Psalm 112:4

I. LIGHT DOES SO ARISE. Morning by morning, if only we were astir to see it, the light arises out of the darkness. There comes the paling of the dark, and then the gradual dawn. And the method of it is full of suggestion as to like times of darkness. The light comes because the earth swings itself round into the light. The earth, unlike the people who dwell upon it, is obedient to the Divine law concerning her; and hence, though she be in darkness, she comes out of it in due time by obeying her Creator's will, and turning towards the light.

II. THIS IS TRUE OF OTHER FORMS OF DARKNESS.

1. That of mental perplexity and doubt. This is very prevalent. All thoughtful minds seem doomed to pass through it. The getting at the real truth of things, especially in the matter of religious faith, is not easy. And if doubt be the prompting only of a sincere love of truth, then it is right, and it will be dispersed ere long. But then it often is not so prompted, but springs from quite other motives. The liking to be thought intellectual and mentally capable is often the pure origin of so-called doubt. If a man owns himself a believer, he incurs the risk, in many circles, of being regarded as weak, credulous, and more or less foolish and ridiculous. Yet more, the plea of doubt absolves a man from taking a decisive stand for God. He knows he ought to, but he gets out of the obligation, or thinks he does, by pleading his doubts. And doubt condones sin. Hearty belief brings obligation to self-restraint along with it, but doubt is free from such encumbrance, and is therefore welcomed by the sinful heart as a friend. Light will not arise to such, but the darkness will deepen more and more. But to the upright, the sincere seeker for truth, and who is not doubting because of any lurking liking for what is evil and self-pleasing to him, in due time the light will arise.

2. The state of soul-darkness also. How much of this there is! The faith of Christ ought to make men happy, to fill their souls with light and joy. But it very often fails to do this. The gladness of God's love seems only conspicuous by its absence in the case of all too many Christians. They are not sure that they are forgiven; they are certain they are very far from being holy; their sanctification is anything but complete; they cannot realize the love of God to them; they walk in darkness, and have little, if any, light; and death is still a terror to them. But are they sincere, true-hearted seekers after God? If so, their light shall arise, in spite of temperament, ill health, bad teaching, earthly care and trouble, and any other of the many causes of soul-darkness. Only let them rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him.

3. And so, too, when the child of God is in darkness as to the conduct of life. How often we seem unable to make out the right way, to know the right thing to do! It is so in the home, the business, the Church. But again the promise holds good.

III. THIS CONDITION IS EVER THE SAME. AS the earth would ever be in the dark if it did not turn round to the light, so will men be unless they turn to the light. Do this in thought, in prayer, in practical obedience, and ere long the darkness will have passed, and the light will shine. - S.C.







Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness.
I. DESCRIBE THE NATURE OF REAL RELIGION.

II. TRACE ITS GENERAL INFLUENCE IN AFFLICTION.

1. It informs the sufferer of the source whence affliction springs — from a Father and a Friend — a God who has engaged every attribute of His nature to promote the highest interests and everlasting happiness of the creature He afflicts. Can it, fail of its design? — His power controls it.

2. It acquaints him with the design of affliction, if this momentary pain produce everlasting ease; if this night of sorrow be followed by an endless day of joy; who but must welcome the fleeting anguish, the temporary gloom?

3. It apprises him of the limited duration of affliction.

4. It affords him communion with God in his affliction.

III. ILLUSTRATE THE INFLUENCE OF RELIGION IN AFFLICTION, BY AN APPEAL TO SOME SPECIFIC CASES.

1. Disease. Here is no fretfulness, no complaining, no petulance. Affliction has so refined the sufferer, that he seems already half immortal, and his pinions are plumed for glory, ere he receives the commission to take his flight.

2. Bereavement. Religion gives a partner to that widowed mother, more tender and kind than he could ever prove, over whose grave she weeps in all the agony of woe. It gives a father to those orphan children, full of sympathy and love.

3. Poverty. Religion has dignity with which to invest the poor man, which wealth can never purchase, nor rank confer.

4. Death. "I have," said the dying Romaine, "the peace of God in my conscience, and the love of God in my heart. Jesus is more precious than rubies, and all that can be desired on earth is not to be compared with Him."

(T. Raffles, D.D.)

1. "Light "and "darkness," figuratively, denote life and death, knowledge and ignorance, virtue and vice, joy and sorrow.

2. There are four things in the text.

(1)Certain characters — "the upright."

(2)Their seasons of darkness — "the darkness."

(3)Light in those seasons — "there ariseth light."

(4)The time when the light comes — "in the darkness."

3. Who are "the upright"? (Psalm 97:11; 43:8).

4. The "upright" have their seasons of darkness. Sickness, poverty, debt, family trials, etc. To some, the whole of life is, in a measure, a season of "darkness" (Proverbs 14:10).

