Brought Up from the Horrible Pit
Delivered on Lord's-Day Morning, August 13th, 1882, by
C. H. SPURGEON,
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
"I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord."Psalm 40:1-3.
HIS PASSAGE HAS BEEN USED with great frequency as the expression of the experience of the people of God, and I think it has been very rightly so used. It is a very accurate picture of the way in which sinners are raised up from despair to hope and salvation, and of the way in which saints are brought out of deep troubles, and made to sing of divine love and power. Yet I am not certain that the first verse could be truthfully uttered by all of us; I question, indeed, whether any of us could thus speak. Could we say"I waited patiently for the Lord." Think ye, brethren, might it not read"I waited impatiently for the Lord," in the case of most of us? All the rest may stand true, but this would need to be modified. We could hardly speak in our own commendation if we considered our conduct in the matter of patience, for that is, alas, still a scarce virtueupon the face of the earth. If we read the psalm through we shall see that it was not written exclusively to describe the experience of God's people. Secondarily we may regard it as David's language, but in the first instance a greater than David is here. The first Person who uttered these words was the Messiah, and that is quite clear if you read the psalm through; for we fall upon such language as this: "Sacrifice and offering, Thou didst not desire; mine ears hast Thou opened; burnt offering and sin offering hast Thou not required. Then said I, come I in the volume of the book it is written of Me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart." We need not say with the Ethiopian, "Of whom speaketh the prophet this? Of himself or of some other?" For we are led at once by the plainest indications to see that He is not speaking of Himself, but of our Lord and if we needed confirmation of this we get it in Hebrews 10, where Paul expressly quotes this passage as referring to the Lord Jesus. To Him, indeed, alone of all men can it with accuracy be applied. So this morning I shall have to show that this text of ours is most fit to be the language of the Lord, our representative and covenant Head. When I have shown this, you will then see how we can use the self-same expressions, because we are in Him. Each believer becomes a mirror in which is reflected the experience of our Lord; but it would be ill for us to be so taken up with the mere reflection as to forget the express image by which this experience is formed in us.
The cross and nails no more,
For hell itself shakes at his name,
And all the heavens adore.
Sing ye unto the Lord, ye saints of His, as ye behold your Master brought up again from among the sorrowful, the despised, the deserted, the dead.
A second figure is, however, used here to express our Lord's grief and deliverance from it"Out of the miry clay." Travelers tell us that wherever pits are still used as dungeons, they are damp, foul and utterly loathsome; for they are never cleansed, however long the prisoner may have been there, or however great the number of victims shut up within them. You know what the prisons of Europe were in Howard's days, they were even worse in the East in periods further back. The imprisoned wretch often found himself sinking in more; he found no rest, no hope of comfort, and when extricated he needed a hand to drag him out of the thick clay. Our blessed Lord and Master found Himself when He was suffering for us where everything appeared to give way beneath Him; His spirits sank, His friends failed Him, and His heart melted like wax. Every comfort was taken from Him. His blessed manhood found nothing upon this earth upon which it could stay itself, for He had been made sin for us, made a curse for us, and so every foundation of comfort departed from Him. He was deprived of visible support, and reduced to a sad condition. As a man who has fallen into a slough cannot stir so as to recover himself, so was it with our Redeemer, who says in the Psalms"I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing." Some morasses are so destructive that, if a man should once fall into them, he might give up his life for lost unless some one came that way to drag him out. So did the Saviour sink in the miry clay of our sin and misery until the Lord Almighty lifted Him out. The clay of sorrow clung to Him; it held to Him while He was performing the great work of our redemption. But the Lord brought Him up out of it. There is no mire upon His garments now: his feet no longer sink, He is not held by the bands of death, He slides not into the grave again. He was dragged down, as it were, by hearing our sin, but that is over, and He hath ascended on high: He hath led captivity captive, and received gifts from men. All honor be unto Him, and to His Father who delivered Him.
