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1. An alphabetical and hallelujah Psalms 2:0. Author unknown; ascribed by Vulg. to Haggai and Zachariah after the exile.
3. A hymn on the excellence and reward of piety.
4. The concluding verse of 111 and the first verse of 112 form the point of union. “All human righteousness has its root in the righteousness of God. It is not merely man striving to copy God; it is God’s gift and God’s work. There is a living connection between the righteousness of God and the righteousness of man, and therefore the imperishableness of the one pertains to the other also.”—Perowne.
THE CHARACTERISTICS AND BLESSEDNESS OF TRUE RELIGION
This verse may be taken as a text of which the Psalm is an exposition. True religion consists of
(1) Love of God’s commandments,
(6) Firm Trust in God,
(7) Benevolence. Its blessedness involves
(1) The superiority of the offspring of the religious man; their
(3) temporal prosperity,
(4) spiritual establishment,
(5) everlasting remembrance,
(6) confidence. In contrast with all this is the misery, destruction, and disappointment of the wicked. To restrict ourselves to the text, notice—
I. The characteristics of true religion.
1. The “fear of the Lord.” “The Old Testament lays great stress on the fear of God. Everywhere it is the cardinal virtue, the corner-stone of the saintly temple—the root of grace out of which, if it be fully planted in a man’s heart, all the other graces, all the varied fruits of righteousness, will be sure to grow.”—C. Vince. This sentiment is peculiar to the godly; for the wicked have “no fear of God before their eyes.” It is not a dread of consequences, but a dread of sin as alien to God and to man made in the image of God.
2. Great delight in God’s commandments. “All that fear God are well pleased that there is a Bible a revelation of God, of His will, and of the only way to happiness in Him.”—M. Henry.
(1.) Those COMMANDMENTS warrant our delight. They are the revelation of His will who is the subject of man’s filial reverence, and are the only means whereby the well-being of man may be secured.
(2.) The STUDY of those commandments should be our delight. Their wisdom and suggestiveness expands the intellect; their goodness excites the best feelings; they brace the will by their firm and resolute sanctions, they elevate and give a spiritual tone to all the faculties.
(3.) The PRACTICE of those commandments should be our delight. Their yoke is easy; their duties are pleasures; and in the volume of the book it should be written of the servant as well as of his Lord: “I delight to do Thy will, O my God.”
3. Divine praise. “Praise ye the Lord.” Fear and obedience are worthless without this supreme symptom of love.
II. The blessedness of true religion. “The word אַשְׂרֵי is properly, in the plural form, blessednesses; or may be considered as an exclamation produced by contemplating the state of the man who has taken God for His portion.
1. God made man for happiness.
2. Every man feels a desire to be happy.
3. All human beings abhor misery.
4. Happiness is the grand object of pursuit among all men.
5. But so perverted is the human heart that it seeks happiness where it cannot be found; and in things which are naturally and morally unfit to communicate it.
6. The true way of obtaining it is here laid down.”—A. Clarke. Learn—
(1.) That blessedness is God’s gift.
(2.) That duty it God’s path to blessedness.
(3.) That religion is the truest blessedness, because it involves relationship with God and fulfilment of duty.
THE POSTHUMOUS RESULTS OF RELIGION
A conspicuous feature of the Old dispensation was that the blessings of the righteous were also the inheritance of their children. And those promises which were conferred on the posterity of the righteous Jew have not only never been recalled, but are among the express provisions of the Christian covenant. The second command is still unrepealed. Isaiah 44:3 never received its fulfilment till Pentecost; cf. also Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:17. Notice—
I. What our text presupposes.
1. True piety, which, consisting as it does in true wisdom, fearing God, greatly delighting in His commandments, and praising Him,
(1) will, by the cultivation of healthy physical, intellectual, and moral qualities, through the well-known law of heredity, will transmit the same.
(2.) Will strive to predispose the child to the choice and reception of piety. A good parent will carefully attend to the circumstances which surround his child, shielding him from temptation, and facilitating his choice of the good, at home, at school, in the selection of a profession, &c.
(3.) Will “train up a child in the way he should go,” “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord;” will not neglect things spiritual in favour of things temporal; will strive to implant the fear of God, and the love of God’s commandments, on the plastic character wisely and well; not making religious exercises burdensome but delightful.
