As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the LORD of hosts, in the city of our God: God will establish it for ever. Selah.…
The psalmist not only rejoices because of deliverance, but because that deliverance has proved that the commonplace present is as full of God as was the miraculous past, and has turned tradition into experience. The miracles of the Exodus have been repeated before the eyes of the psalmist's generation. "As we have heard, so have we seen," etc. And because the present has been the repetition of the past, the future shall be the continuation of the present. "God will establish it for ever."
I. THE PLEDGE OF SECURITY IN THE NAME OF THE CITY. "The city of the Lord of hosts" — what does that great name for God mean? It means, I take it, very much the same thing as Jesus Christ praised the Roman-centurion for having groped his way to discover; that all the universe is like an embattled legion, subject to the command of one authoritative Imperator, or Emperor, the Lord of hosts. Well, then, if the city is His, who is going to take it? What about Sennacherib? He may muster his hosts as he likes, but "in the morning they were all dead corpses," and Sennacherib went away back to Assyria to pray to his god. Much he made of that; for whilst he was praying his sons cut his throat; and that was the end of the worship that is given to "the hosts," and not to the Lord of "the hosts." But that is not all. The city is "the city of our God." He is Lord of the hosts, but there is a relation more tender and blessed between us and Him than there is between them and Him, for he is "Our God." And how does He come to be our God? By what He has done, and by what we have done. The relation is reciprocal; His side of it is His taking us for His and telling us that He has done so; our side of it is our taking Him for ours by faith, love and obedience, and by our hearts' speech saying to Him, "Thou art my God." Then we may rest secure, if "the Lord of hosts is with us," etc.
II. How ALL THE WONDERS OF THE PAST ARE REPEATED TODAY. That sounds paradoxical. "The age of miracles is past," say many sad hearts. We do not "see" as "we have heard," and we sometimes begin to doubt whether we have heard aright, just because we do not see what has been told us. Well, for all that, the triumphant word of my text is true to-day, as true as it was in regard to those who saw the miracle of the dead Assyrian hosts. My life is as full of God, if I like to make it so, as ever was the life of any patriarch or prophet or apostle of them all. Earth is as much crammed with God as it used to be. Not only is the reality of this working the same, but I venture to say the manner in which He now does His great things for us is an advance on the manner in which He did them of old. It is better to have a Christ in the heart than a Christ working miracles beside us; better to be guided by the Divine Spirit that dwells in us than by the pillar of fire and cloud. It is better to be committed to the responsibility of our own judgments, and our own purified hearts, than it is to hear a voice from heaven saying to us in articulate syllables what we ought to do. And they who are, or, if they will, may be, "strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man," do not need to envy those of old to whose palsied limbs the hands of the Saviour gave power, or to whose blind eyes he gave sight.
III. THE CONFIDENCE FOR THE FUTURE WHICH SPRINGS FROM EXPERIENCE. It is always safe to reckon on God's future, and to infer what it will be, from God's past. You cannot do that with men, you can do it with Him; because He is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. We get tired of helping people, and say, "I have done it so often that I really cannot do it any more." God says, "I have done it so often that I will not cease doing it." Men's purposes change; His do not. Men's resources get exhausted; His never. If we are trusting to Him we can boldly say, "Tomorrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant." It is always safe to reckon on God's future being of a piece with God's past. Therefore, the city and the citizens, each one of whom has a personal relation to God, must live for ever, in order that they may possess all that God can give them. That is a plain way of putting what can be put in more graceful language, by saying that the experience of communion with God here is the best proof, to any of us, of immortal life hereafter. Because God has given us what He has given, and been to us what He has been, and done for us what He has done, it is impossible to believe that there can come an end to the relation between Him and us, and that the man who has clasped God's hand can ever die." He shall establish it for ever."
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the LORD of hosts, in the city of our God: God will establish it for ever. Selah.