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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Psalms 118:17

I will not die, but live, And tell of the works of the Lord .
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - Desire;   Faith;   The Topic Concordance - Declaration;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Death, Natural;  
Fausset Bible Dictionary - Tabernacles, Feast of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Dedication, Feast of the;   Hallel;   Hallelujah;   Joy;   Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread;   Psalms;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Hallel ;   Quotations;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Passover;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Hosanna;   Jesus christ;   Psalms the book of;   Tabernacles feast of;  
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Affirm;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Affirmatives;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Arabic-Jewish Philosophy, General View of;   Hosanna;   New Testament;  
Faith's Checkbook - Devotion for October 31;  

Clarke's Commentary

Verse Psalms 118:17. I shall not die — I was nigh unto death; but I am preserved,-preserved to publish the wondrous works of the Lord.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Psalms 118:17". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

Psalms 118:0 A procession of thanksgiving

Originally this hymn was apparently sung by a combination of the temple singers, the congregation and the king, to mark some great national occasion such as a victory in battle. The scene is set in the temple, where the royal procession enters the gates and moves to the altar (see v. 19,20,27).
The singers call Israel to worship, and the congregation responds with praise to God for his steadfast love (1-4). The king then recounts how, in answer to prayer, God saved him from his enemies (5-7). The people respond that God is worthy of people’s trust (8-9). The king describes the hopeless position he had been in, with enemies attacking him on every side, but with God’s help he overthrew them (10-14). The people respond that God is all-powerful (15-16).
After expressing his confidence in God and his gratitude for God’s chastening, the king commands that the temple gates be opened to him (17-19). The gatekeepers open the gates, but add the reminder that only the righteous can enter God’s temple (20). The king responds by thanking God for his righteous salvation, for this alone enables him to enter God’s presence (21).
The people then sing their rejoicings. When the king had been on the edge of shameful defeat, he seemed like a useless builder’s brick that the builders had thrown away in disgust. Now, with his triumph, the same brick seems to have been brought back and made the chief cornerstone, giving perfection and character to the building (22-25).
From the altar in the temple courtyard, the priests sing their welcome as the worshippers, in procession and waving branches of palm trees, draw near. The palm branches give the appearance of binding the worshippers together as they surround the altar in preparation for the sacrifice (26-27). Before the sacrificial ceremony commences, the king, followed by the congregation, offers a final thanksgiving (28-29).

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Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Psalms 118:17". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". 2005.

Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

I shall not die, but live - Evidently the psalmist had apprehended that he would die; or, he had felt that he was in imminent danger of dying. In this language he seems, as in Psalms 118:13, to go back again to the scenes referred to in the psalm. He lives them over again. He describes the feelings which he had then. He saw that he was in danger. His enemies were thick round about him, and sought his life. But he had then the assurance that they would not be victorious; that they would not accomplish their object; that he would be protected; that he would live to declare what God had done for him. He does not say how he had this assurance, but there is no impropriety in supposing that he had it, as Hezekiah had in similar circumstances (see Isaiah 38:5-8, Isaiah 38:21), by a direct divine intimation. Things like this are not uncommon now, when, in danger or in sickness, the mind is strongly impressed with the belief that there will be a restoration to health and safety, and when the mind is made calm and peaceful by that belief - the very calmness of the mind under such a belief contributing not a little to that result. Why should we hesitate to believe that such a faith and hope may come from the Lord? Compare Acts 27:22-25.

And declare the works of the Lord - Declare what he has done.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Psalms 118:17". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

17.I shall not die David speaks like one emerging from the sepulcher. The very same person who says, I shall not die, acknowledges that he was rescued from death, to which he was near as one condemned to it. For a series of years his life was in imminent danger, exposed every moment to a thousand deaths, and no sooner was he delivered from one than he entered into another. Thus he declares that he would not die, because he regained life, all hope of which he had entirely abandoned. We, whose life is hid with Christ in God, ought to mediate upon this song all our days, Colossians 3:3. If we occasionally enjoy some relaxation, we are bound to unite with David in saying, that we who were surrounded with death are risen to newness of life. In the meantime, we must constantly persevere through the midst of darkness: as our safety lies in hope, it is impossible that it can be very visible to us. In the second member of the verse, he points out the proper use of life. God does not prolong the lives of his people, that they may pamper themselves with meat and drink, sleep as much as they please, and enjoy every temporal blessing, but to magnify him for his benefits which he is daily heaping upon them. Of this subject we have spoken on Psalms 115:0

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Psalms 118:17". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". 1840-57.

Smith's Bible Commentary

Psalms 118:1-29

As we get into Psalms 118:1-29 , the last of the Hallel psalms.

O give thanks unto the LORD ( Psalms 118:1 );

Again, the exhortation, praise and thanks, "O give thanks unto the Lord."

for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever ( Psalms 118:1 ).

Again, the cause of thanksgiving is the goodness of God and the mercy of God. How often in the psalms we are called upon to give thanks to the Lord for His goodness and for His mercy.

Let Israel now say, his mercy endureth for ever. Let the house of Aaron now say, let his mercy endureth for ever. Let them now that fear the LORD say, his mercy endureth for ever. Now I called upon the LORD in distress: the LORD answered me, and set me in a large place. The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what man can do unto me? ( Psalms 118:2-6 )

Paul the apostle, in Romans the eighth chapter, takes up much the same thing as he declares, "Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God who has justified. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ who has died, yea rather, is risen again, and he's even at the right hand of the Father, making intercession" ( Romans 8:33-34 ). Paul exclaims, "If God be for us, who can be against us?" ( Romans 8:31 )

Now growing up as a child and growing up in church, somehow I did not always receive the concept that God was for me. I felt that God was against me many times. That He was just sort of waiting for me to make a mistake so He could punish me. That He was ready to cancel me out of the kingdom. In fact, I felt that I was cancelled out of the kingdom all the time. And I could hardly wait for Sunday night to come around so I could go forward and get saved again and get back into the kingdom, because I really wanted to be a Christian. I really didn't want to go to hell. And in my heart I really loved the Lord and my spirit indeed was willing to serve the Lord, but my flesh was weak. And somehow a concept developed in my mind that God was against me.

Oh, what Romans 8:1-39 did for my own personal Christian experience is hard to describe. When I discovered that God wasn't against me but that God was for me. And that God wasn't laying anything to my charge. God wasn't charging my account with all of my failures and all of my weaknesses and failings. That God had stamped irrevocably on my account, "Justified!" He wasn't finding fault, nor was Jesus Christ condemning me. Far be it from condemning me, He was interceding for me.

Now if I were good and perfect, He wouldn't have to intercede. I could stand before God in my own perfection. And I could say, "Here I am, Lord, perfect little me." The fact that He is interceding takes into account my weaknesses and my failures. The necessity for intercession. "Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ who has died, yea, rather, is risen again and even at the right hand of the Father making intercession. What shall we say to these things? Oh, if God be for us, who can be against us?"

So here the psalmist, "The Lord is on my side." How comforting that is. How reassuring that is. God is for me. God is for my part. God is on my side. Therefore, I will not fear what man shall do.

Now, man condemns me. Man finds fault with me. I often find fault with myself and condemn myself. But I need not fear what man will do because the Lord is on my side.

The LORD taketh the part with them that help me: therefore shall I see my desire upon them that hate me ( Psalms 118:7 ).

In other words, God is for me. He takes the part with those that help me. He becomes a part of those that are helping me. And therefore, we shall surely have victory over the enemy.

It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man ( Psalms 118:8 ).

Now as I read that, I immediately, in my heart that strikes a responsive kind of an accord. I say, "Yeah, that's sure true." Man has let me down so many times. The Lord has never let me down. Yes, that's so true. It's better to put my trust in the Lord than my confidence in man. And yet when I'm in trouble, I'm always looking for the help of man, the arm of flesh. And yet I realize that it's better to put my trust in the Lord than my confidence in man. How many times have I been discouraged and defeated though I had the promises of God. And then some man comes along, he says, "Oh, I'll take care of that for you." Oh, all right, praise the Lord. Glory to God! You know, it's all taken care of." And I've put my confidence now in the word of some man that he's going to take care of it.

