O GOD OF MY SALVATION
Mr. E. Roe
3rd January, 1966
“Hide not Thy face far from me; put not Thy servant away in anger:
Thou has been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.” Psalm 27, v.9.
If we have any doubt that a real, living child of God has changes and rapid and great changes, and does not always live on the mount, you run through this Psalm when you have a moment to spare. In the opening verse none is more confident than David. “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” What could you have better than that? “Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident,” and so on. Yet in the words we have read, quickly after those strong utterances of clear and personal assurance of his faith and hope in God, we have the dear man saying “Hide not Thy face far from me; put not Thy servant away in anger: Thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.”
Now, how do we account for these big changes in a Biblical man of God? He is made of the same stuff as we. Human nature was in him and is in us. Moreover, the corruption of human nature worked in him just as it works in us. Satan, too, lived in those days as he does now, and he always hates a child of God, and so he would stir up fear and the ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ in David’s heart and mind. This is not to say that some may live very much and for very long periods on the top of the mount singing and rejoicing. I am not their judge. All I am trying to do is to point out that in this case the man did have many changes and I am glad he did, and you know why. We have changes ourselves. But, then, are we not told that “Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God?” Psalm 55, 19. That is a very solemn word. When you come across a character making a high sounding profession of always being happy, always confident, certain of going to heaven when he dies, looking forward to the time when he will be there, and all the rest of it, never a doubt, well, to say the least of it, it puzzles you, and you have to say “I am not in that case” and I would like to add “I hope you never will be.” After all, the old Book must stand, “Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God.”
But here is a very important feature to observe, what did David do in the midst of his changes? He went to God with them. You do the same. That is the best place to do business with our changes. You do not need to parade them to other folk; you will be most unwise if you do. You are likely to lay your heart open to many a wound, so keep quiet with regard to other folk, and do
more with your God. But you may say, ‘Is He the God of such a one?” What does my text say? It ends with “O God of my salvation”, and I propose dealing with the end of the text first.
Here we have the Object of the Psalmist’s petitions. He is not falling down to blocks of wood and stone or to the ‘many gods’ of the heathens with which he was surrounded, but he is taught to look up to “the God of my salvation.” That is very helpful. If any of you are subject to these spiritual changes, alternating between fear, a measure of confidence, hope, and what not, remember your changes do not change your God. Keep that clear. The waters may rush and swirl round you, but the Rock on which you are standing is unaffected by the waters, “O God of my salvation.” “Full of fear now; I am afraid that Thou wilt put me away in anger, afraid that Thou wilt leave me. Thou wilt forsake me, and these fears, strong and active, predominate. I am a miserable, dejected creature under the weight of them,” and yet what? He is still “the God of my salvation.” He was so here, and therefore it must be so in every similar case.
And this description of the God to Whom he brings his fears is very helpful. We should always remember that the Holy Ghost, in presenting different attributes of God in the Bible with regard to prayer, is not doing it haphazardlyÂ—it is done with a purpose, namely to encourage and stimulate the individuals to look to that particular Being of Whom He was about to speak under that particular character that the Holy Ghost is portraying. Is God “Jehovah Jireh” ‘The Lord will provide’? What better suited to a person that is in need and has nothing to help himself out. “The Lord will provide” is not made for a drawing room religion, but for an individual who is down and out, and has no means whatever of helping himself. Now that man and woman is apt to say “All these things are against me; my case is hopeless.” Not so. God is the providing God. Look to Him in that when in deep need in your prayer. If there is such an accumulation of things that you think you want and must have in a variety of ways, you may think it is hopeless to ask of God all this. Remember the Holy Ghost portrays Him as “The Most High God, Possessor of heaven and earth.” A mere phrase? Do not think that. The phrase is intended to encourage our hope, to expand our faith, to strengthen it, to eliminate our fears and doubts. We say “Can God furnish a
table in the wilderness? Can He?” Remember that He possesses heaven and earth.
Well, those are but a few instances, and there are hundreds of them really in the Bible. Here you have one; He is “The God of my salvation, me, the one who fears Thou wilt hide Thy face from me, that Thou wilt put me away in anger, that Thou wilt forsake me.” Do remember that connection, won’t you? Here is the poor soul struggling with all these difficult matters in his own experience, but God, He is the God of his salvation out of all those fears.
