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Superscription.—“To the Chief Musician.” See Introduction to Psalms 57:0. “A Psalm and song of David.” Or, “A Psalm of David, a song.” See Introduction to Psalms 48:0. In the Psalm itself there are evidences, which Hengstenberg points out, that it is the production of David. The Psalm was probably composed as a psalm of thanksgiving for the blessings of the harvest; in anticipation of an approaching harvest, at Hengstenberg suggests, or on the completion of harvest, as Hitzig suggests.
Homiletically the Psalmist sets forth, Aspects of Divine worship (Psalms 65:1-4); Manifestations of Divine power (Psalms 65:5-8); and The Beneficent activity of God in Nature (Psalms 65:9-13).
ASPECTS OF DIVINE WORSHIP
We see here—
I. Worship in its source. “Blessed is the man whom Thou choosest, and causest to approach,” &c. God is the Author of all true worship.
1 He grants the opportunity of worship. The revelation of Himself in Jesus Christ, the institution of religious ordinances and of Christian ministries, the fixing our lot in a land and age of Christian privileges—these are all from Him.
2. He inspires the disposition to worship. All reverent feeling, holy desire, and devout aspiration in us, are the result of the gracious influences of his Holy Spirit. The cause—the efficient reason—why any man worships his Maker at all, is to be found in God Himself. Whatever there is of good in us, and whatever of good belongs to us, proceeds from Him. “All my springs are in Thee.” “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,” &c. The source of all true worship is God Himself.
II. Worship in its object. “Praise waiteth for Thee, O God,” &C. As God is the Author of all true worship, so He is also its End. Worship is offered to Him here—
1. As the Hearer of prayer. “O Thou that hearest prayer.” How sublime and beautiful and true is this appellation as addressed to God! His ear is ever open to the cries of the sinful, the suffering, the sorrowful, the dying. (See an outline on Psalms 65:2, below.)
2. As the Pardoner of sin. “Iniquities prevail against me; our transgressions, Thou shalt purge them away.” God is praised here because of His goodness in the forgiveness of sin. There are two points here.
(1) The greatness of human sin. The iniquities of the Psalmist are represented as overpowering him with a superior hostile force. Man cannot contend with his sins. He cannot answer for them, or atone for them. “Enter not into judgment with Thy servant; for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified.”
(2) The greatness of Divine forgiveness. “Thou shalt purge them away.” God pardons the most heinous transgressions (Isaiah 1:18);—the most numerous transgressions (Psalms 103:3; Psalms 130:7; Isaiah 55:7); and He pardons them completely Psalms 103:12; Isaiah 38:17; Micah 7:19).
3. As the Satisfier of the soul. “We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Thy house, even of Thy holy temple.” Man has great needs. In addition to forgiveness he requires cleansing, support, guidance, love, hope, &c. God alone can supply these needs. The goodness of His house all flows from Him. Religious ministries and ordinances are worthless apart from His blessing. “With Thee is the fountain of life,” &c. In God the soul finds complete satisfaction and blessedness. To God as the Hearer of prayer, the Forgiver of sins, the Satisfier of souls, human worship should be addressed.
III. Worship in its nature. It is here represented as consisting in—
1. Submission to the will of God. “Praise waiteth for Thee, O God,” is not a correct rendering. Conant translates: “To Thee belong submission, praise, O God.” Hengstenberg: “Thou art praised in the silence, O God.” Margin: “Praise is silent for Thee, O God.” Moll: “To Thee is silence (resignation), praise, O God.” Resignation to the Divine will, the silence of the heart before God, is a duty which we owe to Him, and is worship of the very highest character. To trust Him in darkness and mystery, to bow loyally to His will when its dispensations to us are painful, to exclaim in the supreme agony of life, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him,”—surely this is the very highest worship that we can render to Him.
2. Celebration of the praise of God. The Poet represents praise as belonging to God; and it constitutes one of the chief elements of worship. God is praised by His people because of what He has done and is ever doing for them, because of what He is to them, and because of what He is in Himself.
3. The fulfilment of our vows to God. “Unto Thee shall the vow be performed.” There seems to be two ideas here:
(1) Gratitude for benefits received. God had blessed His people by gracious doings for them and generous gifts to them, and they thankfully remember these things, and recognise their own obligation by reason of them.
(2) Faithfulness in keeping promises which they had made. Formerly they had uttered their vows, and now they resolve to perform them. These, then, are some of the elements of worship—hearty submission to God’s will, celebration of His praise, and performance of our vows to Him.
IV. Worship in its locality. “In Zion, … in Thy courts, … Thy house, … Thy holy temple.” Zion was the scene of special Divine manifestation. It was authoritatively appointed the chief place for the worship of Jehovah. “The Lord hath chosen Zion, He hath desired it for His habitation.” Our Lord Jesus Christ is now the true Zion. Every one who worships God, believing in Christ as the Divine Mediator, will find acceptance and blessing in so doing. Through Him the devout heart may worship God anywhere (John 4:21-24).
V. Worship in its extent. “Unto Thee shall all flesh come.” Here is a declaration that—
1. The needy shall worship the All-sufficient. The use of the word “flesh” here to denote man, indicates his weakness and need. Man is an entirely dependent creature—frail, feeble, and needy. God is the inexhaustible Fountain of life, strength, and blessing: to Him needy man shall come for supply.
2. All the needy shall worship the All-sufficient. “Unto Thee shall all flesh come.” Hengstenberg: “God is rich not only for a few, but for all: all to whom the name of man belongs come to Him, in order to draw from His inexhaustible fountain.” (See the Outline on Psalms 65:2, below.)
VI. Worship in its influence. “Blessed is the man whom Thou choosest,” &c. They are blessed inasmuch as their prayers are heard, their sins are pardoned, and their souls are satisfied in God. All the spiritual joys and blessings of Divine grace are theirs. “They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of Thy house; and Thou shalt make them drink of the river of Thy pleasures.” The worship of God spiritualises and ennobles the worshipper—transforms him into the Divine image. Worship is heaven.
A GREAT FACT, PRIVILEGE, AND PROSPECT
We have in this versa—
I. A glorious fact. God hears prayer. This fact may be proved—
1. From the nature of God. A Being of infinite intelligence must hear every request that is made to Him. A Being of infinite kindness must hear with regard—with consideration and favour. A Being, in whom infinite resources are joined to infinite kindness, must answer.
2. From the teachings of Scripture. “Call upon Me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee,” &c. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you; for,” &c. “Men ought always to pray and not to faint.” “Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give you. Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” “The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
3. From the experiences of believers, Moses (Exodus 32:11-14; Exodus 32:31-35; Numbers 11:1-3); Elijah (1 Kings 17:17-24; 1 Kings 18:42-45); Elisha (2 Kings 4:28-36); the Psalmist’s (Psalms 116:1-2; et al.); Hezekiah (Isaiah 38:1-8); Daniel (Daniel 9:20-23); the early Christians praying for Peter (Acts 12:1-17); innumcrable instances since; and thousands of persons to-day.
II. A precious privilege. We may come unto God in prayer.
1. It is a great privilege to be permitted to unburden our heart to a Being of perfect wisdom and goodness and sympathy. The heart’s highest, holiest joy, and its most secret and sacred sorrow, we may tell with confidence to Him. And the mere telling of such experiences to such a Being will afford relief.
2. How much greater is the privilege when that Being has power to aid and bless. Such power has God. In perplexity, in want, in sorrow, in affliction, in spiritual distress, &c., we may come to the all-kind and all-sufficient Friend. “In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.”
III. An inspiring prospect. “Unto Thee shall all flesh come.”
1. The weak and needy shall approach unto the infinite Source of strength and blessing. Man’s frailty and need are indicated by the word “flesh.” Man is weak and poor; God is almighty and unsearchable in riches; to Him shall man come, and be strengthened, blessed, &c.
