Psalm 107:43


I. WHAT IS IT?

1. "These things here spoken of are not merely the gracious deliverances which were granted in answer to the people's cry, but the terrible troubles which led to that cry unto the Lord. The deliverances are but parts of these things.

2. And often there is no deliverance. The weary wanderer sinks down on the sands and dies; the captive perishes in his dungeon; the man stricken with mortal sickness enters those gates of death to which he had drawn near, and does not come back; the storm-beaten ship goes down with all on board.

3. Deliverances arc the exertion, not the rule. In these cases is there no loving-kindness of the Lord? Some say there is not, and they further say God is not either.

4. But these things arc part of what we are to observe. No doubt they do make the loving-kindness of the Lord difficult to understand. It seems as if the observing of them were just the thing which would hinder, not help, that understanding. But we are to look at the psalm as a whole; not at the deliverances only, nor the troubles only, but at all together.

5. So looking, we shall see that the loving-kindness of the Lord is his bringing our heart, our will, to be at one with himself. This is his great, his blessed, and most loving gift. When it is wanting, there comes rebellion and sin of all kinds, and following close after that, trouble and sorrow; but when it is present, then these things depart. When it is absent, no amount of earthly good satisfies or can make really blessed; when it is present, no amount of earthly sorrow can rob the soul of its peace and trust. This, then, is the loving-kindness of the Lord - the heart that always says to God, Thy will be done."

II. WHAT THIS LOVING-KINDNESS DEMANDS.

1. That the rebellious heart should be brought down and humbled. (Cf. ver. 12.) In each of the scenes so vividly portrayed this is what is seen: the stout self-trusting and self-satisfied heart has disappeared, and a meek and lowly one has come instead.

2. God must insist on this; for until it is brought about, there is no way open for peace with God. Will we not see this at once, and take on us the Savior's yoke, and learn of him who was meek and lowly in heart, and so find rest in our souls?

III. WHAT IT WILL SURELY DO. It will take measures for the accomplishment of that which is so essential. There are two methods by which God's loving-kindness brings down the proud heart.

1. By his Holy Spirit. He convinces of sin, withers up the pride and self-sufficiency which lurk within us, and leads us in all humility to the feet of the Lord. He is ever striving to do this. Happy are they who yield to him. But this may fail. Therefore:

2. His providence is set to work. The consuming fire of God's terrible punishments burns up the rebelliousness which nothing else will purge away. The stout heart is made to yield, and the obstinate will to give way.

3. But the ordeal is fearful. Nothing but the loving-kindness of the Lord will hold men down to it. Let us not compel him thus to deal with us. Let us accept the yoke of wood, lest he put upon us the yoke of iron.

CONCLUSION.

1. Love orders our lives. That is the meaning not only of the gentle but also of the awful, ways of God.

2. Love must have the obedient heart.

3. The wise only will see all this, and they must "observe these things" in order to understand. It was the secret of Christ's peace, for he understood the loving-kindness of the Lord. - S.C.









Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the Lord.
I. THE WISDOM OF A DEVOUT ATTENTION TO THE WAYS OF PROVIDENCE.

1. They who are wise will observe those things — take notice of the hand of God in the various turns and methods of His providence.

2. A religious observation of providence is the way to improve in true wisdom. "Who is wise? Even he will observe those things," and by observing those things he will become still wiser.

3. It requires much wisdom and prudence to make right observations on the ways of Providence, and to put a proper construction upon them.(1) Let us fix in our minds a full and lively persuasion of the doctrine of providence: or be firmly assured of the reality and certainty of an overruling and governing power that reaches to all events.(2) We must attend to Divine providences with diligence; observe them with a steady and accurate eye, and deposit them faithfully in our memories to be reviewed and applied hereafter.(3) We must be cautious in our application of providences, and in our determinations concerning their immediate design.(4) Let us patiently wait the events of providence before we judge.(5) We should carefully compare one providence with another.(6) We should carefully compare the book of providence with the Book of Scripture.(7) If we would understand the providences of God let us obey the calls of them.(8) Frequently pray for direction in this matter, and for that wisdom which is profitable to direct.

II. THE GREAT BENEFIT AND ADVANTAGE OF SUCH A PRUDENT AND DEVOUT ATTENTION TO THE PROVIDENCES OF GOD; particularly as it will open to us new discoveries of the Divine goodness. "Even they shall understand," etc.

1. This may refer either to public and general, or to particular and private providences.(1) It may refer to public and general providences. And then the meaning is, that by such a wise, discreet and careful attention to the ways of Providence in general, we shall soon come to be convinced that the whole earth is full of the goodness of the Lord; that His tender mercies are over all His works, etc.(2) The words have a more immediate reference to private and particular providences.

