Verse 9. Gather not my soul with sinners. Lord, when, like fruit, I must be gathered, put me not in the same basket with the best of sinners, much less with the worst of them. The company of sinners is so distasteful to us here, that we cannot endure the thought of being bound up in the same bundle with them to all eternity. Our comfort is, that the Great Husbandman discerns the tares from the wheat, and will find a separate place for distinct characters. In the former verses we see that the psalmist kept himself clear of profane persons, and this is to be understood as a reason why he should not be thrust into their company at the last. Let us think of the doom of the wicked, and the prayer of the text will forcibly rise to our lips; meanwhile, as we see the rule of judgment by which like is gathered to its like, we who have passed from death unto life have nothing to fear. Nor my life with bloody men. Our soul sickens to hear them speak; their cruel dispatches, in which they treat the shooting of their fellow men as rare sport, are horrifying to us; Lord, let us not be shut up in the same prison with them; nay, the same paradise with such men would be a hell, if they remained as they are now.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 9. Gather not my soul with sinners. Now is the time that people should be in care and concern, that their souls be not gathered with sinners in the other world. In discoursing from this doctrine we shall --
- Consider some things implied in it.
- Show who are the sinners, that we are to have a horror of our souls being gathered with in the other world.
- What it is for one's soul to be gathered with sinners in the other world.
- Consider this care and concern, or show what is implied in this earnest request, "Gather not my soul with sinners"
- Give the reasons why we should be in such care and concern.
- Make application. Death is the gathering time, which the psalmist has in view in the text. Ye have a time here that ye call the gathering time, about the term when the servants are going away, wherein ye gather your strayed sheep, that every one may get their own again. Death is God's gathering time wherein he gets the souls belonging to him, and the devil those belonging to him. They did go long together, but then they are parted, and the saints are taken home to the congregation of saints, and sinners to the congregation of sinners. And it concerns us to say, "Gather not my soul with sinners." Whoever be our people here, God's people or the devil's, death will gather our souls to them. It is a horrible thing to be gathered with sinners in the other world. To think of our souls being gathered with them there, may make the hair of one's head stand up. Many now like no gathering like the gathering with sinners; it is the very delight of their hearts, it makes a brave jovial life in their eyes. And it is a pain to them to be gathered with saints, to be detained before the Lord on a Sabbath day. But to be gathered with them in the other world, is a horror to all sorts.
- The saints have a horror of it, as in the text. To think to be staked down in their company in the other world would be a hell of itself to the godly. David never had such a horror of the society of the diseased, the persecuted, etc., as of sinners. He is content to be gathered with saints of whatever condition; but, "Lord," say he, "Gather not my soul with sinners."
- The wicked themselves have a horror of it. Numbers 23:10 . "Let me die the death of the righteous," said the wicked Balaam, "and let my last end be like his." Though they would be content to live with them, or be with them in life, their consciences bear witness that they have a horror of being with them in death. They would live with sinners, but they would die with saints. A poor, unreasonable, self condemning thought. Thomas Boston.
Verse 9. Gather not my soul with sinners. Bind me not up in the same bundle with them, like the tares for the fire. Matthew 13:30 . The contrast to this is seen in the following Psalms 27:10 , "When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up;" literally, will gather me to his fold. Christopher Wordsworth.
Verse 9. Gather not my soul with sinners. The Lord hath a harvest and a gleaning time also, set for cutting down and binding together, in the fellowship of judgments, God's enemies, who have followed the same course of sinning: for here we are given to understand that God will "gather their souls," and so will let none escape. David Dickson.
Verse 9. Gather not my soul with sinners. After all, it may be objected that this concern seems to be common with saints and sinners. Even a wicked Balaam said, "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his." Numbers 23:10 . Take a few differences between them in this matter.
- It is separation from Christ that makes the saints to have a horror at being gathered with sinners hereafter. Separation from Christ is the main ground of the believer's horror: but if other things were to be right with the sinner in the other world, he would be easy under separation from Christ.
- The believer has a horror at being gathered with sinners on account of their filthiness; but the thing that makes the sinner concerned is the prospect of punishment. No doubt, a principle of self preservation must make punishment frightful to all; but abstracted from that, the saints have a concern not to be gathered with sinners in the other world, upon account of their unholiness and filthiness. "He who is filthy, let him be filthy still," is enough to make a saint abhor the lot of sinners in the life to come.
- The concern of the saints has a mighty influence upon them, to make them study holiness here; but sinners live unholy for all their concern. "And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." 1 John 3:3 . What hope? The hope of seeing Christ as he is, and of being perfectly like him, of being separated from sinners.
- Lastly, the concern of the saints is such, that they do with purpose of heart come out from among sinners more and more in this world; but sinners are not concerned to be separated from sinners here. Balaam wished to die the death of the righteous; but he had no concern to live the life of the righteous, and to be separated from sinners here. James Scot,
Verse 9-12. David prays that God would not "gather his soul with sinners, whose right hand is full of bribes;" such as, for advantage, would be bribed to sin, to which wicked gang he opposeth himself, Psalms 26:11 ; "But as for me, I will walk in mine integrity;" where he tells us what kept him from being corrupted and enticed, as they were; from God -- it was his integrity. A soul walking in its integrity will take bribes neither from men, nor sin itself: and therefore he saith Psalms 26:12 , "His foot stood in an even place;" or, as some read it, "My foot standeth in righteousness." William Gurnall.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 9. See "Spurgeon's Sermons," No. 524. "The Saints' Horror at the Sinners' Hell."