And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation.
The psalm is a series of pictures; and they are not. pictures of light and joy. They are scenes of distress and uttermost extremity. The lost traveller, ready to die in the silence of the wilderness! the reeling sailor, dashed with spray, and watching every coming billow in the fear that it may be his grave! the fettered prisoner, weeping his life away in the darkness of the dungeon! the sick and dying man, clinging still to this life, but looking fearfully or. to another! — such scenes of extremity the psalmist paints; and while we are thinking that no deliverance is possible, lo! the deliverance is wrought; — the traveller is on his way; the sailor is in his haven; the prisoner is looking down to the dungeon where he lay; the sick and dying soul is filled again with life! Such are the wonders wrought by Divine goodness!
I. THE COMPANY. Any considerable company of men is imposing. Nothing more quickly raises our interest than a large assemblage of human beings. The march of an army, the movement of a procession, the gathering of some great multitude for deliberation or for worship, even the rush of a common city crowd, will make the heart throb with unusual emotion. But here is a company more illustrious than any other upon earth, a company overwhelming in its vastness, and yet ever growing in numbers — calm in aspect, and yet irresistible in power — aiming at the noblest objects, manifesting the purest character, adorned with supernatural symbols of distinction, and pursuing her sublime and silent march from time into eternity under the direction of a guide invisible to all but her!
II. THE LEADER. The leader of this ransomed company is the Lord himself. The Bible abounds with intimations of the nearness of God, and particularly with assurances of His actual and perpetual presence with His people as their guide, and guard, and everlasting friend (Isaiah 48:17; Isaiah 41:10; Matthew 28:20.)
III. THE WAY. Happily to some it is covered with the clouds of disappointment; to others it is bleak and cold with the gales of adversity; to others it is drenched with the rains of sorrow. It has places of heart-wringing separation from fellow-pilgrims, and even deep, dark gulfs of sin; but netwithstanding all its mystery, and all the wrongness put into it by ourselves and others, as God's way, it is always right — right in shade as well as in sunshine, — right in winter as well as in summer, — right to all alike who are in the way, — and right on to the end.
IV. THE END. The idea chiefly brought before us is that of heaven as a fixed and settled home, "a peaceable habitation," "a sure dwelling," "a quiet resting-place " for ever. The way is narrow, but it leads on to the "large and wealthy place." It is rugged; but it opens at last into "green pastures," and winds beside "still waters," over which no blight or blast can come. It is a way of ceaseless toil and watchfulness; but they will be repaid by the rest that cannot be broken, by the joy that cannot end. It is long — at least in our days of suffering and dreariness we think so; but seen in retrospect, and when it has been all trodden, it will look but like the journey of a day.
(A. Raleigh, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation.