Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory.
Homilist.I. A consciousness of GOD'S GREATNESS LEADING TO A CONTEMPT FOR ALL IDOLS.
1. The majesty of God.(1) God is great in His moral excellence (ver. 1). "Mercy" and "truth" lie at the foundation of all moral greatness. The grand mission of Christ was to bring these into the world in the most impressive forms. "The law came by Moses, but grace and truth by Jesus Christ." All sound beliefs or convictions are based on truth or reality. Without love all is selfishness, and selfishness is the essence of sin. Without truth all is sham, and sham is the curse of the world. In God these two exist in essential unity and in infinite perfection.(2) God is great in His sovereignty (ver. 3). He is over all. There is no being above Him, the highest are infinitely below Him, and in all His operations He is absolutely free. He hath no counsellor to teach Him new methods of action, no power to restrain Him in any course. He acts according to His own good pleasure, the only being who is absolutely free, independent, and irresponsible.
2. The worthlessness of idols (vers. 4-8).(1) Material productions.(2) Human productions.(3) Worth. less productions.(4) Lying productions.(5) Symbolic productions. They are but the visible forms of the brutish ignorance, stupidity, and depravity of those who made and worshipped them, mere embodiments of their ideas and wishes.
II. A consciousness of GOD'S GOODNESS INSPIRING THE HIGHEST PHILANTHROPY. What is the highest philanthropy? That whose main object is to draw men to the One True and Living God; and the man who is conscious of God's goodness, who has "tasted and seen that the Lord is good," will surely address himself to this work — the work of drawing men to God (Romans 10:1). This is what the psalmist felt (vers. 9-15).
III. A consciousness of GOD'S PROPERTY LEADING TO A SENSE OF OUR STEWARDSHIP (ver. 16). He who created the universe owns it, is is His absolute property, and how vast, how immeasurable it is! (1 Chronicles 29:11). But this sense of God's unbounded wealth leads to the impression of our stewardship of the earth which He hath given us. To the "children of men," not to a class, but given to them as air and light, and fire and water are given for their common use.
IV. A consciousness of LIFE'S TERMINATION URGING THE DISCHARGE OF RELIGIOUS DUTY (vers. 17, 18).
etc. When that joyful hymn was finished, and the cup of wine was passed round the table, they struck another note. They remembered their sad condition, as they heard the heathen say, "Where is now their God?" They recollected that, perhaps, for many a year there had been no miracle, no prophet, no open vision, and then they began to chant a prayer that God would appear — not for their sakes, but for His own name's sake, that the ancient glory, which He won for Himself at the Red Sea and the Jordan, might not be lost, and that the heathen might no longer be able tauntingly to say, "Where is now their God?"
I. A POWERFUL PLEA IN PRAYER: "Not unto us," etc. There are times when this is the only plea that God's people can use. There are other occasions when we can plead with God to bless us, for this reason or for that; but, sometimes, there come dark experiences, when there seems to be no reason that can suggest itself to us why God should give us deliverance, or vouchsafe us a blessing, except this one, — that He would be pleased to do it in order to glorify His own name. You may be emboldened to urge that plea, notwithstanding the vileness of the person for whom you plead. In fact, the sinfulness of the sinner may even be your plea that God's mercy and lovingkindness may be seen the more resplendently by all who know of the sinful soul's guilt.
II. THE TRUE SPIRIT OF PIETY. "Not unto us, O Lord," etc. That is to say, true religion does not seek its own honour. For instance, suppose, in preaching the Gospel, a man has, even as a small part of his motive, that he may be esteemed an eloquent person, or that he may have influence over other men's minds; — for it is lamentably true that this mixture of motives may steal over the preacher's soul. Ah! but we must fight against this evil with all our might. Somebody once told Master John Bunyan that he had preached a delightful sermon. "You are too late," said John, "the devil told me that before I left the pulpit." Satan is a great adept in teaching us how to steal our Master's glory. "Glory be to God," should always be the preacher's motto. And as it should be so with our preaching, do you not think that the same thing is true concerning our praying?
