Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
I. GOD'S HAND SHOULD BE SEEN IN HISTORY. First there is the call (vers. 1, 2). Then the reason is given (ver. 3). We are brought face to face with God. We are confronted with the awful manifestations of his power. The world is not a world of confusion and misrule, where we see only the working of human passion. Behind all is the hand of God. So it is still. Our Lord said, "My Father worketh hitherto." If men everywhere were brought to this faith, that this is not a forsaken and fatherless world, but a world under the benign rule of God, they would bow their hearts in worship, and rejoice to sing praise to the Most High (ver. 4).
II. GOD'S SPECIAL DEALINGS WITH NATIONS SHOULD BE SEEN IN HISTORY. (Vers. 5-7.) It is said of the ungodly, that "the harp, and the viol, the tabret, and pipe, and wine, are in their feasts: but they regard not the work of the Lord, neither consider the operation of his hands" (Isaiah 5:12). But the psalmist was of a different spirit. He had seen much that had thrilled his heart with admiration and delight, and he would have others to enter into his joy. "Come and see the works of God" (ver. 5). Israel may be called the model nation. As "a city set on a hill." Israel has been set on high for the instruction of other nations and peoples (1 Corinthians 10:11). The principles and laws by which God governed and judged Israel are the principles and laws according to which he deals with his people everywhere, in all times and in all lands. God changes his methods, but not his laws. His dispensations alter, but he himself is the same. Hence his judgments of Israel and of the nations are full of instruction to us. Israel was the chosen people, "unto whom were committed the oracles of God" (Romans 3:2). God is represented as keeping guard over them. He was their Watchman, and his eye was ever on "the nations" (ver. 7) around, ready to warn and defend his own people. Let us be sure that in like manner he is now standing in watch over the interests of truth and righteousness, and that he will overrule all things for the advancement of the kingdom of his Son (Ezekiel 21:27).
III. GOD'S GREAT MORAL PURPOSES SHOULD BE SEEN IN HISTORY. (Vers. 8-20.)
1. First, we are called upon to bless God for our preservation. If one is taken and the other left, it is not without a reason. It is God that keeps both nations and individuals alive.
2. Further, we are taught that all trials are part of God's discipline. (Vers. 10-12.) Even in the injustice, the oppression, and cruelty of men, we should discern the purposes of God. We are being educated by trial. When we see God's love behind and over all, we learn to be patient and to hope to the end (Deuteronomy 8:1). The outcome of Israel's trials was Canaan; and "there is a rest that remaineth for the people of God."
3. Lastly, we are admonished how God works to bring us ever nearer to himself in love and service. What the psalmist did is an example to us.
(1) There should be renewed consecration. (Vers. 13, 14.)
(2) There should be grateful and thorough obedience. (Ver. 15.)
(3) There should be open and manly testimony. (Ver. 16.)
(4) There should be more of prayer and more of praise. (Vers. 18-20.)
"New mercies, each returning day, Hover around us while we pray; New perils past, new sins forgiven, New thoughts of God, new hopes of heaven. "Only, O Lord, in thy dear love
"Only, O Lord, in thy dear love
I. THE WORSHIP OF GOD SHOULD BE JOYFUL AND FERVENT AS WELL AS SOLEMN. (Ver. 1.) Love and reverence are the perfection of worship.
II. THE GLORY OF GOD'S NATURE IS THE INSPIRATION OF ALL TRUE WORSHIP. (Ver. 2.) His name is his nature; and the glory of his nature is his greatness and goodness.
III. GOD'S PROVIDENTIAL WORK IN HISTORY COMPELS THE RELUCTANT HOMAGE OF EVEN HIS ENEMIES. (Ver. 3.) "Thine enemies feign allegiance unto thee" (see marginal reading).
IV. THE WHOLE EARTH IS THE TEMPLE OF GOD, WHEREIN HIS PRAISES ARE CELEBRATED. (Ver. 4.) Prediction of faith, that not only in Zion, but in the whole world, the praises of God should be uttered. - S.
I. WE SHOULD STUDY THE PHYSICAL WONDERS OF THE WORLD. (Ver. 6.) He turns the sea into dry land still, and the dry land into sea.
