Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly.
(J. J. Stewart Perowne, B. D.)
1. To beware of the ungodly man's persuasions;
2. Of their order of life; and,
3. Of their society and company keeping.Ver. 2. Teacheth him by the contrary what he must do.
1. Take delight and pleasure in God's Word; because we do hardly profit by those things which we take no pleasure in;
2. Use all the means whereby we may be builded up in knowledge; for so generally do I take these words, "meditate day and night."Ver. 3. A promise annexed for our better encouragement, which expresseth God's wonderful goodness, and our dulness and heaviness, that have need of such spurs. By which also we may see the right use of God's promises, namely, to provoke us to all well-doings (1 Corinthians 7:1).Ver. 4. Doth not only contain judgments against the wicked, but also teacheth, yea, spurreth forward the godly, by beholding their punishments, to more heedy walking; and whereas the Holy Ghost resembleth the wicked to chaff tossed before the wind, it teaches us, that though the wicked think themselves glorious, and of long continuance, yet they are neither the one nor the other.Ver. 5. Teacheth that God, with His fan, will make a separation between the good corn and the chaff (Matthew 3:12).Ver. 6. Teacheth this, that God is the only judge to allow and disallow; men must not therefore stand upon themselves, or other men's judgments. For what are we that condemn another man's servant? He standeth or faileth to his own master.
(Sir Richard Baker.)
I. NEGATIVELY. But all this is negative; and in a world such as this, and with a nature such as ours, no small part of religion consists in avoiding evil. Still, a negative religion is not sufficient. God's Word is, Cease to do evil, learn to do well. A man may "not swear," but does he "pray"? He may not rob, but does he relieve the poor? Therefore we have the blessed man described —
II. POSITIVELY. "His delight," etc. It is so, whether the law be the moral law or the Word of God. Much more may we say this who have the complete Bible. Day and night, our thoughts ever follow our affections.
1. He is set forth as a "man." Sin un-mans, reduces the volume and value of manhood, until it brings its victim to a revolting animalism. The Christian is restored by grace to true manhood.
2. As a "happy man." Happiness is the flower and fruit of piety. Misery, the natural child of sin. None are so happy as those whom God makes happy.
3. As avoiding unholy society. As oil will not mix with water, light cannot co-exist with darkness, so piety cannot live in the poisonous atmosphere of evil-doers. Where there is no affinity of nature there can be no sympathy and fellowship of spirit. The tropical plant will quickly die at the roots in the Arctic region; and the saint cannot pass over to the frigid zone of the worldling's society, but at the peril of his sainthood — his life.
4. As a student of Divine truth. Religion makes men thoughtful. He is a glad student. "His delight is in"; a diligent student. "Day and night." It is not a nine days' spell which novelty has thrown over him. He meditates ill it in the "day" of prosperity, and does not forget to do so in the "night" of adversity.
5. Under a beautiful and suggestive figure. "Like a tree." He does not grow up a Christian, he is planted as such. Religion is not natural, but engendered: — He is well positioned. "By the rivers of water." As a consequence he is "fruitful." No fruit in the life is a proof of no grace in the heart. He is always in "season." "There are special times for the manifestation of suitable graces. Liberality when riches increase. Humility when cheered by others. Patience in suffering. Resignation in bereavement. Faith in trial." He is "evergreen." "His leaf also shall not wither." The beauty of the believer is holiness, the communicated "beauty of the Lord our God." The sap of grace is always in circulation, hence his leaf does not wither.
6. Prosperous in all his undertakings. "There is no lack to them that walk uprightly. Godliness is great gain."
7. As divinely known. "Knoweth the way of the righteous" (ver. 6). His knowledge covers the minutiae of his life as well as the particulars of the road. This Divine knowledge is comforting, stimulating, faith-embolding, etc. Such is the inspired portrait of the "happy" or godly man. In contrast we have the "ungodly man." He is like "chaff," without worth, or use, or root; the sport of the wind of circumstances, passions, frivolities, worldliness, sensuality, etc., devoid of true manliness, decision of character, etc. Ver. 5 sets him forth as morally incapacitated to stand in the Court of Justice; and also as morally disqualified to associate with the holy. Both he and his way shall perish.
(J. O. Keen, D. D.)
(L. A. Banks, D. D.)
Ashrey ha-ish, "O the happiness of that man!" If ever a man pursued happiness under the most favourable conditions, it was King Solomon; yet this was his conclusion of the whole matter, "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." John Trapp said quaintly, "The Psalmist hath said here more to the point respecting happiness than all the philosophers; for while they beat the bush, he hath put the bird into our hand."
I. AS TO THE CHARACTER OF THIS HAPPY MAN. "He walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly." We must needs be in the world — not dreamers among the shadows, but men among men. The world has need of us. The workshop and the office demand us. The secular cares of this world are, of necessity, upon us. But the secret of true happiness is moral nonconformity. Being in the world, we should not be of it. While our associations must needs be in some measure with the ungodly, their counsels, their ways, their seats are not for us. God's people go to their offices and their workshops just like other men, but their affections are not set upon this world; they are ever mindful of their noble birth, their Divine inheritance, their glorious destiny.
II. HIS ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE DIVINE LAW. The "Law of the Lord" was a Jewish phrase for the Scriptures. The happy man possesses a right estimate of the importance of the Word of God.
1. He is a reader of the Scriptures. Thomas a Kempis said, "I am never so happy as when in a nook with the Book."
2. He reads "with delight." We are much given in these times to a critical study of the Word. The way to appreciate the beauty of Murillo's picture of the Immaculate Conception is not to approach it with spatula and ammonia for purposes of minute analysis, but to gaze upon it until we are filled with the mighty thoughts that went surging through the soul of the master genius who painted it.
3. He meditates in them. St. renders the word "chattereth." So in these spring days we hear the sparrows chattering with their hearts full of the prophecy of bloom and fruitfulness. So glad and happy are the souls that meditate with delight in the Divine law.
III. THE OUTCOME OF THIS HAPPY LIFE. Fruitfulness. "Like a tree." This life is rooted well. Its leaf shall not wither. The leaf shows the character of the tree. The man whose soul is full of truth and righteousness need not be saying perpetually, "I am a Christian," for his walk and conversation declare it. He bringeth forth fruit in his season. We shall be ever doing good as we have opportunity. There is an obverse to this picture. "The ungodly are not so."
1. As to his life — it is chaff. There is no profit in it.
2. As to his death — it is like a furrow in the sea.
3. After death, he shall "not stand in judgment." Most of us have been disappointed in our pursuit of happiness. There is, however, a right way and a sure way to pursue it.
(D. J. Burrell, D. D.)
Monday Club Sermons.I. A STRIKING DESCRIPTION OF THE CHARACTER OF THE RIGHTEOUS. Among the evil, as well as the good, there are classes and gradations. Here we have forgetters of God, overt and habitual sinners, and settled scorners. How graphically is the progressive tendency of sin here exhibited! Observe the indication we here have of the tendency of sin to fixedness. Walking, standing, sitting; wrong principles, then sinful habits, and last settled scorn. But the righteous man is not simply one who keeps aloof from the ways described. His character has its positive side. It is needful to discriminate with respect to the kind of delight the righteous man takes in the law. How much there is in the Bible of valuable history! Its truths and precepts kindle the intellect, feed the imagination, and commend themselves to man's natural sense of what is true and good. The delight of the Psalmist is, however, something deeper and other than this. It is delight in the law as God's law, and because it is His. It is the delight of a mind in sympathetic accord with it and with its Author. Even in the Old Testament saint there was much of this spirit. Here is the difference between a truly righteous man and one who is only outwardly so. The latter obeys slavishly, and against his own will. The former serves joyfully, and in love. The interest the one takes in the Bible is intellectual; that of the other is also practical and spiritual.
