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THIS short psalm, opening with the praise of Zion, or of the Jewish Church (Psalms 87:1-3), passes into a glorification of the Church universal, when all the nations have come into it (Psalms 87:4-7). The glorification falls under two heads—God's acknowledgment of those who flock into his Church (Psalms 87:4-6), and their acknowledgment of the blessings which they receive through it. The two "selahs" divide the psalm into two stanzas, each of three verses, and a short epode consisting of a single verse.
The praises of Zion.
(1) She is built upon the holy mountains;
(2) God loves her pre-eminently; and
(3) a glorious future is assigned to her in the counsels of God.
His foundation is in the holy mountains. God's foundation—the city which he has founded—is "in the holy mountains;" i.e. in the hill country of Judaea, a congeries of mountains, "holy," since they surround the holy city and belong to the "holy land" (Zechariah 2:12).
The Lord loveth the gates of Zion (comp. Psalms 78:68). More than all the dwellings of Jacob; i.e. "more than all the other dwellings"—more than Shiloh, more than Kirjath-jearim, more than any other of the ark's resting places.
Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God. The psalmist probably refers in part to the predictions of older prophets, but also in part to the revelations made to himself, which he is on the point of recording (Psalms 87:4-7).
The Almighty is introduced as making a revelation to the psalmist. He will cause the Gentiles to flock into his Church, even those who have been hitherto the most bitter enemies of Israel (Psalms 87:4), and will place these strangers on a par with such as have belonged to his Church from their birth (Psalms 87:4, Psalms 87:5, Psalms 87:6), admitting them to every blessing and every privilege. The Church, thus augmented, shall be taken under his own protection, and "established," or placed on a sure footing, forever. Compare our Lord's promise to St. Peter," On this rock will I build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18).
I will make mention of Rahab; i.e. of Egypt. The context requires this meaning, which is found also in Psalms 89:10 and in Isaiah 51:9. Literally "Rahab" means "pride, arrogance." And Babylon. The fitting counterpart of Egypt, equally antagonistic to Israel, and equally lifted up with pride and presumption. To them that know me; rather, among them that know me; i.e. as belonging to them, included in their number (comp. Isaiah 19:21, "And the Lord shall be known to the Egyptians, and the Egyptians shall know the Lord in that day;" and see also Psalms 72:11, Psalms 72:17; Psalms 82:8; Isaiah 66:23). Behold Philistia, and Tyre, with Ethiopia. Other hostile nations (comp. Psa 83:7; 2 Chronicles 12:3; 2 Chronicles 14:9-13). This man was horn there. There is no "man" in the original, and it is better to understand "nation;" this, that, and the other nation—all those mentioned, and others—are grafted into Zion, and have a second birth there.
And of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her. A repetition, but emphatic, and perhaps intended to assert of individuals what in the preceding verse was said of nations. And the highest himself shall establish her; literally, and he, the highest, shall establish her (comp. Matthew 16:18). The Church is "established" on a Rock, forever.
The Lord shall count, when he writeth up the people; rather, the peoples, (see Psalms 87:4). That this man was born there. He shall enregister every individual among the converted nations as a true citizen of Zion, entitled to all covenant privileges.
As well the singers as the players on instruments; literally, and singers as well as dancers [shall say]. (On dancing as an element of religious service, see Exo 15:20; 2 Samuel 6:16; Psalms 68:25; Psalms 149:3; Psalms 150:4.) The psalmist intends to represent the converted nations as coming in a grand procession, with songs and dances, to celebrate their admission to Zion, and there one and all exclaiming, All my fresh springs—i.e. "all my sources of life, and joy, and happiness"—are in thee. The verse is possibly but "fragment," as Professor Cheyne supposes.
The glory of the Church.
"Glorious things," etc. It is a glorious thing to be a real Christian. Glorious because of the relation such a one holds to God and to Christ—a child of God by faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 4:7; Romans 8:16, Romans 8:17). Glorious also because of his relation to the Church of God—a citizen of the heavenly city, a member of the fellowship of saints, the brotherhood of the faithful, the spiritual body of which Christ is the living Head (Colossians 1:18; 1 Corinthians 12:13). But it is a glory hid from worldly eyes—one of "the things of the Spirit of God" which are "spiritually discerned" (1 Corinthians 2:14). Hence St. Paul's prayer (Ephesians 1:18).
