My times are in Your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me.
first to describe at length his trouble (Vers. 9, 13); and second, to pray for deliverance (vers. 14-18).
I. CAUSES OF TROUBLE. (Vers. 9, 13.)
1. Consciousness of sin. (Vers. 9, 10.) This was the constant lifelong grief. None but good men feel their sinfulness so acutely.
2. Loss of reputation. (Vers. 11, 12.) "A fear to mine acquaintance;" so that they avoided him. "Like a broken vessel;" equivalent to "an object of contempt."
3. Stood in constant danger of his life. (Ver. 13.) Through slander and misrepresentation, he was in constant fear and dread. Like some kings who live in constant dread of assassination.
II. THE CRY FOR DELIVERANCE. (Vers. 14 18.)
1. Seeks to reassure himself of his personal relation to God. (Ver. 14.) Nothing more difficult, when we see our faith despised by the whole world, than to rest on the testimony of our own conscience that "God is our God."
2. Because his times were in God's hand, he was not left to the mercy of his enemies. (Ver. 15.) God could transform evil into good, and danger into safety.
3. He was God's servant, and on that ground he cried for protection. (Ver. 16.) "Make thy face to shine." The good Master would be merciful "for his own sake" towards his servant.
4. God would not allow his faith in him to be put to shame. (Ver. 17.) He puts God in remembrance of his promise that he will hear and help those who call upon him with heartfelt confidence. He prays that his enemies may be struck dumb with the silence of the grave, so that they may be no longer able to slander him (ver. 18). His faith in God reached thus to all the difficulties of his life, and might be called a working faith. - S.
My times are in Thy hand.
I. WHAT LIES AT ITS BASIS — belief in the truth of a particular providence. Now, providence is the Divine reason of all things. Deny it, and you take away the ground of my trust and resignation. And why should any suppose that the control or agency of the Infinite should terminate with the first creating act? That He should create and then leave that which He has created to go on its way without further control or care? Yet many think this. They believe that God has formed a number of self-acting machines. He wound up the mighty herologe, and stood aside to see it go. They think it derogatory to His dignity to be constantly interfering with His works. But where is there less dignity in administering laws than in appointing them? And how do we know what is or is not worthy of His care? Apart from the plans and purposes of God, the entire universe is insignificant: in relation to them every atom is important, for upon any one atom the entire sequence may depend. It is told of Mahomet, how, when hard pressed by his pursuers, he took refuge in a cave, which they were about to enter, when they observed a spider's web spun over the mouth of it, and, therefore, turned away convinced that it could not have been lately entered. That spider's web changed the destiny of the world, inasmuch as it preserved the life of the man who exercised such immense influence over it. And how perpetually we are finding that vast results turn upon the most trivial and insignificant circumstances. Without providence, history would be an absurdity, the universe an enigma, and the Deity undeified. The Christian assigns to this doctrine a place among the primary truths of his religious faith. He devoutly and joyfully recognizes it. In the text the psalmist declares that his "times" — all the vicissitudes and changes of his life — are in God's hand; all under God's appointment, and under His control. It is so. Our times of prosperity, of adversity, and the time of our death.
II. THE CHRISTIAN MAN'S RECOGNITION OF THIS TRUTH. It is by faith. The proof of the doctrine is sufficient but not overpowering. Our admission of it depends largely upon our moral condition as, indeed, all faith does. There is no faith in believing the demonstration of a mathematical problem. A man, therefore, may recognize no providence, and to those who do, its difficulties are often very great. Nevertheless, the Christian believes. For he believes in the justice, the wisdom and the goodness, as well as the power of God. And because he is reconciled to God in Christ he believes that providence will bring good to him. He calls upon God as "Our Father, which art in Heaven." Well, then, let us be content, be our lot what it may. Trust for all the future. Let me never dare to doubt.
I. A CLEAR CONVICTION THAT OUR TIMES ARE IN THE HAND OF GOD WILL CREATE WITHIN US A SENSE OF THE NEARNESS OF GOD. If the hand of God is laid upon all our surroundings, God Himself is near us. The tendency of this age is to get further and further from God.