II. A DELIGHTFUL PICTURE OF THE CONDITION OF THE RIGHTEOUS. "Like a tree." The tree draws a portion of its nourishment from the surrounding atmosphere, but relatively this is small. Vastly the greater portion is taken up with the moisture at its root. Hence where there is little moisture the life of the tree is feeble, its growth is slow, its fruit is uncertain, its leaf withers. So it is doubtless true that the godly man derives material for growth, usefulness, enjoyment, and moral beauty from whatever surrounds him. He learns from nature, society, books; he derives profit and adornment from studies, companionship, and experience; but for that which is highest and best, whether of comfort, attainment, or serviceableness to his generation, he is indebted to revealed truth. It is this which sustains his true inner life. In ver. 3 there is a change of figure. Of the righteous it is said, "and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." The meaning doubtless is that he shall prosper in all his godly doings; in the things to which the Divine will and word may prompt him; in 'those righteous undertakings by which he is distinguished. In other ages, if not now, it shall appear that nought of such labour was lost. It would be a mistake to understand, by the fruit here spoken of, external works only, or chiefly. The fruit of the spirit is "in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth." It is "love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance." First of all, it is inward, then outward. It would be equally a mistake to suppose that the leaf, which does not wither, is the symbol only of the honour and beauty which crown the character of the godly. Doubtless it stands for this. But the leaf is also useful. And that, too, not only in the pleasure it ministers to the beholder's eye, or the shade it affords to the passing traveller. Its benefits may reach very far. "The fresh air we quaff from the hills has been purified and made healthy for us by the foliage of the trees, not merely those of our own country, but even the pines of Norway and the palms of India." And so the godly man is blessed in what he is and what he does.
III. A CHEERING INTIMATION OF THE HAPPY END WHICH AWAITS THE RIGHTEOUS. As is so often the case in the Bible, thought abruptly passes from time to eternity. Indeed, to the eye of faith, these are one: the latter is but the continuation of the former. Naturally, therefore, the characters contrasted in the Psalm are now made to appear for judgment.
(Monday Club Sermons.)
(Joseph Parker, D. D.)
1. He is partly described by negatives. We begin with children by teaching them what they must not do. The man who "walketh in the counsel of the ungodly" is not a happy man. Nowhere in the devil's territories can you find the happy man. Men who have run the whole round of so called enjoyment unite to say, "If you want to be happy, avoid our footprints." And yet it seems as if every young man must go and try for himself. He will not take the experience of others; or follow the directions of the "caution board."
2. He is partly described by what he should do. God does not destroy our powers, but turns them in a right direction. How can we be happy? Study. He who thinks grows. Meditate in the "Law of the Lord." We are not a Bible reading people. The old-fashioned people in the Church were. Note the consequences of this "delight in the Law of the Lord." Beauty. Righteous men should have beauty of character. "Whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." When we fail the fault is ours, or if it be not, then the failure is for the sake of the success it shall lead to. "The ungodly are not so." The sinner has a brief day. It may not seem so now; but God says, he is "like the chaff." But we should not seek happiness as an end. Seek goodness, and the happiness will come.
(Joseph Parker, D. D.)
Expository Outlines.I. A CERTAIN COURSE DESCRIBED. Here is a two-fold gradation implied, the one relating to the characters referred to, and the other to the intercourse maintained.
II. A SACRED EXERCISE DESCRIBED. "In His law doth he meditate." The godly man delights in the Law of the Lord for many reasons.
1. Because it enriches his mind.
2. It cheers his heart.
3. It sanctifies his nature.
III. AN ENCOURAGING ASSURANCE GIVEN. "He shall be like a tree." Note the connection between loving the Scriptures and spiritual prosperity.
IV. A SOLEMN CONTRAST DRAWN. The ungodly are like the chaff. Chaff is a thing that is —
1. Unsightly. There is nothing to excite pleasurable emotions in the ungodly.
2. Worthless. Chaff cannot be turned, even in our inventive age, to any beneficial purpose.
3. Light and unsubstantial. There is no stability in the ungodly. They are tossed to and fro with every wind of temptation; and, being influenced by caprice rather than principle, no confidence can be placed in them. The Psalmist adds, "therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment." To "stand" is a forensic term, and denotes "to stand acquitted," and with those who live and die ungodly such cannot be the case.
V. A CONCLUSIVE REASON ADDUCED. "For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous; but the way of the ungodly shall perish."
(Sir Richard Baker.)
(Sir Richard Baker.)
(Sir Richard Baker.)
(Sir Richard Baker.)
(Sir Richard Baker.)
Walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly.
I. DESIRE YOU RATHER AS THEIR PREY THAN THEIR FRIEND. They protest vehement friendship; there is nothing they will not do for you; all that they have is at your service. These are not safe men who overact their part in this way.
II. THE FOP AND ROUÉ. The plucking of pigeons has been an art studied and perfected by knaves of fashion in every age, and has flung filth upon escutcheons which had known no shame, and blasted many a prospect of a noble future.
III. THE EXTRAVAGANT. We find it easy to declare that poverty is no disgrace; yet it is rare to find amongst the young the moral hardihood which can say, "I can't afford it." In humbler life it is by tens of thousands, not by ones or twos, that you may count the well born and the well trained who have fallen, some into suicide, some into prisons, some to the gallows, all into disgrace by becoming companions of those who have tempted them into extravagance.
IV. BETTING MEN. The slowly rising pittance of the clerk will not let him keep pace with the expensive pleasures of his rich associate, and fraud and forgery are led up to by the sure pathway of the betting ring.
V. THE FLATTERER, the sponge, who desires only to exhaust your purse. The cynic too. He is a flatterer who has established his ascendency so completely that he can afford to be rude. You cannot make a friend of a bully.
VI. AND LET BOTH YOUNG MEN AND MAIDENS BE VERY CAREFUL OF THE COMPANIONSHIPS WHICH THEY FORM, ONE WITH THE OTHER. A young man will do well who makes an honourable union the goal of his industry; and let her whose troth is challenged have nought to do with one whose life is stained with an unmanly taint. Choose Christian friendships, for companionship is the leaven of our lives and solitude their bane. But there is no solitude to him who has learned to cancel it with pure thought and spiritual communion. Healthy literature, taste, art, music, come with votive offerings to him who lingers by their chastened altars. But the best friendship is that of those whose Master is Christ. When the disciples were let go they went to their own company. Go you to yours, and let it be the company which gathers round the Lord.
(E. N. Packard.)
Homiletic Review.I. THREE CLASSES OF TRANSGRESSORS. Shun them!
1. Ungodly. — Generally those who are
(a) (b) (c) 2. Sinners. — The restless missing his way. 3. Scorners. — Mockers, pests, impostors (Psalm 26:4-9). II. THREE INDUCEMENTS TO TRANSGRESS. Resist them. 1. Counsel. — Flattering and deceptive. Satan in Eden and the wilderness. 2. Way. — Broad and attractive (Matthew 7:13, 14). 3. Seat. — Boisterous and popular. "My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not." III. THREE DEGREES OF TRANSGRESSION. Avoid them! 1. Walking. — Initiatory. 2. Standing. — Secondary. (Homiletic Review.)
(b) (c) 2. Sinners. — The restless missing his way. 3. Scorners. — Mockers, pests, impostors (Psalm 26:4-9). II. THREE INDUCEMENTS TO TRANSGRESS. Resist them. 1. Counsel. — Flattering and deceptive. Satan in Eden and the wilderness. 2. Way. — Broad and attractive (Matthew 7:13, 14). 3. Seat. — Boisterous and popular. "My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not." III. THREE DEGREES OF TRANSGRESSION. Avoid them! 1. Walking. — Initiatory. 2. Standing. — Secondary. (Homiletic Review.)
(c) 2. Sinners. — The restless missing his way. 3. Scorners. — Mockers, pests, impostors (Psalm 26:4-9). II. THREE INDUCEMENTS TO TRANSGRESS. Resist them. 1. Counsel. — Flattering and deceptive. Satan in Eden and the wilderness. 2. Way. — Broad and attractive (Matthew 7:13, 14). 3. Seat. — Boisterous and popular. "My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not." III. THREE DEGREES OF TRANSGRESSION. Avoid them! 1. Walking. — Initiatory. 2. Standing. — Secondary. (Homiletic Review.)
2. Sinners. — The restless missing his way.
3. Scorners. — Mockers, pests, impostors (Psalm 26:4-9).
II. THREE INDUCEMENTS TO TRANSGRESS. Resist them.
1. Counsel. — Flattering and deceptive. Satan in Eden and the wilderness.
2. Way. — Broad and attractive (Matthew 7:13, 14).
3. Seat. — Boisterous and popular. "My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not."
III. THREE DEGREES OF TRANSGRESSION. Avoid them!
1. Walking. — Initiatory.
2. Standing. — Secondary.
Nor standeth in the way of sinnersI. THE INFECTIOUS NATURE OF SIN, and the danger of walking in the counsel of the ungodly. These warnings have been so often repeated and are now commonplace, not because they are unimportant, but because the good and wise of all ages have felt the necessity of them.
