Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
|A Good Man's Thoughts in His Old Age||Thomas Binney.||Psalm 23:6|
|All the Days of My Life||W. Forsyth ||Psalm 23:6|
|Behind and Before||J. Jowett, M. A.||Psalm 23:6|
|God Following His People||O. Sedgwick, B. D.||Psalm 23:6|
|God's House the Home of Our Hearts||R. W. Dale.||Psalm 23:6|
|Goodness and Mercy||H. Macmillan, D. D.||Psalm 23:6|
|Goodness and Mercy||W. C. E. Newbolt, M. A.||Psalm 23:6|
|Goodness and Mercy Behind Us||S. A. Tipple.||Psalm 23:6|
|Goodness and Mercy Following to Repair||Psalm 23:6|
|The Believer's Security and Confidence||W. Cunningham, D. D.||Psalm 23:6|
|The Christian's Dwelling Place||Joseph E. Beaumont, M. D.||Psalm 23:6|
|The Church as a Home||Brooke Herford.||Psalm 23:6|
|The Earthly and the Heavenly Sanctuary||Henry Melvill, B. D.||Psalm 23:6|
|The Evidence of Things not Seen||George Bainton.||Psalm 23:6|
|The Goodness of God Following Man||John Woodcock.||Psalm 23:6|
|The Pilgrim's Rearguard, Goodness and Mercy||Psalm 23:6|
|A Deep Consciousness of God||Alexander Field.||Psalm 23:1-6|
|A Psalm of Personal Trust in God||A. Maclaren, D. D.||Psalm 23:1-6|
|A Trustful Confidence||J. Jennings.||Psalm 23:1-6|
|Choice Properties of Sheep||O. Sedgwick, B. D.||Psalm 23:1-6|
|Confidence in the Shepherd||Anon.||Psalm 23:1-6|
|David's Confidence in the Prospect of the Future||C. Bradley, M. A.||Psalm 23:1-6|
|Exegesis of the Psalm||T. H. Rich, D. D.||Psalm 23:1-6|
|Jehovah||O. Sedgwick, B. D.||Psalm 23:1-6|
|Jesus as My Shepherd||Psalm 23:1-6|
|Personal Relationship with God||James Stuart.||Psalm 23:1-6|
|Religious Conceptions Coloured by Secular Vocation||Charles H. Parkhurst, D. D.||Psalm 23:1-6|
|Serenity of Soul||Phillips Brooks, D. D.||Psalm 23:1-6|
|Sufficiency in God||G. S. Reaney.||Psalm 23:1-6|
|The Chiefest Shepherd to be Yours||O. Sedgwick, B. D.||Psalm 23:1-6|
|The Divine Shepherd||T. De Wilt Talmage.||Psalm 23:1-6|
|The Divine Supply of Human Want||O. Sedgwick, B. D.||Psalm 23:1-6|
|The God of the World as Seen by the Good||Homilist||Psalm 23:1-6|
|The Good Shepherd||W. Forsyth ||Psalm 23:1-6|
|The Good Shepherd and His Flock||C. Clemance ||Psalm 23:1-6|
|The Life of Faith||J. O. Keen, D. D.||Psalm 23:1-6|
|The Lord a Shepherd||John Hill.||Psalm 23:1-6|
|The Lord Our Shepherd||E. H. Hopkins.||Psalm 23:1-6|
|The Lord Our Shepherd||T. Campbell Finlayson.||Psalm 23:1-6|
|The Pasture Gate||Marvin R. Vincent, D. D.||Psalm 23:1-6|
|The Power of Reflection||W. Forsyth ||Psalm 23:1-6|
|The Properties of a Good Shepherd||O. Sedgwick, B. D.||Psalm 23:1-6|
|The Psalm of Faith||Talbot W. Chambers, D. D.||Psalm 23:1-6|
|The Shepherd Figure for Jesus||F. B. Meyer, B. A.||Psalm 23:1-6|
|The Shepherd God||L. A. Banks, D. D.||Psalm 23:1-6|
|The Shepherd King of Israel||A. Maclaren, D. D.||Psalm 23:1-6|
|The Shepherd King of Men||George Bainton.||Psalm 23:1-6|
|The Song of the Flock||J. R. Macduff, D. D.||Psalm 23:1-6|
|What the Lord is to the Believer||Arthur T. Pierson D. D.||Psalm 23:1-6|
|Fulness of Joy||C. Short ||Psalm 23:5, 6|We cannot — no one can, not the profoundest philosopher tell what life is, but we know that it is fed from without. And the higher the form of existence the more of external help it requires in order to its proper development. See this in plant life, in animal life, in human life. And this last needs most of all. And abundant supply is forthcoming for it, real, wholesome, beautiful satisfaction. In this last verse of the Psalm David gives utterance to a grand assurance and anticipation concerning the life that now is. He should not want. Goodness and mercy would follow him all the days of his life. Hence what could he do but pour out his thankfulness unto the Lord, in the courts of the Lord's house, in the presence of all His people? He tells us that goodness and mercy are special marks of God's dealings with men. Let us think of them.
Life is made up of "days." Confidence in God gives -
I. STRENGTH FOR LIFE'S WORK. "I shall not want." God is able to meet all our needs. "As thy days, so shall thy strength be" (Deuteronomy 33:25; Philippians 4:13).
