Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, O righteous; shout for joy, all you upright in heart.
I. THE PLACE OF GUIDANCE. Unless we are able to see God's eye, we cannot be guided. What hinders? Our sins. "Mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up" (Psalm 40:12). The great thing, therefore, is to confess our sins, that they may be put away, and then, "accepted in the Beloved," we can "look up with childlike trust, and cry, Abba, Father!"
II. THE MANNER OF GUIDANCE.
1. Authoritative. As master and servant (Psalm 123:2).
3. Sure. Moses knew the desert well, but he might err. He was glad, therefore, of the help of Hobab, "Thou mayest be to us instead of eyes" (Numbers 10:31). How much more surely may we depend upon God in our wilderness journey! "Except the eye of the Lord be put out, we cannot be put out of his sight and care" (Donne).
III. THE HAPPY RESULTS OF GUIDANCE.
1. Peace. We cannot guide ourselves; nor can we trust to others, even the wisest and the best, to guide us; but when we put ourselves under the care and direction of God, we feel that all is well (Jeremiah 10:23; Psalm 119:165).
2. Freedom. God does not take pleasure in "the bit and bridle." He would have us be guided through our reason and heart rather than by restraint and force. He works in us both "to will and to do." He makes us free by the truth, that our service may be not from fear, but love.
3. Courageousness. (2 Chronicles 20:12.) God's eye upon us is an inspiration. Gideon felt a new man when the Lord looked upon him (Judges 6:14). Paul had a heart for any fate when Christ stood by him in the storm (Acts 27:23). Stephen went to a cruel death with love and joy under the eye of his Master (Acts 7:56-60).
4. Hope. In humble, trustful self surrender and love we can go forward with confidence. God's eye upon us, and our eye upon God, we are safe for time and for eternity, - W.F.
1. That is right which is tried so to be by a right line, and stands in correspondence unto it: the right line is God's Word, the precepts of the Lord are right (Psalm 19:8), and then the heart is upright, when it is made straight by the Word, and is squared in all things by it. Every man boasts of the rightness and goodness of his heart, that cares but a little for God's Word.
Shout for joy, all ye that are upright of heart.
1.When our joy is a fruit of the Spirit of the Lord (Galatians 5:22).
2. When it looketh to God and acknowledgeth Him the true God, and in His Son whom He hath sent, His God reconciled, appeased, and well pleased (Romans 5:1). Our prophet here calls the righteous to rejoice upon this ground. When a man rejoiceth in God's favour, forgiving sin, and in fellowship with God and Jesus Christ, then he rejoiceth in the Lord.
3. When it respecteth the special pledges of God's favour, as the works of regeneration, the happy change we find in ourselves, the shining and beautiful graces of God's Holy Spirit, with the daily increase of them: thus to rejoice in the Lord's image renewed, is to rejoice in the Lord Himself.
4. When our joy is set upon God's ordinances and Word, in which the Lord revealeth Himself, and communicateth Himself more freely unto us, when in them we get a faster hold of God, and grow up into further fellowship with Him, especially when His gracious promises feed our hearts, and we rejoice in His truth and faithfulness, making them good not only to others, but also to our own selves.
5. When we rejoice in the hope of eternal glory, both in soul and body (Romans 5:3). Hoping and expecting and rejoicing that we shall fully enjoy Him as He is, and drink freely of that water of life, which we have already tasted.
(T. Taylor, D. D.)
All ye that are upright in heart.
(J. Donne, D. D.)
2. A right line doth ever discover that which is crooked; a good sign of a right heart is to discover, but not without true sorrow, the crookedness and hypocrisy of it, and to labour to correct and reform it (Psalm 119:80). Let my heart be upright in Thy statutes, that I be not ashamed: a right line shames a crooked; crooked legs are ashamed to be seen: when a man fears, and is ashamed of his hypocrisy and crookedness, and ever tendeth to straightness, it is a good note of some rightness of heart.
3. Consider the things which flow from the heart: if they be single and pure, warrantable and right, then a man may know his heart is upright; for such as the fruit is, such is the tree; if thou feedest on forbidden fruit, thou art a bad tree, and thy heart far from uprightness; an upright heart suffereth not rotten speeches in the mouth, idleness in the hand, injustice in the life, drunkenness in the brain, and disorder in the course.
4. Consider the ends and aims of our actions; the upright heart aimeth directly at God's glory in all things, but the crooked heart pro-poundeth ever some crooked end and sinister respect unto good actions; as many come to church, get knowledge, and profess religion for vain glory and vain ends; some thrust among godly persons, and into good company, not because they are good or would be good, but because they would be thought so.
