Psalm 90:17
May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish for us the work of our hands--establish the work of our hands!
A Lovable GodD. Swing.Psalm 90:17
BeautyJ. Stalker, D. D.Psalm 90:17
Beauty from ChristR. Venting.Psalm 90:17
Man's Prayer for Triumph Over Time and DeathHomilistPsalm 90:17
Moral BeautyA. P. Peabody, D.D.Psalm 90:17
Moral BeautyG. Bedford, D.D.Psalm 90:17
Prayer and WorkR. Tuck Psalm 90:17
Spiritual BeautyJohn Dunlop.Psalm 90:17
The Beauty of GodA. Raleigh, D.D.Psalm 90:17
The Beauty of GodDean Vaughan.Psalm 90:17
The Beauty of the LordW. M. Statham.Psalm 90:17
The Beauty of the LordJ. Halsey.Psalm 90:17
The Cry of the Mortal to the UndyingA. Maclaren, D.D.Psalm 90:17
The Privilege of Believers in Knowing God's GloryR. Frew.Psalm 90:17
Work Made BeautifulPsalm 90:17
God -- the Home of the Soul of ManPsalm 90:1-17
God a Dwelling-PlaceC. Bradley, M.A.Psalm 90:1-17
God as a Dwelling-PlaceF. B. Meyer, B.A.Psalm 90:1-17
God Our HomeR. Rainy, D.D.Psalm 90:1-17
God Our HomeM. B. Riddle, D. D.Psalm 90:1-17
House and HomeJ. J. Wray.Psalm 90:1-17
Jehovah Our HomeHomilistPsalm 90:1-17
Man and His MakerHomilistPsalm 90:1-17
The Abiding-PlaceJ. G. Van Slyke, D.D.Psalm 90:1-17
The Gate to God's AcreM. R. Vincent, D.D.Psalm 90:1-17
The Glorious HabitationPsalm 90:1-17
The Lord Our Dwelling PlaceS. Conway Psalm 90:1-17
The Prayer of MosesT. W. Chambers, D.D.Psalm 90:1-17
The Psalm of the WanderingsF. B. Meyer, B.A.Psalm 90:1-17
Divine TeachingBp. Sumner.Psalm 90:12-17
For the New YearR. V. Hunter.Psalm 90:12-17
How Rightly to Number Our DaysT. De Witt Talmage.Psalm 90:12-17
Life Measured by DaysHomilistPsalm 90:12-17
Life WisdomS. S. Mitchell, D.D.Psalm 90:12-17
Man Imploring the Mercy of GodHomilistPsalm 90:12-17
Numbering Our DaysJ. O. Davies.Psalm 90:12-17
Numbering Our DaysS. Summers.Psalm 90:12-17
Numbering Our DaysJ. E. Henry, M.A.Psalm 90:12-17
On Numbering Our DaysJames Saurin.Psalm 90:12-17
Right Estimate of LifeHomilistPsalm 90:12-17
The Brevity of Human LifeG. T. Noel, M.A.Psalm 90:12-17
The Divine Arithmetic of LifeE. J. Hardy, M.A.Psalm 90:12-17
The Just Estimate of the Shortness of Human LifeT. Secker.Psalm 90:12-17
The Transitoriness of LifeF. W. Robertson, M. A.Psalm 90:12-17
The True Use of TimeW. H. Murray.Psalm 90:12-17
The Wise Reckoning of TimeD. L. Carroll, D.D.Psalm 90:12-17
Time Wisely ComputedC. F. Childe, M.A.Psalm 90:12-17
Gladness for SadnessPsalm 90:15-17
Prayer for Divine Revealing of the Mystery of LifeR. Tuck Psalm 90:16, 17

And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.

I. THAT GOOD MEN ARE ENGAGED IN IMPORTANT WORK. God has a work to do; and the psalmist prays that it may be made manifest to their eyes. We desire to see God's work - the revelations and exercises of his great power and love. But the thought here is of our work.

1. It is divinely appointed. Not self-chosen. The great aim of it is the same as God's - to save men, by our giving them all possible help.

2. This work gives to life its chief value and interest. Living for the bodies and souls of others is intrinsically more valuable than all the private ends we pursue.

II. GOOD MEN FEEL ANXIOUS FOR THE SUCCESS OF THEIR WORK. They want it established, made strong, prospered. Even as they aim to succeed in their temporal work. On account of the intrinsic importance of the work itself. Because of the consequences of the work in the future. "And thy glory unto their children." Good men think not only of their own future, but of the future of Christ's Church. Because of our future. It will soon be of the utmost consequence to us whether our work has been established or not. Have we done anything, are we doing anything, that will last - of a beneficent kind?

III. GOOD MEN FEEL THAT THE SUCCESS OF THEM WORE DEPENDS ON THE BLESSING OF GOD. "Let thy beauty be upon us, and establish thou the work of our hands." If our work is to be strong - be established - the strength must come from God. The utmost we can do is to accomplish the outward conditions of success; but God alone can reach the heart of the sinner and sufferer to cleanse and comfort. Our work ought to be beautiful, but God alone can give the beauty. If our work be the work of gratitude, love, humility, and self-sacrifice, it is God that has made it beautiful.


1. God has made prayer necessary to the success of spiritual work. Christ taught this constantly, "Pray ye the Lord of the harvest," etc.; "Thy kingdom come."

2. As a matter of experience, the men who have prayed most over their work have succeeded best. Their prayer expressed their earnestness and faith - trust and spirit of dependence. Observe how work and prayer are here conjoined, Prayer useless where there is no work on hand. - S.

Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us.
We all feel moral beauty to be the highest. Much as we may admire the delicate touches of light and shade in a landscape, the rainbow tints on the rosy-coloured Alps, the beautiful gothic of the arched forest, the fragrant Kentish banks, the human face divine, yet we all feel that given a touch of heroism, martyr-like courage, or persevering fidelity to truth, the beauty of character as far exceeds beauty of face as the soul is higher and nobler than the tabernacle in which it dwells. Blessed be God, the Divine nature can be restored to us, "Where sin abounded grace did much more abound," and as at the Cross we receive pardon and remission of our sins, so in vital union with Christ do we receive the new nature and the new name.

I. THE BEAUTY OF GOD IN OUR CHARACTER. We cannot have the highest beauty without having God. I do not say we cannot have anything that looks beautiful. Everything that is amiable, considerate, gentle, true, unselfish in human character is in one sense beautiful — but if you look deeply enough you will see that one thing is wanting, and that without life in God, these virtues are only like the broken arches of Bolton Abbey — beautiful in ruins.

1. God's image is beauty of the highest type.

2. The beauty of the Lord is brought out by the Spirit of God in the Christian. Character is a garment. Men see it. Religion is the life of God in the soul of man, and it blossoms before men. It is hard to see how a man can be churlish, or cold, or morose, or selfish, and yet claim to be considered a Christian; religion is not grace grafted on to our nature, but grace changing, purifying, and renewing our nature, so that we become new creatures in Christ Jesus.

3. In the midst of religious privileges this beauty may decay and decline. The Jews.

4. The production of this likeness may involve severe providences. To bring out the Divine likeness so that it may last, you may have to pass through the fiery furnace. God may put us in the furnace, but He will never heat it too highly: the picture will never be marred — never: "He will finish the work."

