Psalm 55:5

Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown. David felt this. Often had he been in trouble, but never perhaps had he been brought so low before. Evils dreaded had become realities. The dark clouds, long gathering, had now burst over him in furious tempest. Absalom, his dearly loved son, has risen in revolt, and multitudes flock to his standard. Even old companions in arms desert, and the very friend most trusted turns traitor. It was a terrible time. The aged monarch, sad and dispirited, his name traduced, his tenderest feelings outraged, his life and kingdom threatened, is compelled, with the few found faithful, to seek safety in flight (2 Samuel 15.). But even then there was no rest for the king. His mind is in a turmoil; his heart is borne down by cruel doubts and fears, and the sorrows of death compassed him about. But in the dark hour he found rest and hope in God. The good man is presented in this psalm as -

I. THE SUBJECT OF GREAT MENTAL DISTRESS. (Vers. 1-8.) The cares of a divided house and the complaints of a disaffected people pressed heavy on David's soul. But worse things still troubled him - private sorrows, which he could tell only to God. Human nature is not changed. Trials are much the same now as they were three thousand years ago. How thankful should we be for such a record as we have in this psalm! We are taught that when sorrow comes it is not as if any strange thing happened to us. We see as in a glass how others have suffered, and we learn from them not only how to be patient, but where to find sure relief. How many, in all ages, since the days of David, have found, in his confessions and prayers, words wherewith fitly to express the surging feelings of their hearts!

II. THE VICTIM OF SOCIAL TREACHERY. We mix with our fellow-men. We have our friends and, it may be, our enemies. However it be, we cannot live long without knowing something of the bitterness of disappointment and the pain of betrayal. In such circumstances we have need to walk circumspectly. We must watch and pray, lest our grief should pass into unholy passion, and our just resentment rise to cruel revenge. There is a better way. Bather let the sense of injury breed in us a hatred of all injury. Bather let the feeling that we suffer wrongfully move us to sympathy with all others suffering in like manner. Bather let the faithlessness of man make us rejoice the more in the faithfulness of God, whose care of us never ceases, and whose love never fails.

III. THE OBJECT OF DIVINE DELIVERANCE. "As for me" (ver. 16) marks the difference between the godly and the ungodly, and points the way to the true Resource in every trouble. Help comes largely from prayer (ver. 17). Recollection of past deliverances is reviving (ver. 18). There is also comfort from a clearer insight into the purposes and doings of God (ver. 19). But the great relief, even when face to face with the most grievous trials, is in casting all our cares upon God, who careth for us (ver. 22). The burden which is too heavy for us, and which is crushing us to the earth, we roll upon God, and therefore enter into rest and assured hope. The last words of the psalm are a fit watchword for life and for death ' "But I will trust in thee." - W.F.

Fearfulness sad trembling are come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed me.
We are to meditate now on the nervous temperament, and to study especially the relation which the Gospel occupies in relation to it. There may be other anodynes of consolation, physical and mental; but my argument will be this — that the religion of Christ stands in special relationship of succour to those who feel with the psalmist, "I am feeble and sore broken, because of the disquietness of my heart."

I. THE TRUE PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE IS LIFE IN CHRIST. We must go out of ourselves, and of our "moods" and "feelings," that we may look unto Christ and be saved! Christ is a perfect Brother as well as a perfect Saviour. Redemption is His. Yes! and so is common home-life; so is the gift of daily bread. The great realm of providence is under His sceptre. All things are given into His hands, and He is Lord of all. Be wise. Act with prudence. Resolve with promptitude. Persevere with energy. Rise early with alacrity for the service of the day, but east all anxious thoughts of to-morrow on your Elder Brother. This will be your most perfect anodyne. Other things will help. The bracing air, the oxygen and ozone of the sea coast, may tone your nerves, but it cannot create new ones. The Gospel can do the most, but even that cannot reorganize the physical frame, so fearfully and wonderfully made; but its atmosphere is the best one for bracing the heart and soothing the fretted, irritated nerve.

II. THERE ARE SPECIAL ADVENT-HOURS OF TROUBLE. Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me. We none of us know how frail we are till trial comes. Advent-hours of trouble do come. Even sin in its first consciousness overwhelms some with fear and trembling, A great horror overwhelms them. The old cry is heard. "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord." How terrible, then, if such souls fall into the hands, not of wise physicians, but of unwise irritators of the evil. At once the anxious soul should be led to Him who says, "Daughter, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee." And there are seasons when unforeseen calamity comes. No fleecy cloud presages the coming storm, no floating seaweed tells how near the vessel is to the rocks, but is swift as the "bore" that rushes up the waters of the Hooghly from the Ganges, sweeps in with a swell, and engulfs the precious freights of unanchored vessels in its broadening wave. There are seasons when the nerves are made intensively sensitive. The heart is pierced by the coldness and neglect of some familiar friend. The spirit droops. Ingratitude has wounded, neglect has chilled, cruelty has crushed, and enmity has tried to slay reputation and renown. Surely at such times it is heart rest to know the Brother born for adversity, the Friend that stieketh closer than a brother; then is the hour to feel the warm radiance of the love of Christ.

III. THERE MAY BE MINISTRATIONS THAT ARE HUMAN AS WELL AS DIVINE. We can perform miracles of healing, not in the old sense, but wonders of restorative power are within our reach. Is it a child that is nervous and sensitive? See to it that you early discern the difference between that little trembling spirit and the stronger brother. Is it a life-companion? See that you do not treat this sensitiveness as a mere weakness to be cured by physical agencies alone — the best curative will be a cheerful mind within working outwards. We have to live and teach the Cross, in its spirit as well as in its doctrine; in its beautiful revelation that He, the Highest and Strongest of all, suffered for us; that He was despised and rejected of men for us; that He gave Himself for us. Remember, then, that you stand in Christian relationship to the timorous, the sensitive, and the nervous, and ever seek to manifest the spirit of Him who would not break the bruised reed.

IV. THERE MUST BE A STUDY OF THE DISEASE TO UNDERSTAND THE REMEDIES. We are fearfully as well as wonderfully made; then let us remember how easily nervousness is promoted by self-indulgence and sloth, by morbid books, by strange tales told in childhood, by companionship with those who take foreboding view of life, and by the domination of "fixed ideas " so difficult to shake off. And all cannot afford change of scene and change of clime. It is not in medicine to cure all this. It may alleviate, but it cannot recreate. Earthly appliances are wise in their own way; but if I am right the Gospel of Christ is the relieving power — that alone brings out fully the blessed revelation of the Fatherhood of God.

(W. M. Statham, M. A.)

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