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Therefore he said, “ Thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth, thou hast considered my trou. ble, thou hast known my soul in adversity, and hast not shut me up into the hand of the enemy."
At the time that David wrote this Psalm, he was in present trouble, and the prospects before him were gloomy. This, probably, was the occasion of his writing it, and of his breaking out at the beginning of it, in earnest petitions for divine interposition in his behalf. And that he might encourage himself in God, amidst the dangers which threatened him, he took the review, just mentioned, of his past experience of divine favor. What these dangers were, we are not particularly informed; but it appears from the context, that his enemies were bent on his destruction—that they had laid a net privily for him —that they had taken counsel together against him, and devised mischief-that they had slandered him, and that with lying lips they had spoken grievous things proudly and contemptuously against him, and against the saints, who were his friends. But in view of these things, and uncertain with respect to their issue, he consoled himself, by the consideration, that his bitterest foes could do nothing against him, with out the divine permission that if it was for the best interests of his kingdom and glory, God would protect him from them, and deliver him from his fears, as he had cften done alreally ; but if not, still he desired to be in his hand. This he expressed when he fled before Absalom, who had insidiously alienated the hearts of his people from him, and usurped the government, saying to Zadock, “ Carry back the ark of God into the city : if I shall find favor in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me again, and shew me both it, and his habitation. But if he say thus, I have no delight in thee, behold, here am I, let him do to me as seemeth good unto him.” This is the temper expressed in the text. In view of all the dangers which he saw before him, the uncertainty of
bis life, or of the condition and circumstances in which he might be placed, he could say with submission and satisfaction, “ My times are in thy hand.”
How happy, my brethren, should we be, if we could truly adopt his language ! How happy, if at this time, in review of past experience, and while uncertain of the things which may be before us, we could say, with an humble trust in God, and cordial sub. mission, « Our times are in thy hand.”
In discoursing upon this subject, I shall,
I. Make a few observations on the word times, as used in the text. And then proceed to show,
II. That our times are all in God's hand: And,
III. That it is our duty, and would be our happi. ness, to live always under the due influence of the consideration, that our times are all in God's hand.
I. I am to make a few observations on the word times, as used in our text.
This word, as here used by the Psalmist, had res ference, not merely to the duration of his mortal life, (though this was included,) but to all the events and circumstances of it. You will find, by observation, that the word time is often used in the scriptures for things done, or circumstances taking place in time. We have an instance of this, 1Chron. xxix. 30.“ With all his reign [David's] and his might, and the times which went over him, and over Israel, and over all the kingdoms of the countries." These, it is said in the preceding verse, were written in the book of Sama uel the seer, and in the book of Nathan the prophet, and in the book of Gad the seer. But by the times that went over David, which were written in those books, are evidently meant the events of the times, or the changes which befel them, his persecutions, and manifold troubles, and his great successes and
achievements. The word days is also used in a similar manner, Psalm xxxvii. 18. «The Lord knowcth the days of the upright. i, e. (says Mr. Pooie, in his annotation on the passage) their condition, and all things which do or may befal them, their dangers and fears, and sufferings from ungodly men ; and therefore will watch over, and preserve them : days, or years, or times, being often put for things done, or events happening in them.”
That in the text the Psalmist had not reference merely to the time of his death, is evident from his using the word in the plural : “My times are in thy hand.” He knew not what times
what events were before him ; but he rejoiced that they were all in the hand of God. He used the term without limitation. By our times therefore is to be understood, not only the time of our death, but our times of sickness, of health, of usefulness, of sorrow, or of comfort, and of all kinds of prosperity, or adversity. I proceed to show,
II. That our times are all in God's hand-that, in this extensive sense, our times are all at his disposal, and take place according to his direction.
1. Our times are certainly not in our own hands, or at our own disposal. Who, by taking thought, can add one cubit to his stature, or one moment to his life, when called by the messenger of death ? “ There is no man that hath power over the spirit, to retain the spirit ; neither hath he power in the day of death : and there is no discharge in that war.” We cannot command life, health, riches, honors, pleasures, promotion, or any of the things and circumstances of our lives. Nor do men succeed in seeking temporal enjoyments, in proportion to their wisdom, strength, and skill. In respect to these things, “ The race is not to the swist, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of un
derstanding, nor yet favor to men of skill.” Men may boast themselves of their health, their skill, their treasures, and various prosperity ; but a few years and perhaps a few days or hours, may show that their times are not in their own hands, and that all such boastings are vain.
2. It is equally certain, that our times are not in the hands of our enemies. This was the consolation of the Psalmist, and may be our consolation. They have no power by which they can injure us, independently of the special permission of God. Their exertions to do this may be, and often are, turned to our advantage : “ The wise are taken in their own craftiness.”
Nor yet are our times, in any respect, in the hands of chance. Many speak of chance, luck, or fortune, as if it were a kind of cheity, which regulates our times, and dispenses good or evil, as the heathens accounted it a goddess. But there is no such thing as chance, any more in respect to these things, than in creating the world. All our times are in God's hand, whether prosperity or adversity, life or death-all are disposed and directed by him. This is taught by our own reason ; for if there be a God, his providence must extend to all things.
This truth is also plainly supported, by the holy scriptures. It is taught, not only in our text, but also in the declaration of the apostle : “ In him we live and move and have our being ;” and especially in the words of Christ, speaking to his ciisciples, on this very subject : “ Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings ? and not one of them is forgotten before God; but even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” It is added, “Ye are of more value than many sparrows." The argument is from the less to the greater. If God notices the circumstances of sparrows, much more wil he notice ours. If their
times are alỊ in his hands, doubtless ours are also It remains to show,
III. That it is our duty, and would be our happia ness, to live always under the due influence of the consideration, that our times are all in God's hand.
Here it may be proper to consider, what the genua ine influence of this truth would be on our lives, op what is the course of conduct which it requires.
1. Since our times are in God's hand, not only with respect to all the circumstances of our lives, but the period of them ; and since they are not at: all in our own hands, or at our own control, we ought to live as dying creatures to improve present time, doing with our might, whatsoever our hand findeth to do, not boasting of to morrow, or presuming on: any future time.
There are various ways, in which men may practically boast of future time, and thus virtually deny that their times are in God's hand, by not living under the due infuerce of the truth contained in our text.
This is done by all, who indulge themselves in the practice of any sin, of which they intend hereafter to repent. And this is perhaps the case with most persons, who live in any known sins. Those who practise dishonesty, falsehood, oppression, revenge, prophane swearing, and blasphemy, and similar gross vices, know that they have no excuse, and that without repentance, they must perish. Their continuing in them, therefore, is virtually saying, that they have future time at their control.
The saine may be said of those, who neglect any known duty, deferring it for some future opportunity. Parents do this, when they neglect the duties, which they owe their children. It is highly incumbent on them, daily to pray with their children, and for them
to instruct them by precept and example, and to inculcate upon them the great things, which belong