II. THE BLESSING OF GOD ON OUR UNDERTAKINGS. I like that expression, "work of our hands" — because all work, brain-work for instance, has to do with them, and all the forms of common toil as well. "Establish our work!" Can we all conscientiously ask God to do that? I do not mean in a spiritual sense as members of Churches, but as Christian men. Are you conducting your work on such principles that you can ask God to bless it? If not, the distinction between spiritual and secular will not help you. There is, of course, in reality no such distinction. It is conventional. But assuming that you use the distinction, how can you ask God to bless the work of your hands, if it is base, tricky, evil? When the prayer in the text was uttered —

1. It was the morning of a new life. Beautiful prayer that at special seasons. When the daughter is leaving her home, and bride and bridegroom are commencing the battle of life together, having to plan, to achieve the position which circumstances make possible to them. Yes! it is a season to kneel around the family altar, and for the fatherly lips to ask God to bless the work of their hands. So is it when we commence new undertakings about which we are full of much anxiety, and which will necessitate much effort. Who can bless, if God cannot?

2. It was the prayer of earnest men. God does not prosper our laziness, but our labour. Moreover, God meant all of us to use our hands. We want earnest hands. Not that earnestness is all. We want intelligence, thought, devoutness, wisdom, behind the earnestness! Our prayers will be but mockeries unless we have work to be established after all.

3. It was the expression of Divine dependence. The best building will soon show signs of downfall and destruction unless the work be cemented together by God.

(W. M. Statham.)

I. THE YEARNING AND LONGING CRY OF THE MORTAL FOR THE BEAUTY OF THE ETERNAL. The word translated "beauty" is, like the Greek equivalent in the New Testament, and like the English word "grace," which corresponds to them both, susceptible of a double meaning. "Grace" means both kindness and loveliness, or, as we might distinguish, both graciousness and gracefulness. And that double idea is inherent in the word, as it is inherent in the attribute of God to which it refers. So the "beauty of the Lord" means, by no quibble, but by reason of the essential loveliness of His lovingkindness, both God's loveliness and God's goodness; God's graciousness and God's (if I may use such a word) gracefulness. The prayer of the psalmist that this beauty may be "upon" us conceives of it as given to us from above and as coming floating down from Heaven, like that white Dove that fell upon Christ's head, fair and meek, gentle and lovely, and resting on our anointed heads, like a diadem and an aureole of glory. Now, that communicating graciousness, with its large gifts and its resulting beauty, is the one thing that we need in view of mortality and sorrow and change and trouble. And then, note further, that this gracious gentleness and longsuffering, giving mercy of God, when it comes down upon a man, makes him, too, beautiful with a reflected beauty. If the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, it will cover over our foulness and deformity.

II. THE CRY OF THE WORKER IN A FLEETING WORLD FOR THE PERPETUITY OF HIS WORK. "Establish," or make firm, "the work of our hands upon us," etc. Our work will be established if it is His work. This prayer in our text follows another prayer (ver. 16) — namely, "Let Thy work appear unto Thy servants." That is to say, my work will be perpetual when the work of my hands is God's work done through me. When you bring your wills into harmony with God's will, and so all your effort, even about the little things of daily life, is in consonance with His will, and in the line of His purpose, then your work will stand. If my will runs in the line of His, and if the work of my hands is "Thy work," it is not in vain that we shall cry, "establish it upon us," for it will last as long as He does. In like manner, all work will be perpetual that is done with "the beauty of the Lord our God" upon the doers of it. Whosoever has that grace in his heart, whosoever is in contact with the communicating mercy of God, and has had his character in some measure refined and ennobled and beautified by possession thereof, will do work that has in it the element of perpetuity. And our work will stand if we quietly leave it in His hands. Quietly do it to Him, never mind about results, but look after motives. Be sure that they are right, and if they are, the work will be eternal. Just as a drop of water that falls upon the moor, finds its way into the brook, and goes down the glen and on into the river, and then into the sea, and is there, though undistinguishable, so in the great summing up of everything at the end the tiniest deed that was done for God, though it was done far away up amongst the mountain solitudes where no eyes saw, shall live and be represented in its effects on others and in its glad issues to the doer.

(A. Maclaren, D.D.)

Our times need the doctrine of a lovable God — a God whoso moral beauty may be all around us and upon us. The distortion and deformity of the Deity have long enough followed mankind. The moral beauty of such a Being should be above us, and in man's heart and life. This "beauty" may in part be seen in the assumption of a long day for the unfolding of the Divine plan. It is perfectly vain to seek the "beauty of God" in the few days that surround man here. It is necessary to chant the words of the old anthem, "from everlasting to everlasting Thou art God." As we cannot take up a drop of water from the Atlantic and find in that drop the flow of the tides, the lifting up of billows, the power that floats all the ships of a thousand ports, and the soft and loud music of calm and storm; as to see the ocean we must grasp it all in its rocky bed, bordered by continents, so we cannot, in the face of a dying infant, or in the adversity of a good man, see the government of love of God. It has boundaries wider than these. We must wait, and, what the fleeting moments of man deny, ask the great years of God to bring. The tides of the mind, the deep music of human waters, cannot be seen in the drop of life. There is a God of justice that may be all lovable. The punishment may be so just, so inseparable from conscious guilt, so essential to the welfare of time and eternity, that it will not make God fearful, but will be one more circle of splendour in His halo of light. Alongside this attribute of justice must be seen with wonderful distinctness the fatherly love. We must give thousands of years of time to a Divine love. Our earth must be seen floating, not in an ether which our chemists shall attempt to weigh — not even in that sweet ether which Figuier imagines to surround some stars, and to be the food of the souls beyond — but floating in a Divine love.

(D. Swing.)

What are some of the characteristics of moral beauty?

1. Beauty has no sharp angles, but its lines of continuance are so gentle that curve melts into curve. The truly beautiful life has no breaks, no harsh traits, or times when the better nature seems asleep or on a journey; no sudden starts from moral torpor into fresh spiritual life. The moral life is uniform; varied, it may be, at times, but pervaded always by the same spirit. But let it be said emphatically that this beauty cannot be put on. The blast that shall awake the soul's rich melody must come, not from without, but from within. This beauty can be sustained only by taking our Saviour's motto, "I am not alone, but the Father is with me." The felt presence of God will be efficient beyond all things in keeping passion subdued and temper under control, while we maintain in the daily flow of life that sweet serenity with which everything good is seen to be in harmony. I remember seeing a picture of Joseph's workshop, representing the carpentership of our Lord. The holy light which encircled the place rested on the shavings, the chips, the plane, and the saw, making it look like a picture of heaven. The painter was right; for with our Lord there was just the same Divine beauty in His handling of the plane and the saw as when He stooped at the grave of Lazarus and bade him rise and come forth. In so far as we can put this spirit into the humblest of work or play we make it divinely beautiful.

2. This beauty grows, or, if not, it cannot be. This is so with the outward beauty of the universe and its changes; year by year the spring in its delicate foliage is beautiful as it comes upon us so full of promise from the lifeless winter; but not less beautiful is the glow of summer; nor is the limit of this beauty reached till the fields bend with ripening grain, the trees with golden, luscious fruit, and the vines are drooping with the purple clusters. But the beauty of character, as that of nature, fades as soon as it ceases to grow. Take God's perfect law, and look at it as the microscope for the examination of your characters; bring it to the level of your thought, feeling, and conduct for a single day; look close and deep, endeavour to ascertain precisely how your soul would appear with the strictest standard of judgment applied. I trust many of you would find ample reason to be happy and thankful; but are you sure that the microscopic mirror would not reveal to you those defects of which otherwise you were not aware? But apply this scrutiny to your Saviour's character, and it only brings to light finer lines and richer hues of spiritual beauty; and those who have been long in the holy temple of that Divine character feel that it still grows upon them, and they can see more and more to admire every year they live. Thus it is that the best of men and women can talk of themselves in the humblest terms, not because they are less good, but because they use the microscope of God's law upon themselves, and therefore see the difference between themselves and their heavenly Father. The more of His Spirit they have the more earnestly they crave for more.

