Remembering God’s Works
“He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered: the LORD is gracious and full of compassion. He hath given meat unto them that fear him: he will ever be mindful of his covenant.” — Psalm cxi. 4, 5.
GOD’S works are, of course, wonderful because they are his works, but they are not “a nine days’ wonder.” They are not intended to be admired for a little while, and then to be forgotten. The psalmist says, “He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered.” I fear that we too often fail to keep in our memory the recollection of God’s exceeding goodness, and that we suffer the works of the Lord, as well as his mercies, to lie “forgotten in unthankfulness.” If it has been so, in the past, with any of us, let us, at the outset of our meditation, begin to chide ourselves for our forgetfulness, and ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen our memories that we may remember the wonderful works of the Lord more than we have done.
Our subject is twofold; first, it is God’s design that his wonderful works should be remembered; and, secondly, it is our wisdom constantly to have those wonderful works in remembrance.
I. First, then, I learn, from our text, that IT IS GOD’S DESIGN THAT HIS WONDERFUL WORKS SHOULD BE REMEMBERED.
He has ensured the carrying out of this design, for, first, the very greatness of his works prevents them from being forgotten. When God has come forth, out of his secret places, to work redemption for his people with a high hand and an outstretched arm, he has wrought such mighty marvels that all history has been made to ring with the tidings of them. Is it possible that Israel could ever forget what the Lord did in Egypt when he smote the hosts of their oppressors, and brought forth his people with a great deliverance? Could they ever forget the wondrous scene at the Red Sea, when Pharaoh and all his army sank like lead in the surging waters that had stood upright, like massive walls, to make a way for the ransomed hosts to escape? There were other events, in the conquest of Canaan, and in the life of David, which must have been, through their extraordinary character, for ever burned into the recollection of God’s ancient people; and, truly, you and I can say, of many of God’s works on our behalf, that they have been so great that it would be quite impossible for us to forget them. Do you remember your conversion, beloved friend? Peradventure, you were a great and open sinner, and the change in you was so remarkable that you can easily recollect the time when it occurred, and it would not be possible for Satan himself to make you doubt that such a change did happen to you. You remember, my brother, when the load of your guilt was removed from your burdened heart. I can imagine that I could forget my own name, and that I could forget my own sons, but I think I never could, under any circumstances, forget the day when I began to sing to my dear Lord and Saviour, —
“I will praise thee every day,
Now thine anger’s turned away.”
It was such a marvellous thing — so wonderful a thing in itself — so altogether extraordinary that it could never, never, never be forgotten. “He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered” because they are so wonderful. Study deeply what sovereign grace has done for you, that you may see the greatness of the mercy, and admire it, for, very much in proportion as you appraise the mercy of God at its proper value, will you be sure to have it fixed upon your memory all your life.
God made his wonderful works to be remembered, in the next place, because of the persons upon whom those works were wrought. There is many a man, who would soon forget all he hears about the favour of God, because he is not conscious of his own need of it; but when a person is, spiritually, in an exceedingly anxious state of mind and heart, and God’s great mercy conies to him, he is sure to recollect it. You remember that the Israelites were in Egypt as a nation of slaves, so that, when God fetched them out, — the serfs of the brick-kiln, — the men who were driven to their daily tasks by the oppressors’ whips, — the poor slaves who were denied even the straw with which to make the bricks, — well, when they were divinely delivered, at the very time when Pharaoh’s tyranny had become utterly unbearable, they could not possibly forget how they had been delivered. That day of their emancipation became the beginning of months to them, and they numbered their years from it, for, to poor oppressed Israel, it was like life from the dead. At the present time, in a spiritual sense, God, in his mercy, interposes on behalf of those who are in a similar condition to that of Israel in Egypt. You remember how Hannah sang, “He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory.” That dunghill would help the beggar’s memory; he would say, “How can I forget that I was thrown away there like a worthless thing? In my own estimation, I was a rotten, worthless, useless thing, fit only to be thrown among the rubbish of creation; but the Lord suddenly appeared to me, and lifted me up, and set me among the princes of his people. Can I ever forget that? Let the bride forget her ornaments, and let my right hand forget her cunning, but never can my soul forget how the Lord brought me up out of the horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.” Some of us were mere wrecks of humanity; yawning chasms gaped beneath us, and we thought that we should be speedily swallowed up; but we cried unto the Lord in our trouble, and he brought us unto a quiet haven. Can we ever forget his wonderful works? We were sore sick; our soul abhorred all manner of meat, and we drew near to the gates of the grave; but the good Physician came, and restored us from all our sicknesses just when death stared us in the face. Beloved brothers and sisters, I feel certain that I can appeal to many of you, and say that you were in such a plight as this when the Lord revealed himself to you. Such was your distress, and the abject condition in which you were, that, for you to forget what the Lord did for you would be such base ingratitude that I cannot believe that it is possible. Surely, you feel that you must remember him, and that sooner might a woman forget her sucking child than that you should forget the wonderful works which the Lord your God hath wrought for you.
