“Say unto my soul, I am your salvation.”
THIS text may very properly be understood as a request that God would teach the soul to rest upon Him in temporal difficulties, straits and distresses. We are all apt to try to work out our own deliverance. We would go back to Egypt, or we would climb the rock on our right hand, or we would, if it were possible, force a passage on the left, but when the Red Sea rolls in front of us, when Pharaoh is behind and there are frowning rocks on the right hand and on the left, this most delightful Truth of God is learned–and probably it is the only occasion when we can learn it–God is our salvation! If you are in trouble, Christian, ask who brought you there, for He shall bring you out again. If you are sorely vexed and deeply grieved, why should you look to a human arm for succor, or why should you turn your eyes to the horses and to the chariots of Pharaoh? Lift up your eyes to the hills, from where your help came, and in the solemn silence of your soul hear the soft and cheering word, “I am your salvation; I have been with you in six troubles, and no evil has touched you; now I have brought you into another trouble, but I will deliver you out of them all; call upon ME in the day of trouble, and I will deliver you.” O Believer, the strongest sinew in an arm of flesh will crack and the strongest band of human strength will give way! But trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength! Learn to stand still and to see the salvation of God, as He says to you, “I the Omnipotent, I the Omnipresent, I who have servants everywhere will work your rescue, for I am your salvation.”
It is also very necessary for us to learn this verse in its teaching as to soul-matters, for no man is saved, or can besaved, unless he knows that God is his salvation. The greatest enemy to human souls–I think I am not wrong in saying this–is the self-righteous spirit which makes men look to themselves for salvation–
“From the Cross uplifted high,
Where the Savior deigns to die”–
there comes a voice, as soft as it is potent, “I am your salvation.” But the sinner stops his ears and listens, perhaps, to the enchantments of Rome, or to the mutterings of some false priest, or to the equal lying of his own heart while these say, “We are your salvation.” We must get away, Brothers and Sisters, from every form of confidence which would take us from the finished work of Jesus Christ! From the beginning to the end of the entire matter, the great “I AM,” comprehends our whole salvation! Jesus, the “Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief,” was, nevertheless, JEHOVAH, the “I AM,” and as the “I AM,” He speaks tonight to every soul that desires to know the way of salvation and He says, “I am your salvation.”
Sinner, there is no hope for you anywhere else! “Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid.” Your hopes, poor Sinner, shall be baseless–they shall be as the fabric of a dream. Rest not in them, but forsake them, pitying your own folly for having ever trusted in them. Jesus bids you renounce them now. Flee away from everything which has up to now yielded you a gleam of comfort, or a ray of joy, to the wounds of Him who suffered in the sinner’s place, and to the Cross of Him who was made a curse for us that we might be made a blessing! “I am your salvation.” You are to trust nowPresent salvation is stored up in Christ–
There is life at this moment for you."
“But,” you say, “what am I to do? What am I to feel? What am I to be?” The answer is–
“Nothing, either great or small,
Nothing, sinner, no!
Jesus did it, did it all,
Long, long ago!”
“Yes, but surely there is something needed to fit me for Him?” No, come just as you are. He does not say, “I will be your salvation when you have done this and that, so as to fit yourself for Me.” No, but He says, “I am your salvation.” If youdo but trust Him unfeignedly and with your whole heart–He this moment forgives you, He this moment takes you into the family of Grace, regenerates you and makes you “a new creature” in Himself! May God grant that we may all spiritually learn this Doctrine, “I am your salvation.”
Not that I intend just now to use the text in this sense alone, though I think it is highly proper both in temporal and in spiritual dilemmas to feel that God is our salvation. Rather let me show you how it embodies a prayer of the Psalmist for the full assurance of faith. He is asking that, having believed in God, he may have a token for good, that he may be able to–
“Read his title clear
To mansions in the skies.”
He wants to hear a still, small voice within him saying, “I am your salvation.”
I shall try, first of all, to describe the assurance intended in the text. And thirdly,to set forth the way of reaching it."
- First, let me DESCRIBE THE ASSURANCE INTENDED IN THE TEXT.
