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Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary
Psalms 144

 

 

Verses 1-15

INTRODUCTION

"This is a singularly composite Psalm. The earlier portion of it, to the end of Psa , consists almost entirely of a cento of quotations, strung together from earlier Psalms; and it is not always easy to trace a real connection between them. The latter portion of the Psalm, Psa 144:12-15, differs completely from the former. It bears the stamp of originality, and is entirely free from the quotations and allusions with which the preceding verses abound. It is hardly probable, however, that this concluding portion is the work of the poet who compiled the rest of the Psalm: it is more probable that he has here transcribed a fragment of some ancient poem, in which were portrayed the happiness and prosperity of the nation in its brightest days, under David, it may have been, or at the beginning of the reign of Solomon. His object seems to have been thus to revive the hopes of his nation, perhaps after the return from the exile, by reminding them how in their past history obedience to God had brought with it its full recompense."

Thus Dean Perowne writes—rejecting the Davidic authorship, and bestowing no notice whatever on the superscription, which ascribes the Psalm to David. And Moll says, "It is doubtful whether it should be assigned to David himself." But Hengstenberg says "that it is one of David's peculiarities to derive from his earlier productions a foundation for new ones.… This Psalm can only have been composed by David." And Alexander: "The Davidic origin of the Psalm is as marked as that of any in the Psalter." And Perowne, notwithstanding the passage above quoted, says, "The language of Psa , as well as the language of Psa 144:10, is clearly only suitable in the mouth of a king, or some powerful and recognised leader of the nation; and it is difficult to find a person of rank in the later history in whose mouth such a Psalm as this would be appropriate." For ourselves we are inclined to accept the superscription, and regard the Psalm as a composition or compilation of David's.

"The Psalmist recounts glorious victories in the past, complains that the nation is now beset by strange, i.e., barbarous enemies, so false and treacherous that no covenant can be kept with them, prays for deliverance from them by an interposition great and glorious as had been vouchsafed of old, and anticipates the return of a golden age of peace and plenty."

INSPIRING ASPECTS OF THE DIVINE BEING

(Psa )

These verses are taken almost verbatim from different portions of Psalms 18. We regard them as presenting to us the Divine Being in certain inspiring aspects.

I. As the Author of human skill.

"He teacheth my hands to war, my fingers to fight." The skill which the poet had in the use of the weapons of war, he attributes to the Lord. The abilities by which battles are planned and victories won come from Him. All beauty of design, and dexterity in labour, and success in achievement in human works, must be attributed to the Great God.

II. As the Protector of human life.

In several different forms the poet expresses this. "Jehovah my rock." Two Hebrew words, which slightly differ in meaning, are translated by the word rock. The one which is employed here ( צוּר) suggests the ideas of strength and fixedness; Jehovah is a strong and steadfast refuge. "My fortress," i.e., a strong place, generally difficult of access, and thus a secure retreat. "My high tower," i.e., a place so high as to be out of the reach of danger, or some almost inaccessible crag affording safety to those who reached it. "My deliverer," who rescues me from the power of my enemies. "My shield," protecting me from the arrows of the enemies on the field of battle. Now these figures set forth a protection which is—

1. Unchangeable, as a rock.

2. Enduring, as a rock.

3. Inviolable. The various figures which the poet employs suggest this fact. "On the heaping together of epithets and titles of God Calvin remarks, that it is not superfluous, but designed to strengthen and confirm faith; for men's minds are easily shaken, especially when some storm of trial beats upon them. Hence, if God should promise us His succour in one word, it would not be enough; in fact, in spite of all the props and aids He gives us, we constantly totter and are ready to fall, and such a forgetfulness of His lovingkindness steals upon us, that we come near to losing heart altogether."—Perowne. So these various figures are used to impress us with the invincibility of the Divine protection, and to inspire our confidence therein.

4. Ever available. "The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runneth into it and is safe." By prayer, by the exercise of faith in Him, we can at any time avail ourselves of the inviolable protection of Jehovah. "If God be for us, who can be against us?"

