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Bible Commentaries

Sermon Bible Commentary
Psalms 145

 

 

Verse 4

Psalms 145:4

I. The text places the transmitting generation first, but in our use of it we ought perhaps to invert the order. For the ages can hand down nothing which did not come to them from without; if we mount upward step by step, we find at last that the heritage of truth and grace was a free gift of revelation to mankind: and therefore the earliest was a receiving generation. Men can give nothing that they did not first receive. (1) All the ages of time are in their unceasing flow recipients of parcels and fragments of one great manifestation of God in the glory of His name, His works, and His redeeming grace. (2) This revelation has not flowed on equably from age to age. There have been great critical periods in this general evolution of the majesty of God's revelation accumulating through the centuries, and we in our day inherit the last and best tradition. (3) The past generations have bequeathed to us as a people a special heritage in the general unfolding of the ways and works of God. We have inherited from our fathers the common Christianity in the fulness of time. Our duty is: (a) to glorify God for the privileges thus transmitted; (b) to use these privileges aright.

II. The receiving generation is the transmitter also. Each is a link in the golden chain that eternity let down into time, and which from time is ascending to eternity again. Each age receives only what it has to pass on to the next. It has pleased God to make every generation a trustee for the generations to come. And all sacred history attests that the gradual unfolding of the name and works of God has been bound up with the fidelity of the successive depositaries of the Divine counsel. There is no law more patent in the administration of the moral government of the world than that each generation receives its portion in due season from its predecessor, and is responsible only for that; secondly, that each generation impresses its own influence for good or evil on what it receives; and, thirdly, that it must needs transmit what is received to the generation following with the impress of its own character.

W. B. Pope, The Inward Witness, p. 160.


References: Psalms 145:4.—Homiletic Quarterly, vol. i., p. 562. Psalms 145:6, Psalms 145:7.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxi., No. 1828. Psalms 145:7.—Ibid., vol. xxv., No. 1468.


Verse 9

Psalms 145:9

The fact of creation is a miracle; it is the origination of the laws of nature, and therefore above and beyond these laws themselves. It is the first link from which all these laws proceed. The two first necessary conditions of our thought and sensation, space and time, are, as regards this material universe, the two first and the two greatest of God's works.

I. All those ranks of vegetable and animal being which we now behold, originated by the Divine will, were by the same Divine will placed under certain definite laws, by which their continuance in being and reproduction were to be regulated, and were endowed with faculties whereby they were able to follow those laws. Herein is the wonder, the marvel of love: that God, who needeth not creation, should by a free act, or rather an infinity of free acts, of condescension, create, uphold, provide for, bear in His fatherly care, all the great family of the universe.

II. In the order of the history of creation the various ranks of being, beginning from the lowest, proceed onwards to the highest; but we must not therefore for a moment dream, as some have done, of a gradual progression upwards of being, through the lower to the higher. The higher ranks in God's creation have ever been that which we find them in their laws and character, and have not evolved themselves out of the lower.

III. To say that beauty, and order, and adaptation reign through all these ranks of being is no more than to repeat an often-told tale. (1) Observe, first, the consummate beauty of God's arrangements in regard to mute, unorganised matter, from the grand but simple law which retains the planets in their orbits to that which forms the hidden crystals in the depths of the mine, or the frostwork on the window-pane, which melts with the first sunbeam. All is full of subjects for wonder and admiration. (2) Let us rise one step, and from unorganised matter come to organic life. Life, the special gift of God, is not the result of any combination of matter. Every portion of the frame in which it resides might be reproduced by art, but the beautiful model must wait for vitality till it is breathed down from the Creator Himself. There is no part of the earth but is full of animal life, no animal that is not a study inexhaustible in its proofs of creative wisdom and providing love. It has often struck me that the more we think of the utter incapability of the lower tribes of creation for increase of knowledge and skill, and compare it with their perfect knowledge and skill in that which is given them to do, the more do we see the present and acting power and love of God. They are so helpless, yet so full of needful resources; so unconscious of wisdom, yet so wise; so reckless of the future, yet so provident; so incapable of high motives, yet so self-devoted in their affections, that it appears to me that between these extremes in the same beings, so wonderful, so inexplicable, there must come in, living, and moving, and present day by day, the will of that gracious Father, the love of that Divine Son, the working of that blessed Spirit of wisdom, whose strength is made perfect in weakness, who hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, whose tender mercies are over all His works.

