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The psalmist lamenteth the loss of God's favour. 38 But thou hast cast off and thou shortened: thou hast coabhorred, thou hast been wroth vered him with shame. Selah. with thine anointed.
46 How long, LORD? wilt thou 39 Thou hast made void the hide thyself for ever? shall thy covenant of thy servant: thou wrath burn like fire? hast profaned his crown by cast- 47 Remember how short my ing it to the ground.
time is : wherefore hast thou 40 Thou hast broken down all made all men in vain ? his hedges; thou hast brought 48 What man is he that liveth, his strong holds to ruin. and shall not see death ? shall
41 All that pass by the way he deliver his soul from the hand spoil him : he is a reproach to of the grave ? Selah. his neighbours.
49 Lord, where are thy former 42 Thou hast set up the right loving kindnesses, which thou hand of his adversaries; thou swarest unto David in thy truth? hast made all his enemies to re- 50 Remember, LORD, the rejoice.
proach of thy servants; how I 43 Thou hast also turned the do bear in my bosom the reedge of his sword, and hast not proach of all the mighty people; made him to stand in the bat- 51 Wherewith thine enemies tle.
have reproached, 0 LORD; 44 Thou hast made his glory wherewith they have reproached to cease, and cast his throne the footsteps of thine anointed. down to the ground.
52 Blessed be the LORD for 45 The days of his youth hast evermore. Amen, and Amen.
How the covenant of God may be made void. Countless are the devices of man's deceitful heart, for reconciling a life of disobedience with the enjoyment of the divine blessings. The covenant of God, for instance, is pleaded by some, as authorising or sanctioning a life of ungodliness. And men express themselves as if they were surprised to find that there is any risk of their perishing everlastingly, after they have once been bound to God, and God bound to them, by that most sacred bond. Let such persons hear the psalmist, the inspired psalmist say to God," thou hast made void the covenant of thy servant." Let them learn hence, that this must be a righteous thing for God to do, whensoever his people by their transgressions make void their covenant with Him. The descendants of David had no ground to complain in their grievous calamities. Their disasters and disgrace were the consequences of their own misconduct. And Christians, the seed of Him who is the seed of David, Christians who according to the promises of Christ might look to wear “a crown of glory that fadeth not away," 1 Pet. 5. 4, will have no one but themselves to blame to all eternity, if they should be given up to the malice of their spiritual enemy, and sentenced to everlasting shame.
We must own that there appears to be some difficulty here. There appears to be some ground for the devices of self deceit in this unquestionable truth, that God is at once just; and the Justifier of them which believe in Jesus; in the life and immortality brought to light by Christ in the gospel, and offered in his name to the very chiefest of sinners. But though there is ground on which those who wish to be deceived may be deceived, there is nothing which need perplex an honest enquirer after truth ; there is nothing to uphold any one in the notion, that because he is a Christian, because he is by covenant a member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven, therefore he may the more safely lead a life the very opposite to that which God has commanded. No, certainly; for the same holy Scriptures, which tell us the glad tidings of the Gospel, set forth this great instance of God's love, the redemption of mankind by Christ, as in itself a most weighty reason for standing in awe of his judgments. ' And even our own sense could tell us, that the greater is the mercy which we venture to abuse, of so much the sorer punishment are we worthy.
And yet who is there amongst as that has not by wilful transgression made void his covenant with God? Who durst venture to abide by the words of the Gospel, as the rule of his life, and the measure of his sentence, to be applied to him in all their fulness, and in all their strictness, to be applied to all that he has done, and said, and thought, all that he has wished, and loved, and feared, since the time when he was made partaker of the Christian covenant? Blessed be God, that we are yet allowed to plead for fresh acts of grace on his part, for renewal of pardon, and renewed restoration to his favour. Let us with the psalmist plead our own infirmity, how short our time is, how frail we are, how mortal. Let us in our prayers remind God of his former lovingkindnesses, and beseech Him to repeat them yet once more in our behalf. Let us urge the reproach wherewith his enemies are apt to reproach not only us, but the cause which we bring into discredit
, if we fall away unto perdition. And whilst we pray that God may raise us up, and make us to walk uprightly in the ways of his commandments, let us not conclude without praising his holy name, alike for the mercies we have heretofore experienced, and for those which we pray and hope for in time to come. Blessed be the Lord for evermore, Amen, and Amen.”
The psalmist lamenteth how short our time is.
A Prayer of Moses the man of God. 'i Lord, thou hast been our 10 The days of our years are dwelling place in all genera- threescore years and ten; and tions.
if by reason of strength they 2 Before the mountains were be fourscore years, yet is their brought forth, or ever thou hadst strength labour and sorrow; for formed the earth and the world, it is soon cut off, and we fly even from everlasting to ever- away, lasting, thou art God.
11 Who knoweth the power of 3 Thou turnest man to de- thine anger ? even according to struction ; and sayest, Return, thy fear, so is thy wrath. ye children of men.
12 So teach us to number our 4 For a thousand years in thy days, that we may apply our sight are but as yesterday when hearts unto wisdom. it is past, and as a watch in the 13 Return, () LORD, how night.
long? and let it repent thee 5 Thou carriest them away as concerning thy servants. with a flood; they are as a 14 O satisfy us early with thy sleep: in the morning they are mercy; that we may rejoice like grass which groweth up. and be glad all our days.
