Have Mercy Upon Meby Andrew Murray
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THE Christian Church has always taken a deep interest in the devotional exposition of certain portions of the Scriptures. There are some chapters of the Word of God that may be said to mark fresh epochs in the development of the spiritual life; and it has been found a most helpful practice for the ministers of the gospel to take them up in the worship of the congregation, and make them verse by verse the theme of exhortation and appeal.
The Fifty-first Psalm is on all hands acknowledged to be one of these cardinal portions of the Bible. Yet the number of detailed expositions of is meaning is comparatively small. This result has unquestionably arisen from the felt difficulty of doing anything like justice to its searching and humbling utterances. Much as the Psalm has been used in preaching, ministers have felt so keenly the inadequacy of their efforts to set forth the fullness of its teaching, that they have been glad to leave their lectures unpublished. No more diligent student of 'the Treasury of David' ever lived than Mr. C. H. Spurgeon. Yet in writing of his study of the Psalms, he did not hesitate to use these words: 'In commenting upon some of them, I have been overwhelmed with awe, and said with Jacob, "How dreadful is this place! it is none other than the house of God." Especially was this the case with the Fifty-first. I postponed expounding it week after week, feeling more and more my inability for the work. Often I sat down to it, and rose up again without having penned a line. It is a bush burning with fire, yet not consumed; and out of it a voice seemed to cry to me: "Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet." The Psalm is very human, its cries and sobs are of one born of woman; but it is freighted with an inspiration all divine, as if the great Father were putting words into His child's mouth. Such a Psalm may be wept over, absorbed into the soul, and exhaled again in devotion; but, commented on-ah! where is he who having attempted it can do other than blush at his defeat?'
It is under no sense of having been able to succeed where others have failed that the honoured minister of the Dutch Reformed Church at Wellington has been led to present the following exposition of this great Psalm. A glance at the tender and beautiful preface which he wrote for his own congregation will show that he cherishes very different thoughts. It is only because he feels that this Psalm contains a message which the present state of spiritual life in and around the Church sorely needs, that he has been led to send forth this volume. The late Dr. Duncan of the New College, Edinburgh, used to tell his students that the one great heresy which afflicts the Church and keeps back the conquest of the world for Christ is defective views of sin. It is because this Psalm contains such an unreserved revelation of the soul's experience under the felt guilt, misery, and corruption entailed by sin, conjoined with an equally marvellous insight into the loving-kindness and tender mercy of 'the God of all grace,' that this fresh attempt to unfold its meaning has been made.
From this aim it follows that the whole exposition has been of set purpose written with the utmost simplicity. It is not 'wisdom of words,' but words of wisdom set in sentences which every reader can understand at once, that this hard-driven, weary generation needs. We shall be greatly surprised if the perusal of this little book does not prove to many the starting-point alike of a deeper conviction of sin and a more holy and consecrated
life. Such is the prayer of the translator; and he is sure that it will be echoed wherever Mr. Murray's writings are read. The English version of his book on The New Life has recently been translated into Japanese, and has received a cordial welcome from the native Christians. Shall we not expect that the following wise and penetrating study of this matchless Psalm may find its way over as wide a circle? For so the word of the Lord has free course and is glorified.
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