I. THE GLORY OF THE CHURCH'S HISTORY. If we would earnestly and wisely study the history which the Scriptures record, the inspiration of the Scriptures would speak for itself. Because history is written on different principles here from anywhere else. In these points (to name no others):
1. Everywhere the hand of God is seen as the supreme factor in human affairs. Not in miracle, except at those special crises and occasions where miracles were the fittest means. These, not scattered at random, but ha groups, at certain junctures. But the constant presence and exercise of God's knowledge, purpose, power, goodness; like the pressure of the atmosphere, never felt, never absent.
2. Under God, character, personal and national, is seen to be the decisive force in human life. The great men of the world have been great by ability, force of will, genius, circumstances. Some distinguished men of genius, rulers, etc; have been eminent saints; but this is not the rule. Bible heroes are spiritual heroes. Their sins, faithfully portrayed, were their weakness; their victory was always the victory of faith, prayer, godly sincerity (see Hebrews 11:1-40.). "Faith"—not opinion, creed, speculation, but undoubting trust in God, proved by and producing fearless obedience. This psalm refers, of course, in its first meaning to the earthly Jerusalem. But it is full of predictions to be fulfilled only by the gospel of Christ and the outpouring of the Spirit "on all flesh." The great lesson of the history of ancient Israel is in reality not that which lies on the surface, in the political and national form of the Church, its rigid Jaws, the glories of David and Solomon, the priestly rites and material splendour of temple worship, but that which our Saviour taught, "My kingdom is not of this world." Spiritual, not material forms govern human life.
II. THE LIVING, ABIDING PRESENCE OF GOD. (Psalms 46:5.) Under the old dispensation, every possible means was used to impress and to symbolize this central truth; and at the same time to surround and guard it with an awe and majesty, without which it would have been vulgarized and rendered spiritually powerless. Israel was never suffered to forget that their God was also God of the whole earth, Almighty Creator, universal Lord. The New Testament doctrine and promise of the Divine Presence is given by our Saviour in a double form
(1) to individual believers (John 14:21, John 14:23);
(2) to his Church (verse 18; Matthew 18:20).
In the New Testament there are, in fact, four antitypes or spiritual realities typified by the tabernacle or temple;
(1) our Lord's human nature (John 2:19-21);
(2) the person of every true Christian (1 Corinthians 6:19);
(3) the Christian Church (Ephesians 2:20-22);
(4) heaven (Hebrews 9:11, Hebrews 9:12, Hebrews 9:24).
III. ITS MEMBERSHIP. Christians are citizens (Philippians 3:20, Revised Version; Ephesians 2:19; Hebrews 12:22; Galatians 4:26). To an ancient Israelite, the glory of his citizenship was its exclusiveness; yet this psalm predicts the time when heathens and foes should become "fellow citizens," not by national subjection, but individual regeneration. This truth, plentifully foretold by the Holy Spirit and the prophets, was yet so inscrutable to the Jewish mind, that St. Paul calls it "the mystery hid from the beginning" (Ephesians 3:4-6, Ephesians 3:9); and the Christian Church at Jerusalem was overwhelmed with amazement when these predictions were fulfilled (see Acts 10:1-48; Acts 11:1-30.; especially Acts 10:10, Acts 10:28, Acts 10:45; Acts 11:3, Acts 11:18). It is a shame that Christians have such narrow, ignoble views of the Church of God. True views would be the death of sectarianism. The New Testament gives two canons of membership in the universal Church—one inclusive, one exclusive.
(1) "By one Spirit are we all baptized into one body;"
(2) "If any have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his."
IV. THE FINAL AND ETERNAL GLORY. (Ephesians 5:27.) Typified by "the bride of the Lamb," "the holy city, New Jerusalem" (Revelation 21:1-27; Revelation 22:1-21.).
HOMILIES BY S. CONWAY
The habitation of God.
