Send out Your light and Your truth; let them lead me. Let them bring me to Your holy mountain, and to the place where You dwell.
Psalm 42:5, 11 and Psalms 43:5 would suggest. There is a variation between some of the expressions in the former and those in the latter; but there is nothing in this psalm which needs elaborate explanation. There is, however, an expression in both of them, which contains in itself a doctrine of amazing depth, one of which thousands of living believers are perpetual illustrations and proofs, though, as a doctrine, it receives far too little notice. The doctrine is connected with the religion of the face, and is this - that when Divine light shines in the soul of man, it will cause a radiance all its own to beam from the countenance; that God is indeed the salvation of a man's features. An Irishman was once asked what made him look so happy after his conversion. "Oh," he said, "Christ lightens our hearts, and then he brightens our face." As Dickson quaintly remarks hereon, "As when the Lord withdraweth both the outward tokens of his favour and his inward consolation for a time, the countenance of the godly cannot but be heavy, cast down, and look sad, like a man that is sick; so when God returneth to comfort and to own his own, either both inwardly and outwardly, or inwardly only, the man's face looketh cheerful: he is the health of my countenance. The Rev. Joseph Cook, of Boston, U.S., in a remarkable lecture on Solar Self-Culture, says, There is only one form of culture that gives supremacy, and that is the form which produces the solar look; and the solar look comes only from the Light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world. It may be incontrovertibly proved, by the coolest induction from fixed natural law, that the highest culture must be that through which the solar look shines, and that this look is possible only when there exists in the soul glad self-surrender to the innermost holiest of Conscience. In that innermost holiest Christianity finds a personal Omnipotence." We are all familiar enough, indeed, with the generally admitted fact that the face is an index of character, but the truths underlying that fact demand from us closer attention than is sometimes given thereto.
I. IT IS AN ORDINANCE OF GOD, THAT IN A WAY EITHER OF MERCY OR OF JUDGMENT, THE FACE SHOULD BE THE INDEX OF THE SOUL. When Moses had been on the mount, communing with God, his face shone. When Hannah had laid her burden before God, her countenance was no more sad. When Stephen was before the council, in the midst of hostile, angry men, his face was as the face of an angel. The late devout Samuel Martin, of Westminster, had a face so radiant through fellowship with God, that when a friend had called on him with Dean Stanley, the dean remarked afterwards, "I am glad you took me to call there; I have seen the face of an angel." The truth that communion with God lights up the face is recognized by Dante, who, speaking of Beatrice, says -
"... with such gladness, that God's love
II. THAT THE DEVOUT SOUL LOVES TO COMMUNE WITH GOD. The whole of Psalm 42. and 43, shows us this. And the experience of believers is perpetually verifying this, in prayer there is an upward look of the whole being. "Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul;" "Our eyes wait upon the Lord our God;" "I will lift up mine eyes to the hills." And in this uplooking of the man there is an entirely different set of mental and spiritual powers and energies at work than when the habit of looking downward or around, or even the habit of not looking at all, is in exercise. The soul is in communion with the best and dearest of Friends, enjoying a luxury of fellowship with which a stranger cannot intermeddle.
III. WHEN THE SOUL THUS COMMUNES WITH GOD, GOD SENDS HIS GIFTS DOWN INTO THE SOUL. God reveals himself within, and makes us full of joy with his countenance; and in revealing himself he brings with him purity, peace, and power; and when such privilege is realized, the outer discomforts of life are forgotten in a joy unspeakable and full of glory. The temptations of the evil one cease to have power when God is near; the heaviest toil can be undertaken, and the weightiest cross be carried with cheerfulness and even with song; and since by the law of association we grow like those we love most, we, beholding the glory of the Lord, shall be changed into the same image, from glory to glory!
