“Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.”
It is getting to be that time of the year again when inventory is taken. Everyone who is in business knows what that entails. It is the time when you go through your stock to determine precisely how much you have on hand. And after this has been ascertained, you can proceed to discover how much you gained or lost during the course of the year. It is the time of reckoning, of a giving account. If the business has conducted a perpetual inventory, such an accounting is not difficult to produce. Whether you like or don’t like it, this procedure is inevitable, and absolutely necessary at the end of the year.
And as we are in the providence of God brought to the end of another year, it is well that we also take an accounting of our spiritual status. O, surely, also here there would be nothing wrong with the taking of a perpetual inventory. If all is as it should be, we will be prepared to give a correct assessment of our spiritual stock at any moment. This would, indeed, have a salutary effect on our lives each day of our earthly existence. But somehow, as the years of our life go by, and as each year comes to its end, we have a special occasion for taking such a spiritual accounting. It is then, perhaps more than at any other time, that we realize how fast we are running to the end of our time, when the final reckoning will take place. We suggest that you and I do exactly that as the seconds tick away that bring to an end this year of our Lord 1972.
It appears that the psalmist, according to the words of our text, had done precisely that. Not only did he make an accounting of all that God had done for his soul; so that he knew exactly what constituted the substance of his spiritual status, and how he stood before his God. But he is also prepared to tell all of God’s people what that accounting was. He calls to all the children of God to hear him as he counts and recounts in detail what his God has done to his soul. Here we have a. saint’s personal testimony of his spiritual status.
I will declare what He hath done!
When the psalmist gives his account, he has nothing to say of himself.
How contrary is the word of God here to the attempts of natural, sinful man to exalt himself!
It is universally characteristic of men, of the men of the world the world over, and especially at this time of the year, to make great boast of their own accomplishments. They even make plans to do greater things. If their business has suffered losses, they will call in their efficiency men to discover the cause, and seek their advice as to how to overcome them. If they have made great gains, they will encourage themselves to do even better.
This is true of men even in the religious sense. Churches and church-related organizations, and religious organizations not related to the church, make great boasts of their expansion, their missionary programs, “the large number of souls they have won for the Lord.” Men are conceived of as co-workers with God. God, so-they say, does His part; and we do our part. And, no doubt, if there still are churches which assemble on a New Year’s Eve, they will not fail to tell the Lord about all their accomplishments during the year that has passed by.
If there is room for man to boast, I suppose the psalmist could have done a little boasting too. Had he not faithfully gone up with the worshippers to the house of God? Had he not without fail presented to the priests his sacrifices and offerings to pay his vows which he made when he was in trouble? O, indeed, he had not failed to offer bullocks upon the altar! But when it came to the actual accounting, there was nothing in it that moved him to exalt himself.
It is all what his God has done!
This is the tenor of the entire psalm. Listen to him in the first part of the psalm: “Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands: Sing forth the honour of his name: make his praise glorious. . . Come and see the works of God: he is terrible in his doing toward the children of men.” And again in the middle of the psalm, “O bless our God, ye people, and make the voice of his praise to be heard: which holdeth our soul in life, and suffereth not our feet to be moved.” He has in mind some of the trials and afflictions whereby the Lord had tried and proved His people, in which trials He was always motivated by His great love for them, and out of which trials the Lord had always delivered them. Whatever the works of the Lord were, they were very great. Not only to His people in general, but also to the psalmist in particular.
Hence in the accounting, he exclaims: I will declare what He has done for my soul!
