The LORD gives His people strength; the LORD blesses His people with peace.
Numbers 6:22-27) may be said to be summed up in these two things, "strength" and "peace. Together they make up all that is needed for daily life. When man goes forth in the morning to his work (Psalm 104:23), what he requires is strength," that he may be able to do the will of God. When the evening comes, what he needs is "peace" - the rest and content of the heart in God. The two things cannot be separated. It is in the measure we use aright the "strength" God gives that we can have "peace." If we are unfaithful, if we alienate to selfish and unworthy purposes the "strength" which should have been wholly devoted to God, we mar our "peace." David has taught us the secret (Psalm 119:165), and David's Son and Lord has made the truth still plainer (John 15:10). "His people." There is nothing arbitrary in this. In one sense all are God's people, for he is the Maker of all. Then in the higher sense all may become God's people if they so choose. But besides, the blessings of "strength" and "peace" can only be received by such as are in a fit state to receive them. There are blessings that are common. There are other blessings that are of a nobler kind, and are necessarily limited to those who can receive them (2 Corinthians 2:11, 12). The delights of art and science and literature are for those who have a certain preparedness. So it is in spiritual things. We must be weak before we are strong. We must be of one mind with God in Christ before we can have peace (Romans 5:1; John 14:27). - W.F.
I. WHAT IS THE VALUE OF THE BLESSINGS HERE PROMISED?
The Lord will give strength unto His people: the Lord will bless His people with peace.I. THE BLESSINGS PROMISED,
1. Strength. How needed this is, for sin has made man weak. He tries to hide his weakness, but in vain. Nor can he heal himself. And after he is converted he still needs God's strength, "who giveth power to the faint." He would certainly fall and perish without it. And from this gift of strength comes —
2. Peace. The mariner in the storm is at peace because he knows that his ship is sound and strong and his pilot skilful.
II. THE RECIPIENTS OF THESE PROMISES. "His people." These are they who have been chosen from the beginning, brought to Christ, and received His adoption as Sons of God. Two chief marks of His people are — 1 Humility.
2. Faith. And these shall be blessed with peace. Some men are cursed with it — the peace of indifference, hypocrisy, and the hardened heart. For unbelief produces a counterfeit peace when God lets a sinner alone in his sin.
(Stephen Bridge, M. A.)
1. Strength — to contend with —(1) The powers of darkness (Ephesians 6:12; 1 Peter 5:8; 2 Timothy 2:26)(2) The world — a continual snare to the people of God. Its smiles and frowns, its promises and threatenings, are equally dangerous to their peace and safety. It draws them from the path of duty by flattering prospects of pleasure, of wealth, of honour, of ease, or power. It strives to shake their firmness by the dread of poverty, shame, or persecution.(3) Their own natural depravity, and the sin remaining in their hearts (Galatians 5:17; Romans 7:23).
II. WHO ARE THE LORD'S PEOPLE, TO WHOM THESE BLESSINGS BELONG? Those who value them; feel their need of them; and are earnestly seeking of Him an interest in them.
(E. Cooper, M. A.)
I. WHAT IS THAT PEACE WHICH GOD PROMISES TO HIS PEOPLE? "My peace I give unto you." The peace of Christ — enjoyed by Him, and bequeathed to His followers — was not a peace resulting from a sense that sin was forgiven, for He had done "no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth." It must have been the thorough harmony which there was between His will and the Divine, His perfect acquiescence in every appointment of the Father, His undeviating confidence in His protection, and His imperturbable assurance of His love. These we may believe to have been the elements in the peace of a being, who was "holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners"; but who, notwithstanding His freedom from all guilt, had to make His way through much tribulation to a throne prepared for Him at His Father's right hand. And, though there must be respects in which the peace attainable by ourselves will differ from that enjoyed by our Saviour, still, forasmuch as He left His own peace to His Church, we may expect that the points of resemblance will be more numerous than those of distinction. We have every right to contend that there will enter into the constituent elements of a Christian's peace, that harmony with the Divine will, that acquiescence in the Divine dealings, that confidence in the Divine protection, and that assurance of the Divine love, which must have composed thee peace of Christ; for these belonged not to the Saviour as He differed from ourselves, but rather as He was a man, living the life of faith in the midst of trials and temptations. If the peace of God reigns in your heart, you will have a consciousness that sin is forgiven; an ever-growing earnestness in striving after holiness; a tranquillity undisturbed by the calamities of life; a hope superior to the terrors of death.
II. THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THIS PEACE AND THAT STRENGTH WITH WHICH IT IS IDENTIFIED IN THE TEXT, In spiritual things, the Christian has need of being strengthened both in the head and heart; and now let us see whether in giving him "peace," God does not give him "strength" both in the one and in the other.
1. First as to the head. You are always to distinguish very carefully between what we may call the offensive and the defensive weapons of a Christian; between the arguments with which he may attempt to beat down the infidelity of another, and those which may suffice to the keeping off infidelity from himself. If the believer know little or nothing of the external testimony on the side of revelation, he will be no match for his opponent, and must not expect to undermine his scepticism. But will he, on this account, be himself an easy prey to the infidel? is there nothing to be expected but that, because unequipped with weapons for an offensive war, he will be found unprepared to maintain a defensive? We reply, that, on the contrary, his mind is too well strengthened to be carried by the assaults of an enemy. We are speaking of a man who, although he may not have studied what are called the evidences of Christianity, has been long acting on the supposition that the Bible is divine, obeying its precepts as the precepts of God, and relying on its promises as the promises of God. And we can be sure of such a man, that he has not proceeded in this course without becoming his own witness to the truth of the Scriptures; acting on the precepts, he has found himself partaker of the promises, and thus has obtained simple, irresistible evidence that the book is true, and therefore divine.
2. See next how this peace will strengthen the heart, or the affections. It is through our not setting the standard of Christian privilege sufficiently high, that even believers are so often overcome, whether by the world or the flesh. If they aimed at what we are sure they might acquire — an abiding, elevating sense of God's love and favour; an actual delight in Him; and such an anticipation of heavenly joys as would make them already dwellers in His presence; they would have comparatively no relish for base and transient pleasures, and would therefore be little moved by the solicitations which now too frequently prevail. If the heart were thoroughly and deeply engaged in religion, they might oppose, as it were, pleasures to pleasures, riches to riches, honours to honours — the pleasures, riches, honours, which God alone can bestow, to those which are proffered by the world; and thus would they be attached to the service of piety, by the very same ties which attach others to the service of sin, even the ties of inclination and preference. It ought to be thus; and it would be thus, if greater heed were given to religion, as an internal, vital, happy-making thing. But so long as Christians remain in a languid, half-hearted condition, slaving through duties in place of finding them privileges, talking about heaven in place of obtaining its foretastes, obeying God as a master, in place of delighting in Him as a Father, — what wonder if the world often gain an easy victory, so that what is ignoble attracts them, what is transient detains, what is worthless fascinates? And it is in thorough agreement with these statements that the psalmist in our text identifies strength with peace. We have shown you, that in this peace are included an abiding sense of Divine favour, a firm hope of future happiness, and such earnests of heaven as shall stimulate, whilst they gratify, the Christian. And what power will the world, with its vanities, its gauds, its riches, its pleasures, have over an individual in whom this peace abides?
III. How This PEACE OF GOD MAY BE OBTAINED. If you would enjoy this peace, you must cultivate a devotional habit — a habit of communion with your Father which is in heaven. We can hardly doubt that one great reason why Christians make so little progress, and have so little enjoyment is, that they are so scant in their private devotions. God is ready to bestow great blessings; but then they must be asked for, and importuned for. "Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it." We have but to enlarge our desires; and God will increase His supplies. Let none of us then wonder if he have not much of that Divine "peace which passeth all understanding," and if, in consequence, he be often overcome by temptations and disturbed by fears, if he be little in the habit of secret prayer and meditation. It is a good thing to be diligent in public worship; but nothing can make up for negligence in private. You may learn and obtain much in church, and so forsake not the assembling of yourselves; but it is, after all, in the closet that you may expect the best lessons, and the finest glimpses of immortality. See to it, then, ye who name the name of Christ, that ye be frequent and fervent in private prayer to God. Thus shall our text be fulfilled in your experience, and the Lord Himself shall "bless you with peace."
