I. IT IMPLIES PREVIOUS AND TERRIBLE PROVOCATION. And, indeed, there had been such:
1. In sins actually committed. What a catalogue of them the psalm contains! Sin at the very beginning (ver. 7). The former psalm reviewed the history of God's people as a subject for adoring praise, because of God's never-failing care. Here, also, a "Hallelujah!" is raised, in view of the same history, because of God's never-failing forgiveness. And the sins that needed this forgiveness are confessed here - the shortlived gratitude (ver. 13); the shameful murmuring (ver. 15); the wicked envy (ver. 16); the disgraceful idolatry (ver. 19); their unbelief (ver. 24); their sacrifices to Baal-peor (ver. 28): their murmuring at Meribah (ver. 32); their disobedience (ver. 34). What a melancholy list it is! And this is not all; for see:
2. The mercies of God despised. (Ver. 13.)
3. Their treatment of Moses. (Vers. 16, 23, 32.)
4. Their hardened resistance, so that God's punishments had no power to change their evil will (cf. John 1:5). Yes, there had been provocation indeed.
II. IT PROCLAIMS THE INFINITE COMPASSION AND FORBEARANCE OF GOD. Sin is the dark foil on which the brightness of God's mercy is all the more seen. That is why the angels of God can never render the praises of the redeemed. What a marvel it is that he should have spared Israel! It is equalled only by the marvel of his sparing us.
III. WHEN THE SOUL BECOMES CONSCIOUS OF ALL THIS, IT IS OVERWHELMED IN GRATITUDE, LOVE, AND PRAISE. See the opening of this psalm and its close. Thus is God's mercy the spring and abiding impulse of the new life unto him. See the well known verse -
"Oh the sweet wonders of that cross
Praise ye the Lord.
Homilist.I. TRUE. PRAISE AND ITS REASONS (vers. 1, 2). This call to praise Jehovah is binding on all intelligent and moral creatures, because of —
1. The goodness of His nature.
2. The permanency of His mercy.
3. The immensity of His works.
II. TRUE RELIGION AND ITS BLESSEDNESS (ver. 3). What is true religion? Keeping to the right at all times. "If ye love Me, keep My commandments." The only hymn of praise acceptable to the ear of the Infinite is a life of rectitude. Now, this is happiness (Psalm 1:1).
III. TRUE PRAYER AND ITS DESIRES. What is the grand desire of true prayer? All may be summed up in one sentence — identification with the excellent of the earth (vers. 4, 5). A desire to be identified with the rich, the powerful, and the distinguished of the earth is common, is "of the earth, earthy"; but a desire to be vitally associated with the morally excellent of the earth is rare and of heavenly origin. May this be our grand aspiration!
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