Past Mercies Earnests of Future Ones
Psalm 61:3
For you have been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.

The psalmist had good ground for the determination which he cordially expresses. It is manifest that, with David, to call to mind past mercies was to expect future. He was at the very ends of 'the earth; his heart was overwhelmed; but as soon as he remembered how God had delivered and shielded him before, he was at once confident that the wings of his protection were stretched over him still. Perhaps he recollected how he had been saved from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear — how wonderfully he had been enabled to smite down the uncircumcised Philistine; and then, remembering that God was still the same God, he took courage, and felt it impossible that he could now be deserted. Let us, then, show the soundness of David's argument. If it be not sound, and God, though He once loved us and sought to do us good, doth now no longer love us, then He, the unchangeable must have changed. But is the Lord's arm shortened that He cannot save? The mercies, therefore, that memory adduces cannot have exhausted Him; otherwise He were not Almighty; nay, they actually pledge Him to assist me, otherwise He were not unchangeable. And consider St. Paul's argument: "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" The apostle here makes the great fact of human redemption — a redemption of which all men, without exception, are the subjects — a reason why God should bestow upon us whatsoever is good; or rather, an evidence that He cannot be willing to withhold from us any real benefit. And, perhaps, there is hardly the use made which there might be of the grand fact of redemption, when men are to be urged to dependence on God, or to confidence in His mercy. It is generally to God as a God of providence, rather than of salvation, that reference is made. We speak of Him as the Being who has watched over us from infancy Upwards; and we argue that He who has bestowed so many blessings Will surely not forsake us if we will trust in His protection. The argument is quite correct so far as it goes. There is no fault to be found with it, except that it does not take the highest ground. For it is not every man, who, like David, has been wondrously delivered from the vicious, uncicumcised Philistine, and who can therefore say of his Maker, "Thou hast been a shelter for me." Still every man may say this, though he may be quite unable to trace any single interposition, or speak of special instances in which he has been secured by the shelter of the Almighty — every man may say it, because he has had a share in the general providence of God, having been fed by His bounty, and guarded by His power. Every man may say it, because on his behalf — as actually on his behalf as though he had been a solitary offender — did God's own Son take on Him human nature, undergo ignominy, and die as a propitiation. The mother who has lost a child, and yet has been enabled, when that child was carried forth to the burial, to exclaim, "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord" — what right has she to be confounded or dismayed when another child seems sickening, as though it were about to die? Why should she recoil from the new trial as certainly more than she can bear, when she has the memory of support given her in her former affliction? God comforted her then; why not now? And so with other mourners and other trials. It is in this way that we would have you live over again times and seasons of extraordinary mercies, in order that you may be nerved for extraordinary trials. Christians should study the history of eminent saints, in order that, through observing what deliverances have been wrought for others, they may be encouraged to expect deliverance for themselves. There is not a converted man who has not such a book — the book of his own experience, on whose pages are inscribed the unnumbered things that God has done for himself. Its title may be said to have been written on the day of conversion, and each following page on every succeeding day. It is the history of himself, and there is a reality about it to convince, which the history of another can scarcely ever have. And note, too, the striking expression of St. Paul, "I know whom I have believed." It was no mere report or hearsay with him, that God was a merciful Father, or Christ a powerful Saviour. He had had proof, and he knew and was "persuaded that he was able to keep that," etc. He had stored in his memory evidences both of the love and might of the Redeemer to which in the hour of trial he could appeal. And if we did the like, then we should not be, as we too often are, dismayed by the prospect of any new trial, or as much disheartened by the pressure of some new burden, as though we never had experienced the supports and consolations which the Almighty can bestow. Let mercies be remembered as well as enjoyed, and they must be as lights in our dark days, and as shields in our perilous. Strive to acquire the habit of noting and recording the blessings you receive; so that you may have, as it were, books to which to refer. We care not whether or not you do what many have done — accustom yourselves to the keeping a diary in which to register the incidents of life. We are not anxious about the method, but only as to the thing. In one way or another, keep the past before you, if you would look the future calmly in the face. Every fresh discovery of God's gracious care of us will increase our admiring love, and with our love our happiness. Thus will life be to eternity what the past is now to the future, the supplying motive to a yet heartier rejoicing in the Lord our God.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.

WEB: For you have been a refuge for me, a strong tower from the enemy.

A Strong Tower
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