2. Firm faith that God will help and crown its efforts with success.
(1.) It leans on the divine power. It will pray, therefore, for the continual exercise of that power.
(2.) It relies on the divine promises, which makes it hopeful of the result.
(1.) In training. A child has naturally a free and wayward will. To mould that will requires time and perseverance.
(2.) In waiting for results. Seeds do not germinate all at once. The good seed may lie dormant for a considerable time, and the wise parent will not hurry it.
4. The possibility of failure in certain cases. “He who would share in the blessings of pious ancestors must follow after their faith.”—Starke. A child may be proof against all piety and care, in which case the divine promises, which are all conditional, will not be fulfilled.
II. What our text declares.
1. That “his seed shall be mighty in the earth.”
(1.) He will act upon mighty principles. He will “seek first the kingdom of God,” &c., and will exercise his father’s prudence, patience, and piety.
(2.) He will overcome mighty difficulties. He has God behind him to help him through all his perplexities, over all his impediments, to guide him by His counsel, and assist him with His arm.
(3.) Undaunted, he will achieve mighty successes. Adopting his father’s principles he will win victories on the field of mind; he will rule his own spirit; and be “not slothful in business.”
(4.) He will wield a mighty influence. He will excite confidence. His word will be taken, his opinion respected, his patronage courted, his example followed. Knowing the value and responsibility of his principles he will propagate them in his family, society, country; and neglect no opportunity to get the “Will of God done on earth as it is done in heaven.”
(5.) He will leave behind him a mighty name.
2. They shall be blessed. All the virtues are theirs,—Temperance, purity; that diligence which makes fat; that prosperity which is conducive to spiritual good. All moral privileges are theirs,—the love of God, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the indwelling and communion of the Holy Ghost, the means of grace, the hope of glory, and perhaps an early heaven.
III. What our text implies.
1. That parents have a control over the destiny of their offspring. If parents do not put these revealed laws concerning their children into operation, let them not blame God or fortune for the sad result. The promises still hold good; let parents plead them, and employ the means of securing their fulfilment.
2. That as the result is in the hands of God, and might and blessedness His gifts, let not parents be anxious about the result. If the conditions have been fulfilled, the bread cast upon the waters will return, though after many days. The great Augustine is a case in point. (See Confessions, Book III., par. 19–21.)
3. That children incur grave responsibilities for the blessing of pious parents. This is one of God’s choicest privileges. Therefore children should yield their parents
(1) Love and reverence,
(2) Obedience. “Honour thy father and thy mother” is the first commandment with promise. To despise this gift is to forfeit the title to all the rest.
PROSPERITY AND ITS QUALIFICATIONS
It has been said that prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament and adversity of the New. Nothing could be more untrue. The New Testament never elevates poverty into a virtue. Its poverty is that of spirit. With regard to the injunction addressed to the young ruler, notice—
(1) Provision for his wants would have been made;
(2) by his poverty many would be enriched. Warnings are uttered against the danger of riches. But there are other ways of avoiding danger than fleeing from it. It is dangerous to embark on the ocean in an open boat. So riches without corresponding protection are dangerous. Both testaments promise this protection. (Matthew 6:33; Tim. Psalms 4:8.)
I. What is prosperity? This demands a large definition. The miser is not prosperous, nor the man who amasses wealth and does not know what to do with it, or uses it for his own harm. To be prosperous is to have that which will promote the well-being of man’s whole nature and which has that end secured. Material, moral, and intellectual wealth and its results.
II. What is calculated to produce it? The Psalmist, our Lord, and St. Paul are at one as to the qualification. “Righteousness.” This also demands a large definition. It is not profession, emotion, or devotional exercises. It is the harmony of a man’s whole nature with the will of God.
1. When that is the case, a man is moderate, temperate, observant of natural laws, and (supposing of course no constitutional ailment) therefore healthy. Thus righteousness affords a physical basis for success.
2. He holds in check the feverish desire to succeed, and thus godliness with contentment becomes great gain. Every day affords instances that making haste to be rich is but making haste to pauperise the health, the intellect, or the soul.
3. He holds those passions in check which cloud the understanding and impair the vision. He avoids all excess, either in self-aggrandisement or self-indulgence; the first of which dries up the sources of prosperity, and the second of which throws them away. Righteousness holds the golden mean.