Just a moment here on something that is easily lost sight of. In God’s mind there are certain things revealed in this Book as taking place, all connected with salvation, but not displayed until certain events bring them to light. Perhaps if I just read you one verse you will see what I mean. “For whom He did foreknow. He also did predestinate” Romans 8, 29. Now this foreknowledge of God and this predestination of God are acts of His own mind before time began. We would never know anything about them taking place, and could not until revealed in certain processes of events. And all those immanent, internal acts of His own mind are as vitally connected with salvation as the external acts of God. I hope I am talking simply enough for you to follow me. I do not want to insult your intelligence by supposing you cannot follow this simple little talk. The internal acts of the mind of God, like election, foreknowledge, predestination, are every whit as important as God being made manifest in the flesh. God the Son dying on Calvary, His rising again, and so forth. These are external acts. We are more familiar with them because we have read about them and usually we hear about them more, but, if you go back to the root, they all sprang from the infinite good pleasure of the will of God. And, to think that He should have all that in His mind and heart about you! Ah! You do not know half what God thinks in His own mind about His people. We limit Him in every way, but He is illimitable. “O God of my salvation in foreknowing me, in predestinating me, in choosing me, in giving me into the hands of Christ.” Is all this in the view of the Psalmist? Yes. It is all implicit in this beautiful description he gives of God “O God of my salvation.” Now it follows “Whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified.” Romans 8, 30. But there would be no calling, no justification, no glorification were it not for that act of His eternal mind towards us long before we took a breath of earth into our being. This is the God whom we adore, with Whom salvation is not an afterthought, but was in His heart before the wheels of time began to move.
Further than that, the Psalmist was permitted to see something of the mystery of the Trinity in that salvation, because the word ‘God’ here is plural. He is full of fear, ‘Hide not Thy face far from me; cast not Thy servant away, leave me not, do not forsake me” and yet the Trinity in unity is concerned about my salvation. How can the two things lie together? They do. And the more complicated a child of God gets in his own exercises and fears and doubts, the more does he become attached to the fact that none but Father, Son and Holy Ghost alone can do him any good. He will not be a free-wiler nor a duty-faith man nor an ArminianÂ— cannot beÂ—why? Because God has so riddled him by permitting the devil to sift him, and his own heart to torment him, and the plague and corruption of his native depravity to tease him that NONE but Father, Son and Holy Ghost can meet his case. That
may be one of the best reasons why we have to have so many changes internally, that we should become the better, the deeper, the richer instructed in the truth about GOD. Mark the man that is always singing the ‘Hallelujah chorus’Â—you know what I mean by that phrase. It sums it all up in a nutshell. You watch him . . . very little indeed will you hear such a one talk of a heart-felt need of the Father’s almighty love, the Son’s vicarious death, the Holy Ghost’s quickening and upholding power. And why? Because such do not have the inward turmoil, the inward stripping and baring of their soul’s case before God. Do bear with me, but believe it to be the Word of God as I am sure it is, if you are one of these characters (and I am not saying it lightly) you have a lot for which to be thankful. You have indeed. You may look at certain experiences of which you have read and heard and you say “I wish I were like them.” Don’t you wish anything of the kind. It is a wrong thing. For one thing it implies that the Holy Ghost does not know what to do with you, assuming that the Holy Ghost is the teacher of the other person whom you are envying, but the Holy Ghost is a Sovereign. He has not led me anywhere near where He led the apostle Paul, nor do I expect He will, but, if I were to be so stupid as to say I have no hope for eternity because I am not equal to Paul, what a fool I should be, and not only a fool, but I would be guilty of really rebelling against the wisdom of the Holy GhostÂ—similarly with you. You read a beautiful case, a beautiful experience and you say “I wish that were mine”. I understand you, but do bear with me. God is the best Teacher. God is the best Father that you can ever have, and He will lead you in the way that He intends that you should go. He will instruct you just so far as He knows is best and wisest in His infinite wisdom. The mercy is that He takes any trouble with us at all. That is what I am trying to make plain to you. It is not the measurement of our experience that will count. It is the richness, it is the infinite love of the infinite God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost that They should have anything to do with us at all. The marvel of it!Â—”O God of my salvation.”
Salvation is a beautiful term, of course, but who knows what it means? I do not. One could stand and talk about the word for hours, I suppose, if one had grace enough, but really and truly we would not know much of what was being said. We cannot take it in. “Behold God is my salvation” says the Prophet again and again. God ISÂ—God ISÂ—what a wonderful thing! God is my salvation. Do forgive me, but some of you are young and I want you to understand (perhaps you will understand better as you get older) the creature cannot do one little bit in thisÂ—God alone is my salvation.