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
I. THE NATURE OF THE BLESSING PROMISED, — peace.
1. The peace, or sweet and delightful composure of mind, which arises from the sense of reconciliation with God.
2. The peace which arises from the practical influence and operation of religion upon the human passions. Let the unconverted confess the truth that these are the sources of most painful and distressing agitation. Do they not carry the elements of wild disturbance within them? Now the influence of religion is to subdue all these and thus exempt the people of God from the chief miseries which have yet been felt upon earth. Christians — is it not so?
II. WHAT ARE THE CONSIDERATIONS BY WHICH THIS BLESSING MAY BE MOST FULLY EXHIBITED in its surprising value? It is evidently intended, by the manner in which it is here spoken of, that we should consider it as of high and incomparable worth. It is the climax of the psalm. And this estimate of it is just, for —
1. This peace greatly exalts and dignifies the nature of those who possess it.
2. It is a sure antidote and support amidst all possible visitations of sorrow. See Isaiah 32, at end; Hebrews 11., and see the history of the apostles, the martyrs and Christ's Church in all ages. And the sweetness of this peace is the beginning of the quiet of the skies, the Sabbath of our God.
III. WHAT ARE THE IMPRESSIONS THIS SUBJECT SHOULD PRODUCE?
1. Gratitude and devotedness.
2. Those who have it not should be filled with desire for it. You cannot know real peace until this is yours.
(James Parsons.)I. THE BLESSINGS OF PEACE. Man appears from the harmless make of his body, the tenderness of his affections, the sovereignty of his mind, and his dependence upon others' help, as well as by the rules of life prescribed to him by express revelation, to be formed for a social inoffensive creature. Now the natural state of each being is the happy one. And the happiness of peace is like that of health, it spreads through the whole of the civil, as that doth of the animal, constitution. We do not perceive the value of either until we have lost them. Therefore, to discern the advantages of peace, we must recollect the miseries of war.
1. The expense, which falls mainly on the poor.
2. The toil, hardship and suffering, and the loss by death.
3. The disaster done to commerce.
4. Its wickedness in its origin, in its progress, and in its effect. Nevertheless it is sometimes unavoidable. It was so in our own case. But we have made terms of agreement, and we rejoice that war is at an end.
II. THE BLESSING OF PEACE IS GOD'S GIFT. He puts men's minds upon the seeking after it. He is the giver of all good. And such events as peace and war cannot but occupy a distinguished place in the scheme of Providence.
III. To ENTITLE US TO THE BLESSINGS OF PEACE WE MUST BE HIS PEOPLE. What is our case? Are we God's people? Do we live as set forth in Titus 2:11-14? Do we know ourselves by this picture? Is it not rather as told in Jeremiah 4:22? How can we hope for the favour of Providence if we continue ungodly and regardless of religion and virtue as our nation too much is? What must follow? Read Jeremiah 23:14, 17, 19, 22. Remember, too, what Azariah said to Asa (2 Chronicles 15:1, 2). A tottering state cannot be supported or a sinking one raised without national reformation (Jeremiah 6:9, 14; Isaiah 57:21). And in this each individual must bear his own share. The fewer that' will amend, the more need we add to their number. Therefore we speak as bidden (2 Timothy 4:1, 2; 2 Corinthians 5:20).
(G. Body, D. D.)I. How VALUABLE A GOOD PEACE IS IN ITSELF, AS IT STANDS OPPOSED TO BLOODY AND DESTRUCTIVE WARS.
1. Consider war in its causes — the wickedness of men, and the just vengeance of God.
2. Consider war in itself — the destruction of creatures made after the image of God.
3. Consider war in its consequences and effects.
II. WHAT THINGS ARE REQUISITE TO MAKE THIS A REAL AND COMPLETE BLESSING, CAPABLE OF BEING APPROPRIATED UNTO GOD'S OWN PECULIAR PEOPLE.