IV. THE EFFECT OF ALL THIS WILL BE THE SALVATION OF THE FACE. Such is the remarkable expression in Psalm 43:5; it is translated, "the health of my countenance;" literally it is, "the salvation of my face." Even so Christ is - is now - the Saviour of the body, and in the emancipation of the spirit from sin he is redeeming the face from ignoble marks and traits. How often have we known a man's face marvellously changed at his conversion, not by evolution, but by regeneration. "He doesn't look like the same man!" is an exclamation often heard. A well-known minister was converted while preaching. Such a radiance instantly shone into his face, that an enthusiastic Methodist jumped up and exclaimed, "The parson's converted! The parson's converted!" A brave Scotch soldier, whose countenance rarely wore a smile, and from whose lips never a word was heard as to his personal religion, suddenly beheld the glory of the words, "Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out;" and as suddenly radiance gleamed from his face, the padlock fell off his lips, and he exclaimed, "rye Christ by the hand! I've Christ by the hand!" And in his second volume the Rev. J. G. Paten, writing of a convert from heathenism, says, "His once sullen countenance became literally bright with inner light" (p. 217). See also 'Leaves from my Note-book,' by Rev. Wm. Haslam (1890), p. 99. All the spiritual gifts which God bestows - joy, peace, purity, strength - will find corresponding expression in the lines and features of the countenance, giving demonstrative evidence of the present power of Divine grace even over the body, and yielding no dim prophetic forecast of the day when Christ shall alter the fashion of our bodies of humiliation, and transform them to the fixed type of his body of glory. Hence throughout the Book of Revelation, the purity of the blessed is indicated by their being robed in white, i.e. not the whiteness of snow, but the brightness of the star. If even here, with such partial sanctification, the bodily change is so great, what will it be when the purifying and glorifying processes are complete - when every soul will be full of love, and every' face will be a perfect index of the soul? How beautiful must faces be when perfect love is reflected therefrom!
V. THE SUBJECT IS NOT ONLY ONE OF GREAT DOCTRINAL INTEREST; IT IS ALSO FRAUGHT WITH DEEP PRACTICAL SIGNIFICANCE.
1. Let us cultivate the habit of observation, and make a religious study of the human face. The holiest men will never be mistaken for hardened atheists:
2. Let us each seek to realize the duty of letting the face speak for God. And it will, if we are constantly in talk with God. His peace, his purity, his power, imparted to the soul within, will certainly make their mark without.
3. Let the young take care of their faces. God made them to be beautiful, not with that beauty which is no deeper than the skin, but with the "beauty of holiness." Be true. Love and follow the right. Live to please God. In all your troubles speak to God. And your face wilt show the result; for God will be the "health of" your "countenance." Amen. - C.
Psalm 36:9):Perhaps no one ever studied the Bible as a professed revelation from God who has not had such questions cross his mind as the following: — Why is there so much in this book that is obscure and unintelligible? Why is not more information given on great and important questions about which the human mind has always been perplexed? Why are so many subjects left in total darkness in a professed revelation, and others left with only such a feeble glimmering of light as almost to make us wish that there had been none? And this perplexity is increased when we reflect —
O send out Thy light and Thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto Thy holy hill and to Thy tabernacles.I. THE FEELINGS HERE EXPRESSED.
1. A deep sense of darkness.
2. Belief in God as the source of spiritual life.
3. Earnest desire after Him. His soul wanted light-God's light; he knew that it must be sent out; also he desired God's truth.
II. THE PURPOSE OF HIS DESIRE — "Let them lead me;" he knew his own helplessness.
III. THE PLACE TO WHICH HE DESIRED TO BE LED. — God's tabernacles, God's holy hill. He would be led to holiness and to the know. ledge of God in Christ which the tabernacle set forth. This alone would satisfy his soul.
(J. C. Philpot)
1. That it would have been so easy for God to have given us the light we crave for.
2. It seems so needful to vindicate His own character.
3. And mere benevolence on His part seems to demand it in order to relieve our distress of mind. And —
4. There is so much in the Bible — histories, names, genealogies, etc. — which have lost all interest for us now, and instead of which we should be glad, indeed, to have some explanations of the dark mysteries which oppress us. To obtain a rational view of this matter there are two inquiries.