Besides this, the Lord took care that his wonderful works should be remembered by putting them an record in the Scriptures. The five Books of Moses, the Pentateuch, are the divinely-inspired record of the wonderful works which God did for his people in the very early times of the world’s history. The pen of inspiration was carefully employed in order that what God had done might be written down for all future generations to read. This blessed Book has made the wonderful works of God to be remembered for all time; it was written for that very purpose. It tells the unique story of the eternal love of God to us; it also tells us the wonderful story of love incarnate in the Christ of Bethlehem, and further tells us how he died, and how he rose again, and how he lives in heaven to plead for us as our great Intercessor before the throne. Let us bless him more and more for these sacred pages in which he makes his wonderful works to be remembered; and I venture to suggest to you beloved, that it is well, when God performs any work of mercy for you, that you should cause it to be remembered in a similar way. Much of God’s praise is never made known on this earth for want of a ready pen to record the gracious experiences of his people. The keeping of a diary is very apt to lead to a stilted form of piety. If a man feels that he must put something down every days, he is very liable to put down that which is not true. He may think it is true even when it is really false. But the recording of the many special mercies that we receive from God appears to me to be a duty which we owe to our age, and also to our successors. If some of the wonderful deliverances, which are recorded in the biographies of the saints, had not been jotted down at the time, we should have been great losers; and if we have anything worth recording — and I think we have — even if we do not care to write it down to be seen by the public eye, yet, at least, let us record it for the sake of the little circle in which we live and move, that, peradventure, some of our descendants, or some of our friends, may gather comfort from our personal experience of God’s mercy. “He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered.” Let us act in harmony with this grand design, and preserve the memory of the Lord’s great goodness to us.
Moreover, in order to preserve the memory of his wonderful works, God was pleased to command his people to teach their children to remember what he had done for them. In addition to the inspired records, he told them to make their children’s memories into books of remembrance. Jewish fathers were commanded to call their children together, and tell them how the Lord brought them out of Egypt, how he led them through the wilderness, and how he gave them the land of Canaan to be their own possession. They were to teach their children, and their children’s children, the wonderful story of the Lord’s dealings with them; and we ought to be concerned to hand down, from father to son, the memory of God’s great goodness to us. Tell your own children, if you cannot tell anyone else, what God has done for their father. Sitting around the fire in the evening, your children might often be, not merely interested, but instructed and impressed by the narrative of God’s providential dealings with you. Possibly, the story might not read well in print; but never mind that, for there will be an interest about it to your own household; so, be sure that you tell it. My memory recalls, at this very moment, many a pleasing incident from what my grandsire told me concerning his early struggles in the ministry, and the providential interpositions of God on his behalf. Perhaps he might as well have written them down, but he did not; I think that, possibly, he knew that he had a living book within his grandchild’s brain, and that the boy might, in after days, tell out to others what his grandsire had told to him. At any rate, I do earnestly exhort all Christians to make God’s wonderful works to be remembered wherever they can, and do it specially by telling to your children what you have experienced of his goodness. Do not die, O ye greyheads, — ye who have passed your threescore years and ten, — do not pass away from this earth with all those pleasant memories of God’s lovingkindness to be buried with you in your coffin; but let your children, and your children’s children, know what the everlasting God did for you.
