But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinks on me: you are my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.
I. AFFLICTIONS BEFALL GOD'S DEAREST CHILDREN.
1. If Christ had not suffered, who had been saved? If He had not been pierced through with many sorrows, not one of the sons of Adam had possessed any true comfort or sound solace.
2. And His members must be like the bush in the fire, for several reasons.
(1) Are they not the Lord's garden-plots? Will He not plant and sow them with the sweetest seeds and most fragrant flowers? Shall He not then dig them up and break every little clod to pieces?
(2) The faithful are likened to trees, and must not they be pruned and lopped?
(3) God's children are compared to good corn, not cockle; we must expect then to be shaken with the windy and blustering storms of the wicked. The rooks of our times will be pecking out the ripest grain; and every ravening fowl fly over us and defile us; go through us and bruise us; or fall upon us and rob us; yea, our God Himself will cut us down, thresh us and grind us; for it's corn that must be put on the mill, not chaff: wheat that must be winnowed, when cockle is to be abandoned, burned.
(4) How often are the godly compared to a temple I and may not every particular person resemble a stone in divers things? We must be cut out of the rock of our natural estate; and it's no easy matter to be endured, afterwards squared and hewn, that we may be fitted to lie close and comely in the building; and this will be felt a painful polishing; yet this must be done, or we are undone. Rough stones are cast into the foundation, but they that be appointed for the pinnacles and principal places must have the more picks, the greater polishing, else they should not be of (or at the best but deface) this holy temple, this stately building.
II. THE LORD DOTH NOT SEPARATE HIS AFFECTION FROM HIS CHILDREN IN AFFLICTION.
1. The Lord is not subject to forgetfulness. He knoweth who are His; and His eye is always over them.
2. Nor is He subject to change. Whom He loveth once He loveth ever.
3. Let us examine and see what is the cause of separating affection; and shall we not find it either in the agent or object? In the lover, God, we see no cause can be found: surely, nor in the thing beloved. It is plain that no trouble destroyeth the image of God or maketh his the more prone to sin; but rather it hath been a means to move them to leave it and amend. For in trouble they will pray more fervently; pity others more compassionately; make vows, and resolve to serve God the more strictly than ever in the days of prosperity. Why, then, should the Lord withdraw His affection from them? for love leaves hold but when the object grows worse and worse.
4. This reason may also confirm the doctrine. He should be more unnatural than mere natural men (who take the most pity of their own being in the greatest distress), if He should forsake His children in their affliction. Nature itself, in these straits, will not be wanting; and shall the Author of all graces be found failing?
III. THE FAVOUR OF GOD IN AFFLICTION ONLY GIVETH THE FAITHFUL SATISFACTION.
1. The Lord is the only object of their love, and He in whom their soul principally delighteth: wherefore, enjoying Him, they have all they would.
2. Because they believe and know that all shall work together for good at their latter end.
IV. THE LORD WILL DELIVER THE FAITHFUL FROM ALL DANGERS; FREE THEM IN A CONVENIENT SEASON FROM ALL AFFLICTIONS.
1. He hath so promised and purposed; and shall not His counsel stand, and His word abide for ever?
2. And this He will do for love of His children. This, then, being thus, be of good comfort for the present, fear not any future dangers; but pluck up your hearts, and gird up the loins of your minds; go on through good report and evil report; be resolute soldiers of Jesus Christ; march on valiantly, and fear not their fear. For manger their malice, David shall serve his days; Paul finish his work, and John's life be prolonged until his task be ended. And every upright and honest heart shall have all tears wiped from his eyes, fetters from his feet, manacles from his fingers; run to and fro in the new Jerusalem that is above.
Parallel VersesKJV: But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.