III. A SAFE GUIDE IS THEOLOGY. When I am going to read the Scriptures, to know what I am to believe, to learn what is to be my creed, even before I open my Bible, it is a good thing to say, "Not unto us, O Lord," etc. This is, to my mind, a test of what is true and what is false. If you meet with a system of theology which magnifies man, flee from it as far as you can. This is why I believe in the doctrines of grace. I believe in Divine election, because somebody must have the supreme will in this matter, and man's will must not .occupy the throne, but the will of God. The words of Jehovah stand fast like the great mountains.
IV. A PRACTICAL DIRECTION IN LIFE.
1. This text will help you in the selection of your sphere of service. You will always be safe in doing that which is not for your own glory, but which is distinctly for the glory of God.
2. Sometimes my text will guide you as to which you should choose out of two courses of action that lie before you. What flesh revolts against, your spirit should choose. Say, "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory. I will do that which will most honour my Lord and Master, and not that which would best please myself."
V. THE ACCEPTABLE SPIRIT IN WHICH TO REVIEW THE PAST.
1. This is the spirit in which to live. Has God blessed us? Do we look back upon honourable and useful lives? Have we been privileged to preach the Gospel, and has the Lord given us converts? Then, let us be sure to stick to the text: "Not unto us, O Lord," etc.
2. Aye, and when the time comes for us to die, this is the spirit in which to die, for it is the beginning of heaven. What are they doing in heaven? If we could look in there, what should we see? There are crowns there, laid up for those that fight the good fight, and finish their course; but do you see what the victors are doing with their crowns? They will not wear them; no, not they; but they cast them down at Christ's feet, crying, "Not unto us," etc.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
1. When the psalmist denies that the glory of those mighty and wonderful successes, wherewith God's people are at any time blessed, doth belong to them, he intimates that men are apt to ascribe the praise thereof to their own merits, counsels or achievements.
2. When he with earnestness and vehemence repeats that denial, he doth by such reiterated negation imply the great folly and impiety of men's thus ascribing the glory of such successes to themselves, or to any of the children of men.
3. When he expresses his desire that the glory thereof may be given to God's name, he directs us to pay the tribute of praise and thanksgiving to that sovereign Being, to whom only of right it is due.
4. When he requires that this glory should be given to God for His mercy and for His truth's sake, he instructs us that when we receive such blessings from the hands of God, we derive them, not from His justice, but from His clemency; they are not such as we can of right claim, but such as He, out of His unbounded goodness, and regard to those gracious promises, which He hath made to His Church, vouchsafes to grant.
(T. De Witt Talmage.)
But our God is in the heavens: He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased
1. This right is here ascribed to God, and can belong to no other in the same sense or degree. He made all things; He supports all things; and is it not fit that He should govern all things? For His pleasure they are and were created (Revelation 4:11); may He, then, not do with them as He pleases? especially when we consider —(1) He is infinitely wise. He perfectly knows all His creatures, all their actions, and all their tendencies.(2) He is infinitely good.
2. Observe His sovereignty in —(1) The creation of the world.(2) The awful event of man's apostasy.(3) The method He has been pleased to appoint for the recovery of fallen man.(4) The application of this great salvation.(5) His disposal of the temporal affairs of men, whether as individuals or as. nations. As individuals. — Our parentage, the circumstances of our birth, the place, the time, are all arranged by the great Ruler. That sovereign hand is, perhaps, more visible in the affairs of nations; they rise and fall, flourish and decay, and the connection between natural causes and effects may sometimes be plainly discerned; yet that the Ruler of the world directs and controls them is sufficiently evident, for in His hand are both the causes and the effects.
Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men's hands.etc. (Psalm 115:4-8). It was this idolatry which Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego resisted at the risk of their lives, and at which Daniel struck a deadly blow when, according to the Alexandrian account — till lately read in our churches, and undoubtedly embodying a germ of substantial history — he exposed on a great scale the fraud of the priest of Baal and destroyed his image.
Eyes have they, but they see not
They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them
(J. Parker, D.D.)