III. As the Source of human authority.

"Who subdueth my people under me." "The Psalmist is not triumphing in the exercise of despotic power, but gratefully acknowledges that the authority he wields comes from God." David was chosen to be king by God, and in His providence all the tribes were led to submit to his government. "Let every soul," saith St. Paul, "be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God." "For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the Judge; He putteth down one, and setteth up another."

IV. As the Object of human trust.

"And He in whom I trust." Perowne translates: "He in whom I find refuge." The idea is that the Psalmist confided in Him, sought unto Him for protection in times of peril, fled unto Him as His refuge in trouble. The Lord is an adequate object of trust for man, and the only one. "They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever." "Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him."

V. As the Supreme Good of human life.

"My goodness." Margin: "My mercy." Perowne: "My lovingkindness." So also Conant. The idea seems to be that the Psalmist regarded the Lord as his Chief Good, as the Source of all his blessings. David frequently gives expression to this sentiment. "There be many that say, Who will show us any good? Lord, lift Thou up the light of Thy countenance upon us." "In His favour is life." "Thy lovingkindness is better than life." And Asaph also: "Whom have I in heaven but Thee?" &c. In Him we have the supreme truth for the intellect, the supreme righteousness for the conscience, the supreme love for the heart, the supreme beauty for the soul.

VI. As the Recipient of human praise.

"Blessed be Jehovah my rock," &c. The Psalmist here praises Jehovah for what He is to him, and for what He does for him.

1. Gratitude urges to this. Its language is, "What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits toward me?"

2. Reason urges to this. It is in the highest degree rational that He who is Supremely Good should be reverenced and loved; that our greatest Benefactor should be praised by us, &c.

3. This is blessed. He who sincerely blesses God finds blessing in so doing. True worship tends to purify and strengthen, to sanctify and gloriously transform the worshipper.

CONCLUSION.—The people of God in this world are still a militant people; but the Lord their God is still their omnipotent Protector and their Supreme Good. Let them loyally trust Him, and heartily worship Him, and soon and for ever they shall become a triumphant people over all foes.

THE INSIGNIFICANCE AND GREATNESS OF MAN

(Psa )

The connection of these verses with the preceding is correctly pointed out by Calvin: "David remembers all that God has done for him, and then, like Jacob, thinks: Lord, I am too little for all Thy lovingkindness, and so contrasts his own nothingness and that of mankind generally with the greatness of such a gracious God." Thus the goodness of God produced humility in the poet; and the truest, deepest humility is always produced by the grace of God. The poet sets before us—

I. The insignificance of human life.

"Lord, what is man?… Man is like to vanity; his days are as a shadow that passeth away." Here are two ideas:—

1. Human life is unsubstantial. It is here compared to "vanity"—more correctly, "a breath"—and "a shadow." St. James also speaks of human life as "a vapour." How unsubstantial are a "breath" and a "shadow"! So is human life. We may see this—

(1.) In the objects for which men live. "All the fret and stir," says Perowne, "all the eager clamour and rivalry of men, as they elbow and jostle one another to obtain wealth and rank, and the enjoyments of life, are but a breath." "With what idle dreams, what foolish plans, what vain pursuits, are they for the most part occupied! They undertake dangerous expeditions and difficult enterprises in foreign countries, and they acquire fame; but what is it?—Vanity! They pursue deep and abstruse speculations, and give themselves to that ‘much study which is a weariness of the flesh,' and they attain to literary renown, and survive in their writings; but what is it?—Vanity! They rise up early, and sit up late, and eat the bread of anxiety and care, and thus they amass wealth; but what is it?—Vanity! They frame and execute plans and schemes of ambition—they are loaded with honours and adorned with titles—they afford employment for the herald, and form a subject for the historian; but what is it?—Vanity! In fact, all occupations and pursuits are worthy of no other epithet, if they are not preceded by, and connected with, a deep and paramount regard to the salvation of the soul, the honour of God, and the interests of eternity.… Oh, then, what phantoms, what airy nothings are those things that wholly absorb the powers and occupy the days of the great mass of mankind around us! Their most substantial good perishes in the using, and their most enduring realities are but ‘the fashion of this world that passeth away.'"—Dr. Raffles. The great majority of those who seek these things do not attain them; and the few who do attain them find them utterly unsatisfactory.

