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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

Psalms 143

Verses 1-12

Memorable Days

Psalms 143:5

I. 'I remember the days' when there were no days; I remember the period before duration was broken up into fragmentary hours and perishable opportunities; my time enables me to go back by spiritual interpretation and ideality into the chambers of the infinite, the eternal presence.

'I remember the days:' I have written them down in my book kept in the treasure-house of mine heart; no thief can break through and steal; the days are my own, the history is a gathering of nuggets which I can melt and mint into the current coin which I need for today's spending. Poor is he who has no yesterday; an atheist he must be who does not live in the days that are gone, and does not so live in them as to appropriate other man's experience and add it to his own wisdom. We might all be rich; the memory should be a bank, more, it should be a gold mine, it should be a peculiar and an inexhaustible treasure.

The days are very many, we can name but a few of them, but the few should represent the multitude. Our subject is Memorable Days, days that can never be forgotten; days that created a place for themselves in the field of the memory; days of strife and temple-building and triumph and sorrow unutterable; yet all the days accumulate into a day, the many becoming unified, the unity glowing like an altar on the highways of time.

II. Who does not remember what the Psalmist calls in Psalms 140:7 the day of battle? Recall the battle as your own; recall the victory as God's. God appoints the battle, God knows exactly how much fighting is good for us. History is made by fighters; let us always fight in the right spirit, and for the right object, then we shall be in God's majority, though we may be overturned and over-bourne for a moment, and though it may be said that we were borne down by an overwhelming mediocrity a much better word than majority!

III. Who is there that cannot recall what Nahum in the first chapter and seventh verse of his Burden calls the day of trouble? Man is born unto trouble as the sparks fly upward. Poor is the life that has had no trouble day; it is a mean, frivolous, shallow life. Trouble works miracles of sculpture in the countenance and miracles of music in the voice, and gives the hand a new masonry when it shakes some outstretched hand of love. Trouble may have been one of our best friends; it shattered many an idol, it showed just what windows were southward and what windows opened upon the black north. Consult experience; have long conversation with the man whose house has for many a day been in the dark valley; he will help thee, he knows how to pray; his prayer may be brief, but in the power of Christ it reaches heaven and brings back the light you need.

IV. And there is a day called in the Scriptures, notably in 2 Corinthians 6:2 , the day of salvation. Jesus Christ used an equivalent expression in the house of Zaccheus; said He, This day is salvation come to this house'; your day was a day of bondage, today is a day of salvation; yesterday you were slaves, today you are free men. Salvation is one of the greatest words in all language; it is as great as love, it is as glorious as light, it is as welcome as rain when the earth has been famishing for want of water.

V. In Ecclesiastes 7:1 we read of another day, common day, 'the day of death'. There is no discharge in that war. You may have company until the last day and the last noon of that day and the last sunset of that day, but after that you must go alone. There are some fifty odd yards of life's pilgrimage that every pilgrim must walk alone.

VI. There is another day referred to in Genesis 32:26 , 'the day breaketh'; the breaking day, the dawning day, the larger light, the Sabbath day. There is poetry; the very word day-break; it is a poem in a hyphenated word. 'Till the day break and the shadows flee away:' we wait for the day! When Paul and his co-voyagers were in Adria, the historian says that they did all that lay in their power, and then they waited for the day; in still more explicit and holy language, they wished for the day. There is liberation in light. There is no gaol so deep and so unbearable as the prison of darkness; we know not what it holds, we cannot tell what loathsome beast may be one stride of our standing-place, we cannot tell but that if we move we shall dash our brains out against some protruding rock. What then do we do? we wish for the light, we wish for the day; one little beam would signify liberty, one laugh of light would signify and herald a festival of joy alive! That is what we want. O ye great poets, sing of the day, repeat your prayer, it suits eloquent lips like yours light! When the Amen of God comes the morning will shine upon the rejoicing and liberated earth.

Joseph Parker, City Temple Pulpit, vol. I. p. 150.

The Soldier's Rest

Psalms 143:7-11

There you have the transition of a soul from the rest which it needed in long conflict and many failures, from the rest, to the energy of a new service. 'Show me the way that I should walk in.' 'Quicken me, O Lord, according to Thy Word.' We need rest and may claim it at various times. If men will but taste deeply of the fountain of that rest, they will, before they know it, be roused up in new strength to the new service, and so it would be quite well to think of the promises of rest, and the duty of leaning all our weight upon God.

I. The Nature of the Rest. First, then, about the rest itself, which is not a rest of sloth, a rest from toil. It is a rest from the strain of poverty, or the strain of covetousness and ambition. Found in pleasure, in the satisfaction of our desires? No; found in the spirit of contentment. We rest from struggle or from ambition in contentment; we rest from adversity and strife and contention in patience, not by God's taking away the causes of our unrest, not by His blunting the weapons of our accusers and oppressors, but by the spirit of patience in our hearts, the spirit of Jesus Christ, by which He submitted to the unjust judge, and for us bore our stripes and hung upon the tree. It is our rest from injustice, from tyranny, from adversity, from conflict. Our rest from anxiety, debate, discussion, and doubt is not in the clearing up of the atmosphere in which we view all things, but it is in taking into our hearts the great treasure of a trustful reliance on God, though we see Him not, though He seem to smite us. Rest from distraction is not found in being able to comprise and manage all the objects of our desire, so as to be able to husband our time and forces and gain them all, it is found in returning to the single eye, in submitting every desire to the yoke of Jesus Christ.

II. Peace and Warfare. We find our joy in conflict; the kingdom we come into is no land of milk and honey, no Sabbath place of rest. It is called a kingdom because it is the sphere of activity and influence of a King on His march. We have a peace, but it is the peace of soldiers under the banner of a King in arms. No man liveth to himself but to the Lord, Who needs him for His service. He must live, he must be strong in the Lord, for the needs of others; he must rest for them, he must be revived for them, he must find strength for them, and, dying for them unto sin, he shall live again for them unto righteousness. He shall fight well because he hath rested well for them.

Just take that one word, rest, and find energy; rest, and in your peace find war; rest for others that you may fight for others. It is the corporate nature of your life which makes your rest necessary, which makes your weariness necessary, for it is to teach you to bring your single note into the great chord of life.

Plants Grown Up in Their Youth

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Psalms 143". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. 1910.