Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song…
The prophet has been looking forward through times of darkness and captivity to the coming day of light and freedom; and in the hymn of which our text is the keynote he shows what will be the spirit of the new age, what the prevailing thoughts and emotions of the time. It is an exultant song, but without a word of self-congratulation. It is the keynote of the kingdom of heaven; and the regeneration of society for which ardent spirits long will not be reached until this old song become again a voice of the time.
1. We are far enough from it now. We have the song in our Bibles, we quote it in our pulpits, we sing it in our church services, but it is not in our modern life. There is nothing of it in the current literature. It is the function of the poet to give voice to the nobler thoughts and emotions of his time. Now can you imagine a poet of our times bursting out into a song like that; and if he did, would the editors of our first-class reviews be eager to glorify their pages with it? Instead of exultation in the name of God, there is all eagerness to avoid it. It is not that the age is indifferent: there is much real earnestness. The word "salvation" is not much in vogue; but the thing meant is by no means despised. If the spirit of earnestness now abroad had been foreseen fifty years ago, men would have thought that the kingdom of heaven was verily at hand at last. But now, here all around us, is the earnestness — philanthropic, moral, even spiritual, earnestness to a considerable extent; but where is the kingdom? Alas, it still seems very far away!
2. We are better than we were. Year by year there is some improvement. But not nearly enough. The end will not be brought within sight till the spirit of this old song comes back to us; till the nation as a nation, not one here and there among the people, but the people as a people, look upwards to the hills from whence cometh their aid; till the inhabitant on every side cries out, "Behold, God is my salvation."
3. Let it be remembered that trust in God does not mean neglect of ordinary means. We who believe in God are thoroughly with the humanitarians so far as they go. We believe with them in heredity and in its power for evil and for good; only we do not believe that there is any inheritance of evil so terrible that the grace of God cannot reach and save its victim, nor any inheritance of ancestral nobleness so excellent that the grace of God is not needed to make and keep pure, and to raise to still higher things. We believe in education, in refinement, in progress of all kinds, in all processes of evolution which are moving in the right direction, onwards and upwards; only we recognise that none of these, nor all of them together, quite meet the case, or mean salvation. There remain with us mystery, unsolved; sin, crying for forgiveness and cleansing; sorrow, scarce abated or diminished; death, with all its victory — mystery, sin, sorrow, death: all present, patent facts, not to be disputed, not to be conquered by the freest education, or the highest culture; and then there is judgment to come, to which the con. science is a witness not in any case to be forever silenced, though it may be hushed and quieted for a time; and there is the great eternity, the thought of which God has put into our hearts. When we look at these things we see our need, not of education merely, but of salvation, and heart and flesh cry out for God.
4. But is not this the watchword of the Churches? Do not they sufficiently represent the Divine factor in the world's salvation? Would that they did. Look, first, at the national Church. What is its great message? Is it, "Behold, God is thy salvation"? What we all want is to be so filled with the Spirit of God, and so thoroughly saved ourselves, that the keynote of every minister's sermon, and of every Christian's life shall be, "Behold, God is my salvation."
5. There is, indeed, a human side of Divine truth which is of very great importance. If God is to be my salvation, He must be in touch with me. If He show Himself to me, it must be in my likeness; if He speak to me, it must be in my language; if He act on me, it must be through my faculties and in accordance with the laws of my being. He is the God of nature as well as of grace. But important as it is to show the Gospel natural, it is far more important to hold fast to the supernatural.
(J. Monte Gibson, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.