Psalm 106:3
Blessed are those who uphold justice, who practice righteousness at all times.
Sermons
The Blessedness of the Holy LifeS. Conway Psalm 106:3
The True in Praise, Religion, and PrayerHomilistPsalm 106:1-5
The Nevertheless of God's MercyS. Conway Psalm 106:1-48


I. SUCH LIFE IS POSSIBLE. It would not be spoken of here and throughout the Scriptures as it is, if it were only an ideal but not a possible life. Surely, if sin be the abominable thing which God hates, he must have contemplated, in his redemptive work, our deliverance from it. What is the first and great commandment, but a command to cherish that spirit towards God which is the spring of the holy life?

II. IT IS ENTERED INTO BY A DEFINITE WAY.

1. By self-surrender, which consists in the abandoning of whatever we know to be contrary to the will of God; giving it up, though it be dear as the right hand or eye; and in the surrender of all our powers and possessions to the absolute control and direction of God.

2. Then, when we have thus given ourselves up to God, we are to believe that he accepts us, and we are to keep trusting him, day by day and hour by hour, to cleanse us by the blood of Christ from all sin. If we will persevere in this surrender and trust, nothing can hinder our entering into this holy life. Then -

III. IT IS MOST BLESSED.

1. For what it escapes: the misery of a condemning conscience; of paralyzed power - for none can effectually work for God if they are abiding in sin; of knowing that your influence has been evil rather than good; of God's face hidden from you.

2. For what it wins: the blessedness of inward peace; of confidence towards God; of power with God for man, and with man for God; of the possession of God's loving kindness, which is better than life (Psalm 63), and of assured hope. When the people of God live this life, then there will be a turning to God on the part of the world, as now there is not, and for long ages has not been. For men will see that God's people possess a secret spring of joy, and peace, and purity, and strength, and they will come to covet it with a great desire (vers. 4, 5). - S.C.







Yea, they despised the pleasant land.
Homilist.
I. THE AWFUL PERSISTENCY OF SIN (vers. 24, 25, 28). You may reason with the sinner, convince him both of the folly and wrongness of his conduct. Trial after trial may come down upon him in consequence of his wicked conduct. You may threaten him with the terrors of death and the terrible retribution of the life beyond, still he continues blindly, and madly he pursues his course (Jeremiah 13:23).

II. THE FEARFUL RETRIBUTION OF GOD (ver. 29).

1. It was justly deserved. How great the provocation! The conscience of every sufferer will attest the justice of his fate.

2. It was a warning to others. The punishment that befalls one sinner says to every sinner, "Take care." God punishes, not for the sake of inflicting pain, but for the sake of doing good. It is to arrest the progress of sin, which is a curse to the universe.

III. THE SOCIAL INFLUENCE OF SAINTS (ver. 30). Phinehas interposed as a magistrate to suppress sin and check its progress. This act of his was approved of God as a righteous act. It was rewarded by God by a perpetual priesthood (Numbers 25:10). It is said that "one sinner destroyeth much good," but one saint may destroy more evil. Not until the last day, if then, shall we know the enormous amount of good that one good man may render to his age and even to his race.

(Homilist.)

Take the text as descriptive of the feeling of too many Christians towards that in which we all profess our faith as the life everlasting or the life of the world to come. "They thought scorn of that pleasant land." Ours is a freethinking and it is an outspoken generation. It is by no means uncommon to hear men say now, Give me earth and I will give you heaven. I cannot realize, and I see no beauty in, the life of that world. You tell me that it has streets of gold and gates of pearl. It is an orientalism of exaggeration which conveys to me no meaning at all. If it did convey a meaning, it would be an unattractive one. I greatly prefer the Old Testament phraseology. I can understand a land of wheat and barley, of fountains and streams, which God cares for, and upon which His eyes are open from the beginning to the end of the year. Such a land, with the addition of a wiping away of tears from all eyes and a cessation of pain and grief and death, speaks for itself. But you have made it so figurative, so metaphorical, so grotesque, that I cannot admire and I cannot long for it. "They thought scorn of that pleasant land." I can see many things to account for this. I can suggest perhaps a few things in correction of it. Theologians and mystics have so described that land as to make it unlovely. They have painted it to the manly and the vigorous, to the large-hearted and the active-minded, as a world of absolute repose, of perpetual quiescence. They have painted it to the feeble and the invalid and the languid and the weary as a scene of perpetual devotions, of a day never clouded and a night as bright as the day — of a praise never silent, a sabbath never ending, a congregation never breaking up. The one kind of men demanded an activity which is absolutely refused them; the other a repose, spiritual as well as physical, which is resolutely shut out. All these descriptions are quite conjectural. Scripture tells of a new heaven and a new earth, and expressly adds in explanation this particular — "wherein dwelleth righteousness." How can righteousness dwell in a land of mere inertion, mere torpor, or even unintermitted praise and song? Does not the very choice of the word suggest to us, though without detailing, a multitude of relationships, old perhaps as well as new, which shall give full scope to all the energies and all the activities which have here been coerced and counteracted alike by the weakness of the flesh and by the unwillingness of the spirit? Amongst all negatives and all conjectures, expanding the vision of the great future without stint or limit, we have one certainty and one positive — and with it we conclude. "His servants shall serve Him — they shall see His face — His name shall be in their foreheads." Whose servants? whose face? whose name? Look above — you will find the answer in that great combination — "God and the Lamb." Yet not their servants but His servants — not their faces but His face — nob their names but His name. Who now shall dare to think scorn of that pleasant land? God is there — there in a sense in which He is not here. "Thine eyes shall see the King in His beauty," as He can only be seen in "the land that is very far off." Who shall speak of that land in a tone half of condescension — "Yes, if I must go hence, I will consent to go thither"? Shall any one indeed find entrance there who can only say, I will not refuse — I have no objection?