(2.) In life itself. How unsubstantial is our life as it appears here! How easily is the vital flame extinguished! A breath of air laden with disease may soon lay the most robust frame low in death. A draught of tainted water may quench the vital spark in the most beautiful body. A very little accident may still for ever the brain of the wisest man. Men "dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, which are crushed before the moth. They are destroyed from morning to evening; they perish for ever without any regarding it. Doth not their excellency which is in them go away? They die, even without wisdom."

2. Human life is transitory. "As a shadow that passeth away." "Come like shadows, so depart," seems to be a law of human life.

(1.) "A shadow passeth away" constantly. It is never stationary. As the sun advances the shadow moves onward. It cannot rest. So is it with human life.

"Whate'er we do, where'er we be,

We're travelling to the grave."

(2.) "A shadow passeth away" rapidly. How soon the sun sets, and the shadow is gone! But the sun may be obscured by clouds long before his setting; then also the shadow is gone. A striking illustration of the brevity of human life. If, like Jacob, a man lived an hundred and thirty years, like Jacob he would say, "Few and evil have the days of the years of my life been." But the great majority of men do not live half so long as that. Much more rapidly do they pass away.

(3.) "A shadow passeth away" completely. The departing shadow leaves not a trace behind. Is it not so with almost all men? How few of all the millions that have lived in the past have any memorial upon earth now!

"Some sink outright,

O'er them and o'er their names the billows close,

To-morrow knows not they were ever born.

Others a short memorial leave behind;

Like a flag floating when the bark's engulfed,

It floats a moment, and is seen no more.

One Csar lives; a thousand are forgot."

—Young.

This aspect of life should humble human pride. Life is unsubstantial and transitory, as a mere "breath" or a passing "shadow." "It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away."

"Life's but a walking shadow—a poor player,

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,

And then is heard no more: it is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing."—Shakespeare.

II. The greatness of human life.

"Lord, what is man, that Thou takest knowledge of him? A son of man, that Thou makest account of him?" Man is thought of, cared for, graciously regarded by God. This invests human nature with great importance and dignity. God's regard for man is manifest—

1. In the provision which He has made for us in nature. He has created all nature to minister to man's needs. Earth and sea, air and sky, all serve us. (Comp. Gen .)

2. In His care over us in Providence. It was this protecting and sustaining providential care which led the Psalmist to inquire, "Lord, what is man?" &c. He guides and guards and sustains with tenderest care and infinite wisdom. (Comp. Psa .)

3. In the redemption which He has wrought for us. "He remembered us in our low estate," &c. (Psa ). "God so loved the world," &c. "God commendeth His love," &c.

4. In the home which He has provided for us. "In My Father's house are many mansions," &c. "He hath begotten us again unto an inheritance incorruptible," &c. When man passeth away like a shadow, it is to enter upon an immortal and glorious life.

CONCLUSION.—Let our lives harmonise with God's regard for us.

MAN

(Psa )

"Lord, what is man?"

I. What was man as he came from the hands of his Creator?

1. Rational.

2. Responsible.

3. Immortal.

4. Holy and happy.

II. What is man in his present condition?

1. He is fallen.

2. He is guilty.

3. He is sinful.

4. He is miserable, and helpless in his misery.

III. What is man when he has believed in Christ?

1. He is restored to a right relation to God.

2. He is restored to a right disposition toward God.

3. He enjoys the influences of the Holy Spirit.

4. He is in process of preparation for the heavenly world.

IV. What shall man be when he is admitted into heaven?

1. Free from gin and sorrow.

2. Advanced to the perfection of his nature.

3. Associated with angels.

4. Near to his Saviour and his God.

—George Brooks.

