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Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary
Psalms 111

 

 

Verses 1-10

INTRODUCTION

1. Authorship unknown, probably late.

2. One of the ten alphabetical Psalms, the clauses beginning with the letters of the Hebrew alphabet in succession. This is no more artificial than the measure, rhyme, or rhythm of other poetry.

3. One of the ten Psalms which begin with Hallelujah.

PRAISE

(Psa , Clause 1)

"Praise ye the Lord." (Heb. HALLELUJAH.) Worship is an universal instinct of humanity. In all places where we find men we find religious exercises. Polytheism, Pantheism, and even Positivism testify to the necessity of gratifying the religious instinct by providing objects for worship. "The man who has nothing else above him has self, that ugliest, most obscene of deities: Belial, and Mammon, and Beelzebub in one. Self is the deity of millions, and its worship is as vile, as brutalising, as ever were the rites of Chemosh, or Milcom, or Ashtoreth. In general, even fallen man has something besides himself above him; even where self presides in the worship, it is rather as priest than idol."—Dr. Vaughan. Our text sets before us—

I. The true object of worship. "The Lord."

1. The only rightful object.

(1.) On the grounds of creation and providence.

(2.) On the ground of express revelation: "Him only shalt thou serve."

2. The only satisfying object.

(1.) Idols are nothing in the world.

(2.) Nature and humanity are only abstractions.

(3.) None but God is good, strong, and therefore willing and able to accept our worship.

3. The only ennobling object. All other objects, because of their vanity, inability, or degradation, are unworthy of man's adoration, and therefore their worship is debasing. But the worship of God

(1) Elevates the mind. The imagination and reason are lifted up above the mean or petty considerations of sense and time to the contemplation of the boundless perfections of the infinite and eternal.

(2) It elevates the will above the debasements of selfishness, to free consecration to the authority of the noblest being and the execution of the noblest purposes.

(3) It lifts the heart above all ignoble objects of affection, and reposes it on inimitable beauty and eternal loveliness.

(4) It exalts the whole man intellectually, morally, socially, and even physically, into an atmosphere of holiness and purity.

II. The true character of worship. "Praise." All other elements of worship condense themselves into this. Prayer is a form of praise, because it tacitly acknowledges that God has answered it before, and is worthy of our grateful homage. Communion is a form of praise, inasmuch as it confesses that God is worthy of the time that we snatch from other engagements to consult His will.

1. Praise implies gratitude. It expresses thankfulness for past and present mercies.

2. Praise implies self-forgetfulness. Self is in oblivion when we contemplate and are thankful for those blessings which have made self possible.

3. Praise implies an adoring and strong recognition of God's claims upon our practical service, who has showered those benefits which are the subject of our thanksgivings.

4. Praise is the result of the combined operation of all our faculties. The mind contributes its thought, the emotions their rapture, the will its volitions, the spirit its fervour, and the body its activities.

III. The true spirit of worship. "Ye."

1. Personal. God is no respecter of proxies. Incense, beads, and other ritualistic paraphernalia, and even men of unquestionable piety and spiritual power, can be no substitute for the personal homage of the soul.

2. Yet not so personal as to exclude all reference to or company with others. God's blessings are like stones cast into the water. The ripples and influences are felt far and wide. The mercy a parent receives extends more or less to his family, dependants, and connections. Let him, therefore, praise the Lord for those who have felt the influence, and in their company.

IV. The true medium of worship: Christ. "No man cometh unto the Father but by Me."

CHURCH AND CONGREGATIONAL WORSHIP

(Psa )

I. Distinctions in worship. The expressions, "assembly of the upright" and "congregation," are not synonymous. They express the modern ideas of public and private; church and congregation.

1. Public worship as against the specious sophistries of Plymouthism, &c., may be defended

(1.) On the ground of convenience. No private dwelling can afford the facilities presented by houses set apart exclusively for that purpose.

(2.) On the ground of fraternity. "The Church in the house" if the only Church must necessarily be narrow and exclusive, and be confined in most cases to the family dwelling there, in all cases to the nearest neighbours.

