. In a word, we must have an experience similar to that of David in our text, affecting from our inmost souls a life of communion with God, of dependence on him, and of devotedness to his service. Beloved Brethren, rest not in any thing short of this. Let your meditations on God be sweet and frequent: and let them be renewed, till they have kindled a flame of love in your souls towards him, and 'till the daily language of your heart be, “ Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name."] 2. The folly of those who seek not after God
[Compare the Psalmist's experience with your own: What refuge have you in a time of trouble, or what comfort in reflecting upon God? Alas! instead of the blessed language of David, you must rather say, "O God, I behold nothing in thee that I can appropriate to myself; nothing but what may well fill me with alarm and terror.” As for love to God, you know not what it means : and for confidence in him you have not the smallest ground: no, nor have you any access to him in the hour of necessity: Hence you are a prey to your enemies, and “are led captive by the devil at his will." Unhappy creatures! You may go on your appointed time, and may hide yourselves from the danger to which you are exposed : but your state is only the more pitiable in proportion as you are lulled in fatal security. If they are right who resemble the Psalmist, you can have no clearer evidence that you yourselves are out of the way peace and salvation.
a Ps. xxxv. 1-3.
b Ezek. xxxvi. 37.
c Rom. xvi. 20.
And were there no future state of existence, your loss would be great even in this world: but when we take eternity into the account, your prospect is terrible indeed: for, if you do not love God now, you cannot love him when you go hence: if you do not possess an interest in him here, you can have no interest in him hereafter: if you do not live nigh to him in prayer in this world, you never can unite with the heavenly hosts in their songs of praise to him in the eternal world.]
Ps. xviii. 23. I kept myself from mine iniquity. NOTHING is a richer source of comfort to any man than the testimony of his own conscience that he has acted right : for, if our own heart condemn us not, then have we confidence towards God. St. Paul enjoyed this in a pre-eminent degree: “Our rejoicing," says he,“ is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the worlda." And, in the whole of his conduct towards Saul, David could appeal to God himself, that he had demeaned himself as a loyal subject, and had rendered nothing but good for all the evil that he had received at his hands. “ They," Saul and his followers,“ prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the Lord was my stay. He brought me forth also into a large place: he delivered me, because he delighted in me. The Lord rewarded
a 2 Cor. i. 12.