THE CRY IN TROUBLE
Mr. C. Durbidge
Blunsdon Hill, Wilts.
16th July, 1967
“Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.” Psalm 107; 6.
We read this psalm through this morning, and, in our remarks upon this same text, said that in the psalm can be traced out the work of God with His church in her pilgrimage on earth all the way through until she arrives home at last; and therefore you can find in it the individual experience of those that make up God’s church. Each believer, each one that fears God, knows in his degree the things and circumstances ‘that are mentioned in this psalm. How important in experience is the very first word in the text, because it says “Then they cried”. Something preceded the appearance of life in them. Where were they then, before they cried unto the Lord? They were in the wilderness, as all men are. The world might well be represented by the wilderness, and these spoken of are truly men whom the Lord has gatheredÂ—not just historically as with the IsraelitesÂ—but His own dear children; for it is true, they are gathered of the Lord, “out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south”. It is our mercy, that there is nowhere you can be that God cannot find you. A great mercy it is. You do not have to live in a certain country to qualify; anywhere under the canopy of heaven God can find you, for He knoweth them that are His.
These, and these only, who are known to Him in this sense are the redeemed of the Lord which were to be brought back. They ever were His; which brings us into that old and great fundamental truth. God’s eternal choice of His people, which we cannot escape throughout His word, neither would we escape it. Thanks be unto Him for this truth, that He has a people of His own out of mankind, and He chose them eternally. A poor sinner, one of those that cry unto Him in their trouble, does not dispute this truth; such are glad of this, that He chose a people before the Fall. Well, I am a poor sinner; I hope I have been brought to know it by the Spirit; and this truth suits me well. I love to contemplate God’s method of saving people, how He chose them and saved them before the world was madeÂ—a great transaction! And then they sold themselves, as His word testifies “for nought”, and therefore they stood in need of redemption. They were in that position that they needed to be redeemed and to be brought back. They were slaves in a common marketÂ—a humiliating thought, but suitable to the point; that is how mankind is, as seen by the Lord; and the earth is the market place. There are the slavesÂ—fallen sinners. You cannot, in the light of truth and experience really deny it, can you? Slaves! “And were by nature the children of wrath, even as others” and got on quite well. We would not have this Man to rule over us; we had another master,
We served and loved him well. Surely there is a need to be brought back and redeemed, isn’t there? “Let the redeemed of the LORD say so.” These are the ones who give thanks to His name, to redeeming mercy.
It is as though the Lord looks upon this one and that one in the common market place, and He says, “I will have that one”. He is not now making the first choice, but it is as Jesus said, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me” (John 6.37). These are they that were first given, and then He comes to them and claims them by redemption, and He says, “I will save this one;
and yes, that one is mine; that slave there is mine; I have known that one”. He is going to say one day to some, “I never knew you”. That is because He never knew them in eternity. There again, I feel bound to say, you cannot deny this in the light of truth and experience. If everyone was concerned about these things today, then places of worship would be filled with anxious, heavy hearts, seeking to know where they stood. But it is not so. But there are some with the anxious enquiry, “Tis a point I long to know”, they say, “Am I his or am I not?” There are some; and these are the redeemed of the Lord, they are bought back, “Ye are not your own” it is said of them, (solemn thought!), and if we are the people of God, we are not our own to serve ourselves and to live as we like, we are bought with a price. The price is mentioned in the hymn you have just sungÂ—the precious redeeming blood of Jesus. That is the price. Bought back.
Well, He finds them in the wilderness. He found Jacob in a waste howling wilderness; and He finds His people there, in a solitary way. We have mentioned that the solitariness of the wilderness is known when the Lord begins to deal with a sinner; and we sang that sweet hymn
“When Jesus’ gracious hand
Has touched our eyes and ears,
O, what a dreary land,
The wilderness appears!”.