II. WE SHOULD STUDY HIS PROVIDENTIAL RULE IN THE HISTORY OF NATIONS. How he humbles and overthrows those who rebel against his will, and exalts and establishes the people who obey his laws.
III. WE SHOULD STUDY GOD'S WORK OF SALVATION IN THE WORLD. (Vers. 8, 9.) "Who putteth [not 'holdeth'] our soul in life, and suffereth not our feet to be moved."
IV. WE SHOULD STUDY GOD'S METHODS OF TRIAL AND DISCIPLINE FOR MAKING US SPIRITUALLY RICH. (Vers. 10-12.) "We went through fire and through water; but thou broughtest us out to abundance." - S.
I. Vows FULFILLED. (Vers. 13-15.)
1. When we are in trouble we make solemn vows of amendment and service. As the psalmist had done in his distress.
2. The fulfilment of our religious vows will often call for great sacrifices. Not burnt offerings from us, but the more costly sacrifices of the heart and spirit. "The sacrifices of God are a broken heart and a contrite spirit."
II. EXPERIENCES RELATED. (Vers. 16-20.) He proclaims what God had done for him in answer to his praises and prayers.
1. It is only those who fear God that have any sympathy with spiritual experience. Only these would care to listen.
2. Only those who are conscious of integrity of heart expect any answer to prayer. (Ver. 18; Job 27:8, 9.)
3. God will assuredly answer and bless those who call upon him in sincerity and in truth. The psalmist knew from experience that God had heard him and manifested his loving kindness towards him. His faith in God had the warrant of his experience, and was not an unfulfilled expectation. - S.
I. THIS EVIDENCE IS THE MOST ACCESSIBLE. Like the facts of science, it is before our eyes. If you want to know the truth, "come and see." As St. Paul argues, "the works of the flesh are manifest," and a black catalogue he gives of some of them. But the works of the Spirit are also manifest; and they are so contrary to the works of the flesh, that when a man changes his life, to walk, not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit, the evidence is conclusive as to the transcendent and beneficent power of Christ. The great conversions of St. Luke, as recorded in his Gospel and in the Acts, are evidences of the highest kind; but they are but samples. From that time down through the ages there is an ever-increasing cloud of witnesses. There is much evidence that is only accessible to the learned, and to such as have leisure and capacity for investigation; but here is evidence open to all - clear, relevant, and unmistakable.
II. THIS EVIDENCE IS THE MOST CONVINCING. It is so to the individual Christian himself. There may be arguments you cannot answer, and difficulties and doubts you cannot remove; but if you have felt the power of Christ for good, you have proof which is better than all else, that Christ is from God (1 John 5:10). You know the Bible to be true. You know salvation to be a reality. It is not something you have heard of or seen in others, but something which God has done for your own soul Like the man who had his sight restored, you can say, "Whereas I was blind, now I see." Or like the woman healed of the issue of blood, you can, solicited by love, bear witness, even "before all the people" (Luke 8:47), as to the great things which Christ has done for you. This evidence is the most convincing to others besides ourselves. When we find a real change of mind, a transformation of character, a life made beautiful by self-denial and virtue where formerly it was otherwise, and self-ruled instead of Christ, we cannot but confess the hand of God (Galatians 1:23; Acts 4:13; 2 Corinthians 3:1; 1 Corinthians 14:21).
III. THIS EVIDENCE IS THE MOST ENDURING. It is not limited to one time; it runs through the ages. Here is the true apostolic succession, and it has never been broken. In spite of all opposition and hostility, Christianity lives and prevails. At home and abroad, in every department of business and in every kind of society, it has its witnesses. Wherever we go, we may find brethren in Christ; and when, like Paul, we meet them, perhaps, when we are in trouble or in unexpected places, let us thank God, and take courage (Acts 28:14). Let us also, in our several places, see that we are found faithful. If we are called of God, it is that we may live for God. If we have been enlightened by Christ, it is that we may let our light shine where he has given us our lot. What an honour to be a witness for Christ! The more closely we imitate him by holy living, by faithful work, by loving service to the poor and needy, the greater shall be our power with God and men, and the greater our reward in heaven (John 20:21; Matthew 19:28). - W.F.