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Superscription.—“To the Chief Musician upon Shoshannim, for the sons of Korah, Maschil. A song of loves.”
“To the chief musician.” See notes on the title to Psalms 39:0. “Upon Shoshannim” “is a musical direction to the leader of the Temple choir, and moat probably indicates the melody ‘after’ or ‘in the manner of’ (על, al., A. V. ‘upon’) which the Psalms were to be sung. As ‘Shoshannim’ literally signifies ‘lilies,’ it has been suggested that the word denotes lily-shaped instruments of music, perhaps cymbals, and this view appears to be adopted by De Wette (Die Psalmen, p. 34). Hengstenberg gives to it an enigmatical interpretation, as indicating ‘the subject or subjects treated, as lilies figuratively for bride in Psalms 45:0; the delightful consolations and deliverances experienced in Psalms 69:0, &c., which Dr. Davidson very truly characterises as ‘a most improbable fancy.’ The 70 and Vulgate have in both psalms ὑπὲρ τῶν , and pro iis qui immutabuntur respectively, reading apparently עַל מְשֻׁנִּים for עַל שֹׁשׁנִּים. Ben Zeb regards it as an instrument of psalmody, and Junius and Tremellius, after Kimchi, render it ‘hexachorda,’ an instrument with six strings, referring it to the root shesh, ‘six,’ and this is approved by Eichorn in his edition of Simonis.”—W. Aldis Wright, in Smith’s Diet, of the Bible.
Fuerst in his Lexicon says on “שׁוֹשַׁנִּים, the name of a musical choir, Psalms 45:0; Psalms 69:0; Psalms 80:0, identical with שׁוּשַׁן, Psalms 60:0, (which see).” On the latter word he says, עֵדוּת שׁוּשַׁן (Psalms 60:0, for which Psalms 80:0 has עֵדוּת שׁוֹשַׁנִּים, and also שׁוֹשַׁנִּים alone) proper name of one of the twenty-four music choirs (1 Chronicles 25:0) left by David (תּוֹדת, Nehemiah 12:31), Psalms 60:0, so called from a master שׁוּשַׁן (comp. the proper name שֵּׁשָׁן 1 Chronicles 2:31). which musical guild may have been stationed in עְדִיתַיִם עֵדוּת (Joshua 15:36).
“For the sons of Korah.” See notes on the title to Psalms 42:0.
“Maschil,” a didactic poem.
“A song of loves,” says Barnes, “would properly denote a song devoted to love, or in celebration of love; that is, in which love would be the main idea.”
The author of the psalm, and the occasion on which it was written, are both unknown.
The reader who desires to acquaint himself with the various opinions as to whom the psalm refers or is applicable, we would refer to the “Introductions” to the psalm in the commentaries of Barnes, Hengstenberg, et al. For ourselves, we believe in its Messianic application. “The forty-fifth psalm,” says Canon Liddon, “is a picture of the peaceful and glorious union of the King Messiah with His mystical bride, the Church of redeemed humanity. Messiah is introduced as a Divine King reigning among men. His form is of more than human beauty; His lips overflow with grace; God has blessed Him for ever, and has anointed Him with the oil of gladness above His fellows. But Messiah is also directly addressed as God; He is seated upon an everlasting throne.” This psalm cannot “be adapted without exegetical violence to the circumstances of Solomon, or of any other king of ancient Israel; and the New Testament interprets the picture of the Royal Epithalamium of the one true King Messiah.”
