Psalm 24:5
He shall receive blessing from the LORD, and vindication from the God of his salvation.
Sermons
God's Blessing of RighteousnessA. Maclaren, D. D.Psalm 24:5
The Gift of RighteousnessPsalm 24:5
Who Can Dwell with God?C. Short Psalm 24:1-6
The King of GloryW. Forsyth Psalm 24:1-10
Psalm 24:3
Psalm 24:3. This psalm breathes the spirit of aspiration. It speaks of the earth as the Lord's; but we are not to rest with the earth. The call is," Who will ascend?" As one of our own poets has said -

"Not to the earth confined, ascend to heaven." Aspiration is an instinct of the heart. The young man is full of hope. Nothing seems to him impossible. His spirit leaps within him, longing to take part with others in the struggle of life.

"Men, my brothers, men the workers, ever reaping something new,
That which they have done but earnest of the things that they shall do
." Often such aspirations come to little. Work is hard. Progress is difficult. Things turn out so different from what was expected. Some fail. Others falter and lose heart. Others sink down to the dull routine of business, and the bright vision that charmed their youthful fancy fades away. But there are some who succeed. They have had ambitions, and they have stuck to them. They have had purposes, and have courageously carried them out. But if their aspirations have been limited to this world, success brings no real satisfaction. Byron found himself famous, and for a while was a great power; but how miserable were his last days! Even Gibbon, when he had brought his great work, that cost three and thirty years of labour, to an end, felt anything but quite satisfied. "I will not dissemble," he writes at Lausanne, "the first emotions of joy on the recovery of my freedom, and, perhaps, the establishment of my fame. But my pride was soon humbled, and a sober melancholy was spread over my mind, by the idea that I had taken an everlasting leave of an old and agreeable companion, and that whatsoever might be the future fate of my History, the life of the historian must be short and precarious" (vol. 1. p. 23.). Our aspirations need guidance and support. The true ascent is to "the hill of the Lord," and "his holy place." The Hebrews had much to stimulate them in the very conditions of things. They had to "go up" to Jerusalem, and when they went to the house of the Lord, the way was "still upward" - from the entrance to the holy place (Ezekiel 41:7). And all this was made helpful to them as regards higher things. But we have greater aids and encouragements. We have "the hope of glory;" the lives of the good who have gone before us; the voices of the prophets; the example of our blessed Lord; and the promise of the Holy Spirit. Every true life has its Jerusalem, and we must "go from strength to strength," still upward, if we are at last to reach the joy and peace of God. There are difficulties, as there will be in the way of all high endeavours; but we are comforted with the promise of help and the assurance of success. Thought is good, "meditated action" is better, but right action carried out, and that to the end, is best of all. If we are of the generation that seek God (ver. 6), then our motto will be, "Death to evil, and life to good." If we open our hearts to the King of glory, then under his leading our path shall ever be onward and upward, till at last we stand in the holy place, and receive the blessing from the Lord.

"Breathe me upward, thou in me
Aspiring, who art the Way, the Truth, the Life!
That no truth henceforth seem indifferent,
No way to truth laborious, and no life -
Not even this life I live - intolerable"


(Aurora Leigh.') W.F.







