Psalm 36:8
There are three great sayings here which deserve our deepest study. First, God's "righteousness," that perfection of his character which secures perfect justice in all his doings. It is like "the mountains," so high that it is always above us, so fixed and stable that it cannot be moved. Then God's "judgments" - his ways, his dealings with men - are called a "great deep," as being in many respects beyond our sounding or measuring, unfathomable and full of mystery (Psalm 77:19). Last, there is God's providential care. It is said, "How excellent is thy loving-kindness, O God!" (vers. 6, 7). But while these sayings are very striking and beautiful, looked at by themselves, they become vastly more significant and consolatory when we regard them in their relationship. Suppose we take the second, and place it in the light of the first and then of the third. In the "great deep" there is much that is awful and perplexing. But if there be mystery, this should not surprise us. We are but children. How can the finite comprehend the Infinite! But this mystery has its uses: it teaches us humility; it inspires us with reverence; it prepares the way for faith and hope and love. But much depends on our standpoint. See how different things become when we look at "the great deep" from the sure ground of the everlasting hills. It is significant that the psalmist speaks of the "mountains" before the "great deep," of the "righteousness" of God before his "judgments." Here is a lesson for us. Let us first make sure as to God's righteousness. Then when our hearts are established in this truth, we can look abroad without fear of the great deep of God's judgments. Even if, like Paul, tossed up and down "in Adria," the assurance of God's righteousness will give us peace, and sustain our hopes; and when we reach the shore again, we can look back, as from Melita, with thankful love and praise to God's ways and wonders in the deep. Then, further, when we take up the third great saying here, the light increases, and the sense of God's gracious presence and care becomes stronger and stronger. How often is it so in God's Word and works! Side by side with some grand manifestation of his greatness and majesty, we have some tender touch that speaks of his fatherly love and care. Whensoever, then, we are oppressed and appalled by the sight of the "great deep," let us call to mind, on the one hand, God's "righteousness;" and, on the other, God's love - that we may be comforted. Before us is the "great deep," with many things that are terrible and distressing - the shipwreck of dear hopes, the burying out of sight of beloved ones, the mystery of trial and of death - but, standing on the sure ground of God's righteousness, we may possess our souls in patience; and, contemplating the manifold and increasing proofs of God's love and goodness in our daily life, we may take heart, and say, "He cannot will me aught but good; I trust him utterly." Let us learn to take the right order in considering God's works. We should begin with what is plain and certain. We should study the dark things in the light of what is clear, the mysteries by what is revealed. Further, mark the importance of making much of common mercies, that we may be the better prepared for uncommon emergencies. God is educating us. When we know him as caring for us in little things, we can trust him to care for us in greater things (Matthew 6:30-34). If we have learned to run with the footmen without being weary, we can better contend with horses. If we do our duty and serve God in the land of peace, then we shall be the fitter to face the swelling of Jordan (Jeremiah 12:5). Above all, let us remember that only in God can we find a sure Refuge from all trouble (ver. 7).

Though griefs unnumbered throng thee round,
Still in thy God confide;
Whose finger marks the seas their bound,
And curbs the headlong tide." ? W.F.

They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of Thy house, and Thou shalt make them drink of the river of Thy pleasures.
I. SATISFACTION. Allusion is made, no doubt, to the festal meal of priests and worshippers in the temple, on occasion of the peace-offering. And there is also the simpler metaphor of God as the host at His table, at which we are guests. In either case the plain teaching of the text is, that by the might of a calm trust in God the whole mass of a man's desires are filled and satisfied. Heart, mind, will, appetites, tastes, inclinations, weaknesses, bodily wants — the whole crowd of these are crying for their meat. Now, where shall be found supply for all these? The one answer is, God; God alone is the food of the heart. Jesus said, "I am the Bread of Life, he that cometh unto Me shall never hunger."

II. JOY. "Thou makest them drink," etc. Perhaps "the rivers" point back to the rivers of the Garden of Eden, for "Eden" is the singular of the word here rendered "pleasures." Paradise is restored for them who trust in the Lord. The whole conception of religion in the Bible is gladsome. There is no puritanical gloom about it. True, a Christian man has sources of sadness which other men have not. Life will seem to be graver and sadder than the lives "that ring with idiot laughter solely," and have no music because they have no melancholy in them. That cannot be helped. But what does it matter though two or three surface streams be stopped up, if the pure river of the water of life is turned into your hearts? We hear a great deal about other Christian duties. We do not hear so much as we ought about the Christian duty of gladness. It takes a very robust faith to say, "Though the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit he in the vine, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation." What a blessing it is for us to have, as we may have, a source of joy, frozen by no winter, dried up by no summer. We have but to lap a hasty mouthful of earthly joys as we run, but we cannot drink too full draughts of this pure river of water which makes glad the city of God.

