Psalm 83:18
May they know that You alone, whose name is the LORD, are Most High over all the earth.
Sermons
The Inner Proofs of GodBp. W. E. McLaren.Psalm 83:18
An Appeal to HeavenHomilistPsalm 83:1-18
Mental Tendencies in Relation to GodHomilistPsalm 83:1-18
Soul SpoilersS. Conway Psalm 83:1-18
What God is to His PeopleC. Short Psalm 83:1-18


That they may seek thy Name, O Lord. This is a very remarkable qualifying of our idea that psalmists prayed in a revengeful spirit for the destruction of the national enemies. In truth, their supreme idea was the glorifying of God, and they asked for judgments because through judgments would come the honouring of God's Name; and, in this honouring, the higher blessing for the foes themselves. Here the psalmist prays, "Fill their faces with shame;" but he sees in their humiliation the hope that they will be drawn to God.

I. WE MAY PRAY FOR THE HUMILIATION OF OUR ENEMIES.

II. WE MAY NOT PRAY IN VIEW MERELY OF THEIR SUFFERING.

III. WE MAY PRAY, IF WE DESIRE THEIR LASTING GOOD THROUGH THEIR HUMILIATION .

IV. WE MAY PRAY, IF WE SET. BEFORE OURSELVES THE GLORY OF GOD IN THEIR RECOVERY. It is a sign of triumph over hateful and revengeful feelings if we can pray God to deal with our enemies in the wisdom of his righteous love. It is not befitting that the Christian should ever think of judgments and punishments as merely destructive. To him all judgment is remedial, all punishment is corrective. God will get honour to his Name out of all his dealings. It should be shown that the "forever" and the "perish" of ver. 17 are to be treated as poetical terms. Or ver. 16 may be regarded as the better view, which the psalmist was hardly able to keep to. Ver. 17 falls back upon the harsher view of God's dealing with his foes. Christianity willingly lets pass the harsher view, and sets ever more prominently before us the better and more hopeful view. 'Speaker's Commentary' on ver. 16 says, "This is a feeling altogether peculiar to God's people." The object of all the judgments which the true prophet desires is to bring all nations into subjection to God. Their calamities will be converted into blessings, unless they persist in rebellion. - R.T.