2. All the weak and needy shall come unto the infinite Source of strength and blessing. “Unto Thee shall all flesh come.” All the helpless and poor shall come to God with prayers and thanksgivings. He is “the confidence of all the ends of the earth, and of them that are afar off upon the sea.” Our faith in the approach of all men to God in prayer rests upon considerations such as these:
(1) There is a correlation between God’s resources and man’s needs; between man’s dependence and God’s all-sufficiency.
(2) Divinely-appointed means are in operation for bringing needy men to the wealthy God. The ministries of nature, providence, and the Gospel are all designed and fitted to lead men to the all-sufficiency of God.
(3) The Word of God announces the approach of all men to the Hearer of prayer (Psalms 72:8-17; Isaiah 45:23-24; Romans 14:11).
1. Appreciate this privilege.
2. Seek to extend it to others. Announce it to others. Persuade them to avail themselves of it.
THE BLESSEDNESS OF COMMUNION WITH GOD
I. Make a few explanatory remarks on the several particulars implied and expressed in the text.
1. The words imply that the public means of grace ought to be viewed as a distinguished privilege. “Blessed is the man whom Thou choosest,” &c.
2. In the public means of grace communion with God may be enjoyed. “And causest to approach unto Thee,” &c. To approach unto God is to enjoy communion with Him. We may approach unto God:
(1) by prayer through the mediation of Jesus Christ;
(2) with sentiments of thanksgiving and praise;
(3) in receiving instruction from His Word; and
(4) under the most endearing and interesting relations in the ordinances which He has appointed—as Father, &c. Do we know by experience the blessedness of thus approaching unto God?
3. The house of God is here represented as the habitation of His people. “That he may dwell in Thy courts.” The good man is not an occasional visitor of the house of God, but a resident. The godly are diligent in their attendance there; they embrace every opportunity, &c.
4. Special advantages which afford rich pleasure and solid satisfaction are experienced by those who dwell in the house of the Lord and enjoy communion with Him. “We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Thy house, even of Thy holy temple.” The satisfaction and pleasure arise
(1) from its being the dwelling-place of God. He dwells there as a king in his courts—as God in His temple.
(2) From the communications of the Divine favour. They are satisfied with His goodness in the pardon of sins, in the bestowment of eternal life, &c.
II. Improve the subject with a few reflections.
1. How great is the value of religious privileges.
2. How important is it to improve our privileges.
3. How great are the advantages which attend the improvement of the means of grace.
4. How great is the sin of those who slight the means of grace.
5. How important it is that those who have slighted the means of grace should repent and reform.—Abridged from an unpublished MS.
MANIFESTATIONS OF DIVINE POWER
I. The sphere of the manifestations of the Divine power. It is represented by the Psalmist as manifested—
1. In nature (Psalms 65:6-7). We have it here
(1) Establishing the most stable things. “Who by His strength setteth fast the mountains, girded with power.” The mountains are the most secure, abiding, and unchangeable things in nature. Generations come and go, but the mountains remain. Cities arise and flourish, decay, and pass away; but the mountains continue, and apparently change not. Empires are founded and fortified, assaulted and overthrown; but the ancient and firm-set mountains move not and change not. The Almighty, as a master workman girded with power, firmly founded and securely keeps them. Their stability is an abiding and impressive witness to His omnipotence.
(2) Controlling the most restless and tumultuous things. “Who stilleth the noise of the seas, the noise of their waves.” How restless is the seal How fierce and furious and terrible when it is agitated by storm! But His voice can curb it even in its wildest moods, can reduce its mountainous billows to gentle undulations, can hush its roaring thunders into soft rippling cadences. (Comp. Psalms 107:29; Matthew 8:26.) Thus nature is ever witnessing to the almighty power of God.
