The Godly Man's Prayer
James Smith, 1855
"Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him."
"For this shall every one that is godly pray unto you in a time when you may be found: surely in the floods of great waters, they shall not come near unto him." Psalm 32:6
Every Christian loves the book of Psalms, because in that book the believer's heart is laid open, and his experience is set forth in the most simple and expressive manner. The longer he lives, the more he discovers that real religion is the same in every age. He feels at home with David. He has sweet fellowship with him. He derives instruction, encouragement, and comfort from him.
This psalm is one of peculiar excellence, for here:
the blessedness of a pardoned state is described,
how to arrive at that state is pointed out, and
how the pardoned should conduct themselves is set forth.
David was convinced of sin, he was burdened with guilt, he was troubled and bowed down greatly, he went mourning night and day. But he found no relief. At length, he confessed his sin over the appointed sacrifice with sorrow, and he immediately obtained pardon and enjoyed peace. Then he declares that this course would be pursued by every godly man, and that pursuing this course — pardon, peace, and safety would be enjoyed.
How is a godly man distinguished from his fellow-men? He is renewed in the image of God. The image of God was lost by sin; so that we cannot trace one feature of the divine likeness in an unconverted man. He is the likeness of Satan. But in regeneration, the image of God is renewed, which stands in righteousness and true holiness.
The godly man has a righteous principle implanted in his heart, so that he hungers and thirsts after righteousness. He is sincere, and longs, pants, and prays for holiness. If he could be pardoned, without being made holy — it would not satisfy him. If he could be justified by the righteousness of Jesus, without being sanctified by the Holy Spirit — he could not be happy. Holiness is the element and desire of his soul.
The godly man is guided by the will of God — and this is the will of God, even our sanctification. He searches God's word to know what he requires. He visits God's throne of grace — to obtain grace which will enable him to do what God commands. His prayer is, "Teach me to do your will." His desire is, to walk blameless in all the ordinances and commandments of the Lord.
The godly man is favored with the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit has taken possession of his heart. He is the temple of the Spirit, and under his influences and operations — he is conformed to the Lord Jesus.
The godly man is admitted into the service of God, where he serves the Lord without slavish fear, actively doing his will.
The godly man is set apart for the enjoyment of God, for the Lord has set apart him that is godly for himself. The presence of God is his Heaven. Without this, he cannot be happy — with this, he cannot be miserable. He is deeply concerned for the Lord's glory. He perceives that this is the great end of his existence, and for this he desires to live. The very idea of glorifying God is to him delightful, and nothing makes him hate sin more, than the fact that it dishonors God.
The godly man denies ungodliness and worldly lusts, and lives soberly, righteously, and godly in the present world. And if he does not feel that he can adopt the Apostle's words as his own, he longs to do so, "So that now as always, Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain!" Philippians 1:20, 21.
Such is a godly man, are you one? Does your heart, your experience, and conduct at all correspond with the above? You are either godly — or ungodly. Search and see, for the matter is of the first importance.
But further, a godly man prays to God. His prayer is conceived in his heart. It is the utterance of his desires before God's throne. If he lives — he must pray, for he cannot live without. Prayer to him is not merely a duty, it is the spontaneous acting of a spiritual nature within him. He prays for pardon. He is convinced of sin. He feels guilty. He desires an honorable acquittal.
The godly man looks to Jesus. He places his dependence on his vicarious sacrifice. He pleads his precious blood. He seeks a present pardon. A felt pardon. Nor will he rest satisfied until he can say with David, "You forgave the iniquity of my sin." Many profess to pray for pardon — but all ends in mere words. They have no deep sense of need, no ardent desire to possess the blessing. They do not feel that they must be pardoned — or perish. In their instance, it is not the condemned malefactor applying with all possible earnestness to the Sovereign for a pardon — but the mere courtier giving expression to an unfelt sentiment.
The godly man is in earnest. He pleads as for his life. His sense of sin is vivid and deep, and he cries, "For your name's sake, O Lord, pardon my iniquity — for it is great." He prays while God may be found. There are seasons when God will not hear. Then sinners may cry — but it will be in vain. That is not the case at present. "Now is the accepted time." God is on the throne of grace. The High Priest is there with the precious atoning blood. The incense of his merits perfumes the holy place. He ever lives to make intercession for all who come unto God by him.
If therefore we go in the name of Jesus, if our dependence is placed on his one offering alone, if we plead for pardon on the ground of what he has done and said — then God for his sake, will forgive us. "Now is the day of salvation." Pardon may be had, and every godly man will pray for it — until he obtains it. His prayers spring from the grace of God. The Lord has poured upon him the Spirit of grace and supplication, therefore he looks unto Jesus whom he has pierced, and seeks for the forgiveness of all his sins in his name.
The godly man is SAFE. "Surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come near unto him." There may be floods of temptation, trials, and troubles — but they shall not so come near unto him — as to destroy or injure him. When the old world was destroyed by the flood, Noah and his family were safe, the waters came not near unto him. And in the great final conflagration — the believer will be safe, for it shall not come near unto him. A hiding place, a secure retreat will be found for him, and his God will say, "Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by. See, the Lord is coming out of his dwelling to punish the people of the earth for their sins. The earth will disclose the blood shed upon her; she will conceal her slain no longer." Isaiah 26:20, 21.
A dreadful time is coming, for "The present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men." And "The day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare!" 2 Peter 3:7, 10. And what will become of the godly man then? Will he be safe? He will, for Jesus will appear. "For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever!" 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17.
Thus you see the godly man will be safe, for the destruction shall not come near unto him. There will be a flood of wrath, for God has threatened it. The honor of God requires it. The crimes of men demand it. The immutability of God renders it certain. But the godly man will be above it. He will be perfectly free from it!
Here observe, all godly people seek the Lord — and all who seek the Lord in sincerity and truth are godly people. They cannot rest without a pardon — and therefore they seek it until they obtain it. They are safe at all times and in all places, from curse and wrath. They alone are truly blessed, and their blessedness is inconceivable great, unspeakably glorious, and eternal! When others perish — they will triumph. They will be shouting, Hallelujah, while others are suffering the just but tremendous wrath of God, as it is written "After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: 'Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for true and just are his judgments. He has condemned the great prostitute who corrupted the earth by her adulteries. He has avenged on her the blood of his servants.' And again they shouted: 'Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever!'" Revelation 19:1-3
Let us therefore seek the Lord. Let us apply for pardon through the Savior's blood. Let us seek and apply until we are justified by faith, and have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.