I. WHAT IS THE MEASURE OF LIGHT ACTUALLY IMPARTED IN THE BIBLE? Note the principles which seem to have guided the Divine mind in giving a revelation to man. The question of giving light on the matters referred to must have occurred. But God seems to have determined —
1. To leave many subjects perfectly in the dark. It was clearly the design of God to fix an outer limit to human knowledge so far as this world is concerned. Far on the hither side of what we would like to know, the line is drawn, and the whole hook is closed at what may, without irreverence, be called — or which, whether irreverent or not, expresses our natural feelings — a provoking point, just at the point where we would be glad to ask questions, and where we by no means feel our minds satisfied with what we possess. I am, for one, willing to concede that among these points are the questions why moral evil was admitted into the system; why misery ever found its way into the empire of an infinitely benevolent and Almighty Creator and moral Governor; and why the period will never arrive when sin and woe shall everywhere come to an end. On these, and on many kindred topics of great interest to man, I confess I have never seen a ray of light cast by any human speculation; and that though I have been silenced, I have not been convinced. Other men think they see light here: I see none. I admit, therefore, that the whole subject of the introduction and existence of evil is all dark to my mind, and that I struggle in vain for the light.
2. A second principle on which revelation seems to have been given, similar to the one just mentioned, is, to state nothing merely to gratify curiosity. The Bible is for practical purposes only, to tell us what we shall do in our relations to God and our fellow-men.
3. Its vital principle was to furnish knowledge enough to be a safe guide to heaven. This was its essential purpose, and if that were secured it was enough. It is like the lighthouse that gleams on a dark and stormy coast, to reveal the haven to the storm-tossed mariner. "It shines over the stormy ocean, only penetrating a darkness which it was never intended to expel." So it is in respect to the Gospel. Man, too, is on a stormy ocean — the ocean of life, and the night is very dark. There are tempests that beat around us; undercurrents that would drift us into unknown seas; rocks that make our voyage perilous. The Gospel is a light "standing on the dark shore of eternity, just simply guiding us there." It reveals to us almost nothing of the land to which we go, but only the way to reach it. It does nothing to answer the thousand questions which we would ask about that world, but it tells how we may see it with our own eyes.
II. Our second inquiry is, WHY WAS THERE NO MORE LIGHT GIVES? NOW, all we can do is to show that our duty is not to object to the Bible because it gives no more light, but to be grateful for that which it has given. As the appropriate feeling of our mariner would be gratitude that that bright and clear, though little light, is kept burning on that stormy coast to guide every vessel that may chance to come into those waters, not of complaint that it does not reveal the hills, and vales, and cities, and hamlets of that land.
1. First, our essential condition on earth is one of discipline and probation. Now, if we would search our own minds, we should probably find that the questions in reference to which we are most disposed to complain because they are not solved, are not those which really embarrass us in the matter of salvation, or which, being solved, would aid us, but those in reference to which our salvation may be equally safe and easy whether they are solved or not. When a man finds himself struggling in a stream, it does nothing to facilitate his escape to know how he came there; nor would it aid the matter if he could determine beyond a doubt why God made streams that men could ever fall into them, and did not make every bank so that it would not crumble beneath the feet. In the condition of man, therefore, regarded as in a state of discipline, all that is needed is that a man's safety shall not be endangered by his lack of light, and that the darkness shall be such as to furnish a healthful exercise of his powers. It is good for man to be stimulated to inquiry, to feel, not as Alexander did, that there were no more worlds to be conquered, but that a boundless field of inquiry is ever open before him. God would not stop the career of noble thought and the path of discovery by pouring down a flood of light on all those regions so that no more was left for the efforts of honourable ambition. The explorer of unknown lands is cheered because a vast and inviting field is before him, which the foot of man has never trod It was this which animated Columbus when his prow first crossed the line beyond which a ship had ever sailed, and plunged into unknown seas. Every wave that was thrown up had a new interest and beauty, from the fact that its repose had never been disturbed before by the keel of a vessel; and when his eyes first saw the land, and he prostrated himself and kissed the earth, his glory was at the highest, for he saw what in old ages was unknown before. And let all inquirers on these great questions remember, however perplexed they may now be, that in a few years, as the result of calm examination and of maturer reflection and observation, most of these difficulties will disappear. Why may I not hope, then, as to the difficulties that remain?
2. It is not absolutely certain, it is not even probable, that we could comprehend any statements which could be made on those points which now perplex us (John 3:12). Remember that it depends on the measure of our faculties and attainments how far we can grasp ideas that are set before us. Much may be said, yet but little be understood. Apply all this to those mysteries of the moral government of God. Are you certain that you could comprehend the high principles of the Divine administration even if they were stated to you?