3. Such are some of the characteristics of moral or spiritual beauty; and we need it for our own sake and for the sake of our fellowman.(1) For our own sake, because without it we cannot in any sense be satisfied with ourselves.(2) We need this beauty of character for the sake of others; it is this which, far more than anything else, confers goodness and the power of doing good. You will do good not so much by what you say as by what you are. What you say and do for others, and what you give, is the mere multiplicand of which yourself and the soul of goodness in you is immeasurably the larger multiplier; and the nature of the product depends mainly upon the multiplier.

4. Contemplate for one moment the union of strength and beauty in our great Exemplar, Christ; and the degree to which that strength, in Him so peculiar, lay in His beauty of character. As for strength, the world has not seen might like His. You know how the multitudes were silenced into respect by His presence. His days were full of energetic toil, and the prophetic phrase, "travelling in the greatness of His strength," seems to refer to the momentous journey from His baptism to His cross; but would this might have come down through the ages had it not been for its majestic and transcendent beauty?

5. Take with you on your life's journey the motto given in our text: "Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us." Seek with strength that beauty that shall make your strength immeasurably stronger; so far as you can see along your path, instead of thorns, instead of briars, show by your faithful conduct that the flowers of heaven can grow on earthly ground. Worship God in the beauty of holiness; not alone in formal prayer and praise, but by making your work itself worship, your enjoyments thanksgiving. Rejoice in the Lord always; and so live that yours shall ever be a happy, lovely service, one that waits not for its reward in heaven, but is in itself an exceeding great reward

(A. P. Peabody, D.D.)

I. WHAT IS THE BEAUTY OF GOD? Some have said that beauty is the indication of utility, the stamp of the highest usefulness. Others have made it to consist in the harmony of opposites; others in proportion or symmetry; others in conformity to a certain ideal standard of perfection. The saying attributed to comes nearest to satisfying us, — "Beauty is the splendour of truth." It is the lustre of perfection, the sign or token of a completed ideal. It always suggests the thought of a Being behind who seeks to realize His ideas and express Himself in them, and give a conception of their worth and beneficence. Do not beauty and sublimity owe their power to this, that they are suggestions of the illimitable, the transcendent, the infinite? Once in the history of this sinful world infinite beauty appeared. Divine loveliness spoke and acted among us, shone through the eyes, and lived in the actions and sufferings of Jesus of Nazareth. A beauty more splendid than day and all the jewelled crown of night, more tender than the most ethereal tints of flowers, more sublime than the mountains — the beauty of Divine love and truth and righteousness, of patience and longsuffering, dwelt in mortal flesh, streaming evermore through its covering, seeming the richer and tenderer for its covering, till it shone out in noontide glory through anguish and death. It is a perception of the beauty of God, a delight in it, a desire after it, which distinguish the spiritual man from others.

II. THE BEAUTY OF GOD AS REFLECTED IN MAN. There is always a suggestion of joy and hope about spiritual beauty. It speaks of a wide horizon. It is the beauty of a day in spring, having a hold of the future, while struggling with east winds and rain; looking on to summer, and not back upon it as do the fairest autumn days. It is the beauty of the rising sun, or of the sky before sunrise that presages a day of glory. Benevolence is the essential element. It is love that is lovely. To love the Infinite One and all Being in and through Him cannot but impart to the soul a deep beauty in harmony and alliance with the fairest scenes in Nature. But it is a strong and abundant life that is beautiful. Strength is the natural and genuine root of loveliness; and if there be anything fair to look upon that is not associated with this, but is rather a tender delicate grace inseparable from feebleness of principle or purpose, it must be somewhat of the nature of a sickly flush. Only, we should not forget that there is a beauty that precedes strength. For this is a characteristic of God's work as distinguished from man's, that it carries a measure of beauty with it from the beginning through all its stages. There is one beauty of the tender shoot and another of the plant in flower. Unity is an element of beauty. Intellect requires unity and is pursued through all sciences by this quenchless thirst. Conscience, heart and imagination also desire it, and without it have no rest. If we will examine it, we shall find that in every object which we reckon beautiful there is unity open or concealed. What we call proportion, harmony, balance, order are only modifications of this. But unity must never be so understood as to seem in conflict with freedom. The beautiful is free, expansive, flowing. Unity and freedom are both included in this utterance, as they are in the truth of things — "I will walk at liberty because I seek Thy precepts." Joy also is an element of beauty. The joy that we get by looking at Christ is healing and softening. It is a joy from beholding beauty of the loftiest and tenderest kind, and must be productive of beauty. Repose is not less an element of beauty. How powerfully this element of calm strikes us in the life of our Lord. He had the repose of a perfectly balanced soul, of strength and love, of patience, meekness, and unshaken trust in God. Hence there is a beauty in Him of which the tranquil majestic vault of heaven and the serene stars are a picture. They who inherit His peace cannot but inherit something of His beauty. Naturalness and unconsciousness must be added as necessary to all the elements of beauty. Let us have simple reality, whatever else we want. The beauty of life is life. We do not make beauty. It grows. We must not seek it directly, else we shall certainly miss it. Now, what light does this psalm shed on this beauty of God? What light does it give on the means of attaining it? First of all, a soul must have its home in God. It must have rest and a centre, and it can only have this in the bosom of infinite love. It must realize God's eternity. A deep sense of sin is another outstanding element in this psalm, and there is no real beauty possible to sinful man without that. The gladness that God gives, and the wisdom that God gives, are both prominent here, and they are both necessary to work out the beauty of God in us.

(A. Raleigh, D.D.)

There is a relation between beauty and work. In this writer's mind the two things are indissolubly connected. To him the beauty of the Divine nature is the beauty of an energy ever streaming forth towards some harmonious and perfect end. This is clear from the parallelism between the parts of this sentence: "Let Thy work appear unto Thy servants," "And Thy glory unto their children," and, "Let the beauty of the Lord our God rest upon us." God's work, then, is His glory and His beauty. The three are correlated as parallel, and therefore kindred, ideas. Perfect beauty is the fruit of activity ever tending towards useful and beneficent ends. You may have a beautiful statue or a beautiful picture, but the highest beauty is when you have movement and development. A painted flower, however exquisitely wrought, can never exercise the same charm as a growing wheat-stalk or an expanding rose-bud. Work itself is beautiful. What is more fascinating than to watch the movements of a skilled workman, a master of his craft? Let us understand, then, that the only truly beautiful life is the active life. The beautiful hand is the hand that has wrought something for the benefit and enrichment of humanity, that has achieved something for the common good. If I were to ask you to name the most beautiful life ever lived upon this earth, you would not hesitate. You would name the life of Jesus of Nazareth, the life whose motto was, "Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business?" and whose record was, "He went about doing good." And herein was its beauty, that though cut off in its prime, He could say, "I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do." And I want you to feel that "the beauty of the Lord our God" may be upon us in all honest, earnest doing. No one ever asks whether Jesus of Nazareth was physically beautiful or not. He may have been plain-featured, as was ; none the less is He the "altogether lovely" to our thought. It is significant that religion should be always spoken of in the Bible as a work of Divine "grace" in the heart; and "grace" is an essential element in our conception of beauty. It is the same identification as that which arose in the mind of the psalmist. He is thinking of no mere outward decoration stuck on to hide something ugly, like the plaster and stucco adornments of our modern debased architecture, which only accentuate the native hideousness of that which they are designed to conceal. He is thinking of the beauty which is the expression of an inward life, the "beauty of holiness."

(J. Halsey.)

