Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
Psalm 120.). That rises to trust in the blessed keeping of God. That to joy and delight in drawing near to the house of God. Now this rises higher still, and lifts up its eyes unto God himself. The psalm reveals to us much concerning the writer.
I. HE IS A MAN WHO BELIEVES IN GOD. God is as real to him as, and more than, any fellow-man could be. The atheistic doubts or the polytheistic imaginations come not near him: he is so sure that God is, that he turns his eyes to the heavens where he dwelt, as when he was speaking to a fellow-man he would turn his eyes to him. Strong faith in God is the only power which will cause any of us to lift up our eyes as does the psalmist here.
II. A MAN WHO LONGED AFTER GOD. For in this uplifted eye the longing look is clearly traceable. It is not merely that he believes that God is, but also that he is the Rewarder of them that diligently seek him (James 1.), and therefore he will diligently seek him.
III. HE IS A MAN OF HUMBLE HEART. He likens himself to a slave watching for the beckoning of his master's hand, to know what he would have done. Orientals do not speak to their attendant servants, as we do, but by beckoning and gesture they make known their will. The servants humbly watch and wait, continuously, patiently, and attentively, that they may miss no movement of the master's or mistress's hand which will signify their will. So does the psalmist wait, thus humbly, patiently, attentively, and in this case, it should seem, beseechingly, for the help needed.
IV. HIS REFUGE UNDER DEEPEST DISTRESS IS IN GOD. (Ver. 3.) His lot was hard to bear, almost unbearable; but he could and did turn to God. May we not see Christ in this psalm? Let it tell of ourselves. - S.C.
1. It is the testimony of a believing, humble heart. Neither infidelity nor pride ever carries a man above the earth.
2. It is the testimony of an obedient heart. A man that lifts his eye up to God acknowledgeth this much, "Lord, I am thy servant."
3. It is the testimony of a thankful heart; acknowledging that every good blessing, every perfect gift, is from the hand of God.
4. The testimony of a heavenly heart. He that lifts up his eyes to heaven acknowledgeth that he is weary of the earth; his heart is not there; his hope and desire are above.
5. It is the testimony of a devout heart. There is no part of the body besides the tongue that is so great an agent in prayer as the eye.
I. THE UPLOOK TO GOD MAY BE BUT OCCASIONAL. And that is so far well. Man must be busy with earthly things; but his heart should be as a metal spring tied down. It flies upward at every instant of release.
II. THE UPLOOK TO GOD MAY BE FIXED AND PERMANENT. A set of the eyes, because there is a set of the heart. The fixed level of human eyes, and of soul-eyes, varies most remarkably. - R.T.
he is the ultimate Refuge from all the ills and evils of this life.
I. THE PSALMIST FINDS HOPE IN GOD'S SUPREMACY. Enthroned in the heavens - the Judge of all controversies among his creatures, who will vindicate the righteous cause. Greatest power of service to humanity under his control.
II. THE GRACIOUS MERCY OF GOD IS HIS ALL-SUFFICIENT REFUGE FROM THE CONTEMPT AND PERSECUTION OF MAN.
III. SENSE OF DEPENDENCE UPON GOD NECESSARY TO REALIZE HIS HELP. As the lower must always depend on the higher.
IV. THE VISION AND CONTEMPLATION OF GOD NECESSARY TO THE SENSE OF DEPENDENCE. Looking away from man up to God, as the servant studies the face of his master in order to read his duty. - S.
I. THE SPIRIT OF ATTENTION. There is a servant-work which is merely a listless and careless doing of what we are told to do. But that kind of service brings no credit to master or servant. There is a servant-work which involves the union of all our powers, and the active energy and interest of our minds. That service honors both master and servant. The man is alive. Vitality and vigor show themselves in attention.
II. THE SPIRIT OF OBEDIENCE. The point of obedience which may gain special illustration is its taking the servant beyond himself, and filling him with concern for the will and well-being of another, even his master. True service therefore becomes our finest training in unselfishness. It is constant help toward losing ourselves in the interest of another. And this at the call of high principle and the sense of duty. Unselfishness is a main foundation of noble character.
III. THE SPIRIT OF HUMILITY. A man may have to take a servant's place; and may keep his self-confidence while in it. A man may love to take a servant's place; then he expresses humility and dependence in it, and nourishes humility and dependence by it. This is sublimely true of our service to Christ. - R.T.
Psalm 22:6-8). The returned exiles had a similar experience. In their time of frailty a little neighborly help would have been so much to them. It would have given them quietness, security, and the cheer of sympathy. Instead of this, contempt humbled them, made them anxious, plucked out hopefulness, and filled them with fear. Contempt is a moral atmosphere in which nothing good or beautiful ever grew yet, or ever will grow. Hope the best of men, and you help them. Despise them and expect failure for them, and you crush them.
I. CONTEMPT, WHEN IT IS UNREASONABLE, CAN BE BORNE. It is sometimes a mere product of malice and envy. There is no real ground for it, and we may know that there is no ground. We may properly cherish the consciousness of our power and worth; and then we can appraise the contempt of the envious at its true value, it cannot hurt us. The contempt is weak, it is not we who are weak. And the contempt will fail, not we. "What can harm you if ye be followers of that which is good?" The world despises the godly. It is no matter; the future is with the godly.
II. CONTEMPT, WHEN IT IS REASONABLE, IS PAINFULLY DEPRESSING. Because it exaggerates our own sense of weakness, and so still further weakens us. Our sense of disability and insufficiency is oftentimes a great distress to us, and makes the struggle of life too hard for us. Precisely what we need is some sign of confidence, some kindly encouraging word, the cheer of some one who can see things more hopefully than we can. Consequently, we feel all the more deeply when our weakness is only despised; we hear loud and confident prophecies of our speedy failure, and men raise the laugh which crushes hearts more than open scorn. Then what can we do but turn from man to God? - R.T.