3. We are in the infancy of our being; we have but just opened our eyes upon this wonderful universe, which in its structure demanded all the wisdom, and goodness, and power of an infinite God! Very few of us have lived through the period of seventy revolving suns; a majority of us not fifty; many not twenty. We have but just learned to speak, to handle things, to talk, to walk. But yesterday we were at our mother's breasts. We knew not anything. And now, forsooth, we wonder that we do not know all about God, and these worlds, and the moral government of the Most High. We sit in judgment on what our Maker has told us. We are sullen and silent; we repress our gratitude; we throw back His Bible in His face; we have no songs and no thanksgivings, because we are not told all about this earth, and these skies, about heaven and about hell, and about the God that made, and that rules over all!
(A. Battles, D. D.)
1. The genuine disposition and desire of a gracious soul, when privileged with an opportunity of attending upon the ordinances of divine appointment. Ordinances themselves will not satisfy, but it will be the desire of that soul to be brought near to God, so as to have real communion with Him in them.
2. How, or in what manner, a believer is enabled to approach unto God in His ordinances, so as to have communion with Him in them. Can he find the way to God himself? No, he must be led; directed by a light from above.
3. In what manner believers are helped to approach unto God when He is pleased to send out His light and truth to lead them, and bring them to His holy hill and to His tabernacles, or to direct them in their approaches to him in duties and ordinances. Then they are enabled to go unto God as "their God," and "the exceeding joy"; or to appear before Him with becoming confidence and holy joy. From the words we may observe the following doctrine. When the people of God have an opportunity of approaching to Rim in the ordinances of His grace, particularly in solemn ordinances, they ought to draw near to Him with holy confidence and holy joy.
I. OFFER A FEW GENERAL REMARKS FOR ILLUSTRATING THE SUBJECT.
1. Communion with God is sometimes the privilege of His people even while they are here on earth. Nor is this the privilege of a few eminent saints only, but is common to believers.
2. The ordinances of God's own appointment are the ordinary means of communion and fellowship with Him. When these are despised or neglected, all pretensions to communion with God are vain.
3. Real communion with God in ordinances is a rare attainment. Many read and hear the Word, regularly attend upon the ordinances of God, and even go to a communion table who are utterly unacquainted with it.
4. Sinful men can have no communion with God but by sacrifice. They ask, they expect, they desire no blessing from God, but for the sake of Christ who gave Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour (Ephesians 5:2).
5. Believers themselves who have formerly been brought near to God, and enjoyed His gracious presence cannot have access to Him anew, or any comfortable communion with Him in ordinances, but under the gracious influence of His Holy Spirit.
6. As communion with God in ordinances is a rare attainment, it is also a precious and valuable attainment. It relieves the believer under all his burdens, and comforts him amidst all his griefs and sorrows. It is a pledge and earnest of future glory; yea, it is, as it were, heaven begun.
II. SPEAK SOMEWHAT CONCERNING THAT HOLY CONFIDENCE AND JOY WITH WHICH THE PEOPLE OF GOD OUGHT TO APPROACH UNTO HIM IN THE ORDINANCES AND DUTIES OF HIS WORSHIP, and particularly in the ordinance of the Lord's Supper, which is a feast He has made for His friends, in partaking of which they are called to rejoice before Him, as Israel were commanded to do when they kept the feasts of the Lord, during the Mosaic economy.
1. The confidence with which believers are warranted to draw near unto God, when they have an opportunity of waiting upon Him in His ordinances, is not inconsistent with a humbling and self-abasing sense of their own unworthiness and sinfulness, but rather supposes it.
2. The confidence of faith, with which the people of God ought to draw near to Him in the ordinances and duties of His worship, differs greatly from that presumptuous confidence which is to be found with hypocrites and self-righteous persons in their approaches to Him.
3. That holy joy with which believers, imitating David's example, ought to approach unto God in His ordinances, and particularly in solemn ordinances, is very consistent with deep and great sorrow for sin. Indeed, the one cannot be without the other.
4. The joy of the godly, when brought near unto God in His ordinances, is not a carnal, but a spiritual joy; and therefore no outward troubles or afflictions can hinder the exercise of it under the influence of the Holy Spirit as a Spirit of faith.