There are certain people who have a penchant for making great promises that they are really not capable of fulfilling. Now there are some who are just pathological liars and they'll make all kinds of promises and they, you know, they didn't even know they made the promise. I mean, it's just quirk of their own nature. But there are other people who have sort of a quirk that they do make promises that when they make them, they really intend to fulfill them. But they just don't have the capacity to fulfill them. We've all met these kind of people, too. And it's amazing how many people and how many times we put our confidence in man and have been let down.

Better to put your trust in the LORD than your confidence in princes. Now all nations compassed me about: but in the name of the LORD I'll destroy them ( Psalms 118:9-10 ).

And then he just sort of amplifies on that.

They compassed me about; yes, they compassed me about: but in the name of the LORD I will destroy them. They compassed me about like bees ( Psalms 118:11-12 );

Swarm of bees.

they are quenched as the fire of thorns: for in the name of the LORD I will destroy them. Thou hast thrust sore at me that I might fall: but the LORD helped me. The LORD is my strength and song, and is become my salvation ( Psalms 118:12-14 ).

I love that verse. "The LORD is my strength." I've learned to rely upon His strength. It doesn't say the Lord will give me strength. It says, "The Lord is my strength." He's my song. How many times I find myself whistling or humming, or even singing when I'm not even aware of it. And when I become aware of it, I realize it's a song of worship or praise unto the Lord. And it's just thrilling to realize that it's just so woven into the warp and the woof of my own being that it's just a part of even the subconscious of my own life. The Lord is my song. "I have no song to sing but that of Christ my King. To Him my praise I'll bring forevermore. I have no other... " Let's see. "I have no delight in other songs, my melody of love to Him belongs." And how glorious when we sing our praises unto Him. He's become my salvation.

The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous ( Psalms 118:15 ):

Or in the tents of the righteous. So, you don't live in tents anymore. So, in the houses of the righteous.

There should be the voice of rejoicing in your home. I think that music has a tremendous influence and part in our lives. And I do feel that it is important that we surround ourselves in a spiritual environment. "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. If you sow to the flesh, you're going to reap of the flesh; if you sow to the Spirit, you'll reap of the Spirit" ( Galatians 6:7-8 ). I think that it's valuable to have good music around the house. If you have a record player, I think that you should have the praise albums and just good, Christ-centered music. Keep it in the atmosphere of your home, because it's planting into your spirit constantly. And what you sow, you're going to reap. If you're constantly listening to, "My baby left me, and is gone," and all this kind of stuff of the flesh, then you're going to be reaping that kind of stuff. But if we're sowing to the Spirit, it just has, it's just planting it into our hearts and into our lives. It's important that we do it.

The right hand of the LORD is exalted: the right hand of the LORD doeth valiantly ( Psalms 118:16 ).

The right hand of the Lord...

I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD. The LORD hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death ( Psalms 118:17-18 ).

We are told in the scriptures we're "not to despise the chastening of the Lord, for whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth" ( Proverbs 3:11-12 ). Now there is a vast difference between correction and punishment. God has ordained punishment upon the wicked, but He has ordained correction for His children. The correction comes in the form of chastisement. "It was good for me that I was afflicted" ( Psalms 119:71 ), we'll read in the next Psalms 119:1-176. Good that God corrected me. It's a sign that I am His child. It's a sign that He does care about me. The chastening of the Lord. It is not penal. It is for the purpose of correction.

Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the LORD: This gate of the LORD, into which the righteous shall enter. I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation ( Psalms 118:19-21 ).

Now I do not know but what the prophetic part of this psalm may begin with the nineteenth verse, "Open to me the gates of righteousness. I will go into them, and will praise the Lord." For there is in scripture other prophecies that relate to the east gate and the entering in of the Lord into the east gate. When Jesus made His triumphant entry into Jerusalem, He no doubt entered from the east gate, because He came down from the descent of the Mount of Olives and went into the temple precincts. And the gate that went from the Mount of Olives to the temple mount was the east gate. It was the one that entered right into the temple mount. So no doubt the gate through which Jesus entered when He went in on this triumphant entry. And in the forty-third chapter of Ezekiel, he said, "I was taken by the Spirit to the gate that is toward the east and it was shut. No people were going in or out by it." For the Lord, He went in and out by this gate and therefore it is shut and actually it won't be open until the Messiah comes again, and He will enter in through the east gate and He will eat bread with His people there in the porch of that gate.

So the reference here to the gate could be the reference to the triumphant entry by which He came in to the temple mount through the east gate. There is another Psalm, twenty-seven, about the opening of the gates and the King of glory shall come in. "Who is the King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle" ( Psalms 24:8 ). And the psalm of opening the gates in Psalms 27:1-14 which, again, seems to be sort of a prophetic. It's not twenty-seven either, but seems to be a prophetic type of a psalm. I'll take just a moment and see if I can find which psalm that is for you-twenty-four? Yes, it surely is.

"Lift up your head, O ye gates, and be ye lifted, ye everlasting doors. The King of glory shall come in. Who is the King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty. The Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates. Even lift them up, ye everlasting doors. The King of glory shall come in. Who is the King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory." So the gate of the Lord into which the righteous shall enter, no doubt a reference to the east gate.

Now when we come again with Jesus Christ in His coming in power and glory, according to the scripture He will set His foot on that day on the Mount of Olives. And the Mount of Olives will split with a big valley that will be formed by the splitting of the Mount of Olives. And Jesus will come on in through the east gate into the city or into the city of Jerusalem, the old city of Jerusalem, the temple mount. And we will be coming with Him when He comes. So the gate will be open and the righteous shall enter in. So inasmuch as we go then into,

The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner ( Psalms 118:22 ).

This is, of course, a prophecy of the rejection of Jesus Christ by Israel, the builders; the stone that was refused by the builders. Christ came according to the promise of God to the nation Israel to be the Messiah, not to be the Messiah, as the Messiah. And they refused Him. But the same has become the head of the corner, or the chief cornerstone. The chief cornerstone now upon which the church is built. "Upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" ( Matthew 16:18 ).

This scripture is referred to in the New Testament. It is referred to by Jesus Himself the day after He was rejected by the rulers. In Matthew 21:1-46 Jesus spake to them a parable about the householder who planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, build a winepress or pit for the winepress in it. Turned it over to the servants as he went to a far country. And how that when he sought to gather the fruit, sent servants back to receive the fruit, how that they beat some, how they mistreated others, how they killed some. And finally, he said, "I will send my only son. Surely they will respect him." But when they saw his son, they said, "Oh, here's the heir. Let's kill him and then the vineyard will be ours." And Jesus said, "What will that lord do when he comes?" And the Pharisees answered, He will utterly destroy those wretches. And Jesus said, "That is true. Have you never read, 'The stone which was set at nought by the builders, the same has become the headstone of the corner or the chief cornerstone.'" And He said, "Whosoever falls upon this stone will be broken, but upon whomsoever this stone shall fall shall be crushed into powder."

So Jesus made reference to this psalm, making the application to Himself; making the application to the rejection of Him by the Jewish leaders. And yet the vineyard, He said, He will take away. He'll destroy these people, set them aside and He will give the vineyard unto others. And so to nations, He said, who will bring forth fruit. So the glorious Gospel and the church coming from actually among the Gentile nations. The Lord has created the church for the purpose that we might bring forth fruit unto Him.

