My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast. I will sing and make music.
I. MARK GOD'S CHARACTER. When God proclaimed his Name to Moses, he put "mercy" in the forefront: "The Lord God merciful;" but "truth" had also its place, for it is added," abundant in truth" (Exodus 34:6). The same order is observed in the Psalms. Thus it is said (Psalm 86:15), "Thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, long suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth (cf. Psalm 89:2).
II. SHINE FORTH IN GOD'S JUDGMENTS. What God does shows what he is. His works express his character. Mercy and truth" are, so to speak, the rails on which his judgments travel (Psalm 25:10; Psalm 103:17).
III. CHARACTERIZE GOD'S DEALINGS WITH HIS PEOPLE. They need "mercy; and unto the Lord "belongeth mercy" (Psalm 62:12). They need "truth," and God is "the God of truth" (Psalm 31:5). In the salvation which God has wrought, both are blended in beautiful harmony (Psalm 85:10). As has been quaintly said, "Mercy and truth are but the transverse arms of the cross of Christ. Righteousness and peace are but its upper and lower limbs. The one springs out of the earth, the other has looked down from heaven, and they have kissed each other, in token of God's love and of his reconciliation with the sons of men."
IV. FOUNDATION OF HOPE TO THE CHILDREN OF MEN. Mercy and truth are the two outspread wings of God. Under them there is sure shelter and peace (Psalm 36:7; Psalm 61:1-4). Here there is hope for the sinner (Psalm 33:18, 22; Psalm 78:7; 167:11). Here there is comfort for the troubled in heart (Psalm 57:3-10). Here there is inspiration for all who are minded to serve God (Psalm 69:13; Psalm 98:3; Psalm 115:1). Here there is earnest and foreshadowing of the everlasting rest (Psalm 61:7; Psalm 63:7; Psalm 138:8). - W.F.
My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed.
I. THIS STATE OF HEART. "O God, my heart is fixed" — all is suspended upon that. When that is the case, there is salvation; till then, nothing is done. When that is done, all is done. The angels rejoice in heaven, and God Almighty, the Father of our Lord, is glorified. The heart, as we all know, is the man; all else of the man is governed by the heart. The physical and intellectual powers, what are they? The whole complex machinery of our constitution, what is it? Simply the servant of the heart. "Aye," but some one will perhaps say, "the question is, upon what is the heart fixed?" Now, really, that is not the question. It is a question according to man's mode of thinking, and according to man's mode of acting, perhaps.
II. I grant you, there are ten thousand things that solicit the heart, and after which the heart of man runs; but THERE IS BUT ONE THING IN THE UNIVERSE UPON WHICH THE HEART CAN BE "FIXED." Why, unless the object is fixed itself, how is it possible for the heart to be fixed? It may be directed towards, but how can it be fixed? If the thing is not fixed, what is fixed? One thing — God is fixed, and it is a simple truth that man is never fixed until he is fixed upon God. Surely a house, as to its fixedness, depends upon the foundation. Build a house on the sand, and is it fixed? You may fix it there as you think, but is it fixed? The foundation shifts, and what becomes of the house? Oh! the heart can only be fixed according to the fixedness of that on which it rests.
Evangelist.I. ON WHAT WAS DAVID'S HEART FIXED?
1. On God and His service.
2. On the diligent study of the lively oracles of God.
3. On the duty of prayer.
4. On the grand purpose of furthering the interests of Zion.
II. WHY SHOULD WE DO LIKEWISE?
1. Because indecision degrades the character of man.
2. There is no solid and substantial reason why the heart should not be fixed on God.
3. The nature of spiritual religion as developed in the Gospel, requires and supposes this fixedness of heart.
4. If we are not thus decided, we shall never accomplish anything truly good and great in the service of God. It is the man of settled views and fixed purposes before whom obstacles, that would be unconquerable to others, give way.
Homilist.There are many temptations to a man to wander in doubt and uncertainty. He is driven hither and thither by doubts of self, of God, of revelation, of the past, and of the future. But there is no rest for that man until he is able to exclaim, "My heart is fixed."
I. THERE IS A POSSIBILITY OF POSITIVE RELIGION.
1. The word "positive" is a species of cant phrase much used by doubters and Agnostics. But in this case we may strictly apply it to the state of a true believer. The inquirer has reached a state of satisfaction. He has found what he needed. There is for him now no further tossing about on the tempest of fear or anxiety.
2. There is something very blessed in this state of satisfaction. It is that of a mariner having arrived in port, of a student having attained the goal he coveted, the architect having seen the realization of his plans.
3. This state, too, is essentially a religious one. Nothing earthly can afford positiveness. There can be no certainty in any human act or any human hope; but in the search after God there can be, and is, perfect finality.
II. THIS STATE OF SATISFACTION IS A STATE OF PRAISE.
1. The key to open the door of heaven is praise. The solution of all doubts is praise. The end of all difficulties is praise.
2. The state, then, of our own miserable darkness and unrest rests upon the fact that we are always looking on ourselves, not on God. If we look on ourselves, we shall naturally see our own defects, sorrows. But if we look to His brightness we shall lose sight of all that is dark, and in His certainty we shall find an eternal stand and an unchanging hope.
