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" THE Lord also will be a rejuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And they that know thy ame will put their trust in thee : for thoUf Lord, hast never failed them that seek thee. " Psalm ix. 9, 10. THIS psalm, like the last, is supposed to have special reference to David's victory over the giant Goliath of GatL We can easily suppose how that event, above almost all others, must have continually dwelt in the psalmist's mind. Amid all the causes of thankfulness which he experienced, none would be likely to move his heart more than the recollection of his first great deliverance — ^the first circumstance which brought him into notice. Though every day we live, my brethren, testifies to God's care and love for each one of us, yet any special and unusual deliverance more than common would surely make us more particularly sensible of God's mercy and goodness towards us. K saved when our life was despaired of, or in a shipwreck, or fire, or some fearful accident, these things would be to us like David's preservation from Goliath. Years afterwards our minds would revert to that event, and most likely
OUR DAILY BLESSI GS UMBERLESS, 69
we should reflect that to it we attribute all the earnest feelings of religion we possess. This is but a natural feeling, yet such an occasion may not happen to every one of us. The lives of most of us are probably not marked by any great stirring and striking event ; but they are marked by daily mercies and providences which perhaps we think little of, because they ai*e so common, so regular, and so unfailing. Our health, and
food, and clothes, kind friends, and a happy home, all these, with the thousand little associations which endear life to each of us, are God's gifts to us ; they are God's providings. He is "the author and giver of all good things," both in our souls and bodies. We must not overlook the lesser blessings we enjoy because they are continually renewed to us, or because some one or more special acts of mercy and goodness may or may not have marked our course in life. I think that there are two parts in this psalm which deserve to be considered separately. To-day there is God's care for all of us, especially when troubles come upon us. " Thou, Lord, hast never failed them that seek thee." Then there are these striking words, which it will be well for us to give attention to another day: "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the people that forget God." To-day let us look only to these former words : " The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And they that know thy ame will put their trust in thee : for thou, Lord, hast never failed
70 PSALM IX. them that seek thee." Here axe two classes described — those whom God seeks, and those who seek God. God is described as very near to them both. We all know how difficult it sometimes is to think and feel that our very trials in life are proofs of God's care and love for us ; and yet we are assured that they are intended to be so to us all. I do not say that sorrows, and sufferings, and trials are not often sent as punishments upon men. There can be no doubt that they are so. But even then mercy triumphs over justice ; for God would thus bring back to Himself the wanderers. Men's hearts are often softened by trials, just as we read in the parable of the prodigal son — that his misfortunes brought him to himself, and led him to determine thus, " I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son." It is very sad to think, brethren, that very few, if any, of us are able to bear for long outward blessings and prosperity without having our hearts drawn away from God, like that prodigal in his prosperity, rather
than to God who gives them all to us. Yet such is but too surely the case. If a man really loves God while he is well, and strong, and rich, and prosperous in the world, it is perhaps one of the greatest triumphs of grace over nature which is ever to be found. But no one of us goes on through life, if for long, without trials of soTTie kind. They are sure to be our portion
SEEK, A D YE SHALL FI D. J I sooner or later. We must not wish or expect it to be otherwise, or that we shall escape them. And when that moment overtakes us, how comforting is the thought that " God is a defence for the oppressed, even a refuge in due time of trouble." Our Lord Jesus Christ not only died for us that through His blood we might receive justification and be accepted, but He shared to the full in our nature, so that, as S. Paul says, " we Christians have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like £U5 we are, yet without sin." And then he adds, " Therefore, let us come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." This is very much what the latter part of my text says. In the first part of it we have God seeking us, and declared to be a defence and refine in the time of trouble. In the latter part we have the blessing named which belongs to them who seek Him: "Thou, Lord, hast never failed them that seek thee." This, brethren, is far better than the former, because if we do not seek God, God will seek us from the love He bears to us for Christ's sake ; but it is far better and happier that we should with a perfect heart seek Him of ourselves. There is no limit put to the power which men have with God who seek Him with their whole heart in the fulness of faith. "Ask, and it shall be given you ; seek, and ye shall find ; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." " Verily, verily, I say unto
72 PSALM IX. you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall
he d6 also ; and greater works than these shall he do ; because I go to my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son." This is how God speaks to us of our seeking Him. Yet how few, alas ! really do seek Him with their whole heart early and late in life. Our prayers and our life must answer to one another. We should all try, my brethren, to seek unto God by a life of prayer and consistent holiness ; the one helps the other. God is pleased when we try to do all as He would have us do, just as an earthly parent is pleased with the child that trys to do all that he wishes and commands. Such a spirit is very much helped by awakening more and more in our hearts a sense of our daily dependence upon God, and of His care and thought for us. The daily blessings which each one of us receive are manifold ; but because they are given to us so regularly and unfailingly, we but too often forget the Giver in the enjoyment of His gifts. When Israel was in the wilderness, they first murmured when food and water fell short ; and when these were miraculously provided and daily bestowed, they then murmured at the continual and unvarying supply thus aflforded them. And so oftentimes with us, what we have for long enjoyed we scarcely know or value till it is lost. We murmur or are thankless amid the very abundance of blessings which God bestows upon us.
GOD IS OUR REFUGE A D STRE GTH, 73 Let US gather up one or two hints from these few thoughts. First, be sure, brethren, that God so loves us through Jesus Christ our Lord, by whom we are reconciled to Him, that He never gives over any man without trying in some way to bring him back to Himself. He loves best those who seek Him — them He never fails nor forsakes. The earlier the better that we seek Him, for " they who seek me early,'' He says, " shall find me." But if we put oflf and put away our love in response to His love, then oftentimes God takes some steps which shall lessen our love for this world, and loosen our aflfections from it. He, as it were, puts out His hand to save us, like S. Peter when he left the boat to walk to his Master on the troubled sea. When he offered to come, Christ said "Come;" and when his faith began
to fail, apd he cried out, " Lord, save me," Christ held out His hand, caught him, and saved him from sinking. And so it is ever with all of us. "Thou, Lord, hast EVER failed them that seek Thee." Will not this thought lead our hearts to desire and seek Him ? He will never fail us if we do. Amid all the temptations of sin, those that easily and constantly beset us, or those which overtake us suddenly and in a moment. He will preserve us by His grace, by the power of His Spirit. In all difficulties, and trials, and troubles. He is ever ready to be our refuge and defence. Sinful men or evil spirits are powerless to harm them in whom Christ lives. Let us be God's true children and
74 PSALM IX. servants, and then we may say with S. Paul, ''I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor cuiy other creature, shall be able to separate us fipom the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Amen.
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