This psalm is true, whether we apply it—
I. TO ISRAEL OF OLD, God's ancient people. That the writer had them in his mind, there can be no doubt, whatever other applications we may make of his words. Like the other psalms "for the sons of Korah," it most probably belongs to the days of Hezekiah. The sons of Korah were the keepers of those "gates" which in this psalm, as in Psalms 84:1-12; they celebrate; and the triumph of which they tell harmonizes with the glowing predictions of Israel as to the spiritual power and supremacy of Israel.
1. This psalm speaks of the proud position of Zion, on the holy mountains, so elevated, sacred, secure.
2. Of the Divine delight in her. God was to be worshipped in all the dwellings of Jacob (see Le Psalms 23:2); but his chief delight was in the united worship of all the people in his temple on Mount Zion, in the glorious feasts and festivals that were celebrated there.
3. Of her glorious hi story. It may have been, as some have supposed, that the psalm was sung at the public reception into the Jewish Church of a number of converts from heathen nations, and that, as our Lord saw in the coming of the Greeks to him (John 12:1-50.) the forerunners of the coming of all the Gentiles—yea, of "all men"—so the psalmist foresees the conversion of all the nations of whom he speaks to the Name of the Lord. And the change for them shall be so great that it shall be as a new birth; whatever their native country may have been, they were really "born" in Zion. And she shall produce many great and illustrious men. The word rendered "man" (Psalms 84:5) denotes one of distinction and eminence, not an ordinary person. In the great day of manifestation and triumph of the people of God, the Lord himself shall own those born in Zion.
4. Of her great joy. The song and the dance and all kinds of mirth shall characterize her; she shall be a gladsome city.
II. TO THE CHURCH OF CHRIST. The psalm, read as part of the record of the Church, tells:
1. Of her foundation, which is Christ. He is the chief Cornerstone. "Other foundation can no man lay," etc.
2. Her position—in the holy mountains; that is, she is conspicuous—a city set on a hill, which cannot be hid; the mountain of the Lord's house, high and lifted up, visible from afar and on all sides. Secure, likewise, as a mountain fortress mightily defended. Has not the Church ever been so? And holy. This is her main characteristic; she could not be the Church of Christ without this.
3. The Lord's delight in her. She is the purchase of his blood, the subject of his care, the reason of his providential rule. He who toucheth her toucheth the apple of his eye.
4. The glorious things spoken of her. How all forms of hostility yield to her—Rahab, the proud; Babylon, the cruel; Philistia, the fierce; Tyre, the greedy of gain; Ethiopia, the degraded;—from all such she wins trophies for Christ. The Church's mission is to gather in all nations for him. And see the heroes of the faith that are "born" in her: what a glorious roll call that is? And the Lord himself shall attest all this. What is the Epistle to the Ephesians but a full declaration of what the Church of Christ shall be and do and enjoy? And other Scriptures declare the same. And the history of the Church is evermore confirming this word.
5. Her abiding gladness. Real religion is the most gladsome thing this side heaven; it is a never-failing spring of pure and elevating joy. Finally, this psalm may be applied to—
III. THE INDIVIDUAL BELIEVER. For he, too, is a habitation of God.
1. Founded on the one Foundation—Christ.
2. Is as a holy mountain—openly confessed, not hiding out of sight, secure in God, holy.
3. Is the object of Divine delight. God loves our natural life, but our spiritual life is that which he loves most—to foster and develop and save that is the meaning of all the disciplines, trials, and varied Divine dealings with us.
4. Glorious things are spoken of him. As to the past, all his guilt put away. As to the present, the hostile forces of the world—pride, cruelty, inward corruption, ever worrying the soul, as Philistia did Israel, the lusts of the world, the horde of degrading propensities—all these which war against the soul shall be subdued, and the varied powers they usurped shall be given to God. And as to the future, what hath God not promised for those who love him? And God will make such heart the means of blessing to many others, and will own what has been done.
5. And he willfill such heart with joy.—S.C.
The principles of the Divine preference.
