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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

Judges 5

Verse 11

SONGS OF DELIVERANCE by C H Spurgeon Sermon on Judges 5:11 (Ed note: This sermon emphasizes application more than exposition)

They that are delivered from the noise of archers in the places of drawing water, there shall they rehearse the righteous acts of the Lord, even the righteous acts toward the inhabitants of his villages in Israel: then shall the people of the Lord go down to the gates. ”-Judges 5:11 .

Deborah sang concerning the overthrow of Israel’s enemies, and the deliverance vouchsafed to the tribes: we have a far richer theme for music; we have been delivered from worse enemies, and saved by a greater salvation. Let our gratitude be deeper; let our song be more jubilant. Glory be unto God, we can say that our sins, which were like mighty hosts, have been swept away, not by that ancient river, the river Kishon, but by streams which flowed from Jesus’ side. Oar great enemy has been overcome, and his head is broken. Not Sisera, but Satan has been overthrown: the “seed of the woman has bruised his head” for ever. We are now ransomed from the galling yoke; we walk at liberty through the power of the great Liberator, the Lord Jesus.

The results which accrued from the conquest achieved by Barak, are upon a small scale similar to those which come to us through the deliverance wrought out by the Lord Jesus Christ. I shall take our text and spiritualize it, viewing its joyous details as emblematic of the blessings granted to us through our Redeemer. Those who went to draw water at the wells after Barak’s victory, were no longer disturbed by the robbers who lurked at the fountains for purposes of plunder; and instead of drawing the water by stealth and in hasty fear, the women joined their voices around the well head, and sang of the mighty acts of God; and the citizens who had been cooped up within the town walls, and dared not show themselves in the suburbs, ventured beyond the gates into the open country, transacted their business openly, and enjoyed the sweets of security. I think we can readily see that this is an instructive type of the condition into which our Lord Jesus Christ has brought us, through the destruction of our sins and the overthrow of the powers of darkness.

We shall, this morning, first, for a little time, think of the wells of salvation as cleared of enemies; then we shall talk together upon the songs of praise to be rehearsed at the wells; and, thirdly, we shall have a little to say upon the visitation of the gates, which we can now enjoy with safety.

I. Our text tells us of Wells Cleared From The Foe, and speaks of those who “are delivered from the noise of archers in the places of drawing water.”

We thank God that we who are the children of the Most High, have wells to go to. The world is a wilderness; say what we will of it, we cannot make it into anything else. “This is not our rest; it is polluted.” We are passing through the desert of earth to the Promised Land of heaven, but we praise God that we have wells to drink of on the road. As Israel drank at Elim, and as the patriarchs drank at Beersheba, so have we wells of salvation, out of which we joyfully draw the living water. Our great inexhaustible well is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is, indeed, the great “deep that lieth under,” the “deep that coucheth beneath,” the secret spring and source from which the crystal streams of life flow, through the wells of instrumentality and ordinance. “All my fresh springs are in thee.” Whenever we come to the Lord Jesus Christ, we drink and are refreshed. No thirst can abide where he is. “He that drinketh of the water that I shall give him,” saith he, “shall never thirst.” Glory be to his name, we know the truth of this-.

“I came to Jesus, and I drank Of that life-giving stream; My thirst was quenched, my soul revived, And now I live in him.”

As often as we muse upon his person, commune with him in holy fellowship, think of his wounds, triumph in his ascension, and long for his second advent, so often doth our spirit drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, and we lift up our head.

Arising out of this greatest fountain, we have wells from which we draw the waters of comfort. First there is this book, this golden book, this book of God, this god of books, the word of God, with its thousands of promises, suitable to every case, applicable to all seasons, faithful and true, yea and Amen in Christ Jesus. Oh! how frequently when we have been fainting and ready to die, we have found that promise true, “I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground I” when we have turned to the word, and searched there and found the promise, and fed upon it, as one that findeth great spoil have we rejoiced in God’s word. The doctrines of this book are inexpressibly reviving to us. He that understandeth them shall find them to be a well of life and comfort. I need not instance those doctrines, for you know them, you feed upon them, they are your daily bread. Beloved, when we think of God’s eternal love to his people, when we meditate upon redemption by blood, when we consider the truth of effectual calling by the Holy Spirit, when we remember the immutable faithfulness of the Most High, the covenant suretyship of our Lord Jesus, when we look forward to the perfection which will be ultimately ours, and to the haven of eternal rest to which every one of the Lord’s people shall be brought, we do indeed find that- “Here in the fair gospel-field,

Wells of free salvation yield streams of life, a plenteous store, And our soul shall thirst no more.’

As the word read is thus precious, so is the word preached. If we listen to one whom God helps to speak in his name, we shall often find ourselves returning from the place of worship in a very different state from that in which we entered it. How often have you lost your burdens when you have been sitting in the assembly of the saints! I know, ye feeble ones, ye have oftentimes been refreshed; ye have bowed yourselves down to Siloah’s brook that flows hard by the oracle of God, and as you drank of its cooling streams, you have felt as though you could face the enemy once more, and go back to a world of toil and trouble, strong for labor, and patient for the endurance of suffering. Happy are ye to whom the word has come with demonstration of the Spirit and with power. The fruitful lips of the preacher who speaks experimentally, who speaks clearly, who speaks of that which he has tasted and handled of the good word of truth-these sanctified lips, I say, “drop as the rain,” and “distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb.” The mouth of the righteous becometh a well of life unto the people of God. So, my brethren, it is also with the well of the ordinances. I think we shall never forget the time when we drew water out of the well of baptism-when we were baptized into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, upon our profession of faith. We found believers’ immersion to be a most instructive emblem of our death, burial, and resurrection with the Lord Jesus; and we have not forgotten, to this day, that we then avowed ourselves to be dead to the world, dead to the law, dead to self, dead with Christ; nor has the thought of resurrection with Jesus, as typified by the uplifting out of the pool, been forgotten by us. We know and feel that we are dead, and our life is hid with Christ in God, and we rejoice that he “hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” The recollection of that happy day when we gave ourselves up publicly and unreservedly to Jesus, is still fragrant. Oh! how sweet to sing humbly but heartily-

“’Tis done! the great transaction’s done; I am my Lord’s, and he is mine: He drew me, and I followed on, Charm’d to confess the voice divine.”

So with the Lord’s Supper. My witness is, and I think I speak the mind of many of God’s people now present, that coming as some of us do, weekly, to the Lord’s table, we do not find the breaking of bread to have lost its significance-it is always fresh to us. I have often remarked on Lord’s-day evening, whatever the subject may have been, whether Sinai has thundered over our heads, or the plaintive notes of Calvary have pierced our hearts, it always seems equally appropriate to come to the breaking of bread. Shame on the Christian church that she should put it off to once a month, and mar the first day of the week by depriving it of its glory in the meeting together for fellowship and breaking of bread, and showing forth of the death of Christ till he come. They who once know the sweetness of each Lord’s-day celebrating his Supper, will not be content, I am sure, to put it off to less frequent seasons. Beloved, when the Holy Ghost is with us, ordinances are wells to the Christian, wells of rich comfort and of near communion.

But I must not forget the mercy seat. What a well that is to the Christian when he can draw nigh unto God with true heart! It is a glorious thing to have such a well as that in the family, where, in prayer with the children, you can bring all the necessities of the household before God, and mention each child if you will, and all the troubles of the past, or all the expected difficulties of the coming day. Let us never give up that well. But, as for private prayer, brethren, this world were drear indeed if we could not pour out our sorrows into our Father’s ear. This is the poor man’s riches; this is the sick man’s medicine; this is the faint man’s cordial; this is the weak one’s strength; this is the ignorant man’s school; this is the strong man’s confidence. Neglect prayer, and you will soon discover that all your spiritual powers wax weak; but be much in supplication-and he that is mighty on his knees, is mighty everywhere. He that looketh God in the face every morning, will never fear the face of man; and he who looketh Christ in the face each evening, may well close his eyes in sweet repose, feeling that, if he should never wake to this world of care, he shall wake up in the likeness of his Lord. Oh, yes! the mercy seat is a well of refreshment indeed! Over and above this, every form of fellowship with Jesus, wrought in us by the Spirit, is a well of salvation. This is an unknown thing to the ungodly, he entereth not into this secret; but you, my fellow Christians, know what communion with God means, for ofttimes, even when we are in business, or taken up with the world’s cares, our hearts are away with our Beloved on the mountains of myrrh and in the beds of spices; we get us away from the world’s toils to lean our head upon his bosom, to set in his banqueting-house, and see the love-banner waving over our heads. Beloved, we are no strangers to Jesus Christ, blessed be his name, and he is no stranger to us; we have seen him through the lattices of the ordinances; we have found the means of grace to be like windows of agate and gates of carbuncle, through which we have beheld him; we have him in our hearts full often, he embraces our soul-we carry the fire of his love flaming on the altar of our affections. He is our dear companion, our ever present help in time of trouble. Thus have I mentioned some of the wells. Now, concerning them all, it may be said, that they can never be stopped up by our foes. We read that in old times the enemies stopped up the wells, but neither hell nor its infernal train can ever fill up one of the wells which the Lord has digged and filled by his Spirit. If outward ordinances be stopped, yet the great deep that lieth under will find a vent somewhere; and if we were forbidden to draw near to the Lord’s table, or to meet to listen to the word, yet, blessed be God, we could pray, and we could have secret fellowship with Jesus, and so the wells could not so be stopped that the thirsty Christian should be deprived of his drink in due season.

Moreover, as they cannot be stopped, so neither can they be taken away from us. The Philistine king, Abimelech, strove with Abraham and with Isaac to take away the wells; but these are ours by covenant engagements, these are given to us in the eternal council, they are guaranteed to us by the solemn league of the eternal Three; and none of these covenant blessings shall be wrested from the heirs of life, who are heirs of all things in Christ Jesus.

