The LORD reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the distant shores be glad.
I. THE AFFIRMATION or THESE PSALMS - that Jehovah is King. "The Lord reigneth." The writer has no doubt of it at all. Therefore:
1. He bids the whole earth rejoice, even to its uttermost parts, the scattered islands of the sea.
2. He admits that much mystery remains. "Clouds and darkness are," etc.
3. Nevertheless, he affirms that righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne. The Lord is enthroned, and righteousness and judgment shall be habitually upheld.
4. Nature bears witness to him. Lightnings, earthquakes, volcanoes, the earth melting like wax, symbolize his majesty and power.
5. The heathen are confounded, whilst his people,for abundant reasons (ver. 9), rejoice.
II. THE GENERAL DENIAL OF THIS AFFIRMATION, which is met with in our day. There are not a few who say that the Lord will reign; but that, as yet, the state of the world is getting worse and worse, and will do so until the coming of the Lord, when he will bring all evil to an end. They look forward to that second coming of the Lord as the great hope of the Church. Hence it is only as having the right and the power to reign, and as now and then manifesting that power, that, at present, the Lord can be said to reign. They believe that the Lord shall reign, not that he does. But note -
III. THE NEW TESTAMENT CONFIRMATION OF THIS PSALM.
1. It everywhere declares that the Lord is King, is reigning now. Because such is the just conclusion from its constant statements that the coming of Christ was "at hand;" that generation in which our Lord lived was not to pass away until the coming of his kingdom. Some standing around him - so he declared - should not taste of death till they had seen him coming in glory. And with this all the teachings of the apostles agree. They tell of the Lord's coming as "at hand." They believed that some of them should remain and be alive at his coming. "The kingdom of heaven is at hand," was the burden of their preaching; they went everywhere proclaiming that, and the coming of the Lord as its inauguration. But if our Lord has not come, then how are his words, and the words of his apostles, whom the Holy Spirit was to lead into all truth, to be understood? We shrink from saying that they were mistaken, and, unwittingly, taught error. Therefore we believe that he has come, and that he is indeed and in truth reigning now.
2. And the objection - Why, then, is evil so rampant? - is met by St. Paul's statement in 1 Corinthians 15:23-26. There the reign of Christ is plainly declared, and that "he must reign till he hath put," etc. (ver. 25), evidently implying that, though he doth reign, yet there will be enemies still to be subdued, and this will be only a gradual process. His coming was not to put an end all at once, in a moment, to all evil; but it should ultimately be done.
3. And this is still being done. Let the laws and customs of Christian nations tell. They are evil enough in many parts still, but will any one dare to say that the lot of humanity is as dark now as it was in our Lord's day? Has he done nothing for us? Who will say that? And let the growth and increased purity of the Church - far short, doubtless, of what they should and will be - also tell. And the Lord's work by his Spirit in the individual believing soul. Are we not conscious that he is more and more putting all our spiritual foes under his feet? Therefore we believe that the Lord has come, and that he reigneth.
IV. THE BLESSED RESULTS OF THIS BELIEF.
1. The need for twisting the Scriptures is taken away. We can read them in their plain and obvious meaning.
2. The infidel's taunt is silenced. Gibbon sneers at the Christian's belief, taking it for granted that the Lord has not come. And many today base their unbelief on the glaring contradiction between the Scriptures and the doctrine of so many Christians that Christ has not yet come.
3. We are not fighting a losing battle. The state of the world is not darkening drear - as so many say - but brightening. The Church has not to wait for, but to rejoice in, his presence.
4. Death, in the old dread meaning of the word, is abolished.
5. Satan is judged, fallen, condemned. We, whilst trusting in Christ, need have no fear. The Lord is King. - S.C.
1. The primary foundation of this duty is the soul's relation to God. Every consideration by which we commend filial piety towards earthly parents holds still more forcibly in reference to our heavenly Father. How unnatural the child that never asked his father for anything, that never made his mother the confidante of his troubles and difficulties, that could drink the cup of enjoyment and success, and never ask his parents to share it, or that never poured into their hungering ears the expressions of affection and honour. What opportunities the wants, troubles, and enjoyments of childhood afford for intercourse between parent and child, for the moulding influence of the parent to exert itself upon the child's character, for the play of mutual affection and delight. Judging from human analogy, it would seem quite sufficient reason for God's making the bestowment of His best blessings to depend upon their being sought in prayer, that "communications concerning giving and receiving" send themselves so directly to the expression and strengthening of love.
Give unto the Lord the glory due unto His name: bring an offering, and come into His courtsI. PRAYER. As we all have religious feelings to express, sins to acknowledge, mercies temporal and spiritual for which to give thanks, evils to feel or fear, with regard to ourselves and others, it highly becomes us to join together, and to lift up our hearts with one accord, in a public and social manner, to the hearer of prayer, and thus to offer unto Him our united homage and supplication with thanksgiving. Prayer is not only a duty, it is a high privilege and honour; the nearest approach to God, and the highest enjoyment of Him which we are capable of in this world.