These are seen—
I. IN THE GREATER LOVE OF GOD FOR ZION THAN FOR ALL THE DWELLINGS OF JACOB. Not a few of those dwellings were spacious, magnificent, wealthy, adorned, and inhabited by men who feared God; but yet, because in Zion God's glory was more revealed, his grace seen, his truth declared, his people blessed, and because there that in man which God ever most of all delights in—the spiritual life, the life of trust, of love, of devotion to God—found its chief nourishment, expression, and delight, therefore the Lord loved the gates of Zion more, etc.
II. IN THE CHARACTERS GOD APPROVES. The name of Jacob suggests one of these at first sight apparently strange preferences. "Jacob have I loved, and Esau have I hated." How many people have been puzzled over that statement, endorsed as it is by the actual dealing of God with the two men? Esau was a man richly endued with gifts such as men everywhere have highly esteemed. He had courage, affection, generosity, strength; whilst Jacob too seldom shows any quality which wins our admiration, and far too often he is guilty of that which excites contempt. And yet the Lord preferred him. The reason was that in him, however encrusted with what was sordid, base, and mean, there was yet the germ and seed, the potency and promise, of the life of God in his soul. There were reverence of and trust in God, and the yearning after the better life; there were the seeds of the life eternal, and they so sprang up at last that God's chosen name for himself was, "I am the God of Jacob." But in Esau, with all his magnificence, courage, and other virtues, there does not seem to have been anything of the kind.
III. IS THE COMPOSITION OF THE SCRIPTURES. What large space is given to what in human esteem seems the chronicling of very small affairs; whilst of the great empires, events, and personalities of the world, scarce any note is taken—none at all, except when and because they are brought into contact with the people of God! But for that they would have been passed over in complete silence. Palestine—what a little shred of the earth's surface it is! The Jews—what an insignificant people they have always been! Their great men—Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, and the rest—how small to ordinary human sight they appear! But how colossal were Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Greece, Rome, and their heroes! Yet we learn scarce anything of them from the Bible. And the explanation is the same: in the little land, and amongst the despised people, the life of God was to be found as it was not in all the mighty ones of the world.
IV. IN OUR LORD'S PREFERENCE OF GRACE TO GIFTS. (See Luke 10:20.) His disciples were exultant over their gifts, but he tells them to rejoice rather in that grace which was the common inheritance of every faithful disciple. Gifts did not, and do not necessarily, carry along with them the life of God in the soul; but grace always does.
V. IS THE ORDERING OF GOD'S PROVIDENCE. What a series of changes does the history of the world show! Empires rising, falling, disappearing. What a fragment of the history of the whole is all that the most learned know! Oblivion has covered the records of well nigh all peoples. They had their day; were doubtless thought much of by their contemporaries, and more of by themselves; they did, we may be sure, many things—many of them, probably, great exploits, notable deeds. But who knows anything of them now? They all have "waxed old, like a garment, and as," etc. (Hebrews 1:12). But of the Church of God, the company of people who in all ages have loved and feared his Name, there has been no disappearance, their name has endured as none other has. God has preserved them alive, as it is this day.
VI. IN THE DOCTRINE OF THE CROSS. How contemptible that seemed in the apostolic age, and, to many, seems so still! Yet to it has been given power to effect a moral change in mankind that nothing else has ever been capable of. Philosophy has done her best; but she left, notwithstanding all her teachings, the whole world lying in wickedness. But "Christ and him crucified" was preached, and we know the result of that. It was, as it is, "the power of God unto salvation unto every one that believeth." Therefore has God put honour upon that preaching such as he has given to none other. Divine life is in it, as myriads of saved souls know, and it is not found elsewhere.
CONCLUSION. Remember that God acts upon these same principles in our own individual life. He loves everything, however mean it may seem, which leads our souls to him; he cares for nothing, however much esteemed, that leads them away from him.—S.C.
The Lord shall count.
There shall be a Divine census, a numbering of the people by God, such as never yet has taken place. Nothing in Hezekiah's reign, the probable date of this psalm, ever fulfilled the glorious promises here given. But it shall be when Christ shall come again. Consider—
I. THE FACT OF SUCH "WRITING UP" OF THE PEOPLE.
1. It shall be national. (Psalms 87:4.)
2. But individual also. The counting will be of this one, and that, and the other; there will be no passing in a crowd.
3. It is attested by many witnesses—Scripture, reason, history, conscience.
II. ITS PURPOSE. The gathering together of his own true people; the making up of his jewels; the manifestation of the sons of God. This is not done now, but shall be.