Beauty is that indescribable something in an object of sight or thought which awakens in us a feeling of satisfaction and gratification by the presentment of a perfect symmetry and harmony, a true proportion and adjustment, a unity without confusion or discord of a multitude of parts in a complete and congruous whole. And thus far the feeling is one and the same in the region of sense and in the region of mind. The beautiful in nature, the beautiful in art, the beautiful in literature, the beautiful in a person, the beautiful in a character, might be spoken of without impropriety in the same terms and ascribed substantially to the same characteristics, however distinct and diverse its action in these several provinces. The effect, the influence of beauty is, of course, utterly different in a thing and in a person — in a scene or a landscape on the one hand, in a countenance or a character on the other; and yet the same nominal account might be given of both, and the admiration awakened by both might be described in the very same phrase. Even so is it in that beauty which the text speaks of. Like that love of God which the Bible tells of, and which we must conceive of, however inadequately, as of the same nature and texture, so to say, only differing in its intensity and its purity, as the love which glorifies and sanctifies this human life of ours, so also is the beauty of God and the admiration of it by men and angels not to be idealized away in the fear of too much humanizing it; rather shall we dare to say of it, that it is the same quality and the same emotion in nature and science with the human, only infinitely lifted above it by its application to that one object in which there is no touch of defect in the beauty, and no possibility of excess in the admiration. It is still the symmetry and the harmony, the unity in manifoldness, the combination of parts in one consistent and congruous whole, which is the beauty, and which awakens the admiration of God Himself. But now, lest we should lose the thought in words, or fail to grasp the thing signified, just because it is so far above out of our sight, let us mention two or three particulars, the absence of any one of which in the revelation of what God is would be fatal to the beauty, and therefore fatal to the admiration, of God.

1. And we shall all, I think, be willing to place first, and not last, the Divine holiness as an attribute essential to the perfect Being. When a man really feels what sin is, feels what is the hatefulness, the meanness, the shamefulness, what is the wretchedness of sin, or of having sinned; that he even wishes to have it judged, and punished, and slain in himself; that it were no boon, but a sore penalty to be left with, and in, his sin, punishment being excused him; — I am sure that that man would miss in God, if it were not there, the attribute of severity; he would feel that the proportion, that the balance, that the combination was imperfect, if the Lord God were not, whatever else He be, strictly, severely just, of purer eyes than to look with toleration upon iniquity whatever the consequence to the creature that has clone amiss, and let in the tempter.

2. But if holiness is the first ingredient of the Divine beauty, certainly you will all say that sympathy is the second. To have revealed to me only a just God, only a God who rewards or recompenses according to our deservings, or only a God who makes His sun to rise indifferently on the evil and the good, and has made no provision at all for the mighty transition from the one class to the other by an all-availlng sacrifice and by a sanctifying Spirit — this would be to break the unity, to destroy the harmony, of Divine beauty, for it would leave me such as I am, out of the light and the warmth, out of the very reach and scope of the saving regard. I want the sympathy, which can supplement, which can condescend to touch the leper, and avail to say to the dead man, "I say unto thee, Arise."

3. And we must not end without a third element, and what is that but the Divine help? Oh, when the battle has gone against me, when the good resolution has been again broken, when the severe lesson of consequence has been learned yet once more in vain, where should we be and what, if we might not still look up and lift up the eyes to One who is willing, often as it is, to help our infirmities, who will not upbraid us with sin or ingratitude will we but seek Him again with all our hearts, crying out for strength perfect in weakness, nay, enabling us to hazard the audacious yet most true paradox, "When I am weak," just then, and then only, "I am strong"? Oh, "let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us," stirring us first to admiration, then to adoration, and then to communion. Let us remember how each one of the constituent parts of the Divine beauty is associated in Scripture with the name of Love. In one single letter St. Paul uses the three phrases, "Love of God," "Love of Christ, "Love of the Spirit." In one single verse St. Paul brings together in prayer the Trinity of the Divine Unity when he says, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship (or communion) of the Holy Ghost be with you all." Grace, love, communion. What lack we yet? Only that we stir up the gift; only that with such blessings as ours we starve not for lack of using; only that we east ourselves more humbly upon the goodness and forbearance, and longsuffering which has suffered us all those years, and still waits to bless.

(Dean Vaughan.)

Beauty would be said, I dare say, by scholars, to be not a Hebrew, but a Greek idea. And yet the Hebrews had an idea of their own of beauty, and a very original one.

I. THAT GOD IS BEAUTIFUL (2 Chronicles 20:21; Psalm 27:4; Zechariah 9:17; Isaiah 33:17).

1. A feature of God which appears to ms go have this attractiveness is His own love of beauty. All the beauty that exists in the universe is of God's making. "From Him all things sweet derive their sweetness, all things fair their beauty, all things bright their splendour, all things that live their life, all things sentient their sense, all that move their vigour, all intelligences their knowledge, all things perfect their perfection, all things in any wise good their goodness."

2. A second feature of the mind of God which makes the same impression is the artistic perfection He bestows on His work. The two great instruments of modern scientific investigation, the telescope and the microscope, have enlarged our knowledge of God's works in opposite directions.

3. There is a beauty of a still higher order, which we call moral, and this is still more characteristic of God. There are some elements of moral character which we cannot see displayed in men or illustrated in their actions without the heart rising up to greet them with delight. Gentleness, for instance, is of this nature. Is there any sight more touching you can see in a home than a strong man stooping to a child, and laying aside his strength and dignity to be its playmate, or in the streets than a father leading his little one and waiting patiently for the toddling foot? The same may be said of generosity. If a man who has been wronged, having both right and power on his side, yet forbears to take revenge and heaps kindness on his enemy, poetry will celebrate his act, and every heart that listens to it will respond. Self-sacrifice, voluntarily giving up comfort and dignity to go down to the rescue of the miserable, commands the same kind of allegiance. Now, all the qualities of this class, in their highest form and intensest degree, belong to God. They are comprehended in what is called the grace of God.

4. One other feature of the beauty of God must be mentioned, because it is the one which the Old Testament writers chiefly had in view when they conceived God as beautiful. This is holiness. God is even called in one passage "the beauty of holiness." Now, by this word we generally understand a negation of everything impure, absolute freedom from sin and abhorrence of it. But in the Scriptures the word has a more positive and a richer signification: it signifies the perfection and unison of all God's attributes. No quality belonging to a perfect being is absent from His nature; every quality is present in perfect development; and all are in unbroken harmony. This is very nearly the Greek idea of beauty.

II. THE CHURCH OF GOD IS BEAUTIFUL, and its beauty is derived from the beauty of God: "Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us." Is not holiness beautiful? Is there anything else so beautiful? I appeal to you who have seen it. Have you ever known any one who was conspicuously holy; who, when he met you, created in you the impression often that he had just come out of the presence of Jehovah, and that the glory of the interview was still lingering about him; whose very look reminded you of God and heaven, and was an undeniable proof of their existence? If you leave known such an one, tell me if you have ever seen anything else so beautiful as such a character? It is all beautiful, but there are some elements of holiness that have a quite peculiar attractiveness. Humility is one. What a lovely grace that is, especially when it is united with exceptional position or exceptional gifts! Unselfishness produces the same effect on the beholder, and so does the simplicity of a large manhood. But the beauty of the Church and of the true Christian is not only the beauty of the Lord in the sense of being like His, but also in the sense of being obtained from Him. It is not natural, not derived. It is a beauty which the Lord puts upon His people; and it is communicated not from without, but from within.

(J. Stalker, D. D.)

