Monthly Archives: November 2015

Psalm 30 Sorrows are transient. Joys are forever. May we so mourn, that we may be comforted

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Psalm 30

Sorrows are transient. Joys are forever. May we so mourn, that we may be comforted!

1. “I will extol You, O Lord; for You have lifted me up, and have not made my foes to rejoice over me.”

A train of mercies fills the Psalmist with thanksgivings. He had been brought low. His foes were ready to exult, but he was rescued. A saving arm had raised him. He who thus uplifts should be uplifted. Praise should magnify deliverance. In this praise there is the echo of the voice of Jesus. In His experience, also, His saints concur. They should sing as He sang.

2, 3. “O Lord my God, I cried to You, and You have healed me. O Lord, You have brought up my soul from the grave; You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.”

These bodies are exposed to countless maladies. Our souls, also, suffer from disease and weakness. Prayer brings the Good Physician to our aid. He comes, and from His wings drop health and freshness. Sometimes the body totters over the grave. Sometimes spiritual life is almost extinct. But the Lord can grant revival. To all appearance the life of Jesus had expired. He was lain, as a dead man, in the grave; but He arose to live forevermore. In spirit we here see the glorious resurrection. Let all the members who revived in Him adopt these notes of praise.

4, 5. “Sing to the Lord, O you saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness. For His anger endures but a moment; in His favor is life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”

The believer feels that a universal chorus should rise as incense to the skies. Every heart should swell the hymn. All share the mercies, all should return thanksgivings. Memory suggests abundant themes. In all His dealings God is a God of holiness and truth. May we delight to sing, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts.” There are times when lovingkindness is obscured by signs of displeasure. His seeming anger is as the chill of death; but soon the cloud withdraws, and favor, which is life, returns. The darkness passes, fears vanish. The joyful morning dawns, and all is bright.

Here we see the resurrection-morn of Christ. There had been darkness, but it soon vanished. There is now the brightness of eternal day. We too have now a night of trouble, but the trouble is light; it lasts but for a moment. It works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. While we weep still let us sing, “Joy comes in the morning.”

6, 7. “And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved. Lord, by Your favor You have made my mountain to stand strong; You hid Your face, and I was troubled.”

David was raised from deep troubles to great prosperity. Zion’s stronghold seemed to be impregnable. Sleeping in the lap of ease, he forgot his true support. The Lord in mercy shook the pillow of carnal security, and trouble brought him to a right mind. Seasons of prosperity are full of peril. They induce forgetfulness of Him by whom alone we stand. But God remembers us when we turn from Him. He looks away. Troubles instantly rush in. The shining of His face is the true joy. His look averted makes the prospect dark.

8, 9, 10. “I cried to You, O Lord; and unto the Lord I made supplication. What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise You? shall it declare Your truth? Hear, O Lord, and have mercy upon me; Lord, be my helper.”

Trouble is sent in mercy. It subserves a blessed end. It rouses the sleepy soul from dangerous lethargy. It is a scourge which drives the careless to the mercy-seat. Here, when God’s smile ceases, importunate petitions are in full activity. The gate of mercy opens to the returning knock. Faith is an inventive grace. From every trouble it can draw a plea. It here reasons, My destruction brings no glory to the courts of heaven; if my lips are silent in the grave, no longer can my praise be heard; my grateful tribute can no more set forth Your truth. Then the prayer renews its strength, and cries for audience, mercy, help. Therefore may our faith gather strong arguments to supplicate for joyful resurrection. Let our deep longings ever be to join the eternal hallelujahs, which are God’s glory in the highest.

11, 12. “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; to the end that my glory may sing praise to You, and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.”

Images of exuberant joy conclude this ode. Mourning is gone. The sackcloth of woe is put aside. Every movement testifies exhilaration. The girdle of the loins is gladness. For what purpose is this glad exchange? The design is that God may be loudly praised by every utterance of the lips. This scene will soon be realized. The day of Christ draws near. Then will be fullness of joy. Then, O Lord our God, we will give thanks to You forever.

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Psalm 28 Earnest prayer is followed by exulting praise. May prayer lead us to glad thanksgivings!

Psalm 28

Earnest prayer is followed by exulting praise. May prayer lead us to glad thanksgivings!

1. “Unto You will I cry, O Lord my rock; Do not be silent to me; lest, if you are silent to me, I become like those who go down into the pit.”

Strong resolves are the belt of the faithful man. Among these none is more prominent than fixed intention that prayer shall never cease. Prayer usually singles out some gracious revelation of our God, and earnestly pleads it. Here God is reminded that He is His people’s Rock. As such He is immovable, and they who rest on Him cannot be shaken. Billows of trouble may lash. Storms of persecution may arise. But they remain secure.

Sure replies flow as a gladdening stream. Sometimes they may seem to be delayed. These times are chilling. If they continue long, life would grow faint, and death would hasten to extend its hand.

2. “Hear the voice of my supplications when I cry to You, when I lift up my hands toward your holy oracle.”

The mercy-seat was a sweet symbol of the blessed Jesus. To Him the eye should look, the voice be raised, the hands be uplifted in each exercise of prayer. His merits perfume each address; His worth gives value, and His intercession gains acceptance. Prayer without Christ is empty sound. It is vain sound. The lips may mutter, but no blessings are obtained.

3, 4. “Draw me not away with the wicked, and with the workers of iniquity, who speak peace to their neighbors, but mischief is in their hearts. Give them according to their deeds, and according to the wickedness of their endeavors; give them after the work of their hands; render to them their desert.”