That men may know that Thou, whose name alone is Jehovah, art the most high over all the earth.
The age in which we live is frequently characterized as an age of unbelief. Certainly it is an age in which much unbelief comes to the front, aggressively; and hence it is an age of conflict in regard to fundamental verities. The question raised, then, is whether the possible God is unknowable. Is the Absolute unthinkable? From one quarter the response is affirmative. An innumerable host out of all kindreds, tongues, and nations confess that the thought of God is the strongest force in life, the purest comfort in sorrow, the one rock-idea which no storm shakes, as true, as real, as natural, as fruitful as any thought, and more. To them history without that word is a riddle, being a mystery, life a torment, and death a horror. The concurrent testimony of millions affirms the central fact that God is, and the affirmation rests upon the experimental knowledge that He is. The fact is the reality; the knowledge is man's recognition of the reality. Only the unreal is unknowable. It is not, however, a question of majorities. The real point involved is, why does the great mass of mankind think that they can and do cognize God as the focal reality, the spiritual sun in the firmament of being? The data of the theistic argument are all to be found in man. Mr. Morell, adverting to this fact in his "History of Philosophy," asks, "Do we wish the argument from being? Man in his own conscious dependence has the deepest conviction of that Independent and Absolute One on Whom his own being reposes. Do we wish the argument from design? Man has the most wonderful and perfect of all known organizations. Do we wish the argument from reason and morals? The mind or soul of man is the only accessible repository of both, Man is a microcosm, a world in himself; and contains in himself all the essential proof which the world furnishes of Him who made it." And to those who with Schleiermacher accept the doctrine of immediateness, that is, the consciousness of God as an original and primary act of the soul antecedent to reflection or reasoning, man stands forth as the mirror of God, for it is in the depths of his nature that the two meet face to face. Man looks at himself, into himself, and by studied processes of thought or by sudden leaps of unconscious induction, he arrives at a knowledge of himself. He is not looking to see God in any mystic sense, but he is looking to see proofs of God. We come to the knowledge of God in much the same way as we come to the knowledge of our fellow-men. You could never know me if you did not first know yourself. The proof that I exist is in your existence. The evidence that I think is in your thought. That is to say, from the ascertained premise that you think you draw the conclusion that I think. "The Father in heaven," says Dr. Flint, "is known just as a father on earth is known." The latter is as unseen as the former. No human being has really ever seen another. No sense has will, or wisdom, or goodness for its object. Man must infer the existence of his fellow-men, for he can have no immediate perception of it; he must become acquainted with their character through the use of his intelligence, because character cannot be heard with the ear, or looked upon with the eye, or touched with the finger. Yet a child is not long in knowing that a spirit is near it. As soon as it knows itself it easily detects a spirit like its own, yet other than itself, when the signs of a spirit's activity are presented to it. The process of inference by which it ascends from the works of man to the spirit which origin-ares them is not more legitimate, more simple, and more natural than that by which it rises from nature to nature's God. The argument for God is many-sided, but the one determining force in us is that which seems like an instinct, which is original, primary, universal. No formal demonstration of God by trains of syllogistic reasoning could maintain theism through the ages but for the help of this implanted aptitude of the soul to respond to the thought of God. Anselms a priori, beautiful as it is, belongs to trained thinkers, while the millions assert their knowledge of God with the same spontaneous confidence with which a child trusts the proof of parental love. Nature is clearer-headed than philosophy. And is so because Nature looks with all her faculties at the broad landscape of truth, and believes that she sees it, every cliff and scar, every bend of the river and flowery meadow, every forest and nestling cottage. Philosophy, meanwhile, is busy with the mechanism of the eye, and announces that the landscape is a miniature picture painted on the retina — a scientific truth, no doubt! But we are not fashioned to contemplate objects under the lead of a single faculty. We could not appreciate beauty if we should always keep the structure of the organ of vision in mind. We look — we see — we rejoice; we believe that we see what we see, we know that we see, and we know that. all men excepting those who have lost the organ of vision see; and if at any time the thought comes to us that what we see is a picture on the retina, we accept the reflection as demonstrating the reality of the landscape, which, however, we did not doubt existed in all its beauty. It was not necessary to corroborate the fact. From the data before us we naturally inferred the reality of the scene by the same law of thought as that by which we rise from the phenomena of our consciousness to the reality of God. Now let us examine some of these phenomena.

1. The great mass of mankind think that they can and do know that there is a God, because they find themselves reaching out into the realm of spirit after a power that is above them in the oft-recurring exigencies of their life, temporal and spiritual, in which they realize their own limitations in respect of strength, wisdom and foresight. This is not a mere impulse of unintelligent despair; it is quite as often the calm instinct of deliberation as the last resort of one who has no other source of help left. It is the refuge alike of childhood and age.

2. Another fact in our self-consciousness presents itself. When we walk out into a public park, the eye falls upon a splendid green sward, smooth as velvet, swelling into graceful curves, with head lands of noble forests jutting out, and islands of rarest flowers dotting its surface. The picture charms us and we seat ourselves in some shady spot to enjoy the Elysian scene. But we resume our stroll, and enter a densely populated slum of the city where the atmosphere is laden with poison, and where crime and vice eat like gangrenes into the souls and bodies of the miserable host. We hasten away with horror from the spot. The impression made upon us by either is distinct and influential, because there is in us an inherent capacity of admiring the beautiful and disliking the hideous. The same capacity exists in regard to the moral quality of things. Some things we plainly perceive to be right and some to be wrong. Being wrong as an idea wears a storm-cloud on its brow, and when it passes into a concrete shape and becomes in us doing wrong, then the storm bursts upon the soul, and it trembles to think that it will be called to account. Deeply implanted in the solid rock of man's nature, these two granite columns ought and ought not rise and form the gateway, through which we pass up to the cognition of an Infinite Judge.