“Say unto my soul, I am your salvation.” The assurance which the Psalmist seeks in this prayer is one concerning avery solemn business. People like to be sure about purchasing their estates. There is a deal of searching every time the land is bought, in order to see that the title is good, valid and indefeasible. Some persons are very particular about their bodily health and they occasionally like to have an assurance from the physician that every organ is in a sound condition. But in this Psalm David is perplexed, neither about his estate, though that was a kingdom, nor about his health, though that was more than a fortune to him–he is concerned only about his soul! O my Brothers and Sisters, if we ought to be sure anywhere, it is here! Would that we were half as diligent to make our “calling and election sure” as some are to make secure their bonds, mortgages and title-deeds! Not to be sure of Heaven? What a wretched state to be in! To have a question about my soul’s eternal welfare–a dying mortal, whose breath may depart any second in the hour–oh, this is misery indeed! I had better know my true state. If it is bad, it will be well for me to know the worst of it while there is time, so that it may yet be mended. And if it is good, it will be a sweet thing for me to know that it is certainly so and then my “peace shall be like a river,” and my joy shall flow on in perpetual waves of freshness! O my dear Hearers, make sure work for eternity! If you must trifle anywhere, never trifle here! This anchor, this bower-anchor, this sheet-anchor of the soul–see that you have a good cable to this! Let everything else go and now that the dread storm is coming on, see that the anchor holds within the veil–and see, also, that it is God’s anchor of faith, worked in you by God the Holy Spirit! Breathe, I pray you, at the very outset of this address, the prayer, “Say unto my soul, I am your salvation.”
And you will notice, as it is about a very solemn business, so, also, it is an appeal to One who knows about it andwho can speak on it with authority. Brothers and Sisters, if you should come to a minister, whoever he may be, and say to him, “Sir, I will tell you my evidence. I will relate my experience–tell me, are these the marks of a child of God?” You may deceive him in your statements and he himself may mislead you in his judgment. What would be the worth of the opinions of all the men in the world as to the state of a soul before God? Certainly it would be very suspicious and would give much cause for fear if God’s people were afraid of me, for I should begin to be afraid of myself! But still, though they have accepted me, let me not therefore take it for granted that God has done so! I may stand well with His Church. I maybe beloved by His servants, but for all that He may know that I am none of His! I may be rather more thickly coated with gilt than some others and yet I may not be real gold. I may be better made and varnished than some and, yes, I may be but an imitation and not the true wood! But it looks well, my dear Hearers, when you dare to come before God and have an investigation of your case. When a man is willing to have the title-deeds of his estate examined in any court in the world, I should think that those deeds were thoroughly sound. When you can say, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts,” or can even pray, as this text does, “Say unto my soul, I am your salvation,” then there is hope for you!
But observe that the evidence the Psalmist wants is personal assurance–“Say unto my soul, I am your salvation."How many times have we to cry out against that bad habit of generalizing in religion! Beloved, let us repeat what we have said a thousand times before, that national religion is altogether a dream! That even the idea of family religion, excellent as it is, is yet often but a mere idea. The only godliness worth having is personal godliness and the only religion which will really effect salvation is that which is vital and personal to the individual. "You must be born-again.” Now there is no way of being born-again by proxy. The Church of England may invent its “sponsors” at will, but God has nothing to do with such things! I pray you, never let the soul-damning lie of another man standing for you be tolerated in your soul for a single second! Another man cannot promise anything for you, or, if he should promise it, he would notbe able to accomplish what he had promised. These works must be worked in you personally by God the Holy Spirit, Himself, or else you can never be saved. I love you to pray for your children. I am glad, poor woman, that you are anxious for your husband. It is a good thing that you, husband, should pray for your wife, but oh, remember, the salvation of another will be but poor comfort to you if you, yourself, should be cast into the everlasting burnings! Let your prayer be first for yourselves! Let that be the leading point and then you will breathe the prayer more hopefully for others. “Say unto my soul, I am your salvation. I hear that showers of mercy are dropping all around, let them drop also upon me. I hear that conversions are numerous, oh, if I am not converted, convert me! I know that You do great wonders, Lord–let me be a monument of Your power to save.” It is personal assurance that the Psalmist needs!
Observe, also, for it lies on the surface of the text, that it is an assurance sent, not to the ear, but to the heart. “Sayunto my soul, I am your salvation.” Now God does speak to us through our ears. When the Word is read or preached, we often get a blessing through hearing it. But if the words you hear merely come to the ear, it involves responsibility without insuring a blessing. Certain persons dream that God is their salvation! Go to bed and dream again, and dreamfifty times, and when you have dreamed the same thing fifty times, there can and will be nothing but dreaming in it, after all! You who build on dreams had better mind what you are doing!
