For the LORD is a great God, a great King above all gods.
I. THE INVITATION TO PRAISE. In this is shown:
1. To whom the praise is to be rendered. It is to Jehovah, the Rock of our salvation.
2. Think of the many ministries which the word "rock reminds us of. Shade: for God was to his people as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land;" and he is so still. Defence: "Thou art my Rock and my Fortress." Strength: "Thou hast set my feet upon a rock." Supply: "He smote the rock," etc. (Psalm 78:20; Psalm 81:16). Dwelling place: we read both in Isaiah and Jeremiah of "the inhabitants of the rock." Such were the ideas that gathered round this name of the Lord which the psalm summons men to praise.
3. The manner of the praise. It was to be by joyful song and resonant shout, with thanksgiving and with psalms. So hearty, so jubilant, so universal, so emphatic, was to be the praise of the Lord. But in ver. 6 there is the call to yet more profound adoration and worship, since yet higher manifestations of God's grace are to be commemorated. Therefore note:
4. The reasons for all this worship. And
(1) because of what God is - supreme over all the gods of the heathen;
(2) because of his rule over the whole earth - its depths, its heights, the sea, and the land;
(3) because - and here comes the summons to the higher praise spoken of - of what God is to his people - their Maker, their God, the Giver of their peace and rest (cf. Psalm 23., "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures"); so his people are "the people of his pasture." He is also their Guide, Defender, Ruler - "the sheep of his hand." Such are the grounds - and surely they are adequate - for this reverent and yet exultant worship. And they all remain still.
II. THE CALL TO HEAR GOD'S VOICE. (Ver. 8.) For as the former verses had told of the rich and lofty privileges of the people of God, so these tell of their great peril - the peril of unbelief. This had been their ruin in days gone by, in all that weary forty years. Nothing else could harm them; but this wrought all their woo (cf. Hebrews 4:6-9). And what was true of old and of Israel, is true today and of ourselves. The righteous live by faith; no unbeliever can enter into God's rest.
III. THE CALL TO FAITH. For this is the condition of our obtaining the prize of our high calling. The rest of God is God's reward to his faithful people - a rest not alone in heaven hereafter, but here and now, whilst in this world, which Christ promises to give, and does give. Saints of old knew it; saints today enter into it. Christ dwelt in it, and so may we - if we believe. - S.C.
I. THE DIVINE SOVEREIGNTY IN THE PHYSICAL REALM. Nature is full of the manifestations of a great intelligence, full of remarkable adjustments and adaptations, full of ordered sequences and wise contrivances. In other words, Nature, through all her domain, from those gleaming stars which shoot their rays through vast and interminable spaces down to those invisible and primordial atoms of which all substances are composed, and which maintain their ceaseless movements to and fro, is subject to a high and beneficent power. Everywhere there is manifest the sovereignty of law, and the sovereignty of law is the sovereignty of God. In most great cities they have a mansion house, or some similar building, which is a symbol and centre of that civic authority which rules over the whole of the area comprised in the civic boundary; and so this physical universe is the mansion house of creation's God — not a house empty and tenantless, so far as the Creator's presence is concerned, but occupied and inhabited throughout with that same creative spirit which in the beginning created all things, and which ever since has sustained and controlled all things.
For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.I. THE TRANSCENDENT GREATNESS OF THE PSALMIST'S GOD.
1. He is great in the eternity of His existence. God "only hath immortality." Finite beings are always going forward to further immortality; but God possesses it in the most absolute sense. Other beings depend for their immortality on the will of their Maker, and flow of their duration; but He is "the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever." And as He is infinite in essence, He must necessarily be indestructible in the nature of His existence; for the power that destroys must always be greater than what is destroyed.
2. He is great in the immateriality, unity, and immensity of His existence. These are all necessarily implied in His eternity.
3. He is great in Omnipotence. Creation, in all its works of greatness and grandeur, falls infinitely short of a full exhibition of omnipotent power. For no finite substances, however multiplied and extended, could ever fill boundless space, or circumscribe the efforts of God Omnipotent. Here we might contemplatively roam after the ways and works of the Almighty Architect, until we were bewildered and lost in the magnitudes, mazes, and mysteries of creation. His power is also manifested in upholding all things created. He commands all the suns, systems, and planetary orbs, and they move in obedience to His sovereign pleasure.
4. He is boundless in love. Our first parents proved His goodness in the Garden of Eden, where His benevolence lavished around them every charm. There the "Tree of Life," in grand and conspicuous pre-eminence, unfolded its verdant glories, and invited the human pair to partake of its immortality. The redemption of this fallen world is another proof of Divine love — into which angels desire to look, and in which we are everlastingly interested.
5. He is gloriously great in holiness. All the works of His creation, holiness of His laws, dispensations of His providence, influences of His Spirit, and condemnation and overthrow of wicked men and devils, proclaim that He is holy. And "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty," will be the sublimest song that immortal millions can endlessly sing in the heaven of heavens.
6. He is incomprehensibly great in omniscience.
II. HE IS A "GREAT KING ABOVE ALL GODS."
1. His right to the empire.(1) Right of eternal priority. As there can be but one absolute and endless monarchy, so there is but one supreme and independent King.(2) Right of eternal sufficiency. His "throne is for ever and ever." It is founded in infinite wisdom, and upheld by everlasting strength. Amidst the revolutions of ages it stands the same.(3) Right of universal inheritance. In His administration no law can be defective, no faithful subject go unprotected, and no enemy be triumphant. The thunders of the throne shall prevent all invasion, and His omnipotence defy all usurpation, until His right to reign shall be indisputably acknowledged, and the God of everlasting sovereignty be gloriously magnified.
2. His extensive empire.(1) He reigns in the Kingdom of Nature. He reigns over inanimate nature by those fixed laws which regulate and revolve all matter; and carries forward as undeviatingly His superintendence over an atom as over a magnificent world. He reigns over animate irrational nature by instinct. He reigns over man by reason, conscience, and revelation.(2) He reigns in the kingdom of providence.(3) He reigns in the kingdom of darkness and damnation.(4) He reigns in the kingdom of grace, for the protection and complete triumph of His Church.(5) He reigns in the kingdom of glory — the heaven of heavens, the home of all the saint.
II. THE DIVINE SOVEREIGNTY IN THE MORAL AND SPIRITUAL REALM. The kingdom of grace is the extension of the kingdom of nature, and the laws and principles which operate in the one operate in the other.
1. There is the prominence given to beauty. One might almost say that the object of the Creator was the creation of beauty, and that the great Designer had set His heart upon producing a picture of surpassing loveliness. And the object of God in redemption is clearly the creation or the re-creation of beauty, not outward beauty merely, but inward — beauty of character, beauty of soul.
2. There is the insistence of the Divine constancy and faithfulness. Banks fail, governments are overturned, empires break up and pass away, but the sun never refuses to shine, and the earth never declines to bring forth the vintage of her fruits and the harvest of her flowers. And this characteristic of faithfulness belongs as truly to the sphere of grace as of nature. The promises of God are all "yea and amen."
3. There is the recognition of the value of the individual. Nature cares for the whole, and she cares not less for the individual parts of which the whole is composed. There is not a cowslip in the meadow, nor yet a blade of grass which catches its little drop of crystal and holds it suspended in the early sunlight but witnesses to the care and providence of God, and to the individualizing character of that providence. And the same is true of the grace which bringeth salvation. The disciples were all chosen and called separately and individually. There is not one of us, down to the least and the youngest, whose name is not written in Creation's book, and for whom there is not a place reserved in Redemption's record!
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