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Bible Commentaries

The Biblical Illustrator
Psalms 72

 

 

Verses 1-20

Psalms 72:1-20

Give the king Thy judgments, O God, and Thy righteousness unto the king’s son.

The world-wanted king

Society cannot exist without laws: these laws require to be expressed and enforced, and whoever does this is ruler. Again, whilst the millions have the instinct of obedience, and lack the faculty to rule, there are always some, on the other hand, in whom there is the tendency and the power to govern. Let us look at the reign of this ideal king as here sketched.

I. It is characterized by righteousness and compassion (Psalms 72:1-4). This compassion, this tender, practical sympathy for the woes of the indigent and oppressed, is not something opposed to righteousness. It is but a modification of righteousness, or rather, another phase of righteousness. Justice is but love sternly opposing all that is injurious to the universe, and benevolently encouraging all that is promotive of happiness. Justice is like some Alpine hill, when the sun is descending in the West” on one side it is dark, frowning, terrific, on the other side it glows in brightness, disports in beauty. This compassion, this mercy, “becomes the throned monarch better than his crown.”

II. It is characterized by the highest national blessings (Psalms 72:3; Psalms 72:7).

1. General peace. The prevalence of universal good-will is essential to universal peace. Men not seeking their own as the grand end, but seeking the good of each other.

2. Spiritual vitality.

3. The prosperity of the righteous. Men will be considered great, useful, and honourable in proportion to the amount of rectitude that lives in their hearts and comes out in their daily life.

III. It is characterized by its moral command over all peoples (Psalms 72:9-11). Moral worth is always mighty; like the sun, no man can ignore it, no man can disregard its influence, or deny its value. But moral worth in a king is especially mighty, it is seen, and wherever seen is felt. Moral worth is moral sovereignty.

IV. It is characterized by its expansibility and duration (Psalms 72:8; Psalms 72:16-17). The language does not mean that the king himself is to live and reign for ever, but that his name, his moral character, will be held in everlasting remembrance and will work on the earth for good as long as the sun and moon shall last.

V. It is characterized by its Divine establishment (Psalms 72:18-19). For such a king as this the mighty Sovereign of the universe deserves the devoutest praises of men. He alone can form the character of such a king. (Homilist.)

Messiah’s reign

I. Characteristics.

1. Righteousness (Psalms 72:2). (Isaiah 11:1-5; Isaiah 32:1; Isaiah 32:17). Not till He comes whose right it is to reign will there be on earth a king whose judgments shall be based on an absolute knowledge of men, independent of the sensual judgment of sight and hearing. Then, and then only, will the people have righteousness meted out to them; then only will the poor be perfectly defended from the oppression of the rich.

2. Strength (Revelation 12:10). In the day of Christ’s reign oppression shall not only come to an end, but the saints shall inherit the kingdom and the oppressor shall be cast out of power.

3. Gentleness (Psalms 72:6). Not with the sword does Christ win His kingdom, nor by such means will He execute righteousness in the deliverance of His poor and in the breaking of the tyrant’s power, but by the almighty strength of truth itself.

4. Peace and prosperity (Psalms 72:8; Psalms 72:10; Psalms 72:16). This can only indicate an abundance of every supply, both for the people in country and city, and for all purposes of state and kingdom.

II. Extent.

1. Duration. An everlasting reign (Psalms 72:15; Psalms 72:17). His Kingship, as well as His Priesthood, is in the power of an endless life (Psalms 21:4; Psalms 61:6-7).

2. Subjects. Not only of all nations, but of every class of men in all nations.

3. Territory (Psalms 72:8). What a heaven this earth will be with the curse removed, all wickedness and evil taken out of the hearts and lives of all people; waters shall break out in the desert, and the very beasts of the field and the forest shall rest at peace each side with the others.

III. Universal adoration.

1. Prayer. “Prayer shall be made to Him continually.” Every want shall be presented to Him, in the spirit of constant and humble, yet confident supplication, and no good thing will be witheld from those who pray.

2. Praise. “And daily shall He be praised.” Eternity will not be too long wherein to praise Him who shall have delivered our souls from death, from the deceit and oppression of the wicked, especially from the power of our great enemy, the devil; to praise Him for the unspeakable blessings of forgiveness, justification, regeneration, sanctification.

3. Gifts. “To Him shall be given the gold of Sheba.” The people will themselves be a free-will offering to their Lord and King; all that they are and have shall be laid at His feet as being worth nothing apart from Him and His blessing. Who shall say that in the age of glory there shall not be vast fields and unknown opportunities for the employment of all the redeemed and sanctified powers of man? (G. F. Pentecost, D. D.)

Jesus both King and King’s Son

“The king--the king’s son.” We see that our Lord is here termed both “king” and “the king’s son”; both as respect to His human nature and also as to His Divine origin; for the Father of the universe may, of course, be properly denominated King. Agreeably to this designation we find on Turkish coins the inscription, “Sultan, son of Sultan.” (George Phillips.)


Verses 1-20

Psalms 72:1-20

Give the king Thy judgments, O God, and Thy righteousness unto the king’s son.

The world-wanted king

Society cannot exist without laws: these laws require to be expressed and enforced, and whoever does this is ruler. Again, whilst the millions have the instinct of obedience, and lack the faculty to rule, there are always some, on the other hand, in whom there is the tendency and the power to govern. Let us look at the reign of this ideal king as here sketched.

I. It is characterized by righteousness and compassion (Psalms 72:1-4). This compassion, this tender, practical sympathy for the woes of the indigent and oppressed, is not something opposed to righteousness. It is but a modification of righteousness, or rather, another phase of righteousness. Justice is but love sternly opposing all that is injurious to the universe, and benevolently encouraging all that is promotive of happiness. Justice is like some Alpine hill, when the sun is descending in the West” on one side it is dark, frowning, terrific, on the other side it glows in brightness, disports in beauty. This compassion, this mercy, “becomes the throned monarch better than his crown.”

II. It is characterized by the highest national blessings (Psalms 72:3; Psalms 72:7).

1. General peace. The prevalence of universal good-will is essential to universal peace. Men not seeking their own as the grand end, but seeking the good of each other.

2. Spiritual vitality.

3. The prosperity of the righteous. Men will be considered great, useful, and honourable in proportion to the amount of rectitude that lives in their hearts and comes out in their daily life.

III. It is characterized by its moral command over all peoples (Psalms 72:9-11). Moral worth is always mighty; like the sun, no man can ignore it, no man can disregard its influence, or deny its value. But moral worth in a king is especially mighty, it is seen, and wherever seen is felt. Moral worth is moral sovereignty.

IV. It is characterized by its expansibility and duration (Psalms 72:8; Psalms 72:16-17). The language does not mean that the king himself is to live and reign for ever, but that his name, his moral character, will be held in everlasting remembrance and will work on the earth for good as long as the sun and moon shall last.

V. It is characterized by its Divine establishment (Psalms 72:18-19). For such a king as this the mighty Sovereign of the universe deserves the devoutest praises of men. He alone can form the character of such a king. (Homilist.)

Messiah’s reign

I. Characteristics.

1. Righteousness (Psalms 72:2). (Isaiah 11:1-5; Isaiah 32:1; Isaiah 32:17). Not till He comes whose right it is to reign will there be on earth a king whose judgments shall be based on an absolute knowledge of men, independent of the sensual judgment of sight and hearing. Then, and then only, will the people have righteousness meted out to them; then only will the poor be perfectly defended from the oppression of the rich.

2. Strength (Revelation 12:10). In the day of Christ’s reign oppression shall not only come to an end, but the saints shall inherit the kingdom and the oppressor shall be cast out of power.

3. Gentleness (Psalms 72:6). Not with the sword does Christ win His kingdom, nor by such means will He execute righteousness in the deliverance of His poor and in the breaking of the tyrant’s power, but by the almighty strength of truth itself.

4. Peace and prosperity (Psalms 72:8; Psalms 72:10; Psalms 72:16). This can only indicate an abundance of every supply, both for the people in country and city, and for all purposes of state and kingdom.

II. Extent.

1. Duration. An everlasting reign (Psalms 72:15; Psalms 72:17). His Kingship, as well as His Priesthood, is in the power of an endless life (Psalms 21:4; Psalms 61:6-7).

2. Subjects. Not only of all nations, but of every class of men in all nations.

3. Territory (Psalms 72:8). What a heaven this earth will be with the curse removed, all wickedness and evil taken out of the hearts and lives of all people; waters shall break out in the desert, and the very beasts of the field and the forest shall rest at peace each side with the others.

III. Universal adoration.

1. Prayer. “Prayer shall be made to Him continually.” Every want shall be presented to Him, in the spirit of constant and humble, yet confident supplication, and no good thing will be witheld from those who pray.

2. Praise. “And daily shall He be praised.” Eternity will not be too long wherein to praise Him who shall have delivered our souls from death, from the deceit and oppression of the wicked, especially from the power of our great enemy, the devil; to praise Him for the unspeakable blessings of forgiveness, justification, regeneration, sanctification.

3. Gifts. “To Him shall be given the gold of Sheba.” The people will themselves be a free-will offering to their Lord and King; all that they are and have shall be laid at His feet as being worth nothing apart from Him and His blessing. Who shall say that in the age of glory there shall not be vast fields and unknown opportunities for the employment of all the redeemed and sanctified powers of man? (G. F. Pentecost, D. D.)

Jesus both King and King’s Son

“The king--the king’s son.” We see that our Lord is here termed both “king” and “the king’s son”; both as respect to His human nature and also as to His Divine origin; for the Father of the universe may, of course, be properly denominated King. Agreeably to this designation we find on Turkish coins the inscription, “Sultan, son of Sultan.” (George Phillips.)


Verse 3

Psalms 72:3

The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness.

Mountain peace

Sympathy between the moral and physical worlds pervades the whole of Scripture and especially this seventy-second psalm. The beauty of the redeemed soul will be reflected, as it was at the first, in the beauty of a regenerated earth. Man will be then like another Adam in another Eden. Through the righteous rule of the new King of Israel, the physical features of the land of promise are pictured as contributing to the tranquillity and happiness of its people. Mountains in olden times were associated with gloom and terror. Imagination saw in them shapes of evil, and they seemed to belong to an alien, accursed land. Scenes of grandeur which the traveller will traverse half the globe to gaze upon with rapture were of old avoided altogether, or passed quickly through with shuddering dread. But we do not feel so now. The causes of this are varied. Increase of population, facility for travel, the pressure of crowded city life making us long for the quiet and grandeur of nature, increase of knowledge, etc. Now, in our text the security which mountains give is mainly referred to. Hence we learn--

I. The peace which they give is the peace of safety. In the plains man is exposed to attack on all sides, but amongst the mountains nature is his defence. See the Waldenses, Covenanters, Jews. For Palestine is an alpine land; hence in Babylon the exiles thought of their mountains as they sang, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.”