5. Consider if thy heart be the same in private as it would be thought in public. Abraham walked in uprightness before God according to the commandment (Genesis 17:1), how did he reform his house, teach his family, instruct his servants, and take God with him in providing a wife for Isaac, and in all things (Genesis 24:63). Isaac was the same in the field as he was in the house; he went out into the field to pray. Daniel was the same after the dangerous law that he was before, he opened his windows thrice a day as he was accustomed. So upright was Paul in his whole course, as he knew nothing by himself'(1 Corinthians 4:4).
(T. Taylor, D. D.).
Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous.
(J. H. Jowett, M. A.)I. THE CALL TO PRAISE, AND ITS REASONS (ver. 1-11). The first word of ver. 1 means not simply to "rejoice" (as A.V.), but to express the emotions aloud. The subjects of the invitation are addressed as "righteous" and "upright," because this was their ideal character of what they ought to be as the true Israel of God, and to them as such it was every way suitable to show forth Jehovah's praise. It was quite otherwise with the wicked (Psalm 1:16; Mark 1:25; Mark 3:12; Acts 17:18). In ver. 2 the call is to use harp and lyre with the song, the first mention of musical instruments in the Psalter. The Hebrews used wind and stringed and percussive instruments, but their precise nature cannot well be determined.
II. GOD'S SPECIAL FAVOUR TO HIS PEOPLE (Vers. 12-22). They were His heritage; not simply a temporary possession, but one enduring by hereditary succession through a long course of ages. Their security and happiness in having Jehovah for their God is enforced anew by the assertion of His omniscience. Men can be surprised or overtaken: not so the all-seeing One. He fully understands all their doings, their origin, their motive, their purpose. All is evident at a glance. Hence His will is supreme, and all persons and things are comprehended in His control of the world. What material strength cannot do for those who rely upon it, is secured to believers by the eye of Jehovah. That eye is directed toward those who wait for His loving-kindness. The three concluding couplets finely express the attitude of the Church in all ages — waiting, hoping, trusting. "The whole history of Israel may be summed up in Jacob's dying words, 'I have waited for Thy salvation, O Jehovah.'"
(T. W. Chambers, D. D.)
Homilist.I. True worship is HAPPINESS to the godly. "Rejoice," etc.
1. It is the highest happiness of intelligent existences. Only by worship can the profoundest cravings of their natures be satisfied, or their powers be fully and harmoniously developed.
2. The godly alone can offer true worship.
II. True worship is BECOMING to the godly. "Comely."
1. It agrees with his character.
2. It is congenial with his spirit.
3. It is in keeping with his obligations.
III. True worship is MUSIC to the godly. "Praise the Lord with harp," etc. Note some of the features of true psalmody.
1. Variety. Both instrumental and vocal music are here mentioned.
2. Freshness. "A new song." Whilst our religion should be as settled as the trunk of the oak — the forms and spirit of our devotion should be as changing as the foliage, now green with spring, now tinted with summer, now tinged with the brown hue of autumn.
3. Accuracy. "Play skilfully." True music is sound ruled by science.
4. Hearty. "With a loud noise."
(Homilist.)I. THE DUTY. "Rejoice in the Lord." Look upon religion in its actions and employment: and what are they? "Rejoice and give thanks." Are not these actions that are grateful and delightful? What doth transcend Divine joy, and ingenuous acknowledgments?
II. THE REASON. It is "comely." Whatsoever is the true product of religion is grateful, beautiful, and lovely. There is nothing in religion that is dishonourable or selfish. Then we are to rejoice in the Lord.
1. For Himself, God is the most excellent object in the world. But whosoever are pleased with God, God is pleased with them: but to the wicked and unregenerate, God Himself (as good as He is) He is a burden. Let men pretend love to the things of God never so much, they will not relish them, unless they be born of God. 'Tis they that are naturalized to heaven, that relish and favour Divine things. That which is born of the world is enmity against God. Our rejoicing must be with some respect to God; and though it be in other things, yet it must be in the Lord. And this is done when we acknowledge God as the Fountain of all good, and better than all other enjoyments whatsoever; and count our enjoyments as all from Him and so endearing Him to us and obliging us to Him. Now, to enforce this joy in God, we note that joy is necessary to the life of man. The apostle hath told us that worldly sorrow causeth death. Sorrow and sadness, melancholy and discontent spoils the temper of a man's mind; it vitiates the humours of the body; it prevents the Divine, and hinders the Physician. For the Divine deals by reason; but this being obliterated, he can do nothing. And it also hinders the Physician; for if the mind be discomposed by melancholy, it doth not afford due benevolence to the body. The sour and melancholy are unthankful to God, and cruel to themselves, and peevish in their converse: so that joy and rejoicing are necessary in respect to ourselves. But also, joy is so safe for us: it will hold us back from sin, it will never be in excess, will always be sincere, and will offend none: it will keep company with gratitude and humility, and will always leave us in a good temper, which worldly joy will not do. If our triumph be in the Lord, it separates from sensual things, and from the spiritual sins of pride and arrogancy. Therefore let there be always something that is spiritual in the ground, reason, or occasion, or motive of your joy.
