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1. The last of the group (113–118.) constituting the Hallel.
2. Certainly a temple Psalm, most probably composed for a great occasion. “Some incline to the Davidic authorship, when he was anointed king, when he brought back the ark, or after (2 Samuel 21:16). Others to Hezekiah (cf. Psalms 118:17 with Isaiah 38:1). Others, after the exile, in celebration either of Feast of Tabernacles (Ezra 3:1-4), or Founding of the Temple (Ezra 3:8), or its Dedication (Ezra 6:15-18), or Feast of Tabernacles (Nehemiah 8:14).
3. Often quoted in New Testament. Many Rabbins interpret the Psalm of Christ; and Jerome says that the ancient Jews so interpreted it, which is borne out by Matthew 21:9. This was Luther’s favourite Psalm.”
THE DIVINE MERCY
Our text forms an appropriate introduction to, and is a miniature of, the whole Psalm. It contains the germ of all God’s goodness, and the ground for all human gratitude. Next to the phrase, “Praise ye the Lord,” the expression of Psalms 118:1 is of most frequent use in the Book of Psalms.
I. The nature of divine mercy.
1. It is divine. “His mercy.” It is therefore perfect. It is not liable to the fluctuations and temptations to which human mercy is exposed. The divine character is not only perfect as a whole, but in its parts. The divine perfections characterise each other. The divine mercy is omnipotent and all wise, beneficent, yet just. It always goes far enough, it never goes too far. Man’s mercy sometimes stops at the boundary of self-interest, and thus leaves its object unattained; sometimes goes beyond both and defeats its object. Not so with perfect mercy. It ascertains accurately the measure of our need, and powerfully supplies it.
2. It is the outcome of the divine goodness. Man’s mercy is often the result of weakness. Thus it rests on unworthy objects, encourages sin, and manifests itself in unproper ways. God’s mercy is ever governed by sound motives, manifested in good ways, to worthy objects and beneficent results.
3. It is everlasting. Man’s mercy is frequently a matter of mood, tense, and ability. God is always in a merciful mood, and always powerful to bless.
II. The objects and manifestation of the divine mercy.
1. Nations: “Israel.” God, as King of kings, cares for national life. Illustrations of this are plentiful in the history of Israel and in the history of England. The divine mercy is seen
(1) In the planting of nations, with due regard to wants and peculiarities. The characteristics of a nation may be due to the circumstances in which they are placed, but it may also be due in the divine adaptation of circumstances to temperament—e.g., Greece, art and poetry; England, commerce, &c.
(2) In the growth of nations. Wars, revolutions, reforms, &c.
(3) The decline of nations. When a nation has lost its virtue and its vigour it is a mercy to itself and to other nations that it should fall. Israel, Rome, &c.
2. Ministers: “House of Aaron.”
(1.) In their call (1 Timothy 1:16; Galatians 1:15-16).
(2.) In their preparation for their work
(3.) In their encouragement in the midst of difficulties and dangers.
(4.) In their spiritual enrichment.
(5.) In their moral success.
(6.) In their eternal reward.
3. The Church, “Them that fear the Lord.”
(1.) As a whole. α In its marvellous preparation; the gradual consolidation of the world into a political brotherhood by the Persian, Alexandrian, and Roman conquests; the dispersion of the Jews; the spread of the Greek language and Roman civilisation; the yearning for spiritual life and unity. β. In the merciful gift of Jesus Christ to be its living head, and of the Spirit to guide it into all the truth. γ. In the persecutions which dispersed it, and the blood which watered it. δ. In its marvellous preservation when the whole world was against it. ε. In its enrichment by the stores of learning and art. ζ. In its Pentecostal baptisms in all ages. η. In its continual progress. θ. In the promise of its glorious close.
(2) As individuals; in conversion, the means of grace, &c.
III. The recognition of the divine mercy. “Oh, give thanks unto the Lord.”
1. This mercy is often unrecognised. Nations attribute their blessings to fortunate circumstances, patient perseverance, or martial prowess; ministers to their learning, eloquence, or zeal; the Church to its orthodoxy, political alliances, or enthusiasm; individuals to happy chances, or human sympathy and help.