As we read our text we pursue this story of out Master's deliverance, and we are told that He was brought up out of the lowest deeps. Say the words or sing them as you choose"He brought me up." God upraised His obedient Son from the depths into which He had descended on our account. He was brought up, like Jonah who went to die bottom of the mountains, and yet was landed safely on the shore. He was brought up like Joseph, who rose from a pit to a palace; like David, who was led up from the sheepfold to the kingdom. "The king shall joy in thy strength, O Lord; and in thy salvation how greatly shall he rejoice! His glory is great in thy salvation: honor and majesty hast thou laid upon him. For thou hast made him most blessed forever: Thou hast made him exceeding glad with thy countenance."
Then we are told He was set on a rock, and oh, the glory of our blessed Lord in this matter, for now He stands on a firm foundation in all that He does for us. Judgment and truth confirm His ways, and the Judge of all the earth approves His doings. Christ has no sandy foundation for His work of mercy or His word of comfort. When He saves He has a right to save: when He puts away sin He does it on indisputable grounds: when He helps and delivers His people He does it according to law, according to the will of the Highest. As Justifier, Preserver, and Perfecter of His people, He stands upon a rock. This day I delight to think of my Lord as settling His church with Himself upon the immutable foundations of the covenant, on the decree of God, on the purpose of the Father, on His own work, and on the promise of God that He would reward Him in that work. Well may we say that His feet are upon a rock, for He is Himself, by another figure, the Rock of ages, the Rock of our salvation.
And now the goings of our glorious Christ are established. When He goes out to save a sinner, He knows that He can do it, and has a right to do it. When He goes up to His Father's throne to make intercession for sinners, His goings are established, and the desire of His heart is given Him. When He comes in among His church, or marches forth with his people to the ends of the earth, His goings are established. "For the king trusteth in the Lord, and through the mercy of the most High he shall not be moved." He shall surely come a second time without sin unto salvation, for so has the Father decreed: His glorious goings are as surely established as were those of His labor and suffering. We shall never be without a Saviour: we shall never have a fallen or a vanquished Saviour; for His goings are established for continuance, certainty, and victory. Such honor have all His saints; for "the steps of a good man are ordered of the Lord"; and again, "none of his steps shall slide."
Best of all, there is a new, song in the mouth of our Well-beloved. It is grand to think of Jesus singing. Read the twenty-second Psalm, and you will find Him doing it, as also in the Hebrews: "In the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee." Toward the end of His earthly career you hear Him bursting into song. Was not that a grand occasion just before His passion, when He was going out to die; we read that "after supper they sang a hymn." If we had been bound to die that night, as He was, we should rather have wept or prayed than sang. Not so our Lord. I do not know what psalm they sang: probably a part of the great Hallel, usually sung after the Passover, which consists of those Psalms at the end of the book which are so full of praise. I believe the Saviour Himself pitched the tune and led the strain. Think of Him singing when near His hour of agony! Going to scorn and mockery, singing! Going to the thorn-crown and the scourge, singing! Going to death, even the death of the cross, singing! For the joy that was set before Him He endured the cross, despising the shame! But now, what must that new song be which He leads in heaven? "They sang, as it were, a new song before the throne"; but it is He that leads the heavenly orchestra. How greatly He excels Miriam, the sister of Moses, when she took her timbrel and led forth the women in their dances, saying, "Sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea." This is called "the song of Moses, the servant of God and of the Lamb"; so I gather that the Lamb's new song is after the same triumphant fashion: it is the substance of that which Moses' song foreshadowed. In Christ Jesus the Lord our God has led captivity captive. Let us praise Him on the high sounding cymbals. Sing unto the Lord, for He hath triumphed gloriously. The powers of darkness are destroyed; sin, death, and hell are drowned in the atoning blood: the depths have covered them: there is not one of them left. Oh, "sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously." "Ascribe ye greatness unto our God."
