What is faith? It is hope upon God's word. The warrant of faith is therefore the word. The object of faith is He who causes us to hope. He has not forgotten—He cannot forget, His word. But He permits—no, commands His servants to remind Him of it in order to exercise their faith, diligence, and patience. Often, indeed, "hope deferred makes the heart sick." But it is not needless delay—not ignorance of the fittest time—not forgetfulness—not changeableness—not weakness. Meanwhile, however, constantly plead the promise—Remember the word unto Your servant. This is the proper use of the promises, as "arguments with which to fill our mouths, when we order our cause before God." When thus pleaded with the earnestness and humility of faith, they will be found to be the blessed realities of unchanging love.
Now—have not circumstances of Providence, or the distinct application of the Spirit, made some words of God especially precious to your soul? Such words are thus made your own, to be laid up against some future time of trial, when you may "put your God in remembrance" of them. Apply this exercise of faith to such a word as this, "Him who comes to Me, I will in no wise cast out." Then plead your interest in it as a coming sinner, "Lord, I hope in this Your word." "You have caused me to hope" in it. "Remember this word unto Your servant." Thus is prayer grounded upon the promise, which it forms into a prevailing argument, and sends back to heaven; nothing doubting, but that it will be verified in God's best time and way.
Take another case; God has engaged Himself to be the God of the seed of believers. His sacramental ordinance is the seal of this promise. The believer brings his child to this ordinance, as the exercise of his faith upon the faithfulness of God. Let him daily put his finger upon this promise, Remember the word unto Your servant, upon which You have caused me to hope. This is, as Augustine said of his mother, 'bringing before God His own handwriting.' Will He not remember His word? Faith may be tried, perhaps long tried. "But He abides faithful. He cannot deny Himself." Faith trusts—not what the eye sees, but what the word promises.
Again—Have we ever found God's word hoped on, a covering and strength against besetting sin? This will surely be an encouragement to cry under the same temptation—Remember Your word. "He who has delivered, does deliver, and will even to the end deliver." He "has done great things for us." And is not this an earnest of continued mercy? "Because You have been my help, therefore under the shadow of Your wings will I rejoice." Thus may we confidently receive a promise as the distinct message to our soul, when we are conscious of a readiness to receive the whole word as the rule of our life. And does it not set an edge upon prayer, to eye a promising God, and to consider His promises—not as hanging in the air, without any definite direction or meaning, but as individually spoken and belonging to myself as a child and servant of God? This is the experience and comfort of the life of faith. This unfolds the true secret of living to God; ending at last with the honorable death-bed testimony, "Behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth: and you know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing has failed of all the good things, which the Lord your God spoke concerning you; all have come to pass to you; and not one thing has failed thereof."
"Remember the word unto your servant." He asks for no new promise, but to have the old word fulfilled He is grateful that he has received so good a word he embraces it with all his heart, and now entreats the Lord to deal with him according to it. He does not say, "remember my service to you," but "your word to me." The words of masters to servants are not always such that servants wish their lords to remember them; for they usually observe the faults and failings of the work done, so far as it does not tally with the word of command. But we who serve the best of masters are not anxious to have one of his words fall to the ground, since the Lord will so kindly remember his word of command as to give us grace with which we may obey, and he will couple with it a remembrance of his word of promise, so that our hearts shall be comforted. If God's word to us as his servants is so precious, what shall we say of his word to us as his sons?
The Psalmist does not fear a failure in the Lord's memory, but he makes use of the promise as a plea, and this is the form in which he speaks, after the manner of men when they plead with one another. When the Lord remembers the sins of his servant; and brings them before his conscience, the penitent cries, Lord, remember your word of pardon, and therefore remember my sins and iniquities no more. There is a world of meaning in that word "remember" as it is addressed to God; it is used in Scripture in the tenderest sense, and suits the sorrowing and the depressed. The Psalmist cried, "Lord, remember David, and all his afflictions": Job also prayed that the Lord would appoint him a set time, and remember him. In the present instance the prayer is as personal as the "Remember me" of the thief, for its essence lies in the words—"unto your servant." It would be all in vain for us if the promise were remembered to all others if it did not come true to ourselves; but there is no fear of failure; for the Lord has never forgotten a single promise to a single believer.
"Upon which you have caused me to hope." The argument is that God, having given grace to hope in the promise, will never disappoint that hope. He cannot have caused us to hope without reason. If we hope upon his word we have a sure basis to build upon: our gracious Lord will never mock us by exciting false hopes. Hope deferred makes the heart sick; hence the petition for immediate remembrance of the cheering word. Moreover, it is the hope of a servant, and it is not possible that a great and good master would disappoint his dependent. If such a master's word were not kept, it could only be through an oversight; hence the anxious cry, "Remember." Our great Master will not forget his own servants, nor disappoint the expectation which he himself has raised: because we are the Lord's, and endeavor to remember his word by obeying it, we may be sure that he will think upon his own servants, and remember his own promise by making it good.
This verse is the prayer of love fearing to be forgotten, of humility conscious of insignificance and anxious not to be overlooked, of penitence trembling lest the evil of its sin should overshadow the promise, of eager desire longing for the blessing, and of holy confidence which feels that all that is wanted is comprehended in the word. Let but the Lord remember his promise, and the promised act is as good as done.