2. This recognition is a matter of imperative obligation. Without this recognition
(1) the evils of selfishness and sin can never be extinguished,
(2) the mercy will be withdrawn, and
(3) retribution follow.
3. This recognition should take the form of devout, grateful, and earnest praise.
“MAN’S EXTREMITY GOD’S OPPORTUNITY”
I. Man in distress. מִרהַמֵּצַר “Out of straits.” The figure is that of a fortress surrounded by a beleaguering army, or of soldiers hemmed in on every side (see Psalms 118:10), or of a torrent dammed up by the pass through which it rushes; imprisoned, constrained. This applies to—
1. The Church. How often is it surrounded and hemmed in by infidelity, ungodliness, superstition, persecution, want of opportunity, political restriction, and popular opinion!
2. The individual. In business, family, society, by temptations, hostility of friends, personal weakness, malignity of foes.
II. Man’s duty in distress. I. Prayer. Without this we shall always be in distress. Our own resources are soon expended. Friends are often unwilling or helpless. Let us “call upon the Lord.”
(1.) It is our duty to God, for He has commanded it.
(2.) It is our duty to ourselves. A prayerless man is a moral suicide. “Not sit by thyself, or lie upon thy bench, hanging and shaking thy head, and letting thy thoughts bite and devour thee; but rouse up, thou indolent fellow! fall upon thy knees, raise thy hands and eyes to heaven, and present thy distress before God with tears.”—Luther.
2. Courage. “I will not fear.” Fear blanches the courage, exhausts the strength, and diverts the aim. As long as courage lasts, hope is not extinct; but the moment fear comes in, defeat supervenes.
III. Man’s consolations in distress.
1. The Lord is on his side. The Lord has pledged Himself
(1) to be with His Church always;
(2) with His individual children. What is there then to fear? “Greater is He that is for you” (Isaiah 43:1-2).
2. The Lord consecrates all His confederates for His good (Psalms 118:4). Whether they be friends or instrumentalities.
IV. Man’s deliverance in distress.
1. Victory over foes. This has been the realisation of the Church in all ages. (Romans 8:35; Romans 8:39).
2. Perfect liberty. “The Lord set me in a large place.” The misery of the Psalmist was that he was straightened. His deliverance was liberty in a large open plain. This may be applied
(1) to Missionary enterprise. The Lord is ever opening doors for His Church, loosing her bonds, and enlarging the field of her operations.
(2) To spiritual life. We are “called unto liberty,” freedom, from sin, of thought, of mental and moral cultivation, philanthropy.
Courage is a very complex and difficult subject. We speak of physical courage, mental, moral courage, courage of convictions, &c. Many a man who could walk up to a cannon’s mouth could not face a public audience. Many a man who has planted his country’s flag in the thick of her foes has betrayed his most cherished convictions. True courage is described in our text.
I. In its source. “The Lord is on my side.” Courage is supposed to spring from self-reliance. That man is counted brave who scorns all allies and dares to face the enemy alone. Hence much of human courage is reckless hardihood. True courage is the courage of trust in God.
II. In its manifestations. “I will not fear,” &c.
1. It trusts God to do for it what it cannot do for itself. It wisely dares to acknowledge that by itself it is unequal to certain enterprises. This of itself requires a great deal of courage, because it requires so much self-abnegation, is so unpopular, and is often apparently not warranted by circumstances.
2. This trust produces fearlessness of consequences. Who can fear who has taken this initial and most formidable step of declaring himself on the side of God? Young men, take this initial step; for who can fear who knows that God is on his side.
3. Fearlessness of consequences produces the true courage of fidelity. Why is it men are unfaithful? Consequences, unpopularity, poverty, &c. “The fear of man bringeth a snare.” “Fear Him, ye saints, and you will then have nothing else to fear.”
TRUST, HUMAN AND DIVINE
I. Man must trust. All experience proves this. Like the creeping parasite, the soul must throw its tendrils round some support.
II. Whom should man trust? Some one whose qualities warrant that trust.
1. He must be ail-sufficient, able to provide for all actual and possible necessities. To trust for wisdom to the foolish, for strength to the weak, &c., nothing but disappointment can follow.