(3.) On the ground of unrepealed law. Man has not yet outgrown this provision for his spiritual nature provided under the old dispensation, and therefore the laws concerning it are still binding.

(4.) On the ground of Christ's example, in the use of temple and synagogues.

(5.) On the ground of apostolic precedent. Paul in the "School of Tyrannus," &c.

(6.) On the ground of universal custom in all ages, from the churches in the Catacombs till now.

2. Private worship, as against formalism or latitudinarianism must be provided for and practised by the Church.

(1.) On the ground of convenience. In public a certain amount of restraint is necessary. In private the Church is away from critical eyes and ears, and can unbosom herself without fear of being misunderstood.

(2.) On the ground of Christian fraternity. The Church being a family should have opportunities of family worship.

(3.) On the ground of universal custom. In all ages the Church within the Church, "The upright," "Those that fear the Lord," have had their separate assemblies. The Jews, our Lord and His disciples; the early Church, Reformers, Puritans, Methodists, &c.

II. Places of worship. "In the assembly of the upright and in the congregation." This suggests to us—

1. That the Church and congregation should not be confounded. "The upright" is a designation of God's covenant people as such. "Congregation," a general term for all who attend God's ordinances. Gentiles were admitted within certain precincts of the Temple, but the inner enclosures were for Israel alone. A body of people assembling for worship or adhering to the tenets of a given communion may, for convenience sake, be called a church. But, strictly speaking, that term belongs to the mystical body of Christ. And while all are entitled to the privileges of congregational worship, yet there are certain specific privileges which belong to the Church as such alone.

2. That the Church should strive to make itself conterminous with the congregation.

(1.) By a willing fraternity. Let not the member of the Church say directly or by implication to the member of the congregation, "Stand by, for I am holier than thou;" or thank God that he is "not as other men."

(2.) By an earnest and edifying testimony to the grace of God, and energetic evangelism (1Co ).

(3.) By generous invitation and genial encouragement. But not

(1) By a lax and miscalled charity, cheapening church privileges and bringing them into contempt.

(2) By mere desires of numerical increase: or

(3) By the resignation of divinely conferred and responsible rights. Churches should demand and obtain moral qualifications for membership. It will be an evil day for the Church when she relaxes her discipline, but a happy day when all congregations are churches in the fulfilment of their duties and the blamelessness of their lives.

3. That Church and congregational duties are alike obligatory. The members of our congregation have much to be thankful for, and are the heirs of many hopes. Let them praise God for what they enjoy. The members of the Church have every cause for gratitude. Let that gratitude be expressed in the presence of the congregation, publicly and emphatically.

III. Manner of worship. "I will praise the Lord with my whole heart." Which suggests—

1. That praise should be earnest. Indifference or perfunctoriness is a gross offence to God. Where warmth, fervour, glow are wanting, the very elements of praise are wanting.

2. That praise should be complete. "Whole heart." Wandering thoughts must be checked, vagrant affections and interests must be reined in. "Glorify God in your bodies and spirits, which are God's."

3. That praise should be spontaneous. It should well up freely and naturally from the thankful heart.

IN CONCLUSION. (i.) Are you a member of the Church of Christ? If not, why? From indifference? Shrinking from public testimony to the power of God? From the lack of moral qualifications? Brethren, the worship of such must be lacking in many elements desirable in the sight of God. (ii.) Are you a member of the Church of Christ? If so, what are you doing for the community to which you belong? Are you enjoying its privileges without contributing to its strength? Are you at ease in Zion? Remember, worship without work is hypocrisy (1Pe ).

THE WORKS OF GOD, THE SUBJECT OF SOUL-SATISFYING SEARCH

(Psa )

These words, summing up God's works in general, and describing our proper attitude towards them, and the fruits of their patient study, suggest—

I. That God's works are great. They are great—

1. In the mystery of their origin. Like Him who made them they are past finding out. Even if the statements of modern scientists be true, viz., that all life may be traced back to one primordial germ, yet, as Professor Huxley has said, "The present state of knowledge furnishes us with no link between the living and not living."

