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Bible Commentaries

The Biblical Illustrator
Psalms 125

 

 

Verses 1-5

Psalms 125:1-5

They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion.

Trustfulness

I. Trustfulness in its supreme object: “The Lord” (Jeremiah 17:5-8).

II. Trustfulness securing inestimable blessings.

1. Stability (verse 1).

2. Divine nearness (verse 2).

3. Protection from the power and oppression of wickedness (verse 3).

III. Trustfulness seeking the good of others (verse 4). Its nature to do so, being unselfish, generous, and jealous for the glory of God. Others kept good for goodness’ sake.

IV. Trustfulness pronouncing the fate of apostates, and the tranquil experience of itself and companions (verse 5). (J. O. Keen, D. D.)

The community of the good

I. The security of the good ensured (Psalms 125:1-3). The good are “they that trust in the Lord.” Such are--

1. Firmly established (verse 1).

2. Safely guarded (verse 2). (Isaiah 54:10; Zechariah 2:4-13).

3. Ultimately delivered (verse 3).

“Rod” here means sceptre, and the “lot of the righteous” the land of promise. The generic idea is that the power of the wicked shall not always extend to the good; one day the community of the good shall be out of the dominion of wickedness for ever and ever. “He shall bruise Satan under our feet.”

II. The prosperity of the good invoked (verses 4, 5).

1. The invocation specifies the character of the good (verse 4). “To be good” is to be “upright in heart,” and to be “upright in heart” is to be right in our loves, our aims, and activities. The “goody” are common, the good are rare.

2. The invocation pictures the character, and foretells the doom of the wicked (verse 5). ( 5:6; Psalms 58:8; Psalms 109:23; Matthew 7:22; Matthew 24:51.) (Homilist.)

Divine surroundings

I. The security of the people of God.

1. Between them and all evil is--

2. This Divine surrounding affects--

II. Their stability. Mount Zion cannot be removed, but abideth for ever; even so, they that trust. Having a hold of God, they cannot be permanently injured in their highest and eternal relations. Moved they may be, but never removed; “perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.” “The Lord is round about them even for ever.” (J. M. Jarvie.)

The mountain-girdled mountain

This little psalm looks very much like a record of the impression that was made on the pilgrim as he first topped the crest of the hill from which he looked on Jerusalem. Two peculiarities of its topographical position are both taken here as symbols of spiritual realities, for the singularity of the situation of the city is that it stands on a mountain and is girdled by mountains. There is a tongue of land or peninsula cut off from the surrounding country by deep ravines, on which are perched the buildings of the city, while across the valley on the eastern side is Olivet, and, on the south, another hill, the so-called “Hill of Evil Counsel”; but upon the west and north sides there are Do conspicuous summits, though the ground rises. Thus, really, though not apparently, there lie all round the city encircling defences of mountains. Similarly, says the psalmist, set and steadfast as on a mountain, and compassed about by a protection, like the bastions of the everlasting hills, are they whose trust is in the Lord.

I. The simple act of trust in God brings inward stability. The word here translated “trust” literally means to “hang upon” something. And so, beautifully, it tells us what faith is--just hanging upon God. Whoever has laid his tremulous hand on a fixed something, partakes, in the measure in which he does grasp it, of the fixity of that on which he lays hold; so “they that trust in the Lord” “shall be as Mount Zion,” that stands there summer and winter, day and night, year out and year in, with its strong buttresses and its immovable mass, the very emblem of solidity and stability.

II. This same attitude of realizing the Divine presence, will, and help, will bring around us the encircling defences. “As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about His people”--a very real defence, but a defence that it takes an instructed eye to see; no obvious protection, palpable to the vulgar touch, and manifest to the sensuous eye, but something a great deal better than that--a real protection, through which we may be sure that nothing which is evil can ever pass. Whatsoever does get over the encircling mountains, and down to us, we may be sure is not an evil but a very real good. Only we have to interpret the protection on the principles of faith, and not on those of sense. When, then, there come down upon us--as there do upon us all, thank God!--dark days, and sad days, and solitary days, and losses and bitternesses of a thousand kinds, do not let us falter in the belief that if we have our hearts set on God, nothing has come to us but what He has let through.