HUMAN LIFE A SHADOW

(Psa )

Man and his days are here compared to "a shadow;" and the propriety of the similitude is attested by the experience of all mankind. The resemblance lies in the following particulars:—

I. A shadow is compounded of light and darkness; for when no object intercepts the light of the sun, or when the light of the sun is withdrawn, no shadow is produced. In like manner, the state of man in the present world is made up of joy and sorrow; while, as in the emblem, the latter greatly preponderates.

II. A shadow seems to be something, when in reality it is nothing. If you grasp it, you prove its emptiness. The pleasures, riches, and honours of the present world seem important to the eye of the carnal mind when viewed at a little distance; they attract attention, excite desire, and are eagerly pursued. But when, the object being attained, they are closely examined, how empty and unsatisfactory do they prove!

III. A shadow is the subject of continual changes, till at length it finally and suddenly ceases. In the morning, when the sun first rises above the horizon, it is weak and extended to a great length. Towards noon it gains strength, and is contracted in its dimensions. From thence to sunset it gradually becomes less distinct, and at last suddenly and wholly disappears. Man, survey in this emblem thy life! How lively and affecting the description! (Comp. Job ; Jas 4:14.)

IV. A shadow cannot exist longer than the sun's continuance above the horizon, and is every moment liable to annihilation by the intervention of a cloud. In like manner, human life generally lasts but three score years and ten, or four score years; and may, by a sudden accident or the power of disease, be much curtailed. We have no security for the protraction of life through another day or hour; and the probability that our life will not reach its customary limit is as great as that the shadow will cease before the evening arrives.

V. A shadow, when gone, leaves no track of its existence behind. This also is the case with the riches, pleasures, and honours of the world. "We brought nothing into the world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out." This world is no further substantial, or of importance, than as it stands connected with the next.—"The Christian Guardian."

A PRAYER OF THE GODLY FOR DELIVERANCE FROM THEIR ENEMIES

(Psa )

In these verses we have the Psalmist's prayer for the overthrow of his enemies, and for his own victory. Let us notice—

I. His description of his enemies.

1. They were foreigners. The Psalmist speaks of them as "strange children;" or, taking Perowne's rendering, "sons of the alien" (Psa ), and "strange persons" (Psa 144:11). It seems that at this time David was engaged in warfare with some of the heathen nations; but with what people or peoples we know not. The spiritual enemies of the people of God are strangers both to Him and to them. "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own," &c. (Joh 15:18-21; Joh 16:1-3.)

2. They were deceivers. "Whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood." "Deception," or "falsehood," would be a better rendering of the Hebrew than "vanity." The right hand amongst the Jews was uplifted towards heaven in taking an oath. These enemies swore falsely; they were covenant-breakers; their most solemn engagements were not reliable. In the present day falsehood is rife. On every hand and in almost every province of life we are confronted with shams. The great enemy of God and man is the original liar, the arch deceiver. "The devil abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him," &c. (Joh ). "Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light." Let the godly be on their guard, "lest Satan should get an advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices." Let them be true in word and deed and life.

3. They caused him great trouble. The Psalmist represents himself as in "great waters." This is a Scriptural figure for deep distress. "All Thy waves and Thy billows are gone over me" "Thou hast afflicted me with all Thy waves." "When Thou passest through the waters," &c. (Isa ). The people of God sometimes suffer sorely from their spiritual enemies.

II. His prayer for deliverance from his enemies. This is expressed in language which is vigorously and strikingly poetical; and which is very natural in so strong-winged a poet as David. "Bow Thy heavens, O Jehovah, and come down," &c. "The Psalmist longs for a Theophany, a coming of God to judgment, which he describes in language again borrowed from Psa ; Psa 18:14-16." These poetic figures having been dealt with there, we need not dwell upon them here. He prays that he may be delivered—

1. With Divine majesty. "Bow Thy heavens, O Jehovah, and come down," &c. (Psa ). The ideas are doubtless those of awful majesty and irresistible power.