II. And of elevation. It is in the heights of the soul that we can get true and lasting peace. On the low levels of sense life we are as was he who went down to Jericho--stripped and wounded by the evils of life. Man’s moral career has run parallel with his physical. He descended from the mountain ranges of Asia to her level plains, and to Egypt; and so has it been spiritually. But we cannot be satisfied there. We must ascend again, cost what it will. Then we regain peace to our souls. If the strain of the ascent be great, so is the peace likewise. For on the height we are above the changes of this world. The soul that dwells ever on high has perpetual sunshine.

III. And it is the peace of compensation. The heavens come near and expand as the earth recedes and lessens. The men who saw most of heaven were they who possessed the least of earth. See Moses.

IV. Unification. From the mountain top we see the whole landscape, not merely isolated portions. And so to ascend into the hill of the Lord is to see our life as a whole, and how parts of it that have distressed us belong to the goodly whole.

V. Isolation. Mountains are as retreats from the fevered conventional life of cities. We can be alone with God, as in the secret chamber. So has it been wit, h all God’s great saints, they ascended often where the noisy echoes of the world did not penetrate, and where only the still small voices of the sanctuary were heard. As we rise in spiritual life, the more lonely do we become. Our citizenship is in heaven. (Hugh Macmillan, D. D.)

The use of great men

The king is as a mountain. It is the meaning and the vindication of all greatness--of position, intellect, or character--that the great should live for the humble.

I. The use of great men. Consider the uses of mountains. Besides their value as the bulwarks of a country, their services in kindling patriotism and educating feeling, they have very homely uses. They catch for us the sunshine, at once radiating and tempering the light and heat; the dews of heaven rest on them; underneath their mosses the rain lingers, filling the springs, trickling in runlets that supply the rivers; they bear the snows that all through the early summer refresh the heated land, and when autumn comes they precipitate the thunder showers and draw the passing wealth of storms; they bear the fury of the tempest, and shield the valleys from hurricane and hail; the lightning smites them harmless, which else might shiver homesteads and destroy the beasts; their waste supplies the lack of the lowlands; rich vegetable soil is washed from them over the hungry fields; the sands which descend from them bank in the rivers; of their stones the husbandman makes his fences, and from their forests he makes his tools. Mighty mountains--useful as mighty, benignant as strong; useful because so mighty, peaceful because so strong. I am not going to draw out these analogies at length, though every one of them is capable of copious exposition; t would simply say we need great men. There are many things the world wants done which only a few can do. We rest under the shadow of a truly great man as shepherds underneath a friendly mountain. If great men will only help the lowly, they may be sure of trusting friends. The strong is sure to be followed by the weaker. We want the tender to soothe troubled hearts; the saint to help us with his prayers. Both in their privileges and their trials great men are not inaptly symbolized by mountains. It is not that God does not care for the lowly; it is not that, like the blossoms on a fruit tree, only a few are reserved for ripening, and it matters not what becomes of the rest. God has not given the many to the few. He has given the few to and for the many. And if a great man does not care to learn the lesson, he is great no longer. There is no enduring greatness save in righteousness. But if it is idle to deny the advantages of greatness, it is unthankful to forget its trials. Freedom from meaner cares means exposure to strong temptations. The wind sweeps round the mountain top when the valley below is still; and humbler souls know nothing of the struggles that shake the lofty. Two distinct elements of character must meet in every one who shall be great with this protecting, helping greatness--courage of Soul enough to bear the tribulation--graciousness of character enough to count their anguish light, and remember it no more in readiness to be made helpful. Many a sour man is a great man marred in the making; the truly great must have not only ready courage and triumphant patience, they must have also unfaltering faith, unchanging love.

II. The sources of greatness in a man. They are two--righteousness and tenderness. The office of a judge is here set before us as the noblest human office; protective justice is the thing which makes a man like the great mountains (A. Mackennal, D. D.)

Peace by power

This an unusual view of the conditions of peace. We expect impressions of tranquillity in the lowlier, not the loftier places of a landscape. The doctrine of the text is, that the quiet of the human soul is to be found not in descending to its lower and feebler states, but in the freedom of its highest qualities, and through its stronger exercises; or, that Christian peace is an attainment of the spiritual energies, and not a mere acquiescence in inferiority. See the Saviour’s promise, “My peace I give unto you.” But how did He obtain this peace? Was it not by way of the Cross? Power of character is before happiness. We are to be suspicious of effeminate contentments. Look again at the image of our text. The three obvious attributes of mountains are elevation, magnitude, permanency. Now, in just such attributes of human character are we to find real peace. Spiritual serenity is spiritual strength. The most intrepid are the most pacific. Magnanimity makes no quarrels. (F. D. Huntington, D. D.)

Peace on the mountain

The reason for choosing the mountain for prayer is poetic, but it is more than poetic, it is also practical. There one can be alone and quite still; the sights and sounds of earth are far down below in the valley. And as one is quite still one gets closer to God. Instinctively we think of our heavenly Father as in the sky above us; and so far as we may we approach His kingdom more closely by getting up into the mountain. This you may say is simply poetic, imaginative, but it has a spiritual aspect too, inasmuch as the lifting up of the nature in spirit to heavenly things disposes it to pray with greater realization of the Divine presence, and less of distraction from earthly anxieties. It suggests a beautiful thought that our Lord should thus choose the most retired and ideal spots for His prayers. Because He needed no accessories of this kind. He could without difficulty withdraw Himself from the sights and sounds of earth which would be distracting to others. His devotions could not really be hindered by these things; yet inasmuch as He had taken upon Him the form of a servant, He willed to use all the helps to spiritual living which the Father has provided for His servants. It is the mountain considered as the place of prayer, which is to bring us peace in this world. The outer life is not likely to be peaceful, so far as temporal conditions are concerned. The sphere of human existence is almost invariably a troubled one. The peace is to be found within. And how can one secure it for himself? I know of no way except that of prayer. The thought of the mountains may suggest to us characteristics of genuine prayer, too little accented by us generally. The heart must be still to speak with God, all alone with Him, and pervaded with a sense of the nearness and the solemnity of His presence. When we pray after this sort the peace of God steals gradually over one’s whole nature. The tribulations of life do not vanish, the anxieties are still there, but in the transfiguring light of the sense of the Divine nearness they no longer seem unbearable, no longer hopeless. If one really can feel that God cares, and is watching over him, he cannot be greatly disturbed by anything which happens in this present world. No evil spirit or wicked man, no blow of fate can take God from him or him from God, and one needs no more than that. Prayer rightly used throws all about this common weary life of ours a heavenly atmosphere, a halo of the eternal love and goodness. Everything in that celestial haze assumes its true relation to the immortal creature; the temporal things become the dreams, the illusions of a moment; the eternal things are the verities, and in them nought dwells but peace. (Arthur Ritchie.)


Verse 4

Psalms 72:4

He shall judge the poor of the people, He shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor.

On the education of the children of the poor

I. Look to the present situation of the children of the needy, and compassion will urge you to befriend them. Look especially to the moral disadvantages and trials to which it subjects them; and you will think it little to relieve their bodily wants, while you leave the mind and the soul in bondage.

II. Consider the destiny which awaits these children of the needy;--and the relief which before was prompted by compassion, will be felt as the dictate of imperious duty.

1. Let not the prosperous man despise the children of the needy. They in many ways minister towards the supply of his wants. Their labour furnishes the indulgence of his luxury. Their courage defends the interests of his country. They reside, perhaps, under his own roof. His property must be under their charge. His reputation must be in their keeping.

2. The children of the needy are destined for immortality. As surely as the lineaments of the human countenance are found in them, so surely may be found in them also the traces of a mind which thinks, not only for time but for eternity;--the traces of a soul which feels, not only for time but for eternity. (A. Brunton, D. D.)

God’s care for the poor

God represents Himself to us as having a peculiar and tender care of the poor. It is not the robust, but delicate, child of the family around whom a father’s and mother’s affections cluster thickest. The boy or girl whom feebleness of body or mind makes least fit to bear the world’s rough usage, and most dependent on others’ kindness, is like those tendrils that, winding themselves around the tree they spangle with flowers, bind it more closely in their embraces, and bury their pliant arms deep in its bark. And what a blessed and beautiful arrangement of Providence it is that they who cost most care and lie with greatest weight on parents’ arms and hearts are commonly most loved. (J. Guthrie, D. D.)


Verse 5

Psalms 72:5

They shall fear Thee as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations.

The perpetuity and imperishable nature of the religion of Christ

The grand doctrine brought before us in these words is the perpetuity of the Church of Christ upon the earth; or the imperishable and indestructible character of His religion. We conceive that the same doctrine that is taught in this text is taught in such passages of Scripture as the following: “The gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church--one generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts--of the increase of the government of the Messiah there shall be no end; my salvation shall be from generation to generation.” And notwithstanding all the vicissitudes of the Church of Christ, that Church has been preserved through them all. In the reign of Solomon the Church in Israel seemed likely that men would always fear the Lord. But we know what apostasy began in his reign, and went on with scarcely an interruption till the days of the captivity. And then from the time of our Lord there have been seasons of decay, but revival has ever followed. All attempts to efface Christianity have failed, numerous, varied, and severe though they have been. We conclude, therefore, that the Church can never perish so long as time shall endure. (James Smith, M. A.)

The perpetuity and beneficence of Christ’s reign

Like the treacherous signal-boats that are sometimes stationed by the wreckers off an iron-bound coast, the shifting systems of false religion are continually changing their places. Like them, they attract only to bewilder, and allure only to destroy. The unwary mariner follows them with a trembling uncertainty, and only finds out where he is when he feels his ill-fated vessel crashing into a thousand fragments on the beach. But how different to these floating and delusive systems is that unchanging Gospel of Christ, which stands forth like the towering lighthouse of Eddystone, with its beacon blaze streaming far out over the midnight sea. It moves not, it trembles not, for it is founded upon a rock. Year by year the storm-stricken mariner looks out for its star-like light as he sweeps in through the British Channel. It is the first object that meets his eye as he returns on his homeward voyage; it is the last he beholds long after his native land has sunk beneath the evening wave. So is it with the unchanging Gospel of Christ. While other systems rise and fall, and pass into nothingness, this Gospel, like its immutable Author, is the same “yesterday, to-day, and for ever.” While other false and flashing lights are extinguished, this, the true light, ever shineth. (T. L. Cuyler, D. D.)