5. To "the upright," "light" comes in such seasons of "darkness." There is the cloud, but there is also "the bright light on the cloud." Innocence can shed "light" in the seasons of slander and mis-judgment. A desire to know the truth, and to follow it, with a quiet consciousness of the necessary limits of our knowledge, is so much "light" in seasons of doubt and mystery. Repentance, faith, confession, and reparation, bring "light," when our own sins bring "darkness."

6. Notice particularly that the "light" is said to arise "in the darkness." It was so with Christ in Gethsemane (Luke 22:43); and with St. Paul when the "thorn in the flesh" troubled him (2 Corinthians 12:8-10). In neither case was the "darkness" entirely removed. There was "darkness," but there was also "light in the darkness."

7. All persons, whether "upright" or otherwise, have their seasons of "darkness," of one kind or another. All, too, have "light" from some source or other, for man as naturally seeks relief from what is painful, as he seeks for food when he is hungry. But from whence come the "darkness," and the "light" too? (Isaiah 1:10, 11).

8. "Darkness" there must be: no being can escape it. And when the "darkness" comes, and while the "darkness" continues, there may be "light." Where, from, and to whom? (Psalm 4:6).

(F. Young.)

The Christian often has to walk in the night. Clouds and gloom are round about him. Physical weakness, mental infirmity, relative anxiety, and spiritual distress, — these are part of his earthly lot.

I. UPRIGHT MEN SHOULD BRAVELY WALK ON IN DARKNESS. That is heroic: but it is difficult. The heart seeks for recognition of its rectitude. Flowers love sunshine, and so do the spirits of men. Job seems to have missed the greetings in the market-place as much as anything. There is a tone of peculiar poignancy in his grief about that. I do not wonder at it. We all like to be loved: we all like to be thought right. It is much easier to walk on against sleet, hail, wind, right in your teeth, than it is to move forward against the prejudice, the peevishness, or the misconception of others. When the sluggish waters of the Ouse rolled at the feet of Bunyan's prison, with the blind child clasping his feet, and a dim light falling on the Bible on his rude table, — he bravely bore on through the persecutor's night. When the dark fortress of Wartburg shut its gates on Luther, he bore worse ills than bodily sickness, — he fought in fancy with darkest forms of evil.

II. UPRIGHT MEN ARE LIVING FOR ALL THE COMING AGES WHEN THEY ARE WAITING FOR THE LIGHT. The worthies of the old world live now: being dead they speak to us: and, in a special sense, they affect us in two ways.

1. They lead us to recognize the law of right. We are often endangered by the sophisms of expediency. "Wait," — says Policy, it will be time to-morrow to leave Egypt, and make an enemy of the powerful Pharaoh; do not smite the idols now, — the idolatries left alone will die out! "Trust in God, and do the right," — says Conscience. Obey and suffer. Never mind the darkness, — the day-star will soon arise. You are not living for yourselves alone, — the beacon-light of your conduct will guide the after-ages of the world.

2. They lead us to recognize the fidelity of God to His promises. They claimed no strength of their own, apart from the inspiration of God. In the calm heights, where God dwells, they had full communion with Him, and there the fevered heart was comforted and cooled.

III. UPRIGHT MEN ARE NOT WHOLLY DEPENDENT ON OUTWARD LIGHT. This is refreshing to them as well as to others. I mean, of course, by outward light, that which arises from visible associations. We might as well try to pluck a star from the heavens, or imagine that the storms can waft out the light of the sun, as to suppose that the God-light within us can be dimmed or quenched. No! "The path of the just is as the shining light," etc.

IV. UPRIGHT MEN BRING FORTH BEAUTIFUL GRACES IN THE DARKNESS. Naturalists will tell you that there are few night-blowing flowers; they are very rare, for as a rule night opens no petals, but shuts up the bloom. It is otherwise in grace. Many of the sweetest and most fragrant graces of the spiritual nature blossom in the night season of affliction and trial. And why is this? Because God is able to make all grace abound to us in seasons when nature has withdrawn from us her most cheering beams.

V. UPRIGHT MEN MAY HAVE THEIR MINDS CLOUDED WITH DOUBT. Probably they will. The more upright they are the more anxious will they be to have the foundation of God which standeth sure. Some of the devoutest minds have had seasons of mental trial merging almost into agony. We can see the outward forms that men's opinions at last have shaped themselves into, but any acquaintance with the thought-struggles of , of Anselm, of the great thinkers of the Middle Ages, — whether they were Nominalists or Realists in their philosophy, — shows us that in the search for truth there are forests to be traversed that sometimes hide the light. But where there is simplicity of mind, sincerity of heart, spirituality of soul, God leads the mind that trusts in Him out into the perfect day.

