CONTEXT: Most modern Bibles have some heading that gives us a theme for this Psalm. All agree it is a Psalm of David and most have a heading something like “A Grateful Heart”. Spurgeon’s general comments as follows: In full confidence, David is prepared to own his God before the gods of the heathen, or before angels or rulers (Ps 138:1-3); he declares that he will instruct and convert kings and nations, till on very highway men shall sing the praises of the Lord (Ps 138:4-5). Our text for today comes at the end Having thus spoken, he utters his personal confidence in Jehovah, who will help his lowly servant, and preserve him from all the malice of wrathful foes.
I am going in this morning and having nerves lasered in my back in an attempt to get some relief from the ongoing back pain. How grateful I am for the Lord’s perfecting mercy. Some additional translations:
English Standard VersionThe LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.
New Living TranslationThe LORD will work out his plans for my life— for your faithful love, O LORD, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me.
There’s a section in John Calvin’s two-volume edition of his Institutes of the Christian Religion called “John Calvin to the Reader.” In just four short pages, Calvin provides many insights and takeaways on success. Here are five of those takeaways. 1. We should not presume
Matthew Henry’s Commentary reads: David seems to have been in a great strait when he penned this psalm, and, upon some account or other, very uneasy; for it is with some difficulty that he conquers his passion, and composes his spirit himself to take that good counsel which he had given to others (Ps. 37) to rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him, without fretting; for it is easier to give the good advice than to give a good example of quietness under affliction. What was the particular trouble which gave occasion for the conflict David was now in does not appear. Perhaps it was the death of some dear friend or relation that was the trial of his patience, and that suggested to him these meditations of morality; and at the same time, it should seem too, he himself was weak and ill, and under some prevailing distemper. His enemies likewise were seeking advantages against him, and watched for his halting, that they might have something to reproach him for. Thus aggrieved,
I. He relates the struggle that was in his breast between grace and corruption, between passion and patience (v. 1-3).
II. He meditates upon the doctrine of man’s frailty and mortality and prays to God to instruct him in it (v. 4-6).
III. He applies to God for the pardon of his sins, the removal of his afflictions, and the lengthening out of his life till he was ready for death (v. 7-13).
I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it. This had been far clearer if it had been rendered, “I am silenced, I will not open my mouth.” Here we have a nobler silence, purged of all sullenness, and sweetened with submission. Nature failed to muzzle the mouth, but grace achieved the work in the worthiest manner. How like in appearance may two very different things appear! silence is ever silence, but it may be sinful in one case and saintly in another. What a reason for hushing every murmuring thought is the reflection, “because thou didst it.”! It is his right to do as he wills, and he always wills to do that which is wisest and kindest; why should I then arraign his dealings? Nay, if it be indeed the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good.
I often wonder at how my mind works. I was reading some of the daily devotionals that come in my email this morning, Romans 10:9-10, and that got me thinking about how sometimes even true believers feel like they have been abandoned by God. Maybe it is because of the devotional series on Comfort for the Grieving, Hurting, and Dying that I have been writing?
This Psalm exemplifies that struggle (at least to me) knowing in our heart that God is sovereign, controlling all for our good, yet our minds saying He has forsaken us. The following from Thomas Brooks is a classic on the subject. I pray it edifies you greatly.
“Mute Christian under the Smarting Rod” or, “The Silent Soul with Sovereign Antidotes”
Objection 8. Oh! But God has deserted me! He has forsaken me! He who should comfort my soul—stands afar off! How can I be silent? The Lord has hid his face away from me; clouds are gathered around me; God has turned his back upon me! How can I be silent?
Supposing that the desertion is real, and not in appearance only, as sometimes it falls out—I answer…
The Bible is a book which calls not so much for the exertion of our intellect — as it does for the exercise of our affections, conscience and will.God has given His Word to us not for our entertainment, but for our education — to make known what He requires from us. It is to be . . .
the traveler's guide as he journeys through the maze of this world, and the mariner's chart as he sails the sea of life...
Chapter 11, can be broken down as follows: Christ’s preaching. (1) Christ’s answer to John’s disciples. (2-6) Christ’s testimony to John the Baptist. (7-15) The perverseness of the Jews. (16-24) The gospel revealed to the simple. The heavy-laden invited. (25-30) – Matthew Henry
As Matthew Henry points out our text v.28 is part of the invite to the heavily laden by Christ. There are three quick points I wish to make, that I gleaned from the text before we come on the sermon and other materials:
It is only through Christ Alone that the invite can go out
The invite is directed only towards those burdened by sins
Only Christ, by His atonement at Calvary, can provide rest from that burden
Over the past few months our family has experienced the death of family members and dear friends. While we can and should mourn their deaths, we also need to look at these events from a Biblical and practical standpoint.
In some cases the individuals were sick and suffering, in other cases the sudden loss was from an accident or in one case a random act of violence. In all but one of these deaths I, was able to provide comforting words to the families because I was convinced the individual was a true believer. For some it was that they were no longer suffering and were as the Bible promises ‘absent from the body and present with the Lord.’ For others we can not begin to explain why things happen, why the guy ran a red light, but we can find comfort in knowing God is in complete control and His ways are always greater and wiser than ours.
The great preach Charles Spurgeon had much to say on the Subject of death having preached many a sermon on the matter. Here are 10 of my favorite quotes of his:
1. “To be prepared to die is to be prepared to live.”
2. “It is the very joy of this earthly life to think that it will come to an end.”
3. “The best moment of a Christian’s life is his last one, because it is the one that is nearest heaven.”
4. “The only people for whom I have felt any envy have been dying members of this very church.”
5. “If I do not think of death, yet death will think of me.”
6. “It is not a loss to die, it is a lasting, perpetual gain.”
7. “Let us learn to hold loosely our dearest friends. Let us love them, but let us always learn to love them as dying things.”
8. “It is a grand thing to see a man dying full of life.”
9. “He who learns to die daily while he lives will find it no difficulty to breathe out his soul for the last time.”
10. “All the glories of midday are eclipsed by the marvels of sunset.”
Pray for the Grace Needed to Die Well
We must pray for grace to deliver us from death* and to carry us well through our dying moments.
Lord, make us know our end and what is the measure of our days; let us know and consider how fleeting we are, that our days are as a few handbreadths and all mankind stands as a mere breath! Psalm 39:4-5(ESV) Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding. 1 Chronicles 29:15(ESV)