Christ’s perpetuity

Leslie Stephen says, “It takes a very powerful voice and a very clear utterance to make a man audible to the fourth generation.” That is very true, yet there is quite a galaxy of men who have spoken the clear utterance with a powerful voice, and have been heard through many centuries; but there is but one man, the man Christ Jesus, concerning whom it could be said, “They shall fear Thee as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations.”


Verse 6

Psalms 72:6

He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass; as showers that water the earth.

Rain upon the mown grass

Some men say that Christianity is not genial, that the Christian scheme exhibits God in a most unlovely aspect, that the doctrines of Christ are dark with awful mysteries, that the promises of the Christian dispensation offer but little of present benefit, that its precepts demand conduct which is too high and self-sacrificing, that its ordinances are depressing rather than elevating, and that, as a whole, Christianity promotes narrow minds and feeble judgment, morbid and morose feelings, an enslaved will, a too sensitive conscience, an unmanly bearing, and a character which is intellectually low, and unsocial, and melancholy. This charge against the religion of Jesus Christ is most unjust, and cannot be maintained; it rests not upon truth, but upon prejudice. The Gospel is a device to seek and save the lost: not to judge but to justify, not to scathe and waste, but to sanctify and save. And it is a Divine device, planned and carried out by God our Father. We see love going after the lost. Now, if this be the Christian scheme; if it be a plan of redemption designed by the grace of God, and if it be executed, so far as its general provisions are concerned, by the Son of God, and if it be revealed and applied by the Holy Ghost the Comforter; if its morality be based upon love, and if it be spread by moral and spiritual forces; if it is received by faith, if it give not the spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind; if it bring good out of evil, and be consummated in the restoration of God’s image to man, and of all saved men to the paradise regained; if it bring knowledge, and wisdom, and pardon, and purity, and patience, and love, and victory, and life; then we ask, Can this scheme be other than genial, and ought not its effect upon its disciples to be the nourishing within them of all goodness, and the production of genuine and habitual cheerfulness? Not genial? Then there is nothing genial. Soft morning light is not genial. Balmy evening air is not genial. Gentle and warm rain is not genial. Spring sunshine is not genial. The mother’s bosom is not genial. There is nothing genial on this earth. I had almost said, there can be nothing genial in heaven. (S. Martin, D. D.)

Rain upon the mown grass

The psalm tells of One greater than Solomon--Christ. These words teach that God will see to it that, by some means, Christ shall be made known to all mankind.

I. Christ is of unspeakable value to men. Language is inadequate to set this preciousness forth. Our present estimate is low and feeble, even in our holiest moments. But it is a happy thing when an author illustrates his own book. Now, God has done this. Nature illustrates Grace: that is, God illustrates God; for in nature we have the best resemblances to God’s dealings in the kingdom of His Son. As the sleeping, frozen earth needs, in order to make up to beauty and fruitfulness, the sun and the rain, so the soul of man needs Christ. For what is the human spirit without the Saviour? A clod of earth hardened into stone. See the condition of those peoples who know not Christ. And remember, Christ does not merely prevent our dying: He comes with a blessed quickening upon the human spirit. The simile of the text fails, for the rain does not give life, but only quickens seeds already in the earth. But Christ acts upon the latent powers of the mind, wakes up all its faculties, makes the man worthy to be called a child of God. When Christ comes to us we become conscious of a new life.

II. And as the rain comes so does Christ come. When God gave Christ to man it was a question how He should bring Him home to human hearts. And it is a problem which ought to stir all Christian people, how to make Christ known to men. But here again nature helps us. What a beautiful paradise God has constructed, “watering the hills from His chambers.” There is the great ocean I more than three-fourths of the world’s surface is water. But in vain would that water lie all round the land and lave its shores. All vegetation would die if the water lay there; and so the great God has set in operation a wonderful mechanism. The sun daily, hourly, every moment, draws that water up into the air by evaporation; currents created by the sun float that vapour thousands of miles inland; and then the alternating strata of warm and cold air effects its condensation, and all over the earth it falls wherever it is needed, and waters the earth. The icy mountain peaks amongst the Alps are continual cloud factories. The invisible vapour rising one side of the mountain is condensed by the cold air of the summit, and formed into a cloud. It is ever producing clouds and sending them away over the land. And how seasonably the rain comes, and silently and freely. So Christ comes to men. (L. Hebditch.)

Rain upon the mown grass

No more tender and beautiful image than this can be found in the whole range of sacred poetry. It is full of precious significance The memories and associations which it suggests are very sweet. We all know the summer harvest of the hay-makers, whose pleasant toils seem to anticipate those of the autumn harvest of the corn. How different is the aspect of the hay-field before the grass is cut, and after it is mown and the hay removed! A meadow covered from end to end with tall ripe grass crowned with rich dark-purple heads of blossom and seed, and rippling in light and shadow like the waves of the sea, as the sun and the wind chase each other over them, is one of the most beautiful of rural sights. Myriads of wild flowers add the glory of their colour and the fragrance of their perfume to the blades of grass among which they grow. The eye is never weary of gazing upon the bright and living mosaic. But how different the aspect when the scythe has done its work. All the beauty has vanished; the fragrance that loaded the air is gone, and nothing remains but the stubble, a short, pale, sickly-yellow sward, without grace of form, beauty or colour. And this desolation of aspect is greatly aggravated during a season of drought, when the sky is as brass, and, the earth is as iron, and the pitiless sun scorches the field. But how striking the change when a shower of rain comes; if it continues, what a healing process goes on, until at last an aftermath is formed which may be even more luxuriant than was the field in its first fresh strong growth. The rain upon the mown grass is thus the harbinger of new beauties and of a richer fragrance and fulness of life. And this is especially so in the arid soil and climate of Bible lands. The grass there, when cut, seems to dry up completely, and a brown naked waste remains. But when the rain comes it seems to spring up as if by magic, and renews with wonderful rapidity its former freshness and fairness (Deuteronomy 32:2; 2 Samuel 23:4). Now, notwithstanding the title, the internal evidence of the psalm points to a far later date, when the Jewish kingdom was reduced to the lowest straits; when the nation was like the mown grass, shorn of their power and glory, blighted, withered and trampled under foot. But in this condition they looked for the advent of a new King who should restore them, and be to them like “rain upon the mown grass.” Thus, against the dark background of Jewish calamities arose the bright vision of the Messiah. But the Jews were the representatives of the human race, and therefore the image has a wider application. Through the fall all flesh became grass and his glory as the flower of the field. Everything became adverse to him who was afflicted with the great adversity of sin. But to man thus ruined the Lord Jesus Christ came to save him from his sin. How tender was the dealing of God with man. Like as He came to Adam and Eve after they had sinned, “in the cool of the day”--not suddenly, hastily, or angrily. And though His voice was stern there was a tone of tenderness and pity in it. And a higher life for man, a richer glory for God, is to be the aftermath which shall spring up in the wilderness through the rain of God’s grace to sinners. And throughout the whole course of our Lord’s life on earth, how wonderfully does He manifest the gentleness and tenderness of God. His works were these of healing and restoration, and are so still. And let the sufferer take the comfort of the text. How bare, scorched, shorn, many a life appears; all beauty, fragrance gone. But though He has mown down so much that we rejoiced in, His purpose is the aftermath which shall be more precious still. The rain of His grace comes down upon the poor, bruised, broken life, and the affliction that is not joyous but grievous afterwards yieldeth the peaceable fruits of righteousness. (Hugh Macmillan, D. D.)

Rain on the mown grass

The text presents to us--

I. A scene where only genial and quiet influences are at work. The gentle showers water the earth. God does not rend the heavens and come down. Nor does He come in the storm; but in all gentleness.

II. A scene of transformation. See the changes of spring. So in the Church God gives revivals.

III. A scene of fertility. Life is seen in its gentleness, strength, beauty and fragrance.

IV. Of revival.

V. Renovation. Life with some of you seems bare and desolate, shorn of its glory; still its autumn may be green, and the rain may weave new garlands for the brow of age. Your circumstances are changed. Your health is gone; or your property is lost. The fleece of life has been removed, so that it is stripped and bare of its covering; but, He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass. You have had bereavements. The widow says, I have lost my husband, and am desolate and alone in the world. The mother says, I have lost my child, and “my heart is smitten and withered like grass.” The friend says, I have lost my companion, and henceforth my life is divested of interest. But He will come down like rain upon the mown grass. You think your heart is bare and burnt up as the field. The mower has come into your enclosure, and life has fallen before him; but God can pour out on you all quiet and blessed influences, and put new beauty upon life. (H. Bevis.)

The blessings of Christ’s reign

The Holy Spirit has chosen to set forth these by an instructive and beautiful simile. Divine grace resembles the rain.

I. As to the source whence it proceeds. Rain is the gift of God: a promised blessing, and its needed and seasonable showers may be sought by prayer.

II. As to the manner in which it descends.

1. Sometimes violently, it falls in torrents.

2. Sometimes gently.

3. Frequently.

4. Unexpectedly.

III. As to the benefits which it confers.

1. It presents great evils.

2. It makes the labour of the husbandman easy and successful.

3. Causes plentifulness, and--

4. Beauty.

IV. Conclusion.

1. Acknowledge with deep humility our great need of the Spirit.

2. Honour and study the Word of God as the instrument by which the Spirit delights to work out our salvation. (Anon.)

On the Nativity

I. Consider the incarnation of the Son of God as a descent or coming down.

II. The manner of this descent. It was “sweet and peaceable, without trouble, without noise, scarcely to be perceived”; not in the strong wind, to rend us to pieces; not in the earthquake, to shake us; not in the fire, to consume us; but in “a still and small voice” (1 Kings 19:11-12): not as thunder, to make a noise; not as hail, to rattle on the housetops; not as the blast and mildew, to wither us; but as the “rain “falling “sweetly on the grass,” or “on a fleece of wool,” and “as the showers which water the earth,” and make it fruitful.

III. Observe the effect which this descent produceth, or the fruit which springs up upon the fall of this gracious rain.

1. Righteousness springs up, and spreads herself: Justus florebit; so some render it: “The righteous shall flourish.”

2. After righteousness peace shows itself, even “abundance of peace.”

3. Thirdly, both these are not “herbs which spring up and wither in one day,” but which will be green and flourish “so long as the moon endureth,” which is everlastingly.

