“_In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried unto my God_.” Prayer is that postern gate which is left open even when the city is straitly besieged by the enemy; it is that way upward from the pit of despair to which the spiritual miner flies at once when the floods from beneath break forth upon him. Observe that he _calls_, and then _cries_; prayer grows in vehemence as it proceeds. Note also that he first invokes his God under the name of Jehovah, and then advances to a more familiar name, “_my God_;” thus faith increases by exercise, and he whom we at first viewed as Lord is soon seen to be our God in covenant. It is never an ill time to pray; no distress should prevent us from using the divine remedy of supplication. Above the noise of the raging billows of death, or the barking dogs of hell, the feeblest cry of a true believer will be heard in heaven. “_He heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears_.” Far up within the bejewelled walls, and through the gates of pearl, the cry of the suffering suppliant was heard. Music of angels and harmony of seraphs availed not to drown or even to impair the voice of that humble call. The king heard it in his palace of light unsufferable, and lent a willing ear to the cry of his own beloved child. O honoured prayer, to be able thus through Jesus’ blood to penetrate the very ears and heart of Deity. The voice and the cry are themselves heard directly by the Lord, and not made to pass through the medium of saints and intercessors; “My cry came before Him;” the operation of prayer with God is immediate and personal. We may cry with confident and familiar importunity, while our Father himself listens.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.
Verse 6.–“_In my distress_.” If you listen even to David’s harp, you shall hear as many hearse-like airs as carols; and the pencil of the Holy Spirit hath laboured more in describing the afflictions of Job than the felicities of Solomon. Prosperity is not without many fears and distastes; and adversity is not without comforts and hopes. We see, in needleworks and embroideries, it is more pleasing to have a lively work upon a sad and solemn ground, than to have a dark and melancholy work upon a lightsome ground; judge, therefore, of the pleasures of the heart by the pleasures of the eye. Certainly virtue is like precious odours–most fragrant when they are crushed; for prosperity doth best discover vice, but adversity doth best discover virtue.–^Francis Bacon, Baron of Verulam, etc., 1561-1626.
Verse 6.–“_I called upon the Lord and cried_.” Prayer is not eloquence but earnestness; not the definition of helplessness, but the feeling of it; it is the cry of faith to the ear of mercy.–^Hannah Moore, 1745–1833.
Verse 6.–“_He heard my voice out of his temple_,” etc. The AEdiles or chamberlains among the Romans, had ever their doors standing open for all who had occasion of request or complaint to have free access to them. “God’s mercy-doors are wide open to the prayers of his faithful people.” The Persian kings held it a piece of their silly glory to deny an easy access to their greatest subjects. It was death to solicit them uncalled. Esther herself was afraid. But the king of heaven manifesteth himself to his people, he calls to his spouse, with, “Let me see thy face, let me hear thy voice,” etc., and assigneth her negligence herein as the cause of her soul-sickness. The door of the tabernacle was not of any hard or debarring matter, but a veil, which is easily penetrable. And whereas in the temple none came near to worship, but only the high priest, others stood without in the outer court. God’s people are now a kingdom of priests, and are said to worship in the temple, and at the altar. #Re 11:1|. “Let us therefore draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith:” “let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” #Heb 10:22; 4:16|.–^Charles Bradbury’s “Cabinet of Jewels,” 1785.
Verse 6.–Oh! how true is that saying, that “Faith is safe when in danger, and in danger when secure; and prayer is fervent in straits, but in joyful and prosperous circumstances, if not quite cold and dead, at least lukewarm.” Oh, happy straits, if they hinder the mind from flowing forth upon earthly objects, and mingling itself with the mire; if they favour our correspondence with heaven, and quicken our love to celestial objects, without which, what we call life, may more properly deserve the name of death!–_Robert Leighton_, D.D.
Verses 6,7.–The prayer of a single saint is sometimes followed with wonderful effects; “_In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears. Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth_:” what then can a thundering legion of such praying souls do? It was said of Luther, _iste vir potuit cum Deo quicquid voluit_, That man could have of God what he would; his enemies felt the weight of his prayers; and the church of God reaped the benefits thereof. The Queen of Scots professed she was more afraid of the prayers of Mr. Knox, than of an army of ten thousand men. These were mighty wrestlers with God, howsoever contemned and vilified among their enemies. There will a time come when God will hear the prayers of his people who are continually crying in his ears, “How long, Lord, how long?”–^John Flavel.
HINTS TO PREACHERS.
Verse 6.–The time, the manner, the hearing, and the answering of prayer.