Though these fountains cannot be stopped up or taken away, yet we can be molested in coming near to them. It seems that archers and wells frequently go together. It was the blessing of Joseph- “Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall.” But what next? “The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him.” And so in the text: here are wells, but there is the noise of archers, which greatly disturbs those who go to draw water. Brethren and sisters-I think you know, but I will refresh your memories-you know what the noise of archers has been to you when you have tried to draw water. Years ago, with some of us, our sins were the archers that shot at us when we would fain come to Christ and drink of his salvation. When we bowed the knee in prayer, a fiery arrow would dart into our hearts- “How dare you pray? God heareth not sinners!” When we read the word of God, another barbed shaft would be shot against us- “What hast thou to do with God’s word? There can be no promise there for such as thou art. Knowest thou not that thou art a condemned sinner, and that book curses thee solemnly? Turn away from it, of what service can it be to thee?” Do you not remember how you were wont to come up to this house sighing for comfort, and though the preacher frequently invited you to Christ, and tried to exhibit a crucified Savior before your eyes, yet the noise of the archers prevented you drawing from the well? Arrow after arrow of remorse, conviction, terror, and alarm, pierced your soul, so that you could not obtain peace with God. You used to envy the very least of the Lord’s people when you saw them rejoicing in Christ, while you could not so much as hope yourself. You were told to believe, but faith seemed impossible to you. You were hidden to rest upon the finished work, but you only could say, “I would, but cannot trust.” The twanging of the bow and the whizzing of the shaft were a terrible noise which prevented all drawing of water; while sometimes Satan beat the big hell drum in your ears: “The wrath to come! The wrath to come! The wrath to come!” And as you thought about the judgment day, and the great white throne, and the resurrection, and the dividing of the sheep from the goats, and the “Depart, ye cursed,” and the everlasting fire, and all the terrors of a dread eternity, divested of every beam of hope, it seemed impossible for you to draw water out of any one of the wells, though perhaps you tried them all, and tried them again and again, as I did, year after year, and yet could not obtain so much as a single drop to cool your parched tongue, while it seemed as if it would cleave to the roof of your mouth in utter despair. Ah! but beloved, you are delivered from the noise of archers now; your sins which are many, are forgiven you; now you can come to Jesus, now you can come to the ordinances, now you can read the Bible, now you can hear the word, and you find that God’s paths drop fatness. There is to you a river, the streams whereof make glad all your powers. Oh! how precious now these wells have become, because you can in unmolested peace draw water; and though sometimes the devil would fain shoot at you, yet you know you have a glorious shield, who is the Lord’s anointed, and has turned away all wrath from you, so that none can lay anything to your charge, for you are accepted in the Beloved, justified by faith, and have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Will not you who are delivered from the noise of archers in the places of drawing water, bless the Lord? But I should not wonder if since that first race of archers called sins has died out, some of you have been much molested by another tribe of bowmen, who a great deal trouble me at times, namely, the archers called doubts and fears. These sad villains will, if they can, attack every soul that desires to enjoy the means of grace and the grace of the means. “Ah!” says Satan, even to God’s child, “remember your slips and your failings! Recollect your shortcomings, your slackness in prayer, your indifference to God’s glory, your hardness of heart! How can you think of receiving a promise?” Just as you are going to grasp some divine word out of your Bible and suck out its honey, it seems as though something smote your hand, and you were obliged to drop the text altogether, lest you should be acting presumptuously. No hymn of joyful assurance suited you, but you began moaning out-

“’Tis a point I long to know, Oft it causes anxious thought, Do I love the Lord or no? Am I his or am I not?”

It is poor work coming to the Lord’s table when you are afraid that you are none of his; it is wretched work even listening to the ministry when you dare not claim the precious things which are delivered; yes, and even the word of God is a comfortless book when you cannot feel that you have a saving interest in its promises. Yet I thank God, when our faith is in exercise, and our hope is clear, we can see our interest in Christ; we come to him just as we came at first, and cast ourselves wholly upon him. Then we no longer fear the archers, but are rid of every fear; we “know whom we have believed, and are persuaded that he is able to keep that which we have committed unto him;” and, no longer disturbed by our enemies, we sit by the well’s brink, and are refreshed.

Yet, I should not wonder if another band of archers has sometimes attacked you when you have been at the wells, namely, your cares. Dear mother, the thought of the children at home, has frequently disturbed your devotions in the assembly of the saints. Good friend engaged in business, you do not always find it easy to put a hedge between Saturday and Sunday. The cares of the week will stray into the sacred enclosure of the day of rest, and thus the cruel archers worry you. Ay, and perhaps in the case of those of us who are engaged in God’s work, even our solemn engagements enlist against us a set of archers unknown to others; I mean anxieties about the right conducting of services, and arranging the various departments of the church. We become, like Martha, cumbered with much serving, even though we are serving the Lord Jesus Christ himself, and this deprives us of the delightful sitting at his feet, which is heaven below. It is well to be able to cast all our cares on him who careth for us, and thus, by an act of faith in our heavenly Father, to be delivered from the noise of these archers.

One thing you have, dear friends, for which you cannot be too thankful, namely, you have a deliverance from the archers of ecclesiastical discord. We have peace within our borders. We have not this bickering and that division, we are not divided brother against brother, as some of our churches are, which are rent by schisms, torn in pieces by stripes, which might well cause them great searchings of heart; when we do come together, we come to edify one another in peace, for we love each other in the Lord. We have not to lament that the house of God is a place of our sorest wounding; it is to us a place of rest-where our best friends, our kindred dwell, where God our Savior reigns. We are delivered from that noise of archers at church-meetings; and you who know how sharply some can shoot, may well be glad of rest.

Again, we are happily delivered from political persecutions. We have not to set scouts upon the mountains, as the covenants of old, when they met in some lonely glen for worship. We have not to put one of the deacons at the door to warn us when the constables were coming to arrest us, as the members of this very church did according to our records, in years gone by. The minister has not to escape and hide himself from the officers, and the members have no need to hasten to their homes like scattered sheep, hunted by the wolf in the form of an armed band, but every man under his own vine and fig tree we sit, none making us afraid, for which we are not thankful enough, I am quite sure. May God grant that, recollecting our peaceful privileges in being now screened from persecutions, from ecclesiastical troubles, from carnal cares, from inward doubts, and above all, from the plague of sin, we may be like those who in the days of Deborah, were delivered from the noise of archers in the places of the drawing of water.

Enough upon that, only make sure that you pay your need of gratitude to your gracious God. This reminding you of your mercies I am afraid is dull work to some of you, but if you had them taken away, you would think differently. One might almost sigh for a brush of persecution to wake some of you up! Just a little salt cast here and there to make some of the sore places smart! Surely we go to sleep unless the whip be now and then laid on. A stake or two at Smithfield might once again give back the old fire of enthusiasm to the church, but in these warm sunny days we forget our mercies. We go to sleep upon the bench, instead of tugging at the oar; and when we ought to be serving God with all our might and soul, I fear that the most of us who are saved are dreaming our lonely way to heaven, indifferent to a very great extent to the glory of God, and forgetful of our indebtedness to Christ for what he has done for us.

II. Now we turn the subject, and come secondly to notice The Songs By The Well.

As when the people came to the wells of old, they were wont to talk with one another if all was peaceful, so when we come up to the ordinances of God’s house, and enjoy fellowship with Jesus, we should not spend our time in idle chat, but we should rehearse the works of the Lord. In Deborah’s day, when one friend came to the well and met another, and half-a-dozen gathered together, one would say, “Delightful change this! We could not come to the well a month ago without being afraid that an arrow would pierce our hearts.” “Ah!” said another, “our family went without water for a long time. We were all bitten with thirst because we dare not come to the well.” Then, another would say, “But have you heard how it is? It was that woman, the wife of Lapidoth, Deborah, who called out Barak, and went with him to the battle. Have you not heard of the glorious fight they had, and how the river Kishon swept Jabin away, and Jacl smote Sisera through the temples?” “The Lord hath done it,” said another. “It was the Lord’s doing, and is not it marvelous in our eyes?” And so, around the well’s brink, when they were delivered from the noise of archers, they rehearsed the works of God; and before they wended their way to their several homes, they said one to another, “Let us sing unto the praise of God who has set our country free;” and so, catching the tune, each woman went back to her village home, bearing the pitcher for her household, and singing as she went. This is very much what we ought to do. When we come together, we ought to rehearse the work that Jesus Christ has done for us, the great work which he did on Calvary; the great work which he is doing now, as he stands before the Father’s throne. We should talk experimentally, and tell one another of what we have known, what Christ has done for us; through what troubles we have been sustained; in what perils we have been preserved; what blessings we have enjoyed; what ills, so well deserved, have been averted from us. We have not enough of this rehearsing the works of the Lord. It was a sign of the saints in the olden times, that “They that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard.” O let us get back to that primitive simplicity of conversation, and let us rehearse, as the text says, the righteous acts of Jehovah; let us go through our rehearsals for the grand orchestra of the skies. Let us begin to praise God and stir each other up to gratitude here, that we may be getting ready to join the overwhelming hallelujah with the ten thousand times ten thousand who for ever praise God and the Lamb. Around all the wells, whichever they may be, of which we drink, let our conversation be concerning Christ and his dying love; concerning the Holy Spirit and his conquering power; concerning the providence of God and its goodness and its faithfulness; and then, as we wend our way to our different homes, let us go with music in our hearts, and music on our lips, to take music to our households, each man and woman magnifying the name of the Lord.

Did you observe carefully what it was they sang of? “The acts of the Lord.” But there is an adjective appended, “The righteous acts of the Lord.” Righteousness is that attribute which the carnal man fears but be who sees the righteousness of God satisfied by the atonement of Christ, is charmed even by the severe aspect of God dressed as a judge. The justified child of God is not afraid of the righteousness of God, for he can meet all its demands. He likens it to the golden lions which stood in pairs upon the steps of the throne of Solomon-not meant to drive away the petitioner, but to let him see how strong, how powerful, was that throne upon which Israel leaned. I see the righteousness and holiness of God like huge colossal lions, as I look at his throne, and I delight, as I ascend the steps to bow before the glorious Father’s face, to know that his righteousness is engaged to save those for whom Jesus died. Let us recount the righteous vengeance of Calvary, the terrors that God cast forth upon his Son when he cursed our sins by making Christ to be a curse for us, though he knew no sin. This is a subject upon which we should delight to dwell.

Then, if you observe, it was “the righteous acts of the Lord toward his people.” Yes; the very marrow of the gospel lies in special, discriminating, distinguishing grace. As for your universal grace, let those have it who care for such meatless bones; but the special gospel of electing love, of distinguishing grace, this is the gospel which is like butter in a lordly dish to a child of God, and he that has once fed on it will take no meaner fare. I delight to believe in the universal benevolence of God-he is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works; but his saints shall bless him, for they are not received with benevolence merely, but with complacency; they are not only his servants, but his sons; not so much the works of his hands, as the children of his loins, the darlings of his bosom, the favourites of his heart, the objects of his eternal choice, the delight of his eyes, his peculiar treasure, his chosen portion, his precious jewels, his rest and delight. The Lord prizes his saints above all the world beside. He gave Egypt and Ethiopia for them-he did more, he gave his Son for them; he gave heaven’s brightest jewel, heaven’s glory, heaven’s heaven he gave that he might redeem them from all iniquity, to be his own peculiar people. Thus, my beloved brethren, take care when you converse upon the Lord’s acts, that you speak of his peculiar favor towards Israel, his chosen, his elect.