2. In human society. “Who stilleth the tumult of the peoples.” Perowne: “The sea and nations are mentioned together, the one being so often used as an image of the other.” Luther: “Like as He stilled Pharaoh with all his people, when he stormed and raged against Israel, as if he would have devoured them. In like manner as He stilled the king of Assyria, when he roared and raged against Jerusalem.” Barnes: “This is perhaps a more striking and wonderful exhibition of the power of God than that of calming down the waves of the ocean. In the one case, it is the exertion of mere power on nature, acting through its established laws, and where there is no resistance of will; in the other, it is power exerted over the will; power over agents, conscious that they are free, and where the worst passions meet and mingle and rage.”
The Psalmist indicates the continuousness of these manifestations of the Divine power. “Who setteth, … Who stilleth.” God is ever present and active both in nature and in human society. He is the Author and Superintendent of all laws of nature, the Force of all forces, &c.
II. The significance of the manifestations of the Divine power. “Thy tokens.” These manifestations of the power of God are regarded as indications of His presence and activity. They are signs and pledges of something more than and beyond themselves; they are indications of the character and ability of the mighty Worker. Thus the doings of God in nature are significant of His existence and presence, His power and unchangeableness. His control of tumultuous peoples witnesses to His might and majesty, His righteous sovereignty, &c. Both nature and history, to the thoughtful and reverent observer, are most fruitful of wise suggestion as to the works and ways of God.
III. The influence of the manifestations of the Divine power.
1. They inspire awe. “They are afraid at Thy tokens.” The exhibitions of the power and glory of God are fitted to impress the mind and heart of men, to awaken reverence and fear of One who is so great in power, &c.
2. They inspire confidence. (Psalms 65:5.) We have here,
(1) Confidence for a great blessing. “By terrible things in righteousness wilt Thou answer us.” The word translated terrible contains the idea of the wonderful and the sublime. Reference is made in it to such events as took place in Egypt previous to the emancipation of Israel from bondage—events fitted to impress men with a deep sense of the power and greatness and majesty of God. The Psalmist is confident that by such events God would answer the prayers of His people. To be assured of sufficient answers to our prayers is confidence for a great blessing. Such assurance would not be possible except in a being of great power. Thus God’s might is a basis of trust for man.
(2) Confidence in the highest Being. Trust is here reposed in God as a Being whose power is always exercised righteously, and for the salvation of those who trust in Him. “In righteousness Thou wilt answer us, O God of our salvation.” Mere power, however great, is inadequate to inspire confidence. It may excite alarm. But the power of God is ever righteous in aim, and beneficent in operation.
(3) Confidence in the widest extent. “The confidence of all the ends of the earth and of the sea afar off,” denotes the dwellers on the most distant coasts and islands, and the navigators of the most distant seas. The blessings of God are coextensive with the wants of man. There is no other being in the whole universe in whom man may safely confide. The true and only ground of trust for man is the great and gracious God.
3. They inspire joy. “Thou makest the outgoings of the morning and evening to rejoice.” Moll: “The outgoings of the morning and evening mean the east and west as practical parallels of the ends of the earth.” The manifestations of the righteous and beneficent power of God are calculated to inspire joy amongst all peoples everywhere.
CONCLUSION.—We are living amid the manifestations of the Divine power. Do we heed their significance? Do we hear and ponder their message? Are the phenomena of the material world revealing to us the realities of the spiritual universe? Are they aiding us to know God? to reverence, trust, and rejoice in Him?
THE BENEFICENT ACTIVITY OF GOD IN NATURE
The Psalmist’s view of nature is not that of the Atheist. He regards nature as having been created, and as being constantly sustained by God. Nor that of the Positivist. He discovered in nature not only law, and order, and force, but the presence and activity of a Divine Person—God. Nor that of the Pantheist. He offers praise to God as a Person having an existence distinct from and independent of nature. He saw in the world around him the personal presence and the beneficent activity of the Supreme. And the beneficent activity of God in nature he represents as being—
I. Incessant. (Psalms 65:9-11.) The activity of God in His works is ceaseless. This is manifest—
1. From the operations which are ascribed to Him. He is said to prepare the earth for the corn, and the corn for man; to bless the springing of the corn, and to carry it onward in its progress to maturity, until, in the abundance and ripeness of autumn, the year is crowned with His goodness.
