Psalm 81:10
There is no one that we like less than a man who is always begging. Our way is to tell people who ask of us, that they are not to come again, or that we can do but very little for them. And those who ask know how we feel, and hence they plead, perhaps, that they have never asked before, or that they never will again, or that they only ask for a very little. Now, it is not difficult to defend this our common conduct with suppliants; but what a contrast it offers to our God's dealing with us! He does not send us away when we come to him, nor complain that we come so often, or that we ask so much; but, as here, he encourages our greatest expectations, and bids us "open our mouth wide," etc. Such immense encouragement does he give to us to all boldness in prayer.

"Thou art coming to a King, Large petitions with thee bring; For his grace and power are such, None can ever ask too much." The psalmist had probably often noticed how the young birds open their mouths wide for the food which they know the parent bird will give them, and for which, therefore, they wait with such eager expectancy. And he points to this familiar fact, and bids his countrymen in like manner expect blessing from God, for God will not disappoint them. Now, on this subject, note -

I. THAT THERE ARE SOME WHO NEVER OPEN THEIR MOUTHS AT ALL. They do not believe in prayer, they count it so much waste breath, and affirm that it avails no more than the piteous cry of the hare when she knows that the hounds are upon her. They urge that all things are governed by fixed law, and no desire of ours, however fervent, can make the slightest alteration. Or else, they say that if what we ask for be right for God to give, he will give it without our prayer; that if it be not right, then, as certainly, he will not give it: he knows our need without our telling him. But we have one short reply to all this, and we say to all such disbelievers in prayer - Have you ever really prayed? Myriads of believing souls there are who with one voice will affirm, "I sought the Lord, and he heard me;" and we prefer to believe these who know that God heareth prayer, rather than you who have never really prayed.

II. THERE ARE OTHERS WHO OPEN THEIR MOUTHS, BUT NOT "WIDE," as we are here bidden to do. They pray, but they do not expect much to come from it. In words they ask for great things, but they do not really believe they will have them. Our Lord's command to us is, "When ye pray, believe that ye receive" (Mark 11:24). Now, in regard to temporal blessings, it may be that we cannot have confident expectation that we shall have the precise favour we ask for; but we ought to have such expectation that that which is really best for us God will certainly give. But in regard to spiritual blessings, such as deliverance from sin, for which, in words, we so constantly pray, we ought to expect the very blessing itself. "The blood of Jesus Christ... cleanseth from all sin;" there is, therefore, absolute warrant for expecting such cleansing; and we need not think, though practically we do, that the blunder of a little lad known to the writer, is really the truth. In repeating the General Confession, when he came to the words, "and there is no health in us," he substituted for them, "and there is no help for it." And that is what so many practically think. They remember their own grievous past, they know the force of long evil habit, and their own wretched weakness, and they see the persistence of evil and sin everywhere, even in the good; and they come to the sorrowful conclusion that "there is no help for it" this side the grave. They have no real expectation of deliverance, and, therefore, they do not get it. And yet people go on perpetually asking for it. The reason of their not having is that they will not open their mouths wide, and so God cannot fill them with his blessing. But -

III. NONE EVER WILL, UNLESS THE CONDITIONS OF SUCH EXPECTATION BE FULFILLED. There must be:

1. A mouth to open; that is, power to believe. Now, we all have that, and use it every day about other things.

2. Need of God's blessing. Unquestionably there is that.

3. Sense of this need. Consciousness of it, and distress because of it. Hunger after God's blessing.

4. Will to believe. Trust is more a matter of the will than of the reason. "I will trust, and not be afraid." Refuse to doubt, resolve to believe. - S.C.







Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.
Homilist.
I. GOOD MEN ARE THE SUBJECTS OF MORAL HUNGER — a craving for the chief good, hungering and thirsting after righteousness. This implies —

1. Health. The body without appetite for food is diseased; the intellect without appetite for truth is diseased; and the soul without appetite for righteousness is diseased.

2. Provision. The existence of any native desire, physical, intellectual, or moral, implies a corresponding object. Goodness, like the air we breathe, is ever at hand; it encompasses our path. If we really desire it, we shall have it.

II. THE MORE HUNGRY, THE BETTER FED. "Open thy mouth wide," etc. The Great Father wishes His children to have the profoundest cravings, the largest expectations; for He has an infinity of blessings which it is His happiness to bestow. The more you desire from Him, the more you shall have.

(Homilist.)

I. EXPLAIN THE EXHORTATION. It implies —

1. Warmth and fervency in prayer.

2. A holy fluency and copiousness of expression, so as to order our cause before Him, and fill our mouths with arguments.