So then Peter makes reference to it in the fourth chapter of the book of Acts when he was called before the council for the healing of the lame man and asked by what name he did it, he said, "By the name of Jesus does this man stand here before you whole. And He is the stone which was set of nought by you builders. But the same has become the chief cornerstone. Neither is there salvation in any other for there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved." And then Peter in his first epistle, chapter 2 makes the final reference to this stone that was set of nought by the builders.

Now there is an interesting story that is told of the building of Solomon's temple. It is declared that all of the stones for Solomon's temple were cut and quarried and carved away from the temple site. But each stone was perfectly hewn out and marked for the place in which it went into the wall. Now Solomon's quarries were up on the sort of northwest side of the city of Jerusalem near what is presently the Herod's Gate. And you can go into those quarries today and see where these stones, these massive stones were cut out for Solomon's temple. Also you can see the quarry, the area of the quarry for the temple that is now an Arab bus station and you can see where the stone was quarried out there.

Now according to the story, a stone was sent for the temple that was not marked and the builders didn't have any idea where it went. They concluded that it was just sent by mistake from the quarry. You see, the temple was put together without the sound of a hammer or a trowel. Every stone was cut away from the site and brought. And each stone just was fit in perfectly without even mortar. Just interlocking stones without the use of mortar. And so this one stone, they didn't know where it went; it didn't seem to fall in the sequence of their building. They cast it aside in the bushes and a few years later as they were completing the temple, they sent the message to the quarry, "We're all set for dedication. Where is the chief cornerstone?" And they sent back the message, "We've already sent it a long time ago. What did you do with it?" And the messages went back and forth from the quarry to the builders and finally, someone found over in the bushes, overgrown with shrubs the chief cornerstone which had been rejected by the builders but now was brought out and put in its place, the chief cornerstone of the building. That's the story that is told of the building of Solomon's temple. Whether or not that is so is not really a provable thing. But at any rate, here is the prophecy, and whether or not this related to the incident then, it does relate to Jesus Christ.

This is the LORD'S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes ( Psalms 118:23 ).

Jesus quoted this to the Pharisees.

Now referring to the day of His triumphant entry.

This is the day that the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it ( Psalms 118:24 ).

And as He began His descent towards Jerusalem, the multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise the Lord saying, "Hosanna," or

Save now, O LORD. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD ( Psalms 118:25-26 ).

So this whole portion has to do with the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, plus the stone being rejected as He came into Jerusalem was rejected by the Jews, the official coming of the Messiah, the official rejection of the Messiah here prophesied in Psalms 118:1-29 .

God is the LORD, which hath showed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, even to the horns of the altar ( Psalms 118:27 ).

And Jesus who came to be the Messiah became the sacrifice for us.

Thou art my God, I will praise thee: thou art my God, I will exalt thee. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good ( Psalms 118:28-29 ):

Now this being the traditional psalm that they sang at the Passover feast, it is interesting that as Jesus sang it with His disciples, they were actually already singing a psalm that had had its fulfillment a few days earlier. For a few days earlier they were crying, "Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord." A few days earlier, the stone was rejected by the builders. And so they were singing of that the night before His crucifixion. "Bind the sacrifice with cords to the altar." Very interesting indeed. "

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Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Psalms 118:17". "Smith's Bible Commentary". 2014.

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

Psalms 118

This is the last in this series of the Egyptian Hallel psalms (Psalms 113-118). It describes a festal procession to the temple to praise and sacrifice to the Lord. The historical background may be the dedication of the restored walls and gates of Jerusalem in Ezra and Nehemiah’s time, following the return from Babylonian captivity, in 444 B.C. [Note: Wiersbe, The . . . Wisdom . . ., p. 306.] It contains elements of communal thanksgiving, individual thanksgiving, and liturgical psalms. The subject is God’s loyal love for His people. The situation behind it seems to be God’s restoration of the psalmist after a period of dishonor. This would have been a very appropriate psalm to sing during the Feast of Tabernacles as well as at Passover and Pentecost. The Lord Jesus and His disciples probably sang it together in the Upper Room at the end of the Lord’s Supper (cf. Matthew 26:30).

"As the final psalm of the ’Egyptian Hallel’, sung to celebrate the Passover . . ., this psalm may have pictured to those who first sang it the rescue of Israel at the Exodus, and the eventual journey’s end at Mount Zion. But it was destined to be fulfilled more perfectly, as the echoes of it on Palm Sunday and in the Passion Week make clear to every reader of the Gospels." [Note: Kidner, Psalms 73-150, pp. 412-13.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Psalms 118:17". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". 2012.

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

2. Praise for Yahweh’s deliverance 118:5-21

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Psalms 118:17". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". 2012.

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

The psalmist had relied on the Lord as his strength and his source of joy, and He had saved him. Psalms 118:14 repeats the first line of the Song of the Sea (Exodus 15:2), the song the Israelites sang just after they crossed the Red Sea successfully. The psalmist rejoiced in God’s saving strength. Temporary discipline had led to recent deliverance, and this provided hope for future salvation. The gates in view probably refer to the temple courtyard gates through which worshippers such as the writer entered to praise God.

What a comfort Psalms 118:15-18 would have been to the Lord Jesus as He sang them at His last Passover in the Upper Room! They assured Him that He would live again even though He would die.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Psalms 118:17". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". 2012.

Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

I shall not die, but live,.... Not that he should never die, David knew he should; but that his present afflictions would not issue in death; or he should not die by the hands of his enemies, he sometimes feared he should; but now believed he should live, as he did, to a good old age: he knew he should live spiritually and eternally, and not die a second death; and so may all true believers and members of Christ say. Yea, these words may be considered as the words of Christ; who, though he came into the world to die, and did die for the sins of his people; yet he knew he should not die before his time, nor should he continue long under the power of death; but should live again, and live for evermore, and not die; death should have no more dominion over him; see Psalms 16:10;

and declare the works of the Lord; the wonderful appearances of God in a providential way, and all his marvellous works of grace; as David did, and as all the people of God more or less do; and which is the end of their living; not to eat and drink, and gratify their carnal senses, but to glorify God, by declaring what he has done for themselves and others. So the Messiah declared the name of God, his nature, perfections, mind and will, word and works, among his brethren in the great congregation, Psalms 22:22.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Psalms 118:17". "Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

Goodness of God Celebrated; Grateful Acknowledgments.

      1 O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever.   2 Let Israel now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.   3 Let the house of Aaron now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.   4 Let them now that fear the LORD say, that his mercy endureth for ever.   5 I called upon the LORD in distress: the LORD answered me, and set me in a large place.   6 The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?   7 The LORD taketh my part with them that help me: therefore shall I see my desire upon them that hate me.   8 It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.   9 It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.   10 All nations compassed me about: but in the name of the LORD will I destroy them.   11 They compassed me about; yea, they compassed me about: but in the name of the LORD I will destroy them.   12 They compassed me about like bees; they are quenched as the fire of thorns: for in the name of the LORD I will destroy them.   13 Thou hast thrust sore at me that I might fall: but the LORD helped me.   14 The LORD is my strength and song, and is become my salvation.   15 The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous: the right hand of the LORD doeth valiantly.   16 The right hand of the LORD is exalted: the right hand of the LORD doeth valiantly.   17 I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD.   18 The LORD hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death.

      It appears here, as often as elsewhere, that David had his heart full of the goodness of God. He loved to think of it, loved to speak of it, and was very solicitous that God might have the praise of it and others the comfort of it. The more our hearts are impressed with a sense of God's goodness the more they will be enlarged in all manner of obedience. In these verses,

      I. He celebrates God's mercy in general, and calls upon others to acknowledge it, from their own experience of it (Psalms 118:1; Psalms 118:1): O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is not only good in himself, but good to you, and his mercy endures for ever, not only in the everlasting fountain, God himself, but in the never-failing streams of that mercy, which shall run parallel with the longest line of eternity, and in the chosen vessels of mercy, who will be everlasting monuments of it. Israel, and the house of Aaron, and all that fear God, were called upon to trust in God (Psalms 115:9-11); here they are called upon to confess that his mercy endures for ever, and so to encourage themselves to trust in him, Psalms 118:2-4; Psalms 118:2-4. Priests and people, Jews and proselytes, must all own God's goodness, and all join in the same thankful song; if they can say no more, let them say this for him, that his mercy endures for ever, that they have had experience of it all their days, and confide in it for good things that shall last for ever. The praises and thanksgivings of all that truly fear the Lord shall be as pleasing to him as those of the house of Israel or the house of Aaron.