III. LIFE. "With Thee is the fountain of life." The words are true in regard of the lowest meaning of "life" — physical existence, — and they give a wonderful idea of the connection between God and all living creatures. Wherever there is life there is God. But it is of higher than the physical life that our text tells — the life of the spirit in communion with God. There is such a thing as death in life: living men may be "dead in trespasses and sins."

IV. LIGHT. "In Thy light shall we see light." God is "the Father of lights." The sun and all the stars are only lights kindled by Him. It is the very crown of revelation that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. All joyous things come with it. It brings warmth and fruit, fulness and life. Purity, and gladness, and knowledge have been symbolized by it in all tongues. This great word here seems to point chiefly to light as knowledge. This saying is true, as the former clause was, in relation to all the light which men have. The inspiration of the Almighty giveth him understanding. Now the sum of the whole matter is, that all this four-fold blessing of satisfaction, joy, life, light, is given to you, if you will take Christ. And if you will not have Him, you will starve, and your lips will be cracked with thirst; and you will live a life which is death, and you will sink at last into outer darkness. Is that the fate which you are going to choose?

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)


1. The food is strengthening; he is fed with the grace of God. What Satan gives enfeebles; what God gives strengthens.

2. It is rich — rich as befits the house of a monarch, the table of a king. It is the love of God. Life without love is death. "Greater love hath no man than this, that," etc. And this is the assurance of God's love to us.

3. And it is plentiful. A dole would be more than our right, but God gives us all. Open then your hearts to receive His mercy. So shall we be content and at rest.

II. WITH WHAT IS PLEASANT. "The rivers of God's pleasures." There shall be the sense of safety: elevation of thought and high communion with God and with the saints: foretastes of heaven.

(P. B. Power, M. A.)

I. DIVINITY SUPPLIES THE SOURCE OF OUR HAPPINESS. It is "the river of thy pleasure." God is happy, the ever blessed God. His happiness is a "river" — pure, boundless, overflowing. What is this river? It involves —

1. An approving conscience.

2. A consciousness of security.

3. A loving nature.

4. A beneficent activity.God Himself could not be happy without them. Man is happy as he participates in the happiness of God.

II. DIVINITY LEADS TO ITS SOURCE. "Thou shalt make them drink," etc. The human soul has gone so far away from this river that none but God can bring it back. This He has done, is doing, and will continue to do, through Christ. "He, every one that thirsteth, come," etc.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

A hydrant has no water in its composition. It is made of wood, iron and brass. But when it is finished, and the proper authorities have put it in its place, it is then that water may come from it. A burning-glass has no fire in it. It has only the silex and alkali, with its metal band and handle. But when it is properly made and holden, it will kindle a fire, because it brings the heat-rays of the great sun to a focus. But you would not expect to find any one so foolish as to keep away from the hydrant and die from thirst, because it has no water in its composition. You would expect people to go to the hydrant whenever they needed water, and to prize it because it is one of the constituted outlets for the water's of the lake. And you would expect them to use the burning-glass, and prize it, as the means of getting fire from the sun, to comfort them and supply their wants. Now, this house of God has nothing of grace, or righteousness, or glory in these beams, and boards, and nails. There are none of the waters of healing in these pews, and aisles, and this pulpit. None of the fires of heaven in their paint, and wall, and ceiling. But God has ordained this house to be the place out of which the waters of His salvation shall flow; to be the point in which the melting beams of His love shall gather as time rolls by.

I. ADMIRE THE FATNESS OF GOD'S HOUSE. This includes all the blessings God bestows through His house.

1. Life (ver. 9). It is the life bought for us by the death of Christ, and brought to us by the ministrations of the Holy Spirit; the life which will go unscathed through the death that guards the close of this world, and pass on untouched by the blasting fires of the second death; the life which will grow on and glow on amid the beauties and glories of the New Jerusalem as long as God Himself shall last.

2. Love (ver. 7). The love of God Himself — infinite, undeserved.

3. Protection (ver. 7). Against world, flesh, devil.

4. Refreshing (ver. 8). This refreshing will remove discomfort, weariness, pain, weakness, sorrow and distress from the hearts of all who wait on God. It will make the soul joyful, singing through life, singing in death, and singing through the joys of eternity.

5. Cleansing (ver. 8).

6. Light (ver. 9.) This is the light that "shineth in darkness," of which John came to bear witness. It is the true light. It shines on the darkness of our ignorance, and rolls away the deep shadows of error and prejudice, lighting up the pathway of truth so plainly "that he may run that readeth."

7. Warmth (ver. 9). Light brings warmth.


1. Life is the necessity of your soul. Not the life of the body, for that you have; nor the immortality of the soul, for that you cannot lose. But you need something within you that will live when the light of this life has gone out. This life God can give you in His sanctuary. Put your soul in connection with Jesus Christ the God-man now, by a penitent and believing application for His favour, and you will feel the start, and thrill, and glow of this new life stirring in your soul.