THE PRAISE OF THE MESSIAH-KING
I. The reasons why He is praised.
1. Because of the beauty of His character. “Thou art fairer than the children of men.” The Hebrew word translated, “Thou art fairer,” is a very unusual expression. This word, יָפֽיָפִיתָ, according to Fuerst, is the 2d person masculine of יָפְיָפָה=“to be very beautifully formed, with מִן (more than) Pa. Psalms 45:3” (2 A. V.) “The irregularity of this reduplicated form merely consists in this, that it stands for יָפְיְפָה, the second Yod not being the first radical repeated, but arising out of the third (ה); and יָפִיתָ being put by the punctuators after the analogy of Kal.” Hengstenberg gives the force of the word as, “Thou art beautifulness, for, Thou art perfectly beautiful. The beauty here, since it is described in what follows, as the ground of the Divine blessing, cannot be simply outward beauty, but only the expression and image of spiritual perfection.” The beauty of Christ’s character when studied as it is presented to us by the four evangelists is an exhaustless theme. We can only indicate certain points and leave them. Consider
(1) His righteousness as attested by unbelievers. When He demanded of His enemies, “Which of you convinceth me of sin?” they were speechless. Pilate said,” I find no fault in this man.” The Roman centurion said, “Certainly this was a righteous man.”
(2) His association with sinners without contracting the slightest impurity.
(3) His treatment of personal enemies. He prayed for those who crucified Him, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
(4) His everburning hatred of tin, and His quenchless love for sinners.
(5) His unreserved and hearty devotion to the Supreme Will.
(6) His Divine self-sacrifice. We can only mention these points out of many others. But, if the reader desires to see the singular and superhuman beauty of Christ’s character most thoughtfully and eloquently set forth, we refer him to the chapter on “The Character of Jesus forbids His possible Classification with Men,” in “Nature and the Supernatural,” by H. Bushnell, D.D. Read the chapter, and with deeper conviction and intenser fervour, you will exclaim, “Thou art fairer than the children of men!”
2. Because of the excellency of His speech. “Grace is poured into thy lips.” “The grace which is here specially ascribed to the lips is manifestly but a reflection of the loveliness of the speech which streams from the lips.” See this when he was a child talking with the doctors in the temple: “All that heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.” And afterwards, when He taught in the synagogue, the people “were astonished and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom?” When certain officers had been sent by the chief priests and Pharisees to seize Him, they returned saying, “Never man spake like this man.” When He spake in the synagogue at Nazareth, “all bare Him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth.” Recall His words to the penitent, to the doubting, to the anxious, to the bereaved, &c. Think of His words concerning the Father, &c. Truly, “Grace is poured into Thy lips.”
3. Because of His constant enjoyment of the Divine favour. “Therefore, God hath blessed Thee for ever.” Mysterious is the union between the Father and the Son. But we know it affords unspeakable delight to the Father. “Mine elect in whom My soul delighteth.” “My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Here, then, are the highest reasons for praising the Messiah-King.
II. The manner in which He is praised.
1. Heartily. “My heart is inditing a good matter.” Margin: “My heart boileth, or bubbleth up.” Hengstenberg: “My heart boils with good words.” He speaks not the coolly calculated praise of the intellect, nor is he about to produce some beautiful work of poetic art merely, but to utter the irrepressible emotions of admiration and love. His heart is about to relieve itself in praise. Hearty praise is the only praise which God accepts.
2. Readily. “My tongue is as the pen of a ready writer.” The heart of the poet is so filled with his theme “that he has no need to seek for words; but they flow in upon him of themselves and flow out again.” In the case of the Psalmist, a full heart made a fluent tongue.
III. The excellence of this praise. “A good matter.” It is good—
1. Because of the excellence of the person praised. It is fitting and right that goodness should be reverenced, that beauty should be admired, &c He is “the chiefest among ten thousand, … yea, He is altogether lovely.”
2. Because of the reflex influence of the exercise upon the person offering praise. By sincerely praising God we become like Him in those features for which we praise Him. The exercise is transforming. As we dwell with devout admiration on His beauty we ourselves become beautiful. The praise of the supremely good is an important condition of the true development of our nature, and one of the chief elements of human joy. In heaven the praise is ceaseless.