II. SUPPORT UNDER LIFE'S TRIALS. There will be changes. The "green pastures" may give place to the dark valley. There may be loss of health, of property, of friends; there may be unknown trials. "Thou art with me."
III. FULFILMENT OF LIFE'S GREAT HOPES. It is a great thing to be one of Christ's flock, ever under the Shepherd's tender care. But more is promised. There will be the going in and out, and finding pasture - all through; but the end is not here, but above. The best is to come. The perfection of manhood; the "rest that remaineth;" the "fulness of joy;" the glorious fellowships that know no break, and that bring no pain, are in our Father's house.
"For ever with the Lord!
Amen, so let it be;
Life from the dead is in that word,
'Tis immortality." W.F.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me. The Psalm itself consists of two pictures — what we call "the shepherd," and what we should not err in calling "the king." Both have to do with character, spiritual character, relation to God. They may apply to other things, national or ecclesiastical, but here is their chief intent. The poem supposes the man who speaks to have spiritual life in him, and the good man thus utters his confidence in the protection and in the care of that God under whose loving fatherhood he has been brought on his way. In the second part of the Psalm we have another figure — a different sort of allegory altogether. It refers, perhaps, to a more advanced stage of the Christian life. I call this parable "the king." And it reminds us of the "certain king who made a marriage supper for his son." It tells of man made a partaker of the Divine nature, and coming into intimate communion with God. And all tells of the richness, variety, and depth of the soul's satisfactions in such communion. And then comes the good man's utterance of his subjective feelings after taking this review of life. Reasoning from the past to the future, he says, "Because Thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of Thy wings will I rejoice." By just giving a little turn to the, last expression of the text I see three things —
1. Firm faith. "Shall follow me." "Goodness and mercy." These are just the two things into which God's beneficence, generally considered, naturally divides itself. Goodness to creatures; mercy to sinful creatures. An angel is the object of one; man of both. The good man says, "I have needed both; I have had both all my days, and surely they shall follow me all my days."
2. There is also the idea of settled purpose. "Shall follow me." By daily habits of devotion, by the culture of a child-like faith, by holy familiarity with Divine things, I will seem to myself to be constantly engaged in God's service.
3. Then comes the assurance of expectation and hope. "I will dwell in the house of the Lord." We take the faith and feeling of the man to expand and enlarge, till they embrace the great and ultimate future of the life that is to be, and he says, "I feel that I have been led onwards to that. These capacities and affections of mine, the stirring of a spiritual life within me, were never made to find their perfection here. I carry within myself, in my own religious consciousness, a prophecy, an earnest of something greater than the life that now is."
4. Observe the beautifulness and the blessedness of a Christian old age. Age is a thing that may be very beautiful. It is when "the hoary head is a crown of glory, being found in the way of righteousness" — when there are no marks upon the countenance of extinct volcanoes, dark shadows from wrought-out passions, impressions of darkness and crime, but when the life has been spent for God. It is, if I am not mistaken, Scougal — the author of that little book The Life of God in the Soul of Man — takes a review of life, looks back upon its prominent events, its afflictions and its trials, and upon his inward experience, and ends all by saying, "I am this day such and such an age, and I bless God that ever I was born." Voltaire does just the same thing as to the review, but with a totally different result. In one of his books you may find a review of his life. The querulous old man puts together all that he had gone through, finds it dark and disappointing, and concludes by saying, "I am this day so and so, and I wish that I had never been born." There is the difference! "I thank God," says the one, "that ever I was born," because he can take the 23rd Psalm, and in the 23rd Psalm he can read the history of his inward life. And the other man, though he had great ability and great genius, and had a long and wonderful life, which, however, nobody would say, or pretend to say, that he spent it in walking with God, he says, "I wish that I had never been born." Poor man! — they smothered him with flowers and killed him with fame — and it came to this! And the last thought is, that the best way to be able to end life with an utterance like this is to begin it well.
TO DAVID THE EVENTS OF LIFE WERE DISPLAYS OF GOD'S GOODNESS AND MERCY. To some, in view of David's life, this seems an exaggeration. Such an opinion must, however, be founded upon either erroneous or defective views of the nature of God's special providence, or on ignorance and misapprehension of the objects to which that providence is directed. God's special providence implies that he exercises a controlling influence over all our actions, they being to a certain extent determined as being the necessary effects of man's constitution and circumstances combined, and which God has formed, appointed, and arranged. He has always some definite object in view. If that object be to promote man's happiness, then it will follow that all the events of his life will tend, directly or indirectly, to that end. It is necessary to settle what happiness consists in, or at least what is the test of its existence and degree. In the constitution of things the decree of God has established an immutable connection between happiness and holiness, and that consequently the degree of holiness furnishes a certain test of the degree of happiness. Man's nature is in itself most unholy, entirely alienated from God, and devoted to sense and sin. How are they to be roused from lethargy and really impressed with Divine truths? Calamities and misfortunes are the means God uses. These are well fitted to make the truths of the existence and moral government of God, and a future state of rewards and punishments, really effective truths. No doubt affliction often fails to produce permanent good results, but this fact only aggravates the man's condemnation. Even moral evils and sins may be made instrumental in the promotion of the same great objects. We do not palliate or excuse moral offences on the ground of the good account to which they may be turned, for this would be to act on the principle of "the end sanctifying the means." For if a man whose ordinary conduct is respectable has, through the force of hidden corruption, been led into any open and unquestionable violation of morality, it may, by the blessing of God, be made the means of producing a useful and salutary result, by rousing into action natural conscience, by inspiring suspicion and alarm, and by leading to serious conviction. Even to unconverted persons moral transgressions may be of great use in leading them to God.