2. By Divine power. "Cast forth lightnings, and scatter them; shoot out Thine arrows, and destroy them. Send Thine hand from above," &c. The lightnings are the Lord's arrows. The poet prays that his deliverance may be accomplished by Divine power, as verily effected by the immediate presence and finger of God as if He had come down in visible form to accomplish it.

3. With Divine completeness. "Scatter them; … destroy them," or "discomfit them." They whom God scatters and discomfits are utterly overthrown; they whom He delivers are triumphantly saved. The Lord is the glorious Deliverer of His people from their spiritual foes. "The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly." "We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us." "Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

III. His resolution to praise God for deliverance from his enemies.

"I will sing a new song unto Thee, O God," &c. (Psa ). Notice here—

1. The assurance of deliverance. He speaks of God as a present Deliverer to him (Psa ), and he looks forward with confidence to singing the new song for the new victory. The people of God may well be assured of victory in their moral conflicts; for the purposes, the promises, and the power of God in Christ Jesus, unite to guarantee it unto them.

2. The basis of this assurance of deliverance. The Psalmist seems to have grounded His confidence upon God's wonted doings. "He giveth salvation unto kings; who delivereth David His servant from the hurtful sword." God was the great giver of victory to kings; many a time had He delivered David from the sword of his enemies. What He has done in the past, we may expect Him to do again in similar circumstances and to similar characters. Let His past deliverances be to us so many pledges of our full and final triumph.

3. The promised song of deliverance. "I will sing a new song unto Thee, O God; upon a psaltery, an instrument of ten strings, will I sing praises unto Thee." More correctly: "Upon a ten-stringed lute will I make music unto Thee." The goodness of God in the new victory shall be celebrated in a new song; and the new song shall be accompanied with the sweet strains of music.

Let new mercies evoke new gratitude; and let the new gratitude be expressed in new songs. Let us through our Lord Jesus Christ anticipate with confidence the new song of heaven: "And they sang a new song, saying, Thou art worthy," &c. (Rev ).

A PICTURE OF A HAPPY PEOPLE

(Psa )

We regard these verses as presenting a picture of prosperity which the poet desired for Israel. Let us look at its main features—

I. The blessing of a noble offspring.

1. Sons characterised by strength. "That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth." The idea is that of young men of vigorous and well-proportioned growth. But the Psalmist certainly could not mean strength of body simply. We interpret his meaning to be vigorous young manhood, including physical, mental, and moral strength.

(1.) Physical strength is good.

(2.) Intellectual strength is better.

(3.) Moral strength is best. The strength of righteous principles, virtuous habits, holy attachments, and devout aspirations—this it is which ennobles manhood. What greater blessing can be desired for any nation than that its manhood should be of this order?

2. Daughters characterised by beauty. "Our daughters as corner-stones polished after the similitude of a palace." Conant translates: "Our daughters as corner-pillars, sculptured after the structure of a palace." And Perowne: "Our daughters as corner-pillars, sculptured to grace a palace." Some expositors discover here the idea of usefulness: useful as pillars supporting a building, or as corner-stones uniting an edifice. But the main idea is undoubtedly that of the gracefulness and beauty of the maidens. The Psalmist cannot mean external beauty merely.

(1.) Beauty of feature and of form is desirable. It is a gift of God.

(2.) Beauty of mind and of manner is much more desirable. It is of a higher order, and more lasting than that of feature and form.