III. Such is the exalted condition of our Lord at this hour; let us turn and look upon THE LORD'S REWARD. The Lord's reward for having gone down into the horrible pit, and having gunk in the miry clay for us, is thisthat "Many shall see, and fear, and trust in the Lord. "Many!" Not all mankind, but "many" shall look to Jesus and live. Alas! Vast numbers continue in unbelief, but "many' shall believe and live; and the Lord's "many" means very many. As I was thinking over my text, I thought, "I hope there will be some at the Tabernacle this morning that belong to the I many who shall see and fear and trust in the Lord." "Many shall" for the Lord hath promised it. But, Lord, they will not. "But they shall," says God. Oh, but many refuse. "But they shall," says God and He hath the key of men's hearts, and power over their judgments and their wills. "Many shall." Do you, oh ye unbelievers, think that Jesus shall die in vain? Oh, sinners, if you will nor have Christ, others will. You may despise Him, but He will be none the less glorious. You may reject His salvation but He shall be none the less mighty to save. He is a king, and ye cannot pluck a single jewel from His crown. If you arc so foolish as to provoke His iron rod so that He shall break you in shivers with it, yet He will be ijorious in the sight of God, and He will save His own. Notwithstanding your hardness of heart, be this known unto you, oh House of Israel, that "many shall see, and fear, and trust in the Lord."
What shall the many do? They shall "see." Their eyes shall be opened, and they shall see their Lord in the horrible pit, and in the miry clay, and as they look they shall see that He was there for them. What joy this will create in their spirits! If they do not see the Lord Jesus as their Substitute they shall, at any rate, be made to see the exceeding sinfulness of sin. If when Jesus only takes imputed sin, and has no sin of His own, yet He must be cast into the horrible pit and sink in the miry clay; then what will become of men who have their owns sins about them, provoking the fierce anger of the Lord? If God thus smites His wellbeloved, oh sinner, how will He smite you! Beware, ye that forget Him, lest He tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver you. By the suffering Surety all covered with His own gore, I do beseech you, provoke not God; for if His OnlyBegotten must suffer so, you must suffer yet more if you break His law, and next reject His gospel.
"Many shall see." Do you wonder that it is added, "and shall fear?" It makes men fear to see a bleeding Christ, and to know that they crucified Him. It makes men fear, however, with a sweet filial fear that is akin to hope, when they see that Jesus died for sinner, the Just for the unjust, to bring them to God. Oh, when they see the Lord of love acting as a scapegoat, and bearing their sins away into the wilderness of forgetfulness, they begin to hate their evil ways, and to have a reverent fear of God; for so saith the Scripture, "there is forgiveness with thee that thou mayest be feared."
But best of alland this is the chief pointthey come to "trust in the Lord." They build their hope of salvation upon the righteousness of God as manifested in Christ Jesus. Oh, I would to God that some of you would trust Him at once. Beloved friend, are you trying to be saved by your own works? That is a delusion. Are you hoping to be saved by your own feelings? That is a lie. But you can be saved, you shall be saved: if you will trust yourself with that blessed One who was alone in the dark pit of noises for the sake of sinners, and slipped in the miry clay for the ungodly, you shall assuredly be saved from wrath through Him. Trust Him, and as surely as He liveth you shall be saved; for he that trusteth in Him cannot perish. God's truthfulness were gone if the believer could be lost. Hath He not said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." The throne of God must rock and reel before the cross.
