Isaiah 12:6
Sing unto the Lord; for he hath done excellent things. A comprehensive term, summing up all that God had done for his people through the long ages, The Hebrew indicates an echo from Exodus 15:1, "He hath triumphed gloriously." Reviewing God's wondrous workings, we may regard them from three points of view.



III. THEY ARE THINGS WHICH WE OUGHT TO FEEL. Because of their graciousness to us as frail, and their mercifulness to us as sinners. The great glory of God is his mercy. Christ is the embodiment of mercy. "Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works towards the sons of men!" Thy mercy "endureth forever." - R.T.

Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion.
Here is a call for enthusiasm, rapture, and what would generally be denominated madness. Still, the words are here, and they are perfectly clear as to their meaning and purpose, and a reason is given for the cry and for the shout; that reason is — "for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee." Men have been infuriated by earthly deliverances, and rightly so, and brought into paroxysms of thankfulness and joy why not so in their religious natures? It is recorded by Plutarch that when the Romans delivered a certain people from the tyranny of the Macedonians and the Spartans, the cry of the delivered men was so great that it dissipated the very air, and birds flying across that plane of the hemisphere fell down amazed. Have we ever rent the air with our cries and shouts of delight and thankfulness? Our Christianity may have been formal, and our atheism may have been the atheism of respectability. Respectability can never be earnest. It is limited by a smaller word. If Sydney Smith said the Church is dying of dignity, we may apply the rebuke to ourselves, and ask if we are not falling into torpor through the opiate of respectability. Are we called to silence? Who can describe the feeling of those who were imprisoned during the Indian Mutiny? Is there not a page in the history of that rebellion which makes every human heart thrill with excitement? We remember how the Europeans were shut up, being beleaguered and invested, and within a hand breadth of extinction; and we remember hearing of the deliverers' approach, and of those who were suffering catching the strains of music; they heard the pibroch and the slogan, and their hearts came again, and every soldier was a hero, and every woman a saint, and as the deliverers came on could you have said to those who had been shut up in terror and darkness, Now restrain yourselves; avoid everything sensational, and maintain a decorous and proper attitude in all things — what answer would they have returned to your inane and unseasonable address? We must pass through a certain class of circumstances before we can understand the feelings of those who express gratitude for deliverance. The singing of the Church should be loud, joyous, and sweet; all instruments should accompany it. now the clash of bells, now the blare of trumpets, now the lilt of lutes, and now the throb of drums; strong men, gentle women, merry children should unite their voices in one glad burst of religious joy. Thank God for music. That will unite the Church when theology will divide it. There is no disputable argument in music. The vanity of opinion is not touched by music. The demon of heresy is left without a chance in music. Pedantic criticism is ignored. The heart has it all its own way. All is harmony. All is praise. All is love. If ever preaching be displaced or superseded, may it be by music!

(J. Parker, D. D.)

The Hebrew is feminine: the appeal is to a woman's heart — Cry out and shout, thou daughter of Zion! Without the womanly element the Church is without charm, and without the Divinest passion. The woman must lead us, in song, in music, in praise, and by the contagion of her enthusiasm must warm others into responsive and cooperative zeal.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

Among the ancient people of God, Jehovah vouchsafed His immediate and manifest presence, both in the continuance of His visible glory between the cherubim, and, upon extraordinary occasions, in an extraordinary manner. Such miraculous indications of the Divine presence are not to be expected in these latter days. Now that God has blessed us with a revelation, so clear, so completely suited to our necessities, and in all its doctrines and precepts so manifestly Divine, that our own consciences cannot but acknowledge it as the truth, He has withdrawn those miraculous tokens of His favour by which He upheld the confidence of His ancient people, requiring us to walk by faith and not by sight. The glory of the spiritual Zion does not consist in outward manifestations of the Godhead, but in the real though invisible presence of the King of Zion, according to His gracious promise, "Lo, I am with you alway." He is present by His Spirit in the hearts of all His faithful followers. What is implied in this promise of the Holy One of Israel in the midst of Zion?

1. That God is ever with His people to strengthen and sustain them.

2. God, through Christ, is ever present with His people, to succour and defend them.

3. Jehovah is ever present with His people to lead and direct them.

4. God is ever with His people to comfort them.

5. Jehovah is ever present with His people to command a blessing upon the appointed means of His grace. Without this, the Scriptures are a dead letter.

(W. Ramsay.)

Civilised countries have many institutions of a voluntary kind for useful purposes. There is, however, an institution in the world, where men are laid under direct obligation to Him who has established the institution, namely, the Church of God, in relation to which the earnest appeal in the text is made.

I. THIS CHURCH PRESENTS TO US THE WAY, UNDER GOD'S HAND, TO TRUE PERSONAL GOODNESS. Men devise many recipes to correct evils and excite to virtue. But Zion accomplishes all these results by one simple method. To be in the Church of God is to be in the way of all goodness. Well may the inhabitants of Zion rejoice, for all spiritual blessings of God's kingdom are given to it.