2. Love is desired by your soul. The tendrils of your affection go out to find something to which they may cling, and on which they may climb. But you have learned that many of the objects of your trust prove unworthy; more of them insufficient, and all that are earthly, liable to wither and die. When you are tired of the disappointments, deceitfulness and failures of earthly love, you can come to the house of God, and here find the offers of Divine tenderness and infinite affection ready to encircle you in their blessed embrace.

3. Protection is needed by your soul. And here in this house of God you may experience the blessedness of possessing it. How weak you are to resist evil, your own experience has thoroughly taught you. You need protection against the swelling waves of this world's troubles, the mighty billows of the judgment day.

4. Refreshing is sought by your soul. Here you may have blessed foretastes of the glorious companionship and blissful employments of heaven.

5. Your soul needs cleansing, and you can obtain it here. The filthy covering of your soul will be replaced by the spotless robe of Christ's righteousness.

6. Your soul needs light. And coming to this house of God it will shine on you. It is a certain remedy for all darkness and blindness. It shines on the future, showing you how to avoid the pit of despair, and how to reach the glories of the celestial world.

7. Your soul needs warmth. And you can get it in this house of God. This warmth is the kindling of the spirit; the glow that comes from the pulsations of life, from the embrace of love, from the consciousness of protection, from the cup of refreshing, from the waters of cleansing, and from the beamings of light.

(H. D. Williamson)

How much we can learn from a man's pleasures! I think it would be almost true to say that a man's pleasures constitute his measures. We may surely sample a man's character by analyzing the ministry in which he takes his delight. And how greatly our enjoyments vary. "One man's meat is another man's poison." That which gratifies one man is resented by another. One man seeks and finds enjoyment in the channels of the senses, in the outer halls and passages of the life, and never retires to the interior living-rooms of the soul. Another man feasts upon the spiritual essences of all things, and finds that the way of life is provided with rare delights. My text lifts our minds to the superlative plain of pleasure, even the pleasures of our God. And we are told that there are men and women who have been brought to the same refined appreciation, and who are able to enter into the joy of the Lord. Their kinship is so intimate that their delights are one. What God loves they love. "He delighteth in mercy." Here is one of the pleasures of our God. He does not turn to mercy reluctantly, as it were with a resentful palate; He turns to it eagerly, as a hungry man would turn to welcome food. Mercy is pleasant unto the Lord, and He rejoices in its exercise. How different are many of the palates of God's children! We cannot drink of that river with deep and delightful satisfaction. Our diseased palate craves sensations of quite another kind. To many of us "revenge is sweet," and so foul an enjoyment testifies to the depravity of our souls. But we can have our natures changed, and in the renewal of our being our palates will be transformed. We shall delight in mercy. It is needless to analyze the ingredients of a merciful disposition. It is perhaps sufficient to say that the behaviour of a merciful man has always two characteristics. First of all, he is ever seeking for favourable explanations of apparently unfavourable deeds. He does not jump at the first obtrusive explanation of things, and sit upon a throne of summary judgment. He is "slow to anger, and of great mercy." He exhausts all possible alternatives before accepting the worst. And, secondly, even when all alternatives have been tried, and the worst is still obtrusive, the merciful disposition is ready to forgive that which cannot be favourably explained. The merciful man finds his delight in mercy, and in being merciful he leans to his own inclinations. "Rejoice with Me, for I have found My sheep which was lost." Here is another of the Lord's pleasures. Do I share it with Him? Do I drink of this river, and find delight and satisfaction in the draught? Ah! but there is a preparatory condition before such joy can be oars. No man can really take part in a victory unless he has borne some share in the fight. We can never really sing the song of the harvest-home until we have borne something of the labours of the field, "The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear Him." He not only finds delight in the homecoming of the prodigal; the delight is continued in the intimate fellowship of the subsequent life. The Lord loves to be near such people, loves to see them, and hear them, and to accompany them in their goings. Do we drink of the river of this pleasure? Do we find any delight in such people? I am further told, in the words that immediately precede my text, that the satisfactions of these pleasures are not to be partial and transient, but complete and abiding. "They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of Thy house." We cannot say that of many of our enjoyments. We drink of the pleasures of the world, and they neither leave a sweet taste nor a contented rest. It is "as when a hungry man sleepeth, and behold! he eateth; he waketh, and findeth himself hungry." God has set the eternal longing in our spirits, and nothing that is merely temporal can appease the craving. But the pleasures of God bring abundant satisfaction. "Satisfy" is a great biblical word. The Bible uses it very plentifully, because everywhere it proclaims its abiding secret. How can we acquire the Divine appreciation, in order that we may thus drink of the Lord's pleasures, and find our delight in them? Shall we say that the taste is acquired? Let us better say that the taste is communicated. "Thou shalt make them drink of the river of Thy pleasures." He will so re-make our lives that the palate shall be renewed.

(J. H. Jowett, M. A.)

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