3. How unlike is man to the brutes beneath him! They have their planes, fixed and uniform as a floor of rock, and thereon, through all the circuit of their tame existence, they fulfil their simple destiny. They do not hunger for that which is beyond their reach, but are content to live and die just as they live and die. No dream of happier climes or kindlier destinies ever disturbs them. The fledgling is satisfied with the bough where he was hatched. The lion seeks no other lair than that where he was born. But the soul of man soon gives token of a strange discontent, and when he thinks to settle down, a dream of other things stirs his blood and disturbs his repose. It is as true in the spiritual as in the secular life. Men aspire to higher planes of moral attainment, and even sainthood forgets its grace as it presses on to sublimer achievements in the imitation of God. Does it impair this majestic argument of God drawn from the depths of human consciousness that it does not formulate its postulates in the language of metaphysics? Heine tells us that it was while he was climbing the dizzy heights of dialectics, that "the divine homesickness" came over him, and led him down to the levels of his kind, where he found God. There is a meadow-land of common-sense realism from which God has chosen to be more distinctly seen, and it is to that familiar spot we have led you to-day. It is there that our analysis of consciousness has revealed the indubitable phenomena that enables us to know that there is a God. The sense of dependence has led us up to a Power above us; the sense of obligation has pointed to an Authority above us; the sense of imperfection has ushered us into the presence of the Perfect Ideal, and the sublime inference of the race — the inference which has controlled history, created civilization, brightened the world with every virtue and grace of true nobility, thrown itself like a rainbow upon the storm of human sorrow, spanned the gulf of eternity with the bridge of hope, that inference is Jehovah.

(Bp. W. E. McLaren.).

How amiable are Thy tabernacles, O Lord of Hosts!
Homilist.
I. As DEPRIVED of these privileges. In his deprivation he reveals —

1. A devout admiration for them (ver. 1). It is the law of mind, that blessings when lost always appear to us more precious. Lost health, lost property, lost friends, lost privileges.

2. An intense longing for them (ver 2). It is "the living God "that gives these scenes attractions to the soul. It is not the sublimity of the site, the splendour of the architecture, or the magnificence of the services, that the godly soul hungers for, but "the living God."

3. A high estimation of them (ver. 3). What the house is to the sparrow, and the nest to the swallow, true worship is to the devout soul — the home, the resting-place.

II. As IN QUEST of these privileges (ver. 5). Not only are they blessed whose home is in the sanctuary, and who spend their days in perpetual praise; but those also are blessed who, though at a distance, have God for their strength and help, and press on in pursuit of religious privileges.

1. Though they encounter difficulties, they are still blest (ver. 6).

2. Though they encounter difficulties, they shall with increasing strength pursue their way until they reach their blessed destiny (ver. 7).

III. As in CONTEMPLATION of these privileges.

1. He prays (vers. 8, 9). He invokes the Almighty to attend to his prayers, and to "look upon the face," or to favour, His "anointed," that is, the king. What titles he here applies to the Almighty! "O Lord God of Hosts," "O God of Jacob," "O God our shield," etc.

2. He avows the transcendent privileges of public worship (ver. 10).

3. He exults in the relation and beneficence of God (ver. 11).

(Homilist.)

I. LONGING FOR GOD.

1. Soul-hunger (ver. 2). A man in good health enjoys his food, and, when he is hungry, he desires it. But once the soul is quickened, it must have "bread to eat that the world knows not of." The "heart and flesh cries out for the living God."

2. God's altars (ver. 3). The altars of God are suggestive of the forgiveness of sins, of communion, and protection. For there were the various sacrifices made which brought the soul into communion with God, through the burnt offerings, the meat offering, the peace offering, and the sin and trespass offering; there the man who was fleeing for his life might ever find a place of safety and refuge. Having expressed this desire, he ascribes two other titles to the Lord: "my King and my God." He who would call God his King must yield himself by faith to God, as well as do homage to Him.

3. The blessings of God's house (ver. 4) "In God's house everything will be granted to the soul, and nothing be asked of it in return but the praise of Him."

II. THE BLESSED MAN IS A BLESSING.

1. The blessed man described (ver. 5). His will and desire, all his powers and purposes are so surrendered to God, that God can use him in blessing others.

2. How the blessed man becomes a blessing (ver. 6). God has ordained that His people, especially those who themselves have been filled and refreshed by His own blessed life, by dwelling in His house, shall be the means of saving the world. What a blessed mission is this; what a glorious privilege!

