Psalm 55:19
God will hear and humiliate them--the One enthroned for the ages--Selah because they do not change and they have no fear of God.
Sermons
AfflictionsL. O. Thompson.Psalm 55:19
Life's VicissitudesPsalm 55:19
No ChangesEnoch Mellor, D. D.Psalm 55:19
The Discipline of ChangeHugh Black, M. A.Psalm 55:19
The Compassionable, the Commendable, and the Censurable in LifeHomilistPsalm 55:1-23
The Outcry of a Soul in DistressT. W. Chambers, D. D.Psalm 55:1-23
Contrasts in the Character and Experience of the Righteous and the WickedC. Short Psalm 55:16-23


I. CHARACTER AND EXPERIENCE OF THE RIGHTEOUS.

1. His life is a continued exercise of prayer and faith. Calls upon God, evening, morning, and at noon. Carries all his anxieties and fears to God; casts upon him his burden (ver. 22). And he does all this with an assured faith (vers. 16, 17). "And he shall hear my voice." "The Lord shall save me."

2. He has been already delivered from great dangers. (Ver. 18.) "Many were against him." Every good man has a past full of such experiences.

3. He has confident assurance of future protection and guidance. "He shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved." God is good and righteous. and this is the foundation of his assurance.

II. CHARACTER AND EXPERIENCE OF THE WICKED.

1. Generally, they have no fear of God. Without God in the world; living, therefore, without restraint.

2. They are traitors to former vows of friendship. They violate without compunction former oaths and covenants.

3. They are guilty of the most cruel deceit. (Ver. 21.) Bloody and deceitful men.

4. God shall afflict and humble them. (Ver. 19.)

5. They shall die a premature death. (Ver. 23.) - S.









Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God.
Who can they be — where can they live, of whom it can be said that they have not changes! Can they be inhabitants of this world of which, if one thing can be said of it with greater certainty than another, it is that it is a scene of perpetual change! "Change and decay in all around I see." No changes! We must not take the expression in a hard and narrow literal sense, or it would be true of no man. Many changes Come alike to all, and one at the end of life of which Job speaks when he says, "All the days of my appointed time will I wait until my change come." The changes of which the psalmist speaks must mean changes that disturb, changes that unhinge all plans end arrangements, changes which frustrate hopes. These are the changes which some men have not, and because they have them not they fear not God. Our subject, therefore, is — the perils of an undisturbed life.