III. Simple trust in God, in some measure, assimilates the protected to the Protector. Mountains girdle a mountain, and so my trust opens my heart to the entrance into my heart of something akin to God. It makes us “partakers of a Divine nature.” The immovableness of the trustful man is not all unlike the calmness of the trusted God; and the steadfastness of the one is a reflex of the unchangeableness of the other. “As the mountains are round about Mount Zion,” God is round about the people that are becoming Godlike. Mark further the significant repetition of the same expression in reference to the stability of the man protected, and the continuance of the protection. Both are “for ever.” That is to say, if it is true that God is round about me, and that, in some humble measure, my heart has been opening to be calmed and steadied by the influx of His own life, then His “for ever” is my “for ever.” And it cannot be that He should live and I should die. The guarantee of the eternal being of the trustful soul is the experience to-day of the reality of the Divine protection. And thus we may face everything--life, death, whatsoever may come, assured that nothing touches the continuity and the perpetuity of the union between the trusting soul and the trusted God. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Trust in the Lord, the condition of stability and safety

I. Trust in the Lord is the condition of moral stability. Such a soul is firm in its--

1. Love.

2. Faith.

3. Purpose.

II. Trust in the Lord is the condition of Divine security. How often mountains protected nations! The free winds that sweep the summits, and thunder at the sides, seem to inspire the people with an invincible love of freedom. And mountains, too, have often proved the asylums of freedom. But no mountains have guarded a people as God guards those who trust in Him. The Eternal God is a refuge, and underneath are the “everlasting arms.” He “is a fire round about” them, and their “glory in the midst” of them. (Homilist.)

Mountains trust in God

I. The mountain as an emblem--

1. Of God’s defence (Psalms 62:2; Psalms 62:6; Psalms 18:2; Psalms 71:3).

2. Of God’s strength. Those who have stood at some great height amid the sloping snow-field, bristling barriers of ice, and peaks of untrodden rock in the higher Alps, far from organic life, even of the smallest kind of vegetation, have felt some thrill of perhaps inexpressible awe. The grandeur of the vastness and power of the scene proves our own utter helplessness and littleness. Looking from ourselves and our little finite limits of thought and act out into the large unrealized infinity of God’s great power, written in earth and sea and sky, and in the mind of man, the soul feels lost. But remember that all this expression of power is but the symbol of the strength of a Father’s love.

3. Of God’s everlastingness.

II. Trust in God gives--

1. An inspiration of success.

2. A happy heart, in spite of everything.

3. Submissive decision of character.

There is something supremely exhilarating and sublime in the spectacle of the good man who, in the strength of what he believes to be Heaven-sent guidance, goes intrepidly forward, noting little of what opposes and may attack, though death itself hang its sword above his head, though the world seem to shake in ruins around him. Though, as it were, the very earth be moved and the mountains be carried into the heart of the seas, the regular, constant, unwavering pursuit of his ideal is the one motive of life. So Daniel braved in quiet reverence the decree which opened the den of lions; the three witnesses to God argued not a moment, though the flames and heat of the fiery furnace were in front of them. (C. E. Harris.)

The immovability of the believer

The metaphor in the text was drawn by the pilgrims from the hill before them; or, if the psalm does not belong to pilgrims, but to all Israel, they took the comparison from that mountain with which they were best acquainted. If they might not all see Lebanon, which lay at the northern extremity of the land, if they might not all behold the excellency of Carmel, or gaze upon the heights of Hermon, yet once in the year they must all look upon Zion, “whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, unto the testimony of Israel.” The emblem was therefore a familiar one, and I wish sometimes that we were more apt at sanctifying to holy uses the common objects which are round about us: these streets and houses, our own country, and our own home. I am afraid our eyes are open when we seek emblems of sadness and we find them on every hedge and in any garden-plot; but we should also look at home when we want metaphors of thanksgiving with which to set forth our security and our comfort in the Lord.