II. IN WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES, OR BY WHAT PERSONS, THIS STATEMENT MAY BE PROPERLY MADE. No one can expect goodness and mercy to follow him save in virtue of God's promises. It is a fearful doctrine, but clearly stated in Scripture with regard to many individuals of the human race, that, so far from "goodness and mercy following them all the days of their life," everything that He gives them seems only the more to estrange them from God and goodness. This is just a statement of a fact; and if such persons believe that the dispensations of God's providence with reference to them are intended to cause "goodness and mercy to follow them all the days of their life," or that they will in fact do so, they are labouring under a fatal delusion. Before, then, any person is entitled to assert, with reference to his own afflictions, that God does everything for the best, and to apply this as a ground of comfort and consolation to himself, he must not only love God, but know and be convinced that God loves him. It is really astonishing to see how very seldom, in a professing Christian country, this question is seriously entertained, and on what slight and trivial grounds men are contented to take it for granted that all is safe with them. No one loves God but a true Christian, because nothing will produce love to God but the belief of the Gospel; and of course, it is the belief of the Gospel that makes a man a Christian.
I. GOODNESS. "Good" and "God" in Anglo-Saxon are the same word. Goodness or Goriness, an element of God's nature. "There is none good but One," said Jesus, "that is God." It is simply impossible for Him ever to decree or wish to do anything evil. Ill will or bad purpose on His part is inconceivable.
II. MERCY. This also is characteristic of the Divine relation to man. In giving this emphatic testimony to the nobleness of mercy David does but voice the dearest assurances of the human heart concerning the omnipotence of love. God is good, and therefore He must be merciful. He could not else be good. He has bound Himself by His own promise to be merciful and forgiving. Hence it is said, "If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to," etc. No wonder, then, that David felt so secure when thinking of the future.
()This text refers to the time when Absalom had risen in rebellion, and David had been driven to seek refuge in Mahanaim. Retribution had been following on his track with feet shod with wool, and he was now only reaping what he had sown in an alienated people and a rebellious son. But the light of heaven shone through the darkness in ntis soul, for at the same time he felt himself compassed about with a sense of deliverance. Goodness and mercy were following him to make reparation for his evil days. God gave him back the faith of his childhood. The idea is a beautiful one, the idea of God's mercy outrunning our necessities; but in our deeper moods we feel we need it to follow us. We need God for our yesterdays as much as for our tomorrows, for our rereward as much as for our leader. Not as an American Indian pursuing his enemy to the death; not like an avenger of blood, in his awful vendetta, on the track of the manslayer: but as a healer of the wounds we have inflicted He comes, to neutralise the consequence of our folly, ignorance, and sin; to separate us from the debasing associations of sin, and to give us a sense of recovered freedom. The consequences of our sins may be transformed into sources of joy and fruitfulness by the precious alchemy of grace. The disappointments of earth may become the appointments of heaven. To us goodness and mercy are no abstract qualities; we have them personified in God's Son.
()I. THE BLESSINGS HERE ANTICIPATED. "Goodness and mercy."
1. Goodness. The goodness of God is a most delightful and animating theme; it touches every chord of the Christian's heart. "How great is Thy goodness, which Thou hast laid up for the children of men."
2. Mercy. Pardoning mercy. "Who is a God like unto Thee, that pardoneth iniquity," etc. Protecting mercy. The good man has his difficulties and dangers. "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 who is the health of my countenance," etc. Sustaining mercy. Amid holy enterprises, spiritual conflicts, arduous duties, severe afflictions, trying bereavements, God has sustained His saints. Supplying mercy. "My God shall supply all your need out of His riches in glory by Jesus Christ." But we are prone to look on the dark side of His providence, and to ask, with the murmuring Israelites, "Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?"
II. THE MANNER OF ITS CONVEYANCE. "Shall follow me." As the mother's eye and hand follow her little one as he makes his first wobbling attempt to toddle alone; as the needle follows the lodestone; as the water out of the rock followed the Israelites through the desert; as the pillar of glory went with them by night and by day: so goodness and mercy shall follow the faithful, in the closet, in the family, in the church, in the world. It shall follow incessantly, supply fully, solace richly, sustain powerfully, pass with him through the Jordan, and enter with him the bright portals of glory. Here we have —
1. The continuance of it. All the days of my life — that is, all my life long — even to the last.
2. The certainty of it. "Surely," etc. "Hath He promised, and shall He not bring it to pass?" As sure as you need it, you shall have it; as sure as you require it, you shall realise it: It shall come seasonably at the best time, in the wisest manner, and from the most unexpected quarter. Its certainty is founded upon the Divine existence; its communication upon Divine veracity; its possession is the fruit of immutable, unwavering, undying love. Surely, etc.