1. "My times are in Thy hand." Then there is nothing left to chance. Events happen not to men by a fortune which has no order or purpose in it. "The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord." We dare not leave out the least event. The creeping of an aphis upon a rosebud is as surely arranged by the decree of Providence as the march of a pestilence through a nation.
2. "My times are in Thy hand" is an assurance which also puts an end to the grim idea of an iron fate compelling all things. Have you the notion that fate grinds on like an enormous wheel, ruthlessly crushing everything that lies in its way, not pausing for pity, nor turning aside for mercy? Remember that, if you liken Providence to a wheel, it must be a wheel which is full of eyes. Its every revolution is in wisdom and goodness.
3. "My times are in Thy hand" reveals the condescension of the Lord. Wonder of wonders, that God should not only think of me, but should make my concerns His concerns, and take my matters into His hand!
4. What a bliss this is! How near it brings God to us, and us to God.
II. THIS TRUTH IS A COMPLETE ANSWER TO MANY A TEMPTATION. Satan says, "Now you have a large family, and your chief duty is to provide for them. Your position brings with it many wants. Here is a plan of making money; others follow it. It may not be quite straight, but you must not be particular in such a world as this, for nobody else is." How will you meet this? Say to Satan, "It is not my business to provide for myself or for my family: my times are in God's hand; and his name is Jehovah-Jireh, 'the Lord will provide'; and I will not do a questionable thing, though it would fill my house with silver and gold. I shall not meddle with my Lord's business. It is His to provide for me: it is mine to walk uprightly, and obey His Word." But supposing he says, "Well, but you are already in difficulties, and you cannot extricate yourself if you are too precise. A poor man cannot afford to keep a conscience: it is an expensive luxury in these days. Give your conscience a holiday, and you can soon get out of your trouble." Let your reply be, "O prince of darkness, it is no business of mine to extricate myself! My times are in God's hand. I have taken my case to Him, and He will work for me in this matter better than I can do for myself! He does not wish me to do a wrong thing, that I may do for myself what He has promised to do for me."
III. THIS CONVICTION IS A SUFFICIENT SUPPORT AGAINST THE FEAR OF MEN. How often we meet with people who are staggered by slander. If my times are in God's hand, no man can do me harm unless God permit. Though my soul is among lions, yet no lion can bite me while Jehovah's angel is my guard.
IV. A full belief in the statement of our text is A CURE FOR PRESENT WORRY. O Lord, if my times are in Thy hand, I have cast my care on Thee, and I trust and am not afraid! To leave our times with God is to live as free from care as the birds upon the bough. If we fret, we shall not glorify God; and we shall not constrain others to see what true religion can do for us in the hour of tribulation. Fret and worry put it out of our power to act wisely; but if we can leave everything with God because everything is really in His hand, we shall be peaceful, and our action will be deliberate; and for that very reason it will be more likely to be wise. He that rolls his burden upon the Lord will be strong to do or to suffer; and his days shall be as the days of heaven upon the earth.
V. A FIRM CONVICTION AS TO THIS TRUTH IS A QUIETUS AS TO FUTURE DREAD. The very word "times" supposes change for you; but as there are no changes with God, all is well. Things will happen which you cannot foresee; but your Lord has foreseen all, and provided for all.
VI. A FULL CONVICTION THAT OUR TIMES ARE IN HIS HAND WILL BE A REASON FOR CONSECRATED SERVICE. If God has undertaken my business for me, then I may most fitly undertake such business for Him as He may appoint. Queen Elizabeth wished one of the leading merchants of London to go to Holland to watch her interests there. The honest man told her Majesty that he would obey her commands; but he begged her to remember that it would involve the ruin of his own trade for him to be absent. To this the Queen replied, "If you will see to my business, I will see to your business." With such a royal promise he might willingly let his own business go; for a queen should have it in her power to do more for a subject than he can do for himself. The Lord, in effect, says to the believer, "I will take your affairs in hand, and see them through for you." Will you not at once feel that now it is your joy, your delight, to live to glorify your gracious Lord?
