Psalm 57:7

I. MARK GOD'S CHARACTER. When God proclaimed his Name to Moses, he put "mercy" in the forefront: "The Lord God merciful;" but "truth" had also its place, for it is added," abundant in truth" (Exodus 34:6). The same order is observed in the Psalms. Thus it is said (Psalm 86:15), "Thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, long suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth (cf. Psalm 89:2).

II. SHINE FORTH IN GOD'S JUDGMENTS. What God does shows what he is. His works express his character. Mercy and truth" are, so to speak, the rails on which his judgments travel (Psalm 25:10; Psalm 103:17).

III. CHARACTERIZE GOD'S DEALINGS WITH HIS PEOPLE. They need "mercy; and unto the Lord "belongeth mercy" (Psalm 62:12). They need "truth," and God is "the God of truth" (Psalm 31:5). In the salvation which God has wrought, both are blended in beautiful harmony (Psalm 85:10). As has been quaintly said, "Mercy and truth are but the transverse arms of the cross of Christ. Righteousness and peace are but its upper and lower limbs. The one springs out of the earth, the other has looked down from heaven, and they have kissed each other, in token of God's love and of his reconciliation with the sons of men."

IV. FOUNDATION OF HOPE TO THE CHILDREN OF MEN. Mercy and truth are the two outspread wings of God. Under them there is sure shelter and peace (Psalm 36:7; Psalm 61:1-4). Here there is hope for the sinner (Psalm 33:18, 22; Psalm 78:7; 167:11). Here there is comfort for the troubled in heart (Psalm 57:3-10). Here there is inspiration for all who are minded to serve God (Psalm 69:13; Psalm 98:3; Psalm 115:1). Here there is earnest and foreshadowing of the everlasting rest (Psalm 61:7; Psalm 63:7; Psalm 138:8). - W.F.







My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed.
He summons his powers at once for the execution of his purpose No sooner is the resolve taken, than at once to the practice of the same. How striking and beautiful it is! Oh! it is well when the practice thus follows the principle, when the execution is contemporaneous with the purpose. "I will awake early," the psalmist says. The figure there is exceedingly beautiful. It is in the original, "I will awake the early dawn"; not "I will awake when the morning breaks," but "I will awaken up the morning." "I will be beforehand with it; I will challenge the day." Now, this purpose and determination results from a peculiar state of heart — My heart is fixed. Therefore let us consider —

I. THIS STATE OF HEART. "O God, my heart is fixed" — all is suspended upon that. When that is the case, there is salvation; till then, nothing is done. When that is done, all is done. The angels rejoice in heaven, and God Almighty, the Father of our Lord, is glorified. The heart, as we all know, is the man; all else of the man is governed by the heart. The physical and intellectual powers, what are they? The whole complex machinery of our constitution, what is it? Simply the servant of the heart. "Aye," but some one will perhaps say, "the question is, upon what is the heart fixed?" Now, really, that is not the question. It is a question according to man's mode of thinking, and according to man's mode of acting, perhaps.

II. I grant you, there are ten thousand things that solicit the heart, and after which the heart of man runs; but THERE IS BUT ONE THING IN THE UNIVERSE UPON WHICH THE HEART CAN BE "FIXED." Why, unless the object is fixed itself, how is it possible for the heart to be fixed? It may be directed towards, but how can it be fixed? If the thing is not fixed, what is fixed? One thing — God is fixed, and it is a simple truth that man is never fixed until he is fixed upon God. Surely a house, as to its fixedness, depends upon the foundation. Build a house on the sand, and is it fixed? You may fix it there as you think, but is it fixed? The foundation shifts, and what becomes of the house? Oh! the heart can only be fixed according to the fixedness of that on which it rests.

(Capel Molyneux.)

Evangelist.
I. ON WHAT WAS DAVID'S HEART FIXED?

1. On God and His service.

2. On the diligent study of the lively oracles of God.

3. On the duty of prayer.

4. On the grand purpose of furthering the interests of Zion.

II. WHY SHOULD WE DO LIKEWISE?

1. Because indecision degrades the character of man.

2. There is no solid and substantial reason why the heart should not be fixed on God.

3. The nature of spiritual religion as developed in the Gospel, requires and supposes this fixedness of heart.

4. If we are not thus decided, we shall never accomplish anything truly good and great in the service of God. It is the man of settled views and fixed purposes before whom obstacles, that would be unconquerable to others, give way.

(Evangelist.)

Homilist.
There are many temptations to a man to wander in doubt and uncertainty. He is driven hither and thither by doubts of self, of God, of revelation, of the past, and of the future. But there is no rest for that man until he is able to exclaim, "My heart is fixed."

I. THERE IS A POSSIBILITY OF POSITIVE RELIGION.

1. The word "positive" is a species of cant phrase much used by doubters and Agnostics. But in this case we may strictly apply it to the state of a true believer. The inquirer has reached a state of satisfaction. He has found what he needed. There is for him now no further tossing about on the tempest of fear or anxiety.

2. There is something very blessed in this state of satisfaction. It is that of a mariner having arrived in port, of a student having attained the goal he coveted, the architect having seen the realization of his plans.

3. This state, too, is essentially a religious one. Nothing earthly can afford positiveness. There can be no certainty in any human act or any human hope; but in the search after God there can be, and is, perfect finality.

II. THIS STATE OF SATISFACTION IS A STATE OF PRAISE.

1. The key to open the door of heaven is praise. The solution of all doubts is praise. The end of all difficulties is praise.

2. The state, then, of our own miserable darkness and unrest rests upon the fact that we are always looking on ourselves, not on God. If we look on ourselves, we shall naturally see our own defects, sorrows. But if we look to His brightness we shall lose sight of all that is dark, and in His certainty we shall find an eternal stand and an unchanging hope.

(Homilist.)

I. THE FIXED HEART. For a fixed heart I must have a fixed determination, and not a mere fluctuating and soon broken intention. I must have a steadfast affection, and not merely a fluttering love, that, like some butterfly, lights now on this, now on that, sweet flower, but which has a flight straight as a carrier-pigeon to its cot, which shall bear me direct to God. And I must have a continuous realization of my dependence upon God, and of God's sweet sufficiency, going with me all through the dusty day. Is our average Christianity fairly represented by such words as these of my text? Do they not rather make us burn with shame when we think that a man who lived in the twilight of God's revelation, and was weighed upon by distresses such as wrung this psalm out of him, should have poured out this resolve which we, who live in the sunlight and are flooded with blessings, find it hard to echo, with sincerity and truth? Fixed hearts are rare amongst the Christians of this day.

II. THE MANIFOLD HINDRANCES THAT WE MEET TO SUCH A UNIFORMITY OF OUR RELIGIOUS LIFE. There is, for example, the tendency to fluctuation which besets all our feelings, and especially our religious emotions. What would happen to a steam-engine if the stoker now piled on coals and then fell asleep by the furnace door? One moment the boiler would be ready to burst; at another moment there would be no steam to drive anything. That is the sort of alternation that goes on amongst hosts of Christians to-day. Their springtime and summer are followed certainly by an autumn and a bitter winter. Every moment of elevation has a corresponding moment of depression. But is there any necessity for such alternations? Some degree of fluctuation there will always be. The very exercise of emotion tends to its extinction. Varying conditions of health and other externals will affect the buoyancy and clear-sightedness and vivacity of the spiritual life. Only a barometer that is out of order will always stand at set fair. The vane which never points but to south is rusty and means nothing. But while there cannot be absolute uniformity, there might and should be a far nearer approach to an equable temperature of a much higher range than the readings of most professing Christians give. There is, indeed, a dismally uniform arctic temperature in many of them. Their hearts are fixed, truly, but fixed on earth. Their frost, is broken by no thaw, their tepid formalism interrupted by no disturbing enthusiasm. We do not speak now of these, but of those who have moments of illumination, of communion, of submission of will, which fade all too soon. To such we would earnestly say that these moments may be prolonged and made more continuous. We need not be at the mercy of our own unregulated feelings. We can control our hearts, and keep them fixed, even if they should wish to wander.

III. THE MEANS BY WHICH SUCH A UNIFORM CHARACTER MAY BE IMPRESSED UPON OUR RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE. A man climbing a hill, though he has to look to his feet, when in the slippery places, and all his energies are expended in hoisting himself upwards by every projection and crag, will do all the better if he lifts his eye to the summit that gleams above him. So we, in our upward course, shall make the best progress when we consciously and honestly try to look beyond the things seen and temporal, even whilst we are working in the midst, of them, and keep clear before us the summit to which our faith tends. If we lived in the endeavour to realize that great white throne, and Him that sits upon it, we should find it easier to say, "My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed." But be sure of this, there will be no such uniformity of religious experience throughout our lives unless there be frequent times in them in which we go into our chambers and shut our doors about us, and hold communion with our Father in secret.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Speak to those who have decided, but, who may be loosening their hold on God under the strain of life. No better description can be given of the influence of life on the Christian than this — it tends to loosen the bonds. They need to be constantly refixed.

1. Some disciples went back under the strain of Christ's higher teachings.

2. Some forsook under the strain of Christ's sufferings.

3. Some were hindered in running — "Ye did run well, who hath hindered you?"

4. Some were enticed by false doctrine.

5. Some were borne away by the love of the world.

6. Some are reproached for being neither cold nor hot.These old readings of Christian living suit us now. Then times of refixing ourselves are needed. What fixity should we try to reach?

I. FIXITY MAY CONCERN THE INTELLECT. Show the importance of firm and ever-growing mental hold of truth and of God. Fixity for the intellect can only come with growth.

II. FIXITY MAY CONCERN THE WILL. A power of resolve may shape a life. Illustrate by familiar tale in John Foster's "Essays," showing the power of decision.

III. FIXITY SHOULD CONCERN THE HEART. "My heart is fixed, O God." The true life-force is from the heart,. Heart things are the lasting things. To the heart God appeals. The heart God wants. Intellectual fixity may not be possible. Will-fixity may depend very much on disposition. Heart-fixity tuiumphs over all externality. It concerns the principle and spirit of the life. Fixed everywhere and in everything for ,God. How broad, comprehensive, practical!

(Robert Tuck, B. A.)

This psalm is very strangely compounded. It is described in the title as the utterance of David when he fled from Saul and hid himself in the cave. It is the cry of a man beset with trouble and danger; yet all through it, we are startled by sudden transitions from cries for help and stories of wrong to cheerful expressions of hope and outbursts of praise. This condition of hopefulness and of cheerful steadfastness in the midst of trouble is one of those things which always puzzle a mere man of the world, but which present no mystery to a soul which walks with God. But the fact goes much farther than cheerfulness in trouble. The word "fixed" literally means "prepared," "fit," "ready." "O God, my heart is prepared." It is about this habitual preparation of heart that I wish to speak. The ideal perfect Christian life would be a life in contact with God along its whole line. It would be everywhere and always in communion with God. God's will and God's love would fill and move in every inlet and curve of the life, as the ocean in its gulfs and creeks and round its promontories; and upon this high plane the general tenor of the life would be more even. It hardly needs to be said that we do not live in this condition, and that we do need certain special influences to recall our minds to heavenly things, to lift them into the atmosphere of rest and of devotion, and to keep them from drifting away into worldliness and sensuality. God has recognized the need and has met it. He has given the Sabbath with its rest from labour, He has given the sanctuary with its quickening influences, He has commended the season of special prayer. We are led up to these Pisgahs and Hermons of spiritual vision, to the end that we may carry the power of these visions into life's common routine, to sanctify and to elevate that. These things are not an end unto themselves. The disciples were not permitted to stay on the Transfiguration Mount, but that glorious vision strengthened and kindled their hearts for the hard mission for which they were chosen. These exceptional experiences in our lives are intended to foster in us that constantly prepared, fixed heart of which David here sings: the heart that shall be prepared for praise, and for trust, and for worship, not only while sitting in heavenly places, but also among lions, among them that are set on fire, when the net has been prepared for the steps and the soul is bowed down, amid the fret and worry of life, and on the dead level of daily duty and care.

(Marvin R. Vincent, D. D)

There are many who doubt whether it is possible for a man to-day to say, "My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed." There are so many ideas that have changed in only a generation, there are so many views that have broadened, and there are so many beliefs that have been entirely given up, that it seems impossible any more for a man's heart to be fixed. It seems like deliberately shutting the eyes and stopping the ears to hope that the change is all over. A Christian's heart is fixed on that which is almost as old as the hills. The essence of your faith, the solid core of it, Abraham had almost four thousand years ago. Our faith in God is Abraham's faith, only fuller and lighted up with all the glory that shone from the face of Jesus Christ. It is stronger and surer for every heart that has been fixed by it since Abraham. Has it not worn well, this faith of ours? It has lived on through the downfall of five great universal kingdoms, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. It went down to Egypt with Jacob; it went forth to Canaan with Moses. It battled with the heathen. It rose in triumph under David; it sank back under defeat and destruction. It rebuilt its Holy City. It waited for Christ; it founded the Church and charged the apostles. It worked in the mines; it died at the stake; it endured persecution and loss. It fought the barbarians and converted them. It saved Europe. It kept strong when men were ignorant and debased. It quickened with the Renaissance; it purified itself in the Reformation. It fainted during the eighteenth century; it rallied again and rode the storm of the French Revolution. It burst out again in the nineteenth century in splendid missionary zeal. It is to-day stronger, broader, surer than ever it was before. The greatest thing about a man is the fixedness of his heart. When men say they cannot be sure of believing to-morrow what they believe to-day, they do not know of what kind of eternal stuff a man's soul is made. The very essence of belief is that it is something never to be changed, fixed and eternal. If there is no eternal belief there is no belief at all. Belief means that, no matter what may happen, it will stand fast; belief is the insight of an eternal soul looking beyond time and chance. The man who has not come to believe in something that will last on to all eternity has not yet found out what there is down deep in his soul. The best thing there is about us men and women is our loyalty, our power of standing fast, of pledging our souls for time and eternity. Because we are eternal souls, we cannot help believing eternally. We want loyalty and the willingness to wait. When we meet with a doubt or a difficulty we ought to wait until Christ speaks. Shame on us if the reading of a single book, or a single argument of an unbeliever, can divert the stream of the faith of four thousand years from flowing through us and refreshing us. There are men and women to-day doubting God because of their misfortunes or their sufferings, although from the dawn of history men have transformed their lives and glorified humanity through their trust. Read all the bucks you like, but remember that Christian faith is not an argument, but it is an affair of loyalty. Your mind ought to receive new impressions, but your heart ought to be fixed.

(John Tunis, B. A.)

A garden that is watered by sudden showers is more uncertain in its fruits than when it is refreshed by a constant stream; so when our thoughts are sometimes upon good things and then run off, when they do but take a glance, as it were, upon holy objects, and then run away, there is not such fruit brought into the soul as when our minds by meditation do dwell upon them. The rays of the sun may warm us, but they do not inflame unless they are contracted in a burning-glass; so some slight thoughts of heavenly things may warm us a little, but will never inflame the soul till they be fixed by close meditation. Therefore David tells us his "heart was fixed," and saith the same concerning the frame of a good man.

(H. G. Salter.)

I will sing and give praise. —
The text affirms a fact, and declares a resolution. "My heart is fixed;" this is the fact; and hence, apparently, the resolution, "I will sing and give praise.

I. THE MEANING OF THE WORDS. "My heart is fixed."

1. On what the psalmist had fixed his heart. On God. Everywhere else there might be darkness and despair, but here there were light, consolation and security. As he recalls to remembrance all that God had already done for him, and all that he had promised yet farther to do, his spirit enters a serener world, and he refrains from his complaint against his inveterate enemies. And observe, that in fixing his heart on God, the psalmist more especially contemplates those gentler features of the Divine character, on which the regards of the guilty and dependent creature must ever most complacently rest (vers. 2, 3).

2. How, or with what sentiments, it was so fixed. The expressions of confiding regard which occur throughout the psalm indicate that the heart of the writer was fixed on God by faith. In faith it is that he exclaims, "My soul trusteth in Thee," etc.; and it is in the same faith, too, that he purposes to pray, when he says, "I will cry unto God most high, unto God that performeth for me." Nor could his heart have been otherwise fixed on God, than by the virtue of that all-important principle which lies at the very source of practical godliness, admitting the light by which Divine truth irradiates the soul, and constituting the assimilating power, by whose energy the things believed are converted into the bread of life.

II. If the heart be thus fixed on God, PRAISE AND DEVOUT SONG WILL BE THE UNFAILING RESULT; for fixedness of heart, or steadfastness of faith, is the only proper condition of the soul for these sacred exercises. We may use vain repetitions without a fixed heart. But if we would pour out our whole souls before God in those fervid and earnest supplications which, and which alone, we know to be acceptable; and if we would attain a humble assurance that we have been heard in heaven, we must go to the altar with fixed hearts. When, again, with the psalmist, we would "sing and give praise," the mercy of God will be brought home in clearest and most lively apprehensions to our hearts, and then, instead of finding it difficult to pour forth the melody of joy and salvation, that will become the only possible mode of giving form and voice to the sentiments that swell and glow within us.

(W. Stevenson.)

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