“Well,” says another, “but I heard a voice in the air.” Nonsense! “But I did,” you say. Superstition! “But I am sure I did.” Well, what does it matter? I care not where the voice came from if you heard it only with your outward ears. It is as likely to have been the devil that spoke as anybody else, if, indeed, it was anybody at all! You are as likely to deceive yourself as anything in the world. The prayer of the text, is not, “Say to my ears, I am yoursalvation.” Do you understand what soul-talking is? Oh, dear, dear–the most of people do not understand anything that has to do with the spirit world–there are materialists in Christianity as well as in other matters. They suppose that to worship God means to sing in a certain way, to bend the knees and to say certain words. Why, you may do all that and yet there may not be a fraction of worship in it! And, on the other hand, you may worship God without any of it. A man may sing God’s praises without ever opening his mouth! A man may pray unto God and yet never say a word, for it is soul-singing and soul-praying that God accepts! And when God speaks back again to the soul that has learned to talk with Him, He does not speak lip-language, tongue-language, or ear-language, but soul-language! I have already saidthat this soul-language sometimes takes the body of preaching, or of the Word of God and so becomes, as it were, a thing to appeal to the ears, but even then the letter kills–it is only the Spirit that makes alive. It is God’s soul talking to man’s soul that is needed here. And mark you, dear Friend, if ever God speaks to your soul, you will not have to ask who it is that speaks, for if ever the eternal God comes into direct contact with the human heart, there is no making a mistake! Do you understand this? Some of you think I am fanatical. I would to God you were all as fanatical! May you have God talking with your soul and may the Holy Spirit bear witness with your spirit that you are born of God! Pray the prayer and may God hear it now, “Say unto my soul, I am your salvation.”
Then I want you to also notice that the prayer here offered is a present oneunto my soul, I amyour salvation.“ It is not, "Do it by-and-by,” but, “now, Lord, now!” Perhaps some of you have heard God’s voice in years gone by, but now you have got into Doubting Castle. Well, you may pray this prayer right now, while you are sitting in the pew, and though none shall hear it but yourself, yet God’s Spirit shall talk to you and you shall hear Him say, “I am your salvation,” and then your heart shall sing, “I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine!” Pray the prayer now and it need not take a moment to be answered, for, while you are yet speaking it, you shall feel it. You will be bowed down under a sense of gratitude and yet you will be lifted up with a “joy unspeakable and full of glory,” when you can sing–
“While Jesus whispers I am His,
And my Beloved’s mine.”
Come, Believers, let us all pray this prayer, whether we have heard this voice before or not! O my God make us true Believers and may we all pray it now, “Say unto my soul, I am your salvation.” The preacher often needs to use this prayer himself. And he has no doubt that many of his Brothers and Sisters have been constrained to use just such a cry. Well, let it go up again tonight–“O God, give us back the love of our espousals, our first faith, our early joy and speak with Your own voice to our troubled hearts, and say to our souls, ‘I am your salvation.’”
II. And now shall we turn, very briefly, indeed, to the second point? It was to be THE BLESSEDNESS OF THE ASSURANCE ASKED FOR.
I do not think I shall preach on that at all, but leave you to find it out for yourselves. You who know it know that I cannot describe it, for you cannot describe it yourselves. And you who do not know it would not understand it if I told you what it is. You will understand as much as this–that if you were able to feel tonight that God Himself had said to your soul, “I am your salvation,” you would feel infinitely more happy than you do now. Some of you are very cheerful, but sometimes you do get troubled and cast down. You apparently have, I know, a great deal of hilarity and mirth about you, but at night, or in the early morning, or when you have to go to a funeral, you do not feel quite as you would like to feel. There is an aching void somewhere or other and you have not found out that which is to fill it yet. Now, if God, Himself, should say to you, “I am your salvation,” would not that fill it? Oh, what a different life you would then lead! How happy you would be and, being saved, how holy you would try to be! And, being holy, how near to God you would try to live! “If I were but saved,” says one, “then would I, indeed, praise the Lord as long as I had any being.” Well, poor Soul, I pray that this may be your case–but the blessedness of it you must taste to know. “O taste and see that the Lordis good!” There is no other way of understanding it than this.