2. He must be of supreme moral excellence. If we trust to the suspected or the worthless we shall be in a state of perpetual unrest.
3. He must be the same at all times. Trust in the feeble is ruin. Man must have as the object of his trust one whose omnipotent resources and spiritual perfection are beyond the mutation of this world and abide for ever.
III. Who warrants that trust?
1. Do men generally? No;
(1) man, is weak in wisdom and material resources;
(2) morally imperfect;
(3) ever changeful
2. Do princes? Least of all. They are but men, sometimes the weakest, worst, and most fickle of men. What they have done let the followers of Confucius, Buddha, Mohammed, the Pope, and Priestcraft everywhere tell. One thing: ruin.
IV. God offers Himself as the object of human trust. It is better that man should trust Him—
1. Because He warrants that trust. “He is able to do exceeding abundantly,” &c. He is “glorious in holiness.” He is “the same yesterday, to-day,” &c.
2. Because man’s confidence can thereby be secured. That confidence has been sadly shaken. Hence man’s distress. In God it will stand firm.
3. Because of the blessed consequences which will follow.
(2.) inward peace;
(3.) human brotherhood;
1. A surrounding danger, “compassed.” The foes of the Christian are not all in the front or in the light. They are subtle, and everywhere. A sudden temptation may reveal a weakness hitherto unobserved. They assail us at all points, at home and abroad, at work and at rest, in the Church and in the world.
2. A formidable danger.
(1.) In point of numbers, “like bees.” We wrestle with principalities and powers. Countless multitudes are waiting for every weakness, and plotting for every fall.
(2.) In point of pertinacity. The fourfold repetition of the phrase, “They compassed me,” indicates assiduity and perseverance.
(3.) In point of weapons. The sting of the bee is formidable from its very insignificance. So it is not at first by great temptations, but by small, that we are assailed. The sting of the bee is sharp, so the weapons arrayed against us can pierce body, affections, temper, intellect, and soul.
(4.) In the point of dexterity. It is difficult to strike the bee when on the wing. Happy the man who has transfixed the tempter with the sword of the Spirit, and has him under his feet.
3. A fatal danger. “They thrust sore at me that I might fall.” Their aim is not to weaken, but to destroy. Hence quarter is neither given nor taken. Victory or death is the only issue for either side.
II. Help. “The Lord helped me.”
1. By fighting Himself where and when we are helpless. There are certain antagonists we can never cope with. Sin, Satan, and death have to be encountered by Him first, and their power crippled and themselves chained. In effecting this Christ becomes “the Captain of our salvation.”
2. By animating us with the warlike spirit. “God has not given to us the spirit of cowardice (διιλείας), but the spirit of power.”
3. By arming us for the conflict. (Ephesians 6:13-17).
4. By assurances of victory and reward.
III. Victory. “In the name of the Lord, I will destroy them.”
1. The victory will come swiftly. Like the dry thorns, they shall consume. It remains very much with the Christian, with his faith, courage, and fidelity, when the victory shall be won.
2. The victory shall be complete. “Destroy.” “Sin shall have no more dominion over you.” “The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.” “Death shall be swallowed up in victory.”
3. The glory of the victory shall be given to him to whom it is due. “In the name of the Lord.” Note:—This takes all the malevolence out of this determination. It was a judicial vengeance of which the Psalmist was only the instrument. God takes all the responsibility. Let persecutors see to it that they have God’s warrant. We know we have it in our war of extermination against sin. “Not unto us, but to Thy name,” &c.
PERSONAL AND FAMILY PIETY
I. That piety is sadly wanting. There are men to whom these words are unintelligible. They know nothing of God’s strength; they are strangers to His salvation; no song wells up from their thankless hearts. Sad is their condition; sad the condition of their homes. In many homes all is vice, misery, want, and broken-heartedness, as the result of the parent’s irreligion. In all houses which are not sanctified by the Word of God and prayer, the deepest wants of the family are unsatisfied.