2. In the length of their duration. Astronomy and geology tell us something of the time which must have elapsed since they first came into being, and the Bible does not attempt to limit it. About their future science can say nothing, and about their absolute termination God's Word gives no hint.

3. In the vastness of their extent. The most moderate computation of the distance between the sun and other planets, and our earth, to say nothing of realms of matter beyond, loses us in wonder and awe.

4. In the wisdom of their arrangement. Subject to unvarying law; exquisitely adapted for their various purposes; regularly serving their appointed ends.

5. In the beneficence of their intention. "All things working together for ‘the general' good."

II. That God's works should be the subject of study. The popular religious outcry against science is

(1) unreasonable;

(2) contrary to God's Word;

(3) condemned by the example of the best spirits in all ages. The psalmists and prophets were profound natural philosophers, and many of their revelations have anticipated the discoveries of modern times. Our Lord revelled in nature, and Paul had a keen eye for its beauties.

(4) It is fatal to the interests of truth. But God's works should be studied—

1. Cautiously. None but facts should be acknowledged. Probable hypotheses should be considered and respected, but conclusions should only be built upon unquestionable certainties.

2. Fearlessly. God cannot deny or contradict Himself. All that He has revealed in nature should be explored; and genuine discoveries, however much they may shock our prejudices or explode our preconceived convictions, should be welcomed and acknowledged.

4. Reverently. Nature is the revelation of "the invisible things of God;" explain many of the truths of God's Word, and should be made the handmaid of piety.

III. That God's works are promotive of soul satisfaction. "Exquisitely excellent, and fully satisfying all those who delight in them; i.e., excellent, precious, incomparable, in the judgment of those who best understand them—His faithful worshippers" (see Psa ).—Speaker's Comm.

1. The believer finds there revelations of his own dignity. Surveying the magnificent expanse above him, he will say, "I am greater than all that; for that gorgeous canopy has no mind." Contemplating the immense ages which have elapsed since the world came into being, he will say, "All those ages were necessary to fit the world for me." Watching the operation of inexorable laws, he will say, "I am free."

2. The believer will find there intimations of his relation to God and his immortality. Man stands alone in the universe. "Communion with nature" is all very well as poetry; but between man's soul and the material universe there is nothing in common, and therefore there can be no communion. He is thus driven to the Author of nature, and with Him man finds that he has some affinity, and can therefore have communion. Again, man lives in the midst of things that are ever changing and passing away. But when man turns within himself he is conscious of something that will "survive the wreck of matter and the crush of worlds."

3. The believer will there find ample confirmation of all that is revealed in God's Word respecting his Maker's wisdom and power and goodness. He will there see the truth of the declarations: "Behold, it was very good;" "Thou hast done all things well."

4. The believer will there find abundant cause for thankful and adoring gratitude. The more he becomes acquainted with God's works the more he knows of his Father's beneficence towards Him, and will concerning him.

IN CONCLUSION.—(i.) Let nature be the subject of your studious search. (ii.) Let the design of your search be to find harmonies between God's Word and God's works. (iii.) Let the result of your search be thankful praise.

NATURE'S BEAUTY AND THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF NATURE'S GOD

(Psa )

The union of the useful and the beautiful in nature is perfect. The two cannot be separated as is the case with the works of man. If you were to deface a Phidian statue, the useful marble would remain. Again, man uses beauty to conceal deformity. Not so nature. Man is the only blot on her fair surface. Nature's beauty and utility are one and the same. The gorgeous tints which decorate the region of the setting sun are but the result of a certain combination of the laws by which we live. The same lines which make up the beauty of the landscape are the measure of distances and the guide of motion. We shall consider the utility of nature further on. Here observe—

I. Nature's beauty. "Honourable and glorious" הוֹר־וְהָדָר. Shining and glittering, majestic and splendid.

1. Nature exhibits herself in beautiful positions. The starry heavens, the distant landscape, alternations of mountain and plain, land and water, meadow and garden, forest and plateau.

