Sermon 2600. A Strange Yet Gracious Choice
A SERMON INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, DECEMBER 11, 1898.
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, (on its re-opening after repairs), ON THURSDAY EVENING, SEPTEMBER 6, 1883.
"For the LORD has chosen Jacob unto Himself, and Israel for His peculiar treasure." Psalm 135:4.
This is a Psalm of praise all through. It is to be sung to the high-sounding cymbals. There is not a low note anywhere-itis all robust, exhilarating, joyful! It is "Hallelujah!" from beginning to end and it did not seem possible to the Psalmistthat he could omit from it the high jubilant note of election, for if there is anything that makes Believers' hearts singunto the Lord, it is the recollection that He has chosen them and fixed His love upon them! "You have not chosen Me, but Ihave chosen you," is one of the best reasons in the world why we should adore the Lord with all our heart and mind and souland strength! If the Lord has made us to be His people, we will, indeed, with joy and gladness declare Him to be our God!If He has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus, we will make such return to Him as we can, and bless Himwith our loudest and sweetest music. Blessed be the Lord because He "has chosen Jacob unto Himself, and Israel for His peculiartreasure."
It may be said that this verse relates to the seed of Abraham. So it does, but please remember that everything which belongedto the seed of Abraham after the flesh belongs yet more to those who are the seed of Abraham according to the spirit! Indeed,there always was a peculiar blessing which never came to those who were only born according to the flesh, for Ishmael receivedit not, neither did Esau enter into it. The line of inheritance is the line of promise, the line of the Divine choice, andif you and I have believed in Jesus Christ, we are in that spiritual line! The mark of that line is faith- they that believeare of the seed of believing Abraham. His very name is "the father of the faithful" and those that are full of faith-the faithful-arethe true seed of Abraham. The Covenant in its highest and best meaning is theirs-it was made with Abraham on their account.Therefore we shall take all there is in this verse to ourselves if we are, indeed, God's covenanted ones! If He has broughtus into the bond of the Covenant by a work of Grace upon our hearts, and we are now one with that glorious promised Seed,the Lord Jesus Christ, then it is true of us and of all who are like us in this respect-"The Lord has chosen Jacob unto Himself,and Israel for His peculiar treasure."
I. The first thing which lies upon the very surface of our text is THE CHOICE-"The Lord has chosen Jacob unto Himself."
This choice is a Divine one. It is the Lord that has chosen Jacob, that very Lord who made the heavens and the earth! Jehovah,in whose hands are all things. He has made the choice and it is a very wonderful thing, though we speak of it as if it werea commonplace Truth of God. Yet, if we dive into its depths, we shall see that it is truly marvelous that God should everhave chosen any of the fallen race of mankind! He once regretted that He had made men upon the face of the earth, so sinfulhad they become, yet, knowing beforehand all about their wickedness, the Lord was pleased to make a choice of men. He mighthave chosen angels, but let it always stand as a wonderful instance of His mysterious Sovereignty that He did not choose thefallen angels-no, not even one of them! Our Lord Jesus Christ "took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took on Him theseed of Abraham."
Why was it that all the hosts of spiritual beings that fell with Lucifer are left in their fallen state without any hope ofsalvation, while God's eternal election has fallen upon the sons of men? Why, indeed! We can never understand it and can giveno answer but this, "Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight." The choice, however, was Divine, and let us notget away from that glorious Truth of God. It will give you, Believer, the highest joy to know that the Lord has chosen you-andthat knowledge will be to you a source of great strength. It will also be one of the best rebukes to the devil. You rememberhow, when Joshua, the High Priest, was standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan was standing at his right hand toresist him, the Lord said to the accuser, "The Lord rebuke you, O Satan; even the Lord that has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you!"There is no slap in the face for the devil that is so painful to him as that declaration, "The Lord has chosen Jerusalem;He has elected His people and you, O Satan, may do what you will, but you cannot change the choice of God! If He has chosenanyone, that man is of the conquering Seed before whom you have begun to fall, as Haman fell before Mordecai. But you shallfall yet lower, for the Lord has promised to the godly that He will bruise Satan under their feet shortly." God has chosenthem! It is He that says it and, therefore, let the full force of the blessed Truth of God come to each believing heart, "Ihave loved you with an everlasting love, therefore with loving kindness have I drawn you." There is an infinite sweetnessin that thought!