4. He respects the rights of others. Hence, those whose rights you respect, will respect yours. No one cares for him who cares for nobody. While selfishness is everywhere condemned and scouted, those who are generous and helpful will not fail to find the same qualities in others.
5. He will be frugal of his time, his money, &c., in recognition of God’s claims upon both, and, as God’s steward, will put them out to usury, and strive to be prosperous, that he may advance God’s interests in the world.
III. What objections can be urged against all this?
1. That the righteous are not better off than others. But
(1) Do those who are called righteous answer to the law of righteousness in its entirety?
(2) Without controversy it is all true respecting communities. All history proves that they prosper in proportion to their righteousness. Theatres, taverns, houses of ill-fame, never exalted a nation. But that which promotes temperance and industry does, and that is righteousness.
(3) It is so by the common consent of the world. How often do we hear the expression that such an one is “worth his weight in gold.”
2. That men prosper who violate the laws of righteousness. But
(1) Are these men prosperous?
(2) Supposing them to have all that heart could wish, “what shall it profit a man?” &c.
(3) Supposing it true of an individual, when was it ever true of a nation? TO CONCLUDE—“A man who is in possession of his whole manhood, so that every part is developed and harmonised and carried up into a beautiful symmetry, a perfect man in Christ Jesus; such a man is better adapted to develop prosperity than any other man in a lower sphere can be.… Manhood as contemplated by the Word of God: the Christian character made up of all elements, largeness of soul, wise judgment, reverence for God and His laws, love to man and kindly sympathy, belief in divine providence, hope of immortality, judgment of earthly values by the golden rod of the sanctuary; all these elements form a sure basis for prosperity in the world.”—H. W. Beecher.
LIGHT: TO WHOM AND WHEN?
Light and darkness, as symbols of moral conditions, are of frequent use in Holy Scripture. “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” The process of conversion is “from darkness into light.” The wicked “love darkness,” &c. The righteous “walk in the light,” &c. These figures have peculiar force in the East, where the light of day is splendid, and the darkness of night intense. These illustrations are generally descriptive. There are breaks in the darkness of the most depraved, or their lot would be hopeless. There are clouds resting on the most pious, or their probation would be at an end. Our text
I. Characterises those to whom it applies. Not the perfectly sinless, but the upright. The figure is appropriate. Light descends, and those who stand erect are the most likely to catch its rays. The morally upright are those whose posture is straight, elevated towards God and towards heaven. Their attitude, therefore, is most calculated to catch the beams of the Sun of righteousness.
1. They are upright in heart (Psalms 97:1). Their desires and emotions are pure.
2. They are upright in mind; candid, unprejudiced, welcoming light from all quarters.
3. They are upright in will; inflexible, just.
4. They are upright in life; examples, models, guides.
II. Implies that those whom it characterises have their seasons of darkness.
1. The character of this darkness.
(1) Religious perplexity. Temptation to doubt God’s providence, promises, and word. The mysteries of life, duty, and destiny will sometimes press upon the mind and dim the clearness of its vision.
(2) Domestic trials, bereavements, sicknesses, disaffections, difficulties respecting the education and prospects of children will sometimes cast a gloom upon the heart.
(3) Business anxieties, duties, failures,
(4) the sense of personal sinfulness, and
(5) slander, misrepresentation, and persecution will overcast the soul.
2. The purpose of this darkness. Being abnormal, and yet of divine ordination, there must be some reason for it.
(1.) It is merciful. Night is a necessary adjunct to day. The eye cannot bear the unclouded lustre of the sun.
(2.) It is disciplinary. The repose of the eyelids during night prepares for the strain of daylight.
(3.) It is testing. Darkness is a trial of our faith in God, &c.
III. Declares that, to those it characterises, light ariseth in the darkness.
1. Observe, light ariseth IN the darkness. It was so with our Lord, Luke 18:43; St. Paul, 2 Corinthians 12:8-10. In neither case was the darkness entirely removed. There was enough light, but not super-abundant.
2. But it is light in the darkness. There is the light of innocence in the darkness of slander; the light of forgiveness in the darkness of sin; the light of divine comfort in the darkness of sorrow, the light of revelation in the darkness of perplexity. “They shall be delivered in due time and perhaps when they least expect it; when the night is darkest the day dawns; nay, at evening time, when night was looked for, it shall be light.”—M. Henry.
