Review: Beside Still Waters

Beside Still Waters: Words Of Comfort For The Soul by Charles Spurgeon (ed. Roy Clarke)

Comfort for my soul

I got this book from my wife’s grandfather, and I judged it by its cover. “Timeless Wisdom, Updated in Today’s Language,” edited, with an impressionistic watercolor design. Looked shallow and lite. “But,” I thought, “it is Spurgeon,” and I wanted something not quite as thick as Hawker’s The Poor Man’s Morning and Evening Portions. This book was so much better than I expected.

There are 367 single page selections, so it functions as a once-a-day devotional, and that’s how I read it. The emphasis is on “comfort for the soul” and Spurgeon is the perfect man for that. He experienced so much suffering in his life (see Spurgeon: A New Biography), both physically, mentally, and spiritually. The grace that God gave him to get through his trials makes him a perfect source of comfort for others. “God, Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” (2 Cor. 1:4)

This last year was the most difficult year of my life, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Time after time I would read my page of Spurgeon, and he was exactly what my soul needed. Spurgeon has a rare “relatability” that I haven’t found in anyone else. He has experienced deep things in his soul, and he knows how to relate it to the common man (as well as the uncommon). (see The Complete John Ploughman.) Oftimes we just want to know that someone understands what we’re going through – not advice, not a lecture, just true sympathy – “feeling with” – and Spurgeon does this so effectively. Several times he speaks directly to the working man and the particular struggles that he faces, and this came when I was facing those particular struggles and uncertainties. Other times, he does exhort and lecture, and displays God as tried and true, and worthy of all our trust. It means so much, coming from a man who knows for himself.

I came through this last year, not unscathed, but not defeated, and the Lord used this small, unpromising-looking, pastel-covered devotional by Spurgeon to help me.

I recommend it highly.