Note with care that the works which are to be rehearsed are done towards the inhabitants of the villages of Israel. Does not this suggest that we ought frequently to magnify the Lord’s choice favor and tender indulgence towards the least and feeblest of his family? Those villagers, those who knew so little, those who possessed so little, those who could do so little, those who were so weak, so undefended, these were rescued by the divine hand. Speak, then, of the mercy of God towards the little ones of Israel, and you will have no narrow field of speech. Why, if there be a choice word in the Bible, it is always for the weak ones; if there be a peculiarly precious promise, it is generally for the feeble minded. The best carriage in all the world that I ever heard of is Jesus’ bosom, but then that is for the lamb, not for those who are strong, but for the tender and frail. Those most compassionate of sentences in which Jesus seems to have most fully expressed his gentleness, and to have employed the tenderest similes, are evidently spoken with an eye to the trembling and timid. Take for instance that one, “The bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench.” “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Such words as these we may well talk of together when we meet at the wells of ordinances, and so rehearse the praise of God and his righteous acts, even his righteous acts towards the villagers of Israel.

III. Lastly, the text says, “Then shall the people of the Lord Go Down To The Gates;” by which, several things may be intended.

First, when the people of God are altogether delivered from their sins, and their cares, and their troubles, by the great redemption of the Lord Jesus and the power of his Spirit, then they enjoy great liberty. At times we are like Jeremiah, who said, “I am shut up and cannot come forth;” or like another whose way was hedged up with thorns; but when we live in great nearness to Christ, the gates are all opened, and we are the Lord’s freemen: instead of needing to keep within the limits which fear prescribes, we take our walks abroad in the fields of blessed liberty and gospel privilege. We walk from Dan to Beersheba in covenant mercies. Do you know what the liberty of a child of God is, dear friends, or are you all your lifetime subject to bondage? If you are a child of God, you do know something of it, but if you are not initiated into the mystery of the inner life, you will very probably confound liberty with license. The liberty of the man of the world is liberty to commit evil without restraint: the liberty of a child of God is to walk in holiness without hindrance. When the believer’s ways are enlarged, he delights to run in the statutes of the Lord; obedience is freedom to the Lord’s servant. Christ’s yoke is easy, and his burden is light. I fear that very many of you who are present this morning are slaves-some of you slaves to fashion, you wear the fettems most conspicuously. You are the serfs of custom, and you have not the moral courage to rebel. You bow your necks to human dictation, and own that you must do what others do. You have neither the man hood nor the grace to strike out a path of your own. Now, the true child of God does not care one snap of his finger what others may do, to his own Master he stands or falls. He does what is right, and would sooner take the lion of hell by the beard than do wrong. If others like his integrity, so much the better for them; if they do not like it, they are condemned out of their own mouths. I take it that the genuine Christian who has once come to fear God, fears nobody else; that he scorns to hamper himself with the sinful customs which sway the slavish hordes of mankind. He chooses for himself by the light of God’s word, and when he sees a thing to be right, he does it, and he asks no man liberty on that account. It is a most glorious liberty which a man possesses when he is no longer in bondage to me, to smart under their threats or to fatten in their smiles. Glorious was that ancient father who threw back the threatenings of his enemies, and laughed them to scorn. “We will banish you!” said they. “No!” said the Christian hero, “you cannot do that, because I shall be at home anywhere; I am a citizen of heaven; I am a stranger and a pilgrim upon earth.” “But we will shut you out from all your friends!” “No!” he said, “you are not able even to do that, since my best Friend will always be with me.” “We shall deprive you of your goods!” But he replied, “That I know you cannot do, for I gave them all away to the poor but yesterday.” “Well, we will take away your life!” “In that, too, I am undismayed,” said he, “for death will only give me the life for which I long.” No wounds could be inflicted upon a warrior so invulnerable; just so secure is every man who is clad in the armor of faith. He is above the molestation of mankind, for his life is hidden with Christ; his Conversation is in heaven; he is free from fear, since he has nothing to fear; all his interests are secure. He has cast himself upon his God in Christ, and since God has made him free, he is free indeed. “He is the freeman whom the truth makes free, and all are slaves beside.” You do not know what a joy it is to walk erect in conscious, mental, moral, spiritual, God-given freedom. Slaves of priest-craft, we pity you, your chains we would not wear for all the wealth of India! Bondslaves of the law, we mourn for you, for your service is heavy, and your captivity is terrible. Serfs of custom, you are more to be scorned than pitied: break your bands asunder, and wear the yoke no more. This day we feel as emancipated slaves must have felt when the last fetter fell to the ground. O glorious liberty, no price can show thine excellence, and all the things which we can desire are not to be compared with thee.

To go down to the gates, however, means something else, for citizens went down to the gates to exercise authority and judgment. He that is in Christ discerneth spirits, and separateth between the excellent and the reprobate. “The spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.” The saints, being led of the Spirit, discern between the precious and the vile; they know the voice of their Shepherd, but a stranger will they not follow, for they know not the voice of strangers. The saints judge this world, and by their living testimony condemn its sin. “Know ye not that we shall judge angels” in the day of the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ? Instead of being judged and following others, they who love God become the leaders in right, and are as God’s mouth rebuking iniquity.

To go down to the gates signified also to go forth to war. When a Christian man is saved, he is not content with his own safety, he longs to see others blessed. He can now go out of the gates to attack the foe who once held him in bondage, and therefore he girds on his weapon. When will the church of God be inflamed by the sacred desire of carrying the war for Christ into the enemy’s territory? I think I see a great deal in our churches now of a dangerously lethargic conservatism, a settling down contented with our churches, delighted to strengthen our own hands to keep together what we have, and careless about enlargement. The object of many churches of considerable age seems to be consolidation, and nothing more: but rest assured that the truest consolidation is enlargement, the best conservatism is progress, the truest way to keep what you have is to get more, the best way to retain the grace you now possess is to crave for more and more of the blessed spiritual gift. Brethren, if Christ has delivered us from the noise of archers, and we are at perfect peace with heaven, do not let us fold our arms and say, “The work is done, let us sleep in peace.” O you saved men, hasten to the armoury, array yourselves in the panoply, and grasp the sword, for now you are called by Christ to a holy warfare. If you are saved, you must seek to save others; if you have received the light, carry it into the dark places. If you have escaped from the jaw of the lion, and the paw of the bear, now go forth to fight with the monster and tear others from his power. I trust that the most of you are engaged in some Christian service, but so often as I come into this pulpit and think of the numbers of believers in this church, I feel concerned that we should not suffer any part of our territory to lie idle as waste ground, that we should not have a single member in this church who is doing nothing. I shall be satisfied, perfectly satisfied, if each one is doing what he can; we cannot expect more, neither does the Lord expect according to what a man has not, but according to what he has. But are you, my brethren, who have been lifted up into the glorious position of saved souls, are you glorifying Christ and finishing the work which is given you to do? I fear that some of you are not. You can eat the fat and drink the sweet, but you make but small return unto your Lord. I speak to you as a loving brother in Christ, and I pray you think how life will look in the light of its last hour. Think of your residence on earth as you will view it from those summits of bliss beyond the river! Will you wish then to have wasted time, to have lost opportunities? If you could know regrets in the realm of blessedness, would not these be the regrets that you have not served Christ better, loved him more, spoken of him oftener, given more generously to his cause, and more uniformly proved yourselves to be consecrated to him? I am afraid that such would be the form of the regrets of paradise, if any could intrude within those gates of pearl. Come, let us live while we live! Let us live up to the utmost stretch of our manhood! Let us ask the Lord to brace our nerves, to string our sinews, and make us true crusaders, knights of the blood-red cross consecrated men and women, who, for the love we bear Christ’s name, will count labor to be ease, and suffering to be joy, and reproach to be honor, and loss to be gain! If we have never yet given ourselves wholly up to Christ as his disciples, now hard by his cross, where we see his wounds still bleeding afresh, and himself quivering in pain for us, let us pledge ourselves in his strength, that we give ourselves wholly to him without reserve, and so may he help us by his Spirit, that the vow may be redeemed and the resolve may be carried out, that we may love Christ, and dying may find it gain.

Brethren and sisters, I cannot press this home to you as I would; I must leave it with your own consciences and with the eternal Spirit. If Jesus be not worthy, do not serve him; but if he be right honorable, serve him as he ought to be served. If heaven and eternal things be not weighty, then trifle with them; but if they be solemn realities, I beseech you as honest men treat them as realities. If there be a day coming when all your business, and your worldly cares, and your fleeting pleasures, will seem to be mere children’s toys, if there be an hour coming when to have served God will be glory, when to have won souls will be renown, then live as in the light of that truth, and God help you by his blessed Spirit. Amen and Amen.

Verse 12

Songs of Deliverance

July 28th, 1867 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)

"They that are delivered from the noise of archers in the places of drawing water, there shall they rehearse the righteous acts of the Lord, even the righteous acts toward the inhabitants of his villages in Israel: then shall the people of the Lord go down to the gates." Judges 5:11 .

Deborah sang concerning the overthrow of Israel's enemies, and the deliverance vouchsafed to the tribes: we have a far richer theme for music; we have been delivered from worse enemies, and saved by a greater salvation. Let our gratitude be deeper; let our song be more jubilant. Glory be unto God, we can say that our sins, which were like mighty hosts, have been swept away, not by that ancient river, the river Kishon, but by streams which flowed from Jesus' side. Oar great enemy has been overcome, and his head is broken. Not Sisera, but Satan has been overthrown: the "seed of the woman has bruised his head" for ever. We are now ransomed from the galling yoke; we walk at liberty through the power of the great Liberator, the Lord Jesus. The results which accrued from the conquest achieved by Barak, are upon a small scale similar to those which come to us through the deliverance wrought out by the Lord Jesus Christ. I shall take our text and spiritualize it, viewing its joyous details as emblematic of the blessings granted to us through our Redeemer. Those who went to draw water at the wells after Barak's victory, were no longer disturbed by the robbers who lurked at the fountains for purposes of plunder; and instead of drawing the water by stealth and in hasty fear, the women joined their voices around the well head, and sang of the mighty acts of God; and the citizens who had been cooped up within the town walls, and dared not show themselves in the suburbs, ventured beyond the gates into the open country, transacted their business openly, and enjoyed the sweets of security. I think we can readily see that this is an instructive type of the condition into which our Lord Jesus Christ has brought us, through the destruction of our sins and the overthrow of the powers of darkness. We shall, this morning, first, for a little time, think of the wells of salvation as cleared of enemies; then we shall talk together upon the songs of praise to be rehearsed at the wells; and, thirdly, we shall have a little to say upon the visitation of the gates, which we can now enjoy with safety. I. Our text tells us of WELLS CLEARED FROM THE FOE, and speaks of those who "are delivered from the noise of archers in the places of drawing water." We thank God that we who are the children of the Most High, have wells to go to. The world is a wilderness; say what we will of it, we cannot make it into anything else. "This is not our rest; it is polluted." We are passing through the desert of earth to the Promised Land of heaven, but we praise God that we have wells to drink of on the road. As Israel drank at Elim, and as the patriarchs drank at Beersheba, so have we wells of salvation, out of which we joyfully draw the living water. Our great inexhaustible well is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is, indeed, the great "deep that lieth under," the "deep that coucheth beneath," the secret spring and source from which the crystal streams of life flow, through the wells of instrumentality and ordinance. "All my fresh springs are in thee." Whenever we come to the Lord Jesus Christ, we drink and are refreshed. No thirst can abide where he is. "He that drinketh of the water that I shall give him," saith he, "shall never thirst." Glory be to his name, we know the truth of this

"I came to Jesus, and I drank Of that life-giving stream; My thirst was quenched, my soul revived, And now I live in him."

