The People's Bible by Joseph Parker
A Psalm or Song for the sabbath day. It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High:Psalms 92
(Note On The Ninety-Second Psalm.)
[Note.—A psalm of Sabbath musings. Not known whether it expresses the religious feelings of Israel generally after the restoration, or whether it owes its origin to any special event. The Talmud says that this psalm was sung on the morning of the Sabbath, at the drink-offering which followed the sacrifice of the first lamb (Numbers 28:9). It is a disputed question, even in the Talmud, whether this psalm relates to the Sabbath or the creation, or to the final Sabbath of the world's history, namely, the day that is altogether Sabbath. Delitzsch thinks that the latter is relatively more correct He says only the Sabbath psalm repeats the most sacred name seven times.]
A Morning Meditation
"It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High!" (Psalm 92:1).
It is a good thing to go out of oneself—to think high thoughts—to feel how small we are in the midst of all the worlds, and yet how great we are in the love and care of God. This is how we can get rid of all that would thrust us down and make us feel the weight and shame of sin, in such a way as to quench the light of hope. Sweet Christ of God, I would think of thee in the hour when day dawns, and have thee think of me whilst all the hours call men to work and care, to stoop down to earth for bread, and meet all the stress of life's hard fight. Dawn upon me, O Light of the soul; then I will sing to thee as one who has no fear, but is rich in joy. Think of others also—of the sick and the poor, the blind and those who have lost their way; and if I can help any poor soul this day, let me do it, for thy sake.—The earth is very cold and sad and lonesome for many who dare not tell all their grief.
'To show forth thy lovingkindness in the morning" (Psalm 92:2).
It begins the day well, and what is "well begun is half done." The new day is as white paper, on which nothing is yet written. It is a new chance. The morning is like a gate which opens upon a fresh field, where we may find work and bread and health. Ere the dew has gone up to the sun, I would send my best thoughts of love to the throne of grace, the very spring and fount of life, and thus get firm hold of the whole day, and rule it by faith and hope. What then can harm me? What foe can smite me? What evil voice can tempt me? Will God in very deed let me put my hand in his before I take one step into the rough, cold world, where there is so much to chill the heart and throw a dark cloud over the face of truth and purity and love? If he will, then I will lift my hand to his, and say, "Father, spurn not thy poor weak child, but take hold of me, love me, guide me." "Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe." Fill my heart with morning light.
"... and thy faithfulness every night" (Psalm 92:2).
Then we know what God has done. The tale of love is fully told. Night is the judgment hour of the day. Here is a work to be done, not in fits and starts, but steadily and regularly—"every night." Nor is the work to be done secretly: we are to "show forth" God's faithfulness, to make it known, to speak aloud concerning it, and to glorify God in the presence of men. We may speak a good deal about God without speaking much for him. We are not only to talk of God's faithfulness to other people, but to ourselves. He did this to me, is to be the definite and cordial testimony of each believer. When the first star glitters in the twilight we may begin the grateful testimony, and when all the host burns in silent glory we may challenge every planet to share with us the holy duty of praising God. "Every night"—in summer, when it is easy to sing; in winter, when the cold wind might stifle music; in spring, when we sow in faith; and in autumn, even when the fields are thinly grown. "Every night": in youth, and age, and in the last dread night when there is no awaking for us on earth. Night has its own religion—solemn, reflective, penitential, grateful; let us be faithful to the genius of night, and be ever found at its sombre altar with a new and tender testimony on behalf of God's faithfulness.
"Thou, Lord, hast made me glad through thy work" (Psalm 92:4).