THE MESSIAH AS A MAJESTIC CONQUEROR
The Messiah is here represented as a Hero going forth to battle. He whose character is so beautiful, whose words are so gracious, is also a man of war. “The royal bridegroom,” says Matthew Henry, “is a man of war, and His nuptials do not excuse Him from the field of battle; nay, they bring Him to the field of battle, for He is to rescue His spouse by dint of sword out of her captivity, to conquer her, and to conquer for her, and then to marry her.” It is important to bear in mind that “the imperatives have prophetic import. The Psalmist calls upon the king to do that, which He shall surely perform.”
I. The enterprise which He has undertaken. He is here represented as going forth to subdue His enemies in the world. Here are two points—
1. Christ has enemies in the world. “The carnal mind is enmity against God.” The unrenewed man in his heart and by his deeds, if not in words, says, “We will not have this man to reign over us.”
2. Christ is engaged in the conquest of His enemies in the world. He conquers them by converting them into His friends. He destroys rebels by making them His loyal subjects. His great work is the conversion and salvation of souls.
II. The manner in which He goes forth to this enterprise. “Gird Thy sword upon Thy thigh, O Hero, with Thy glory and Thy majesty.” The “sword” of the Hero is the Word of God. “The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God.” “The Word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword,” &c. “By the promises of that Word, and the grace contained in those promises, souls are made willing to submit to Jesus Christ and become His loyal subjects; by the threatenings of that Word, and the judgments executed according to them, those that stand out against Christ will in due time be brought down and ruined.” (Comp. Revelation 19:15.) The Hero goes forth also in His “glory and majesty.” “He has a threefold glory. His glory, as God, consists in a display of the infinite perfections and excellencies of His nature. This glory He possessed with the Father before the world was. His glory, as man, consists in the perfect holiness of His heart and life. His glory, as God and man united in one Person, the Mediator, consists in His perfect fitness to perform all those works which the office of Mediator requires of Him. This is the glory in which Christ appears, when He goes forth to subdue sinners to Himself; and this, therefore, is the glory which is meant in our text.” … He possesses “everything which is necessary, either to satisfy the justice and honour of God, or to excite and justify the utmost love, admiration, and confidence of man.… He wished Him also to appear in His majesty. The difference between majesty and glory consists in this: Glory is something which belongs to either the person or the character of a being; but majesty is more properly an attribute of office, especially of the regal office. This office Christ sustains. He is exalted to be a Prince as well as a Saviour; He is King of kings and Lord of lords; and it is principally in His character of a king, that He subdues His enemies, and dispenses pardon. The Psalmist, therefore, wished Him to appear in this character, arrayed in all His awful majesty, that while His glory excited admiration, and delight, and love, His majesty might produce reverential awe, and lead sinners to submission and obedience.”—Payson.
III. The Reasons for which He goes forth to this enterprise. “Because of truth and meekness and righteousness.” “Truth” as opposed to all lying or fraud; “meekness” as opposed to pride and arrogance; and “righteousness” as opposed to all injustice. The King rides forth to war in the cause of the truthful, the meek, and the righteous. He wages relentless war against falsehood, violence, and injustice. His kingdom is founded and extended neither by deceit, nor arrogance, nor mere irresistible force. His reign is the reign of truth, gentleness, and equity.
IV. The success which He achieves in this enterprise. The Messiah is represented as “riding prosperously” on in His career. He advances successfully, victoriously. “Thy right hand shall teach Thee terrible things. Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the King’s enemies; whereby the people fall under Thee.” With His right hand the Hero achieves deeds which strike the world with amazement and fear. On Psalms 45:5 Barnes says: “Literally, Thine arrows are sharp—the people under Thee shall fall—in the heart of the enemies of the King. The process of thought in the verse seems to be this: First, The arrows are seen as sharp or penetrating. Second, The people are seen falling as those arrows are shot forth. Third, It is seen that those who fall are the enemies of the King, and that the arrows have pierced the heart.… The reference here is to the truth, and to the power of that truth in penetrating the hearts of men.” The arrows pierce some hearts with conviction, and conversion follows. But the incorrigibly impenitent will be pierced with the sharp arrows of His wrath.