1. We are all prone to sin.
2. And the young are ignorant and unsuspicious.
3. Vice is usually baited with pleasure.
4. The difficulty of bearing ridicule, which in corrupt society the young are exposed to.
II. THE HARDENING NATURE OF SIN.
1. Its progress is gradual and insensible.
2. The strength and power of inveterate habit.
III. THE FINISHING STAGE OF WICKEDNESS. To be of the scornful. On which note —
1. The sin and danger of it to the scornful themselves. It is an audacious attack upon the majesty of the living God, and must strike every thinking person with horror. And this is not a sudden sin, but deliberate. Such contempt of sacred things shows an entire victory over conscience: all reluctance is gone. Also, over shame, and they design to destroy it in the minds of others.
2. Its sad influence. For it is public and intended to be so. It is an open advocacy of sin and an endeavour to break the restraints of conscience in others as well as themselves. Its malignant influence is seen in the fear that most persons have in opposing fashionable crimes. It lays hold on some human weakness that has been accidentally associated with religion, and ridicules religion as if it also were weak. was certainly the wisest and best of the men of Greece. His behaviour was such as demanded the esteem of all who knew him; yet was this worthy man successfully turned into ridicule by one whose writings are to the last degree contemptible. But yet this ridicule paved the way for the enmity which was raised against him, and which brought him to death. So ridicule often slays religion in the soul. Therefore let the young beware of evil company. Let parents strive to train their children in religion, and let all Christian men stand up boldly against profanity and vice and deal with these sins as they deserve.
(J. Witherspoon, D. D.)
1. That rigorousness and austerity which some gloomy-minded Christians attach to their religion. God and nature have established no connection between sanctity of character and severity of manners. To rejoice evermore is not only the privilege, it is also the duty of a Christian. The votaries of vice put on the mask of mirth, they counterfeit gladness amidst the horrors of guilt.
2. The opinion that wickedness, particularly some kinds of it, are manly and becoming; that dissoluteness, infidelity, and blasphemy are indications of a sprightly and a strong mind. Those who have shone in all ages as the lights of the world, with a few exceptions, have been uniformly on the side of goodness, and have been as distinguished in the temple of virtue as they were illustrious in the temple of fame.
Nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord.
I. WHAT IS THIS LAW? Not the Mosaic, not the ceremonial law, for which God often cared nothing; but the law according to which the Lord hath ordered all things. This is the law which God says He will put into our hearts and write on our minds. This is that true and eternal law of which Solomon speaks in his Proverbs as the Wisdom by which God made the heavens: and he tells us that that Wisdom is a tree of life to all who lay hold on her. This is that law which the inspired philosopher — for philosopher he was indeed — who wrote that 119th Psalm, continually prayed and strove to learn. Christ perfectly fulfilled it. He said, with His whole heart, "I delight to do Thy will, O My God." The will of God, for this law is nothing else. By keeping it we are blessed. What God has willed we should be and do. But if so, it is plain we must heed the warnings of the first verse. For no one will learn God's will if he takes counsel from the ungodly; or if he stand in the way of profligate and dishonest men. If he do this, all he will learn of God's law is the dreadful part of it told of in the 2nd Psalm. God will "rule him with a rod of iron, and break," etc. But there is more hope for him — if he repent — than if he sits in the seat of the scorners — the sneering, the frivolous, the unbelieving, who laugh down religion as enthusiasm and worse. When the greatest poet of our days tried to picture his idea of a fiend tempting man to ruin, he gave him just such a character as this: a very clever, agreeable, courteous man of the world, and yet a being who could not love anyone, and believed not in anyone; who mocked at both man and God, and who tempted and mined men in mere sport as a cruel child may torment a fly. Such was Mephistopheles. Beware, therefore, of the scornful as well as of the openly sinful. And remember —
II. THIS LAW IS THE LAW OF THE LORD — our Lord Jesus Christ. Who can stand with Him? "Why do the heathen rage," etc. Men will not believe in this law. But sooner or later they have to, and often in terrible ways they find out their mistake. "He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh." For Christ is on the throne of the universe. And His might and power are continually being made known. Even now He bruises His enemies as with a rod of iron. It is of no use to talk about the goodness of God and of the gentleness of Christ. We flatter ourselves that if gentle, He may be also indulgent and weak. But there is an awful side to His character. Think of these things. You are kings — at least over yourselves; and judges — at least of your own conduct. Therefore let each and all of us, high and low, take the warning and love law — for that is the true meaning — before the Son of God, as subjects before an absolute monarch, because His will is only and always a good will.
I. SUCH DELIGHT IS NECESSARY. By "the law of the Lord" we mean religion both experimental and practical. Now such delight in it is necessary for a Christian man, because —
1. Without it there is no heart in religion. But the very essence of religion lies in the heart.
2. Works and acts acceptable to God will not be produced. But it is for these that religion is designed.
3. A man cannot be a true Christian and understand the true gospel without feeling a delight in it. The true gospel, mark you, for there are gospels preached by some men that no man can delight in, But the true gospel must make the heart happy.
II. THE MANIFESTATIONS OF THIS DELIGHT.
1. He will continually think of the law of the Lord.
2. He will be sure to speak of it. There is too little conversation now about Christ. I suppose it is with some Christians as the sailor said it was with the parrot. He had a remarkable parrot which he sold to a good woman, telling her it could talk no end of things. After she had kept it a week and it had said nothing, she took it back to the sailor. "Well, ma'am," said he, "I dare say it has not said much, but it has thought the more." And there are people like that parrot. Like it, too, in that the parrot did not think, though the sailor said it did. Nor do they, or else if they had thought they would have spoken. What is in the well will come up in the bucket.
3. Endeavours to spread the knowledge of it.
4. And will not rest until he has brought others to delight in it also.
III. THE HAPPY EFFECTS OF THIS DELIGHT.
1. It Will make a man bold.
2. Very calm and quiet in the day of affliction.
3. It will prepare him for heaven. To you who have no such delight, this law of the Lord, which was designed to be your delight, will become your scourge.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
I. THIS PSALM IS NOT A COMMENDATION OF A MEDITATIVE LIFE ONLY. We cannot in this world of imperative work live such a life. Those in cloisters and convents have tried and failed. As when we fix the eyes on one object only, they get weary, filmy, dull. But rightly understood, our life is to be fat more than meditation. It is to be like a tree planted and bringing forth fruit. The man is to be a doer, and what he does is to prosper. The law on which he meditates is specially related to men's active life. It is not merely to be thought about, but practically obeyed. Merely to meditate on it would be as if a soldier, having received from the general's hand the order book, were to take that book to his tent and were to sit down and spend all the hours of the day admiring his general's skill and the grasp of his mind instead of proceeding to obey the orders and to prepare the army for the impending battle.
II. THE MEDITATION HERE COMMENDED IS ONE THOROUGHLY CONSISTENT WITH WORKING, ACTIVE LIFE; indeed, is for this very thing. And the happy man is he who through meditation on God's law comes to live the life of holy service. He is to be "like a tree" as contrasted with "the chaff ." Our lives must be as one or the other.
III. NOTE THE FORCE OF THE IMAGE EMPLOYED. For a tree vividly sets forth the connection between thinking and working; between the roots and the fruit of conduct. Strong characters are produced only by strong thinking. Occasional, weak, fugitive thinking, even on good things, may exist — too often does — with evil lives. Thoughts must be deep, and go down to the roots of the soul and take possession of it. The ungodly man is he who does not take God into account. He acts upon expediency. Hence he is like the chaff. There are different sorts of trees, but any tree is better than the chaff. But seek to be like the tree told of here.
