Psalm 34:22
The LORD redeems His servants, and none who take refuge in Him will be condemned.
Sermons
A Message to the DesolateW. Rader.Psalm 34:22
No CondemnationA. Maclaren, D. D.Psalm 34:22
The Gospel Before the GospelA. Maclaren, D. D.Psalm 34:22
A Devout HymnHomilistPsalm 34:1-22
Blessing the LordJ. Bate.Psalm 34:1-22
Life's Experiences Turned to Manifold UsesC. Clemance Psalm 34:1-22
The Secret and Blessings of a Happy LifeC. Short Psalm 34:11-22
The face is the organ of expression. The thoughts, the feelings, the inward movements of the soul, show themselves by the face. Therefore "the lace" stands for the man (Genesis 48:11); and when God is spoken of after the manner of men, his face is put for himself (Exodus 33:14). The text is like the mystic pillar of the wilderness. It has two aspects. While God looks forth with love and favour towards his people, he shows himself as terrible to his enemies (Exodus 14:24). His face, wherever seen, is always against those who wilfully and wickedly persist in doing evil.

I. GOD'S FACE IN NATURE IS AGAINST THEM THAT DO EVIL. There is law in nature. To obey the law is to conquer, to disobey is to suffer. As to transgressors, there is neither exception nor immunity. We see the stern, unbending severity of law in the awful passage, Proverbs 1:24-31.

II. GOD'S FACE IN THE HOLY SCRIPTURES IS AGAINST THEM THAT DO EVIL. Take the ten commandments, and from the first to the last it is the same. The Law is holy and just and good. It demands obedience from all, and denounces condemnation and wrath against transgressors, without respect of persons. The recorded judgments of God may be held as expressing the same thing. All through, from Genesis to Malachi, whether as respects nations or individuals, God's face is against the evil-doer. In no part of Scripture is this brought out more vividly and forcibly than in the Psalms.

III. GOD'S FACE, IN THE PERSON OF HIS SON AND OUR SAVIOUR, IS AGAINST THEM THAT DO EVIL. Christ, in his doctrine, his precepts, his example, and in his redemptive work, is wholly and for ever against sin. His object is to "take away sin," and to bring them that do evil to do good and to be the loving and obedient children of God, that they may walk in the light of God's favour for ever. - W.F.







None of them that trust in Him shall be desolate.
The R.V. accurately renders the words: "None of them that trust in Him shall be condemned." When we read in the New Testament that "we are justified by faith," the meaning is precisely the same as that of our text. Thus, however it came about, here is this psalmist, standing away back amidst the shadows and symbols and ritualisms of that Old Covenant, and rising at once, above all the mists, right up into the sunshine, and seeing, as clearly as we see it, that the way to escape condemnation is simple faith.

I. THE PEOPLE THAT ARE SPOKEN OF HERE. "None of them that trust in Him." The word that is here translated, rightly, "trust," means literally to fly to a refuge, or to betake oneself to some defence in order to get shelter there. There is a trace of both meanings, literal and metaphorical, in another psalm, where we read, amidst the psalmist's rapturous heaping together of great names for God: "My Rock, in whom I will trust." Now keep to the literal meaning there, and you see how it flashes up the whole into beauty: "My Rock, to whom I will flee for refuge," and put my back against it, and stand as impregnable as it; or get myself well into the clefts of it, and then nothing can touch me. Then we find the same words, with the picture of flight and the reality of faith, used with another set of associations in another psalm, which says: "He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shelf thou trust." That grates, one gets away from the metaphor too quickly; but if we preserve the literal meaning, and read, "under His wings shalt thou flee for refuge," we have the picture of the chicken flying to the mother-bird when kites are in the sky, and huddling close to the warm breast and the soft, downy feathers, and so with the spread of the great wing being sheltered from all possibility of harm. There is one thing more that I would notice, and that is that this designation of the persons as "them that trust in Him" follows last of all in a somewhat lengthened series of designations for good people. They are these: "the righteous" — "them that are of a broken heart" — "such as be of a contrite spirit" — "His servants," and then, lastly, comes, as basis of all, as, so to speak, the keynote of all, "none of them that trust in Him." That is to say — righteousness, true and blessed consciousness of sin, joyful surrender of self to loving and grateful submission to God's will, are all connected with or flow from that act of trust in Him. And if you are really trusting in Him, your trust will produce all these various fruits of righteousness, and lowliness, and joyful service.

II. THE BLESSING HERE PROMISED. "None of them that trust in Him shall be condemned." The word includes the following varying shades of meaning, which, although they are various, are all closely connected, as you will see — to incur guilt, to feel guilty, to be condemned, to be punished. All these four are inextricably blended together. And the fact that the one word in the Old Testament covers all that ground suggests some very solemn thoughts.

1. Guilt, or sin, and condemnation and punishment, are, if not absolutely identical, inseparable. To be guilty is to be condemned.

2. This judgment, this condemnation, is not only present, according to our Lord's own great words, which perhaps are an allusion to these: "He that believeth not is condemned already"; but it also suggests the universality of that condemnation. Our psalmist says that only through trusting Him can a man be taken and lifted away, as it were, from the descent of the thundercloud, and its bolt that lies above his head. "They that trust Him are not condemned," every one else is; not "shall be," but is, to-day, here and now.