I. MAN'S CHARACTER WHEN DIVINELY BEAUTIFIED. The prayer is that the beauty of God should "be upon us." Then we shall remain. Our circumstances will change, our condition alter, our bodily powers decay, but upon us, that is upon something that is the actual, veritable indestructible we, a Divine something may ever rest. The "beauty of God" is that something. "All colours, lines, beauties of visible creation and of the invisible heavens are but dim hints of the ineffable beauty of God," the beauty not of His creation, which is only a partial manifestation of Him, but of His character, which is Himself. This beauty of holiness is the beauty of God. When it clothes, covers, possesses, in a word is "upon" the human character, man is Divinely beautified.

I. What is the nature of this beauty?(1) Manifold. Exquisite variety.(2) Complete. No blemish or defect.(3) Lasting. True character endures. Fever cannot burn out truth, consumption cannot waste away conscience, the axe or the guillotine cannot smite love. When we pray for the beauty of God, then we pray for a character that nothing can consume, or wither, or even enfeeble.

2. What is the method of its attainment?(1) Right relationship with God. God must be our home, the sphere of our thoughts, labours, loves. Reconciled to God; at one with God.(2) The discipline of the past. It was upon Moses, when he was old, that the "beauty of the Lord our God" was to rest. Just as it was upon "Paul the aged" that there gathered the glories of contentment, and peace, and heroism, that lit up his brow as with a diadem from heaven.

II. MAN'S WORK WHEN DIVINELY BLESSED. "Establish Thou the work of our hands," etc. Men's works outlive them. This is true in every sphere. The common mason's labour has helped to build houses that will stand long after he has become dust. And in the realms of mind and morals it is still more emphatically so. But man's great triumph, as Moses felt his would be, is in work that God so establishes that generations to come shall be blessed by it. It may have been quiet work. It may have been unseen work, as the hidden under waves of the tide that leave their deep ripples congealed on the sand long after the tossing, breaking surface breakers have been absorbed again in the great sea. Yes, in its results, work done for God and done in God's Spirit is permanent. The results of the work of a reformer, like Luther, or statesman like Hampden, or philanthropist like Howard, are henceforward part and parcel of the moral universe, as truly as the planets are part and parcel of the material. But yet more permanent. They will last throughout eternity.


This beauty is —

I. VARIED. Faith in Abraham; patience in Job; purity in Joseph; meekness in Moses; earnestness in Paul; love in John; all in Jesus.

II. GROWING. Like corn: first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear; like the growth of trees: first the seedling, then the young tree fenced round, then the large tree fully developed, with its beautiful arch reflecting perfectly the great arch of the majestic sky overhead; like light: first the twilight, then the silver dawn gradually growing into the golden splendours of noon.

III. UNFADING. Earthly beauty grows until it reaches full bloom, and then it begins to fade. But not so with the beauty of God. It grows brighter and brighter, for ever and ever. Time cannot write its wrinkles; care cannot plough its furrows; disease cannot impress its marks upon any of the features of this beauty; death cannot breathe upon its fadeless bloom.

IV. ATTRACTING. Josephus informs us that the babe, Moses, was so remarkable for beauty, that "it happened frequently that those that met him, as he was carried along the road, were obliged to turn again upon seeing the child; that they left what they were about and stood still a great while to look on him." Thus the perfect beauty of childhood is attracting, and in this it is a lovely symbol of spiritual Beauty. The beauty of God upon the primitive Church drew the eyes of the heathen toward her, and forced from them the exclamation, "Behold these Christians, how they love one another." The beauty of God upon the disciples caused the people around to wonder, and take "knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus." The beauty of God upon the members of the Church has been drawing and assimilating men of all tribes and all ages. And in proportion as her members have this beauty upon them are they successful in making others lovely.

V. UNCONSCIOUS. A dutiful daughter watches by the bedside of her dying mother; anticipates her every wish; serves her day and night. How beautiful she is, but she does not know it. So with spiritual beauty (Exodus 34:29; Matthew 25:37-39). Thus, like the beauty of stars and rainbows, and flowers, and birds, and children, the beauty of God upon us, not in crescent fragments, but in full-orbed splendour, is invariably unconscious, until revealed to us by those who gaze upon it.

VI. RARE. It is rare as a few flowers amid a garden of weeds; rare as a few pebbles gleaming up out of an ocean of sand; rare as a few star clusters shining on the dark breast of night. It is rare and yet free, rare and yet attainable. Oh, it is wonderful that this beauty should be so uncommon when it is so free! It is universally attainable, for "it is unto all and upon all them that believe."

(John Dunlop.)


II. THE EFFECTS WHICH THE BEAUTY OF THE LORD OUR GOD PRODUCES; it establishes the work of our hands; yea, most certainly the work of our hands shall be established. The privilege mentioned in our text consists of two parts: a vision of the beauty of the Lord, and an appropriation of Him as our God. The means of this vision and appropriation is usually called faith in the Word of God.

1. The work of our personal salvation is a great work, in which every one is concerned to be established. This is the one thing needful; and until we have some assurance of it, we can never be happy. Let us labour, then, to enter into this rest by faith.

2. Another great work every believer will wish to see carried on, and established, is the furtherance of Messiah's kingdom upon earth. "Let Thy kingdom come," he will constantly pray, in the conversion of Jew and Gentile, in the progress of the Gospel at home and abroad.

(R. Frew.)

I. THIS BEAUTY OF THE LORD OUR GOD WAS ORIGINALLY UPON US, — was the primitive endowment of mankind, our highest and divinest excellence, described by our Creator Himself His own "image."

1. Wisdom and knowledge.

2. Moral purity.

3. Vigour of moral purpose, or rectitude of will.

4. Supreme felicity in the Divine favour.

5. Immortal life.


1. By the fall, or the incipient act of human disobedience against God, moral evil has contaminated the whole of our nature. Sin entered, and in its train soon followed ignorance, error, weakness, guilt, misery and death.

2. The moral beauty of our original nature is utterly lost. If there exist any traces of man's former beauty, they resemble such only as are left behind in the fragments of an edifice, or a city, which a conflagration has destroyed, or an earthquake shaken into ruins.

3. Our moral beauty, so far as relates to ourselves, is irrecoverably lost.


1. We now see this beauty actually restored, in the person of the Son of God in our nature. He is called the second man, the Lord from heaven, — the restorer of the ruins of the first Adam, — by the renovation of the moral nature of all who are in Him, — upon the principle of assimilation to His own moral beauty.

2. The ministry, or dispensation of the Spirit, furnishes another firm support to the hopes of those who are desirous of attaining to the beauty of the Lord their God. The souls whom the Spirit of God renews and adorns after the image of Jesus Christ, shall retain the freshness and the perfection of their new and spiritual beauty for ever; and neither grow old nor grow weary in the felicities of their heavenly state.

3. The promises of the Divine Word are also replete with assurances of the restoration of our fallen nature.

4. The Mediator, Jesus Christ, is now glorified at His Father's right hand in our nature; and has received all power in heaven and on earth, — power directly official and mediatorial, for the purpose of completing those objects that brought Him into our world corporeally.

5. Our hope, if not founded upon the experience of the saints of God, is yet confirmed and illustrated by it; for what we read concerning those in distant ages, and what we have witnessed in our own days, — of the knowledge, holiness, obedience, spirituality, joy and triumph of the Lord's people, that we know is attainable still. And since the attainment of a renewed mind depends upon no gifts of nature, no mysteries of art, no advantages of birth, no endowments of education, no privileges of station or rank, but entirely upon Divine grace, every anxious, humble, wrestling heart may indulge the joyous hope of receiving the blessing.


