James Smith, 1864
"O Lord, be my helper!" Psalm 30:10
No man is independent. No man can be. It is the
design of God that we should be dependent on one another, and that all
should be dependent on himself. Sin has robbed us of our strength — so that
we are weak. Duties and circumstances require power — so that we are driven
to prayer. The Lord is the helper of his people, and he . . .
teaches them their need of his help,
leads them to his throne to seek it, and
then he helps them according to his wisdom and love.
Let us not faint — for our God is strong. Let us not be discouraged — for the Lord will strengthen us. Let us not listen to Satan — but repair to his throne; and in the prospect of all our trials, troubles, and afflictions cry, "O Lord, be my helper!"
There is WORK to be done, and new work. Work that will require skill, energy, and perseverance. Work that will bring honor to God, be a blessing to those about us, and a credit to ourselves. But we are not sufficient of ourselves to do it. If we perform it — it must be in divine strength. If we are willing to do it, heartily engage in it, and cry to the Lord for help — then he will strengthen us with strength in our souls.
There are FOES to be conquered, and if they are not conquered — then they will conquer us. They are numerous, powerful, disciplined, and determined. The world, the flesh, and the devil, are in league against us. They combine to destroy us. They will do all they can to injure us. We must overcome them — or they will overcome us. But how can creatures so weak, so inexperienced, so undisciplined — expect to conquer them? Only in the Lord's strength, and under the guidance of the great Captain of our salvation.
There are GRACES to be exercised, and to be exercised on their legitimate objects. The graces of the Spirit are not given to us merely as ornaments — but for use.
Faith must believe God's Word,
hope must look for God's mercy,
love must cleave to Christ's person,
humility must lie low before God's throne,
patience must wait God's time,
courage must face God's foes, and
fortitude must stand unmoved in God's ways.
Every grace will be called into exercise, and will be
found necessary . . .
to complete the Christian character,
to conquer the Christian's difficulties, and
to bring the Christian honorably to the close of his career.
The DAILY CROSS is to be carried. Every Christian has his cross, his daily cross — and he is required to take it up, and bear it after Jesus. It is often unseen by others — even when felt most severely by himself. Our most painful crosses, are often unknown to any one but God! He has appointed them, he lays them before us, he bids us to take them up, and (blessed be his holy name) he promises to help us when we endeavor to bear them patiently in his ways.
TRIALS are to be endured. These come to prove our principles, to test our character, and to conform us to our beloved Lord. They often come from quarters where we least expected them. David is tried by his son Absalom, Job by his wife, and Paul by the churches of Galatia.
Satan tries us to injure us. Men often try us, because they hate us. God tries us to do us good, and because he loves us.
Trials come from all quarters, at all seasons, in all possible forms. Every day, often every hour — has its trial.
Every grace is tried — but especially our faith. And very often we find that our trials are sharp, piercing, and long continued! The thorn in the flesh, is not soon, or easily extracted. The sin that so easily besets us, is not quickly laid aside.
Every Christian has his peculiar trial, and we shall all find that there are trials before us, which have not been experienced by us yet.
A great portion of our Christian pilgrimage must yet be traveled. We are not as yet come to the rest, and the inheritance which the Lord our God has promised us. Some of us have far to go, and each of us must make progress. The path before us is not more level, or more easy — than that which we have passed already. Yes, it may be more rough, hilly, and difficult. It must be trodden, if ever Mount Zion is reached by us. Besides which, we are often called into new paths of trial and trouble, and a warning voice is heard saying, "You have not passed this way before."
All the future is unknown, for we know not what a day may bring forth. We little expected when we started — what we have met with already; and we shall yet meet with many things which we little anticipate! Ours is a rough and thorny road. It is through much tribulation that we must enter the kingdom.
But if there is so much work to be done, and new
if there are so many foes to be conquered;
if our graces must be exercised;
if the daily cross is to be carried to the end;
if trials are to be constantly endured;
if the distance before us is to be gained;
and if the future is all unknown to us —
is there not enough to make us despond, or sit down in despair? No! not if we know our resources, if we are in union with Jesus, and keep the eye steadily fixed on his glory. But there is enough to make us cry, and cry most heartily, "O Lord, be my helper!"
The Lord has said, "I will help you!" and this is just what we need.
If the Lord helps us — he will give us STRENGTH. Strength equal to our day. Strength for the conflict, and strength in the conflict. Strength which will enable us to do and suffer all his righteous will. Strength which will make us more than conquerors over all our foes. If God strengthens us — nothing short of omnipotence can overcome us.
