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I will extol Thee, O Lord; for Thou hast lifted me up.
A Psalm of deliverance
The title of this psalm is apparently a composite, the usual “Psalm of David” having been enlarged by the awkward insertion of “A Song at the Dedication of the House,” which probably indicates its later liturgical use, and not its first destination. Its occasion was evidently a deliverance from grave peril; and, whilst its tone is strikingly inappropriate if it had been composed for the inauguration of temple, tabernacle, or palace, one can understand how the venerable words, which praised Jehovah for swift deliverance from impending destruction, would be felt to fit the circumstances and emotions of the time when the Temple, profaned by the mad acts of Antiochus Epiphanes, was purified and the ceremonial worship restored. Never had Israel seemed nearer going down to the pit; never had deliverance come more suddenly and completely. The intrusive title is best explained as dating from that time and indicating the use then found for the song. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)
A Psalm and Song at the dedication of the house of David
It was doubtless very different from the cottage he occupied when he was a shepherd. But there was no impropriety in this change. As a king he was obliged to do many things from a regard to his station rather than from personal choice. Yet he was godly there as in his former abode. Hence, entering his new house, he consecrates it to God. Let it be our concern that our dwelling may be the house of God while we live, and the gate of heaven when we die. David was a poet, and he here elaborates his deliverance from a dangerous disease.
I. David’s mind before his affliction--he had thought and said, “1 shall never be moved. Hence the need of affliction.
II. under it. He cried to the Lord.
III. after the affliction Renewed consecration to God. Hence his vow to build a house for the Lord. (W. Jay.)
St. James says, “Is any merry? let him sing psalms”--that is, in everything acknowledge God. A true saint in prosperity gives God thanks for His mercies. Therefore when all are in prosperity, it is easy to distinguish the true from the false, because they take directions outwardly and manifestly different. The Church in her joy praises God, the world in its joy praises man. This psalm is a beautiful specimen of church music considered in its highest character, as aiming at the praise of God. It was sung in immediate connection with the dedication of the house of David. Such a dedication was, amongst Israel, deemed a thing of great solemnity and importance (Deuteronomy 12:1-32.). And now, entering in his new abode, David looks back upon the mercies of God.
I. that his enemies had not been allowed to rejoice over him. He had many enemies, and there are few of us who are without them. If we are in good reputation and esteem, we have reason to thank God as David did.
II. God’s healing grace. “Thou hast healed me.” Who has not such mercy to record?
III. the many deliverances he had experienced. “Thou hast brought up my soul from the grave.” And such deliverance, both of body and soul, we have known. And on such an occasion as entering a new home, how good it is, as did David, to remember God’s mercies in the past.
IV. and we should seek to associate others in our praise. “Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of His; and give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness.” It is His holiness which is the security of yours. And His anger, how momentary that compared with his life-long favour!
V. the answer to his prayer. “Thou hast turned,” etc. (H. M’Neile, D. D.)
Though believers in Christ may not be lifted up like the psalmist in a temporal point of view, yet they are all, like him, lifted up in a spiritual point of view.
1. Above all danger from the wrath to come.
2. To the enjoyment and possession of spiritual life.
3. To a place in God’s graciously adopted family.
4. Above all fatal evil from enemies, whether of a temporal or spiritual description.
5. To the hope of a safe death, a blessed resurrection, and a joyful eternity. (T. Adam.)
The first and the final stage in true worship
I. The first stage--gratitude.
1. He points to God’s mercy as having come to him in various ways.
(1) As an extrication from difficulties.
(2) As a protection from enemies.
(3) As a restoration to health.
(4) As preservation of life.
2. The gratitude from which true worship springs implies the beliefs
(1) That the favours received are utterly undeserved.
(2) That they were intended to serve us.
II. The final stage--adoration.
1. On account of the holiness of God’s character. In heaven His character attracts all eyes, absorbs all thoughts, transports all souls, inspires all anthems. Let us aspire to this highest stage of worship.
2. On account of the eternal flow of His love. Suffering is always--
(2) Preliminary. (Homilist)
Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of His.
Singing has a curative effect upon many of the maladies of the soul; I am sure that it lightens the burdens of life, and I was about to say that it shortens the weary way of duty if we can but sing as we travel along it. This holy employment is pleasant and profitable, and it is preparatory for another world and a higher state.
I. the peculiar fitness of the exhortation to our present engagement. You are to come to the table where you remember your Saviour’s death, where you are to feed upon the memorials of His passion. Come thither with a heart prepared for song. “Oh!” says one, “I thought I had better come with tears.” Yes, come with tears; they will be very sweet to Christ if you let them fall upon His feet to wash them with your penitential streams. “Oh, sir!” says another, “I thought that surely I must come with deep solemnity.” So you must, woe be unto you if you come in any other way; but do you know of any divorce between solemnity and joy? I do not.
1. We celebrate a work accomplished. Talk of the labours of Hercules? What are these compared with the toil of the Christ of God? Talk of the conquests of Caesar? What are these beside the victories of Christ, who hath led captivity captive, and received gifts for men?
2. We celebrate a result realized, at least in a measure. I know that the bread and the wine are symbols of the flesh and the blood, but I know also that they are something more; they are not only symbols of the things themselves, but also of that which comes out of those things. The very setting-up of the communion-table, and the gathering of men and women to it that they may spiritually feast upon their dying Lord, is a reason for thankfulness.
3. There is this reason why some of us should sing unto the Lord, for here is a blessing enjoyed.
4. This communion reminds us of a hope revived. “Till He come.” Every hour brings Him nearer.
II. the special suitability of the subject for our meditation. “Give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness.”
1. Think of Divine holiness vindicated. God is just, yet the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. We are going to commune with a God who, even that He might commune with us, and indulge His love to His chosen, would not break His own law, or do that which, on the strictest judgment, could be regarded as unjust. I do rejoice in that unquestionable fact, and my heart is glad as I remind you of it.
2. Let us give thanks at the remembrance of Christ’s holiness declared. It is a happy occupation to look upon the perfect character of our dear Redeemer.
3. I think also that it will be quite congruous with our present engagement if we think of God’s holiness as the guarantee of our salvation. It is upon the righteousness of God that we rest our hope, after all. If God can lie, then not one promise of His is to be trusted. If God can do an unrighteous thing, then His covenant may be flung to the winds. But God is not unrighteous to forget the work of His dear Son, and “God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love.”
