Do not take my soul away with sinners, or my life with men of bloodshed,
Psalm 26:8; Psalm 27:4; and Psalm 69:9! Compare the historian's record of his words to Zadok (2 Samuel 15:25), and still more in 1 Chronicles 29:2, 3." Undoubtedly, thus read and compared, the Psalms and the history mutually throw light upon and confirm each other. But in following out our plan in this section - of dealing with each psalm as a unity - we find this, as well as all the rest, furnishing material for pulpit exposition, which we could ill afford to lose. Our topic is - Assailed integrity's final appeal.
I. WE HAVE HERE THE CHARACTER OF AN UPRIGHT MAN, SKETCHED BY HIMSELF. It may not be a very wholesome exercise for a man to be engaged in - to sketch a moral portraiture of himself. Painters have often painted their own portraits; that requires but an outward gaze on one's outer self; but to delineate one's own likeness morally requires much introspection. Few can carry on much of that without becoming morbid through the process; and fewer still, perhaps, have fidelity enough to do it adequately and correctly. Yet there may be circumstances under which such abnormal work becomes even necessary (as we shall point out presently). And when such is the case, it is well if we can honestly point to such features of character and life as are presented to us here.
1. The psalmist has a goodly foundation on which his life was built up.
(1) Trust in Jehovah (ver. 1).
(2) God's loving-kindness (ver. 3).
(3) God's truth (ver. 3); i.e. God's faithfulness.
Note: That all the supports of the psalmist's integrity were outside himself. Happy is the man that, under all the circumstances of life, can stay his mind and heart on Divine faithfulness and love. If such underlying props cease to sustain, moral and spiritual worth will soon pine from lack of motive and hope. It is one of the evils of the day that some of our most popular novelists delineate religion without God.
2. The life built up on this foundation was one which may with advantage be imitated. It was a life of:
(1) Integrity (ver. 11).
(2) Straightforward progress (ver. 1). No sliding.
(3) Avoidance of evil associations (vers. 4, 5).
(4) Cultivation of holy worship, song, and thanksgiving in the sanctuary (vers. 6-8, 12).
(a) Those to whom God is the support of their life, will show a life worthy of such support.
(b) Those who most value communion with God and a life hidden with him, will most fully appreciate and most diligently cultivate that stimulus and comfort which come from mingling with God's people in the worship of the sanctuary.
II. THE MOST UPRIGHT OF MEN MAY BE MISUNDERSTOOD, UNAPPRECIATED, MISREPRESENTED, AND ASSAILED. Speaking roughly and generally, it is no doubt true that, on the whole, a man's reputation will be the reflection of what he is, and that most men go for what they are worth. And yet, so long as there are envious hearts, jealous dispositions, unbridled tongues, few can be regarded as absolutely safe from detraction and slander. Our Lord Jesus implies and even states as much as this (cf. Matthew 5:44; Matthew 10:25; Matthew 18:6, 7; John 15:18). See Peter's words (1 Peter 2:12; 1 Peter 4:14); see Paul's words (Romans 12:18, 19). Paul had to boar much in the way of depreciation from some who even denied his apostleship. Job was surrounded with "miserable comforters," who thought, by defaming him, to defend God! Such trials are hard to bear. They may arise
(1) from the occasional foibles of a good man being magnified by the slanderer into sins;
(2) from the utter impossibility of bad men reading aright the character of the just and pure. Having no virtue themselves, they cannot credit others with any. "Doth Job fear God for nought?" "He hath a devil," etc. Many can say the words in Psalm 56:5.
III. IT IS AN INFINITE RELIEF, UNDER SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES, THAT THE RELIEVER CAN APPEAL TO HIS GOD. The whole psalm is such an appeal. True, the Infinite Eye can discern flaws and faults where we suspect none; but then the same perfect gaze discerns the desire after being right and pure and true, however far the believer may be from realizing his own ideal. The suppliant has to do, moreover, with One who never misunderstands, and whose glory is in his loving-kindness and truth. And from a Christian point of view we must remember that we have a High Priest who was in all points tried like as we are, yet without sin, and who can therefore pity what is frail, and pardon what is wrong. What a mercy to have such a throne of grace to which to flee
IV. THE APPEAL WILL BE MARKED BY SPECIFIC ENTREATY. Here there are four lines of supplication.
1. That God would vindicate him, and not let him be mixed up in confusion with the men whose sin he hates (vers. 1, 9, 10). He looks to God, as Job did, as his Vindicator (Job 19:25).
2. That God would search and prove him (ver. 2; cf. Psalm 139:23, 24).
3. That God would purify him (ver. 3). So the word here rendered "try" indicates. He is upright before men, but he does not pretend to be perfect before God.