II. PRAISE. The saints on high, and the angels around the throne, praise God in the highest, and well does it become men upon earth to join their humble notes of praise to the anthem of the heavenly choirs, in exalting together His great and glorious name. All the works of God praise Him, from the heights of heaven to the depths of the earth; the angels around the throne praise Him; the sun, and moon, and stars of light praise Him in their courses; the mountains, and valleys, and woods, and fields, and seas, and streams of water praise Him; the elements of nature praise Him and obey His Word.
III. THE PREACHING AND HEARING OF THE WORD. Both the ministers and the hearers of the Word should watch over themselves, that they may have singleness of eye and heart to the glory of God, more desirous of the Divine approbation than of human applause, avoiding all vain and vexatious questions, which profit not, but engender strife and ungodliness, and which violate that heavenly charity without which all our services are hateful in the sight of God.
IV. THE GIVING AND RECEIVING OF THE SACRAMENT OF THE LORD'S SUPPER. We should consider the "nature and design of the Lord's Supper," the dispositions which are required for an acceptable participation, and the graces which it is calculated to cherish. The Lord's Supper thus observed would be attended with the happiest and most beneficial effects on our hearts and lives, in confirming our faith, enlivening our hope and charity, and in promoting our progress in holiness, and in meetness for the pure and perfect service of heaven.
(J. Wightman, D. D.)
(J. O. Dykes, D. D.)
2. Prayer is a duty we owe to God's name, an offering which we ought to make to His blessedness. "God is love," and love has its expectations, its satisfactions, its dues, its delights. "Will a man rob God?" the prophet asks. Ah, we have robbed Him of dearer treasure than tithes and offerings. Where is the husband or wife, the father or daughter, who would not account the withholding of the affection that was their just expectation a more grievous wrong than any passing injury or lapse of material gifts? Our obligation as Christians to live in communion with God is all the stronger that in these last days He hath spoken unto us by His Son.
3. Public worship is a duty we owe to God as witnesses to His existence, authority, and grace. The maintenance of this testimony is a most efficient means of advancing His kingdom in the world. When we render it, we are doing in a humble way the work of such men as Elijah and Daniel. This is one important use of public worship. Such worship, by uniting many suppliants in one request, calls forth more abundant praise when it is granted: it provides, also, a fuller expression of adoration than the individual soul can compass, and therefore intensifies and exalts its feeling; further, it exhibits the sympathy and concord of human beings in the loftiest employment of their powers; but beyond all this, it lifts up a clear and striking testimony to the reality of God's authority and grace, and bids men everywhere bow down before their Maker.
4. The neglect of prayer indicates a general indifference to duty. Since we are really dependent upon the inspiration and guidance of God for the power to serve Him acceptably, to neglect the means of obtaining these is to be careless where we ought to be most careful. If out of the heart are the issues of life, and prayer is the chief instrument of heart culture, how blamable our want of diligence in it. To neglect prayer is to leave our loyalty open to every hostile temptation, to burn our lamp and make no provision to replace the exhausted oil.
(E. W. Shalders, B.A.)
Worship the Lord in
(Abp. Trench.)I. ITS NATURE. It consists in devout exercises of the soul, whether in meditation, adoration, admiration, or supplication. It is the spirit disentangled from the sensuous and engaged in fellowship with the Invisible and Divine.
1. Worship is a necessity of man's nature. He is no mere machine, or thinker, or theorist; he is pre-eminently a worshipper, distinctively moral in his make, religious in his proclivities, akin in the great spiritual invisibilities of his nature to the all-glorious Creator.
2. Worship is an evidence of man's greatness. The existence of moral intuitions amid the sad wreck of the soul by sin proclaims a fallen nobility, a crownless royalty: yea, tells it even now to be — "Sublime in ruins and grand in woe."
3. In worship man finds his native element. Like the bird which has been encaged for weary months, that breaks through the wires of its prison and escapes on swift wing, pealing forth its song of freedom as it finds its native element, so the believer, escaping from the din and turmoil of the world, or of business, and entering into the hallowed retreat of the closet, or "the holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High," hears amid its hush and stillness angelic voices whispering, "The Lord is in His holy Temple," and finds in His presence the society for which he was made, and the fellowship for which he pants. There is a kinship of soul, an affinity of sympathy, a unity of will, a oneness of spirit, a reciprocity of affection.
II. ITS OBJECT. "Worship the Lord."
1. He should be worshipped in His sovereign and paternal relationship to us.
2. He should be worshipped in the Tri-unity of His nature. Though it be impossible to give a "positive definition of the distinction between Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit, yet this is no sufficient reason for denying the distinction itself, of which the Bible assures us; for reason, when left to herself, sets before us objects concerning which we, indeed, know that they exist, but concerning whose nature we have no positive knowledge. We can only distinguish between them and some false representations, or determine what they are net; but of their intrinsic nature, how they are we have not the slightest knowledge."
3. Man becomes assimilated to the object of his worship. How vastly important, then, that our knowledge of God should be intelligent, correct, scriptural, and true.
III. ITS SPIRIT. "In the beauty of holiness."
(J. O. Keen, D.D.)
(A. Bennie, B.D.)
(B. Herford, D.D.)
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