Verse 13. O spare me. Put by thy rod. Turn away thine angry face. Give me breathing time. Do not kill me. That I may recover strength. Let me have sufficient cessation from pain, to be able to take repose and nourishment, and so recruit my wasted frame. He expects to die soon, but begs a little respite from sorrow, so as to be able to rally and once more enjoy life before its close. Before I go hence, and be no more. So far as this world is concerned, death is a being no more; such a state awaits us, we are hurrying onward towards it. May the short interval which divides us from it be gilded with the sunlight of our heavenly Father's love. It is sad to be an invalid from the cradle to the grave, far worse to be under the Lord's chastisements by the month together, but what are these compared with the endurance of the endless punishment threatened to those who die in their sins!
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 13. O spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go hence, and be no more. Man in his corrupt state is like Nebuchadnezzar, he hath a beast's heart, that craves no more than the satisfaction of his sensual appetite; but when renewed by grace, then his understanding returns to him, by which he is enabled in praying for temporals to elevate his desires to a nobler end. Doth David pray that some farther time may be added to his temporal life? It is not out of a fond love for this world, but to prepare himself the better for another. Is he comforted with hopes of a longer stay here? It is not this world's carnal pleasures that kindle this joy in his holy breast, but the advantage that thereby he shall have for praising God in the land of the living ... O spare me, that I may recover strength. David was not yet recovered out of that sin which had brought him exceeding low as you may perceive, Psalms 39:10-11. And the good man cannot think of dying with any willingness till his heart be in a holier frame: and for the peace of the gospel, serenity of conscience, and inward joy; alas! all unholiness is to it as poison is to the spirits which drink them up. William Gurnall.
Verse 13. O spare me, etc. Attachment to life, the feeling cherished by the psalmist, when he thus appealed to the Sovereign of the universe, varies in its character with the occasions and the sentiments by which it is elicited and confirmed. Take one view of it, and you pronounce it criminal; take another, and you pronounce it innocent; take a third, and you pronounce it laudable.
Life may inspire an innocent attachment, awakening our sympathy ... Life is a scene in which we often descry a verdant and luxuriant spot, teeming with health, and ease, and harmony, and joy. We have beheld the husbands and the wives whose interwoven regards have, from year to year, alleviated all their afflictions, and heightened all their privileges. We have beheld the parents and the children whose fellowship has yielded them, through the shifting seasons, a daily feast. There are indulgent masters, and faithful servants; some neighbourhoods are undisturbed; some Christian societies are exquisitely attractive; here and there we have intercourse with those individuals in whom are seen the beauties of high character irradiated by the beans of general prosperity. You would pronounce no censure on a man thus happily connected, were he, when beginning to languish, as one "going the way of all the earth, to cry," O spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go hence, and be no more.
The last view which it has been proposed to take of human life, shows that it may inspire a laudable attachment, at once challenging our approbation, and urging us to bring our minds under its influence. The language before us admits of being illustrated as the prayer of a penitent, a saint, and a philanthropist.
Commend him who pleads for life as a penitent. Was it recently that the Holy Spirit first wounded him with the arrows of conviction? Perhaps, he doubts the source, the quality, and the result, of his powerful feelings. He knows that we may be solemnly impressed, without being converted. There are many considerations which entitle to favourable opinion those who, not having arrived at a view of their moral state, at once evident and encouraging, wish earnestly to live till grace shall have carried them from victory to victory, and enabled them "to make" their "calling and election sure." Even they may fall from their steadfastness; and these words, "O spare me, that I may recover strength," may proceed from the lips of a backslider, once more blushing, trembling, and petitioning to be restored.
Commend him, in the next place, who pleads for life, as a saint. ... The distinguishing office of pleading, acting, and suffering, for the advancement of the divine honour among the profane, the sensual, the formal, and the worldly is delegated, exclusively, to "the saints which are upon the earth." Yet, surely he whose attachment to life is strongly enhanced by a commission which dooms him to the contradiction of sinners, and defers "the fulness of joy," a saint so magnanimous and devoted, puts forth the expressions of a piety which the very angels are compelled to revere.
Commend him, finally, who pleads for life as a philanthropist. I refer to the generous patron, a man intent on doing good. I would also refer to a fond parent. I would now refer to "a preacher of righteousness," "a good minister of Jesus Christ."
- Life may inspire a criminal attachment, warranting our censure. The most obvious and aggravated case is that in which the attachment has its foundations in the opportunities which life affords, of procuring "the wages of unrighteousness," and "the pleasures of sin."
Outline of a Sermon entitled "Attachment to Life," preached by Joseph Hughes, M.A., as a Funeral Sermon for Rev. John Owen, M.A., 1822.
Verse 13. May not the very elect and faithful themselves fear the day of judgment, and be far from fetching comfort at it? I answer, he may. First, at his first conversion and soon after, before he have gotten a full persuasion of the remission of his sins. And again, in some spiritual desertion, when the Lord seems to leave a man to himself, as he did David and others, he may fear to think of the same. And lastly, when he hath fallen into some great sin after he is a strong man in Christ, he may fear death and judgment, and be constrained to pray with Job and David, O spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go hence, and be no more. John Barlow's Sermon, 1618.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
- The subject of his petition -- not that he may escape death and live always in this life, because he knows that he must go hence; but
- That he may be recovered from his afflictions; and,
- That he may continue longer in this life. Such a prayer is lawful when offered in submission to the will of God.
- The reasons for this petition.
- That he may remove by his future life, the calumnies that had been heaped upon him.
- That he may have brighter evidences of his interest in the divine favour.
- That he may become a blessing to others, his family and nation.
- That he might have greater peace and comfort in death; and,
- That he might "have an entrance ministered more abundantly," etc.