(3.) Beauty of soul and temper is pre-eminently desirable. This is the highest, the divinest, the unfading, and immortal beauty. This is an unmixed, a pure blessing. Beauty of form and feature, when associated with mental weakness and vacuity, appears misplaced and incongruous; when associated with moral deformity it becomes repulsive and loathsome even. The highest visible beauty is that of the soul manifesting itself in the "human face divine." "I have come to the conclusion," says Professor Upham, "if man, or woman either, wishes to realise the full power of personal beauty, it must be by cherishing noble hopes and purposes; by having something to do, and something to live for, which is worthy of humanity, and which, by expanding the capacities of the soul, gives expansion and symmetry to the body which contains it."

‘What's female beauty, but an air divine

Through which the mind's all-gentle graces Shine;

They, like the sun, irradiate all between;

The body charms, because the soul is seen."

—Young.

Who does not wish that our daughters may shine in the beauty of meekness, gentleness, purity, piety, and love?

II. The blessing of secular prosperity.

"That our garners may be full," &c. (Psa ). Several rare expressions occur in these verses, which are of very doubtful interpretation. It is certain that it is intended to set forth great temporal prosperity; and the entire picture contains three prominent features:—

1. Well-stored granaries. "Our garners full, affording all manner of store" Heb. as in Margin: "From kind to kind." Conant: "Supplying of every kind." The idea is, abundance of all kinds of produce.

2. Fruitful flocks. "Our sheep bringing forth thousands and ten thousands in our streets." More correctly, "In our fields." A great part of the wealth of eastern peoples consisted of flocks of sheep.

3. Laden oxen. "Our oxen strong to labour." Margin: "Able to bear burdens, or loaden with flesh." The Hebrew is simply: "Our oxen laden." But with what?

(1.) With fat and flesh, say some, and therefore strong to labour.

(2.) With young, say others, and interpret the clause as descriptive of the fruitfulness of the herds.

(3.) With the abundant produce of the fields, say others. "Laden oxen presuppose a rich abundance of produce." The exact meaning is doubtful; but the interpretation last named appears to us the most probable. This however is certain, that the poet is setting forth the great temporal prosperity of an eastern people.

III. The blessing of settled peace.

"No breaking in, nor going out, and no complaining in our streets." Perowne translates: "No breach and no sallying forth, and no cry (of battle) in our streets." He says, "‘No sallying forth,' lit., ‘going out,' which has been interpreted either of ‘going forth to war,' or ‘going forth into captivity.' This and the previous expression, taken together, most naturally denote a time of profound peace, when no enemy lies before the walls, when there is no need to fear the assault through the breach, no need to sally forth to attack the besiegers." There are other interpretations of these clauses; but this seems to us the most probable. "The image is that of security, peace, order, prosperity."

IV. These blessings are viewed as flowing from the favour of God.

"Happy is the people that is in such a case; happy is the people whose God is Jehovah." It was common amongst the ancient Hebrews to regard temporal prosperity as an evidence of the Divine favour. "National piety," says Matthew Henry, "commonly brings national prosperity; for nations, in their national capacity, are capable of rewards and punishments only in this life." And Barnes: "The worship of Jehovah—the religion of Jehovah—is adapted to make a people happy, peaceful, quiet, blessed. Prosperity and peace, such as are referred to in the previous verses, are, and must be, the result of pure religion. Peace, order, abundance, attend it everywhere, and the best security for a nation's prosperity is the worship of God; that which is most certain to make a nation happy and blessed, is to acknowledge God and to keep His laws."

But the Christian view of the evidences of the Divine blessing is truer, deeper, nobler than that of the ancient Hebrew. God has granted unto us a fuller and clearer revelation of Divine truth. We look for the evidences of His favour in our souls rather than in our circumstances; in inward joy rather than in outward happiness; not in well-stored granaries, but in the abounding "fruit of the Spirit, in all goodness and righteousness and truth."

SOLICITUDE ON BEHALF OF SONS AND DAUGHTERS

(Psa )

I. The objects of this solicitude.

First: Our sons are objects of solicitude. "That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth." The desire is—

1. That our sons may be as plants of the right kind. We desire that they may possess right knowledge, right principles, right habits, and be found truly righteous in all they think, say, and do.