The most exalted believer is still a miserable sinner. Sin is a malady under which he daily groans. It is a foe with which he daily struggles. He hates it in its every form. Especially he loathes deceit, and deviousness, and fraud. Therefore he earnestly cries that he may be severed from its contact now, and from its doom forever. He knows that justice will erect its throne; that rigid scrutiny will weigh each word and work; that final reckoning will assign true judgment. He looks onward to the great white throne and its award. He humbly acquiesces in the sentence which will there be given. Even so, Lord. The Judge of all the earth is righteousness and truth.

5. “Because they do not regard the works of the Lord, nor the operation of His hands, He shall destroy them, and not build them up.”

Our God does not hide Himself. Man’s ignorance of God is willful and self-chosen. His power and Godhead are written in letters of light throughout creation’s page. His constant interposition in the world’s course, in favor of His people and His truth, always speaks loudly. This witness disregarded seals the sad doom. If eyes and ears refuse to learn, sentence is most just.

6. “Blessed be the Lord, because He has heard the voice of my supplications.”

The answer comes. Promises to prayer are all fulfilled. Then what joy abounds! The voice is still upraised, but now the note is changed. Clouds of grateful incense rise to the courts above.

7. “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices; and with my song will I praise Him.”

A season of rapturous joy succeeds. God is gratefully acknowledged as supplying inward power to resist evil and to exhibit faith. How strong is he who has Jehovah for his strength! But the Lord is more. He wards off all foes, and presents Himself as His people’s shield. We see, also, the power of faith. It brings sure help. He who can say, I trust, will surely add, All support is supplied. Then joy overflows—joy of heart joy to unlimited extent. The lips sing sweetly, and God is the happy theme.

8. “The Lord is their strength, and He is the saving strength of His anointed.”

The believer is one of a large company. Each one is feeble without God; but each partakes of heavenly strength in Him. Each as one with Christ is anointed with unction from above; and each rejoices in that strength which brings salvation.

9. “Save Your people and bless Your inheritance; feed them also and lift them up forever.”

The gift of prayer is for the common prosperity of God’s chosen. They are dear to Him; and it is joy to Him to hear petitions in their behalf. They are dear as His people, heirs of His kingdom, sheep of His fold. Lord, hear our cry. Save them to the uttermost with Your salvation. Bless them with all Your blessings; feed them in Your wholesome pastures; lift them up above the reach of harm; and from the dust of death, to the highest glories of Your kingdom.

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Psalm 27 Faith makes strong professions, and utters earnest prayers. May such be the exercise of our hearts unto life eternal!

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Psalm 27

Faith makes strong professions, and utters earnest prayers. May such be the exercise of our hearts unto life eternal!

1. “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

This ode begins with a noble outbreak of triumphant confidence. Faith is in loftiest exercise. Foes indeed surround; they are distinctly seen. Their presence and their might is not ignored. But no fear troubles; no dismay appals. Why? The believer knows that he is united to his Lord, and one with Him in the closest bonds; and that he has full interest in all the Lord’s perfections. No darkness can bewilder, for the Lord is his light. No destruction can overtake, for the Lord is his salvation. His life can never perish, for the Lord is its strength. May we never rest until our lips can sing thus happily!

2. “When the wicked, even my enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.”

Here is the character of the adversaries of the Lord. They are the wicked. They are Cain-like, who was of that wicked one, and killed his brother. And why did he slay him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous. We see striking fulfillment in the garden of Gethsemane. The traitor enters with his evil band. Jesus meets them calm in the majesty of deity. His eye, His voice shatter their boldness. They cannot stand before Him. They go backward and fall to the ground. Such is the sure downfall of all the foes of Jesus.

3. “Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.”

Hosts of men are less than nothing compared with heavenly guards. When the trembling servant cried, “Alas! my master, what shall we do?” the prophet answered, “Fear not, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes that he may see.” He saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha. Even so, let us only believe and we are safe.

4. “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in His temple.”

One supreme desire occupies the believing heart. He longs for close communion with the Lord. He diligently uses all appointed means. He seeks the ordinances which God’s presence sanctifies. Such is the constant habit of his soul. It is no passing impulse. He pursues this hallowed communion all the days of his life. His eyes would see the beauty of the Lord, the lovely charm of His transcendent grace, displayed in redemption’s wondrous work. His soul thirsts after fuller knowledge. His ardent cry is, “Show me Your glory.”

5. “For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret of His tabernacle shall He hide me; He shall set me up upon a rock.”

The result of faithful obedience is assurance of security. When troubles come like a flood, they cannot reach the tranquil worshiper. He is calm in the recesses of his Lord’s presence. The curtains of His pavilion are spread around him. He stands high upon a rock. That rock is Christ. Those who are thus uplifted are far above the reach of hostile shafts. From his high stronghold he can look down and smile on all the rage of those who would destroy him. This rock is near. We are invited to its refuge. Let our steps hasten; then we are safe indeed.

6. “And now shall my head be lifted up above my enemies round about me; therefore will I offer in His tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises unto the Lord.”

Assurance should be ever sought, and it may be scripturally won. The head no longer will hang down. It will put on the helmet of salvation. It will look down in triumph on foes now impotent to hurt. This assurance brings offerings to the Lord’s altar. They are the sacrifices of thanksgiving.