II. That the want of piety is supplied. “The Lord … has become,” &c. Piety consists of three things.
1. Salvation. “The Lord is become … He is my salvation.” Not simply personal rescue or divine blessing, but indwelling God. This involves every other phase. It drives out sin, rescues from impurity and death, gives heaven.
2. Salvation employed. “My strength,” for use, of course. Strength unemployed will be strength dissipated. If we do not “work out our salvation,” viz., that which God has worked in, “to will and to do of His good pleasure,” spiritual loss and death will supervene.
3. Salvation acknowledged. “My song.” Salvation will and must express itself. The praiseless lip argues the thankless heart, and the thankless heart is the heart from which God has fled.
III. That piety must be personally appropriated. “My.”
1. Piety is a matter between the personal soul and its personal Saviour. There can be no mediation or proxy. No man can either get or keep our religion for us.
2. The means of its appropriation is personal faith. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”
3. The test of its appropriation is personal experience. “Is become.” The Psalmist’s experience was no fiction. He knew that there was a time when he felt nothing of the sort. He knew that now that time was over. He had entered on a new phase in his career, and of that phase he was sensible.
IV. That piety is appropriated to be diffused. The sphere of its diffusion here is the home (Psalms 118:15). Piety may be diffused at home by
1. Personal example.
2. Careful self-discipline.
3. Intelligent and patient training.
4. Interesting and constant worship, &c.
V. That piety, and piety alone, will make a home happy. “The voice of rejoicing … is in the tabernacles of the righteous.”
1. Some pious homes, it is said, are not happy. Does true piety reign there? or cant, laxity, or severity?
2. True piety must make a happy home, because it is “alway rejoicing.”
VI. A happy home is a miniature of and a nursery for heaven.
IN CONCLUSION.—(i.) Parents, it rests with you whether your home is a heaven or a hell. (ii.) Children, value your homes. The time may come when you will want them. (iii.) Children of pious parents, make your future home what your past has been.
THE LORD’S TRIUMPH
These words may be applied
(1) to God’s sovereignty over the material universe and His power over its laws;
(2) to national deliverances, such as Moses, David, elsewhere acknowledged, yes, and such as we ought to acknowledge. But
(3) it suggests (and we will consider it as suggesting) the triumphs of Christ and His Gospel in the world.
I. The personal triumph of Christ.
1. Over Satan. This began in the wilderness, continued without intermission during His life, and ended by the victory of the Cross.
2. Over the world. Our Lord confronted the world in all its forms, provincial, metropolitan, social, political, upper, lower. “He measured the world and condemned it. And it fully understood Him. It recognised His aim; it quailed before Him, and it hated Him; and it rested not till it had led Him to His Cross; but He said, ‘I have overcome the world.’ ”—Liddon.
3. Over sin, by bearing its penalty on Calvary.
4. Over death, by His resurrection.
5. This fourfold triumph condensed into one at His ascension (Colossians 1:15, Ephesians 4:8).
II. The triumphs of His Gospel in the human heart.
1. In its conversion from sin to holiness. Every other means has been tried and has failed, human efforts, education, moral philosophy. But Christ has subdued the will, cleansed the soul, introduced a powerful motive, and imparted a new life.
2. In empowering the soul to resist sin, strenuous opposition, favourable circumstances, human encouragement have been in vain.
3. In promoting the growth of moral excellence.
4. In giving us victory over the world, tribulation, and death.
III. The triumphs of His Church in the world.
1. Over persecution. Its early years were years of blood.
2. Over old heathenism, supported as it was by poetry, learning, and extensive popularity.
3. Over heresy, e.g.
(1) Arianism, in spite of its wide influence and royal patronage;
(2) Popery, that giant superstition, still reels under Luther’s blow, and will yet fall.
4. Over religious indifference. Nothing ever has, or ever will excite such interest and move so much as the simple preaching of the Gospel. Where are the crowds so numerous as at our churches?
5. Over human hearts. Witness Pentecost, the preaching of Luther, Latimer, Wesley, Whitfield, &c. Nor are its triumphs confined to one class. In its early ages the illiterate fisherman, the intelligent publican, and the learned rabbi were charmed and subdued. And the same Gospel has since exerted its influence over Bunyan the tinker and Newton the philosopher.
