Daily Blessings for God's People
Published on Thursday, January 6th, 1916.
C. H. SPURGEON,
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
On Thursday Evening, 21st September, 1871.
"Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. He that is our God is the God of salvation, and unto God the Lord belong the issues from death."Psalm 68:19-20.
E observe that this Psalm is a very difficult one. One of the ablest commentators calls it a titanic Psalm. It is truly a giant Psalm, and to master it means much labour. Yet it is by no means difficult to understand when it comet to practical duties, and to those doctrines which are vital. For instance, the two verses before us are very simple and do not need any explanation, but only need to be impressed upon our memory. So is it always throughout Holy Scripture; wherever there are difficult places, they do not touch vital truths. The matter of our salvation is plain enough. The Book of Revelation may be difficult, but not the Gospel according to Matthew. With regard to the future, there may be many clouds, but with regard to that blessed day which is past, which was the crisis of the world's history, when our Saviour hung upon the tree, the darkness is past, and the true light shineth there. Don't, therefore, busy yourselves most about those things which are most difficult, for they are usually of least importance. Concern your heart most with the simplicities of the gospel, for it is there, in the way, the truth, and the life, that the essential matter lies.
And enter where there's room;
While thousands make a wretched choice,
And rather starve than come?"
There may be some whose consciences will allow them to think that their praying made the distinction. I am not able to believe that, but I am compelled to feel that, if I enjoy the things of Christ that others do not, it is of the Lord's mercy, and not of any goodness in me, but entirely of his infinite grace. Let us bless the Lord at this hour because he loadeth us with benefits when he might have passed us by. He might have suffered us to go on heaping up our transgressions until the measure thereof had been filled, and then he might have made us reap for ever that which we had sown. Instead of this, he has made usmany of ushowever unlikely personsto be his chosen ones, and he hath loaded us with benefits.
I have spoken very simply entirely with the view that those hearts that have tasted that the Lord is gracious may now wake up all their powers to praise and bless the name of the Most High. We must not pass away from this, however, without observing that our translation is not literalindeed, is not the meaning of the passage. Those of you who will look at your Bibles will perceive that the words "who" and "with benefits", are put in it italics to show that they are not in the Hebrew, but have been supplied by the translators, as they thought them necessary to the sense; and some of the best interpreters say that the passage means this, "Blessed be the Lord, who daily beareth our burdens"; and I have little doubt that that is the correct translation. It is not so much that he loads us, as that he lifts our load for us, and bears it for us. Well, at any rate, that is a sweet rendering, "He daily bears our burden"; and it is a rendering which is a word of rebuke to some of you. Did you not come into this tabernacle tonight with your burdens on your back? Well, it was wrong you should ever have them. "Cast all your care on him, for he careth for you." A man who has a burden-bearer certainly need not bear the burden himself. Faith is never burdened, because she knows where to lay her burden. She hath a burden, but she puts it on the Almighty God. But unbelief, with a far less load than faith carries easily, is bowed down to the dust. Arise, O child of God, whatever thy burden is, and by an act of faith cast it upon God. You have done your little all; leave it now. Your fretfulness will not alter things. You cannot change he night, nor make one hair white or black. Why fret and worry? The world went on very well before you were born; it will when you are dead. Leave the helm. Whenever you have been foremast you made a mistake. He that carves for himself will cut his fingers; but when God has been foremost, and you have been content to follow, you have never had any mistake then; and when God has been your shepherd, you have been constrained to say, "I shall not want." Oh! then, have done with burden-bearing, and take up the language of the text, "Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burdens."
And then the text adds that he is "the God of our salvation." In this life we ought to praise him. His daily mercies are all sweetened with this reflectionthat we are saved souls. Our morsel may be dry, but we dip it in this dainty sauce of his salvation. It is true I am poor, but I am saved. It is true I am sick, but I am saved. It is true I am obscure and unknown, but I am saved; and the salvation of God sweetens all. Then is it added to that, it is "our" salvation. He that can grasp the salvation which is in Christ and say, "This is mine," is rich to all the intents of bliss, and has his daily life gilded with joy.
