DELIVERED ON LORD’S-DAY MORNING, AUGUST 4, 1878
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
“O God, You are my God; early will I seek You: my soul thirsts for You, my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land, where there is no water; to see Your power and Your Glory, so as I have seen You in the sanctuary.”
Psalm 63:1, 2.
The new life which Divine Grace has implanted in us finds nothing here below upon which it can feed. The things which are seen are too gross, material, carnal and defiled to sustain life which comes by the Holy Spirit from the great Father. We are not carrion crows, else we might float upon the carcasses which abound in the waters around our ark! We are doves and when we leave the hand of our Noah, we find nothing to rest upon and we must go back to Him if we are to find food and rest for our souls. I am not speaking, now, of the world under its sorrowful aspect, only, but of the world at its best! It is a dry land for saints even when its rains are falling.
When the world dresses itself in scarlet and puts on its silks and satins, it is still a poor world for us. She may paint her face and tier her head, but she is a Jezebel for all that! The world, should she come to us as she came to Solomon, would still be a deceiver! If she would indulge us with all her riches and give us all her power and all her fame, she would still be a mere mocker to the heart which is born from above! If you could stand on a high mountain and see all the kingdoms of the world before you—and the glory thereof and hear a voice saying, “All this will I give you”—yet might you turn round to Satan and say, “And all this is nothing to me, a sop for a dog, but not food for a child of God!”
And then you might lift your eyes to the great Father above and say, “Whom have I in Heaven but You? There is none upon earth that I desire beside You!” You shall take prosperity at its flood. You shall have health and strength. You shall have all that heart can wish. But, after all, if there is a spark of Divine Life within you, your heart will compute the sum total of all earth’s joys and say, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity!” To a citizen of Heaven, this world is “a dry and thirsty land, where there is no water.
Sometimes Christians become very hungry and thirsty when they are banished from the means of Grace. Poor as our ministry may be, yet there are many of God’s children who would miss it more than their daily food if it were taken from them!
God’s servants whom He calls to the work of the ministry are bound to think little of themselves and yet the loaves and fishes which they distribute to the multitude are by no means to be lightly esteemed—the people would faint by the way if they did not have them. It is a severe trial to some saints to be kept away from sanctuary privileges. I know that when you travel for pleasure or roam by the seaside for health—if you go to a place of worship on the Sabbath and find no spiritual bread, you fall into a miserable state of mind and sigh to spend your Sabbaths where the children’s portion is dealt out liberally and all the servants have bread enough to spare! David loved the very doors of the Lord’s House! He thirsted and pined because he was shut out from sanctuary privileges—and it was especially for that reason that he speaks of himself as being in a “dry and thirsty land, where there is no water.”
The same may happen when we are denied the sweets of Christian communion. David had poor company when he was in the wilderness in the days of Saul. His friends were not much better than freeloaders and runaways whom he would never have selected as friends had not the necessities of his own condition and of the political situation rendered it necessary that he should become a captain over them. They were a strange band of men! They were made up chiefly of those who were in debt and discontented—the rebellious against Saul’s wretched administration—men of broken fortunes and suspected loyalty.
Few of them were fit friends for the man after God’s own heart. I do not wonder that he looked, even, at the sons of Zeruiah who loved him best and were his own kinsmen—and felt that as for holy communion his soul was in a dry and thirsty land where there was no water!
Believers are to keep out of worldly company and yet it sometimes happens that Providence throws the child of God among the ungodly, like Obadiah in the family of Ahab; Nehemiah in the palace of Artaxerxes and Daniel in the court of Darius.
Your lot is hard if you are called to dwell among worldlings, for they have power to injure your piety but they cannot help you. You look around upon a score of hard faces all eager after the almighty dollar and none of them caring for the almighty God—and I do not wonder that you feel yourself to be in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water!
We owe much more to Christian friends than we think—and especially the younger folk among us do well to value Christian associations and to be much in the company of them that fear the Lord and that think upon His name. If they are denied this refreshment, they will find life to be a dry land where there is no water.
Yes, but the same may happen from other causes as well. Sometimes a believing man may be treated with gross injustice and endure much hardship as the result. David was blameless and yet Saul hunted him as a traitor! He was upright, yet his people revolted from him. It tends to make a good man sour in spirit to be misrepresented and treated as guilty when he knows that he is innocent— and this bitterness is very apt to put away from us many sources of comfort and leave us uncomfortable. Then many a spring becomes dry and the heart shrivels as under a burning sun.
God is your God still, my dear Brothers and Sisters, whatever condition you are in, if you can now come and grasp Him by faith and call Him yours with the voice of love. Can you join me in words like these? Lord, I have lost my comforts; I have lost my assurances; I have lost my delights, but I still trust in You. I have no God but You, neither will I worship any other, nor repose my confidence elsewhere. Though You slay me, yet will I trust in You. The wounds of Jesus for my sin are still my soul’s one hope—the precious blood of Your dear Son is my sole confidence!
Besides, if we are in the wilderness, is not God the God of the wilderness? Were not His greatest marvels worked when He led His people about through the howling wilderness and fed them with manna and revealed Himself in a fiery, cloudy pillar? Where did Hagar look to Him who saw her but in the wilderness? Where did Moses see the Lord in the bush but at the backside of the desert? Where did Elijah hear a voice speaking to Him but away there in the wilderness? And where did David, the Psalmist, meet with his God but in the lone, solitary land where there is no water?
Neither, dear Friends, pray so much for ordinances as for the Lord, Himself. David does not say, “O God, You are my God, I will seek the sanctuary. My soul thirsts for a Prayer Meeting, my flesh longs for a sermon.” No, he sighs for God! He thirsts only for God! I believe that our Lord sometimes strikes all ordinances dry to make us feel that they are nothing without Himself. The means of Grace are blessed breasts at which the soul may suck when God is in them, but they are emptiness, itself, when He is not there. The preacher who has best fed you will only disappoint you if his Lord is not with him, or if you are not prepared to look beyond the man to the Master! The Lord loves to famish His people of all earthly bread and water—to bring them to wait upon only Himself.
I charge you, Beloved, this morning, that whatever your state may be, make a direct appeal to the Lord that He would immediately give you Himself by Christ Jesus! Nothing less than this can meet your needs and this will meet your case, though all outward ordinances should be denied.