And he said, The LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir to them; he shined forth from mount Paran…
I. THE DIVINE LOVE WHICH IS THE FOUNDATION OF ALL. "He loved the people." The word used here is probably connected with words in an allied language, which mean "the bosom," and "a tender embrace"; so the picture we have is of the great Divine Lover folding "the people" to His heart, as a mother her child, and cherishing them in His bosom.
2. The word is in a form which implies that the act is continuous and perpetual. Timeless, eternal love — always the same.
3. Mark the place in the song where this comes in. It is the beginning of everything. This old singer, with the mists of antiquity round him, who knew nothing about the Cross or the historic Christ, who had only that which modern thinkers tell us is a revelation of a wrathful God, somehow or other rose to the height of the evangelical conception of God's love as the foundation of the very existence of a people who are His.
4. If the question is asked, Why does God thus love? the only answer is, Because He is God. The love of God is inseparable from His being, and flows forth before, and independent of, anything in the creature which could draw it out. It is like an artesian well, or a fountain springing up from unknown depths in obedience to its own impulse.
II. THE GUARDIAN CARE EXTENDED TO ALL THOSE THAT ANSWER LOVE BY LOVE. "All His saints are in Thy hand."
1. A saint is a man that answers God's love by his love. The root idea of sanctity or holiness is not moral character, goodness of disposition and action, but separation from the world and consecration to God. As surely as a magnet applied to a heap of miscellaneous filings will pick out every little bit of iron there, so surely will that love which God bears to the people, when it is responded to, draw to itself, and therefore draw out of the heap, the men that feel its impulse and its preciousness.
2. The saints lie in God's hand.
(1) Absolute security; for, will He not close His fingers over His palm to keep the soul that has laid itself there?
(2) Submission. Do not try to get out of God's hand. Be content to be guided, as the steersman's hand turns the spokes of the wheel and directs the ship.
III. THE DOCILE OBEDIENCE OF THOSE THAT ARE THUS GUARDED. "They sat down at Thy feet; everyone shall receive of Thy words." These two clauses make up one picture, and one easily understands what it is. It presents a group of docile scholars, sitting at the Master's feet. He is teaching them, and they listen open-mouthed and open-eared to what He says, and will take His words into their lives, like Mary sitting at Christ's feet, whilst Martha was bustling about His meal. But perhaps, instead of "sitting down at Thy feet," we should read "followed at Thy feet." That suggests the familiar metaphor of a guide and those led by him who without him knew not their road. As a dog follows his master, as the sheep their shepherd, so, this singer felt, will saints follow the God whom they love. Religion is imitation of God. They "follow at His foot." That is the blessedness and the power of Christian morality, that it is keeping close at Christ's heels, and that, instead of its being said to us, "Go," He says, "Come"; and instead of us being bade to hew out for ourselves a path of duty, He says to us, "He that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." They "receive His words." Yes, if you will keep close to Him, He will turn round and speak to you. If you are near enough to Him to catch His whisper He will not leave you without guidance. That is one side of the thought, that following we receive what He says, whereas the people that are away far behind Him scarcely know what His will is, and never can catch the low whisper which will come to us by providences, by movements in our own spirits, through the exercise of our faculties of judgment and common sense, if only we will keep near to Him.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And he said, The LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them.