III. THE CONSUMMATION OF IT. "And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. CONCLUSION —
1. Learn to be grateful. Beware of sinking into the vortex of selfishness, and burying your mercies in the grave of forgetfulness.
2. Learn to be trustful.
3. Learn to be active. If you have the pledge that "goodness and mercy shall follow you all the days of your life," should not those days be spent for the glory of Him — whose you are, and whom you serve? Work while it is day.
()The Psalmist is looking at his yesterdays. He is gazing at the panorama of his past life. You know how sometimes we come to a corner of the road in the journey of life which brings the whole of our past way vividly before us. Perhaps we are laid aside by sickness, and in the time of seclusion the memory wanders back and retreads the path of the years. Or maybe we are standing by the open grave of a comrade whose path has run close by our own; our memory tugs us backward, and our past life opens out before us in marvellous clearness and intensity. Or sometimes a little commonplace incident unlocks the doors of the past, and in vivid recollection we pass through all its rooms. Now, when we are compelled to look back at the past of our life, how does it look? Gazed at with unprejudiced vision, with nothing to make us morally colour blind, how does it all appear? To the Psalmist, as he recalled the way he had come, it appeared to be one long unbroken path of failure and sin. His path was marked as the path of a snail or a slug over some tender plant, which leaves behind it the slime of its own passage. The retrospect oppressed him — yesterday became the burden of today. And is not that so with all who seriously think, with all who solemnly estimate the tenour and quality of their days? The retrospect becomes oppressive; they cannot comfortably recount the detailed stories of their lives. There are some whose burden is tomorrow. Their fear and their anxiety centre on the morrow. They want an angel to go before them to prepare their way. But I think that where there is one soul burdened with the fear of tomorrow, there are many burdened with the fear of yesterday. The burden of conscience never comes from tomorrow; it is rolled up from our yesterdays. It is not prospect, but retrospect, that lays the heaviest weight on the heart. And now to a soul so oppressed there comes this beautiful thought of God contained in my text, "Goodness and mercy shall follow me." Goodness and mercy shall follow me, shall come on after me and wipe away that slimy track. I think that is a very gracious and inspiring thought. A God in our rear. A Father coming up behind. Goodness and mercy following us. You have seen the sands at a popular watering place cut and dug by a thousand hands and feet, littered with paper and all kinds of refuse, and befouled in a hundred ways. Then rolls up the tide, and the refuse is buried in its bosom, and all the unevennesses are smoothed away. It is even so with those sands of time, the sands of past years, in which we have left the track of our sins; the tidal waves of Divine goodness and mercy roll up, and the, unseemly track may be smoothed away. "Goodness and mercy shall follow me." Suppose it had been, "Justice shall follow me," avenging justice, cold unsympathetic law. If justice were to follow even the best of us, our hearts would shake with fear. It is not even "Righteousness shall follow me," but goodness. There is something rich in the very word. "Goodness shall follow me," and mercy. Grapes with the bloom on. Goodness in surpassing sweetness and beauty. "Goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life." Can you think of anything fitter in expression, anything that could more tenderly unfold the nature of the God who comes in the rear of our life? "I have blotted them out like a thick cloud." Do you see the force of the figure? You are going along the dry and glaring road, and you stir up the dust, and it flies like a thick cloud in your rear. And God says that as we go along the way of life we stir up clouds of sin, and He blots them out. As John Bunyan says, He sprinkles upon it the water of grace, and the dust is laid. Is not this just what we all need? But there is something more than this. "Goodness and mercy shall follow me" not only to blot out our sins, but to gather up the fragments of our goodness. We want a God in our rear who will pick up the fragments — bits of good resolution, stray thoughts, stray prayers, beginnings of heroism, little kindnesses, all the broken bits of goodness, all the mites, the forgotten jewels — to gather all the fragments so that nothing be lost. "Goodness and mercy shall follow me," and shall miss nothing; the God who follows us is "like unto a woman, who lost one piece of silver, and who lit a candle and swept the house and sought diligently till she found it." It was this great conception of a good and merciful God in the rear which converted a gloomy retrospect into a glorious hone Our Father is behind us, goodness and mercy follow us; let us leave our yesterdays trustfully to Him. But now in the second part of my text the Psalmist turns himself round from retrospect to prospect. He turns from a contemplation of the past to a contemplation of the future. What is his idea of futurity? "I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever." Well, you say, there is nothing peculiarly glorious or definite about the conception. Stay a little. Before you can estimate the quality of anyone's heaven you must know their condition on earth. Our hopes about tomorrow are very largely shaped and coloured by our condition today. Look at the Psalmist's position. When this Psalm was composed he was a wanderer, exiled from the peace and blessedness of his own home. All our conceptions of the future are formed in a similar way. No two of us have precisely the same conception. The special bliss we anticipate is shaped out of our special burden now. Go down to our coast and speak to some old fisherman's wife,whose husband and sons have all been lost in the deep, and ask her what in her loneliness is her conception of heaven, and would you wonder if to her one of the preeminent glories of the place is this, "There shall be no more sea"? Go to some invalid who is held by some chronic disease, ask her what is her conception of heaven, and would you wonder if to her one of the great glories of the place is this, "There shall be no more pain"? And all the anticipations are true. Every man's present need discovers one of the glories of the future. It takes all our different needs to discover the glory and sufficiency of the things prepared for us. We all need this tug of the future, the tug of the days that are to be. We can only get out of the deep ruts of today by the powerful tug of tomorrow. Life grows heavy and stagnant when tomorrow ceases to pull, when the "forever" has lost its power. Present burdens grow light in the strength of the "forever." Present homelessness can be almost cheerfully endured when in its coldness the Psalmist can sing, "I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
