May his days be few; may another take his position.
king. (This is clearly seen if the association of the psalm be with either Shimei or Ahithophel.) And there is another thing. David was not an independent king He was the anointed of Jehovah - the true king. When David had a case of unusual difficulty, one in which personal feeling was likely unduly to influence him, every way the wisest thing for him to do was to refer the matter to the supreme Sovereign, and let him decide. The psalm is to be regarded as the appeal of a vicegerent to his superior. This view relieves the psalm of its burden, because we can see that the superior will only take the representations of his subordinate into due consideration. He will be sure not to be unduly influenced by them. He will act on the eternal principles of righteousness.
I. EVERY MAN HAS A POWER TO PUNISH. Presently David would have been able to punish these men of whom he complains. When a man wrongs us we can punish
(1) by slighting him;
(2) by speaking of him so as to take away his character;
(3) by injuring him in his circumstances.
It is a fatal power - one of the most dangerous trusts a man has. Man seldom uses it well See the uncertainty, and frequent injustice, of magistrates' decisions. Feeling guides rather than judgment. Custom tends to exaggerate sins, and so exaggerate judgments. As in the case of poaching. The Christian spirit puts strict limitation on the desire to punish.
II. EVERY MAN SHOULD LEAVE GOD TO PUNISH. That is what David does. And that is the good side of the psalm. True, he seems to prescribe what God ought to do, but that we may put down to the intensity of his feeling. He leaves God to punish both his own enemies and the enemies of the kingdom. That is precisely what we ought to do always. And we may be quite sure
(1) that God will punish;
(2) will punish justly;
(3) will punish efficiently;
(4) will punish mercifully;
(5) will vindicate us by the punishment. - R.T.
Let his days be few; and let another take his office
Plain Sermons by contributors to the "Tracts for the Times."(for St. Matthias' Day): — The words in themselves sound simple enough; they might seem to speak of no more than all human beings must undergo, by the necessity of their mortal nature. All our days are few: they are but as grass, they are gone almost before we can count them. All our places, stations, and offices, whatever they may be, must soon pass away from us, and another take them in our place. But this, the common lot of all, is here turned into a fearful and peculiar curse, for those who slight high privileges, and betray sacred trusts. The instance of Judas is a very plain one, for showing forth the dealings of God's providence in this respect. His short life as an apostle would have been a blessing, had he been such as St. James, the first of the twelve who came to his great reward: he would have departed, and been with Christ so much the sooner. But as it was, what judgment could be more fearful? Thus his days were signally cut short; and as to another taking his office, St. Peter reminded the disciples that the Scriptures concerning him were of course to be fulfilled, especially two which he specified: "Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein;" and, "His bishopric let another take." Now, it is a serious thought for us all, If Judas Iscariot, who, favoured as he was, had never received the Holy Ghost; if the Jewish people, whose highest privileges were but a shadow of what we receive in Baptism, — if they had their days cut off by so dreadful a sentence, and their place in God's world given over to others: what are Christians, what are Christian pastors to expect, should they prove, after all, unclean and unworthy? The nearer Christ has called us to Himself, the more dangerous surely are the first beginnings and whispers of sin; and the nearer we have ventured to approach, the greater advantage have we given to Satan, except we tried in earnest to purify our hearts and desires. No doubt, St. Matthias himself may have had trembling thoughts like these, wherewith to keep himself lowly and humble, when he was called to so great an honour, so high a place in the Church. What must have been the new apostle's thoughts, when he was thus put in mind of Judas's place! How earnestly must he have prayed in his secret heart, that such place, or a worse, might never be his own! I say a worse; for must it not be worse for those who, besides Judas's other privileges, have also that which is above all, union with Christ by His Holy Spirit, and yet fall away as Judas did? That privilege Matthias received within a few days, when the Holy Ghost came down upon the assembled apostles, and he never forfeited its; he went on glorifying God as an apostle, until he was permitted to glorify Him as a martyr. Or how can a sinner ever be thankful enough that it is not yet over with him; that he has still time, he knows not how much, to humble and punish himself heartily for his great imperfection and unworthiness; to watch and break himself of all beginnings of sin; to subdue the flesh to the Spirit; in all things; to acquaint himself with God in all the ways of His Church; to fear always; and to be more faithful and true in every part of his calling towards God and man?
(Plain Sermons by contributors to the "Tracts for the Times.")
1. It is remarkable that the sin of Judas was amongst those particulars of the life and sorrows of the Saviour of the world which were not obscurely predicted in the Old Testament. He was placed upon his trial; a certain position given him, a position of vast privileges. These Scriptures were amongst the means vouchsafed to enable him to maintain his station in the spiritual world, and finish the work given him to do. Now, the state of Judas thus viewed is a very correct type of our own. Consider for a moment the Christian Church itself. It stands indeed to the Jewish race, as Matthias to Iscariot. The Israelites were the first called to be God's special servants; to them was the commission given to keep alive the remembrance of His name, to make His praise to be glorious. They betrayed the trust; they adhered not to His worship; they gave His honour to another; they stoned His prophets; they rejected His Son! And then went forth the decree, "Let their days be few, and let another take their office." There is a voice from the past to the present, from the old Israel to the new, which bids us not be high minded, but fear, as those who fill a traitor's place. And when we extend our thoughts from the Christian Church to the whole human race, we find the same to hold good. There is much to confirm the idea, that the creation of man had its origin in the fall of Satan and his angels. Before us is now placed the choice which ages ago was given to Satan and his legions — the choice whether in sincerity and truth we will be the servants of the Son of God. We are on our trial now, as they were before the pillars of the earth were set up; but with this advantage, that like Judas, who sinned after their manner, we have warnings against the consequences of rebellion. He with the example of their sin and punishment, fell into the same sin, viz. the disowning the Only Begotten. We, with his example also, are called to stand where they stood, and exhibit the obedience which they withheld.
2. But there are deducible from the foregoing remarks, certain truths touching our relation to God.(1) For example, we learn in a most striking manner from what has been advanced, the sureness with which God's will is accomplished, sooner or later. God has no need of our services; He requires not our obedience; our very sins help on His designs. If we are obedient, He will work through us; if disobedient, He equally bends us to His purpose; or it may be, blots us out of the book of the living, and calls others into existence to do that which we refused; and all without the least pause in the majestic march of His providence. If we resist, it costs Him nothing to say, "Let another take His office."(2) Again, we cannot but press upon you the wonderful uniformity of the test to which God has subjected all His creatures; the test is simply, loyalty to the Only Begotten Son. There are but two kingdoms, the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness; but two monarchs, the Lord Jesus, upon the right hand of the Father, and the outcast archangel, in the fiery abyss. And all choice between good and evil, right and wrong, is a choice between these.
(Bishop Wood ford.)
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