Prayer for Deliverance from the Present
and Everlasting Society of Wicked Men
William Nicholson, 1862
"Do not gather my soul with sinners, nor my life with bloodthirsty men!" Psalm 26:9
The most convincing proof of a man's regeneration, is his detestation of sin, and his shunning the company of the wicked. Holiness has become the element in which he loves to breathe, and Christians are his companions with whom he delights to associate. He says, like David, "I am a companion to all who fear you, to all who follow your precepts." Psalm 119:63. Such a change corresponds with the will of God, 2 Corinthians 6:14-18.
This Psalm cannot be read without perceiving the spirituality of David's mind; nor without admiring his earnest desires to be delivered from the final state of the wicked, and to be gathered with the righteous to the right hand of God.
I. The Ground of the Psalmist's Plea.
This is given in the preceding verses.
He declares before God that he trusted in him, verse 1, or he depended on him for salvation. By faith he was savingly interested in the covenant, 2 Samuel 23:5, and this faith was operative — it produced integrity, holy and upright conduct; "I have walked," etc., verse 1.
He invoked Divine investigation of his conduct, verse 1, 2. "Search me, O God!" "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!" Psalm 139:23-24
He delighted in the Divine loving-kindness, as the source of his felicity, verse 3.
He avoided evil associations, verse 4, nay, hated the congregation of evildoers.
He delighted in Divine worship, and all its services, verse 6-8.
Therefore, in consideration of his dependence upon Christ alone for salvation, as proved by the fruits of holiness, he beseeches God, saying "Do not gather my soul with sinners, nor my life with bloodthirsty men!" Such a faith, with such fruits, will never prove abortive. The man who has it, shall not be gathered with sinners.
II. The Import of the Prayer.
1. A belief in the immortality of the soul. The body must perish. All flesh is as grass. But the soul, as the Scriptures prove, must survive the body and live forever. That which is immortal must be infinitely valuable. Consequently,
2. The Christian is more solicitous about the welfare of his soul than his body. He feels the force of the Redeemer's words, "What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his soul." "Fear not those who can kill the body — but fear Him who can kill both body and soul in Hell!"
And yet, with multitudes, the body engrosses all the attention. Many even seem to die as regardless of their souls, as if they had none. They only think and talk of the physician and lawyer; of their illness and temporal concerns. Some people, too, who cannot possibly possess a good hope through grace — with great composure speak of their death, and arrange the circumstances of their funeral. Scarcely a word escapes them concerning the soul.
But the soul is the man! It is the immaterial, the immortal part. Oh, says the Christian, it is my precious soul that most concerns me! I feel comparatively indifferent as to the destiny of my body. Let wild beasts devour it; let the ocean swallow it up; let the flames consume it; let the winds scatter it; if I may but conclude that my soul shall be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. "Do not gather my soul with sinners, nor my life with bloodthirsty men!"
3. A conviction that, hereafter, the souls of all men must be gathered into eternity. The time of man is but limited here on earth.
(1.) This will be at death. No human device or expedient can prevent this. "No man has power over the wind to contain it; so no one has power over the day of his death." Ecclesiastes 8:8. "We must needs die." Prayers, tears, physicians, wealth, power, cannot stay the ravages of mortality. "What man is he who lives and shall not see death?" Then the soul departs to God, who gave it, to have its place and portion assigned until the day of judgment. At death the righteous are "gathered to their fathers" who died in the faith; while "the wicked is driven away in his wickedness." Hence the Christian may well cry, "Do not gather my soul with sinners, nor my life with bloodthirsty men!"
(2.) This will be especially the case at the day of judgment. Here on earth, the precious and vile, the chaff and the wheat, the tares and the precious grain, mingle together; but then Christ the Judge will gather all nations to his bar, and make an everlasting separation. See this solemnly stated in Matthew 13:30, 39-42; 24:31; 25:31, etc.