()The ugly things that are lying in wait for us sometimes, when we are wholly at rest and quiet, like ambuscades towards which, all blindly, gay troopers ride, carolling love ditties or exchanging jests, and are suddenly cut down. How, sometimes, ugly things have lurked in our path, big with sorrow for us, that could have been so easily avoided, and would have been had we only known. But we knew not, we suspected not, and were allowed to go forward lightly, as though we were going to receive a boon instead of a crushing blow. Occasionally, indeed, we are visited and disturbed before some tragic misfortune with an unaccountable anticipation of evil to which we refuse to listen, shaking it off determinedly, and thrusting it from us, and it has seemed to us afterwards as if a guardian angel had been trying to save us, and, striving in vain, had been obliged to leave us to our fate. But in the case of each of us, how close we have often been, doubtless, without perceiving it, to calamities which yet were spared us; that drew very nigh while we heard no sound of their footfall beside us, and all but touching us, passed harmlessly by. And may we not say that goodness and mercy are frequently following us to our salvation from threatening mischief in the truer thoughts, the better feelings, that start up behind our frequent false inclinings, and prevail against them, in the wiser mind that presently awakes to arrest and scatter the foolish; in the wohlesomer heart that rises to check the unhealthy. From what degradation we have been snatched once and again upon the brink of which we were tottering; as we lingered and leaned ready to slide, there was that from within which laid hold on and drew us back. Or suppose that in certain moods of ours, in certain moments of passion or soul relaxation, opportunity had occurred — as with some in like moods and moments it has occurred to their undoing, to their headlong plunge into baseness or crime — how different matters might have been with us today! How much of what would be termed our virtue seems to us, when we reflect, to have been but a providential hindering of our inclination towards, and our ripeness for, what would have been the very opposite of virtue! We have been guarded and hedged in to preservation from ourselves. Can you not say, on looking back, that here and there, in this and that crisis, it was as though God had been our rearward, warding off from us devastation and havoc that threatened? True, every day bears upon it the fruit of yesterday's sowing, yet have we not felt, when enduring the judgment of some previous mistake or misdeed, that the judgment was tempered with mercy — that it is not so severe as it might have been expected to be? Yes, while the iniquities and inequities of the past are laid upon us, we are constrained to acknowledge often that they might well have burdened us more heavily than they do. They are not upon us to the uttermost; there are withholdings — there are abatements, as though a gracious power were keeping them back from us in part.
()That God may follow His people with these many ways, either in respect of —
1. His intention and affection.
2. His assistance and preservation.
3. His concurrence and augmentation.
4. Evidence and manifestation.
()John Condor, afterwards D.D., was born at Wimple, in Cambridgeshire, 3rd June 1714. His grandfather, Richard Condor, kissed him, and with tears in his eyes, said, "Who knows what sad days these little eyes are likely to see?" Dr. Condor remarked, upon mentioning the above circumstances, "These eyes have, for more than sixty years, seen nothing but goodness and mercy follow me and the Churches of Christ even to this day."Goodness and mercy pursues to repair the ravages sin has wrought. Nature follows the footsteps of man, and strives to obliterate the ravages she causes. The blasted rocks that have been exposed on the hillside she soon plants with the serf-sown trees and shrubs and hides their deformity. The stone wall which in its newness and rawness looks such a discordant feature in the landscape she subdues by the grey colouring and soft tenderness of her lichens and mosses into beautiful harmony with surrounding scenery. Similarly do goodness and mercy work; but they are now no longer abstract qualities, for they have been personified in the Son of Man.I. At once these words "GOODNESS AND MERCY" ATTRACT OUR ATTENTION. It was "goodness and mercy" that led us first out of the fold, with an aim and object in life. There was "goodness and mercy" in that shelter from the noontide heat. But low it is "goodness and mercy" all the days of my life. We owe a good deal to the grace that comes after; the grace that only gives us the wish to do what is right, not only the grace that starts us and helps us in what is right, but also the grace which helps us to finish. Here is that striking characteristic of the love of God Almighty which comes, out in all His dealings with us, namely, its completeness. "Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end." Creative love, which placed man in the world, did not exhaust the goodness of God towards us: Redemptive love met him when he fell. And as if Redemptive love itself were not sufficient, Sanctifying love came in to fill up where Redemptive love seemed to lack. So it is with each single soul. God completes His work. And, indeed, we all need this following grace, this persistent love of God. Think how much misty and trouble come to us from past sins, attacking the heels of life. How many would faint and fail if God's grace did not follow them! "The glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward" (Isaiah 58:8). "Lord, we pray Thee that Thy grace may always prevent and follow us."