2. It may be objected that there are a thousand things in the present state, both of the natural and moral world, which we can by no means reconcile with our ideas of infinite mercy and goodness. Now, to this I answer —(1) The psalmist does not say, nor can any man presume to think, that there are inexplicable mysteries in the ways of Providence; or that there are not many things in the course of the Divine dispensations which we are not able at present to reconcile either with the goodness or wisdom of God.(2) All that the text affirms is, that they who make the wisest and justest observations on providence, will make the plainest and largest discoveries of the lovingkindness of the Lord; and may discern traces of love in those events which to others appear tokens of anger.

(J. Mason, M.A.)

I. WHAT IT IS TO OBSERVE PROVIDENCES WISELY.

1. It presupposes —(1)That there is a providence. Is it unworthy of God to govern what He has created? As for the wisdom in the management of the world, they are fools who judge it folly before they see the end.(2) The faith of this providence. We must believe the doctrine of providence, if we would be wise observers thereof.(3) Providence has a language t.o the children of men.(4) A disposition to understand the language and design of providence.

2. It imports —(1) A watching for them till they come (Habakkuk 2:1; Isaiah 26:8; Psalm 130:1, 5, 6).(2) A taking heed to them, and marking them when they come (Isaiah 25:9; Luke 19:44).(3) A serious review of them, pondering and narrowly considering them. It is a mystery many times, looking at which our weak eyes will begin to dazzle. And that we may unravel the clue by a sanctified judgment (Psalm 77:6), it will be needful to call in the help of prayer, with much humility, faith, and self-denial (Job 10:2), and of the Scripture (Psalm 73:16).(4) Laying them up, and keeping them in record (Luke 1:66). We should keep them as one would do a treasure, for the time to come. Then are they experiences, which will be notable provision for after-times.(5) A practical observation of them (Micah 6:9).

II. THE THINGS ABOUT WHICH WE ARE WISELY TO MAKE OUR OBSERVATIONS.

1. Providences may be considered with respect to their objects, which are all the creatures and all their actions.(1) Look into the invisible world, and trace providence there.(2) Look to the visible world, and trace providence there (John 5:17).

2. We may consider providences with respect to their kinds (Psalm 40:5). The wisdom of God is manifold wisdom, and produces works accordingly (Psalm 104:24). And each of them is to be observed.(1) Providences are either cross, or smiling and favourable. Both ought to be observed, and may be so profitably.(2) There are great lines and small lines of providence..(3) There are common and uncommon providences.

3. We may consider providences with respect to the time of their falling out.(1) We should observe the past dispensations of providence (Psalm 77:5). Towards others. Towards ourselves. Observe how God gave thee such and such education, ordered thy log in such and such a place in His earth, and in such sort as He has done, how He brought thee into such and such company, saved thee from such and such dangers, etc.(2) We should observe the present dispensations of providence towards ourselves and others (Zechariah 6:1, 2). It is a stream that still runs by us, like those rivers that bring down the golden ore (Psalm 65:11). By day nor night it ceaseth not (Psalm 19:2).

III. WHAT WE ARE TO OBSERVE IN PROVIDENCES.

1. The timing of providences, the great weight of a dispensation sometimes lies ill this very circumstance, that then it came, and neither sooner nor later. And O the admirable wisdom that appears in thus jointing of them! (Genesis 24:45; Judges 7:13).

2. The beginnings and dawnings of providences (Psalm 130:6).

3. The progress of providence, endeavouring always to notice the several steps of it (Luke 2:19, 51), and to follow the thread. For God ordinarily brings great works to pass by degrees, that so men that are weak may have the greater advantage for observation (Hosea 6:3).

4. The turns of providence. The wheel of providence is a wheel within a wheel, and sometimes it runs upon the one side, and sometimes on the other. Observe the change of the sides. For providence to our view has many turnings and windings, and yet really it is going straight forward (Zechariah 14:7).

5. The end of providence (James 5:11; Job 42:10, 12).

6. The mixture of providence. There is never a mercy we get, but there is a cross in it; and never a cross, but there is a mercy in it. Observe the mixture of your mercies, to make you humble and heavenly; for the fairest rose that grows here has a prickle with it, and there is a tartness in our sweetest enjoyments. Observe the mixture of your crosses, to make you patient and thankful; for the bitterest pill God gives you to swallow has a vehicle of mercy (Lamentations 3:22).

7. The concurrence of providences.

8. The design and language of providences (Micah 6:9).

9. The harmony of providences.

(1)With the Word.

(2)Among themselves.

(3)With their design and end.

(4)With the prayers of the people of God.

IV. WHY CHRISTIANS SHOULD WISELY OBSERVE PROVIDENCES.

1. Because they are God's works (Psalm 135:6).

2. Because they are great works (Psalm 111:2).

3. Because they are often very mysterious works, and therefore they need observation (Psalm 92:5).

4. Because they are always perfect works. They will abide the strictest search and the most narrow inquiry (Deuteronomy 32:4).