2. That our sons may be as plants in a good situation. There are honourable situations: such are the lawful callings of life, all stations of virtuous industry. There is one situation we covet for our sons. We mean that described in Psa . We desire that our sons may value and enjoy religious ordinances, &c.

3. That our sons may be as plants rightly cultivated. Our sons, left to themselves, will grow wild, and bring forth the fruit of a depraved heart. A change of heart is indispensable before our youth can grow up as plants of righteousness. Training is absolutely necessary (Pro ). And with their training pruning is requisite.

4. That our sons may be as plants that flourish well. A good profession, with consistency, is a great ornament to character. They will flourish most who make God's Word their study, &c. (Psa ).

5. That our sons may be as plants most fruitful and useful. The plants most admired are fruit-bearing. We would have our sons abound in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate, doing good to all men as they have means and opportunity.

6. That our sons may be as plants of perennial verdure and perpetual stability. The Psalmist speaks of the blessedness of those whose "leaf shall not wither." He speaks also of the righteous bringing forth fruit in old age. So the prophet Jeremiah says," Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord," &c. (Jer ). Here is the perennial verdure and stability we desire. We would have piety adorn both youth and age. We would have our sons grow in grace as they grow in years.

Second: Our daughters are objects of solicitude. "That our daughters may be as corner-stones, polished after the similitude of a palace."

1. That our daughters may be polished with sound education. "If either of the sexes ought to have superior training, that privilege should be especially ceded to women. If you have ignorant women, you must have a large mass of foolish and depraved men; but, on the contrary, make the female portion of any nation intellectual, and the other sex must also be mentally improved."

2. That our daughters may be polished with good manners. Beauty of person, without good manners, is worthless. "Favour is deceitful," &c (Pro ). Grace and affability are adornments to the female character. Urbanity, tenderness, sympathy, charity, a constant desire to promote universal happiness,—are embellishments above the most splendid attire.

3. That our daughters may be polished with true piety. Piety is an adornment which all our daughters may possess. A polished education, and polished manners, in the sense in which these terms are understood in the fashionable and polite world, can be the lot of but few. But true piety is open to all (Jas ). Religion refines and elevates the character when all merely secular education fails. It adorns with a meek and quiet spirit, &c.

4. That our daughters may, as corner-stones, cement and adorn our families. Benjamin Parsons observes justly: "In the character of companions, friends, sisters, wives, mothers, nursemaids, nurses, and domestic servants, there is a sphere of usefulness assigned to women which angels might envy. In a majority of cases the minds of youth of both sexes are formed by females. Girls are generally educated by their own sex, and boys, in most instances, have their character stamped before they leave the guardianship of mothers and governesses." Sisters may make home to be home to our sons, &c.

5. That our daughters may, as cornerstones, support and beautify the fabric of the state. "Verily, it is of more importance to have an intelligent and moral population, than to have great capitalists or landowners. Wealth cannot make any nation great. Enlightened moral principle is the true glory of any kingdom or empire; but this dignity cannot be obtained apart from the due cultivation of all the powers of the human soul, and to accomplish this we must have the agency of mothers."

6. That our daughters may be as corner-stones in the Church of the living God. Our Sabbath-schools, our ignorant and destitute neighbourhoods, our sick-chambers, our walks of benevolence, can all yield spheres of usefulness for our daughters.… But all this is preparatory to a higher state. The stones that are polished here are preparing to be built up in the heavenly Temple. Whilst, therefore, we may aim to promote their temporal interest, let us not overlook the infinitely more valuable inheritance of personal salvation and eternal glory.

II. The subjects of this solicitude. This desire may be considered as,—

First: The cherished anxiety of all right-minded parents.

Second: That of the friends of the young. Among these are the Sabbath-school teachers of our land, &c.

Third: That of true patriots and genuine philanthropists.

Let us remember that without the Divine blessing all our efforts are in vain.—J. Sayer.