I. A lowly people. They “trust in the Lord.” A very simple thing to do. It needs no effort of intellect to trust, and it needs no laborious education to learn the way; trusting in the Lord is simply depending where there is unquestionable reason for reliance, believing what is assuredly true, and acting upon it. Trusting in the Lord is taking at His word One who cannot lie, or change, or fail; and certainly this is no great feat if we look at it from the carnal man’s own point of view. At the same time, it is very right. Should not a man trust in his own Creator? Does He not deserve to be trusted? Has He not always been faithful? Moreover, is it not wise? What can be wiser? Those of us who have tried trusting in God have never found it fail, whereas when we have trusted in men we have been disappointed.

II. The security of believers. God’s children undergo a variety of experiences. To-day their hearts are a place of sacrifice, and to-morrow a battle-field; by turns their soul is a temple and a threshing-floor; but whatever their ups and downs may be, they shall never be removed from their ordained and appointed place: by the grace of God they are where they are, and where they shall be. They shall never be effectually removed from that place before the Lord in which infinite love has fixed them.

III. The evident reason for all this. Why is it that they that trust in the Lord shall not be moved?

1. Because they are trusting in the truth. They have not believed a lie, and therefore they shall not be swept from their foundation. They are trusting in One who will not deceive them and cannot fail them. They have laid their foundation on a rock, have they not?

2. They are trusting where their reliance is observed and welcomed. God loveth to have many dependants about Him. It is His way of revealing Himself and manifesting His glory. If this is what He desireth, if He seeketh such to worship Him, who believe that He is, and that He is the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him, why should He reject their suit?

3. It is not the nature of God to cast away any who rely upon Him; on the contrary, He is very careful that faith should never have less than she has expected. He respects the courage of faith: He never confounds it. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Steadfast trust

Believers are too often tossed about in their minds, and suffer great shakings and movings of heart because they do not trust in the Lord as they should. These things ought not to be, for we ought to be steadfast and immovable; but by reason of infirmity and immaturity many are tossed to and fro as with a tempest. Still, even in these, deep in their soul their faith is earnestly keeping its hold, and does not permit them altogether to drift. At the back of a great deal of grievous unbelief, when we are in a depressed condition, there lives a faith which is not moved, but in secret takes hold as for dear life, biding its time till better days shall come. It is only by realizing the everlasting, abiding love of God that they that trust in the Lord shall come to feel steadfast as Mount Zion which shall never be removed. The man of God may know that he is safe, and yet there may be such a rush and tumult in his experience that he may not be able to understand himself or realize his true position. This may happen even to more advanced believers; but as we grow in grace the tendency is to reach a more even and equable condition. Experienced believers are not to be put about by every puff of wind; nay, they come at last to hold on their way in the teeth of all ill weathers, and, like hardy mariners, make small account of the lesser storms of life. (C. H. Spurgeon.)


Verses 1-5

Psalms 125:1-5

They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion.

Trustfulness

I. Trustfulness in its supreme object: “The Lord” (Jeremiah 17:5-8).

II. Trustfulness securing inestimable blessings.

1. Stability (verse 1).

2. Divine nearness (verse 2).

3. Protection from the power and oppression of wickedness (verse 3).

III. Trustfulness seeking the good of others (verse 4). Its nature to do so, being unselfish, generous, and jealous for the glory of God. Others kept good for goodness’ sake.

IV. Trustfulness pronouncing the fate of apostates, and the tranquil experience of itself and companions (verse 5). (J. O. Keen, D. D.)

The community of the good

I. The security of the good ensured (Psalms 125:1-3). The good are “they that trust in the Lord.” Such are--

1. Firmly established (verse 1).

2. Safely guarded (verse 2). (Isaiah 54:10; Zechariah 2:4-13).

3. Ultimately delivered (verse 3).

“Rod” here means sceptre, and the “lot of the righteous” the land of promise. The generic idea is that the power of the wicked shall not always extend to the good; one day the community of the good shall be out of the dominion of wickedness for ever and ever. “He shall bruise Satan under our feet.”

II. The prosperity of the good invoked (verses 4, 5).

1. The invocation specifies the character of the good (verse 4). “To be good” is to be “upright in heart,” and to be “upright in heart” is to be right in our loves, our aims, and activities. The “goody” are common, the good are rare.

