Tuesday, September 12, 2017

My Summer with Psalm 119 #22

As a few of you know, I love, love, LOVE Psalm 119. I thought it would be great to spend a summer focusing on that psalm and what others have had to say about it. I'll begin with Thomas Manton's Exposition of Psalm 119. It may take all summer to read all 158 sermons. But they're so GOOD, so RICH, I think it will be worth it.

Sermon 29 (Psalm 119:28)

  • A CHRISTIAN should neither be humbled to the degree of dejection, nor confident to the degree of security; and therefore he is to have a double eye, upon God and upon himself, upon his own necessities and upon God’s all-sufficiency.
  • 1. His case is represented, my soul melteth for heaviness. 2. His petition and request to God, strengthen thou me according to thy word.
  • Doct. That God’s children oftentimes lie under the exercise of such deep and pressing sorrow as is not incident to other men.
  • The good and evil of the spiritual life is greater than the good and evil of any other life whatsoever. As their joys are unspeakable and glorious, so their sorrows are sometimes above expression:
  • A worldly man may know something of the evil of sin in the effects of it, but a child of God seeth into the nature of it; they value it by the wrong, by the offence that is done to God, and so are humbled more for the evil in sin, than for the evil after sin.
  • God’s own people are liable to great trouble of spirit; therefore you should not be secure as to these spiritual enjoyments, which come and go according to God’s pleasure. Men that build too much upon spiritual suavities or sensible consolations occasion a snare to their own souls; partly as they are less watchful for the present (like mariners which have been at sea, when they get into the haven, take down their tackling, and make merry, and think never to see storm more), and so lose that which they are so confident of keeping; by their negligence and carelessness their spiritual comfort is gone.
  • Neither to determine of our condition one side or other, but to stay our hearts upon God, and so to make use of offers and inviting promises, when we cannot make use of conditional and assuring promises.
  • Secondly, I come from David’s case to his petition or request to God, Strengthen thou me according to thy word.’ Where you have— 1. The request itself. 2. An argument to enforce it. First, The request itself, Strengthen me;’ that is the benefit asked. Doct. 1. Observe this in the general, he doth but now and then drop out a request for temporal safety, but all along his main desire is for grace and for support rather than deliverance.
  • The everlasting welfare of the whole person depends upon the flourishing of the inward man.
  • The soul is the man; the body follows the state of the soul, but the soul doth not follow the state of the body. The life of God, which he doth begin in the soul, does in time renew and perfect the body too.
  • Doct. 2. Secondly, more especially observe he goes to God for strength. Let me show— 1. What is this spiritual strength. 2. How it is given out. 3. How God is concerned in it. David goes to God, Lord, strengthen me.’
  • First, What spiritual strength is. It is God’s perfecting of his work. Strength supposeth life, therefore in general it is God’s renewed influence; when he hath planted habits of grace, he comes and strengthens.
  • Preventing grace is when God converts us, when the Lord turns us to himself, and doth plant grace in the soul at first. Working grace is when God strengthens the habit. Co-working grace, when God stirs up the act, and helps us in the exercise of the grace we have.
  • There are planted in the soul habits of grace. There are not only high operations of grace, but permanent and fixed habits, the seed of God that remaineth within us, 1 John 3:9, which cannot be the indwelling of the Spirit; for this seed of God is some created thing: Ps. 51:10, Create in me a clean heart, God;’ and it is some thing that grows: 2 Peter 3:6, Grow in grace.’ And therefore it is evident there are habits of grace planted in the soul, a good stock that we have from God at first, called the good treasure of the heart,’ Mat. 12. These habits of grace are called armour of God,’ the shield of faith,’ the helmet of salvation.’ This is the strength of the soul. 
  • There is a concurrence of God to the act. Grace in habit is not enough, but it must be actuated and directed. About the act there are two things: The Holy Spirit actuates the grace that is implanted, draws it forth into exercise; so it is said, Phil. 2:13, It is God that worketh in you both to will and to do,’ that is, he does apply that grace in our heart, set it a-work; and then there is a directing or regulation of the soul to action: 2 Thes. 3:5, The Lord direct your hearts into the love of God,’ &c. Thus God plants grace in the heart by preventing us with his mercy and loving-kindness, taking us into favour; then he doth stablish us, and perfect it, root it in the soul more and more. Then as to the act, he doth excite and strengthen us.
  • Strength to perform duties. Weariness and uncomfortableness will soon fall upon our hearts, and we shall hang off from God, if the Lord doth not put forth a new force, and a new quickening upon our hearts;
  • Strength for bearing of burdens with patience, that we may not faint under them:
  • God’s children, before they go to heaven, will have their trials, they will have many burdens upon them: Heb. 6:12, Be ye followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.’ There needs not only faith, but patience. There will be trouble. Now a heavy burden need have good shoulders. We pray for strength, that we may break through difficulties and afflictions that we meet in our passage to heaven.
  • Strength for conflicts, that we may break through temptations. A Christian is not only to use the trowel but the sword. We cannot think to discharge duties or bear afflictions without a battle and conflict; therefore we need the strength of the Lord’s grace to carry us through. Satan is the great enemy with whom we conflict, he is the manager of the temptation. This is the course of it; the world is the bait; the flesh is the traitor that works within men, which gives advantage to Satan; the devil lieth hidden, and by worldly things seeks to draw off our hearts from God. Now we are assaulted on every side, sometimes by the pleasures of the world, sometimes by the frowns and crosses of it; so that a Christian needs to be fit for all conditions: Phil.4:13, I can do all things through Christ that strengtheneth me;’ for every way will the devil be enticing us to sin. Now these conflicts are either solicitations to sin, or tend to weaken our comfort; and in both respects we must have strength from God. Satan’s first temptation is to draw us to sin; if he cannot weaken grace, then to disturb our comfort; if not to deny God, yet that we may suspect our own estate; and therefore he follows us with blasphemies and other temptations, until he hath made our lives wearisome, till we call our condition into question; and therefore, as grace is strengthened, so is comfort: Neh. 8:10, The joy of the Lord is your strength.’
  • We do not stand by the stability of our own resolutions, nor stand by the stability of gracious habits in ourselves, unless the Lord supply new strength.
  • Christ puts in strength, that is, he observes all our temptations, our conflicts, how weak we are; and he intercedes with God night and day; he stands at God’s right hand, to get out this strength; and the Holy Ghost applies it to our heart in the ordinances; for so it is said, Eph. 3:16, To be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.’
  • To press us to be dealing with God for this strength. What shall we do? 1. Be weak in your own sense and feeling. The way to be strong is to be weak: 2 Cor. 12:10, When I am weak, then am I strong.’ The bucket, if we would have it filled with the ocean, must first be empty.
  • What ever is in God and in Christ is for our use; it is forthcoming for our encouragement and help. We have firm grounds for this reliance— the infinite power of God, and the merit of Christ, which is of in finite value. What cannot the power of God do? The strength of God is engaged for our relief and succour. 
  • Avoid sin; that lets out your strength, as bleeding lets out the spirits of the body. When you grieve the Spirit of Christ which is to strengthen you, you cast away your strength from you. Let us then wait upon God for help, for when all things fail, God faileth not.
  • A prayer grounded upon a promise is like to prevail; you may put a humble challenge upon God, plead his word to him. It is strange fire else you put in the censer, when you beg that which God never undertook to grant.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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