Psalm 72:6
It is written that Satan took our Lord "up into an exceeding high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them" (Matthew 4:8); but they had no charm, for him. In this psalm we are, so to speak, taken up by the Spirit, and shown the kingdom of Messiah; and as its glory opens to our sight our hearts are thrilled with admiration and delight. With renewed ardour we cry, "Thy kingdom come." Consider some things testified here as to the glory of Christ's kingdom.

I. THE GREATNESS OF THE SOVEREIGN. David and Solomon were in some respects great kings; and their greatness, so far as it was real, arose from their feeling their dependence upon God, and that it was their first duty to rule themselves and their people according to God's Law. We know how in many things they offended. But here is a King spoken of whose greatness is of a nobler kind, and who comes short in nothing of God's glory. As respects his nature, his character, his relationships, he is supremely fitted to rule. In him "righteousness" and "judgment" are found as in God. The will of God, on the one hand, and the welfare of his people are his highest ends. "God is light;" and this King saith, "I am the Light of the world." "God is love;" and this King's advent was proclaimed by angels as the Saviour who should bring down love to men: "Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, good will to the children of men."

II. THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE ADMINISTRATION. (Vers. 2-4.) David, in his last words, describes Messiah's manner of government (2 Samuel 23:1-4). It is characterized by justice; there is no respect of persons; friends are not unduly favored, nor enemies unfairly punished (Isaiah 11:4, 5); the condition and interests of all are considered, and the poor are specially regarded; but justice is blended with mercy. It is the glory of Christ's government that it provides for the return of the rebellious, and for the restoration of the fallen.

III. THE HAPPINESS OF THE PEOPLE. (Vers. 6, 7.) The laws of the kingdom are not only adapted to the nature and necessities of man, but designed for the welfare of those who obey them (Deuteronomy 32:47; Isaiah 48:18); they are not arbitrary, but. founded in truth; they are not alterable, but eternally fixed. Earthly governments so far regulate their laws according to circumstances, and there may be improvements made and reforms carried out from time to time for the greater advantage of the people; but the laws of this kingdom do not need improvement - they are perfect as God is perfect. We see the result in the character and privileges of the people (Isaiah 43:21; Matthew 5:1-10). They are enlightened, contented, law-abiding; they strive to mould their lives according to the will of their King, and in loyalty and devotion to him they find their highest honour and their highest happiness. In this kingdom alone can liberty, equality, and fraternity, in the truest sense, be enjoyed.

IV. THE FUTURE TRIUMPHS THAT MAY BE CONFIDENTLY EXPECTED. This kingdom is destined to grow from more to more; it has an unlimited power of expansiveness (vers. 8, 13); it is also marked by stability. Earthly kingdoms have their rise and fall; but this kingdom is unshakable and eternal. It begins on earth, but is carried up to heaven. Other kings may have successors, though often the direct succession fails; but this King has no successor, but will reign forever and ever. - W.F.







He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass; as showers that water the earth.
Some men say that Christianity is not genial, that the Christian scheme exhibits God in a most unlovely aspect, that the doctrines of Christ are dark with awful mysteries, that the promises of the Christian dispensation offer but little of present benefit, that its precepts demand conduct which is too high and self-sacrificing, that its ordinances are depressing rather than elevating, and that, as a whole, Christianity promotes narrow minds and feeble judgment, morbid and morose feelings, an enslaved will, a too sensitive conscience, an unmanly bearing, and a character which is intellectually low, and unsocial, and melancholy. This charge against the religion of Jesus Christ is most unjust, and cannot be maintained; it rests not upon truth, but upon prejudice. The Gospel is a device to seek and save the lost: not to judge but to justify, not to scathe and waste, but to sanctify and save. And it is a Divine device, planned and carried out by God our Father. We see love going after the lost. Now, if this be the Christian scheme; if it be a plan of redemption designed by the grace of God, and if it be executed, so far as its general provisions are concerned, by the Son of God, and if it be revealed and applied by the Holy Ghost the Comforter; if its morality be based upon love, and if it be spread by moral and spiritual forces; if it is received by faith, if it give not the spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind; if it bring good out of evil, and be consummated in the restoration of God's image to man, and of all saved men to the paradise regained; if it bring knowledge, and wisdom, and pardon, and purity, and patience, and love, and victory, and life; then we ask, Can this scheme be other than genial, and ought not its effect upon its disciples to be the nourishing within them of all goodness, and the production of genuine and habitual cheerfulness? Not genial? Then there is nothing genial. Soft morning light is not genial. Balmy evening air is not genial. Gentle and warm rain is not genial. Spring sunshine is not genial. The mother's bosom is not genial. There is nothing genial on this earth. I had almost said, there can be nothing genial in heaven.

(S. Martin, D. D.)

