For He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.
I. INFINITELY DESIRABLE. The psalmist longs that they should do this; he seems eagerly waiting for that outburst or' praise which he feels ought to be forthcoming. And it is thus to be desired:
1. Because it is so right. If this could not be said of it, nothing else that might be urged could justify such longing after it. But this can be said. For God's goodness deserves men's praise. Think how great, how varied, how constant, how all undeserved, how costly, is the goodness of God to men, and how it follows them continually all the days of their life here, and then goes with them into the eternal life. If a fellow man have shown to us, when in distress, great kindness, we are not slow to acknowledge it; or if we were, the verdict of our fellow-men would at once condemn us.
2. It so brightens our life. That which darkens life is the dwelling on its unhappy events, or on those which we think unhappy. But if we would brighten life, we have to reverse this process. Collect the happy facts of life, and let memory recollect and ponder them. It will be found that however great the sum of our sorrows may be, the sum of our joys is greater.
3. It gives us courage in the conflict with the social evils of the day. There are many such. They are demanding men's attention more and more. The bitter cry of multitudes of our fellow men can be no longer stifled or ignored. And good men are setting themselves to see what can be done to remedy these wrongs. But every one knows that it is much easier to point out a wrong than to find a remedy. For there are so many who profit by the wrong, that they will never, if they can help, let go their hold of it. All man's selfishness rises up to guard it, and its defenses are strong indeed. But what can so encourage us to assail these strongholds of wrong as the conviction, wrought by the habit of praising the Lord for his goodness, that he whom we know to be good cannot but be against such wrong, and with those who seek to remedy it? There will be heard in their souls the ancient stirring cry, "Deus vult!" and like as that emboldened men in the days of the Crusades, so for this far more important and difficult crusade it will serve the same blessed office of emboldening the hearts of those who undertake it. But such custom is -
II. LAMENTABLY ABSENT. The text is both a confession and a bitter complaint of this fact. But why is this? Wherefore is it that men act towards God in a way which would cover them with shame were they to act so in regard to their fellow-men? The very words of the text suggest not a little of the answer.
1. Many do not believe in the Lord. They will not absolutely deny his existence, but they are not at all certain of it. And such uncertainty paralyzes praise. They, of course, believe in some "force," some efficient power, which produces what they see. They cannot help believing in that. But what it is they do not pretend to say. They are materialists, evolutionists, agnostics, but no more.
2. Others question the "goodness for which men should praise the Lord. They are bewildered at many aspects of the natural world and of the social world, that seem to throw grave doubt on that goodness. And when they look within and see what they themselves are, how evil and wrong; and when they listen to what not a few theologians tell them of God, and the doom he destines for the mass of men, a very sea of doubt and misgiving surges over them, not to say swallows them up.
3. And others deny any wonderful works." They do not believe in the supernatural, and all miracle is but myth. They believe only in the reign of law, and that things happen not in any "wonderful" way, but according to fixed, orderly, and ascertained law. They have a natural explanation for everything, and need no Divine intervention to account for aught that has occurred. They believe in "wonderful works" done by "the children of men," by their genius, skill, daring, but not in any done for them. Such are some of the silencers of men's praise and gratitude. But, whatever the cause, the effect is most sad. Man's own self becomes, to him who believes not in God, the greatest and most important being he knows, and what but hideous selfishness can follow? And he who doubts - as, alas! so many do -
"That he and we and all men move
III. IS EARNESTLY TO BE SOUGHT AFTER. But how may men be made to praise the Lord for his goodness - how? This is, indeed, an important question, and almost as difficult as important. Not, we think, by their simply going over the mercies they have received, because, unless they believe them to be God's mercies, the mere enumeration will do no good - will probably only foster pride. But we believe that St. John supplies the true answer. He says, "We love him, because he first loved us." This is the genesis of the spirit of praise, its true point and spring - our seeing and believing God's love to us in Christ our Lord. So, then, would we quicken this spirit of praise in ourselves, let us get back whence it first began; and would we awaken it in others, the best, we believe the only way, is to -
"Tell them the old, old story
Psalm 143:6): — Man has a threefold nature — physical, mental, and spiritual. The soul is the nobler part of man, and needs a nobler satisfaction than the body.
I. WHAT IS IMPLIED IN A LONGING OR HUNGRY SOUL.
For He satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.I. THE SOURCE OF TRUE SATISFACTION IS GOD.
1. The soul being made in His image has infinite yearnings which nothing finite can satisfy, and powers which can only find their due exercise in Divine worship and service.
2. The soul is fallen and therefore has need of restoration which nothing finite can accomplish.
II. THE RECIPIENTS OF TRUE SATISFACTION. Longing souls — men and women who realize their celestial origin. In time past, they may have turned to the world for satisfaction, they may have hewn them out cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water, but now they seek to slake their thirst from the fountain of living waters (Jeremiah 2:13). They may in the past have been among the dissatisfied, saying, "Who will show us any good?" (Psalm 4:6). Now they know that blessedness consists in having the light of the Divine countenance shining upon them.
III. THE CONDITION OF TRUE SATISFACTION. Obedience. The obedience which springs from filial trust and submission to the will of God. To those who hearkened to the Divine commandments the promise is (Isaiah 48:18). They shall be God's people, and He shall be their God. God for them, and with them, and in. them shall be a source of perfect and eternal satisfaction.
(H. P. Wright, B. A.)
1. That it wants something which it has not got. Pardon, peace, purity, God.
2. That it wants something which it cannot provide for itself.
3. That the want of this something unsettles and makes it discontented.
II. WHAT IS THE SATISFACTION WHICH GOD GIVES TO THE LONGING OR HUNGRY SOUL. The gifts of God to the soul, of pardon, health, and life, are its coronation; its honour and glory; its satisfaction. Beyond this it cannot go on earth. This is being filled and satisfied with goodness.
I. THE SOUL'S THIRST.
1. The soul comes from God, and its happiness is inseparably connected with obedience to the Divine will.
2. It is immortal.
3. It was made for God, in whom alone can it find true satisfaction.
4. It needs God, His smile, favour, and companionship.
5. How do men try to gratify this desire of the soul?(1) Some force the body to do double work to make up for the lack of spiritual food. But the body resists excess. Man was made to be something nobler than a mere eating and drinking apparatus.(2) Some with money — business. But the man who thought fifty pounds would give him complete satisfaction was unsatisfied with five hundred. Man should be better than a money-making machine, a slave to business.(3) Some with worldly pleasure, drinking constantly at the wells of worldly bliss, which only increases their thirst. You may as well strive to catch the east wind as try to satisfy immortal hunger with sensual pleasures.
II. THE SOUL'S SATISFACTION.
1. The world can stimulate and excite, but cannot give rest.
2. How may the soul be satisfied?(1) In being at peace with God (Romans 5:11).(2) In mutual sympathy, reciprocal affection.(3) In regeneration, sanctification, moral likeness to God.(4) In doing God's will. "To do the will of Jesus: this is rest."(5) In constant communion with God. Through Christ we have access by the Spirit unto the Father.
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