IN CONCLUSION. (i.) The upright have all their darkness here and mitigations even of that, but they travel to a land of perfect light. (ii.) The perverse and crooked have darkness too, but enough illumination to lead them to perfect light, neglecting which, it gradually fades into outer darkness.
THE ATTRIBUTES OF THE UPRIGHT
(Psalms 112:4, second clause)
The upright will be able to bend without breaking. Like true steel, pliant enough to accomplish its purpose without injury to its temper.
I. The upright bend,
1. In graciousness. They are not distant, cold, haughty, harsh in their judgments, or critical in their estimates. They are ready to consider all cases of need, and in such a spirit as shall not deprive their benevolence of all value. It will be a bending that does not seem to bend; a stooping of genial familiarity, “seeking not its own.”
2. In compassion. The proud see no misery. The upright stoop that they may see it, and pity as they see. In that position compassion becomes practical and develops into active mercy and benevolent generosity.
II. Yet the upright maintain their integrity. They love, but it is the love of dignity and righteousness.
1. When the Queen visited the London Hospital, a poor little Irish girl expressed a wish to see her. Her Majesty went and encouraged the child by words, and smiles, and gifts. Did she lose her dignity by so doing? Far from it, majesty there bent in the right direction.
2. When “God so loved the world” did He drag His justice in the dust? Nay, His justice bent to provide justification for the sinner.
THE GOLDEN MEAN
The golden mean is much needed in those matters which concern justice on the one hand and generosity on the other. How to do good with money, time, influence, &c., without inflicting an injustice on self and injury on others is often perplexing. The Psalmist shows that it is possible to “show favour and lend,” and yet “guide one’s affairs with discretion.” An alternative translation is, “Happy is the man that showeth favour and lendeth, he maintaineth his cause in the judgment,” showing that the golden mean is the happy medium and the golden rule, and that an upright man will not show such favour, &c., as will bring down upon him the disapprobation of the just. Our text teaches us—
I. That such circumstances will arise as to need and justify favour and loans. All are liable to reverses of fortune. The sudden failure of a creditor, the dishonesty of a subordinate, ill health, family bereavement, may put any man in circumstances that require a temporary loan.
II. That that man is happy who so guides his affairs as to be able wisely to afford those favours and loans.
1. Happiness will spring from the possession of those things which makes this possible. It presupposes in the lender comfort and affluence, which have been the result of honesty, diligence, and frugality.
2. Happiness will spring from the disposition to show favour and lend.
is twice blessed,
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.”
III. That that man is happy who can so guide his affairs as to do good and no evil by his favours and loans.
1. It is no small source of misery all round when a man through a benevolence has done harm. He is a loser himself, and his self-denial has been used for unworthy ends; and thus good becomes evil spoken of, and charity brought into disrepute.
2. It is no small cause for satisfaction where beneficence secures good and profitable ends. It will secure
(1) Individual gratitude;
(2) The benediction of heaven;
(3) The approbation of the good. LEARN (i.) That generosity should be the outcome of a careful consideration of means. As God hates robbery for burnt-offering, we may be sure that He is displeased with the charitable use of other people’s money. (ii.) That generosity should be the result of a careful study of the merits of the case. To encourage the professional beggar or the vicious person were sorry work indeed. (iii.) That generosity should be exhibited in a discreet and just way. To entrust money to the needy but improvident or careless, is to waste it. Actual need may be relieved by gifts in kind or the proffer of employment. (iv.) But let no man screen himself behind the dictum, “just before generous,” so as to be neither. The good man will seek for opportunities. (v.) Woe unto the man who seeth his brother in need and shutteth up his bowels of compassion against him.
THE STABILITY AND MEMORY OF THE RIGHTEOUS
Only that which is stable is memorable. Monuments which crumble are soon forgotten. Memorials are built of durable materials. So the good man standing firm on unmovable foundations will be had in everlasting remembrance.
I. The Stability of the righteous.
1. He rests upon immovable foundations. God and His righteousness, love, and power.
2. On that foundation he maintains a steady course. He is not tossed about. He stands “foursquare to every wind that blows.”