2. From the forms of the verbs which are used to describe those operations. “Thou visitest, … waterest, … enrichest, … preparest, … blessest, … crownest,” &c. “The present tenses are employed here to express that this God does not in one year only, but every year.” His operations in nature are characterised by continuity. In all ages and in all seasons He is at work amidst His creations. He is ever active. This is well expressed by Thomson in his Hymn on the Seasons—
“These, as they change, Almighty Father, these
Are but the varied God. The rolling year
Is full of Thee. Forth in the pleasing Spring
Thy beauty walks, Thy tenderness and love.
Wide flush the fields; the softening air is balm;
Echo the mountains round; the forest smiles,
And every sense and every heart is joy.
Then comes Thy glory in the Summer mouths.
With light and heat refulgent. Then Thy sun
Shoots full perfection through the swelling year:
And oft Thy voice in dreadful thunder speaks;
And oft at dawn, deep noon, or falling eve,
By brooks and groves, in hollow-whispering gales.
Thy bounty shines in Autumn unconfined,
And spreads a common feast for all that lives.
In Winter awful Thou! with clouds and storms
Around Thee thrown, tempest o’er tempest rolled,
Majestic darkness! On the whirlwind’s wing
Riding sublime, Thou bid’st the world adore,
And humblest nature with Thy northern blast.”
II. Omnipresent. The “furrows” and the “ridges” of the earth He waters abundantly. He gives fertility and beauty to “the pastures of the wilderness;” He girds “the little hills” with joy, and He enrobes the fruitful valleys with corn or covers them with flocks. There is no part of His universe in which He is not present in His beneficent activities. On mountain summits, which are accessible to the gaze only of the strong-winged eagles and the sublime stars, He causes beauty to spring forth. And in dense forests, into which even the most adventurous of men have not penetrated, He is at work producing luxuriant and beautiful forms of vegetation and life. The omnipresence of His beneficent activities may be used—
1. As a restraint from sin.
2. As an encouragement to constant trust in Him.
3. As an incentive to reverence Him at all times and in all places.
III. Abundant. “Thou visitest the earth and waterest it; Thou greatly enrichest it with the river of God, which is full of water; Thou waterest the ridges thereof abundantly; Thy paths drop fatness.” Thus with fulness of expression the Psalmist represents the abundance of the Divine beneficence in nature. The psalm was probably written upon the occasion of a bounteous harvest, or after a copious and much-needed rain. But it is true at all times that the beneficent activities of God are on the largest and most generous scale. We may see this in the great fertility of the earth when wisely and diligently cultivated. How rich is the reward of such cultivation! Scenes of fertility, plenty, and beauty, like that sketched by the Poet, are to be found in vast numbers in our own land to-day. Both in nature and in grace God bestows His gifts with infinite munificence.
IV. Joy-inspiring. “The little hills rejoice on every side. The pastures are clothed with flocks; the valleys also are covered over with corn; they shout for joy, they also sing.” Nature is here represented as singing for joy in its prosperity. The idea is both natural and poetical. And to man the beneficent activities of God in the material creation should ever be a source of grateful and reverent joy. The abundant provision which He thus makes for our needs should awaken our gratitude. The wide-spread diffusion of beauty should enkindle our admiration. And in all we should see and praise Him.
CONCLUSION.—Let us learn—
1. To recognise the presence and power of God in nature.
2. To praise the goodness of God in nature.
3. To worship God as seen in nature. Let us tread the earth as a temple alive with the presence and radiant with the glory of God.
4. To trust God as the God of nature. We have His promise—“While the earth remaineth, seed time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night, shall not cease.” He will not fail to fulfil His promise.