There have been former separations of a solemn character, but none so solemn as this. As in former times God cared for his people, so he will then. Refer to the time of the flood, Noah and his family were preserved in the ark, while the world was drowned. At the burning of Sodom, Lot was conducted by an angel to a place of safety. When Jerusalem was destroyed by the Chaldeans, a mark was set on the foreheads of the men who sighed and cried for the prevailing abominations. Thus shall it be with the saints at the last day; they shall be caught up together with the Lord in the air, while the earth and all its works shall be burnt up. "They will be mine," says the LORD Almighty, "in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him. And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not." Malachi 3:17-18
Then how important the prayer, "Do not gather my soul with sinners, nor my life with bloodthirsty men!" Let my portion be with the righteous, not with the wicked; then let me be your jewel, and not a reprobate. "May the Lord grant that I may obtain mercy of the Lord in that day!" 2 Timothy 1:18.
4. A conviction that God might justly gather my soul with sinners. Every Christian can say,
"I know I have deserved to die,
Yet save me through your grace."
Yes, if God were to lay judgment to the line, and righteousness to the plummet — I would be banished from your presence, etc. "If you, Lord, should mark iniquity, O Lord, who shall stand?" "Your law is exceeding broad," and searching; it penetrates my inmost recesses, etc. "O Do not gather my soul with sinners, nor my life with bloodthirsty men!" "Deliver me from going down into the pit; you have found a ransom — yes a substitute for me."
5. That unless God undertook for him, he would be gathered with sinners. No human being can save a soul from death. Neither men nor angels can effect it. Salvation belongs to God alone. While he invites us to accept it through Christ, let us in faith go and exclaim, "Do not gather my soul with sinners, nor my life with bloodthirsty men!"
III. The Reason of His Peculiar Dread of Being Gathered with the Wicked.
1. On account of their character. "Sinners and bloodthirsty men." David was at this time hunted by Saul. The world is full of sinners and bloody men. What would they not do, if unrestrained by the law? There have been bloodthirsty men under the mask of religion. Witness the persecuting spirit of Popery — the Antichrist. What rivers of blood has he created! Think of the infernal spirit of such men, how rectitude, conscience, humanity, etc., have been violated by them. They are hateful, and hating one another. Well might David say, "Woe to me that I dwell in Meshech, that I live among the tents of Kedar! Too long have I lived among those who hate peace. I am a man of peace; but when I speak, they are for war!" Psalm 120:5-7
O, to be associated with such men forever, when their depraved spirits shall be immortalized, and rendered fierce by the torments of perdition! O my God, "Do not gather my soul with sinners, nor my life with bloodthirsty men!"
2. This prayer is prompted by the consideration of their awful doom. One text is sufficient, "The wicked shall be turned into Hell, and all those who forget God." "Do not gather my soul with sinners, nor my life with bloodthirsty men!"
3. This prayer is prompted by the hope within him which anticipates the raptures of the blessed. "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade — kept in Heaven for you!" 1 Peter 1:3-4.
There is the royal city, the city of the great king, whose gates are pearl, and the streets of which are laid with pure gold — let me be gathered there. Wonderful is the society of Heaven! Angels, archangels, glorified saints, my redeemed friends, but gone before; O gather me to them!
Gather me to the employments of Heaven, so rapturous and ecstatic! Let me tune my harp and sing my song of praise with all your ransomed Church in glory!
The honors and glories of this present world are rapidly vanishing; gather me to the place where honor is immortal, and where glory grows forever. There bedeck my head with the crown of life you have promised me; give me the palm of victory, and let me walk with Christ in clothing whiter than the snow, and brighter than the light!
In this present world, nothing satisfies long — everything eventually palls upon my mind. O gather me to your presence where there is fullness of joy, and to your right hand where there are pleasures forever more! Gather me to that immortal feast, where I shall eat of the tree of life which is in the midst of the Paradise of God, and drink of the pure river, the water of life, which proceeds from God and the Lamb! "Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." Revelation 7:16-17
1. It is lamentable how few adopt this prayer. The soul is neglected.
2. The people who will not be gathered with sinners, are those who make a covenant with him by sacrifice — even the sacrifice of Christ. Psalm 50:5.
3. Such need not fear the terrors of death or judgment. He will gather them with his arm, his voice shall dispel their fears, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world!" Matthew 25:34