O LORD our God, other lords besides You have had dominion, but Your name alone do we confess.
accomplish our deliverance, and then our allegiance shall gain full and hearty expression; we shall praise him only, we shall serve him only, and praise and serve him as we ought. Getting illustration from the historical circumstances, we may set forth this point in its personal applications under three divisions.
I. ISRAEL'S TIMES OF OPPRESSION UNDER HEATHEN RULERS. These include the oppression under Pharaoh in Egypt; the inroads of neighboring nations in the times of the Judges; the temporary supremacy of the Philistines; the degrading supremacy of foreign idolatrous systems in the age of the later kings; the crushing of the national life by the self-aggrandizing Assyrians and Babylonians. Israel had a full experience of the power of the oppressor, many "other lords" had held dominion over Israel. These may represent the tyrannies of social custom, prevailing opinion, bodily lust, easily besetting sins, and worldly persecution, which now bear so hardly upon the saints of God. If these do but hold a usurped dominion, it is too often so stringent as almost to crush out all expressions of the life unto God.
II. ISRAEL'S HEART OF ALLEGIANCE TO GOD IN TIMES OF OPPRESSION. The elect remnant, in every age, kept the allegiance, though they had to hide it in secret places. A "ten righteous" ever kept the nation from utter destruction. There is a holy leaven among us now.
III. ISRAEL'S FREEDOM FOR FULL ALLEGIANCE IN THE DIVINE INTERVENTION. Sooner or later God would deliver them, and will deliver us; and then we can open our lips, "make mention of his Name," and give ourselves openly to him, as we have held ourselves secretly for him all through the trying time. - R.T.
Other lords beside Thee have had dominion over us.
(J. J. Goadby.)
I. Here is an illustration of THE MANIFOLD BONDAGE OF THE SOUL. The Jews had bowed before many idols. They had served under many kings. Each idol and king had ruled them according to the caprice of the hierophants or viziers. There are also many lords who rule over the souls of men; whose dominion is capricious, despotic, and even destructive.
1. There is worldliness, one of the hardest of tyrants.
2. Closely akin to worldliness is frivolity; the disposition which shows itself in a strong dislike to anything grave in thought, or speech, or life; a vague belief, so far as frivolity can entertain belief, that the chief end in life is to be amused.
3. Others are in the thralls of doubt. One man doubts concerning all goodness whatsoever. He has been bitterly deceived by some unworthy man who had won his confidence, and he refuses to believe now that disinterestedness is possible in any quarter. Another man doubts whether it. be possible to discover truth amidst such a wrangle of apparently conflicting opinions, upon it. Perhaps he has allowed his mind to be biassed in one direction, and has never seriously set himself to get free from his bias. Or, he may never have struggled after the truth with any deep and true wrestling of soul. A third has doubts concerning evangelic Christianity. A fourth doubts of the possibility of his own salvation.
4. There are other forms of tyranny over the soul; e.g., the slavery of that which is known to be sin. The particular kind of sin differs with different mere.
5. Does it not become of unspeakable interest to know if deliverance can actually be secured; by whom it is to be effected, and by what means; and what are the signs that freedom has been actually obtained? To all these questions the song of the liberated exiles points to the sufficient answer. "O Jehovah our God! other lords beside Thee have ruled over us," etc.
II. Jehovah was the Author of the Jews' liberation: GOD ALONE EFFECTS THE DELIVERANCE OF THE SOUL.
1. He conceived the plan of that redemption, not as a temporary expedient, a Divine after thought, but as an "eternal purpose which He purposed in His Son Jesus Christ our Lord."
2. The method of this deliverance is also depicted in the words of the exiles. "Thou hast visited and destroyed them." "Visited," that is, searched out with the keenest scrutiny, examined, exposed. How, then, deem God "visit" these tyrants of man's soul? He reveals their true character to those who are under their dominion. God lays bare the worthlessness and the wickedness of worldliness, frivolity, and sin. Sometimes He does this, by the force of contrast, bringing in close proximity the brightness of an opposite life to the life which w ourselves are living. Sometimes He awakens a seed of Divine truth that has long been buried in our hearts. Sometimes the revelation is made by creating a sense of satiety, or of nausea. Sometimes the change is produced by incidents of God's good providence. But the one great means which Divine wisdom has set apart for the spiritual liberation of man is — the Gospel of His love.