I. HOW IS THIS? Freedom from change was never intended to work such sad result, but quite the reverse. It is due not to absence of change, but to the man's own perverse and perverting heart. He turns the sweet into the bitter, the healthy into the poisonous. It is man's eye which is evil, because God is good. The fact that a man's life has not been wrecked by storms or rent by great upheaving sorrows should appeal to the man's gratitude. He should say, "What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits towards me? I will take the cup of salvation, and will call upon the name of the Lord." But it is melancholy to see what a strange power the heart has to turn good into evil. It is like some plants which can elaborate and secrete out of bright sunshine and pure air and water the very elements of death. Such are the men who have no changes, and therefore — mark the word — "therefore they fear not God." They have no changes. They devise their plans, and they all succeed. Whatever they touch turns into gold, All the vessels they launch on the great sea of life have prosperous voyages, and return heavily laden with a rich cargo. Their neighbours have losses and misfortunes, but they, never. Now, this wonderful exemption from sudden and sharp vicissitudes tends to engender self-confidence. They are prone to imagine that their better fortune is due to better management. And no doubt not a little may be said in favour of their view of the case. For business, like every other thing, has its own laws, the observance of which will for the most part conduce to prosperity. But such prosperity has a melancholy tendency to produce forgetfulness of God. And when it has gone on for years in an unbroken stream, and a stream swelling and deepening with the years, then is this tendency seen, and this sore temptation felt in their most horrible forms. Because they have no change, therefore, etc. And the like may be said of unbroken, uninterrupted health. But others besides have frequently no changes. The circle of their social life seems wonderfully free from infraction, and that for a long period. It seems as if the ordinary calamities of life could not reach them. There has been no darkening of the windows, there has been no grave to purchase, there has been no hearse at the door. The deepest fountains of sorrow have been unopened, there has been no yearning, unavailing as it is keen, "for the touch of a vanished hand, and the sound of a voice that is still." And what is the result, what at least is too often the result? Therefore they fear not God. His blessings have been so constant and so great that they do not fear Him. They think that to-morrow will be as to-day, and still more abundant. The absence of change produces hardness of nature. As one of the greatest blessings is tenderness of heart, so one of the greatest perils in life is that the heart should become hardened. A healthy heart is one which is open to all Divine influences and to all just human appeals. A man becomes practically useless as his heart loses power of sympathy. Hence is change so needful for us would we succour the sorrow of others. But a man cannot do this if he has never known sorrow of his own, if he be one who has "no changes." Ah! if the world were made up of no other class of men than these, life would be a fearful thing. It is well that there are some hearts that cannot be thus steeled, hearts that can feel for others, and that can feel for others because frequently they have themselves known sorrow and trouble. No heart has had a thorough education which has not passed through the school of grief. Until it has sat in this class it is crude and narrow and hard. The tendency of continued prosperity, or exemption from calamity, is to create in the mind a sense of claim upon God, and a sense of wrong when the interruption comes. When the usual blessing does not make its appearance at the usual time, the man looks up under a sense of wrong, and upbraids the Providence which seems to have forgotten him. Why has it forgotten him? Why should he be deprived of his usual mercies? And instead of reckoning up all the years during which his table has been spread and his cup has run over, and bursting forth in a song of thanksgiving for all he has received, he complains of God for the removal, or even the diminution, of his comforts. The absence of change produces neglect of eternity. Nothing is more certain than this, and nothing is more natural. When men are settled in any condition which yields them satisfaction they long to remain in it. To live for the present life is as natural as to live in it; and it is the main temptation we have all to overcome to set our affection on things which are on the earth. It is wonderful how men get reconciled by habit even to a state which is by no means the happiest; but when it is one of comfort they have no desire to see it altered or disturbed. "Soul, take thine ease," is a very common feeling among those whose circumstances are on the whole fairly pleasant. They get settled in their lives. They have their portion in this life; and they do not think of another life, nor care to think of it. How many will have to thank God for ever for the blow which swept away in a night the wealth in which they trusted. It was then that for the first time they understood the meaning of the words, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal." How many, too, who have forgotten God in the days of their vigour, have found Him on their beds when the strength has gone from them like water from the summer brook. And some have needed a still greater change. But even these changes may fail. Some have borne them all, and still fear not God. Happy the man that has learnt to place his hope in God.

(Enoch Mellor, D. D.)

