Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shall you dwell in the land, and truly you shall be fed.…
"I have been young, and now am old," says the writer of this psalm. Its whole tone speaks the ripened wisdom and autumnal calm of age. The dim eyes have seen and survived so much, that it seems scarcely worth while to be agitated by what ceases so soon. Life with its changes has not soured but quieted him. The secret of tranquillity is seen —
I. IN FREEDOM FROM EAGER, EARTHLY DESIRES. "Delight thyself in the Lord," etc. The great reason why life is troubled lies not without but within. It is not our changing circumstances, but our unregulated desires, that rob us of peace. We are feverish, not because of the external temperature, but because of the state of our own blood. One desire unfulfilled is enough to banish tranquillity; but how can it survive a dozen dragging different ways? And, still further, they destroy tranquillity by putting us at the mercy of externals. Do not venture the rich freightage of your happiness in crazy vessels. If your life twines round any prop but God your strength, be sure that, some time or other, the stay to which its tendrils cling will be plucked up, and the poor vine will be lacerated, its clusters crushed, and its sap bleeding out of it. "Delight thyself in the Lord" — that is the cure for all the feverish unrest of desires. Rest must come from delighting in God, for it is no longer distracted by many desires, but has come under the one master-attraction. Such a soul is still as the great river above the falls, when all the side currents and dimpling eddies and backwaters are effaced by the attraction that draws every drop in the one direction. Let the current of your being set towards God, then your life will be filled and calmed by one master-passion which unites and stills the soul. And for another reason there will be peace: because in such a case desire and fruition go together. "He shall give thee the desires of thine heart." Only do not vulgarize that great promise by making it out to mean that, if we will be good, He will give us the earthly blessings which we wish. Sometimes we shall get them, and sometimes not; but the real desire of the man who delights in God will be God Himself, and this desire is ever fulfilled. And again, desire after God brings peace by putting all other wishes in their right place. The counsel in the text does not enjoin the extinction, but the subordination of all other desires. The presence of the king awes the crowd into silence.
II. IN FREEDOM FROM THE PERPLEXITY OF CHOOSING OUR PATH. This is a word for all life, not only for its great occasions. Twice or thrice, perhaps, in a man's life his road leads him up to a high dividing point, a watershed, as it were, whence the rain runs from, the one side of the ridge to the Pacific, and from the other to the Atlantic. His whole future may depend on his bearing the least bit to the right hand or to the left, and all the slopes below, on either side, are wreathed in mist. Powerless as he is to see before him, he has yet to choose, and his choice determines the rest of his days. Certainly he needs some guidance then. But he needs it not less in the small decisions of every hour. Our histories are made up of a series of trifles, in each of which a separate act of will and choice is involved. Depend upon it that, if we have not learned the habit of committing the daily-recurring monotonous steps to Him, we shall find it very, very hard to seek His help when we come to a fork in the road. So this is a command for all life, not only for its turning-points. Thus, these two keys — joy in God, and trust in His guidance — open for us the double doors of the secret place of the Most High; where all the roar of the busy world dies upon the ear, and the still small voice of the present God deepens the silence, and hushes the heart. Be quiet, and you will hear Him speak-delight in Him, that you may be quiet.
III. The secret of tranquillity is found, thirdly, IN FREEDOM FROM THE ANXIETY OF AN UNKNOWN FUTURE. "Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him." Such an addition to these previous counsels is needful, if all the sources of our disquiet are to be dealt with. The future is dim, after all our straining to see into its depths. Confidence that the future will but evolve God's purposes, and that all these are enlisted on our side, will give peace and power. Rut remember that the peaceful confidence of this final counsel is legitimate only when we have obeyed the other two.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.