Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
To the chief Musician upon Muthlabben, A Psalm of David. I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works.Psalm 9:10
The name of God always means, in the Bible, the nature and character of God. Our religion in its very essence necessarily depends upon our conception of the nature and character of our God. Your idea of God, your belief about what He is in nature and character, is bound to colour all your relations to Him. I might, of course, say a great deal about the conception of God which is given to us in the Christian revelation, but for the many things that might be said I shall just now think about only three. I single them out, not because they are the only things, but because they happen to be things which intelligent people are thinking a great deal about just now, and about which there is apt to be an absence of clear apprehension and consistent idea.
I. God is a Personal Being.—That may seem to you so simple and so certain, perhaps, that it is quite needless to say anything about it. But it is not needless, because there are many people nowadays who are getting very hazy indeed about this cardinal truth of Christianity, the personality of God. The trend of a great deal of the so-called scientific thought of the day is to recognize a great, mysterious, primal force behind the forces of the universe; a great, mysterious life behind all the forms of life; we are led by these scientists to infer that that force is, what theologians have been accustomed to call God, and that that life is what theologians have been used hitherto to call God; but we are not by any means assured that that force is personal, or that that life is personal; rather the natural inference is that it is impersonal, that it has the nature almost of a vast automatic machine, that it is a vast neuter energy. When you come to ask, 'Has this force and this life the attributes of a person? does it, as a person does, think and will and purpose, and above all does it love?' why then the answer given is very hesitating, or there may be no answer at all. The cardinal, primal truth of Christianity is that God is person; you must not let that go whatever you do.
II. God is Immanent, or Indwelling in His Universe.—And here I think you get the truth of which the doctrine which I have just controverted is a perversion. God is omnipresent, and does pervade His universe; God does move and work in the forces of nature; the life which stirs in the most elementary seed or plant, or in the grown tree, or in the germ or microbe, or in the quadruped, or in the human creature, or in angels or archangels, comes from Him, and is in the deepest sense His life. There is a true sense in which it may be said that God is the soul of His universe, and that the universe is, as Origen called it, the Body of God. All force is His force; His is not only the initial power which first set all things going, but His is the sustaining power which keeps all things moving. His infinite and omnipotent mind and will are the spring and the force and energy which consciously, actively maintains the whole vast, complex, moving, living, growing fabric of the universe. If the life of God ceased for one fragment of a second to beat in the pulse of the universe, in that fragment of a second would the whole universe crumble into absolute nothingness. God is immanent in its creation, He is its soul, its life, its energy, is the present, immediate, instant, unceasing, sustaining cause of all its vitality and its development; in Him all things consist; in Him we (and all things) live and move and have our being; outside of Him, if outside of Him anything could be, is nothingness. But that is not Pantheism, for God is not identical with His universe, although He is immanent in it. God is vastly more than His universe; He transcends it; He could exist independently of it if He so willed; and if He is immanent in His universe it is not as a blind and neuter force, an impersonal energy, but rather as a loving, intelligent, knowing, thinking, planning, personal Being, directing and controlling all, working out a purpose; infinitely strong, infinitely wise, infinitely good; a being, a mind, a soul, a will, a heart.
III. God is Love.—The essence of the religion of Jesus lies here: God is Love. That little, simple sentence of three words of one syllable, is something that we have known all our lives. As an infant you were taught by your mother to repeat it with lisping lips to your father as your first text; God is Love. We have known it all our lives; yes, but do we understand it yet? Do we know the length and breadth and depth and height, the fullness of it? No, it will take all eternity to explore it, to know it, and even then we shall never get to the end of it, for it passeth knowledge; the finite heart of man can never wholly compass the infinite heart of the Divine eternal One. 'God only knows the love of God.'
References.—IX. 10.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. iv. No. 287. J. M. Neale, Sermons on the Apocalypse, etc., p. 157. IX. 16.—Congregationalist, vol. vi. p. 536. IX. 17.—Spurgeon, Sermons, No. 344. Preacher's Monthly, vol. iv. p. 250. G. Bainton, Christian World Pulpit, vol. x. p. 221. IX. 18.—Spurgeon, My Sermon Notes—Genesis to Proverbs, p. 144. IX.—I. Williams, The Psalms Interpreted of Christ, p. 189. X.—International Critical Commentary, vol. i. p. 68.
I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High.
When mine enemies are turned back, they shall fall and perish at thy presence.
For thou hast maintained my right and my cause; thou satest in the throne judging right.
Thou hast rebuked the heathen, thou hast destroyed the wicked, thou hast put out their name for ever and ever.
O thou enemy, destructions are come to a perpetual end: and thou hast destroyed cities; their memorial is perished with them.
But the LORD shall endure for ever: he hath prepared his throne for judgment.
And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness.
The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.
And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.
Sing praises to the LORD, which dwelleth in Zion: declare among the people his doings.
When he maketh inquisition for blood, he remembereth them: he forgetteth not the cry of the humble.
Have mercy upon me, O LORD; consider my trouble which I suffer of them that hate me, thou that liftest me up from the gates of death:
That I may shew forth all thy praise in the gates of the daughter of Zion: I will rejoice in thy salvation.
The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made: in the net which they hid is their own foot taken.
The LORD is known by the judgment which he executeth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. Higgaion. Selah.
The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.
For the needy shall not alway be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever.
Arise, O LORD; let not man prevail: let the heathen be judged in thy sight.
Put them in fear, O LORD: that the nations may know themselves to be but men. Selah.