1. Conjunction with copious effusion of the Spirit of God (Ezekiel 29:23-29).
2. When the gospel of peace has its free course, and a large spread in the world (Micah 4:2, 3).
4. When God gives pastors after his own heart.
5. When hereupon the Divine government obtains, and takes place in the minds and consciences of men (Psalm 67).
6. When there is a manifest prevalency of Divine love among men that bear the same name of Christians.
7. When God appears to be reconciled to such a people. For in His favour is life. There is a spiritual sort of blessing that may be enclosed in the external blessing, and particularly in this of peace. Such an external blessing as that of peace is not a complete blessing. Because it is no argument of Gold's special favour. Men are not made by it the better men. They may by it become so much the worse men. "The prosperity of fools destroys them." The first Scipio opened the way to the Roman power, the second to their luxury. Their virtue languished, and they were conquered by their own vices, who before could conquer the world. Man, notwithstanding an external peace, may be as miserable in this, and in another world, as if they had never known it.
III. SEE WHAT CAUSE OF THANKSGIVING WE HAVE, WITH REFERENCE TO PEACE AS A GENERAL GOOD; AND ALSO WHAT CAUSE OF SUPPLICATION, THAT WE MAY HAVE PEACE AS THE SPECIAL BLESSING OF GOD'S PEOPLE. Let us pray —
1. That there may be a larger diffusion of vital religion, wherein stands, indeed, man's being at peace with God.
2. That there may be that spirit as a spirit of mutual love among Christians, to reconcile them to one another.
(John Howe, M. A.)
I. THE DEVIL'S PEACE (Luke 11:21).
1. This peace is often merely outward. The plough-boy, when he goes through the churchyard, is afraid of ghosts, and therefore whistles to keep his courage up; and so, many who are loaded with apprehension try to conceal it by those flippant songs in which they boast of "driving dull care away." In the secret of their soul that same dull care sits on the throne of their hearts, and is not to be driven away by the ballad, and the fiddle and the dance.
2. This peace is false. A sinner may say, "I am at peace as to God"; but if this comes of forgetting or ignoring Him, it is a sorry sham. If a man has to forget God before he has peace, that fact betrays a fatal secret. If the man, on remembering God, is troubled, then his peace is a mere writing on the sand. Better know that we are at war, if it be so, than dote upon a peace which is a fool's, paradise, and only exists in fancy.
3. To many this peace comes through ignorance. They know not that sin is a deadly viper, and therefore they toy with it as with a bird.
4. With many, however, it is not so much ignorance as thoughtlessness. This is one of the devil's great nets, in which he entangles many. If he can keep you from thinking; he will keep you from believing.
5. This peace, in many cases, is the result of carnal security. Will things always be as they have been? Can you be sure of it? Are you not warned that it will not be so? Your eye is not so clear as once it was; your limbs are not so vigorous as once they were. If there be no change in the world, there is a great change in you during the last few years. Before to-morrow's sun has risen you may lie upon the bed of death.
6. Some have a peace that comes of superstition. No outward performance can enable you to dispense with inward repentance and faith.
7. Unbelief brings false peace to thousands. Sin must be punished, and if your peace is built upon the supposition that it will not be so, your foundation is even less to be depended upon than the sand. Hazard not your soul upon a lie,
8. Many are kept in peace through companionship. Choose rather as friends those who roughly tell you solemn truths, than those who with excess of sweetness would flatter you to your everlasting undoing.
9. Peace caused by the devil is often the awful prelude of the last tremendous storm. Beware of insensibility! Your unfeeling state should warn you that you are given over to destruction. In the higher and colder latitudes, when men feel a sleepiness stealing over them, their companions stir them up, and rub them, and will not leg them slumber; for to sleep is to wake no more.
II. THE LORD'S PEACE. A man of God lay dying, but he was very calm; yea, more — supremely happy. One said to him: "Friend, how is it that you have such peace?" He answered, "I can see no ground or cause for it save this: it is written, 'Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee..'" Was not that, a satisfactory reply? There is a weight of argument in it. If your mind is stayed on God, He will keep you in perfect peace.
1. The peace that we should desire to possess is a peace which is a blessing. False peace is a curse; but to be soundly at peace with God is an unalloyed blessing, and it bringeth no sorrow with it. To fail back upon the Father's bosom, and say, "I know that He Himself loves me, and I know that I love Him"; to look up to Jesus, and to say, "He loved me, and gave Himself for me"; to feel the movings of the Holy Spirit, and to yield ourselves up to His influences — this is peace unspeakable. Do you know it? It is not only a blessing in itself, but it is a blessing in its consequences. There is no man so humble as the man that is at perfect peace with God: he wonders at the blessing lie enjoys. There is no man so grateful; there is no man so courageous; there is no man so little affected by the world; there is no man who bears suffering so patiently; there is no man who is so ready for heaven as the man who is at perfect peace with God, and knows it.