That is like a prelude to this “then”. There is a time when His hand, the hand of His grace, touches the eyes and ears, and like Lydia the heart is opened and old things begin to pass away. Do you remember such an occasion? It is very gradual sometimes; His work is very gradual; some hardly know where it begins, but there is a change. With me I think it was, instead of the weekends and Sundays being the best days of the week to me in pleasure and frolic, they became the most trying. I gradually became unhappy in what I did and with those with whom I mixed; I could not get on at all with the things I once delighted in. A gradual process. The Lord is sovereign in the way He deals with His people. He cuts some down suddenly, and brings them to their senses. But in it all He has the praise, for it is all His work. I cannot get on with those who turn to the Lord themselves. No, He turns His children to Himself; He works in them to will and
to do of His good pleasure. I trust I can, and do, seek to give Him the praise of all my hope. He must have worked in me, for I should never have turned to Him, never! In spite of all my early teaching in the truth and so much regular attendance upon Sabbath school and chapel, that would never have been the cause of my new birth. He works in His people. He finds them in a sad condition. They say, “Strange and mysterious is my life”. They hardly know what they are or where they are. The child of
God is a strange creature, but very blessed. “Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them”.
We mentioned a child, a newborn babe; the first requisite is for it to cry. After that is health and expansion and growth. So it is when God begins to work with a poor sinner; there is a cry. And in the beginning it is not always under the threatenings and thunderings of a broken law. With some, it is; but with others He begins in providential thingsÂ—in some young people. He deals sovereignly in this, we cannot lay down a standard, but it is all to one end; they are all to be brought to know that precious Jesus. That is the object of it; but it is “here a little, and there a little”, with one in this way, and with another in another way. When I began to be brought into trouble, it was not long after being married, I came into great difficulty, and had to go one day to seek expert advice in London. All local physicians seemed to have failed, and I said to my dear one “We ought to go down on our knees”Â—the first cry, perhaps, unitedly, anywhere! Although there was nothing audible, yet we did. We were in our distress and trouble and we sought the Lord. You cannot do better. It does not matter what it is. You do what they did in this psalm, and those we read of all the way through, old Jacob and Abraham, and Sarah and Ruth and Mordecai and Esther, call upon Him! And so we in those days long ago, went to the Lord in our trouble. The Lord permits trouble. He could leave all men in the troubles that they are in; He need have redeemed none, it adds nothing to God. He is God, self-existent, all-glorious, and He does not need us in the sense that we add to His glory or increase His majesty. No, the benefit is all ours.
The prodigal son asked for his portion and went abroad and spent his life with riotous living and harlots. His father was not the cause of it; he did not ask him to go; he did not suggest that he should go. and made no great promises about what would happen when he came back; but he did as he wanted to, like all of us, self-willed, in his own way, a wilful desire to go. He went. God was not the author of it, was He? And He is not the author of sin and the case of the prodigal illustrates it. If we could dig deep enough into these wonderful things, we should be happier than we are before God. I am a poor one to say all this, living as low as I often do, but I can see it as I speak it; if God would help us to practise this and to think of the depths of His grace
toward us, we should be happier than we are, and we should see how safe we are, perfectly safe for time and eternity.
Our text begins with “Then”. This turning point in the life of a poor sinner.
“There is a period known to God”
(that will describe it precisely;)
“When all his sheep, redeemed by blood,
Shall leave”Â—(they have been in them, but,)
“Shall leave the hateful ways of sin.”