4. At this table we may give thanks that the holiness of God is our mark, the object for us to aim at--aye, and that to which we shall one day attain. He does not begin to make a vessel unto honour, and then cease His work; but He perfects that which He begins.
III. The text is very appropriate for the communion, because of the suitability of the people of whom it speaks, for they are the same people who ought to come to this table.
1. Those who come to this table should be saints. A “saint” is a holy person, one who aims at being holy, one who is set apart for the service and glory of God. These are the people who are to give thanks at the remembrance of God’s holiness, because God has made them holy, too. They are partakers of the Divine nature, having escaped the corruption which is in the world through lust, and so they are saints, and they are the people who ought to come to the table of the Lord.
2. They are not only saints, but they are “saints of His.” That is to say, they are God’s saints; they are saints of His making, for they were great sinners till He made saints of them; and they are saints of His keeping, for they would soon be sinners again if He did not keep them. They are saints enlisted in His service, sworn to serve under His banner, to be faithful to Him unto death. They are “saints of His,” that is, they are saints whom He purchased with His precious blood, and whom He means to have as His for ever because He has bought them with so great a price. They are saints who shall be with Him in that day when He shall appear with all His holy ones.
3. They are God’s thankful saints. The communion is a eucharist, a giving of thanks from beginning to end.
4. They should be singing saints. People express their praise and delight spontaneously concerning far less things than the joys of God, and the privileges of His people; therefore, “Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness.” (C. H. Spurgeon.)
The duty of gladness
When people want to make things attractive in farming, they give exhibitions of their products. The women bring their very best butter; the men bring the noblest beets and vegetables of every kind; and from the orchard they bring the rarest fruits; and when you go into the room where all these things are displayed, they seem to you attractive and beautiful. It seems to me that this is the way a Christian Church ought to represent the Christian life. You ought to pile up your apples and pears and peaches and flowers and vegetables to show what is the positive fruit of religion. But many people in the Christian life do as farmers would do who would go to a show, and carry--one pigweed; another thistles; another dock; and another old, hard lumps of clay; and should arrange these worthless things along the sides of the room and mourn over them. Christians are too apt to represent the dark side of religion in their conversation and meetings. (H. W. Beecher.)
At the remembrance of His holiness.--
The holiness of God
This sentence occurs again at the end of the ninety-seventh psalm, and is in reality one of the most elevated sentences Holy Scripture contains. Here is a sinful creature adoring the Lord not for His mercy but for His holiness, and calling on others to do the same. What cannot the grace of God do in a sinner’s heart?
I. the holiness of God. It affirms that in God all good is present and all evil absent. He calls His saints on earth holy, but they are so only by comparison with their fellow-men: and the holiness of the angels is not only limited, but, as all creature holiness, it is derived, it has its origin not in themselves, but in God. He alone is holy in Himself. And now consider--
II. the effect this wonderful holiness should have upon us. We are called upon “to sing unto the Lord and to give thanks.” Now this implies--
1. A happy confidence in the Lord’s mercy. For none can ever thank the Lord for His holiness till he is able to take a firm stand in His mercy. His holiness looked at alone is appalling to us. We can scarcely bear to hear of it. But when we are in Christ, resting on Him, then we can look calmly upon His holiness. Embraced in His mercy, the soul feels as Noah, shut in the ark--safe, though destruction be all around.
2. A delightful admiration of God’s holiness. God delights in it Himself. Nearly fifty times He calls Himself “the Holy One.” And the angels and saints in heaven glory in it. See the trisagion, “Holy, holy, holy,” etc. And we are called upon to share in this delight. The communion service bids us say, “Therefore with angels and archangels,” etc. Happy are we if we can understand such language and really join in it.
3. A grateful sense of his obligations to the Divine holiness. What delight to turn from the dreary sinfulness of men, to the holiness of God. The thought of it is as an oasis in the wilderness. And it sheds a radiance on all His other attributes. What would any of them be apart from this? And what holiness we have is an emanation from His, and, because of His, will be perfected. Therefore let us live in remembrance of it. (C. Bradley, M. A.)
In His favour is life.
Life in the favour of God
The return of God’s favour to an afflicted soul is like life from the dead,--nothing is so reviving. All our bliss is bound up in God’s favour; and if we have that, we have an infinite treasure, whatever else we may want.
I. illustrate the sentiment of the text.
1. Our natural life is from God’s favour. In Him we live, move, and have our being; He secures us from innumerable evils; He gives us bread, and water, and clothing, and health, and strength, and intellect.
2. Our spiritual life is from the favour of God.
3. Our eternal life is from the favour of God. By that favour we become entitled to heaven by the merits and righteousness of Christ; by that favour we are meetened for heaven through regeneration and sanctification; by that favour we are brought to heaven, through all the trying pilgrimage of life. O what views will the redeemed spirit have of the favour of God then!
II. some practical reflections.
1. How vain it is to expect happiness from worldly prosperity without the favour of God! What does it avail, if the whole universe smile on a man, if he be under the frown of God?
2. How fearful are the afflictions of life without the favour of God. How keen must be the strokes of the Divine rod to him who views them as the strokes of an enemy.
3. If the favour of God is life, then what vast multitudes are dead. They can find time for their games, sports, recreations, and worldly pursuits; but no time to seek the favour of God and the salvation of their souls! And how inexcusable are such persons. Beggars, when they might be the favourites of heaven; preferring sickness to health, blindness to sight, danger to safety, and the anger to the favour of God.
4. If in God’s favour there is life, what a dreadful place hell must be.
5. If in God’s favour there is life, what a blessed and glorious place must heaven be. (W. Gregory.)
Where is life?
There are many different opinions as to the place of true enjoyment. Some think it is in animal gratifications; others in material possessions; mental acquirements; personal refinements; social positions; and some even in present creature pleasures. The psalmist though it to be in the favour of God. And he was right. Until man is in friendship with God he will never be happy.
I. what sort is it? Not the creative favour of God, which has made us men, not brutes; not His providential favour, which has supplied our various needs--but His saving favour (Ephesians 2:4-7). That the psalmist had this favour of God in view, is evident from Psalms 30:8.
II. through what medium does God exercise his saving favour? Jesus Christ (John 17:2; Acts 4:12; Romans 3:25-26; 1 John 5:11). Jesus is to the regeneration of man what the atmosphere is to the fruitfulness of the earth--the medium through which the water of the ocean and the warmth of the sun act with generating power.
