Although my spirit grows faint within me, You know my way. Along the path I travel they have hidden a snare for me.
thou (emphatic) knewest my path. We are often placed in circumstances in life which baffle intellect and power of judgment. We are overwhelmed because we cannot understand, and cannot steer our way through conflicting conditions, so as to form a safe judgment as to the course we should take. But the condition of the psalmist, as indicated in this sentence, was altogether more serious. Intellect and judgment remained to him, but they were silenced, crushed, overwhelmed, with a weight of feeling; his "spirit was overwhelmed within him."
I. THE MASTERY OF OUR SOUL-MOODS IS OUR DEEPEST DISTRESS. We cannot watch for it to guard against it. We cannot account for it so as to excuse it to ourselves. We cannot deal with it so as to gain security out of our experience. Every man knows that, any day, he may be beaten by the mastery of his soul-moods. And the strange thing is that the peril is greater the more spiritually sensitive a man becomes. The more worldly a man is, the fewer soul-moods he has. The more spiritual a man is, the more soul-moods he has. Often in life we are placed in circumstances that are not really very anxious, but which we make overwhelming by the response of our souls to them. And this explains how little we understand one another in the perplexities of life, because we cannot know how differently souls answer to things.
II. CONFIDENCE IN GOD'S OVERRULING RELIEVES OUR DEEPEST DISTRESS, "Then thou knewest my path." At such times there is always something to do. And the psalmist is close near to the very heart of truth when he shows that God relieves feeling by leading into duty. Keep feeling, and the hands will hang down. Take feeling to God, and he will lead into active service, and so bring relief to feeling. We may be so blinded by feeling that we cannot see the way we should take. We may be sure that our feeling does not represent God's. He never is so blinded. He always sees our way, and will lead us if we put our hand in his. - R.T.
When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then Thou knewest my path.: —
I. THE DEJECTION WHICH HE FELT.
1. A painful consciousness of past guilt.
2. An oppressive endurance of present trouble.
3. A keen anticipation of future ills.
II. THE REFUGE THAT HE SOUGHT. "Then Thou knewest my path." It supposes that God was consulted about his path, that the case was distinctly brought before God in prayer, and that the case was one which would bear to be submitted to the Divine inspection.
III. THE MERCY THAT HE FOUND. God did bring his soul out of prison. Every wish was accomplished (Psalm 18.).
1. By the kindness of friends (1 Samuel 23:16).
2. By promises of His Word.
3. By events in Providence.
4. By consolations of His Spirit.
5. By translating from earth to heaven.
I. A HUMBLE APPEAL. "Thou knewest my path," — Thou knewest that my cause was just, and the steps which I took for obtaining redress were holy.
1. The path of prayer (ver. 1).
2. The way of faith, — choosing God for his portion, trusting Him as his refuge, expecting bountiful treatment at His hands (vers. 5, 7). Without this choice of God as our portion, and confidence in Him, prayer is mere selfishness, and has nothing to distinguish it from the cries of the lost.
II. A CONTRITE CONFESSION. Thou knewest how impatient I was even when professing meek submission. I could bear the great trial of Saul's persecution, but not the lighter one of Nabal's churlish insolence. Thou knewest the crookedness of my path, when by false pretences I evaded an enemy and deceived a friend; using sinful artifice where I should have relied in truth upon the God of truth.
III. A THANKFUL ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF THE LORD'S GRACIOUS CONDUCT TOWARDS DAVID WHEN HIS SPIRIT WAS OVERWHELMED. "Then Thou knewest my path:" Thou didst approve my course; and therefore didst support and comfort me under my trials. But how much greater occasion has the believer in Christ to make this thankful acknowledgment! Conclusion —
1. Let the children of God lay their account for sufferings and sorrows here below: heavy sorrows and dreadful sufferings, it may be. Such things are appointed for us, because needful, as is the furnace to separate the dross from the pure ore.
2. All trouble should lead us to God — not from Him. There is in the blessed God health and cure for all diseases of the mind; balm in Gilead, and a never-failing Physician there.
3. Let us all cherish the thought that God knows our path; in the fullest sense of the words knows our every step. To the sincere Christian, to the upright soul this truth is full of comfort.
(C. Hodgson, M. A.)
In: — I see before me a class of young men about to go forth into the world. I know their way will be strewed with dangers. By all the love I bear them I am constrained to point out to them some of their perils.
I. THE DANGERS OF YOUTH.
1. A- general exposedness to temptation. Full of passions easily excited, and warm as the current of their youthful blood; led on by an imagination as active as their youthful limbs and mostly unchecked by experience, — forming images which are constantly mistaken for realities, — which inflame and mislead the passions and bewilder the judgment; set down as strangers in the midst of a world whose objects and inhabitants present destructive blandishments to their inexperience,-whose beauties and amusements, in the absence of the love of God, are fat, ally adapted to their youthful tastes; how can they escape? at least, how dreadfully exposed are they.
2. Under all these exposures they are constantly forming habits, as uncontrollable and despotic as an Eastern sultan, and harder to be dethroned. Through inexperience and incaution, and the impetuosity of their youthful passions, they are liable to become petrified in evil habits, as fixed as the coral reefs of the ocean.
3. Young men, as they enter into business, are in danger of settling down into the love of the world, into views and aims confined to themselves and their own circle, separating them from the great republic of man, and keeping them from employing their powers and their property in promoting the happiness of the human family.
4. Another danger to which young men are exposed is indolence in action; betaking themselves to no profession, or pursuing it saunteringly, unsteadily, and to little effect; wasting life in idleness or in pleasure; in either case enervating the man in both body and soul, and making him a burden to himself and a disgraceful cumberer of the ground.
5. Young men are exposed to theological errors of every form and every degree of criminality and danger, from the slightest obliquity respecting a positive institution, up to blaspheming infidelity.
II. THE DEFENCES TO BE SET UP AGAINST THEM.
1. In regard to the last-mentioned danger my advice to you is, first of all, settle your minds on the question whether the Bible is a revelation from God, and such a revelation as will guide believers into all truth unmixed with error; in order that your faith may rest on the testimony of God and not on the authority of men, you ought to find the fullest evidence that God has spoken, and spoken in a way to furnish a safe and sure rule of faith and practice. All this being settled in the affirmative, you ought to lose no time in grounding yourselves on a system of doctrines drawn from the obvious meaning of that book, supported by the general analogy of faith. Subject your reason to the Divine teachings. Put it to school to Christ as a humble pupil.
2. Avoid all kinds of professional business arid all occasions which are specifically fraught with temptation.
3. Avoid all connections with bad men, and, as far as possible, with men whose influence would tend to warp you from the truth, or from a correct course of judging or of acting.
4. Vigilantly guard against the beginning of every evil habit, in heart, intellect, or conduct. By watchfulness it is easy to prevent the first irregularity; but who can vanquish an evil habit?
5. Let your reading be safe. Not many novels, not u perpetual round of angry politics, not a constant poring upon theological errors.
6. Let it be a settled rule to make some advance in knowledge every day, and every day to bring to pass something for the good of mankind.
7. Establish the settled habit of prayer. Without prayer you have no security against one of these dangers. Without Christ you can do nothing. These rules you will find it hard to keep with a fallen nature, and impossible unless you observe another; which leads me to say —
8. That in the outset you must devote your hearts and souls and lives to the service of God. Without doing this you will not pray effectually, and of course will have no security against one of these dangers. Without this you will be the enemies of God: and what security against any evil can an enemy of God Have in a world which He governs?
(E. D. Griffin, D. D.)
(H. O. Mackey.)
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