The Lord hath been mindful of us.—
I. GRATEFUL ACKNOWLEDGMENT FOR GRACE BESTOWED. Have we not abundant reason, individually and collectively, to say one to another in exhortation, and together in thankful acknowledgment to God, "The Lord hath been mindful of us"? Let us look back and reflect upon the way in which He has led us these many years. Shall we not, like Samuel of old, raise our Ebenezer? And as we travel through the past, until we step from the past into the future, shall net we take encouragement and joyfully exclaim, "Jehovah-jireh"? In creation, in redemption, in providence and in grace, in the fulness of spiritual blessings provided, and in the measure of grace imparted, we have abundant cause for the grateful acknowledgment, "The Lord hath been mindful of us."
II. A GRATEFUL SENSE OF PAST MINDFULNESS BEGETS A SURE CONFIDENCE OF FUTURE BLESSING. "He will bless us." To what extent does this promise go? He will bless us in our walk and all our work, and in whatever He calls us to do! His blessing will ever rest upon us for good. His everlasting hand will be beneath us and will keep us from falling. He will guide us with His counsel and afterward receive us to glory. You deserve to perish, you deserve to reap what you have sowed, but God is merciful and kind. You may look to Him in confidence, for He will bless you. He will blot out the past, and He will break the power of sin. I have also a word for the true believer in God, who is sorely tempted and doubtful of the future, who is conscious of weakness, knowing painfully the power of temptation, knowing sadly in recollection the influence of this evil world. Do not think you will prove unfaithful at the last. The Lord hath been mindful of you, and it will be in the future as it has been in the past. Look at the promises which He has given for your comfort in His Word. He hath been mindful of you and He will bless you.
(A. K. H. Boyd.)
Ye are blessed of the Lord which made heaven and earth.I. A BLESSING BELONGING TO A PECULIAR PEOPLE,
1. A people whom God has blessed because He willed to do so.
2. A people to whom this first will of God to bless them has been certified by countless acts of indisputable love. Gethsemane and Calvary speak volumes concerning the reality of the blessings which God has given to His chosen, for there they were loved to the death and redeemed by blood. An incarnate God, a Mediator covered with bloody sweat, a Redeemer wounded and slain, — What say you to this?
3. The people to whom this blessing comes are, after their conversion, known by their character. They "fear the Lord."
4. It is very sweet to notice that this benediction is common to all Godfearing persons, — "both small and great;" and the small are put first, lest they should think they are forgotten.
II. A BLESSING FROM A PECULIAR QUARTER. "Ye are blessed of the Lord which made heaven and earth."
1. This is a blessing from one peculiarly related to us, and therefore it is the more to be prized. All other blessings are only blessings in proportion as they contain the essence of this blessing; God's blessing is the sea, and others are but drops; that is the sun, and others are but sparks.
2. This blessing comes not from an idol-god. The psalm leads us to make that observation. The gods of the heathen had mouths, but they spake not; ears, but they heard not: any benediction from them would be a mockery: but the children of God are not blessed of Baal or Ashtaroth, but of Jehovah, the self-existent Lord of all!
3. This benediction comes from the omnipotent Creator, "who made heaven and earth." This intimates that the blessing is almighty in power. Have I the blessing of Him who said, "Let there be light," and there was light? Then He can speak into my darkness, and cheer the gloom of my despair. Does the blessing of Him who brought order out of chaos rest upon me? then He can speak to the confusion of my circumstances, and the turmoil of my desponding mind, and charm all things into harmony. The blessing of Him who clothed the earth with beauty, piled the hills, and digged the channels of the sea, must have in it a fulness unrivalled.
4. It is a blessing from the All-wise One "who made heaven and earth." His infallible counsels shall conduct thine affairs to a blessed issue.
III. A BENEDICTION WITH A PECULIAR DATE. "Ye are the blessed," etc. This verb is in the present tense, and, indeed, it may be said to be in all the tenses put together, in a tense that is not a tense, a time that hath no time, but lasteth on evermore, till time shall be no more.
1. This blessing embraces all circumstances. You are laid low and pining away with consumption, but "You are blessed of the Lord which made heaven and earth." You are smitten down in the very heyday of your usefulness, and laid aside, but "You are blessed of the Lord which made heaven and earth." Oh, that your faith may lay hold of this when you are very sorely exercised, for happy is the man whom God correcteth, and blessed is the man whom thou chastenst, O Lord!