Once more, in order to make his wonderful works to be remembered. the Lord was pleased to institute certain ordinances to keep them in the minds of his people. To preserve the memory of the deliverance out of Egypt, there was the significant rite of the passover. On that night when God brought his people out of the house of bondage, it was the blood of the paschal lamb that protected each house that was sprinkled with it, and so Israel ever afterwards kept the passover in memory of that night when God said, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” And you know how our blessed Redeemer has given us the institution of the Lord’s supper, saying, “This do in remembrance of me,” — that the atonement, that great master-fact of the Christian religion, might always be fresh upon our memories, and Christ be set forth visibly crucified among us as though it were but yesterday; for, if anything may be forgotten, it must not be Gethsemane, and Gabbatha, and Calvary. Beloved, take care that you attend carefully to that sacred memorial. If I am addressing any true believers in Christ, who, nevertheless, have hitherto been disobedient to their Lord’s command, “This do in remembrance of me,” I would solemnly ask them to be disobedient no longer. I am sure, beloved, you miss a great privilege, and I am equally sure that you are omitting a very sacred duty by not obeying your Lord’s command. If it is right for you, as a believer in Christ, to stay away from your Master’s table, it is also right for me, and right for all God’s servants; if we all did so, there would be no celebration of the Lord’s supper anywhere; and, so, that which our Saviour, in his divine wisdom, instituted for a memorial, would cease to be. Perhaps you say that you are not a church-member; if so, I reply that, if you are a Christian, you ought to be a member of Christ’s visible church on earth; for, if you have a right not to be a member, I have a right not to be one, and so have all the people of God; and, so, the Church of God, as an organization in the world, would cease to exist. Who is to maintain the ministry of the Word? Who is to keep up the ordinances of God’s house if all his people break up into separate grains of sand instead of being living stones built up into his spiritual temple? “He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered;” so, join with him in that sacred purpose, and, in observing the ordinances instituted by your Lord, set forth, in your baptism, your death, burial, and resurrection with him; and, in the memorial supper, show forth his death until he come.
Thus I have shown you how God has made his wonderful works to be remembered, and I press it upon the heart and conscience of all the Lord’s people to see that their memory be happily burdened with the recollection of God’s mercy. Study diligently, in the Biblical record, what he did in the olden time. Learn, from Church History, what he has done from the days of Christ’s sojourn upon the earth until now. But especially recollect what he has done for you, and often say, “Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.” Abundantly utter the memory of God’s great goodness. The Lord’s children should not be dumb. Worldlings are noisy enough in praising their false gods; often, they make night hideous, and startle us from our sleep as they sing the songs of Bacchus, or Mars, or other heathen deities. Then, shall the children of God be silent, and allow his mercies to lie forgotten in unthankfulness? Nay, nay; but write the record of them upon your doors, let it be seen upon the walls of your houses, publish the glad news wherever you go, tell it even to unwilling ears, and say, again and again, “The Lord is good, and his mercy endureth for ever; I can speak with confidence upon this matter, for in my experience I have proved it to be so.” Facts like these are among the best arguments to silence infidel doubts and Satanic temptations. Tell the sceptics what God has done for you, and ask them whether unbelief can work such wonders for them. You, poor widow, with your seven little children, tell them how you took your troubles to the Lord, and be helped you, so that you know that there is a God, for you rested, and your family rested, upon him, in your great sorrow, and he upheld and delivered you. Tell them you who have been sick, and in poverty, and who cried unto God, and he helped you, — tell them that you know that there is a God that heareth prayer. Tell them — you who are rejoicing in God with joy unspeakable, and who often feel so happy that you scarcely can bear the great delight, — tell them that God still lifts up the light of his countenance upon his people; and if they sneer at you, tell them that you are as honest as they are, and that they have as much reason to believe your word as you have to believe theirs. Pit your experience against their arguments; lay your facts over against their fallacies; and, in this way, you shall become valiant soldiers for the truth as it is in Jesus.
II. Now, secondly, IT IS WISDOM ON OUR PART TO REMEMBER THESE WONDERFUL WORKS OF THE LORD, for the effect upon our minds will be useful in many ways.
First, it will assure us of the Lord’s mercy and compassion. Read the next sentence of the text: “The Lord is gracious and full of compassion;” — gracious, that is, to the sinful; full of compassion, that is, to the weak and to the sorrowful. If we keep in remembrance the wonderful works of God, our experience will prove the truth of the text. How gracious the Lord was to sinful Israel! When they rebelled against him, and murmured at him, he still wrought great wonders for them; he fed them with manna from heaven; and brought them flesh to eat, and guided them by his fiery-cloudy pillar. He would not let their sin turn away his grace, but he still loved them. Does not your life, beloved, prove to you that God is very gracious to you, forgiving your sin, overlooking your infirmities, and bearing long with you? I want you to notice that it has been so in your own life; because, then, when you meet with a poor trembling sinner, you can say to him, or to her, “I know that God is very gracious, for he has been gracious to me;” you can tell the man with a troubled conscience that Christ can ease it, for he has eased yours. You can tell how your great sin was taken away by Christ’s great atonement; and you can comfort those who are burdened, and bowed down, by saying, “He did all this for me; and though, to my shame, I have to confess that I have often grieved him, he has never left me, nor forsaken me. Even when I have lost the light of his countenance, through my own fault, yet, when I have mourned over my guilt, he has beamed upon me again. In great mercy has he dealt with me, and he has been wonderfully gracious to me.” Such testimony as that will be a great encouragement to others; as they hear what the Lord has done for you, they will be led by the Spirit of God to turn to him that the like favour may be displayed towards them.
