May 23.—Morning. [Or October 12.]
“O Lord, my God, thou art very great.”
ANOTHER of David’s grandest Psalms is—
which our space compels us to read almost without comment.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain: who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind: Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire: Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.
6, 7, 8, 9 Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment: the waters stood above the mountains. (Probably alluding to the flood.) At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away. They go up by the mountains; (rising in mists and exhalations) they go down by the valleys (rippling in rills, leaping in cataracts) unto the place which thou hast founded for them. Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the earth.
10, 11, 12 He sendeth the springs into the valleys, which run among the hills. They give drink to every beast of the field: the wild asses quench their thirst. By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation, which sing among the branches.
13, 14, 15 He watereth the hills from his chambers: the earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works. He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man’s heart.
16 The trees of the Lord are full of sap; the cedars of Lebanon, which he hath planted;
17 Where the birds make their nests: as for the stork, the fir trees are her house.
18 The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats; and the rocks for the conies. (So that each place has its creature, and each creature its place. The loneliest spots are populous.)
19, 20, 21, 22, 23 He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down. Thou makest darkness, and it is night: wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth. The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God. The sun ariseth, they gather themselves together, and lay them down in their dens. Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening. (Thus each period has its appropriate action, the wheels of providence never stand still.)
24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches. So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts. There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein. These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season. That thou givest them they gather: thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good. Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth. (God is in all things, great or small. He has not left the world to mere laws and forces, but he is working everywhere. Let us behold him and adore.)
31 The glory of the Lord shall endure for ever: the Lord shall rejoice in his works.
And if he does so, it is not wise on our part to close our eyes to nature’s beauties under the notion of superior spirituality.
32 He looketh on the earth, and it trembleth: he toucheth the hills, and they smoke.
33 I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.
34 My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the Lord.
35 Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth, and let the wicked be no more. (For they alone spoil creation, and blot the Maker’s handiwork.) Bless thou the Lord, O my soul. Praise ye the Lord.
May 23.—Evening. [Or October 13.]
“Wait thou only upon God.”
ANOTHER Psalm highly characteristic of David is—
which we are in the habit of calling the only Psalm, from its containing such frequent repetitions of the word only. David rejoiced to place his confidence in God “only.”
1 Truly (or as it is in the original only) my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation. (Our salvation in no measure or degree comes to us from any but the Lord; let us therefore depend alone upon him. If to wait on God be worship, to wait on the creature is idolatry; if to wait on God alone be true faith, to associate an arm of flesh with him is audacious unbelief, yet, how very few of its steer clear of these evils, and look to God alone.)
2 He only if my rock and my salvation; he is my defence; I shall not be greatly moved.
“Moved,” as one says, “but not removed.” Moved like a ship at anchor, which swings with the tide, but is not swept away by the current. Nothing stays the soul like a faith which leans alone on God. In faith it is good to have but one string to our bow, one pillar to our house.
3 How long will ye imagine mischief against a man? ye shall be slain all of you: as a bowing wall shall ye be, and as a tottering fence.
4 They only consult to cast him down from his excellency: they delight in lies: they bless with their mouth, but they curse inwardly. Selah. (The world is full of flatterers, and these are plotters against our best prosperity: let us fly from them to the one only confidence of the saints. If we have God for us, who can be against us?)
5 My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. (Knock at no other door but that of thy God. God is one; let thy hopes look towards him alone. A single eye will fill thee with light.)
6 He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved.
7 In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.
Notice how David brands his own initials upon every title which he rejoicingly gives to God, my expectation, my rock, my salvation, my glory, and so on. There are seven my’s in two verses, and there can never be too many. The faith which makes personal appropriation of divine blessings is the faith we all need.
8 Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah. (Ye to whom his love is revealed, reveal yourselves to him. Turn the vessel of your soul upside down in his presence, and let your inmost thoughts, desires, sorrows and sins be poured out like water. To keep our griefs to ourselves is to hoard up wretchedness. Give your woe free course before the Lord, and its end is near.)
9 Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a lie: to be laid in the balance, they are altogether lighter than vanity.
Men, whether great or small, are still but men, and men are dust. To trust in the many is folly, to rely upon the eminent few is madness; to depend upon the Lord alone is the only sanity.
10 Trust not in oppression, and become not vain in robbery: if riches increase, set not your heart upon them. (Here is a difficult precept, for worldly wealth is a slimy thing, and is too apt to cling to the heart. Perhaps this is the reason why so many of the saints are in poverty, because the Lord would spare them from being tempted by increasing riches, God only must be our rest, and not the treasures of time. Wealth is but wind if we make it our confidence.)
11 God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God.
Not to men nor to their possessions may we look for power, that is the prerogative of God alone. Those are wise who look for help alone to him.
12 Also unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy: for thou renderest to every man according to his work. (He gives us strength equal to our day. Power is all his own, but he will render as much to us as our work requires. Let us seek it at his hands, and at his hands only.)
Ever to the Saviour cling,
Trust in him and none beside:
Never let an earthly thing
Hide from thee the Crucified.
Ever cast on him thy care,
He invites thee so to do;
Never let thy soul despair,
He will surely help thee through.
Ever live as in the view
Of the day of glory, near;
Never be to Christ untrue,
Thou shalt soon his glory share.