For I will proclaim the name of the LORD. Ascribe greatness to our God!
Deuteronomy 31:19, 21). A song is:
2. Easily handed down from mouth to mouth.
3. Of singular power to awaken sympathetic feeling (cf. influence of ballads, of Jacobite songs, of the 'Marseillaise,' of popular hymns). The action of song is not violent, but gentle and persuasive. It steals about the heart like rippling water or like sunlight, trickles into its pores, works as if by spirit-influence on its seats of laughter and tears, explores its innermost labyrinths of feeling. Here compared (ver. 2) to the gently distilling dew and rain.
I. THE DEW AND RAIN AS EMBLEMS OF THE TEACHING MOST LIKELY TO PROVE EFFECTIVE. Their action is:
(4) kindly; yet:
1. Invigorative. They revive, refresh, stimulate.
2. Powerful Rocks shattered by drops of water in their pores and crevices.
3. Deep-reaching. They act on plants by watering their roots. Take a lesson from them. It is not the best kind of teaching which is loud and violent, which tries to force men's convictions. Convictions must have time to grow. Teaching must be loving. The earthquake, the whirlwind, the fire, have their own place, but "the still small voice" is needed to succeed them. The Lord is peculiarly in that. Angry scolding, petulant rebuke, biting censure, clever satire, seldom do much good. Love alone wins the day.
II. THE DEW AND RAIN AS EMBLEMS OF THE TEACHING MOST SUITABLE IN THE INSTRUCTIONS OF RELIGION. Moses employed it here. Christ employed it. "He shall not strive nor cry," etc. (Matthew 12:19). Paul commends "truthing it in love" (Ephesians 4:15). "The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves" (2 Timothy 2:24, 25). This kind of teaching harmonizes best:
1. With the subject of religion - "the Name of the Lord" (ver. 3). God had revealed his Name to Moses (Exodus 34:6, 7), and the attributes of mercy preponderate.
2. With the end of religion - the ascription of greatness to God (ver. 3). Religious teaching fails if it does not inspire men with such convictions of God's greatness as will lead them to fear, honor, worship, praise, and serve him.
3. With the special theme of the gospel - peace, love, good will to men. This song of Moses has to deal with stern truths, but even in its sternest passages it breathes the pathos of tender and sorrowful affection. It dwells largely on God's kindnesses and the people's ingratitude, and ends with loving promises. The song has numerous echoes in Isaiah. - J.O.
I. OFFER A FEW REMARKS ON THE NATURE OF GOD'S GREATNESS.
I. A CAUTION. In as much as Moses had said, "Ascribe ye greatness unto our God," he intended to hint to us that we ought to ascribe greatness to none else.
Ascribe ye greatness unto our God.I. OUR PRIMARY CONCERN SHOULD BE TO ATTEMPT TO REALISE THE GREATNESS OF GOD, however inadequate all our conceptions may be.
1. His underived, independent, and eternal existence. In this His nature stands out in distinction from all created being.
2. The infinitude of His knowledge. There is no evading His glance, no travelling beyond the reach of His omniscience, no baffling His skill, no frustrating His plans, "no searching of His understanding."
3. The boundlessness of His power and dominion. "Great is the Lord, and of great power." Take the microscope, and all the orders of existence which it reveals are embraced in His providence. Take the telescope, and as worlds on worlds pass before your vision, you only survey other parts of His great and boundless empire.
4. The grandeur of His moral perfections. His holiness is unspotted, the standard and pattern of righteousness to all creatures and to all worlds. His goodness is vast and unutterable. It gave us "His unspeakable gift." His faithfulness endureth to all generations, giving stability to the world which He created.
II. THE PRACTICAL LESSONS ENFORCED IN THE CALL TO "ASCRIBE GREATNESS TO OUR GOD."
1. Our adoration is a fitting tribute to His greatness and majesty. "Whoso offereth praise glorifieth Me." It is the acknowledgment on our part of His natural and moral perfections.
2. It is not only, however, by the direct exercise of adoration that we are to fulfil the exhortation of the text, but by cultivating a humbling impression of the Divine Majesty ever on our hearts. What humility should we, as creatures, cherish in the presence of the greatness of God! What lowliness of spirit should there be in our supplications and pleadings with God! How unseemly is all that is irreverential before Him!
3. Whilst the Divine greatness should humble us, however, it may also inspire us with confidence, if living and walking before Him. What a friend and helper is He to those who loyally serve Him! It is related of one of the greatest of the French preachers that, when called to preach a funeral discourse for Louis XIV before a crowded audience and in the presence of the French Court, he broke the hushed silence of the vast assembly when he entered the pulpit and began to speak, by the exclamation, There is nothing great but God, and then, having nerved himself for his work, addressed himself to his subject. In sorest bereavements He can sustain, and in the solemn void which they have created can make His own presence all the more realisingly felt. Specially let us cherish such confidence in reference to the interests of religion in the world, and look forward to a great future for the Church of God, though earth and hell oppose.