      II. He preserves an account of God's gracious dealings with him in particular, which he communicates to others, that they might thence fetch both songs of praise and supports of faith, and both ways God would have the glory. David had, in his time, waded through a great deal of difficulty, which gave him great experience of God's goodness. Let us therefore observe here,

      1. The great distress and danger that he had been in, which he reflects upon for the magnifying of God's goodness to him in his present advancement. There are many who, when they are lifted up, care not for hearing or speaking of their former depressions; but David takes all occasions to remember his own low estate. He was in distress (Psalms 118:5; Psalms 118:5), greatly straitened and at a loss; there were many that hated him (Psalms 118:7; Psalms 118:7), and this could not but be a great grief to one of an ingenuous spirit, that strove to gain the good affections of all. All nations compassed me about,Psalms 118:10; Psalms 118:10. All the nations adjacent to Israel set themselves to give disturbance to David, when he had newly come to the throne, Philistines, Moabites, Syrians, Ammonites, c. We read of his enemies round about they were confederate against him, and thought to cut off all succours from him. This endeavour of his enemies to surround him is repeated (Psalms 118:11; Psalms 118:11): They compassed me about, yea, they compassed me about, which intimates that they were virulent and violent, and, for a time, prevalent, in their attempts against him, and when put into disorder they rallied again and pushed on their design. They compassed me about like bees, so numerous were they, so noisy, so vexatious; they came flying upon him, came upon him in swarms, set upon him with their malignant stings; but it was to their own destruction, as the bee, they say, loses her life with her sting, Animamque in vulnere ponit--She lays down her life in the wound. Lord, how are those increased that trouble me! Two ways David was brought into trouble:-- (1.) By the injuries that men did him (Psalms 118:13; Psalms 118:13): Thou (O enemy!) hast thrust sore at me, with many a desperate push, that I might fall into sin and into ruin. Thrusting thou hast thrust at me (so the word is), so that I was ready to fall. Satan is the great enemy that thrusts sorely at us by his temptations, to cast us down from our excellency, that we may fall from our God and from our comfort in him; and, if Go had not upheld us by his grace, his thrusts would have been fatal to us. (2.) By the afflictions which God laid upon him (Psalms 118:18; Psalms 118:18): The Lord has chastened me sore. Men thrust at him for his destruction; God chastened him for his instruction. They thrust at him with the malice of enemies; God chastened him with the love and tenderness of a Father. Perhaps he refers to the same trouble which God, the author of it, designed for his profit, that by it he might partake of his holiness (Hebrews 12:10); howbeit, men, who were the instruments of it, meant not so, neither did their heart think so, but it was in their heart to cut off and destroy,Isaiah 10:7. What men intend for the greatest mischief God intends for the greatest good, and it is easy to say whose counsel shall stand. God will sanctify the trouble to his people, as it is his chastening, and secure the good he designs; and he will guard them against the trouble, as it is the enemies' thrusting, and secure them from the evil they design, and then we need not fear.

      This account which David gives of his troubles is very applicable to our Lord Jesus. Many there were that hated him, hated him without a cause. They compassed him about; Jews and Romans surrounded him. They thrust sorely at him; the devil did so when he tempted him; his persecutors did so when they reviled him; nay, the Lord himself chastened him sorely, bruised him, and put him to grief, that by his stripes we might be healed.

      2. The favour God vouchsafed to him in his distress. (1.) God heart his prayer (Psalms 118:5; Psalms 118:5): "He answered me with enlargements; he did more for me than I was able to ask; he enlarged my heart in prayer and yet gave more largely than I desired." He answered me, and set me in a large place (so we read it), where I had room to bestir myself, room to enjoy myself, and room to thrive; and the large place was the more comfortable because he was brought to it out of distress, Psalms 4:1. (2.) God baffled the designs of his enemies against him: They are quenched as the fire of thorns (Psalms 118:12; Psalms 118:12), which burns furiously for a while, makes a great noise and a great blaze, but is presently out, and cannot do the mischief that it threatened. Such was the fury of David's enemies; such is the laughter of the fool, like the crackling of thorns under a pot (Ecclesiastes 7:6), and such is the anger of the fool, which therefore is not to be feared, any more than his laughter is to be envied, but both to be pitied. They thrust sorely at him, but the Lord helped him (Psalms 118:13; Psalms 118:13), helped him to keep his feet and maintain his ground. Our spiritual enemies would, long before this, have been our ruin if God had not been our helper. (3.) God preserved his life when there was but a step between him and death (Psalms 118:18; Psalms 118:18): "He has chastened me, but he has not given me over unto death, for he has not given me over to the will of my enemies." To this St. Paul seems to refer in 2 Corinthians 6:9. As dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and not killed. We ought not therefore, when we are chastened sorely, immediately to despair of life, for God sometimes, in appearance, turns men to destruction, and yet says, Return; says unto them, Live.

      This also is applicable to Jesus Christ. God answered him, and set him in a large place. He quenched the fire of his enemies; rage, which did but consume themselves; for through death he destroyed him that had the power of death. He helped him through his undertaking; and thus far he did not give him over unto death that he did not leave him in the grave, nor suffer him to see corruption. Death had no dominion over him.