Assurance has, also, a joyful voice. It ever sings, and the song is praises to the Lord. Here is a test to prove our state. We, surely, are loiterers in the plain, and have not reached the height of scriptural delight, unless our hearts continually send up the incense of abounding thanks.

7. “Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice; have mercy also upon me, and answer me.”

Assurance is far from presumption. While earth is the home, necessities will be present. Grace must be sought, and, therefore, with all praise, petition will be intermixed. The sinner, with all knowledge of salvation, still has knowledge of his sinful state. Therefore he never ceases to seek mercy. Knowing that God will hear and answer, he still will importune, Let answers come—give sweet tokens that my prayers prevail.

8. “When you said, Seek My face; my heart said to you, Your face, Lord, will I seek.”

Faith hears the voice of God sweetly speaking in the Scripture page. It calls, it invites, it allures. It warns to arise and flee the vanities of earth. It tells of their emptiness. It promises peace and delight in the reconciled smile of God. The enlightened soul simply obeys. It flies away, and basks beneath the rays of heaven.

9, 10. “Do not hide Your face far from me; Do not turn Your servant away in anger; you have been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation. When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.”

The brightest sun may soon be overcast. Clouds may arise, and storms threaten, and darkness and chilliness interpose. Thus sense of sin, and consciousness of deep corruption, may stir up misgivings. Prayer wrestlingly beseeches that the smile so gladly sought may not become averted, and that no just wrath may close the door of conscious acceptance. Former supports are urged in plea. God is addressed as pledged by covenant to save, and bound by strongest ties never to desert or fail.

Earthly relationships are easily dissolved. Affection may decay. Fickleness begets estrangement. Distance may part. Death comes, and desolation sits where happy fellowship once reigned. But God’s love in Christ is strong, immutable, eternal. He has the Father’s heart, which beats with tenderness, incapable of diminution or of change. O Father, ever be a Father unto us!

11. “Teach me Your way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path, because of my enemies.”

We again see how warily assurance walks. The firm belief that God cannot forsake, increases diligence to desire for constant guidance. The holy fears awaken lest ignorance should lead into unrighteous ways, and cause the watchful enemy to exult. Teach me, lead me, are wise prayers. They bring the Spirit’s light to shine upon the path, the Spirit’s hand to give sustaining aid.

12. “Deliver me not over unto the will of my enemies; for false witnesses have risen against me, and such as breathe out cruelty.”

We tread no path of trial or of suffering which is not hallowed by our Lord’s preceding step. We taste no bitter cup which His lips have not drained. No misery afflicts us which He has not previously endured. The stings of slander are keen. It is anguish when false tongues persist in charging falsely. Jesus felt this. No scrutiny could find fault in Him; but still His judges must have a facade of evidence; therefore, false witnesses were bribed to fabricate malicious tales.

There is great mercy in these foreshadowing views of Jesus. They imprint the stamp of inspiration on the blessed Word. David not only stands a conspicuous type, but words are placed upon his lips which find fulfillment in the varied trials of our Lord. We thankfully adore the mercy. We feel in our grateful hearts, The Scriptures are eternal truth; we may firmly trust them. They cannot be broken.

13. “I had fainted, unless I had believed I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”

The original sentence is strikingly incomplete. The words, “I had fainted”, are adapted as implying the soul’s forlorn and sinking state, if faith and hope had not sustained it. But amid all sorrows and fears a joyful expectation cheered our Lord. He looked onward to the final display of God’s goodness in the land of the living. He knew that death could not detain Him. He foresaw the glorious land, where He would reign the living head of a living family. Let our hearts confidently look onward. Soon the shadows will have passed away—the day will dawn, goodness will be the one atmosphere, and living souls will ever live.

14. “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord.”

The ‘wonderful Counselor’ exhorts His followers to be strong in Him. He asks them to trust as He had trusted, and they will find as He had found. May the Spirit help us to act out this precious lesson! May He so nerve our spirits that no despondency may ever weaken! And may our eyes be ever raised to heaven, waiting until mercies issue forth. If they tarry, still let us wait. In due time surely they will come.

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Psalm 25 Repentance and contrition find vent in confession and prayer. May these holy exercises be the home of our souls!

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Psalm 25

Repentance and contrition find vent in confession and prayer. May these holy exercises be the home of our souls!

1. “Unto You, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.”

Sweet are the hours of communion with God. At every moment we may draw near. The way stands widely open through the rent veil. Christ’s body broken and His streaming blood procure immediate access. But true prayer is not formality. It is soul-work. In it the world and all its cares and vanities are left behind. Faith spreads rejoicing wings and soars above the heaven of heavens. The man of prayer lifts up his soul.

2, 3. “O my God, I trust in You; let me not be ashamed; let not my enemies triumph over me. Yes, let none that wait on You be ashamed; let those be ashamed who transgress without cause.”

It is faith’s holy privilege to deal unreservedly with God; to open out its real condition; to call Him to witness that all vain confidences are renounced, and that all trust rests on Him. Such may fearlessly supplicate that no disappointments may cause shame; and that no foes may humble them. Those who lift up the soul to God will lift up the head above all the fears of men.

Faith, also, is an expansive grace. Its arms embrace all true believers. It strives that others should share its blessedness. But it well knows that shame must be the sinner’s doom. There can be no excuse for sin. No cause provokes it. The sinner sins because it is his nature and his will.