VII. IF OUR TIMES ARE IN GOD'S HAND, HERE IS A GRAND ARGUMENT FOR FUTURE BLESSEDNESS. He that takes care of our times, will take care of our eternity. He that has brought us so far, and wrought so graciously for us, will see us safely over the rest of the road.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
I. THAT OUR TIMES ARE NOT IN OUR OWN HAND.
1. Of this we may behold many a proof, when we look back on the transactions of the year which is finished. Recollection will readily present to us a busy period, filled up with a mixture of business and amusement, of anxieties and cares, of joys and sorrows. We have formed many a plan; in public or in private life, we have been engaged in a variety of pursuits. Let me now ask, how small a proportion of all that has happened could have been foreseen, or foretold by us? How many things have occurred, of which we had no expectation; some, perhaps, that have succeeded beyond our hopes; many, also, that have befallen us contrary to our wish?
2. That scene is now closed. We look forward to another year; and what do we behold there? all is a blank to our view. Life and death, prosperity and adversity, health and sickness, joy and trouble, lie in one undistinguishable mass, where our eye can descry nothing through the obscurity that wraps them up.
II. THAT OUR TIMES ARE IN THE HAND OF GOD.
1. As a supreme, irresistible Ruler. He has foreknown and arranged everything. He sees from the beginning to the end; and brings forward everything that happens in its due time and place.
2. As a merciful Guardian and Father. To Him we may safely commit ourselves, and all our concerns, as to One who is best qualified, both to direct the incidents proper to happen to us in this world, and to judge of the time when it is fit for us to be removed from it. Even that ignorance of our future destiny in life, of which we sometimes complain, is a signal proof of His goodness. He hides from us the view of futurity, because the view would be dangerous and overpowering. It would either dispirit us with visions of terror, or intoxicate us by the disclosure of success.Conclusion.
1. Seeing our times are not in our own hand, seeing futurity is unknown to us, let us check the vain curiosity of penetrating into what is to come. Our wisdom is, to be prepared for whatever the year is to bring; prepared to receive comforts with thankfulness, troubles with fortitude; and to improve both for the great purposes of virtue and eternal life.
2. Another important instruction which naturally arises from our times not being in our own hands is, that we ought no longer to trifle with what it is not in our power to prolong: but; that we should make haste to live as wise men; not delaying till to-morrow what may be done to-day; doing now with all our might whatever our hand findeth to do, before that night cometh wherein no man can work.
3. When we consider that our times are in the hand of God as a sovereign Disposer, it is an obvious inference from this truth, that we should prepare ourselves to submit patiently to His pleasure, both as to the events which are to fill up our days, and as to the time of our continuing in this world.
4. To God as a wise Ruler, calm submission is due; but it is more than submission that belongs to Him as a merciful Father; it is the spirit of cordial and affectionate consent to His will. Unknown to us as the times to come are, it should be sufficient to our full repose that they are known to God.
(H. Blair, D. D.)
1. In a general sense, every man's "times" are in God's "hand." It is a happy thing, and it certifies the stability of the wide realm of being, that the great Ruler will not suffer one thread of His government to pass for a moment out of His grasp.
2. In a special sense, which renders it worthy of grateful mention, the good man's "times" are in God's "hand." You are helpless: will that slacken God's care that all shall be best with you? You are dependent, and you try to be trustful: will that set to sleep the vigilance of Him who has all the ordering of your way? You are ignorant and erring: will that give occasion to infinite pity to mislead you or neglect you, and you right upon your march towards the opportunity of scanning all His dealings with you, and of scanning them in the light of a knowledge which it is His purpose shall eternally increase? Nay: your "times," every one of every shade and shape, are at home in the centre of all safety.
II. THE TEMPER IN WHICH THIS FACT IS EXPRESSED IN THE TEXT.
1. The psalmist gives to the fact his cordial personal consent. It is not a statement merely; it is a self-gratulation also, with something of a thanksgiving besides.
2. When the responsibility would be the heaviest if he did have his "times" in his own hand, he remembers they are in God's, and breathes freely because the weight of them is not at all upon himself, but altogether upon Him who bears the burdens of eternity and doth not weary. Our part is patience, obedience, brave submission.