3. Enlarged hope and expectation.

II. CONSIDER THE IMPORT OF THE PROMISE.

1. If we open our mouths to God in prayer, He will fill them more and more with suitable petitions and arguments.

2. God will fill the mouth with abundant thanksgivings.

3. We shall be filled with those blessings we pray for, if they are calculated to promote our real good and the glory of God.

III. NOTICE THE LIMITATIONS with which the promise requires to be understood.

1. Though God answers prayer, yet He will do it in His own time, and not always when we expect it.

2. He seldom answers prayer in the manner we expect.

3. He sometimes answers prayer gradually, and not all at once.

4. It is not our performance of duty, but the inviolable faithfulness of God that binds Him to the fulfilment of His promises.

IV. INFERENCES.

1. It is no wonder that many continue in a destitute and hopeless state: they live without prayer, and so without supplies of mercy.

2. If God thus fills the souls of unnumbered millions, how full must He Himself be!

(B. Beddome, M. A.)

I. THE BASIS OF THE INVITATION.

1. "I am the Lord" — the Lord of the whole earth.

2. I am "thy God" — thy covenant God.

3. I "brought thee out of the land of Egypt." He appeals to what He has already done on our behalf.

II. THE INVITATION: "Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it." The invitation consists of an instruction and a promise: the instruction is, "Open thy mouth wide"; the promise is, "I will fill it."

1. The instruction instructs us in two things — the manner of prayer and the measures of prayer. The manner of prayer is this — "Open thy mouth." The measure of prayer is this — "Open thy mouth wide."

2. The promise refers to both temporal and spiritual blessings.

(P. Prescott.)

I. WHAT IT IS TO OPEN THE MOUTH OF THE SOUL WIDE TO CHRIST.

1. A sight of wants.

2. A sense of need.

3. A holy dissatisfaction with all things beside Christ.

4. The soul's removing its desires from off vanities, and fixing them on Christ for satisfaction.

5. An assumed expectation of salvation from Christ.

6. A hearty willingness to receive Christ as He offers Himself in the Gospel.

II. SHOW HOW CHRIST FILLS THE SOUL SO AS NO OTHER CAN DO. "Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it." This promise imports —

1. Such a suitableness in Him to the necessities of the soul, as is to be found in no other.

2. A sufficiency in Christ for all needs.

3. A cominunication of this suitable sufficiency unto that soul which opens its mouth wide to receive it.(1) Christ gives Himself to that soul, so that such an one might say (Song of Solomon 2:16).(2) Christ gives them all good with Himself (Romans 8:32; Psalm 84:11).

4. The soul's satisfaction upon that communication. When all the cisterns are dried up, the believer has enough, He can rejoice in the Lord, and joy in the God of his salvation (Habakkuk 3:17). He can say also with Paul (Philippians 4:18), "I am full"; and no wonder, for the soul having Christ, has —(1) A fulness of merit to look to (1 John 1:7).(2) A fulness of spirit in Christ to take away the power of sin (Revelation 3:1).(3) A fulness of grace in Him, lodged in Him as the common storehouse of all the saints (John 1:16; 1 Corinthians 1:30).

(T. Boston, D. D.)

I. THE ONLY SOURCE OF FULL SATISFACTION FOR HUMAN LIFE.

1. There is a recognition here of the vastness of human need. "Open thy mouth wide." Man has — and this is one of the evidences of his greatness — a vast capacity for desire. The mouth of desire in man is not satisfied though all the treasures of the earth be poured into it.

2. The words imply that man's vastest desires are not awakened until they are consciously turned God-ward. Israel will open its mouth "wider "if it turn to God than if it forsake Him. There is enough of desire for God in every man to make this world unsatisfying, but in the worldling this desire is Undeveloped and shrivelled. The life that is fixed in God expands, and its desires become richer and vaster. God fills us, not by lessening our desires, but by enriching them.

3. The words imply that nothing less than personal union with God can satisfy the life. "I will fill it."

II. THE CONDITION OF RECEIVING FROM GOD. "Open thy mouth wide." Probably the figure is taken from the feeding of young birds in the nest by the parent bird. The picture is one of simple dependence and trust. Proud self-sufficiency shuts out the fulness of God. The first step to strength is to realize our own helplessness, simply to "open the mouth wide," that God may fill it.

III. THE MEASURE OF RECEIVING. "Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it "According to the capacity for reception, so is the gift. We have to recognize natural differences of capacity. As an eaglet differs from smaller birds, so men differ from men. All are not, and cannot be, Isaiahs and Pauls. But, on the other hand, a man's receptive power may have its development hindered by his own worldliness or negligence. His spiritual desires may be narrower than they ought to be. Faith, love, and hope grow larger through service.