3. Reflex blessings (ver. 7).

(1)"They go from strength to strength." Every grace in us is increased by the use of it (Isaiah 40:29-31).

(2)"Every one of them in Zion appeareth before God" (Matthew 25:23).

4. The prayer of the blessed man (ver. 8).

III. THE BLESSINGS OF SALVATION (vers. 9-12). God is the complete protection of His saints. He is the whole armour with which we clothe ourselves.

1. Complete satisfaction. Sometimes the unbelieving world looks with pity upon the Christian who has turned his back upon all the carnal pleasures of the world; but the answer of the man who has found satisfaction in God and in His service is simple and emphatic (ver. 10). To be such a privileged servant of God is better than to be like Dives in the midst of all his feasting and revelling.

2. Every need supplied (ver. 11). Protection from all evil, and every needful thing He will supply out of His energetic goodness, as the sun causes the earth to be fruitful with every good thing by the power of his rays. Chief among these things is "grace" for the time being, and "glory" for the time to come. What can man want more?

3. A final beatitude (ver. 12). May the Lord of hosts, the God of Jacob, our King and our God, fulfil all His goodness to us in these things, by creating in us a longing thirst and desire, which shall be converted into prayer, and trust, and real possession.

(G. F. Pentecost, D. D.)

Monday Club Sermons.
The great truth which underlies this psalm is that God reveals Himself especially in the sanctuary. In the house of God we find —

I. PARDON.

II. PEACE. As its walls shut out the noises of the world, so its worship shuts out earthly confusion and strife.

III. SPIRITUAL STRENGTH. Hearts fail, consciences yield, life-strings snap, because men do not seek the God of Jacob to strengthen them out of Zion. We must bear hardships and sorrows. Every road, from the cradle to the grave, leads through the valley of Baca; but pilgrims to Zion change barrenness to bloom, singing together as they go.

IV. SPIRITUAL JOY. Such delight is wholly disconnected from earthly advantages; it flourishes upon their loss. Pascal wrote, "Happiness is neither within us nor without us; it is the union of ourselves with God." There is no necessary limit to this joy, none except the capacity of the human spirit. Practical inferences: —

1. A church should be built to manifest God.

2. The worship of the Church should seek the same end. Music, Scripture, prayer, teaching, have but one objects — to draw the soul nearer to God.

3. There is no substitute for the sanctuary. Bigotry may close its doors, but the early Christians consecrate a chapel in the catacombs, and Covenanters make cave or barn or sea-beach a temple. Neglect of the sanctuary proves not abundance, but lack of spiritual life.

(Monday Club Sermons.)

We seem to see here a spirit chastened by grief, taught by suffering to sing and to pray and to hope. And such is the general tone of the psalms of the dispersion. They remind us of the old and deep lesson, that the chastisements which seem not to be joyous but grievous in the present, will yield hereafter the peaceable fruits of righteousness to them that are exercised thereby. The psalm falls naturally into strophes.

1. In the first of these, containing the first four verses, he calls to mind and enthusiastically describes his feelings in thinking of the Temple. Nothing is left to the exile but the solace of memory, faith and hope. And memory and imagination, acting by the law of association, call up the details of the scene. He dwells fondly upon the birds nestling as they have been from time immemorial permitted to nestle in the Temple. This thought, that the God of the Temple afforded shelter to the birds of the precincts, swallows, doves, storks, etc., was held by Gentiles no less than Jews. Men of Kyme, says Herodotus, went to the Temple of Apollo, near Miletus, to inquire concerning one who had taken refuge with them from the Persians what they should do, and the oracle replied that he was to be given up to the Persians. One of the men of Kyme ventured to treat the oracle as false, and himself made renewed inquiry. But the same answer was returned. He then went round the Temple, and disturbed the sparrows and other birds who had built their nests in the Temple. Meanwhile there came a voice from the sanctuary to Aristodikos, saying, "Most profane of men, how durst thou do these things? Dost thou overthrow my suppliants from the Temple?" "O King," was the retort, "it is thus that thou succourest thy suppliants, for thou biddest the men of Kyme give up a suppliant." There is something very beautiful in the idea of the Divine Being as the protector of small, helpless creatures like the house-haunting birds, and we at once remember the words of Jesus, "Not a sparrow falls to the ground without your Father." If God takes thought for sparrows, much more does He for men.