The natural heart of man longs for peace, and looks to repose as fit and proper. We feel ourselves in the midst of ceaseless change and decay, and are always seeking a centre of rest. We would hasten our escape from the windy storm and tempest. Yet, with all our longing for peace, we are played on by forces that make for change and unrest, swirled by the ceaseless flux and flow of the tide. Life is like the swift ships, says Job, like ships driven out in the darkness, tossed on the storm, battling on to a quiet harbour. It is like vapour of the hills, says St. James, like the fragile mist that can be withered by sun or torn by wind. There is no real rest in the world for body, or mind, or heart, of soul. This condition of unstable equilibrium is, of course, most evident in connection with outward things in our life, the trappings and the circumstances. But the same transiency is seen in inward things also. Even love suffers loss, as the objects of love pass off at the dread call of night. Even faith cannot remain fixed, but has new problems which demand new efforts at adjustment. We must admit also, if we are honest with ourselves, that we need the stimulus of constant change if life is to attain its best results. We settle down in slothful ease and sluggish indifference, with eyes blinded and hearts made fat by the prosperity that knows no fear. Changelessness would only lull the senses and the faculties to sleep. We are only kept alert by the unstable tenure with which we hold life and all it contains. If we knew we would only meet the expected and always at the expected turn or road, there could be no expectation at all, no wonder, no apprehension, no fear, no hope, no faith. Experience could bring no education, and all our powers would be atrophied. Most of all is this true in the moral sphere. It is in no lotus isle that men are bred. In the stress and strain of life character is formed. Through doubt and uncertainty and sore trial of faith is faith alone made perfect. As a matter of fact, degeneracy has always set in with both nations and men when prosperity has been unchecked and the sunshine of favour has been unalloyed. It is through the conquest of nature, and through the conquest of enemies, and through self-conquest that the conquering peoples have been built. The lesson is painted on a large canvas in universal history; and it is repeated to us in miniature in individual experience. Men live only by custom and convention when they are withdrawn from this discipline of change; and to live only by custom is to be drugged by an opiate. Everything that makes men great partakes of the discipline. There is no music in a monotone; there is no are in one universal drab colour. Thought is born of mystery. Science is the daughter of wonder, and wonder is the fruit of all the changes and movements of the world. Religion even has her secure empire in the hearts of men through the needs of men's hearts, the need for which they crave of a changeless centre in the midst of change. Every deep crisis of life, with its thrill of joy or its spasm of sorrow, with its message, of loss or of gain, is part of God's higher education. The discipline of change is meant to drive us out beyond the changing hour to the thought of eternity, out from the restless things of sense to find rest in God. He is the same yesterday, to-day, and to-morrow, the same in nature, in character, in love, even as Jesus revealed Him, the eternal Father who yearns over His children in deathless love. "Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God." If that is failure, even though it means continual peace and prosperity, what shall we say of the failure of those who know the desolation and terror of change and yet have not learned; who still cling to the things of sense that have failed them before; who have suffered all the strokes of fortune, all the pangs Of heart, all the shocks that paralyze the soul, and yet have never submitted, never trusted, never feared, never loved God? What failure is like that of those who have been chastened and yet never softened, who have gone through the fire without learning the lesson, who have tasted the sorrow without the sympathy, who have borne the cross without the love?

(Hugh Black, M. A.)

There are some who have no changes of fortune from prosperity to adversity. "Therefore," says the psalmist, "they fear not God."

I. DIFFERENT KINDS.

1. Disappointments.

2. Financial ruin.

3. Sickness.

II. Uses.

1. Corrective. "Before I was afflicted I went astray."

2. Instructive. Prosperity is apt to intoxicate the imagination; affliction teaches humility and dependence upon God.

3. Sanctifying. They purify the heart, bring God nearer to the soul, and make the promises more precious.

III. IMPROVEMENT.

1. Continued prosperity is not always best for man. If prosperity hardens the heart and keeps God out, then is affliction a blessing.

2. Under severe affliction grace is needed to keep the soul from despair.

3. If we are without affliction, are we sure that we do not spirtually need their discipline?

(L. O. Thompson.)

You pick up two stones lying near the seashore and only a few yards apart. They not only belong to the same geological formation, but have been splintered from the same rock. One is rugged, made up of sharp, uneven angles, and irregular, broken surfaces. The other is smooth, rounded into an almost perfect sphere, has every delicate vein showing, and is polished as on a lapidary's wheel. What is the secret of this contrast? The one had fallen from the cliff and had been stranded above high-water mark. It had lain for centuries just where it dropped. It had undergone no changes and upheavals. The other had fallen within reach of the waves, and every ebbing and flowing tide had lashed it to and fro for year upon year. It had never been left still for long, but had been tossed, jostled, ground, and polished against the pebbly beach till it took that form of comeliness and beauty. So it is with many lives. The lives of some seem to have fallen to them in pleasant places. Life has brought few changes. And the Holy Book says of such, "Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God." Other lives are

"Still from one sorrow to another thrown." They sometimes say, "All Thy waves and Thy billows are gone over me." But what spiritual beauty they have won from their tribulations!

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