Let me tell you a little storyÂ—you youngsters listen to this. There was a young lad only twelve years of age, now see the sovereignty of the Holy Ghost in this person’s case. He went to hear a man preach, and it was the famous Dr. Kennedy of Killear-
nan, Dingwall, and he was preaching out of the Psalm “Thou art fairer than the children of men.” Ps. 45, 2. He was preaching on the loveliness, the beauty of Jesus Christ and this lad twelve years of age heard wonderful things that morning. Ah! but he heard them in his soul, and he went out never to forget itÂ—that sermon of dear Dr. Kennedy. The triumphant joy of the boy’s heart after hearing that sermon some of the elders questioned and doubted. They questioned it because they thought he had not been to Mount Sinai. It worried him. Well it might. People never know how much worry and trouble an odd remark can cause to another. He asked God that He would shew him His righteous displeasure against sin, and that, if he were wrong. He would put him right, and God did it in a secondÂ—in a secondÂ—gave him such a flash of His righteous ire in the Law against sin that the dear fellow said ‘If He had let it stay for minutes instead of for seconds, I should have lost my reason.” That boy lived seventy-eight years after that, and the whole of those years were spent devoted to the cause of the living God where he happened to be. Godliness, uprightness, integrity were demonstrated in his life, and he ended triumphantly. So the Holy Ghost can meet with a boy even in hearing of the loveliness of ChristÂ—might He meet with you! But see the sovereignty of the Holy Ghost in the matter. We usually say that you must go to Sinai before you can come to Zion, and often that is true, but, do remember, it is not always true. The things that happened to Israel, we are told by the Holy Ghost in the Epistle to the Corinthians happened unto them for ensamples or types of what the people of God would pass through. Very well, what happened to Israel? They came out of Egypt by the Passover Lamb. They came out of Egypt, that is a figure of the world dead in sins, they came out of that by the Passover Lamb’s blood sprinkled upon the doorpost etc. and they went several days’ journey into the wilderness before they came to Sinai. Probably some of you here this morning never knew much about Sinai at firstÂ— probably next to nothingÂ—you have heard people talk about being cut down by the law and their inside made to shiver as they stood on the brink of hell. I am not speaking lightlyÂ—some of His are made to do that. You have heard people talk like that ,and you have said ‘Mine is not like that, and never has been to that extent,’ but, say it is five, ten, fifteen, twenty or more years since you hope the good work was begun, how do you stand now compared with them, with regard to yourself as a sinner? A bigger one than ever. You want no-one now to tell you about Sinai .You have had some of its thunders and lightnings in your heart and mind since then. It is the same thing, you see, and the great and important thing is this, that “By the law is the knowledge of sin” Romans 3.20. Just when God shall give it to us is at His disposal. If He gives it to you and me in a depth at the beginning of our experience, that is for Him to determine, or if He shall do it gradually and by slow degrees as we journey on in the godly path,
it is still His sovereign good will, but the point is this, let me come back to it. God is the God of our salvation and deliverance, deliverance from the guilt of sin, the filth of sin, the power of sin, the damnation of sin, ah! and a lot more than I could talk about. No one can tell what salvation is.
Now look at his three petitions he addresses to that God of his salvation. First, “Hide not Thy face far from me.” Then he had known what that face was? Of course he had. He had had it shine. Ah! and if a man has had it shine, he knows the miss of it. But, if you have not had it shine, you do not know the miss of it, friend. How can you? He had had it shine and then God had withdrawn it. Ah! let me have a word, at whatever price, on Him Who worked out our salvation. “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me”? Matt. 27,46. If anyone knew anything about the hiding of the face of God, His dear Son did. Now that is a mystery, dear friends, into which you will never enter. You may think about it, but cannot enter into it. It was not because He had done anything displeasing to His FatherÂ—not the slightest. “I do always those things that please Him.” John 8, 29. It was not personal sin then. No, what could it have been? Ah! Had He you in His heart then? Is that it? Was He thinking of you and me then? Bearing your sin, my sin at that moment? If so, the answer is quite easy. That is why He was forsaken of God. God could not. God would not look, even upon His Own dear Son Whom He loved with an infinity of love, while He was the Sin BearerÂ—Sin on Him, sin really imputed to Him, so that in God’s sense of justice His dear Son stood as, like a sinnerÂ—by sin imputedÂ—not an actual one. The Scapegoat of Israel is here, with every iniquity of Israel on it. Ah. and for three hours He endured what must have been to Him intolerable hell, a forsaken soul, forsaken of God. We do not, please God we never may, know what that means.
There is an experience then, in which a child of God comes into a sense that God has hid His face from him. You know he had plenty of good reasons for it. Haven’t you? Ah! you cannot hold your head up in front of HimÂ—you dare not. You know why He has hidden His face from you. What a blessing it is to know it. What a blessing it is to confess it too. That sin, that habit, that something or other that you know in your conscience displeases God, bring it out to daylight, friend. Act honestly to your God. Say “This is it. Lord, give me grace to kill it, to put it away. Hide not Thy face from me on account of this.” You will be surprised how pleased He will be to hear from you like thatÂ—He will. “If we confess our sins.” He does not say “If we will atone for them, or if we will go to purgatory for them,” but “If we confess our sins”. Is it not great? “If we confess our sins. He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John, 1.9. Is it likely that God would long hide His face from this man? Look what He says in verse 8, “When Thou saidst Seek ye My face; my heart said unto Thee, Thy face. Lord, will I seek.”