1. Because nothing is more due to God than our gratitude; for He loadeth us with His benefits, and is pleased to please us, and doth many things to gratify us.
2. By this we give testimony of our minds to God. For we have nothing at all to sacrifice to God, but the consent of our minds; an ingenious acknowledgment.
(B. Whichcote, D. D.)
Praise is comely for the upright.
I. Praise is comely for EXISTENCE. The good man recognizes God as the Dispenser of every blessing. He holds all blessings as a loan or trust, and as a faithful steward, employs them for God, not for selfish purposes. As all the rivers return to the sea whence they came, so the upright man sends all God's gifts back again in grateful homage and loving service to the Divine source of all good.
II. Praise is comely for REDEMPTION.
III. Praise is comely for THE GIFT OF IMMORTALITY. The righteous man has something great and noble to live for, a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory to anticipate. In prospect, he has that which will fill the immensity of his being, satisfy to the full and for ever, the yearning of his great nature, so that the very thought of his immortality fills his soul with ecstasy, and his song with harmony (1 Peter 1:3). It is said that when Mendelssohn went to see the great Freiburg organ, and asked permission of the old custodian to be allowed to play upon it, he was refused. After a little kind persuasion, however, consent was reluctantly given. Mendelssohn instantly took his seat, and made the organ discourse sublimest music. The custodian, spellbound, drew near and ventured to ask for the name of the stranger. When it was announced, ashamed, and self-condemned, the custodian exclaimed, "What a fool am I to refuse you permission to play!" There is One standing by you who can bring forth the most heavenly strains of music from your heart. Place it in His hand and Christ will make every chord send forth celestial harmonies that would make all the angels cease to sing and be mute, that they might the better listen to the nobler music of Christ's redeemed ones.
(R. Roberts.)I. GOOD AND RIGHTEOUS MEN ARE MOST OBLIGED TO THE DUTY OF PRAISE, AND MOST FIT TO PERFORM IT.
1. There are many of God's blessings that are universal, in regard to these the duty of thanksgiving should be of as large extent. But since some men partake more particularly of His favour, they are in a more particular manner obliged to gratitude and thanksgiving.
2. The righteous are also most fit to perform this duty.(1) Because such men are always humble, and ready to acknowledge their unworthiness of God's goodness.(2) Because they have a quick and lively sense of it, and are apt to be tenderly and passionately affected with it.(3) Because they have always a solid foundation of true joy in a good conscience.(4) Because of that fitness and congruity which there is between praise and other virtues. As the beauty of the body consists in the exact dimensions of every part, and the symmetry and proportion of the whole: so does the beauty of the soul consist in the exercise of all Christian virtues, and in the mutual relation which they have to each other: and if any one be wanting it is a plain deformity, and will be perceived immediately.
II. GOD IS THE PROPER OBJECT OF PRAISE. The psalmist does not tie himself up strictly to the contemplation of the Divine nature, as to its essential excellencies only, but considers them as they relate to His works, and are beneficial to His creatures.
1. Rejoice in the Lord in regard of His goodness. Whatever is pleasing to us below, is so, because we take it to be good; that is, suppose it to partake of this fountain of ever-flowing goodness. How, then, should we be transported with joy if we lifted up our thought to Him who is Goodness itself, and through His vast abundance pours it upon every creature! But yet this would not be sufficient for His universal praise, unless we consider His goodness in His works.
2. Rejoice in Him because of His wisdom; it is by this He governs and disposes of all things as in wisdom He made them all.
3. Rejoice in the Lord in regard of His power. That very power which is so dreadful to His enemies, at which the whole creation trembles, at which the everlasting mountains are scattered, the perpetual hills do bow; when He marches through a land in indignation and threshes the heathen in His anger. Power can do as much for the righteous. So that this attribute cannot be dreadful to good men, but on the contrary, must be most delightful to them.
(J. Adams, M. A.)1. The gratitude of upright men is wise. The praise of the Lord becomes them well, because, while they bless God for all their mercies, they arrange them in their proper order; they prize each according to its real worth, and that most of all which is of the greatest value.
2. The gratitude of upright men is real. The praise of the Lord becomes them, because, while they praise God for His benefits, they live to the glory of their benefactor. Every gift of God furnisheth us with both a motive and a means of obedience to Him.
3. Gratitude to God well becomes an upright man, because it is humble. By publishing the gifts of God's grace, he divests himself of himself, and attributes them wholly to the goodness of Him from whom they came.
4. The gratitude of an upright man is noble and magnanimous. He takes the love of God to him for a pattern of his behaviour to his fellow-creatures.
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