As often as we muse upon his person, commune with him in holy fellowship, think of his wounds, triumph in his ascension, and long for his second advent, so often doth our spirit drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, and we lift up our head. Arising out of this greatest fountain, we have wells from which we draw the waters of comfort. First there is this book, this golden book, this book of God, this god of books, the word of God, with its thousands of promises, suitable to every case, applicable to all seasons, faithful and true, yea and Amen in Christ Jesus. Oh! how frequently when we have been fainting and ready to die, we have found that promise true, "I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground I" when we have turned to the word, and searched there and found the promise, and fed upon it, as one that findeth great spoil have we rejoiced in God's word. The doctrines of this book are inexpressibly reviving to us. He that understandeth them shall find them to be a well of life and comfort. I need not instance those doctrines, for you know them, you feed upon them, they are your daily bread. Beloved, when we think of God's eternal love to his people, when we meditate upon redemption by blood, when we consider the truth of effectual calling by the Holy Spirit, when we remember the immutable faithfulness of the Most High, the covenant suretyship of our Lord Jesus, when we look forward to the perfection which will be ultimately ours, and to the haven of eternal rest to which every one of the Lord's people shall be brought, we do indeed find that

"Here in the fair gospel-field, Wells of free salvation yield Streams of life, a plenteous store, And our soul shall thirst no more."

As the word read is thus precious, so is the word preached. If we listen to one whom God helps to speak in his name, we shall often find ourselves returning from the place of worship in a very different state from that in which we entered it. How often have you lost your burdens when you have been sitting in the assembly of the saints! I know, ye feeble ones, ye have oftentimes been refreshed; ye have bowed yourselves down to Siloah's brook that flows hard by the oracle of God, and as you drank of its cooling streams, you have felt as though you could face the enemy once more, and go back to a world of toil and trouble, strong for labor, and patient for the endurance of suffering. Happy are ye to whom the word has come with demonstration of the Spirit and with power. The fruitful lips of the preacher who speaks experimentally, who speaks clearly, who speaks of that which he has tasted and handled of the good word of truth these sanctified lips, I say, "drop as the rain," and "distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb." The mouth of the righteous becometh a well of life unto the people of God. So, my brethren, it is also with the well of the ordinances. I think we shall never forget the time when we drew water out of the well of baptism when we were baptized into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, upon our profession of faith. We found believers' immersion to be a most instructive emblem of our death, burial, and resurrection with the Lord Jesus; and we have not forgotten, to this day, that we then avowed ourselves to be dead to the world, dead to the law, dead to self, dead with Christ; nor has the thought of resurrection with Jesus, as typified by the uplifting out of the pool, been forgotten by us. We know and feel that we are dead, and our life is hid with Christ in God, and we rejoice that he "hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." The recollection of that happy day when we gave ourselves up publicly and unreservedly to Jesus, is still fragrant. Oh! how sweet to sing humbly but heartily

"'Tis done! the great transaction's done; I am my Lord's, and he is mine: He drew me, and I followed on, Charm'd to confess the voice divine."

So with the Lord's Supper. My witness is, and I think I speak the mind of many of God's people now present, that coming as some of us do, weekly, to the Lord's table, we do not find the breaking of bread to have lost its significance it is always fresh to us. I have often remarked on Lord's-day evening, whatever the subject may have been, whether Sinai has thundered over our heads, or the plaintive notes of Calvary have pierced our hearts, it always seems equally appropriate to come to the breaking of bread. Shame on the Christian church that she should put it off to once a month, and mar the first day of the week by depriving it of its glory in the meeting together for fellowship and breaking of bread, and showing forth of the death of Christ till he come. They who once know the sweetness of each Lord's-day celebrating his Supper, will not be content, I am sure, to put it off to less frequent seasons. Beloved, when the Holy Ghost is with us, ordinances are wells to the Christian, wells of rich comfort and of near communion. But I must not forget the mercy seat. What a well that is to the Christian when he can draw nigh unto God with true heart! It is a glorious thing to have such a well as that in the family, where, in prayer with the children, you can bring all the necessities of the household before God, and mention each child if you will, and all the troubles of the past, or all the expected difficulties of the coming day. Let us never give up that well. But, as for private prayer, brethren, this world were drear indeed if we could not pour out our sorrows into our Father's ear. This is the poor man's riches; this is the sick man's medicine; this is the faint man's cordial; this is the weak one's strength; this is the ignorant man's school; this is the strong man's confidence. Neglect prayer, and you will soon discover that all your spiritual powers wax weak; but be much in supplication and he that is mighty on his knees, is mighty everywhere. He that looketh God in the face every morning, will never fear the face of man; and he who looketh Christ in the face each evening, may well close his eyes in sweet repose, feeling that, if he should never wake to this world of care, he shall wake up in the likeness of his Lord. Oh, yes! the mercy seat is a well of refreshment indeed! Over and above this, every form of fellowship with Jesus, wrought in us by the Spirit, is a well of salvation. This is an unknown thing to the ungodly, he entereth not into this secret; but you, my fellow Christians, know what communion with God means, for ofttimes, even when we are in business, or taken up with the world's cares, our hearts are away with our Beloved on the mountains of myrrh and in the beds of spices; we get us away from the world's toils to lean our head upon his bosom, to set in his banqueting-house, and see the love-banner waving over our heads. Beloved, we are no strangers to Jesus Christ, blessed be his name, and he is no stranger to us; we have seen him through the lattices of the ordinances; we have found the means of grace to be like windows of agate and gates of carbuncle, through which we have beheld him; we have him in our hearts full often, he embraces our soul we carry the fire of his love flaming on the altar of our affections. He is our dear companion, our ever present help in time of trouble. Thus have I mentioned some of the wells. Now, concerning them all, it may be said, that they can never be stopped up by our foes. We read that in old times the enemies stopped up the wells, but neither hell nor its infernal train can ever fill up one of the wells which the Lord has digged and filled by his Spirit. If outward ordinances be stopped, yet the great deep that lieth under will find a vent somewhere; and if we were forbidden to draw near to the Lord's table, or to meet to listen to the word, yet, blessed be God, we could pray, and we could have secret fellowship with Jesus, and so the wells could not so be stopped that the thirsty Christian should be deprived of his drink in due season. Moreover, as they cannot be stopped, so neither can they be taken away from us. The Philistine king, Abimelech, strove with Abraham and with Isaac to take away the wells; but these are ours by covenant engagements, these are given to us in the eternal council, they are guaranteed to us by the solemn league of the eternal Three; and none of these covenant blessings shall be wrested from the heirs of life, who are heirs of all things in Christ Jesus. Though these fountains cannot be stopped up or taken away, yet we can be molested in coming near to them. It seems that archers and wells frequently go together. It was the blessing of Joseph "Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall." But what next? "The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him." And so in the text: here are wells, but there is the noise of archers, which greatly disturbs those who go to draw water. Brethren and sisters I think you know, but I will refresh your memories you know what the noise of archers has been to you when you have tried to draw water. Years ago, with some of us, our sins were the archers that shot at us when we would fain come to Christ and drink of his salvation. When we bowed the knee in prayer, a fiery arrow would dart into our hearts "How dare you pray? God heareth not sinners!" When we read the word of God, another barbed shaft would be shot against us "What hast thou to do with God's word? There can be no promise there for such as thou art. Knowest thou not that thou art a condemned sinner, and that book curses thee solemnly? Turn away from it, of what service can it be to thee?" Do you not remember how you were wont to come up to this house sighing for comfort, and though the preacher frequently invited you to Christ, and tried to exhibit a crucified Savior before your eyes, yet the noise of the archers prevented you drawing from the well? Arrow after arrow of remorse, conviction, terror, and alarm, pierced your soul, so that you could not obtain peace with God. You used to envy the very least of the Lord's people when you saw them rejoicing in Christ, while you could not so much as hope yourself. You were told to believe, but faith seemed impossible to you. You were hidden to rest upon the finished work, but you only could say, "I would, but cannot trust." The twanging of the bow and the whizzing of the shaft were a terrible noise which prevented all drawing of water; while sometimes Satan beat the big hell drum in your ears: "The wrath to come! The wrath to come! The wrath to come!" And as you thought about the judgment day, and the great white throne, and the resurrection, and the dividing of the sheep from the goats, and the "Depart, ye cursed," and the everlasting fire, and all the terrors of a dread eternity, divested of every beam of hope, it seemed impossible for you to draw water out of any one of the wells, though perhaps you tried them all, and tried them again and again, as I did, year after year, and yet could not obtain so much as a single drop to cool your parched tongue, while it seemed as if it would cleave to the roof of your mouth in utter despair. Ah! but beloved, you are delivered from the noise of archers now; your sins which are many, are forgiven you; now you can come to Jesus, now you can come to the ordinances, now you can read the Bible, now you can hear the word, and you find that God's paths drop fatness. There is to you a river, the streams whereof make glad all your powers. Oh! how precious now these wells have become, because you can in unmolested peace draw water; and though sometimes the devil would fain shoot at you, yet you know you have a glorious shield, who is the Lord's anointed, and has turned away all wrath from you, so that none can lay anything to your charge, for you are accepted in the Beloved, justified by faith, and have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Will not you who are delivered from the noise of archers in the places of drawing water, bless the Lord? But I should not wonder if since that first race of archers called sins has died out, some of you have been much molested by another tribe of bowmen, who a great deal trouble me at times, namely, the archers called doubts and fears. These sad villains will, if they can, attack every soul that desires to enjoy the means of grace and the grace of the means. "Ah!" says Satan, even to God's child, "remember your slips and your failings! Recollect your shortcomings, your slackness in prayer, your indifference to God's glory, your hardness of heart! How can you think of receiving a promise?" Just as you are going to grasp some divine word out of your Bible and suck out its honey, it seems as though something smote your hand, and you were obliged to drop the text altogether, lest you should be acting presumptuously. No hymn of joyful assurance suited you, but you began moaning out

"'Tis a point I long to know, Oft it causes anxious thought, Do I love the Lord or no? Am I his or am I not?"