The choice, being Divine, is also sovereign. About this point, we are not left to speculation, for Paul has told us that "thechildren being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand,not of works, but of Him that calls," it was said to their mother Rebecca, "The elder shall serve the younger." The Divinepurpose was made in that case irrespective of character, for no character had been developed! If anyone says that it was madeon account of character foreseen, I reply that there was no good character to foresee, but as far as Jacob is concerned, althoughGrace did make him into a true Patriarch and heir of the promise, yet by nature he was a very poor stick. As I read what hedoes, when his human nature is uppermost, I feel that there is nothing in him why any mortal man should choose him, and certainlythere is no reason why God should do so! There is nothing foreseen about him except that God foresees that He will makehimgracious-but that is not the reasonwhy He makes him gracious!
There is, at the back of it all, the reason that the Lord gave to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, andI will have compassion on whom I will have compassion." I find such a stuttering and stammering about this great Truth ofGod in these days that I mean to be all the more emphatic in preaching it, for I believe that this doctrine largely helpsin producing that state of spirit into which God would have sinners brought so as to make them feel that they have no claimupon Him-no right to His mercy and that, if He gives it, He gives it simply because He chooses to give it! The choice wasmade by that great King who has a right to do as He wills and who exercises that right and, therefore, the declaration standsin our text, "Jehovah has chosen Jacob unto Himself."
So we have seen that the choice is Divine and sovereign.
And, Beloved, it is a most gracious choice. As I have already said, the more we look at the character of Jacob, the more wemust discard all idea that he was chosen for what he was by nature. From his birth, he bore the name of a sup-planter andhis brother, Esau, bitterly said, "Is not he rightly named Jacob (that is, a supplanter)? For he has supplanted me these twotimes: he took away my birthright and, behold, now he has taken away my blessing." The expression really is in the original,"Is not he rightly named Jacob? For he has Jacobed me these two times." He had supplanted his brother-put him out of his properplace. He was truly the father of all the Jews and, though I will say nothing to their disparagement, yet at driving a bargainare they not the masters of us all? And such was Jacob from the very beginning! So, as God chose him, assuredly He chose himof His Grace and for no other reason than because He would do it. Election was not of works, certainly, in Jacob's case, butof Grace and of Grace alone!
And, putting all things together, was it not a very wonderful thing that the Lord should choose Jacob? There were other menupon the face of the earth of whom God might have made a nation and from whom He might have formed the chosen Seed. I do notsuppose that even after Abraham and Isaac had come to know the Lord, they were the only people in the world who knew Him.Doubtless, there were some scattered up and down, like Job, who, I should think, is but a sample of many others. It seemsto me that if we had been about to choose a man who should found a race, we should have said, "There, Job is the man! 'Perfectand upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.'" He was a right princely man-I sometimes think that he was the grandestof all men, when I see him sitting on a dunghill, transforming it into a throne and reigning there right royally, while hesays-"The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." It was a noble saying of the man who cannotbe said to be less than the very greatest of mankind!
"You have heard of the patience of Job," and all the world shall hear of it again and again while there are ears to hear andtongues to speak! And yet, though Job is chosen unto salvation, he is not the founder of a great race-it is not in his linethat the promised Messiah is to be found, but-"the Lord has chosen Jacob."
Ah, me, why did He do it? When you have told me why He chose Jacob, I shall then try to find out why He chose me! And if Ishould find that out, probably you will, at the same time, discover why He chose you. It is all a great mystery of Grace andmust be left with Him who does as He wills-not without reasons, mark you-but without reasons that are revealed to us. Godnever acts unreasonably, yet He does not find His reasons for acting in men, but within Himself, in the heart of His compassion,in the eternal counsels of His own will. Do not think that we are talking of God as we speak of men. A man, who has a strongwill, and who carries it out as he pleases, is a very dangerous person. A despot, let him be ever so gentle, is a terriblebeing! But God-the infinitely Holy, the perfectly Just, the supremely Good-we may well leave everything with Him. It is notmerely that we must do so, but it is the best and wisest course for us! Even if we could "snatch from His hands the balanceand the rod," into what other hands could we put them? No, they must remain with Him, and we are glad it is so. To me theunlimited dominion of God is glorious. I want to have no constitutional monarchy upon the Throne of Heaven. No, let Jehovahdo absolutely as He wills, for His will must be perfect justice, perfect goodness, perfect righteousness!