4, 5, 6. “Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth, and teach me; for You are the God of my salvation; on You do I wait all the day. Remember, O Lord, Your tender mercies and Your loving kindnesses; for they have been ever of old.”

Faith is emboldened to ask great things from knowledge of the character and works of God. It can appeal, ‘You are the God who willed and wrought salvation for me; it is Your purpose and decree to save me to the uttermost. Hence You have given Jesus for me, and me to Jesus.’ It can look back to a long train of tender mercies from the earliest days. It rejoices to count them out before the Lord. It plies the argument, ‘You have been very gracious. You are the same. Oh! be gracious now’; and on these cogent grounds it bases the prayer, “Show me Your ways; lead me, teach me.” I am blind, and prone to err. Open my eyes clearly at each moment to discern Your will. Take my outstretched hand and guide me safely in salvation’s path. All the day I need Your help, and seek it; all the day be my ready guide.

7. “Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions; according to Your mercy remember me for Your goodness’ sake, O Lord.”

In the case of the ungodly, sins forgotten by him are not sins forgiven. In the case of the believer, sins forgiven by God are not obliterated from his memory. The believer often reviews his course from earliest years; he reads and re-reads the annals of the past. They are dark, and stained with countless sins and countless aggravations. He is humbled to the dust. But he remembers Jesus, and God’s boundless love in Him. He flees from the court of justice to the throne of grace. He pleads, nor pleads in vain, that God would deal with him in accordance with the covenant of grace.

8, 9. “The Lord is good and upright; therefore He will teach sinners in the way. He will guide the meek in judgment; and He will teach the meek His way.”

When prayer pauses, faith gathers strength in meditation. It reflects that God is love, and faithfulness, and truth. It refreshes itself at this deep well of consolation. God’s goodness calls; His promises assure. Therefore no sinner, coming in penitence and faith, may fear rejection. A ready welcome will be granted. The teaching Spirit will guide wisely. All who are truly humbled and thus wear the livery of the chosen flock will tread assuredly salvation’s road.

10. “All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth to such as keep His covenant and His testimonies.”

May grace be ever ours to adhere closely to the everlasting covenant; to base all our hopes on Christ, its surety, in whom all its terms are fully satisfied, and who, by His Spirit, reveals its message to us. May the like grace enable us to study diligently His holy precepts, and to keep our feet most steadily in their path. Then how blessed will be our earthly course! All God’s dealings with us, though sometimes dark to sense , will issue from unfailing love, and prove that His Word is immovable as the everlasting hills.

11. “For Your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my iniquity; for it is great.”

Prayer cannot long be silent. The burden of sin will press again. It will again appear in aggravated colors. Its magnitude deepens the sense of need of pardon. It proves that there is no remedy but in free grace. It clearly sees that God’s glory is His forgiveness of all sin through the blood and righteousness of Christ. It therefore descends more lowly in contrition’s valley, and importunes more loudly that God would gain glory in the way of pardon. Great, indeed, is our iniquity. May we confess our miserable state, and not remit our cries, that God’s glory may be great in blotting all out!

12, 13. “Who is he that fears the Lord? Him shall He teach in the way that He shall choose. His soul shall dwell at ease; and His seed shall inherit the earth.”

We do not err when we discern Christ Jesus as the high and full response. In Him each grace was perfect. In His earthly course His holy reverence was supreme. He ever knew by heavenly light His appointed path. His calm serenity was never ruffled. And He looked onward to the blissful time when His seed in countless multitudes should reign undoubted heirs of earth. All His children are conformed to His image. With lowly awe they reverence their God. His fear restrains the movement of their minds. His Spirit guides their steps. Their souls are kept in perfect peace. And in a little while the full delights of the millennial reign shall cause their cup to overflow.

14. “The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him; and He will show them His covenant.”

There are heights and depths of truth in the everlasting covenant which unaided man can neither reach nor fathom. The Gospel-scheme is a wondrous volume. No eye without God’s light can rightly read its pages. But to all who tremble at the Word, the enlightening Spirit comes. He opens out the hidden mysteries. He draws aside the veil and shows the secret transactions in the courts of heaven; and all the wondrous achievements of Christ’s life and death. The enraptured soul sees truths which angels ponder with amazement. Who can describe the ecstasies of this knowledge? But all the pupils in this school of light have one mark; they fear the Lord.

15, 16. “My eyes are ever toward the Lord; for He shall pluck my feet out of the net. Turn to me, and have mercy upon me; for I am desolate and afflicted.”

When we can realize possession of the true principles of faith, we may claim all its privileges. Faith’s eye is fixed on God. It swerves not from its polar star, therefore it reaps the rich abundance of the promises. Deliverance from every snare is pledged. Therefore with eye never turning from God, the believer walks securely through a path beset with snares. As it moves onward it is constant in petition. It often feels that loneliness and trouble depress, that friends are few, and sorrows many; but it faints not. It has firm trust that God will tenderly regard; that mercy will never fail; that no billows will overwhelm true faith.

17, 18. “The troubles of my heart are enlarged; O, bring me out of my distresses. Look upon my affliction and my pain, and forgive all my sins.”

The believer’s day varies, as the surface of the sea. There are periods of lulling calm, then the billows swell and raise gigantic breakers. There is insight that SELF can give no help. There is the immediate cry to GOD, who alone can rescue. But while attention is implored to pains of mind and body, the deepest misery is especially remembered. There is no anguish like the sense of sin. Therefore the constant prayer, ‘Forgive all my sin.’ We may urge this with all boldness and all hope, for the precious blood cleanses from all sin.

