Hear my prayer, O LORD; let my cry for help come before You.
I. EARNEST PRAYER. (Vers. 1, 2.) There is an ascending scale, reaching to a climax.
1. That the Lord would hear. "Hear, O Lord."
2. For close access. "Let my cry come unto thee." Do not hear me from afar, but come near to me.
3. For gracious hearing. "Hide not thy face," etc.; when I see thee, let not thy face be averted, but graciously turned to me.
4. For attentive hearing. "Incline thine ear;" as one anxious to hear bends down his ear, that he may more easily hear what is said.
5. For prompt reply. "Answer me speedily;" let there be no long delay. It is a blessed thing when our troubles and distresses lead us to God in prayer, and in prayer thus earnest and believing.
II. SAD COMPLAINT. There are nine verses of this (vers. 3-11). They tell of:
1. The swift approach of death. (Ver. 3.) As fuel in fierce heat and flame is swiftly consumed, so is it with his life.
2. Of his bitter sorrow. (Ver. 4.) All its strength and joy smitten, as is the grass with the sun-stroke, so that he cares not to live, forgets to eat bread.
3. His wasted form. He is worn as a skeleton, his bones cleave to his flesh.
5. His cruel enemies. (Ver. 8.) These, when they curse, point to him as an example of misery; when they would imprecate vengeance on any, they ask that those whom they curse may be wretched as the psalmist.
6. His abiding and unrelieved sorrow. (Ver. 9.) It mingles with all his food.
7. The cause of it. The Divine displeasure. "God's wrath has seized and hurled him aloft, only to cast him, as worthless, away" (cf. Isaiah 22:18).
8. The result of it all. Death is close at hand. Not improbably some exile dying far away in Babylon poured forth this bitter complaint. As the groans of a sick man are a relief, so is the outpouring of our trouble to God a relief to the burdened heart. It is ever well so to do. But now, out of these depths comes -
III. DIVINE COMFORT. There are eleven verses of this (vers. 12-22). And this comfort is drawn:
1. From the remembrance of the eternal God. (Ver. 12.) God does not die, though man does; God lives to carry on his work when men pass away.
2. The conviction that Zion's redemption is at hand. (Ver. 13.) He gathers this from the fact that the minds of the people of God were turned to the fallen Jerusalem (cf. Nehemiah 1-2:3). There were probably many conferences and much interest and prayer in regard to Zion (ver. 14); and the psalmist recognizes in all this one of the evidences that God's set time to be gracious to Zion has come.
3. The anticipation of the blessed results that shall follow on Zion's restoration. (Vers. 15, 16.) This is ever the harbinger of the world's conversion.
4. His grateful sense of the exceeding goodness of God which is to be made manifest (vers. 17-22). He thinks of the destitute, of the prisoner groaning in his misery, of those appointed unto death, and of the blessed help and deliverance that shall come to them all, and his heart leaps up in praise. But next we see -
IV. SADNESS SEEKING TO COME BACK AGAIN. (Ver. 23.) As is the way of sadness, it haunts the soul, and, though banished awhile, it will return. It was so with the psalmist. The remembrance of his own sore trouble comes over him again, and he bursts out in this piteous lament, "He weakened my strength in the way," etc., and he cries, "O my God, take me not away," etc. But God does not leave him; such holy troubled souls never are left. We next see -
V. SADNESS AGAIN DRIVEN AWAY. (Vers. 25-28.) His trust is restored; for:
1. He remembers the eternal God. This had been his comfort before (vers. 1, 2); and now it comes to his help once more. "Thou art the same, and thy years," etc. (ver. 27). And then he thinks of:
2. His children. They shall be established before God (ver. 28). And so the light again ariseth in the darkness. - S.C.
I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes.etc. It is well-known advice — but can it be bettered?
(Free Church Record.)
I hate the work of them that turnI. DESCRIBE THEIR CHARACTER. The phrase, "turn aside," denotes three things —
1. That there exists a way, path, or road in which we have to go.
2. That we have been in that way.
3. That there has been an awful departure from it.(1) Some turn aside cowardly (Numbers 21:4).(2) Some turn aside incautiously (1 Samuel 12:23). Bunyan's Pilgrim, with his companion Hopeful, wandered into the grounds of Giant Despair, and ultimately found themselves in the dungeons of Doubting Castle. He discovered a stile which led into a meadow, where was a footpath that seemed to run parallel with the high-road; into this path he went, thinking that it would prove easier for his feet. Let this illustrate what is meant to be conveyed by the term turning aside incautiously.(3) Others turn aside courteously and complaisantly.(4) Some turn aside through unwatchfulness (Matthew 26:41).
II. ILLUSTRATE THEIR WORK.
1. An evil work (Jeremiah 2:19).
2. A disgraceful and dishonourable work (Proverbs 14:34). What a disgraceful reflection it is upon the wisdom and economy of a man who begins to build, and is not able to finish! (Luke 14:28-30). How scandalous to forsake God, and associate with the devil; to exchange Christ for Belial, light for darkness, truth for error, liberty for bondage, heaven for hell!
3. It is a diabolical work; because it displays more of the devil than any other engagement pertaining to earth. It is following the example which apostate fiends have set. What was their original transgression but turning aside?
4. It is a ruinous work (Hebrews 10:28, 29).
III. EXHIBIT THE ABHORRENCE OF THE PSALMIST.
1. Our hatred of this work should be sincere.
2. It should be publicly professed. Though the Christian ought to avoid the very appearance of ostentation, there are times when silence or neutrality would be highly criminal.
3. It should be constantly and cordially cherished. Pray that you may increase in the love of God; for in proportion as you love God, you will hate evil. Meditate also on the tremendous consequences which will not fail to follow.
4. It should be practically exemplified. Do not forget how possible it is for those who now profess to detest the evil, by slow, and almost, imperceptible, degrees to become familiarized with it, and ultimately being led to practise that which now they hate. David fell into this snare. Also Peter. How frail is human nature! Exemplify your detestation of the evil in question, by attending to the injunction of the apostle (Philippians 3:16). Persevere in the good way.
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