3. From that foundation he hurls with steady aim. He does not sin (αμάρτια), and thus miss the mark of his high calling.
II. The memory of the righteous. They shall be in everlasting remembrance, because—
1. They are stable, and therefore endure (Psalms 1:1-3).
2. They are made of enduring materials. Righteousness and goodness, like charity, can “never fail.”
3. They are worth remembering. “The world has no interest in keeping up the memory of bad men, and, as soon as it can be done, hastens to forget them. Wicked men are remembered only when their deeds are enormous, and then their memory is cherished only to admonish and to warn. The world has no interest in keeping up the memory of Benedict Arnold, or Alexander VI., or Cæsar Borgia, except to warn future generations of the guilt and baseness of treason and profligacy. It has an interest in never suffering the names of Howard, Wilberforce, Henry Martyn to die, for these names excite to noble feelings and to noble efforts wherever they are known.”—Barnes. They are held in grateful remembrance; in instructive remembrance, examples, &c.; in celestial remembrance, for in heaven they receive “a crown of glory that shall never fade away.”
“But strew his ashes to the wind,
Whose sword or voice has served mankind.
And is he dead, whose glorious mind lifts thine on high?
To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.”
FEARLESSNESS, FIXEDNESS, AND FAITH
Three great and closely allied qualities, always needed and always the heritage of God’s people. The three stand or fall together. Where there is fear there is no fixity; and where there is no fixity there is no faith. But he who has a strong faith in God, will not fear “though mountains be removed,” &c. (Psalms 46:1-5).
I. Fearlessness consists—
1. In not being afraid of evil tidings before they come. The fearless man has no carking care, or harassing anxieties. He will wait patiently and courageously till evils arrive before he pronounces them fearful (Matthew 6:34).
2. In not being afraid of evil tidings when they come, but a manful determination to make the best of them. The fearless man will face them, examine them, and conquer them.
3. In not being afraid of evil tidings after they have come. The fearless man does not fear consequences, but carves a new career out of misfortune, and educes good out of evil.
II. Fearlessness is impossible without fixedness. Fear is trepidation, wavering, retreat. Fearlessness implies settledness and steadfastness. Fixedness is—
1. A steady preparation to meet possible fears; a concentration and consolidation of forces around weak points that may be attacked, a gathering up of solidity and strength. Our faith may be attacked: let us examine its evidences, and purge its weaknesses, and fortify ourselves with irrefutable arguments. Our virtue: let us surround it with impregnable fortifications. Our intelligence: let us brace it by healthful thought and reading. Our property: let us by prudence and diligence prepare.
2. A strong determination to resist the shock of evil when it comes. “None of these things move me,” said Paul. “A man who has not learned to say ‘no’—who is not resolved that he will take God’s way in spite of every dog that can bay or bark at him, in spite of every silvery voice that woos him aside, will be a weak and a wretched man till he dies.… Whoever lets himself be shaped and guided by anything lower than an inflexible will, fixed in obedience to God, will in the end be shaped into a deformity and guided to wreck and ruin.… We need a wholesome obstinacy in the right, that will be neither bribed, nor coaxed, nor bullied.… ‘Whom resist steadfast in the faith.’ ”—Maclaren.
III. No fixedness without faith. “There is no stability and settled persistency of righteous purpose possible for us, unless we are made strong, because we lay hold of God’s strength, and stand firm because we are rooted in Him. Without that hold, we shall be swept away by storms of calamity or gusts of passion. Without that … there will not be solidity enough in our character.… To stand amidst … earthquakes and storms we must be built upon the rock, and build rocklike upon it. Build thy strength upon God.”—Maclaren.
This faith is exercised—
(1.) In the divine existence, power, goodness, and promise.
(2.) In our own God-given strength.
(3.) In our ultimate victory (1 John 5:4-5).
THE NEED, SUCCOUR, AND TRIUMPH OF THE SOUL
I. The soul in need.
1. The soul needs support in times of weakness. It is like the body, debilitated, when out of health. Physical conditions, circumstances, temptations, sometimes engender spiritual weakness, and make the soul cry out for some support.
2. The soul needs help in times of exhaustion. Its strenuous efforts against its many foes frequently exhaust it. Those foes are strong, relentless, vigilant. The soul must be recruited by forces outside itself, or it will fail.
3. The soul needs protection in time of danger. There are some temptations which we must resist; some against which resistance is unavailing. Our only chance in this latter case is a strong refuge, or a powerful auxiliary.
