Isaiah 43:21
This is illustrated, for us all, in the true end for which the Hebrew tribes were formed into a nation. They were organized in Egypt, delivered, trained in the wilderness, and settled in the land of Canaan for distinct purposes of God. They were formed into a nation "for himself," to "show forth his praise." St. Peter applies this view of the old Israel of God to the new Israel of God, the first Christian Church. "Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light" (1 Peter 2:9). And the same view may be applied to every regenerate individual; he too is formed anew for God; in his new, regenerate life he is to show forth God's praise. Taking illustration from the older and the newer Israel, we may impress the truth of the text in its relations to the individual. The following line of thought may be worked out.

I. Our life on earth is but a limited and dependent thing. It is but a passing time, an interlude.

II. Its beginnings were wholly out of our own control. Whence we came, why we came, we do not know.

III. Its endings are equally beyond our reach. Where we are going, and what we are to be, we know not.

IV. Even in the passing time, we are in the midst of mysteries which we cannot fathom; and. we fashion aims of our own which never satisfy us, even if we attain them.

V. It is evident that there is One who gave us being for his own purposes; who supports us through our interlude to show forth his praise; and who holds the final issues of our lives as the completion of his own all-wise plan. Then this follows, and may be duly impressed - it is folly indeed for any dependent man to live his brief life unto himself. It is wisdom indeed to know him who gave us being for his own purposes. And he has not left himself without witness concerning himself and concerning his will. His revelation convinces us that the true end of life - which is to honour our Maker - is glorified by the apprehension of how good, how wise, how gracious our Maker is. That which is actually the chief end of life we come lovingly, thankfully, rejoicingly, to set before ourselves as our chief end. - R.T.

This people have I formed for Myself.
It is the burden of the Book of Deuteronomy that God chose the seed of Abraham to be a peculiar nation unto Himself above all peoples on the face of the earth. Those two words "people" and "inheritance" are perpetually linked together in the Bible. Jehovah's design is clearly declared in the significant Passage — "They shall show forth My praise." By a long process of careful training it was His intention so to form the people that their history should turn men's thoughts to the glory and beauty of His own nature, and elicit perpetual adoration and praise. On three separate occasions they thwarted Jehovah. They came nigh unto cursing instead of praising. They gave men false conceptions of His character. And on three separate occasions they had to learn the temporary suspension and postponement of His purpose.

1. In the wilderness they murmured against Him, and were sent back to wander in the waste for forty years.

2. After nineteen kings had ruled from David's throne, they were exiled to Babylon for seventy years.

3. Since the rejection of the Beloved Son, they have been driven into all the world to be a by-word and a proverb. For years God's purpose has been under arrest. It shall, no doubt, be ultimately fulfilled. This change of purpose on the part of God has been the opening of the door for us; and the words which were originally addressed to Israel are now applicable to ourselves. By the lips of the apostles Paul and Peter we are told that Jesus gave Himself for us, to redeem us and to purify us unto Himself, a people for His own possession; so that we are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that we may show forth the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvellous light. We are what we are, that we may show forth God's praises; but if we fail to realise His ideal, for us, too, there will be the inevitable postponement of His purpose.

I. THE PURPOSE OF GOD. "That they should show forth My praise." We may promote God's praise by suffering, as much as by active service. in every life there are three regions. That of the light, where duty is clearly defined; that of the dark, where wrong is no less clearly marked; and a great borderland of twilight, where there is no certainty, where dividing lines are not distinct, and where each man must be fully persuaded for himself. It is here, however, that the temper of the soul is tested.

II. THE POSSIBLE THWARTING OF HIS PURPOSE. "Ye shall know the revoking of My promise" (Numbers 14:34, R.V., marg.). There is nothing more terrible in the history of a soul than to frustrate the Divine ideal in its creation and redemption, and to prevent God deriving from us that for which He saved us.

1. Prayerlessness (ver 22). Nothing is a surer gauge of our spiritual state than our prayers.

2. Neglect of little things (ver. 23). The people were probably careful of the larger matters of Jewish ritual, but neglectful of the smaller details. None of us goes wrong at first in the breach of the great obligations of the law.

3. Lack of sweetness. "Thou hast bought Me no sweet cane" (ver, 24). It is possible to do right things from a hard sense of legalism, in which the sweetness and lovableness of true religion are painfully wanting. Many are the instances of this change of purpose. David substituted for Saul; Solomon for Adonijah; the Church for the Hebrew people; Western for Eastern Christianity; the Moravians and Lollards for the established Churches of their time.

