Psalm 26:9
It seems evident that this psalm was written by some Old Testament saint who was surrounded by ungodly men, by whom he was assailed, reproached, and slandered. From them he appeals to God. By the heading of the psalm we are pointed to David as the author. And there is no reason for questioning that. Mr. Fausset, in his most suggestive book, 'Horae Psalmicae,' working along the line of "undesigned coincidences," remarks, "Another feature of undesigned coincidence is the unmistakable identity of David's character, as he reveals it in the Psalms, and as the independent historian describes it in the Books of Samuel and Chronicles. Thus the same ardent love to the house of God appears in both. How instinctively one feels the harmony between the character self-portrayed in 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).

Note:

(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.
It is taken for granted that at death souls are gathered together after their own sort, and that horror is felt at being gathered with sinners. In discoursing on this doctrine we shall note —

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)That you will take scale serious thoughts of the other world in both parts of it.

(2)That you will inquire what case you are in for it. And —

(3)That you will lay down measures timely, that year souls be not gathered with sinners there. May the Lord persuade and incline your hearts unto this course.

(T. Boston, D. D.)

We must all be gathered in due course. It may come tomorrow; it may be deferred another handful of years. Filled with a holy horror of the hell of sinners, let us make most sure our calling to the heaven of the blessed. Consider —

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.

(Evangelist.)

I. THE GOOD MAN IS CHIEFLY CONCERNED ABOUT HIS SOUL. Many anxious as to health, earthly comforts, security of goods, and so on. The care of the godly is his soul.

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)their character;

(2)their society;

(3)their doom.Do we shrink from the society of the false, the impure, the revengeful, the slaves of lust and selfishness, how much more should we recoil from eternal fellowship with these and such as these!

(W. Forsyth, M. A.)

As there is a gathering time for the fruits of the earth, so there is a gathering time for men. Death is the reaper. With his scythe he mows down the generations, and justice gathers whom he mows, — some to misery, some to bliss. Who would be gathered with the sinners in the great world of retribution?

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

Even those of you who are not renewed by Christ despise vice when she walks abroad naked. I fear me ye cannot say as much when she puts on her silver slippers, and wraps about her shoulders her scarlet mantle. Sin in rags is not popular. Vice in sores and squalor tempts no one. In the grosser shapes, men hate the very fiend whom they love when it is refined and delicate in its form. I want to know whether you can say, "Gather not my soul with sinners" when you see the ungodly in their high days and holy days? Do you not envy the fraudulent merchant counting his gold, his purse heavy with his gains, while he himself by his craft is beyond all challenge by the law? Do you not envy the giddy revellers, spending the night in the merry dance, laughing, making merry with wine, and smiling with thoughts of lust? Yonder voluptuary, entering the abode where virtue never finds a place, and indulging in pleasures unworthy to be named in this hallowed house, does he never excite your envy? I ask you, when you see the pleasures, the bright side, the honours, the emoluments, the gains, the merriments of sin, do ye then say, "Gather not my soul with sinners"? There is a class of sinners that some would wish to be gathered with, those easy souls who go on so swimmingly. They never have any trouble; conscience never pricks them; business never goes wrong with them; they have no bands in their life, no bonds in their death; they are not in trouble as other men, neither are they plagued like other men. They are like the green bay tree, which spreads on every side, until its boughs cover whole acres with their shade. These are the men who prosper in the world, they increase in riches. Can we say, when we look at these, when we gaze upon the bright side of the wicked, "Gather not my soul with sinners"? Remember, if we cannot do so without reservation we really cannot pray the prayer at all; we ought to alter it, and put it, "Gather not my soul with openly reprobate sinners"; and then, mark you, as there is only one place for all sorts of sinners, moral or immoral, apparently holy or profane, your prayer cannot be heard, for if you are gathered with sinners at all — with the best of sinners — you must be gathered with the worst of sinners too. I know, children of God, ye can offer the prayer as it stands, and say, "In all their glory and their pomp, in all their wealth, their peace, and their comfort, my soul abhors them, and I earnestly beseech thee, O Lord, by the blood of Jesus, 'Gather not my soul with sinners.'"

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

As for blasphemers, we could not endure them a moment. Would you not as soon be shut up in a tiger's den as with a cursing, swearing, thievish profligate? Who can endure the company of either a Voltaire or a Manning? Find out the miserly, the mean, the sneaking, the grasping — who likes to be with them? The angry, the petulant, who never try to check the unholy passion, one is always glad to be away from such folks; you are afraid lest you should be held responsible for their mad actions, and therefore, if you must be with them, you are always ill at ease. With no sort of sinners can the child of God be hail-fellow. Lambs and wolves, doves and hawks, devils and angels are not fit companions; and so through what little trial the righteous have had, they have learned that there is no sort of sinners that they would like to be shut up with forever.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

In Jersey City, over from New York, there is one of the largest distributing centres of passenger traffic in the world. All the passengers for the various ramifying routes are gathered together in the waiting hall, with the doors closed. Suddenly these doors are flung open, and in a high, shrill key the railway attendant calls out the route of the train that is about to start, and goes over the names of the big towns on that route, in a tale long enough to make him need breath when he has finished it. "Philadelphia," etc., etc., and you see passengers start from their seats among the throng and hurry to the exit the railway man indicates. They are bound for Philadelphia, and the rest. The doors close, and the throng inside the hall settle down again." After some time the doors are flung open again, and the same sing-song of the route and the list of stops. Chicago and St. Louis," and you see another company of passengers make their way out to the waiting train. They are those going to Chicago and St. Louis. Again the doors close, and again they are flung to the wall, and this time the list of names the fellow calls out ends with "Montreal," and, when I heard that, I started up and made for the door; I was going to Montreal. In a few hours they that were one company inside the waiting hall of the station of Jersey City are separated by hundreds of miles, and never all to meet again. That is like this world. We are gathered together in one waiting hall in the station of time, and those sky doors have yet to be flung open, and the voice of God, the last trump, is to burst on every mortal ear, and companies and groups have to separate and gather according to their destination for eternity. Here passengers for heaven: there passengers for hell. You cannot tell in the waiting hall what passengers are bound the glad one way or what passengers are bound the sad other way. The outward appearance is all we can see. He that looketh upon and knoweth the heart is the Lord. Some presumptuous folk would try to erect a dividing barricade in the waiting hall, and divide it into two sections, whose partitions would be covered in regulation form with ecclesiastical jagged broken glass, mostly coloured, I know. But it will not do: it will not do. Leave the division to the Divider Himself. Judge not, but wait till the shout of the archangel of the coming King is heard through the suddenly flung open doors — in a moment, in that moment, in that twinkling of an eye, at that last trump. There are only two groups, and two departures, and two destinations from this waiting hall of time. How fitting the prayer, "Gather not my soul with sinners."

(John Robertson.)

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