2. From the birds his thoughts glances to the worshippers, who are still able to frequent the Temple; and he recalls the pilgrim throngs on their way thither. "Blessings on those who dwell in Thy house; still will they praise Thee. Blessings on the men whose strength is in Thee, who love to think of the pilgrim way." Those whom he mentions as dwelling in Jehovah's house — i.e. in the Holy City — are under the yoke of a foreign conqueror in these last years of Judah, and in a very depressed condition. Yet the psalmist anticipates that they will still be able joyfully to sing of the Divine victory. And then, as to the believers scattered about in foreign lands, and who will travel up to Zion by the pilgrim caravans, they will have manifold hardships by the way; but confidence in Jehovah will give them strength, and they will overcome them all. With lively sympathy he thus depicts them — "They passing through the Baca valley," etc. We may compare the imagery with that in Isaiah where he depicts the desert solitudes as bursting out into rose blossoms, and being filled with songs; the parched land transformed into a pool; its thirst satisfied with springs of water; the haunts of dragons becoming green with reeds and rushes. Upon a great highway the ransomed people of Jehovah are seen returning, and coming to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads (Isaiah 35.). And the thought and the imagery are very similar when the prophet Hosea speaks of the Valley of Achor (woe) being transformed into a Door of Hope, and the people singing there as they did in the days of yore when they came up out of the land of Egypt. These things are for us allegories or parables of the soul. It is in the soul, and the soul alone, that we are to look for these wondrous transformations of deserts into gardens, and parched valleys into springs of living water. It is through undying trust and hope and love, cherished in the midst of every suffering scene of life's pilgrimage, that these marvels must be wrought.

3. And now, from these soothing exercises of memory and imagination, the royal poet turns to himself, and composes his spirit in an attitude of deep humility and holy prayer. "O Jehovah, God of Hosts, hear my prayer: attend, O Jacob's God. O God, our shield, behold, look upon thine anointed's face!" This, then, is the language of a king. In virtue of his high office and dignity he would have enjoyed in former days a place of high honour in the Temple. But rather, he says, he would be as the humblest menial in a great house, and, after the Oriental custom, prostrate himself in the dust in the presence of his Master, than dwell, as he is dwelling now, possibly in circumstances of comfort or even of luxury, among the heathen. For supposing this psalm to have been composed by King Jeconiah, while he was in honour and esteem at the Court of Babylon, the language is peculiarly impressive as an evidence of the piety of his spirit. "Sun," he proceeds, "and shield is the eternal God! Grace, glory will Jehovah give; will not refuse happiness to those who walk in innocency." And then the psalm ends, as it were, with a sigh of relief and repose, betokening that the flow of feeling has found its true outlet and rest. "O Jehovah of Hosts, blessings on the men who trust in Thee!" We may draw a few simple lessons from the beautiful psalm. We need to see the blessings and the privileges of our life in perspective, at a distance, before we can truly realize their worth. The youth knows not how happy he has been at home, feels not in all its preciousness the blessing of a mother's love, till he looks back upon the early scene from some distant place, and from amidst scenes that are strange to his heart. And so of those scenes of worship in which our spirit was educated for eternity. The afterglow of Sundays, the reflection amidst busy hours on songs and sermons that have been listened to not always with interest at the time — these are experiences often the most enriching. It follows, that all our diligence in attending to spiritual things now must secure for us a far-off interest of good — memories of sweetness and refreshment, it may be, in some distant land or scene of suffering, like that of the psalmist in exile. But there are other lessons. The soul deprived of its wonted props, its associations of place and circumstance, is taught more entirely to throw itself upon the spiritual resources. His soul was east down within him at the hill Mizar, and it is cast down in Babylon. Yet why so? He knows that God is to be sought and found there no less than in the Temple. What are space and time to the worship of the Spirit? And what is the use of the glorious faculty of imagination but that we may, in a sense, cancel time, and live in fellowship with the great and good of the past — that we may break down the bounds of space and pass to our friends across seas and deserts, and join with all saints in that worship which is invisible and unending, and is fixed to no particular spot of earth? As Fenelon says, "We may be very near to one another without meeting, or be far apart while occupying the same room." God unites all and obliterates the greatest distance where hearts united in Him are concerned. In that Centre be who is in China or Japan and those in France meet one another. But perhaps the thought that most naturally offers itself from the study of the psalm is the blessedness of religious memories.