So we leave this first point, the choice-"The Lord has chosen Jacob."
II. The second part of our subject is full of practical teaching, for it concerns THE REASON OR RESULT OF GOD'S CHOICE.
There are many persons who like to hear about God having chosen Jacob, but listen, dear Friends, to the next words in ourtext. "The Lord has chosen Jacob unto Himself" It does not say, "unto Heaven"-"unto certain privileges"- "unto certain favors."All that is quite true, but it does not say so here. "The Lord has chosen Jacob unto Himself" Oh, what a blessed choice isthis-to be chosen unto God! Then Jacob is not his own, for God has chosen him, "unto Himself." Then Jacob does not belongto any man, for the Lord has chosen him, "unto Himself." Now Jacob must have no motives except such as he finds in God. Hemust have no aims for which he is to live but that he may glorify his God, for "the Lord has chosen Jacob unto Himself." So,my Brothers and Sisters, if you are chosen by the Lord, you are chosen to be God's child, picked out from the rest of mankindto be, from henceforth, no longer your own, or the world's, or the devil's, but to be God's-and God's alone!
"The Lord has chosen Jacob unto Himself," first, that Jacob might know Him. While others knew not God, but paid reverenceunto those that were not gods, Jacob was chosen that he might, while he slept at Bethel, see the mystic ladder by which hemight climb to his God-and down which God might send the angels to him. Jacob must be taught about God and Jacob's seed musthave committed unto them the oracles of God. The world lies in darkness, but there is a lamp in the house of Jacob. It isblack midnight over Assyria, Babylon and Egypt, but a star shines in the heavens for Jacob and his seed! O dear Hearts, doyou understand the great mysteries of which I am speaking? Do you know the Lord-the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit? Haveyou been taught of God? Are you among those to whom your neighbor need not say, "Know the Lord," because you belong to thepeople of God who all know Him from the least even to the greatest? If so, happy, indeed, are you!
And, next, the Lord chose Jacob and his seed that they might keep His Truth afire in the world-that God's Revelation of Himselfmight be preserved by them against all comers. It is just so with Christians now-the Lord has put us in trust with the Gospel.He has committed to His servants that wonderful treasure which we have "in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the powermay be of God, and not of us." Still are we bound to earnestly "contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints."And it is as much the duty of God's people this day to guard His Truth as it was the duty of the seed of Israel to preserve,in the midst of heathen darkness, what was known of the one living and true God. "The Lord has chosen Jacob unto Himself"that he may preserve His Truth among the sons of men.
It was also committed to Jacob's descendants to keep up the worship of God. They must offer the morning and the evening lamb.They must bring the bullocks and goats and birds for sacrifice. They must set up the Tabernacle in the wilderness. They mustbuild the Temple and there the praises of Jehovah must be sung by sweet songsters day and night. Nowhere else was God to bepublicly worshipped with rites ordained by Himself except upon Mount Zion. And now, today, the pure worship of Jehovah isentrusted to His saints-nobody else can worship Him in spirit and in truth but those who have been quickened and made trueby the Holy Spirit. There is no true worship of God under Heaven except that which is rendered by His own people. Men maymake their ceremonies as gorgeous as they please, with splendor of architecture and great show of millinery, with the soundof flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer and all kinds of music-but, after all, there is no true worship except that whichcomes from hearts in which the Spirit of God dwells! So you see, dear Friends, that the maintenance of God's worship in theworld is still entrusted to His chosen.
And the Lord has chosen His people unto Himself that He may manifest His Grace in them.1 'In Judah is God known: His nameis great in Israel. In Salem also is His tabernacle and His dwelling place in Zion. There broke He the arrows of the bow,the shield, and the sword, and the battle." And it is in the midst of God's own people that His Grace is still revealed. ThereHe breaks the arrows of sin and there He scatters all the battalions of evil. "Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, Godhas shined" and still, out of the hearts of His chosen people, out of the congregation of His faithful ones, does He shineforth, for the Lord is always with those who are on His side, even with the humble hearts in which He deigns to dwell. ButHe is not with the ungodly, for they are far from Him by wicked works. Remember then, you who are chosen, that God has chosenyou "unto Himself" that He may manifest His Grace in you.