Recollect also the great compassion of the Lord. I hope your own life has shown you how very tender he is towards those who trust him, even as the psalmist says, “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.” I can recollect how, in a time of terrible depression of spirit and of intense anguish of pain, I cast myself upon my God with that text in my mouth. I said to him, “O Lord, I am thy child; and if any child, of mine were pained as I am, and I could take away his pain, I would do so. Thou art my Father; prove thy fatherliness by easing me, or else by strengthening my frail spirit to endure all this agony.” I can even now recall the wonderful relief that came over both body and mind when I had pleaded like that before God; and I, therefore, speak with confidence of his fulness of compassion, for I have tried it, and proved it for myself, and I invite all who are bowed down to do as I did. Some of you may be in great distress of mind, — a distress out of which no fellow-creature can deliver you, — you poor nervous people at whom others often laugh. I can assure you that God will not laugh at you; he knows all about that sad complaint of yours, so I urge you to go to him, for the experience of many of us has taught us that “the Lord is gracious and full of compassion.” As a mother comforteth her children, so will he comfort you. He will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax; so go to him in all the weakness of your deep contrition, and you shall find a mother’s heart in the bosom of Jesus, something more tender than a man’s heart could ever be. Flee away to your God this very hour; our own experience leads us to urge you to do so, does it not, brothers and sisters in Christ? If this were the time and place, and we could turn this service into an experience meeting, would not many of you rise, and say, “It is even so,” as you remembered God’s wonderful works to you? Would you not say, “Yes, truly he is the God of grace, gracious and full of compassion”?
The next effect that this remembrance will have on our mind is this. It will make us consider and acknowledge the divine bounty to us throughout all our lives. Observe what the psalmist says next: “He hath given meat unto them that fear him.” Now, as we recollect that, — as the Israelites might have recollected how they had abundance of food even in the wilderness, — we shall be led to think of what poor creatures we must be to be so dependent upon our God. We should not have been alive if he had not fed us. How poor we all are in our natural condition! I heard one say of another, who had grown to be a rich man, — and it was said in a wicked, envious spirit, — “I recollect the time when he had not two shirts to his back;” and I said to him, “And your mother recollects the time when you. had not one.” There is not much for the richest man to boast of; men glory in their possessions, and they talk of others, who are poor, as though they were to be despised. There is not a man alive who has not had to be indebted to God for the breath in his nostrils. We owe everything to him; and in looking back upon our spiritual career, we have to say, “He hath given meat unto them that fear him.” We have had to receive from the Lord the daily food that our souls have required; in temporal things and in spiritual, we have been pensioners at his gate, — beggars wholly dependent upon his bounty. We have not been able to provide for ourselves one morsel of the bread of heaven. The Lord has had to give us all that we have had all through our whole life, both physically and spiritually. He has not only given meat to his people once or twice, but all their lives. The bread you eat to nourish your body, and the spiritual food whereon your soul has been fed, have been continually given to you. Have you ever counted how many meals you have eaten from the first day until now? Have you ever thought of the great store of spiritual food that you have received from the Lord? The queen of Sheba was astonished at the provision that Solomon made for his household for a single day; but oh, what wonderful provision Christ has made for you! He has given you, spiritually, his flesh to eat, and his blood to drink. He has given you, even in superabundance, the riches of his grace, and he will, in due time, give you the riches of his glory. Do not fail to recollect his wonderful works, in order that, while you realize your absolute dependence upon him, you may also see how he has continually supplied all your needs, so that you have lacked nothing from the first day even until now. He has prepared a table before you in the presence of your enemies, and he has made you to lie down in green pastures, and led you beside the still waters.
Recollect, too, the circumstances under which some of you have been fed. It was a great wonder when God furnished a table in the wilderness; and it has been a wonder, to some of you, where your daily bread has come from, has it not? I can look back upon the past history of some of you, and note how trying your circumstances have been; yet all your real needs have been supplied. You often woke up in the morning, feeling very much like the little birds that do not know where their breakfast is to be found; but I hope that you, like the little birds, began to sing even before you found your breakfast, for you did find it. I love, in the winter, to see the robins sit on the bare boughs, and yet sing. It is easy enough to sing in springtime when all the birds are singing; but it is not so easy to sit on the bare boughs, and still praise the Lord; still, you should do even that, for you have been fed up till now, have you not? You know that ancient promise, “Bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure;” and that promise has been fulfilled in your experience. Sometimes, perhaps, you have attended a ministry where your soul has been well-nigh starved, and you have not known where to look for the spiritual meat that you needed to make you grow. Yet, you are still alive, for the Lord Jesus has himself fed you. “Not by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God,” has your soul been nourished; so, bless him, and praise his holy name, this very hour, and let not the memory of his great goodness ever be forgotten by you.