III. where is this fact revealed? (Deuteronomy 18:15; Deuteronomy 18:18; Luke 24:27; John 5:39). This invests the Scriptures with indescribable grandeur, inestimable worth, exclusive authority, and final appeal in everything pertaining to human redemption.
IV. To whom is it proclaimed? (John 3:16; Luke 2:10; Matthew 9:13; Titus 2:11-14). To limit Gospel invitations to a favoured few is unscriptural.
V. what will be had by suitably regarding God’s proclamation of His saving favour? “Life.” That is, restoration to the moral likeness of God, reinstatement into right relations with God, and introduction into the real friendship of God. Viewed in regard to the law of God, it is called justification (Galatians 3:6-14); the character of God, sanctification (Ephesians 5:25-27); the person of God, fellowship (John 17:21; 1 John 1:3; 1 John 1:6-7). All living is death which is not in God, nor like Him, nor according to His will.
VI. by what exercise of the mind do we obtain the blessed issues of God’s saving favour? Believing. (W. J. Stuart.)
Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.--
Sorrow succeeded by joy
Day and night constitute the sum of human existence; they are emblematical of joy and sorrow. In figurative language, hope and joy are invariably clad in a vesture of light, whilst fear and grief are robed in sable. The language of our text cannot be applied to the trials and afflictions of the ungodly, but we would notice some of those occasions of weeping which may reasonably be expected to terminate in joy. Of this nature are--
I. the tears that flow from conviction of sin and penitential sorrow.
II. The grief that arises from conscious backsliding or from the upbraidings of a tender conscience. There is no feeling more oppressively painful than that of being a conscious traitor: and the anguish of the backslider is closely allied to this. Of whatever nature his sins may be, his profoundest grief will arise from their opposition to the Divine nature. “Against Thee, Thee only,” etc.
III. Those that arise from the sense of spiritual desertion. There are times when we “walk in darkness and have no light,” and we receive no communications of grace to raise our drooping spirits. The light of God’s countenance is withdrawn. But this loneliness of soul, this desolation of spirit, shall be removed, and the light shall again shine.
IV. those caused by temporal afflictions, such as loss, bereavement, death. Conclusion.
1. Let the sentiment of the text preserve you from a gloomy despondency.
2. Disarm death of its terrors.
3. Let each individual ask himself, if he be interested in the truth of my text? Will the source of your weeping become a spring of joy? Can you reasonably expect it should be so? It all depends on your being at peace with God. How is it with you? (J. Summers.)
The two guests
There is an obvious antithesis in the first part of this verse, between “His anger” and “His favour.” Probably there is a similar antithesis between “a moment” and “life.” For, although the word rendered “life” does not usually mean a lifetime, it may have that signification, and the evident intention of contrast seems to require it here. So, then, the meaning of the first part of my text is, “the anger lasts for a moment; the favour lasts for a lifetime.” The perpetuity of the one, and the brevity of the other, are the psalmist’s thought. Then, if we pass to the second part of the text, you will observe that there is there also a double antithesis. “Weeping” is set over against “joy”; the “night” against the “morning.” And the first of these two contrasts is the more striking if we observe that the word “joy” means, literally, “a joyful shout,” so that the voice which was lifted in weeping is conceived of as now being heard in exultant praise. Then, still further, the expression “may endure” literally means “come to lodge.” So that Weeping and Joy are personified. Two guests come; one, dark-robed and approaching at the fitting season for such, “the night.” The other bright, coming with all things fresh and sunny, in the dewy morn. The guest of the night is Weeping; the guest that takes its place in the morning is Gladness. The two clauses, then, of my text suggest substantially the same thought, and that is the persistence of joy and the transitoriness of sorrow. The whole is a loaf out of the psalmist’s own experience.
I. the proportion of joy and sorrow is as ordinary life. Now is it true--is it not true?--that, if a man rightly regards the proportionate duration of these two diverse elements in his life, he must come to the conclusion that the one is continuous and the other is but transitory? A thunderstorm is very short when measured against the long summer day in which it crashes; and very few days have them. It must be a bad climate where half the days are rainy. But then, man looks before and after, and has the terrible gift that by anticipation and by memory he can prolong the sadness. The proportion of solid matter needed to colour the Irwell is very little in comparison with the whole of the stream. But the current carries it, and half an ounce will stain miles of the turbid stream. Memory and anticipation beat the metal thin, and make it cover an enormous space. And the misery is that, somehow, we have better memories for sad hours than for joyful ones. So it comes to be a piece of very homely, well-worn, and yet always needful, practical counsel to try not to magnify and prolong grief, nor to minimize and abbreviate gladness. We can make our lives, to our own thinking, very much what we will. Courage, cheerfulness, thankfulness, buoyancy, resolution, are all closely connected with a sane estimate of the relative proportions of the bright and the dark in a human life.
II. the inclusion of the “moment” in the “life.” I do not know that the psalmist thought of that when he gave utterance to my text, but whether he did it or not, it is true that the “moment” spent in “anger” is a part of the “life” that is spent in the “favour.” Just as within the circle of a life lies each of its moments, the same principle of inclusion may be applied to the other contrast presented here. For as the “moment” is a part of the “life,” the “anger” is a part of the love. The “favour” holds the “anger” within itself, for the true scriptural idea of that terrible expression and terrible fact, the “wrath of God,” is that it is the necessary aversion of a perfectly pure and holy love from that which does not correspond to itself. So, though sometimes the two may be set against each other, yet at bottom, and in reality, they are one, and the “anger” is but a mode in which the “favour” manifests itself. Thus we come to the truth which breathes uniformity and simplicity through all the various methods of the Divine hand, that howsoever He changes and reverses His dealings with us they are one and the same. You may get two diametrically opposite motions out of the same machine. The same power will send one wheel revolving from right to left, and another from left to right, but they are co-operant to grind out at the far end the one product. It is the same revolution of the earth that brings blessed lengthening days and growing summer, and that cuts short the sun’s course and brings declining days and increasing cold. It is the same motion which hurls a comet close to the burning sun, and sends it wandering away out into fields of astronomical space, beyond the ken of telescope, and almost beyond the reach of thought. And so one uniform Divine purpose, the favour which uses the anger, fills the life, and there are no interruptions, howsoever brief, to the steady continuous flow of His outpoured blessings. All is love and favour. Anger is masked love, and sorrow has the same source and mission as joy. It takes all sorts of weathers to make a year, and all tend to the same issue, of ripened harvests and full barns.