And, especially God has chosen His people that He may commune with them, that He may manifest Himself to them as He does notunto the world-that they may come near unto Him in Christ Jesus and that He may lay bare the very secret of His heart to them.Here is a text to prove my assertion-"The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him; and He will show them His Covenant."He makes His glory to pass before them and to them He reveals His choicest secrets. Happy and blessed are the people of whomthis sentence is true, "The Lord has chosen Jacob unto Himself."
Now, dear Friends, let the question go round among you-Am I one of the chosen seed? You can tell whether you are chosen ofGod by this test-Have you been chosen unto God? Can you say with Paul, "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus"? Areyou the branded slaves of Jesus Christ and yet His free men rejoicing in the liberty wherewith He makes His people free? Doyou feel as if you were shut up to one course in life, so that you can say with Paul, "This one thing I do, forgetting thosethings which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of thehigh calling of God in Christ Jesus"? Are you torn away from all former ambitions? Have you a single eye unto God's Glory?Does your heart beat for this one objective-that you may live because Christ lives in you? Then the text describes you! "TheLord has chosen Jacob unto Himself." Oh, what a thrill of delight these words may cause to pass through many, even of thosewho think they have known the Lord for years!
Come, my Heart, it is all very well for your lips to have sung about God's everlasting love, but have you been brought intocommunion and fellowship with Him? Do you feel and know that you are, indeed, the Lord's? I fear that there are some who professand call themselves Christians who live unto God in a very unsatisfactory, secondary sort of way. Like a man I have heardof who had a large farm and then took another, which he called his "off-hand farm." And there are some professors who havetheir business farm, or their pleasure farm, which is the chief matter with them-and their religion is a kind of an off-handfarm and, sometimes, they think they will get a minister or a "priest" to be the bailiff, and see to it. My Friend, I giveyou due notice that I will be no bailiff of such a farm! And I also warn you that you will never get anything worth havingunless it is your home farm and you make it the main concern of your life! God will never be put in second place-He must beeverything or He will be nothing! "The Lord has chosen Jacob unto Himself."
O my dear Friend, is it so with you? Or are you still living as if there were no God, or as if God did not demand your heart'sfull allegiance?
III. Now I will pass on to notice, very briefly, in the third place, THE SEPARATION WHICH GROWS OUT OF
THIS CHOICE. "The Lord has chosen Jacob unto Himself, and Israel for His peculiar treasure."
Then, He separates His people from the rest of mankind. Though this is not expressed in the words of the text, it is the truesense of it. And the Lord has done so. He did so with Jacob-with Israel. He made a Covenant with them and a Covenant withGod always means separation from men. What a wonderful condition for a soul to be in-to be in Covenant with God and that Covenantto run on these lines-"I will never leave you nor forsake you." "A new heart also will I give you, and a now spirit will Iput within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I willput My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you shall keep My judgments, and do them. And you shalldwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and you shall be My people, and I will be your God." That Covenant makes aclear division between the two seeds-the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent-it is one of the grandest distinctionsbetween man and man. If you are in the Covenant, Beloved, you are on the right side of that happy and blessed line of demarcation!
Then, after the Covenant with Jacob and Israel, came the Covenant heritage which made another division, for the Lord gavethe land of Canaan to the seed of Abraham and to the seed of Israel by a Covenant of salt. And God has given to His spiritualIsrael a Covenant heritage-we are to possess all things in Christ, "who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness,and sanctification, and redemption"-everything we can desire, for all things are ours if we are Christ's. Ours is a gloriousinheritance! We have everything that is necessary for this life and also for the life to come. Even Canaan had its drawbacks,but we go to a land which in very deed flows with milk and honey, where the sun goes no more down, where there is no death,neither sorrow, nor sighing, a sweet land beyond the flood, the heavenly Canaan which stands forever dressed in living green!Blessed are the eyes that can look from the top of Pisgah and "view the landscape over." But what a difference it makes betweenman and man that this one has a Covenant heritage and the other has none, for he sold it for a mess of pottage, and has nothingmore to do with it!
Then came the broad distinction which all could see, namely, that of redemption, for the seed of Jacob had to be redeemed.They had come into bondage in Egypt, but with a high hand and an outstretched arm did the Lord bring them from there. Thenthe difference began to be visible. That night when the blood-mark was on the lintel and down the two side posts, Israel wasdistinct from Egypt. The blood had made the difference, for the Lord had said, "When I see the blood, I will pass over you."O dear Hearers, have you had the blood-mark put upon you? Has the atoning Sacrifice of Christ been laid home to your heartand conscience? This is the great distinction between man and man-the blood that makes atonement for the soul! The Lord has,indeed, manifested His choice of us when we have entered into the fullness of His great redemption!
