Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Advice from Spurgeon on Testifying (from Psalm 34)

In his excellent volumes entitled A Treasury of David, the great Charles Haddon Spurgeon treats us to a thorough commentary on the Psalms. I am presently reading his work on Psalm 34, which is alluded to several times in 1 Peter, and quoted at length in 1 Peter 3:10-12 (cf. Psalm 34:12-16). This Psalm bears the inscription, "A Psalm of David when he feigned madness before Abimelech, who drove him away and he departed." This is a reference to 1 Samuel 21:10-15. In that passage, the king mentioned is Achish, king of Gath. This presents no problem for bible scholars, as Mitchell Dahood points out, "it is quite possible that Abimelech was the Semitic name of the king of Gath." In that account from 1 Samuel 21, David pretended to be insane before the king of Gath, prompting one of the most humorous responses recorded in Scripture. The king said to his servants, "Why do you bring him to me? Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this one to act the madman in my presence?"

In treating the background of Psalm 34, Spurgeon writes:
Although the gratitude of the Psalmist prompted him thankfully to record the goodness of the Lord in vouchsafing an undeserved deliverance, yet he weaves none of the incidents of the escape into the narrative, but dwells only upon the grand fact of his being heard in the hour of peril. We may learn from his example not to parade our sins before others, as certain vainglorious professors are wont to do who seem as proud of their sins as old Greenwich pensioners of their battles and their wounds. David played the fool with singular dexterity, but he was not so real a fool as to sing of his own exploits of folly.

Perhaps you have heard testimonies, as I have, wherein a person goes into great detail about their past sins, wearing them almost as a badge of honor in the Assembly. Spurgeon's insights here are instructive. It is not necessary to rehearse all the details of our sinful folly. After all, we were all sinking in the miry clay of sin; it does not enhance the greatness of our salvation to rehearse the texture and color of the mud. It takes just as much of the blood of Jesus to save the best and the worst of us. Rather than making much of the details of our sinful past, we should rather make much of the glorious grace of Jesus Christ in saving us, and emphasize His work of transformation in the present day in our lives, and the marvelous inheritance we now share in Him.

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