6 In the morning it flourish- 15 Make us glad according to eth, and groweth up; in the the days wherein thou hast afevening it is cut down, and flicted us, and the years wherewithereth.
in we have seen evil, 7 For we
are consumed by 16 Let thy work appear unto thine anger, and by thy wrath thy servants, and thy glory are we troubled.
unto their children. 8 Thou hast set our iniquities 17 And let the beauty of the before thee, our secret sins in Lord our God be upon us : the light of thy countenance. and establish thou the work of
9 For all our days are passed our hands upon us; yea, the away in thy wrath: we spend work of our hands establish our years as a tale that is told. thou it.
LECTURE 935. The prayer of this psalm adapted to our case. If this psalm were written, as the title implies, by Moses, it was probably on occasion of the great mourning wherewith the people mourned in the wilderness, on being informed that by reason of their faithless murmurings they should perish there, and never come into the promised land. See Numb. 14. 39. It certainly expresses sentiments very suitable to the Israelites in that season of most deep affliction, but which are also just, and true, seasonable, and profitable, at all times, and to all mankind. God, the eternal God, is in all ages a never failing refuge to mortal man. His eternal being is ever fitted to inspire confidence
and adoration in us, who for our sins have been made mortal, and whose time, whether it be a thousand years as at the first, or threescore and ten as now, is but as yesterday in the sight of the Almighty. His sentence it is that has turned us to destruction, saying, “ Return, ye children of men,” or, as it is written in the book of Genesis, “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou returo." Gen. 3. 19. He it is who makes us to be swept away “as with a flood,” to pass off" as a sleep,” to be cut down and wither “ like grass.” It is by his anger that we are consumed, by his wrath that we are troubled. And why? because of our iniquities; because our most secret sins are open in the sight of Him with whom we have to do. Because we are transgressors of his will, rebellious children, creatures that submit not to the laws of their Creator ; therefore are our days few and evil, therefore do we soon bring our years to an end, even as a tale that is told.
But with our mortality thus staring us in the face, with the many instances daily reminding us, that in the midst of life we are in death, how few are there that seriously lay to heart the power of the wrath of God! how few who seem to understand, that in proportion as they duly fear God, the risk of suffering by his wrath is less ! Well may we all join in this supplication of the psalmist, “ So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” The shorter our time is, and the more we therefore hasten to enjoy it, make us, O Lord, sensible, that our way to live in pleasure, is to live according to thy will. In the marvellous forbearance and loving kindness, which Thou hast shewed to thy servants, let us find a constant source of joy, a continual thenie of thankfulness. And as Thou hast been pleased to work good out of evil, and hast turned even the sin of man into an occasion of manifesting thy own great goodness in the redemption of mankind through Christ, so let us also be “glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us,” let our transitory years of trouble soon be turned into an eternity of joy. “Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children.” Yea, Lord, give us the wisdom to see, to understand, and to acknowledge, thy marvellous work, in the saving of our sinful race. “ And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us,” that is to say, the beauty of holiness in which Thou Thyself art ever glorious. “ And establish thou the work of our hands upon us : yea, the work of our hands establish thou.” Work in us that which is good; and accept the good works which we are thus enabled to do; establish them, record them in our favour, and reward them according to thy promise, in the world which is to come, for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.
The psalmist setteth forth the safety of the godly. i He that dwelleth in the se- 9 Because thou hast made the cret place of the most high shall LORD which is my refuge, even abide under the shadow of the the most high, thy habitation ; Almighty.
10 There shall no evil befall 2 I will say of the Lord, He thee, neither shall any plague is my refuge and my fortress: come nigh thy dwelling. my God; in him will I trust. 11 For he shall give his angels 3 Surely he shall deliver thee charge over thee, to keep thee from the snare of the fowler, and in all thy ways. from the noisome pestilence. 12 They shall bear thee up in 4 He shall cover thee with his their hands, lest thou dash thy feathers, and under his wings foot against a stone. shalt thou trust : his truth shall 13 Thou shalt tread upon the be thy shield and buckler. lion and adder: the young lion
5 Thou shalt not be afraid for and the dragon shalt thou tramthe terror by night; nor for the ple under feet. arrow that fieth by day;
14 Because he hath set his 6 Nor for the pestilence that love upon me, therefore will I walketh in darkness ; nor for deliver him: I will set him on the destruction that wasteth at high, because he hath known noonday.
my name. 7 A thousand shall fall at thy 15 He shall call upon me, and side, and ten thousand at thy I will answer him: I will be right hand; but it shall not with him in trouble; I will decome nigh thee.
liver him, and honour him. 8 Only with thine eyes shalt 16 With long life will I satisfy thou behold and see the reward him, and shew him my salvaof the wicked.
The witness of prophecy to the blessedness of Christ. Happy indeed are they to whom this beautiful description may justly be applied; safe in the midst of danger, with angels to minister to their safety, with God himself for their Friend; happy they of whom it may be truly said, that they dwell “in the secret place of the most high.” Surely these are they to whom the apostle writes, “ Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” Col. 3. 2, 3. Surely this is to dwell “ in the secret place of the most high,” when in our hearts we are much with Him by faith, not caring for our devout affections to be gazed on by mankind, but delighting to pour them out in prayer and praise unto our “ Father, which seeth in secret;" Matt. 6. 18; and delighting to ponr them before God in acts of self denial, zeal, and bounty, so privately and quietly performed,