3. There are, therefore, certain criteria by which men may surely know that they have actually entered this condition of freedom. One is, their relation to the past. The Jews did not forget the hard usage they tad received from those idol priests and capricious tyrants who had "ruled them with a rod of iron." But the grave closed over their oppressors, one after another. They were extinct tyrants; "shades," not men; powerless phantoms, fallen to rise no more. They were remembered, but as dead men. Nor can anyone who has obtained spiritual deliverance utterly forget the past. The recollection of what that past was flits across the mind, like a cloud over the face of the sun at noonday. But there is no desire to return to that condition. The past has lost its power of attraction, and has become hateful. The old tyrants are dead; and so long as we keep ourselves in the love of God they shall live no more. There is, further, the soul's relation to the future. But henceforth Thee, Thy name only, will we celebrate. Whatever allegiance may have been rendered to others in the past, the allegiance is now to be given alone to God. We have also the idea of service. The "celebration" is incomplete without this, the worship a solemn and offensive pretence. But he who worships most sincerely is certain to live most uprightly. He is bound to faithful service by the strongest of all ties — the tie of a grateful love.
4. "But," says someone, "is not this mere poetic exaggeration? Where are the proofs that this freedom has actually been won?" Where? In every age of the Church's history, from the day when publicans and sinners crowded about the pathway of the Divine Redeemer, until this hour. The Gospel is not an exhausted force. It is "the power of God unto salvation, to everyone that believeth."
(J. J. Goadby.)
Homilist.Here we have the soul under the sway —
I. OF MANY DEITIES. "Other lords beside Thee." The Jews in Babylon had knelt at the shrine of many false deities, and rendered allegiance to a succession of kings. Many "lords" had ruled them. This is true of all souls in an unregenerate state. Who is the real Lord or God of the soul? Unhesitatingly and emphatically, the chief love. Whatever man loves most, is his spiritual monarch, the deity of his life. The chief love of some is money. The chief love of others is pleasure — sensual indulgence. "Their god is their belly." The chief love of others is power. Ambition is their god.
II. OF ONE GOD. "By Thee only will we make mention of Thy name," or, as some render it, "Henceforth Thee, Thy name, will we celebrate. They had left heathen altars, and come back to the altar of Jehovah. What a blessed change from many masters to one, and therefore free from spiritual distraction. From worthless masters to the supremely good, and therefore realising all that the soul craves for or requires.
1. The rule of this one God is the rule of right.
2. The rule of peace. From the moral constitution of man no peace of soul can be experienced under the sway of any other. Under no other will the various sympathies flow into one channel, the faculties blend in harmonious action, the heart fix itself in a centre.
3. The rule of growth. Can vegetation grow and flourish under the reign of stars, however numerous or brilliant? No; it must have the empire of the sun. And can the soul advance under the sway of any infinite powers, however illustrious? No; it must have the rule of God, the "Sun of Righteousness." Here we have the soul —
III. PASSING FROM THE SWAY OF THE MANY TO THE ONE. It is that great moral experience which is represented in the New Testament as a new birth, a resurrection, a conversion, a repentance, etc.
II. RESOLUTION. "Henceforth we will make mention of Thy name." God's name is His character, — what He is in Himself, and what He is to His people. And it is a name not to be ashamed of: it is connected with every thing that is excellent, glorious, and sacred. It is a "name that is above every name." Not only so, it is a name you need not be afraid of with a slavish fear; but you may well be afraid of it with a holy fear. It is a name that you ought to love with all your hearts!
III. DEPENDENCE. "By Thee only will we make mention of Thy name"; as much as if it was said, We are full of sin, but Thou art full of grace and mercy; we are not worthy to take Thy name upon our lips — to stand before Thee, or to enter into covenant with Thee, but we do it depending upon Thee, and upon Thee alone.
(T. Mortimer, B. D.)
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