Blessed is the one You choose and bring near to dwell in Your courts! We are filled with the goodness of Your house, the holiness of Your temple.
I. Here is A CONFESSION DEFEAT. When we look within we find that, instead of all being right, all is wrong. This alarms us. We rouse ourselves to action. We resolve to live a new life of love and holiness. But the more we try the less we succeed. Our strength is weakness. Our purposes are broken off. Our best endeavours end in defeat. Instead of overcoming evil, we are overcome of evil. Instead of gaining purity and freedom, our case grows worse, and we groan in misery as the bond slaves of sin. Confused and confounded, our cry is, "O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me?"
II. THANKSGIVING FOR VICTORY. Though we despair of ourselves, we must not despair of God. We know what God is, and what he has done for us, and therefore we turn to him with hope. Casting ourselves simply upon his mercy in Christ, we are able to grasp the gracious promise, "Sin shall not have dominion over you." God's love to us is a personal love. God's work in us is designed to make us pure from sin, and he will perfect it in the day of Christ. While we say, therefore, with grief and pain, "Iniquities prevail against me," let us with renewed hope proclaim, "As for our transgressions, thou shalt purge them away. - W.F.
Blessed is the man whom Thou choosest, and causest to approach unto Thee, that he may dwell in Thy courts.
I. THE PSALMIST HERE COMMENDS PUBLIC WORSHIP —
1. As a peculiar privilege. "Blessed is the man whom Thou choosest and causest to approach unto Thee." The opportunity of enjoying such an approach is not given to all, but brings special responsibility to those to whom God grants it.
2. As an approach unto God. God is never far from us, but when we meet in His courts we are able more distinctly to realize His nearness to us. We often have a deep and glad sense of His presence.
3. As the finding a new home. "That he may dwell in Thy courts." There may be a reference here, as in other psalms, to the Levites who literally dwelt there that they might attend to the performances of the services; but the latter part of this verse implies that David claimed for himself a share in the privilege. The thought is — "we, as dwellers in the courts of the Lord, shall be satisfied."
4. As an abundant provision. Here the wants both of the mind and of the heart are met.
5. As a holy service.
II. GENERAL REMARKS ON PUBLIC WORSHIP.
1. It is valuable for testimony. Christians thus witness for Christ, and confess their faith.
2. For its associations. What memories cluster round the sanctuaries where we have worshipped I
3. For communion 'with one another. Thus we are helped by association one with the other in the various acts of worship.
4. For the worship itself in its various parts — prayer, instruction, praise. Then, let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, and let us seek to make the highest use of the ordinances of religion.
I. EXPLAIN THE NATURE OF THIS APPROACH TO GOD.
1. Consider what it is not. It is not bowing the knee, and saying a prayer, and putting on an appearance of seriousness at particular times; it is not going often to the house of the Lord, and coming and sitting before Him as His people; the humble, self-condemned publican, that stood afar off, approached nearer to God than the Pharisee, though he confidently pushed forward to the holy of holies. To approach Him is an act of the mind, not of the body. God is a spirit, and they that worship Him acceptably, must do it not merely with a bended knee, and a loud voice, and an uplifted eye, or a head hanging down like a bulrush. These things are comparatively indifferent; if unaccompanied with sincerity, they are worse than indifferent; they are offensive and abominable to God, who will be worshipped in spirit and in truth.
II. IN WHAT DOES THE BLESSEDNESS OF APPROACHING TO GOD CONSIST? In the honour, the pleasure, the profit we enjoy.
III. THE HINDRANCES TO SUCH APPROACH.
1. Sin, this destroys our communion with God until we repent and return to Him.
2. The world.
I. IN FEELING THE JOYS OF DEVOTION.
II. IN OBTAINING THE FORGIVENESS OF SIN.
III. IN FINDING A RETREAT FROM AFFLICTION.
IV. IN THE ANTICIPATION OF A BETTER WORLD. As the mariner who has been long tossed on a troubled ocean, or detained in a foreign country, is desirous to revisit his native shore, and, when he first discovers the hoary rocks of the green isle rising with rugged grandeur above the waves, his eye beams with joy; so the saint who has been sojourning many a tedious year in a waste howling desert, pants to behold the beauty of paradise, and darts his eye radiant with rapture towards the delightful abode.
(T. Laurie, D. D.)
II. WHEREIN THE HAPPINESS OF APPROACHING TO GOD CONSISTS.
1. It is the highest honour; far superior to every dignity, an honour compared to which all the pomp and splendour of earthly greatness dwindle into insignificance.
2. It is a pleasure. God is the chief good. He is the source of life, and joy, and happiness. To go, therefore, to Him, and draw our enjoyments pure from the fountain from which they flow, must be peculiarly gratifying to every person who can properly distinguish between good and evil.
3. It is highly profitable.
III. OBSTACLES THAT PREVENT OUR APPROACHING TO GOD.
1. The corruption of our own heart. This may be regarded as the first and greatest of all, because while this continues unsubdued, we cannot advance a single step in our journey to heaven; whereas, if this be overcome, none of the rest will be able to obstruct our progress.
2. The world.(1) How many, oppressed with the cares of this life, are wholly unconcerned about the joys of the life that is to come!(2) How many are the slaves of unhallowed lusts! The world holds out to them the intoxicating cup of forbidden pleasures; they drink it, and the luscious draught diffuses its baneful influence over the soul.(3) How many are deterred from the service of God by the fear of suffering! They would willingly serve God if they could do it with safety; but they cannot think of submitting to difficulties and trials in His service.
3. Another obstacle in the way of our approaching to God, is Satan. He is the deceiver and the destroyer.Lessons —
1. They who do not approach to God will perish.
2. The value of the privilege we possess, of approaching to God in the ways of His appointment.
3. It is only through the mediation of Jesus Christ that we can approach to God.
(John Ramsay, M. A.)
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