IV. Observe--

1. The relation which is between these two, righteousness and peace. Where there is righteousness, there is peace; and where there is peace, there is righteousness.

2. The order: righteousness first, and then “abundance of peace.” Take them all three, and you shall find a kind of subordination betwixt them; for no peace without righteousness, no righteousness without this rain; but if the Son of God “come down like rain,” straight righteousness appears on the earth; and upon the same watering, and from the same root, shoots forth “abundance of peace,” and both “so long as the moon endureth.” (A. Farindon, B. D.)

The geniality and beneficence of Christianity

We descendants of the Puritans are in great danger of exhibiting Christianity in an ungenial aspect. We are children of witnesses who prophesied in sackcloth, and there is special danger of our making the sackcloth an essential part of the testimony. In days of persecution, Christ calls His followers to wear sackcloth, but their common raiment is to be a robe rich in its fabric, and pleasant in its colour, and beautiful in form. To be really genial we must maintain personal intercourse with Christ by the aid of the Holy Ghost. We must often speak to Him, and more often listen to Him. We must constantly be looking unto Him. Then shall we receive and reflect the bright beams of His grace, and by our whole demeanour win souls to our Saviour. To be right and true and strong is our first duty; to be attractive and cheerful and genial is our next duty; and “I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me.” (Samuel Martin.)


Verse 9

Psalms 72:9

His enemies shall lick the dust.

The enemies of Christ subdued

I. Who are the enemies of Christ?

1. Those who maintain sentiments contrary to the Gospel of Christ.

2. Those who endeavour to subvert His influence over His people’s hearts.

3. Those who refuse submission to His Gospel.

II. What will be the result of the conflict?

1. Over some He will triumph by His grace.

2. But those who reject all His overtures of mercy “He will break in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

III. What assurance we have that such shall be the issue of the conflict.

1. His own resistless power.

2. His unimpeachable veracity. (Evangelical Preacher.)


Verse 12

Psalms 72:12

For He shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also and him that hath no helper.

The poor man’s friend

I. The special objects of grace.

1. They are needy. This we all are, all our life long, for body and for soul. But God’s peculiar people feel their spiritual need as others do not. They are full of needs. Once they thought they had need of nothing, but they do not think so now.

2. They are poor: “the poor also.” A man might be needy, and yet be able to supply his own need, so far as temporal things are concerned. But in things spiritual we are not only needy, but poor also.

3. They have no helper. Now, until God enlightens us, we seem to have a great many helpers. Priests, ministers, parents, preachers and many earthly things. But we have done with all such help now; we have found them all broken reeds. We felt this at our conversion, and we feel it now when we would advance in grace; and we feel it also when Satan tempts us, and in our trials and sorrows. But the Lord has not cast us off, for “He shall deliver the needy,” etc. Now, why does God select these for His favour? Partly because He is a Sovereign, and chooseth whom He will; then, they are the most willing to accept it; and they will never set themselves up in rivalry with Christ; they are glad to be saved in God’s way; the Lord finds in them warm friends. If the Lord were to save the Pharisees, they would hardly say, “Thank you,” they are so good themselves. But these poor and needy ones, they feel like that good old woman who said, that if ever the Lord saved her, He should never hear the last of it. They will praise and bless God with their whole soul.

II. The special blessing which the Great King has stored up for these people.

1. They shall be judged with judgment--they are often judged now with harshness. The Lord will right them.

2. Saved from oppression.

3. Deliverance shall be theirs, and--

4. He shall redeem their souls.

III. The special season when all this shall be true. “When he crieth,” when the needy cry unto Him. A cry is more than an ordinary prayer. We cry unto God when it gets so with us that we must have His grace, and our heart breaks for it when we will not let Him go unless He blesses, then deliverance is not far off. Oh, to feel our need, to know our utter poverty and helplessness, then shall we cry unto God, and He will save us. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

The cry of the needy heard and answered

A French tourist relates that some time ago he set out to cross St. Bernard’s Pass by himself, and got caught in the fog near the top. He sat on a rock and waited for one of the dogs to come and attend to him, but in vain, and when the fog cleared away he managed to reach the Hospice. On arrival he observed that he thought the dog a rather overrated animal. “There I was,” he said, “for at least six hours, and not one came near me.” “But why,” exclaimed one of the monks, “did you not ring us up on the telephone?” To the astonished tourist it was explained that the whole of the pass is provided with shelters at short distances from each other, all in direct telephonic communication with the Hospice. When the bell rings the monks send off a hound loaded with bread and wine and other comforts. The dog on duty is told what number has rung, and he goes straight to that shelter. This system saves the hounds their old duty of patrolling the pass on the chance of a stray traveller being found, and as the pass is for about eight months of the year under snow, this entailed very hard and often fruitless labour. There are many people in need of spiritual help who have not yet realized that there is One who will hear and answer directly the troubled soul cries to Him for aid.


Verse 15

Psalms 72:15

And He shall live, and to Him shall be given of the gold of Sheba.

The greatness of the Redeemer’s life

I. The greatness of His life is seen in the magnitude of its influence.

1. It is co-extensive with creation. Christ is to be the centre of universal attraction. Analogy, the greatness of the agencies employed, and the Word of God warrant the conclusion.

2. It is an abiding influence. “His name shall endure,” etc. Men, emperors, come and go like baubles upon the stream; but Christ lives for ever! Time destroys not His power, but unfolds it. “He reigneth king for ever.”

3. It is a blissful influence. “And men shall be blessed in Him.” A worm may make many miserable; but it requires a God-like nature to enhance the happiness of one soul. The life of Christ fills creation with blessedness. This great Benefactor does this by destroying the sources of misery, and by calling into exercise every fountain of bliss in the soul.

4. It is reflectively glorious. “Daily shall He be praised.” He is the grand object of universal admiration and love.

II. The greatness of His life is developed through means. What are the means?

1. Truth. The Gospel contains the great biography of Jesus, and this is the mighty instrumentality. “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ,” etc.

2. Wealth. “To Him shall be given of the gold of Sheba.” Ye men of wealth, remember that every piece of gold and silver ought to appear to you as if stamped with the image of the Son of God.

3. Prayer.

III. The greatness of His life is experienced in the heavenward direction it gives mankind. He makes men pray to and praise Him. “And daily shall He be praised.”

1. Such persons owe their existence to Christ. “We are His workmanship.”

2. Such persons are the finest specimens of human excellence. The highest types of character have always been found in men of earnest prayer. Abraham, Noah, Job, Daniel, Paul, and Christ all prayed.

3. Such men alone fully give scope to their faculties to honour Him.

IV. The greatness of His life is seen in the realization through eternity of His work on earth.

1. He will live in all that relates to man on earth; in such things as institutions, literature, etc. His name will be emblazoned upon the page of every new work, and His life will be the standard of all institutions.

2. He will live in the affectionate remembrance of a redeemed people.

3. He will live as the expression of all excellence--love, benevolence, truth, justice, authority.

4. He will live as the centre of all attraction to the glorified Church. (J. H. Hill.)

Messiah’s predicted life

We may view the text in a threefold aspect.

1. As a prophecy of the endless life to which our Saviour would be raised. “He shall live.” As “the high priest of our profession,” He was to die. This was the grand purpose of His mission; for it was by dying that He was to “finish the work given Him to do.” But having died, and thereby “put away sin,” and “abolished death,” He would live again, Himself the most satisfying evidence, and the most glorious example, of “the life and immortality He has brought to light by the Gospel.”

2. As a prophecy of the blessedness to which our Saviour would be exalted. “He shall live.” To live in the more common acceptation of it in Scripture, is to enjoy existence, to partake of true felicity, to be blessed. “Your heart shall live for ever” (Psalms 22:26); that is, shall be eternally happy. So, “your heart shall live that seek God” (Psalms 69:32); and, “we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 3:8). In this sense the text is to be understood. Messiah “shall live”: as He would be raised from the dead to die no more, so He would be exalted to boundless and endless blessedness.

3. As a prophecy of the prosperity and the perpetuity of our Saviour’s reign. “He shall live;” and in what character? As Zion’s King. He would not only be raised to an endless life, and exalted to the highest blessedness; but as the King of the Church, His reign would be prosperous and perpetual. The same idea is expressed in parallel prophecies (Isaiah 9:6-7; Jeremiah 23:5-6). (D. Young, D. D.)

Prayer also shall be made for Him continually; and daily shall He be praised.

Prayer for Christ

I. The text is a prediction; reminding us, in the first place, that the Bible is distinguished from every other book, professedly Divine, by the grandeur and the authoritative tone of its promises, and by the multitude and splendour of its predictions. Human philosophy may be said to have had three creeds; which might not improperly be distinguished as the creed of the past, of the present, and of the future. The books of Pagan antiquity sang only of the golden-aged pasta--of scenes of pastoral simplicity and happiness never to return; while, for the future, they could say nothing--their burden was despair. Then came the creed of the present. As early antiquity faded from view, man became prepared for the philosophy of Epicurus--for the optimism which professes to be satisfied with things as they are; and which, instead of aiming at human improvement, acts on the animal maxim, “Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die.” But to this has now generally succeeded the creed of the future--a philosophical belief in the perfectibility of the species--a persuasion that man is, at length, on the high road to perfection. Now, all these voices are but perversions of the great truths of the Bible as to the past, the present, and the glorious future. The Bible is the true prophet of hope.

II. The means by which this prediction is to be fulfilled. It is by prayer. Philosophy may object, but we rely on it as indispensable in the order of means. For prayer is the condition on which God puts forth His power. For with even more clearness than the law of the Divine unchangeableness is revealed, the law that prayer prevails with God is revealed likewise.

III. But not only does the text predict a change, and represent prayer as a means of realizing that change; it describes that prayer as partaking of a specific character--as prayer for Christ; “prayer also shall be made for him continually.”

