I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications.
(1) There are multitudes who are utterly careless about God, in whose minds He exists as the object neither of one feeling nor another, who never think of Him so as either to love Him or be displeased with Him. (2) There are those who think much about God, but, instead of loving Him, are full of terror of Him. (3) There are not a few who, instead of loving God, hate Him, verily hate Him.
I. Notice some other species of love with the manifestations of which those of Divine love are liable to be confounded by the undiscriminating. (1) The saints' love of God has nothing in it of the nature of that affection of appetite by which so much of the love of earthly objects is characterised. (2) The love of God has nothing in it of the nature of that affection of instinct which is characteristic of the love of a mother for her infant child. (3) The saints' love of God has nothing in it of the nature of the love of compassion. (4) The saints' love of God is not of that character or degree which is produced by sensible intercourse.
II. In what does the saints' love of God positively consist? (1) In its purest form, it consists in an admiration and esteem of His excellence—the love of moral approbation. All God's moral perfections make Him an object of love: (a) His justice; (b) His benevolence. (2) All love of God must commence at least with the love of gratitude, with loving Him because He has loved us, each one discerning for himself that God has been bountiful to him, is bountiful to him now, and will continue bountiful in all time to come. (a) Neither any consideration of God's bounty in creation nor any review of His bounty in providence will beget love for Him in the bosom of a man who is conscious of guilt, for the obvious reason that neither of these two works of nature contains any assurance for him of that which above all things else he needs: mercy, to pardon his iniquities. (b) No man can attain to the love of God who does not appropriate the tidings of the Gospel to himself.
W. Anderson, Discourses, p. 170.
Psalm 116:7The rest of which the text speaks is the rest of a being who has found again his proper and congenial sphere. In reconciliation to God through Jesus Christ the soul regains its lost equilibrium, finds again the centre of repose for which it had been sighing in vain. "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy-laden," is the invitation of incarnate love; "and I will give you rest." And in the soul that yields to this invitation there rises the response of its deepest nature, the instinctive throb of a new yet natural affection, the calm sense of existence fulfilled and unexplained hope and desire solved in fruition—the witness in its own inmost consciousness that its true rest is found at last.
I. The rest of which the text speaks is not bodily or physical, but mental or spiritual, rest. (1) Bodily repose reaches not to the true centre of man's peace; but mental repose entrenches itself in the deepest region of man's nature, and renders him impregnable to outward assault. (2) Physical repose can only be periodic; the rest of the soul is essentially continuous.
II. The rest of which the psalmist speaks may be described, again, as the rest not of immobility, but of equipoise. In the repose of a saintly spirit there is latent power. The inward repose which, sooner or later, true religion brings, is the result of the final conquest and subjugation of man's lower nature. The peace of the holy mind is the peace not of stagnation, but of self-conquest.
III. The true rest of the soul is that not of inactivity, but of congenial exertion. Labour is rest to the active and energetic spirit. The mind itself does not waste or grow weary; and but for the weight of the weapons wherewith it works, it might think, and imagine, and love on for ever. The service of God, beyond all other kinds of labour, may become the most perfect rest to the soul. As love to Christ deepens in the soul that is truly given to Him, the work which it prompts us to do for Him loses the feeling of effort and passes into pleasure.
IV. This rest is not absolute, but relative. Whilst it is a great thing to be an earnest worker in Christ's service, yet the Christian life is not mainly a life of action, but of trust, not of independent exertion, but of self-abandonment to the working of a mightier agency than ours. Calmly as the midnight voyager sleeps whilst, under watchful guidance, the vessel bears him onwards, so calmly, with such trustful humility, does the believer commit himself and his fates for time and eternity to the unslumbering providence of God.
V. This rest is attainable through Christ alone. "No man cometh unto the Father but by Him." He offers pardon to the guilty, purity to the defiled, peace, joy, hope, heaven, to the wretched, or that which includes them all: that strange, unearthly blessing rest to the weary and heavy-laden soul.
J Caird, Sermons, p. 192.
References: Psalm 116:7.—M. R. Vincent, Gates into the Psalm Country, p. 215; H. W. Beecher, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxiii., p. 339. Psalm 116:8.—G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 105. Psalm 116:9.—M. Dix, Sermons Doctrinal and Practical, p. 319.
Psalm 116:11The text reveals the psalmist as having passed through the shadow of that mood of mind to which we give the name of cynicism. The great danger is lest the mood should pass into a habit, lest we should nurse it until it becomes a chronic attitude of mind, and we begin to lose the taste of its bitterness and to take a morbid pleasure in indulging it. Notice one or two practical safeguards against the attitude or habit of cynicism.
I. Let us cherish a modest estimate of our own abilities and our own importance.
II. Let us cultivate the habit of looking out for human excellences, and of putting the most generous construction on human actions.
III. Let us seek to look at all men as through the eyes of Christ.
T. Campbell-Finlayson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. x., p. 353.
References: Psalm 116:11.—S. Baring-Gould, One Hundred Sermon Sketches, p. 186. Psalm 116:12.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xvi., No. 910.
Psalm 116:12-13The great thought which lies here is that we best requite God by thankfully taking what He gives.
