ROBINSON CRUSOE’S SCRIPTURE TEXT
“Call upon Me in the day of trouble: I will deliver you
and you shall glorify Me.” Psalm 50:15
One book charmed us all in the days of our youth. Is there a boy alive who has not read it? “Robinson Crusoe” was a wealth of wonders to me—I could have read it over a dozen times and never have wearied. I am not ashamed to confess that I can read it, even now, with fresh delight. Robinson and his man, Friday, though mere inventions of fiction, are wonderfully real to the most of us. But why am I running on in this way on a Sabbath evening? Is not this talk altogether out of order? I hope not. A passage in that book comes vividly before my remembrance tonight as I read my text and, in it I find something more than an excuse. Robinson Crusoe has been wrecked. He is left on the desert island all alone. His case is a very pitiable one. He goes to his bed and he is smitten with fever. This fever lasts upon him long and he has no one to wait upon him—none even to bring him a drink of cold water. He is ready to perish. He had been accustomed to sin and had all the vices of a sailor, but his hard case brought him to think. He opens a Bible which he finds in his chest and he lights upon this passage, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble: I will deliver you and you shall glorify Me.” That night he prayed for the first time in his life and there was in him, always after, a hope in God which marked the birth of the heavenly life!
De Foe, who composed the story, was, as you know, a Presbyterian minister. And though not overdone with spirituality, he knew enough of religion to be able to describe very vividly the experience of a man who is in despair and who finds peace by casting himself upon his God. As a novelist, he had a keen eye for the probable, and he could think of no passage more likely to impress a poor broken spirit than this. Instinctively he perceived the mine of comfort which lies within these words.
Now I have everybody’s attention and this is one reason why I thus commenced my discourse. But I have a further purpose, for although Robinson Crusoe is not here, nor his man, Friday, either, yet there may be somebody here very like he—a person who has suffered shipwreck in life and who has now become a drifting, solitary creature. He remembers better days, but by his sins he has become a castaway whom no man seeks after. He is here, tonight, washed up on shore without a friend, suffering in body, broken in estate and crushed in spirit. In the midst of a city full of people, he has not a friend, nor one who would wish to admit that he has ever known him. He has now come to the bare bones of existence. Nothing lies before him but poverty, misery and death.
Thus says the Lord unto you, my Friend, this night, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble: I will deliver you and you shall glorify Me.” You have come here half hoping that there might be a word from God to your soul—“half hoping,” I said—for you are as much under the influence of dread as of hope. You are filled with despair. To you it seems that God has forgotten to be gracious and that He has, in anger, shut up the heart of His compassion. The lying fiend has persuaded you that there is no hope on purpose, so that he may bind you with the fetters of despair and hold you as a captive to work in the mill of ungodliness as you live. You write bitter things against yourself, but they are as false as they are bitter. The Lord’s mercies fail not. His mercy endures forever and thus in mercy does He speak to you, poor troubled spirit, even to you—“Call upon Me in the day of trouble: I will deliver you and you shall glorify Me.” I have the feeling upon me that I shall, at this time, speak home, God helping me, to some poor burdened spirit. In such a congregation as this, it is not everybody that can receive a blessing by the Word that is spoken, but certain minds are prepared for it by the Lord. He prepares the Seed to be sown and the ground to receive it! He gives a sense of need and this is the best preparation for the promise. Of what use is comfort to those who are not in distress? The Word of God, tonight, will be of no use and have but little interest in it to those who have no distress of heart. But, however badly I may speak, those hearts will dance for joy which need the cheering assurance of a gracious God and are enabled to receive it as it shines forth in this golden text, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble: I will deliver you and you shall glorify Me.” It is a text which I would have written in stars across the sky, or sounded forth with trumpet at noon from the top of every tower, or printed on every sheet of paper which shines through the post! It should be known and read by all of mankind!
— Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892), Delivered at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington, on August 30, 1885. From TWELVE SERMONS ON PRAYER BY CHARLES H. SPURGEON, Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1973 Third Printing, pp. 105-06. ISBN 0-8010-7923-3. You can actually find this entire sermon at http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/1876.htm
Blessings to all!