The righteous will see and fear; they will mock the evildoer, saying,
I. THE ODIOUSNESS OF HIS CHARACTER. It is marked by deceitfulness. Craft and lying are the tools of the betrayer. He cannot get on without them, and he waxes expert in their use. He may pretend friendship, but malice is in his heart. Even if he speaks truth, it is not in love, but in hate. "Whispering tongues can poison truth," Beat on mischief, he does not think of consequences. If he can injure the man he hates, he cares not though the innocent also should suffer. When he comes by a secret, which may be turned to advantage, he is elated. His paltry soul swells within him, he grows big with the idea of his own importance. Life and death are in the power of his tongue. And when his miserable schemes succeed, he boasts as if he had done a brave thing; as if he were the hero of the hour.
II. THE TERRIBLENESS OF HIS DOOM. There was a time when Doeg seemed to succeed. Then he may have blessed his soul, and the men of Saul's court, no doubt, praised him, while he was doing good, as they thought, to himself, and was able to do good to them. But changes came. His real character was unmasked. The fearful results of his treachery were brought to light, and then he must have become the object of detestation to all right-thinking men. It is thus that reputations built on sand fall in the day of trial. The judgment of yesterday may be reversed to-day. The men who stand high to-day may be covered with scorn and infamy to-morrow. God is long-suffering. He even bears long, and strangely, with the wicked. But their day is coming. The judgment described in the psalm is terrible in its completeness. Image is added to image. The metaphors rise in intensity and force. There is not only defeat, as of a house beaten down, but there is expulsion, as from a home made desolate; and more, there is extinction, as of a family rooted out of the land (ver. 5). The overthrow is complete, and all this is by the hand of God, indicating that all deceit and malice and evil-doing are contrary to the Divine order, and doomed in the end to ruin. There is a conscience in society, and, as it is rightly quickened and enlightened, it says "Amen" to God's righteous judgments.
III. THE MORAL LESSONS OF HIS LIFE. There is much here deserving close study. Learn:
1. The justice of God. He is ever on the side of truth. His judgments are all righteous.
2. The folly of sin. (Ver. 7.)
3. The blessedness of the righteous. This lesson is heightened by contrast. How different the tree overthrown, and torn up by the roots, and the "olive tree" standing beautiful and secure in "the house of God" 1 How markedly and utterly separate, the evil-doer judged and put to shame, and the godly man trusting, praising, waiting, rejoicing in the sunshine of God's love, and the hope of his mercy for ever and ever! - W.F
The righteous also shall see, and fear, and shall laugh at him.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Lo, this is the man that made not God his strength. —I. WHAT IS UNDERSTOOD BY MAKING GOD OUR STRENGTH.
1. A conviction of our own weakness and danger, and the insufficiency of all created good for our safety and happiness.
2. A strong and lively persuasion of Divine all-sufficiency.
3. A pleasing persuasion of God's gracious willingness to protect and save all those who make Him the object of their trust and dependence.
4. An unreserved surrender of himself, and all that he possesses, into the hands of God. The word we render '" strength "sometimes signifies a fort or castle; and, in this view and connection, imports the soul's betaking itself to God in scenes of danger, and reposing its dependence upon Him for protection from invading evil (Psalm 61:2, 8; Isaiah 33:16; Proverbs 18:10).
II. VIEW THE MAN WHO MAKES NOT THE LORD HIS STRENGTH in some of the most interesting scenes and situations.
1. We will suppose him in the enjoyment of health and prosperity, and in possession of as much of this world as heart can wish. But whatever distinction these circumstances may make in his favour, he is neither secure nor happy. There are desires which earthly objects were never designed to satisfy, and there is a chasm in the soul which all created nature cannot fill. Past disappointments will suggest the possibility of future; and the sad change which hath passed on others, once as prosperous as himself, will awaken some painful suspicion that his mountain stands not so strong as never to be moved. He vainly attempts to flee from conscience: but it attends him like his shadow; or, shall I say, like a barbed arrow. He may change the place indeed — but the arrow and the wound remain. "There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked."