Here is a man to whom God has said “Seek ye My face” and his heart says “Thy face. Lord, will I seek” and yet, when he seeks that face he says “Hide not Thy face far from me.” Is it likely that God would say to a man “Seek ye My face” then God hide His face from him for long? No. There is something so nice about this God telling you to seek His face. Sometimes, you know. He comes through your conscience. Listen to your conscience. It is still the monitor of God in a man, especially an enlightened conscience, and when conscience says to you ‘Now you cease meddling with that matter; you seek the face of God about it.” You obey that. You drop all your own plans and manoeuvrings and schemes, drop them .and follow your enlightened conscience, for it is God saying to you “Seek ye My face.” Sometimes you will find, too, an inward disposition to call upon God, to seek His face. You do not always have that disposition working; you are often averse to going to God. If you are not, I am, I’m sorry to say. There is that nature that is independent of God, does not want God. The carnal mind is enmity against God. That is an awful, terrible reality. Sometimes, to your surprise, you will find that heart of yours has a dispositionÂ—you do want to prayÂ—you do want to prayÂ—you can’t get a spot where you can pray in profound secrecy. Probably you have been in the midst of company and associations, and yet this has been working in the heart in the background, ‘Pray, pray, pray, pray.’ And you have had to find a place to pray. God has been speaking to you. He has been saying, “Seek ye My face.” And your heart has said “Thy face. Lord, will I seek” and yet, directly you have been to seek it, it seems to have gone. You cannot find it; cannot feel it. “Hide not Thy face far from me, Lord. You did tell me to seek Thy face.” Ah! isn’t it wonderful, this business of seeking the face of God. I was thinking not long ago, of that opening chapter in the Bible, Gen. 1, 3. “Let there be light: and there was light.” Let, let, let. Read that 1st chapter of Genesis again and note the “lets” that occur in it and every one of them is in the imperative mood. It is a command. “Let there be light: and there was light.” God says “Seek ye My face”. He no sooner says it than our heart echoes back, “Thy face. Lord, will I seek.” When God says in Isaiah 55, 7. “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord”, God is speaking in the language of Genesis 1, in the imperative mood. It is a gracious command, and, with the command, is power, and a willingness, too, to obey. May He bless you and me with much more of this.
Then the second petition is, “Put not Thy servant away in anger.” There are plenty of reasons why He might do. You will know them. You will say what is written in Luke 17, 10, where our Lord says “So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say. We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.” “Put me not away in Thine anger.” You remember that beautiful little story in the
Book of Kings. The Queen of Sheba comes to Solomon, and she sees the wonderful things that he has, and the wealth of his palace, and his retinue and his household and his servants, and she says, “Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee and that hear thy wisdom.” 1 Kings 10, 8. Oh! but a Greater than Solomon is here. All His children are His servants. If Solomon’s servants were happy to be his servants, how much more happiness lies in our being made a servant of God? “Put not Thy servant, unprofitable as I am, put me not away.” Jesus will not. Why is that? I have read it to you this morning in that beautiful 12th John, Jesus says “Where I am, there shall also My servant be.” John 12, 26. Is it not beautiful? Ah! if the poor lame dog of a servant often feels he is unworthy to be called a servant of God, yet where Christ is, Christ says he shall be, instead of being put away in anger he will be put up; he will be promoted to an association with his Lord for ever. “Leave me not. Dismiss me not. Abandon me not.” There is a beautiful little story in the Old Testament illustrating that. David’s men found an Egyptian servant starved, sick, by the wayside. They bring him to David and he asks him about himself and he says “I am a young man of Egypt, servant to an Amalekite; and my master left me, because three days agone I fell sick”Â—1 Sam. 30, 13. Left him, abandoned him to perish. The Psalmist says, “Do not do like that. Lord with me. Leave me not neither forsake me,” and He will not. “I will never leave thee,” and you know there are 5 negatives there, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.”
Then his last petition or expression is “Thou hast been my help.” Though he puts in those three petitions, he appeals to his past experience “Thou hast been my help Lord.” How true that is. “Unless the Lord had been my help, my soul had almost dwelt in silence” said the Psalmist. Psalm 94, 17. And I am sure he was right. That would have been the finish of David and it would have been the finish of you and me, too, long ago. Why hasn’t the finish come? He has been our help. “Thou hast been our helpÂ—a very present help in time of trouble” when you want Him the most, and, again, “Because Thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of Thy wings will I rejoice.” Psalm 63, 7. Oh then, this man comes up. Yes, he gets up sometimes. He can sing the Hallelujah chorus sometimes. He can sing praises to God sometimes in his spirit when the Lord helps him out of the low place again. “Thou hast been my help.” Stick to that, friends. Stick to it. Never mind how the devil browbeats you, stick to the fact, “Thou hast been my help,” remembering the words of the inspired Apostle, “Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day.” Acts 26, 22.