1 I I.ove the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications.
2 Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as
long as I live.
3 The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.
4 Then called I upon the name of the Lord; 0 Lord, I beseech thee, deliver
5 Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful.
6 The Lord preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me.
7 Return unto thy rest, O my soul ; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with
8 For thou hast delivered my soul from death,
Mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.
g I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living.
to I believed, therefore have I spoken: I was greatly afflicted.
Ill said in my haste, All men are liars.
12 What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?
This Psalm of grateful praise includes a record of past misery and gracious deliverance. It states what the believer has found in Jehovah, and on the ground of experienced covenant mercy offers holy vows unto Him who hath delivered the 'soul from death,' the 'eyes from tears,' and the 'feet from falling.' Though resembling in some points Ps. xviii., it has many distinctive features. Its first utterance is that of love, on the ground of prayer heard and deliverance granted. And even one answer, if really experienced, will ever lead us anew to the mercy-seat, and make prayer our lifelong occupation (ver. 2). 'And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us.' More especially does this hold true of the great deliverance. In the agony of his soul, when without only trouble and within only sorrow could be found, he discovered the right way of escape, when from self he turned with entreating voice unto Jehovah (ver. 3,4). And here, as ever, 'grace, mercy, and peace,' the full manifestation of the love of God, met him in the cross of Christ (ver. 5). In His own way He led him into light and peace. Earnestly seeking, he was not suffered to fail, for 'Jehovah preserveth the simple.' 'Thou hast revealed these things unto babes.' 'A bruised reed He will not break, and the smoking flax He shall not quench.' 'I was brought low, and He helped me' (ver. 6). 'A broken and a contrite heart Thou, Jehovah, wilt not despise.' And thus he found peace in finding Christ. The experience of His infinite bounty offers a sweet and safe resting-place unto the soul (ver. 7). The word rest is put in the plural, as indicating complete and entire rest, at all times and under all circumstances. Having experienced the strength of God in his own weakness, having tasted the grace of God, he calls, as it were, upon his soul to turn from those devious paths in which he had so long strayed, into the haven of eternal rest. And the completeness of this rest consists in the provision which has been made for all wants. Not only pardon or deliverance from eternal death, but precious comfort and joy in Christ Jesus, and heart-and-life holiness have been granted (ver. 8). So that he who had been a stranger and an alien, now walks before Jehovah 'in the the lands of the living,'—the plural number again indicating the extensiveness of his liberty. But all these privileges are enjoyed as in face and view of Jehovah, the living and life-giving God (ver. 9).
The more closely the gracious way is observed in which we have been led from darkness into light, the greater is our wonder and praise. When, brought to feel our state before God, we looked within, there was only fear: 'I was very much bowed down.' And when looking without, and listening to the counsels and suggestions of carnal men, we felt that all their devices were falsehood. Then through grace were we led to look upward, 'I believed : for I am speaking,'— and our lips were opened, and now and evermore will we pour forth the song of believing praise. For, having experienced such grace, 'what shall I render unto Jehovah for all His benefits toward me?' Eternity itself will not suffice to express what is due to Him. And henceforth all we are and all we have are His, who saved us with so great a salvation. Thus prayer answered—the one prayer heard—for ever afterwards opens our heart and our mouth unto God.
For there is, indeed, nothing which so much endears to us the name of our God as answers to prayer. Here we make our resting-places, and here we rear our memorial-stones. Answered prayer gives confidence for the future (ver. 2), comfort for the past (ver. 3), and deliverance from present distress (ver. 4). Want of joyous assurance in prayer makes prayer itself a dull, formal, irksome duty. There cannot be uncertainty on this subject. God for Christ's sake always hears prayer—every prayer, even the faintest cry. Let us ever remember that this is our peculiar privilege under the dispensation of grace. One of the titles of our God is,' Thou that hearest prayer;' and none other so closely connects earth to heaven, or our hearts to the mercy-seat. The reality, the quickness, and the fulness of such answers, are alike matter of experience. 'Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel . . . being caused to fly swiftly ... informed me . . . At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth.' 'Before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.' 'Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me.' Such answers, then, in grace, are specially connected with the glory of God. But he alone can really pray who really knocks—feels his need of admission, and that there is One ' within' waiting to hear his voice. Want of assurance in praying springs in great part from not realizing God as in Christ, or from not fully understanding the dispensation of grace. 'Gracious is the Lord, and righteous.' This free outgoing of undeserved and sovereign love in Christ, and the full satisfaction rendered for us by our Substitute, and accepted by the Father, must remove all hesitation. Our High Priest on high pleads for us; He ever pleads; He pleads for us even when we do not plead ourselves. I dare not doubt the Father; I cannot doubt the Son; I must not doubt the Spirit. All is done, and every barrier is swept away. Let me not look to myself, but to Him,—Christ the chief cornerstone of the building; the living, life-giving Vine; the Husband of the bride; the Head of the Church; the Advocate of His people; the Friend of sinners ; the Elder Brother of the ' household ;' the Saviour of the lost; 'the Way, the Truth, and the Life.' Each of Christ's titles seems one of the pearly gates through which blessed and unlimited views of heaven open. We must learn the simplicity of faith (ver. 6), which forgets even faith itself in the object of faith; which is so much engrossed with Him on whom it leans, as to forget the hand that leans on Him. Christ is all. When I was brought low, He helped me. Thus, when in His light we clearly see light—when we receive the gospel as good news to our own hearts; that God so loved me individually, as to give His Son for me; that Christ sought and saved me, a lost sinner; and that He ever liveth to make intercession for me;—when I believe this, fully and literally, what a sudden rush of feeling, like mighty waters! Holy joy, calm confidence, and fresh heart-and-life devotion to God, are then the outburst of the soul (ver. 7). Everything now seems to become plain, and we can return to our rest, and wait for the Lord. All things are ours (ver. 8), for Christ is ours. Work and duty seem easy, when the heart is thus greatly enlarged (ver. 9). Nay, there is even a peculiar joy in trials; for, when cut off from our ordinary props and supplies, we learn by faith to rejoice in being cast wholly upon the Lord. The Lord is more sought, and therefore more found. In these seasons of distress we learn the tender mercies and the faithfulness of our God (vers. IO-12). Thus leaning upon Him, we feel His strong support, the joyous realization of having Him as our portion, and the firm assurance that we are heard. What is this but the ' Abba, Father' of the Spirit—the first gleams of the bright morning of joy?
1. Consider this day, O my soul, what are thy past and present experiences as to answered prayer,—not as respects general petitions, but special requests, both for body and soul, for time and eternity, for thyself and for others. What are thy present burdens—spiritual, temporal? Let me detail them; let me cast them each and separately upon the Lord.
2. God in Christ—oh that all-absorbing truth! I would grasp it with my whole heart. Truly it is to me the spring from the smitten Rock ; my joy in believing, my hope in praying, my comfort during the watches of the night. Let me now feed upon this Bread of Life.
3. Art thou, then, free—God's freeman—and are all things thine? What a debtor to grace! But why not seek much, ask much, have much—to-day, for thy present wants? Why not make full use of thine unspeakable privilege? And, O my soul, forget not that as all is in God, so all must be for God (vers. 16-19). What wants and petitions, then, have I to spread before God—for myself, for others? And still let me look up! His love and grace are infinitely beyond, not merely my asking, but even my requiring. 'Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully
Jesus, thou Joy of loving hearts!
Thou Fount of Life! Thou Light of men!
From the best bliss that earth imparts
We turn unfill'd to Thee again.