2. The invocation pictures the character, and foretells the doom of the wicked (verse 5). ( 5:6; Psalms 58:8; Psalms 109:23; Matthew 7:22; Matthew 24:51.) (Homilist.)

Divine surroundings

I. The security of the people of God.

1. Between them and all evil is--

2. This Divine surrounding affects--

II. Their stability. Mount Zion cannot be removed, but abideth for ever; even so, they that trust. Having a hold of God, they cannot be permanently injured in their highest and eternal relations. Moved they may be, but never removed; “perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.” “The Lord is round about them even for ever.” (J. M. Jarvie.)

The mountain-girdled mountain

This little psalm looks very much like a record of the impression that was made on the pilgrim as he first topped the crest of the hill from which he looked on Jerusalem. Two peculiarities of its topographical position are both taken here as symbols of spiritual realities, for the singularity of the situation of the city is that it stands on a mountain and is girdled by mountains. There is a tongue of land or peninsula cut off from the surrounding country by deep ravines, on which are perched the buildings of the city, while across the valley on the eastern side is Olivet, and, on the south, another hill, the so-called “Hill of Evil Counsel”; but upon the west and north sides there are Do conspicuous summits, though the ground rises. Thus, really, though not apparently, there lie all round the city encircling defences of mountains. Similarly, says the psalmist, set and steadfast as on a mountain, and compassed about by a protection, like the bastions of the everlasting hills, are they whose trust is in the Lord.

I. The simple act of trust in God brings inward stability. The word here translated “trust” literally means to “hang upon” something. And so, beautifully, it tells us what faith is--just hanging upon God. Whoever has laid his tremulous hand on a fixed something, partakes, in the measure in which he does grasp it, of the fixity of that on which he lays hold; so “they that trust in the Lord” “shall be as Mount Zion,” that stands there summer and winter, day and night, year out and year in, with its strong buttresses and its immovable mass, the very emblem of solidity and stability.

II. This same attitude of realizing the Divine presence, will, and help, will bring around us the encircling defences. “As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about His people”--a very real defence, but a defence that it takes an instructed eye to see; no obvious protection, palpable to the vulgar touch, and manifest to the sensuous eye, but something a great deal better than that--a real protection, through which we may be sure that nothing which is evil can ever pass. Whatsoever does get over the encircling mountains, and down to us, we may be sure is not an evil but a very real good. Only we have to interpret the protection on the principles of faith, and not on those of sense. When, then, there come down upon us--as there do upon us all, thank God!--dark days, and sad days, and solitary days, and losses and bitternesses of a thousand kinds, do not let us falter in the belief that if we have our hearts set on God, nothing has come to us but what He has let through.

III. Simple trust in God, in some measure, assimilates the protected to the Protector. Mountains girdle a mountain, and so my trust opens my heart to the entrance into my heart of something akin to God. It makes us “partakers of a Divine nature.” The immovableness of the trustful man is not all unlike the calmness of the trusted God; and the steadfastness of the one is a reflex of the unchangeableness of the other. “As the mountains are round about Mount Zion,” God is round about the people that are becoming Godlike. Mark further the significant repetition of the same expression in reference to the stability of the man protected, and the continuance of the protection. Both are “for ever.” That is to say, if it is true that God is round about me, and that, in some humble measure, my heart has been opening to be calmed and steadied by the influx of His own life, then His “for ever” is my “for ever.” And it cannot be that He should live and I should die. The guarantee of the eternal being of the trustful soul is the experience to-day of the reality of the Divine protection. And thus we may face everything--life, death, whatsoever may come, assured that nothing touches the continuity and the perpetuity of the union between the trusting soul and the trusted God. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Trust in the Lord, the condition of stability and safety

I. Trust in the Lord is the condition of moral stability. Such a soul is firm in its--

1. Love.

2. Faith.

3. Purpose.

II. Trust in the Lord is the condition of Divine security. How often mountains protected nations! The free winds that sweep the summits, and thunder at the sides, seem to inspire the people with an invincible love of freedom. And mountains, too, have often proved the asylums of freedom. But no mountains have guarded a people as God guards those who trust in Him. The Eternal God is a refuge, and underneath are the “everlasting arms.” He “is a fire round about” them, and their “glory in the midst” of them. (Homilist.)