H. Alford, Quebec Chapel Sermons, vol. iv., p. 18.


References: Psalms 145:9.—E. Johnson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxvii., p. 250. Psalms 145:10.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxx., No. 1796; J. A. Sellar, Church Doctrine and Practice, p. 318.


Verse 10-11

Psalms 145:10-11

The Christian Church is a living body, and one, not a mere framework artificially arranged to look like one. Its being alive is what makes it one; were it dead, it would consist of as many parts as it has members: but the living Spirit of God came down upon it at Pentecost, and made it one by giving it life.

I. The Church, properly considered, is that great company of the elect which has been separated by God's free grace, and His Spirit working in due season, from this sinful world, regenerated, and vouchsafed perseverance unto life eternal. Viewed so far as it merely consists of persons now living in this world, it is of course a visible company; but in its nobler and truer character it is a body invisible, or nearly so, as being made up not merely of the few who happen to be still on their trial, but of the many who sleep in the Lord. This invisible body is the true Church, because it changes not, though it is ever increasing. Such is the efficacy of that inexhaustible grace which Christ has lodged in His Church, as a principle of life and increase, until He comes again. The expiring breath of His saints is but the quickening of dead souls.

II. These thoughts are very different from the world's ordinary view of things, which walks by sight, not by faith. When the souls of Christians pass from it into the place of spirits, it fancies that this is their loss, not its own. It pities them, too, as thinking that they do not witness the termination of what they began or saw beginning, that they are ignorant of the fortunes of their friends or of the Church, or rather careless about them; as being insensible and but shadows, and ghosts, not substances, as if we who live were the real agents in the course of events, and they were attached to us only as a churchyard to a church, which it is decent to respect, unsuitable to linger in. Such is its opinion of the departed; yet with the views opened on us in the Gospel, with the knowledge that the one Spirit of Christ ever abides, and that those who are made one with Him are never parted from Him, and that those who die in Him are irrevocably knit into Him and one with Him, shall we dare to think slightingly of these indefectible members of Christ and vessels of future glory? Shall we not dimly recognise amid the aisles of our churches and along our cloisters, about our ancient tombs and in ruined and desolate places, which once were held sacred not in cold poetical fancy, but by the eye of faith, the spirits of our fathers and brethren of every time, past and present, whose works have long been "known" to God, and whose former dwelling-places remain among us, pledges, as we trust, that He will not utterly forsake us and make an end?

J. H. Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. iv., p. 168.


Reference: Psalms 145:13.—Bishop Alexander, Bampton Lectures, 1876, p. 159.



Verse 13-14

Psalms 145:13-14

What we admire in these verses is their combining the magnificence of unlimited power with the assiduity of unlimited tenderness. The greatness of God is often turned into an argument by which men would bring doubt on the truths of redemption and providence.

I. An argument is attempted to be drawn from the insignificance of man to the improbability of redemption; one verse of our text is set against the other: and the confessed fact that God's dominion is throughout all generations is opposed to the alleged fact that He gave His own Son that He might lift up the fallen. But it ought at least to be remembered that man was God's workmanship, made after His image, and endowed with powers which fitted him for lofty pursuits. The human race may or may not be insignificant. No one can survey the works of nature and not perceive that God has some regard for the children of men, however fallen and polluted they may be. And if God manifest a regard for us in temporal things, it must be far from incredible that He would do the same in spiritual.