It is poor work coming to the Lord's table when you are afraid that you are none of his; it is wretched work even listening to the ministry when you dare not claim the precious things which are delivered; yes, and even the word of God is a comfortless book when you cannot feel that you have a saving interest in its promises. Yet I thank God, when our faith is in exercise, and our hope is clear, we can see our interest in Christ; we come to him just as we came at first, and cast ourselves wholly upon him. Then we no longer fear the archers, but are rid of every fear; we "know whom we have believed, and are persuaded that he is able to keep that which we have committed unto him;" and, no longer disturbed by our enemies, we sit by the well's brink, and are refreshed. Yet, I should not wonder if another band of archers has sometimes attacked you when you have been at the wells, namely, your cares. Dear mother, the thought of the children at home, has frequently disturbed your devotions in the assembly of the saints. Good friend engaged in business, you do not always find it easy to put a hedge between Saturday and Sunday. The cares of the week will stray into the sacred enclosure of the day of rest, and thus the cruel archers worry you. Ay, and perhaps in the case of those of us who are engaged in God's work, even our solemn engagements enlist against us a set of archers unknown to others; I mean anxieties about the right conducting of services, and arranging the various departments of the church. We become, like Martha, cumbered with much serving, even though we are serving the Lord Jesus Christ himself, and this deprives us of the delightful sitting at his feet, which is heaven below. It is well to be able to cast all our cares on him who careth for us, and thus, by an act of faith in our heavenly Father, to be delivered from the noise of these archers. One thing you have, dear friends, for which you cannot be too thankful, namely, you have a deliverance from the archers of ecclesiastical discord. We have peace within our borders. We have not this bickering and that division, we are not divided brother against brother, as some of our churches are, which are rent by schisms, torn in pieces by stripes, which might well cause them great searchings of heart; when we do come together, we come to edify one another in peace, for we love each other in the Lord. We have not to lament that the house of God is a place of our sorest wounding; it is to us a place of rest where our best friends, our kindred dwell, where God our Savior reigns. We are delivered from that noise of archers at church-meetings; and you who know how sharply some can shoot, may well be glad of rest. Again, we are happily delivered from political persecutions. We have not to set scouts upon the mountains, as the covenants of old, when they met in some lonely glen for worship. We have not to put one of the deacons at the door to warn us when the constables were coming to arrest us, as the members of this very church did according to our records, in years gone by. The minister has not to escape and hide himself from the officers, and the members have no need to hasten to their homes like scattered sheep, hunted by the wolf in the form of an armed band, but every man under his own vine and fig tree we sit, none making us afraid, for which we are not thankful enough, I am quite sure. May God grant that, recollecting our peaceful privileges in being now screened from persecutions, from ecclesiastical troubles, from carnal cares, from inward doubts, and above all, from the plague of sin, we may be like those who in the days of Deborah, were delivered from the noise of archers in the places of the drawing of water. Enough upon that, only make sure that you pay your need of gratitude to your gracious God. This reminding you of your mercies I am afraid is dull work to some of you, but if you had them taken away, you would think differently. One might almost sigh for a brush of persecution to wake some of you up! Just a little salt cast here and there to make some of the sore places smart! Surely we go to sleep unless the whip be now and then laid on. A stake or two at Smithfield might once again give back the old fire of enthusiasm to the church, but in these warm sunny days we forget our mercies. We go to sleep upon the bench, instead of tugging at the oar; and when we ought to be serving God with all our might and soul, I fear that the most of us who are saved are dreaming our lonely way to heaven, indifferent to a very great extent to the glory of God, and forgetful of our indebtedness to Christ for what he has done for us. II. Now we turn the subject, and come secondly to notice THE SONGS BY THE WELL. As when the people came to the wells of old, they were wont to talk with one another if all was peaceful, so when we come up to the ordinances of God's house, and enjoy fellowship with Jesus, we should not spend our time in idle chat, but we should rehearse the works of the Lord. In Deborah's day, when one friend came to the well and met another, and half-a-dozen gathered together, one would say, "Delightful change this! We could not come to the well a month ago without being afraid that an arrow would pierce our hearts." "Ah!" said another, "our family went without water for a long time. We were all bitten with thirst because we dare not come to the well." Then, another would say, "But have you heard how it is? It was that woman, the wife of Lapidoth, Deborah, who called out Barak, and went with him to the battle. Have you not heard of the glorious fight they had, and how the river Kishon swept Jabin away, and Jacl smote Sisera through the temples?" "The Lord hath done it," said another. "It was the Lord's doing, and is not it marvelous in our eyes?" And so, around the well's brink, when they were delivered from the noise of archers, they rehearsed the works of God; and before they wended their way to their several homes, they said one to another, "Let us sing unto the praise of God who has set our country free;" and so, catching the tune, each woman went back to her village home, bearing the pitcher for her household, and singing as she went. This is very much what we ought to do. When we come together, we ought to rehearse the work that Jesus Christ has done for us, the great work which he did on Calvary; the great work which he is doing now, as he stands before the Father's throne. We should talk experimentally, and tell one another of what we have known, what Christ has done for us; through what troubles we have been sustained; in what perils we have been preserved; what blessings we have enjoyed; what ills, so well deserved, have been averted from us. We have not enough of this rehearsing the works of the Lord. It was a sign of the saints in the olden times, that "They that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard." O let us get back to that primitive simplicity of conversation, and let us rehearse, as the text says, the righteous acts of Jehovah; let us go through our rehearsals for the grand orchestra of the skies. Let us begin to praise God and stir each other up to gratitude here, that we may be getting ready to join the overwhelming hallelujah with the ten thousand times ten thousand who for ever praise God and the Lamb. Around all the wells, whichever they may be, of which we drink, let our conversation be concerning Christ and his dying love; concerning the Holy Spirit and his conquering power; concerning the providence of God and its goodness and its faithfulness; and then, as we wend our way to our different homes, let us go with music in our hearts, and music on our lips, to take music to our households, each man and woman magnifying the name of the Lord. Did you observe carefully what it was they sang of? "The acts of the Lord." But there is an adjective appended, "The righteous acts of the Lord." Righteousness is that attribute which the carnal man fears but be who sees the righteousness of God satisfied by the atonement of Christ, is charmed even by the severe aspect of God dressed as a judge. The justified child of God is not afraid of the righteousness of God, for he can meet all its demands. He likens it to the golden lions which stood in pairs upon the steps of the throne of Solomon not meant to drive away the petitioner, but to let him see how strong, how powerful, was that throne upon which Israel leaned. I see the righteousness and holiness of God like huge colossal lions, as I look at his throne, and I delight, as I ascend the steps to bow before the glorious Father's face, to know that his righteousness is engaged to save those for whom Jesus died. Let us recount the righteous vengeance of Calvary, the terrors that God cast forth upon his Son when he cursed our sins by making Christ to be a curse for us, though he knew no sin. This is a subject upon which we should delight to dwell. Then, if you observe, it was "the righteous acts of the Lord toward his people." Yes; the very marrow of the gospel lies in special, discriminating, distinguishing grace. As for your universal grace, let those have it who care for such meatless bones; but the special gospel of electing love, of distinguishing grace, this is the gospel which is like butter in a lordly dish to a child of God, and he that has once fed on it will take no meaner fare. I delight to believe in the universal benevolence of God he is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works; but his saints shall bless him, for they are not received with benevolence merely, but with complacency; they are not only his servants, but his sons; not so much the works of his hands, as the children of his loins, the darlings of his bosom, the favourites of his heart, the objects of his eternal choice, the delight of his eyes, his peculiar treasure, his chosen portion, his precious jewels, his rest and delight. The Lord prizes his saints above all the world beside. He gave Egypt and Ethiopia for them he did more, he gave his Son for them; he gave heaven's brightest jewel, heaven's glory, heaven's heaven he gave that he might redeem them from all iniquity, to be his own peculiar people. Thus, my beloved brethren, take care when you converse upon the Lord's acts, that you speak of his peculiar favor towards Israel, his chosen, his elect. Note with care that the works which are to be rehearsed are done towards the inhabitants of the villages of Israel. Does not this suggest that we ought frequently to magnify the Lord's choice favor and tender indulgence towards the least and feeblest of his family? Those villagers, those who knew so little, those who possessed so little, those who could do so little, those who were so weak, so undefended, these were rescued by the divine hand. Speak, then, of the mercy of God towards the little ones of Israel, and you will have no narrow field of speech. Why, if there be a choice word in the Bible, it is always for the weak ones; if there be a peculiarly precious promise, it is generally for the feeble minded. The best carriage in all the world that I ever heard of is Jesus' bosom, but then that is for the lamb, not for those who are strong, but for the tender and frail. Those most compassionate of sentences in which Jesus seems to have most fully expressed his gentleness, and to have employed the tenderest similes, are evidently spoken with an eye to the trembling and timid. Take for instance that one, "The bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench." "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." Such words as these we may well talk of together when we meet at the wells of ordinances, and so rehearse the praise of God and his righteous acts, even his righteous acts towards the villagers of Israel. III. Lastly, the text says, "Then shall the people of the Lord GO DOWN TO THE GATES;" by which, several things may be intended. First, when the people of God are altogether delivered from their sins, and their cares, and their troubles, by the great redemption of the Lord Jesus and the power of his Spirit, then they enjoy great liberty. At times we are like Jeremiah, who said, "I am shut up and cannot come forth;" or like another whose way was hedged up with thorns; but when we live in great nearness to Christ, the gates are all opened, and we are the Lord's freemen: instead of needing to keep within the limits which fear prescribes, we take our walks abroad in the fields of blessed liberty and gospel privilege. We walk from Dan to Beersheba in covenant mercies. Do you know what the liberty of a child of God is, dear friends, or are you all your lifetime subject to bondage? If you are a child of God, you do know something of it, but if you are not initiated into the mystery of the inner life, you will very probably confound liberty with license. The liberty of the man of the world is liberty to commit evil without restraint: the liberty of a child of God is to walk in holiness without hindrance. When the believer's ways are enlarged, he delights to run in the statutes of the Lord; obedience is freedom to the Lord's servant. Christ's yoke is easy, and his burden is light. I fear that very many of you who are present this morning are slaves some of you slaves to fashion, you wear the fettems most conspicuously. You are the serfs of custom, and you have not the moral courage to rebel. You bow your necks to human dictation, and own that you must do what others do. You have neither the man hood nor the grace to strike out a path of your own. Now, the true child of God does not care one snap of his finger what others may do, to his own Master he stands or falls. He does what is right, and would sooner take the lion of hell by the beard than do wrong. If others like his integrity, so much the better for them; if they do not like it, they are condemned out of their own mouths. I take it that the genuine Christian who has once come to fear God, fears nobody else; that he scorns to hamper himself with the sinful customs which sway the slavish hordes of mankind. He chooses for himself by the light of God's word, and when he sees a thing to be right, he does it, and he asks no man liberty on that account. It is a most glorious liberty which a man possesses when he is no longer in bondage to me, to smart under their threats or to fatten in their smiles. Glorious was that ancient father who threw back the threatenings of his enemies, and laughed them to scorn. "We will banish you!" said they. "No!" said the Christian hero, "you cannot do that, because I shall be at home anywhere; I am a citizen of heaven; I am a stranger and a pilgrim upon earth." "But we will shut you out from all your friends!" "No!" he said, "you are not able even to do that, since my best Friend will always be with me." "We shall deprive you of your goods!" But he replied, "That I know you cannot do, for I gave them all away to the poor but yesterday." "Well, we will take away your life!" "In that, too, I am undismayed," said he, "for death will only give me the life for which I long." No wounds could be inflicted upon a warrior so invulnerable; just so secure is every man who is clad in the armor of faith. He is above the molestation of mankind, for his life is hidden with Christ; his Conversation is in heaven; he is free from fear, since he has nothing to fear; all his interests are secure. He has cast himself upon his God in Christ, and since God has made him free, he is free indeed. "He is the freeman whom the truth makes free, and all are slaves beside." You do not know what a joy it is to walk erect in conscious, mental, moral, spiritual, God-given freedom. Slaves of priest-craft, we pity you, your chains we would not wear for all the wealth of India! Bondslaves of the law, we mourn for you, for your service is heavy, and your captivity is terrible. Serfs of custom, you are more to be scorned than pitied: break your bands asunder, and wear the yoke no more. This day we feel as emancipated slaves must have felt when the last fetter fell to the ground. O glorious liberty, no price can show thine excellence, and all the things which we can desire are not to be compared with thee. To go down to the gates, however, means something else, for citizens went down to the gates to exercise authority and judgment. He that is in Christ discerneth spirits, and separateth between the excellent and the reprobate. "The spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man." The saints, being led of the Spirit, discern between the precious and the vile; they know the voice of their Shepherd, but a stranger will they not follow, for they know not the voice of strangers. The saints judge this world, and by their living testimony condemn its sin. "Know ye not that we shall judge angels" in the day of the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ? Instead of being judged and following others, they who love God become the leaders in right, and are as God's mouth rebuking iniquity. To go down to the gates signified also to go forth to war. When a Christian man is saved, he is not content with his own safety, he longs to see others blessed. He can now go out of the gates to attack the foe who once held him in bondage, and therefore he girds on his weapon. When will the church of God be inflamed by the sacred desire of carrying the war for Christ into the enemy's territory? I think I see a great deal in our churches now of a dangerously lethargic conservatism, a settling down contented with our churches, delighted to strengthen our own hands to keep together what we have, and careless about enlargement. The object of many churches of considerable age seems to be consolidation, and nothing more: but rest assured that the truest consolidation is enlargement, the best conservatism is progress, the truest way to keep what you have is to get more, the best way to retain the grace you now possess is to crave for more and more of the blessed spiritual gift. Brethren, if Christ has delivered us from the noise of archers, and we are at perfect peace with heaven, do not let us fold our arms and say, "The work is done, let us sleep in peace." O you saved men, hasten to the armoury, array yourselves in the panoply, and grasp the sword, for now you are called by Christ to a holy warfare. If you are saved, you must seek to save others; if you have received the light, carry it into the dark places. If you have escaped from the jaw of the lion, and the paw of the bear, now go forth to fight with the monster and tear others from his power. I trust that the most of you are engaged in some Christian service, but so often as I come into this pulpit and think of the numbers of believers in this church, I feel concerned that we should not suffer any part of our territory to lie idle as waste ground, that we should not have a single member in this church who is doing nothing. I shall be satisfied, perfectly satisfied, if each one is doing what he can; we cannot expect more, neither does the Lord expect according to what a man has not, but according to what he has. But are you, my brethren, who have been lifted up into the glorious position of saved souls, are you glorifying Christ and finishing the work which is given you to do? I fear that some of you are not. You can eat the fat and drink the sweet, but you make but small return unto your Lord. I speak to you as a loving brother in Christ, and I pray you think how life will look in the light of its last hour. Think of your residence on earth as you will view it from those summits of bliss beyond the river! Will you wish then to have wasted time, to have lost opportunities? If you could know regrets in the realm of blessedness, would not these be the regrets that you have not served Christ better, loved him more, spoken of him oftener, given more generously to his cause, and more uniformly proved yourselves to be consecrated to him? I am afraid that such would be the form of the regrets of paradise, if any could intrude within those gates of pearl. Come, let us live while we live! Let us live up to the utmost stretch of our manhood! Let us ask the Lord to brace our nerves, to string our sinews, and make us true crusaders, knights of the blood-red cross consecrated men and women, who, for the love we bear Christ's name, will count labor to be ease, and suffering to be joy, and reproach to be honor, and loss to be gain! If we have never yet given ourselves wholly up to Christ as his disciples, now hard by his cross, where we see his wounds still bleeding afresh, and himself quivering in pain for us, let us pledge ourselves in his strength, that we give ourselves wholly to him without reserve, and so may he help us by his Spirit, that the vow may be redeemed and the resolve may be carried out, that we may love Christ, and dying may find it gain. Brethren and sisters, I cannot press this home to you as I would; I must leave it with your own consciences and with the eternal Spirit. If Jesus be not worthy, do not serve him; but if he be right honorable, serve him as he ought to be served. If heaven and eternal things be not weighty, then trifle with them; but if they be solemn realities, I beseech you as honest men treat them as realities. If there be a day coming when all your business, and your worldly cares, and your fleeting pleasures, will seem to be mere children's toys, if there be an hour coming when to have served God will be glory, when to have won souls will be renown, then live as in the light of that truth, and God help you by his blessed Spirit. Amen and Amen.