19, 20. “Consider my enemies, for they are many; and they hate me with cruel hatred. O keep my soul, and deliver me; for I put my trust in You.”

The believer might indeed tremble, if he went forth alone to his daily conflict; for many are his foes, and bitter their cruel hate. Nothing can soothe their vengeful hostility. No pity melts within their breasts. But the believer has omnipotent aid beside him. If foes are many, the help is infinite. The humble plea, “I trust in You,” will bring all heaven to the rescue. The trusting soul will indeed be kept. “O Lord, increase our faith.”

21. “Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on You.”

No grace was ever perfect but in the holy, harmless Son of God. Integrity was indeed the belt of His loins, and uprightness the sandals of His feet. But hatred of sin, and honesty of purpose, must be the inhabitants of our hearts. These graces prompt and strengthen prayer; but they are no valid grounds, claiming acceptance. For faith instantly looks from them to God, and adds, “I wait on You, from You only comes my help.”

22. “Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.”

We may boldly ply this heaven-taught prayer with our eyes fixed on Jesus. He is made unto us redemption from every trouble and from every sin. He has bought us as His own, with His most precious blood. He will keep us, He will bless us, as His purchased flock. Soon shall we know the full blessedness of this redemption. He will claim the purchased kingdom for His purchased flock, and they shall live and reign forever on redeemed ground, beneath the banners of redemption. Blessed Lord, hasten the time! Fully redeem Your Israel!

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Psalm 24 Jesus ascends in triumph to His throne in heaven. May we in spirit ascend there, and with Him continually dwell!

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Psalm 24

Jesus ascends in triumph to His throne in heaven. May we in spirit ascend there, and with Him continually dwell!

1, 2. “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and those who dwell there; for He has founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.”

A noble chorus ushers in this ode of triumph. Loud acclamations tell that God is the great Creator, the sovereign owner of the universe. Language contains not a grander sentence than the words first seen upon the Bible-page, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” He commanded the dry land to appear, and to rest on subsiding waters as its supporting column. All nations who throng its surface, all animal and vegetable life, all its rich treasures, all its lovely beauty, receive their being from His word. He spoke and they were made. His rightful lordship is indisputable. We are His, and He made us. With what lowly reverence should we bow before Him! How meekly should we yield to His supremacy! How constant should our efforts be to glorify Him with body, soul, and spirit, which are His!

3. “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in His holy place?”

He who pervades all space, whose center is everywhere and circumference nowhere, is represented to our minds as reigning in an especial palace. An earthly city was the type of this heavenly abode. The hill of Zion which received the Ark was symbol of His presence. Therefore the inquiry, Who shall live and reign forever with the Lord? is aptly symbolized by asking, Who shall mount the hill of Zion, and have firm footing in the holy place? How studiously should we examine our claim to such felicity.

4, 5, 6. “He who has clean hands, and a pure heart; who has not lifted up his soul to vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of His salvation. This is the generation of those who seek Him, who seek Your face, O Jacob.”

It is a grand and everlasting truth, “Without holiness no man shall see the Lord.” His dwelling is essential purity. No speck of sin can enter where He dwells. Therefore no one who ever breathed life’s breath or trod this earth, except Jesus, can enter by His own right and in His own name. His hands alone were never stained by sin. His heart alone was one home of unsullied purity. No vain things had attraction for His mind. No deceit defiled His spirit. He had full claims to all the blessings of the New Jerusalem. Justly He receives His due.

But this blessedness belongs not only to the Head; His members share with Him. All who by faith are one with Him, all who constitute His body, are clean, and pure, and righteous, even as He is. His all-cleansing blood forever washes out their many sins. His glorious righteousness is reckoned as their very own. His indwelling Spirit wholly sanctifies their inner man. Therefore through grace they shall ascend the holy hill; hence they shall stand within the holy place. This is the chosen generation, the royal priesthood, the holy nation, the peculiar people. The Spirit helping, they seek the Lord with all the heart, even the face of the great God of Jacob.

7. “Lift up your heads, O you gates; and be lifted up, you everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.”

The Spirit here exhibits a wonderful picture of our Lord’s triumphal ascent. We are taught to see Him drawing near attended by multitudes of the heavenly host. He reaches the gates of the eternal citadel. Admittance is demanded; the portals are summoned to fly open. The gates so barred against rebellious man are now commanded to lift their heads. It is announced that the King of glory stands outside.

8. “Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.”

The guardians of the portals are represented as responding. They must be certified of the claim of Him who thus draws near. They ask, Proclaim His name, His purpose, and His right. Why is He free to enter? A ready answer cries, “The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.” Jesus has returned; He went forth strong in the might of His omnipotence to do battle against Satan and hell, and death and the grave. The fight is fought, the victory is won. All enemies are dashed to pieces. He is here, dragging the captives fast bound to His victorious wheels; He comes crowned with all conquest. Admit Him. The crown is His by right of Satan’s empire demolished. The exulting challenge is repeated.

9. “Lift up your heads, O you gates; even lift them up, you everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.”

The inquiry, the response, are still the same.

10. “Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory.”

Look, He is enthroned on the right hand of the Majesty on high. May our poor hearts lift up their heads! May He there sit and rule, and reign forever!

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Psalm 23 Jesus leads His flock like a shepherd. May we rejoice in the delights of His fold!