I look back upon all the way in which God has made me walk, and truly I must praise him for finding such a way for me. I did not see the way. I did not choose it. At first I thought it could not be God's way, the hills were so high, the rocks were so large, the path was so rough, and there was so much to make me afraid. Now I see much that God meant, and I am glad—glad with great joy. All God's work that I can see is good—the sky, the sea, the earth, all things great and small; but his work to me—to my own life and soul—seems best of all. The work that lies before me this day is hard, and how to do it I know not This is as the day of death to me. Yet this very night I shall come home with a new song in my mouth, and praise God with a loud voice, neither ashamed nor afraid that men should hear my giving of thanks. "Keep me this day without sin." Let my feet be kept on the right road, and my eyes fixed on the right end; then shall I do good to many, and the work of day shall be followed by sleep "like infants' slumbers, pure and light."
"Thy thoughts are very deep" (Psalm 92:5).
The Lord himself says: "My thoughts are not as your thoughts; ... for, as the heaven is high above the earth, so are my thoughts than your thoughts." So the thoughts of God are both "deep" and "high." Man calls them "deep;" God calls them "high." If they are both deep and high, how can we expect to see all their meaning without thinking long and earnestly about them? Nor is this all. We may have to wait a long time before deep thoughts show just what is meant by them. They do not spring up in a night and die at the going down of the sun. The higher the star is, the longer is the light in coming down to us. But what star is so high as the thought of him who made it? How good a thing it is to be able quietly to wait! The thoughts of God come up from eternity, and to eternity they stretch! It may be that not until I enter the world of light shall I know all that God is doing to me and for me now. Then he will tell me why the way was so long and hard; why I had to part with much I loved, with all my love; why other men were rich and I was poor; why some seed never came to blade, or ear, or full corn in the ear. His thoughts are very deep, but his love is most: tender; in thought I cannot follow him, but his love shines and sings and comforts on every hand. I will cling to the love where I cannot understand the thought.
"When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they shall be destroyed for ever" (Psalm 92:7).
The Psalmist did not know this until he went into the sanctuary. What do we really know until we study in the holy place and under the very light of heaven? Nothing! Nothing! The outside is full of deception, every colour is false, every attitude is a lie, every rose conceals a thorn, every garden hides a tomb. To be in sympathy with God is to be wise; without that sympathy we may be clever, shrewd, temporarily successful, but we put money into bags with holes, and scatter our seed in stony places. Even if this life were all, the impious man has not the best of it. He has no high thoughts, no spiritual visions, no sense of a larger identity; if these be dreams they are dreams that bless the dreamer and inspire him to do other people good. Let the grass typify the wicked; let the stars typify the good and wise. I will not fret myself because of evil doers; they are living on their capital, they are digging their own graves, they are slaying their souls. Lord, help me to live on thy truth, to follow the light of thy law, and to rejoice in the tranquillity of thine own peace. Yet I must not despise the wicked, nor leave them to perish; I was once as they are. I will tell them what I know of God, and who can say whether they will repent, believe, and live?
Almighty God, thou art our rest, and our peace is for evermore in thee. There is no peace to the wicked, and there is no unrest unto them that put their trust in the living God. Our heart's desire, our most vehement and perpetual yearning, is towards thyself, thou only Complete One, who hast immortality: out of thee all is ruin, without explanation, a growing and bewildering perplexity, a riddle without an answer, and a dream filled with terror—but in God all is centred and at rest. Thou movest all things, for thou art behind them and above them and round about them. Thy throne is on the circle of eternity, and all our little time is far below thy feet Thou dost make time our infirmity and our continual temptation; it lives to die, it throbs to expire, there is no immortality in its frail pulse; but when we remember the years of the Most High, an incalculable total, an immeasurable horizon, a store that hath no bound, then is our little time anchored in thine eternity, and we feel in our hearts a deep rest, a quiet Sabbatic calm. Save us from the temptations of time, deliver us from the snares of the things that can be seen, the continual illusions, the things that tempt us, and then reward us with scorn and mockery, and help us