(E. Johnson, M. A.)

This psalm has well been called "The Pearl of Psalms." It shines with mild, soft radiance, comparable to that precious gem. I would myself speak of it as being full of mingled music, and mingled music is sometimes of the sweetest. For the most part the note is high, and the strain is sweet; yet there is a tone of sorrow underlying and interleaving all. David sings, indeed, but he sings of his sorrows. Happy is the man who can sing in the time of grief, and turn his very sadness into themes for melody.

I. "How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of Hosts." This is a EULOGY of the house and worship of the living God. Whereever David may have been in person, his heart was yonder. The windows of his soul were ever open towards Jerusalem. Is not the title which David applies to God instructive? "O Lord of Hosts." The tabernacle of the sanctuary seemed to David like the pavilion of the King or general, in the very centre of the camp, and he, as one of the King's mighty men, looked towards that pavilion, gazed at its waving signal, and longed to be soon beneath its very shadow. The Church of the living God, the God of Hosts — for He is still the God of battles, and a Man of war — is the place wherein the soldiers refurnish themselves, and refurbish their arms. The worship of His house, the means of grace, these are as the armoury whence the shield the helmet, the breastplate, the sword, the preparation of the Gospel of peace for the feet, are all provided. It is also as the refreshment place, where God succours and sustains the weary warriors, wells breaking up and leaping forth at their very feet, as they did at Samson's, if needs be.

II. Then follows AN ELEGY (ver. 2). David was bereaved indeed. He had lost the sanctuary. He was away from the place where God revealed Himself particularly. They tell me that those who have dwelt among the glorious mountains of Switzerland cannot bear to live away from them. They pine and die, away from their native land. After some such fashion David looked Zionward. Absence made his heart grow fender still. What was it that he longed for? For the courts of the Lord. Ah, burner for the sake of the courts themselves. What are the courts without the King? He seeks not the place, but the presence; not the courtiers, but the monarch; not the subjects, but the Lord Himself.

III. AN ALLEGORY (ver. 3). The birds were free to visit the sacred place. "Oh," thought David, "would I were as privileged as they." He would not change places with them. He did not wish he were a bird, but he wished he had the access they enjoyed, and the familiarity and temerity that characterized them. What birds were they? Only sparrows, merely swallows, the one the most worthless and the other the most restless of birds; yet were they privileged to be where David at that time was debarred from going. Oh, prize your privileges. Make God's house your home. Love it not only for the benefit you may get from it yourselves, but for the blessing it may bring your children. "The swallow hath found a nest for herself, where she may lay her young." Thank God for the church, and the Sunday school, and the Bible classes. Despise none of them; they will bless both you and your households.

IV. AN AUGURY (ver. 4). The birds dwelt in the precincts of the Holy Place, and, according to their nature, they praised, they sang. Swallows and sparrows are not song birds, you say. Ah, but they chirped and chattered, and this was their best praise to God. Now just as the Roman augurs pretended to foretell coming events by the flight of birds and other means, so it seems to me — perhaps it is a quaint conceit — David ventures to prophesy that all who dwell in the Lord's house will be still praising Him. "Why," he says, "there are those birds chattering, chirping, twittering all the while, So long as they have so secure an abode, their hearts go forth in praise to God. There also are the priests, the Levites, and the Nethinim, the servants of the priests, surely so long as they have a hand in this work they will be full of praise to God." Certainly this is true of the upper world. I do not know that I could suggest a better epitaph for the happy Christian who praised God on earth, but is praising Him better still on high, than this word or two from our closing verse. What are they doing yonder? "Still praising, still praising." I would fain have it on my own tombstone. I could not wish a better word than that, "Still praising." "Still praising." Yes, when eternity grows old, "Still praising." They practised here, and rehearsed on earth, and now they can see Him face to face, and praise Him more than angels can. Oh, begin His praises here, that you may continue them hereafter.