The first of these verses was hung up by Luther in his study, as his favourite verse of his favourite Psalm. “It has come to my aid again and again, and supported me in heavy trials, when Kaiser, king, philosopher, and saint could do nought” Chastisement—
I. Its nature. “The Lord hath chastened me sore.”
1. It was the Lord’s chastisement, therefore sovereign, fatherly.
2. By human instrumentality. His enemies were permitted to “thrust at him sore.”
3. Thorough. “Sore.” Not too much, not too little, but sufficiently to accomplish the divine purposes (Job 30:11).
II. Its limits. “He hath not given me over to death.”
1. Physical death.
2. Intellectual death. Despair.
3. Moral death. Destruction.
III. Its consolations. “I shall not die, but live.”
1. It was corrective, remedial, and therefore not simply punitive (Jeremiah 10:24).
2. Hopefulness against the worst. “I shall not die.”
3. Confidence for the best. “But live” (Acts 27:22-25).
IV. Its effects. “And declare the works of the Lord.”
1. Devout gratitude.
2. Personal improvement.
3. Religious earnestness and testimony. “No affliction for the present seemeth to be joyous but grievous, but afterward,” &c.
THE SACRED ENCLOSURE
I. The enclosure.
1. Literal. Our text primarily refers to the sacred enclosure that was accessible to true Israelites alone. (Isaiah 26:2.) That enclosure was the house of God, where His glory was manifested, His name worshipped, and His people’s righteousness confirmed and strengthened. So the Christian Church is where God’s presence is felt, His word proclaimed, His worship celebrated, &c.
2. Moral. Christian life is a temple of the living God and the sphere of righteousness. A way of holiness where God dwells and walks with His people.
3. Heavenly (Psalms 24:7). Heaven is the sanctuary of God, and the dwelling place of righteousness.
II. The gates of that enclosure. “The gates of righteousness.” “The gate of the Lord.”
1. The gate which belongs to the Lord. The Lord keeps the gate; not Peter, not His ministers, but Himself.
2. The gate is of the Lord’s appointment. All who enter by any other climb over the wall and are thieves and robbers. There is only one way opened. “There is only one name given under heaven,” &c.
3. The gate is the Lord Himself. “I am the way.” “I am the door.” Christ alone is the entrance to God’s righteousness.
III. The keys to that enclosure.
1. Ardent supplication. “Open,” implying need of entrance, desire to enter. “Ask;” “seek;” “knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”
2. The divine willingness. “Thou hast heard.” God has a sovereign right to admit or exclude all He chooses; but we know that He will be guided by righteousness, and will not select on arbitrary principles.
3. Salvation. “Art become my salvation.” Nothing that is defiled or maketh a lie can enter. Only “the redeemed shall walk there.” They “enter in and find pasture.”
IV. The privileges and duties of that enclosure.
1. Worship. “I will praise the Lord.”
IN CONCLUSION.—(i.) The outer courts are open to all.
(1.) Many privileges of the material sanctuary. But let the Church beware how she throws all her privileges open.
(2.) Opportunities for righteousness.
(3.) Opportunities for qualifying for heaven. (ii.) The inner court is open to all who are qualified to enter.
(1.) All the means of grace;
(2.) the fulfilment of all righteousness;
(3.) all the hopes and fruits of glory.
CHRIST THE CORNER-STONE
Whatever literal application these verses may have had, that application is now merged into the richer, larger, and undoubted application to the Messiah. No text is more frequently quoted in the New Testament. Six or seven times it is quoted word for word, and in innumerable instances is it unquestionably referred to where Christ is made the one, true, and only foundation of the Church. “Must we, in opposition to the perverted and obstinate exegesis even of believing commentators, begin to prove that this Psalm is Messianic—that the corner-stone is a real prophecy of the Spirit concerning Christ? We frankly confess ourselves to be so often vexed by such contentions with brethren who do not understand the scripture, that we lose patience; and, however unscientifically, are inclined rather to rebuke them with Christ (Luke 24:25) until their hearts burn, and their burning hearts begin to read in the light of the Pentecostal fire what is written.”—Stier. Observe—
I. That Christ is the corner-stone.
1. What the corner-stone is not.
(1.) Feelings towards Christ. These are most unsubstantial and shifting.