Then came the going out of Egypt which may be likened to conversion. The passage through the Red Sea, which sets forth regeneration.The dwelling in the wilderness which is a type of the life and experience of many Believers. The passing of the Jordan andthe entering into Canaan which should be a picture of the joy of all who believe in Jesus, for "we which have believed doenter into rest" and come into the land of promise. These things, which I have only mentioned in passing, made very gravedistinctions between the people of Jehovah and all other nations who looked upon them as a strange race dwelling alone andnot numbered among the ordinary nations of the earth.
This brings me again to the critical question-Has the Lord made any difference between you and the rest of mankind, dear Hearers?Have you received any pledge of the Covenant of Grace? Do you know what redeeming love means? Have you been separated fromthe world? Have you heard the voice of God crying to you, "Come out from among them, and be you separate, says the Lord, andtouch not the unclean thing. And I will receive you and will be a Father unto you, and you shall be My sons and daughters,says the Lord Almighty"? Is the world a wilderness to you? Have you looked to the bronze serpent and lived by the sight? Doesthe water from the Rock follow you-that Rock which is Christ? Do you feed on heavenly manna? Is the Lord in the midst of yourcamp? Is His Glory manifested there? Do you delight to be led by His fiery cloudy pillar from day to day? All this will bethe manifestation of the eternal separation which God made in His predestinating purpose-"The Lord has chosen Jacob unto Himself."He led Israel out into the wilderness that there He might speak to their hearts. He drew them away from men. He made themlive solitary and alone, like eagles on the rock, that they might dwell there with Him and have no strange god among them.Blessed are the people who enjoy this separation! But unhappy are the men and women who talk about election and yet have neverknown the separation which stamps their election as being a matter of fact.
IV. Now I close with one more characteristic of the people of God, and that is, THEIR ELEVATION. This is clearly in the text,"The Lord has chosen Jacob unto Himself." But He elevates Jacob in a moment, for He adds, "and Israel for His peculiar treasure."
The "supplanter" has grown into a prevailing prince. He took his brother by the heel but now he has accomplished a granderfeat than that-he has grasped the Angel and he has said, "I will not let You go, except You bless me." He supplanted Esau,but now, as a prince, he has prevailed with God and seen Him face to face-and yet he has lived! And though he goes limpingaway from the wrestling, yet is he more than conqueror through Him that loved him! Yes, Beloved, God's choice wonderfullyelevates a man! He may have been Jacob, before, but he becomes Israel afterwards! Has such an elevation as that taken placein you, my Friend?
Then see, next, that God elevated His choice in value, for He compares Jacob to a "peculiar treasure." "Since you were preciousin My sight"- oh, that is a wonderful word!-"precious in My sight," to be used by the God who says, "The silver and the goldare Mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills." "Since you were precious in My sight, you have been honorable, and I haveloved you." They are put to an honorable use, for the choicest treasures of kings, that make up their regalia, are meant tobe brought out on coronation days and on other grand occasions when they bedeck themselves with all their pearls and diamondsand stars and crowns. And such are the Lord's people, precious in His sight, "His peculiar treasure." And they are put tothis use-to adorn His doctrine in all things-to be as the jewels of His crown-to be as the signet ring upon His finger-tobe as precious stones upon His breastplate! God's people are everything to Him! There is nothing that you have, that you accountrich or rare, that is anything to you in value in comparison with what God's people are to Him! His delight is in them-thepleasure which God has in His people is truly wonderful. He made the heavens and the earth, the stars and all things thatare-and then He touched the world with His wondrous finger and molded it into the thing of beauty which it is today! And ittook Him six days to do it and when He had done it, what happened? "The morning stars sang together and all the sons of Godshouted for joy."
But did God sing? No, He simply said, in plain prose, that it was very good. That is all He had to say about it. Ah, but whenthe time comes for the newcreation, when He makes a true Believer, when He forms His Church, the bride, the Lamb's wife, weread, "He will rejoice over you with joy. He will rest in His love, He will joy over you with singing." Think of God, theEverlasting Father, the Ever-Blessed Son, and the Divine Spirit bursting out into singing! What a song must that be! I wouldlike to hear the singing of the angels and of all the host redeemed with blood that stand in their white robes before theThrone of the Most High. It must be such a song as mortal ears as yet have never heard. But, oh, to hear Godsing-the greatFather, Himself with His holy hymn-the glorious Son with His sweet Psalms-the Holy Spirit with His blessed song! We can scarcelyimagine what it must be, but the expression shows how precious the Church must be to the Lord when He is said to rejoice overher with singing!
