This is indeed the "pouring out of the soul before the Lord," a beautiful and encouraging picture of a soul wrestling with God, in a few short sentences, with as much power and success as in the most continued length of supplication. Brief as are the petitions, the whole compass of language could not make them more comprehensive. Hear me. The whole heart is engaged in the cry. Save me—includes a sinner's whole need—pardon, acceptance, access, holiness, strength, comfort, heaven, all in one word—Christ. Save me—from myself, from Satan, from the world, from the curse of sin, from the wrath of God. This is the need of every moment to the end. I cried unto You.—What a mercy to know where to go! The way of access must have been implied, though not mentioned, in these short ejaculations. Hear me—must have been in the name of the all-prevailing Advocate. Save me—through Him, whose name is, Jesus the Savior. A moment's interruption of our view of Jesus casts for the time an impenetrable cloud over our way to God, and paralyzes the spirit of prayer. Prayer is not only the sense of guilt, and the cry of mercy, but the exercise of faith. When I come to God, I would always bring with me the blood of Christ—my price—my plea in my hand. He cannot cast it out. Thus am I "a prince, that has power with God, and prevail." Here is the warrant to believe, that my God does, and will hear me. Here is my encouragement to "look up"—to be "watching at His gate"—like the cripple at the "beautiful gate of the temple, expecting to receive somewhat of Him." Not a word of such prayer is lost. It is as seed—not cast into the earth, exposed to hazard and loss—but cast into the bosom of God—and here—as in the natural harvest, "he which sows bountifully, shall reap also bountifully." The most frequent comers are the largest receivers—always wanting—always asking—living upon what they have, but still hungering for more.
With many, however, the ceremony of prayer is everything, without any thought, desire, anxiety, or waiting for an answer. These slight dealings prove low thoughts of God, and deep and guilty insensibility;—that the sense of pressing need is not sharp enough to put an edge upon the affections. But are none of God's dear children, too, who in days past never missed the presence of God, but they "sought it carefully with tears"—now too easily satisfied with the act of prayer, without this "great object of it—the enjoyment of God?" Perhaps you lament your deficiencies, your weakness in the hour of temptation, your indulgence of ease, your unfaithfulness of heart. But is your cry continually ascending with your whole heart? Your soul would not be so empty of comfort, if your mouth were not so empty of prayer. The Lord never charges presumption upon the frequency or extent of your supplications; but He is often ready to "upbraid you with your unbelief," that you are so reluctant in your approach, and so straitened in your desires—that you are so unready to receive what He is so ready to give—that your vessels are too narrow to take in His full blessing—that you are content with drops, when He has promised "floods,"—yes "rivers of living water,"—and above all, that you are so negligent in praising Him for what you have already received.
We must not lightly give up our suit. We must not be content with keeping up the duty, without keeping up "continued instancy in prayer" in our duty. This alone preserves in temptation. Satan strikes at all of God in the soul. Unbelief readily yields to his suggestions. This is the element in which we live—the warfare of every moment. Will then the customary devotion of morning and evening (even supposing it to be sincere) suffice for such an emergency? No. The Christian must "put on the whole armor of God;" and buckle on His panoply with unceasing "prayer and watchfulness in the Spirit." If his heart be dead and cold, let him rather cry and wait as Luther was used to do, until it be warm and enlivened. The hypocrite, indeed, would be satisfied with the barren performance of the duty. But the child of God, while he mourns in the dust, "Behold I am vile!"—still holds on, though sometimes with a cry, that probably finds no utterance with his lips, that vents itself only with tears, or "groanings that cannot be uttered." And shall such a cry fail to enter into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth? The Lord has heard the voice of my weeping. Lord, all my desire is before You; and my groaning is not hid from You.
But why is the believer so earnest for an audience?—why so restless in his cries for salvation? Is it not, that he loves the statutes of his God; that he is grieved on account of his inability to keep them; and that he longs for mercy, as the spring of his obedience? Hear me; I will keep Your statutes. Save me: and I shall keep Your testimonies—a most satisfactory evidence of an upright heart. Sin can have no fellowship with the statutes. As saved sinners, they are our delight.
Lord! You know how our hearts draw back from the spiritual work of prayer: and how we nourish our unbelief by our distance from You. Oh, "pour upon us this Spirit of grace and supplication." "Teach us to pray"—even our hearts—our whole hearts—to cry unto You. Give us the privilege of real communion with You—the only satisfying joy of earth or heaven. Then shall we "run the way of Your commandments, when You shall enlarge our hearts."
"I cried unto you." Again he mentions that his prayer was unto God alone. The sentence imports that he prayed vehemently, and very often; and that it had become one of the greatest facts of his life that he cried unto God.
"Save me." This was his prayer; very short, but very full. He needed saving; none but the Lord could save him; to the Lord he cried. "Save me," from the dangers which surround me, from the enemies that pursue me, from the temptations which beset me, from the sins which accuse me.
He did not multiply words, but only cried "Save me." Men are never wordy when they are in downright earnest He did not multiply objects, but asked only for salvation. Men are seldom discursive when they are intent upon the one thing needful.
"And I shall keep your testimonies." This was his great object in desiring salvation, that he might be able to continue in a blameless life of obedience to God, that he might be able to believe the witness of God, and also to become himself a witness for God. It is a great thing when men seek salvation for so high an end. He did not ask to be delivered that he might sin with impunity; his cry was to be delivered from sin itself. He had vowed to keep the statutes or laws of God; here he resolves to keep the testimonies or doctrines of God, and so to be sound of head as well as clean of hand. Salvation brings all these good things in its train. David had no idea of a salvation which would allow him to live in sin, or abide in error: he knew right well that there is no saving a man while he abides in disobedience and ignorance.