2. Our text reaches to all time and beyond all time, because it runs thus: "Ye are blessed of the Lord that made heaven and earth." While I am on earth, this shall console me: "I am blessed of the Lord that made the earth;" and He Himself has said of His servants, "Blessed shalt thou be in the city," etc. When I have to go out of this earth into another world, this shall console me: "I am blessed of the Lord that made heaven." I shall still dwell in a place which my Father made. I am not going into a foreign country when I leave the warm precincts of this house of clay. I shall emigrate to the country where flowers never fade, and winter never chills.
IV. A BLESSING WITH A PECULIAR CERTAINTY. Scripture does not lie, or utter "perhapses" and "ifs" and "buts." "Ye are blessed of the Lord which made heaven and earth." Oh, ye that fear God, this is a matter of fact, ye daily and continually abide under a true and real blessing. Some blessings are vain words: the utterer is a hypocrite. Other blessings are sincere, but the person pronouncing them has no power to fulfil them. Such blessings are wells without water, or barren fig trees bearing leaves but no fruit. The Lord blesses not in word only, but in deed; not in futile wishes, but in omnipotent acts. We may fail to obtain the benedictions which our friends invoke upon us, but God's blessings are sure to all the seed.
V. This BLESSING INVOLVES A PECULIAR DUTY, for, if God has blessed us, the succeeding duty is that we should bless Him (ver. 18). "Praise Him from this time forth." If the past has been marred by any other talk, now "from this time" bless the Lord. Wash thy mouth of all complaining, take the cup of gratitude to sweeten thy soul, and bless His name from this time forth. What, dumb till now? An heir of heaven speechless? May a sight of God's blessing open thy mouth. From this time forth begin to bless Him. Then the psalmist resolves to praise the Lord "for evermore." Our adoration of God is never to cease. As long as there is breath in our body let us praise Him who gives it to us. "Dum spiro spero," said the heathen, "While I breathe, I hope." But the Christian says, "Dum expire spero," "When I die, I will still hope in God." While we exist we will adore.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord's: but the earth hath He given to the children of men
I. WITH FAITH. "The heavens are the heavens of the Lord." All the wonders of unseen worlds are in charge of Him whom we serve. Whatever marvellous forces range the universe we may sing, "All things serve Thee," and dismiss all fear. How foolish to fear the discoveries of science! "All facts," as Kingsley used to say, "are God's facts." How foolish to fear for our safety here or hereafter if we be the Lord's, for all is His! The mysteries of the universe are those of Him who died for us, and in the heart of those mysteries there is love.
II. WITH DILIGENCE, "The earth hath He given to-the children of men." Earth's fields are to be tilled, her provisions stored and distributed. Homes are to be superintended and cities and states to be governed. These are the first claims upon our thoughts as servants of God. "The heavens are the Lord's," let us claim the kingdom of the earth for Him and humbly help to establish His dominion hero.
Homilist.I. A STRONG REBUKE TO ALL SOCIAL MONOPOLY. The earth is for "the children of men."
II. A STRONG REBUKE TO RELIGIOUS INDIFFERENCE. The earth is given to man in trust for certain uses.
1. As a scene for man's physical development.
2. As a school for man's intellectual culture.
3. As a temple for man's religious worship. The children of men to use this world rightly should worship God in all they suffer, enjoy, think, or do. In everything there should be —
(1) (2) 4. As a sphere for evangelical labour Christ has been on this earth. Here He has left doctrines for every child of man to believe, propagate and work out. (Homilist.)
(2) 4. As a sphere for evangelical labour Christ has been on this earth. Here He has left doctrines for every child of man to believe, propagate and work out. (Homilist.)
4. As a sphere for evangelical labour Christ has been on this earth. Here He has left doctrines for every child of man to believe, propagate and work out.
(Bishop Phillips Brooks.)