IV. The wisdom and grace of this arrangement. For--

1. It keeps us in our proper place, at the feet of God.

2. It gives us opportunity of afresh avowing our adoration of the scheme of redemption by Christ.

3. It affords the strongest assurance of success in prayer.

4. It enables all to show their love to Christ by aiding in the advancement of His Kingdom.

V. But let us regard the especial object of our prayer in the behalf of Christ: what are we to pray for? Our prayers cannot be necessary for Him, in the same sense in which they are necessary for ourselves, and for each other. He knows no want, for all things are given into His hands. The prayer, then, that is to be made for Him is not to be made for Him personally, but relatively--on account of His relation to other beings--His relation to us. But not only is prayer to be made for the reign of Christ--the text predicts its continuity, or uninterruptedness; “prayer also shall be made for Him continually.” Under the former dispensation, the fire which burnt upon the golden altar was never allowed to go out--and the ardent desire of the pious Israelites for the coming of Christ glowed continually on the altar of their hearts--it never went out. Observe, again, that prayer for Christ is to be offered conjointly with other things--“prayer also.” In all conquered lands, the subjection of the people was marked by two things--their money was stamped with the name of the conqueror, and they were obliged to pray for him in their public worship. In allusion to this fact, it is here said of the conquering Saviour--“To Him shall be given of the gold of Sheba, prayer also shall be made for Him continually.” The gold of Sheba--a portion of our worldly substance is to be devoted to Him, in connection with our prayers. For to pray in His behalf, without accompanying the act with this proof of our sincerity, would be as profane as to use all other kind of means except prayer would be impious. How many and how powerful the motives, then, which should induce us to pray for the reign of Christ! A sense of consistency demands it. A principle of benevolence to man requires it. A principle of gratitude requires it. He has prayed for us with strong crying and tears, or we should not, at this moment, be in a condition to pray for ourselves. He gave Himself for us. His priestly robes are never laid aside. And shall we intermit our prayers for Him? Let a sense of our obligation induce us to pray for Him. (J. Harris, D. D.)

Prayer for Christ

Is prayer, then, necessary for Him? Is He not above the reach of danger, pain, want? Has He not all power? Therefore, our prayer is not to be for Him personally but relatively, and we pray for Him when we pray for His ministers, His ordinances, His Gospel. What should we pray for on His behalf? We are to remember these four things.

I. The degree of the Church’s resources: that there may be sufficiency of fit instruments raised up.

II. The freedom of its administration--that all hindrances may be put out of the way.

III. The diffusion of its principles--that they may spread everywhere.

IV. The increase of its glory--that it may abound in all spiritual excellence. What reasons there are for such prayer: how certain it is to be heard if we be sincere in asking. Let our conduct prove this. (W. Jay.)

Praying for Jesus

We are, thank God, accustomed to praying to Jesus; we approach His footstool gladly, and believingly, and we are never sent empty away. We also pray through Jesus, appending His precious name to each petition presented to the Father. This it is that gives them worth. We cannot fail to recollect that He is now engaged in praying for us. It is perhaps somewhat of a novelty to call to mind the fact that we are privileged, nay, virtually enjoined, to pray for Him. It is a reversal of the accepted order of things, a delightful change of programme. It behoves us to be as continual in our prayer for Jesus as is our Mediator upon the throne in His pleading on our behalf.

I. What should be the burden of our prayer? We do not want in any case to utter vain words when our knees are bent before the throne, but when we are praying for Jesus we must exercise very special care. We must endeavour to discover what Christ desires. We must pray intelligently, reverently, lovingly, and to purpose. How may this be done? The best way to plead intelligently for Christ is to remember the promises that are given concerning Him. Get hold of a promise and wrap our prayers about it; let the Word of God be the nucleus of your petition, and then frame your own loving supplications round the Spirit-breathed predictions. I have found, also, that in this matter of praying for Jesus a consideration of the character of His work is of considerable assistance. If you are wishing to do a friend a good turn, or to give a relation a present, you will naturally consider the bent of that friend’s mind, the purpose of his life, the task that he may happen to have in hand, that you may give an appropriate present, or offer acceptable service. Act after the same manner with regard to Jesus. Contemplate Him, meditate upon His character, reflect on His tastes and predilections. Try to discover what would please Him most. Why was He hero on earth? He said Himself, “The Son of Man is come to seek and to Save that which was lost.” Then pray that the lost may be saved; that will please Him well. He was here to make disciples; to gather round Him and behind Him a fitting retinue, as became the Prince of Life, albeit He was in disguise. Pray that the number of the disciples may be increased, that those who profess to follow Him may follow, not afar off. He was here to sanctify the saints, to wash them with the washing of water by the Word; He was here to make them clean away every whir, head, and hands, and heart, and feet. Well, pray that the saints may be made holy and kept holy, for this will please Jesus; it will mean the completion of the work that He came to earth to start,

II. How to pray.

1. It must be continually, for so says the text, “Prayer also should be made for Him continually.” Our interest in Christ should never subside; it should not even know the changes that affect our prayers for others. I am not sure that they should be so changeful, but certainly in our desire for Jesus there should be no sort of variation.

2. Then pray loyally. “Vivat Rex!” “Long live the King!” “Hosanna!”

3. Then pray generously and practically, for the text says that the gold of Sheba shall be given to Him. Praying and giving go well together. Let there be self-denial with all your supplications. Give to Him gold if you have it, or silver if you have nothing better. Give Him the best you possess.

4. Then pray praisefully, for those who pray continually are to praise daily. “Daily shall He-be praised.” Adore Him while you pray for Him. And with all your praying let there be much of faith. Our prayers are wasted sometimes. Why? Because they are not prayers of faith. (T. Spurgeon.)

Prayer a vital force

I. Prayer is a vital force in the kingdom of Christ.

II. The sort of prayer spoken of in the text explains, illustrates, and justifies these statements. It is quite certain that Christ is to live and to prevail: it is equally certain that prayer is to be made for Him. Prayer is to be the great means of bringing in the kingdom: because Christ lives, prayer will be made: because prayer is made, His kingdom will continue to grow. He Himself has taught us thus to pray: when we say to the Father, “Thy kingdom come,” we are truly praying for Christ, and the prayer is necessary to the coming of the kingdom.

III. Prayer for Christ is the highest form of prayer, It is much more important that He shall prosper than I or you. He is greater. He lives, I die. He lives not for Himself but for others; His prosperity will mean that abundant grace shall come to others; and my prayer for Him will help to hasten the day of His glory. So in praying for Him I am actually praying for all His people. Surely such prayer is the highest. (W. Y. Fullerton.)

Pray for Jesus

Many people misunderstand such expression. If He were still on earth we might pray for Him, but surely not now. But His cause is here, His work needs prospering, and if we pray for this we pray for Him.

I. Such prayer elevates the tone of our prayers. We can be selfish in prayer, and narrow, and sectarian, and even bitter; but praying for Christ will lift us above all this.

II. Suggests many themes of prayer--for fitting witnesses for the truth; for those labouring in the field; for doors of utterance to be opened; for conversion of many souls; for those who are saved; for the coming of Christ’s kingdom.

III. Inspires us with peculiar earnestness. Consistency with my profession; gratitude, love to Him--all prompt such prayer.

IV. Gives special encouragement in our prayers. For the worthiness of Christ and the promise of God encourage us.

V. Demands consistent action. It will hold us back from sin; make us thoughtful; diligent in service, etc. But let His great love constrain us. (C. H. Spurgeon.)


Verse 16

Psalms 72:16

There shall be an handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains; the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon.

The life and power of the Gospel

I. Offer some expository remarks.

1. The handful of corn. This tells of the few disciples who at the first preached the Gospel. As Isaac was offered on Mount Moriah, so our Lord on the summit of the same mount was offered up. He was the seed corn.

2. The fruit. This all the result of our Lord’s death. And it shall be abundant like the forests of Lebanon.

3. They of the city. The apostles went forth from Jerusalem after they were endued with power.

II. The expressiveness of the simile--the corn of wheat.

1. It possesses a kind of immortality.

2. Life springs from its death.

3. Propagates its own likeness.

4. Has unlimited power of multiplication.

III. The import of the shaking here told of (Hebrews 12:25-29). The religious systems of the earth are doomed, and the political likewise. (J. A. Macdonald.)

Diffusion of the Gospel

I. The insignificance of the Gospel in its origin.

1. In its introduction into the world.

2. In its structure as a religious system.

3. In its operation in the heart.

II. The improbability of its success.

1. The agency was feeble.

2. The opposition Was powerful.

III. Its stupendous results.

1. The number of its followers.

2. Their influence on the world. (W. W. Wythe.)

The handful of corn or, the top of the mountains

In the kingdom of nature it is not seldom seen that the greatest results proceed from apparently the most insignificant beginnings. The oak, the pride and glory of the forest, grows from a small acorn. The mighty river, which gradually expands its bosom towards the sea, and incessantly pours into it the tribute of its many waters, springs from an insignificant rivulet. The philosopher, the orator, the hero, each enters life at first as a “naked, helpless, weeping child.” Now, concerning the Gospel, note--

I. Its insignificant commencement. A handful of corn, and that sown, of all places, on the top of the mountains. How this sets forth the unlikelihood of success according to all human judgment.

II. The glorious consummation the Gospel is destined to attain. This metaphorical representation conveys to us the idea of fertility; a fertility so great, that from a handful of corn, and that sown on the most barren spot, the top of a mountain, should issue a crop so strong and thick that it would shake and wave in the wind like the woods of Lebanon, while in the City of Zion the inhabitants would become numerous as the blades of grass in a field which the Lord hath blessed. It is thus beautifully intimated that in proportion to the smallness of its beginning shall be the greatness of the final increase of the Gospel. In various parts of Holy Writ we have abundant testimony to this fact. The metaphorical representation of the psalmist suggests also that the diffusion of the Gospel in the latter day will be characterized by great and extraordinary rapidity “They of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth.” Grass is, in Eastern countries, remarkably speedy in its growth; so will it be with the triumphs which the Gospel is destined universally to accomplish. This metaphorical announcement intimates further that the propagation of the Gospel shall be productive of happiness and joy to the world. “The fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon.” Just such a change as, in the physical world, is made when the sterile mountain top is converted into the garden of the Lord, will be that which shall be made in the moral world by the agency of the Gospel, when it shall be felt in its legitimate power.

III. The manner in which it has already been fulfilled is fitted to strengthen our faith in the Divine origin of the Gospel.

IV. This prophecy furnishes us also with an encouragement to persevere in our exertions for the universal propagation of the Gospel. Although it may be with us a “day of small things”--although the means we employ may be feeble and small, and the obstacles we have to encounter be numerous and formidable, yet let us not give way to unbelieving doubts or fears. (Peter Grant.)

The blessed effects of sewing the Gospel seed

How precious is the Bible to men; it is the source of all our hope, the inspiration of all our work. In that we have--

I. A happy description of the gospel. It is a handful of corn.

1. For its excellency.

2. For its insignificance, in appearance, extent, instrumentality.

II. The places where it is to be sown: “on the top of the mountains,” the most barren and inaccessible places. There are many hearts like this, but there we are to sow the seed. And in the most populous places--“the city.” So did our Lord, and so should we. How great the need.