III. THE FULFILMENT OF GOD'S PURPOSE THROUGH OUR PAIN. God's purpose cannot be ultimately set aside. So with Israel, and with each of us. But the cost, how enormous!

(F. B. Meyer B. A.)

1. God, who made all the lower creatures for some special use, assuredly did not make man, and endow him with those noble powers, without a grand distinctive design or end worthy of Himself and them.

2. This end cannot possibly be anything bounded by his transitory life.

3. The end for which chiefly we were made must needs be that which the Scriptures tell of: "This people have I formed for Myself; they shall show forth My praise," — even to know the ever-blessed God; to serve God; to honour, love God; to enjoy God; and to be everlastingly blessed in the knowledge, service, and enjoyment of Him.(1) This end is a very high and noble one.(2) A most reasonable and righteous end.(3) A necessary and indispensable end, — as it is the end which God actually made us for; it is altogether indispensable that we follow and fulfil it, unless we are to live in a terrible conflict with our Maker, and so inevitably perish. For if God made us to serve and honour Him, and we do it not, then, to put it at the very lowest, we are useless and unprofitable on God's earth; and we are accustomed to cast away from us things useless for the thing they were designed for. But then, most things of this world which are useless do not on that account require to be positively hurtful. But it is otherwise with us. If God made us to serve and honour Him, and we pay no regard to this end, then, necessarily, we dishonour God. If we serve not God, we must serve the devil. If we serve not the true God, we must serve false gods, — creatures of all kinds, to which we give the regard, affection, trust that are due to God, and so unavoidably fall under the sentence of the law of His moral government, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." But this volume has not come to us only to tell the end or use we were made for, but to tell also how we may fulfil it — ay, how we now, after having failed to live for the end, may yet know and serve and love and everlastingly enjoy God. The whole Bible may, as to this vital matter, be summed up in one grand word — Christ.

(C. J. Brown, D. D.)

In the good work of forming a people for Himself, God has been engaged from the beginning. The subjects of it have been more numerous in some periods than in others; but in every age He has created a seed to serve Him. And in future times — when He who sits on the throne shall "make all things new" — this people shall abound in number, and "flourish like grass of the earth." And what a thought is this, that in us, if we be indeed new creatures, God delights.

I. The first ground of the Divine satisfaction in this people which I mention arises from THE NATURE OF THE WORK PERFORMED, the character of the effect produced. The effect produced by the forming power of God is — a people on whose immortal spirits His image is impressed, the chief features of which are — knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, — a people enlightened and guided by heavenly truth, sanctified and regulated by Divine love, — a people assimilated to God in understanding and heart, in purpose, in action, in blessedness. If a person be not the partaker of a Divine nature, the most amiable and eminent qualities which he may possess can ultimately contribute only to increase his capacities and his means of doing evil, and to render him pre-eminent in disgrace and in misery.

II. In forming a people for Himself, God gives AN ILLUSTRIOUS DISPLAY OF HIS GLORY. In no work has He communicated so much of Himself, has He given so luminous and extensive a display of His glory, as in that which we are now contemplating, viewed in its manifold relations. Advert to His sovereignty and His power, both which the text obviously suggests.

III. God delights in forming a people for Himself, because He thus GLORIFIES HIS SON. He bears testimony to the dignity of His person, to the worth of His sacrifice, to the efficacy of His mediation.

IV. GOD FORMS A PEOPLE FOR HIMSELF, THAT THEY MAY SHOW FORTH HIS PRAISE; and for this reason also He delights in them. He creates them anew in Christ, not merely that He may display His perfections in the production of so excellent an effect, but that they may contemplate and adore the excellencies which He thus manifests; not merely that they may be a mirror to reflect the splendour of His glory to others, but that they themselves may utter abundantly its praises. They praise Him with their hearts. They praise Him with their lips, by formal acts of devotion; by the celebration of His ordinances; by the public confession of His name; by commending His service to others; by ordering their speech in His fear, and to the use of edifying. And they praise Him with their lives, by avoiding what He forbids, by doing what He requires, by submitting to what He inflicts; and thus do homage to His authority, wisdom, and love.

V. God rejoiceth over this people, because HE DELIGHTS IN THEIR HAPPINESS.

(J. Stark.)

It has been said that the word translated "praise" is from the same root as "Hallel" in "Hallelujah," and that it means, first, a clear and shining light; next, a sweet flute-like sound: from which we learn that the people of God are to reflect His glory until it shines from their lives, attracting others to it; and that they are to speak His praise in resonant and harmonious sounds that shall arrest and attract the listening ear.

(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)

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