3. It allays all his anxiety about his "times." Fears about ourselves, fears about friends whom we love better than ourselves, apprehensions about life, apprehensions about death — about death perhaps most of all, with its when and where and how, — every one of them would be gone from these hearts of ours, if only they held within them the plain fact of our text as firmly as they hold many a fact that has a thousand times less of deep personal interest for us.
(J. A. Kerr Bain, M. A.)I. OUR TIMES ARE NOT NATURALLY OUR OWN, to employ as we please, to be accountable to ourselves only for the use of them.
1. Certainly not the times which are gone by; for we cannot recall them: they are not in our power. As little control can we exercise over the hours that are present: we cannot command sickness or health, youth or age. The times will never come when we shall begin to be at our own disposal, and cease to depend on God's sovereign will. It is not possible, neither is it desirable. Rejoice that your times are in God's hand.
2. It is not less so in regard to His dispensations towards us, as we are His redeemed people, children of grace. In this respect, especially, "none of us liveth to himself," etc.
II. THIS ARRANGEMENT IS FOR OUR ADVANTAGE.
1. The happiness of feeling assured, when we come to die, that our time of dying is in the Lord's hand, must be inconceivably great.
2. The way to have this happiness when we die is to make it our aim while we live, to seek God's mercy in Christ, to submit to His disposal, and to follow His steps, led by His hand, in a holy, serious, humble, uncorrupt way; and, as all our times are in the Lord's hand, to bless the Lord at all times.
(W. Firth, B. D.)
I. MY PROSPEROUS TIMES ARE IN THY HAND.
1. My times of worldly prosperity. This is as clear as it is certain. For though every one may do much to preserve his health, that does not depend entirely on himself, any more than that of his family and friends; his good name is not in his own keeping; his credit is not in his own power; business does not come at his bidding.
2. Times of spiritual prosperity. Without this, the prosperous man is like a vessel in full sail before the wind without ballast, in danger of being dashed to pieces.
II. MY TRYING TIMES ARE IN THY HAND.
1. Times trying to my principles. Times of change of situation, condition, and calling in life; of removal from one place of residence to another; of losses, disappointments, and failures in business; of fraud, injustice, and oppression from men; of adversity, poverty and privations; — are especially trying to men's principles.
2. Times trying to my patience, Times of personal and relative affliction and distress.
III. MY WORKING TIMES ARE IN THY HAND.
1. Times when I am able to work. Every one should have a lawful calling in the world, should abide in his calling, mind the business of his calling, should "study to be quiet, and do his own business, and work with his own hands," as he is commanded.
2. Times when I am specially called to work. Times of abounding iniquity, etc.
IV. MY WAITING TIMES ARE IN THY HAND.
1. Times of waiting on the Lord. In the sanctuary, the family, the closet.
2. Times of waiting for the Lord — for His own time of giving what is good, and for His own way of doing us good.
V. MY DYING TIME IS IN THY HAND. We must all die alone. And while we live, we are dying. Are not times of weakening my strength in the way, of exanimating sickness, of excruciating pain, of wasting lungs, of struggling breath, of loss of appetite, of bodily and mental prostration, so many dying times to every one that is subject to them? Lessons:
1. To acknowledge Thy hand at all times.
2. To commit my spirit into Thy hand.
3. To make my prayer unto the God of my life.
1. We not infrequently regard as providential only that which we deem calamitous. A bridge falls, and scores of souls are hurried into eternity, and we cry — "Providence!" But a bridge stands for years, and hundreds pass across in safety, and so far as concerns that bridge, we "turn God out of court."
2. Sometimes we recognize God only when what we call large takes place. One man is killed, and nobody says anything about Providence; but a dreadful catastrophe occurs, and two or three hundred lives are lost; and we say, Providence! Judgment! We should remember that "large" and "little" are words expressive of our finite knowledge.
3. Sometimes we regard as providential only that which comes unexpectedly. When we put our money to usury and get a good percentage, we take our income as a matter of course; we say nothing about Providence. But unexpectedly we have a "windfall"; — reaping where and what we have never sown — and we call the windfall "a providence." What comes in the ordinary course of things is no providence; so we poor, morally illogical creatures say; but whatever takes place that we cannot account for, we call a providential dispensation. This is nothing short of saying that God begins to work only at the point where human intellectual vision ceases; that the sphere of providence touches only the horizon of our mental view. "My times are in Thy hand." What then? This: expect comfort for all seasons. Be courageous at all times; and adore amidst all changes, an unchanging God.