Evidently the psalmist is not thinking merely of that aspect of his nature which animates the body, and constitutes the seat of his earthly mental, physical existence, though this was not to be excluded. Rather, he had in mind his soul from its spiritual point of view. It is possible, of course, to distinguish the soul of man two-fold: from its physical, but also from its spiritual aspects. For when God made man out of the dust of the earth, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul, he was made by this divine act at the same time both a physical, psychical, as well as a spiritual being. As such he was able to be in distinction from the animal, an image-bearer who reflected in a creaturely way the very image of God. The soul of man, therefore, is that part of man’s nature which is the seat of his life; which animates his body and mind, as well as his spiritual being. When God does something for the soul, as He did for the soul of the psalmist, He not only provides for that soul in its physical, psychical aspect, so that the psalmist may continue to live in the body on the earth; but He also provides for that soul from the point of view of its spiritual aspect. And as we said, undoubtedly it is this that the psalmist had chiefly in mind. The Lord had given to that soul the life of regeneration, had given unto that soul a new obedience, had given unto it to taste His saving grace. In one word, the Lord had given to that soul all the saving benefits of Christ Jesus. It could rejoice in the forgiveness of sins, in its justification before God, in the knowledge of His elective love and mercy, in the hope of eternal life and glow.
O, indeed, what an amazing work of God had been performed upon the soul of the psalmist!
What amazing work of grace is it which He performs upon the soul of every child of God!
That soul He sprinkles with the blood of atonement which speaketh of better things than the blood of bullocks. That soul He sanctifies by the Spirit of Christ, that it once more finds delight in the service of God, and a walk of new obedience. That soul now lives in the consciousness that it shall never die, though the physical, psychical aspect of it perishes with the body in the grave. That soul is so full of grace of God in Christ Jesus, that it cannot constrain itself,—it must speak!
I will declare what God hath done unto me!
How God-honoring is the personal expression of that soul!
That soul which has been so operated upon by the grace of God moves the tongue to speak of its personal experience. The psalmist is over-whelmed, and ecstatically he calls out, Come and hear: and I will declare what God hath done unto me! The tongue of such as with the psalmist have experienced in the soul the work of grace, cannot be silent.
In this season of accounting, what have you to say, my reader, of what the Lord has done for your soul?
What is your testimony?
You understand, of course, that when God showed unto your soul His lovingkindness, when He poured into it all the graces of Christ Jesus, He did not do all that simply to redeem you and make you to share in all the blessings of salvation. Rather, His work upon your soul was done with a view to His own glory and praise. Does not the Word of God throughout make plain that all the work of salvation which God performs must end in His praise? Indeed, it does. Isaiah expresses it well: “This people have I formed, for myself: they shall shew forth my praise.”
He who has truly been touched by the hand of God, who has tasted of His saving grace, has nothing whereof to boast in self. Fact is, it lies in the very nature of the work of God in us that it makes us very small in our own eyes. It humbles us into the dust. When it is finished, this work of God’s grace in us deprives of all our vain glory. All you can see is the work of God. At the same time that work of God’s grace in us loosens our tongue, so that it must declare only what God has done to your soul.
And do not misunderstand the psalmist. His was not an attempt to give vent to a sickly, mystical experience of which he wants to tell, an experience which came to him at a certain hour, and under peculiar circumstances, an experience which he insists you must have like him, or you cannot be saved. Nay, rather, here is a child of God who is so overwhelmed by the sovereign, saving grace of God that he cries out: “Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what that great God did for my soul.”
Come and hear!
All ye that fear God!
O, indeed, this testimony is not directed to every man, and all men. All men are not able to understand such a testimony. Wicked men, like swine, would trample such testimony in the mire. Jesus said, “Cast not your pearls before swine, lest they trample them and turn again and rend you.”
But the intended audience of this blessed testimony is all those who fear God. You know who these are, don’t you? They are they who also experienced the work of God’s grace upon their souls. They are they who, by the grace of God, have come to love and serve Him.
A most fit audience!
Which will come and hear!
And with the psalmist will take up the refrain! Not only will they say to the psalmist, yea, God has indeed been gracious to your soul; but they will say with the psalmist, Come, all ye that fear God, and we will declare together what God hath done unto us.
When we gather at the end of the year in our houses of prayer, and as this year 1972 breathes out its last moments, let us all say it together before the face of our covenant God: How great, O God, is the work of Thy grace which Thou hast performed upon our souls!
And God shall be glorified!