III. THE WRITER. The Lord himself.
1. He only can really know where to find his people; they are often found in strange places (Psalms 87:4).
2. He only can be trusted. Bigotry, superstition, dislike, would shut many out. Partiality, fondness, love of sin, would let many in. God alone can judge.
IV. THE NAMES IN IT. Those only who have been "born" of God. Shall we be there?—S.C.
HOMILIES BY R. TUCK
The Divine interest in Zion.
Taking Zion as a poetical name for Jerusalem, the temple city, and as the representative of every place where public and united worship is offered to God. Zion is still, for us, the pious name for God's house. The point prominent is this—that we should love God's house and worship is not in any sense surprising; but it is a surprise of condescension and grace that God should love our sanctuaries, and find his pleasure in our worship. Yet even this we are permitted to realize, and this the saints of God have realized. The historical associations of this psalm cannot be fixed. It certainly does not belong to the Davidic age, for its outlook is too wide, its spirit too liberal and too comprehensive. It may reflect the more hopeful feeling of the returned exiles; it does match precisely the feeling expressed in some of the later chapters of Isaiah, notably the sixtieth. But it must be admitted that a rigid exclusiveness rather than a liberal inclusiveness characterized the returned exiles; and the psalm is altogether too generous for them. The suggestion that it belongs to the time of Hezekiah is certainly to be preferred. When the Assyrian power was humbled by the overthrow of Sennacherib, it seemed, to excited feeling, that Judah was to be the world's deliverer, and Jerusalem was likely to become the centre of a confederacy of delivered nations. That was the hope of Hezekiah; it was the promise of the moment, which gains expression in the psalm. In 2 Chronicles 32:22, 2 Chronicles 32:23, the events immediately following on the deliverance from Assyria are indicated. "And many brought gifts unto the Lord to Jerusalem, and presents to Hezekiah King of Judah; so that he was magnified in the sight of all nations from henceforth." Hezekiah piously recognized that all the honour coming to him was really due to God, who had showed such favour to his servant, his city, and his people.
I. GOD IS INTERESTED IN ZION BECAUSE OF WHAT HE HAS DONE FOR IT. Illustrate how those whom we tend and care for—the babe, the invalid creep into our very hearts. So if we join in raising a new church building, how dear it becomes to us! God had given ages of care to his Zion, so it had become inexpressibly dear to him. See the pathetic pleadings, which reveal deep feeling, as in Hosea.
II. GOD IS INTERESTED IN ZION BECAUSE OF WHAT HE CAN BE TO IT. We specially love those for whom we feel we can do all they need. Illust.: mother's feeling for her babe. God can "supply all our need," and it must be infinitely pleasant to be able to make "all grace abound."
III. GOD IS INTERESTED IN ZION BECAUSE OF WHAT IT CAN BE TO HIM. Zion can need, and so draw out his fulness. Zion can trust, and so respond to his trustworthiness. Zion can worship, and so glorify him. Zion Can be beautiful, and so show forth his praise.—R.T.
What can be said for our Jerusalem?
"Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God." In this joyous exclamation the poet of Hezekiah's time gathers up the joy of the kingdoms round Palestine, which were relieved of their anxiety by Jehovah's humiliation of Assyria. Jerusalem became the praise of everybody. It had become the champion deliverer of the nations. Its God had brought it glory. To it every eye was gratefully turned. We may think what things were then said; and let them suggest things that may rightly be said now of our "city of God."
I. GLORIOUS THINGS WERE BEING SAID OF THE CITY ITSELF. Events had turned everybody's eyes towards it, and everybody began to see that "beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion." Give account of the very striking position of the city; its remarkable hills, precipices, and valleys; and, according to the taste of the age, the architectural grandeur of its temple, its palaces, and its towers. When we feel kindly towards a place or person, it is astonishing what excellent and lovely things we can find in them. The church building in which we worship may really be a very plain and poor building, but if it proves the house of God to us, we soon think it beautiful, and almost worship its very stones.
