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Light and Truth (Suitable for Missions)
We all need a guide. No one would question this. Very often we choose a wrong guide, and one that leads us astray. Light and truth are two great factors in our everyday life. Without either or both of them, we should drag on a most miserable existence. Light is the world's first and greatest necessity, hence it was first created before the inhabitants of the earth. We cannot do without light which brings life. It promotes healthy growth, it produces happiness.
As there is need for light in the natural world, so there is need of light in the spiritual world. 'The whole world,' said St. John, 'lieth in wickedness,' and consequently it needs light and truth. The Word of God was given to supply this great need of man, for it is light and truth. 'Thy Word,' says the Psalmist, 'is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.'
And our Lord Jesus Christ, in that remarkable prayer of His on behalf of His loved ones, says 'Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy Word is truth'. These two passages show clearly that God's Word is light and truth, so that we may well regard our text as a command to those who have received the Word to pass it on to others.
I. Responsibility. When our Lord stood on the Mount He said to His disciples, 'Ye are the light of the world'. That is a responsibility. It means that every one who has received the light of the Gospel from Him Who is the light of the World, is responsible for taking an active part in the work of disseminating that light, and spreading it to others. We are morally bound to spread far and wide the Word of light and truth which we have received. It is a great risk to any nation or any individual to neglect this.
II. England's Responsibility. Of all peoples who have received the light and truth of God's Word, we have received the fullest measure, and have been granted the greatest facilities and possibilities of transmitting it to others. God has placed in our hands perfect freedom as to the use of His Word, as to the free discussion and defence of truth, as to devising ways and means by which that truth may be disseminated and communicated. We are a nation highly favoured beyond others with breadth of empire. We have connexion with and free access to the uttermost parts of the earth. We have wealth at our disposal to send out the light and truth.
III. Individual Responsibility. Have you ever realized your responsibility as a steward? Yours is a strict and solemn account, which you must stand one day and give at the bar of Jesus, Who is no respecter of persons, when every opportunity of good given to us will be called in question as to how we have disposed of it. God expects from you that you should shine out in the darkness of the world, which as yet knows Him not, by sending out the light and truth by your liberality and generosity, or even by going out yourselves to the foreign field. Remember there is no happiness like the happiness of giving, more especially when we give something we value. God has given His most precious possession, His only dear Son. Jesus Christ gave us His own life, for we are redeemed by His most precious blood. We need to give the utmost we are able in order to carry the tidings of His love to others. Go forward and tell this good news.
This 43rd Psalm, and the Psalm that goes before it, were composed by David under circumstances of great trouble. Taken together, they give us an insight into the very heart of the Psalmist. David there appears as the man whose affections were set upon God, and in all the changes and chances and dangers of a chequered life looked upward.
I. We need to have this teaching, and this example in this life of weary toil, we need to have our spirits lifted up, not to be always earthward bound.
II. Observe how entirely Christian the prayer is. We ask for God's light, and for His truth and what is this but to ask for Christ to dwell in our hearts?
III. We live in times when aspirations are sadly damped and discouraged. If a man look upward he is told that he is neglecting closer duties, that his work lies at his feet. Hold fast the blessed hope of a life to come promised and open to all who have faith in Jesus Christ.
IV. God is present in all places, at all times but is present according to His true promise, wheresoever two or three are gathered together in His name.
R. D. B. Rawnsley, Village Sermons (3rd Series), p. 158.
After the ministers and elders of the Free Church of Scotland, at the Disruption, had reached Tanfield Hall in their first step of emancipation, 18 May, 1843, Dr. Chalmers took the chair as Moderator, and rose to give out the opening Psalm. Dr. Buchanan, the historian of the Ten Years' Conflict, says: 'A heavy thunder-cloud had for some time darkened the heavens, and, as the eye ranged at that particular moment over the dense mass of human beings who covered the immense area of the low-roofed hall, individual forms had almost ceased to be distinguishable through the sombre shade. The Psalm which Dr. Chalmers had chosen was the 43rd. He began at that touching and beautiful line
O send Thy light forth and Thy truth, and as the words sounded through the hall, the sun, escaping from behind his cloudy covering, and darting his brilliant beams through the windows which pierced the roof, turned on the instant the preceding darkness into day. It was one of those incidents which only superstition could misunderstand, but which, at the same time, is entitled to its own place among the traits of the picturesque which belonged to the scenes we are describing.'
References. XLIII. 3. J. M. Neale, Sermons on Passages of the Psalms, pp. 162, 170. XLIII. 3, 4. Ibid. pp. 108, 120. XLIII. 4. H. Scott Holland, Logic and Life, p. 99. E. Paxton Hood, Dark Sayings on a Harp, p. 101. J. P. Gledstone, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxvi. p. 364.
The Psalmists Remonstrance with His Soul
Three times does the Psalmist take himself to task and question himself as to the reasonableness of the emotions that are surging in his soul, and checks these by higher considerations.
I. Moods and emotions should be examined and governed by a higher self. It is necessary to keep a very tight hand upon all our feelings, whether they be the natural desires of the sensuous part of our nature, or whether they be the sentiments of sadness and doubt, or anxiety or perplexity which are the natural results of outward circumstances of trial; or whether, on the contrary they be the bright and buoyant ones which come, like angels, along with prosperous hours.
II. There are two ways of looking at causes of dejection and disquiet. 'My soul' has been talking two whole Psalms to explain why it is cast down. After all these have been said again and again the Psalmist says to himself, 'Come now, let us hear it all once more, Why art thou cast down?' There is a court of appeal in each man which tests and tries his reasons for his moods; and these which look very sufficient to the flesh, turn out to be very insufficient when investigated and tested by the higher spirit or self. We should 'appeal from Philip drunk to Philip sober'.
III. No reasons for being cast down are so strong as those for elation and calm hope. Try to realize what God is to yourselves 'My God,' and 'the health of my countenance'. That will stimulate sluggish feeling; that will calm disturbed emotion.
IV. The effort to lay hold on the truth which calms is to be repeated in spite of failures. A moment of tranquillity interrupts the agitation of the Psalmist's soul, but is soon followed by the recurrence of 'the horrible storm' that 'begins afresh'. But the guiding self keeps the hand firm on the tiller, notwithstanding the wash of the water and the rolling of the ship, and the dominant will conquers at last
A. Maclaren, Christ's Musts, p. 210.
Reference. XLIII. 5. H. P. Liddon, Old Testament Outlines, p. 111.
This Psalm was chanted in the church at Milan, a.d. 387, when Augustine was baptized by Ambrose.
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Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Psalms 43". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/
the Fifth Week after Easter