2. Nature exhibits herself in beautiful forms. This is seen by the naked eye in the graceful foliage, the rippling stream, the foaming cataract, the raging sea; in flowers, fruits, herbs, &c. But the telescope and microscope open up the wondrous splendours of a new world.

3. Nature exhibits herself in beautiful operations. The march of the seasons, progress of the earth, dawn, meridian, sunset, night.

4. Nature teaches beautiful lessons of grace, dignity, generosity, order, dependence on God.

5. Nature is full of beautiful perfumes and beautiful sounds.

II. Nature is beautiful, says the Psalmist, but nature's God is righteous. Is there any break in the thought? No.

1. Nature's beauty is but a reflection of that eternal moral beauty which we call the divine righteousness. Nature is beautiful, because it is the expression of the established will of heaven.

2. Conversely, nature teaches us that the mind which clothed her in those beautiful forms is beautiful. No effect can be greater than its cause. No water can rise above the level of its source. Order only can produce order, beauty only can evolve beauty.

3. Nature exhibits her harmony with her Maker. This is so complete that certain theologists have identified the two, and have regarded the universe as the splendid robe of deity.

"Thus time's whizzing loom unceasing I ply,

And weave the life-garment of deity."

—Goethe.

4. Nature exhibits by contrast the causes of the moral deformity of man. Man is out of harmony with the universe, because out of harmony with God. When that harmony is restored man puts on the beautiful garment of holiness, and grows in grace.

III. Nature is beautiful, as the expression of the everlasting righteousness of nature's God. Then beauty is the permanent order of things, for moral beauty is eternal. Some day nature will put off her splendid vestments, but that will only be preparatory to the creation of the new heaven and the new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Those who exhibit themselves in contrast with her now, being then in harmony with her God, will be in harmony with her. It is not without significance that all the visions vouchsafed to man of the life to come are exquisitely beautiful. Beautiful scenes, forms, sounds, fragrance, food; because all righteous (Rev ).

THE PURPOSE OF NATURE, AND THE GOODNESS OF NATURE'S GOD

(Psa )

I. The purpose of nature. "He hath made His wonderful works to be remembered."

1. Their wonderfulness adapts them to man's memory. The "Speaker's Commentary" paraphrases thus: "He has done such wonderful deeds that a remembrance of them abides for ever" (Psa ; Num 16:40; Jos 4:6-7). Those things are most easily remembered which strike upon man's sense of wonder. Trivial incidents we forget, great things we call memorable. God's works are wonderfully great, wonderfully mysterious, wonderfully old, wonderfully novel and fresh, wonderfully grand.

2. The memory stands as the result of the operation of all the faculties of the mind. We must study, apprehend, reason, and compare, if we would remember. Memory is but the treasure-house of the things we put into it; and we can only store it with the facts of God's universe by the exercise of all the intellectual powers. But memory is fickle, hence the necessity of constantly examining it to see if its contents are still there and in their right places.

3. The retention of God's marvellous works ennobles memory.

(1.) By the exercise which it gives. Memories enlarge and grow by exercise. Bad memories, as a rule, are idle and unexercised memories.

(2.) By the love which they impart. How debasing are the contents of most memories! Recollection of wasted opportunities gives a tone of remorse. Recollection of sins gives a tone of vice. God's works are pure and good, and must give a pure and good tone to that which stores them up.

(3.) By alien recollections which they expel. A memory that is full of God's wonderful works must have emptied itself of all base subjects. And as they take hold of the mind they cast out things unworthy of retention.

True, this is a process largely dependent on habit. Let then the habit be cultivated, and all base and unworthy memories will gradually fade.

II. The purpose of nature is to be remembered: why? That we may have a perpetual evidence of the goodness of nature's God.