2. We will suppose him in scenes of temptation. His dignity and glory is lost: — the freedom in which he prides himself means nothing worthy of the man — in a country that boasts its liberty he is an abject slave, and in constant subjection to the worst of tyrants.
3. We will suppose him lying under the pressure of bodily affliction. The objects on which his trust and dependence were placed cannot prevent one painful sensation, or bring back to its proper state one single nerve. His body and soul are both afflicted: he hath a painful feeling that his dependence was improperly placed; and he is ashamed and afraid to ask of God that strength which he had refused to accept.
4. We will suppose him with death in immediate prospect. His strength is gone — his pulse beats feebly — a mortal paleness hangs upon his countenance. He would fain hope to live, but cannot: he sees death approaching, and trembles at the sight. What he hath most to dread is coming upon him like an armed man, and he hath no strength to resist. The very thing he wants — what alone could sustain him — he hath taken no pains to secure.
5. We will next suppose him in sight of the Judgment-day, and as standing before the bar of that God, whose favour and strength he never sought. Oh! how does he wish for rocks and mountains to fall upon him, to cover him from the face of the Judge, and from the wrath of the Lamb! And "lo! this is the man who made not God his strength."
6. Suppose this unhappy man, who made not God his strength, removed from the bar of Christ, and shut up in everlasting despair.
III. SOME THOUGHTS DEDUCIBLE FROM THIS SUBJECT.
1. They act a very unwise and dangerous part, whose dependence is not on God.
2. There are those who are no objects of envy, notwithstanding their prosperous circumstances and the great abundance they possess.
3. An interest in the favour and friendship of God, through Christ, in whom is everlasting strength, should be the object of our warmest wish and daily pursuit.
But trusted in the abundance of his richesI. A GREAT MISTAKE.
1. Because of the uncertainty of the tenure of riches.
2. Because of the limited power of riches. It can buy books, but not intellectual power; paintings, but not appreciative taste; service and sycophancy, but not esteem and affection, etc. It cannot buy pardon, peace, purity, etc. It cannot bribe death, etc.
3. Because of the utter inability of riches to satisfy their possessors. He who has much wealth would fain have more.
II. A COMMON MISTAKE. The great race of the age is for the acquisition of wealth. Manhood is sacrificed for money. "How mournfully ironical it is," said Mr. Lance, "and how sad it seems, that death, with all that is pathetic, and solemn, and tender, and sublime about it, should stand associated with that love of money that is the root of all evil! Died worth £50,000! Why, worth, as I .understand it, is worthiness, and as I read Heaven's own imperial dictionary, a man is worth only just so much as, and no more than, the good, the true, the imperishable, that stands connected with his name, whether living or dying. I hope that the time may come when it will not seem strange to say that Shakespeare died worth Hamlet, and that Milton died worth the Paradise Lost, and that Bunyan died worth the Pilgrim's Progress. But at present material wealth is the deity of thousands in Christian England.
III. A RUINOUS MISTAKE, IF PERSISTED IN (Luke 12:15-21).
I. MONEY IS LIKE, AND BY MANY IS OFTEN UNCONSCIOUSLY MISTAKEN FOR, GOD. Man is made for God, but there are certain superficial similarities between it and God which secretly persuade the heart that that divinity of which it is in search it will find in wealth. If we try to think how money is like God, may it not be said to possess a certain shadowy resemblance of His omnipotence; a strange mimicry of His omnipresence, His boundless beneficence, His providence, His power over the future, His capacity, not only to procure for us an endless variety of blessings, to give us all that our hearts can desire, but also to become in and for Himself, apart from all that He can give us, an object of independent delight; so that it is happiness to know and feel that He is ours? Now, money seems able to do and be all this, and nothing but the true love of God can drive it out of our minds.
II. BUT IT IS A PRETENCE AFTER ALL. For the soul cannot rest in the material and the outward; nor in the limited and perishable and that which abideth not. But all this is true of wealth, and therefore it can only be a false god at the best. God, and God alone, is sufficient for the happiness of the soul which, in His own image, He hath made.
(John Caird, D. D.)
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