(J. Thomas, M. A.)

In our text we have God coming very near to His people, and coming near them to encourage them to come nearer to Him. We have the Lord speaking to them, that they may speak to Him. He opens His mouth to them, that they may open their mouths to Him.

I. GOD ENCOURAGING HIS PEOPLE by saying, "Open thy mouth wide."

1. I suppose that the Lord means by this exhortation, first of all, to help us to get rid of the paralyzing influence of fear. A man, in the presence of one whom he dreads, cannot speak boldly; and if he has been guilty of some great crime, and stands before one whom he regards as his judge, he is like the man in our Lord's parable, "speechless." A man on his knees, conscious of his sin, fearing the justice of God, would very naturally be unable to speak; and to encourage him God says, "Open thy mouth; be not afraid."

2. Next, "Open thy mouth wide"; that is, speak freely in prayer to God, be not hampered in thy pleading. I have known children of God who have felt a terrible awe in the presence of the Lord. We want freedom, and liberty of access to God, when we come before the mercy-seat; and the Lord therefore encourages His people to break loose from all their shackles when He says, "Open thy mouth wide."

3. It must also mean, ask great things: "Open thy mouth wide." The greater the thing that you ask, the more sure you are to have it. With men it is, usually, the smaller the favour you crave, the more likely you are to obtain it; but with God it is the other way. There is nothing greater to ask for than Christ, and thou mayest have Christ for the asking, for God has already given Him to all who believe.

4. I think that it also means that we are to feel intense desires: "Open thy mouth." Whenever a man speaks with very great earnestness, he opens his mouth widely.

5. Exercise a great expectancy. Consider —

(1)God's greatness.

(2)His goodness.

(3)The channel by which mercies come to thee: Christ Jesus thy Lord.

(4)That the Holy Spirit is the Author of true prayer.

(5)The greatness of thy wants.

(6)God's exceeding great and precious promises.

II. Observe GOD USING TWO GREAT ARGUMENTS. "Open thy mouth wide" —

1. Because of what God has done. Child of God, this text belongs peculiarly to you. "I am Jehovah, thy God." He has revealed Himself to thee; He has chosen thee, and thou hast chosen Him. Now, canst thou not open thy mouth wide to thine own God, to Jehovah, the great "I am" the boundless, the infinite, the Almighty God, canst thou not speak freely to Him? And then it is added, "I am Jehovah, thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt." Now, that is the greatest thing that God could do for His people, and, if He has done that, will He not do the lesser things?

2. Because of what God will do. "I will fill it." The story goes that the Shah of Persia, a strange man altogether, on one occasion said to a person who had pleased him very greatly, "Open your mouth," and when he had opened his mouth, the Shah began to fill it up with diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and all sorts of precious stones. I feel morally certain that the man opened his mouth wide. Would not you do the same if you had such an opportunity? Now, the Lord says to each of His own people, whom He has so highly favoured, "Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it." Suppose you open your mouth wide in prayer. "I cannot," says one. Well, open your mouth, and God will fill it with prayer; and then, when you have prayed the prayer that He has given you, He will fill it with answers. God gives prayer as well as the answer to prayer. Only open your mouth, and, as it were, make a vacuum for God to fill. God loves to look for emptiness where He may stow away His grace. When you have done that, then open your mouth with praise. The praise of God is something like Mr. Bunyan's 'Pilgrim's Progress.' He began to write, he says, and he does not know how he wrote so much; but he quaintly says, "As I pulled, it came"; and you will find it is so with the praise of God. Praise Him, and you will praise Him. If you do not praise Him, you never will praise Him. If you do not begin, you will never keep on; but once open the sluices of gratitude, and the streams will flow more and more copiously every hour. "Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it."

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. THE EXHORTATION.

1. Labour after a great sense of need. You are weakness itself, and emptiness itself, and a mass of sin and misery, apart from God your Father, and Christ your Redeemer, and the Spirit the indweller; and when you know this, then you will open your mouth wide.

2. Seek after an intense and vehement desire. "He that prays to God without fervour asks to be denied."

3. Ask for large things, remembering the greatness and goodness of God, and the great pleas you have to urge when you come before Him.

4. Ask for enlarged capacities. If we had more room for the Lord's gifts, we should receive more.

II. THE PROMISE. "I will fill it." You might expect such a promise as that. You could not think it possible for the Lord to say, "Open your mouths for nothing." It would not be according to His usual way of procedure. He does not set His servants praying and then say somewhere behind their backs, "they shall seek My face in vain." Tantalus belongs to the heathen mythology, not to the Christian's experience. "Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it."