II. "AND I WILL DWELL IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD FOREVER." It is your hops and desire, and, please God, it will be your privilege, to dwell much in the house of the Lord. You will have frequently to go there, to plead the great Sacrifice. Day by day you will have to go into the Holy Place to offer the incense. It will be yours to kindle the lamp of a never-ceasing devotion, to place the Eucharistic Shewbread before the Lord. Make your life all temple, all part of the τεμένος, the sacred enclosure. Enlarge it towards the east, where we look for our Saviour's coming. Let it be a life of patient witness for God. Enlarge it towards the west, where the sun of our life is gently dipping towards the grave, in a life of preparedness. Enlarge it towards the north, on the frontier of Satan. Enlarge it towards the sunny south; take in many a piece of ground which is now covered by worldly occupations, business, or pleasure. "I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. This should be our aim, to attain to the realisation of the life hid with Christ in God; and to this God is separating us off, that our sojourn with Him may be eternal.
III. "THE HOUSE OF THE LORD FOREVER." The days are coming when God Himself will measure the temple, His house, to see who are His, and who shall dwell in His tabernacle. It is the permanence of heaven that is one of its greatest joys in prospect. It is an abiding place, a mansion. There is no restoring there, no troubling there; no dark misty shade of death to chill the sunlight of the road.
I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.This text simply means, "I will have a home in the house of the Lord forever." Whatever temple or church or chapel stands to us for a centre or rallying place of our religions belief and life, we should cherish it as a sort of other home. Churches stand for the common brotherhood of all, and for kindness and helpfulness to all. What should be our relation to these Churches? A home that all value. We know what that means. We don't sit there all our time, but from thence we go forth to toil and struggle in the world. Then we return for life's innermost peace and friendliness, reposefulness, and renewal. Just so it is when we make the Church into a home — a "dwelling place," to use the Psalmist's words. Thither we go for the inspiration, fellowship, and renewal of that deeper life in us; thither we go as children gathering about the feet of the Great Father, to feel His presence and to feel it altogether, and thence we go forth to do our busiest and highest part in the world. That is the use of the Church. Not to be always in it. That was the old monkish idea. They desired to make it a permanent sacred enclosure, where God's saints might live out of the common world and so keep pure amid never-ceasing worship, or as nearly so as might be. But Christ teaches us a nobler idea, the idea of home and of active life in the world, and doing its work and busy in its interests; and religion, with a constant spirit setting up this other home of prayer and worship where we feel together peace, rest, refreshment, a common fellowship to the infinite life, and brotherhood to each other. So we renew life at the best part of it. Is it not true that the busier one's life and the more even its resting times are crowded with great interests, attractions, and engagements, the more is it necessary, in order to give the deeper, inner life a chance, to make a definite time and place for its development among life's regular engagements and duties? That is what you do by setting yourselves to have a church home. Some people do not know what pleasure there is even in the mere joining with others in the church. It may not be much they may be able to do or to give, but their sympathy, their encouragement openly declared, towards those who are struggling to keep some little church home going, is in itself a help. Anyone who thus joins in that fellowship of religious life gives a certain added strength and cheer to the whole body. Everyone who thus says to some little group of worshippers, "I am not much, but such as I am I am with you," helps them more than can be figured in any statistics. Himself! — That is the help I plead for, the help to oneself and the help to one's fellow creatures. Life needs this closer cohesion in its great thoughts and aims, this quiet home coming, as it were, of the single worshipper, this sense of having an anchorage in the midst of the wide, rushing stream of life.
()This "house of the Lord," observe, is on the other side of "the valley of the shadow of death"; and therefore it is just a description of heaven; and if the character of a shepherd sets forth the conduct of God towards His people while in this world, the character of a monarch sets forth His character towards them in the world to come.
I. THE SCENE REFERRED TO. "The house of the Lord."
1. Because it is the scene of His familiar glory.
2. Because it is the temple of His worship.
3. As it is the palace of His kingdom.
4. As it is the abode of His family.
II. THE ASSURANCE EXPRESSED BY THE PSALMIST. "I will dwell in it."
1. This language implies the assurance, on his part, of the existence of a state of future blessedness. Reason says there must be such a state; conscience says there is such a state. Hence men often lull their conscience; but there it is — they cannot destroy it, and ever and anon conscience speaks like thunder. Like some chemical characters, in certain temperatures they are illegible; but raise the temperature and they appear in all their reality. But apart from these considerations, let us come to the revelation of the Bible. Jesus taught immortality: no one taught it as He did; no one preached it as He preached it. He said, "I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die."
2. The extent of the Psalmist's assurance. He says, "I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." He only sojourned in it here. Man is never satisfied here. There is quite enough here for the satisfaction of the animal; and the mere animal lives here in contentment, and takes its fill of happiness for its little inch of time. But not so man: man is a rational being. If he were a mere intellectual being, and nothing more, then he might dwell here. But man is not a mere intellectual being; he is a moral being, a spiritual being, and therefore he cannot dwell here. "But in the house of the Lord," says David, "I will dwell forever." "I shall have enough there."
3. The Psalmist's strong confidence of dwelling there "forever." This confidence rests in the promise of God, the finished work of the Redeemer and the sealing of the Holy Ghost. Let this prospect reconcile us in the midst of all affliction, if we be Christians, and let us prepare for that dwelling in the house of the Lord forever.