(J. S. Swan.)I. THE DOCTRINE OF THE TEXT. We shall be told, perhaps, that the doctrine of a particular Providence represents the Most High, as attentive to insignificant affairs, — gives to the Divine administration the aspect of overwhelming complexity, — and, is inconsistent with the majesty of the Supreme Being.
1. By no means do we deny, that the doctrine of a particular Providence does give to the Divine administration an aspect of overwhelming complexity. But then we are speaking, not of what the human mind can grasp, but of what the Supreme intelligence effects. Whoever admits the Being of a God, must connect with it the idea of infinity. No degree of attention, or variety of objects, can bewilder Him, whose understanding is infinite.
2. To oppose the consideration of Jehovah's infinite majesty to the doctrine of His providential administration is unscriptural, and absurd. The universe is a great and glorious whole; — but this great and glorious whole cannot be rightly preserved and governed, without the right preservation and government of all its parts.
II. THE WAY IN WHICH THE BENEFICIAL INFLUENCE OF THIS DOCTRINE IS TO BE EXPERIENCED. The doctrine of His providence as revealed in Scripture, gives us a glorious idea of His character. It leads us to conceive of His presence as filling immensity, and of His goodness as commanding universal confidence. It leads us to worship Him, and to confide in Him as the Lord of the universe, in whom all majesty is for ever centred, and from whom all blessings flow. But this doctrine appears to the greatest advantage, viewed in the "light of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ"; — and it is the knowledge of His glory, as a covenant Jehovah in the Son of His love, that gives to the faith of this doctrine its most beneficial effect. And well may the believer joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, knowing that all the perfections of the adorable I Am are engaged to promote his welfare and to effect his salvation. It shall only be added, that to derive benefit from the doctrine we have stated, it is necessary for us to avail ourselves of it by faith, especially when such benefit is most needed. When did David say in the prayer, and confidence of faith, "My times are in thy hand?" — it was when fear was on every side, and in so doing, he took an extended view of the providence of God, and honoured Him. The times of man are numerous and diversified; — he has times of sorrow, of trial, of affliction. As "there is a time to be born, — so there is a time to die." David takes the range of the whole, — and instead of planning for God, or deeming himself at the mercy of his enemies, he said, "My times are in Thy hand." Thus he met the storm which tried his faith, and the recollection of his so doing was grateful to his feelings, and subservient to communion with his everlasting friend when fresh trials occurred.
1. The first is physical. Every man has a constitution given him by God which has a certain amount of vital power and no more, which can bear a certain amount of strain and exertion and no more. When this stock is exhausted first one and then another organ gives up, and the end comes. How soon it will come is partly determined by circumstances. In one set of circumstances it is delayed; in another it is hastened; but no circumstances, no precautions, however incessant, can preserve it for ever. Not that strength of constitution is always allowed to be the measure of life. Its course is not seldom arrested by a violent death; it is cut short in battle, or by the executioner, or by lightning, or by railway accident, or by drowning, or by the murderer's knife, or by poison taken unwitting!y, or by the bite of an animal, or by pestilence that walketh in darkness; and yet such events might suggest to those who believe in the providence of God that there are other and more influential, although less patent, causes that affect the length of human life, causes which we now proceed to consider.
2. Every man has a certain work assigned him to do, and when it is done, or ought to have been done, then he has to make room for others. What that work exactly is He knows who has placed us here. But most of us can only infer generally, and not always quite distinctly, why we were placed here, while none of us can dare to say certainly at the close of life that the work which our Maker meant us to do has been completed. Too many of us — alas! — never think of this solemn truth. The outward form of the work matters less than the presence or absence of the ennobling motive. The highest work may be even irretrievably degraded by the absence of that purpose. But, however this may be, with each of us a day comes when the work we had to do has been done or ought to have been done, and can be no longer done, and then the end comes.