II. THE MANIFOLD HINDRANCES THAT WE MEET TO SUCH A UNIFORMITY OF OUR RELIGIOUS LIFE. There is, for example, the tendency to fluctuation which besets all our feelings, and especially our religious emotions. What would happen to a steam-engine if the stoker now piled on coals and then fell asleep by the furnace door? One moment the boiler would be ready to burst; at another moment there would be no steam to drive anything. That is the sort of alternation that goes on amongst hosts of Christians to-day. Their springtime and summer are followed certainly by an autumn and a bitter winter. Every moment of elevation has a corresponding moment of depression. But is there any necessity for such alternations? Some degree of fluctuation there will always be. The very exercise of emotion tends to its extinction. Varying conditions of health and other externals will affect the buoyancy and clear-sightedness and vivacity of the spiritual life. Only a barometer that is out of order will always stand at set fair. The vane which never points but to south is rusty and means nothing. But while there cannot be absolute uniformity, there might and should be a far nearer approach to an equable temperature of a much higher range than the readings of most professing Christians give. There is, indeed, a dismally uniform arctic temperature in many of them. Their hearts are fixed, truly, but fixed on earth. Their frost, is broken by no thaw, their tepid formalism interrupted by no disturbing enthusiasm. We do not speak now of these, but of those who have moments of illumination, of communion, of submission of will, which fade all too soon. To such we would earnestly say that these moments may be prolonged and made more continuous. We need not be at the mercy of our own unregulated feelings. We can control our hearts, and keep them fixed, even if they should wish to wander.
III. THE MEANS BY WHICH SUCH A UNIFORM CHARACTER MAY BE IMPRESSED UPON OUR RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE. A man climbing a hill, though he has to look to his feet, when in the slippery places, and all his energies are expended in hoisting himself upwards by every projection and crag, will do all the better if he lifts his eye to the summit that gleams above him. So we, in our upward course, shall make the best progress when we consciously and honestly try to look beyond the things seen and temporal, even whilst we are working in the midst, of them, and keep clear before us the summit to which our faith tends. If we lived in the endeavour to realize that great white throne, and Him that sits upon it, we should find it easier to say, "My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed." But be sure of this, there will be no such uniformity of religious experience throughout our lives unless there be frequent times in them in which we go into our chambers and shut our doors about us, and hold communion with our Father in secret.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
1. Some disciples went back under the strain of Christ's higher teachings.
2. Some forsook under the strain of Christ's sufferings.
3. Some were hindered in running — "Ye did run well, who hath hindered you?"
4. Some were enticed by false doctrine.
5. Some were borne away by the love of the world.
6. Some are reproached for being neither cold nor hot.These old readings of Christian living suit us now. Then times of refixing ourselves are needed. What fixity should we try to reach?
I. FIXITY MAY CONCERN THE INTELLECT. Show the importance of firm and ever-growing mental hold of truth and of God. Fixity for the intellect can only come with growth.
II. FIXITY MAY CONCERN THE WILL. A power of resolve may shape a life. Illustrate by familiar tale in John Foster's "Essays," showing the power of decision.
III. FIXITY SHOULD CONCERN THE HEART. "My heart is fixed, O God." The true life-force is from the heart,. Heart things are the lasting things. To the heart God appeals. The heart God wants. Intellectual fixity may not be possible. Will-fixity may depend very much on disposition. Heart-fixity tuiumphs over all externality. It concerns the principle and spirit of the life. Fixed everywhere and in everything for ,God. How broad, comprehensive, practical!
(Robert Tuck, B. A.)
(Marvin R. Vincent, D. D)
(John Tunis, B. A.)
(H. G. Salter.)
I will sing and give praise. —
I. THE MEANING OF THE WORDS. "My heart is fixed."
1. On what the psalmist had fixed his heart. On God. Everywhere else there might be darkness and despair, but here there were light, consolation and security. As he recalls to remembrance all that God had already done for him, and all that he had promised yet farther to do, his spirit enters a serener world, and he refrains from his complaint against his inveterate enemies. And observe, that in fixing his heart on God, the psalmist more especially contemplates those gentler features of the Divine character, on which the regards of the guilty and dependent creature must ever most complacently rest (vers. 2, 3).
2. How, or with what sentiments, it was so fixed. The expressions of confiding regard which occur throughout the psalm indicate that the heart of the writer was fixed on God by faith. In faith it is that he exclaims, "My soul trusteth in Thee," etc.; and it is in the same faith, too, that he purposes to pray, when he says, "I will cry unto God most high, unto God that performeth for me." Nor could his heart have been otherwise fixed on God, than by the virtue of that all-important principle which lies at the very source of practical godliness, admitting the light by which Divine truth irradiates the soul, and constituting the assimilating power, by whose energy the things believed are converted into the bread of life.
II. If the heart be thus fixed on God, PRAISE AND DEVOUT SONG WILL BE THE UNFAILING RESULT; for fixedness of heart, or steadfastness of faith, is the only proper condition of the soul for these sacred exercises. We may use vain repetitions without a fixed heart. But if we would pour out our whole souls before God in those fervid and earnest supplications which, and which alone, we know to be acceptable; and if we would attain a humble assurance that we have been heard in heaven, we must go to the altar with fixed hearts. When, again, with the psalmist, we would "sing and give praise," the mercy of God will be brought home in clearest and most lively apprehensions to our hearts, and then, instead of finding it difficult to pour forth the melody of joy and salvation, that will become the only possible mode of giving form and voice to the sentiments that swell and glow within us.
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