4. That God would entirely deliver him from the surroundings of ungenial and unholy men (vers. 9, 10). Whether the psalmist intended any reference to a future state or no, the believer now cannot help so applying the words. Who could endure the thought of evil and good always being mixed up together? The Divine mandate is, "Let both grow together until the harvest" (Matthew 13:13). Then will come the final severance.
V. THE RESULT OF SUCH APPEAL WILL NOT BE FRUITLESS OR VAIN. (Ver. 12.) "His prayer has been heard; he is safe; he stands on the open, level table-land, where he has room to move, and where his enemies cannot hem him in; and therefore he fulfils the resolve made before (ver. 7), and publicly pours out his thanksgivings to God" (Perowne). Whoever thus lays his complaints before God will find deliverance in God's own appointed time; we must leave, however, the "when" with the great Defender. Either
(1) on earth in our day,
(2) on earth after our day, or
(3) in heaven, God will bring us and our reputation out to the light. He shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday (Psalm 37:5, 6). - C.
Gather not my soul with sinners.
I. SOME THINGS IMPLIED IN IT.
1. Here souls are mingled together. The result of this is that it keeps both parties uneasy; they are a mutual check one upon another, and providence varies in its dispensations accordingly.
2. In the other world there will be separation; and that —
3. The time for this is at death. But —
4. The saints have a horror of being gathered with sinners, and so, too, have the wicked. Balaam (Numbers 21:10).
II. WHO ARE SINNERS. All unjustified and unsanctified persons; such as they who neither know nor care about religion: the profane, the mere moralists (Matthew 5:20), and formalists (2 Timothy 3:5). For all these miss the mark men should aim at, and all are guilty of death before the Lord (1 Kings 1:21; Romans 3:19), and they can do nothing but sin (Psalm 14:3), since the principles that govern them are wrong (Titus 1:15).
III. THE MEANING OF THE SOUL BEING GATHERED WITH SINNERS IN THE OTHER WORLD. The soul is separated from the body at death and goes to its appointed place, which is separate from that of saints.
IV. THE CONCERN FELT IN REFERENCE TO THIS. It implies an earnest belief in the foregoing truths, and a dread of what they declare, together with an acknowledgment that God might justly condemn them; wherefore they betake themselves to His mercy (Job 9:15).
V. THE REASONABLENESS OF SUCH CONCERN.
1. Because to be gathered with sinners is to be separated from God.
2. In a most doleful place (Isaiah 24:22).
3. With the most frightful society (Matthew 25:41).
4. Suffering the heaviest punishment (2 Thessalonians 1:9).
5. To be left in their sin there; which will itself be their punishment. Their passions will rage, but they cannot be satisfied.
6. And this forever.
VI. LESSONS FROM THIS DOCTRINE.
1. However favourable the condition of the sinner in this world, it is a miserable one after all.
2. That the great business of our life is to learn to die, and to prepare for the next world.
3. We are in great danger of perishing, and therefore should be all the more earnest.
4. Therefore let the careless, slothful, delaying, malignant sinners take heed. But —
5. Such as are showing this concern may be comforted, for they are in the way of duty, and are taking their work in time; it is the Spirit who works in them this concern, and they have to do with a good and gracious God (Ezekiel 23:11). Then —
6. Your concern is quite different from that of the ungodly, who also shrink from hell, as Balaam did. For your concern is, not to be separated from Christ, and not to be left in sin; and you are now forsaking sin with true purpose of heart. Wherefore —
7. Be thus concerned all of you, come to Christ, forsake all sin, unite with the godly, observe ordinances, avoid the way of sinners now. For how important this matter is; nothing is to be put before it, and now is the accepted and the only time, and the gathering in the other world will be eternal and unutterable. Wherefore, upon the whole, let me obtain of you —
(1) (2) (3) (T. Boston, D. D.)
(2) (3) (T. Boston, D. D.)
(3) (T. Boston, D. D.)
(T. Boston, D. D.)
I. THE GATHERING. There have been many such — Korah, Dathan, and Abiram; Jericho and the Canaanites; the destruction of Jerusalem. But forgetting all these inferior gatherings, let us look on to the last great one, which is proceeding every day to its completion As the huntsman, when he goes forth to the battle, encompasses the beasts of the forest with an ever-narrowing ring of hunters, that he may exterminate them all in one great slaughter, so the God of Justice has made a ring in His providence about the sinful, sons of men. None can escape. I will not attempt, to describe, what our Saviour, veiled in words like these: "These shall go away into everlasting punishment."