(W. M. Statham, M. A.)

There is, of course, some specific reference and application intended here, such as will harmonize with the general drift of the psalm. But we cannot fail to notice that this is a general proposition — a broad assertion which covers the whole of life for the persons of whom it is said. And I want now to show how true the text is; and how, being true, it practically works, and holds good, in the different spheres of human existence.

I. MATTERS OF FAITH — those revealed truths which are to be apprehended by us, and accepted, and turned to perpetual use for guidance, health, salvation. Concerning those truths we may be said to begin in the darkness. And we get into the "light" — not in an easy, natural, irresistible manner, but — by hints and suggestions at first, by help of broken gleams, and through falling shadows; through doubts and uncertainties, and frequent misconception; by gropings, and hesitations, and discoveries: held often in the restriction of our own narrowness, circumscribed always by necessary limits, liable always to mistakes, and at no time holding the complete and perfect truth. The doubts that may arise, in particular minds, and at particular stages of the development of some human souls, are not to be numbered, can hardly indeed be described, they are so delicate and changeful. Yet to a sensitive mind, to a mind full of spiritual anxiety, they are very distressing. How are you to make light arise in the darkness? And how are you to have the assurance that it is light, and not some fatal splendour as transient as it is misleading? Now, here the principle of this text is of direct application, and of priceless force and value: "Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness." Sincerity: an honest desire to know the truth: readiness to make any sacrifice in order to the knowledge: obedience to the truth so far as it is known already — these will bring the light when nothing else will bring it. "Light is sown for the righteous;" and the harvest from God's sowing never fails. First conceptions and lower knowledge is the seed of the higher; and that again of higher still. Mistakes and misconceptions fall off and die if only there be the fruitful ground of "an honest and good heart."

II. MATTERS OF EXPERIENCE. Say then that the chief intellectual difficulties are now solved; or say that they have never existed, and that "the Gospel," in much of its Divine simplicity, stands clearly before the apprehension, and, as far as the intellect is concerned in the operation, is received in the faith — what will then be the inward condition? Why, a true faith ought to produce a true feeling. And the feeling ought to be a happy one. Faith in "glad tidings" ought to make glad hearts. But at this point be sure you do not mistake. Be sure you seek heart-light "lawfully." It is fruit, and not root. It is consequence, not cause. Seek first the righteousness of the inward kingdom, and the light will come out of that.

III. MATTERS OF PRACTICE. Religion in its organized forms in this world, and in its practical operations, is not exempted from the ordinary laws and vicissitudes of human life. Societies and Christian Churches have their times of darkness, their trials, their disappointments. They fall upon the best methods they can think of to extend the cause — the very truth of God — among men. And you would think that God is almost bound by the terms of His own covenant to lift an endeavour like that quite above the ordinary plane of things, and into a realm of visible clearness and certainty. But no. God has time enough, and He takes it. He takes it, and teaches His people to take it; to take — not "their time," which is indolent unfaithfulness, but His time. He educates by trial, by delay, by defeat. "Light is sown for the righteous," but, like all living seed, it takes a while to spring. The days of sowing are sometimes chill and dark. The bright harvest days will make amends for all.

(A. Raleigh, D.D.)

I. THE CHARACTER OF THE PERSON TO WHOM THIS PROMISE IS MADE, The "upright man" is the honest man, the man of integrity.

1. He hath a serious and hearty sense of God and religion upon his spirit, and is above all things careful to preserve and increase that sense.

2. In his civil conversation —(1) As a private person, the general rule by which he frames his whole conversation, is such a prudent and diligent care of himself, and his own good, as is not only consistent with, but doth effectually tend to promote the good and happiness of all others that he deals with.(2) As a magistrate. The great thing he proposes to himself, in taking any office upon him, is the glory of God and the public good.

II. THE ADVANTAGES AND PRIVILEGES THAT SUCH A MAN ENJOYS IN EVIL AND DANGEROUS TIMES. "Light in the darkness."

1. By "light," we may understand light for his guidance and direction; and then the sense is, That in critical and perilous times, the upright man, of all others, will be best enabled to order and manage his affairs.

2. By "light," we may understand safety and defence, as the word is sometimes taken in Scripture; and then the sense is, That in evil times the upright man walks most free from danger; he of all others may expect security and protection in a common calamity.

3. By "light," we may understand peace and joy (as that likewise is another usual sense of the word), and then the meaning is, That in evil times, let things happen as they will, though it should be the fortune of the upright mail to be oppressed in the crowd; yet this happiness he will always have, that his mind will be at perfect ease and peace. Nothing shall ever discompose him, but in the midst of his sufferings his heart shall be replenished with perpetual Comfort.

(Abp. Sharp.)

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