II. GLORIOUS THINGS WERE BEING SAID OF THE GOD OF THE CITY. Recall the idea of the age, that the gods were limited to particular cities and countries. So outsiders associated Jehovah with Jerusalem and the Israelites, and, in recognizing the deliverance which came to them through Israel, recognized it as the work of Israel's God. See by way of illustration, how Nebuchadnezzar demands praise of Jehovah, when some mighty work has shown his superiority to all surrounding gods. Work out what things the nations round were likely to say of the God of Hezekiah. His power was declared. His concern for his people was declared. His sovereign rights were declared. His mercy was declared. God as Deliverer and Redeemer was declared. So now, if the attention of men is directed to us, to our example, our enterprise, our energy, our success, it should be our supreme anxiety that the glorious things they say of us should really be said of our God, and of his grace in us. Observe this, too, that the triumph over Sennacherib was not something which Hezekiah's people had accomplished in their own strength, but something which Jehovah had accomplished through them and for them. They had, therefore, no right to take the "glorious things that were spoken" to themselves. Nor have we. Look as we may on what has been accomplished, we are compelled to say, "What hath God wrought?" And all the glorious things spoken of us we turn away, and have spoken of him.—R.T.
Privileges of a birthplace.
Keeping the associations with the times of Hezekiah, we may see, in this verse, a poetical representation of the revival of the nations, when the dread of Assyria was lifted off them. It was like a new birth to them. They entered on a new experience, and on new relations. And as Zion was regarded as the centre and source of the deliverance—Jehovah from Zion—the nations are, in a poetical way, said to have their birth in Zion. It was thought of as the city of the new birth of the nations. This figure may be applied to the spiritual birth of individuals. Be they white or black, bond or free, from whatever clime they come, they may properly be thought of as horn in Zion, where
"Our dear Lord was crucified,
Who died to save us all."
The Zion birthright belongs to every redeemed soul. "Salvation is of the Jews."
I. THE PRIVILEGES OF OUR NATURAL BIRTHPLACE. Curious is the admiration men have for the town and neighbourhood in which they saw the light. And the places of our birth have more to do with disposition, and with genius, than we are wont to think. Our early surroundings may waken poetic or artistic instincts. Our town and country may enjoy peculiar liberty, special advantages of education, etc. Illustrate by the claims of seven towns to be the birthplace of the poet Homer, partly because it honoured them to provide the first formative influences that reached the poet.
II. THE PRIVILEGES OF OUR ADOPTED BIRTHPLACE. If actual life begins where we were born, our individuality, our life work, our success, often begins somewhere else. We begin again, in some place of our selection and adoption. And as we look back in life, we can see how our surroundings and associations, in that new birthplace, have been privileges, helping to make us what we have become. Many of us, giving our birthplace, feel that we want to say, "We began to breathe at A, but we began to live at B, and B we think of as our true birthplace." Like these nations which felt they began really to live from the time of the Zion deliverance.
III. THE PRIVILEGES OF OUR SPIRITUAL BIRTHPLACE. The place where we began to live unto God—began to live the soul life. Many keep in dearest memory the time, the place, the incidents, of their first realization of the redeeming love and sufficiency. For us that is Zion. The place where God met with us is our Zion. And, in one sense, it is always Zion, for it is always in the presence of the cross on which Jesus died. We feel we live by his "decease accomplished at Jerusalem."—R.T.
Various powers used in God's service.
"As wall the singers as the players on instruments." This expresses admiration of the services and ceremonies in connection with Jehovah's temple; and it suggests the thought that Divine worship ought to be made in every way delightful. But another thought is suggested by the marked distinction made between the "singers" and the "players." It is that the gifts and endowments of men are very various, but whatever may be their variety, they can all be taken up into the service of God and the service of God's people. Some can sing; then encourage them to sing. Some can play; then use their skill in playing. Find. what a man can do, and accept, for God, just the service he can render.