IV. Fourthly, let us see THE LORD'S LIKENESS in His people. This whole passage, as I said in the beginning, has often been used by individual believers as a description of their own deliverance. It is a true picture, because we are made like unto our Head, and all the brethren are partakers of that which the Head has endured. Do I speak to any of my Master's servants in sore trouble? Dear friends, are you made to wait, though your trial is sharp and severe? Is it so that your prayer has not yet been answered? Then remember the waiter's place was once occupied by the Lord Jesus, for He says, "I waited patiently." If the Lord keeps you waiting for a certain blessing year after year do not despair. He will give it at length if it be truly for your good, for He hath said, "no good thing will I withhold from them that walk uprightly." He kept His Son waiting, and He may very well keep you in like posture, for how long did you delay, and cause the Lord of grace to wait on you! "Blessed are they that wait for Him." I have seen people very uppish when they have called on a public man and have had to wait a little; they feel that they ought not to be kept in the lobby, but suppose some young man said to them, "I am his own son, and yet I have been waiting an hour." Then they are more patient. So when God keeps you waiting do not be proud, and say, "Wherefore should I wait for the Lord any longer?" but remember "It is good for a man both to hope and quietly wait for the salvation of God." Jesus waited"waited patiently." Seek to be like Him, and in patience possess your soul. "I cannot see how I am to be delivered." Wait. "Ah, this is such a heavy burden." Wait. "But I am ready to die under this terrible load." Wait! Wait on! Though He tarry, wait for Him: He is worth waiting for. "Wait" is a short word, but it takes a deal of grace to spell out its full meaning, and still more grace to put it in practice. Wait: wait. "Oh, but I have been unfortunate." Wait. "But I have believed a promise, and it has not been fulfilled." Wait; for you wait in blessed company: you may hear Jesus saying, "I waited patiently." Blessed be His name, He is teaching us to do the same by His gracious Spirit.
Next, the Lord may send you, His dear child, a very heavy sorrow: you may fall into the horrible pit, and see no light, no comfort, and no one may be able to cheer you or help you. Some that have a touch of despondency in their nature have been brought so low as almost to despair of life. They have sat in darkness and seen no light: they have felt the walls of their prison and have not discovered a crack or cranny through which escape was possible: they have looked up, and even then they have seen nothing to console them. Ah, well, here is a word I commend to youthe Saviour says it: "He brought me up." The Lord God can and will bring up His troubled ones. You will have to write in your dairy one of these days. "He brought me up." I was in the dark, I was in the dungeon, but "He brought me up." I can personally say this with gladsome gratitude, for He hath brought me up," again and again. My heart is glad as I reflect upon my past deliverances. I have often wondered why I so often shut up in prison, and bound as with fetters of steel; but I cease to wonder when I think of the many among you who are called to wear the like bonds. This is my portion, that I may be a witness-bearer for my God, and that I may be able to speak to the experiences of God's tempted people, and tell how graciously the Lord delivers His servants who trust in Him. Faith shall never be shamed or confounded, world without end. God can and will hasten to the rescue of the faithful. I set to my seal also that "He brought me up"; and, beloved brother in tribulation, He will bring you up; only rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.
"Ah," say you, "But I do not know how to stand, for I sink as in miry clay, through faintness of heart: I cannot find the slightest foothold for my hope." No, you are sinking in the miry clay like your Master; but in answer to prayer the Lord will bring you up out of your hopeless state, and He will set your feet upon a rock and establish your goings, and give you joy, and peace, and delight. Wherefore see, and fear, and trust in God, and give glory to His blessed name.
Lastly, do I address any seeking one who finds no rest for the sole of his foot? Dear friend, are you sinking in the deep mire of your guilt? The Lord can pardon you, for "the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us from all sin." Are you shut up by conscience in the prison-house under a just sense of deserved wrath? Jesus will give you immediate rest if you come to Him. Do you feel as if you cannot kneel to pray, for your very knees slip in the mire of doubt? Remember, Jesus makes intercession for the transgressors. Do you seem as if, every time you move, you are burying your hope, and slipping deeper and deeper into ruin? The Lord hath plenteous redemption. Do not despairs You cannot not deliver yourself, but God can deliver you: you cannot stand of yourself, but God can make you to stand. You cannot go to Him nor go abroad among your fellow-men with comfort, but the Lord can make you to run in His ways. You shall yet go forth with joy and be led forth with peace; the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Only see Christ, and fear and trust your God, and you too shall sing unto Jehovah your deliverer, and this shall be your song:
Where mourning long I lay,
And from my bonds released my feet,
Deep bonds of miry clay.
Firm on a rock he made me stand,
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMONPSALM 40.
HYMNS FROM "OUR OWN HYMN BOOK"196, 40, 332.