Praise ye the Lord.
I. IN HIS ABSOLUTE GOODNESS (vers. 1-3). He is "good" — essentially, eternally, infinitely, immutably.
II. IN HIS RELATIVE KINDNESS (ver. 4). Britain is more favoured than ever Palestine was. It is the land of liberty, Bibles, churches, etc.
III. IN HIS TRANSCENDENT SUPREMACY (ver. 5). He is King of all kings, and Lord of all lords.
IV. IN HIS SOVEREIGN OPERATIONS (vers. 6-12).
1. In material nature (vers. 6, 7).
2. In human history (vers. 8-12).
V. IN HIS ENDLESS EXISTENCE (vers. 13, 14).
1. His character is everlasting.
2. His remembrance is everlasting.
3. His kindness is everlasting.
VI. IN HIS UNAPPROACHABLE GREATNESS (vers. 15-18). Idols, what are they to Him? What are the highest objects of the earth to Him? CONCLUSION — Do not the aspects in which the author of this ode presents Jehovah manifest His supreme claim to the hallelujah of all souls?
The Lord hath chosen Jacob unto Himself.: — This is a psalm of praise all through. It is to be sung to the highsounding cymbals. There is not a low note anywhere; it is all robust, exhilarating, joyful. It is "Hallelujah!" from beginning to end; and it did not seem possible to the psalmist that he could omit from it the high jubilant note of election; for if there is anything that makes believers' hearts sing unto the Lord, it is the recollection that He has chosen them, and fixed His love upon them.
I. THE CHOICE.
2. Sovereign — irrespective of character.
3. Most gracious.
4. Very wonderful.When you have told me why He chose Jacob, I shall then try to find out why He chose me; and if I should find that out, probably you will at the same time discover why He chose you. God never acts unreasonably; yet He does not find His reasons for acting in men, but within Himself, in His compassion, in the eternal counsels of His own will.
II. THE REASON OR RESULT OF GOD'S CHOICE.
1. That we might know Him.
2. That we might keep His truth alive in the world.
3. To keep up His worship.
4. That He might commune with us.
III. THE SEPARATION WHICH GROWS OUT OF THIS CHOICE. He led Israel out into the wilderness that there He might speak to their hearts. He drew them away from men; He made them live solitary and alone, like eagles on the rock, that they might dwell there with Him, and have no strange god among them. Blessed are the people who enjoy this separation; but unhappy are the men and women who talk about election, and yet have never known the separation which stamps their election as being a matter of fact.
IV. THEIR ELEVATION. "His peculiar treasure." God's people are everything to Him; there is nothing that you have, that you account rich or rare, that is anything to you in value in comparison with what God's people are to Him. His delight is in them: the pleasure which God has in His people is truly wonderful.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
I know that the Lord is great.
I. THE GREATNESS OF GOD. God is great. If I look at Him in His being, He is great; if I look at Him in His perfections, He is great; if I look at Him in creation, He is great; if I look at Him in His providence, He is great; if I look at Him in His law, He is great; and still more gloriously does He appear great in the greatness of His Gospel.
II. THE CERTAINTY WHICH DAVID SEEMED TO FEEL OF THIS BEING THE TRUTH. "I know" it, he says. There was a special inspiration, I doubt not; but he was led into the school of holy experience; he knew that God was great; and so does every child of God. He knows that He is great in His regenerating grace. Equally great is the work of revealing Christ. He has given you His Son, He has given you His Spirit, He has given you Himself, He has given you His Word, He has given you His promises, He has given you the foretastes of heaven; and He expects from you the very best that you have, to be given up to Him to be His own, because He is a great God.
(J. H. Evans, M. A.)
Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did He.: —
I. God ACTS. He is the great worker, — never resting, never failing, never wearying, — the worker of all workers, the motor in all motions.
II. God acts EVERYWHERE. In the heavens He rolls the massive orbs of space; on the earth He maketh the grass to grow and clotheth the earth with verdure.
III. God acts FROM and FOR HIMSELF.
1. From Himself. Our activity is often excited and controlled by something external to ourselves. His never. Nothing is extra. No ruling principles or persons, not all the hierarchies of intelligences, nor the rushing forces and forms of universal matter can excite Him. His action is that of absolute spontaneity. He is responsible to no one.