The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence. But we will bless the Lord
I. A MOURNFUL MEMORY. "The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence." This reminds us —
1. Of silenced voices in the choirs of Zion. Good men and true who neither sing nor speak among us any longer.
2. Of our own speedy silence: so far as this world is concerned we shall soon be among the dead and silent ones.
3. Of the ungodly around us, who are already spiritually dead, and can no more praise the Lord than if they were dumb.
4. Of lost souls in hell. Never will these bless the Lord.
II. A HAPPY RESOLUTION. " But we will bless the Lord." In heart, song, testimony, action, we are resolved to give the Lord our loving praise; because —
1. We live. Shall we not bless Him who keeps us in being?
2. We live spiritually, and this demands perpetual thanksgiving.
3. We are blessed of the Lord: shall we not bless Him?
4. He will bless us. More and more will He reveal His love to us: let us praise Him more and more. Be this our steadfast vow, that we will bless the Lord, come what may.
III. AN APPROPRIATE COMMENCEMENT. "We will bless the Lord from this time forth."
1. When the heathen ask, "Where is now their God?" (ver. 2), let us reply courageously to all atheistic questions, and meet infidelity with joyous adoration.
2. When under a sense of mercy, we are led to sing — "The Lord hath been mindful of us" (ver. 12), let us then bless Him.
3. When spiritually renewed and comforted. When the four times repeated words, "He will bless," have come true in our experience, and the Lord has increased us with every personal and family blessing (vers. 12-14), then let all that is within us bless the holy name of the Lord.
4. When led to confess Christ. Then should we begin the never-ending life-psalm. Service and song should go together.
5. When years end and begin — new-years' days, birthdays, etc., let us bless God for —
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) IV. AN EVERLASTING CONTINUANCE: "from this time forth and for evermore." 1. Weariness shall not suspend it. We will renew our strength as we bless the Lord. 2. Final falling shall not end it: the Lord will keep our soul in His way, and make us praise Him all our days. 3. Nor shall death so much as interrupt our songs, but raise them to a purer and fuller strain. 4. Nor shall any supposable calamity deprive the Lord of our gratitude (Job 1:21). ( C. H. Spurgeon.)
(2) (3) (4) (5) IV. AN EVERLASTING CONTINUANCE: "from this time forth and for evermore." 1. Weariness shall not suspend it. We will renew our strength as we bless the Lord. 2. Final falling shall not end it: the Lord will keep our soul in His way, and make us praise Him all our days. 3. Nor shall death so much as interrupt our songs, but raise them to a purer and fuller strain. 4. Nor shall any supposable calamity deprive the Lord of our gratitude (Job 1:21). ( C. H. Spurgeon.)
(3) (4) (5) IV. AN EVERLASTING CONTINUANCE: "from this time forth and for evermore." 1. Weariness shall not suspend it. We will renew our strength as we bless the Lord. 2. Final falling shall not end it: the Lord will keep our soul in His way, and make us praise Him all our days. 3. Nor shall death so much as interrupt our songs, but raise them to a purer and fuller strain. 4. Nor shall any supposable calamity deprive the Lord of our gratitude (Job 1:21). ( C. H. Spurgeon.)
IV. AN EVERLASTING CONTINUANCE: "from this time forth and for evermore." 1. Weariness shall not suspend it. We will renew our strength as we bless the Lord. 3. Nor shall death so much as interrupt our songs, but raise them to a purer and fuller strain. 4. Nor shall any supposable calamity deprive the Lord of our gratitude (Job 1:21). ( C. H. Spurgeon.)
IV. AN EVERLASTING CONTINUANCE: "from this time forth and for evermore."
1. Weariness shall not suspend it. We will renew our strength as we bless the Lord.
3. Nor shall death so much as interrupt our songs, but raise them to a purer and fuller strain.
4. Nor shall any supposable calamity deprive the Lord of our gratitude (Job 1:21).
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
Pulpit Treasury.On Thursday evening, March 29, 1883, for above an hour all who had occasion to use the telephone in Chicago found it vibrating to musical tones. Private and public telephones, and even the police and fire-alarm instruments, were alike affected. The source of the music was a mystery until the following day, when it was learned that a telegraph wire, which passes near most of the telephone wires, was connected with the harmonic system, that tunes were being played over it, and that the telephone wires took up the sounds by induction. If one wire carrying sweet sounds from place to place could so affect another wire by simply being near to it, how ought Christians, in communication with their Father in heaven, to affect all with whom they come in contact in the world! The Divine music of love and praise in their lives should be a blessing to society.