to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves cannot break through and steal. Teach us that he builds too low who builds beneath the sky; save us from thinking that we can lay up years as well as lay up much goods; teach us that we know not what a day may bring forth—to-morrow may be our eternity, today may be our sharp and sudden end. Thou art teaching: us by circumstances around our lives and very near them indeed, that life is held on uncertain terms, that our breath is in our nostrils, that we die doing our duty, we fall suddenly in the great waters, the fire doth seize us in the deep pit, so that we are alway living in the shadow of death and by the margin of the grave. Help us, therefore, considering all this, to know the years of the Most High, and to draw our breath from God's eternity, so that there shall no longer be any death in us—it shall be a translation into the wide life, the ampler liberty, the new and mother city, the grand Jerusalem. Thou dost shorten our life day by day, yea, pulse by pulse dost thou rob us of our brief heritage of time. Thou surely dost mean us to think much of this, for we know that this life cannot be all, else whence these desires and instincts and hopes and dreams and yearnings that rise into ardent passions that would assail the gates of the invisible city? Behold, these things are thy testimony within us, yea, a witness from heaven, that thou art the God of our souls and the Redeemer of our lives. Help us therefore, to believe this, and to put our souls into thy keeping, as into the bands of a merciful Creator. We have come in the name of Christ to give thee praise for all thy tender care, thy minuteness in watching all the circumstances of our lives. Thou knowest our downsitting and our uprising, our going out, and our coming in, there is not a word upon our tongue, there is not a thought in our heart, but lo! O Lord, thou knowest it altogether. Thou dost watch each of us as if each were an only child; thou dost lavish thy store of love upon every poor life as though it were thine only care; great and manifold are thy mercies, yea, tender is thy loving-kindness, thy patience is long continued, and thy longsuffering seems to be a root out of which doth grow thy joys. O wondrous Father, patient Father, loving God, redeeming Christ, speak peace to us from the heavens, and the earth shall no more remind us of death—it shall be the stepping-stone of our higher life. Regard us as gathered from many quarters, meeting for an hour in one centre, and that, our Father's house. May a filial spirit pervade the assembly, may we be like children at home gathered around the parental table, asking God our Father to give us the bread of life. Remind us of our sin only that thou mayest remind us of thy greater mercy; point out to us all our guilt, black and deep, unpardonable by ourselves even—then show us the Cross, the tree of life, where the Man is who is thy fellow, equal with God, but habited like a dying slave, and whilst we look upon his blood may it be unto us the blood of sacrifice and propitiation and atonement—no common blood, shed by murderous hands, but freely given from the fount of the heart to redeem the world and cleanse the sin of man. We are stained through and through—we are evil in our action and in our thought, and there is not a motive that rules our heart that dare show itself in the sunlight. God be merciful unto us sinners, and wash us in the all-holy and all-cleansing blood. Help us to think soberly and justly about life, about the present and the future, here and hereafter, this side and that the grave: let a spirit of joy sing in us every day, and as we are no longer slaves but free men, redeemed not with corruptible things as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, may we therefore rejoice in God our salvation and be glad with great rapture. Thou wilt not forget our dear ones who are sick,—the old man, panting for the youthfulness of heaven; the young maiden to whom life is denied, who goes up like the morning dew at the bidding of the sun; the impenitent and hard-hearted, on whom all prayers are lost, as the rains are lost on the burning sand; the prodigal on the sea, or in the faraway place, or hidden from the social eye—God be merciful unto all, for whom we ought thus to pray—let thy Gospel be heard by them today, may they arise because the Master calls. Lord, hear us; sanctify to us our sorrows, many and keen; let the bitterness itself be the beginning of sweetness in our life, mocked and disappointed and wounded where we ought to have had the most and best and purest love. May we look away from the broken columns that mark the graves of blighted hopes, away to the everlasting hills of light and the city all beautiful with gold, fine and never to be dim. Good Lord, we bless thee amidst it all: even our tears help us, even our sorrows enrich the life which they make gloomy oftentimes, and our joys are poor and mean that do not come out of the deep rootage of much grief and sorrow, like unto his who was acquainted with grief. Amen.