II. THE PRAYER ITSELF. We are all agreed about it, every one of us. Sinners do not wish to be gathered with sinners. But the reasons of the one prayer are different in different persons. A selfish desire to escape misery is sufficient to account for it with sinful men. There is a class of sinners that some would like to be gathered with now. Can we say, when we look upon the bright side of the wicked, "Gather not," etc.? If we cannot we really cannot pray the prayer at all. But the Christian prays this prayer because, as far as his acquaintance with sinners goes, he does not even now wish for their company. We cannot be with them and feel ourselves perfectly at home. And even now, when God comes to punish a nation, the Christian has to suffer with the rest. He may well, from the little taste he has had of their company, pray, "Gather not," etc. I do not know any class of sinners whose company the Christian would desire. I should not like to live with the most precise of hypocrites, nor with the formalist; and as for the blasphemer, we would as soon be shut up in a tiger's den. And there are other reasons. When sinners are gathered at the last their characters will be the same. And think of the place, the pit of hell. Their occupations, cursing God; their sufferings, the pain of body and soul they know. And they are forever banished from God and Christ.
III. But there is in our text A FEAR, as if a whisper said, "Perhaps, after all, you may be gathered with the wicked." This fear may arise from remembrance of past sin. Before we were converted we lived as others. Present backwardness, unfruitfulness, and our conscious weakness, these all rouse this fear. Therefore note —
IV. THE ANSWER TO THIS PRAYER. Have you the two things that David had, the outward integrity and the inward trust? If so, then you cannot be gathered with sinners. For the rule is, like to like. And our comrades here are to be our companions hereafter. And we have been too dearly bought with Christ's blood, and are too much loved by God; and the new nature given you will not allow of it. Careless and thoughtless one, I entreat you to consider if it be not a dreadful thing to be a sinner.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
Evangelist.Many disputes there are concerning the origin of human souls. The Bible assigns the first origination to God, and closely connects all with the first man. "All souls are Mine; as the soul of the master, so the soul of the servant." He is the great Lord of human souls.
I. THE WORTH OF THE HUMAN SOUL. Evinced —
1. By its intellectual capacities: thought, reason, memory, conscience, affection.
2. By its moral capacities. It is naturally endowed with an ability to know, serve, love, and enjoy God.
3. By its immortality. It perishes not with the body. "The spirit of man goeth upward," — to God.
4. By the efforts of fallen spirits to effect its destruction.
5. By the means which God has used for its salvation.
II. THE SOULS OF ALL WILL BE GATHERED TOGETHER, CLASSED AND FIXED FOREVER, IN A STATE SUITABLE TO THEIR CHARACTER.
1. What is more reasonable than such an association of similar minds after their probation?
2. Its probability is to be inferred from the nature of God and the present state of trial.
3. Its certainty is proved by Divine testimony. "He will render to every man according to his works."
III. THE SOULS OF SINNERS ARE GATHERED AT DEATH INTO A STATE OF SHAME AND SUFFERING.
1. This is a matter of positive Divine assertion.
2. Realise the fact. An entire company of lost souls! — shut up with such forever. Think of a prison full of felons and blasphemers!
3. Consider the threatenings connected with the fact. The wrath of God. Sin will forever live in them and incur wrath. Spiritual death will triumph over their soul, and never cease.
IV. THE PRAYER OF THE TEXT. "Gather not my soul," etc.
1. How can this be answered, seeing we are sinners? The language of the prayer proceeds from a consciousness of deserving to be gathered with sinners.
2. Yet the prayer supposes the possibility of being heard and answered. The scheme of salvation shows how it can be.
3. The sincerity of the prayer will be proved by returning to God practically and in heart. If we would not be gathered with sinners at last we must break off from them now.
1. The soul is the man.
2. The salvation of the soul is necessary for the glory of God and the true ends of our being. The soul is ill desperate peril; and none but Christ can save.
II. THE GOOD MAN KNOWS THAT THE DESTINY OF THE SOUL IS SETTLED AT DEATH. Death comes to all. And "after death the judgment": inferred by reason, foreboded by conscience, revealed by Scripture.
II. THE GOOD MAN RECOILS IN HORROR FROM BEING ASSOCIATED IN DESTINY WITH THE WICKED. Why? Because he abhors
(1) (2) (3) (W. Forsyth, M. A.) (D. Thomas, D. D.) ( C. H. Spurgeon.) ( C. H. Spurgeon.) (John Robertson.)
(2) (3) (W. Forsyth, M. A.) (D. Thomas, D. D.) ( C. H. Spurgeon.) ( C. H. Spurgeon.) (John Robertson.)
(3) (W. Forsyth, M. A.) (D. Thomas, D. D.) ( C. H. Spurgeon.) ( C. H. Spurgeon.) (John Robertson.)
(W. Forsyth, M. A.)
(D. Thomas, D. D.)
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
( C. H. Spurgeon.)