      3. The improvement he made of this favour. (1.) It encouraged him to trust in God; from his own experience he can say, It is better, more wise, more comfortable, and more safe, there is more reason for it, and it will speed better, to trust in the Lord, than to put confidence in man, yea, though it be in princes,Psalms 118:8; Psalms 118:9. He that devotes himself to God's guidance and government, with an entire dependence upon God's wisdom, power, and goodness, has a better security to make him easy than if all the kings and potentates of the earth should undertake to protect him. (2.) It enabled him to triumph in that trust. [1.] He triumphs in God, and in his relation to him and interest in him (Psalms 118:6; Psalms 118:6): "The Lord is on my side. He is a righteous God, and therefore espouses my righteous cause and will plead it." If we are on God's side, he is on ours; if we be for him and with him, he will be for us and with us (Psalms 118:7; Psalms 118:7): "The Lord takes my part, and stands up for me, with those that help me. He is to me among my helpers, and so one of them that he is all in all both to them and me, and without him I could not help myself nor could any friend I have in the world help me." Thus (Psalms 118:14; Psalms 118:14), "The Lord is my strength and my song; that is, I make him so (without him I am weak and sad, but on him I stay myself as my strength, both for doing and suffering, and in him I solace myself as my song, by which I both express my joy and ease my grief), and, making him so, I find him so: he strengthens my heart with his graces and gladdens my heart with his comforts." If God be our strength, he must be our song; if he work all our works in us, he must have all praise and glory from us. God is sometimes the strength of his people when he is not their song; they have spiritual supports when they want spiritual delights. But, if he be both to us, we have abundant reason to triumph in him; for, he be our strength and our song, he has become not only our Saviour, but our salvation; for his being our strength is our protection to the salvation, and his being our song is an earnest and foretaste of the salvation. [2.] He triumphs over his enemies. Now shall his head be lifted up above them; for, First, He is sure they cannot hurt him: "God is for me, and then I will not fear what man can do against me," Psalms 118:6; Psalms 118:6. He can set them all at defiance, and is not disturbed at any of their attempts. "They can do nothing to me but what God permits them to do; they can do no real damage, for they cannot separate between me and God; they cannot do any thing but what God can make to work for my good. The enemy is a man, a depending creature, whose power is limited, and subordinate to a higher power, and therefore I will not fear him." Who art thou, that thou shouldst be afraid of a man that shall die?Isaiah 51:12. The apostle quotes this, with application to all Christians, Hebrews 13:6. They may boldly say, as boldly as David himself, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me; let him do his worst. Secondly, He is sure that he shall be too hard for them at last: "I shall see my desire upon those that hate me (Psalms 118:7; Psalms 118:7); I shall see them defeated in their designs against me; nay, In the name of the Lord I will destroy them (Psalms 118:10-12; Psalms 118:10-12); I trust in the name of the Lord that I shall destroy them, and in his name I will go forth against them, depending on his strength, by warrant from him, and with an eye to his glory, not confiding in myself nor taking vengeance for myself." Thus he went forth against Goliath, in the name of the God of Israel,1 Samuel 17:45. David says this as a type of Christ, who triumphed over the powers of darkness, destroyed them, and made a show of them openly. [3.] He triumphs in an assurance of the continuance of his comfort, his victory, and his life. First, Of his comfort (Psalms 118:15; Psalms 118:15): The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous, and in mine particularly, in my family. The dwellings of the righteous in this world are but tabernacles, mean and movable; here we have no city, no continuing city. But these tabernacles are more comfortable to them than the palaces of the wicked are to them; for in the house where religion rules, 1. There is salvation; safety from evil, earnests of eternal salvation, which has come to this house,Luke 19:9. 2. Where there is salvation there is cause for rejoicing, for continual joy in God. Holy joy is called the joy of salvation, for in that there is abundant matter for joy. 3. Where there is rejoicing there ought to be the voice of rejoicing, that is, praise and thanksgiving. Let God be served with joyfulness and gladness of heart, and let the voice of that rejoicing be heard daily in our families, to the glory of God and encouragement of others. Secondly, Of his victory: The right hand of the Lord does valiantly (Psalms 118:15; Psalms 118:15) and is exalted; for (as some read it) it has exalted me. The right hand of God's power is engaged for his people, and it acts vigorously for them and therefore victoriously. For what difficulty can stand before the divine valour? We are weak, and act but cowardly for ourselves; but God is mighty, and acts valiantly for us, with jealousy and resolution, Isaiah 63:5; Isaiah 63:6. There is spirit, as well as strength, in all God's operations for his people. And, when God's right hand does valiantly for our salvation, it ought to be exalted in our praises. Thirdly, Of his life (Psalms 118:17; Psalms 118:17): "I shall not die by the hands of my enemies that seek my life, but live and declare the works of the Lord; I shall live a monument of God's mercy and power; his works shall be declared in me, and I will make it the business of my life to praise and magnify God, looking upon that as the end of my preservation." Note, It is not worth while to live for any other purpose than to declare the works of God, for his honour and the encouragement of others to serve him and trust in him. Such as these were the triumphs of the Son of David in the assurance he had of the success of his undertaking and that the good pleasure of the Lord should prosper in his hand.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Psalms 118:17". "Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". 1706.

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

Gratitude for Deliverance from the Grave


A Sermon

(No. 2237)

Intended for Reading on Lord's-Day, January 3rd, 1892,

Delivered By


At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington


In connection with the dedication of the Jubilee House, which commemorated the fifth year of a life often threatened by grievous sickness. [Will the reader kindly note the remarks at the end of this sermon, before he reads the discourse? C.H.S.]

"I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord. The Lord hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death." Psalms 118:17-18 .

HOW very differently we view things at different times and in differing states of mind! Faith takes a bright and cheerful view of matters, and speaks very confidently, "I shall not die, but live." When we are slack as to our trust in God, and give way to misgivings and doubts and fears, we sing in the minor key, and say, "I shall die. I shall never live through this trouble. I shall one day fall by the hand of the enemy; and that day is hastening on. Hope is failing me. Bad times are at the door. I shall not live through this crisis." Thus our tongues show the condition of our inner man. We talk according to our frames and feelings, and would make others think that things are as we see them with our jaundiced eyes. Is it not a pity that we give a tongue to our unbelief? Would it not be better to be dumb when we are doubtful? Muzzle that dog of unbelief! Dog did I call him? He is a wolf; or should I call him hound of hell? His voice is as that of Apollyon: it is full of blasphemy against God. Unbelieving utterances will do no good to yourself, and will do harm to those who listen to your babblings. It would be wise to say, "If I should speak thus, I should offend against the generation of thy children. When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me." Let us be dumb with silence when we cannot speak to the Glory of God. But, oh, it is a blessed thing, when faith is in our spirit reigning and powerful, to let it have ample opportunity to proclaim the honours of his name! To give his heart a tongue, is wise in man when his heart itself is wise. The more talk we get from the mouth of faith, the better: her lips drop sweet-smelling myrrh. A silent faith, if there be such a thing, robs others of benedictions; and at the same time it does worse, for it robs God of his glory. When we have a joyous faith in full operation, let us be communicative, and let us openly and boldly say, "I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord." I would follow my own advice, and crave a patient hearing of you.

You know, perhaps, that this text was inscribed by Martin Luther upon his study wall, where he could always see it when at home. Many Reformers had been done to death Huss, and others who preceded him, had been burnt at the stake; Luther was cheered by the firm conviction that he was perfectly safe until his work was done. In this full assurance he went bravely to meet his enemies at the Diet of Worms, and indeed, went courageously whenever duty called him. He felt that God had raised him up to declare the glorious doctrine of justification by faith, and all the other truths of what he believed to be the gospel of God; and therefore no faggots could burn him, and no sword could kill him till that work was done. Thus he bravely wrote out his belief, and set it where many eyes would see it, "I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord." It was no idle boast; but a calm and true conclusion from his faith in God and fellowship with him. May you and I, when we are tried, be able, through faith in God, to meet trouble with the like brave thoughts and speeches! We cannot show our courage unless we have difficulties and troubles. A man cannot become a veteran soldier if he never goes to battle. No man can get his sea legs if he lives always on land. Rejoice, therefore, in your tribulations, because they give you opportunities of exhibiting a believing confidence, and thereby glorifying the name of the Most High. But take heed that you have faith, true faith in God; and do not become a puppet of impressions, much less a slave of the judgments of others. To have David's faith, you must be as David. No man may take up a confidence of his own making: it must be a real work of the Spirit, and growth of grace within, grasping with living tendrils the promise of the living God.

I will read the passage from the psalm over again, and we will then consider it by God's help. "I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord. The Lord hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over to death."

First, here is the believer's view of his afflictions. "The Lord hath chastened me sore." Secondly, here is the believer's comfort under those afflictions. "He hath not given me over to death. I shall not die, but live." And, thirdly, here is the believer's conduct after his afflictions and after his deliverance from them "I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord."

I. At the outset, here is THE BELIEVER'S VIEW OF HIS AFFLICTIONS. "The Lord hath chastened me sore."

On the surface of the works we see the good man's clear observation that his afflictions come from God. It is true he perceived the secondary hand, for he says, "Thou hast thrust sore at me that I might fall." There was one at work who aimed to make him fall. His afflictions were the work of a cruel enemy. Yes; but that enemy's assaults were being overruled by the Lord, and were made to work for his good; so David, in the present verse, corrects himself by saying, "The Lord hath chastened me sore. My enemy struck at me and he might make me fall; but in very truth my gracious God was using him to chasten me that I might not fall. The enemy was moved by malice, but God was working by him in love to my soul. The second agent sought my ruin, but the Great First Cause wrought my education and establishment."