Sermon by C H Spurgeon Judges 5:12 Magnificat! (Ed note: This sermon is more application than exposition)

Many of the saints of God are as mournful as if they were captives in Babylon, for their life is spent in tears and sighing. They will not chant the joyous psalm of praise, and if there be any that require of them a song, they reply, “How can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?” But, my brethren, we are not captives in Babylon; we do not sit down to weep by Babel’s streams; “the Lord hath broken our captivity, he hath brought us up out of the house of our bondage. We are freemen; we are not slaves; we are not sold into the hand of cruel taskmasters, but we that have believed do enter into rest:” (see noteHebrews 4:3; Hebrews 4:3 ). Moses could not give rest to Israel; he could bring them to Jordan, but across the stream he could not conduct them; Joshua alone could lead them into the lot of their inheritance, and our Joshua, our Jesus, has led us into the land of promise. He hath brought us into a land which the Lord our God thinketh on; a land of hills and valleys; a land that floweth with milk and honey; and though the Canaanites still be in the land, and plague us full sore, yet is it all our own, and he hath said unto us,

All things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come, all are yours, and ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s 1 Corinthians 3:21-23

We are not, I say, captives, sold under sin; we are a people who sit every man under his own vine and his own fig tree, none making us afraid. We dwell in

“a strong city, salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks:” Isaiah 26:1

We have come unto Zion, the city of our solemnities, and the mourning of Babylon is not suitable to the palace of the great King, which is beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth.

Let us serve the Lord with gladness, and come before his presence with singing Psalms 100:2 ( )

Many of God’s people live as if their God were dead. Their conduct would be quite consistent if the promises were not yea and amen; if God were a faithless God. If Christ were not a perfect Redeemer; if the Word of God might after all turn out to be untrue; if he had not power to keep his people, and if he had not love enough with which to hold them even to the end, then might they give way to mourning and to despair; then might they cover their heads with ashes, and wrap their loins about with sackcloth. But while God is Jehovah, just and true; while his promises stand as fast as the eternal mountains; while the heart of Jesus is true to his spouse; while the arm of God is unpalsied, and his eye undimmed; while his covenant and his oath are unbroken and unchanged; It is not comely, it is not seemly for the upright to go mourning all their days. Ye children of God, refrain yourselves from weeping, and make a joyful noise unto the Rock of your salvation; let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and show ourselves glad in him with psalms.

“Your harps, ye trembling saints, Down from the willows take; Loud to the praise of love divine, Bid every string awake.”

First, I shall urge upon you a stirring up of all your powers to sacred song.

“Awake, awake, Deborah; awake, awake, utter a song.”

In the second place, I shall persuade you to practise a sacred leading of your captivity captive.

“Arise, Barak, and lead thy captivity captive, thou son of Abinoam.”

I. First, then, a stirring up of all our powers to praise god, according to the words of the holy woman in the text, “Awake, awake, ” repeated yet again “Awake, awake.”

1. What is there that we need to awaken if we would praise God? I reply, we ought to arouse all the bodily powers.

Our flesh is sluggish; we have been busy with the world, our limbs have grown fatigued, but there is power in divine joy to arouse even the body itself, to make the heavy eyelids light, to reanimate the drowsy eye, and quicken the weary brain. We should call upon our bodies to awake, especially our tongue, “the glory of our frame.” Let it put itself in tune like David’s harp of old. A toilworn body often makes a mournful heart. The flesh has such a connection with the spirit, that it often boweth down the soul. Come, then, my flesh, I charge thee, awake. Blood, leap in my veins? Heart, let thy pulsings be as the joy strokes of Miriam’s timbrel! Oh, all my bodily frame, stir up thyself now, and begin to magnify and bless the Lord, who made thee, and who has kept thee in health, and preserved thee from going down into the grave.

