Friday, June 6, 2008

Steele In Our Spines: The Upright Man

The meditations under this listing [Steele In Our Spines] are from Richard Steele's The Properties And Privileges Of An Upright Man, first published in 1670.

Considering the context of Psalm 18:25, Steele wrote, It is as if each of you who have grown into years should write a review of your lives and observe the wonderful goodness and providence of God toward you; and then sit down and write a modest memorial of his most remarkable mercies to comfort yourselves and your posterity, which would be an excellent practice.

What a comfort it would be for you to read how good your God was to your father or grandfather, who are now dead and gone! So would your children rejoice in the Lord upon reading of his goodness to you. And you cannot have a better pattern for this than holy David, who wrote this Psalm when he was sixty-seven years old. When he had outlived most of his troubles and was almost ready for his journey to his father in heaven, he resolved to leave this good report of him on earth.

Mark how he began: he does not set up trophies to himself, but triumphs in his God. "I will love thee, o Lord, my strength." As the love of God is the beginning of all our mercies, so love for God should be the end and effect of them all. As the stream leads us to the spring, so all the gifts of God must lead us to the giver of them.

"Lord thou hast saved me from sickness, so I will love thee; from death and hell, so I will love thee. On me thou hast bestowed grace and comfort, so I will love thee, O Lord my strength." And later he heaped on God all the sweet names he could devise (verse 2). A true saint thinks he can never speak too well of God or too ill of himself. And then he begins his narrative.

  • Of his dangers (vv. 4-5): snares of death, floods of ungodly men, and sorrows of hell. Hell and earth are combined against each holy man, and will trouble him sufficiently in this world if they cannot keep him out of a better one.
  • Of his retreat, and his earnest prayer to God (v. 6): "I called upon the Lord, and cried unto my God." When our prayers are ardent and importunate, then they speed. "My cry came before him, even unto his ears." The mother trifles while the child whimpers, but when he raises his note, strains every nerve, and tries every vein, then she throws aside all and gives him his desire. While our prayers are only whispers, our God can take his rest; but when we fall to crying, "Now will I arise," says the Lord.
  • Of his rescue (vv. 7-20): by the powerful and terrible arm of the Lord, who is in a lofty strain, brought in to his servants help, as if he would mingle heaven and earth together rather than leave his child in the lion's paws.
  • Of the reason for this gracious dealing of God with him (vv 20ff.): he was a righteous person, and he had a righteous cause. And thereupon he turned to God, saying, "thou hast dealt with me just as thou art wont to do; for with the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful; and with the upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright."


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