I. THE REMARKABLE VARIETY OF HUMAN GIFTS. Examine them first as simply human gifts. Poetry, eloquence, art, science, government, do but, in the large, represent the thousandfold lesser forms of endowment which fit men for their varied places in life. Yet in common everyday life there is a place and a work forevery one. Show that this includes kinds of gifts with which we may have no personal sympathy, such as mimicry, satire, humour, etc. Then examine those particular gifts which were granted to the early Churches—tongues, prophecy, interpretation, etc. Bring out that while each man has much in common with his fellows, each man also has something special to himself, something which constitutes his individuality. In the line of the use of that speciality will be found to lie his life mission.
II. THE POSSIBLE USE FOR HUMANITY OF ALL HUMAN GIFTS. There is a danger of religious people unduly limiting the service of humanity. Sometimes, in an exclusive spirit, pious persons speak as if there were no real service to humanity save that which their religion sanctions. We may hold that all conceivable endowments may be sanctified, and ought to be sanctified, by being used for God—consciously in God's service. But we had better be more generous in our thinking, and say that everything that helps lift a human burden, cheer a human soul, brighten a human life, relieve a human strain, or perfect the human brotherhood, is the service of God. Some gifts bear a character, or are so small in measure, that men think of them as the one talented man thought of his talent. But he thought wrongly, and so do they. In God's earth there is nothing that has not its use. In God's world of men there is no gift without an answering sphere. Singers and players shall both be there,—R.T.
Joy fountains in God.
Prayer book Version, "All my fresh springs shall be in thee." Jennings and Lowe render," All my well springs [of delight] are singing aloud like instrument players because of [literally, 'in'] thee." The springs are evidently our springs of gladness; and the sentence is best given thus: "Both they that sing and dance, all my fountains of delight are in thee;" with this as the meaning, "every source of pleasure, song, music, dancing, etc; was to be found ha Zion." The psalmist is praising Zion, not directly praising God: so his figures are naturally taken from the pleasures of the holy city, and especially of the sacred temple and its services. Remember that David had devoted genius and skill to the improvement of worship; had introduced music and poetry, until the old sombre ritual of Mosaism had become glorified. The joy of God's everyday service ought to be illustrated by the brightness, attractiveness, and holy joy of our sanctuary services. Men ought to feel that it must be a joy to serve God always, because it is such an evident joy to serve God sometimes.
I. JOY FOUNTAINS IN GOD'S WORSHIP.
II. JOY FOUNTAINS IN DAILY LIFE.
III. JOY FOUNTAINS IN WHAT GOD HAS DONE FOR US.
IV. JOY FOUNTAINS IN WHAT GOD IS DOING FOR US.
V. JOY FOUNTAINS IN GOD HIMSELF. "When all created streams are dried, his fulness is the same."
Impress that true religion cannot be gloomy and depressing. Its atmosphere of trust is an atmosphere of gladness. We are saddened if we look down upon the path of our feet; or in upon our frail selves; we need never be saddened if we look up—"look off unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith." We may find ever fresh flowing springs of delight in God, and in this world of God's which is his Zion for us.—R.T.
HOMILIES BY C. SHORT
The glory of the Church.
I. IN ITS FOUNDATION. "In the holy mountains."
1. It is founded in the nature of God. In the Divine love. "The Lord loveth the gates of Zion," etc.
2. It is founded also in the nature of man. In his spiritual nature, affinities, and needs. The Church, therefore, has sacred foundations: "and the gates of hell shall not prevail against her."
II. IT IS CALLED THE CITY OF GOD.
1. It Consists of the highest social relationships. Love, the bond that unites the citizens.
2. And of the Divinest order. Protected and maintained by the constant presence of God.
3. And of the truest wisdom. (Psalms 87:4.) "Them that know me."
III. TO BECOME A CITIZEN THERE A MAN MUST BE SPIRITUALLY BORN INTO IT. The new birth is the condition of citizenship. "This man was born there."
1. Else it can never become a home to us. Not a congenial place to us.
2. We should not else be able to enter into its highest privileges, rights, and obligations.
IV. IT IS THE HOME OF THE NEW BORN MAN, IRRESPECTVE OF NATIONAL DISTINCTION Jew and Gentile, bond and free, king and peasant, may find a home there.
V. IT IS THE FOUNTAIN OF ALL DIVINE AND HUMAN GOOD. (Psalms 87:7.) All the truest and most real blessedness.—S.
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Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Psalms 87". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25