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power avoid ; and I am enabled to do things, for which my own strength would have been utterly insufficient: by my own experience therefore, no less than from the divine testimony, I can say, “ The Lord is my strength, and my shield.”]
As from David's assertions we learn what God is to us, so from his frame of mind we may see, II. What should be the disposition of our hearts
towards him Certainly these exalted privileges should be received by us, 1. With joy
[Who can have reason to rejoice in comparison of the believer? Look round and see how the world at large are taken in the snare of the devil, and led captive by him at his will. Have you no reason to rejoice when God has interposed with a mighty hand and a stretched-out arm to deliver you? When you see the dangers with which you are surrounded, have you no reason to rejoice in having such a shield as is sufficiently large to encompass you on every side, and so strong as to be impenetrable to all the fiery darts of the devil ? When you see what lusts you have to mortify, and what duties to perform, have you not reason to rejoice in having Omnipotence
your strength? O rejoice ; rejoice in the Lord always; yea, " rejoice in him with joy unspeakable and full of glory!' However“ greatly your heart rejoiceth,” you never need be afraid of excess : let it be but the joy of a dependent being, and it cannot be too great.] 2. With thankfulness
[It is your privilege to "sing in the ways of the Lord.” In heaven the redeemed are singing praises to their God day and night: and so should you do on earth. As for David, he would“ praise God day and night;" and that too with all that was within him ;” yea, and “ as long as he should live.' Not content with praising God himself, he would have the sun, moon, and stars, together with every thing that had life and breath, to praise him too. This is a state of mind worthy of a redeemed sinner; nor should we ever rest till we have attained it.] We shall conclude this subject with two INQUIRIES :
1. Whence is it that so few possess this heavenly frame?
[It must be confessed, that amongst the professors of religion, there are but few comparatively in whom Christianity
a Ps. cxlv. 1-7. and cxlviii. 1-14.
has its perfect work. Some are retarded in their growth by “ the cares of this life, the deceitfulness of riches, or the lust of other things, and never bring forth fruit unto perfection.” Others are remiss in the duties of the closet, and thereby deprive themselves of those rich communications of grace and peace, which God would otherwise bestow upon them. And others again are always poring over the evils of their own hearts, instead of contemplating the mercies of their God, and the wonders of redeeming love. It is not at all surprising that these different characters enjoy but little of that divine unction which is imparted to those only who live in close communion with their God. But let no man impute their want of joy to any defect in Christianity itself: they are not straitened in their God
any more than David was: it is in themselves that they are straitened; and “ they receive not, because they ask not. Let them only live nigh unto God in the exercise of prayer and faith, and they shall find that God is the same in every age, rich in mercy, and " abundant in goodness and truth.”] 2. How may we all attain it?
[We have advantages far beyond any that David ever enjoyed. What he saw under a veil, we behold, as it were, with open face; a God incarnate, taking upon himself the entire care of all his people, standing between them and the curse of the broken law, and engaging to keep them by his own power unto everlasting salvation. For us there is "help laid upon One that is mighty:" for us there is all fulness treasured up in Christ, so that we are privileged to say, “In the Lord have I righteousness and strength b then improve this privilege as we ought to do: let us be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus,” yea, “strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.” Then may we be assured of final victory, and now, even in the midst of all our conflicts, exult as already victors, yea, as more than conquerors through Him that loved use."]
b Isai. xlv. 24. See especially Isai. xxv. 4.
GOD OUR SAVING STRENGTH. Ps. xxviii. 8, 9. The Lord is their strength, and he is the
saving strength of his anointed. Save thy people, and bless thine inheritance: feed them also, and lift them up for ever!
