Psalm 143:9
Thus does the psalmist set forth the soul's swift flight to its sure shelter in God. The man who wrote this psalm was evidently one who had been greatly tried; but when we see the blessed help that has come to myriad souls through the records of his experiences, we are taught thereby one reason at least for the trials of the people of God. Now, here -

I. WE HAVE A GOODLY EXAMPLE. That in all our troubles we should flee to God to hide us. Now, in order to this:

1. We must see our need of such shelter. We shall never do as did the psalmist, unless, like him, we see and feel the great danger we are in. Our text is the language of one who realizes his peril. This, in regard to things of the soul, is what so many fail to do. They cannot be got to believe that there is any need wherefore they should trouble themselves. Hence, as in the days of Noah, men went on in their wonted ways, although solemnly and repeatedly warned, until the Flood came and swept them all away. And thus indifferent and unbelieving the mass of men are still. But he who is awakened by God's grace to the reality of things will clearly see his need of shelter from the guilt of his sin, from its terrible power, and from the cruel oppression of this world's calamities and sorrows. He sees this, and therefore says, "I flee unto," etc.

2. He sees also his own weakness. He would not flee if he could fight with any hope of success; or if he knew how to protect himself from the evils which he fears, or had resources of which he could avail himself. But it is because he knows all this is impossible to him, therefore he flees unto God.

3. He has implicit and unlimited confidence in God. He believed that God was both able and willing to save him, and that God would be well pleased that he should flee to him, which he might do if he would. He felt that all would be well with him were he once sheltered within the cleft of the Rock, hidden in the secret place of the Most High. He was quite sure that to betake himself there was his truest wisdom, even as it was his settled resolve.

4. He realizes that his need is urgent. "I flee unto thee," etc. No time was to be lost; he might not delay having recourse to God. "The Name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe." So would he run into the strong shelter of God.

5. His trust in God is real and active. Thousands of men talk of finding refuge in God, but they never set out to find it. But the psalmist's religion was a reality to him; he got real blessing and help out of it; he had evidently often found a sure retreat and hiding-place from all evil in God. Ah! how much we lose by not doing the things that we say! by letting professions serve instead of practice! This man actually fled away to God.

II. THE SUGGESTED AND SADLY TOO COMMON CONTRAST, Every word in the text reminds us of the different conduct which is so commonly seen. For example:

1. Many will recommend others to flee unto God; but they never do so themselves. They cannot say, "/flee unto thee." This is why so many sermons are so ineffectual. The people who hear them feel that the preacher knows nothing experimentally of what he is talking about.

2. Or, if they do not refuse to go, their going is very slow. There is all too little of fleeing unto God. We take things far too easy for that. John the Baptist might preach, "Flee from the wrath to come!" but how few heeded what he said! And so it is still. Men do not believe that there is any need to escape as for their life; and hence, with all leisure, and often listlessness, they proceed in regard to their salvation.

3. And many when in trouble flee away from, rather than unto, God. They plunge into business, into pleasure, into sin; they harden themselves in unbelief; they set themselves defiantly against God.

4. Others flee to all manner of substitutes for God. "Take away her battlements; they are not the Lord's!" so said the Prophet Jeremiah, concerning the many refuges of lies behind which so many of his countrymen were thinking that they would find shelter. And so still, how many are thinking that in priests and sacraments, in Churches and Creeds, in religious rites and observances, they shall find help, when such help is in God alone!

5. And many will seek from God, not deliverance from spiritual evil, but rather comfort in it. They do not mind the sin so much as its discomfort, and they want God to take that away. If he will do that, they will not mind the evil thing itself. All they want is comfort. But God's will and way is to sever us from our sin, and to place us where it cannot reach us. This should be our desire, as it was his who wrote this psalm. Then alone are we blessed.

III. OUR SUPREME WISDOM. For to do as is here said is nothing less; we then are wise unto salvation. For:

1. God is honored when we thus flee to him. How did the king in the parable feel when he had made the great supper, and all things were ready, but the invited guests began with one consent to make excuse? And God has provided for all our need. Will he not feel dishonored if we refuse, but glorified if we take what hems offered?

2. And our fellow-men will be encouraged to follow our example. "No man liveth unto himself." If any one travel truly the road to heaven, he will not want for companionship.

3. We ourselves shall be blessed indeed. Having fled unto God to hide him - guilt, sin, sorrow, death, are powerless to really harm him even now; and soon they will be unable to reach him at all. He dwells "in the secret place of the Most High, and abides under," etc. - S.C.

I flee unto Thee to hide me.
I. How? On the pinions of thought our souls often fly more swiftly than lightnings to the remotest periods and places. This power of flight is the glory of our nature; it defies granite walls and massive chains and bolts.