(T. Spurgeon.)

I. WHEREIN LIES THE BEAUTY OF THE HOUSE OF GOD? It does not consist in mere outward loveliness. In proportion as one learns to worship God in the spirit he becomes unconcerned about the particular architecture of the building. As a piece of workmanship he may admire it as much as any, but as a place of worship it possesses no more charm than the country barn devoted on the Lord's Day to the preaching of the Gospel. I fear that in the present day reverence for mere bricks and mortar is becoming a very fashionable error. Beauty of design in the sanctuary walls is thought more of than beauty of holiness in sanctuary worship. This is the result of a religion that goes no deeper than the eye sees. But to the man educated of God, mere external symmetry will be powerless to evoke the psalmist's exclamation of "how amiable are Thy tabernacles." He wants something more. Something that touches the inner springs of the soul. A house of God without worship is a fiction and a lie.

II. WHEN THIS BEAUTY IS MOST SEEN. The amiability of God's tabernacle is not always equally perceived. There are times when we are led to utter the words of our text with a deeper emphasis than usual. Seasons when an unprecedented glory fills the house. I will just mention a few times when God's house seems to possess a charm almost beyond description. Certainly we must place first on the list the few Sabbaths immediately following conversion. What a blessed freshness there is about the worship then; it is something so new, so different to any joy experienced before that its very novelty lends enchantment. The beauty of the sanctuary is also wonderful when there is that in the service specially suited go our present experience.

III. THE EXTENT TO WHICH THE BEAUTY IS APPRECIATED, AND THE ONLY MAN WHO CAN APPRECIATE IT AT ALL. The first word of the text gives us an idea of the extent of David's appreciation, and well may the verse close with a note of admiration. The psalmist felt that it was impossible to tell in words the beauty of the place. He could but exclaim "how amiable" and leave it for hearts which have felt the same to fathom the depths of the word. This we know, however, that in his eyes the tabernacle made of skins outshone in beauty all the silken tents of luxury and sin, and one day in its Courts was worth more to him than a thousand spent elsewhere. The "how" defies all measurement and description. The only man who can behold this beauty is also learnt from one word — the little word "thy." It was because the tabernacle was God's that its beauty appeared so great. Now, no alien from God can find a joy in anything because it is God's. He who loves not a person can never see a beauty in that person's house simply because it is his. Affection for the inhabitant must precede love for the habitation.

(A. G. Brown.)

The Christian loves the sanctuary —

I. BECAUSE IT IS THE DWELLING-PLACE OF THE MOST HIGH. In the works of creation and providence we behold Him coming forth as a God of ineffable goodness, unable, as it were, from the graciousness of His nature, to withhold unnumbered good things even from the fallen. But it is the sanctuary which is the tabernacle of His glory. There He specially reveals Himself as the God of all grace; there is the mercy-seat; there, sinful though we be, we may draw nigh to the God of our spirits through the High Priest of our profession, the Son of His love.

II. BECAUSE HE FEELS PLEASURE IN ITS HALLOWED EMPLOYMENTS. He knows by experience that as in Ezekiel's vision the healing waters flowed from the sanctuary, and imparted life and fertility to every region through which they wound their way, so the gifts and graces of God's Holy Spirit, descending from the heavenly Zion, pour their refreshing and sanctifying current through the courts of the Lord's house, and that from its services, as from consecrated channels, he drinks of that stream which makes glad the city of God.

III. BECAUSE IT IS THE SYMBOL OF BETTER THINGS TO COME. Our mental joys within these earthly temples are but the beginnings and the foretastes of the joys of heaven; our songs in the assembly of the great congregation, they are but the representative of the vast multitude who are even now singing the new song of the redeemed; and all the privileges which surround us, and in which we now delight, are the only outline of the final state of perfection when we appear in that land of which the Lord God is the light, and the glory, and the sanctuary. Oh! how glorious shall be that service compared with this!

(S. Bridge, M. A.)

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