Mountains trust in God

I. The mountain as an emblem--

1. Of God’s defence (Psalms 62:2; Psalms 62:6; Psalms 18:2; Psalms 71:3).

2. Of God’s strength. Those who have stood at some great height amid the sloping snow-field, bristling barriers of ice, and peaks of untrodden rock in the higher Alps, far from organic life, even of the smallest kind of vegetation, have felt some thrill of perhaps inexpressible awe. The grandeur of the vastness and power of the scene proves our own utter helplessness and littleness. Looking from ourselves and our little finite limits of thought and act out into the large unrealized infinity of God’s great power, written in earth and sea and sky, and in the mind of man, the soul feels lost. But remember that all this expression of power is but the symbol of the strength of a Father’s love.

3. Of God’s everlastingness.

II. Trust in God gives--

1. An inspiration of success.

2. A happy heart, in spite of everything.

3. Submissive decision of character.

There is something supremely exhilarating and sublime in the spectacle of the good man who, in the strength of what he believes to be Heaven-sent guidance, goes intrepidly forward, noting little of what opposes and may attack, though death itself hang its sword above his head, though the world seem to shake in ruins around him. Though, as it were, the very earth be moved and the mountains be carried into the heart of the seas, the regular, constant, unwavering pursuit of his ideal is the one motive of life. So Daniel braved in quiet reverence the decree which opened the den of lions; the three witnesses to God argued not a moment, though the flames and heat of the fiery furnace were in front of them. (C. E. Harris.)

The immovability of the believer

The metaphor in the text was drawn by the pilgrims from the hill before them; or, if the psalm does not belong to pilgrims, but to all Israel, they took the comparison from that mountain with which they were best acquainted. If they might not all see Lebanon, which lay at the northern extremity of the land, if they might not all behold the excellency of Carmel, or gaze upon the heights of Hermon, yet once in the year they must all look upon Zion, “whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, unto the testimony of Israel.” The emblem was therefore a familiar one, and I wish sometimes that we were more apt at sanctifying to holy uses the common objects which are round about us: these streets and houses, our own country, and our own home. I am afraid our eyes are open when we seek emblems of sadness and we find them on every hedge and in any garden-plot; but we should also look at home when we want metaphors of thanksgiving with which to set forth our security and our comfort in the Lord.

I. A lowly people. They “trust in the Lord.” A very simple thing to do. It needs no effort of intellect to trust, and it needs no laborious education to learn the way; trusting in the Lord is simply depending where there is unquestionable reason for reliance, believing what is assuredly true, and acting upon it. Trusting in the Lord is taking at His word One who cannot lie, or change, or fail; and certainly this is no great feat if we look at it from the carnal man’s own point of view. At the same time, it is very right. Should not a man trust in his own Creator? Does He not deserve to be trusted? Has He not always been faithful? Moreover, is it not wise? What can be wiser? Those of us who have tried trusting in God have never found it fail, whereas when we have trusted in men we have been disappointed.

II. The security of believers. God’s children undergo a variety of experiences. To-day their hearts are a place of sacrifice, and to-morrow a battle-field; by turns their soul is a temple and a threshing-floor; but whatever their ups and downs may be, they shall never be removed from their ordained and appointed place: by the grace of God they are where they are, and where they shall be. They shall never be effectually removed from that place before the Lord in which infinite love has fixed them.

III. The evident reason for all this. Why is it that they that trust in the Lord shall not be moved?

1. Because they are trusting in the truth. They have not believed a lie, and therefore they shall not be swept from their foundation. They are trusting in One who will not deceive them and cannot fail them. They have laid their foundation on a rock, have they not?

2. They are trusting where their reliance is observed and welcomed. God loveth to have many dependants about Him. It is His way of revealing Himself and manifesting His glory. If this is what He desireth, if He seeketh such to worship Him, who believe that He is, and that He is the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him, why should He reject their suit?