III. the conversion of the sorrow into joy. A prince comes to a poor man’s hovel, is hospitably received in the darkness, and, being received and welcomed, in the morning slips off the rags and appears as he is. Sorrow is Joy disguised. If it be accepted, if the will submit, if the heart let itself be untwined, that its tendrils may be coiled closer round the heart of God, then the transformation is sure to come, and joy will dawn on those who have done rightly--that is, submissively and thankfully--by their sorrows. It will not be a joy like what the world calls joy--loud-voiced, boisterous, ringing with idiot laughter; but it will be pure, and deep, and sacred, and permanent. A white lily is better than a flaunting peony, and the joy into which sorrow accepted turns is pure and refining and good. But you may say, “Ah! there are two kinds of sorrows. There are those that can be cured, and there are those that cannot. What have you got to say to me who have to bleed from an immedicable wound till the end of my life?” Well, I have to say this--look beyond earth’s dim dawns to that morning when the Sun of Righteousness shall arise. If we have to carry a load on an aching back till the end, be sure that when the night, which is far spent, is over, and the day, which is at hand, hath broken, every raindrop will be turned into a flashing rainbow when it is smitten by the level light, and every sorrow rightly borne be represented by a special and particular joy. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Weeping and joy
The following are suggested by this passage.
1. God is love. David inscribed over the portal of his house, “His anger is but for a moment,” etc. Did he not thus in broken and imperfect symbols speak out this truth of all truths that has been revealed from Calvary and the Ascension Mount, and which has been given to us that we may herald it to the world? “Herein is love, not that we loved God,” etc. It is in the light of that revelation of love, that we are to read the riddles of our existence. It is in the light of that revelation, and that alone, that the clouds of our forebodings and our despondencies can be put to flight. God’s government of the world, His providential ordering of the whole of the human race and of each individual life is for our everlasting good, and it is in accordance with His own nature of love. In that government nothing is forgotten; in that loving plan no heart has been left desolate. There is no deviation in the path of His intended progress; there is no friction in the Divine workings; for all things work together for good unto them that love God.
2. Another thing suggested by this passage is, that not only is His Divine anger consistent with Divine love, but given the fact that this love of God is love to free beings, to beings who are sinning continually, we may say that anger is absolutely essential to righteous love. God is the eternal righteousness as well as the eternal love. Calvary is the transcendent revelation to the world of the Divine love, but it is also the transcendent revelation of Divine righteousness. Because God is righteous God is angry. He is angry with the wicked, with corruption, impurity, cruelty, selfishness, falsehood, injustice, oppression, envy, hatred, murder, strife. What parent that truly loves his child will let that child flagrantly and persistently sin and not punish him? The rod is often a fitter emblem of love than a kiss.
3. These two visitors, Weeping and Joy, come instrumentally in the hands of God to the homes of a world that is being governed and directed by a righteous love. I do not say that Weeping is the messenger of God’s anger, and that Joy, on the other hand, is the messenger of His love. They are both messengers of His will; they both subserve His redemptive purposes; both of them alike may be messengers of His anger, as both of them alike may be messengers of His love. But although we should regard them as symbolic figures severally of anger and of love, the experiences of human life, when the house is hushed with grief, when the heart is low, followed--as, blessed be God! they are followed--by days of gladness, by giving “the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness”--all this experience of life should remind us that in the lines along which God is working, the secret principles of His government by that which is good and by that which is painful, through Weeping and through Joy, through this strangely mingled experience of human life, He is slowly working out that great purpose and toward that great end, the eternal good of all His creatures. God’s anger is special treatment for a critical hour; it is the probing of the wound; it is the changing, as it were, of the motive power in the secret nature of the soul; and it is only that we may remember that the Father of Spirits, in subjection to whom we live, is also the Ancient of Days and the Eternal Righteousness. But the Divine anger is transient. Anger will not keep; it is impossible that righteous anger can be kept; it is like the coal dropped hot from the furnace that cools every moment. Such is the anger of a righteous, loving being. It is not hatred and enmity and jealousy, but it is anger, a frown which, when the child sees, passes into a smile of paternal tenderness and love. (R. B. Brindley.)
A lyric of deliverance
I. the dirge of grief--“Weeping . . . night.” See how sorrow and night are linked. Life is this night.
1. A brief night.
2. A wild night sometimes.
3. A sorrowful night ofttimes.
4. But a night fringed with light, on this side and on that; and so the dirge has its consoling strain.
II. the lyric of deliverance.
“Joy . . . morning.” See how gladness and light are joined together.
1. In the morning of clearer knowledge.
2. In the morning of purer character.
3. In the morning of eternity. (R. C. Cowel.)
The joy of Easter
The associations we have with Easter are very various, but, for most of us, it represents more than anything else a great revulsion of feeling. The change from Good Friday to Easter Day is much more abrupt than any in the Christian year. It is like the sharp descent from the clear cold air of the Upper Alps into the rich and sunny plains of Italy, and it reminds us of earthly vicissitudes like that of the sovereign, who being imprisoned and expecting immediate execution, is placed by a sudden revolution on the throne of his ancestors. David’s words do not exaggerate the Easter feeling. The words describe the experience of David on more than one occasion. He had known one peril and then great deliverance. And such a morning as the text tells of was that first Resurrection morning for the disciples. We may say they ought not to have been in such heaviness because Jesus had so plainly and repeatedly told them of what would take place. Of His death and resurrection He had told them again and again. And yet, when they saw Him dead upon the Cross they were filled with an almost unimaginable disappointment. How is this to be explained? Human nature is naturally an optimist. Face to face with forecasts of trouble, it resists their reality and their force, it makes the best of them it can. They will not see what they do not wish to see. And so it was with our Lord and His disciples. Hence Peter’s word, “Be it far from Thee, Lord; this shall not be unto Thee,”--as though the prophecy of His Passion had been an utterance of morbid pessimism. And thus it was that when the last tragedy took place it found them unprepared. This was the heaviness which the first disciples had to endure. But what a joy came to them in the morning, as first on one and then on another there fell the rays of the rising Sun of Righteousness I And such a morning it will be when the Christian, having passed the gate of death, attains to a joyful resurrection. And ours will bear the pattern of our Lord’s. True, for Him there was no such interval between death and resurrection as there must be for us: and for Him there was no corruption, whilst for us there will be. But at length soul and body shall be joined together again and for ever. That the soul survives the body might be inferred from the law of the conservation of force or energy in the physical universe. For is there no energy but that of the substances which are known to chemistry? Are not thought, will, love, truly energies: as much so as any that we can identify with chemical elements? But how and in what shape does this spiritual energy survive? It must be in some form strictly personal, or else our personality ceases to be, and the soul is virtually annihilated. Physical force exists independently of the subject to whose life it belongs. But not so with spiritual force. We have no knowledge of it apart from the person in whom it is found. Therefore if the soul exists at all it must retain its personality. And all this is not mere metaphysic, but it is a practical question for the heart. Who that has loved and lost some dear one does not know how intensely real this question is. And let none think that to be absorbed in the ocean of universal life is something more noble than to retain our personal life. It is not so. There can be no joy in the annihilation of personality. To suppress self is good, but that is quite another thing from the annihilation of personality. Hence the value of the truth of the resurrection of the body, since it asserts so emphatically our enduring personality. And thus all anxieties as to the recognition of friends are set at rest. Joy will come through such recognition, in the morning. Yes, but to whom? To those who have learned the moral and spiritual as well as the physical meaning of the resurrection. There are two nights which hang heavily in the life of men--that of sorrow and that of sin. But through Christ our Lord each of them may be followed by a morning of joy. (Canon Liddon.)