IV. How? You must be "planted," that is, "transplanted." The tree has been put where it is designedly. And this is what meditation means. It is the self-planting of the man by the rivers of waters God has caused to flow forth for us from His Word. The rivers told of are not natural rivers, but artificial streams made for the purpose of irrigation. Solomon made many such in his day. And Hezekiah also. The Turkish Government has let them fall into decay, and hence Palestine is now nearly desert. Lord Lawrence made such streams for Northwest India, to its vast advantage. Merv in Central Asia is an oasis in the desert, for the Turcomans have dammed up the streams that flow down form the Afghan mountains and led their waters along artificial canals, and so the country is watered and reclaimed. Day and night the dam is watched by Turcoman sentinels, for if it were once destroyed the country would again become desert. But the herbs and the trees will never lack for water while these streams are preserved, and as long as the snows abide on the hills which lift their white peaks against the distant sky. What a parable all this is! If we would toil so to bring the living waters of God's Word into the moral desert of our souls, what a reclamation of waste places there would be, what lives like trees bearing fruit! Missions, churches, worship are all such endeavours. And what a channel for such streams is a godly, consistent life! Such lives are ever a blessing. As a tree is a thing both of beauty and of use, so are they. And every God-filled man and woman is such a tree. This is the secret of the happy life.
(J. Vincent Tymms.)
I. ITS CHARACTERISTICS. It is read —
II. THE RESULTS OF SUCH READING.
1. Stability of Christian character.
3. Freshness and beauty.
4. Success in all his righteous undertakings.
I. HIS PRACTICE. "His delight is in," etc. How does he use the Bible?
1. He studies it independently.
II. HIS PLEASURE. His delight is in," etc.
1. He enjoys the pleasure of congeniality.
III. HIS PROSPERITY.
1. He is stable.
2. Fair and fruitful.
(J. Spencer Hill.)
1. The feeling with which the believer views the Holy Scriptures.
2. Some of the grounds which give rise to this delight in the heart of the believer. Its own intrinsic worth and excellence. He knows by experience its quickening and converting power. It has given and still gives the believer light. In the Word of God he has found peace. The Word gives the believer freedom. It consoles and supports the true believer in distress and temptation.
3. What is the result of this delight? What effect, does this feeling produce upon the believer's practice? He "meditates on the law of the Lord "day and night."
(C. R. Hay, M. A.)
I. The godly man is described by way of NEGATION, in three particulars. "Sitting" implies a habit in sin, familiarity with sinners. Diamonds and stones may lie together, but they will not solder or cement.
II. By way of POSITION. The not being scandalous will no more make a good Christian than a cipher will make a sum. It is not enough for the servant of the vineyard that he cloth no hurt there, he doth not break the trees or destroy the hedges; if he doth not work in the vineyard he loseth his pay.
1. You may not be outwardly bad, and yet not inwardly good. Though you do not hang out your bush, yet you may secretly vend your commodity; a tree may be full of vermin, yet the fair leaves may cover them that they are not seen.
2. If you are only negatively good, God makes no reckoning of you, you are as so many ciphers in God's arithmetic, and He writes down no ciphers in the book of life.
3. A man may as well go to hell for not doing good as for doing evil. One may as well die with not eating food as with poison. A ground may as well be spoiled for want of good seed as with having tares sown in it. A two-fold description of a godly man.
III. HE DELIGHTS IN GOD'S LAW. A man may work in his trade and not delight in it, but a godly man serves God with delight. What is meant by the Law? Take the word more strictly and it means the Decalogue, or Ten Commandments. Take it more largely, it is the whole written Word of God; those truths deducted from the Word; the whole business of religion. The word is a setting forth, and religion a showing forth, of God and Law. What is meant by delight in the law? Hebrews and Sept. render, "his will is in the law of the Lord," and that which is voluntary is delightful. A child of God, though he cannot serve the Lord perfectly, yet serves Him willingly. He is not a pressed soldier, but a volunteer. The saints' delight in the law of the Lord proceeds from —
1. Soundness of judgment. The mind apprehends a beauty in God's law, now the judgment draws the affections, like so many orbs, after it.
2. From the predominancy of grace. When grace comes with authority and majesty upon the heart it fills it with delight. Grace puts a new bias into the will, it works a spontaneity and cheerfulness in God's service.
3. From the sweetness of the end. Well may we with cheerfulness let down the net of our endeavour when we have so excellent a draught. Heaven at the end of duty causeth delight in the way of duty.Two cases to be put.
1. Whether a regenerate person may not serve God with weariness. Yes; but this lassitude may arise from the inbeing of corruption (Romans 7:24). It is not, however, habitual, and it is involuntary. He is troubled by it. He is weary of his weariness.
2. Whether a hypocrite may not serve God with delight? He may, but his delight is carnal. How may this. spiritual delight be known? He that delights in God's law is often thinking of it. If we delight in religion there is nothing can keep us from it, but we will be conversant in Word, prayer, sacraments. He that loves gold will trade for it. Those that delight in religion are often speaking of it. He that delights in God will give Him the best in every service. And he doth not much delight in anything else but God. True delight is constant. Hypocrites have their pangs of desire, and flashes of joy which are soon over. Delight in religion crowns all our services, evidenceth grace, will make the business of religion more facile to us. All the duties of religion are for our good. Delight in God's service makes us resemble the angels in heaven. Delight in God's law will not breed surfeit. Carnal objects do oft cause a loathing and nauseating. We soon grow weary of our delights. For the attaining of this delight set a high estimate upon the Word. Pray for a spiritual heart. Purge out the delight of sin.
( T. Watson.)
(J. H. Jowett, M. A.)
1. It is the soul's retiring of itself. A Christian, when he goes to meditate, must lock himself up from the world. The world spoils meditation.
2. It is a serious and solemn thinking upon God (Hebrews), with intentness to recollect and gather together the thoughts. Meditation is not a cursory work. A carnal, flitting Christian is like the traveller, his thoughts ride post, he minds nothing of God. A wise Christian is like the artist, he views with seriousness and ponders the things of religion.
3. It is the raising of the heart to holy affections. Meditation is a duty imposed. The same God who hath bid us believe hath bid us meditate. It is a duty opposed. We may conclude it is a good duty, because it is against the stream of corrupt nature. As it is said, "You may know that religion is right which Nero persecutes." The meditation of a thing hath more sweetness in it than the bare remembrance. The remembrance of a truth without the serious meditation of it will but create matter of sorrow another day. A sermon remembered, but not ruminated, will only serve to increase our condemnation. Meditation and study differ in three ways. In their nature — Study is the work of the brain, meditation of the heart. In their design — The design of study is notion, the design of meditation is piety. In their issue and result — Study leaves a man never a whit the better; it is like a winter sun that hath little warmth and influence. Meditation leaves one in a more holy frame. It melts the heart when it is frozen, and makes it drop into tears of love. There are things in the law of God which we should principally meditate upon. His attributes. His promises of remission, sanctification, remuneration. Meditate upon the love of Christ; upon sin; upon the vanity of the creature; upon the excellency of grace; upon the state of your souls; upon your experiences. The necessity of meditation will appear in three particulars.
1. The end why God has given us His Word, written and preached, is not only to know it, but that we should meditate in it. Without meditation we never can be good Christians. The truths of God will not stay with us. Meditation imprints and fastens a truth in the mind. Without meditation the truths which we know will never affect our hearts. And we make ourselves guilty of slighting God and His Word. If a man lets a thine, lie by and never minds it, it is a sign he slights it.Answers to objections —
1. I have so much business in the world that I have no time to meditate. The business of a Christian is meditation, just as the business of the husbandman is ploughing and sowing.
2. This duty of meditation is hard. The price that God hath set heaven is labour. We do not argue so in other things. Entering into meditation may be hard, but once entered it is sweet and pleasant. As to rules about meditation — Be very serious about the work. Read before you meditate. Do not multiply the subjects of meditation. To meditation join examination Shut up meditation with prayer, and pray over your meditations. Reduce it to practice. Live over your meditation.
( T. Watson.)
(Sir Richard Baker.)
(Sir Richard Baker.)
(Sir Richard Baker.)
(Sir Richard Baker.)
(Sir Richard Baker.)
(Sir Richard Baker.)
(Sir Richard Baker.)
He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of waters.
(David Caldwell, A. M.)
1. Its blessedness does not depend upon its kind. It is not the cedar of Lebanon of which David is thinking, but any tree. It is not the tree, but the planting and the place, that constitute the blessedness. We need not think that we are the wrong sort. Two kinds of religious people in the world. There are those who always want to be somebody else: and there are those who want everybody else to be exactly what they themselves are. Now the woods need all the kinds of trees that God has made; and the world wants all the kinds of people that God has sent into it. Some people are perhaps very different from what God made them, but He wants us to be everyone after his kind.