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Psalm 23

Jesus leads His flock like a shepherd. May we rejoice in the delights of His fold!

1. “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in need.”

Happy the soul that, looking to Jesus as the great, the good, the one Shepherd, can add in truth, “And He is mine. I have heard His calling voice; I have seen His inviting smile; I have fled to Him; I have entered into His fold; I have committed myself to His guardian care; He has received me; He has given me most gracious welcome; I am my Beloved’s, and my Beloved is mine.” With what joyous rapture may the inhabitant of the fold continue, “I shall not be in need!” How can need be mine? He who is pledged to my support has all resources in His hand; He has all power in heaven and earth. He who has promised to give me eternal life will not allow me to perish by the way. The end secured is security along the road.

We sometimes err in our desires. In blindness we crave injurious pastures. It is our wisdom to leave all to Him. He is all wisdom and all love. He will tend wisely and most kindly. All good things will assuredly abound. Perhaps we err if we claim this psalm as our exclusive portion. Jesus Himself once knew the need of the poor sheep; but He found a Shepherd in His heavenly Father, and He lacked nothing.

2. “He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.”

A picture of rural beauty expands before us. We see a happy flock resting in calm quietness in fields rich in luxuriant plenty; we see them guided to meadows through which refreshing streams glide tranquilly. The scene is perfect. Here is repose amid abundance. Nothing disturbs the calm enjoyment.

The antitype is the believer’s soul secure from all alarms, peaceful in knowledge of the Lord’s protection, feasting on the rich provision of His Word, regaled with sustaining promises, nurtured by the Spirit’s rich supplies, reposing under the shadow of the cross, drinking the cooling streams of scriptural teaching, delighting in the sacramental feast. How ample is this sweet provision! Who will not thankfully exclaim, “I have all, and abound?”

This picture also exhibits Jesus. Amid His many troubles His soul could calmly rest on the assurance of His Father’s love, and feed rejoicingly on covenant engagement.

3. “He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”

There are times when grace appears to fade, when trials trouble and depress, when lively vigor faints and deadness chills the soul. Sad indeed would be the outcome unless the watchful Shepherd rendered help; but He assists the downcast; He shows reviving smiles; He brings the cordial of some precious promise. The withering leaf renews its freshness; the tottering limbs again are strong; the heavenward path in ways of righteousness is again stoutly trod.

Jesus often drank depression’s weakening cup. His soul was troubled; but help from above restored unwavering strength.

4. “Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”

Our sorest trial is when, with feeble step, we traverse the cheerless valley of death. The climate is chilly. Nature fails. We shrink from the icy hand; but still there is no fear. The tender Shepherd is by our side; His gentle guidance removes apprehension. The waters fail to overwhelm. Sweet texts bring light, and the Spirit applies comfort. Your rod, Your staff, the emblems of the Shepherd’s care, drive back the threatening foes, and give sustaining strength. To lean on Jesus in the darkest hour is light and joy and peace. The Good Shepherd knows the chilly hand of death. He has passed this dark valley; but His God was with Him. Ministering angels brought support. He found no evil, and no evil shall destroy His sheep.

5. “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.”

Our enemies stand round in vast array, but they cannot destroy enjoyments. In their sight God spread a banquet of delights. His inward unction causes the heart to show all kinds of radiant joy, as the countenance refreshed with ointments. We hold a cup; God’s hand supplies it; He pours in pleasures to the extent of capacity to receive. The overjoyed believer feels, “Stop, stop; it is enough;” but still the goblet overflows. Who can measure the delights of God’s presence, smile, and word?

6. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Such is faith’s sweet assurance. While days below continue, goodness and mercy, close as closest shadow, shall bring up the rear. What good thing can be absent if the Lord is present, and Jesus confirms the pledge, “Lo, I am with you all the days, even to the end of the world?” Failure there can never be. No sheep will perish or be left behind. All will be safely gathered in the many-mansioned house. There will the Great Shepherd ever dwell amid His ransomed flock. Great Shepherd, You are our all; we lovingly adore You!

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Psalm 22 The deepest anguish of our suffering Lord is here portrayed. The story of the Cross is told in minute detail. Light breaks forth at last. May we gaze and adore!

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Psalm 22

The deepest anguish of our suffering Lord is here portrayed. The story of the Cross is told in minute detail. Light breaks forth at last. May we gaze and adore!

1, 2. “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? why are You so far from helping me, and from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; and in the night-season, and am not silent.”

We take our stand at Calvary. The Cross is erected. Jesus, the God-man, our substitute, our Redeemer, hangs there. We look, and we receive assurance that truly He is bearing our curse, and drinking to the dregs our cup of wrath, and receiving into His inmost soul the sword of justice, and suffering the extremities of anguish as the penalty for our sins.

For three hours ebony darkness veils the world. We may not pierce the mystery. What mind could bear to realize the tremendous transaction? We learn all that we need to know from the shrill cry which burst from the sufferer’s heart. He testifies that God, His God, was no more present. His countenance was wholly hidden. Utter desertion overwhelmed Him. He cried for help, but no help came. He groaned through extremest anguish, and was not silent; but no answer came. It was the hour and power of darkness. Hell could not do more to terrify and excruciate. He was abandoned to its fury. He was surrendered to its worst.

Here we have fullest proof that our Lord’s sufferings were real; but they were not for Himself. They were all really substitutional. We have a real curse-bearer, and we really suffer in Him. But against all feeling, when all things were most adverse, faith still survived and retained hold of God. From desertion’s lowest depth faith cried, “My God, my God.”