The uninvited stranger and the welcome guest
The picture is a very striking one. In the evening Weeping, like a darkly veiled stranger, enters our dwelling, making all sorrowful by his unwelcome presence, but he comes only to sojourn for a night. In the morning another guest appears--Joy--like a rescuing angel, before whom Weeping disappears.
I. Is the case of the godly, the tearful night of affliction will be followed by the joyful morning of deliverance and God’s returning favour. We have here a figurative allusion to the way in which God had dealt with the psalmist and often deals with His people. His favour had been withdrawn, His displeasure manifested, but it was only for a moment, which moment is contrasted with the whole life gladdened with His smile. How often in the history of the Church have we seen the dark night of affliction succeeded by the bright morning of a glorious and triumphant deliverance! The darkest hour immediately preceding the dawn! For a while God seems to forget His people, to be deaf to their cry: He is only waiting for the set time to deliver; and the moment the fittest, the only fit time arrives, we see the morning succeed the night, and Joy take the place of Weeping. We see precisely the same thing in God’s dealings with individuals. The night of affliction falls upon them, the unwelcome stranger, Weeping, takes up his abode with them, their plans are traversed, their hopes are blighted, their house is rendered desolate. Well! it is their privilege to believe, not only that these painful circumstances will be overruled for good, but that the darkness of affliction’s night shall be succeeded by the brightness of a joyful morning. It is so often here, but whether so here or not, it will be so by and by.
II. the tearful night of life will be succeeded by the tearless and eternal day of heaven. We wait for the dawning of that day. We have the beginnings of heaven’s light and joy, here and now; the promise and earnest of them. We have passed from darkness to light, the Day-spring from on high hath visited us; and though we dwell in the dimness of early dawn, we are the children of the light. We should seek to walk in the light, walk as children of the light. (T. M. Morris.)
The two guests
I. weeping. It is at even that she comes to all our homes. When she enters, we close the shutters, and very often put out the candle, and in the glow of the dying embers on the hearth talk to her a while.
1. Weeping is sure to come to us when the shadow of death rests upon our home. She tells us that there seldom was a home so dark as ours, or a trial so great; that such a loss can never be fully made up; that now we are only just beginning to find out what life is.
2. Weeping comes in times of adversity and anxious care. With pensive countenance and in sad tones she says that Providence is full of mystery, and that in all ages she has known some of the best people who were thus sadly perplexed. She tells us that she well remembers how Asaph long ago used to say (Psalms 73:1-2; Psalms 73:5; Psalms 73:18). She reminds us how David, too, and other saints felt the same burden of mystery, and adds that no one has ever found the solution. She is not surprised that we are troubled; we well might be.
3. Weeping comes in those trying hours when friendships disappoint us and close and tender relationships become strained. She suggests that human nature is, notwithstanding all its professions, selfish and untrustworthy; that the exclamation of the psalmist is, sooner or later, the exclamation of all who have known much of the world and its ways: “Put not your trust in princes,” etc.
4. Weeping is sure to come to us in the hour of our humiliation and shame. In the dim glimmer of the fire on the hearth she brings to our notice stains on our garment which, she assures us, would look a thousand times worse if we saw them in the proper light--saw them as others see them; and, above all, as God sees them.
II. weeping vanishes out of sight in the grey light of dawn, and joy enters our dwelling. The blinds are drawn up again, the fire is rekindled upon the hearth; and then, in the growing light of day that streams through the window, Joy talks to us a while. We repeat to her what Weeping has told us, and Joy replies that Weeping is a true teacher, that it is her prerogative to utter many a truth which only she can teach, but that she overlooks others none the less important.
1. For instance, that in speaking to us of our bereavement as a loss for which nothing can compensate, she forgot to tell us of the meeting again; of the memory of that dear one which will be to us a life-long inspiration; of the upward direction which such a bereavement should give to our thoughts and aspirations; and of how it may be one of God’s ways of uniting us to Himself by associating His home with ours.
2. Again, Joy reminds us that when Weeping spoke of affliction as being the mystery which has perplexed God’s saints in all the ages, and of how she had heard Asaph say, “As for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked,” etc. (Psalms 73:2-13), she forgot to tell us the rest that Asaph said: how that he began the psalm with, “Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart”; and how that, further on, in speaking of the prosperity of the wicked, he exclaims (verses 16-20 and 25, 26). “She forgot to tell you, too,” adds Joy, “what another psalmist said (Psalms 119:67). “Yes,” continues Joy, “Weeping is a good teacher, but she has a poor memory for aught that is joyous; she only remembers the sad.”
3. Joy pauses, and then, with a still brighter glow upon her countenance, and a clearer ring in her voice, she continues, And when Weeping spoke to you of your sin, she gave you but half the truth. When she told you that you could never remove the stains of sin which God saw upon your garment, she forgot to say that “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth,” etc. (D. Davies.)
Among the things on view at the Stanley Exhibition, held in London a few years ago, was a small MS. volume which will always be associated with the memory of an Englishman who went to the Dark Continent not to indulge a love of sport, or travel, or adventure, nor yet in order to make a fortune, but to preach the religion of Jesus Christ. The book was Bishop Hannington’s diary. The handwriting, you may remember, was small and closely written, after the manner of a traveller who must get as much as possible into a small compass. And this was the entry on the last page, the last that the Bishop ever made: “I can hear no news, but was held up by Psalms 30:1-12., which came with great power. A hyena howled near me last night, smelling sick man, but I hope he is not to have me yet.” The date of that entry was October 29, 1885, and it shows how the psalms are full of religious power, fit for every-day use even in our own time. Time and knowledge would fail one to tell of all the saints of God who have been helped by the 30th Psalm. Even at the stake, when the faggots have been piled all about, and fetters have weighted every limb, martyrs for the faith have sung with unfaltering voices its promises of sure and certain hope, and have passed away joyfully with its words upon their lips. One such was John Herwin, who suffered during Alva’s persecutions of the Nether-landish Protestants. “At the place of execution,” writes the chronicler of the time, “one gave him his hand and comforted him.” Then “began he to sing the 30th Psalm”; and the 30th Psalm, in spite of interruptions, he sang through from beginning to end. (E. H. Eland, M. A.)
Weeping and Jog
Lo! there comes hitherward, as though making for the door of our house, a dark form. She is slightly bent, but not with age. She has a pale face, her step is languid, like one who has travelled far and is weary; and her tears flow so fast that she cannot wipe them away. Our hearts begin to beat as we watch her coming. Will she pass, or will she stay? “I am a pilgrim,” quoth she; “will you lodge me for the night? I am sad, I am weary, for I go round all the world. There are few houses I do not enter, and in some I make a long stay. You ask me for nay name. I bear it in my countenance: my name is ‘Weeping.’ You wish to see my credentials? It is sufficient that none have been able to keep me outside a door inside of which I wished to be; and I know that, notwithstanding your beating hearts, you will not be inhospitable; you will take me in.” “Yes, for a little, to refresh you, to dry your tears if we can; and then to bid you farewell.” “Nay, I can make no stipulation; I go where I am sent, I depart at the appointed time!” And now “Weeping” has her chamber in the house. And the blinds are drawn down, and hearts are hushed, and feet tread lightly; and, listening all night through, we hear sighs, and sometimes almost sobs, from the chamber where “Weeping” lies sleepless. And we, too, are sleepless and anxious, and one and another find the tears flowing down their own cheeks as the night goes on; and the house is all full of pain and fear, as the dark thought begins to take shape that she may have come to make a long stay. We are up betimes, for now we are amongst them “that watch for the morning.” Some flush of it is in file eastern sky, “and see,” we say to each other, “it is beginning to gild yon mountain peaks, and to flow down into the valleys,” when, hearing some footsteps approaching--lo! there comes one whose step is elastic, whose form is graceful, who bears the dawn on his countenance, who sheds light around him as he walks. Again our hearts begin to beat, but this time it is with fear that he will not stay. “I am a pilgrim,” quoth he; “I have been long on the road; I can walk through the darkest night and not stumble; I have come to you this morning with the dawn, and I wish to stay.” Ah, welcome indeed I if we knew where to give thee room; we have but one guest-chamber, and it is occupied. There came to us last night a poor pilgrim named ‘Weeping,’ who for the first hours of night sighed and wept so sorely that it seemed as if she were breathing her life away. For the last two hours she seems to have fallen on sleep, for her chamber is silent, and it would be cruel to awake her.” “Weeping? ah, I know her well. My name is Joy. Weeping and Joy have bad the world between them since the world was made. But, now, look in your room. You will find it empty. I met her an hour ago on the other side of the hill. She told me she had slipped silently away, and that I would be just in time to smile good-morning to you from my bright face, while she went on her way towards the valley of Baca, and the deeper, darker valley of the shadow of death. Weeping will not come here again to-night, and I shall stay, or I shall leave some of the light of my presence to fill the house. We often meet, and always part. But there is a time coming, in the Land of Light, from which I come, when even she will not know how to weep. “For the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces.” (A. Raleigh, D. D.)
In my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved.
The conditions and acts of life, the springs of solemn issues
These verses may be taken as indicating the tendencies of certain conditions and actions in human life.
I. Here is human prosperity leading to presumption. The writer’s experience agrees with that of Job (Job 29:18). Also with the experience of the rich man in the Gospel, who said, “Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.”
1. This tendency implies moral per-versify. Our religious feelings should get purer and stronger as our mercies abound. Sad it is, therefore, to see prosperity leading to presumption and impiety.
2. This tendency should modify our desire for wealth. Worldly wealth, at best, is only a temporary good, and often an evil in disguise.
II. Here is affliction leading to prayer.
1. The description of affliction. It is the hiding of God’s face.
2. The nature of his prayer.
(1) Vehement (1 Chronicles 21:16-17).
(2) Argumentative. He reasons with the Almighty (verse 9).
He means that his destruction would be of no service to the Almighty, but that his preservation might be.
III. Here is prayer leading to deliverance. In answer to earnest prayer, the Great Father has ever given to the suffering suppliant beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.
1. God removes suffering. “Thou hast put off my sackcloth.”
2. God gives happiness. “And girded me with gladness.”
IV. Here is deliverance leading to praise.
1. This was the purpose of his deliverance. “To the end that my glory may sing praise to Thee.” He was delivered that he might praise.
2. This was the influence of his deliverance. “O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto Thee for ever.” (Homilist.)
The proper improvement of prosperity and adversity
The subject of the psalmist’s complaint in these words is a common weakness, incident to human nature; a too great confidence in the day of prosperity, and excessive dejection in a time of trouble.
I. what it is that chiefly contributes to this extreme diversity of temper under the varying scenes of life.
1. It is sometimes owing, in a good measure, to the native turn and temper of the mind. Some are of so soft and flexible a make, that they are soon impressed: almost everything affects them too much.
2. That which chiefly contributes to this great reverse of temper under the vicissitudes of life, I conceive to be an excessive fondness for earthly enjoyments. Did we not set our hearts upon these things, we should meet with fewer disappointments from them.
3. Our ignorance, or inconsideration of the true nature of present things, as
4. A want of faith, which would teach us to look beyond these things to the final issue of the great all-wise Disposer of them.
II. what dangerous consequences attend such an inequality of mind.
1. It lays us exposed to all the temptations of that state of life, into which Providence hath brought us.
(1) A man that is secure, carnal and confident in prosperity, lies wholly exposed to all the snares and temptations incident to that state of life: which are such as these; pride, worldly-mindedness, self-indulgence, vanity, avarice, intemperance, contempt of others, self-sufficiency, oppression, irreligion, or, at least, a great indifference to sacred things.
