Ps. xxxviii. 1 — 9. Lord, rebuke me not in thy wrath, neither
chasten me in thy hot displeasure: for thine arrows stick
fast in me, and thy hand presseth me sore. There is no sound-
ness in my flesh hecaiise of thine anger ; neither is there any
rest in my bones because of my sin. For mine iniquities
are gone over mine head; as an heavy burthen, they are
too heavy for me. My wounds slink and are corrupt, be-
cause of my foolishness. I am troubled; I am bowed down
greatly; I go mourning all the day long. For my loins
are filed with a lothcsome disease ; arid there is no sound-
ness in my flesh. I am feeble, and sore broken : I have
roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart. Lord,
all my desire is before thee; and my groaning is not hid
from thee.
IT will be of great use to us through life to trea-
sure up in our minds the dealings of God with us on
some particular occasions. As his care over us in
our difficulties may well call for " a stone of remem-
brance, which shall be called our Eben-ezer," so his
merciful attention to us at the first commencement
of our humiliation before him may well be written in
indelible characters upon our hearts. The prophet
Jeremiah, looking back to some season of peculiar
distress, records his experience in terms of lively
gratitude'': and, in like manner, David opens to us
all his views and feelings when he sought the Lord
after a season of darkness and distress ; and he tells
us that this psalm was written by him " to bring to
remembrance" the troubles he then endured, and
the tender mercies of God towards him.
From the part we have just read, we shall be led
to consider,
I. His distress —
This was exceeding great. — Let us notice,
1 . The source and cause of it —
[He traces it to sin as its proper cause'' : and sin is the true
and only source of all trouble Sin is an object of God's
abhorrence; and wherever it exists unlaniented and dominant, he
* Lam. iii. I— 4, 12, 13, 17— 21. ''ver.3, 4, 5.
128 PSALMS, XXXVIII. 1 — 9. [359.
will visit it according to its desert. In whomsoever it be found,
whether he be a king on his throne, or a beggar on a dunghill,
he will make no difference, except indeed to punish it in
proportion to the light that has been resisted, and the aggrava-
tions with which it has been committed. Doubtless the sins of
David were of most transcendent enormity, and therefore might
well be visited with peculiar severity : but we mubt not imagine
that his are the only crimes that deserve punishment: disobedience
to God, whether against the first or second table of the Law, is
hateful in his sight, and will surely subject us to his " hot dis-
pleasure " ^
1. The extent and depth of it—
[His soul was overwhelmed with a sense of God's wrath.
*' God's arrows" pierced his inmost soul: and his hand was
heavy upon him, and " pressed him sore." His iniquities,
which, when they were yet only committed in desire and pur-
pose, appeared light, now were an insupportable burthen to his
soul ; insomuch that " he roared by reason of the disquietness
of his heart." Here then we see what sinners may expect in
this life. Verily such experience as this is little else than a
foretaste of hell itself ]
But his hodtj also was afflicted with a grievous disease, which
had been sent of God as an additional mark of his righteous in-
dignation '^. And no doubt, if we could certainly discover the
reasons of the Divine procedure, we should often see diseases and
death inflicted as the chastisement of sin'^. David viewed his
disorders in this light: and those, without any additional load,
were heavy to be borne ; but, when added to the overwhelming
troubles of his soul, they almost sunk him to despair. Let those
wlio think lightly of sin, view this monarch in the state above
described, and say, whether sin, however " sweet in the mouth,
1)6 not at last the gall of asps within us*:" yes, assuredly, it will
sooner or later " bite like a serpent, and sting like an adder."]
But in the midst of all this trouble, he makes
mention of,
11. His consolation — ^
Whilst deeply bemoaning his sin, he was assured
that God was priv^y to dl the workings of his soul,
beholding his desires, and hearing all his groans.
ow this was a great consolation to him, because he
well knew,
1 . That God, in the groanings of a penitent, recog-
nizes the voice of his own eternal Spirit —
•^ver. 3, 5,7. "^ 1 Cor. xi. 30. "^ Job xx. 12— 14.
359.J David's distress and consolation. 129
[Groans are the natural expressions of inward pain and an-
guish ', and when they arise from a sense of sin, they are indica-
tions of a penitent heart. But no pious disposition is found in
man till it is planted there by the Holy Ghost. God is " the
Author of every good and perfect gift," and must "give us to
will, no less than to do" whatever is acceptable in his sight.
As for groanings on account of sin, they are more especially
said to be the fruits of the Spirit, who thus " helpeth our infir-
mities, and enables us to express our feelings which are too big for
utterance ^" To man such inarticulate sounds would convey no
distinct idea; but God understands them perfectly, because " he
knoweth the mind of the Spirit:" and he delights in them,
because it is in this way that ^' the Spirit maketh intercession
for us," and because these very intercessions are '^ according to
the will of Gods."