And righteousness from the God of his salvation.
The first glance at these words might suggest that they told us one of the rewards which the man who had fulfilled the preceding requirements received from God. But that would he but a poor thing to say; there would neither be gospel nor logic, as it seems to me, in it. For, according to that, all that was said here would simply be that, if a man would make himself righteous, God would then make him righteous; that if a man cleansed his heart, and got his hands pure and his soul fixed upon God and his lips truthful, then, after that, God would give him righteousness, which, by the hypothesis, he has already got. I do not think that is the meaning of the words, both because such a meaning would destroy the sequence of thought, and because a man cannot so make himself righteous at all. It is more natural to take these words as carrying on the description of the man who is fit to stand in the holy place, than as introducing the new thought of certain other blessings which the righteous man of the previous verse receives. So regarded, we have a deep thought here in answer to the unspoken doubt which must needs arise on hearing such conditions. One can well fancy the hearer replying, your statement of qualifications is only a round-about way of saying No one: how can I or anybody attain these requirements? If these be necessary, we may as well loiter in the flowery vales below as toil up only to see Alps on Alps arise, and the temple shining far above us, inaccessible after all. But if we rightly grasp the sequence of thought here, we have here the blessed truth that God's impossible requirements are God's great gifts. We may put that as the second great principle in these verses: the men who are pure receive purity as a gift from God. God will give righteousness. That means here outward and inner purity, or, in effect, the sum of the qualifications already insisted on. That is a grand thought, though it sounds strange to some men, that moral condition — a certain state of heart and mind — can be given to a man. Many people dismiss such a hope as an illusion, and smile at such a gospel as an impossibility. So it is for us. We can but try to bring motives and influences to bear on one another which may tend to shape character. But God can work on the springs of thought and will, and can put into our hearts purity and righteousness, however alien and remote they may be from our natural dispositions and from our past lives. Another great truth here is, that God can put into a man's heart someone germinal principle which shall develop and flower out into all graces and purities and beauties of character: all these things that make up the qualifications, they can all be given to a man in germ from God's own hand. Still further, these words imply that righteousness, in the sense of purity and holiness, is salvation. "He shall receive righteousness from the God of his salvation." David did not merely think of salvation as merely temporal deliverance, and we are not to think of mere deliverance from external punishment or some material hell as exhausting its meaning, but to understand that the main part of salvation is that God shall impart to us Himself, and fill our souls with His righteousness. But we have to remember that all this is made a great deal more plain to us in Jesus Christ. He comes and brings to us a righteousness by which we shall be made pure if we will only love Him and trust Him, and in our hearts there will bloom and grow the exotics of holy and virtuous character, and our lives will be fragrant with the precious fruits of holy and virtuous conduct. By the implanting within us of His own Spirit, by the new life kindred with His own, which we thence derive, of which righteousness is the very life breath — for, as Paul says, "The renewed spirit is life because of righteousness" — as well as by the mere ordinary means of bringing new and powerful motives to holiness, by the attraction of His own example, and by love which moulds to likeness, Christ gives us righteousness, and implants at least the germ of all purity. The last thought here is — the men who receive righteousness are the men who seek it from God. "This is the generation of them that seek Him, that seek Thy face," and, as the last words ought to be rendered, "this is Jacob, the true Israel." So then there is an answer to another unspoken question that might arise. The question might still remain — How am I to get this great gift? The Psalmist believed in a heart of love so deep and so Divine that there Was nothing more needed in order to get all the fulness of His righteousness and purity into our stained spirits, but simply to ask for it. To desire is to have, to seek is to possess, to wish is to be enriched with all this purity. And we know how, beyond the Psalmist's anticipations and the prophet's hopes, that great giving love of God has drawn near to man, in the unspeakable gift of His dear Son, in whom the most sinful amongst us has righteousness, and the weakest amongst us has strength. And we know how the one condition which is needed in order that there should pour down into our foul hearts the cleansing flood of His granted righteousness, is simply that we should be willing to accept, that we should desire to possess, and that we should turn to Christ and get from Him that which He gives. In this world things of little worth have to be toiled for. Nothing for nothing is the inexorable law in the world's markets, but God sells without money and without price. Life and the air which sustains it are gifts. We have to work for smaller things. In the sweat of our brow we have to win the bread that perishes, but the bread of life "the Son of Man will give unto us," and of it we have but to "take and eat." "'Tis only heaven can be had for the asking, 'Tis only God that is given away." Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter. Men have been asking all through the ages, "Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord?" They have built for themselves Babels "that their tops might reach heaven," but it has been all in vain. You have tried to climb. Your progress has been slow, like that of some crawling insect upon some smooth surface — an inch in advance with immense pains, and then a great slide backwards. But heaven bends down to us, and Christ puts down the palm of His hand, if I may say so, and bids us step on to it, and so bears us up on His hands. We shall not rise without our own efforts and many a hard struggle, but He will give us the power to struggle, and the certainty that we shall not set a stout heart to a steep hill in vain. So put away your hopelessness, and cease your painful toils. "Say not in thine heart who shall ascend into heaven — the word is nigh thee," — even the word of promise that trusting to Christ, and filled with His strength, we shall mount up with wings as eagles. The conditions may seem hard and even impossible, amounting to a perpetual sentence of exclusion from the presence of God, and therefore from light and well-being. But be of good cheer. If you hunger and thirst after righteousness you shall be filled. Seek God in Christ, and then, though nothing that has not wings can reach the steep summit, you will have the wings of faith and love budding on your shoulders with which you may reach it, and be invested by your righteous Saviour with that "fine linen, clean and white, which is the righteousness of saints," arrayed in which you will be fit to pass into the secret place of the Most High, and to dwell for evermore in the blaze of that pure Light.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Among the Mexican Catholics there used to be great anxiety to provide themselves with a priest's cast-off robe to be buried in. These were begged or bought as the greatest of treasures; kept in sight or always at hand to remind them of approaching death. When their last hour drew near this robe was flung over their breasts and they died happy, their stiffening fingers grasping its folds. The robe of Christ's righteousness is not provided for the dying hour merely, for the hasty investiture of the spirit when about to be ushered into the presence of the King.

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