3. It is not the nature of God to cast away any who rely upon Him; on the contrary, He is very careful that faith should never have less than she has expected. He respects the courage of faith: He never confounds it. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Steadfast trust

Believers are too often tossed about in their minds, and suffer great shakings and movings of heart because they do not trust in the Lord as they should. These things ought not to be, for we ought to be steadfast and immovable; but by reason of infirmity and immaturity many are tossed to and fro as with a tempest. Still, even in these, deep in their soul their faith is earnestly keeping its hold, and does not permit them altogether to drift. At the back of a great deal of grievous unbelief, when we are in a depressed condition, there lives a faith which is not moved, but in secret takes hold as for dear life, biding its time till better days shall come. It is only by realizing the everlasting, abiding love of God that they that trust in the Lord shall come to feel steadfast as Mount Zion which shall never be removed. The man of God may know that he is safe, and yet there may be such a rush and tumult in his experience that he may not be able to understand himself or realize his true position. This may happen even to more advanced believers; but as we grow in grace the tendency is to reach a more even and equable condition. Experienced believers are not to be put about by every puff of wind; nay, they come at last to hold on their way in the teeth of all ill weathers, and, like hardy mariners, make small account of the lesser storms of life. (C. H. Spurgeon.)


Verse 2

Psalms 125:2

So the Lord is round about His people.

The Divine protection

The 125th Psalm is of the returning exiles. They are only about fifty thousand. They have made the difficult journey across the desert sands. They have reached Jerusalem. It is an utter ruin--walls levelled, Temple destroyed, everything in confusion. There are Samaritan enemies, too, and all sorts of obstacles, as they set about the enormous task of rebuilding, reorganizing. How unable, defence-less, they seem to themselves! But if, to-day, one stands in what was the Temple area at Jerusalem and looks about him, he will see, rising above him and around him, on the east the Mount of Olives; on the south, the Hill of Evil Counsel; on the west, the ridge beyond the valley of Jehoshaphat; on the north, the high ground about Scopas--all these loftier than Jerusalem. Well, one day the singer of this psalm did stand there amid the ruined Jerusalem, did feel his own helplessness and shetterlessness; but, seeing how Jerusalem was girded by the higher hills, he saw the only real refuge for helpless and shelterless man anywhere, viz. in God; and, getting figure for his trust in what he saw, he bravely sang: “As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about His people from henceforth even for ever.” Think, then, of the Divine protection of man, helpless and shelterless in himself.

I. God stands about His people, as the mountains do about Jerusalem, with protecting atonement of sin.

II. God stands about His people, as the mountains do about Jerusalem, with the protection of discipline administered with infinite and loving wisdom. For a forgiven man is by no means a perfect man.

III. God stands about His people, as the mountains do about Jerusalem, with the protection of proffered help for the daily duty.

IV. God stands about His people, as the mountains do about Jerusalem, with the protection of a final and triumphant deliverance. (W. Hoyt, D. D.)

The security of the Church

I. The Church as a whole is secured by God beyond the reach of harm. She is ably garrisoned by Omnipotence, and she is castled within the faithful engagements of the covenant. How often has the Church been attacked; but how often has she been victorious! The number of her battles is just the number of her victories. Foes have come against her; they have compassed her about, but in the name of God she has destroyed them.

1. Persecution has unsheathed its sword, and sought to rend up the Church by its roots, or fell it with its axe. Tyrants have heated their furnaces, have prepared their racks, have erected their stakes. But has the Church been subdued?

2. But by and by the devil grew wiser. He saw that overt persecution would not suffice for the putting down of God’s Church, and he therefore adopted another measure not less cruel but more crafty. “I will not only slay them,” said he, “I will malign them.” Did you ever read in history the horrible reports which were set afloat in the early ages of Christianity concerning the Christians? Never were men so fearfully belied. The very heathens, who revelled in vice, despised the followers of Jesus on account of crimes which the voice of the liar had laid to their charge. A few years elapsed and the mud which had been cast upon the snow-white garments of Christ’s Church fell off from them, leaving them whiter than before. But the devil has adopted the same plan in every period. But has the Church suffered through their slander, or hath ever a solitary Christian lost aught by it? No; the Lord God who set the mountains round about Jerusalem has so put Himself about His people, that no weapon that is formed against us shall prosper, and every tongue that riseth against us in judgment we shall condemn.