(2) A succumbency and dejection of mind in adversity lays us exposed to all the dangers and temptations of float condition. And the sins, to which men are most inclined in this state of life, are envy at the prosperity of others, murmuring, impatience, discontent, uncharitableness, passion, fearfulness and despair.
2. It deprives us of all the advantages we might derive from these states.
(1) An elate and careless frame of mind in prosperity deprives us of the chief benefits that might accrue to us from thence: or, in other words, it prevents our blessings from being sanctified. For how can those blessings be sanctified to us which we are not thankful for? And how can we be thankful for those blessings for which we are forgetful of our dependence on Providence?
(2) An excessive grief and despondency in tribulation is attended with effects no less detrimental; as it deprives us of all those advantages we might reap from our troubles. Afflictions are often sent as the greatest mercies; to make us more meek, resigned, patient, humble, holy and heavenly minded; to purify our hearts, wean us from the world, and mortify our sensual affections; and to revive and cultivate a spiritual, watchful and dependent frame of mind. But how can afflictions be sanctified to these happy purposes, when the mind is tossed with tempestuous sorrow, or faints under the stroke, incapable of forming one right), or regular reflection?
III. what considerations are most proper to balance the passions, and give us a self-possession under all providential occurrences.
1. Let us often think of the natural inconstancy of all earthly things.
(1) Are there not a thousand secret and unforeseen ways, whereby the hand of God can suddenly take from us all cur earthly comforts, or our capacity to enjoy them? How vain, then, is a confident spirit in a day of prosperity.
(2) Are our souls involved in darkness? and our minds disconsolate, and bowed down, under the pressure of some grievous affliction? let us remember, that the day succeeds the night (Psalms 30:5). Time cures all our earthly sorrows; and grace alleviates them. Let this sanctify, what that will entirely remove.
2. Let us look forward to the end of things, and endeavour to familiarize to ourselves the thoughts of futurity.
3. Let us ever keep our eye fixed on God, as the all-wise and sovereign Disposer of these things; and remember, that whatever befalls us, comes either by His permission or direction.
4. Leg us think how much we offend our Maker by indulging in that weak unguarded temper now described.
5. Let us consider how much we lose the relish of our mercies by being too secure and fond of them in prosperity; and how we increase our load by sinking under it in adversity.
6. Let us learn to be more cautious in prosperity, and more composed in adversity, and endeavour after more equanimity in both. (J. Mason, M. A.)
The perils of prosperity
For quaintly said of the elder Pitt that he “fell up-stairs” when he was elevated to the peerage. Many a man cannot stand going up higher.. He becomes haughty, proud; he affects dignity, he lords it over God’s heritage; he becomes too big with conscious superiority. Like Jeshurun, he waxes fat and kicks. He falls up-stairs; up, not down. (A. S. Pierson, D. D.)
Thou didst hide Thy face, and I was troubled.
The withdrawal of the Divine presence
Of all the sources of sorrow to which a good man is exposed here, there is none whose waters are so bitter, nor whose grief is so poignant, as the withdrawal of the Divine presence. But there is one practical benefit to be derived from it; it affords additional evidence of our real state before God. If we can endure the absence of God’s favourable presence from our souls without sorrow, our love to Him cannot be genuine.
I. the extent of this withdrawal. We speak not of His withdrawal from the unconverted--but from the real child of God.
1. It does not include the withdrawal of His loving-kindness. Indeed, the very act of withdrawal is prompted by love.
2. It does not include the withdrawal of the real presence and indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit may not reflect the shining of God’s love upon the believer’s soul, and yet He may, at the same time, so work in his heart, as to make his faith lively; his desires strong; his conscience tender; and his life fruitful.
3. This withdrawal may be experienced indifferent degrees by different Christians, and by the same Christians at different times and under different circumstances. With some it is only a cloudy day; with others it is twilight, neither dark nor light; with some the Sun of Righteousness is overcast, with others He appears to be totally eclipsed.
II. when God may be said to hide his face.
1. When He does not interpose on their behalf, and though He sees them in trouble does not step forward to their relief.
2. When He removes from His people the symbols of His presence--the ordinances and sacraments of religion.
3. When His people do not prize the means of grace, and when their profiting does not appear.
4. When He denies His people access to Himself, and breaks off communion with them.
III. the reasons of this hiding.
1. When Christians commit gross sins, and bring a disgrace upon religion, then God hides His face from them, to show to them His displeasure, and to show to the world that the falls and sins of professors are not to be attributed to, neither to be charged upon, his religion.
2. When Christians become earthly-minded, and begin to prefer possessions, delights, and engagements of the world to Jesus and His great salvation, then God hides His face from them.
3. When Christians grow formal, cold, and lifeless in their religious duties, then God frequently hides His face from them. It is the lively, active, zealous, spiritual worshipper, with whom God has engaged to dwell.
4. When Christians neglect the great medium of access to God, the Lord Jesus Christ, then Jehovah resents the insult offered to His Son by hiding His face.
IV. the spirit to be exercised in these seasons of desertion. “I was troubled.” This implies:
1. That we are truly sensible of our loss, of our sin, and of the fearful consequences that must inevitably follow a continuance of this state of things.
2. That we recognize the presence of God as the only permanent source of comfort and happiness.
3. That we exert all the powers and faculties of our souls to recover the presence and favour of God. For this purpose we should use all the appointed means of grace. In all duties and ordinances our souls should follow hard after Him, and pursue Him closely from one ordinance to another till we find Him.
V. why Christians are thus troubled at the hiding of his face,
1. Because of the blessings they have lost.
2. Because of the positive evils that always attend this withdrawal of God’s favourable presence from the soul.
(1) Spiritual darkness.
(2) Spiritual deadness and insensibility.
(3) Failure in all spiritual duties.
(4) Barrenness of soul.
(5) Exposure to dangers and temptations.
(6) A dread of God’s displeasure.
(7) The fear of final rejection.
(8) Melancholy thought of death and judgment.
VI. practical lessons and cautions.
1. How few are true believers.
2. How awful is the condition of unconverted men.
3. How awful is the state of the backslider.
4. How happy are the people of God. (W. Gregory.)
Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing.