2. We can none of us afford to make much of ourselves, but we can all of us afford to be ourselves. I am not much at the best; but I am best when I am myself. Now, timid soul, the heavenly Father has room for you.
3. Notice that the tree is planted. It did not plant itself. It surrendered itself wholly and utterly to the husbandman. He took it in hand and dealt with it, and that was the beginning of its prosperity. This utter and whole-hearted surrender of ourselves to the Lord is the first sign of the blessed life. The husbandman must have possession before he can do any planting. Planted, the tree begins to put forth at the one end the roots that go out and clasp the rocks, and at the other end the branches spread and leaves unfold, and it drinks in the rain and sunshine of heaven. It is the fair emblem of the man of God, rooted in obedience, rising to communion. There is the man of God; the law of his God is an authority supreme, that knows no argument, no exception, no choice. I must and I will grip the law of God. Here is stability, You know where to have that man. Right is might with him. But a tree is not all root. Here, laughing in the sunshine, sporting in the breeze, dripping with the shower, is the branch that pushes out over earth and up into heaven. The emblem of freedom. But the branch is always in proportion to the root. The obedience and the communion keep pace.
4. It is a tree planted by the rivers of water. There is not only a rock to hold on to, but there is the river to refresh it. Rock and river, river and rock, this is what the law of God becomes. They who do not know think of the law of God as the hard stern voice of thunder, with its "Thou shalt." But they who do know cry, "Great peace have they that keep Thy law." It is rivers of waters, sweet, refreshing, quickening. So, rooted in obedience and stretching up into communion, the blessed man comes to be like a tree; there is stability, and steadfastness. He knows whom he has believed, and is persuaded that that will hold though winds may blow and rains may heat. He bringeth forth his fruit in his season. He hath the real spirit for the hour; the very occasion seems to bring the grace he needs.
(Mark Guy Pearse.)
I. OUR ATTENTION IS DIRECTED TO THE FACT THAT THE TREE IS ONE CAREFULLY "PLANTED." The word used by the Psalmist is not the ordinary term meaning to sow or plant, but the poetical and much rarer word. The same is found in Psalm 92:13 — "Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God." The trees planted within the temple enclosures would be planted with skill and care. This tree also is planted in a choice spot, and would therefore be planted well. It has sprung from no stray seed which the wind may have wafted hither, or some bird carried and dropped where grows the tree. And such is true of the man who is really happy and most happy. He is a tree "of the Lord's right hand planting." He is the offspring of wisdom that is perfect and care that is infinite. And this fact constitutes part of his joy.
II. THE SITUATION OF THE TREE MUST HAVE OUR ATTENTION. The tree grows not on some barren waste, but "upon the rivers of water." By these rivers I understand the multitudinous and various overflowings of the Divine grace — the rivers of pardon, peace, comfort, teaching, sanctification, etc.
1. The plural term indicates also fulness as well as variety of blessing in constant circulation round about the roots of the Christian's life.
2. There is also in it the promise of continuance. If one stream dries up there are other streams to draw from.
3. Another thought is expressed, namely, freshness. "The rivers" are running streams. Here there is another element of the good man's happiness. He is felicitously situated.
III. THE FRUITFULNESS OF THE TREE MUST NEXT BE CONSIDERED. As might be expected, the tree bears fruit. By this we are to understand the man's habit of doing good. The pronouns are to be noted.
1. It is not said he brings forth fruit, but "his fruit." Christian activity takes many forms, and a man will do most good and do it best who is no servile imitator of another, but who works in his own groove, and in the way most natural to himself. And there is a beauty and gracefulness about work done after this manner that always adds to its value. The tree brings forth his own fruit, and the happy Christian does his own work. The Master gives to everyone his work.
2. Again, the tree brings forth his fruit in his season. Seasonableness is itself a virtue. Work done opportunely is the only work done rightly. Here we touch a leading difficulty in some earnest lives. The question as to when this should be done, and when that, is the perplexing point. He is therefore a man led of God's Spirit, and this leading saves him from the painful perplexity of not knowing what he should first do and what next. By this means his work is simplified. His duties come to him in natural order — one at a time. God shows him not only what he must do, but how, and when. Here is another clement of happiness. A fruitful life is a happy one.
IV. FROM LOOKING AT THE FRUIT OF THE TREE WE TURN TO ITS FOLIAGE. This is beautiful, and always so. "His leaf also shall not wither." Now if by the fruit we understand a man's works, by the "leaf" it will be natural to regard his words. What a man does and says constitutes his character. Works have a great importance, but so also have words. "By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned." "His leaf shall not wither" — his words shall not die. "He being dead, yet speaketh." Another element of happiness in the good man. The words of his mouth shall be established, and their influence shall be felt forever. The tongue is a little member, but how great is the happiness it may secure for the good man who uses it aright. And in making others happy one makes himself most happy. "And all that he does shall prosper." Here the works and words are interwoven. It is when the two do interweave and harmonise that there is prosperity. Note, it is not all he attempts or carries forward so far and there stops that shall prosper, but "all that he doeth." And this is happiness supreme — doing good — by work or word — crowned with prosperity.
I. ITS VARIETY. The figure leaves room for the development of varieties of goodness. True godliness does not reduce men to a dead level. The variety which God stamps upon nature He means to have reproduced in character. It is often supposed that, by becoming a servant of God, a man loses all his distinctiveness, sacrifices many of his peculiar modes of power, and shuts himself up to a comparatively narrow range of activity; whereas the truth is, that no man ever finds out the variety of uses to which the human talent and power can be put until he begins to work under God's direction.
II. ITS DIVINE CULTURE. The godly man is not like a tree that grows wild. He is like a tree planted, and that in a place which will best promote its growth. Godly character is developed under God's special supervision, and with God's own appliances. Has God no other means of revealing His will but through a burning bush or a stunning shock? His modes of revelation are as many as the characters and circumstances of men, and as varied; and He does not mean that His lowliest servant shall work under the shadow of a doubt, whether he is in his place or not. He may make circumstances, or conscientious judgment, or special dispensations His messengers, but whatever be the messenger, the message shall be clear to the open eye and the obedient spirit — "I have planted you." And if a man is working and growing where God sets him, he is always within reach of the means necessary for his growth and fruitfulness. He is always planted by rivers of water. Men find these channels in the most unlikely places, in the most unpromising parts of God's garden. In their very work they find something to engage their energy, quicken their enthusiasm, and develop their power. This is a mystery to men of the world. They look at the places in which some of God's servants are planted, and say it is Impossible they should bear fruit there. Circumstances are all against them. There are no capabilities in the place. And yet, amid sickness, bereavement, scant opportunities, hatred, scorn, they not only live, but grow, and have something to spare for other lives; yea, minister to them most richly and effectively. What is more, they themselves are cheerful and strong, and grow in sweetness no less than in power.
III. ITS FRUITFULNESS. God's tree by God's river must be a fruitful tree. Note
1. It is "His fruit," not any other tree's fruit. God gives the tree its nature, and plants it where it can best develop its nature, and looks for fruit according to its nature and place. You are not to waste time in admiring or envying other men's modes of power, but to give your whole energy to the development of your own mode of power. And if your best is only a single fruit you can say, God planted me that I might do that one thing.
2. The words "in his season." The seasons are different for different fruits. Some are early, some are late. Moral growths do not all fructify at the same time or rate. The latest fruit is usually the best. But, early or late, the fruit of godly character is seasonable. It will be found that God nourishes His men as He does the fruits of the earth, to meet the demands of special seasons; and that in each individual character Divine graces fructify as the occasion demands: courage for seasons of danger, patience for seasons of suffering, strength for seasons of trial, wisdom for seasons of difficulty; ill short, the beautiful fitness of godliness is no less remarkable than its fruitfulness. "Shall prosper." This suggests the standard of prosperity. It must be measured by God's rule, not man's. I stood last summer in a magnificent hothouse, where the luscious clusters of grapes were all around and above, and the owner said, "When my new gardener came he said he would have nothing to do with these vines unless he could cut them clear down to the stock; and he did, and we had no grapes for two years: but this is the result." It did not look much like fruit when the stock stood bare, and the floor was heaped with cuttings; but the gardener looked over the two years, and saw what we were seeing and tasting.