As the love of a husband to his bride, such is the love of Christ to His people. Otherwise the Song of Solomon means nothingat all and is an idle book. As the love of a tender mother-and what can excel that?-such is the love of God to His people!Like as a mother comforts her children, even so shall the Lord God comfort you. So, then, you see, dear Friends, that thechoice of God has lifted His people right up from all their former degradation and made them precious in His sight, so thatHe, Himself, takes delight in them.
Go home, then, and take delight in God. If He can and delight in you, much more may you delight in Him! And, as the Psalmfrom which our text is taken begins with, "Praise you the Lord," so now, you who know that you are chosen by Him, praise Him!And as the Psalm ends with, "Praise you the Lord," you who love Him, you who have been loved by Him, continue to praise Himeven till your last breath-gasp out a "Hallelujah!" as you pass into eternity!
The Lord be with you, Beloved, for Jesus Christ's sake! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: PSALM135.
Verse 1. Praise you the LORD. Or, "Hallelujah." "Hallelujah" is the keynote of it. So this is one of the Hallelujah Psalms,for so it begins. And if you look at the end, you will see that so it closes. There is, "Hallelujah," again. The whole Psalmis shut in at the beginning and at the end with this which is both our duty and our delight! "Praise you the Lord."
1. Praise you the name of the LORD. The Character, the work, all that is revealed of God is a subject for praise. And especiallythat wonderful and incommunicable name, Jehovah-never mention it without praise! "Praise you the name of the Lord."
1. Praise Him, Oyou servants of the LORD. Make it a part of your service. Praise Him because you are His servants. PraiseHim because He accepts your service. You ought to be first in sounding His praises, therefore, "Praise Him, O you servantsof the Lord."
2. You that stand in the house of the LORD, in the courts of the house of our God. You are permitted to dwell near Him. Youhave a standing and an abode, an office and a work in the courts of the Lord's house. Therefore take care that you begin thestrain. Should not the King's courtiers praise Him? Praise Him, then, "you that stand in the courts of the house of our God."
3. Praise the LORD; for the LORD is good. There is one excellent reason for praising Him and you can never praise Him toomuch. He is so good that you can never extol Him to an exaggeration.
3. Sing praises unto His name; for it is pleasant. That is, singing God's praises is pleasant-it is a pleasant duty and theLord's name is pleasant, or lovely. The very thought of God brings the sweetest emotions to every renewed heart. There isno pleasure in the world that exceeds that of devotion. As we sing praises unto the Lord, we shake off the cares of the world,we rise above its smoke and mists and we get, then, the clearer atmosphere of communion with Him.
4. For the LORD has chosen Jacob unto Himself, and Israel for His peculiar treasure. There is something for you who are theLord's chosen to sing about-
"In songs of sublime adoration and praise,
You pilgrims to Zion who press,
Break forth and extol the great
Ancient of Days, His rich and distinguishing Grace."
5. For I know that the LORD is great, and that our Lord is above all gods. "I know it," says the writer of the Psalm. "I knowit by experience. I know it by observation. I am sure of it. There is no god like our God. He is a great Creator, a greatPreserver, a great Redeemer, a great Friend, a great Helper. 'I know that Jehovah is great, and that our Adonai is above allgods.'"
6. Whatever the LORD pleased, that He did in Heaven and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places. The heathen divided outthe universe into provinces-they had Jupiter to rule Heaven and earth, and Neptune for the sea, and even today many sing,but, oh, how inaccurately, "Britannia rules the waves." It is Jehovah and no one else that rules the waves! And the peopleon either land or sea! He is Lord everywhere and whatever He pleases to do is done! He is no lackey to wait upon the freewill of His creatures-"Whatever Jehovah pleased, that He did."
7. He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth. That is a very wonderful work! What millions of tons of waterare every day turned into vapor and caused to ascend from different regions of the earth to fall, again, in cheerful, refreshingrain! What would we do if this process were suspended? It is the very life-blood of the world.