II. WHITHER? To Him, the eternal Source of all life, and of all good, we should ever direct our flight. We should fly to Him in all our difficulties.

III. WHY? There is danger.

(David Thomas, D. D.)

: —

I. A PERCEPTION OF DANGER. No man will flee if he is not afraid; there must be a knowledge and apprehension of danger, or there will be no flight.

1. Men perish in many instances because they have no cause of danger. The noxious air is not observed, the sunken reef is not seen, the train rushes to collision unwarned. Ignorance of danger makes the danger inevitable.

(1)Men will dare to die without fear of hell.

(2)Men will sin and have no dread of any ill consequences.

(3)Men will play with an evil habit and will not believe in its power to enslave them.

(4)Men will toy with a temptation and refuse to see how certain it is to lead them into actual wrong-doing.

2. Every man is really in danger. The sinner is asleep on the top of a mast. Young and old are both in jeopardy. Even the saints are in peril of temptation from many sources.

3. Some dangers are slowly perceived. Those connected with sweet sin, those which grow out of a boastful mind, those which are countenanced by the examples of others, etc. The more dangerous the serpent, the less likely to be seen.

4. The spiritual man is led to perceive dangers by inward monitions, by a spiritual sensitiveness which is the result of devotion, by experience, by perceptible declensions, or by observing the effect of certain things upon others.

II. A SENSE OF WEAKNESS. No man will flee for hiding if he feel able to fight the matter through in his own strength.

1. We are all weak and unable to cope with sin.

2. Some think themselves mighty men of valour, but these are among the vary weakest of the weak.

3. Past failure should teach us not to trust our own strength.

4. In a deep sense of weakness we are made strong: in fancied strength lies the worst form of weakness.

III. A PRUDENT FORESIGHT. "I flee unto Thee to hide me."

1. He would not venture into the danger or wait till it overtook him; but he took time by the forelock and fled. Often this is the highest form of courage.

2. Escape through fear is admirable prudence. It is not a mean motive; for Noah, "moved by fear, prepared an ark."

3. While we can flee we should; for time may come when we shall be unable. David says, "I flee": he means — "I am fleeing, I always do flee unto Thee, my God." A man should not live like a beast, who sees no further than the meadow in which he feeds. He should foresee evil and hide himself; for this is common prudence (Proverbs 22:3).

IV. A SOLID CONFIDENCE. "To Thee to hide me." He was sure —

1. That there was safety in God.

2. That he might flee to God.

3. That he might flee there and then.

V. AN ACTIVE FAITH. He did not lie passive, but aroused himself. This may be clearly seen —

1. In his fleeing to God. Directness, speed, eagerness.

2. In his after-prayers. "Teach me to do Thy will; lead me; quicken me."

(1)Expect your share of enemies, and prepare for them.

(2)Secure your best friend. Be reconciled to Him in Christ Jesus.

(3)Make constant use of Him. Flee to Him at all times.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

: — Never was there an eagle with reach of wing long enough, or with pinions of sufficient strength to mount so high or fly so far afield as the soul of man. God has made us so like Himself that it is impossible for the mere accidents of poverty or wealth, of physical bondage or freedom, of pleasant or unpleasant surroundings, to dictate the spiritual history of the soul. The soul dictates its own destiny. It has the power to fly from its environment and take up its abode in an entirely different atmosphere. A wicked king could shut John Bunyan up in prison at Bedford, but he could not chain his soul there. God gave him wonderful soul-flight from that little jail. Now, if we inquire into the secret of John Bunyan's joy and peace, we shall find that it was but a realization of our text. Bunyan fled from his sins to God, and found refuge in the forgiveness of God through Jesus Christ. He started low enough, for he was a poor, drunken Bedford tinker, of no account to anybody till his Christian wife prayed for him and pleaded with him, until he fled for refuge to the Cross, and lost there the burden of his sin. And that is my message; that God is a refuge for every poor sinner who will flee to Him. But the fleeing is our part. We are free men and women, and God will not drive us into the kingdom. He will give us visions of the beauty of it, He will show us His own sympathy and love, and fling wide open the doors to the city of refuge; but unless we rise up and seek the refuge, we shall perish outside.

(L. A. Banks, D. D.)

We must fly to the Lord for shelter, not to an arm of flesh. The bird flies away to the thicket, and the fox hastens to its hole; every creature uses its refuge in the hour of danger, and even so in all peril or fear of peril let us flee unto Jehovah, the Eternal Protector of His own. No moat, portcullis, drawbridge, wall, battlement or dungeon could make us so secure as we are when the Lord of Hosts environs around. Our ramparts defy the beleaguered hosts of hell. The Lord of Hosts stands between us and their fury, and all other evil forces are turned aside.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

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