3. Closely related to this cause, and yet distinct from it, there is a third. Every man is here on his probation or trial; he has a certain number of difficulties to encounter, a certain number of opportunities of which he may avail himself, measured unto him by a perfect justice which will deal with him accordingly. When these difficulties have been passed, in whatever manner, with whatever difficulty, the end comes. Who can say when the last difficulty has been surmounted, or when the last opportunity has been rejected or missed? We do not know. But our ignorance does not disprove the fact. tie knows who has made us, who has placed us here on our trial, who removes us when we have passed it or have failed.
I. IN WHAT SENSE THIS IS TRUE.
1. It is true of the times of men's entrance into the world, and their departure out of it. Hence the regular succession and perpetuity of the generations of men; and the appearance of men in the world with capacities and powers, exactly united to the age in which they live. If subtle adversaries against the truth appear, among their contemporaries, its most acute and intelligent defenders are found. And so of men's departure from this world: they not only come, but go at God's bidding. Till He give the command, nothing can force open the door of eternity for us; and when He does, nothing can keep us from entering it. It is said that the devil hath "the power of death." But this cannot mean natural death, for had he power over that, he would never suffer a bad man to live till he was converted, nor a good man afterwards. But it refers to the future death of torment which Satan as the executioner of Divine justice is commissioned to inflict.
2. It is true of the times of their worldly prosperity and adversity. We see this in the case of nations and empires, but it is true also of all the individuals comprising any nation. God fixes the bounds of every one's habitation and determines his lot. He does not interfere with the natural liberty of men, nor fail to allow, in a general way, for diligence and prudence to work out their own reward, and vice and idleness to bring their own punishment. Yet, the final issues of things depend entirely on His will. It is good to recognize this for, so, by a conviction of the Divine wisdom and goodness, we are the more ready to acquiesce in all providential arrangements.
3. It is true of the times of men's gracious visitation and instruction. These periods form our day of grace, Thus we read of the Church of Thyatira, that Christ gave her "space to repent," and we read of "a time when Thou mayest be found," and of the "time of visitation." In addition to these there are sermons of refreshment for the Church at large. We read of "set times to favour Zion." Such times are the cordials of life, catches of sunlight upon our spiritual prospect, the wells of water and the palms at which we arrive as we journey through the wilderness.
II. WHAT ARE THE USES OF THIS DOCTRINE.
1. Men should learn to value the times of gracious visitation and use them well, lest God take them away. This He may do, by taking away our lives, or our sensibility, or the means of grace themselves.
2. Good people should be comforted, since their times are in God's hands. What have we to fear?
3. This truth should reconcile us to the stroke of death when it comes to ourselves or others.
I. Briefly ILLUSTRATE THE FACT which the statement of the text comprehends. And —
1. Consider those seasons which are to be especially regarded as under the Divine management. No doubt, all the events of life are under God's control. Some deny this, and men limit the interference of God to the great and momentous affairs of men. But reason and Scripture alike teach (see Psalm 104.) the universal superintendence of God. Our Lord Jesus Christ says, "Are not two sparrows sold?" thereby teaching this same truth. The time of prosperity is in God's hand, though men sadly forget this. And the time of affliction, and the time of death. Next —
2. Observe the principles according to which this Divine arrangement is regulated. And(1) Sovereignty. God conducts all His dealings towards men as a Sovereign (see Jeremiah 18.) — the potter and the clay. But —(2) There is also Justice. God can do nothing that is not right. Sovereignty and justice in God are never to be opposed to each other: they are ever associated.(3) Mercy. "It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed." But for this where would man be?(4) Wisdom. All our events are under God's hand, and these are the principles on which they are regulated and controlled.
II. THE RESULTS WHICH THIS RECOGNITION SHOULD PRODUCE.
1. Contentment. How could our affairs be better ordered? Let the poor and the afflicted remember this.
2. Trust, entire and unwavering confidence in God. How can we believe what has been said and not trust?
3. Gratitude. What abundant cause we have, when we look back on our lives, for this feeling towards God. Many an Ebenezer we can inscribe upon our pathway, and if so, should we not praise Him?
4. Anticipation. How calmly and confidently may we look on to the future. Foreboding and fear should be far from us. But to enter into all this we must be reconciled to God in the Lord Jesus Christ.
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