Psalm 31:15

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 15. My times are in thy hand. The sovereign arbiter of destiny holds in his own power all the issues of our life; we are not waifs and strays upon the ocean of fate, but are steered by infinite wisdom towards our desired haven. Providence is a soft pillow for anxious heads, an anodyne for care, a grave for despair. Deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me. It is lawful to desire escape from persecution if it be the Lord's will; and when this may not be granted us in the form which we desire, sustaining grace will give us deliverance in another form, by enabling us to laugh to scorn all the fury of the foe.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 15. My times are in thy hand. It is observable that when, of late years, men grow weary of the long and tedious compass in their voyages to the East Indies, and would needs try a more compendious way by the North west passage, it ever proved unsuccessful. Thus it is that we must not use any compendious way; we may not neglect our body, nor shipwreck our health, nor anything to hasten death, because we shall gain by it. He that maketh haste (even this way) to be rich shall not be innocent; for our times are in God's hands, and therefore to his holy providence we must leave them. We have a great deal of work to do, and must not, therefore, be so greedy of our Sabbath day, our rest, as not to be contented with our working day, our labour. Hence it is that a composed frame of mind, like that of the apostle's Philippians 1:21 , wherein either to stay and work, or to go and rest, is the best temper of all. Edward Reynolds, in J. Spencer's "Things New and Old."

Verse 15. My times. He does not use the plural number, in my opinion, without reason; but rather to mark the variety of casualties by which the life of man is usually harassed. John Calvin.

Verse 15. In thy hand. The watch hangs ticking against the wall, when every tick of the watch is a sigh, and a consciousness, alas! Poor watch! I called once to see a friend, the physician and the secretary of one of the most noble and admirable of the asylums for the insane in this country. A poor creature, with a clear, bright intelligence, only that some of its chords had become unstrung, who had usually occupied itself innocently by making or unmaking watches, had just before I called, exhibited some new, alarming symptoms, dashing one and then another upon the stone floor, and shivering them. Removed into a more safe room, I visited him with the secretary. "How came you to destroy your favourite watches, so much as you loved them, and so quiet as you are?" said my friend; and the poor patient replied, in a tone of piercing agony, "I could not bear the tick, tick, ticking, and so I dashed it on the pavement." But when the watch is able to surrender itself to the maker, to the hand holding the watch, and measuring out the moments, it becomes a sight affecting indeed, but very beautiful, very sublime. We transfer our thoughts from the watch to the hand that holds the watch. My times, Thy hand; the watch and the hour have a purpose, and so are not in vain. God gives man permission to behold two things. Man can see the whole work, the plan's completeness, also the minutest work, the first step towards the plan's completeness. Nothing is more certain, nothing are men more indisposed to perceive than this. We have to

"Wait for some transcendent life,
Reserved by God to follow this."

Robert Browning.

To this end God's real way is made up of all the ways of our life. His hand holds all our times. My times;" "Thy hand." Some lives greatly differ from others. This we know; but see, some lives fulfil life's course, gain life's crown -- life in their degree. This, on the contrary, others quite miss. Yet, for even human strength there must be a love meted out to rule it. It is said, there is a moon to control the tides of every sea; is there not a master power for souls? It may not always be so, apparently, in the more earthly lives, but it is so in the heavenly; not more surely does the moon sway tides, than God sways souls. It does not seem sometimes as if man found no adequate external power, and stands forth ordained to be a law to his own sphere; but even then his times are in the hands of God, as the pathway of a star is in the limitations of its system -- as the movements of a satellite are in the forces of its planet. But while I would not pause on morbid words or views of life, so neither do I desire you to receive or charge me with giving only a moody, morbid view of the world, and an imperfect theology; but far other. My times are in thy hand -- the hand of my Saviour."

"I report as a man may of God's work -- all's love, but all's law. In the Godhead I seek and I find it, and so it shall be A face like my face that receives thee, a Man like to me Thou shalt love and be loved by for ever, a hand like this hand Shall throw open the gates of new life to thee: See the Christ stand!" Robert Browning.

And now he is "the restorer of paths to dwell in." The hand of Jesus is the hand which rules our times. He regulates our life clock. Christ for and Christ in us. My times in his hand. My life can be no more in vain than was my Saviour's life in vain. E. Paxton Hood, in "Dark Sayings on a Harp," 1865.

Verse 15. When David had Saul at his mercy in the cave, those about him said, This is the time in which God will deliver thee. 1 Samuel 24:4 . No, saith David, the time is not come for my deliverance till it can be wrought without sin, and I will wait for that time; for it is God's time, and that is the best time. Matthew Henry.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 15. The believer the peculiar care of providence.

Verse 15. (first clause).

  1. The character of the earthly experience of the saints, "My times," that is, the changes I shall pass through, etc.
  2. The advantage of this variety.
    1. Changes reveal the various aspects of the Christian character.
    2. Changes strengthen the Christian character.
    3. Changes lead us to admire an unchanging God.
  3. Comfort for all seasons.
    1. This implies the changes of life are subject to the divine control.
    2. That God will support his people under them.
    3. And, consequently, they shall result in our being abundantly profited.
  4. The deportment which should characterise us. Courageous devotion to God in times of persecution; resignation and contentment in times of poverty and suffering; zeal and hope in times of labour.

From Stems and Twigs, or Sermon Framework.