()I. THE CHURCH BELOW. This leads us to speak of the Sabbath, when the church is most resorted to. The solemn setting apart of places for divine worship is not of human device, but possesses all the sanctions which can be derived from the known will of our Creator. And thus when we assemble ourselves in the church we bring ourselves into the position in which God hath declared that by those who seek acquaintance with Himself He shall be found, and we are looking in the channels through which it is especially promised.
II. THE CHURCH IN HEAVEN. But St. John says there is no temple in heaven. But what does that show but that men will be so changed there that churches such as we have known here will not be needed? You could not draw a richer picture of a regenerated earth than by just supposing such an extension of its Sabbaths as alone would render safe the removal of its churches.
()Is our Father's house so unwelcome and dreary a place that there can be any cause for keeping outside as long as the winds are gentle and the skies bright, and only going in when the rain comes and the clouds of night hang heavily in the heavens? Thank God, He does not refuse to let us in when we come to Him as our refuge in time of trouble; but it would surely be a better thing that He should be our "dwelling place," the home of our hearts, when our joy is perfect, and not merely the asylum of our wretchedness.
Topics24, David, Dwell, Dwelling, Follow, Forever, Goodness, Kindness, Length, Love, Loving, Lovingkindness, Loving-kindness, Mercy, Psalm, Pursue, Surely, Truly
Outline1. David's confidence in God's grace
Dictionary of Bible ThemesPsalm 23:6
1050 God, goodness of
4016 life, human
5478 property, houses
4019 life, believers' experience
7125 elect, the
1220 God, as shepherd
8446 hospitality, duty of
LibraryThe Shepherd King of Israel
'The Lord is my shepherd: I shall not want. 2. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. 3. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. 4. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me. 5. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 6. Surely …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
December the Thirty-First the Rear-Guard
"Goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life." --PSALM xxiii. But why "follow" me? Why not "go before"? Because some of my enemies are in the rear; they attack me from behind. There are foes in my yesterdays which can give me fatal wounds. They can stab me in the back! If I could only get away from the past! Its guilt dogs my steps. Its sins are ever at my heels. I have turned my face toward the Lord, but my yesterdays pursue me like a relentless hound! So I have an enemy in the …
John Henry Jowett—My Daily Meditation for the Circling Year
The Kingdom Undivided
THE POETICAL BOOKS: Psalms Page Song of Solomon Page Proverbs Page THE PSALMS I. The Collection and Divisions: In all probability the book of one hundred and fifty psalms, as it now stands, was compiled by Ezra about 450 B.C. They are divided into five books, each closing with a benediction, evidently added to mark the end of the book. Note the number of psalms in Books 1 and 2. II. The Purposes: 1. They were originally used as songs in the Jewish Temple Worship. …
Frank Nelson Palmer—A Bird's-Eye View of the Bible
In facts from Christian and philosophical standpoints it has been demonstrated that the infallible Supreme Ruler of all human spirits has made His final provision for the safety of each and every individual soul for its temporal and eternal welfare. Now I must prove to my readers' perfect satisfaction that to discard all the dignities and privileges of a high priest and become a lowly worker for Christ, it is not a mere accident nor is it an act of necessity as far as temporal necessities are concerned; …
Meletios Golden—Conversion of a High Priest into a Christian Worker
In Heavenly Love Abiding,
"I will fear no evil, for thou art with me." -- Psalm 23:4. In Heavenly Love abiding, No change my heart shall fear, And safe is such confiding, For nothing changes here. The storm may roar without me, My heart may low be laid, Bnt God is round about me, And can I be dismayed? Wherever He may guide me, No want shall turn me back; My Shepherd is beside me, And nothing can I lack. His wisdom ever waketh, His sight is never dim, -- He knows the way He taketh, And I will walk with Him. Green pastures …
Miss A. L. Waring—Hymns and Meditations
The Wayside Feast
S. B. Ps. xxiii. 5 Bread that camest down from Heaven, Fruit of the eternal tree; Banquet which my God has given Even unto me; Lo, before the world that scorneth, I give thanks and eat, At the table in the desert, Spread with heavenly meat; Wine of the divinest gladness, Milk and honey sweet. In the wilderness unwatered, In the lonely land, This the feast of God made ready By His mighty Hand; Thither came I, spent and weary, Hungry and athirst, From the wastes of thorn and thistle Of the land accursed, …
Frances Bevan—Hymns of Ter Steegen, Suso, and Others
Christian Standing and Christian Progress
PHILIPPIANS iii. 12-16 Christian exultation--Christian confidence--"Not in the flesh"--"In Jesus Christ"--The prize in view--No finality in the progress--"Not already perfect"--The recompense of reward--What the prize will be In a certain sense we have completed our study of the first section of the third chapter of the Epistle. But the treatment has been so extremely imperfect, in view of the importance of that section, that a few further remarks must be made. Let us ponder one weighty verse, …
Handley C. G. Moule—Philippian Studies
The Valley of the Shadow of Death. --Psalm xxiii. 4
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James Montgomery—Sacred Poems and Hymns
The Lord the Good Shepherd. --Ps. xxiii.