And then it is added beyond that, "our God." God is ours. He that is our God is the God of salvation. His omnipotence and omniscience, his immutability and his faithfulnessall his attributes are ours. The Father is ours; the Son is ours; the Spirit is ours. The God of election is ours; the God of redemption is ours; the God of sanctification is ours. Oh! with all this, how can we be cast down? Why should we repine! We have certainly abounding cause for blessing and praising the Lord. Those are the mercies If life. And now for a few minutes let us contemplate:
II. THE MERCIES OF DEATH.
"Unto God belong the issues from death." This may mean several things. We will include its meanings under these heads. Unto God belong escapes from death. Oh! blessed be his name, we may come very near the grave, and the jaws of death may be open to receive us; but the pit cannot shut her mouth upon us until our hour is come.
Till he please, I cannot die.
Not a single shaft can hit,
Until the God of love see fit.
"What though a thousand at thy side,
Whatever occurs around us, we need not be alarmed. We are immortal until our work is done. And amidst infectious or contagious diseases, if we are called to go there, we may sit as easily as though in balmy air. It is not ours to preserve our life by neglecting our duty. It is better to die in service than live in idlenessbetter to glorify God and depart, than rot above ground in neglecting what he would have us to do. Unto God belong the issues from death. We may, therefore, go without temerity into any danger where duty calls us.
But then unto God belong the issues that lead actually down to death. It may be we shall not die. There are some who are comforted much by the belief that Christ will come, and they shall not die. I do not profess to be among the number. I would as soon die as not, and rather, I think, if I might have my choice, for herein would be a greater conformity to the sufferings of Christ, in actually passing through the grave and rising again, than will fall to the lot of those who do not die. At all events, those who die not shall have no preference beyond them that sleep. So the Apostle tells us. "To" die is "gain"; and we will look upon it as such. But whenever we die, if we die, it will be at God's bidding. No one hath the key of death but the Lord of life. A thousand angels could not hurl us to the grave. All the devils in hell cannot destroy the least lamb in Christ's flock. Till God saith "Return," our spirit shall not leave the body; and we may be well content to depart when God saith the time is come. Oh! how blessed it is to think that the arrows of death are in the quiver of God, and they cannot be shot forth unless as the Lord wills it! Unto the Lord belong the issues from death.
Think of this, then, about your departed friends The Master took them home. Think about your own departure. It is not to be arranged by your folly, not by the malice of the wicked. It will all be planned and designed by the infinite love of God.
But the text may mean something more. Unto God belong the issues from death; that is, the coming up from death again. We place the bodies of the saints in the territory of death, but they are only put there, as it were, because there is a lien upon them for a time. They must come out. They must be delivered. for his word says, if we believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, "so also them that sleep in Jesus will God bring with him." There shall not be a bone or a piece of a bone of one of the saints kept by the enemy as a trophy of his conquest over the Saviour. Christ shall vanquish death entirely, and from the sepulchre he shall snatch all the trophies of the grave. We shall rise again, beloved. What though our bodies rot? What though they feed plants, and in due time feed animals, and pass through innumerable permutations and combinations? Yet he that made us can re-make us; and the voice that bade us live shall bid these bodies live again. "Unto God belong the issues from death." In this we are comfortedto fall asleep, because the angel of the churches shall guard our dust.
And then this further thought. The issues from death grasp all that comes after death. The spirit issues from deathnever touched by it indeed. Leaving the body behind a while, the spirit enters into a glory, waiting for the fulness. Then when Christ descends, and the trumpet sounds, and the dead in Christ rise in the first resurrection, then shall the re-united manhood enter into the fulness of the glory with a manifested Saviour. These issues from death belong to God, and God secures them to his people. He shall give them to them for whom he has appointed them. He shall give them to those whom he has made worthy by his grace to be partakers of this heritage. They belong to himnot to us by merit, but they are his gifts by covenant and by grace. Oh! then, how sweet it is to think, "The path down to the grave, my God has planted it. It is all hisall his own; and when my turn shall come to go into that garden wherein is the sepulchre, I shall be in my Father's territory." Jesus Christ is Lord of the sick-bed. He makes the bed of his people in their affliction. Even down to the borders of the graveto the edge of Jordan's riverit is all Immanuel's land; and he often makes it the land of Beulah. And then, when I dip my foot in that chill stream, it is still my Master's country. I am not out of the presence of the Lord of life now I am coming to the land of death-shade and through the river, but it is the Master's river still, and, on the other side, it is my Lord's own land. When the shining ones shall meet me to conduct me up to the jewelled "city that hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God," I shall be always at home, always in my Father's country, never an exile, never come upon a tract of territory over which he hath no power. "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for he is with me. His rod and his staff, even there have they sway, and they shall comfort me." Be of good cheer, beloved. "Goodness and mercy shall follow you all the days of your life," and, life being ended, you shall "dwell in the house of your God for ever." In life and in death, you shall prove the tokens of his special love. And now we wind up with this. Here is:
III. THE COMMON OCCUPATIONS OF BOTH CONDITIONS.
I will praise thee in death
I will praise thee as long
As thou lendest me breath."