1. The text sets before you by example, the important, all-important exercise and means of prayer.

2. There must be diligent attention to the Word of God, and faith in it. This is the celestial mirror both of truth and beauty; the very exact, identical reflection or image of all that we are required both to be and to do; not a broken fragment, as the heathens fabled in their classic story of the natural mirror of truth, first given perfect into the hand of man, but afterwards dashed to the ground, and pieces only of which can now be gathered up and fitted together with much skill and infinite labour by the wisest of the sons of men; but that mirror of truth which we possess is perfect and entire, — the mirror of the Divine mind, most pure, perfect, and unsullied. Into this law of liberty we must daily look, not as "a natural man beholding his face in a glass," but coming thereto and continuing therein, that we may be changed, and till we are "changed, into the same image, from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord."

(G. Bedford, D.D.)

Modern science teaches us that the crimson colour of a rose is not in the rose itself, but consists alone in the flower's property of picking out, and reflecting back the crimson ray that mingles in the sun's white light. And this applies to flowers of every hue. Their beauty is not their own; it is wholly due to the colours which emanate from the sun itself. So it is equally true of the believer. He has no grace of beauty in himself, but all his purity of thought and life, like the beauty of the flowers, is drawn from the Sun of Righteousness. In Christ he is "fair as the splendid, flower-embroidered hangings of Judah's royal palace."

(R. Venting.)

A pathetic story is told of Professor Herkomer, the famous authority on art. His aged father, who lived with him in his beautiful home at Bushey, Hefts., used to model in clay in his early life. Later, when he had nothing definite to do, he took to it again; but his constant fear was that his work would show the marks of imperfection. At night he would go to rest early, and then his talented son would take up his father's feeble attempts and make the work as beautiful as he well knows how. When the old man came clown in the morning he would go to see the work, and say, with evident satisfaction, "Ha! I can do as well as ever I did!" May we not believe that the hands of Divine Love will thus make beautiful our feeble work for God till it shall bear the light of day, and be perfect to all eternity!.

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
I. THE SOLITARY VOICE OF FAITH. "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High" — how high up that "secret place" must be; how deep the silence up there; how pure the air! How far above the poisonous mists that cling to the low-lying swamps; how far out of the reach of the arrows or shots of the foeman, is he that dwelleth with God by communion, by constancy of desire, by aspiration, and by clear recognition of the Divine goal of all his work! "He that dwelleth" thus, "in the secret place of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty" — and since He is Almighty the long shadow that that great rock casts will shelter him who keeps beneath it from the burning rays of the fiery sunshine, in every " weary land." Let me keep myself in touch with God, and I keep myself master of all things, and secure from the evil that is in evil.

II. THE GREAT ASSURANCES WHICH ANSWER TO THIS SOLITARY VOICE OF FAITH. Now, is it true, as the psalmist goes on to portray under a double figure of battle and pestilence, that the man who thus trusts is saved from widespread calamities which may be devastating the lines of a community? If we look on the surface it is not true. Those that "dwell in the secret place of the Most High" will die of an epidemic — cholera, or smallpox — like the men beside them that have no such abode. But, for all that, it is true! For suppose two men, one a Christian, another not, both dying from the same epidemic. Yet the difference between the two is such that we may confidently say of the one, "He that believeth shall never die," and of the other that he has died. It is irrelevant to talk about vaccination being a better prophylactic than faith. No doubt this psalmist was thinking mainly of physical life. No doubt, also, you and I have better means of interpreting and understanding Providence and its dealings than he had. And for us the belief that they who "dwell in the secret place of the Most High" are immune from death, is possible and imperative, after a fashion far nobler and better than the psalmist could have dreamed. We must remember Old Testament conditions when we read Old Testament promises, and apply New Testament interpretations to Old Testament assurances. When we read, "there shall no evil befall thee," and think of our own harassed, tempest-tossed, often sorrowful lives, and broken, solitary hearts, we must learn that the evil that educates is not evil, and that the chastening of the Father's hand is good; and that nothing that brings a man nearer to God can be an enemy. The poison is wiped off the arrow, though the arrow may mercifully wound; and the evil in the evil is all dissipated.

III. A DEEPER VOICE still coming in, and confirming the enlarging all these promises. God Himself speaks, promising deliverance consequent upon fixed love. "Because he hath set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him." As the word in the original suggests, when a poor man presses himself close up against the Divine breast, as a dog might against his master's limbs, or one that loves might clasp close to himself the beloved, then God responds to the desire for close contact, and in union He brings deliverance. Further, He promises elevation consequent on acquaintance with Divine character. "I will set him on high" — high above all the weltering flood of evil that washes vainly round the base of the cliff — "because he hath known My name." Loving acquaintance with the revealed character of God lifts a man above earth and all its ills. Further, there is the promise of Divine companionship consequent on sorrows. "I will be with him in trouble." Some of us know what that means, how we never get a glimpse of God until earth was dark, and how when a devastating flood as it seemed came sweeping over the fair gardens of our lives, we found, when it had gone back, that it had left fertility that we knew nothing about before. "With long life will I satisfy him," through the ages of eternity, and "show him My salvation" in the glories of an immortal life.

(A. Maclaren, D.D.)

Rarely, if anywhere, has faith made so complete a shield of God, or planted itself so firmly within the circle of His defence. No wonder we find this psalm called in the Talmud a "Song of Accidents," that is, a talisman or prophylactic in times of danger. And no wonder the ancient Church used it as its "Invocavit," to rally and encourage the hearts of the faithful in troublous and stormy times. The question is, How are we to understand it? Is it true? Can a man, because he is a Christian, and fears God, count upon such immunity as is here described? Does he lead a sort of charmed life, clothed with impenetrable armour, which no shaft of pestilence can pierce, so that while thousands or tens of thousands may fall at his right hand, he shall never be touched? We know that it is not so. Is there, then, any way in which we can interpret it, so as to use it with intelligence and profit to ourselves?

I. THE DIFFICULTY WE FEEL IN CONNECTION WITH THE PSALM IS NOT THAT IT ASSUMES A SPECIAL PROVIDENCE, AS WE CALL. IT. This is taught everywhere in Scripture. It is difficult, indeed, to see how there can be any providence at all if it does not condescend to particulars, and take the individual, as well as the community or the race, into account. In the Old Testament its primary concern is with Israel as a people, and with the individual only in a subordinate and secondary degree. In the New Testament the individual is more distinctly and definitely an object of Divine regard. He, and the community of which he forms a part, are equally essential to one another, and that because the Church is not moved and governed from without, but from within; and such a government is impossible, except by the indwelling of the Spirit of God in the heart of each individual believer.


1. In the Old Testament the Divine providence was specially concerned in so guiding and controlling the history of Israel, that in it as a nation the kingdom of God, or of the Messias, should be realized. He was to judge the world with righteousness, and the poor with judgment. His reign was to be an era of peace and prosperity which should know no end. Those who were to be more immediately about Him, and to occupy the chief places of honour and authority, were to be His own people, to whom in a special sense He belonged. And round them, in ever-widening and more distant circles, were to be the other inhabitants of earth, all under the sway of the same benignant sceptre.