What a consolatory thought is this to one that is overwhelmed
with a sense of sin ! " He knows not what to pray for as he
ought ; " and perhaps the load upon his spirit disables him for
uttering what his unembarrassed judgment would dictate : but
he recollects that God needeth not any one to interpret to him
our desires : he understands a sigh, a tear, a look, with infal-
lible certainty : he sees all the self-lothing and self-abhorrence
that is contained in such expressions of the penitent's feelings ;
and in answer to them, he will " do for us exceeding abundantly
above all that we can ask or think."]
2. That to such expressions of penitence all the
promises of God are made —
[It is not to the fluent tongue, but to the contrite heart,
that pardon and peace are promised. " To this man will I look,"
says God, " even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit,'*
" to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of
the contrite ones'"." He will fulfil not the requests only, but the
desire also, of them that fear him," and " of them that hope in
his mercy." If only we look unto him we shall be lightened,"
yea, we shall " be saved with an everlasting salvation'." The
publican who dared not so much as lift up his eyes unto heaven,
but smote on his breast, and cried, God be merciful to me a
sinner ! went down to his house justified, when the self-applaud-
ing Pharisee was dismissed under the guilt of all his sins.
ow this is an unspeakable consolation to the weary and heavy-
laden sinner. Had lie to look for grounds of worthiness, or even
for any considerable attainments, in himself, he would be discou-
raged ; but finding that the invitations of God are made to him
as wretched and miserable, and poor, and blind and naked, and
f Rom. viii. 26. ^ ib. ver. 27. ** Isai. Ivii. 15. & Ixvi. 2.
' Ps. cii. 17, 19, '20. Isai. .\lv. 17, 22.
VOL. iV. K
130 PSALMS, XXXVIII. 1 — 9. [359.
that the promises are suited to him in that state, he comes to the
Lord Jesus Christ, and finds rest and peace unto his soul.]
From this view of the Psahnist's experience we
1. What an evil and bitter thing sin is —
\_" Fools will make a mock at sin," and represent it as a
light and venial thing : but let any one look at David in the
midst of all the sp'endor of a court, and say, what sin is, which
could so rob him of all earthly pleasure, and bring such torment
upon his soul. Was that a light matter? If v.'e will not be con-
vinced by such a sight as this, we shall learn it by sad ex-
perience in the eternal world, where the worm that will prey
upon our consciences shall never die, and the fire that shall
torment our bodies shall never be quenched. O that we might
be instructed, ere it be too late !]
2. What an enviable character is the true Chris-
tian, even when viewed under the greatest disadvan-
tages —
[We cannot conceive a Christian in circumstances less
enviable than those of David in the passage before us : yet
compare him with an ungodly or impenitent man under the
most favourable circumstances that can be imagined, and ask,
Whose views are most just? whose feelings most ra-
tional ? whose prospects most happy ? With the
one " God is angry every day ;" on the other he looks with
complacency and delight : the joys of the one will soon termi-
nate in inconceivable and everlasting misery ; and the sorrows of
the o.ther in endless and unspeakable felicity''. The siimer in
the midst of all his revellings has an inward witness of the
truth of our Lord's assertion ; " Blessed are they that mourn,
for they shall be comforted."]
3. Of what importance it is to attain just views of
the character of God —
[If God be viewed as a God of all mercy, we shall never
repent us of our sins : and if he be viewed as an inexorable Judge,
we shall be equally kept from penitence by despair. But let him
be seen as he is in Christ Jesus, a " God reconciling the world
unto himself, and not imputing their trespasses unto them," let
him be acknowledged as " a just God and yet a J^aviour," and
instantly will a holy fear spring up in the place of presunjption,
and hope dispel the baneful influence of despondency-
Know then, Beloved, that this is the very character of God as he
is revealed in his Gospel : he is "just, and yet the justifier of them
that believe in Jesus :" he is to the impenitent indeed "a consuming
fire :"
" Luke xvi. lo — 26. Sc Isai. xxxv. JO,
fire :" but, " if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to
forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousnessJ*
Let the groaning penitent then look up to him with cheerful hope;
vea, with assured confidence, tliat God will not despi.se even the
lowest expressions of penitential sorrow : however " bruised the
reed may i)e, the Lord Jesus will not break it ; nor will he quench
the smoking flax," though there be in it but one spark of grace,
and a whole cloud of corruption : never did he yet *' despise the
day of small things;" *' nor will he ever cast out the least or
meanest that come unto him." Only come to him in faith, and
" according to your faith it shall be done unto you."]

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