II. Another logical conclusion follows, namely, that ALL OF US OUGHT TO BE IN THAT ZION. We are to be in it, not because the Church itself demands it; not because the minister calls for it; not because the influences around us have inculcated it. We are to belong to the Church because God, who founded the Church and created us, has laid this obligation upon us. And we are not to be simply visitors to His Church, or occasional attendants, and especially not to be patrons. We are to be inhabitants, dwelling in it; being in it with our whole souls, and complying with the obligations that are incumbent upon its inhabitants, if we would be pure men. And this is no unreasonable command.

1. The way in which the word came is both significant and instructive.

2. Another consideration is that, "Great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of her." That is the culminating and crowning glory of God's Zion.Practical reflections —

1. We must see that this Zion is a home of great dignity. It is more than a home, it is God's kingdom.

2. If this be God's Zion, then what have we to do to be in His Zion and to feel the pleasures incumbent upon members of His Zion? We are to obey Him. It is His presence, His power, His relation to us, that give sanctity to God's house and service.

3. Let me speak a word to any who are without God and without hope of eternal life. This King summons you from rebellion; He summons you to peace and goodwill to Him.

(J. Hall, D. D.)

I. THE CHARACTER here given of the people of God, couched in Old Testament language, in that they are called inhabitants of Zion. To understand the meaning of the words, "inhabitant of Zion," as describing the people of God in every age, we should first remember that Zion was literally a hill in the land of Judea. There was a hill in the southern part of the promised land, on which, or on part of which, the city of Jerusalem was built, and this hill had two peaks, the one called Zion proper, and the other called Mount Moriah, and while Jerusalem stood on one of these peaks, or Zion proper, the temple was built by appointment on the other of these peaks, or Mount Moriah, but the whole together was called the hill of Zion, of Mount Zion, and accordingly in the 2nd Psalm we read, "Yet have I set My King upon My holy hill of Zion," and again, "Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth; is Mount Zion," plainly showing that this was a hill in the land of Judea. But, as I have said, on one peak or top of this hill the temple of Solomon was placed, and hence the word "Zion" came by a common figure of speech to be transferred from the mountain to the temple, the most prominent feature on the mountain, and in this sense I think we have it in the 87th Psalm, "The Lord loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob." Understanding, then, by the word "Zion" the temple, an "inhabitant of Zion" now calls up the idea of a person who lives in and about the temple; and, indeed, the will of God was, that all His ancient people should live as much as may be in and about the temple. But we must remember that the temple was intended to be a type of the human nature of our Lord, or of God in our nature (John 2:19-21). An inhabitant of Zion is one who is much versant with Christ.

II. THE PRIVILEGE connected with this character. "Great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee." The Holy One of Israel, or the God that went out and in among the people of Israel, the God that brought them out of the land of Egypt, and through a variety of vicissitudes landed them at last in the Canaan of promise, was no other than the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 10:9). But it is particularly the privilege of all the inhabitants of Zion, that they have the protection of Him at all times who is the Almighty, and who is, "therefore, able to prevail against all opposition." Great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee. These last words convey the idea of a garrison, which, being in the very centre of a place fortified, contains armed men ready to run out from this central point, whenever they are called or required. So Christ, the Holy One, is in the midst of the Church, in the midst of the believer individually, because quite prepared to run out to any point where His people are weak and unprotected. If any of God's people be poor in this world, they need not have recourse to unlawful methods to secure for them and their families bread to eat, and raiment to put on, for their Heavenly Father knows they need these things, and He will give them to them, in the use of the lawful means put in their power. It intimates God reconciled in Christ to provide for their souls. He will provide for them the means of grace. But once more, it makes part of the privilege of God's people, that they are to see the greatness of the glory of God ultimately. Now God says that the very greatness of His glory shines out in the work of redemption — that there is more of that great invisible God brought out to intelligent creatures, by the work of redemption, than by any work which God created.

III. THE DUTY that God expects of His people, in consequence of their understanding this. "Cry out and shout." And here we are taught —

1. That courage is our duty — boldness. "Cry out and shout." Why? Because there is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus.

2. Cheerfulness.

3. Holding forth the Word of life.Concluding remarks —

1. How very far below their privilege do some professing Christians live!

2. Privilege always goes before duty.

3. The words are spoken to individuals.

(J. Muir, D. D.)

Speaking of the early days of Queen Mary's reign, Mr. Froude says: "When the lords with the mayor and heralds went to the Cross at Cheapside to proclaim Mary as Queen, there was no reason to complain of a silent audience. Pembroke stood out to read, and could but utter one sentence before his voice was lost in the shout of joy which thundered into the air. 'God save the Queen,' rang out from ten thousands of throats. 'God save the Queen,' cried Pembroke himself when he had done, and flung up his jewelled cap and tossed his purse among the crowd. The glad news spread like lightning through London, and the pent up hearts of the citizens poured themselves out in a torrent of exultation. Above the human cries, the long silent church bells clashed again into life: first began St. Paul's, where happy chance had saved them from destruction; then, one by one, every peal which had been spared caught up the sound; and through the summer evening and night, and all the next day, the metal tongues from tower and steeple gave voice to England's gladness.".

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