2. In the New Testament the point of view is entirely different. Religion is not embodied in a national history, nor is the kingdom of God an earthly kingdom, as even the disciples believed it would be up to the Day of Pentecost. Its essential characteristics are spiritual — righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. What made the difference? It was the Cross of Christ. On this stone of offence Israel had stumbled, and been broken in pieces. The kingdom of God was henceforth to appear under altered conditions. The old things having passed away, all things became new. And on this new creation was the impress of the Cross. And how had the Cross so transformed the whole spiritual outlook and hopes of men? It had shown that the greatest evil was sin, and that the righteousness which was to characterize the kingdom of the Messias could only be reached by atonement. Henceforward the great evil to be shunned was not poverty, nor hardship, but that which all along had arrayed itself against Him, and finally had nailed Him to the tree. Henceforth the greatest blessing to be gained was to have His spirit of disinterested and generous self-sacrifice. But the Cross of Jesus was more than the altar of expiation, more than the revelation of a love that passeth knowledge. It was also the consummation of His own experience, the perfecting of His humanity. But the sacrifice of the Cross, it may be said, was voluntarily borne. And though Christians must be ready to suffer for the truth, and to lighten the world's burden, by bearing it as Christ did, may they not expect to be delivered from those evils which are neither imposed by loyalty to the Gospel, nor assumed for the good of others? Have they no right to look for special protection in times of famine or pestilence; or does God send these indiscriminately on the evil and the good, just as He sends the sunshine and the rain? Undoubtedly He does, and Christians have no right to look for immunity from the ills that are the common lot of men. Inasmuch as they are still a part of a sinful humanity, they must share in the judgments which may come upon it. But does a Christian, then, derive no advantage from his Christianity in such visitations? By no means. For he has placed himself under God's care, who spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, and who cannot allow His servant to suffer, simply because He will not take the trouble to save him, or grudges what the effort might cost. Moreover, he is persuaded that God is acquainted with every particular connected with his trial, the very hairs of his head being all numbered, and that if He chose He could secure his absolute safety. And what reconciles him to the fact that God does not choose? What but the conviction that there is thus to come to him a larger blessing than he would otherwise receive?

(C. Moinet, M.A.)


1. The place. We are to enter and to abide in the secret of God.(1) God's Word has its secret. There are some who read it through chapter by chapter, who have a large amount of superficial biblical knowledge, but who know comparatively nothing of its grand, glorious, momentous secrets. There are others who so read it that they grasp the real meaning, the grand spiritual realities that underlie its utterances; they so read it that they catch the very spirit of its Divine Author, so that the views formed and the feelings kindled towards the subject of which it treats, are the same as God's. Such may be said to enter into the secret of God, or into "the secret place of the Most High."(2) Communion with God has its secret. There are some who say their prayers very regularly and very devoutly. So far as outward decorum and forms of speech are concerned, they are faultless. But communion with God there is none. There are others whose communion with Heaven is a sublime reality. The very presence of the Heavenly Father is consciously enjoyed.(3) The love of God has its secret. There are some, and we fear professing Christians too, whose feelings towards God are those of polite reserve. They know nothing of living in the love of God. But there are others who get into His very heart. They are children.(4) The purpose of God has its secret. There are some who feel little or no interest in that which lies close to God's heart, engages His profoundest sympathies, and employs His untiring energies. They have never entered into that purpose, never felt its vital importance, never conceived its glorious design. Never seriously considered whether by their lives and actions they were co-operating with God, or opposing Him. But there are others who have so closely identified themselves with God's purpose that it is the great centre to which every line of thought, of feeling, of intention, and of sympathy converges.

2. The attitude. "He that dwelleth." To dwell means a fixed, settled, habitual mode of life. It must be so with our conduct in reference to God's Word, God's friendship, God's love, and God's purpose. We must dwell in them, live in them. We must ask for no holiday, no leave of absence, there must be no departure.

3. How attained. How can we reach and take up our abode in this the very heart of God? Christ supplies the answer, "I am the way," etc.


1. We have indicated what it is to dwell in the secret place of God's Word. With minds thus furnished and filled we are under their protection. The world's thoughts, and ideas, and principles of things may assail us, but they cannot do much with us; we know better; we have received a higher education, our minds are fortified with God's thoughts, guarded with God's ideas, protected with God's principles.

2. We have indicated what it is to dwell in the secret place of God's communion. In that position we get our whole nature animated with holy impulses, sympathies, tastes, and dispositions. We get our whole nature magnetized with the nature of God. With our whole nature thus infused, fired, animated, and magnetized with the very impulses and inspirations of God's nature, we are under their protection. We are lifted into a higher sphere of life.

3. We have indicated what it is to dwell in the secret place of God's love. In that position we get our best, strongest, and supreme affections impregnated with the love of God. We live under its shadow and protection. By its high and holy and potent influence we are preserved from the love of low, base, temporal, inferior things.

4. We have indicated what it is to dwell in the secret place of God's purpose. In that position our energies, our sympathies, our interests, our intentions, and our pursuits are all enlisted and engaged in co-operating with God in bringing about the desire of His heart and the great pleasure of His will. In our labours and toils, our efforts and struggles to destroy sin and to establish holiness, whether it be in our own hearts, in the lives and conduct of our children, or in the spirit and practice of the world, we are under the protection and shadow of the Most High, because we are identified with God's purpose.

(B. Pierce.)

I. THE PLACE the psalmist has in mind. Intercourse and communion with the God that made us is not, as some represent, a fallacy. You may describe it as an idle thing; and so might the blind man say of the light of this glorious sun, and so might the deaf man say of music. But the thing is real; and your doubts of its reality lie in this — you want the discerning faculty. You want to be brought into contact with your God.

II. THE CONDUCT OF THE BELIEVER. Strip the text of metaphor, and this "dwelling" in God is only another term for trusting God. Try your confidence by these two tests. Is it an habitual, everyday confidence? Did it lead you yesterday, the day before, and the day before that, — has it led you to-day — to cast yourselves on the Lord? Is it a habit of faith? And then — is it grounded on the blood of the Lord Jesus? Is it a confidence in a reconciling, pardoning, redeeming God?

III. THE BLESSING WHICH THE BELIEVER FINDS IN THE HABITATION HE DWELLS IN. This is expressed in almost the same terms in which his conduct is expressed. He "dwells in the secret place of the Most High"; that is his conduct. He "shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty"; that is his privilege. Make God your refuge, and He will be your refuge; take Him as your habitation, and He will be your habitation; seek shelter in Him, and He will shelter you; go to Him for refreshment, and He will refresh you; delight thyself in Him, and He will give thee the desires of thy heart.

(C. Bradley, M. A.)

The psalmist has been pierced with the shafts of unkindness, yet he speaks of what he seems perfectly sure when he speaks of his dwelling in the secret place of the Most High, and abiding under the shadow of the Almighty. What is more sweet than this promise?


1. Some think the secret here spoken of is that intimacy of fellowship which God's children enjoy in communion with Him.

2. Others think it has a more definite or special meaning. To my mind it is certain that the secret spoken of contains a promise and an expectation of the coming Messiah. The Wonderful, named in Isaiah 9, is in the margin rendered "secret." So, in the text, the word rendered secret is connected with the Messiah; then the Christian's hiding-place is in Christ.

II. DWELLING IN THIS SECRET PLACE. He that dwelleth, he who has a home, in Christ shall abide in the shadow of the Almighty. Every congregation might be divided into those who make their home in the world and visit Christ, and those who have their home in Christ and visit the world. A home in Christ. Oh, wondrous thought! The psalmist speaks of God as a refuge, a home, an abiding-place. John says, We dwell in Him and He in us. He is in all we have, all we are, and all we hope to be or hope for. You might as well undertake to describe a sunset to the blind or music to the deaf, as to talk of dwelling in Christ to one who has never tasted of the graciousness of the Lord. No man knows this but he who is already in Christ.

III. THE PROMISE. He shall abide, etc. When God's love makes a promise, His sovereignty secures its fulfilment. He shall abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

1. In that shadow the Christian finds protection. We may live and die in its shadow. It is always the same, yesterday, to-day and for ever.

2. There is also refreshment in this shadow. He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High has a perfect home, complete in all that can contribute to its safety, rest, and perfectness. Oh, make the experiment!

(J. A. M. Chapman, D.D.)