It is well to have grace enough to see that tribulation comes from God: he fills the bitter cup as well as the sweet goblet. Troubles do not spring out of the dust, neither doth affliction grow up from the ground, like hemlock from the furrows of the field; but the Lord himself kindles the fiery furnace, and sits as a refiner at the door. Let us not dwell too much upon the part played by the devil, as though he were a power co-ordinate with God. He is a fallen creature, and his very existence depends upon the will and permission of the Most High. His power is borrowed, and can only be used as the infinite omnipotence of God permits. His wickedness is his own, but his existence is not self-derived. Blame the devil, and blame all of his servants as much as you will; but still believe in the mysterious but consoling truth that, in the truest sense, the Lord sends trials upon his saints. "Explain that statement," say you. Oh, no; I am not called upon to explain it, but to believe it. A great many things, when they are said to be explained by modern thinkers, are merely explained away, and I have not yet begun to learn that wretched art. Remember how Peter told the Jews that he, whom God by his determinate counsel and foreknowledge decreed to die, even his son Jesus Christ, nevertheless taken by them with wicked hands, when they had crucified and slain him. The death of Christ was pre-determined in the counsel of God, and yet it was none the less an atrocious crime on the part of ungodly men. The omnipotence and providence of God are to be believed; but man's responsibility is not therefore to be questioned. Our afflictions may come distinctly from man, as the result of persecution or malice; and yet they may come with even greater certainty from the Lord, and may be the needful outcome of his special love to us.

For this reason we may wisely moderate our anger against second causes. If you strike a dog with a stick, he will bite the stick; if he were more intelligent, he would snap at the person using the stick; and, if that intelligence were governed by the spirit of obedience, he would yield to the blow, and learn a lesson from it. Thus, when Shimei reviled David, and Abishai, the son of Zeruiah, said unto king, "Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over, I pray thee, and take off his head;" David meekly replied, "So let him curse, because the Lord hath said unto him, Curse David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hath thou done so?" A sight of God's hand in a trial is the end of rebellion against it in the case of every good man. He says, "It is the Lord: let him do what seemeth him good." We may lie at his feet, and cry, "Shew me wherefore thou contendest with me;" but, if the reason does not appear, we must bow in reverent submission, and say with one of old, "I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it." Job saw the Lord in his many tribulations, and therefore praised him, saying, "The Lord gave, and the Lord that taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." Surely there is nothing better for a man of God than to perceive that his smarts and sorrows come from his Father's hand, for then he will say, "The will of the Lord be done." This is the great point in the believer's view of his afflictions: "He maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole."

Next, the believer perceives that his trials come out as a chastening. "The Lord hath chastened me sore." When a child is chastised, two things are clear: first, that there is something wrong in him, or that there is something deficient in him, so that he needs to be corrected or instructed; and, secondly, it shows that his father has a tender care for his benefit, and acts in loving wisdom towards him. This is certainly true if his father is an eminently kind and yet prudent parent. Children do not think that there can be any need for chastening them; but when years have matured their judgment, they will know better. "No chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous;" if it did seem joyous, it would not be chastening. The "need be" is not only that we have manifold trials, but that we be in heaviness through them. In the smart of the sorrow lies the blessing of the chastisement. God chastens us in the purest love, because he sees that there is an absolute necessity for it: "for he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men." Our fathers, according to the flesh, too often corrected us according to their own pleasure, and yet we gave them reverence; but the Father of our spirits corrects us only of necessity a necessity to which he is too wise to close his eye. Shall we not, therefore, pay greater reverence to him, and bow before him, and live? When Hezekiah was recovered of his sickness, he wrote, "O Lord, by these things men live, and in all these things is the life of my spirit." I find not that men live by carnal pleasure, nor that the life of the spirit is ever found in the wine-vat or in the oil-press; but I do find that life and health often come to saints through briny tears, through the bruising of the flesh, and the oppression of the spirit. So have I found it, and I bear my willing witness that sickness has brought me health, loss has conferred gain, and I doubt not that one day death will bring me fuller life.

Be wise then, dear child of God, and look upon your present affliction as a chastening. "What son is he whom the father chasteneth not?" "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten." There is not a more profitable instrument in all God's house than the rod. No honey was sweeter than that which dropped from the end of Jonathan's rod; but that is nothing to the sweetness of the consolation which comes through Jehovah's rod. Our brightest joys are the birth of our bitterest griefs. When the woman has her travail pangs, joy comes to the house because the man-child is born; and sorrow is to us also, full often, the moment of the birth of our graces. A chastened spirit is a gracious spirit; and how shall we obtain it except we are chastened? Like our Lord Jesus, we learn obedience by the things which we suffer. God had one Son without sin, but he never had a son without sorrow, and he never will have while the world stands. Let us, therefore, bless God for all his dealings, and in a filial spirit confess, "Thou, Lord, hast chastened me."

Consider the psalmist's view of his affliction a little more carefully. He noted that his trials were sore: he says, "The Lord hath chastened me sore." Perhaps we are willing to own in general that our trouble is of the Lord; but there is a soreness in it which we do not ascribe to him, but to the malice of the enemy, or some other second cause. The false tongue is so ingenious in slander that it has touched the tenderest part of our character, and has cute us to the quick. Are we to believe that this also is, in some sense, of the Lord? Assuredly we are. If it be not of the Lord, then it is a matter for despair. If this evil comes apart from divine permission, where are we? How can a trial be met which is independent of divine rule, and outside of the sacred zone of providential government? It is hopeful when we find that all our ills lie within the ring-fence of omnipotent overruling. It is one comfort that we see a wall of fire round about us, a circle so complete that even the devil, malicious as he is, cannot break through it, to do more than the Lord allows. The camels are gone, the sheep, the oxen, the servants, all are destroyed: all this is most trying; but still it is true "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." But, see, another messenger comes, and cries, "There came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead." Might not Job, then, have said, "This is a blow which I cannot bear; for it is evidently from the prince of the power of the air"? No, but even after that, he said, "Blessed be the name of the Lord." When his wife said, "Curse God, and die," he still blessed God, and held his integrity. He told her that she spoke as one of the foolish women speaketh, and then he wisely added, "Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?" "In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly." May we stand fast in patience as he did, even when our troubles overflow!

It is folly to imagine, as we have sometimes done, the we could bear anything except that which we are called upon to endure. We are like the young man who says that he wants a situation. What can you do? He can do anything. That man you never engage, because you know that he can do nothing. So it is with us. If we say, "I could bear anything but this," we prove our universal impatience. If we had the choice of our crosses, the one we should choose would turn out to be more inconvenient than that which God appoints for us; and yet we will have it that our present cross is unsuitable and specially galling. I would say to any who are of that mind, "If your burden does not fit your shoulder, bear it till it does." Time will reconcile you to the yoke if grace abides with you. It is not for us to choose our affliction; that remains with him who chooses our inheritance for us. Read well this word, "The Lord hath hastened me sore," and see the Lord's hand in the soreness of your trial. Even while the wound is raw, and the smart is fresh; be conscious that the Lord is near.

Yet there is in the verse a "but", for the psalmist perceives that his trial is limited; "but he hath not given me over to death." Certain of the buts in Scripture are among the choicest jewels we have. Before us is a "but" which shows that, however deep affliction may be, there is a bottom to the abyss. There is a limit to the force, the sharpness, the duration and the number of our trials.

"If God appoints the number ten,

They ne'er can be eleven."

Whenever the Lord mixes a potion for his people, he weighs each ingredient, measures the bitters, grain by grain, and allows not even a particle in excess to mingle in the draught. Like a careful dispenser, he will not pour out a drop too little or too much.

"To his church, his joy, and treasure,

Every trial works for good:

They are dealt in weight and measure,

Yet how little understood;

Not in anger,

But from his dear covenant love."