The psalm tells of One greater than Solomon — Christ. These words teach that God will see to it that, by some means, Christ shall be made known to all mankind.

I. CHRIST IS OF UNSPEAKABLE VALUE TO MEN. Language is inadequate to set this preciousness forth. Our present estimate is low and feeble, even in our holiest moments. But it is a happy thing when an author illustrates his own book. Now, God has done this. Nature illustrates Grace: that is, God illustrates God; for in nature we have the best resemblances to God's dealings in the kingdom of His Son. As the sleeping, frozen earth needs, in order to make up to beauty and fruitfulness, the sun and the rain, so the soul of man needs Christ. For what is the human spirit without the Saviour? A clod of earth hardened into stone. See the condition of those peoples who know not Christ. And remember, Christ does not merely prevent our dying: He comes with a blessed quickening upon the human spirit. The simile of the text fails, for the rain does not give life, but only quickens seeds already in the earth. But Christ acts upon the latent powers of the mind, wakes up all its faculties, makes the man worthy to be called a child of God. When Christ comes to. us we become conscious of a new life.

II. AND AS THE RAIN COMES SO DOES CHRIST COME. When God gave Christ to man it was a question how He should bring Him home to human hearts. And it is a problem which ought to stir all Christian people, how to make Christ known to men. But here again nature helps us. What a beautiful paradise God has constructed, "watering the hills from His chambers." There is the great ocean I more than three-fourths of the world's surface is water. But in vain would that water lie all round the land and lave its shores. All vegetation would die if the water lay there; and so the great God has set in operation a wonderful mechanism. The sun daily, hourly, every moment, draws that water up into the air by evaporation; currents created by the sun float that vapour thousands of miles inland; and then the alternating strata of warm and cold air effects its condensation, and all over the earth it falls wherever it is needed, and waters the earth. The icy mountain peaks amongst the Alps are continual cloud factories. The invisible vapour rising one side of the mountain is condensed by the cold air of the summit, and formed into a cloud. It is ever producing clouds and sending them away over the land. And how seasonably the rain comes, and silently and freely. So Christ comes to men.

(L. Hebditch.)

No more tender and beautiful image than this can be found in the whole range of sacred poetry. It is full of precious significance The memories and associations which it suggests are very sweet. We all know the summer harvest of the hay-makers, whose pleasant toils seem to anticipate those of the autumn harvest of the corn. How different is the aspect of the hay-field before the grass is cut, and after it is mown and the hay removed! A meadow covered from end to end with tall ripe grass crowned with rich dark-purple heads of blossom and seed, and rippling in light and shadow like the waves of the sea, as the sun and the wind chase each other over them, is one of the most beautiful of rural sights. Myriads of wild flowers add the glory of their colour and the fragrance of their perfume to the blades of grass among which they grow. The eye is never weary of gazing upon the bright and living mosaic. But how different the aspect when the scythe has done its work. All the beauty has vanished; the fragrance that loaded the air is gone, and nothing remains but the stubble, a short, pale, sickly-yellow sward, without grace of form, beauty or colour. And this desolation of aspect is greatly aggravated during a season of drought, when the sky is as brass, and, the earth is as iron, and the pitiless sun scorches the field. But how striking the change when a shower of rain comes; if it continues, what a healing process goes on, until at last an aftermath is formed which may be even more luxuriant than was the field in its first fresh strong growth. The rain upon the mown grass is thus the harbinger of new beauties and of a richer fragrance and fulness of life. And this is especially so in the arid soil and climate of Bible lands. The grass there, when cut, seems to dry up completely, and a brown naked waste remains. But when the rain comes it seems to spring up as if by magic, and renews with wonderful rapidity its former freshness and fairness (Deuteronomy 32:2; 2 Samuel 23:4). Now, notwithstanding the title, the internal evidence of the psalm points to a far later date, when the Jewish kingdom was reduced to the lowest straits; when the nation was like the mown grass, shorn of their power and glory, blighted, withered and trampled under foot. But in this condition they looked for the advent of a new King who should restore them, and be to them like "rain upon the mown grass." Thus, against the dark background of Jewish calamities arose the bright vision of the Messiah. But the Jews were the representatives of the human race, and therefore the image has a wider application. Through the fall all flesh became grass and his glory as the flower of the field. Everything became adverse to him who was afflicted with the great adversity of sin. But to man thus ruined the Lord Jesus Christ came to save him from his sin. How tender was the dealing of God with man. Like as He came to Adam and Eve after they had sinned, "in the cool of the day" — not suddenly, hastily, or angrily. And though His voice was stern there was a tone of tenderness and pity in it. And a higher life for man, a richer glory for God, is to be the aftermath which shall spring up in the wilderness through the rain of God's grace to sinners. And throughout the whole course of our Lord's life on earth, how wonderfully does He manifest the gentleness and tenderness of God. His works were these of healing and restoration, and are so still. And let the sufferer take the comfort of the text. How bare, scorched, shorn, many a life appears; all beauty, fragrance gone. But though He has mown down so much that we rejoiced in, His purpose is the aftermath which shall be more precious still. The rain of His grace comes down upon the poor, bruised, broken life, and the affliction that is not joyous but grievous afterwards yieldeth the peaceable fruits of righteousness.