I. Note how deep that thought goes into the heart of God. We requite God by taking rather than by giving, not merely because He needs nothing, and we have nothing which is not His. The motive of His giving to us is the deepest reason why our best recompense to Him is our thankful reception of His mercies. The principle of our text reposes at last on "God is love, and wishes our hearts," and not merely on "God has all, and does not need our gifts."
II. Look at the elements which make up this requital of God in which He delights. (1) Let us be sure that we recognise the real contents of our cup. It is a cup of salvation, however hard it is sometimes to believe it. (2) Be sure that you take what God gives. There can be no greater slight and dishonour to a giver than to have his gifts neglected. (3) One more element has still to be named: the thankful recognition of Him in all our feasting. "Call on the name of the Lord." Only he who enjoys life in God enjoys it worthily. Only he who enjoys life in God enjoys it at all.
A. Maclaren, Weekday Evening Addresses, p. 142.
Psalm 116:13I. We see here, first, God giving. The form which the giving takes in this representation is the hand of God presenting a cup. Goodness is manifested in all God's giving, in the cup of wrath as in the cup of blessing; but the cup of blessing is a revelation of love, God giving. This is the ultimate Owner giving. This is giving on His part in whom the absolute right of possession is vested. This is righteous giving. This is giving which need not make us afraid of taking.
II. Man taking. The taking here is not a simple laying hold of that which God gives, but the use and enjoyment of what God bestows. To take the cup of salvation is to receive a blessing in all its fulness, to the utmost limit of our receptive capacity and of our power to accept and to enjoy.
III. God's servant seeing God in what he takes. There is a name of God on every cup, and in every act of offering a cup.
IV. Worship, the fruit of what we receive and see. Past and present gifts on the part of God should encourage us in three things: prayer, praise, and thanksgiving.
S. Martin, Rain upon the Mown Grass, p. 273.
References: Psalm 116:13.—S. H. Booth, Christian World Pulpit, vol. iii., p. 161; C. J. Vaughan, Ibid., vol. viii., p. 273. Psalm 116:15.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xviii., No. 1036; Plain Sermons by Contributors to "Tracts for the Times," vol. ii., p. 278; J. Keble, Sermons for Saints' Days, p. 30.
Psalm 116:16There is service in the very fact and nature of existence. A man whose heart, and mind, and soul are right with God, whose affections are really given to Him, whose intellect grasps Him, and whose inner spiritual life is united to Him—that man is truly a servant of God, and in so far does his proper part, though you may call it the mere "service of being."
I. We are right always according as we view anything as God views it. Now God, surveying all His vast creation, regards all things which He has made as created for this one end: to do Him homage and adoration. Even in irrational and in insensible creation there is the service of being. Man is sent to render the service of all the handiwork of God. What then if man himself do not serve God? Then the whole series is idle; then God's design is frustrated; then throughout the world the absence of man's service mars the whole system and design of universal being.
II. Every man is a temple. The body is its holy walls, the intellect or the feelings are the sacred interior of the edifice, the soul is the shrine, and the indwelling spirit is the consecrated presence. Let all these be simply there, in their harmony and proportion, and there is the service of being.
III. Service is something beyond and better than obedience. (1) It involves community; you cannot serve right without an identity of interest with the person you are serving. (2) Service is not compatible with divided allegiance. (3) Service must be of the whole man at once.
J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 9th series, p. 34.
Psalm 116:16I. David's design here is to represent his piety as hereditary; and he mentions his mother because to her especially, in all probability, his religious convictions and impressions were instrumentally due. If this were the case, how much does the Church owe, under God, to the kindly wisdom of that godly mother, for it is the mother, after all, that has most to do with the making or the marring of the man.
II. David and Moses may be regarded as instances in which the good seed fell into good soil, and in which the return was speedy as well as rich. But it is not always so; usually, we may say, it is not so. For the most part the seed lies apparently dormant, the spring is long and unpromising, and the faith of the sower has to be exercised in a patient waiting for the promised growth. Nay, sometimes it seems as if all were lost, as if the seed had utterly perished, and as if the soil that had been so carefully cultured and watched over must be hopelessly given up to desolation or to rank and abominable weeds. But a mother's teachings have a marvellous vitality in them; there is a strange, living power in that good seed which is sown by a mother's hand in her child's heart in the early dawn of the child's being; and there is a deathless potency in a mother's prayers and tears for those whom she has borne, which only God can estimate.
W. Lindsay Alexander, Christian Thought and Work, p. 255.
References: Psalm 116:16.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. i., p. 42; Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. vi., No. 312, and vol. xxix., No. 1740; J. Vaughan, Sermons, 13th series, p. 5; Good Words, 1861, p. 190. Psalm 116:18.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. ii., p. 38. Psalm 117:1.—B. M. Palmer, Ibid., vol. ix., p. 143.
Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.
The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.
Then called I upon the name of the LORD; O LORD, I beseech thee, deliver my soul.
Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful.
The LORD preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me.
Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee.
For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.
I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living.
I believed, therefore have I spoken: I was greatly afflicted:
I said in my haste, All men are liars.
What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me?
I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD.
I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people.
Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.
O LORD, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds.
I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD.
I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people,
In the courts of the LORD'S house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem. Praise ye the LORD.