(M. R. Vincent, D. D.)
1. Contentment. I never heard of a tree complaining. They are perfectly contented with their lot. Did you ever hear of a maple wishing it were an oak? They have not so much to make them contented as we have. The Christ-Spirit in us will make us happy and contented.
2. Health. How many of you have seen an unhealthy tree? The perfect boy or girl is the one who, like the tree, is healthy. We should attend to these bodies of ours. We should be careful to eat and drink those things which will give us sound bodies. We need to keep our minds, bodies, and souls healthy.
3. Roots. A great part of a tree is underground. Two reasons for this — to hold the tree in its place, and to nourish the tree. A perfect man, a perfect woman, boy, or girl is one who is well-rooted. Among the roots which hold us stable and keep us from falling are —
(1) (2) (3) 4. Importance. Trees are used in building, furniture, ships, and as medicine. Their fruit is important. The perfect man is important to society, to home, to national life. What should we do without the ideal man and woman? 5. Symmetry. The word means "perfectly balanced in all its parts." Some trees have perfect proportions. There are men who have only attended to physical development; others only to intellectual development. The symmetrical man is one who has attended to the development of the mind, body, and spirit. 6. Trial. A mighty oak is perfect, because it has been tried. Tempests have swept over it, but still it stands. The perfect man, woman, boy, or girl is the one who, when tempted and tried, comes off the victor. Tried, weighed, and not found wanting, Tried and found to be sound. (Frank S. Rowland.)
(2) (3) 4. Importance. Trees are used in building, furniture, ships, and as medicine. Their fruit is important. The perfect man is important to society, to home, to national life. What should we do without the ideal man and woman? 5. Symmetry. The word means "perfectly balanced in all its parts." Some trees have perfect proportions. There are men who have only attended to physical development; others only to intellectual development. The symmetrical man is one who has attended to the development of the mind, body, and spirit. 6. Trial. A mighty oak is perfect, because it has been tried. Tempests have swept over it, but still it stands. The perfect man, woman, boy, or girl is the one who, when tempted and tried, comes off the victor. Tried, weighed, and not found wanting, Tried and found to be sound. (Frank S. Rowland.)
(3) 4. Importance. Trees are used in building, furniture, ships, and as medicine. Their fruit is important. The perfect man is important to society, to home, to national life. What should we do without the ideal man and woman? 5. Symmetry. The word means "perfectly balanced in all its parts." Some trees have perfect proportions. There are men who have only attended to physical development; others only to intellectual development. The symmetrical man is one who has attended to the development of the mind, body, and spirit. 6. Trial. A mighty oak is perfect, because it has been tried. Tempests have swept over it, but still it stands. The perfect man, woman, boy, or girl is the one who, when tempted and tried, comes off the victor. Tried, weighed, and not found wanting, Tried and found to be sound. (Frank S. Rowland.)
(Frank S. Rowland.)
1. One of the most wonderful things about the trees is the way in which they breathe. Does it make you smile to think of a tree breathing? Do you say, "Well, I never thought of that before! I didn't know a tree could breathe." But they do, if it does surprise you, and they could no more live without breathing than could you or
I. If it was not for the trees and other plants breathing the air would soon become filled with poisonous gas which would make everyone sick, and soon cause us all to die. On the under side of every leaf of every tree, or shrub, or other plant there are thousands of little breathing holes or mouths. There are some also on the upper surface of the leaf. These are small openings through the outer skin of the leaf into the air chambers within, making a direct communication between the whole interior of the leaf and the air outside. You cannot see. these little mouths with the naked eye. You have to use a microscope or magnifying glass, and then you can see them. The famous botanist, Professor Asa Gray, tells us that in the white lily, when they are unusually large, there are about sixty thousand of them to the square inch on the lower surface of the leaf, and about three thousand in the same space of the upper surface; and that in the apple tree, where they are under the average as to number, there are about twenty-four thousand to the square inch of the lower surface; so that each leaf has not far from one hundred thousand of these mouths. The trees are made by God to take out of the air a gas which would kill us all in a very little while if it u ere allowed to remain; and having taken it into their trunks they split it up into two parts, oxygen and carbon, and give us back the former that we may breathe it and live; while the latter they make into charcoal, which is used in a thousand ways for our comfort, convenience, and health. So kind is God in making all things work together for good unto us whom He so dearly loves.
2. Another great use of the trees is, as we all know, to furnish food for man. Just think of all the things we get from them, and from other plants! Not only delicious oranges, and apples, and pears, and peaches, and all other nice fruits; but also starch, sugar, spices, oil, tea., coffee, flour, and grain. All these things are prepared by the plants out of the elements which they take in from the earth and air. They have been so made by God that they have the power to produce subtle chemical changes in these unpalatable materials, which they thus transform into delicious food for man. Says the same botanist above quoted, "Animals depend absolutely upon vegetables for their being." The great object for which the all-wise Creator established the vegetable kingdom evidently is, that the plant might stand on the surface of the earth, between the animal and mineral creations, and organise portions of the former for the sustenance of the latter. We must indeed see the goodness and the love of God in the goodly fruits of the trees.
3. Another very interesting branch of our subject is in regard to the habits or instincts of the trees. Wherever a tree may be growing, if there is a stream or pool of water anywhere near it, or a damp piece of ground, it will always push its roots eagerly toward that. It wants the hydrogen and oxygen which the water can furnish, and it will have them if it can possibly get them. In other words, it is thirsty, just as we are thirsty, and it eagerly seeks for water to drink. For example, I have read. (Horace Bushnell's lecture on Life) of a man named Madison, who had an aqueduct — that is, a sort of trough made of logs — which in reaching his house passed by a tree which was especially fond of water, at a considerable distance from it. Opposite to where the tree stood there was an auger hole in the log that had been filled with a plug of soft wood. Exactly to that spot the tree sent off a long stretch of roots, which forced their way through this soft wood plug, choking up the passage; "and there," says the account, "they were found drinking, like so many thirsty animals." The same writer who tells this incident, says "that a strawberry planted in sand, with good earth a little way off, will turn its runners all toward that. But if the good earth is too far away to be reached, it will make no effort on that side more than on the others." You can try this experiment if you want to, and see if it is not so.
4. Then it is wonderful to see a tree exerting its mighty strength. For in every tree in your garden at home, and in everyone that you can see from these windows, and in all the trees of the forests and on the hills, there is a life principle, the strength of which is as great as, or greater than, that of the largest steam engine you ever saw. Why, in the commonest garden vegetable there is a force capable of lifting an enormous weight. And if you go down here on the road a little way, some time, you can see a huge rock that has been broken right in two by the strength of a little tree not much larger round than my arm. Some time, years ago, a little cone lodged in the crevice of that rock, and pretty soon the rains and the warm sun caused one of the little seeds in the cone to germinate and grow. A little root ran out and down into the crevice, and began growing. Soon it had got as large as the crevice, and touched the hard rock on each side. And no doubt the grim old rock would have laughed, if rocks could laugh, and would have said to the tiny little pine tree, "You insignificant little sprout, you can't grow here, for I won't let you, so you may as well not try." But the little tree kept growing, and pretty soon began to press hard on the sides of the crevice; harder" and harder it pushed, and twisted round to get a good hold, filling up the whole space with its insinuating roots. And the rock hung together, and braced itself, and tried its best not to give way. But at last one dark night CRACK it went, and broke in two right in the middle. And all because of the little tree, which it had thought so weak and small. A tree has in it this wonderful power of growth and enlargement. It is always growing, running up taller and taller, and getting larger and larger every year. And if it is broken by storms or felled to the ground it often reconstructs its building, and rears itself again with all its wonderful ducts, and tissues, and breathing pores, like to the pattern which it bore before. And all the trees, so many kinds of which we can see around us in the forests, though they have different forms and characteristics, and are put to different uses, still contribute, each its share, to fulfilling the plans and perfecting the work which God gave them to do upon the earth. There is no confusion. Each has its law within itself, and fills the sphere which God intended it to fill.
(F. H. Palmer.)