1. It is a promise only made to those who do open their mouths wide.

2. It is a promise given by One who can fulfil it, and will. How?

(1)With prayers.

(2)With the actual blessings.

(3)With praises.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

This is a figurative expression, and it indicates that man is a creature of vast spiritual capacity. Men are rarely in full consciousness of that deep, strong, original aptitude of human nature for the things of God. For sin has so deeply impaired our nature, that atrophy and nausea have fallen upon our spiritual faculties, and our moral perceptions have become gross and insensible. But the faculties are in us. The ideas of God and duty, the fitness for responsibility, the spring of the inner nature towards immortal life, the sentiment of love, with its boundless range — these inhere in the soul of every man. They may lie dormant in the inner caves of our personal existence, unused and entrusted by guilt, but they are integral qualities. Nothing — riot guilt, not neglect, not the insane denial of these Divine qualities, not even the suicide's hand, can cast out of our being these exalted powers and prerogatives. There is a section of our being "which cannot, but by annihilating, die." It is a majestic fact, and it brings with it the most awful responsibility that we are beings of a constitution akin to the Divine, and that we shall live for ever! Now, the reference of the text, in its first section, is to this quality of our nature. When God says, "Open thy mouth wide," He refers to an actual capacity in us, latent though it be, which, quickened by the Spirit, may reach up to heaven in lofty aspirations, and take in all the things of God. So, too, the other portion of the text, for it has two terms: "open thy mouth wide," is one, and "I will fill it," the other. The promise here given us is equally as significant with regard to our nature as is the command. It is a declaration that when the immortal demands of our inner being are once quickened into life, that there is but one Being in the universe who can answer and supply them. Hence the entreaty, "Open thy mouth wide," etc., because God only can fill these infinite needs of the immortal soul. What, then, is the reach you are going to make in Divine holiness? How far will you stretch forth in godly desires and aspirations? First of all, if you would attain to a lofty, grand pre-eminence of spiritual growth, fix it in your minds to be men and women of a high order of morals. Not as though the advice be given to begin with morality. God forbid! The beginning of all true soul-life is in the spiritual; but, assuming that you are spiritual, that you have repented and believed, and that, having entered upon the Christian life, led by the Spirit of grace, you are anxious to reach the stature of perfect men in Christ. Lay the foundations of your piety deep in the purest morals! But observe, next, that another stretch of the soul to high spiritual excellence is to be attained by the exercise of duty, that is, the doing of good works. Practical goodness bears somewhat the same relation to eminent piety that husbandry does to the production of good crops, or the care of the gardener to the growth of beautiful flowers. It is, under God, the actual uplifting of the soul from one degree of holiness to another. It is the cultivation of the Christian graces; and, observe, all true cultivation tends to growth and expansion. By doing good to others for Christ's sake, we expand our own being; we multiply the force of our sympathies and affections; we reduplicate the power of our loving energy. And so it will follow that obedience to the text will show itself, in the purposed rise of the soul to a high spirituality. This topic is left for the last, because it is the most important; it is the very base of all spiritual acquisition. In the domain of the spirit, spiritual things, spiritual aims, spiritual efforts, spiritual longings, are the foremost of all things. So much, then, for the ideal or principle descriptive of what is spiritual life. And now we can turn to the evidence that is to be found in ourselves that we have this principle implanted in us. That evidence discovers itself in those characteristic spiritual acts of the soul, into which, as sons of God, the saints are led by the Spirit of God. And here the whole field of saintly life lies spread out before us, so that we cannot err. All of its rich productiveness is the fruit of the Spirit. It brings, to our sight, in exceeding brilliancy, the faith and prayerful mightiness of Abraham; the calm meditativeness of Isaac; the crystal purity of Joseph; the serene and unspotted godliness of Samuel; the burning flames of Elijah; the calm constancy of David; the stern self-sacrifice and zealous fervour of the Baptisit; the fiery ardour of holy Paul; the loveliness of St. John the Divine. The sum of what has been advanced may be stated as enforcing these two lessons.

1. That you must avoid as though it were death, the idea of spiritual finality, in the attainments of grace. Never think you have enough of God and God's Spirit. Never be satisfied with any successes you have reached in holiness. Never pause in your career, saying to the deceived and languid soul, "Rest and be thankful." But press on ever to higher, nobler, and more spiritual heights.

2. That there is a law of progress implanted in our nature, which has no limitation. No man here can tell how high he can go in excellence — how far he can reach in godly purity. In the very idea of immortality is implied somewhat that is limitless and unconfined; and so we can by God's grace stretch out further and further, until we are lost in God Himself. O grand and noble acquisition! O blessed and heavenly consummation!

(A. Crummell, D. D.)

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