5. Because they are speaking works. They speak Heaven's language to the earth, and therefore should be observed.

(T. Boston, D.D.)

Human love, we may say as a general rule, is easily understood by human creatures. Not so the Divine love, the lovingkindness of the Lord. Guided by a wisdom to which our minds cannot reach, that often operates towards us in a way that much perplexes us.

I. WHENEVER HE LOVES, HE AFFLICTS US. Either He finds us in trouble, or He ere long brings us into it — that is one of the rules He has laid down for the exercise of His lovingkindness. Are you, then, prepared to receive affliction from Him when, though conscious of a whole mass of evil dwelling in you, you can discover no indulged, no specific sins which have called down that affliction on you? Are you prepared for the storm, and the storm of God's raising, when honestly engaged in your worldly callings? Are you prepared for hunger, and thirst, and faintness of soul in God's own ways, while walking with God, following prayerfully and closely as you can the Lord's own guidance?

II. HE GENERALLY BRINGS HIS PEOPLE TO AN EXTREMITY OF DANGER OR OF TROUBLE, BEFORE HE SUCCOURS THEM. We are often made to see and to see with wonder that our extremity is, indeed, God's opportunity; that His helping work begins just when we are beginning to fear there is no help for us; that He does all that is needful for us when we are brought with a sorrowful and perhaps half despairing heart to say, nothing can be done. Deliverance we may depend on, but we must not depend on it till the extremity comes.

III. HE DRAWS FORTH FROM HIS PEOPLE EARNEST PRAYER FOR RELIEF BEFORE HE SENDS IT THEM. He has it in store for them, but He says, "I will be inquired of them for it before they shall have it." And this is one of His main designs in allowing our troubles to come to an extremity before He helps us — He wants to strip us of all creature-confidence; that we may be compelled to turn to Him for help, be constrained to come to Him with our difficulties and sorrows. Our prayers do Him no good, but they do us good — they bring us into closer union with Himself, the fountain of all good.

IV. WHEN THE LORD DELIVERS HIS PRAYING PEOPLE IN THEIR EXTREMITIES, HE GENERALLY DELIVERS THEM SIGNALLY AND MOST EFFECTUALLY.

1. Signally. He lays bare His arm as He delivers them; makes it visible; compels them to see, and to see with grateful wonder and a thrilling delight, that their deliverance is His work and His alone.

2. Effectually. He makes the help He gives them adequate to their extremity and more than adequate to it, surpassing their necessity. He often blesses and enriches them while He delivers them.

(C. Bradley, M.A.)

Essex Remembrancer.
I. IN WHAT MANNER WE SHOULD OBSERVE THE-DIVINE PROVIDENCE.

1. There should be a prevailing recollection that there is a providence; so that we live not like heathens who know not God.

2. We ought to take particular notice of special events or remarkable occurrences.

3. We should gratefully acknowledge the Divine goodness; observe particular mercies.

4. Humbly submit to the Divine chastisements. These are often heavy and severe, though wisely ordered and mixed with mercy.

5. Observe, as far as may be, the design of God in the events of His providence, and particularly what benefit you may derive from them.

II. THE WISDOM AND ADVANTAGE OF A DUE OBSERVANCE OF THE WAYS OF PROVIDENCE.

1. If you observe these things you shall see God's lovingkindness prevailing in all His dealings with the children of men.

2. We may extend the application of the promise. For, according to the whole tenor of the Word of God, all the truly pious, such as they are who devoutly observe the ways of God, are really interested in His gracious regards. The Lord loveth the righteous. He receives them into His favour through the grace and righteousness of Jesus Christ. He will save them with an everlasting salvation. They shall, therefore, understand what a glorious thing it is to have an interest in God as their portion.

(Essex Remembrancer.)

If we wish to "understand" the lovingkindness of the Lord, we need not speculate, we have only to "observe"; and we have nor anxiously to east about for examples, as they are gathered and classified for us in the induction which distinguishes this inspired song.

I. IT IS EFFECTUAL. Gives complete relief. No mockery of favour, no semblance of love. Deals not in half-measures, but secures complete deliverance.

II. IT IS SEASONABLE. God interferes in the crisis, and waits till it come, ere He show His power and love.

III. IT IS UNDESERVED. We forget Him, but He does not forget us; and when our sins expose us to imminent peril — and that peril is a righteous and appropriate punishment, even then does He "make no tarrying," but He swiftly comes to save us.

IV. IT IS HABITUAL. God has special pleasure in such acts of beneficent intervention. He has often vouchsafed relief to others, and will He not to thee? "The Lord's hand is not shortened." "He daily loadeth us with benefits."

