They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appears before God.
I. THE PROGRESSIVE NATURE OF THE CHRISTIAN'S COURSE. His repentance will be characterized by a greater hatred to sin — not so much on account of its penalties as of its pollution — its opposition to the Divine nature. His love to God — his benevolence to his fellow-creatures — and his affectionate sympathy for the household of faith, will perpetually improve in fervour, activity, and enlargement. His fortitude, mailed with a growing conviction of Divine truth, will be displayed in a more uncompromising adherence to what is right — in a more unbending resistance to what is wrong. Thus will he go from strength to strength, while the beauty of holiness will be daily brightening upon him, and his affinity and relationship to heaven made thereby increasingly manifest.
II. THE MEANS BY WHICH HE GATHERS INCREASING STRENGTH AND ENERGY FOR ITS PROSECUTION.
1. What the vale of Baca was to the Jewish pilgrims, the word and ordinances of God are to the heaven-bound traveller. Just as the little pits in the desert contained the rain which came from above to confirm the ancient inheritance of the Lord when it was weary, so are ordinances the instituted receptacles of the descending influences of Divine grace which come down like showers that water the earth to revive and invigorate the soul that thirsts for them.
2. The Israelites, in going up to Jerusalem, were strengthened and encouraged by the society of their fellow-pilgrims, who divided the toils of the journey, and whose presence and converse animated them to prosecute it to the end. Union and co-operation are powerful stimulants in any pursuit.
3. In going up to Jerusalem from the several parts of their country, to worship the Lord in the place where He had recorded His name, the Israelites, we are told, cheered their spirits and beguiled the weariness of the way by certain sacred melodies which they sang at intervals and in concert as they travelled along. The psalms entitled Songs of Degrees are generally understood to have been sung on these occasions. Now, this was a fruitful source of solace and refreshment. This made the journey pleasant and delightful. It is thus that the joy of the Lord is the strength of the Christian pilgrim. Every grace of the Spirit gives pleasure in its operation.
4. The Israelites were animated to the prosecution of their journey by the hope of reaching Zion and the prospect of the sacred enjoyments which awaited them there. "I had fainted," says the psalmist, "unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." As he advances onward in his Christian course, with the glow of spiritual health and activity, every fresh triumph over besetting sin — every fresh act of self-denial increased — every new habit of goodness acquired — every Christian virtue striking deeper root in his character — and every known duty more faithfully, fully, and cheerfully discharged, bear him record that now is his salvation nearer than when he believed. While he measures not his pace by his own strength, but leans upon the faithfulness of Omnipotence with all the confidence that one reposes on the arm of an old and well-tried companion, the oil of gladness is poured into his heart, and his soul becomes like the chariots of Aminadab, for he can run and not be weary, he can walk and not be faint.
III. THE BLESSED AND GLORIOUS TERMINATION. The final issue of the Christian's course rests not upon a peradventure, but upon the omnipotent power and faithfulness of God, that they may have strong consolation who have fled for refuge, to lay hold upon the hope set before them. The same hand which gave the new bias to direct the soul in its heavenward motion will continue to quicken and secure its progress (Philippians 1:6; John 10:28, 29).
(J. Anderson, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.