7. He makes lightning for the rain. It is said that the Bible was written to teach us religion, not science. That is verytrue, but the Bible never makes a mistake in its science-and I would rather agree with the old writers who held that the Biblecontained all science than go with those who blasphemously pretend to correct the Holy Spirit and to set Him right upon geologyand I know not what besides. In the long run, it shall be proven that the old Book beats all the scientists! And when theyhave made some wonderful discovery, it will turn out that it was all recorded here long before. "He makes lightning for therain." There is an intimate connection between electricity and the formation of rain-in the East this is very clear, for weare constantly reading in books of travel of heavy downpours of rain almost always accompanied by thunderstorms.
7. He brings the wind out of His treasuries. The wind never comes puffing around us according to some freak of its own, but,"He brings the wind out of His treasuries," counting and spending it as men do their money, not suffering more wind to blowthan is needed for the high purposes of His wise government. Let praise for this be given to the God of Nature who is rulingover all and always doing as He wills! The Psalmist goes on to show that the God of Nature is also the God of His people.
8. Who smote the firstborn of Egypt, both of man and beast It was God's own hand that did it. The firstborn of man and beastcould not have died by accident all over the land of Egypt at the same hour of the night! Jehovah thus punished the guiltynation. Had they not oppressed His firstborn? Had they not cruelly trampled on His people and refused to listen to His Word?And when the time came for this last and heaviest blow, the Lord did but act in justice to them, and in mercy to His people.
9. Who sent tokens and wonders into the midst ofyou, O Egypt, upon Pharaoh, and upon all his servants. "Tokens and wonders"-notonly prodigies which astounded the people, but, "tokens," which taught them, for the plagues were directed against their deities-andlarge books might be written to show how every plague exposed the impotence of some one or other of the false gods which theEgyptians worshipped! Pharaoh and his servants were all involved in the sin, so they were all included in the punishment.How much better was it to be a servant of Jehovah than to be a servant of Pharaoh!
10. Who smote great nations and slew mighty kings. Two of them are mentioned, perhaps because they were two of the most powerfulkings who blocked the road of Israel.
11-13. Sihon king of the Amorites, and Og king ofBashan, and all the kingdoms of Canaan: and gave their land for an heritage,an heritage unto Israel His people. Your name, O LORD, endures forever. He is the same Jehovah now as He ever was. Multitudesof people, nowadays, have made unto themselves new gods-they have imagined a new character for Jehovah altogether, and theGod of the Old Testament is ignored and slandered. But not by His chosen people-they still cling to Him! The God of Abraham,of Isaac, and of Jacob is not the God of the dead, but of the living! And that is true spiritually as well as naturally. Thosewho are spiritually dead refuse to acknowledge Him and set up gods that they have imagined-but those who are quickened byHis Grace delight in Him and glorify His name. Let this, Beloved, be our joyful song, "Your name, O Lord, endures forever!"
13, 14. And Your memorial, O LORD, throughout all generations. For the LORD will judge His people, and He will repent Himselfconcerning His servants. For they have their dark times and are often in trouble through their sin. Then the Lord sends chastisementupon them, but when it has answered His purpose, He gladly enough withdraws it. How different are the idols of the heathenfrom our God!
15. The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men's hands. They can do no works, for they are themselves theresult of the work of men! Their handiwork can be nothing, for they are the work of men's hands.
16-18. They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not; they have ears, but they hear not; neitheris there any breath in their mouths. They that make them are like unto them: so is everyone that trusts in them. The originalconveys the idea that those who make such gods grow to be like them-they are continually getting to be more and more likethem. They become dumb, blind, deaf, dead as they worship such idols as these.
19, 20. Bless the LORD, O house of Israel: bless the LORD, Ohouse of Aaron: bless the LORD, Ohouse of Levi: you that fearthe LORD, bless the LORD. All of you, whether you are of the house of Aaron or of the tribe of Levi, to whatever house ortribe you belong, bless the Lord! And if you are Gentiles, even though Abraham acknowledges you not, yet, "you that fear theLord, bless the Lord."
21. Blessed be the LORD out of Zion, which dwells at Jerusalem. Our inmost hearts would bless Him. We cannot make Him moreblessed than He is! We cannot add to His Glory, but, oh, we do wish that everything we can do, everything that can be doneto His honor, may be done!
21. Praise you the LORD. That is, once again, "Hallelujah!" Oh, for the spirit of Divine Grace to set us praising God fromthe heart-and to keep us at that holy exercise all our days!