I think I told you, once, the little story of the boy at the mission station who had received a piece of sugar from a missionary. When he went home he told his father that he had had something so sweet. The father asked if it were as sweet as such-and-such a fruit? Oh, sweeter than that! Was it as sweet as such another? Yes, much sweeter than that, and when the boy could not make his father understand how sweet it was, he ran down to the station and said, “Oh, Sir, would you give me another piece of that sweet stuff? Father wants to understand how sweet it is and I want to make him understand it, but I can’t tell him.” So he got another piece of sugar and back he went to his father with it. “Here, Father, now you will understand how sweet it is.” A very good illustration is this of the text I just quoted, “O taste and see that the Lord is good!” Taste for yourselves–and then you shall know for yourselves.
III. Now let us go to the third point without delay. HOW ARE WE TO GET THIS ASSURANCE? HOW SHALL THE BELIEVER KNOW THAT HE IS SAVED?
The way to assurance is through the door of simple faith. The Gospel is, “He that believes and is baptized shall besaved.” To believe is to trust Christ. Now, if I know that I trust Christ and that I have, in obedience to His command, been baptized, then God says I shall be saved and is not that enough for me? Ought it not to be, at any rate? If God says it, it must be true! I believe His Book to be Inspired and He has put it thus, “He that believes on Him is not condemned.” Well, if I do believe on Him, then I am not condemned. Conscience says, “You are a long way off being perfect.” I know that. Ah, Conscience! I know it to my shame and to my sorrow, but the Word says, “He that believes on Him is not condemned.” I do believe on Him and I am not condemned, let Conscience say what it likes! “Well, but” the devil says, “how can this be true?” That is neither my business nor yours, Satan! God says it is so and therefore it is so. That is enough for me! We take men’s word, why should we not take God’s Word? He who simply believes in Jesus Christ must have some degree of assurance, for the simple act of reclining, recumbently resting upon Christ, if it is done truly and sincerely is, in its measure, assuring to the heart. At any rate, it is the milk that brings the cream. Faith is the milk and assurance is the cream! You must get your assurance from your faith–and if it is a simple faith which relies entirely upon Jesus Christ, it will, if not directly, yet very speedily, bring you some degree of assurance of your interest in Christ.
There are many good people who say, “We are trusting in Christ, and we hope we are Christians.” They do not like to say that they know they are saved. They think they are very humble in saying, “We trust so. We hope so.” Whereasthere is nothing but pride, like a thick sediment, at the bottom of all that kind of talk! What right have I, when God tells me that a thing is so, to say that I
hope it is so? If I were to promise to give a subscription of ten pounds to a charity and
the person to whom I promised it should say, “Well, I hope you will give it,” I should answer, “But I have said that I will.” “Yes, I hope you will.” “But don’t you believe me?” “Yes, I hope I do, but…” Why, if such talk as this prevailed among men of the world, they would be for showing the door to one another! It would be looked upon as an insult not to believe a man–and why should you treat God in a manner in which you would not like to be treated by your fellow men? God says that I am saved if I trust Christ. I do trust Christ and I am saved–if I am not, then God’s Word is not true! It comes to that. Since his Word must be true–then if I really trust Christ and I know that I do–if whatever else I have left undone, my soul does cling to Him, sink or swim, not having the shadow of a hope anywhere but in His preciousblood–and if I can say this, then I know I am saved, for God says I am! Experience and conscience may say whatever they like, but, “let God be true, and every man a liar.”
The way, however, to increase the measure of our assurance is to be found in more study of the Word of God. Somepeople have not the confidence they might have because they do not understand the Truth. I think that certain forms of Arminianism are injurious to the faith of the Christian–those forms, for instance, which deny the election of God, the effectual calling of the Holy Spirit and the final perseverance of the saints. These denials seem to me to cut from under a man’s foot everything he has to stand upon! And I do not wonder that the man who believes them has no assurance. If I believe that God’s children may fall away and perish, it seems to me that full assurance, at any rate, becomes an impossibility, for if they may fall, why may not I? What is there in me that I should stand where others fall? But when I rest alone upon the finished work and righteousness of Jesus and believe it is finished, then I can sing, “Now unto Him who is able to keep me from falling, and to present me faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, be glory, majesty, dominion and power, forever and ever. Amen.” Study the Word much, dear Christian Brothers and Sisters. Never mind the magazines! Never mind the newspapers! Further than they are necessary to your business, you need not trouble yourself with them. We would, all of us, be a great deal better if we kept to the one Book. Let us be as expansive in our knowledge as possible, but let us keep the Bible as the sun and center of the solar system of our knowledge–and let everything we know revolve around that center! If we knew more of God, we might be content to know less of men.