(2.) Doctrines concerning Christ. These merely tell us about the corner-stone.
(3.) The example of Christ. This is simply the character of the corner-stone.
(4.) The Church of Christ. That is the building reared on the corner-stone.
2. What the corner-stone is. “Jesus Christ Himself being the chief stone.” This only is solid, constant, and eternal. All else is sand. This is rock. Jesus Christ in His divine-human personality. Incarnate, crucified, risen, glorified, and reigning.
3. What the corner-stone is for.
(1.) For beauty. Corner-stones are the most costly, choice, and adorned. Other stones derive their excellency from them. So the Christian building derives its beauty from Him who is “full of grace and truth.” “Of His fulness all we have received, and grace for grace.”
(2.) Stability. They are chosen for firmness, strength, and durability. They uphold and maintain the building which without them would crumble and fall. So Christ supports the individual believer and the collective Church, in weakness, trials, hour of death, day of judgment.
(3.) Unity and compactness. Take away the corner-stone and the sides of the house become separate buildings. This unity is not uniformity. The other stones are of various sizes, value, colour, material. The corner-stone gives harmony. So different men have different capacities, preferences, modes of thought and feeling. Christ binds them into a mighty whole—His Church.
II. That Christ is the only cornerstone. There have been many rival corner-stones. They have been tried, but they have failed, and so have those who have built upon them. Paganism, Unbelief, Socialism, Philosophy, Ethics. “Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid,” &c. He is the only cornerstone by which God and man can be brought together on terms that are at once honourable, amicable, strong, and abiding. He alone can bring the dispensations together into a harmonious whole and make them an enduring basis for faith and morals. He is the only means by which the disintegrated masses of mankind can find their principle of cohesion. “One is your Master, even Christ, and all ye are brethren.” He is the only means whereby the disorganised faculties of our nature can be reduced to order and compacted in strength and “so make our new man.”
III. That Christ is the divinely established corner-stone. “This is the Lord’s doings.” It is no myth or speculation. It is not the doing of men or angels, but of—
1. The Holy Trinity. The Father “sent forth His Son,” and consecrated Him. “Him hath God the Father sealed.” The Son “came,” and by His own power laid “down His life and took it again.” The Holy Spirit takes of the things of Christ and imparts them to us.
2. The divine attributes. Wisdom devised it; justice instituted it; love gave it; and power laid it.
3. The divine providence.
(1.) By a wonderful preparation. Moral: the Jews; intellectual: the Greeks; political: the Romans.
(2.) In an age which by its peculiar fitness was “the fulness of the times.”
IV. That Christ is the rejected corner-stone. In all ages since His advent He has been the despised and rejected of men. The Jewish people and the whole heathen world combined at first to resist His claims. He was a stumbling-block to the one, and foolishness to the other. Persecution and controversy since have proved that the human heart is alien to Him. Sin, infidelity, heresy, and worldliness all refuse to build upon Christ.
V. That Christ is the marvellous corner-stone.
1. Marvellous when we consider who is the corner-stone.
(1.) In its unlikelihood. The man Christ Jesus, born in a manger; the Man of Sorrows, crucified as a malefactor.
(2.) In its condescension. The brightness of the Father’s glory, creator of the universe, governor of angels, Lord of man.
2. Marvellous when we consider the means by which He has become the cornerstone. By the simple preaching of truths alien to natural inclinations, political institutions, moral usages; demanding the resignation of pride of intellect, independence of will, pleasure, profit; by men, weak and unlearned in the world’s estimation, whose weapons were not learning or swords, but holiness, suffering, zeal, and prayer.
3. Marvellous when we consider the numbers and quality of those who have made it their corner-stone. Countless millions have eschewed beliefs consecrated by the profession of unnumbered ages, have thrown off their allegiance to priesthoods armed with every terror and device, have resisted the fascinations of philosophy, and have left darling vices and besetting sins. These have been from all ranks—monarchs, nobles, warriors, statesmen, poets, &c.