CONCLUSION.—The ultimate success of the Messiah’s enterprise is certain.
1. The nature of His government secures it. Truth is stronger than error; love than hatred; righteousness than injustice, &c.
2. The march of events shows it. Christ’s ideas, principles, &c., are conquering the world.
3. God guarantees it. “I shall give Thee the heathen for thine inheritance,” &c. “He must reign until He hath put all enemies under His feet.” Are we with Him or against Him? Sinners, will you bow to the sceptre of His grace, or resist Him until you are smitten down by his terrible right hand? Choose ye.
THE MESSIAH’S REIGN AND JOY
We pass from the contemplation of the Messiah as a Hero to regard Him as a King. Psalms 45:6-7 are quoted by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews in proof of the fact that the Christ is exalted by God above the angels. He certainly regards the words in the Psalm as applying originally to Christ. So that we have excellent authority for regarding the Psalm as Messianic.
I. The reign of the Messiah. “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever,” &c. The Psalmist here announces—
1. The righteousness of His reign. “The sceptre of Thy kingdom is a right sceptre.” “A sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Thy kingdom” (Hebrews 1:8). Hengstenberg: “A sceptre of equity is the sceptre of Thy kingdom.” The laws and administration of the Messiah’s empire are just.
(1) His rule over man as an individual is right. All His requirements are in harmony with and tend to promote our wellbeing. In keeping His commandments “there is great reward.”
(2) His rule over man in his social relations is right. What could be more equitable or more wise than the great rule laid down by our Lord for the regulation of our conduct towards each other, “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets”?
(3) His rule over man in his relations to God is right. He requires us to obey, reverence, and love God. Is it not reasonable and equitable that the most excellent and gracious Being should be loved; that the most holy and glorious Being should be reverenced; that our Creator, Sustainer, and Sovereign should be obeyed? “The law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good.” His reign is not only equitable, but benevolent. Moreover, the Psalmist represents the righteous administration of the Messiah’s kingdom as proceeding from His own habitual righteousness and love thereunto. “Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity.”
2. The perpetuity of His reign. “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever.” The righteousness of His dominion and its perpetuity are closely related to each other. It is eternal because it is equitable. “Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.” Earthly monarchs have to yield up crown and sceptre at the bidding of death; but the Messiah-King ever lives. Earthly dynasties pass away; but His empire is ever increasing, and shall for ever endure.
II. The joy of the Messiah. “Therefore, O God, Thy God hath anointed Thee,” &c.
1. His joy, which is here expressed by the anointing of the Father. Alford says: “We must distinguish this anointing from the ἔχρισεν αὐτὸν ὁ θεὸς ποεύματι ἁγίῳ κ. δυνάμει of Acts 10:38, and the ἔχρισεν με of Isaiah 61:1· For it is a consequent upon the righteous course of the Son of God in His humanity, and therefore belongs to His triumph, in which He is exalted above His μέτοχοι. Again, ‘the oil of gladness’ seems rather to point to a festive and triumphant than to an inaugurative unction. We should therefore rather take the allusion to be, as in Psalms 23:5; Psalms 92:10, to the custom of anointing guests at feasts; so that as the King in the Psalm is anointed with the oil of rejoicing above His fellows, because of His having loved righteousness and hated iniquity, so Christ in the jubilant celebration of His finished course at His exaltation in heaven is anointed with the festive oil, παρὰ τοὺς μετόχους αὐτοῦ … ‘Oil of rejoicing’ (oil indicative of joy, as it is of superabundance: cf. Isaiah 61:3) beyond thy fellows (i.e., in the Psalm, other kings) … We must, I think, take μετόχους (Hebrews 1:9) as representing other heavenly beings, partakers in the same glorious and sin less state with Himself, though not in the strict sense His ‘fellows’.… Thus only can the figure of anointing at a triumphant festival be carried out consistently—that triumph having taken place on the exaltation of the Redeemer to the Father’s right hand and throne when the whole of the heavenly company, His μίτοχοι in glory and joy, being anointed with the oil of gladness, His share and dignity was so much greater than theirs.”