2. This peace only comes from God. Here we have peace from lips that cannot lie, from a heart which cannot change, through the blood which has made a full atonement.
3. This peace comes only to His own people. If you have done with self, the world, and sin, as the main desire of your heart, you are among His people.
4. This is peace in the time of tempest, and peace after storm. Some of us enjoy our greatest peace when the Lord is abroad, and the thunders roll like drums in the march of the God of armies. We feel a rapture as we perceive that our Father is very near, and is speaking so that we hear His voice. In spiritual storms that voice is our comfort; and after the tempests are over, the Lord speaks a sweet hush to the hearts of His children. He allays our fears, while He whispers, "It is I; be not afraid."
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
(J. Parker, D. D.)
(J. Parker, D. D.).
I will extol Thee, O Lord; for Thou hast lifted me up.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
I. DAVID'S MIND BEFORE HIS AFFLICTION — he had thought and said, "1 shall never be moved. Hence the need of affliction.
II. UNDER IT. He cried to the Lord.
III. AFTER THE AFFLICTION Renewed consecration to God. Hence his vow to build a house for the Lord.
(W. Jay.)Deuteronomy 12.). And now, entering in his new abode, David looks back upon the mercies of God.
I. THAT HIS ENEMIES HAD NOT BEEN ALLOWED TO REJOICE OVER HIM. He had many enemies, and there are few of us who are without them. If we are in good reputation and esteem, we have reason to thank God as David did.
II. GOD'S HEALING GRACE. "Thou hast healed me." Who has not such mercy to record?
III. THE MANY DELIVERANCES HE HAD EXPERIENCED. "Thou hast brought up my soul from the grave." And such deliverance, both of body and soul, we have known. And on such an occasion as entering a new home, how good it is, as did David, to remember God's mercies in the past.
IV. AND WE SHOULD SEEK TO ASSOCIATE OTHERS IN OUR PRAISE. "Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of His; and give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness." It is His holiness which is the security of yours. And His anger, how momentary that compared with his life-long favour!
V. THE ANSWER TO HIS PRAYER. "Thou hast turned," etc.
(H. M'Neile, D. D.)
1. Above all danger from the wrath to come.
2. To the enjoyment and possession of spiritual life.
3. To a place in God's graciously adopted family.
4. Above all fatal evil from enemies, whether of a temporal or spiritual description.
5. To the hope of a safe death, a blessed resurrection, and a joyful eternity.
HomilistI. The first stage — GRATITUDE.
1. He points to God's mercy as having come to him in various ways.
(1) (2) (3) (4) 2. The gratitude from which true worship springs implies the beliefs (1) (2) II. The final stage — ADORATION. 1. On account of the holiness of God's character. In heaven His character attracts all eyes, absorbs all thoughts, transports all souls, inspires all anthems. Let us aspire to this highest stage of worship. 2. On account of the eternal flow of His love. Suffering is always — (1) (2) (Homilist)
(2) (3) (4) 2. The gratitude from which true worship springs implies the beliefs (1) (2) II. The final stage — ADORATION. 1. On account of the holiness of God's character. In heaven His character attracts all eyes, absorbs all thoughts, transports all souls, inspires all anthems. Let us aspire to this highest stage of worship. 2. On account of the eternal flow of His love. Suffering is always — (1) (2) (Homilist)
(3) (4) 2. The gratitude from which true worship springs implies the beliefs (1) (2) II. The final stage — ADORATION. 1. On account of the holiness of God's character. In heaven His character attracts all eyes, absorbs all thoughts, transports all souls, inspires all anthems. Let us aspire to this highest stage of worship. 2. On account of the eternal flow of His love. Suffering is always — (1) (2) (Homilist)
2. The gratitude from which true worship springs implies the beliefs II. The final stage — ADORATION. 2. On account of the eternal flow of His love. Suffering is always — (Homilist)
2. The gratitude from which true worship springs implies the beliefs
II. The final stage — ADORATION.
2. On account of the eternal flow of His love. Suffering is always —