Surely we should call on all our mental powers to awake. Wake up my memory and find matter for the song. Tell what God has done for me in days gone by. Fly back ye thoughts to my childhood; sing of cradle mercies. Review my youth and its early favours. Sing of longsuffering grace, which followed my wandering, and bore with my rebellions. Revive before my eyes that gladsome hour when first I knew the Lord, and tell o’er again the matchless story of the “Streams of mercy never ceasing, ” which have flowed to me since then, and which “Call for songs of loudest praise.” Awake up my judgment and give measure to the music. Come forth my understanding, and weigh his lovingkindness in scales, and his goodness in the balances. See if thou canst count the small dust of his mercies. See if thou canst understand the riches unsearchable which he hath given to thee in that unspeakable gift of Christ Jesus my Lord. Reckon up his eternal mercies to thee the treasures of that covenant which he made on thy behalf, ere thou wast born. Sing, my understanding, sing aloud of that matchless wisdom which contrived of that divine love which planned, and of that eternal grace which carried out the scheme of thy redemption. Awake, my imagination, and dance to the holy melody. Gather pictures from all worlds. Bid sun and moon stay in their courses, and join in thy new song. Constrain the stars to yield the music of the spheres; put a tongue into every mountain, and a voice into every wilderness; translate the lowing of the cattle and the scream of the eagle; hear thou the praise of God in the rippling of the rills, the dashing of the cataracts, and the roaring of the sea, until all his works in all places of his dominion bless the Lord.

But especially let us cry to all the graces of our spirit ”awake.” Wake up, my love, for thou must strike the key note and lead the strain. Awake and sing unto thy beloved a song touching thy well beloved. Give unto him choice canticles, for he is the fairest among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely. Come forth then with thy richest music, and praise the name which is as ointment poured forth. Wake up, my hope, and join hands with thy sister love; and sing of blessings yet to come. Sing of my dying hour, when he shall be with me on my couch. Sing of the rising morning, when my body shall leap from its tomb into her Saviour’s arms! Sing of the expected advent, for which thou lookest with delight! And, O my soul, sing of that heaven which he has gone before to prepare for thee, “that where he is, there may his people be.” Awake my love awake my hope and thou my faith, awake also! Love has the sweetest voice, hope can thrill forth the higher notes of the saved scale; but thou, O faith with thy deep resounding base melody thou must complete the song. Sing of the promise sure and certain. Rehearse the glories of the covenant ordered in all things, and sure. Rejoice in the sure mercies of David! Sing of the goodness which shall be known to thee in all thy trials yet to come. Sing of that blood which has sealed and ratified every word of God. Glory in that eternal faithfulness which cannot lie, and of that truth which cannot fail. And thou, my patience, utter thy gentle but most gladsome hymn. Sing to day of how he helped thee to endure in sorrows’ bitterest hour. Sing of the weary way along which he has borne thy feet, and brought thee at last to lie down in green pastures, beside the still waters. Oh, all my graces, heaven begotten as ye are, praise him who did beget you. Ye children of his grace, sing unto your Father’s name, and magnify him who keeps you alive. Let all that in me is be stirred up to magnify and bless his holy name.

Then let us wake up the energy of all those powers the energy of the body, the energy of the mind, the energy of the spirit. You know what it is to do a thing coldly, weakly. As well might we not praise at all. You know also what it is to praise God passionately to throw energy into all the song, and so to exult in his name. So do ye, each one of you, this day; and if Michal, Saul’s daughter, should look out of the window and see David dancing before the ark with all his might, and should chide you as though your praise were unseemly, say unto her, “It was before the Lord, which chose me before thy father, and before all his house, therefore will I play before the Lord:” 2 Samuel 6:21 . Tell the enemy that the God of election must be praised, that the God of redemption must be extolled, that if the very heathen leaped for joy before their gods, surely they who bow before Jehovah must adore him with rapture and with ecstacy. Go forth, go forth with joy then, with all your energies thoroughly awakened for his praise.

2. But you say unto me, “why and wherefore should we this day awake and sing unto our God?” There be many reasons; and if your hearts be right, one may well satisfy.

Come, ye children of God, and bless his dear name; for doth not all nature around you sing? If you were silent, you would be an exception to the universe. Doth not the thunder praise him as it rolls like drums in the march of the God of armies? Doth not the ocean praise him as it claps its thousand hands? Doth not the sea roar, and the fulness thereof? Do not the mountains praise him when the shaggy woods upon their summits wave in adoration? Do not the lightnings write his name in letters of fire upon the midnight darkness? Doth not this world, in its unceasing revolutions, perpetually roll forth his praise? Hath not the whole earth a voice, and shall we be silent? Shall man, for whom the world was made, and suns and stars were created, shall he be dumb? No, let him lead the strain. Let him be the world’s high priest, and while the world shall be as the sacrifice, let him add his heart thereto, and thus supply the fire of love which shall make that sacrifice smoke towards heaven.

But, believer, shall not thy God be praised? I ask thee. Shall not thy God be praised? When men behold a hero, they fall at his feet and honour him. Garibaldi emancipates a nation, and lo, they bow before him and do him homage. And thou Jesus, the Redeemer of the multitudes of thine elect, shalt thou have no song? Shalt thou have no triumphal entry into our hearts? Shall thy name have no glory? Shall the world love its own, and shall not the Church honour its own Redeemer? Our God must be praised. He shall be. If no other heart should ever praise him, surely mine must. If creation should forget him, his redeemed must remember him. Tell us to be silent? Oh, we cannot. Bid us restrain our holy mirth? Indeed you bid us do an impossibility. He is God, and he must be extolled; he is our God, our gracious, our tender, our faithful God, and he must have the best of our songs.

Thou sayest, believer, why should I praise him? Let me ask thee a question too. Is it not heaven’s employment to praise him? And what can make earth more like heaven, than to bring down from heaven the employment of glory, and to be occupied with it here? Come, believer, when thou prayest, thou art but a man, but when thou praisest, thou art as an angel. When thou asketh favour, thou art but a beggar, but when thou standest up to extol, thou becomest next of kin to cherubim and seraphim. Happy, happy day, when the glorious choristers shall find their numbers swelled by the addition of multitudes from earth? Happy day when you and I shall join the eternal chorus. Let us begin the music here. Let us strike some of the first notes at least; and if we cannot sound the full thunders of the eternal hallelujah, let us join as best we may. Let us make the wilderness and the solitary place rejoice, and bid the desert blossom as the rose.

Besides, Christian, dost thou not know that it is a good thing for thee to praise thy God? Mourning weakens thee, doubts destroy thy strength; thy groping among the ashes makes thee of the earth, earthy. Arise, for praise is pleasant and profitable to thee. “The joy of the Lord is our strength.” “Delight thyself in the Lord and he will give thee the desire of thine heart.” Thou growest in grace when thou growest in holy joy; thou art more heavenly, more spiritual, more Godlike, as thou gettest more full of joy and peace in believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. I know some Christians are afraid of gladness, but I read, “Let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.” If murmuring were a duty, some saints would never sin, and if mourning were commanded by God they would certainly be saved by works, for they are always sorrowing, and so they would keep his law. Instead thereof the Lord hath said it, “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice;” and he has added, to make it still more strong, “Rejoice evermore.”

But I ask you one other question, believer. Thou sayest, “Why should I awake, this morning to sing unto my God?” I reply to thee, “Hast thou not a cause?” Hath he not done great things for thee, and art thou not glad thereof? Hath he not taken thee out of the horrible pit, and out of the miry clay; hath he not set thy feet upon a rock and established thy goings, and is there no new song in thy mouth? What, art thou bought with blood, and yet hast thou a silent tongue? Loved of thy God before the world began and yet not sing his praise! What, art thou his child, an heir of God and joint heir with Jesus Christ, and yet no notes of gratitude? What I has he fed thee this day? Did he deliver thee yesterday out of many troubles? Has he been with thee these thirty, these forty, these fifty years in the wilderness, and yet hast thou no mercy for which to praise him? O shame on thy ungrateful heart, and thy forgetful spirit; come pluck up courage, think of thy mercies and not of thy miseries, forget thy pains awhile and think of thy many deliverances. Put thy feet on the neck of thy doubts and thy fears, and God the Holy Ghost, being thy Comforter, begin from this good hour to utter a song.

3. “But, ” smith one, “when shall I do this? When shall I praise my God?” I answer, praise ye the Lord all his people, at all times, and give thanks at every remembrance of him.

Extol him even when your souls are drowsy and your spirits are inclined to sleep. When we are awake there is little cause to say to us four times, “Awake, awake, awake, awake, utter a song;” but when we feel most drowsy with sorrow and our eyelids are heavy, when afflictions sore are pressing us down to the very dust, then is the time to sing psalms unto our God and praise him in the very fire. But this takes much grace, and I trust brethren you know that there is much grace to be had. Seek it of your divine Lord, and be not content without it; be not easily cast down by troubles, nor soon made silent because of your woes; think of the martyrs of old, who sang sweetly at the stake; think of Ann Askew, of all the pains she bore for Christ, and then of her courageous praise of God in her last moments. Often she had been tortured, tortured most terribly; she lay in prison expecting death, and when there she wrote a verse in old English words and rhyme,

“I am not she that lyst My anker to let fall, For every dryslynge myst; My shippe’s substancyal.”

Meaning thereby, that she would not stop her course and cast her anchor for every drizzling mist; she had a ship that could bear a storm, one that could break all the waves that beat against it, and joyously cut through the foam. So shall it be with you. Give not God fine weather songs, give him black tempest praises; give him not merely summer music, as some birds will do and then fly away; give him winter tunes. Sing in the night like the nightingales, praise him in the fires, sing his high praises even in the shadow of death, and let the tomb resound with the shouts of your sure confidence. So may you give to God what God may well claim at your hands.

When shall you praise him? Why, praise him when you are full of doubts, even when temptations assail you, when poverty hovers round you, and when sickness bows you down. They are cheap songs which we give to God when we are rich; it is easy enough to kiss the hand of a giving God, but to bless him when he takes away this is to bless him indeed. To cry like Job, “though he slay me yet will I trust in him, ” or to sing like Habakkuk, “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat: the flocks shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” Oh Christian, thou askest me when thou shalt rejoice, I say today, “Awake, awake, O Deborah, awake, awake, utter a song.”

4. Yet once more, you reply to me, “But HOW can I praise my God?” I will be teacher of music to thee, and may the Comforter be with me.