2. His joy, in His bride—the Church “Upon Thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir.” The Church is here and elsewhere in Scripture represented as the Bride of Christ. Concerning the Church, two things are here indicated by the Psalmist.
(1) Her honourable position, “upon Thy right hand.” “The place on the right hand is the place of honour.” In the affections of the Messiah the Church has the place which the bride has in the affections of her husband. “Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself for it,” &c. (Ephesians 5:25-27).
(2) Her glorious dress. “The queen in gold of Ophir.” The gold of Ophir was proverbial for its fineness. The dress of the Church consists of the graces of character exemplified by her members. These are marked by two prominent features. Purity. Christians are “arrayed in fine linen clean and white; for the fine linen is the righteousnesss of saints.” Preciousness. We owe our redemption and all our graces to “the precious blood of Christ.” More precious than “gold of Ophir” are the virtues and graces of a Christ-like soul.
3. His joy in the handmaids of Himself and His bride. “Whereby they have made Thee glad. King’s daughters are among Thy honourable women.” The King was made glad by the distinguished persons who attended upon Him and His consort. “The numbering of kings’ daughters among His honourable women, or maids of honour, intimates that the kings whose daughters they were, should be tributaries to Him, and dependents on Him, and would therefore think it a preferment to their daughters to attend Him.” May we not discover here a prophecy that everything which is distinguished, exalted, and beautiful shall become a handmaid to the religion of Christ? Science shall bring her discoveries and lay them at the feet of Jesus, to be used for the promotion of His cause. Architecture shall put forth her noblest efforts in His service. And poetry and music, painting and sculpture, shall consecrate themselves to Him. To a great extent this is already true. One day it shall be completely and universally true.
4. The greatness and diffusiveness of His joy. “All Thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces.” Palaces whose chambers were adorned and probably inlaid with ivory seem to have been common amongst princes and wealthy men. Comp. 1 Kings 22:39; Song of Solomon 7:4; Amos 3:15; Amos 6:4. From such palaces, the maids of honour and the consort are represented as coming, to the great joy of the King. The garments smelling of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, seem to us to refer to the anointing, which was so generous that His garments were impregnated with the odours and diffused the choice perfumes around.
CONCLUSION.—We have two most inspiring facts—
1. The Messiah reigneth, reigneth in righteousness, and shall reign for ever.
2. The Messiah rejoiceth, in the Father’s delight in Him, in the Church which He loves, and in the distinguished handmaids who wait upon His cause. One day His joy will be complete. He “shall be satisfied.” Be it ours, however feebly, to the utmost of our powers to extend His reign and enhance His joy.
THE CHURCH AND HER LORD
In these verses we have—
I. Exhortation to the Church. “Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear,” &c. (Psalms 45:10-11). This is the language of the Psalmist addressed to the Church, and the Bride of the Messiah. She is exhorted—
1. To devote herself unreservedly to Him. “Forget thine own people and thy father’s house.” “The idea here is that which we find so often enforced in the New Testament, that they who become the followers of the Saviour must be willing to forsake all for Him, and to identify themselves with Him and His cause. The strongest earthly ties are to be made subservient to a higher and stronger tie, if we would become true followers of the Saviour.”—Barnes. “He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” Christ requires our supreme affection.
2. To reverence Him. “He is thy Lord, and worship thou Him.” “Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.” “Let the wife see that she reverence her husband.” “Christ is the Head of the Church. The Church is subject unto Christ.” The Church must pay Divine honours to her Lord; must submit to His authority, and worship Him as God.