If the Lord helps us — he will give us COURAGE.
Courage to face the foe.
Courage to take the field manfully.
Courage to hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering.
Courage to draw the sword of the Spirit against the old roaring lion.
Courage to trample on the world with all its pleasures and blandishments.
Courage to crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts.
Courage to look death in the face without fear.
Courage to enter into eternity without alarm.
If the Lord helps us — he will give us WISDOM.
Wisdom to learn his will.
Wisdom to choose his way.
Wisdom to manage our trials.
Wisdom to employ our talents.
Wisdom to exercise our graces.
Wisdom to overcome our temptations.
Wisdom to make a right use of his holy word.
Yes, he will make us wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
If the Lord helps us — he will give us PATIENCE.
Patience to do his will.
Patience to suffer his pleasure.
Patience to wait his time.
Patience to stand still and watch his hand.
Patience to be silent under the heaviest load.
If the Lord helps us — he will give us LIGHT.
Light to discover our path — when all around is dark.
Light to perceive his heart — when he turns his hand against us.
Light to encourage our hope — when all is discouraging within us.
Light which will keep from apostasy — though it may not fill us with joy and peace.
If the Lord helps us — he will give us PERSEVERANCE. For the righteous shall old on his way, and he who has clean hands shall wax stronger and stronger. We shall go from strength to strength, until every one of us appears before God in Zion. We shall press toward the mark, for the prize of our high calling which is of God in Christ Jesus.
If the Lord help us he will give us FAITH.
Faith to trust his heart, where we cannot trace his hand.
Faith which holds fast the promise, when providence appears to men directly contrary to it.
Faith which has Christ for its object, the Gospel for its warrant, God's glory for its aim, and salvation as its end.
Faith which gathers . . .
strength from weakness,
courage from defeat,
comfort from sorrow,
peace from conflict,
and life from death.
Well then, may we join with the Psalmist in his prayer, "O Lord, be my helper."
The appeal is to the Most High God. No one can always and efficiently help us, but God. The creatures will often say to us as the king of Israel to the woman, "If the Lord does not help you — how can I?" Others have not what we need, what our circumstances render necessary, what we must have — or miserably fail. But all things are possible with God, nothing is too hard for him. Let us therefore turn from every creature — to him. Let us direct our prayer unto him, and look up.
This is to appeal to an old friend. One who has helped us in all times past. Whose help has been well-timed. Whose help has been sufficient. Who has promised to help us even to the end.
It is to appeal to an almighty agent. To whom all things are not only possible — but easy. Who has all power in Heaven and in earth. Who is the omnipresent, as well as the omnipotent Jehovah.
And who while he is both the omnipotent and omnipresent
God — is our infinitely gracious father! Our father in Jesus. Who . .
loves us with a father's love,
looks upon us with a father's eye,
and helps us with a father's hand.
He is the all-sufficient One. He needs no one to co-operate with him. He can do for us, not only all we need; but he can do exceeding and abundantly above all that we can ask or think.
Well, well then, may we turn from all his creatures, and in the prospect of all the future, with all its trials, troubles, and perplexities cry out, "O Lord, be my helper!"
Beloved, if God hears our prayer and helps us — we shall conquer, we must overcome, no enemy can possibly stand before us. If God helps us and we overcome through him — we must give him all the glory. This is but common justice. God will help us if we are his, and as such call upon him in the time of trial, trouble, and danger. We are the Lord's — if we look to him, trust in him, and call upon him. If we look to the Lord, he has given us the eye of faith. If we trust in the Lord, he has made himself known to us in the person of his Son. If we call upon him, he has put the Spirit of prayer into our hearts.
Now, if God in his rich mercy, has given us the eye of faith, the knowledge of himself, and the Spirit of prayer; then unquestionably we are his — his people, his children, his chosen ones. And if we are his beloved people, his dear children, his chosen ones — he will be our helper! Yes, he will help us in every strait, help us out of every danger, help us over every difficulty, help us all the way from earth to Heaven. He will guide us by his counsel, and afterward receive us to glory.
Let us therefore daily, hourly, lift up our hearts to his throne; and in the prospect of all that is calculated to depress, trouble, or cast us down — cry out, "O Lord, be my helper!" And expecting him to help us in answer to our prayer, let us work while it is called today — fight while the foe is in the field — take up our cross manfully; and looking for glory, honor, and immortal life — hasten along the trying path, until we sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of God!