1. God's works show that He is gracious:—REMEMBER THEM. All nature shows that God is mindful of man and visits him. Creation is no testimony of a creator distant from and indifferent to its operations. It postulates the presence of One who watches the movements of all its laws and processes, and who continually prevents its going wrong. And what for? The whole universe replies, "For man." All things work together for his good. Natural forces have other ends to serve, but emphatically and pre-eminently they serve him. The sun by day, and the moon and stars by night, afford him light and regulate his time. Birds, beasts, fishes, vegetables, &c., serve him for labour, clothing, or food. All this evidences the fact that God is gracious to man. Above all, there is God's gracious work of Redemption, the operations of the Holy Ghost, the Church, the Word, the Sacraments.

2. God's works show that He is "full of compassion:"—REMEMBER THEM. Compassion is the sentiment of a higher and richer to a lower and more needy creature. God's works contemplate the alleviation of human wants. Man suffers from exhaustion: "God giveth His beloved sleep." Man suffers from cold: God has laid up for him a treasury of coal. Man suffers from heat: God has provided healthy and refreshing breezes. Man suffers from disease: God's works are full of healing medicines and curative appliances. Man suffers from sin, and, behold, all heaven is opened and placed at his disposal.

THE BOUNTY AND FAITHFULNESS OF GOD

(Psa )

Old and New Testament alike recognise the Fatherhood of God. In that Fatherhood all the divine perfections inhere. As a Father, God is just and holy as well as merciful and kind. Consequently the results of that Fatherhood do not spring from mere spasms of affection, but are based upon eternal principles. Hence our text recognises the provision for our daily wants as the result of God's fidelity to His covenant engagements.

I. God's bounty. "He has given meat, i.e., prey, contemplating a nomadic life, or Israel's wandering in the wilderness.

1. God's gifts are as varied as man's need.

(1.) Man's material blessings are God's gifts, not his own earnings. The health, strength, and physical force by which he acquires them are loans from God to enable him to acquire them.

(2.) Man's intellectual blessings are God's gifts. Information, learning, and all mental wealth necessary for the nourishment and support of the intellect.

(3.) Man's moral blessings are God's gifts. Man is entirely destitute of the means of making spiritual provision. God gives the power to repent and believe, and on the exercise of these saving instrumentalities depend all God's mercy by Christ, by the Holy Ghost in regeneration, sanctification, &c.

2. God's gifts are as plentiful as man's need.

(1.) Wherever man exists he is found to be a needy creature, but everywhere his needs are met. When it is cold, animals are found with skins which afford him suitable clothing and food, which contributes to warm his blood. In hot climates, suitable vegetable and fruits preponderate. In temperate zones both abound as and when he needs them. Political economists borrow from providence their law of supply and demand.

(2.) Wherever man is found, he is full of need. Physically, intellectually, and morally, but everywhere the promise holds good: "My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."

3. God's gifts are equal to all the emergencies in which man through need is plunged. Everywhere "man's extremity is God's opportunity." Illustrations—Marah, water out of rock, quails, &c. In business perplexities, "If any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God." In family worries, "Casting all your care on Him." In painful sickness, "My grace is sufficient for thee."

II. God's bounty is based upon God's faithfulness. "He will be ever mindful of His covenant," which covenant binds Him over to care for His people. The Psalmist wrote this with reference to the Sinaitic covenant alone. Christians base their hope in its frequent repetition. (Jeremiah 31; Ezekiel 11; 2 Corinthians 7; Rev .)

1. God's bounty is not capricious. Faithful in opposition to fickle.

2. God's bounty is not administered by favouritism. Faithful as opposed to unjust.

3. God's bounty is exactly suited to man's need. Faithful as opposed to sentimental.

4. Therefore man's supplies are sure. Is not this contradicted by facts? No.

(1.) We must take all the facts into account. The poorest Christian has more than the richest worldling.

(2.) We must give God the eternity He demands in which to work out His purposes. "He will ever be mindful of His covenant."

(3.) If God withholds one gift it is only to give a greater.

(4.) Men can afford to wait for the "eternal weight of glory."

III. God's bounty is conditional on man's piety. "Unto them that fear Him," so says our Lord; "Seek ye first," &c. Paul: "Godliness is profitable," &c.

