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“Our Father which art in heaven,
We cannot here consider the more complicated applications of this form of composition; but I commend it most earnestly to your consideration. The following passages will be found of special interest:
Psalm 105 to be read omitting the second line of each couplet. Psalm 107 and 136 for the use of refrain or chorus.
Psalm 46 for the division into stanzas—as printed in the revised version. But the chorus as given in Verses 7 and it should be supplied also after verse 3 where the word SELAH is written.
The Book of Psalms as we have it is a collection of lyric poems of various ages. The popular title the “Psalms of David” is no part of the Scripture and is of no force or value except as an evidence of the traditional influence of David on the poetry and music of the nation.
It would be difficult to prove the authorship of any of the Psalms, but it is probable that many of them were written by David, and some others in his time. Some of them are evidently from the time of the exile, e. g. 137: “By the rivers of Babylon there we sat down. Yea, we wept when we remembered Zion.”
The 126th is certainly in celebration of their restoration. "When the Lord turned the captivity of Zion we were like them that dreamed.” And the goth is attributed to Moses, and I know of no reason to doubt the tradition to that effect. The question of authorship is of interest to antiquarians rather than to Bible students.
The Book of Psalms, as we have it, has been called the hymn book of the temple, and this is probably correct enough for practical purposes.
Many of the Psalms were evidently composed for use in public worship; e. g., 95 to 101. Some of them probably for special occasions; e. g., the 24th for the formal bringing of the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the Tabernacle in Jerusalem.
But they are all adapted to more popular use, as the fit and edifying expression of personal devotion and national loyalty. This has been perhaps their greatest use and their most potent influence, for they have been in all ages of the church's history the means of devout reflection, the expression of the highest religious sentiments and the finest forms of public and private worship
Their influence on Christian worship has been beyond measure; for they have not only been in constant use in all the churches, but they have been the models and the inspiration of all Christian hymns.
They are of great variety, and their themes include almost every possible phase and form of religious meditation and experience. Their most common themes are joy in the gracious favor of God, gratitude for his gifts of providence and grace, hope in his promised salvation.
Their chief note is praise. History and doctrine and exhor. tation and rebuke are incidental to the office of worship. From first to last throughout the varied forms and substance of the whole great collection of these contributions of many hearts through many ages there runs a sweet glad note of loving devotion, crying,
"Why art thou cast down, O my soul?
And why art thou disquieted within me! Hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance."
holiness, justice, goodness and truth are abundantly
THE BOOK OF JOB
The great attributes of God, his wisdom, power, manifested in his works of creation and providence; and the duties required of us are outlined in the decalogue, the ritual and the fervid discourses of the prophets.
The gracious purpose that is manifested in the history of that nation specially ordained to be the priest of the World, and thus to mediate a great redemption whereby all nations should be blessed; the marvelous loving kindness shown in his dealings with individuals, and the illumination of chosen men to be his spokesman, all together make a wonderful record of things we are to believe concerning God and the duties required of men.
But the human mind is never satisfied with mere facts and directions; the demand for explanation, for reasons why, is instinctive and characteristic of the human soul.
The faith required of us is never the blind acceptance of a creed, or the unquestioning adherence to tradition, but an intelligent and reasonable confidence in a God revealed to our intelligence, satisfying our moral instincts and appealing to religious affections.
A large part of the scripture is addressed to the emotional side of our nature, and has for its purpose the cultivation of our right affections,
love for God and all goodness, joy and peace and all holy aspirations. It reveals not only God's redemptive work which takes us out of a horrible pit and out of
the miry clay, sets our feet upon the rock of truth and establishes our way to holiness, but also puts "a new song in our mouth,” a new hope, a nobler purpose and sweeter aspirations.
The Book of Psalms is perhaps the best example of this form of revelation, abounding in the comforting assurance of God's love, giving beautiful expression to the responding love and confidence and gratitude of the human heart.
Somewhat different from the Psalms and other portions of the scriptures which express and cultivate the affections, are those portions which are addressed to our understanding, but with the purpose of promoting trust and confidence concerning matters which by their very nature are beyond our comprehension.
It is observed that the instinctive craving for an understanding of ourselves and the universe of which we are a part is, of necessity, insatiable. The finite mind cannot comprehend an infinite God, nor appreciate eternal purposes.
In the nature of the case, the wider we make our circle of light the wider will be the circle of darkness lying beyond our light. The growth of knowledge implies the greater increase of opportunity for further discovery; each new discovery multiplies the intelligent questions we can ask.
This is true of all forms of revelation; and the limit of our knowledge is in us, not in the thing revealed or in the scheme of revelation. Your pint cup holds but a pint, and its capacity is not increased by pouring rivers into it; and however clearly God may proclaim the truth in nature and providence, or by His spirit moving on the heart of man, there must ever be the limit fixed by our capacity to receive, to understand and to appreciate. Hence there must always be the problems of life, questions not answered yet, perhaps unanswerable to finite minds.
What do we find in Scripture in regard to these? What is the attitude of mind we are to hold in reference to problems that
thoughtful men in every age and country have pondered with serious and reverent mind?
The study of such matters is encouraged. There is no limit or restriction placed upon the spirit of inquiry. The book of Ecclesiastes is a fine example of the most untrammelled speculation on the perplexing problems of life.
But the book which gives the answer to the general question what are we to do about the problems that we cannot solve, and yet which constantly present themselves in our experience, is the Book of Job.
The question which forms the subject of the book is the mystery of Providence. Why do the righteous suffer and the wicked often prosper? If God be the holy, wise and powerful preserver and governor of all the world, why does justice so often miscarry and the course of nature seem indifferent to moral worth?
This problem has perplexed the thoughtful minds of all ages. The Preacher of Ecclesiastes observed that, "There be righteous men to whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked”: again, “There be wicked men to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous: I said this also is vanity." A psalmist also confessed that he was "sore vexed” when he saw how prosperous the wicked were.
The sages of the ancient East held the doctrine of metempsychosis to account for this anomaly. They said the same soul has many incarnations, and the account of each man's conduct is an open account, his debt to justice is carried over from one incarnation to another and never closed until the books are balanced—for most souls a hopeless task.
The ancient Greeks invented Nemesis, the goddness of retribution, whose office it was to peruse the offender in the region of the dead until the demands of justice were satisfied. Neither of these solutions could be accepted by those who were acquainted with the revelations of the Law and Prophets, and the question is discussed in Scripture from the point of view of the believer