(Dean Vaughan.)

I. THE PLEASANT LAND. Palestine was a country in many views highly desirable — in itself compact, and possessing special facilities of commerce with Asia, Africa, and Europe, all the known quarters of the globe. As to its intrinsic character, we have it portrayed in Deuteronomy 8:7-9. Palestine, in all the glory of culture, must have been a "pleasant land." We know, however, that this country, with all its distinguishing institutions, formed but a shadow of better things to come; and it becomes us now to be enjoying a land still more pleasant. The Kingdom of God has come to many thousands, has come with power; and its blessings, to which those of Judea were not for a moment to be compared, are brought nigh to the remotest and most unworthy. Its inhabitants He hath delivered from the curse of the law, being made a curse for them. Their depraved and perverse hearts He renovates by the agency of His good Spirit, purifying them unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. Whatever fightings they may have, they have peace with God; whatever vicissitudes, an immovable kingdom; whatever sorrows, everlasting consolation; whatever poverty, unsearchable riches; whatever disappointments and repulses, victory at last over sin and death and the grave. But I would point you to another land, in which the emblem of the text finds a more perfect accomplishment. True, we are here favoured with a morning, and the morning star shines bright: yet it is only the morning, and the shadows of the night largely intermingle with the dawning of the day. But in that "better country which is an heavenly," sunshine is qualified by shadow no longer. There Jesus appears in all that glory which He had with the Father before the world was — the distinctive glory of mediatorial triumph and recompense enhancing His Divine effulgence — and "the nations of them that are saved do walk in His light."

II. CONTEMPT OF THE PLEASANT LAND. "Every gift of God is good and nothing to be despised." Nay, not only are manifest mercies to be gratefully acknowledged, but we are forbidden to despise the chastening of the Lord, and enjoined to count it all joy when we fall into manifold temptations or trials. And how, then, can God look upon our conduct without anger when we treat with contempt a promised inheritance? As to the liability to this sin, it might appear that our inheritance being more valuable than that of the ancient and literal Canaan, it would be less readily and less probably disparaged. But alas! the things of God are not so appreciable to natural and unaided perception. The eye sees not their beauty, the ear hears not their melody, the nostrils smell not their odour, the tongue tastes not their deliciousness. We have had samples of heaven itself; its righteousness has come down to us; its celestial truth has been proclaimed to our guilty and perishing world; and humanity has discredited and disrelished all.

III. THE SOURCE OF THE ISRAELITES' CONTEMPT. "They believed not His word." If we had only full confidence in the Saviour, if we but eyed Him with a completion and constancy of trust at all commensurate with His trustworthiness, what distressing apprehensions of Him would vanish, what ravishing views of Him would succeed! How sure would heaven become! We should feel as secure of it as if we were already there, and something like as happy.

(D. King, LL. D.)

The Israelites in the wilderness are a recognized illustration of the Christian's walk through the world. The promised land is a type of heaven. Is it not true, then, of thousands who have set their faces towards a better home, that, after a time, they think scorn of that pleasant land, and give no credence unto God's Word? Why?

1. Because the land is hard to reach. Yes, it is hard, and it is easy: hard if the heart is absorbed by the world, the flesh, and the devil; easy, if the world has once been despised, the flesh once crucified, the devil put to scorn.

2. Others think scorn of that pleasant land because they cannot see it, and therefore hardly believe that it exists at all. If we are only to believe in what we see, there will be but little to believe in. We cannot see the Father or the Son or the Holy Ghost with the human eye; we cannot see the soul; we cannot see that the dead are living: but Jesus taught us, and our conscience teaches us to believe these things; and Jesus taught us also to believe in heaven.

(W. R. Hutton, M.A.)

There can be no greater slight and dishonour to a giver than to have his gifts neglected. You give something that has perhaps cost you much, or which, at any rate, has your heart in it, to your child, or other dear one; would it not wound you, if a day or two after you found it tossing about among a heap of unregarded trifles? Suppose that some of those Rajahs that received presents on the recent royal visit to India had gone out from the durbar and flung them into the kennel, that would have been an insult and disaffection, would it not? But these illustrations are trivial by the side of our treatment of the "giving God."

(A. Maclaren, D.D.)

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