III. THE SOLE DELIVERANCE from this universal pressure of the condemnatory influence of universal sin lies in that fleeing for refuge to God. And then comes in the Christian addition, "to God, as manifested in Jesus Christ." You and I know more than this singer did, for we can listen to the Master, who says, "He that believeth on Him is not condemned"; and to the servant who echoes, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus."

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

I. WHAT TRUST IS. We do not need to bewilder ourselves with metaphysical and theological subtleties. We know what it is to run to a refuge from storm or danger. So, then, "none of them that flee to Him for refuge shall be condemned."

II. THE ACCOMPANIMENTS IN THE DEVOUT SOUL OF TRUE TRUST IN GOD. Has it by its side a real penitence? Does there walk behind it a consistent and steadfast righteousness? Are we not only trusting the Lord, but serving Him? If our faith has drawn after it these things, it is true. If it has not, it is no real flight to the one Refuge. Righteousness in heart and in character and in conduct is the child of trust. True contrition accompanies it in its birth, but is nourished and nurtured by it thereafter.

III. THE GREAT REWARD AND BLESSING OF QUIET TRUST. "None of them that flee to Him for refuge shall be condemned." The word in its original and literal meaning, signifies "desolate." And I would have you to think of the profound truth that is covered by the fact that such a word should afterwards take on the meaning of "guilt." It teaches that guilt is desolation. Again, note the profound truth that lies in the other fact that the self-same word means "guilty" and "punishment." For that says to us that criminality and retribution always go together, and that the same thing, in one aspect, is our sin, and, in another aspect, is our hell and punishment. Then, further, note that broad, unconditional, blessed assurance, cast into negative form, but involving a great deal more than a negation, "None of them that trust in Him shall be condemned." The reason why they that trust in Him are not condemned is because they that trust in Him, stand in the full sunshine of His love, and are saturated and soaked through and through, if they will, with the warmth and the light and the felicity of its beams. "They shall not be condemned," and "whom He justifies them He also glorifies."

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

To be desolate is to be devastated and destroyed. The ruin, whether of temple or of colosseum, is a picture of desolation. It is also loneliness. We have seen the solitary cottage among the Alps. There was no other cottage in sight, only the unbroken mountain range. We have seen the lone cabin on the plains, or the ship on the sea with nothing but the waters beneath and the sky above. These are pictures of desolation and loneliness which, I am inclined to think, find their duplicate in the life of men and women.

I. WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CAUSES?

1. To be misunderstood. The misunderstandings of life are nails to the hands or flames to the body. They cut one off from fellowship; they hurt and hinder and add to the solitude of life. Our Lord was misunderstood, lie was isolated by the very fact that lie was not understood. Therefore, upon at least three different occasions the Father encouraged Him. When He was baptized the voice of approval broke through the skies. When He was transfigured God spoke to Him and encouraged Him with the revelation of His presence, and in the Garden of Gethsemane the angel ministered unto Him. The satisfaction of His heart was found in the consciousness that while men did not understand Him God did. That saved Him from utter desolation. That saves us all from despair. To know that God knows us and understands us is to enjoy the highest spiritual companionship.

2. In proportion as we go far below or far above the common experiences of men do we experience isolation. The cathedral spire and the mountain peak are lonely. They are solitary. They enjoy no companionship. They are exceptions. So the shaft sunk deep in the earth is exceptional. A great emotion whether of joy or grief projects the life out of the ordinary; as an inlet of the sea. There is a loneliness and isolation in great thinking. Thomas Carlyle led a comparatively lonely life, a life of intellectual desolation, partly because he threaded his way up the dizzy heights of thought.

3. When you have a great sorrow it must be met and borne alone. Every soul goes through the valley of the shadow of death essentially alone so far as human help is concerned, which is to say, every heart knows its own sorrow and must bear its own burden. In the greatest griefs there is room only for the soul and God.

4. Sin leads to desolation. There is no real companionship in sin. Sin is destructive of brotherhood and fellowship. It narrows the life. The source of sin is selfishness, and the more selfish a life is the more narrow and lonely and desolate it is. Sin is desolation. It is a desert without a spring. Desolation is hell. We do not know much about the hell of the future, but we do know something of the hell of the present.

II. WHAT, THEN, SHALL WE DO TO ESCAPE THE LIFE OF DESOLATION? How shall we people our little world with companions and brighten it with brotherhood and blessings?

1. By a right use of the mind. We do not know precisely what or where the mind is, but we do know that it is the measure of the man. It is the eternal within us. Whatever may happen to the body, if the mind's sky is clear, what matters it? If our minds master us, rules and lead us, we will derive an immense amount of good from life, and each one, like St. Catherine of old, will have a secret oratory within which we may retreat.

2. Trust; trust in God. This is an old and well-worn injunction. For centuries men have been urged to trust in God. Why should they? Does it put bread in the pantry and money in the bank? Does it keep disease from the children or sorrows from the home? Why should we trust in God? We should believe that God is with us always. We do or do not believe this. If we do not we are desolate. If we do we are not desolate.

(W. Rader.).

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