Here is described a change, complete, and more or less sudden, from sadness to joy. David has escaped a danger which had brought him very near to death; and now he is thankful and exultant. His words are in keeping with what Christians feel, as they pass from the last days of Holy Week into the first hours of Easter. If Easter is associated predominantly with any one emotion, it is with that of joy. And thus, ever since, the Church of Christ has laboured to make the Easter festival, beyond all others, the feast of Christian joy. All that nature and art could furnish has been summoned to express, so far as outward things may, this overmastering emotion of Christian souls worshipping at the tomb of their Risen Lord. All the deliverances of God’s ancient people, from Egypt, from Assyria, from Babylon, are but rehearsals of the great deliverance of all on the Resurrection morning; and each prophet and psalmist that heralds any of them, sounds in Christian ears some separate note of the Resurrection hymn. And this, the joy which fills the soul of the believing Church on Easter Day, has some sort of echo in the world outside; so that those who sit loosely to our faith and hope, and who worship rarely, if ever, before our altars, yet feel that good spirits are somehow in order on Easter morning. For their sakes, as for our own, let us try to take the emotion to pieces, as we find it in a Christian soul; let us ask why it is so natural for Christians to say, this day, with David, “Thou hast turned my heaviness into joy: Thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness.”
I. The first reason, then, for this Easter joy is the triumph and satisfaction enjoyed by our Lord himself. We follow Him in the stages of His sufferings and death. We sympathize reverently with the awful sorrows of our Adorable Lord and Friend; and thus we enter, in some far-off way, into the sense of triumph, unspeakable and sublime, which follows beyond it. It is His triumph; that is the first consideration; His triumph, who was but now so cruelly insulted and tortured. It is all over now; by a single motion of His Majestic Will, He is risen. And we, as we kneel before Him, think, first of all, of Him. It is His joy which inspires ours; it turns our heaviness into joy, and puts off our sorrow and girds us with gladness. Do I say this is the case? Perhaps it were more prudent to say that it ought to be. For in truth the habit of getting out of and forgetting our miserable selves in the absorbing sense of the beauty and magnificence of God, belongs rather to ancient than to modern Christianity. To those old Christians God was all, man nothing, or well-nigh nothing. Theirs was a disinterested interest in God. With us, we are too prone to value God, not so much for His own sake as for ours. Be it yours to show that my misgiving is unwarranted. You know that pure sympathy with an earthly friend’s happiness loaves altogether out of consideration the question whether it contributes anything to your own; and in like manner endeavour to say to-day to your Heavenly Friend: “It is because Thou, Lord Jesus, hast vanquished Thine enemies, hast overcome death, and hast entered into Thy glory, that Thou hast turned my Lenten heaviness into joy, and put off my sackcloth and girded me with gladness.”
II. because of the sense of confidence with which Christ’s resurrection from the dead invigorates our grasp of Christian truth. The mind loves to rest truth on a secure basis. This is what the old Roman poet meant by saying that the man was really happy who had attained to know the causes of things. The chemist who has at last explained the known effect of a particular drug, by laying bare, upon analysis, an hitherto undiscovered property in it; the historian who has been enabled to show that the conjecture of years rests on the evidence of a trustworthy document; the mathematician on whom has flashed the formula which solves some problem that has long haunted and eluded him; the anatomist who has been able to refer what he had hitherto regarded as an abnormal occurrence to the operation of a recognized law;--these men know what joy is. Now, akin to the joy of students and workers is the satisfaction of a Christian when he steadily dwells on the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Christian Creed is like a tower which rears towards heaven its windows and pinnacles in successive stages of increasing gracefulness. We lavish our admiration first on this detail of it, and then on that; and, while we thus study and admire, we dwell continuously in its upper stories, till at last perhaps a grave question occurs or is suggested to us. What does it all rest upon? What is the foundation-fact on which this structure has been reared in all its august and fascinating beauty? What fact, if removed, would be fatal to it? And the answer is--our Lord’s Resurrection is one such fact. He was declared to be the Son of God with power by the Resurrection from the dead. Yes; it is here, beside the empty tomb of the Risen Jesus, that Christian faith feels itself on the hard rock of fact; here we break through the tyranny of matter and sense, and rise with Christ into the immaterial world; here we put a term to the enervating alternation of guesses and doubts which prevails elsewhere, and we reach the frontier of the absolutely certain. And we can but answer, Truly, Lord Jesus, by Thy Resurrection Thou hast turned my heaviness into joy: Thou hast put off my sackcloth, and gilded me with gladness.
III. And because of the assurance it gives of our own resurrection. Paganism could only guess and speculate as to the immortality of the soul. It is the Gospel which gives certainty; it has unveiled the immortality of man in his completeness, in body and in soul. Thus shall we recognize our friends in heaven, for they shall wear there the features and the expression which they wore on earth. “All men shall rise with their bodies.” Joyfully, therefore, do we think of the blessed dead. (Canon Liddon.)
Girded me with gladness.--
Elevation of feeling
For the expression and manifestation of the state in which we are, God has made a rich provision of power. The forehead, the eye, the mouth, the whole face, the hands, the arms, the gait, and especially the voice, are so many instruments and agents ‘of expression; and we are not true to ourselves, we are false to our condition, we are disloyal to God, when we clothe ourselves with a uniform reticence and unexpressiveness of demeanour. The clouds drop their blackness and appear brilliantly coloured and gorgeously gilded when the sun shines on them. The sea casts off its leaden hue and is covered with crisped smiles when the storm is over. The battle-field absorbs the blood which, in the day of war, is spilt on its bosom, and exhibits lovely flowers, or verdant pasture, or golden corn. The earth casts off her winterly attire and puts on her summerly vestments when “the time of the singing of birds has come.” In like manner there is in human life and experience the turning of mourning into dancing; the putting off of sackcloth and the girding with gladness. (S. Martin.)
One summer day I watched a lark rise from a field, and I listened with almost rapture to its unequalled song. The bird rose in successive stages, singing while rising and singing while resting, and the last ascent it made caused it to appear like a speck on the blue sky, an almost imperceptible spring of sweet music in the heavens. Nothing appeared wanting to complete the scene but the opening of the heavenly gates to receive this minister of song, that its sacrifice of sweetest sounds might be laid on the altar of God. But while thinking of this consummation the bird began to descend, falling rapidly in successive stages until near the earth, and then flying horizontally until it was lost in its nest. Does not the ascent and descent of this favourite songster represent our praise to God? Our glory is not always silent. We do sometimes sing praise to our God, and we rise into glorious elevations of feeling and of thought. But if we rise high in the morning, we fall low before noon; if we ascend on the Lord’s day, we sink low on other days. A day will come in which there shall be a final putting off of sackcloth, and a final girding with gladness; and in that day silence shall be broken for ever, and our eternal life shall be one eternal psalm and service of praise. (S. Martin.)
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Psalms 30". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12