Let destruction come on him at unawares; and let his net that he has hid catch himself: into that very destruction let him fall.
The words contain a petition for a benediction. The supplicant is a king, and his humble suit is to the King of kings: the king of Israel prays to the King of heaven and earth. He doth beg two things: —
1. That God would save him.
2. That God would certify him of it. So that the text may be distributed accordingly into salvation, and the assurance of it. The matter is assurance; the manner, how assured: "Say unto my soul."
I. FROM THE MATTER, OR ASSURANCE, observe —
1. That salvation may be made sure to a man. David would never pray for that which could not be. Nor would St. Peter charge us with a duty which stood not in possibility to be performed (2 Peter 1:10). "Make your election sure." Paul directly proves it (2 Corinthians 13:5), "Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?" We may then know that Christ is in us.
2. That the best saints have desired to make their salvation sure. David that knew it, yet entreats to know it more (Psalm 41:11). "I know thou favourest me;" yet here still, "Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation." A man can never be too sure of his going to heaven. If we purchase an estate here, we make it as sure, and our tenure as strong, as the brawn of the law or the brains of the lawyer can devise. Now from this desire of David we draw matter —
(1) Of consolation. Even he desired better assurance. Sometimes a dear saint may want feeling of the spirit of comfort. But God doth sometimes hide from men this comfort — to extend their desires, to enlarge their joys when they shall again find the consolation they thought lost. To try whether we will serve God gratis, though we get nothing for it (Job 1:9). To make us more careful of this comfort when we have it.
(2) Of reprehension to others who are thinking all is well when it is not so.
(3) Of instruction, teaching us to keep the even way of comfort; eschewing both the rock of presumption on the right hand, and the gulf of desperation on the left. Let us neither be over-bold nor over-fainting, but endeavour by faith to assure ourselves of Jesus Christ, and by repentance to assure ourselves of faith, and by an amended life to assure ourselves of repentance. For they must here live to God's glory that would hereafter live in God's glory.
3. In the next place, observe the means how we may come by this assurance. This is discovered in the text, "Say unto my soul."
4. Such assurance is the sweetest comfort that can come to a man in this life. There is no potion of misery so embittered with gall but this can sweeten it with a comfortable relish. When enemies assault us, get us under, triumph over us, imagining that salvation itself cannot save us, what is our comfort? "I know whom I have believed;" I am sure the Lord will not forsake me. What state can there be wherein the stay of this heavenly assurance gives us not peace and joy?
II. THE MANNER. "Say unto my soul." God bath spoken —
1. By His own voice (Genesis 3:8; Deuteronomy 4:15; John 12:28; 2 Peter 1:17).
2. By His works (Psalm 19:1).
3. By His Son (Hebrews 1:1).
4. By the Scriptures (Romans 15:4). Oh that we had hearts to bless God for His mercy, that the Scriptures are among us, and that not sealed up under an unknown tongue!
5. God speaks by His ministers, expounding and opening to us those Scriptures. These are dispensers of the mysteries of heaven. This voice is continually sounding in our churches, beating upon our ears; I would it could pierce our consciences, and that our lives would echo to it in an answerable obedience. How great should be our thankfulness! Let us not say of this blessing, as Lot of Zoar, "Is it not a little one?" nor be weary of manna with Israel, lest God's voice grow dumb unto us, and, to our woe, we hear it speak no more. No, rather let our hearts answer with Samuel (1 Samuel 3:10), "Speak, Lord, for thy servants hear." If we will not hear Him say to our souls, "I am your salvation," we shall hear Him say, "Depart from Me, I know you not."
6. God speaks by His Spirit: this "Spirit beareth witness with our spirit," etc. Perhaps this is that "voice behind us" (Isaiah 30:21), as it were, whispering to our thoughts, "This is the way, walk in it." It is the Church's prayer (Song of Solomon 1:2). The Holy Ghost is the kiss of God the Father. Whom God kisseth, He loveth. Now by all these ways doth God speak peace to our consciences, and say to our souls that He is our salvation: "I am thy salvation." — The petition is ended. I will but look into the benediction, wherein I should consider these four circumstances: Who, What, To whom, When. Who? — The Lord. He alone can (Hosea 13:9). What? — Salvation. A special good thing: every man's desire, though he be running hellward. Man would be blessed, though he takes the course to be cursed. I will give thee a lordship, saith God to Esau. I will give thee a kingdom, said God to Saul. I will give thee an apostleship, saith God to Judas. But, I will be thy salvation, He says to David, and to none but saints. To Whom? — My soul. Not others' only, but mine. When? — In time present. "I am." To conclude: it is salvation our prophet desires. Not riches. He that prefers riches before his soul doth but sell the horse to buy the saddle, or kill a good horse to catch a hare. He begs not honour: many have leapt from the high throne to the low pit. The greatest commander on earth hath not a foot of ground in heaven, except he can get it by entitling himself to Christ. He desires not pleasures; he knows there are as great miseries beyond prosperity as on this side it. And that all vanity is but the indulgence of the present time; a minute begins, continues, ends it: for it endures but the acting, and leaves no solace in the memory. In the fairest garden of delights there is somewhat that stings in the midst of all vain contents. The Christian seeks "that better part which shall never be taken from him."
Parallel VersesKJV: Let destruction come upon him at unawares; and let his net that he hath hid catch himself: into that very destruction let him fall.