A Prayer in Soul Trouble
James Smith, 1860
"Quicken me, O Lord, for your name's sake! For your righteousness sake, bring my soul out of trouble!" Psalm 143:11
The soul that has been once quickened, often feels its need of being quickened again. David did, and therefore he often prayed for this blessing. He knew what it was to be overwhelmed, and have his heart desolate within him. Then he looked back to his past experience, which is sometimes profitable; but he soon looked up and sought help from Heaven, which is much better. He cried with fervor, he pleaded with earnestness, he entreated as for his life. He sought . . .
deliverance from foes,
instruction in God's ways, and
a renewed sense of God's loving-kindness.
At length, he cried out, as with his whole soul, "Quicken me, O Lord, for your name's sake! For your righteousness sake, bring my soul out of trouble!"
He Was in Trouble.So is the believer at times, and some believers are often. Their faith is feeble, and unbelief is strong. They cannot grip the promise, nor appropriate it to themselves. It appears to meet their case--but they cannot claim it--they cannot rest on it. If they touch it--they cannot grasp it. They look on it with longing eyes, they sigh over it with troubled hearts--but they cannot draw from it the comfort which they need.
Then Satan comes with his temptations--and endeavors to draw them from the Lord, and lead them to doubt and fear, if not into open sin! Sometimes he tries to fascinate--and sometimes to fill with terror and alarm. If he can but keep them from Jesus, or divert their minds from the glorious gospel--he can soon bring them into bondage, if not into open sin. Then darkness spreads over the soul, the prospects are beclouded, the evidences are concealed--and a chill and gloom seizes upon the spirit. Then we feel a deadness and dullness in reference to all that is holy. The Word of God makes no sweet impression. The ordinances of the gospel yield no refreshment. The throne of grace has lost all its attractions. We try to pray--but the most we can do is to sigh and groan; and if we feel at all, it is only grief because we cannot feel as we would, as we should.
This deadness of soul is terrible! To be surrounded with spiritual food--but have no appetite to enjoy it. To be loaded with privileges--and yet feel neither life nor comfort in them. To be dead and dull over the Bible--but never feel so dead as when on our knees. Then, often, the hidden evils of the heart, the concealed corruptions that lie embedded deep in the soul--begin to rise, rage, and roar! Such foul, filthy, and unmentionable corruptions are discovered--as we had no conception of. These terrify and alarm us, while Satan suggests that it is impossible for God ever to dwell in such a vile heart; or for Christ to love and nourish one so corrupt.
Then, very frequently, a load of guilt is felt upon the conscience. Perhaps the guilt of sins long since pardoned comes back again, and press us down lower than before. We cannot keep the eye fixed on Christ's atoning sacrifice, or the heart resting upon the precious promises. Then the soul is troubled; like the troubled sea, there is no rest--but rolling, tossing, trembling, doubting, fearing, sinking, rising, sighing, and groaning--characterize the experience.
Reader, do you know anything of this? Many of the Lord's people do. Some, who appear to others to have a very smooth path, because all without appears to be prosperous--suffer a martyrdom within. Do not faint if you have them. It is a difficult road along which many of the flock travel, and their foot-prints may be traced out. But all do not sink so deep in the mire, or pass through such miry roads, as David did.
He Prayed to the Lord."Quicken me!" Only the Holy Spirit can quicken us. He gave us life at first, and he must renew us again. He may, he generally does, make use of means; and sometimes by the Word read or suggested to the mind--he . . .
At other times he brings us into affliction--and affliction drives us to our God! We cast ourselves down before him, groan and cry unto him--until he lifts up the light of his loving countenance upon us, and this gives us peace.
Sometimes while we are trying to pray, he . . .
breathes on the soul,
helps our infirmities,
directs the eye upwards,
expands the heart, and
sweet liberty is felt--
then we weep and plead, and praise our God, and feel ourselves to be new creatures.
At other times he shines on our evidences, makes some sweet communication to us--and we rise from our sadness, and are filled with peace and love.
The quickenings of the Spirit are most blessed. Just as God in nature renews the face of the earth in spring--so does the Holy Spirit renew the souls of the Lord's tried and troubled people.
"Bring my soul out of trouble." We can get into
trouble ourselves, and often do--but the Lord alone can bring us out,
and blessed be his holy name, he does, he will. By a pleasant smile, by a
sweet word, by drawing us up into holy fellowship with himself--he brings us
out of trouble often. In his own way, in his own time--he will
do it; and thus we rest . . .
on the promise,
on the finished work of Jesus, and
on the unchangeable love of God.
Then we rejoice in the Lord, and glory in the Holy One of Israel. O what blessed seasons we often have when the Spirit quickens us, and brings us out of soul trouble, and fills us with all joy and peace in believing, so that we abound in hope by his power! Such seasons had David.
He Used Two Pleas.
"For Your name's sake." That is, because You are gracious, merciful, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth; and because it is your desire to be known as such. "Quicken me--bring my soul out of trouble." For the honor of your name, to get honor, or that it may be honored by others, who see that of your own grace and mercy--you are pleased to quicken and deliver me. We are to plead the name of Jesus now, and pray that for his sake, on account of what he has done and suffered for us, and in our stead--we may be heard and answered.
"For your righteousness' sake." By which, we may understand his faithfulness to his Word, in which he has promised to do these things for us--or his just dealing with us, as one in covenant with him, for God has covenanted to withhold no good thing from us. Blessed be God, we can plead his own name, when we can plead nothing of our own! And we can plead his righteousness--notwithstanding our own unrighteousness.
Soul trouble is the heaviest trouble. As Solomon said, "A man may sustain his infirmity," that is, his bodily infirmity, "but a wounded spirit--who can bear?" Yet, when soul trouble weans us from SELF, and drives us to the Lord--it does us good. Whatever makes us pray, is a blessing. In soul trouble, it is in vain to apply to anyone but the Lord. He alone quickens us, and brings our souls out of trouble.
The Lord's name and his faithfulness may always be pleaded by us. We cannot plead our own names, nor our own doings, nor very seldom our own experience--but we may always plead the name of Jesus, and the Divine faithfulness; and in pleading these, we shall succeed.
Let us then, however dark or dead we may feel--however
Satan may tempt, or corruptions work within us--however feeble
our faith, or strong our unbelief--let us still cry unto God, still
plead his name and grace, that he may . . .
quicken us again,
bring our souls out of trouble,
set our feet upon a rock,
and establish our goings.
Nor can we often do better than cry unto God, in David's own words, written for our instruction and encouragement, "Quicken me, O Lord, for your name's sake! For your righteousness sake, bring my soul out of trouble!"