III. The blessed results which will follow.

1. Abundant fruitfulness.

2. Rapid growth--like grass.

3. A beauteous scene.

4. Ample recompense.

Conclusion.

1. Bless God if the seed of the Gospel has taken root in your heart.

2. How deeply guilty are they in whom no fruit is found.

3. Pity those who are without the Gospel seed. (J. Sherman.)

The handful of corn on the top of the mountains

1. Let us think of where the corn comes from. It does not come like anything else in the world. In the woods you may sometimes find a tree growing with a little round black fruit, hard and sour. It does not seem to be worth much by the side of the luscious plum from the garden. But that sloe, as it is called, is the plum in its wild state. The gardener takes it and cultivates it until it comes to be a larger and finer tree. So it is with the crab-tree and its little bitter fruit--that is, the wild apple. And so with the strawberry, and all the fruits and plants in our garden. They were found in a wild state, and they had to be cultivated before they were worth anything. But nobody ever found corn growing wild. Unlike everything else, corn is the special and peculiar gift of God, which He put into man’s hand just as it is. And how like Jesus it is in this!

2. Corn will grow all over the world. And is not that like our blessed Jesus? No home but may have Him in it; no heart but Jesus will dwell there; no land under heaven but there men may find the Bread of Life.

3. Think again of what the corn is worth. A very little thing to talk about, this--“a handful of corn!” Corn is worth more than gold. Everybody wants bread. And so, all need Jesus.

4. Corn has life in it--yielding abundant increase. And so Jesus is like the handful of corn upon the top of the mountains: the prophet tells us that we “esteemed Him not,” and “hid as it were our faces from Him”; there was no appearance of greatness in Him, or of power. But in Him is life. He comes into our hearts, and we are made like Him, and from us others catch a grain of the good seed, and the life spreads from heart to heart and from soul to soul, until “the whole earth shall be filled with His glory.”

5. And yet though there is all this that is wonderful about the corn, let us remember that it is of no good except it be sown. A handful of corn is indeed a poor thing without that. They have found some mummies in Egypt thousands of years old, and in their hands they have found some tiny grains of corn. If they had been sown, by this time they would have grown into enough to feed the world. And so the glory of Jesus grows only when we have Jesus in our heart.

6. Before the corn does us any good, it dies. Think how much this is like Jesus. He lays down His life for us. He dies that we may live. He is beaten, and scourged, and broken, that we may have strength and everlasting life. (Mark Guy Pearse.)


Verse 17

Psalms 72:17

His name shall endure for ever: His name shall be continued as long as the sun.

The name of Christ

I. The Saviour’s renown. For by “His name” we understand His renown.

1. The source from whence this renown is derived. It is from His proper and essential divinity; from His condescending and efficacious sufferings; from His exaltation and mediatorial glory. What is all other renown compared to His?

2. The permanence with which it is invested. We have seen much of the essential perpetuity of our Saviour’s renown, from what has already transpired in the history and annals of the world. It has endured the attack of heathenism when made under the elements of classic Greece or the power of inferior Rome. It has endured the attack of modern infidelity, which uttered its hell-cry from philosopher to king, and back again from king to philosopher, “Crush the wretch, crush the wretch!”--by that wretch meaning the Redeemer, whose Cause and whose glory we plead.

II. The redeemer’s influence.

1. Its method. It is secured through His Spirit, His Word, His Church.

2. Its character--it is one of blessing and grace. The religion of Christ alone is the source alike of national, of domestic, and of individual felicity.

3. Its extent--“All nations shall call Him blessed.” (James Parsons.)

The imperishable name

We apply these words to Christ, although their literal reference may point to another. What reason have we to believe that Christ’s name will endure for ever?

I. He is the author of an immortal book. Men’s names come down through the centuries by reason of the books they have written, although the time comes when the most enduring of these become obsolete and pass away. Now, the Bible is Christ’s book. He is at once its Author and its substance. But, unlike other books, it has imperishable elements.

1. Its doctrines are true to the immortal intellect.

2. Its precepts are true to the undying conscience.

3. Its provisions are true to the unquenchable aspirations.

II. He is the Founder of enduring institutions. Men’s names come down in institutions they have founded. Christ has instituted the Lord’s Supper. And the Sunday commemorates Him.

III. He is the living Head of an undying family. Conclusion. Trust this name. (Homilist.)

The eternal name

It is the name of Jesus Christ. Text true of--

I. The religion sanctioned by His name.

1. There was never a time when it did not exist here on earth.

2. If it were destroyed no other religion would take its place.

3. If another could, by what means would you crush this?

4. And if it could be crushed, what would become of the world then: would life be worth living?

II. The honour of His name. As long as a redeemed sinner is to be found, so long will the honour of Christ’s name endure. And so of--

III. The power of His name. For it alone gives peace, purity, triumph in death. Let all other names perish, as they will: but this never. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

The honour of the name of Christ

The language of this psalm cannot be confined to Solomon: it speaks of him only as he was in office or character the type of Christ. The full meaning of the psalm belongs to Christ alone. By the name of Christ, His chief greatness or excellency, His peculiar honour and glory, is meant. Now, such glory has been given to Christ--

I. By God the Father.

1. In the eternal counsels.

2. At His baptism.

3. On the Mount Of Transfiguration.

4. By the Resurrection.

II. From the angels of God. Their knowledge, their security, have been furthered by Christ in His redeeming work.

III. From the redeemed among men. Through their justification and sanctification they become witnesses to the glory and greatness of the Redeemer. (J. Bannerman, D. D.)

Christ’s renown

By the name of Christ is signified His renown. Now, this prediction was uttered more than a thousand years before the birth of Christ, and when deep obscurity rested upon all that pertained to Him. And when He was born and had entered on His ministry, there was scarcely anything in His condition or circumstances to justify the anticipation of His endless renown. He died ignominiously forsaken of all His friends. But after His death their love revived, and they went forth to preach His name. But still there seemed little probability that the name of their Master should endure for ever. Yet so it has been. The triumphs of Christianity are all known. Time rolled on, and the fame of Christ widened and spread. And His fame and renown are entirely different from that which belongs to all others. For--

I. Where once Christ’s name has been known it has never been entirely rooted out. Even in the place where the seven Churches of Asia withered under the curse of heaven, His name is not lost. But other names, however great, are.

II. The knowledge which men have of Him is more intimate and particular than that which they have of any of the great men of the past. How little we know of these ” how much we know of Him.

III. And the knowledge of Him is possessed by all classes. Not the rich and educated alone, but the poor and the common people know Him.

IV. And how different the feelings which we associate with Him from those which we have for others. It is not mere admiration or respect, but we give Him our hearts. Every mention of His name touches our deepest affections. What wonder that He should receive the homage of a world! But what is He to us? That is the all-important question. Has such a friend, such a Saviour, no beauty in our eyes? God forbid that we should refuse Him that love which He asks for, and so richly merits from us. (J. W. Adams, D. D.)

His name shall endure

I. Why may the influence of Christ’s name be expected to endure for ever?

1. Because He is the greatest benefactor the world has ever seen.

2. Because He is a mighty conqueror. He achieved victory, notwithstanding fearful odds. Look at two periods in the history of the Church. Look at the first three centuries. Emperors and rulers combined to exterminate this new sect. The most determined means were adopted. Religious teachers were put to death or cast into prison. Bibles were gathered together in response to several edicts and burned in different squares and market places. Did these succeed? The very means adopted to destroy the new faith were the means blessed of God for perpetuating it. Religious teachers were scattered over the then known world. To their amazement, I can well believe, they found that God had been preparing the world for their coming. Magnificent roads had been made, so that they could pass easily from town to town. The Greek language was spoken so that they could address the people in their own tongue. Verily it was only in the “fulness of time” that God “sent forth His Son.” If you wish to see triumph in connection with the preaching of the Gospel, study the first three centuries of the Gospel history. Look at the last century of the history of the Church. In that century you see the history and the triumph of missions.

II. How is Christ’s name to be perpetuated?

1. In the hearts of His people. Take Christ and His teaching out of song. Take Christ and His Cross out of poetry, and you take away their very heart and soul and life. No teacher has ever received such tribute as Christ has done. The fact that you have the best geniuses in song, and poetry, and painting, laying their offerings at His feet is one of the most convincing arguments in favour of my text--“His name shall endure for ever.”

2. By the character of His people. This is one thing that scepticism can never explain away. The maxims and the example of the world can never produce a holy life. It takes Christianity to do that. A holy life is therefore one of the best means by which the influence of Christ’s name can be perpetuated in this world.

3. By the ordinances of the Church. (W. S. Goodall, M. A.)

Christ--His enduring name

I. The name of Jesus Our Saviour is fitted to endure.

1. By virtue of the law which connects memory with greatness. The great are remembered--great kings, great heroes, great sages, great saints--while the crowd must be forgotten. Jesus does not refuse to be commemorated according to this standard. He does not struggle indeed for fame, but for usefulness; but when He says, “Come unto Me,” “Follow Me,” He presupposes transcendent greatness. Even on the human side the greatness of Jesus is unexampled, the greatness of knowledge, of wisdom, of purity, of benevolence, of devotion--such greatness as amounts to absolute perfection.

2. By virtue of the law which connects memory with service.

3. By virtue of the law which connects memory with suffering. Even destroyers and conquerors are better remembered by disaster than by victory--as Alexander by his premature death, Caesar by his assassination, and Napoleon by his exile. How much more have the great benefactors of our race had their memories embalmed by suffering; so that they are cherished as their works and endurances have cost them dear. But how imperfect is every such image of the connection between the Saviour’s sufferings and the enduring of His name! All others were born to suffer, if not in that form in some other; they were sinners, and could not escape even by labour and service to mankind. But Jesus was above this doom, and stooped to meet it--stooped from a height beyond all parallel. “Though He was rich,” etc. “The Son of Man came not to be ministered unto,.” etc.

II. It is destined to endure.

1. The name of Jesus is identified with the existence of the Church. Take it away, and the Church falls. Christianity is obliterated, or sinks in fragmental Take it away, and there is no pardon, no sanctification, no fellowship with God, according to His own word, “No man cometh unto the Father but by Me.”

2. The name of Jesus Christ is hound up with the history and prospects of mankind. This name is a key to the history of the world. It is not without reason that history is divided into two great periods, before Christ and after Christ.

