James Smith, 1859
"They attacked me at a moment when I was in distress, but the Lord was my support." Psalm 18:18
There are certain seasons, when it is most profitable to review the past; then we may do so not only with pleasure—but with profit. One of these seasons is, when we have obtained, and enjoy deliverance. The eighteenth psalm is David's song of praise, uttered by him before the Lord, in the day when the Lord had delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. Now his accusers were silenced, his fears had vanished, and his enemies were as still as a stone. Now he looks back upon his dangers, difficulties, and sore afflictions—and accounts for his progress and perseverance by the fact, that the Lord was his support.
Just so, aged believer, can you and I do. We too can look back, and at times wonder how it is that we are where we are, and what we are: how we have held on, and held out until now—but here is the whole secret of the case, "the Lord was our support." Let us meditate for a few minutes upon the subject.
"The Lord was my support." WHEN?
In the seasons of my greatest difficulty,
in all my times of sorrow and danger,
when I was filled with fears and doubts,
when in deep trouble and afflictions,
when all creature help failed me,
when my heart worried and vexed me,
when my enemies were just ready to overwhelm me,
when my feet were almost gone,
when my steps had well near slipped,
in my darkest nights,
in my dreariest days,
—then the Lord was my support!
My journey has been long,
my road has been peculiarly trying,
my heart has been weak,
my enemies have been strong,
and long ago I must have perished in my afflictions—or been a prey to my foes—but the Lord was my support! O for grace to praise and bless his glorious name, and to render again according to that which he has done for us!
But the Lord was– WHAT?
"Our support" that on which we rested, against which we leaned. Our support—our prop, our refuge, and our fortress.
When our hearts fainted, and all around us seemed to give way, we then supported ourselves on his word. His precious word of promise, that he would never leave us. that he would uphold and strengthen us, and that as our day, so shall our strength be.
We leaned on his faithfulness. That glorious feature of his character, which inspires the hopeless with hope, and the feeble with courage. Leaning on the arm of a faithful God we found support, and were enabled to press on our way.
We looked to his mercy. That sweet attribute of his nature. His propensity to sympathize with the miserable, relieve the distressed, and hold up those who are falling. We, as well as David, can say, "When my foot was slipping—your mercy, O Lord, held me up."
Then we reflected upon his past goodness, which had been so freely exercised towards us, and was so powerfully exerted for us; and on this we felt that we could rely, persuaded that having begun a good work, he would carry it on, and complete it.
Also on his unchangeableness. For he is ever the same. Always of one mind. Without variableness. So, that, though our inward frames, and outward circumstances changed, and we were tempted to think that all things were against us, we had this to depend on—that our God now is, what he ever was—and ever will be, what he now is.
Then there was his blessed covenant, entered into with his Son before the world was. A covenant ordered in all things and sure. A covenant that anticipates all the needs, variations, and trials of time, and provides for them. A covenant, which is all our salvation and all our desire. This covenant has cheered us in many a stormy day, has comforted us in many a dark night, and has been our solace in many a wintry hour. But for the covenant, and its gracious provisions—where might we not have been! But for the covenant—we would have perished in our afflictions.
Finally, the relationship into which God has taken us with himself; he is our Father, and we are his children. And because, that, like as a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear him, we have been enabled to stay our minds on him, and have enjoyed protection and repose. Yes, the Lord has been our support, and we have been upheld, supported, and supplied, by his gracious word—immutable faithfulness—tender mercy—abundant goodness—unchangeable covenant—and paternal relationship.
The Lord was our support– HOW?
On our part, we were enabled . . .
to believe his word,
to hope in his mercy,
to plead at his throne, and
to meditate on his past dealings.
On his part, he gave us his word of promise, not only putting it into his book—but into the hand of our faith. He gave us grace to trust in him, as our father and our God. He secretly imparted strength unto us, making us strong in the power of his might. He quietly led us forward step by step, and from stage to stage. And at length, he completely brought us out of every difficulty, danger, and trial; and will soon place us before his face forever! We may well say, with the Psalmist, "If the Lord had not been on our side when men attacked us, then they would have swallowed us alive in their burning anger against us."
But blessed be his holy name, he has been for us, and he has been with us, and it is having obtained help from him, that we continue unto this day.
I would have fainted under my heavy burdens,
I would have yielded to my enchanting temptations,
I would have fled before my powerful foes
—but the Lord was my support!
To his free grace, to his inviolable faithfulness, and to his unchangeable love, we must ascribe that "By the grace of God—I am what I am!" 1 Corinthians 15:10
The Lord, at times, knocks away every prop, removes away every stay—and leaves us himself alone, on whom to rely and depend. This experience is very painful—but it is very profitable. It is a great blessing to be brought off, and away from, every creature-dependence, and supported by the Lord alone. When we honor God, by trusting in him, he always honors us by supporting, supplying, and delivering us. The source of David's strength, courage, perseverance, and exultation, was the Lord, and the Lord alone; for the Lord was his support.
And so it must be with us, let as therefore look to him, trust in him, plead with him, and expect from him. In so doing, as in the past, so in the future—he will be our support. And often when heart and flesh are failing, will he whisper, "Trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord Jehovah, is everlasting strength!" And we shall have to say, "My flesh and my heart may fail—but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever!" Psalm 73:26.
Let us then withdraw our dependence from all creatures; let us never support ourselves on any gifts, grace, or experience, we may have; but let us support ourselves on the Lord our God. His faithful word—may always be depended on. His gracious covenant—may always be trusted. His ever enduring faithfulness—will always warrant hope, and yield us comfort. His solemn oath—will give us strong consolation. And his paternal love—will make us more than conquerors.
"To Him who is able to keep you from falling—and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy; to the only God our Savior—be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen." Jude 1:24-25