5. The confidence and joy with which believers ought to nor make any suitable improvement of His ordinances.
6. Because by approach-various degrees. A strong faith begets strong confidence and great joy; a weak faith is accompanied with little confidence and little joy. A strong faith glorifies God, yet He will accept of a weak faith.
III. SHOW WHY THE PEOPLE OF GOD OUGHT TO APPROACH UNTO HIM IN HIS ORDINANCES WITH BECOMING CONFIDENCE AND HOLY JOY.
1. Because He is a God reconciled in Christ.
2. Because the way of access to God, which Christ the glorious Mediator has opened by His blood, was opened just for the benefit of sinners who deserve no favour, but, on the other hand, are obnoxious to the justice and wrath of God.
3. A sure foundation is laid for this confidence and icy in our approaches to God.
4. Because without some degree of this holy confidence and joy persons can have no communion with God, nor make any suitable improvement of His ordinances.
5. Because by approaching unto God with humble confidence and holy joy, they do in an especial manner glorify Him.
IV. APPLICATION. IS it SO that the people of God are warranted to approach unto Him in His ordinances with confidence and joy? then hence we may see —
1. The great love of God to sinners of mankind.
2. How much believers are indebted to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is through Him that they have access unto the Father.
3. This text and doctrine serves to inform us of the nature and excellency of true faith. Relying upon the testimony of God in the Gospel concerning the method of reconciliation and ground of acceptance with Him, it inspires the soul with holy confidence, and fills the heart with holy joy in approaching to God.
4. We must not always judge of the privileges of believers by their exercise or the actings of their faith. Though now through the prevalence of unbelief, they frequently cannot take the comfort of these, they shall not lose their interest in them.
5. We may see who will be worthy communicants at the table of the Lord, viz. those who have a real desire to be brought near to God Himself, and whose hope and confidence, in their approaches to Him, are wholly bottomed upon the gracious revelation that He has made of His name as a God in Christ, and upon what Christ has done and suffered, to procure access to God for guilty sinners.
6. Hence see matter of trial and examination. If you are true believers who desire to enjoy communion with God in His ordinances, and none else are warranted to partake of the Gospel-feast in view, David's petition will be yours, "O send out Thy light."(1) You esteem and set a high value upon the ordinances of God. His tabernacles are amiable to you.(2) Absence and distance from God will be very painful and distressing to you.(3) Ordinances will not content you. It is a meeting with God Himself that you desire. When this is wanting, ordinances, however excellent in themselves, are to the believer like dry breasts and empty pits, that afford no satisfaction, no comfort, no refreshment.(4) You dare not approach to God but by a Mediator.(5) You have seen the need of drawing power in order to your being brought near to God in any ordinance or duty. This you were not only convinced of at first conversion, but you are sensible of it still.(6) When at any time you are brought near to God in ordinances, no degrees of communion with Him that you attain to will fully satisfy you; but you will desire still to be brought nearer and nearer to Him.
7. Hence we see the duty of all who have an opportunity of approaching to God in His ordinances, and particularly of believers who design to partake of the Gospel-feast in view, but perhaps are labouring under various discouragements. They are called to draw near to God with humble confidence and holy joy.(1) Consider what a God He is whom you are called to approach unto. Not an absolute, angry God, but a God in Christ, a sin-pardoning, a reconciled God; a God with whom there is mercy and plenteous redemption.(2) Consider that however unworthy, guilty and vile you are in yourselves, there is a sufficiency of merit in Christ to procure your access to God and acceptance with Him.
Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.I. THE PSALMIST'S EARNEST PETITION.
1. The subject of his request.(1) "Light" is that glorious creature "which maketh manifest" to the sense of sight surrounding objects; and thus enables a person to perceive himself and his situation with its advantages or disadvantages, so as to avail himself of what is favourable and to avoid what is otherwise. Metaphorically, it signifies mental illumination, or the means or instruments of such illumination (John 3:19). Thus the epithet is applied to "believers" (Ephesians 5:8), who are "children of the light," because illuminated. And to God, word (Psalm 119:105; Hosea 6:5); and to His ministers and people (Matthew 5:14; John 5:85) as the means of illumination. Light is also a cheerful subject, and therefore it is used to denote prosperity, comfort, felicity (Psalm 97:11; Isaiah 58:8, etc.).(2) The "truth" here requested may mean religious truth in general, as in John 17:17; and, if so, then the prayer is that of every missionary, and of every friend of missions. But it more properly intends the fulfilment of God's promises to the petitioner; a verifying of those promises in his experience, that he might prove and rejoice in their truth.