V. If we take pains and still "observe these things," we shall find "these things" all to be ACTS OF SIMULTANEOUS LOVINGKINDNESS. God is not so occupied with one case of misery as to overlook the others. All those deeds of lovingkindness may happen, and very often do happen, at one and the same time.

VI. IT IS MANIFESTED IN ANSWER TO PRAYER. The spirit, in the hour of its weakness, looks up to God, and He blesses and saves. O, then, ask and wait; wrestle and triumph.

VII. IT IS OFTEN STARTLING IN ITS NATURE AND RESULTS. The good it does is amazing, and the penalty it sends is confounding. These sudden and terrible reverses are meant to teach and humble — for they show the justice of God, exhibit the evil of sin, and induce man to forsake it.

(John Eadie, D.D.)

What are we called upon to do? To "observe." But that is a scientific word. Certainly. There is no book more scientific than the Bible Is not science called sometimes the art of observation? Here is a religious teacher who says, Be scientific — observe. Sometimes we want a microscope, sometimes a telescope; everything depends upon the object on which we are fixing our observation; if it be minute, there is the microscope; if it be distant, there is the telescope; what we have to do is to observe, — which few men can do. There are few born surveyors. We are not to observe a little here and a little there, but we are to observe minutely, we are to observe in detail, to observe the little spectral shapes no larger than the band of a man, and we are to observe them growing until the accumulation fills the firmament with promise of rain. It is delightful to find a word which binds us to a scientific policy. Isaac Newton said he was not aware that he excelled any one except it might be in the faculty of paying attention — shall we call it the faculty of observation? Darwin never slept; he was observing whilst he was dreaming; he left the object for a moment or two and came back to it to follow it on. And one would imagine from some of Sir John Lubbock's most useful books, packed as they are with information, that he had spent the most of his life in an ant-heap. He knows about ants — their policy, their economy, their method, their conflicts, their conquests — all their wondrous system of society. When a man observes God in that way, there will be no atheists. Atheism comes from want of observation, — not observation of a broad vulgar kind, as for example the eyes that take in a whole sky at a time without taking in one solitary gleam of light for careful and reverent analysis, but an observation as minute and detailed, and patient and long-continued, as a man has bestowed upon the habits of an ant. Who would go to a man who had never seen an ant, in order to learn from him the habits of the busy little creature? We smile at the suggestion. Yet there are men who go to professed atheists to know what they think of theology! That which would be ridiculous in science is supposed to be rather philosophical and somewhat broad-minded in the Church. We go to experts. We are right in doing so. We ought to go to experts in the study of history, — not the broad vulgar history of kings, and rival policies, and sanguinary battles; but the inner history of thought, motive, purpose, spiritual growth, and those mysterious inventions which seem to have no beginning and no ending, circumferences without visible centre, centres without measurable circumferences, — the mystery of social movement. What shall be the result of this observation: shall man see the power of God, the grandeur of God, the majesty of God? No: or through them he will see the further quality, the beauteous reality: — "Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the Lord." The exiles shall say, He was good to us in Babylon, though we knew it not at the time. The prisoners shall say, There was not one bar too many of iron or brass in the cage that held us: we see it now. Sick men shall say, In the sick-chamber where we mourned and pined in weakness God was love. And men who have been tossed to and fro on great waters shall say, The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof, and His also is the fulness of the sea. They come out of all this tumult of experience, not saying, God is great, God is majestic, God is overwhelming: hear them; they come out of all this tragedy, agony, loss, saying, "God is love."

(J. Parker, D.D.).

O God, my heart is fixed.
Homilist.
I. MORAL FIXATION OF SOUL (vers. 1-6). This concentration of soul is unknown to unregenerate men. They are unsettled, divided, distracted, and therefore more or less unhappy. The verses point to two of the grand results of this moral fixedness.

1. The highest happiness (vers. 1, 2). All this is the language of exultation, and this exultation springs from a true decision of soul, self-unity, and concord.

2. The heartiest worship (vers. 3-5). The thoughts and affections being fixed on Him who is transcendently good, beautiful, and true, worship follows as a matter of course.

II. THE INFLATION OF WORLDLY SUCCESS (vers. 7-9). The psalm (60) from which these verses are taken is a war song in anticipation of victory. The warrior is flushed by the prospect of triumph over his enemies, and looks down upon them with a heartless contempt. The tendency of worldly success is to make men supercilious and heartless; men who have won great success in any department of life, be it in war, commerce, or learning, have ever been disposed to look with contempt on those not so distinguished. The haughtiness of some is not only the most vile but the most pernicious state of mind. "Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."

III. CONSCIOUSNESS OF UTTER DEPENDENCE (vers. 10-13). This state of mind, — viz. a conscious dependence on God is right, for there is no creature more dependent than man, — lies at the foundation of our personal religion, for without it there is no looking to God, no prayer, no thanksgiving.

(Homilist.)

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