3, 4, 5. “But You are holy, O You who inhabit the praises of Israel. Our fathers trusted in You; they trusted, and You delivered them. They cried to You, and were delivered; they trusted in You, and were not disappointed.”

It is faith’s happy province, when outward comforts utterly depart, still to justify God. Faith cannot blame, disparage, or cast doubt on Him. Against all outward sense it knows and witnesses that God is holy; it knows that God is entitled to all praise. Praise is His due desert. His people’s praises are His home. In darkest times faith gathers strength from ages of experience; it looks to the elders of God’s house; they all were partakers of confiding grace. It is thrice repeated that they trusted. To trust they added prayer. The end was sure. Deliverance came, and they were not ashamed. Though He slays us, yet let us trust Him. Light is sown for the righteous. We read a wonderful word as falling from the lips of Jesus—”Our fathers.” He states that He is thoroughly one with us. He is born very man, a member of our family; our fathers are His fathers, and His Father is our Father.

6. “But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised by the people.”

Jesus foresaw His deep humiliation. He takes the place of a scorned reptile. He is considered scarcely worthy to be ranked on a level with the human race. In after days the prophet sounded a similar note of degradation. He is despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, and we hid, as it were, our faces from Him. Let us gratefully remember that His low estate is our exaltation. He thus sinks that we may be uplifted.

7, 8. “All those who see Me laugh Me to scorn; they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the Lord that He would deliver Him; let Him deliver Him, since He delighted in Him.”

We return to Calvary. The whole scene here appears in predictive light. As the prophet wrote, so literally it was transacted. Hear the inspired historian; “Those who passed by reviled Him, wagging their heads. Likewise also the chief priests, mocking Him, with the scribes and elders, said, He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now, if He will have Him.” The sight of extremest misery did not move their cruel hearts. They reveled in their victim’s pain; their sneers and taunts wound deeper than the nails. His grief surpassed all grief, even as His love exceeded love. By these His stripes we are healed.

9, 10. “But You are He who took Me out of the womb; You made Me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts. I was cast upon You from birth; You are my God from My mother’s womb.”

Faith draws support from recollection of the earliest mercies. The goodness which watched over infancy and childhood are too often overlooked as common dealings. But the enlightened eye in all this watchful care discerns God’s gracious hand. It is our wisdom to trace each providence to special love. They dwell in regions of delight who see God everywhere, and in all concerns. In all things Christ is our bright example! May He who is the giver of all faith give to us faith strong as His own! As He trusted, so may we trust!

11. “Do not be far from me, for trouble is near; for there is no one to help.”

Faith quickly flies to God. Its feet frequent the well-known path of prayer. In nearness of trouble it finds nearness to the mercy-seat. Absence of human help is not a loss if it secures the help of heaven. Welcome all earthly destitution, if God supplies the void.

12, 13. “Many bulls have surrounded Me; strong bulls of Bashan have beset Me round. They gaped upon Me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.”

We return in spirit to the cross. The dying Jesus looks around; multitudes encircle Him; with open mouth ferociously they assault Him. Throughout the mass there is no sign of pity; all hearts seem dead to common feelings of humanity; they show the properties of the wildest beasts; they are savage as the untamed bull; they thirst for blood as the devouring lion. This is the saddest picture of man’s malignity. What frightful fury raged against Jesus, the perfect model of holiness and love! His only offense was that He walked this earth as God. We see what man is when no grace restrains. If we love Jesus, whom the world thus hated, let us give praise to grace, which causes us to differ.

14, 15. “My life is poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart is like wax, melting within me. My strength has dried up like sunbaked clay. My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth. You have laid me in the dust and left me for dead.”

The suffering Jesus thus described His miserable state. In graphic terms He tells of His extremity of agony and His extremity of weakness. The pain of the cross was bitterest pain; the weight of the body, suspended by the nailed hands and feet, violently strained the whole frame. It was almost dislocation of each bone; every joint was wrenched. But still no bone may suffer fracture. A clear type announced their soundness, and wondrously was the type fulfilled. The picture shows the whole frame dissolving; it retains no firmness, no consistency; it utterly yields and flows away in weakness, as resistless water yields to touch. Strength of spirit, also, collapses. As wax melts, softens, and offers no resistance to subduing heat, so the heart lay prostrate beneath subduing misery. What is so weak and brittle as the clay of the potter baked and dried up by fire? So the fire of God’s wrath brought down to nothingness the Sufferer’s strength. The parched mouth showed that the vital fluids were dried up, and death usurped undisturbed dominion.

In all this anguish Jesus realizes His heavenly Father’s hand. This is Your doing. I sink into the dust of death. But Your hand thus lays Me low. Jesus thus dies, because His people were thus sentenced; and He thus mounts the cross to die their death, that He might bear to the uttermost their curse. He mercifully selects a term to show how exactly He bore their penalty. The sentence said, “Unto dust you shall return.” Jesus calls God to witness, “You have brought Me into the dust of death.”

16, 17, 18. “My enemies surround me like a pack of dogs; an evil gang closes in on me. They have pierced my hands and feet. I can count every bone in my body. My enemies stare at me and gloat. They divide my clothes among themselves and throw dice for my garments.”