5. To regard His beneficence in nature as an illustration of the more precious blessings of salvation.
A MAY HOMILY
(Psalms 65:10. “Thou blessest the springing thereof.”)
Nature in all her moods and phases is always ministerial, if we will have it. One may speak, for instance, of the opening of the spring, as a kind of annual Divine Sacrament, by attending upon which with wise and meek surrender, the better man in us may be awakened and stimulated.… As Christ Instituted the bread and wine, to be a means of aiding His followers in their remembrance of Him and their communion with Him; so does the holy Father give us every year the marvels and minstrelsies of spring, to aid us in growing fine and rising higher. He blesses the general flushing and budding. It is consecrated for us, to be an advantage to us spiritually, if we will allow it. We speak of our Sundays, our religious services, our daily tasks and difficulties as means of grace; and the vernal advent and encompassment is no less really a means of grace, to be utilised to profit, or neglected to loss and condemnation.
I. Who is there who has not felt and acknowledged the softening, expanding, genialising influence of the spring; its sweetening effect upon the mental mood and temper?.… Only look at the people’s faces, as they meet one another by the way, some fine morning in the first burst of spring! How full of good-humour they are, how warmly they salute, how disposed they seem to be more generous and charitable than usual!.… You may explain it physiologically, I am quite aware; but then, it is not less God coming to you, in and through physiological laws and processes, with an opportunity of improvement, with a tide to bear and lift you, if taken at the flood, toward a permanently better, a permanently sweeter and more gracious spirit. It is a Divine means of grace. What you have to do is, just to seize the vernal feeling that has risen in you, and cherish and go forth with it: namely, by starting from the height of it, under the impulse of it, with new resolves and endeavours to cultivate the genial and generous temper; and by seeking to put it at once, before it fades, into some corresponding deed. Now, while it is upon you, go and give something to somebody’s need; go and do something for somebody’s good.
II. Does not the present season tend to excite in us, at times, strange, vague, mysteriousyeanrings—yearnings amounting often to pain?.… I recall vividly a sketch I once saw—a slight but very striking sketch—a lone evening shore, with the sun slowly sinking into the sea, and a woman sitting gazing at it from the beach, her hands clasped round her knees, a far-off, weary, wistful look in her eyes, her face as the face of one who listens for something that is unheard, and longs for more than is seen. It was as though the dying sun were drawing her to himself; as though presently she must arise and seek him through the waves, aching to find with him—she knew not what—but the larger, the brighter, the happier that seemed to be calling her. Now that is an illustration of what I mean; when nature lays her hand upon us, and sets us dreamily yearning, as she is especially apt to do in her annual springing.… You feel pensive. There are strange stirrings and pinings in your breast that you hardly understand. The life in which hitherto you have been content and happy, seems poor and insipid and unsatisfying. The money you have made, the secular successes you have won, seem less worth than they were; and you reach home rather low-spirited, oppressed with a vague sense of want, a vague longing. What does it mean? The grace of the season has somehow swept the diviner depths in you, and caused a sudden blind motion and flutter there.… Turn the feeling before it dies into a prayer—a prayer to be filled and satisfied from the Lord; a prayer to be made willing to seek and do in harmony with His will.… It is an accepted time, a day of salvation; do not lose it.
III. Has not the loveliness of spring, and the beautiful order which it expresses and reveals, brought home to us now and again, by the force of contrast, the uglinesses and disorders that abound in man’s world, and constrained us to ponder and bewail them afresh?.… Whenever the spring leads you to lament thus, what is it but a fresh Divine call to you to philanthropic labour and effort; a fresh Divine impression upon you of humanity’s sore needs and woes; that you may be awakened to increased sympathy with them, and urged to attempt more towards their relief? Seek, then, to waken and urge yourselves with it. Do not allow the feeling to evaporate in mere melancholy musings or pensive poetry; but let it bear you forth to heartier and more earnest ministry; make it a means of stimulating your benevolent activity. Go, with the tears for the miseries and evils of man’s world which the musical groves and the fine order of nature may have started in your eyes, to weep helpfully with them that weep, and to stream with renewed endeavour against the works of the devil. So shall the springing which the Lord blesses be blessed indeed.—S. A. Tipple. Abridged from The Day of Rest.