Next to this, I think if we would have full assurance established, we must be more in prayer than we are. You will notbe in a healthy state if you live without prayer. You cannot live without it if you are a Christian–and I mean you cannot be healthy if you live without much prayer. I am persuaded that none of us pray as we ought. I am not given to bandying accusations against God’s saints without thought, but I am afraid that this is not a praying age. It is a reading age, apreaching age, a working age, but it is not a praying age! When one reads of the Puritans prayers, one is astounded! Why, their public prayers were sometime three-quarters of an hour in length and sometimes one hour and a half by the clock. I do not like that. But their private prayers were far longer and days of fasting and of prayer were quite common things. I wish we could have a day of fasting and of prayer about this cattle disease, but I only say this by the way. I wish we all of us prayed a great deal more than we do. We just pray for a short season because we say that we are so busy, but we forget that the more we pray, the more we are able to work. The mower grudges not the time he spends in whetting his scythe, or the scribe the interval for mending his pen. Martin Luther, when he had twice as much to do as he usually had, said, “I must pray for three hours today, at least, or else I shall never get through my work.” The more work he had, the more did he pray in order that he might be able to get through it! Oh, that we did the same! We would have more assurance if we were more on the mountain with God!
Let me also advise you to attend an edifying ministry and to get with well-advanced Christians. Some of the youngplants here, when they get moved away, suffer terribly from the cold. They come, perhaps, from the country full of doubts and fears, and then some of my good Brothers and Sisters get round them and talk to them, and cheer them up, and then they are so glad. Oh, that all Churches were warm-hearted, cordial and affectionate! There is so much stuckupishness, so much keeping aloof from one another that there can be no talking, one to another, about the things of God! By the Grace of God we will try to break this down and get a little warm-heartedness to one another–and so we will hope to get the full assurance by talking to one another of the things of the Kingdom of God and so strengthening each other in our work.
But, dear Friends, if you want to get full assurance, I can recommend to you another thing and it is this, work forChrist. We are not saved by works, but working for God brings us many blessings. Rest assured that if you spend and are spent for Christ, you shall never be out of spending money! If you lay out your strength for Him, He will lay in for you fresh stores of strength! He does not give us faith that we may bury it as the man buried his talent, but if we have five talents of faith and use them, He will give us five talents more–and so we shall have assurance if we use our faith well.
And then, again, praise God for what you have. Old Master Brookes says, “If you only have candlelight, bless Godfor it and He will give you starlight. When you have got starlight, praise God for it and He will give you moonlight. When you have got moonlight, rejoice in it and He will give you sunlight. And when you have got sunlight, praise Him still more and He will make the light of your sun as the light of seven days, for the Lord, Himself, shall be the light of your spirit.” Praise and bless Him and your assurance shall grow!
Above all, press through ordinances, and means, and prayers, to the Person of Christ, Himself! Thomas found thatputting his finger into Christ’s wounds was a cure-all for his unbelief. And so will you. Ask Him to–
“Wrap you in His crimson vest,
And tell you all His name.”
Pray Him to reveal Himself to you in His sufferings and in His Glory. Ask Him that you may read His heart, that He may speak to you and show you the great unspeakable love wherewith He loved you from before the foundation of the world. Then your communion with Christ shall be as eagle wings to bear you up to Heaven! Your fellowship with Jesus shall be like horses of fire to drag your chariot of flaming love up to the Throne of the Most High! You shall walk the mountaintop, talking with God, for you will have learned to commune with Christ! Your spirit shall make its nest hard by the Throne of the Most High. You shall get above the cares of earth, you shall mount beyond the storm and strife of worldly conflict and you shall even now bathe your soul in the unbroken sea of everlasting calm before the Throne of God!
Let us ask Him to say to each of our souls tonight, “I am your salvation.” Some of us are going to the Communion Table. Perhaps He will say it to us there. And if He does not, we will go home to pray. And if He does not speak to us then, perhaps in the night-watches He will say it. And when we awake, we will still plead on until those lips which said, “Let there be light,” and there was light, shall again say, “Let there be light,” to us, and we shall know that He is our salvation! May God bless you very richly for hearing this prayer, for Jesus' sake.