This wonderful passage establishes beyond all controversy that none but Jesus is the subject of this Psalm. To no one else can these terms apply. In Him they receive entire and exact fulfillment. Another prophet writes, “They shall look upon Me whom they have pierced.” The history relates the very fact. No ground is left on which unbelief can place its foot. Let us give thanks, knowing that by these wounds we are saved, by these stripes we are healed. The very garments of our suffering Lord are here foretold; the seamless texture of His upper vest; the mode in which they are distributed; the Roman soldiers utterly without knowledge of this Scripture, devoid of all intention to accomplish, worked them out to the very letter. It is a wondrous word, “These things also the soldiers did.”

19, 20, 21.

“O Lord, do not stay away! You are my strength; come quickly to my aid! Rescue me from a violent death; spare my precious life from these dogs. Snatch me from the lions’ jaws, and from the horns of these wild oxen.”

Here new images appear to show the bloodthirsty rage of the unrelenting murderers. We have seen their fury as bulls and lions; we now see their fierceness as dogs and wild oxen. Fierce fury could not be more fierce. Again, we see that no trials can quench the flame of faith, or check its rapid flight to God. It ever realizes, When I am weak in myself, I have God for my strength. In the lowest depths of misery, it clings to deliverance as a sure anchor. Jesus testifies on the cross, “You have heard Me.” He was not saved from dying; but He was saved from death. He died, for He must endure our death. But death could not detain. He lives again; He was fully heard. Glorious victory! He dies for us, and by His death, He has abolished death.

22. “I will declare Your name to My brethren; in the midst of the congregation I will praise You.”

The horrors of the cross give place to joy. From this deepest misery we hear a jubilant note. Jesus now speaks as risen from the dust of death, as going forth arrayed in power, and crowned with majesty and honor. He states His mission to reveal to the Church all the perfections of His heavenly Father, and ever present by His Spirit in the assemblies of His people, to fill their mouths with Jehovah’s praise. He will make their hearts a flood of gratitude, and cause the streams of thanksgiving to overflow. How great is His mercy and condescension in thus uniting us to Himself as brethren! He who is Jehovah’s fellow, one in essence with the Father, God over all, blessed forevermore, looks with intensest love on us poor miserable worms and vilest sinners, and is not ashamed to call us brethren. In the days of His abode on earth we hear His voice, “Go to My brethren;” again, “Go, tell My brethren.” We adore Him as Firstborn among many brethren. Let us with all boldness ever draw near, and tell Him our every sorrow and our every need. He has a loving brother’s loving heart towards us.

23, 24. “You who fear the Lord, praise Him; all you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him; and fear Him, all you descendants of Israel. For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither has He hid His face from Him; but when He cried to Him, He heard.”

From the cross the voice of Jesus stirs up His people to laud and glorify His Father’s name. They are described as those who fear. Their filial love is ever tremulous of giving offense. Their love is mingled with revering awe. Mercy to Jesus on the cross is a rich topic of thanksgiving. He was, indeed, the despised and rejected of men. He drank the bitterest dregs of affliction’s cup. But though for a while forsaken by the Father, He was ever His dearly beloved, and His every prayer was heard and answered. Warmed by this thought, let us obey our Lord, and sing God’s praises, ardent with love, lowly in fear.

25. “My praise shall be of You in the great congregation; I will pay My vows before those who fear Him.”

The heart of Jesus is ever intent to bring glory to the Father. It is His joy to awaken the notes of praise wherever His congregations meet. He remembers, also, the work which He is pledged to execute. Never will He cease, never will He remit His efforts, until the whole company, given by the Father’s love, are sought and found, are melted and renewed, and brought by faith to welcome His complete salvation.

26, 27, 28. “The meek will eat and be satisfied. All who seek the Lord will praise him. Their hearts will rejoice with everlasting joy. The whole earth will acknowledge the Lord and return to him. People from every nation will bow down before him. For the Lord is king! He rules all the nations.”

Another distinctive mark of Christ’s little flock is meekness. They are true followers of Him who sweetly said, “I am meek and lowly in heart.” Abundance of refreshing feast is provided for them. Christ is their bread of life. Christ is their daily manna. Christ is their feast of fat things. They hear His welcome, “Eat, O friends, drink, yes, drink abundantly, O beloved.” They are fully satisfied, and they return abundant praise. Jesus, though dying, knew that He would live forever, and living would be the life of all who trusted in Him. Surely their life is far from harm who know that “their life is hidden with Christ in God.” At present the world is full of all turmoil and evil. But this confusion and iniquity will soon give place to the reign of righteousness. Christ is heir of all things, His righteous throne will soon be set, and then from the rising of the sun to its decline pure worship will be given to Him.

29, 30, 31. “Let the rich of the earth feast and worship. Let all mortals—those born to die—bow down in his presence. Future generations will also serve him. Our children will hear about the wonders of the Lord. His righteous acts will be told to those yet unborn. They will hear about everything he has done.”

The sorrows of the cross end in glorious triumph. What marvels of extensive blessedness spring from these seeds of agony and blood! The Word shall receive full accomplishment, “Therefore, God also has highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.” Until the bright day of His return, a constant succession called by His grace, quickened by His Spirit, adopted into His family, shall spring up to call Him Lord, and render devout service. They shall flow on in uninterrupted streams, proclaiming from age to age His glorious righteousness, as their robe to justify, as their ornament for heaven. Rejoicing in full salvation, they shall ascribe all to His finished work. Deep in self-abasement, they shall magnify His grace. One shall be their song. This glory is all His work. He has done this. May we thus sing!

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