1. Piety is necessary to secure the WHOLE of God's bounty—intellectual, material, moral. If a man loves his neighbours better than himself, and promotes their wellbeing to the neglect of that of his family and himself; if, while fervent in spirit, he is slothful in business; if, while devotional and philanthropic, he is neglectful of the laws of health, let not God be charged with the result.

2. Without piety none of God's blessings will be secured. The semblance or shell may be, but not the substance. To look at riches, luxury, &c., is to take an inadequate view of the case. In themselves they are unsubstantial, transitory, may be a curse, and are only valuable for results which without piety are never obtained.

3. True piety is the sure means of securing God's blessings.

(1.) Love of God.

(2.) Proper love of self.

(3.) Love of others. Fidelity to these laws is the basis of everlasting prosperity.

THE PURPOSE OF THE REVELATION OF GOD'S POWER

(Psa )

While we study God's revelations in the Bible, in nature, and in the course of providence, and read of His goodness there, never let us overlook the fact that they contain records of His glorious power. The thought in the Psalmist's mind was the conquest of Canaan, which (see the narrative) could only have been effected by the miraculous arm of God. Notice—

I. That God's people have acquired the heritage of the heathen.

1. Materially. God did not more give Canaan to Israel than He did the Roman Empire to the early Church, than He has done India, &c., to the modern Church. Witness the progress of those nations who have been true to God—England, Scotland, America. Contrast the decay of the great Oriental powers and superstitions, and Italy and Spain.

2. Intellectually. Christianity wields the sceptre over the world of mind. She has passed whatever precious metal there was in heathen philosophy through her mint. Whatever revolutions there have been in human thought she has impressed them into her service, and it is a remarkable fact that nothing that has not been received by the Church is acknowledged as unquestionable truth. And for many centuries it is the Church that has given to the world its explorers, scientists, and teachers.

3. Morally. The Christian wave moved by the breath of God has swept away many an idolatry, superstition, and vice, and is doing so wherever it rolls. There is much of each form of evil still, but compare the world to-day with the palmiest era of ancient Rome. Contrast the moral deserts with the Christian oases in the midst of them in Africa and Hindostan. What was Fiji a century ago? What is it to-day?

II. That this acquisition is the result of divine power.

1. From the extreme unlikeliness of the result. Imagine Nero's smile if Paul had predicted to him the changes which would take place in his empire within three centuries. Imagine Philips' incredulity if he had been told of the probable or even possible destruction of the invincible Armada. Who would have looked for such a development of Scotland's scanty resources, and the progress of the United States? Equally unlikely was it that the sayings and writings of a Nazarene peasant and His disciples should shake the schools of philosophers, and produce such thinkers as Augustine, Aquinas, Bacon, and Newton. Yet the simple preaching of Christ crucified has been the power by which God has changed the face of the world.

2. From its complete success. Wherever Christianity has gone, heathenism has receded, and the idols have been given to the moles and the bats; and it still goes on conquering and to conquer.

III. That this acquisition is for the benefit of humanity at large. It is not for the exclusive good of those who make the acquisition in the first instance, but for the good also of those from whom the acquisitions are derived. A good and wise conqueror contemplates the good of the vanquished. And so Christian conquests are achieved that the heathen may also become the children of God.

THE RECTITUDE OF GOD'S WORKS AND THE STABILITY OF GOD'S WORD

(Psa )

The Bible goes upon the assumption that both nature and itself are the work of the same hand and the revelation of the same being. That being the case there can be no contradictions between them. (See Butler's "Analogy," chap. I.)

I. The characteristics of God's works.

1. They are true, "verity." They are real and genuine, and contrast with many of the works of man. In working out an end God employs the right materials. From the star to the grass-blade every means is adapted to its proper end in the best possible way.

2. They are just, "judgment."

(1.) God uses right materials in the right way. He does not trench on the interests of any of His creatures. Everything is found in its proper and therefore best place, and is working out its best and therefore proper destiny.