3. Again Satan learned wisdom, and he said, “Now, inasmuch as I cannot destroy this people, neither by sword nor slander, lo, this will I do; I will send into their midst wolves in sheep’s clothing; I will inspire divers heretics, carried away by their own lusts, who shall in the midst of the Church promulgate lies and prophesy smooth things in the name of the Lord. And Satan has done all this with a vengeance. In every era of the Church there have been numberless bands of heretics. Now, this is one of the attempts of the enemy to put down the truth; but he will never be able to do it, for “As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about His people from henceforth even for ever.”

4. The craftiest invention of the devil, with which he seeks, in the last place, to put out the Church, is a device which has amazed me above every ether. “Now,” says Satan, “if I can quench the Church, neither by persecution, nor slander, nor heresy, I will invent another mode of destroying her.” And I have often marvelled at the depths of deceit which are centred in this last invention of Satan. Satan seeks to divide the Church, to set us apart from one another, and not allow those who love the same truth to meet with each other and to work together in love, and peace, and harmony. But, despite all this, the Church is secure, for God hath set Himself round about her “even as the mountains,” etc.

II. The fact which relates to the Church includes in it every member of the Church. God has fortressed His people; so that every believer is infallibly secure. The Christian is fortified and secured from all harm. And yet, O child of God, there be many that will seek to destroy thee, and thy fears will often tell thee that thou art in the jaws of the enemy.

1. Providence will often seem against thee, thine eyes shall be seldom dry; it may be funeral shall follow funeral; loss shall follow loss; a burning house shall be succeeded by a blasted crop. The Christian in this world is not secured against the perils which happen to manhood. Oh! child of God, it may seem that all things are against thee; perhaps all God’s waves and billows will go over thee; but, oh I remember, that neither famine, nor hunger, nor poverty, nor sickness, nor weakness, nor contempt, can separate thee from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus thy Lord.

2. Again, you may be tempted by the world; traps may be set for you on every hand, you may be tempted by your flesh; your corruptions may have great power over you, and often stagger your faith, and make you tremble, lest you should be utterly overthrown, and the devil may set upon you with fiery darts; he may pierce you with foul insinuations, he may almost make you blaspheme, and with terrible suggestions he may drive you well-nigh to despair.

3. And thou mayest, too, be overcome by sin. Thou mayest fall. Conscience will whisper, “How couldst thou be a child of God, and yet sin thus?” And Satan will howl in thine ears, “He that sinneth knoweth not God.” And so thou wilt be ready to be destroyed by thy sin. But do thou then, in the hour of thy dark distress, read this verse--“As the mountains,” etc. (C. H. Spurgeon.)


Verse 3

Psalms 125:3

Lest the righteous put forth their hands unto iniquity.

Hands put forth to iniquity

The shepherd would keep his sheep from straggling. His distress is that all in Israel are not true Israelites. Two sorts of people, described by the poet, have ever been in the Church. The second class, instead of being at the trouble to “withstand in the evil day,” will “put forth their hands unto iniquity.” Rather than feel, they will follow the rod of the wicked. They will “turn aside unto their crooked ways,” sooner than risk temporal and material interests. If they do not give themselves fully to the Egyptians or Philistines, Babylonians or Samaritans, they go far in compliance to gain their favour, and sometimes so far as to share in their plunder. Slipping from the King’s highway into the tortuous by-paths of selfishness and compromise, they are without excuse. No sufferings in God’s service are reasons for unfaithfulness and apostasy. His grace makes us able to drink whatever cup His providence administers. He adapts our trials to our strength, and proportions our strength to our trials (1 Corinthians 10:13). The way of escape is never crookedly parleying with false friends, but always direct obedience to the will of God. At the worst, it is death; and then the worst is best. Whatever may happen from the rod of the wicked, it is of the greatest moment to shun the wickedness of their rod. The treacherous and pliable exchange the lot of the righteous for the portion of evil-doers. (E. J. Robinson.)