The Lord the Good Shepherd.--Ps. xxiii. The Lord is my Shepherd, nor want shall I know; I feed in green pastures, safe-folded I rest; He leadeth my soul where the still waters flow, Restores me when wandering, redeems when opprest. Through the valley and shadow of death though I stray, Since Thou art my guardian no evil I fear; Thy rod shall defend me, Thy staff be my stay; No harm can befall, with my Comforter near. In the midst of affliction my table is spread; With blessings unmeasured my cup …
James Montgomery—Sacred Poems and Hymns
Mercies Remembered and Anticipated. --Ps. xxiii. 4-6.
Mercies remembered and anticipated.--Ps. xxiii. 4-6. Mercy and goodness, O my God! Have follow'd me through all my days; Thy strengthening staff, and guiding rod, Upheld my steps, made straight my ways: Lord, till I reach thy holy hill, Goodness and mercy guard me still. And when I yield this mortal breath, My soul into Thy hands commend, And pass the vale and shade of death, Thy staff and rod my path attend: Mercy and goodness then shall be My song to all eternity. …
James Montgomery—Sacred Poems and Hymns
The Lord My Pasture Shall Prepare
Carey: Henry Carey, 1723 Psalm 23 Joseph Addison, 1712 DOXOLOGY The Lord my pasture shall prepare, And feed me with a shepherd's care; His presence shall my wants supply, And guard me with a watchful eye; My noonday walks he shall attend, And all my midnight hours defend. When in the sultry glebe I faint, Or on the thirsty mountain pant, To fertile vales and dewy meads My weary, wandering steps he leads, Where peaceful rivers, soft and slow, Amid the verdant landscape flow. Though in the …
Various—The Hymnal of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the USA
The King of Love My Shepherd Is
Dominus Regit Me: John Bacchus Dykes, 1868 Psalm 23 Henry W. Baker, 1868 The King of love my Shepherd is, Whose goodness faileth never; I nothing lack if I am his, And he is mine for ever. Where streams of living water flow My ransomed soul he leadeth, And, where the verdant pastures grow, With food celestial feedeth. Perverse and foolish oft I strayed, But yet in love he sought me, And on his shoulder gently laid, And home, rejoicing, brought me. In death's dark vale I fear no ill With …
Various—The Hymnal of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the USA
The Shepherd and the Fold
... Thou hast guided them in Thy strength unto Thy holy habitation.' EXODUS XV. 13. What a grand triumphal ode! The picture of Moses and the children of Israel singing, and Miriam and the women answering: a gush of national pride and of worship! We belong to a better time, but still we can feel its grandeur. The deliverance has made the singer look forward to the end, and his confidence in the issue is confirmed. I. The guiding God: or the picture of the leading. The original is 'lead gently.' Cf. …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
The Great Privilege of those that are Born of God
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John Wesley—Sermons on Several Occasions
'The fruit of the Spirit is joy.' Gal 5:52. The third fruit of justification, adoption, and sanctification, is joy in the Holy Ghost. Joy is setting the soul upon the top of a pinnacle - it is the cream of the sincere milk of the word. Spiritual joy is a sweet and delightful passion, arising from the apprehension and feeling of some good, whereby the soul is supported under present troubles, and fenced against future fear. I. It is a delightful passion. It is contrary to sorrow, which is a perturbation …
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity
Out of the Deep of Death.
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Charles Kingsley—Out of the Deep
Letters of St. Bernard
I To Malachy. 1141. (Epistle 341.) To the venerable lord and most blessed father, Malachy, by the grace of God archbishop of the Irish, legate of the Apostolic See, Brother Bernard called to be abbot of Clairvaux, [desiring] to find grace with the Lord. 1. Amid the manifold anxieties and cares of my heart, by the multitude of which my soul is sore vexed, the brothers coming from a far country that they may serve the Lord, thy letter, and thy staff, they comfort …
H. J. Lawlor—St. Bernard of Clairvaux's Life of St. Malachy of Armagh
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Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
The Good Shepherd' and his one Flock' - Last Discourse at the Feast of Tabernacles.
The closing words which Jesus had spoken to those Pharisees who followed HIm breathe the sadness of expected near judgment, rather than the hopefulness of expostulation. And the Discourse which followed, ere He once more left Jerusalem, is of the same character. It seems, as if Jesus could not part from the City in holy anger, but ever, and only, with tears. All the topics of the former Discourses are now resumed and applied. They are not in any way softened or modified, but uttered in accents of …
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah
Discourse on the Good Shepherd.
(Jerusalem, December, a.d. 29.) ^D John X. 1-21. ^d 1 Verily, verily, I say to you [unto the parties whom he was addressing in the last section], He that entereth not by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. [In this section Jesus proceeds to contrast his own care for humanity with that manifested by the Pharisees, who had just cast out the beggar. Old Testament prophecies were full of declarations that false shepherds would arise to …
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel
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Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah
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Arno Gaebelein—The Lord of Glory
The Great Shepherd
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John Newton—Messiah Vol. 1
Sin Charged Upon the Surety
All we like sheep have gone astray: we have turned every one to his own way, and the LORD hath laid upon Him the iniquity of us all. C omparisons, in the Scripture, are frequently to be understood with great limitation: perhaps, out of many circumstances, only one is justly applicable to the case. Thus, when our Lord says, Behold, I come as a thief (Revelation 16:15) , --common sense will fix the resemblance to a single point, that He will come suddenly, and unexpectedly. So when wandering sinners …
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 1
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