(2.) God uses right materials to subserve right ends, and seeks the good of all that He has made.

3. Therefore God's works endure. The second member of Psa certainly applies to God's Word. The application of Psa 111:8 is uncertain. Perhaps this is intentional, that it may apply to both.

From the analogy of things we gather that what is good will stand. Man's works decay, many of them for the want of rectitude and justice. God's works stand fast for ever; they will be transformed, but not destroyed, because God has made them very good.

II. Characteristics of God's Word.

It is "sure" for the same reason as His works. As Matthew Henry says, it is "straight and therefore steady." It is founded no less upon the justice and truth of God than upon His mercy. "My word shall never pass away."

1. God's COMMANDMENTS are sure. There is no repeal for them. "God is not a man that He should repent." Let the wicked tremble.

2. God's PROMISES are sure. They are part of the "everlasting covenant." Let the righteous rejoice.

3. God's COUNSEL is sure. "Thou shalt guide me with Thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory." Let all men hope. Learn—

(1) That the qualities of God's works and word are the qualities of its Author. Truth, rectitude, immovableness.

(2) That these qualities afford an unshakable foundation for faith and hope (Mat ).

REDEMPTION: ITS SURE FOUNDATIONS AND ITS AWFUL SANCTIONS

(Psa )

It is to be feared that the doctrine of redemption is underestimated and undervalued, from an inadequate conception of the majesty of its Author, and of the fulness of its obligation. God's justice had as much to do with it as His love, and its intent is not only to deliver men from hell, but from sin; and not only to privilege, but to duty. The Israelites were redeemed, not only by the visitation of God's compassion, but by His covenant; and not only out of Egypt, but to the promised land; and in that land they were to be a holy nation. The Redeemer of man is the "holy one;" and the end of His work is to "separate unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."

I. Redemption. The redemption out of Egypt, to which this undoubtedly refers, was very suggestively typical. Egypt representing human bondage in general; the blood sprinkled on the doorpost, the ransom price; and the promised land in every respect the antithesis of the land of serfdom, the duties and privileges of God's believing people.

II. The sure foundations on which this redemption rests are "His covenants."

1. God undertakes by virtue of this covenant to redeem all who will be redeemed, and confirms that covenant with His oath (Heb ).

2. Redemption by price is secured for all. Redemption was made possible for all Israel, but it was open to any to reject the privileges it involved. So Christ has died for all, yet the benefit of that death will be secured only to those who believe in Him.

3. Redemption by power is only effected in those who fulfil the covenant conditions. God has fulfilled all the conditions on His side that are possible, and waits to fulfil the rest. Man must fulfil his, and repent, and believe.

4. To those who fulfil the conditions of that covenant, the covenant is made sure for ever. "Unbelief may perhaps tear the copies of the covenant which Christ has given you; but He still keeps the original in heaven with Himself. Your doubts and fears are not part of the covenant; neither can they change Christ."—Rutherford.

5. The covenant of God is the ground of the expectation of final and perfect redemption. "The strong hope of our fastened anchor is the oath and promise of Him who is eternal verity; our salvation is fastened with God's own hand and Christ's own strength to the strong stake of God's unchangeable nature."—Rutherford.

III. The awful sanctions by which the duties of the redeemed are enforced. "Holy and fearful" is the name of Him who has redeemed us and to whom we owe allegiance. Redemption therefore involves—

1. Our holiness.

2. Our reverence for, as well as our love of God.

IN CONCLUSION. (i.) Redemption gives God the absolute right to our service. (ii.) Selfishness and sin are sacrilegious thefts.

THE NATURE AND ADVANTAGES OF TRUE PIETY

(Psa )

Both the character and advantages of religion have been sadly misrepresented. This authoritative declaration is therefore appropriate and valuable.

1. Religion has been misrepresented as a thing of the emotions, without vigour or intelligence; as that which is fit only for the Sunday exercise of those who have declined or lost the battle of life.