THE FIRST SABBATH IN THE NEW-YEAR
(Psalms 65:11. “Thou crownest the year with Thy goodness.”)
Let us, though it be generally and rapidly, mark that goodness which has crowned the year—
I. As to our country. I love the pious patriotism of the ancient Jews, whose hearts hovered over Zion even in her desolations and pronounced their blessing upon all the lovers of Jerusalem. Nor does justice, less than piety, demand this recognition of our national mercies, since there is not one of them which is not, in some of its results, a blessing to ourselves.… Ours is a country to which God has given one of the mightiest empires ever swayed by man;—a country where, amidst much of darkness, a brighter light of evangelical truth is shining; where, in the midst of awful vice, there is a higher degree of public and private virtue than in any other; a country whose civil and religious institutions are, at once, the light and admiration of a great part of the world, &c.
That such a state of things has been continued, by the good providence of God, through another year, is matter of devout thanksgiving, &c.
II. As to our families. I love to mark the blessed effects of Christianity upon families connected by blood, and, as it were, identified in the same joys, and sorrows, and interests of life.… Such was the family at Bethany which Jesus loved; and many such are found, I trust, among you. Remember your family mercies. As to most of you, how exempt have you been from any but those ordinary cares and transient visitations to which all are subject! The circle of your family hearth is unbroken, &c.
III. As to our personal experience. I lose sight of your preservations from bodily danger and death, &c. Subjects these not to be forgotten by you, and never to be remembered without grateful devotion. But I merge them now in the higher considerations suggested by the spiritual blessings which have been granted to you.… When considering spiritual blessings as the portion of any man, we cannot but mount up to that boundless, that mysterious goodness which humbled the eternal Word to humanity, and spared Him not from the sorrows of the cross, in order, so to speak, to free itself from the restraints of Divine justice, that it might recover and bless mankind.… What affecting instances of goodness spring from this! &c.
Some during the past year have been, for the first time, made the subjects of the renewing grace of God; on you I call this day for special acknowledgment. From what a depth of misery and danger have you been plucked! &c.
I address others of you who have longer known this grace in truth, and to whom the experience of the past year has been comforting and advancing. And this you owe to the special goodness of God.… Your light is light from Him; your strength, strength from Him. “By the grace of God I am what I am.” “Thou crownest the year with Thy goodness.”
But do I awaken in any heart the painful remembrance of religious barrenness and declension? God has not dealt with you according to your unfaithful dealings with Him, &c. Let this recollection of the goodness of God come to you, giving greater tenderness to your sorrows, strength to your desires, and new life to your hopes. “Return, ye backsliding children,” &c.
IV. As to the universal Church. True piety identifies us with the universal Church. How gladdened should be our hearts if she has been, through the grace of God, faithful to her high calling, and has prospered in her work!
1. By addressing those to whom it has been a year of special affliction. You have had afflictions, but you have likewise had mercies. Nor has God visited you with all the suffering that you have deserved, and which, therefore, He might have inflicted. And what have been many of your troubles but blessings in disguise?.… The chastening was not joyous, but grievous; nevertheless, it has yielded to you the peaceable fruits of righteousness. Can you number no mercies among the wants of the past year? Thank God, then, and take courage.
2. I beseech you, brethren, by all these mercies, that you present yourselves a living sacrifice unto God. Renounce every other authority, and submit to Him (Psalms 118:27; Psalms 116:8-9). Every renewed mercy increases our obligations to love and serve Him; and happy is that man, who, under the full power of joyous and grateful feeling, so surrenders himself to God, as to live for no other purpose than that of glorifying Him.—Richard Watson. Abridged.
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Psalms 65". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent