Category Archives: Poetry

The Pulley (George Herbert)

George Herbert

When God at first made man,
Having a glass of blessings standing by,
“Let us,” said he, “pour on him all we can.
Let the world’s riches, which dispersèd lie,
   Contract into a span.”
____
   So strength first made a way;
Then beauty flowed, then wisdom, honour, pleasure.
When almost all was out, God made a stay,
Perceiving that, alone of all his treasure,
   Rest in the bottom lay.
____
   “For if I should,” said he,
“Bestow this jewel also on my creature,
He would adore my gifts instead of me,
And rest in Nature, not the God of Nature;
   So both should losers be.
____
   “Yet let him keep the rest,
But keep them with repining restlessness;
Let him be rich and weary, that at least,
If goodness lead him not, yet weariness
   May toss him to my breast.”
____
George Herbert (1593-1633), “The Pulley”
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Filed under Classics, Creation, God, Poetry, Preaching

The Psalms: An Anatomy of All the Parts of the Soul

I have been accustomed to call this book (Psalms), I think not inappropriately, “An Anatomy of all the Parts of the Soul;” for there is not an emotion of which any one can be conscious that is not here represented as in a mirror.  Or rather, the Holy Spirit has here drawn to the life all the griefs, sorrows, fears, doubts, hopes, cares, perplexities, in short, all the distracting emotions with which the minds of men are wont to be agitated.  The other parts of Scripture contain the commandments which God enjoined his servants to announce to us.  But here the prophets themselves, seeing they are exhibited to us as speaking to God, and laying open all their inmost thoughts and affections, call, or rather draw, each of us to the examination of himself in particular, in order that none of the many infirmities to which we abound, may remain concealed.  It is certainly a rare and singular advantage, when all lurking places are discovered, and the heart is brought into the light, purged from that most baneful infection, hypocrisy.  In short, as calling upon God is one of the principal means of securing our safety, and as a better and more unerring rule for guiding us in this exercise cannot be found elsewhere than in the Psalms, it follows, that in proportion to the proficiency which a man shall have attained in understanding them, will be his knowledge of the most important part of celestial doctrine.  Genuine and earnest prayer proceeds first from a sense of need, and next, from faith in the promises of God.  it is by perusing these inspired compositions, that men will be most effectually awakened to a sense of their maladies, and, at the same time, instructed in seeking remedies for their cure.  In a word, whatever may serve to encourage us when we are about to pray to God, is taught us in this book.  And not only are the promises of God presented to us in it, but oftentimes there is exhibited to us one standing, as it were, amidst the invitations of God on the one hand, and the impediments of the flesh on the other, girding and preparing himself for prayer: thus teaching us, if at any time we are agitated with a variety of doubts, to resist and fight against them, until the soul, freed and disentangled from all these impediments, rise up to God; and not only so, but even when in the midst of doubts, fears, and apprehensions, let us put forth our efforts in prayer, until we experience some consolation which may calm and bring contentment to our minds.  Although distrust may shut the gate against our prayers, yet we must not allow ourselves to give way, whenever our hearts waver or are agitated with inquietude, but must persevere until faith finally come forth victorious from these conflicts. In many places we may perceive the exercise of the servants of God in prayer so fluctuating, that they are almost overwhelmed by the alternate hope of success and apprehension of failure, and gain the prize only by strenuous exertions. We see on the one hand, the flesh manifesting its infirmity; and on the other, faith putting forth its power; and if it is not so valiant and courageous as might be desired, it is at least prepared to fight until by degrees it acquire perfect strength. But as those things which serve to teach us the true method of praying aright will be found scattered through the whole of this Commentary, I will not now stop to treat of topics which it will be necessary afterwards to repeat, nor detain my readers from proceeding to the work itself. Only it appeared to me to be requisite to show in passing, that this book makes known to us this privilege, which is desirable above all others — that not only is there opened up to us familiar access to God, but also that we have permission and freedom granted us to lay open before him our infirmities which we would be ashamed to confess before men.

John Calvin (1509-64), The Author’s Preface, Joshua. Psalms 1-35, xxxvi-xxxvii

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Filed under Anthropology, Applied Theology, Christian Living, Church History, Classics, Commentary, God, Literature, Poetry, Prayer, Psalms, Reformers, Sermon Prep, The Word of God, Theology, Worship

Friend of Sinners Forsaken to Save

Psalm 22

To the choirmaster: according to The Doe of the Dawn. A Psalm of David.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest.

Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our fathers trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried and were rescued;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
“He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him;
let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”

Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.
On you was I cast from my birth,
and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
Be not far from me,
for trouble is near,
and there is none to help.

Many bulls encompass me;
strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
they open wide their mouths at me,
like a ravening and roaring lion.

I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
it is melted within my breast;
my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.

For dogs encompass me;
a company of evildoers encircles me;
they have pierced my hands and feet—
I can count all my bones—
they stare and gloat over me;
they divide my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.

But you, O LORD, do not be far off!
O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
Deliver my soul from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dog!
Save me from the mouth of the lion!
You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!

I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
You who fear the LORD, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
For he has not despised or abhorred
the affliction of the afflicted,
and he has not hidden his face from him,
but has heard, when he cried to him.

From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the LORD!
May your hearts live forever!

All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the LORD,
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before you.
For kingship belongs to the LORD,
and he rules over the nations.

All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
even the one who could not keep himself alive.
Posterity shall serve him;
it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn,
that he has done it.

See also Matthew 27.

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Filed under Atonement, Bible, Christology, Cross, Glory, God, Gospel, Grace, Love, Poetry, Psalms, Sin, Suffering, Theology

Oh God, You are Good

Oh God,

You wound that you may heal.

You empty that you may fill.

You divide that you may unite.

You bring darkness that you may be light.

You tear down that you may build.

You humble that I may yield.

You take that you may give.

You kill that I may live.

You strike that I may be

Holy, likened unto Thee.

Gracious Father, let me see,

Through the pain, lies Your glory.

For Your Son, He went this way

Bearing sin that He might pay.

Every bit of wrath did He endure

For my soul, He did secure,

Life, oh life with Him at last,

When all sin and pain are past.

For this day I wait and fight,

‘Til Your glory be my sight.

Holy Spirit, help me here,

To cling to Christ and hold Him dear,

That I in faith may have to bring,

A life, my humble offering,

To lay before the throne

Of Christ, to be all glory alone.

You are good.

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C.T. Studd on YOLO

Two little lines I heard one day, Traveling along life’s busy way; 
Bringing conviction to my heart, And from my mind would not depart; 
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one, Soon will its fleeting hours be done; 
Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet, And stand before His Judgment seat; 
Only one life,’ twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, the still small voice, Gently pleads for a better choice 
Bidding me selfish aims to leave, And to God’s holy will to cleave; 
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, a few brief years, Each with its burdens, hopes, and fears; 
Each with its days I must fulfill, living for self or in His will; 
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

When this bright world would tempt me sore, When satan would a victory score; 
When self would seek to have its way, Then help me Lord with joy to say; 
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Give me Father, a purpose deep, In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep; 
Faithful and true what e’er the strife, Pleasing Thee in my daily life; 
Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Oh let my love with fervor burn, And from the world now let me turn; 
Living for Thee, and Thee alone, Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne; 
Only one life, “twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one, Now let me say, “Thy will be done”; 
And when at last I’ll hear the call, I know I’ll say ’twas worth it all”; 
Only one life,’ twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.

C.T. Studd (1860-1931)

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Filed under Anthropology, Applied Theology, Big Picture, Christian Living, Christian Thinking, Christology, God, Gospel, Missions, Poetry, Sanctification, Soteriology, Theology, Worldview

The Guilty’s Plea

At the word of guilty said;

Fallen down twas my head.

Forgotten He, who for me died;

The Son of God, Christ crucified.

The Serpent’s tongue spews poison out,

To wreck my faith and bring me doubt.

But Sovereign Love shall not fail,

For He who died was raised as well.

Now in Him I find my plea

From guilt and shame, He set me free.

No condemnation nor wrath to face;

No nothing can pluck me from His grace.

Romans 8:33-39 (ESV) – “33Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?  36As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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Salvation Song

Groping, bound in darkness we

Arriving in the world.

A son of death, and cursed is me,

Deep in sin I hurled.

Gone astray, apart from Thee,

Fulfilling each desire.

Known by God, a sinner be,

As a thief, a murderer, and a liar.

Sick with sin, til death are we;

Unable to overcome.

Helpless, hopeless, too blind to see

Our need, our heart, His love.

Justice, wrath, and death the fee

For all that I have done.

Mercy, grace undeserved from Thee,

But in Christ the victory won.

Bursting forth in glorious day,

Mine eyes began to perceive.

The Spirit working through the Word

Brought new life to me.

My heart was changed, by His blood;

Hung on the cross was He.

Christ paid my debt, which sin incurred,

By death He set me free.

In my place, condemned He stood;

Substitution is the key.

Transformed by grace, being sanctified,

Now from sin I flee.

The future holds an inheritance

To wondrous to foresee.

Salvation is of the Lord alone,

Forever will be my plea.

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Filed under Conversion, Poetry, Regeneration, Soteriology, Sovereign Grace, Theology