Our Father's anger at our sin will never blaze into wrath against us, though in mercy he will smite our sins. Remember, then, this gracious boundary. "The Lord hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death." We have never yet experienced a trouble which might not have been worse. One affliction kills another: the wind never blows east and west at the same time. When the Lord smites you abound, so do consolations abound through Christ Jesus. The whole band of troubles never comes forth at once. Everything painful is graded and proportioned to the man and his strength, and the object for which it is sent. With the trial the Lord makes the way of escape that we may be able to bear it. Faith can see an end and limit where natures dim eye sees endless confusion. Where carnal sense

"Sees every day new straits attend,

And wonders where the scene will end,"

faith looks over the intervening space, and comforts herself with that which is yet to come. Faith sings pleasant songs when she foots it over weary roads.

"The road may be rough, but it cannot be long,

So let's smooth it with hope, and cheer it with song."

The Lord keep your faith alive, my brethren and sisters, and then whatever trials surge around you, you will sit on the Rock of ages, above the waves, and joyfully sing praises unto your divine Deliverer! Oh, how sweet to say, as I now do, "The Lord hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death"!

II. This brings me secondly, to consider THE BELIEVER'S COMFORT UNDER HIS AFFLICTIONS. The believer's comfort under his afflictions is this "I shall not die, but live."

Occasionally this comes in the form of a presentiment. I do not think that I am superstitious: I fancy that I am pretty clear of that vice; yet I have had presentiments concerning things to come or not to come; and, moreover, I have met with so many Christian men who, in the time of trouble have received singular warnings, or sweet assurances of coming deliverance, that I am bound to believe that the Lord does sometimes whisper to the heart of his children, and assure them in trial that they shall not be crushed, and in sickness that they shall not die. How do you understand the story of John Wycliffe, at Lutterworth, in any other way than this? He had been speaking against the monks, and various abuses of the church. He was the first man known to history that preached the gospel in England during the Popish ages we know him as the Morning Star of the Reformation. He was a man so great that, if he had possessed a printing-press, we might never have needed a Luther; for he had an even clearer light than that great Reformer. He lacked the means of spreading his doctrine, which the art of printing supplied. He did much: he prepared everything to Luther's hand: and Luther was but the proclaimer of Wycliffe's doctrine. Wycliffe was ill very ill, and the friars came round him, like crows round a dying sheep. They professed to be full of tender pity; but they were right glad that their enemy was going to die. So they said to him, "Do you not repent? Before we can give you viaticum the last oiling before you die would it not be well to retract the hard things which you have said against the zealous friars, and his Holiness of Rome? We are eager to forget the past, and give you the last sacrament in peace." Wycliffe begged an attendant to help him sit up; and then he cried with all his strength, "I shall not die, but live, to declare the works of the Lord, and to expose the wickedness of the friars." He did not die, either: death himself could not have killed him then; for he had more work to do, and the Lord made him immortal until it was done. How could Wycliffe know that he spoke truly? Certainly he was free from all foolhardy brag; but there was upon his mind a foreshadowing of future work that he had to do, and he felt that he could not die until it was accomplished. Now, do not be making up presentiments about all sorts of things because I have said that sometimes the Lord grants them to his saints. This would be a mischievous piece of absurdity. I remember a young woman, who lived not far from here, who had a presentiment that she would die. I do not think that there was really much the matter with her; but she refused to eat, and was likely to be starved. I went to see her, and she told me that she had a presentiment that she should die, and therefore she should not waste food by eating it. She spoke to me very solemnly about this presentiment, and I replied, "I believe there may be such things." Yes: she was sure I was on her side! Then I went on to say, I once had a presentiment that I was a donkey, and it turned out true in my case; and now I had much the same presentiment about her. This surprised her, and I asked her friends to bring her food. She said she would not eat it; and then I told her that if she was resolved on suicide, I would mention it at church-meeting that evening, and put her out of the church, since would could not have suicides in our membership. She could not bear to be put out of the church, and began to eat, and it turned out that my presentiment about her was correct; she had been foolish, and she had the good sense to see that it was so. I felt bound to tell you this story, lest you should fancy that I would support you in sentimental nonsense. While there are so many stupid people in the world, we have no need to give cautions where the wise do not need them. Forecasts of good from the Lord may come to those who are sore sick; and when they do, they help them to recover. We are of good courage when an inward confidence enables us to say, "I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord."

This, however, I only mention by the way. When a believer is in trouble he derives great comfort from his reliance upon the compassion of God. The Lord scourges his sons, but he does not slay them. The believer says, "My Father may make me smart with the blow of a cruel one; but he will do me no real harm, nor allow anyone else to injure me. He will not lay upon me more than is right, nor above what I am able to bear. He will stay his hand when he sees that I have no strength left. Moreover, I know that even when he brings me very low, still underneath me are the everlasting arms. If the Lord kill, it is to make alive: if he wound, it is that he may heal. I am sure of that." O believer, never let anything drive you away from this confidence, for it has sure truth for its foundation! The Lord is good, and his mercy endureth forever. It is not killing, but curing, that God means when he takes the sharp lancet in his hand. The nauseous medicine, which makes the heart sick, works the cure of a worse sickness. "His compassions fail not." He may often put his hand into the bitter box, but he has sweet cordials ready to take the taste away. For a small moment has he forsaken us, but with great mercies will he return to us. You have an effectual comfort if your faith can keep its hold upon the blessed fact of the Lord's fatherly compassion.

Next, faith comforts the tried child of God by assuring him of the forgiveness of his sin, and his security from punishment. Please to notice the very distinct difference between chastisement and punishment. I do not say between the meaning of the words, but between the two things which just now I would indicate by those terms. Here is a boy who has committed a theft. He is brought before the magistrate that he may be punished. Punitive justice will be executed upon him by imprisonment or by a birch rod. Another boy has also stolen stolen from his father, and he is brought before his father, not to be punished as a law-breaker, but to be chastised. There is a great difference between the punishment awarded by justice and the chastisement appointed by love. They may be alike in painfulness, but how different in meaning! The father does not give to the child what he would deserve if it were a punishment according to the law, but what he thinks will cure him of wrong-doing by making him feel that his sin brings sorrow. The magistrate, although he desires the good of the offender, has mainly to consider the law in its bearings upon the whole mass of the population, and he punishes as a matter of justice that which wrongs the commonwealth; but the parent acts on other principles. "The Lord hath chastened me sore," and in that he has acted a fatherly part; "but he hath not given me over unto death" which would have been my lot if he had dealt with me as a judge. My heart trembles at his sword, and cries, "Enter not into judgment with thy servant, O Lord: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified." The sentence of justice has been fulfilled upon our Lord, and our comfort is that now there is nothing punitive in all our troubles. "He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities;" nor will he do so, for he has already laid our sins upon Christ, and Christ has vindicated the law by bearing its penalty, so that nothing more in the way of penalty is demanded by the moral government of God. That which we receive from the rod of the Lord bears the blessed aspect of chastening from a father's hand; and this is a gladsome fact, which makes even the sharpest smart to be profitable. "Surely the bitterness of death is past," when, in the case of the believer, even death has ceased to be the penalty of sin, and is changed into a sweet falling asleep upon the bosom of the Well-Beloved, to wake up in his likeness. Every other affliction is changed in the same fashion. Our wasps have become bees: their sting is not the prominent thought, but the honey which they lay up in store. "All things work together for good to them that love God," and chastisement is chief among those "all things." What a well of comforting thought is here!

Furthermore, it is a great blessing to a child of God to feel a full assurance that he has eternal life in Christ Jesus. "The Lord hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death." Notice the words, "Given me over." It is the most awful thing out of hell to be given over by God. I fear that there are some such persons. Does not the psalmist refer to such when he says, "They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men. Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish"? While God's own people are chastened every morning, and plagued all the day long, the ungodly prosper in the world, and increase in riches. Of his chosen the Lord says, "You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities." But those who are not the Lord's are left unchastened, because the Lord hath said of them, "Let them alone, they are given unto idols." They are allowed their transient mirth; let them make the most they can of it, for their end will be desolation.