3. The Saviour’s name is destined to endure, because it is committed to the watchful care of the Godhead. God the Father sees here the brightest manifestation of Himself, for He thus reveals the fulness of power, the depth of wisdom, the beauty of holiness, the tender radiance of mercy, all shining in the face of Jesus Christ. The continued display of this glory to men and angels is the last end of redemption, the fulfilment by the Father of the prayer of the Son, “Glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee.” Shall this last prayer, then, be defeated? Shall these supreme manifestations of God, which, pent up from everlasting days, have at last broken forth upon the universe, be recalled? And shall the word of promise that has gone out of His mouth be made void” I will make Thy name to be remembered in all generations”? (John Cairns, D. D.)

The universality and perpetuity of Christ’s reign

Buddha is reported to have said that he did not expect his religion to last more than 5,000 years. (W. J. Dawson.)

Voltaire said he lived in the twilight of Christianity. He meant a lie; he spoke the truth. He did live in its twilight; but it was the twilight before the morning; not the twilight of the evening, as he meant to say; for the morning comes, when the light of the sun shall break upon us in its truest glory. The scorners have said that we should soon forget to honour Christ, and that one day no man should acknowledge Him. “His name shall endure for ever.” (Footsteps of Truth.)

And men shall be blessed in Him: all nations shall call Him blessed.

What history owes to Jesus Christ

I. The moral and social benefit. We need to take the simplest, plainest facts that lie upon the surface of history, to see what a revelation was implied in the entrance of Christian ideas into such a world as this. It brought, for one thing, a totally new idea of man himself, as a being of infinite dignity and immortal worth; it taught that every man’s soul, even the humblest, poorest, and the most defiled, was made in God’s image, is capable of eternal life, and has an infinite value--a value that made worth while God’s own Son’s dying to redeem it. It brought back to men’s minds the sense of responsibility to God--an idea that had never been possessed, or had been altogether or almost altogether lost. It brought into the world a new spirit of love and charity, something wonderful in the eyes of those heathen as they saw institutions spring up round about them that they had never thought or heard of in heathenism before. It flashed into men’s souls a new moral ideal, and set up a standard of truth, and integrity, and purity, which has acted as an elevating force on moral conception in the world till this hour. It restored woman to her rightful place by man’s side as his spiritual helpmate and equal, and created that best of God’s blessings on earth, the Christian home, where children are reared in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. It taught the slave his spiritual freedom as a member of the Kingdom of God, gave him a place there in Christ’s kingdom as an equal with his own master, and struck at the foundations of slavery by its doctrine of the natural brotherhood and the dignity of man. It created self-respect, a sense of duty in the use of one’s powers for self-support and for the benefit of others. It urged to honest labour. “Let him that stole steal no more,” etc. And in a myriad ways, by direct teaching, by the protest of holy lives, by its gentle spirit, it struck at the evils and the corruptions and the malpractices and the cruelties of the time.

II. The religious debt to Jesus. It was Christianity that overthrew the reign of those gods and goddesses of Greece and Rome, and swept them so completely from the path of history that no one, even in his wildest imagination, now dreams of the possibility of their revival. It was Christianity that, still maintaining something of its youthful energy, laid hold of these rough barbarian people in the Middle Ages and trained them to some kind of civilization and moral life. It was Christianity that in England and Scotland lighted the light that by and by spread its radiance through every part of the country. It is Christianity that to-day is teaching the nations to burn their idols, to cease their horrid practices, to take on them the obligations of moral and civilized existence. Whatever blessings or hopes we trace to our religion, whatever light it imparts to our minds or cheer to cur hearts, whatever power there is in it to sustain holiness or conquer sin, all that we owe to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

III. The eternal benefits. “Jesus hath abolished death,” we read, “and hath brought life and immortality to light through His Gospel.” And what was better, He not only taught men the way of life, but stood there Himself, the great medium of return to God. He stood there not only teaching men what the way of life was, but He Himself was there to place their feet in its paths. He not only taught us about God, but showed us how to be at peace with Him--brought us back to God, from whom we had wandered, and reconciled us with God. He not only warned us of the dangers and the evils of the life of sin, of the ruin, the destruction which sin brought with it, of the alienation, the estrangement from the life of God that was in sin; but He united Himself there with us, with His infinite mercy in our lone, and lost, and condemned condition, took upon Himself there, on His own soul, that burden we could not for ourselves bear, and through His cross and passion opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. (James Orr, D. D.)

The benefits of Christianity

I. The benefits which Christianity conveys to the communities among whom it is preached.

1. It has diffused among all classes of men the knowledge of God. “Nothing,” says the son of Sirach, “is so much worth as a mind well instructed”; but there is no knowledge like that which respects the character of God, our obligations to Him, and expectations from Him. It is the only effectual source of right conduct, and of true comfort, in every state and condition of human life.

2. Christianity has greatly purified and reformed the manners of men. Some of those vices which marked and disgraced the character of heathen nations are scarcely known but by their name; and others, which were openly practised in the face of day, are now hid in obscurity and darkness. On the other hand, some virtues, of the obligation of which the heathens had no apprehension, are not only to be found in the character of real Christians, but have risen into such general credit and esteem as to influence the conduct of many who, in other respects, feel but little of the power of religion.

3. Christianity has promoted among men a spirit of humanity and benevolence, unknown to the heathen world.

4. Christianity has contributed essentially to the safety and prosperity of society.

II. The benefits which it conveys to the individuals who believe and embrace it.

1. It effectuates their conversion to God, and to the obedience of His will.

2. The effects of Christianity upon the Christian’s state of mind are not less important and happy than its influence upon his character; it restores him to peace with God, and to hope in Him. (A. Duncan.)

Blessed in Him

I. A singular condition.

1. By nature, men are not blessed. The trail of the old serpent is everywhere.

2. The text promises that men shall be delivered from the curse, that they shall be uplifted from their natural unhappiness, that they shall be rescued from their doubtful or their hopeful questioning, and shall even come to be blessed. God shall pronounce them blessed. He shall set upon them the bread seal of Divine approbation; and with that seal there shall come streaming into their hearts the sweetness of intense delight, which shall give them experimentally a blessing to their own conscious enjoyment.

3. Let me tell you what Christ does for a man who is really in Him, and then you will see how He is blessed.

II. A wide statement.

1. To make this wide statement true requires breadth of number. The text says, “Men shall be blessed in Him,” that is to say, the most of men, innumerable myriads of men shall get the blessing that Jesus purchased by His death on the cross.

2. It implies great width of variety. “Men”--not merely kings or noblemen, but “Men shall be blessed in Him.” Men--not working men, or thinking men, or fighting men, or this sort of men, or the other sort of men, but men of all sorts--“Men shall be blessed in Him.” It is a delightful thought that Christ is as much fitted to one rank and one class of persons as to another.

3. Our text indicates length of period: “Men shall be blessed in Him.” Men have been blessed in Him; these many centuries, Christ has shone with all the radiance of omnipotent love upon this poor fallen world, but His light is as full as ever; and, however long this dispensation shall last, “Men shall be blessed in Him.”

4. The text suggests fulness of sufficiency concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. There is a wonderful depth of meaning in this passage when it says, “Men shall be blessed in Him.” “Oh!” says one, “Men shall be blessed by philosophy, or by Christ and philosophy.” Not at all; it is, “Men shall be blessed in Him.” “But they shall be blessed in Him through trade and commerce and the like.” Not so; “Men shall be blessed in Him.” Have not we, who are half a century old, heard a great number of theories about how the millennium is to be brought about? I remember that, at one time, free trade was to bring it, but it did not; and nothing will over make men blessed unless they get into Christ: “Men shall be blessed in Him.”

III. The full assurance expressed in the text. It is a grand thing to get a sentence like this with a “shall” in it: “Men shall be blessed in Him.” It is not “perhaps they may be,”but, “Men shall be blessed in Him.” Not, “perchance they may be blessed under certain conditions”; but, “Men shall be blessed in Him.”

1. They shall not try Him and fail.

2. They shall not desire Him and be denied.

3. They shall come to Christ and get the blessing.

IV. Now, with all your hearts, think of my text with a personal appropriation: “Men shall be blessed in Him.” Are you blessed in Christ? Will you personally answer the question? Do not pass it round, and say to yourself, “No doubt there are many who think that they are blessed, and who are not.” Never mind about them; for the present moment, ask this question of yourself, “Am I blessed in Christ?” (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Jesus: all blessing and all blest

I. We ourselves are living witnesses that men are blessed in Christ. You and I do not pretend to be great sages, famous philosophers, or learned divines; but we feel when a pin pricks us, or when a dog bites us. We have sense enough to know when a thing tastes well or ill in the eating. We know chalk from cheese, as the proverb hath it. We know somewhat about our own wants; and we also know when we get those wants supplied. We bear witness that we have been blessed in Him. How much, how deeply, how long, and in how many ways we have been blessed in Him, I will not undertake to say; but this I will say most emphatically, for many of you now present, we have in verity, beyond all question, been blessed in Jesus to the highest degree, and of this we are sure. We believe--and faith grasps the first blessing--that we have received a great blessing in Christ by the removal of a curse which otherwise must have rested upon us. If He had accomplished nothing but the bearing away of our sin into the wilderness--as the scapegoat of old bore away the iniquity of Israel--He would have done enough to set our tongues for ever praising Him. He has lifted from the world the weight of the eternal curses; therefore, let all the bells of our cities ring out His honour, and all the voices of the village sing forth His praise. The negative being removed, we have had a positive actual experience of blessing, for God has blessed us in Christ Jesus, and we know that none are more blest than we are. We are now not at all the men that we used to be as to our inward feelings.

II. We have seen other men blessed in Christ.

1. What social changes we have seen in those who have believed in Him! He has blessed some men and some women at such a rate that the devil himself would not have the impudence to say it was not a blessing. Liar as Satan is, he could not deny that godliness has brought sunshine where there was none: the blessing has been too distinct and manifest for any to deny it.

2. What a moral change have we seen in some! They could not speak without an oath, but the habit of profane swearing ended in a minute, and they have never been tempted to it since. Rash, bad-tempered men, who would break up the furniture of the house in their passion, have become as gentle as lambs. Such furies usually become quiet, peaceable, and long-suffering: grace has a marvellous influence upon the temper.