II. The soul succoured. “He shall not be afraid.” Weakness, helplessness, and danger will engender fear. Courage will be stimulated by timely succour. Such succour is afforded by God.
1. God is the secret of the soul’s strength. When in weakness and debility, let the soul flee to Him. He has promised to “heal our sicknesses.” He is the “health of our countenance.” “They that wait upon the Lord,” &c. And with strength will come fearlessness.
2. God is the support of the soul in times of exhaustion. “My flesh and my heart faileth,” &c. “Come unto Me, all ye that are weary,” &c. “God is a very present help in time of trouble.” “Greater is He that is for you,” &c. And, conscious of the upholding of Omnipotence, all fear will flee.
3. God is the refuge of the soul in times of danger. “The Lord God is a … shield.” “The name of the Lord is a strong tower,” &c.
III. The soul triumphing. “Until he see his desire upon his enemies.”
1. God has promised not only timely succour, but ultimate victory. He has promised, “grace to help,” that “we shall withstand in the evil day,” that we shall “overcome all,” and to “give us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
2. That victory shall be complete. We shall come off “more than conquerors,” and have “an abundant entrance.” Difficulties, doubts, sin, Satan, and death shall be beaten down under our feet.”
There is a great deal of pseudoliberality. Reckless almsgiving, needless charity, and benevolences from an unwilling heart, are not genuine liberality. That must have righteousness for its basis, need for its object, and usefulness for its end. The Christian law is based upon this (2 Corinthians 9:6-15).
I. True liberality must have righteousness for its basis, and constant righteousness, i.e., not righteousness and favouritism mixed.
1. It must proceed from a righteous motive—not to secure praise, &c., as the hypocrites.
2. It must be done in the right way, i.e, on a just principle of selection, which implies investigation; by a just method—loans, when loans would be helpful; money, clothes, employment, food, as the case may require.
II. True liberality must have need for its object.
(3) The misery of vice. But
2. Real poverty.
(1.) The temporarily distressed. These are frequently the most needy and the most worthy, and require the most righteousness to find out and relieve.
(2.) Widows and orphans.
(3.) Charitable institutions.
(4.) Those depending upon us. To neglect them is worse than infidelity.
III. True liberality must have usefulness for its end. “He hath dispersed.” St. Paul (2 Corinthians 9:6-15) applies it in the sense of seed-sowing. Liberality contemplates a harvest of usefulness.
1. God has made us treasurers of His bounty. He has not given, only entrusted to us for special purposes what we have. A “man has made a sovereign honestly; it is his in point of fair service, by what is called right. If he wills it away, or spends it on himself, or keeps it, he violates no law.… Yet he says in effect, ‘The money is mine, but I myself am not my own. I have no property in myself. I am God’s agent. I have given society an equivalent for this sovereign; but the strength and skill by which I gained it are the gifts of God. I will hold what I have as Christ’s. Holding it so, I instantly yield it at His call, saying, “Thine is to right.” ’ ”—Dr. J. Parker.
2. That purpose is useful dispersion.
(1.) A timely gift to a poor man will enable him to weather the storm and start afresh.
(2.) A seasonable donation to a charitable society will be a means of boundless usefulness.
(3.) Ample provision for those depending upon us will enable them to follow out and multiply our own schemes of usefulness. True liberality will plant roses in the desert, and turn the wilderness into the garden of the Lord. Barren wastes will smile with genial harvests, and solitary places will be made glad.
IV. True liberality will have success and honour as its reward. All experience shows generosity to be the best policy. Both have been tried. The miser is not only not really enriched, but positively impoverished. “Horn” is the symbol of power and influence.
1. The liberal man will be enriched by the blessing of God. He scatters only to increase. “The very act of scattering breaks up the mastery of selfishness, enlarges the circle of kindly interests, shows that there is something in the world beyond our own personal concerns. It were better therefore for man, better as a discipline, better for his heart, better for every quality that is worth having, that a man should throw some of his money into the river than that he should never give anything away.… Even if a man should get nothing back “he always increases in heart volume, in joy, in love, in peace; his cup of comfort is sweetened, he walks on a greener earth, and looks up to God through a bluer sky. Beneficence is its own compensation. Charity empties the heart of one gift that it may make room for a larger. ‘Give and it shall be given you, good measure, shaken together, and running over.’ ‘The liberal soul shall be made fat,’ &c.”—Dr. J. Parker.