II. Encouragement to the Church. The Church is encouraged by the Psalmist to expect, if she thus reverences and devotes herself to her Lord, that—
1. The King shall delight in her. “So shall the King greatly desire thy beauty.” The more we renounce all sinful and selfish inclinations, that we may please the Lord Christ, the more acceptable shall we be found in His sight. And not simply acceptable, but pleasureable. “The Lord taketh pleasure in His people.” By supreme devotion to Him we may gratify the heart of Christ,—give Him joy.
2. Distinguished peoples shall honour her. “And the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift; the rich among the people shall intreat thy favour.” “In the time of the Psalmist, Tyre was probably the most wealthy and luxurious commercial town then existing; and it is referred to here as meaning that persons of highest rank, and of the greatest riches, and those who were surrounded most by affluence and luxury, would honour” the Church when faithful to her Lord. Hengstenberg translates: “So will the daughter Tyre implore thee with gifts, the rich among the people.” He says: “The object of the earnest entreaty is reception into the community of the people of God (comp. Isaiah 44:5; Psalms 47:9).… Only when the Church of God really occupies the position of the Church of God, can prayer be directed to her for reception into her society. The Church exercises a drawing power toward those that are without, in exact proportion to her own internal connection with the Lord. Her surrender to the Lord forms the ground of the heathen’s surrender to her.” When the Church is thoroughly devoted to her Lord, the world will honour her by seeking union with her. A devoted Church would speedily result in a converted world.
III. The glory of the Church. “The King’s daughter is all glorious within, her clothing is of wrought gold.” The “within” is to be understood in a local sense. The bride was glorious within her father’s palace. The Church of Christ is glorious when fully consecrated to Him. The glory of holiness adorns her splendidly as a garment of fine gold. Christ has given her His own glory. “The glory which Thou gavest me I have given them.” “The beauty of the Lord our God is upon” her. The glory of the Church is in her faith, hope, love, patience, righteousness, holy zeal, &c. As these are expressed in her life, she honours God and is honoured by man.
IV. The marriage celebration of the Church. “She shall be brought unto the King in raiment of needlework,” &c. (Psalms 45:14-15). The figure is that of an Oriental marriage. These verses speak of the procession of the bride from the house of her father to that of her husband. The figure probably points to the reception of the redeemed Church into heaven to be for “ever with the Lord.” This reception is spoken of in Revelation 19:7-8. Concerning this celebration, the poet brings into view two features—
1. Its splendour. The glory of the bride, her clothing of wrought gold, her raiment of needlework, and her bridesmaids are all indicative of this. “Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
2. Its joyousness. “With gladness and rejoicing,” &c. Great will be the joy when the redeemed are received into the full glories of heaven. How great the joy of the bride! of the Bridegroom! of the angels! of the Eternal Father!
V. The assurances given to the Lord of the Church. “Instead of Thy fathers shall be Thy children,” &c. (Psalms 45:16-17). The Messiah-King is here assured of—
1. A numerous offspring. The 16th “verse rests upon the custom of wishing to the married pair a numerous and mighty offspring” (comp. Genesis 24:60; Ruth 4:11-12). Christ shall bring “many sons unto glory.” “Many shall come from the east and the west, and from the north and the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God.” “Lo, a great multitude which no man could number, of all nations,” &c.
2. A distinguished offspring. “Whom Thou mayest make princes in all the earth.” “The image here is derived, undoubtedly, from the custom prevailing among kings of assigning portions of an empire as provinces to their sons” (comp. 2 Samuel 8:18; 2 Chronicles 11:23). All who become subjects of the Messiah are invested with sovereign authority. They are “made kings and priests unto God and His Father.”
3. Perpetual praise. “I will make Thy name to be remembered in all generations; therefore shall the people praise Thee for ever and ever.” “God hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name,” &c. The praise of the Messiah-King will be eternal, and ever-increasing in fervour and depth and fulness.
