By Henry Law
Similarity of circumstance leads to similarity of conduct. Continued troubles prompt continued prayer. Prayer may wrestle long, but it will never strive in vain. Answers will come--the answers will be deliverance. In reading this, may we gain holy comfort!
1, 2. "Be merciful to me, O God; for man would swallow me up; he fighting daily oppresses me. My enemies would daily swallow me up; for they are many who fight against me, O Most High."
We are not left in doubt as to the occasion which prompted this hymn. David flees from the persecuting Saul. His steps guide him to a persecuting land. He would make Gath his hiding-place; but vain is his hope of refuge in man. There is no friendly support for him there. The men of Gath would give him up to Saul. His eyes are open to his perilous condition. A multitude pursue him with inveterate hate. The wild beasts rushing with open mouths to devour their prey are the fit emblem of his pursuing foes. He clearly sees that in man there is no safety for him. He looks away. He looks above. He asks no pity from surrounding foes, but he asks pity from Him whose pitying ears are ever open to the cry of faith. He humbly prays, Be merciful to me, O God! There is mighty power in the cry, "God be merciful to me, a sinner!" It never will go forth in vain. It takes Him by storm whose delight is mercy, whose riches is His mercy, whose mercy is built up forever.
3, 4. "When I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God I will praise His word; in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do to me."
Natural feelings have deep root, and will continue to spring up in the most enlightened hearts. When David looked around he saw encompassing enemies. Saul threatened in the rear--the Philistines encamped in front. Thus when he looked to MAN timidities were prone to rise. Tremblings allowed that he knew fear, but happy confidence was not extinct. Many waters cannot drown love; many troubles cannot slay faith. Out of the lowest depths he looked above, and saw bright light. His heart responded, I am afraid, but I will trust. God was his confidence. God's word was the strong foundation on which his heart was fixed. Realizing his oneness with his God, he felt that all God's promises were his unfailing heritage. His word was a safeguard which shielded his breast; it was the helmet which guarded his head; it was the sword before which no foe could stand; it was the light which dispelled all darkness; it was the song which drowned the clattering of advancing foes. Blessed is the man who can similarly cry, In God I will praise His word. But what praise can do justice to its exceeding excellence!
5-7. "Every day they wrest my words; all their thoughts are against me for evil. They gather themselves together, they hide themselves, they mark my steps, when they wait for my soul. Shall they escape by iniquity? In your anger cast down the people, O God."
The constant effort of the godly to walk without reproach in the sight of man fails to secure success. Words uttered in loving spirit and in pious frame are perverted by the lips of slander. The ungodly unite in cruel plots, and watch, with base design, the most blameless walk.
Instantly the case of our beloved Lord appears. False witnesses were obtained; things were laid to His charge from which he was entirely apart. If these things were done in the green tree, what shall be done in the dry? Faith then puts the crucial question, 'Shall they escape by iniquity?' They may escape the censure and condemnation of the world, but there is a judgment coming, in which assuredly they will be cast.
8. "You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in Your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book."
"God sees me," is the sweet solace of the true believer. "He knows the way that I take," will make that rugged way seem smooth. If perils and distress so shake the heart that plenteous tears give evidence of suffering, these tears are marked on high, and tender compassion will wipe them all away. The day has not yet come when there shall be no more tears. But the day is always present when they awaken sympathy in the Redeemer's breast. He who wept on earth will soon wipe all tears away.
9, 10, 11. "When I cry to You, then shall my enemies turn back; this I know; for God is for me. In God will I praise His word; in the Lord will I praise His word. In God have I put my trust; I will not be afraid what man can do to me."
Faith boasts of near and assured deliverance. It is confident of success. Its deep feeling is, 'This I know.' But where does this knowledge come from? There is assurance that God is a present help. Hence the fear of man vanishes as mist before the rising sun.
12, 13. "Your vows are upon me, O God; I will render praises unto You. For You have delivered my soul from death; will You not deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?"
In days of trouble vows are often made that merciful deliverance shall be duly praised. Let these vows be fully paid, and let the assurance brighten, that He who died to save the soul from eternal death, will never permit that soul to perish in the upward path. The haven is sure; the voyage shall be without a wreck.