2. His “horn shall be exalted” in the estimation of mankind. Who is it that the world delights to honour? the Bonapartes and the Rothschilds, or the Pea-bodys and the Wilberforces? Learn—
(i.) That selfishness is a bad policy. (ii.) That liberality extends not only to money, but to time, life, influence, and work.
THE WICKED SPIRIT
Our text is a most admirable exposition of what is termed the “bad” or “wicked” spirit. No tendency meets with more emphatic condemnation than that which sets in the direction of regret and annoyance at the well-being of others. Those who are the subjects of such feelings may well be styled “wicked.”
I. The character of the wicked. רָשָׁע would seem to signify one who lies in wait, a mischievous and injurious person, and an oppressor. Hence the main points in his character are craft and cruelty. “Sin” and so the sinner, “like a ravenous beast, as crafty as it is cruel, is crouching outside the door, … only waiting for opportunity to be given to spring in and devour.”—Samuel Cox. (Psalms 37:12.)
II. The inspection of the wicked. “Shall see.” רָאָה, to see critically.
1. The wicked look carefully for everything that is bad. They would if they could be blind to everything that is good. They are keen hunters for slips, discrepancies, and falls.
2. The wicked, however, find everything that is good. They are compelled by their very search for inconsistencies to see the true character of the righteous. When they slander him, plunder him, and do all manner of harm to him, he returns good for evil. These are but so many opportunities for his righteousness, stability, compassion, and trust in God, and so many coals of fire for his enemies heads.
III. The disappointment of the wicked.
1. It is twofold.
(1.) At not finding what they wish to find.
(2.) At finding the exact opposite of what they wish to find. E.g. Balak.
2. It is intense.
(1.) It takes the form of vexation. Their machinations have been frustrated, and instead of working evil their worst attempts have worked together for good.
(2.) It takes the form of furious but ineffectual wrath. “Gnash their teeth” (Psalms 35:16; Psalms 37:11).
IV. The fate of the wicked. “Shall melt away.” Instead of calamity falling on the righteous it falls upon them. The figure is very expressive and is often used.
1. In Psalms 58:7, they are described as melting away as “waters which run continually,” i.e., running to waste in the sand or evaporated by the sun. So the wicked waste away physically, intellectually, morally.
2. In Psalms 58:8, they are like “the snail which melteth away.” (See Tristram’s Natural History, p. 295, for peculiarities of snails in the East.) “The heat often dries them up by a long continued drought, or by the sun’s rays penetrating into their holes.” So all the resources of the wicked shall be dried up.
3. In Psalms 68:2, they are likened to “melting wax;” so they form no real obstacle to the good.
(i.) A word of warning.
(1.) “Be vigilant,” &c.
(2.) Beware lest you give the enemy an occasion for his spirit. (ii.) A word of comfort. “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper,” &c.
THE DESIRE OF THE WICKED
(Psalms 112:10, last clause)
The Bible is full of statements and illustrations of the instability of sin. The righteous stand—are held in everlasting remembrance, while the wicked are tossed about, moved from their foundations, and finally melt away. The text points out the perishable character of the desire of the wicked. That desire perishes—
I. Because it is selfish. It breeds so to speak in and in, and thus first vitiates and then destroys production. This is illustrated by the fate of innumerable cravings. The lust for gain, drink, &c., literally dies out, and becomes a morbid habit which is never satisfied. So the soul that is greedy of the reputation of the righteous shall not be satisfied notwithstanding all it may get.
II. Because it has nothing to fall back upon in case of disappointment. The righteous, if disappointed in a given end, have always the desire for duty and God’s glory to fall back upon, and thus they have a continual source of satisfaction. On the contrary, the frustration of wicked schemes ends in utter despair.
III. Because it has no resources on which to rely. The desire of the righteous is supported by God, conscience, and humanity. That of the wicked only by feeble and unsubstantial self. Their colleagues only afford assistance up to a given point.
IV. Because set on unsatisfactory objects. Those objects are sinful, and, as James says, “Desire, when it has conceived, bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”
V. Because the frown of God is upon it. Desire can only live under the smile and with the favour of God. This favour rests upon the desire of the good; but turned away from the wicked their “desires perish.”
IN CONCLUSION (Isaiah 29:8).
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Psalms 112". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26