THE GOD IN WHOM MAN IS BLESSED

(Psa )

"Happy is that people whose God is Jehovah."

Our text warrants two observations—

I. That all peoples have a god.

This is clearly implied in the text. Man must have a god. The need of a god is constitutional, it is innate, in the case of man.

1. Man must trust. Every man does trust n some being or in some thing. The credulousness of man is amazing; and is often a great curse. Men are trusting in idols, in wealth, in friends, in priests, in themselves, in Jehovah.

2. Man must love. "Some one to love" is perhaps the deepest cry of the human heart. Every man loves, at least, some person or some thing,—e.g., wealth, honour, self, friends, God. Every man loves some person or something pre-eminently; has some object of supreme love.

3. Man must worship. There are in each of us at times feelings of wonder, awe, and reverence, which compel us to worship. You hold your breath in the felt presence of mystery; you are silent in the presence of death; the realisation of the sublime fills you with awe—these are signs of the working of the religious element and instincts of your being. Now, that which man chiefly trusts, supremely loves, and truly worships, is his god. All history testifies with unmistakable clearness to the fact that man must have a god.

II. That that people only is blessed whose God is Jehovah.

"Happy is the people whose God is Jehovah."

1. He is the only adequate Object of trust. Idols, wealth, friends, priests, ourselves, each and all are terribly insufficient as objects on which the soul may repose its confidence. They are unstable, transient, and equal only to very few of the emergencies of life. Jehovah is all-sufficient;—eternal, unchangeable, equal to every emergency, infinite in His resources, &c.

2. He is the only worthy Object of our supreme love. To love material things is degrading to the lover. To love relatives or friends or any created person supremely, is to seek our own disappointment and sorrow, because they are changeable, mortal, imperfect, &c. The object of our chief love should be a person perfectly lovable, true, good, beautiful, unchangeable, and ever-living. Jehovah is all this.

3. He is the only worthy Object of our worship. The worship of Jehovah is the only worship which purifies, strengthens, ennobles, and crowns our nature. The old idolatries were terribly degrading; they produced terror, cruelty, uncleanness, and other evils in the worshippers. Worship wealth, and you will degrade your being, &c. Make a relative or friend your god, and you are lost to progress, &c. Make self your god, and you forego all that is noble, &c. The object of our worship should be such as tends to educate, exalt, satisfy, and perfect our spiritual nature. In Jehovah, and in Him alone, have we such a God.

"Happy the people whose God is Jehovah;" because He is supremely good, unchangeable, and eternal, and He stands in covenant relation with His people. His wisdom and power, His goodness and faithfulness, are all pledged to them. "If God be for us, who can be against us?"

THE HAPPY PEOPLE

(Psa )

"Happy is that people whose God is Jehovah." Let us—

I. Examine what is comprehended in the relation referred to. It refers—

1. To God as the Object of religious worship.

2. To Him as the Author of every blessing.

3. To the covenant relation in which He condescends to stand to His people—including Divine acceptance, delightful intercourse, pleasing satisfaction.

II. Confirm and illustrate the declaration itself. They are happy—

1. Because all the Divine perfections are engaged in their behalf. Mercy to pardon their sins, and deliver them from guilt. Wisdom to direct and guide them through the intricate mazes of the world to heaven. Omnipresence to guard and defend them. Omnipresence to survey them in all conditions. Consummate goodness to supply their needs. And faithfulness to perform all that He has spoken.

2. Because in Him they are assured of finding a refuge in time of need.

3. Because they are warranted to expect every needful supply.

4. Because in Him they have "a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother."

5. Because all the promises of the Gospel are "yea and Amen" in Christ Jesus.

6. Because they have a sure prospect of being with Him for ever.

LEARN.—

1. How mistaken the men of the world are with respect to the people of God.

2. How insignificant is the worldling's portion.

3. How dangerous is the condition of those who have not the Lord for their portion.—L … s.

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Psalms 144:4". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/psalms-144.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, November 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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