Unbroken prosperity and undisturbed health may be the signs of being "given over unto death"; and they are in such cases where sin is committed without pangs of conscience, or apprehensions of judgment. Such freedom from fear may be maintained even in death: "There are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm." All goes quietly with them; "Like sheep they are laid in the grave." But "in hell they lift up their eyes, being in torments." To be given over unto death is often followed by callousness, presumption, and bravado; but it is a dreadful doom, the direst sentence from the throne of judgment as to this life. But you, dear child of God, have this comfort, he has not given you over, he is thinking upon you. By scourging you, he is proving that he has not given you over. Men do not prune the vine they mean to uproot; nor thresh out the weeds which they mean to burn. He who is chastened is not given over unto destruction. Years ago, I was taken very ill, in Marseilles, while attempting to come home to England. As I lay in my bed, it seemed as if the cruel mistral wind was driving through my bones, and breaking them with agony. I ordered a fire to be kindled; but when I saw the man begin to light it with a bundle of little branches, I cried out to him, "Pray let me look at that." I found that he was using the dry prunings of the vine, and the tears were in my eyes as I remembered the words "Men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned." Comfort followed, for I thought, "I am not unfeeling, like those dried-up shoots; but I am the bleeding vine, which is sharply cut with the pruning-knife; I feel the keen blade in every part of me." Then could I say, "The Lord hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over." What joy lies in this, "He hath not given me over"! As long as the father chastens his boy, he has hope of him; if he ceased to do so altogether, we might fear that he thought him too bad to be reclaimed. Be glad, then, dear child of God, that since the Lord chastens you sore, he has not erased your name from his heart, and his hands, nor yielded you up to your enemy's power.

Another meaning may be found in this text, "I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord. The Lord hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death." We are comforted by reliance upon God's power for success in our life-work. The critics said and I must quote this because this sermon is very much a personal one the critics said, when the lad commenced his preaching, that it was a nine days' wonder, and would soon come to an end. When the people joined the church in great numbers, they were "a parcel of boys and girls." Many of those "boys and girls" are here to-night, faithful to God unto this hour. Then there came upon us a heavy, heavy stroke a sore chastening, which those of us who were present would never forget if we live for a century; and we seemed to be made the reproach of all men, through an accident which we could not have foreseen or prevented. But still the testimony for God in this place, by the same voice, has not ceased, nor lost its power. Still the people throng to hear the gospel after these thirty years and more, and still the doctrines of grace are to the front, not-withstanding all opposition. In the darkest hour of my ministry I might have declared, "I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord." If you have been set on fire by a divine truth, the world cannot put an extinguisher upon you. That candle which God has lighted, the devils in hell cannot blow out. If you are commissioned of God to do a work, give your whole heart to it, trust in the Lord, and you will not fail. I bear my joyful witness to the power of God to work mightily by the most insignificant of instruments.

"The feeblest saint shall win the day,

Though death and hell obstruct the way."

Once more, though we may die, we are sustained by the expectation of immortality. When we gather up our feet in our last bed, we may utter this text in a full and sweet sense, "I shall not die, but live." When Wycliffe died as to his body, the real Wycliffe did not die. Some of his books were carried to Bohemia, and John Huss learned the gospel from them, and began to preach. They burnt John Huss, and Jerome of Prague; but Huss foretold, as he died, that another would arise after him, whom they should not be able to put down; and in due time he more than lived again in Luther. Is Luther dead? Is Calvin dead to-day? That last man the moderns have tried to bury in a dunghill of misrepresentation; but he lives, and will live, and the truths that he taught will survive all the calumniators that have sought to poison it. Die! Often the death of a man is a kind of new birth to him; when he himself is gone physically, he spiritually survives, and from his grave there shoots up a tree of life whose leaves heal nations. O worker for God, death cannot touch thy sacred mission! Be thou content to die if the truth shall live better because thou diest. Be thou content to die, because death may be to thee enlargement of thine influence. Good men die as dies seed-corn which thereby abideth not alone. When saints are apparently laid in the earth, they quit the earth, and rise and mount to heaven-gate, and enter into immortality. No, when the sepulchre receives this mortal frame, we shall not die, but live. Then shall we come to our true stature and beauty, and put on our royal robes, our glorious Sabbath-dress.

III. So I finish with just two or three words on THE BELIVER'S CONDUCT AFTER TROUBLE AND DELIVERANCE. "I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord."

Here is declaration. If we had no troubles, we should all have the less to declare. A person who has had no experience of tribulation, what great deliverance has he to speak of? Such persons despise the afflicted, and suspect the character of the choicest of men, for lack of power to understand them. What does the man know about the sea who has only walked on the beach? Get with an old sailor, who has been a dozen times around the world, and often wrecked, and he will interest you. So the much-tried Christian has great wonders to declare, and these are chiefly the works of the Lord; for "they that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; these see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep." Tried Christians see how God sustains in trouble, and how he delivers out of it, and they declare his works openly: they cannot help doing so. They are so interested themselves in what God has done that they grow enthusiastic over it; and if they held their peace, the stones would cry out.

If you read the chapter further down, you will find that they not only give forth a declaration, but they offer adoration. They are so charmed with what God has done for them, that they laud and magnify the name of the Lord, saying, "I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation." The saints of God, when they are rescued from their sorrows, are sure to sing, "My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my saviour."

This done, they make a further dedication of themselves to their delivering God. As the psalm puts it, "God is the Lord, which hath shewed us light." It was very dark! It was very, very dark! We could not see our hand, much less the hand of God! We were frozen with fear. We thought we were as dead men, laid out for burial; when suddenly the Lord's face shown in upon us, and all darkness was gone, and we leaped into joyful security, crying "God is the Lord, which hath shewed us light." We were convinced that it was none other than the true God who had removed the midnight gloom. Doubts, infidelities, agnosticisms they were impossible. We said, "God is the Lord, which hath shewed us light." In the fourth watch of the night, in the prison where the cold stone shut us in, where the darkness had never known a candle, there a light shone round about us, and an angel smote us on the side, and bade us put on our sandals, and gird ourselves, and follow him. We obeyed the word, and our chains fell off; and when we came to the iron gate which had always been our horror, it opened of its own accord, and we went out into the streets of the city, and we scarcely felt that it could be true, but thought we saw a vision. But when we had considered the thing, and found it was even ourselves, and ourselves set in a large place at perfect liberty, then we said, " Bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar." God hath showed us light, and we will live to him for ever and for ever. Oh, you, tried believers, who have, nevertheless, not been given over unto death, who can say to-night, "I shall not die, but live," present yourselves anew unto your delivering Lord as living sacrifices through Jesus Christ your Lord! Amen.




HYMNS FROM "OUR OWN HYMN BOOK" 708, 73 (Part II.), 710.


This sermon begins a new volume; in fact, it commences Vol. 38 of The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit. I have, myself, selected it, and prepared it for the press, because it is most suitable as my own personal testimony at the present moment. The subject is even more my own this day than it was seven and a half years ago; for I have been in deeper waters, and nearer to the mouth of the grave. With my whole soul I praise delivering grace. To the Lord God, the God of Israel, I consecrate myself anew. For the covenant of grace, for the revelation of infallible truth in the Bible, for the atonement by blood, and the immutable love of the ever blessed Three-in-One, I am a witness; and more and more would I abide faithful to the gospel of the grace of God. I see each day more reasons for faith, and fewer excuses for doubt. Those who will may ship their anchors and be drifted about the current of the age; but I will sing, "My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise!"

The whole passage, Psalms 118:13-18 , is inscribed upon a marble slab on the Jubilee House at the back of the Tabernacle, and I am told that many went to read it while I lay in the greatest peril through sore sickness, and were comforted thereby. When the Lord permits me to return, I must raise yet another memorial to his praise.

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Bibliographical Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Psalms 118:17". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". 2011.