Where is the secret place of the Most High? We can find it by two spiritual lines of measurement, as by latitude and longitude at sea. The longitude, we will say, is the omnipresence of God. All do not practically believe that God is everywhere. Many will acknowledge this in words, while they have no realizing sense of it which makes it of practical value. To know the longitude at sea would be of little use without another element in the calculation, the latitude; as to know the latitude without the longitude leaves the mariner bewildered. Frequently a passing ship will set her signals to inquire of another ship, What is your longitude? though the latitude may have been determined by the sun at noon. Hence the other element of measure to find the secret place of the Most High, though we know Him to be everywhere, is a praying heart. It is interesting to know that the place here mentioned is not confined to one spot. A man may always live under the same tent; the place where he eats and sleeps will always be a secret place to him; yet the tents may be movable, sometimes in a valley, then on the side of a hill; then upon the hill top. So the secret place of the Most High is movable. As there is no latitude at the poles, no longitude at Greenwich, because longitude is the distance east or west from Greenwich and latitude is the distance from either pole, this represents that which heaven will be to us, where there are no seeming distances from God; for we shall no more walk by faith but by continual sight. But on earth, in all our journeyings toward heaven, we have constant need to find the secret place of the Most High, that is, a place of communion with God. The promise in the text is to such as make praying their breath; who hold continued communion with God, referring all things to Him as their fixed habit; breathing out love, adoration, confession, supplication, more intimately than they commune with the dearest friend. The promise is that they shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. This may signify —

1. Nearness. A child walking with you abides under your shadow; you are never far from him, you keep him in sight, within reach.

2. Protection. We cannot estimate the benefit of frequent prayer.

(N. Adams, D. D.)

We have here two distinct aspects of the one life in their living relations with one another. The first clause furnishes the living reason for the second; while the second is the necessary complement of the first. The luxuriance of the figures which the psalmist employs is due to the exuberance of a profound faith that has mastered all difficulties and contradiction, and dares to assert to the utmost possibilities of language the perfect security of those that dwell in the secret of the Most High. We are here in truth at the very highest point of pre-Christian revelation with regard to man's spiritual relation to God, and it would be difficult even now to express the truth in question more grandly and truly than it is here expressed.

I. THE SECRET OF THE TRUE LIFE. There is something inspringly grand in the conception here offered, that the secret of man's truest and noblest life is identical with the secret of the Most High. The brute may find its life in the relations of the visible and temporal. But it is precisely in this that man is essentially different from the brute. He is not true man until he occupies the eternal standpoint; he does not begin to live until he has the vision of God. When man finds God's secret place, he finds the place of eternal calm.

1. Such a life is marked by "inwardness." In finding the secret of the Most High, man finds his most inward self. He enters into the inner temple of spirit, and feels the throb of life at its deepest point where it reveals its affinity to the essential life of God.

2. Again, to dwell in the secret of the Most High is to know God and be in fellowship with Him. By knowing God I do not mean an intellectual belief in His existence or a correct conception of His nature and attributes. I mean by it the direct consciousness of His presence. The life enters into the inner realm where God is seen, and gazes upon the glorious vision.

3. Such a life will be actuated and inspired by the highest ideals of service. Those that stand in the presence of God are of necessity "ministers of His that do His pleasure." Those that truly walk with God will walk like God.

II. THE SECURITY OF THE TRUE LIFE. There are three stages.

1. In the first (vers. 1-8), the idea of temporal security predominates. The man of God is immortal until his work is done.

2. In the second stage (vers. 9-13), the figures used are more suggestive of spiritual or quasi-spiritual foes.

3. The next and last stage (vers. 14-16), leads us from security and victory to honour and glorification. The relation between the victorious man and God grows wondrously near; it is a relation of mutual knowledge and of mutual love. The language grows indefinite, the glory gathers in nebulous suggestion of a dazzling beyond, the godly man becomes transfigured before us, and a cloud receives him out of our sight.

(John Thomas, M.A.)

There is some thing about the word "shadow" that always interests, for there never has been a shadow without the light; thus the "secret place" must be a place of brightness. It is a place where God is, for the nearest of all things to me in the sunlight as I journey is my shadow, and he who walks in my shadow or rests in it must be very near to me, so that when I am in the shadow of God I can reach forth my hand and touch Him; I can lift up mine eyes and see Him face to face. I know there is a sense in which God is always near us; He is in all things and He is everywhere; but there is something about the "secret of His presence" to which every one is a stranger until he has dwelt there.

I. THE TYPICAL REFERENCE must be to the holy place of the tabernacle, which the priests were privileged to enter; but Peter assures us that we have become in this new dispensation "a holy priesthood," so that it is possible for us to enter on that ground. For in the tabernacle just beyond the veil was a glory cloud, and all the magnificence that could be wrought in gold and silver, purple and fine linen; but I am persuaded that even that was as nothing when compared to that which awaits us when we enter the secret place of God.

II. It would be impossible for one to read the verses immediately following the text without being impressed with the fact that THE MOST REMARKABLE RESULTS WILL FOLLOW OUR ABIDING AND DWELLING IS THE "SECRET PLACE."

1. In the "secret place" there is peace. "In the world ye shall have tribulation," our Master said, "but in Me ye shall have peace." I have read that a certain insect has the power to surround itself with a film of air, encompassed in which it drops into the midst of muddy, stagnant pools, and remains unhurt. And the believer may be thus surrounded by the atmosphere of God, and while he is in the midst of the turmoils of the world he may be filled to overflowing with the peace of God, because God is with him. This is true whatever your occupation, if it is ever so menial. The Rev. F. B. Meyer tells us of Lawrence, the simple-minded cook, who said that "for more than sixty years he had never lost the sense of the presence of God, but was as conscious of it while performing the duties of his humble office as when partaking of the Lord's Supper." What peace he must have had.

2. In the "secret place" there is purity. I suppose we might have been with Jacob when in his dream he saw the heavens opened and beheld the angels going up and coming down and heard the voice of God, and we should only have seen the dreary mountains round about. I doubt not but that we might have been with Paul when he was caught up to the third heaven, and we should have seen nothing but the humble surroundings of his tent; and I doubt not but that if Paul were here he would see God here this morning, and he would have walked on the street with Him yesterday. Is not the trouble with ourselves instead of our surroundings or our times? Every permitted sin encrusts the windows of the soul and blinds our vision. And every victory over evil clears the vision of the soul, and we can see Him a little plainer.

3. In the "secret place" there is power. There can be no effective service that is not the outcome of communion. Our Lord's Day precedes the week of work, and this is always the plan of God. That wonderful fifteenth chapter of John is founded on that idea. We must abide first, and after that we cannot help but bear fruit. Oh that we might be so near to Him that we should be magnetized and charged with a spiritual force that the world can neither gainsay nor resist.

III. HOW MAY I ENTER INTO THIS "SECRET PLACE"? Cannot something be said that will make the way plain? It can all be summed up in this answer. None can "know the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him." Jesus Christ said, "I am the way, I am the door, by Me, if any man will, he shall enter in." There are some places in the Bible where the way seems plain. "He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood dwelleth in Me and I in him."

(J. W. Chapman, D. D.)

Mr. Meyer says, "The sun says to the little earth planet, Abide in me. Resist the temptation to fly into space; remain in the solar sphere, and I will abide in the formation of thy rocks, the verdure of thy vegetation, and of all living things, baptizing them in my fire." "Abide in me," says the ocean to the alcove, that shows symptoms of division from its waves. "Keep thy channel unsilted and open, and I will pour my fulness up to thy furthest shore twice in every twenty-four hours." Abide in me. The vine says it to the branch, that it may impart supplies of life and fruit; the air says it to the lung, that it may minister ozone and oxygen to its cells; the magnet says it to the needle, that it may communicate its own specific quality, and fit it to guide across the ocean the mighty steamer, laden with the freight of human life.

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