The true work which God works in a poor sinner is an absolute hatred and loathing of the hateful ways of sin; there is no wanting to go back. Some people question and say “Well, this is all right; I do not think this is sinful”. If there is any doubt about it, leave it alone! A dear old man who used to go to the Dicker once said, “My wife will not have a teacloth hung out on Sunday; some say it is all right, but it says in the Word, ‘Abstain from all appearance of evil’, and that is the best thing to do”. And so it is. But the point is, if you truly fear God, if you wonder what is evil and are not sure, you will leave it alone; and you will not wish to leave sin and then return to it. “Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble”. That bespeaks the true work, that prodigal returning to his father. Will He receive me? I am going to say unto Him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants”. Do you think half of his heart was back where he had come from, that he was wishing he was there? No! I mention these things to show what a true cry is. They “leave the world’s deceitful shore, and leave it to return no more”. That is, in sincerity and in heart. Well do I know we have slips and falls, and sometimes are left of the Lord, perhaps, to return to folly, for Him to teach us. But in our right mind we would be far away from all that is evil. “Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them. Then they cried”. Then, at the turning point, away from the spirit of the world, their faces set the right way, unto the Lord. The poor man going from Jerusalem to Jericho was going the wrong way, and fell among thieves. It is as sure as anything, if we are going against the Lord we shall fall foul. This is the turning point, “Then they cried”. That suggests true prayer, and into all those with whom the Lord deals He puts true prayer. Now some people think very poorly of their prayers; but some in the deepest straits have not made long prayers. The poor publican said. “God be merciful to me, a sinner”. Most effectual! We read of Jehoshaphat in the lesson, (2 Chron. 20)Â—it was not a great, lengthy prayer; it was a confession of their sin and seeking unto God for mercy. “Then they cried unto the LORD”.
What did you first say? What do you say now? I have heard some say they would not want to pray in public, but they can tell the Lord. Yes, isn’t it wonderful when you can go before Him in
the confidence that perhaps people would not understand, but He does. If only, as far as it is prudent, we could pray more in public as we do in privateÂ—I do not mean in disclosing some matters, but it is sweet to open your heart to the Lord in your own language. He understands even a falling tear or an upward glance; and the poorest stammerersÂ—He knows what they mean! “Then they cried unto the LORD”. When you cry you are going to One who knows more of you than you know yourself. That should not be difficult to understand; a parent looks at his child sometimes and says, I know what he wants to say; I know what she wants. The child does not know how to put it. Well, on a far higher plane, the Lord knows. The prodigal’s father saw him return. He was looking for him, but the son did not know that. His father expected him. It is like this with the redeemed of the Lord. He knows they are coming. He has allowed the trouble to happen, and He has allowed them to taste of it; it is amongst the “all things” that work together for their good. Their own folly shall be the means of bringing them to Him. A wonderful way! a merciful way! They might have been left to perish in their troubles; but instead of that the Lord blesses them and sanctifies to them their deepest distress, and blesses their troubles. “Then they cried unto the LORD”. A wonderful thing! O, the relief there is! Like a person strung up with nervous disorders, or shock, or accident, who says, “If I can have a good cry that will help me”; and there is nothing better for your poor soul than to go on your knees and cry unto the Lord, and to feel that He has heard you. What will that do? It will do what it says here; the Lord does not always take the trouble away; no, but He does deliver His people out of the distress of the trouble, which is another thing. You may have a long, long trouble and it may not go. It might please the Lord to continue that trouble; but He can sanctify it to you, and He can take away the distress of the trouble. He can take the trouble completely away; that is so often done, but not always. It is a wonderfully blessed thing to be in great trouble and for the Lord to sanctify it and remove the distress of it; I mean for you to know it is in the Lord’s hand, and that He overrules it for your good and His glory; it may be for the good of others. These may seem mysterious things, but any in such a path will know of what I have spoken.
“Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble”, not when they were out of it. That is the time for praise and thankfulness. “In their trouble”. That is when they cried, they prayed. Every true Christian is a praying person; and true prayer is indited by the Spirit; it comes from the heart, and the Lord teaches them how to pray and what to pray for. Another short prayer is that of the Syrophoenician woman. She had a great trouble; her daughter was possessed of a devil. She went to the Lord in great distress, and said “Lord, help me”; she pleaded about the crumbs falling, and the dogs under the table. He heard her cry and told
her to return for her daughter was healed. In that case he removed the trouble. “Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble”.
When trouble comes, what is our first thought? How can I get rid of this? But really we should go before the Lord and ask Him if it could please Him to forgive us for our own foolish ways in such a trouble, and in His mercy sanctify it to us bringing us forth from all ill, and blessing the trouble to His honour and glory for our good.
“Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses”. That is in the past tense;
they cried and He delivered. You find the same again in the 13th verse, ‘how that they sit in darkness and the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron. You might liken that to another stage in the experience of God’s people; His work is deepened; they are now beyond these providential things, and learn a little of the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron. They begin to learn more about sin and evil and what is within them; the holiness of God’s law. and the righteousness that He requires. O, there is a being brought to a more full knowledge of the truth. This is by degrees, and all are not at the same point of experience. Now as they begin to discover themselves a darkness comes on, and more distresses, because they rebelled against the words of God. He brought them to Himself; they cried unto Him; but folly is manifest in these Israelites; rebellion arises against the God of all their mercies who bought them. They rebel, but He does not leave them; He brings down their heart with labour; they fall down, and there is none to help. They even went elsewhere, to broken pitchers that could hold no water. Then, (O, there is a coming back! It goes on all through life), “Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble and he delivered them out of their distresses”.
Now we come to the present tense. “He hath broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron in sunder”. Deliverance! He has set them free. Liberty! Some have got thus far. Some know this stage of experience. They have had deliverance and are set free; they praise the Lord for His goodness. “Fools because of their transgression”. Ah, they are still foolish. We need to be kept every step of the way. “Because of their iniquities” they are afflicted. “Their soul abhorreth all manner of meat; and they draw near unto the gates of death”. There is such a thing as feeling one may have been left to sin away all hope, great darkness, much despair is felt there. “They draw near unto the gates of death”, but He does not let the little flame peter out. “Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saveth”. It is still going on. This is the present tense. It is still going on. “And he saveth them out of their distresses”. He sent His word and renewed them, revived them, under the gospel. He still does! “And saveth them out of their distresses”. They would have been des-
troyed but for His mercy. “Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness.”
There are those that, “go down to the sea in ships”. O, the various leadings and dispensations as the Lord deals with His people! “He commandeth and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof”. There are things in the life of God’s children wherein they “reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit’s end”. “Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distress. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.”
There is a rest that remaineth, therefore, unto the people of God; and He bringeth them into a knowledge, a more full, saving knowledge, of the Lord Jesus Christ; and though the sins of His dear people are “immense as is the sea”, and, “like mountains pointing to the skies”. He bringeth them to their desired haven, and discovers to them that they are redeemed people. Notwithstanding all that they are, all that they have done, and all that they are ever likely to do, the sacrifice of His dear Son, the merits of His precious blood, and that one atonement, provides for the forgiveness of all manner of sin and blasphemy amongst men. The poor soul’s only resting place is the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no other place of rest.
Are you further on today in the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour than you were years ago? Some might say “No, I fear not”. Well, you may have learned of yourself a little more; you may not be in the enjoyment and possession of this precious Saviour, but He is very precious in the want of Him, isn’t He? O, He is more precious to some in the desire after Him than when they first set out. Jabez said, “Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed”, (that is, make me happy) “and enlarge my coast”. Surely, if the Lord would enlarge my coast it would be by subduing many enemies within me and giving me a greater knowledge, a sweet understanding of His dear Son! One feels so contracted, so limited, so afraid that all one has is a few hazy ideas, a few religious notions; but one desires to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus. So, as we said at the beginning, through this psalm can be seen the stages of gracious experience.
“Then are they glad because they be quiet”. The only way to obtain quietness and rest is to look to Jesus. “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith”. The Spirit does that for a poor sinner; but He sets him down on nothing short of a precious Saviour and His finished work. So we go on to read “He turneth… a fruitful land into barrenness… He turneth the wilderness into a standing water, and dry ground into watersprings. And there he maketh the hungry to dwell, that they may prepare a city for habitation; and sow the fields and plant vineyards”. These experiences are good for God’s church. There are others to follow;
“He blesseth them also, so that they are multiplied greatly; and suffereth not their cattle to decrease. Again, they are minished, and brought low through oppression, affliction and sorrow. He poureth contempt upon princes, and causeth them to wander in the wilderness, where there is no way. Yet setteth he the poor”Â— here they are again!Â—”on high from affliction, and maketh him families like a flock”. So that He crowns His work, the work of grace on earth, with glory above. May He have all the praise for it!