You will become an object of horror, scorn, and ridicule among all the nations to which the LORD will drive you.
I. NATURAL OBJECTS ARE OF HIS CREATION. The Psalmist bids us lift up our eyes to the hills, and seek help from God, "who made heaven and earth" (Psalm 121:2). It is this which enables him to help us, and makes it reasonable in us to implore and trust in his assistance; as well as leads us to fear his displeasure. Seed, vineyards, olive trees, are his creatures, and subserve his purposes. He who made can destroy.
II. NATURAL AGENCIES ARE UNDER HIS CONTROL. The greater agencies of nature - rain (vers. 23, 24), pestilence (ver. 21), diseases (vers. 27, 35). The lesser agencies - locusts (vers. 38, 42), worms (ver. 39), "powder and dust" (ver. 24). He marshals these agencies at will, appoints them their work, superintends them in the doing of it. He brings strength out of weakness, making the feeblest creatures the instruments of his most terrible strokes of vengeance.
III. THE FRUITFULNESS OF THE EARTH IS DEPENDENT ON HIS BLESSING. He gives, and he can at will withhold. It is a false science which sees only "laws" in the productiveness of nature, and ignores the hand and blessing of a living God. - J.O.
Blessed shalt thou be in the city.
The city is full of care, and he who has to go there from day to day finds it to be a place of great wear and tear. It is full of noise, and stir, and bustle, and sore travail: many are its temptations, losses, and worries. But to go there with the Divine blessing takes off the edge of its difficulty; to remain there with that blessing is to find pleasure in its duties, and strength equal to its demands. A blessing in the city may not make us great, but it will keep us good; it may not make us rich, but it will preserve us honest. Whether we are porters, or clerks, or managers, or merchants, of magistrates, the city will afford us opportunities for usefulness. It is good fishing where there are shoals of fish, and it is hopeful to work for our Lord amid the thronging crowds. We might prefer the quiet of a country life; but if called to town, we may certainly prefer it because there is room for our energies. Today let us expect good things because of this promise, and let our care be to have an open car to the voice of the Lord, and a ready hand to execute His bidding. Obedience brings the blessing. "In keeping His commandments there is great reward."
We have accustomed ourselves so long to think that the glory and beauty displayed on the open fields of the country, where life lies palpitating and warm with the impress of His creative hand, and where all the works of the Lord are ceaselessly singing His praise, must in itself impress more vividly those who linger amid its beauties, and do their work in the glow of its magnificence, than do the streets and lanes and the visible signs of man which stretch out through the city. And yet we do not seek from the hard-working farmer the highest appreciation of nature as such, nor from the toiling agricultural labourer the keenest poetic sentiment. Men are crowded into the city, the villages become more and more depleted. What does it mean? Ask them, and they would tell you that they are going to see life. To the labourer town life means a more stirring existence, he thinks he sees there a wider field, a quicker return, a more brilliant career, and too often he is bitterly disappointed in these hard times. To the pleasure seeker the city is the great lamp towards which he flies with outstretched wings to flicker for a short space around it, to scorch his wings, to burn himself in the nearest approach to nothingness. But life is a very real thing to seek for. In the city there are gathered together various forms of excellence. Here art treasures are collected, and art studies are at their fullest perfection; here music receives its fullest development; here perfection of all kinds tends to aggregate; here the blood courses fuller and stronger; here might be realised that which we speak of so often in the Creed — "the communion of saints."
Blessed shalt thou be in the field
So was Isaac blessed when lie walked therein at eventide to meditate. How often has the Lord met us when we have been alone! The hedges and the trees can bear witness to our joy. We look for such blessedness again. So was Boaz blessed when he reaped his harvest, and his workmen met him with benedictions. May the Lord prosper all who drive the plough! Every farmer may urge this promise with God, if, indeed, he obeys the voice of the Lord God. We go to the field to labour as father Adam did; and since the curse fell on the soil through the sin of Adam the first, it is a great comfort to find a blessing through Adam the second. We go to the field for exercise, and we are happy in the belief that the Lord will bless that exercise, and give us health, which we will use to His glory. We go to the field to study nature, and there is nothing in a knowledge of the visible creation which may not be sanctified to the highest uses by the Divine benediction. We have at last to go to the field to bury our dead; yea, others will in their turn take us to God's acre in the field: but we are blessed, whether weeping at the tomb or sleeping in it.
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