Verse 4

Psalms 125:4

Do good, O Lord, unto those that be good.
--Two principles may be deduced from this prayer.

1. If you desire good, you must first be good. “Do good, O Lord, unto those that be good.” It is generally understood that if we would do good to others we should first become good ourselves. But it is here stated that human goodness, with all ire imperfections, has an attractive power, and is the best possible condition for obtaining more good. The rule is universal: “Unto every one that hath, it shall be given, and he shall have abundance.” Grace once received, prepares the way for a larger supply. Having tasted and felt that the Lord is gracious, our desires are enlarged, and our capacities for knowing more of the fulness of God are increased in a corresponding degree. The nearer we approach perfection, the higher we would climb. The more conformed we become to the image of God’s Son, the more do we long for a complete transformation, through the Lord, the Spirit.

2. The Divine promises furnish the best encouragement for prayer. The present intercession has its basis in the preceding verses. “They that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be removed.” “The Lord is round about His people from henceforth even for ever.” Nothing can be clearer and more decided than the promise; and will any one assert that prayer is thus rendered unnecessary, if not presumptuous? Shall we say, The promise is made, and God may safely be left to accomplish His own designs? No! The argument runs in the opposite direction. Holy boldness in prayer proceeds upon the principle that God has a sincere desire to bestow the very blessing for which intercession is made. (N. McMichael.)


Verse 5

Psalms 125:5

The Lord shall lead them forth with the workers of iniquity: but peace shall be upon Israel

The time of trial

1.
In the time of trial, there will sundry be found hypocrites, counterfeit dealers, misbelievers, who will shift for themselves, and turn aside from the obedience of faith, by their own crooked courses.

2. God will decipher hypocrites, who do not trust God, or do not adhere to the obedience of faith in time of trouble and trial, and will put them as corn-pliers with the wicked, in the same reckoning with His open enemies.

3. To look upon the judgments of God, pursuing backsliding misbelievers in time of persecution, should be a strong motive to make professors constant in the obedience of faith, on all hazards in time of trial: for the punishment of the wily misbeliever is set down here to teach men to be honest and stout in the faith and obedience of God. 4, Whatsoever trouble the Lord’s people shall be put unto in the time of trial, they shall still remain in God’s favour and grace; and when the Lord hath purged His Church in some measure, by winnowing corrupt hypocrites out from among His people, the Church shall be restored to her peace. (D. Dickson.)

Peace shall be upon Israel.--

The peace of God’s people

Theirs is a peace which the world can neither give nor take away. Tumult there may be without, but there is tranquillity within; and probably not the less so because there is tumult without. The music in a room does not fall with less pleasure on the ear, and less move the soul with its wondrous harmonies, because at times, during a pause, you hear the wind raging outside, and the rain rattling against the windowpanes. What can disturb him upon whom the Divine countenance is shining, and who pillows his head on the bosom of Jesus! If there be wars and rumours of wars in the world, it is not the fault of the Christian. He has been at the foot of the Cross, and he has learned there, that he who loves God must love his brother also. “Receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved,” he has no apprehensions as to its stability. He has no feeling except of pity to the poor victims, who are involved in fields of slaughter, in the shakings of nations, and the revolutions of empires. Their roots shall be as rottenness, and their blossoms shall go up as dust, who would dim the starry brightness of the Redeemer’s glory, and keep back the world’s regeneration. Peace shall be his at death. The Christian knows in whom he has believed. No unknown Redeemer stands beside his bed. No unknown hands are thrown around him. And there shall be peace in heaven. No jarring discords are there; but the delightful anthems of gratitude, which burst almost unconsciously from the hearts of the redeemed. How pleasant the murmurs of the crystal river of life, which glides so gently between its green banks! How softly the wind breathes, as it stirs the branches of the tree of life, distilling odorous dews! How sublime the repose of that magnificent city of our God! (N. McMichael.)
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Psalms 126:1-6

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Psalms 125:4". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/psalms-125.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, December 9th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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