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all the godless power of his age alone on the heights of Carmel. And David here, at last, gives in, and says, “I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul: there is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape into the land of the Philistines."
David in the dumps : just to state it plainly, and without too fine a point upon it. Does not this bring him near to us, who are so often dull, and dispirited, and discouraged ? Let us learn from David here. Notice, first of all: David said this in his heart. Watch, as David ought to have watched. Watch against the tendency to brood over your troubles, and say sad things to yourself, in your heart. It would be a much better plan sometimes to say them out loud. I know that from this very place I have discouraged the spreading of doubt; and have said, and would repeat, “ If you have got doubts, keep them to yourself.” But that depends upon what kind of doubt it is. In an hour like this it would have done David good (and it will do you good, my discouraged brother and sister) to have expressed to some friend, in actual word and shape, that dull, heartless, despairing thought that lay on his heart like a lump. of lead.
David said it in his heart. If he had only gone and said it to some boon companion, “ It is all up; I am marked for destruction; I am done for, and my time is come,” it would have given the friend a chance to have vigorously but kindly contradicted him; to have reminded him of things that he was forgetting; to have spoken to him of God, and the covenant and promise of God, of that far
back day when Samuel in God's name called him to be king in the place of Saul; when he was anointed in the midst of his brethren, and the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, as the Scripture says, “from that day and forward.” Yes, to unlock our hearts at times would do us good. It is a precious privilege when you are in—shall I say?—the blues; when you are in this kind of spiritual delirium tremens; when you are intoxicated, not with liquor, but when your brain, and heart, and judgment are reeling because God in His providence has put a bitter cup to your lips, and is compelling you to drain it to the dregs; when hope is being deferred, and therefore your heart is getting so sick that at last you cast away both shield and spear,
“I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul.” Don't say it in your heart. In an hour of weak faith, which is virtually an hour of unbelief, the believer's heart is a place of darkness where it is always November, with a fog that seems to be impenetrable, and nothing all round but rushing noises and gruesome, flesh-creeping sounds that increase your fright and despair. Turn, then, from solitary brooding to some brother born for adversity, some “Son of Consolation," and unpack your load to him. But further, if David had just taken this thought out of his heart and gone in before God with it ! David could pray; he was a power in prayer. And if he had gone in before God and tried to make this thought of his sad heart into a prayer, he would have found that there wasn't enough tow to make a rope that would reach to God. You can spin away at it as long as you like, but you will never make a prayer of it. Such a thought as this, "I shall perish,” won't pray. To get deliverance, try to turn your doubt into prayer, and see how your tongue wags empty in your head. You cannot pray this. Go and try it, you who are badgered, and worried, and threatened by besetting sins-by troubles that seem to blot out heaven, and make the present evil world more noisy and oppressive than ever. Let David go in before God, and say "out loud,” “Oh God, here I am.
I am David. I am the man with the promise. I am the man over whose head the horn of oil was poured. I am the man to whom Thou didst promise to give the throne of Saul; and I have come before Thee to say, It's all over: I shall perish by Saul's hand.' Then he would have discovered the blasphemy of it. Then your tongue would cleave to the roof of your mouth, and you would say, “Perish the thought of perishing! I shall not die, but live and declare the works of the Lord.” Ah! the thought that won't pray is of the devil; and you are relieved when you discover it. You bend your knees before God and say, “Oh God, I must not say, 'Thou art a liar, and Samuel is. a liar, and everybody is a liar but me (but it rather means that). "Oh God, Saul is greater than Thou art. Thou hast taken a work in hand, and Thou art not able to finish it. Thou didst begin to build a tower, and Thou hast run short of material. I shall one day perish by the hand of Saul !!!!
Then there is another way of getting rid of these thoughts that burrow in our hearts. First, as we have seen, speak to another, and he will help you. You will find your better self
in him. Or, next, speak to God in prayer, and you will find this doleful thing won't pray. Or, yet again, try to sing it. I say again, David was something of a singer. Now, suppose he had tried to compose a song on this magnificent theme, “I shall now one day perish by the hand of Saul,” what a psalm that would have been! What a grunt in it, what a squeak, what a growl! Here is a specimen of the dreary doggerel which would have been produced by such inspiration, or desperation rather:
“God said that He would raise me,
And set me up on high.
CHORUS: In howling Engedi,” &c. He never dreamed of doing that. If he had only tried, he would have found that this thought,“ I shall perish, God notwithstanding,” will neither say, nor pray, nor sing.
And when you find that out, you are able to say, “ Get thee behind me, Satan. Thou art an offence unto me. Thou savourest not of the things that be of God, and the covenant and the oath that shall out-last the heavens. But thou savourest the things that be of earth, and time, and sin." I am inclined to push this even further. David was a good musician, and he might have tried to play it on his harp; but no well-conducted instrument would ever lend itself to such blasphemy.
You can neither say, pray, sing, play, or even whistle it : "I shall perish by the hand of Saul.” It is a thought that will only live in a desponding heart.
And that David said it win his heart” the Bible is careful significantly to record.
Then notice how extremes meet. Notice how a believer in the extreme of timidity and fright joins hands with an atheist. David said in his heart, “I shall perish." - The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God." Extremes meet, the extreme of atheism and the extreme of faithlessness in a believer; paradoxical though it may seem, they come virtually to the same thing: “There is no God. This world was made for Cæsar, and Cæsar has me in his clutch, God and the promise notwithstanding."
I want to be hard, you see, on us, for when it comes to this, sharp strong tonics are needed. Mild soothing syrups are of no avail when the soul has got into this condition. We need to be roused and stimulated; somebody needs to love us well enough to grip us by the shoulders and shake us roundly. There is where David landed himself. By looking on Saul, and misreading the past, and taking a wrong forecast of the future, he came to the same position as the poor atheist, whom he himself, in a brighter moment, called a fool : “ The fool hath said in his heart, No God.”
We are very much like each other. If I lose hold of God, where am I? If I lose hold of my simple faith in what God has promised, and what He has revealed in Christ Jesus, there are no depths of blackness and godlessness into which I may not descend. My strengthmy only strength-is, not genius, or learning, or a high position in God's Church, or great usefulness in His vineyard-my one and only strength is faith in the love of God, who spoke to me by Jesus Christ, and said, “Believe in Me, and I will crown you and set you on the throne."