You will show me the path of life: in your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand there are pleasures for ever more.
In the early age of the world those explicit discoveries of a state of immortality which we enjoy had not yet been given to mankind. But in every age God has permitted such hopes to afford consolation and support to those who served Him.
I. THE HOPE OF THE PSALMIST IN HIS PRESENT STATE. "Thou wilt show me the path of life." There are different paths or courses of conduct, which may be pursued by men in this world; a path which leads to life and happiness, and a path which issues in death and destruction. These opposite lines of conduct are determined by the choice which men make of virtue or of vice; and hence men are divided into two great classes, according as their inclinations lead them to good or to evil. The path of life is often a rough and difficult path, and it conducts us up a steep ascent. The hope that good men entertain is, that this path of life shall be shown them by God; that, when their intentions are upright, God will both instruct them concerning the road which leads to true happiness, and will assist them to pursue it successfully. In all revelation there is no doctrine more comfortable than this, that good men are pursuing a path which God has discovered and pointed out to them. Every path in which He is the conductor must be honourable, must be safe, must bring them in the end to felicity. The Divine Being will never desert those who are endeavouring to follow out the path which He has shown them. With Him there is no oblique purpose to turn Him aside from favouring the cause of goodness. No promise that He has made shall be allowed to fail.
II. THE TERMINATION OF THESE HOPES IN A FUTURE STATE. All happiness assuredly dwells with God. The "fountain of life" is justly said to be with Him. Whatever gladdens the hearts of men or angels with any real and satisfactory joy comes from heaven. Every approach to God must be an approach to felicity. The enjoyment of His immediate presence must be the consummation of felicity. The whole of what is implied in arriving at the presence of the Divinity we cannot expect to comprehend. Surrounded now with obscurity, no hope more transporting can be opened to a good man than that a period is to come when he shall be allowed to draw nearer to the Author of his existence, and to enjoy the sense of His presence. In order to convey some idea of that future bliss, by such an image as we can now employ, let the image be taken from the most glorious representative of the Supreme Being, the sun in the heavens. There are two sublime and expressive views of the Divine Essence given us in Scripture, On which it may be edifying that our thoughts should rest for a little —
(1) God is Light. The revelation of His presence infers a complete diffusion of light and knowledge among all who partake of that presence. This forms a primary ingredient of happiness. Ignorance, or the want of light, is the source of all our present misconduct, and of all our misfortunes. The light of God's presence not only banishes the miseries which were the effects of former darkness, but also confers the most exquisite enjoyment.
(2) God is Love. His presence must, of course, diffuse love. Heaven implies a society, and the felicity of that society is constituted by the perfection of love and goodness flowing from the presence of the God of love. Hence follows the entire purification of human nature from all those malevolent passions which have so long rendered our abode on earth the abode of misery. Considering God under these two illustrious characters, which are given of Him in Scripture as Light and as Love, it follows that in His presence there must be fulness of joy. Remember that, in order to arrive at the presence of God, the path of life must previously be shown to us by Him, and in this path we must persevere to the end. These two things cannot be disjoined, a virtuous life and a happy eternity.
(Hugh Blair, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.