Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright.
I. The whole of revelation reposes on this broad platform: how God and nature stand to one another. Now there are two opposite extremes into which our conceptions on this point may fall. We may immerse God in nature, or we may isolate nature from God. (1) We immerse God in nature if we treat nature as itself possessed of properties which are strictly personal, as when, for example, we accustom ourselves to think of it as originating its own processes, as intending its own results, or as conscious of its own plan. The corrective lies in the Scriptural idea of creation as an act of will in One who is outside of material being. (2) We may unduly isolate nature as God's workmanship from God the Worker. We do this, e.g., when we conceive of the universe as teaching us nothing of God, being only a whirl of material change without spiritual meaning, or when we represent it as a machine which, being somehow endowed with a given stock of force, must go on, so long as the force lasts, like a watch that has been once wound up. Again, the Scriptural conception of nature will furnish the corrective. According to it, God is personally separate from and above nature; yet, for all that, He has put into His handiwork His own thoughts. We may fairly say that both sides of the idea lie in embryo in the solitary phrase, "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made." For the word of any person serves two functions: it is the organ of command, conveying an act of will; it is also the organ of expression, revealing the speaker's nature.
II. The moral revelation which began with Abraham and culminated in Jesus Christ admits of being both compared and contrasted with the older nature revelation. (1) The later revelation starts from and builds upon the earlier one. (2) It must be clear that such a revelation as we actually possess in the Bible is only possible if God be (as the Bible teaches) at once above nature and yet present, self-revealed, in nature. (a) We are ourselves part of the world; and if we are to receive communications which transcend what the world itself can tell us, then He who gives them must stand outside of and above the world. (b) The actual revelation recorded in the Bible employed nature as its organ. God makes nature vocal with redemption. (c) Above all, His final revelation of Himself is in the life of a Man, so that the highest of all revelations is in appearance the most human, the least supernatural. Now how could all this be unless, first of all, creation were itself full of God and yet were, after all, God's servant, to work withal? (3) The voice of the new revelation agrees with the voice of the old. (a) The absolute unity of plan which strict research is daily proving more and more—a unity now known to reach as far as the planets in their spheres—attests that the Creator is one. All Scripture proceeds on the unity of God. (b) Throughout all nature we find a will at work whose method is to bind itself by orderly method and fixed law. Now the revelation of the Divine will in Scripture is likewise the revelation of a law, and its chief end is the reduction of moral anarchy to moral order. (c) Again, we are daily learning how patiently, and through what long, slow, even laborious processes, God has been pleased to build up His physical universe. This is God's way in nature, and it has been His way in grace. (d) Once more, the God of nature avenges the transgression of every physical law by a sentient creature. Scripture discovers precisely the same features in the moral and spiritual rule of God. Of law, of transgression, of penalty and reward, of life and death, nature has no more to say than the Bible has. But of another law higher than that of penalty—of the spiritual law of self-sacrifice, of redemption of life by life, and giving up of the just for the unjust, and forgiveness of sin, and the regeneration of the lapsed—the physical universe is wholly, or all but wholly, silent.
J. Oswald Dykes, Sermons, p. 84.
References: Psalm 33:1.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. iii., p. 355. Psalm 33:2, Psalm 33:3.—J. M. Neale, Occasional Sermons, p. 108. Psalm 33:5.—D. Swing, American Pulpit of the Day, p. 460; G. Bainton, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xviii., p. 378. Psalm 33:6.—J. Keble, Sermons from Ascension Day to Trinity, p. 384. Psalm 33:13.—Spurgeon, Morning by Morning, p. 272. Psalm 33:20.—W. Lindsay Alexander, Christian Thought and Work, p. 155. Psalm 33:21.—Spurgeon, Morning by Morning, p. 184. Psalm 33:22.—J. Keble, Sermons from Septuagesima to Ash Wednesday, p. 432. Psalm 34:1.—J. M. Neale, Sermons on Passages of the Psalms, p. 77.
Praise the LORD with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings.
Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise.
For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth.
He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.
By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.
He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses.
Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.
For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.
The LORD bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect.
The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.
The LORD looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men.
From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth.
He fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works.
There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength.
An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength.
Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy;
To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield.
For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name.
Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.