3. Then, as to mental blessing. What have we seen? This have I seen: here is one case out of many. A young man, who had fallen into sin, came to me in deep despair of mind. He was so desponding that his very face bore witness to his misery. I had tried to set the Gospel clearly before him on the previous Sabbath, but he told me that he could not grasp it, for that by his sin he had reduced his mind to such a state that he felt himself to be little better than an idiot. He was not speaking nonsense either, for there are vices which destroy the intellect. I told him that Jesus Christ could save idiots--that even if his mind was in measure impaired as the result of sin, yet there was quite enough mind left to be made glad with a sense of pardon, seeing there was more than enough to make him heavy with a sense of guilt. I cheered that brother as best I could, but I could effect nothing by my own efforts. Soon the Lord Jesus Christ came to him, and he is now a happy, earnest, joyful Christian.

III. This whole matter is to extend till the entire world shall be blessed in Christ. Even at this moment the whom world is the better for Christ. But where He is best known and loved, there is He the greatest blessing. What snatched many an island of the southern sea from barbarism and cannibalism? What but Jesus Christ preached among them? Men have been blessed in Him in Europe, America, Asia, and everywhere. Africa, and other lands still plunged in barbarism, shall receive light from no other source but that from which our fathers received it centuries ago--from the great Sun of Righteousness. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Christ’s Kingdom: its progress and prospects

I. The perpetuity of Christ’s kingdom extending from age to age throughout all generations; for it is in connection with it that “His name shall endure for ever, and be continued as long as the sun.” Where are the mighty monarchies of the ancient world--the Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian--that seemed to have taken deep root in the earth, and, matured by ages of vigour, to bid fair for perpetuity? Even the more modern States of Greece and Rome have undergone a complete change, and their ancient characters are sought in vain in the regions they once emblazoned with glory. Nor has the higher and less vulgar authority of wisdom and legislation been more stable. The schools of ancient philosophy have passed away, and the tenets of their sages have solved for us none of the hard questions suggested by reason and conscience: one great name after another dies from the memory of fleeting generations, as the stars fade with the rising morn.

II. The felicity of this kingdom: “Men shall be blessed in Him.” Whatever blessings have descended on the human race since the fall, have been communicated through the mediation of Christ; for thus only, we are taught, can a holy God have friendly intercourse with man. But the blessings that specially mark His kingdom are of a spiritual nature, and can be rightly estimated only by a spiritual mind.

III. The destined universal extension of the Kingdom of Christ: “all nations shall call Him blessed.” And why, asks the infidel, was not this kingdom, and the revelation that makes it known, universal from the beginning? Why did the God of the whole earth confine His favour for many ages to the descendants of Abraham, and, leaving other nations in darkness, restrict the light of heaven to the little province of Judaea? Is it to be believed that, overlooking and despising the great, populous, enlightened empires of the ancient world, He expended all His treasures on a people remarkable only for a bigoted and exclusive superstition? Is this system of favouritism worthy the Sovereign of the universe, the Father of mankind? But not to insist on arguments which, it may be said, are fitted to silence rather than satisfy, it is an important fact, never to be forgotten, that Divine revelation was originally universal, without limitation or selection, commensurate with the necessity that called it forth; none of the progeny of Adam being exempted from the promise of a Redeemer who should bruise the serpent’s head, given to our first parents as a sacred trust for the benefit of mankind. The truths embodied in these facts were designed to regulate the faith, worship, and hopes of all mankind; and, had they been faithfully preserved, the blessings of the true religion would have been in every man’s possession. It was the careless forgetfulness of these things, and the wilful preference of darkness to light, that introduced idolatry and wickedness into the world. If Divine revelation was not universal in ancient times, those who incurred the loss must bear the blame. For though the promise declared that “all nations should be blessed in Him,” though the Saviour’s parting command enjoined that His “Gospel should be preached to all the world and to every creature,” have His disciples as yet acquitted themselves of the charge assigned to them in the realization of this purpose? If the Gospel be not universal, who, we ask, are answerable for this loss? where falls the blame of this delinquency? The commission given to them is continued with us--the promises that supported them are those we rest upon--the purposes of God wait on us still for their accomplishment; and those to whom He commits the fulfilment of His will, are no other than the reclaimed sinners who, like us, have passed from death into life, who stand obedient to His call, who are ready to start to any service in which His interests demand their activity. (H. Grey, D. D.)


Verse 18-19

Psalms 72:18-19

Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things.

The law of suggestion in religious life

The law of memory recalls the same things; of association, different things. Certain sounds or sights awaken in our minds ideas which have been associated by the eye and by the ear. The name of, say, a horse calls up the picture of the horse, because of this law of association. Now, this law solves some remarkable phenomena. There are views of doctrine in whose presence devout souls are stirred with strong emotions, and these emotions are taken as evidences of the truth of the doctrines. For, say these people, “How could a false doctrine fill me with such holy thought and feeling?” But this reasoning will not hold. The emotions are the result not of the truth of the doctrine, but because men have been trained to experience such emotion in the presence of the doctrine: as men will in the presence of a picture, an image, an idol. A doctrine all unbeautiful and false may be so associated with things of beauty that it appears beautiful to those by whom it is so associated. Hard doctrines are like hard logs, which, if you let them lie long enough in the open air, under the softening influence of God’s rain and dew, become overgrown with lichens and mosses until they are beautiful. It is not the beauty of the log, but of that which is associated with and sticks to it. And so it is of places and actions, of religious observances and reasons. It is this law of association that determines our conduct in regard to them. If they have been linked on to what is beautiful and good in our experience, we love them, and keep to them. And vice versa. What responsibility, then, does this involve for those who have the training of children. What associations will they have with the Bible, the Sabbath, with the idea of God? Our text shows that David had gained such associations with the thought of God, that this outburst of praise is the natural utterance of his heart. (H. Ward Beecher.)

The general extension of Christ’s kingdom fervently implored

I. As a prophetic oracle. It assures us--

1. That the whole earth will be filled with God’s glory (Isaiah 11:9; Habakkuk 2:14). The glory of the Lord implies--

2. That the earth will be filled with God’s glory, by means of Christ’s administration in His mediatorial kingdom.

II. As a source of sacred instruction. Thus considered, it teaches us--

1. That Christ is a Divine person.

2. That His regal acts are wondrous.

III. As an example of acceptable devotion. Thus considered, we are led to regard it as containing--

1. Grateful adoration. “Blessed be the Lord God,” etc.

2. Humble acknowledgment. “Who only doeth wondrous things.” This should be the language of all Christ’s gracious subjects, for they are saved, not by their own merit, but through God’s mercy (Titus 3:6-7). This should also be the language of all God’s honoured instruments, for God’s work is effected by His own agency. It is He who removes all hindrances that would impede the labours of His servants (Zechariah 4:6-7); and it is He alone who crowns their labours with success (1 Corinthians 3:6-7).

3. Fervent desire. “Let the whole earth be filled,” etc. It is desirable that the whole earth may be filled with God’s glory--

1. The certain fulfilment of God’s purpose to fill the earth with His glory.

2. The propriety of concurring with God in fulfilling His purpose. (Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.)


Verse 19

Psalms 72:19

Let the whole earth be filled with His glory; Amen, and Amen.

David’s dying prayer

There was a time when this prayer was unnecessary, for the whole earth was filled with His glory. And, in a sense, it is still unnecessary. For the whole earth is filled with God’s glory. “All Thy works praise Thee, O God.” But David intended this prayer in another sense. He longed that men who have revolted from God should all return to Him. But--

I. Let us explain the prayer. It is a large and massive one. It includes the whole earth. It seeks--

1. That in every country;

2. In every family.

3. In every individual heart, the true religion of God may be made known.

II. Let us stir up our hearts thus to pray. I would have you all, like the Crusaders, because “Deus vult,” rush forward to this great battle of the Lord. For--

1. Think of the Majesty of God.

2. His love on Calvary.

3. Of the needs of men, how great, how pressing.

III. Counsels in the pursuit of this object.

1. You must in your own life remove all hindrances to it.

2. You must forsake all sin. God will help you. Will not some volunteer in this service? (C. H. Spurgeon.)


Verse 20

Psalms 72:20

The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended.

David as psalmist

Why were such oceans of feeling poured into David’s soul, such true and graceful utterance of poetry infused into his lips, and such skill of music seated in his right hand? Such oceans of feeling did God infuse into his soul, and such utterance of poetry He placed between his lips, and such skilful music He seated in his right hand, in order that he might conceive forms of feeling for all saints, and create an everlasting psalmody, and hand down an organ for expressing the melody of the renewed soul. The Lord did not intend that His Church should be without a rule for uttering its gladness and its glory, its lamentation and its grief; and to bring such a rule and institute into being, He raised up His servant David, as formerly He raised up Moses to give to the Church an institute of Law. And to that end He led him the round of all human conditions, that he might catch the spirit proper to every one, and utter it according to truth; He allowed him not to curtail his being by treading the round of one function, but by every variety of functions, He cultivated his Whole being, and filled his soul with wisdom and feeling. He found him objects for every affection, that the affection might not slumber and die. He brought him up in the sheep-pastures that the ground-work of his character might be laid amongst the simple and universal forms of feeling. He took him to the camp and’ made him a conqueror, that he might be filled with nobleness of soul and ideas of glory. He placed him in the palace that he might be filled with ideas of majesty and sovereign might. He carried him to the wilderness, and placed him in solitudes that his soul might dwell alone in the sublime conceptions of God and His mighty works; and He kept him there for long years, with only one step betwixt him and death, that he might be well schooled to trust and depend upon the providence of God. And in none of these various conditions did He take from him His Holy Spirit. His trials were but the tuning of the instrument with which the Spirit might express the various melodies which He designed to utter by him for the consolation and edification of spiritual men. Therefore, David had that brilliant galaxy of natural gifts, that rich and varied education, in order to fit him for executing the high office to which he was called by the Spirit, of giving to the Church those universal forms of spiritual feeling, whereof we have been endeavouring to set forth the excellent applications. And, though we neither excuse his acts of wickedness, nor impute them to the temptation of God, who cannot be tempted of evil, neither tempteth any man, we will also add that by his loss the Church hath gained; and that out of the evil of his ways much good hath been made to arise; and that if he had not passed through every valley of humiliation, and stumbled upon the dark mountains, we should not have had a language for the souls of the penitent, or an expression for the dark troubles which compass the soul that feareth to be deserted by its God. So much for the fitness of the psalmist to have been made the organ of spiritual feeling unto the Church. (Edward Irving.)
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Psalms 73:1-28

 


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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Psalms 72:4". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/psalms-72.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, December 11th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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