Wilt thou think this morning how great are thy mercies. Thou art not blind, nor deaf, nor dumb; thou art not a lunatic; thou art not decrepit; thou art not vexed with piercing pains; thou art not full of agony caused by disease; thou art not going down to the grave; thou art not in torments, not in hell. Thou art still in the land of the living, the land of love, the land of grace, the land of hope. ‘Even if this were all, there were enough reason for thee to praise thy God. Thou art not this day what thou once wert, a blasphemer, a persecutor and injurious; the song of the drunkard is not on thy lips, the lascivious desire is not in thy heart. And is not this a theme for praise. Remember but a little while ago, with very many of you, all these sins were your delight and your joy. Oh! must not you praise him, ye chief of sinners, whose natures have been changed, whose hearts have been renewed. Ye sons of Korah, lead the sacred song! Bethink you of your iniquities, which have all been put away, and your transgressions covered, and none of them laid to your charge; think of the privileges you this day enjoy; elect, redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, adopted, and preserved in Christ Jesus. Why man, if a stone or rock could but for a moment have such privileges as these, the very adamant must melt and the dumb rock give forth hosannas. And will you be still when your mercies are so great! Let them not lie

Forgotten in unthankfulness, and without praises die.”

Bethink thee yet again how little are thy trials after all. Thou hast not yet resisted unto blood striving against sin. Thou art poor, it is true, but then thou art not sick; or thou art sick, but still thou art not left to wallow in sin; and all afflictions are but little when once sin is put away. Compare thy trials with those of many who live in thine own neighbourhood. Put thy sufferings side by side with the sufferings of some whom thou hast seen on their dying bed; compare thy lot with that of the martyrs who have entered into their rest; and oh I say, thou wilt be compelled to exclaim with Paul, “These light afflictions which are but for a moment are not worthy to be compared to the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Come, now, I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, be of good cheer, and rejoice in the Lord your God, if it were for no other reason than that of the brave hearted Luther. When he had been most slandered when the Pope had launched out a new bull, and when the kings of the earth had threatened him fiercely Luther would gather together his friends, and say, “Come let us sing a psalm and spite the devil.” He would ever sing the most psalms when the world roared the most. Let us today join in that favourite psalm of the great German,

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will we not fear, though the earth be removed and though the mountains be carried in the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.” Psalm xlvi.

I say, then, sing to make Satan angry. He has vexed the saints; let us vex him.

Praise ye the Lord to put the world to the blush. Never let it be said that the world can make its votaries more happy than Christ can make his followers. Oh, let your songs be so continual, and so sweet, that the wicked may be compelled to say, “That man’s life is happier than mine; I long to exchange with him. There is a something in his religion which my sin and my wicked pleasures can never afford me.” O praise the Lord ye saints, that sinners’ mouths may be set a watering after the things of God. Specially praise him in your trials, if you would make the world wonder strike sinners dumb, and make them long to know and taste the joys of which you are a partaker.

“Alas!” said one, “but I cannot sing; I have nothing to sing of, nothing without for which I could praise God.” It is remarked by old commentators that the windows of Solomon’s temple were narrow on the outside, but that they were broad within, and that they were so cut, that though they seemed to be but small openings, yet the light was well diffused. (See Hebrew of 1 Kings 6:4 .) So is it with the windows of a believer’s joy. They may look very narrow without, but they are very wide within; there is more joy to be gotten from that which is within us than from that which is without us. God’s grace within, God’s love, the witness of his Spirit in our hearts, are better themes of joy than all the corn and wine, and oil, with which God sometimes increases his saints. So if thou hast no outward mercies, sing of inward mercies. If the water fail without, go to that fons perennis , that perpetual fountain which is within thine own soul.

“A good man shall be satisfied from himself.” Proverbs 14:14

When thou seest no cheering providence without, yet look at grace within. “Awake, awake, Deborah! awake, awake, utter a song.”

II. I now turn to the second part of my subject, upon which very briefly.

I know not whether you feel as I do, but in preaching upon this theme, I mourn a scantiness of words, and a slowness of language. If I could let my heart talk without my lips, methinks with God’s Spirit I could move you indeed with joy. But these lips find that the language of the heart is above them. The tongue discovereth that it cannot reach the fulness of joy that is within. Let it beam from my face, if it cannot be spoken from my mouth.

And now the second part of the subject. “arise, barak, and lead thy captivity captive, thou son of Abinoam.”

You understand the exact picture here. Barak had routed Sisera, Jabin’s captain, and all his hosts. She now exhorts Barak to celebrate his triumph. “Mount, mount thy car, O Barak, and ride through the midst of the people. Let the corpse of Sisera, with Jael’s nail driven through its temples, be dragged behind thy chariot. Let the thousand captives of the Canaanites walk all of them with their arms bound behind them. Drive before thee the ten thousand flocks of sheep, and herds of cattle which thou hast taken as a spoil. Let their chariots of iron, and all their horses be led captive in grand procession. Bring up all the treasures and the jewels of which thou hast stripped the slain; their armour, their shields, their spears, bound up as glorious trophies. Arise, Barak, lead captive those who led thee captive, and celebrate thy glorious victory.”

Beloved, this is a picture which is often used in Scripture. Christ is said to have led captivity captive, when he ascended on high. He led principalities and powers captive at his chariot wheels. But here is a picture for us not concerning Christ, but concerning ourselves. We are exhorted to day to lead captivity captive. Come up, come up, ye grim hosts of sins, once my terror and dismay. Long was I your slave, O ye Egyptian tyrants; long did this back smart beneath your lash when conscience was awakened, and long did these members of my body yield themselves as willing servants to obey your dictates. Come up ye sins, come up for ye are prisoners now; ye are bound in fetters of iron, nay, more than this, ye are utterly slain, consumed, destroyed; you have been covered with Jesus’ blood; ye have been blotted out by his mercy ye have been cast by his power into the depths of the sea, yet would I bid your ghosts come up, slain though ye be, and walk in grim procession behind my chariot. Arise, celebrate your triumph, oh ye people of God. Your sins are many, but they are all forgiven. Your iniquities are great, but they are all put away. Arise and lead captive those who led you captive your blasphemies, your forgetfulness of God, your drunkenness, your lust, all the vast legion that once oppressed you. They are all clean destroyed. Come and look upon them, sing their death psalm, and chant the life psalm of your grateful joy; lead your sins captive this very day.

Bring hither in bondage another host who once seemed too many for us, but whom by God’s grace we have totally overcome. Arise my trials; ye have been very great and very numerous; ye came against me as a great host, and ye were tall and strong like the sons of Anak. Oh! my soul, thou hast trodden down strength; by the help of our God have we leaped over a wall; by his power have we broken through the troops of our troubles, our difficulties, and our fears. Come now, look back, and think of all the trials you have ever encountered. Death in your family; losses in your business; afflictions in your body; despair in your soul; and yet here you are, more than conquerors over them all. Come, bid them all walk now in procession. To the God of our deliverances who has delivered us out of deep waters who has brought us out of the burning, fiery furnace, so that not the smell of fire has passed upon us to him be all the glory, while we lead our captivity captive.

Arise and let us lead captive all our temptations. You, my brethren, have been foully tempted to the vilest sins. Satan has shot a thousand darts at you, and hurled his javelin multitudes of times; bring out the darts and snap them before his eyes, for he has never been able to reach your heart. Come, break the bow and cut the spear in sunder; burn the chariot in the fire. “Thy right hand, O Lord, thy right hand O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy; thou hast broken, thou hast put to confusion them that hated us; thou hast scattered the tempters, and driven them far away “Come, ye children of God, kept and preserved where so many have fallen, lead now this day your temptations captive.

I think that you as a church, and I as your minister, can indeed lead captivity captive this day. There has been no single church of God existing in England for these fifty years which has had to pass through more trial than we have done. We can say, “Men did ride over our heads.” We went through fire and through water, and what has been the result of it all? God hath brought us out into a wealthy place and set our feet in a large room, and all the devices of the enemy have been of none effect. Scarce a day rolls over my head in which the most villainous abuse, the most fearful slander is not uttered against me both privately and by the public press; every engine is employed to put down God’s minister every lie that man can invent is hurled at me. But hitherto the Lord hath helped me. I have never answered any man, nor spoken a word in my own defence. from the first day even until now. And the effect has been this: God’s people have believed nothing against me; they who feared the Lord have said often as a new falsehood has been uttered, “This is not true concerning that man; he will not answer for himself, but God will answer for him.” They have not checked our usefulness as a church; they have not thinned our congregations; that which was to be but a spasm an enthusiasm which it was hoped would only last an hour God has daily increased; not because of me, but because of that gospel which I preach; not because there was anything in me, but because I came out as the exponent of plain, straight forward, honest Calvinism, and because I seek to speak the Word simply, not according to the critical dictates of man, but so that the poor may comprehend what I have to say. The Lord has helped us as a church; everything has contributed to help us; the great and terrible catastrophe invented by Satan to overturn us, was only blessed of God to swell the stream; and now I would not stay a liar’s mouth if I could, nor would I stop a slanderer if it were in my power, except it were that he might not sin, for all these things tend to our profit, and all these attacks do but widen the stream of usefulness. Many a sinner has been converted to God in this hall who was first brought here, because of some strange anecdote, some lying tale which had been told of God’s servant, the minister. I say it boasting in the Lord my God, this morning, though I become a fool in glorying, I do lead in God’s name my captivity captive. Arise! arise! ye members of this church, ye who have followed the son of Barak, and have gone up as the thousands at his feet; arise and triumph for God is with us, and his cause shall prosper; his own right arm is made bare in the eyes of all the people, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.

As it is in this single church, and in our own individual sphere, so shall it be in the church at large. God’s ministers are all attacked; God’s truth is everywhere assailed. A terrible battle awaits us; but oh! Church of God, remember thy former victories. Awake, ministers of Christ, and lead your captivity captive. Sing how the idols of Greece tottered before you. Say, “Where is Diana? Where now the gods that made glad Ephesus of old?” And thou, O Rome, was not thine arm broken before the majesty of the Church’s might? Where now is Jupiter; where Saturn, where Venus? They have ceased to be. And thou Juggernaut them Bramah ye Gods of China and Hindostan ye too must fall, for this day the sons of Jehovah arise and lead their captivity captive. “Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He breaketh the bow, he cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariots in the fire. Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the heathen; I will be exalted in the earth.” Church of God, come forth with songs, come forth with shouting to your last battle. Behold the battle of Armageddon draweth nigh. Blow ye the silver trumpets for the fight, ye soldiers of the cross. Come on, come on, ye leagured hosts of hell. Strong in the strength of God most High, we shall dash back your ranks as the rock breaketh the waves of the sea. We shall stand against you and triumph, and tread you down as ashes under the soles of our feet. “Arise, Barak, and lead thy captivity captive, thou son of Abinoam.”

Would to God that the joy of heart which we feel this morning may tempt some soul to seek the like. It is to be found in Christ at the foot of his dear cross . Believe on him, sinners and thou art saved.

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Bibliographical Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Judges 5". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/spe/judges-5.html. 2011.