2. The intention of his request — a participation in religious enjoyments.(1) An acknowledgment of need.(2) Not only a willingness, but anxiety to be led and taught.(3) A resolution to walk in the light, and to submit to the truth of God.(4) A humble anticipation of being so instructed as to be enabled to correct past errors, and of coming to worship God in the beauty of holiness (Psalm 42:4; Psalm 122:1).
II. THE PSALMIST'S PIOUS PURPOSE.
1. The object of his devotions" God," as opposed to the creatures. Not domestic, social or public pleasures or achievements; but God, who is the source of light and truth (James 1:17). "My God," as opposed to every other, and peculiarly mine. The object of my affection; the object of my trust (Psalm 73:24-28).
3. The manner of his devotion — "T will go unto the altar," etc.(1) He would sacrifice. Is a sin-offering necessary? It shall be offered. Is a thank-offering due? It shall be rendered.(2) He would praise — "upon the harp," etc. "We have an altar," etc. "By him therefore let us offer," etc. (Hebrews 13:10, 15).(3) This was public worship; an open avowal of God's goodness, and His servant's obligation. The psalmist was a man of personal piety, which he evinced by practical piety. Are we such?(4) This was a public dedication: an engagement of himself in God's service in any post that might be assigned to him. Are you imitating this conduct, thus praying, thus purposing?
(Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.)1. There are five stages in the light of God. The first is simple leading — the guiding of a child. Then comes the height of ecstasy — the holy hill; I stand above the world and laugh at the cares of time. By and by comes a third stage; I descend from the hill to the tabernacles. Ecstasy subsides into peace; the height sinks into the home; love on the wing becomes love in the nest. After this comes the light of sacrifice — "Then shall I go unto the altar of God." "Then," not before. Peace alone can sacrifice for others. I cannot sacrifice when I am being led; I am thinking too much about my own steps. I cannot sacrifice when I am in ecstasy; I am too intent on my own joy. But when I get peace, I go out from myself altogether; I go to the altar. At last the climax comes. The altar itself becomes "my exceeding joy" — the rapture of forgetting self in the care of another.
2. It is a spiral stair, but it is golden. Sometimes it seems to make no progress. There are moments when my feet grow weary with their climbing, and the end is not yet. Shine from the topmost height, Thou Divine Joy! Often I am led by a Way which by myself I would not go; I see not the Christ, but only the manger. Shine out, Thou Christ, and the manger shall be luminous. Shine out, and the altar shall glow with the light of coming fires.
(G. Matheson, D. D.)I. WHAT THE PSALMIST HERE ASKS OF GOD.
1. Something that he wished to enjoy.(1) Some think he means but one thing: as if he had said, "Send out the light of Thy truth."(2) Others understand it of the Word and Providence of God.(3) Others, of God's favour and faithfulness.(4) Others, of the Word of God and His Holy Spirit; or, of the Spirit working by the Word.
2. The manner in which David desired and expected to have the blessing communicated to him for which he prayed. "Send out."(1) This imports that God's light and His truth were, for the present, withdrawn, in a great measure, from David's view; and from the view of such as were witnesses of his condition. They were like a person who retires from view, and hides himself in a secret place; so that, if David had been to consult with flesh and blood, he might have doubted of their existence.(2) It imports that David still believed in God as a God of light and truth, even when these perfections ceased to be manifested in his behalf. He was assured that God knew all that befell him; and, notwithstanding all, he was persuaded that God would fully accomplish all His promises to him, and to his house.(3) It imports that when God should interpose for His servant's deliverance, as he confidently expected He would, then he firmly hoped to see the Divine wisdom and faithfulness vindicated from all those aspersions that had been cast upon them.
3. David's earnestness a fervency in this petition.
II. DAVID'S END IN ASKING THAT FOR WHICH HE PRAYS SO FERVENTLY.
1. The more general end. "Let them lead me." He wanted to be guided and conducted by the wisdom and faithfulness of God, not only in his present difficulty, but in every other step of his journey through the wilderness.(1) Indirectly, this may be said to take place when the providence of God, under the influence of His infinite wisdom and faithfulness, manages all that concerns the person in such a manner as may tend to his spiritual good, and to the accomplishment of the promises of God to him.(2) But God's light and truth may be said to lead His people more directly and sensibly, when, in His infinite wisdom and faithfulness, He gives them such counsel, instruction and direction as enables them to keep the way of duty, and prevents their turning aside after any crooked ways (Psalm 25:8, 9; Isaiah 55:4).
2. The more particular end for which David begs a manifestation of God's light and truth.(1) A removal of all those obstructions and hindrances that stood in the way of an attendance upon the solemn worship and ordinances of God.(2) A being directed and enabled to the acceptable performance of all those preparatory duties that are necessary in order to a regular attendance upon God in solemn ordinances.(3) A being strengthened by the grace of God, and enabled to attend upon God's ordinances "in a regular and acceptable manner."(4) A being admitted to enjoy that spiritual advantage of which ordinances are the means.(5) A being brought home, at length, to the full and immediate enjoyment of God in heaven.
1. For information.(1) It informs us of the necessary connection between an attendance upon God in His ordinances here, and the full enjoyment of Him in the most holy place hereafter.(2) How vain and fruitless it is to pay such an attendance upon ordinances as may be attained without any Divine assistance.(3) How vain and useless all that light is in religious matters which proceeds not from God Himself.(4) They who would live as Christians ought to have their dependence upon God for leading in every step of their journey through the wilderness as well as in their attendance upon Divine ordinances.
2. For trial.(1) Are you sensible that it is a duty, indispensably binding upon you, to ascend the hill of God and to enter His tabernacles as you have an opportunity?(2) Is it real matter of joy and rejoicing to you that God has given you so near a prospect of another opportunity to ascend His hill, and wait upon Him in solemn ordinances?(3) Do you see the necessity of being brought by God Himself to His holy hill and to His tabernacles? That it is impossible for you to attend upon any ordinance acceptably without supernatural assistance?(4) Is it your present exercise; and are you resolved that it shall always be your endeavour to set forward in every act of worship, praying to God, as does the royal psalmist in the text, for the conduct and assistance of His light and truth?
3. For humiliation and mourning.(1) How many are there among us who are altogether careless about being present on God's holy hill or in His tabernacles! A sad evidence that they know little about solid happiness, or about where it is to be found.(2) How many satisfy themselves with such an attendance upon ordinances as may be attained without any supernatural assistance; and how often are we all chargeable with this sin.(3) How many are left to follow false lights in attempting to ascend God's hill, and to go into His tabernacle! To what else can it be owing, that "altars are set up against altars" in every corner; and there are so many distinct and opposite societies, all pretending to worship God, and that in His own tabernacles?
(John Young, D. D.)
I. HE LIGHTS EVERY MAN TO THE HEART OF GOD. You need to be spiritually minded to perceive this. As a blind man cannot understand colour, so an unspiritual man cannot understand God. But Jesus Christ came to reveal God.
II. HE REVEALS TO US THE EVERLASTING LOVE OF GOD. We often think that because we are bad the Lord has turned His back upon us; but Jesus, the light of the world, testified by His life and death that instead of turning from you, the Lord, like a good physician, seeks after poor sin-sick souls to heal them and save them. Jesus Christ is the Divine light showing us how much higher and holier than we can conceive is the character of God, that His love is infinite, and that He will seek His lost sheep until He finds them.
III. Jesus Christ is also the light of God and the light of the world in illuminating the grandest of all truths, THAT GOD'S CHARITY IS UNIVERSAL. Like the blessed sunlight, God's love is diffused with equal and bounteous hand over the cottage and the palace. God's great heart is not partial. He loves my poor friend quite as much as the richest man in the land. His charity beams upon all men alike.
IV. JESUS CHRIST IS ALSO A CHEERING AND A TRANSFORMING LIGHT. When the sun's rays fall upon a diamond, it glistens with intense beauty; but when the light is gone, the diamond can be no more seen in the dark than a stone. So Christ lights up the Christian. And Christ makes him also a light giver as well as a light receiver.
V. CHRIST BRINGS IMMORTALITY TO LIGHT.
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