(E. T. Prust.)
1. If I worship a created being, if I seek the intercession of any save the one Person who is ordained to be the Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus, I do in that degree derogate from the greatness of God.
2. Though we do not bow down and worship images, yet, I am sorry to say, there is scarce a congregation that is free from that error of ascribing greatness to their minister. If souls are converted, how very prone we are to think there is something marvellous in the man. We are but your servants for Christ's sake.
3. Pay deference unto authorities as ye should do; but if in aught they swerve, remember your knee must bow to God, and to God alone. If in aught there be anything wrong, though it should have a sovereign's name attached to it, remember one is your Master and King.
4. In the case of those who are in the employ of masters, it is but right that they should render unto their masters that which is their due; but when the master commands that which is wrong, allow me solemnly to caution you against giving to him anything which you are not bound to do. Your master tells you you must break the Sabbath. You do it because he is your master; ye have violated this command, for it is said, "Ascribe ye greatness unto God."
5. This text has a bearing upon certain philosophic creeds which I will just hint at. Some men, instead of ascribing greatness to God, ascribe greatness to the laws of nature, and to certain powers and forces which they believe govern the universe. They look up on high; their eyes see the marvellous orbs walking in their mystery along the sky. They say, "What stupendous laws are those which govern the universe!" And ye will see in their writings that they ascribe everything to law and nothing to God. Now, all this is wrong. Law without God is nothing. God puts force into law, and if God acts by laws in the government of the material universe, yet it is the force of God which moves the worlds along and keeps them in their places. Law without God is nullity. Reject every philosophy that does not ascribe greatness to God, for there is a worm at the root of it, and it yet shall be destroyed.
II. A COMMAND.
1. This command comes to the sinner when he first begins seriously to consider his position before God. When you look at your sins ascribe greatness to God's justice.
2. Let the sinner who is already convinced of thin ascribe greatness to God's mercy. Further, let me appeal to the Christian, "Ascribe ye greatness unto our God." Thou art in trouble; thou art wearied with the hardness of thy journey; thy poverty has got hold of thee. It is a dark night with thee just now; thou seest not thy signs; thou hast no sweet promise to light upon. "Ascribe ye greatness unto our God." Great as your troubles are, remember He is greater. And when the devil tempts you to believe that God cannot help you, tell him that you think better of Him than that; you ascribe greatness to the Almighty, and you believe He is great enough to deliver you from all your sorrows.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
1. Greatness is not a distinct attribute of the Divine nature, but an excellency which belongs to all His attributes. Whatever is in God is great. He is great in His wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and truth. There is such a mixture of greatness and goodness in God, that those who know Him best will fear and love Him most; and even devils are constrained to believe and tremble.
2. There is an essential and also a relative greatness in God, a greatness interwoven in the whole of His character, and appearing in all His works. Is He our Father? He is our Father who is in heaven, dwelling in the most exalted state of majesty; demanding our reverence and exciting our highest hopes (Ecclesiastes 5:2). Is He a King? He is a great King, the King of kings.
3. The greatness of God is unsearchable and incomprehensible. With increasing knowledge we shall have an increasing sense of our own deficiency.
II. INQUIRE IN WHAT MANNER WE ARE TO ASCRIBE "GREATNESS TO GOD."
1. We are to ascribe greatness to our God by acknowledging and declaring His greatness and His glory.
2. In ascribing greatness to the Lord, we are to do it practically; not only with our lips, but in our lives.
3. In approaching to God with reverence and holy fear we ascribe to Him the glory due unto His name, striving against wandering thoughts and vain imaginations, and cherishing a deep sense of our own unworthiness. The higher we rise in our apprehensions of God, the lower we shall fall in our own esteem.
4. By entertaining the most enlarged expectations from God we in effect ascribe greatness to Him. Great faith ought to be exercised towards a great God; nor should we say, "Can He pardon? can He help? or can He save?" for what can He not do? What wants are so great that He cannot supply? what works so great that He cannot enable us to perform? what burdens so great that He cannot support us under? what dangers so great that He cannot deliver us out of them?
5. If we ascribe greatness to the Lord, that greatness will be to us a matter of joy and gladness, and we shall glory in His holy name.
6. Fearing to offend against God, and dreading His displeasure, are included in the duty prescribed.
(B. Beddome, M. A.)
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