CONCLUSION.—What is thy relation to this glorious Being? Trust Him, love Him, loyally serve Him, and great and endless will be thy blessedness.
“For He is thy Lord; and worship thou Him.”
In the institution of worship we have the encouraging declaration that God may be sought, that God may be found.
Consider the nature, the reason, and the importance of religious worship.
I. Its nature.
1. Its internal principles. There must be reverence; … not, indeed, terror, but sacred awe. And as we are sinful creatures, there must be that deep humiliation which implies self-displacence and abhorrence.… The very thought of God, the recollection that we are in His immediate presence, will prostrate and humble us, if we worship Him aright. Another principle of worship for fallen man must be trust in atonement. Whatsoever things we ask in prayer must be in the name of Christ, believing in Him. There must be submission. For a rebel to worship is only mockery. Another principle is love. Gratitude for past mercies, … supreme affection, … delight in Divine goodness, &c.
2. Its external manifestations. And here we have Acts. As prayer,—thanksgiving,—commemoration, &c. Places. The closet,—the family,—the church,—the great assembly.
II. The ground and reason of worship. “For He is thy Lord.”
1. This declares to us the Divine greatness; for the Lord of the Church is Lord of all; and, if so, the highest views are presented of His grandeur and glory.… Sum up all the particulars of creature-glory; collect it into one mass; it is all from Him; and He who could impart so much, has yet more in Himself.… If worship implies reverence and sacred awe, surely this is He to whom worship belongs.
2. As He is our Lord, He stands to us in the relation of an absolute dominion. We ourselves, our family, our country, our world, are all under His sway. Our life is given, supported, terminated by Him. If worship implies prayer, we see the reason for it in His boundless dominion, His absolute lordship.
3. He is our Lord legislatively. As He is holy and good, His will must refer to a holy and felicitous course of action. And in proportion to the wisdom, holiness, and goodness of this, must He be bound, by the perfection of His own character, to guard His law, the expression of His will, from violation. This He has done. The law is sanctioned by the penalty of eternal death. Now we have sinned against Him, and thus, do we stand in relation to His law and Himself, as guilty and condemned sinners. If, then, we have offended our sovereign Lord; and if worship implies penitence and confession, here is another reason why we should worship.
4. But to the Church may it be specially said, “He is thy Lord.” The true Church is a society arising from the fact of actual reconciliation to God by Christ Jesus. To this He stands in the special relation of a gracious Sovereign. And here we find another ground of the worship of the Church. There is praise to Him for His goodness,—trust in His everlasting mercy,—the thankful recognition of all His mighty and marvellous interpositions, &c.
III. The importance of worship.
1. Wherever there is true worship, there the great fundamental truths of religion are proclaimed before the world. The true God is proclaimed. Faith tells of the altar of the perfect Sacrifice, and the smoke of His atonement fills her courts. Her services proclaim Christ to be the true God, and eternal life, &c.
2. True Christian worship secures the constant publication of the Word of God. Does any one neglect that Word at home? It is here sounded in his ears. Or does he read without understanding it? It is here explained and enforced, &c.
3. In the public assemblies of the Church, there is the special presence of God. “I have seen Thee,” says Lord Bacon, “in Thy works, and sought Thee in Thy providences, but I have found Thee in Thy temples.” Wherever two or three meet together in the name of Christ He is present with them.
4. Public worship both presents to us the most perfect type of heaven on earth and furnishes an efficient preparation for it.
1. Let us feel it our duty to uphold His worship.
2. Let us know and feel the evil of a careless, formal service. “God is a Spirit; and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.”
3. Let us be ourselves increasingly spiritual in worship, preserving the spirit of devotion amidst all the engagements and trials of life; so shall we never be denied the blessed privilege of access to the throne of the heavenly grace; and in the manifested love of God, we shall enjoy a heaven upon earth.—Richard Watson. Abridged.
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Psalms 45". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany