O God, do not keep silent; do not hold Your peace; do not be still, O God.
2 Chronicles 20.), we take it as a vivid representation of the enemies and destroyers of the soul. Now -
I. THERE ARE SUCH. Whoever yet sought to live the Divine life, and to walk with God in faithful obedience, that did not speedily find out that there were enemies of his soul such as are set forth here? For see -
II. THEIR CHARACTERISTICS.
1. Numerous. What a vast horde are named as Israel's foes (vers. 6-8)! And is not this true of our foes? They are not single, or few, or scattered; but they seem arrayed in troops, and meet us at every turn of our lives.
2. And very strong. Read the history and see the dismay which filled the minds of the devout Jehoshaphat and his people at the awful confederacy which had come against them. And the half-despairing soul, often and often, is tempted to throw down his weapons and to abandon a war in which he seems to have no possible hope of victory. The world, the flesh, the devil are, any one of them, too strong for him; how much more when confederate together, as they often are!
3. United. (Ver. 5.) Everything at times seems to be in league against the soul, as were Israel's enemies against them, our Lord's enemies against him. They come from all quarters (see vers: 6-78.); foes from the south and east are first named, then those from the west, and lastly those from the north. Thus was Israel begirt and shut in with foes who, usually hostile to one another, were now one in hatred to Israel.
4. Deadly. It was not a mere raid against Israel, but a fixed purpose to utterly destroy (ver. 4). And none other is the purpose of our soul's adversaries - not merely to annoy or injure, but to destroy (1 Peter 5:8).
5. Subtle. (Ver. 3.) Like "a bolt out of the blue," so often is the assault upon our soul. At an hour when we think not, in ways we never dreamt of, when off our guard, when it seemed not only unlikely but impossible, - so does our crafty foe assail.
III. THEY SEEM SOMETIMES TO BE VICTORIOUS. (Ver. 2.) We seem to hear the "tumult" of their loud exultation, and to see the haughty lifting up of the head. So it seemed to Elijah (1 Kings 19.), so it has seemed to thousands of sore-beset ones since.
IV. GOD APPEARS TO KEEP SILENT AND INACTIVE. (Ver. 1.) He seems to let things go their own way; our cry does not. avail; the bitter agony of our soul does not seem to move him. This is terrible; but the experience of Israel of old is, not unfrequently, that of God's Israel still - but only for a while.
V. HELP COMES IN RECOLLECTION,
1. That these enemies are confederate not so much against us as against God. They are "thine enemies" (vers. 2, 5, 18). Therefore we may look away from our weakness to the infinite power of God.
2. That God has vindicated his Name in days gone by. (Vers. 9-11.) Oh, it is blessed when in darkness and difficulty to remember God's deliverances of old, how completely our enemies were overthrown, how he made them "like Oreb and like Zeeb"! Memories such as these stay and strengthen the soul.
VI. ISRAEL'S SPIRIT MUST BE OURS.
1. There must be no idea of compromise. Israel desired the complete extermination of their foes. There is a burning ferocity of hate in these verses (9-17), which is utterly alien from the spirit of Christ towards our human foes; it is the spirit of the Old Testament, not that of the New. But in regard to our spiritual foes, the would be spoilers of our soul, we may, we should, we must, cherish a spirit of uncompromising hate.
2. The honour of the Lord's Name must be our motive. For his sake (vers. 16, 18) we are thus to pray. - S.C.
Arise, O God, judge the earth: for Thou shalt inherit all nations.
Homilist.This cry is —
I. One of the DEEPEST CRIES OF UNIVERSAL MAN. This cry, in some form or other, goes up to Heaven in every language udder the sky. "Arise, O God." "There is no hope but in Thee, Thine arm is mighty," etc.
II. Implies the WANT OF CONFIDENCE IN ALL CREATURE HELP. Men have tried to put the world right. Moralists, statesmen, philanthropists, saints, have all tried. Every age has been rife with remedial schemes, but all have proved ineffective. "Arise, O God," etc.
III. INVOLVES A CONFIDENCE IN THE POSSIBILITY OF SECURING DIVINE INTERPOSITION. What rational spirit would cry to Him if it believed that His assistance was unattainable. Men have an instinctive faith in the power of prayer. Thank God, we have abundant evidence of its efficiency, in the Bible, in the memoirs of the good, and in our own experience. "Call upon Me in the day of trouble," etc.
Keep not Thou silence, O God: hold not Thy peace, and be not still, O God
Homilist.I. A LAMENTABLE SOCIAL SCENE (vers. 2-8). The scene is that of men in tumultuous hostility both to God and His people. They appear developing all the leading characteristics of sin.
1. Boisterous. They "make a tumult." Sin is agitation. There is no serenity in it, no repose.
2. Haughty.. "Have lifted up the head." They were bold, arrogant, defiant. The evil spirit is described by Milton as "defying the Omnipotent to arms." Sin intoxicates the soul with vanity and daring.
3. Intriguing (ver. 3). Sin works insidiously, and with all the subtilty of the serpent. It is never open, frank, and straightforward; it is artful and scheming.
4. Malignant (ver. 4). It is always in mischief. "The poison of asps," etc.
5. Antitheistic. "They have consulted together," etc. It is all against God.
6. Widespread. "The tabernacles of Edom," etc.
II. A REPREHENSIBLE RELIGIOUS PRAYER. In this prayer there is —
1. A savage revenge (ver. 13), etc.
2. Pious abomination. Their destruction is here invoked, what for? In order "that they may seek Thy name, O Lord." On what principle, either in ethics, or conscience, or sound philosophy, can such a prayer be justified? To me, I confess, it appears to be malice, inhumanity, and ungodliness in its worst aspect.
Homilist.These words reveal two tendencies in the human mind in relation to the Creator.
I. A NECESSARY tendency. By this, I mean, the tendency to think of our Maker as like unto ourselves. The psalmist here imagines Him to be silent and inactive, two conditions Which belong to ourselves, but which are impossible to Him. Indeed, we cannot think of God in any other way. We invest Him with our own attributes, and thus we humanify Him. Hence, how infinitely more glorious is the God which Christ adored and revealed, to the God which even the best men ever had, even the prophet and the apostles. This fact —
1. Accounts for the conflicting theologies of men.
2. Argues the necessity for following Christ. If we would reach exalted ideas of the Great Father, we must study and imitate His Blessed Son.
II. A CULPABLE tendency. The culpable tendency indicated here is twofold.
1. A practical ignorement of God's unremitting communications and activity. "Keep not thou silence, O God." Silent! He is never silent. He speaks in all the sounds of nature, in all the events of history, in all the monitions of reason.
2. A proneness to regard Him as indifferent to us because we are in trouble. The psalmist seemed to think that because he and his countrymen were in great trial, the Almighty was silent and indifferent. How often is this the case with us all! How often we are inclined to think in affliction that our Maker has forsaken us!
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