I. THE FRUIT TREE. This suggests —
1. Stability. It is firmly rooted in the soil. Thus it tells of the stability of the righteous.
2. Access to a perennial mine of nourishment and refreshment: "by the rivers of waters." A river in the East is an artery of life. A tree, therefore, with its head in the torrid sunshine, and its feet laved by a perpetual stream flowing down from some far-up snowy mountain, is one of the most beautiful images of a righteous man.
3. It yields its fruit in its season. Fruit is that part of the tree which belongs not to the individual, but to the race. In the fruit the tree sacrifices its own life for the life that is to spring from it; converts branch and foliage that would have remained and ministered to its own beauty, into blossom and fruit that fall off and minister to the good of others. In no case does the fruit benefit the tree, but, on the contrary, burdens and exhausts it, as is clearly proved by the shorter lives of fruit than of other trees. So the distinguishing peculiarity of the righteous is self-sacrifice. They have truly learned that first lesson of the Cross of Christ. They, as He, come not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give their life for others.
4. Its leaf shall not wither. This is a remarkable feature. It is the old idea of the bush burning and not consumed. In nature it is only through the fading of the leaf that the fruit ripens. The yellowing autumnal foliage accompanies the development of the fruit. By the leaf the tree breathes and forms its wood from air and sunshine. It is its strength, yea is itself; for the whole tree is simply a modification and development of the leaf, as it is most certainly the creation of the leaf. The leaf, therefore, represents the righteous man's life. Not only does he do good to others, but he gets good to himself. Godliness is to a man's nature what sunlight is to a plant. It imparts living greenness and fadeless vigour.
II. THE CHAFF. This is a complete contrast.
1. Chaff is a dead leaf that was once green and flourishing and full of sap and life. It once performed an important part in the growth of the plant. But now it is effete and has no vital connection with the plant. How worthless does a human being become who has lost his true life by sin.
2. It is driven away. It has fallen from the higher powers of the organic world and it comes under the power of the inorganic. And so with the ungodly man. That which separated him from the mass of creation — the Divine image — he has lost. But losing this he becomes a mere part of the creation, instead of having personal relations with the personal God. The ungodly have no individuality; they live, move, and act in the mass. The statistics of wrong-doing illustrate this. You can calculate the average of crimes; the number of paupers, suicides, and criminals there will be. The evil passions of men may be known as we know the coming of an eclipse. And thus the awful lesson is read to us that individuals when they have sold themselves to sin and so lose the spiritual life that bound them to God come to be controlled, notwithstanding all their waywardness, by laws which apply to mere things in which there is no power to resist. They pass beyond the sphere of the grace of God into the passive realms of matter.
3. All things become hostile to it. What ministers life to the living tree ministers more rapid decay to the chaff. Which are we?
(H. Macmillan, D. D.)
(A. P. Stanley, D. D.)
That bringeth forth his fruit in his season.
I. EACH IS GRADUAL The growth of the spiritual life is in the nature of the case slow, because it consists chiefly in the formation of habits of faith, hope, love, prayer, inward conformity of the soul to the will of Almighty God.
II. EACH IS MYSTERIOUS. We cannot understand the mysterious processes which pass within the soul; we can only see the outer life, the words and the actions, which are the products of the feelings engendered by grace. As a tree requires soil, sunlight, moisture, and space for its proper growth, so the human soul requires certain ascertainable conditions, without which growth and development are impossible. I will mention three.
1. The life of the soul should be based upon principles. They are the soil of the soul. Sentiments, opinions, and views belong to quite a different strata of mental life from the possession of principles. Principles — what are they? They are the basis of truth on which the understanding must lean if man is to rise to the destined tether of his greatness. The understanding is the basis faculty of the character, but the understanding itself must rest on something. And what is it to rest on if not on sound principles? This is true in science, in art, in speculation, and in religion. Some principles are natural. Seeing the difference between right and wrong; recognising the eternal law of justice and righteousness, these are natural principles. Some belong to grace, they are revealed, such as that Jesus is God equal to the Father, and that Jesus is our Judge. Sooner or later a principle brings forth its fruit in due season. But you may have long to wait for it.
III. CHRISTIANITY MUST EXPAND. It must expand by love. The heart is the centre of life. The heart may be corrupted through being fixed on false objects, or it may be closeted up. Either of them is a misfortune so great that we can scarcely think less of it than that it is very ruining to character. Ascertain the object on which the heart is fixed and you have ascertained the direction in which moral and spiritual life is moving. One condition of the development of the soul is the discipline of the will. The will is the summit of the character, just as the heart is at its centre, just as the understanding is at its base.
(Canon Liddon, D. D.)
I. THERE IS FRUIT APPROPRIATE TO EACH SEASON. This not only in the physical world but in the moral.
1. Childhood has its fruits. Like the holy child Jesus you are to bear fruit by loving, trusting, and imitating Him. In your baptism you have been given to Christ and are His. He expects you to bear fruit.
2. Youth has its fruit. St. John speaks of "little children, young men, fathers." You occupy the middle position. "I have written to you," says the apostle. Young men and maidens, be sober minded and strong minded too.
3. Old age has its fruits. When the spring is gone, the summer vanished, how varied and multiplied the fruit of autumn. And there are fruits not only of season, but
4. Of time. Our Sabbaths, for example, and working days and days of relaxation also should have their fruit. And there are —
5. Moral seasons. Conviction — how important this is. It is a solemn season when God comes near the soul. And the time of spiritual quickening when the soul longs for more of God. Seasons of sorrow, of joy, and of temptation, these all have their appropriate fruit.
II. IT IS MOST IMPORTANT THAT THE FRUIT APPROPRIATE SHOULD BE BORNE IN ITS SEASON. For then it is best.
1. Your lifetime — if it bear not its fruit it will never bear it at all. How are you spending it?
2. Religious impression — if that pass away, "a more convenient season" you will never have.
III. FOR THIS SUITABLE MEANS MUST BE EMPLOYED. It is the result of previously fulfilled conditions.
1. Separation from the ungodly is one of them.
2. Meditation on God's Word.
3. Hidden supplies of God's grace, like the water at the roots of the tree. They flow along the channels of Divine ordinances, prayers, worship, sacraments. So will you bear fruit.
(Joseph Parker, D. D.)
Whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.1. Piety and gratitude to God contribute in a high degree to enliven prosperity. Gratitude is a pleasing emotion. The sense of being distinguished by the kindness of another gladdens the heart, warms it with reciprocal affection, and gives to any possession, which is agreeable in itself, a double relish, from its being the gift of a friend. Not only gratitude for the past, but a cheering sense of God's favour at the present, enter into the pious emotion.
2. Religion affords to good men peculiar security in the enjoyment of their prosperity. By worldly assistance it is vain to think of providing any effectual defence, seeing the world's mutability is the very cause of our terror.
3. Religion forms good men to the most proper ,temper for the enjoyment of prosperity. A little reflection may satisfy us that mere possession, even granting it to be secure, does not constitute enjoyment. We all know the effects which any indisposition of the body, even though slight, produces on external prosperity. The corrupted temper and the guilty passions of the bad frustrate the effect of every advantage which the world confers on them. None but the temperate, the regular, and the virtuous know how to enjoy prosperity. Prosperity is redoubled to a good man by his generous use of it. It is reflected back upon him from everyone whom he makes happy.
4. Religion heightens the prosperity of good men by the prospect which it affords them of greater happiness to come in another world. What is present is never sufficient to give us full satisfaction. To the present we must always join some agreeable anticipations of futurity in order to complete our pleasure. Let this be our conclusion, that, both in prosperity and in adversity, religion is the safest guide of human life. Conducted by its light, we real) the pleasures and, at the same time, escape the dangers of a prosperous state.
(Hugh Blair, D. D.)
I. THE PROSPEROUS LIFE IS A LIFE MADE PROSPEROUS BY REFUSAL.
1. The man will refuse to think wrongly. Counsel — that is, the thought or creed of the ungodly. Non-use of thought in certain directions results in inability of thought toward those directions. Mr. Darwin confessed himself "atrophied" toward music, painting, poetry, etc., through the so constant using of himself in ways simply scientific. this atrophy of thought is just as possible in religious directions. A man who "will not" take counsel toward God "cannot" at last. The man of the really prosperous life will not walk in such counsel of the ungodly; he will think toward God.
