So we say with confidence: "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?"
Psalm 118:6. Three distinct, yet closely related topics for meditation are suggested.
I. MAN'S NEED OF HELP. What a dependent creature is man! Mark this in the different stages of his life.
1. How utterly helpless in infancy!
2. How needy in youth! Instruction, direction, counsel, support, are indispensable to youthful life, if it is to grow into usefulness unto men and acceptability unto God.
3. How dependent in manhood! No one is independent. Even the wealthiest, the wisest, the mightiest, cannot stand alone. We need help
(1) from each other. "We are members one of another." "The members should have the same care one for another" (cf. 1 Corinthians 13.) We need help
(2) from God. "He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things... for in him we live, and move, and have our being." It was truly said by Fenelon, "God has but to withdraw his hand which bears us, to plunge us back into the abyss of our nothingness, as a stone suspended in the air fails by its own weight the moment it ceases to be held."
4. How imbecile in old age! This is often a "second childhood," a season of almost complete dependence upon others both physically and mentally.
5. There are times, when man specially feels his need of help. In affliction we feel our need of patience; in sorrow, of consolation; in perplexity, of guidance, etc.
II. GOD'S PROVISION OF HELP. God has put it into our hearts to help each other. Many are the ways in which this is done; e.g. by sympathy, by counsel, by gifts, etc. But God himself is the great Helper. A helper does not do everything for us. He supplements our weakness with his strength; our ignorance and inexperience with his wisdom. We must do our part, and he will not fail in his. Consider what a glorious Helper God is.
1. He is all-sufficient. His wisdom is infinite. The treasures of his grace are inexhaustible. It is conceivable that the sun, after the lapse of many and vast ages, may become dark and cold, or that the waters of old ocean may be drank up; but it is impossible and inconceivable that the infinite resources of our Divine Helper should ever fail.
2. He is ever-available. We cannot seek him and discover that he is inaccessible to us. We cannot approach him inopportunely. He is "a very present Help in trouble." "Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me."
3. He is ever-gracious. His willingness to help is as great and as constant as his ability. Man varies in his moods: today he is genial and kind, to-morrow he is cold and harsh. But God is ever merciful, ever disposed to help and bless his creatures.
III. THE BELIEVER'S ASSURANCE OF THE HELP OF GOD. "So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my Helper; I will not fear: what shall man do unto me?"
1. This confidence rests upon the promise of God. "He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (ver. 5). His promises are perfectly reliable. "God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man," etc. (Numbers 23:19). "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away" "The Scripture cannot be broken." "He abideth faithful; for he cannot deny himself." His promise, then, is an immovable basis for our confidence.
2. This confidence inspires the courage of the believer. "The Lord is my Helper; I will not fear: what shall man do unto me?" The man over whom God casts his shield is invulnerable. "If God be for us, who can be against us?" "Who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?" No crafty foe can elude the vigilance of his eye; no subtle scheme can surprise his infinite mind; no strong antagonist can cope with his almighty arm. If he is our Helper, man cannot injure us. If he is our Helper, our resources cannot fail. If he is our Helper, we may pursue our life-path chanting cheerfully, "God is our Refuge and Strength, a very present Help in trouble," etc. (Psalm 46.). - W.J.
The Lord is my helper.I. THE CHEERFUL PROFESSION OF CONFIDENCE IN GOD AGAINST ALL OPPOSITION, AND IN THE MIDST OF ALL DISTRESSES, IS THAT WHICH BELIEVERS HAVE A WARRANT FOR IN THE PROMISES THAT ARE MADE UNTO THEM.
II. AS THE USE OF THIS CONFIDENCE IS OUR DUTY, SO IT IS A DUTY HIGHLY HONOURABLE UNTO THE PROFESSION OF THE GOSPEL.
III. BELIEVERS MAY USE THE SAME CONFIDENCE THAT DAVID USED, SEEING THEY HAVE THE SAME GROUNDS OF IT THAT DAVID HAD. For outward circumstances alter not the state of things as unto faith or duty.
IV. THAT ALL BELIEVERS, IN THEIR SUFFERINGS, AND UNDER THEIR PERSECUTIONS, HAVE A REFRESHING SUPPORTING INTEREST IN DIVINE AID AND ASSISTANCE. For the promises hereof are made unto them all equally in their suffering state, even as they were unto the prophets and apostles of old.
V. IT IS THEIR DUTY TO EXPRESS WITH CONFIDENCE AND BOLDNESS, AT ALL TIMES, THEIR ASSURANCE OF THE DIVINE ASSISTANCE DECLARED IN THE PROMISES, TO THEIR OWN ENCOURAGEMENT, THE EDIFICATION OF THE CHURCH, AND THE TERROR OF THEIR ADVERSARIES (Philippians 1:28).
VI. FAITH DULY FIXED ON THE POWER OF GOD, AS ENGAGED FOR THE ASSISTANCE OF BELIEVERS IN THEIR SUFFERINGS, WILL GIVE THEM A CONTEMPT OF ALL THAT MEN CAN DO UNTO THEM.
VII. THE MOST EFFECTUAL MEANS TO ENCOURAGE OUR SOULS IN ALL OUR SUFFERINGS, IS TO COMPARE THE POWER OF GOD WHO WILL ASSIST US, AND THAT OF MAN WHO DOTH OPPRESS US (Matthew 10:28).
VIII. THAT WHICH IN OUR SUFFERINGS DELIVERETH US FROM THE FEAR OF MEN, TAKES OUT ALL THAT IS EVIL IN THEM, AND SECURES OUR SUCCESS.
(John Owen, D. D.)1. These have their enemies, signified by the word Man, "what man may do against me."
2. These men being enemies do much against them, or at least attempt to do much; for wicked men together with the devil are great enemies to Christ's kingdom and His subjects. The devil designs their spiritual, the wicked their temporal ruin; and the design of the one is subservient to the other. The devil makes use of temporal persecutions to shake their faith; both hate the Church and thrust sore at it.
3. Yet God is with them, stands for them, helps them, strengthens and protects them, and gives them safety in the midst of danger, joy in the midst of sorrow, bread in the midst of famine.
4. If God be with them, for them, and their help, they need not fear anything, no, not the worst that man can do unto them, but may be confident of safety and deliverance; they need not much desire the best things of the world, nor fear the worst.
5. They may think, believe, say, and be assured, that God is their help. And so much the rather, because God hath promised that He will not leave or forsake them at any time, and why should they be covetous or fearful, there is no cause of either.
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