2. For Himself. There is no other reason for His activity but what pleases Him. The chief measure of any moral intelligence is the gratification of His predominant disposition. In God this is love. Hence His pleasure in creating the universe and sustaining it is the diffusion of His own happiness. His pleasure is the pleasure of His creatures; His happiness and theirs are identical.
(David Thomas, D. D.)
The idols... are silver and gold.
I. The gold-god is the most POPULAR of the gods. It is said that ancient Greece and Rome had not less than thirty thousand divinities, and that in modern heathendom, at present, their name is legion. But throughout this civilized world the gold-god reigns supreme. Tell me, is there aught besides that engrosses so much of human thoughts, human affections, human plans, activities and time, as gold? Civilization everywhere multiplies the shrines, the altars, and the devotees of mammon.
II. The gold-god is the most MISCHIEVOUS of the gods. The ponderous wheels of Juggernaut's chariot have crushed millions; Krishna, Moloch and other heathen divinities have tortured and destroyed their devotees, but is there a divinity in the long roll of idolatrous worship more terribly destructive than the gold-god?
1. How soul-debasing! It deadens the sense of virtue, blinds moral perceptions, seals up the social sympathies, manacles the moral faculties, and chains that soul made to wing the immeasurable regions of light and truth to a mere clod of dust. It is a law that the soul can never rise above its god.
2. How peace disturbing! It keeps its devotee in a constant tumult. It breaks the harmony of families, disturbs the order of society, raises nations into war and bloodshed. "Midas," says Carlyle," longed for gold and insulted the Olympians. He got gold so that whatever he touched became gold, and he, with his long ears, was little the better for it. Midas had insulted Apollo and the gods: the gods gave him his wish, and a pair of long ears which also were a good appendage to it. What a truth in these old fables!"
(David Thomas, D. D.)
Blessed be the Lord out of Zion.I. THE PSALMIST'S EXPRESSIONS OF THANKFULNESS.
1. We are taught by the whole of this psalm that these expressions spring from a grateful memory. Everywhere around him he beholds some memorial of the Divine goodness, some landmark of the ancient inheritance of his fathers, some footprint of the Divine mercy and power, which has lingered on from generation to generation, through calms and storms, judgments and blessings. And surely we also can recall the past, with its evidences of God's love and pity.
2. The expressions of thankfulness, observe, are specially appropriate to the Church in her present state of trial. It is "out of Zion" the voice of blessing is to go up to heaven. It is in our gatherings on the Sabbath that the heart is to give free scope to its grateful memories and feelings. The Church of God is still in the wilderness; but though in the wilderness, battling with wrong, and with the visible and invisible enemies of her path, still she is able to raise the anthem — "Blessed be the Lord out of Zion, which dwelleth at Jerusalem."
II. THE REASONABLENESS OF THIS THANKFULNESS.
1. This might be urged from the Divine Presence of "the Lord, which dwelleth at Jerusalem." It was the fact of this recognized Presence, this "Shield," this "Refuge," this "Strength," which gave the deep, full impulse to the thankfulness of the Jewish heart; so should it act with us. There is no comfort so great and so lasting to a right. minded Christian man as the consciousness of the Almighty Presence.
2. The reasonableness of thanksgiving arises, too, not only from a sense of duty, and of manifold blessings bestowed from day to day, but also from the gracious truth that God's dwelling is to be found on earth; that He has not deserted it, nor given it over to destruction. And the fact that this meaning is conveyed to us by the naming of Jerusalem is very certain. Thus we are not directed to look for the Divine Presence out of our own spheres of existence, far away beyond the limits of our comprehension, but to look for it at our very doors, even within our own hearts. Is not this a cause of thankfulness?
3. In the fact of God's dwelling at Jerusalem we find another reason for thankfulness in the form of His dwelling, namely, the symbol of "the Shekinah," the visible glory between "the wings of the cherubim overshadowing the mercy-seat." Thus, in the presence of Christ, our God and Saviour, we have a protection, a shelter, and a security against danger.
(W. D. Horwood.).