Then recollect, dear brethren, the variety of supplies that you have had. “He hath given meat to them that fear him;” — all sorts of spiritual meat has he given to you. When you were a child, you fed upon the simple doctrines of the Word; but, since then, your Lord has given you strong meat that you may become a man in Christ Jesus. In all conditions, you have had food convenient for you. At some stages of your spiritual history, it was not every ministry that could meet your wants. You could not listen with profit to this man or that; but the Lord himself fed you with his Word, and many a choice morsel you had while you were reading your morning chapter, and it seemed as if every verse in that chapter had been written specially for you, or as if the ink were still wet upon the page, and that the love-letter came to you fresh from your dear Father’s hand. Thus has he, many a time, given meat to you who fear him. Blessed be his holy name, not one good thing has failed of all that he has promised. Have ye ever lacked anything? Has your Lord been a wilderness unto you, — a land of barrenness? No; you have dwelt in a land flowing with milk and honey, and you have been fed to the full. Do not forget this, but tell the story of it to others. Tell it to your poorer neighbours; tell it to poor saints when they are in low water; tell it to the poor distressed children of God who cannot feed upon the Word; tell them that their Heavenly Father will never let them die of starvation, for God, who feeds the ravens and the sparrows, will surely not allow his own children to starve.
There is another thing to be learnt from the memory of God’s goodness. It is intended to certify us of his faithfulness. “He will ever be mindful of his covenant,” is the last clausa of our text. The Lord never forgot the covenant he made with Abraham. Often, when he might, otherwise, have destroyed Israel, he recollected that covenant, and he turned aside his wrath; and do you think he will ever forget the covenant which he has made with his only-begotten Son, — a covenant signed, and sealed, and ratified, “in all things ordered well,” — a covenant confirmed by the sacrifice of his well-beloved Son, — a covenant which he signed with his own blood, and which is to stand fast for ever and ever? No, he cannot be false to his oath; he cannot lie; he must perform what he hath promised. “Hath he said, and shall he not do it?” All the past history of our lives goes to show that God is faithful, and will be faithful even to the end. I have never met with a child of God, whose experience did not go to confirm the fidelity of God. “Ye are my witnesses,” saith the Lord; and if he were to call me into the witness-box, and I may say that, if he were to call many of you, your witness would be very straightforward — very plain, — very clear, — very definite. You would say, “He keeps his covenant for ever and ever.” He is not forgetful of the pledge which he gave to David, and to David’s Lord; therefore, go forward with unwavering confidence in him; doubt not, nor be discouraged, but rejoice in him, and trust him evermore.
The last thing that this memory of God’s wonderful works ought to do for us is to make us praise him. This Psalm begins with, “Praise ye the Lord,” and it finishes up with “His praise endureth for ever.” Well, beloved, the memory of his great goodness is intended to make us praise him for ever and ever, so let us begin to do it at once. Do not go out of this place sorrowful; let your recollection of God’s goodness move you to praise him. If you have no present cause for joy, so far as you can see, think of the past mercies that you have received. If everything looks gloomy on ahead, recollect how the Lord has helped you in all the steps you have already trodden. Give him a grateful song this very hour. Smooth those wrinkles from your brow. Let your eyelids no longer hang down with heaviness, but say in your soul, “The Lord hath dealt well with his servants, according to his Word; therefore will we praise him with our whole heart in the assembly of the upright, and in the congregation.” I frequently exhort you to praise the Lord because I feel how needful it is, and because we shall soon be in heaven; and, therefore, it is well to be holding frequent rehearsals here of that which is to be our everlasting song.
Now I turn to the unconverted, and say, — Dear friends, from our own experience, we can tell you that, to serve God is a blessed thing He is a grand Master; there is none like him. He makes his servants blessed for ever. He never leaves them, nor forsakes them; therefore, come, and put your trust in him. Hide yourself under the shadow of his wings; and, then, you too shall be able to say, even as we do, “He is faithful; his mercy endureth for ever.” God bless you, for Christ’s sake! Amen.