THE LORD’S DAY
I. The day—
1. Of temporal deliverance. God has made that. By a variety of providential dispensations. Indirectly, through men and other instrumentalities, e.g., in sickness, through the physician; in perplexities, by friendly advice and help. Directly, by the interposition of His mighty power.
2. Of salvation. The whole Christian dispensation is the time accepted by God in which to bless mankind. It is the time acceptable to man in which his pressing spiritual wants may be supplied.
3. Of conversion. The day when God gives, and we personally take, Jesus Christ to be our chief corner-stone. Let that “happy day” never be forgotten.
4. The sabbath day, by Jehovah’s rest and Christ’s resurrection.
II. The duties of that day.
(1.) Rejoicing. Implying intense gratitude, cheerful consecration, holy zeal.
(2.) Gladness. Let no man say that religion is a thing of gloom. God blesses us that we may be happy. Let the day of rest be the gladdest of all the seven.
This passage received its fulfilment only in Him who came in the supremest sense in the name of the Lord (Matthew 21:9). Here, however, it admits of a human and general interpretation.
I. The blessing supplicated.
1. This supplication is the expression of a want. “Save.” “Send prosperity.” “Save,” implying moral evil and degradation; “Prosperity,” loss and misery.
2. This supplication was earnest. “Beseech.” Our need is great, so must be our cry. Listless prayer implies unconsciousness of need.
3. This supplication was urgent. “Save now.” “Send now.” Need is always present. Blessings are ever wanted.
II. The conditions of blessing fulfilled.
(1.) This is inexorable. “Come, now, let us reason;” “Seek ye the Lord,” &c.
(2.) Can only be fulfilled through Christ. “No man cometh unto the Father but by Me.”
(3.) Is equivalent to Christian faith. Faith is the soul’s approach to God through Christ.
2. Coming in the name of the Lord.
(1) Not in our name, or
(2) by our own merits, but
(3) in the name of the Lord. Self-distrust, resignation, confidence.
III. The blessing vouchsafed.
1. Salvation; from the guilt, power, pollution, and punishment of sin.
2. Prosperity. The great gift of God through His Son and Spirit. Regeneration, sanctification, indwelling peace, joy, power, heaven.
IV. The place of blessing. “The house of the Lord.”
1. All the means of grace are there concentrated.
2. The vast majority of Christians receive their highest blessings there.
I. Personal religion consists in the acknowledgment of a personal God. Religion must rest on a dogmatic and theological basis. Whatever definition we give to the term religion, this is primarily involved. If it consists in the bond which unites the soul to the Supreme Being, then we must know who that Supreme Being is. If it consists in duty, then with reference to whom are those duties performed. To resolve God into a “stream or tendency which makes for righteousness” does not avoid theology or dogma.
II. Personal religion consists in the acknowledgment of a personal God accessible to man. God is accessible, because He is “good.” If He is not good, He is unapproachable, and must be the object of man’s fear. God is permanently accessible, because His mercy endureth for ever. Religion must have an object who can be approached through all the vicissitudes of life.
III. Personal religion consists in the apprehension of a personal God. “My God.” “This is a truth unknown beyond the precincts of revelation. The Almighty and Eternal gives Himself in the fulness of His being to the soul that seeks Him. Heathenism, indeed, in its cultus of domestic and local duties, of its penates, of its θεοὶ ἐπιχωρίοι, bare witness to the deep yearning of the human heart for the individualising love of a higher power. To know the true God is to know that such a craving is satisfied.”—Liddon.
IV. Personal religion consists in the acknowledgment and enjoyment of a divine revelation “which hath showed us light.” If God is to be approached and apprehended, He must reveal Himself. If man is to receive his Maker’s blessing, be united to his Maker’s person, and fulfil his Maker’s will, he must be told who that Maker is and what He would have him do. God hath showed us light in the Bible and in the revelation of Him who said, “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father.”
V. Personal religion consists in personal sacrifices (Psalms 118:27).
VI. Personal religion consists in devout worship, thanksgiving, and praise (Psalms 118:28-29).
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Psalms 118". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20