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Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary
Psalms 125

 

 

Verses 1-5

INTRODUCTION

This Psalm belongs most probably to the times after the Captivity, and has been applied, with apparent propriety, to the opposition which Sanballat the Horonite, Geshem the Arabian, and Tobiah the Ammonite gave to the Jews while employed in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem and restoring the Temple. It is designed to encourage and comfort God's people in all ages against the plots and malice of their enemies. The three prominent themes are danger, defence, and duty; and every verse contains a word descriptive of those for whom the Songs of Degrees were intended, and of the militant Church in every age and country. They are called Israel, the good, the upright in their hearts, the righteous, the people of Jehovah, they that trust in the Lord.

THE PRIVILEGE AND SECURITY OF THE GOOD

(Psa )

I. It is the privilege of the good to trust in the Lord. "They that trust in the Lord." Man cannot trust himself; he is too conscious of personal weakness and infirmity. He cannot trust in others; he has been too often disappointed and deceived. He finds true rest, comfort, and peace by trusting in the Lord, the All-Perfect, the All-Powerful, the All-Sufficient One. This trust should be unhesitating and complete.

"Thy God hath said 'tis good for thee

To walk by faith and not by sight:

Take it on trust a little while,

Soon shalt thou read the mystery right,

In the bright sunshine of His smile."

—Keble.

II. It is the security of the good to be guarded by the Divine Presence.

1. The Divine Presence is the guarantee of stability. "Shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever" (Psa ). Zion was a mountain, built upon and surrounded by other mountains: to all natural appearance it was immovable. But the spiritual Zion is still more stable and enduring. It rests on the mountains of unchallengable truth, and is bound together by the invisible bands of Divine safeguards.

2. The Divine Presence is an impregnable defence. "As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about His people" (Psa ). Jerusalem was fortified by nature; it was situated on a rocky elevation, and, with the exception of a small space to the north, was encircled by deep valleys, and these again were protected by an amphitheatre of hills. The situation was such as to be easily rendered impregnable; but the most impenetrable rampart was the Divine presence. While this hovered over the city, it defied the skill and prowess of the mightiest armies; when it was withdrawn, the hills and valleys were of no avail; Jerusalem was laid low by the hand of the Assyrian and the Roman. Jehovah surrounds His people with an unpierceable shield. He is above, beneath, around them; they defy the fury of the foe.

III. The security of the good is perpetual. "From henceforth, even for ever" (Psa ). Mountains may crumble and come to nought, and the rocks be removed out of their place, but God's promise to His obedient people cannot be broken, nor will His protecting care be withdrawn. (Isa 54:10). While they keep within it their fortress is impregnable, and they can suffer no evil. The security of the good reaches its highest realisation in the heavenly Jerusalem.

LESSONS:—

1. There is no true goodness apart from trust in God.

2. Faith in God will give strength in temptation and victory in conflict.

THE TYRANNY OF THE WICKED TRANSIENT

(Psa )

I. That the rule of the wicked is one of tyranny. "The rod of the wicked upon the lot." When Israel reached its highest point of wealth and influence under David and Solomon, there were many who coveted possession of its rich inheritance. The sceptres of the Babylonians, Romans, and Mohammedans often fell upon Zion, like the rod of a merciless oppressor. "What was signified in their assaults and successes? The rod of sin, in the power and authority of the outward oppressor, often answered to the ascendancy of iniquity in the heart of Jerusalem. The prevalence of spiritual wickedness within Israel attracted the earthly tyranny of heathenism outside. God was working in every instance, using the rods of wickedness for the probation and punishment of those who ought to have been righteous; and He still chastises sinners by means of sin; their own inviting wrath, and that of aliens inflicting it—thus extirpating iniquity, purifying and preserving the Church, and making unfaithfulness and apostacy praise Him."—The Caravan and Temple.

II. That the tyranny of the wicked is transient. "The rod of the wicked shall not rest upon the lot of the righteous." The righteous may not always escape the rod of the oppressor. "They that will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution." The mailed hand that smote shall not rest on its victim. The triumph of the wicked is short. The reign of terror cannot be permanent. It wearies and disgusts its most brutal agents. It breeds a rebellion which erelong overthrows its power. The fierceness of tyranny consumes itself.

III. That the unchecked tyranny of the wicked would be a serious discouragement to the righteous. "Lest the righteous put forth their hands unto iniquity." If the wicked had absolute sway religion would soon become extinct. The professor would become weary of a cause that involved unmitigated suffering, and would be tempted to give it up. His faith would become demoralised, and he would cast off God, thinking he was forsaken of Him. In a moment of despair he would adopt unlawful means to rid himself of his misery (Ecc ). But the Lord proportions trial according to the strength of the sufferer, and never permits it to remain longer than required to accomplish a beneficent purpose (Isa 10:24-26).

LESSONS:—

1. The policy of the wicked is short-sighted, and defeats itself.

2. True goodness cannot be crushed by oppression.

3. The Lord knows the right moment in which to deliver from the tyranny of the wicked.

THE OBEDIENT AND THE APOSTATE CONTRASTED

(Psa )

I. That the obedient are sustained by a consciousness of personal rectitude. "Them that are upright in their hearts" (Psa ). The holy principle imparts uprightness of heart and prompts to uprightness of life. The way of holiness is straightforward; there are no windings and turnings in it. Job was an upright man, one who feared God and eschewed evil; and his conscious integrity bore him up under the unparalleled trials that fell upon himself, his family, and his possessions. When the sense of right becomes dim in the soul, the man gives way and is lost.

II. That the obedient enjoy the Divine aid and blessing.

1. Their goodness is Divinely strengthened. "Do good, O Lord, unto those that be good" (Psa ). Goodness intensifies the desire for more; it claims the fulfilment of the Divine promises; it lays hold on the power of God. "Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart" (Psa 73:1). The rod of the oppressor has been used as a trowel by the wise Master Builder in restoring and strengthening His spiritual temple.

2. Their very troubles shall result in peace. "But peace shall be upon Israel" (Psa ). While those who apostatise from God meet with punishment and ruin, the faithful shall find that their distresses will issue in a permanent and more hallowed peace. The calm that succeeds the furious tempest is all the more soothing and refreshing because of the terrors and tumults of the previous storm. The prayer for peace in Psalms 122 is here answered. This is what comes of serving God, and trusting in His defence. Peace is an unspeakable blessing to the empire, the church, and the individual. Peace in its widest range of meaning and blessing is the special gift of Christianity (Eph 2:14).

III. That the apostates will be certainly punished.

1. By their own tortuous policy. "As for such as turn aside unto their crooked ways" (Psa ). The unfaithful get into the spirit of the world, and are warped into its crooked and winding ways. They twist about to conceal their base intentions, to accomplish their sinful purposes, or to elude punishment for their crimes; but disappointment, confusion, and misery overtake them. "No sufferings in God's service are reasons for unfaithfulness and apostacy. His grace makes us able to drink whatever cup His providence administers. At the worst, it is death; and then the worst is best."

2. By an act of Divine justice. "The Lord shall lead them forth with the workers of iniquity" (Psa ). As malefactors are led to the place of execution. The justice of God binds Him to punish sin. The apostate will exchange the lot of the righteous for the heritage of evil-doers.

LESSONS:—

1. There is an eternal distinction between right and wrong.

2. Jehovah is the friend of the upright, and the foe of every worker of iniquity.

3. The most consummate hypocrite will be exposed and punished.

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Psalms 125:4". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/psalms-125.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, November 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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