(Hugh Macmillan, D. D.)

The text presents to us —

I. A SCENE WHERE ONLY GENIAL AND QUIET INFLUENCES ARE AT WORK. The gentle showers water the earth. God does not rend the heavens and come down. Nor does He come in the storm; but in all gentleness.

II. A SCENE OF TRANSFORMATION. See the changes of spring. So in the Church God gives revivals.

III. A SCENE OF FERTILITY. Life is seen in its gentleness, strength, beauty and fragrance.

IV. OF REVIVAL.

V. RENOVATION. Life with some of you seems bare and desolate, shorn of its glory; still its autumn may be green, and the rain may weave new garlands for the brow of age. Your circumstances are changed. Your health is gone; or your property is lost. The fleece of life has been removed, so that it is stripped and bare of its covering; but, He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass. You have had bereavements. The widow says, I have lost my husband, and am desolate and alone in the world. The mother says, I have lost my child, and "my heart is smitten and withered like grass." The friend says, I have lost my companion, and henceforth my life is divested of interest. But He will come down like rain upon the mown grass. You think your heart is bare and burnt up as the field. The mower has come into your enclosure, and life has fallen before him; but God can pour out on you all quiet and blessed influences, and put new beauty upon life.

(H. Bevis.)

The Holy Spirit has chosen to set forth these by an instructive and beautiful simile. Divine grace resembles the rain.

I. AS TO THE SOURCE WHENCE IT PROCEEDS. Rain is the gift of God: a promised blessing, and its needed and seasonable showers may be sought by prayer.

II. AS TO THE MANNER IN WHICH IT DESCENDS.

1. Sometimes violently, it falls in torrents.

2. Sometimes gently.

3. Frequently.

4. Unexpectedly.

III. AS TO THE BENEFITS WHICH IT CONFERS.

1. It presents great evils.

2. It makes the labour of the husbandman easy and successful.

3. Causes plentifulness, and —

4. Beauty.

IV. CONCLUSION.

1. Acknowledge with deep humility our great need of the Spirit.

2. Honour and study the Word of God as the instrument by which the Spirit delights to work out our salvation.

(Anon.)

I. CONSIDER THE INCARNATION OF THE SON OF GOD AS A DESCENT or coming down.

II. THE MANNER OF THIS DESCENT. It was "sweet and peaceable, without trouble, without noise, scarcely to be perceived"; not in the strong wind, to rend us to pieces; not in the earthquake, to shake us; not in the fire, to consume us; but in "a still and small voice" (1 Kings 19:11, 12): not as thunder, to make a noise; not as hail, to rattle on the housetops; not as the blast and mildew, to wither us; but as the "rain "falling "sweetly on the grass," or "on a fleece of wool," and "as the showers which water the earth," and make it fruitful.

III. Observe THE EFFECT WHICH THIS DESCENT PRODUCETH, or the fruit which springs up upon the fall of this gracious rain.

1. Righteousness springs up, and spreads herself: Justus florebit; so some render it: "The righteous shall flourish."

2. After righteousness peace shows itself, even "abundance of peace."

3. Thirdly, both these are not "herbs which spring up and wither in one day," but which will be green and flourish "so long as the moon endureth," which is everlastingly.

IV. Observe —

1. The relation which is between these two, righteousness and peace. Where there is righteousness, there is peace; and where there is peace, there is righteousness.

2. The order: righteousness first, and then "abundance of peace." Take them all three, and you shall find a kind of subordination betwixt them; for no peace without righteousness, no righteousness without this rain; but if the Son of God "come down like rain," straight righteousness appears on the earth; and upon the same watering, and from the same root, shoots forth "abundance of peace," and both "so long as the moon endureth."

(A. Farindon, B. D.)

We descendants of the Puritans are in great danger of exhibiting Christianity in an ungenial aspect. We are children of witnesses who prophesied in sackcloth, and there is special danger of our making the sackcloth an essential part of the testimony. In days of persecution, Christ calls His followers to wear sackcloth, but their common raiment is to be a robe rich in its fabric, and pleasant in its colour, and beautiful in form. To be really genial we must maintain personal intercourse with Christ by the aid of the Holy Ghost. We must often speak to Him, and more often listen to Him. We must constantly be looking unto Him. Then shall we receive and reflect the bright beams of His grace, and by our whole demeanour win souls to our Saviour. To be right and true and strong is our first duty; to be attractive and cheerful and genial is our next duty; and "I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me."

(Samuel Martin.)

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