IN the Psalms of David we observe many rapid transitions from the depth of sorrow to very exalted joy. In the psalm before us, this is very remarkable; insomuch, that commentators are altogether at a loss to determine whether it was written under a state of deep affliction, out of which he anticipates a joyful issue, or after a deliverance from affliction, combining with his expressions of gratitude a retrospective view of his preceding trouble. Of these two explications, I much prefer the latter; though I think even that far from satisfactory. I conceive that the suddenness of God's answers to prayer, and of the changes wrought thereby upon the feelings of his people, is here marked with very peculiar force and beauty, God has said, “Before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear*:” and thus it was in this case. The Psalmist began in a state of extreme dejection ; but, in a moment, “ his light rose in obscurity, and his darkness became as the noon-dayb.” The Psalmist elsewhere says, Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancinge:” and thus we see it here realized; “ Blessed be the Lord, because he hath heard the voice of my supplications.” Then, after returning thanks to his great Deliverer, he proclaims, to the honour of God, what he will be to all his believing people; and he implores from God the same blessings in their behalf. Let us now consider, I. His testimony for God
He himself was “God's anointed.” But of himself he had spoken in the preceding verse : “ The Lord is my strength.” Now, therefore, he speaks of God's peculiar people, even to the end of time. These all are partakers of the Spirit of Him who was “ anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows." Even under the Jewish dispensation, his people were
a kingdom of priests e." but, under the Christian dispensation, all the saints are “a royal priesthood"," and have the privilege of being “made kings and priests unto God and the Fathers." and as all kings and priests under the Law were consecrated with oil, so are these “anointed of the Lordb:" and they shall all find God to be “their strength, their saving strength.” Now this is, 1. A true testimony
a Isai. lxv. 24.
b Isai. lviii. 10.
c Ps. xxx. 11.
Search the records of the Bible in every age, and see whether so much as one of the Lord's anointed was not strengthened by him to do and suffer his holy will ---Or say, whether many of you, my Brethren, are not able to attest the same, from your own experience; and to declare, that “out of weakness you have been made strong'," and that God has been ever ready to “perfect his own strength in your weakness k?- -] 2. An encouraging testimony
[There is not a man upon earth that has any strength in himself; no, “not so much as even to think a good thought!.” Yet, “ through the grace of Christ strengthening us, the weakest babe in the universe is able to do all things m." Our duties are arduous, our enemies mighty, our sufferings great: yet are we eventually made “more than conquerors, through Him who loved us n.” There is nothing, then, that we may not readily undertake for God, since “ with Him there is everlasting strength°;" and we are authorized to expect, under all possible circumstances, that “the grace of Christ shall be sufficient for us” —--]
Persuaded of this blessed truth, let us mark, II. His intercession, founded
itLet us mark, 1. The copiousness of it
[His heart was full: and just views of God invariably produce in us a measure of the same feelings towards man. * The Lord's anointed” are "his people and his inheritance P:" and “ if we love God, we cannot but love those who are begotten of him:” and in proportion as we feel our own obligations to God, will our hearts be enlarged in prayer for those who are dear unto him 2. The order of it
[He begins with imploring their “salvation” from all
guilt and danger. He then begs of God to load them with all
blessings” through this dreary wilderness. He entreats that they may be “fed,” and “governed," and protected, as sheep by a careful shepherd, or as a faithful people by a wise and powerful Prince And, lastly, he desires that they may be “ exalted” to happiness and glory in a better world. Thus does he implore of God to confer on them all that they can ever need, “giving them grace and glory,” and withholding from them nothing that can by any means conduce to their welfare!.] 3. The extent of it
[He desires these things for all, without exception. There is not one so good or great, but that he needs all these things at the hands of God; nor one so mean, but that he may expect of God a supply of all these things, in answer to the prayers thus offered for him.]
Behold, then, Brethren, 1. Your duty
[God commands that we“ make our intercession for all men.
And, if we have any just knowledge of God, we shall improve our interest with him for the benefit of our fellowcreatures. Say not, “ I know not how to pray." Well I know that this is a common complaint; but I am perfectly assured, that the straitness of which we complain, and perhaps justly complain, arises, in a very great measure, from our ignorance of God, and of the divine life. If we spread more our own wants before God, and obtained answers to our prayers, as David did, we should, like David, become intercessors for others, and find at the throne of grace a liberty of which we have at present but little conception -- --] 2. Your privilege
[Are you to ask all these things for others; and shall you want them yourselves ? No, Brethren; you may ask salvation from all the penal effects of sin: you may ask for blessings, even all that a fallen creature can by any means want: you may ask for provision and protection to the utmost extent of your necessities : yea, you may ask for all the glory and felicity of heaven; and God will bestow it all. Open your mouth ever so wide, he will fill it;” yea, “ he will do exceeding abundantly for you above all that you can ask or think."]
9 In the Te Deum the words are quoted in this sense. Ezek. xxxiv, 23, 24.
r Ps. lxxxiv. 11.