2. He will. refuse to practise wrongly, "way of sinners." At the battle of Ahna, in the Crimean War, one of the ensigns stood his ground when the regiment retreated. The captain shouted to him to bring back the colours; but the ensign replied, "Bring the men up to the colours." So this man of the prosperous life will maintain high and brave practice of the right, whoever may retreat from it.
3. Will refuse to speak wrongly, "seat of the scornful." Into their sort of speech he will not enter.
II. BY RECEPTION.
1. He will receive all ennobling and uplifting objects of affection; but his delight is in the "law of the Lord." The controlling thing in a man is his topmost love.
2. This man loves to think of what he loves. "Meditate day and night." "Hang this upon the wall of your room," said a wise picture dealer to an Oxford undergraduate, as he handed him the engraving of a Madonna of Raphael, "and then all the pictures of jockeys and ballet girls will disappear."
III. RESULTS. Noble growth. Propitious placing. Sustenance. Fruitfulness. Beauty of character. Real prosperity.
(Wayland Hoyt, D. D.)
The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.
I. A FEARFUL NEGATIVE. "The ungodly are not so." For
1. They are not "like a tree planted." The Christian is so. The tree planted is visited and in every way cared for by the husbandman. But the wild tree in the forest, the tree self-sown upon the plain, no one owns, no one watches over it.
2. Not like a tree planted by the rivers of waters. The believer is. He is planted not by banks which may soon dry up, far less in a desert; but by the rivers of waters. And is it not so? We know what it is to drink of the rivers of Christ's fulness. But "not so the ungodly." Days of drought will come for them.
3. Does not bring forth his fruit in his season. The righteous does so. If the ungodly have here and there a shrivelled grape it is brought forth in the wrong season. Many think that so long as they don't do wrong it is as if they did right. But mere. negative goodness will not suffice. The curse on Meroz was for not coming to the help of the Lord. They did not oppress, only did not help.
4. His leaf also shall not wither. Not so the ungodly. And
5. Whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. Yes, though the righteous may suffer much earthly loss. They have an inward prosperity even when the outward one is wanting. No so the ungodly. Is he really happy now? To him there is nothing good in this life. That which looketh fair is but as the paint upon the harlot's face.
II. A TERRIBLE COMPARISON. "Like the chaff" — so useless, so light and unstable, so worthless.
III. AN AWFUL PROPHECY. How near the chaff is to the grain. As yon godless parent of a Christian child. As yon helpers in various forms of Christian work; sitting side by side with the godly. Close to the grain, and yet only chaff. And to be driven away — Where, where? Jesus Christ has said, "He shall burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." Who here is prepared to make his bed in hell? I beseech you by the living God, tremble and repent.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
(Marvin R. Vincent, D. D.)
(L. A. Banks, D. D.)
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Rectum est index sui et obliqui [Justice defines both the just and the unjust]; by telling what a godly man is he tells, by virtue of the law of contraries, what the wicked are, for it that be affirmed of a wicked man which was denied of a godly, and that denied which was affirmed, the description is made ready to your hand, and you have him deciphered in his fulness. And yet we may take notice of a further reason, for godliness is subject to many falsifications; it may suffer much alloy by mixture of base metals, and there is need of a touchstone to try whether it be right or no. Many colours may be laid upon wickedness, to make it seem godliness, as Satan can transform himself into all angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14); and then there is need of marks to know whether it be a good angel, whether it be true godliness or no; but in the case of wickedness it is not so; there is no need of any such marks, for there cannot a worse vizard be put upon wickedness than its own face, there is no baser metal to be mingled with it; and though a wicked man will be counterfeiting to be godly, yet it was never known that a godly man would counterfeit to be wicked; and therefore the prophet, who is no waster of words in vain, would not give marks where they needed none, but left wickedness to be known by its own ill face, which is seen plainly enough by the law of contraries.
(Sir Richard Baker.)
(Sir Richard Baker.)
(Sir Richard Baker.)
(Sir Richard Baker.)
The ungodly shall not stand in the judgment.1. None will deny that the law of God, which is holy, just, and good, explicitly condemns the sinner, and consigns him to the second death. By the law can no man be justified. It contains no provision for pardon.
2. He will not be able to stand in the last trial, because all the witnesses will be against him. His companions in sin will testify against him. The example of the righteous will testify against the impenitent. The sinner's own awakened conscience and memory will testify against him. So will the sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ.
3. The eternal Judge will be inflexibly strict in interpreting and upholding the law. And
4. The impenitent sinner at God's bar will have no advocate.
(Sir Richard Baker.)
(Sir Richard Baker.)
(Sir Richard Baker.)
The Lord knoweth the way of the righteous.I. CONTRASTED PICTURES OF LIFE. —
1. That of the happy man illustrated by the law of attraction and repulsion. See the sentiments, habits, and disposition
(i) (ii) 2. By the law of vegetable life (ver. 3). The happy life of the good, like a fruit tree, is (i) (ii) (iii) 3. With all this the life of the ungodly is contrasted (vers. 4-6):(i) As shown in the reason of the contrast. The character of the ungodly is self-evolved from their own nature. That of the good, from God.(ii) In the result of the contrast. The ungodly having no solidity, nothing substantial in themselves, are compared to "chaff," which is light and empty and easily carried away. And having no foundation, they cannot "stand in the judgment." And having nothing to support them, must perish while the good shall prosper evermore. II. LESSONS FROM THESE CONTRASTED PICTURES. — 1. That true happiness is not the result of chance, but of law — fundamental, immutable, Divine. This law may be thus stated: Every effect must have an adequate cause. An uprooted tree cannot bear fruit; so a soul whose faith and love are torn away from God cannot be happy or prosperous. The specific law of spiritual good is this: Character determines destiny. 2. That God has so graciously arranged the conditions of happiness or misery that it is dependent upon each one's personal choice. (D. C. Hughes, A. M.)
(ii) 2. By the law of vegetable life (ver. 3). The happy life of the good, like a fruit tree, is (i) (ii) (iii) 3. With all this the life of the ungodly is contrasted (vers. 4-6):(i) As shown in the reason of the contrast. The character of the ungodly is self-evolved from their own nature. That of the good, from God.(ii) In the result of the contrast. The ungodly having no solidity, nothing substantial in themselves, are compared to "chaff," which is light and empty and easily carried away. And having no foundation, they cannot "stand in the judgment." And having nothing to support them, must perish while the good shall prosper evermore. II. LESSONS FROM THESE CONTRASTED PICTURES. — 1. That true happiness is not the result of chance, but of law — fundamental, immutable, Divine. This law may be thus stated: Every effect must have an adequate cause. An uprooted tree cannot bear fruit; so a soul whose faith and love are torn away from God cannot be happy or prosperous. The specific law of spiritual good is this: Character determines destiny. 2. That God has so graciously arranged the conditions of happiness or misery that it is dependent upon each one's personal choice. (D. C. Hughes, A. M.)
2. By the law of vegetable life (ver. 3). The happy life of the good, like a fruit tree, is
(i) (ii) (iii) 3. With all this the life of the ungodly is contrasted (vers. 4-6):(i) As shown in the reason of the contrast. The character of the ungodly is self-evolved from their own nature. That of the good, from God.(ii) In the result of the contrast. The ungodly having no solidity, nothing substantial in themselves, are compared to "chaff," which is light and empty and easily carried away. And having no foundation, they cannot "stand in the judgment." And having nothing to support them, must perish while the good shall prosper evermore. II. LESSONS FROM THESE CONTRASTED PICTURES. — 1. That true happiness is not the result of chance, but of law — fundamental, immutable, Divine. This law may be thus stated: Every effect must have an adequate cause. An uprooted tree cannot bear fruit; so a soul whose faith and love are torn away from God cannot be happy or prosperous. The specific law of spiritual good is this: Character determines destiny. 2. That God has so graciously arranged the conditions of happiness or misery that it is dependent upon each one's personal choice. (D. C. Hughes, A. M.)
II. LESSONS FROM THESE CONTRASTED PICTURES. — (D. C. Hughes, A. M.)
II. LESSONS FROM THESE CONTRASTED PICTURES. —
(D. C. Hughes, A. M.)
(Joseph Parker, D. D.)
(Sir Richard Parker.)
(Sir Richard Parker.).