"I will praise thee for ever and ever." The one occupation of a Christian is to praise his God. Now, in order to do this, we must maintain by God's grace a grateful, happy, praiseful frame of mind; and we must endeavour to express that condition of mind by songs of gratitude. This should be our morning's work. Should there not be the morning song? This should be the evening's work. Let it be our vespers to bless and praise God. Israel had the morning lamb and the evening lamb. Let us make both ends of the day bright with his praise, and during the day. We are in a wrong state of mind if we are not in a thankful state of mind. Depend upon it, there is something wrong with you if you cannot praise God. "Oh!" says one, "what, in trouble?" Yes, in every bitter trouble too, for Job could say, "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away, and blessed be the name of the Lord." "But are we never to be sorrowful?" Yes, yet always rejoicing. How can that be? Ah! the Lord teach you it! It is a work of grace. Cast down, but yet, for all that, rejoicing in the Lord! He lifts up the light of his countenance upon us, even when heart and flesh are failing us. I say again, there is something amiss with us when our heart does not praise God. Do as much as you can also. When your heart is glad, try to. praise him with your lip. Do you work alone? Sing. Perhaps, if you work in company, you cannot; but sing with the heart. Men of the world, I am afraid, sing more than we do. I do not admire the most of their songs. They do not seem to have much sense about themat least the modern ones. But let us sing some of the songs of Zion. You do not want to put your harps on the willows, but if they are there, take them down and praise the Lord, who leadeth you with benefits in life and in death. Therefore, habitually praise him. And, brethren and sisters, all our actions, as well as our thoughts and words, should tend to, the praise of him who always blesses us. You may stop praising God when he stops having mercy upon younot till then; and as there is always a new mercy coming to your doors let new praise be going up out of your hearts." But how can I praise God by my actions? saith one. "Do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks unto God and the Father by him." I try to praise God by preaching to-night. Some of you will go to your trades. Well, praise God at your trades. Any work, any lawful calling may be to the Christian priest(and all Christians are priests)the exercise of his sacred functions. You may make your smock-frock, if you will, a vestment; you shall make your meal a sacrament; you shall make everything in the house like the pots that were before the altar; the bells upon the horses shall be "holiness unto the Lord."
And, dear brethren, to close. Let me remark that if we praise God ourselves by word and life, we ought to try to bring others to praise him too. You do not praise God, indeed, unless you want others to do so. It is a mark of sincere thankfulness that it desires others to assist it in the expression of its joy. Blessed be the Lord, this same Psalmist here, who says for himself, "Blessed he the Lord", is the writer of the 67th Psalm. You know how he says there, "Let the people praise theeyea, let all the people praise thee!Oh! let the nations be glad and sing for joy!" Then he says again, "Let the people praise thee, O God; yea, let all the people praise thee!" Do your utmost to be the means, in God's hands, of bringing others to praise him. Tell them what he has done for you. Tell them of his saving grace. Invite sinners to Christ. Let it be:
To say,"Behold the Lamb!"
and in this way you will be setting other tongues a-praising God, so that when your tongue is silent, there shall be others that will take up the strain. Labour for this, beloved, every one of you. Labour for the extension of the choir that shall sing the praises of the Saviour I trust we shall never fall into that narrow-minded spirit which seems to say, "It is enough for me if I am saved, and if those that go to my little place of worship are all right. It is quite enough." No, Master, thy throne is not to be set up in some little conventicle in a back street, and there alone. Thou are not to reign in some little corner of a city, and there alone Thou art not to take this island of Great Britain, and reign in it alone; nor in Europein one quarter of the earth alone. Let the whole earth be filled with his praise! And what Christian heart will refuse to say, "Amen and amen"? God grant it may be so! Amen.