2. Its advantages have been misrepresented as belonging exclusively to another sphere, and to belong only to the future life; and therefore

3. Secularists and others have condemned it as emasculating the human powers and imposing drawbacks on human progress.

In opposition to this the authoritative document on the question declares—

I. What true piety really is.

1. It is "the fear of the Lord." Not slavish terror or alarm, but such respectful reverence as a good son will afford a good parent on his recognition of superior mental and moral qualities. Surely there is nothing degrading in this. On the contrary, it is sublimely elevating inasmuch as it involves

(1) The contemplation and love of infinite wisdom and holiness.

(2) The careful avoidance of those things which infinite wisdom and holiness have condemned.

(3) Such studies and practices which will bring man into harmony with infinite wisdom and holiness, and which will secure the approval of them to whom those attributes belong.

2. It is "to do His commandments." Is there anything degrading in this?

(1) We have nothing to do with those traditions which human folly has elevated to the dignity of divine commands. Nor

(2) with the unworthy conduct of so-called Christian men.

(3) But we have to do with the moral law of the Old and New Testaments, which the greatest moralists and statesmen have all but unanimously pronounced perfect.

II. What the advantages of true piety really are.

1. True piety is "the beginning of wisdom." Wisdom may be defined as the choice of the best end, and the employment of the best means to secure that end. What is man's best end? Is it not the complete good of his complete nature, and that of his neighbour? What is the best means of gaining it? How can we know in the first instance and do in the second?

(1.) By insight? Insight has never discovered the answer to these questions, as is proved by heathenism.

(2.) By learning? Witness the moral degradation which preceded the downfall of the wisest nations of antiquity.

(3.) By experience? History shows that man, except under Christian conditions, has never enjoyed such experiences as could help him to come to a right conclusion.

(4.) How then? By that temper of mind induced by the fear of God which leads men to "love the Lord their God with all their heart and soul," &c.

2. True piety, being the beginning of wisdom, grows with its growth and strengthens with its strength. Having the true wisdom all other wisdom follows in its train. Fearing God

(1) I shall study His character. That character is infinite. Therefore its study will enlarge my mind, train it for prolonged and patient efforts, for deep and abstruse subjects, secure its balance, safety, and sanctity.

(2) I shall study His works. Hence follows all science. I am forbidden to investigate nothing. But my fear of God will prevent me indulging in unprofitable speculations and pushing my researches beyond desirable limits.

(3) I shall study His ways. All history is open to me; and by regarding it as a development of God's providence I shall have a key to unlock its mysteries which merely human wisdom would not afford me. All politics are open to me, all commercial enterprises, all discoveries and explorations.

3. True piety is the harbinger of success. שֵׂכֶל would appear to mean the success which the exercise of wisdom implies, and the respect which wisdom commands.

(1.) Those who fear God and keep His commandments make the best of both worlds. It implies prudence, as translated (2Ch ), sense (Neh 8:8), knowledge (2Ch 20:22), policy (Dan 8:25).

(2.) They gain respect and esteem; not the hypocrite, but the truly godly.

ETERNAL PRAISE

(Psa , last clause)

The occasional glimpses which we get of the service of angelic beings in the past eternity is singularly corroborative of our text. "The morning stars sang together," &c. "When He brought His first-begotten into the world He saith, Let all the angels of God worship Him." The ample revelations of the eternity to come confirm the same. The one theme upon the lips of unfallen beings in the past, and unfallen and redeemed beings in the present and future, is the praise of God. Notice—

I. The object of praise is eternal. God in His being and perfections is ever the same.

II. The subjects for praise are eternal. Man has always been receiving benefits. These will ever be remembered in grateful song. For creation, Rev ; redemption, Rev 5:9-10. For benefits that will ever accumulate, Revelation 21, 22.

III. The worshippers are endowed with "life eternal" (Rev ). The mind will be keener than ever for the appreciation of the divine wonders and goodness. The heart will be warmer than ever in its gratitude and affection. The organs of praise will be clearer and more powerful than ever.

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Psalms 111:4". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/psalms-111.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, November 11th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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