II. It is in regard to the doctrine of a universal providence that men are most ready to raise objections from the greatness of God as contrasted with their own insignificance. They cannot believe that He who is so mighty as to rule the heavenly hosts can condescend to notice the wants of the meanest of His creatures. (1) This reasoning betrays ignorance as to what it is in which greatness consists. It may be that amongst finite beings it is not easy, and perhaps not possible, that attention to what is minute or comparatively unimportant should be combined with attention to things of vast moment. But we never reckon it an excellence that there is not, or cannot be, this union. On the contrary, we should declare that man at the very summit of true greatness who proved himself able to unite what had seemed incompatible. We know not why that should be derogatory to the majesty of the Ruler of the universe which, by the general confession, would add immeasurably to the majesty of one of the earth's potentates. (2) Objections against the doctrine of God's providence are virtually objections against the great truths of creation. What it was not unworthy of God to form, it cannot be unworthy of God to preserve. Why declare anything excluded by its insignificance from His watchfulness which could not have been produced but by His power? The universal providence of God is little more than an inference from the truth of His being the universal Creator. (3) The doctrine of a universal providence is strictly derivable from the very nature of God. It is to bring God down to the feebleness of our own estate to suppose that what is great to us must be great to Him, and that what is small to us must be small to Him. Dwelling as God does in inaccessible splendours, a world is to Him an atom, and an atom is to Him a world. It is thus virtually the property of God that He should care for everything and sustain everything, so that we should never behold a blade of grass springing up from the earth, nor hear a bird warble its wild music, nor see an infant slumber on its mother's breast without a warm memory that it is through God as a God of providence that the fields are enamelled in due season, that every animated tribe receives its sustenance, and that the successive generations of mankind arise, and flourish, and possess the earth.

H. Melvill, Sermons before the University of Cambridge, p. 1.


Reference: Psalms 145:15, Psalms 145:16.—Homiletic Quarterly, vol. ii., p. 261.



Verses 15-17

Psalms 145:15-17

I. Consider, first, the Psalmist's assertion, "The Lord is righteous in all His ways, and holy in all His works." The Psalmist here uses the language of faith. The word "righteousness" as used of God denotes that necessary perfection by which God is most holy and just in Himself, and observes the strictest rules of equity in His every dealing with His creatures. To be convinced, then, that God is righteous, is to be convinced that, whatever may be the appearance, He is guided in all His actions by the most unimpeachable principles, and has only to make known His reasons to secure the approval of all holy beings. Be it so that the dealings of our Maker are unsearchable, our business is not to penetrate these dealings, but whilst they bear us along as a ship is borne upon the waves to keep looking, as David elsewhere says, "to the hills, from whence cometh our help." There is not a billow of this deep from which you may not see land, some peak of the mountains, if you will, as it were, rest in the ship, though if you attempt to dive beneath the surface you will find only darkness, and be presently overwhelmed. Make it your constant rule never to contemplate God's dealings apart from God's attributes, but always to prepare for musing on the dealings by musing on the attributes, and David's experience will be your own.

II. The doubts and difficulties which consideration of God's dealings will necessarily excite will best be dealt with by pondering the everyday mercies which are showered upon the world. "The eyes of all wait upon Thee," etc. There is not in this creation a single living thing which is not perpetually drawing upon God, and so literally dependent on His care and bounty that a moment's suspension of His operations would suffice to extinguish its vital principle. Who can fear that, because God's ways are unsearchable, they may not be all tending to the final good of His creatures, when he knows that, with the tenderness of a most affectionate parent, this Creator and Governor ministers to the meanest living thing? Who can distrust God, because clouds and darkness are round about Him, when there is light enough to show that He is the vigilant Guardian of every tenant of this earth, that His hand upholds, and His breath animates, and His bounty nourishes the teeming hordes of the city, and the desert, and the ocean? "The Lord is righteous in all His ways, and holy in all His works."

H. Melvill, Penny Pulpit, No. 2085.

References: Psalms 145:16.—J. J. West, Penny Pulpit, No. 1823. Psalms 145:18.—K. Blencowe, Plain Sermons to a Country Congregation, 1st series, p. 128. Psalms 145:18, Psalms 145:19.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. xii., p. 86. Psalms 146:1-3.—R. Thomas, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xi., p. 1.



 


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Bibliography Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Psalms 145:4". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/psalms-145.html.

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Sunday, December 8th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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