I call to remembrance my song in the night. This expression recalls the appeal of Elihu (Job 35:10
), "But none saith, Where is God my Maker, who giveth songs in the night?" But the mood of the psalmist here is peculiar. To him the memories of past joys do but intensify present distress. "When I remember how near God once was, the present seems more bitter, and the thought brings increase of sadness." Some, however, render this clause, "I will give my mind to my song in the night; I will muse with my heart while my spirit makes search;" and understand the psalmist to mean, that he resolves to compose the present poem that very night.
I. ALL MEN HAVE PRECIOUS AND CHERISHED MEMORIES. However sad and anxious and burdened later life may become, every man's early life - childhood, youth, young manhood - is more or less pleasant to look back on. Partly because of what it actually was, partly because of the sunshine which the spirit of youth put on it, and partly because memory keeps the pleasant, and easily drops the painful. Then there are memories of events that have happened. And, for the Christian man, memories of special times of Divine guidance, rescue, restoration. And for many, dearest memories of sanctified human love. The term, "song in the night," suggests special memories of ways in which our hearts were kept trustful and cheerful, even in times of darkest trouble and most painful distress. With the waves and billows going over us, we yet could sing in our souls, "Yet the Lord will command his loving kindness...in the night his song shall be with me."
II. THE PLEASANTNESS OR PAINFULNESS OF OUR MEMORIES DEPENDS ON OUR OWN CONDITIONS OF MIND AND FEELING. The memories never change. They are always full of God and of his grace. We change our relation to them, and make them depressing or inspiriting according to our moods. According to bodily states, anxious circumstances, or mental and spiritual conditions, we read our past. So the cause for anxiety is that "singleness," clearness of vision, which enables us to see the past as it was, and read aright its relation to the present. So often when memories depress us, we need to see that the fault lies in our way of recalling them; and we should say, "This is my infirmity."
III. IF OUR MEMORIES TELL US WE WERE ONCE GLAD IN GOD, THEY REMIND US THAT WE MAY WISELY BE GLAD IN GOD STILL. For "he is the same yesterday, today, and forever." No matter what may seem to be the present, it is the sphere of the same Divine love and care. - R.T.
Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will He be favourable no more? I.
THE GRIEF WHICH NATURE DICTATES, AND WHICH, IN MODERATION, THE GOD OF NATURE DOES NOT PROHIBIT, BECOMES, IN ITS EXCESS, A PRACTICAL ACCUSATION OF THE CONDUCT OF PROVIDENCE. The psalmist admits, that in uttering his complaints, he was showing his infirmity; and it must appear an act of the greatest weakness to bewail events, which, in the common course of things, must happen, and against the occurrence of which we cannot promise ourselves the security, not even of a single hour. But our merciful Father makes allowance for that depression of spirits, which sometimes breaks out in all the bitterness of lamentation; and instead of stifling complaint by arguments from necessity, he answers them in accents of tenderness and love; soothing the heart amidst its deepest sorrows, and binding up its wounds with all a parent's tenderness (Isaiah 49:15
). This is speaking to nature the language of nature — not with a view to stifle sorrow in those moments, when feeling is too strong for reason; but to lull the bosom to peace, till reason is enabled to regain her ascendency. But if this sentiment is willingly encouraged, after the mind becomes capable of meditating calmly upon the Divine goodness; nay, more, if it is not firmly combated and gradually subdued, we shall be chargeable with fostering a spirit, hostile to all the means, which a gracious Father is employing for our present improvement and future happiness. How do we judge of that child, who, after needful correction for his own good, mingled with salutary admonition against the offence that occasioned it, instead of kissing the rod and submitting to him who applied it, becomes furious in resentment; or yet worse, retires from a father's presence to cherish that sullenness of spirit which refuses to yield. Is not such a child guilty of despising paternal wisdom, of resisting paternal authority, of abusing paternal kindness, and of finally unfitting himself for paternal protection and forbearance?
II. In order to justify Providence, and to perceive the unreasonableness of protracted grief, we have only to follow the example of the psalmist; to resolve, as he does, that he will REMEMBER THE YEARS OF THE RIGHT HAND OF THE MOST HIGH; those years during which we have seen that hand guiding us in the way of safety and peace; delivering us from impending danger; relieving us amidst pressing embarrassments; and, instead of the evil which we feared, conferring an extent of good, which we could not have ventured even to anticipate. He who thus looks back upon the multitude of God's mercies, and compares his past pleasures with his present trouble, will be in a proper frame to commit himself in humble resignation to the care of that Providence, which has never failed him, even in his utmost need.
TopicsAdd, Ages, Cast, Favor, Favorable, Favourable, Forever, Kind, Longer, Pleased, Reject, Spurn
Outline1. The psalmist shows what fierce combat he had with distrust10. The victory which he had by consideration of God's great and gracious works.
Dictionary of Bible ThemesPsalm 77:1-9
5567 suffering, emotional
8615 prayer, doubts
8722 doubt, nature of
6233 rejection, experience
LibraryJune the Eleventh the Path Across the Sea
"Thy way is in the sea." --PSALM lxxvii. 11-20. And the sea appears to be the most trackless of worlds! The sea is the very symbol of mystery, the grim dwelling-house of innumerable things that have been lost. But God's way moves here and there across this trackless wild. God is never lost among our mysteries. He knows his way about. When we are bewildered He sees the road, and He sees the end even from the beginning. Even the sea, in every part of it, is the Lord's highway. When His way is in …
John Henry Jowett—My Daily Meditation for the Circling Year
A Question for a Questioner
The question which makes our text is meant to end other questions. You may carry truth as far as ever you like, and it will always be truth. Truth is like those crystals which, when split up into the smallest possible fragments, still retain their natural form. You may break truth in pieces, you may do what you like with it, and it is truth throughout; but error is diverse within itself, and evermore bears its own death within itself. You can see its falsehood even in its own light. Bring it forward, …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 31: 1885
Ere Another Step I Take
"I commune with mine own heart." -- Psalm 77:6. Ere another step I take In my wilful wandering way, Still I have a choice to make -- Shall I alter while I may? Patient love is waiting still In my Savior's heart for me; Love to bend my froward will, Love to make me really free. Far from Him, what can I gain? Want and shame, and bondage vile -- Better far to bear the pain Of His yoke a little while. Soon I might its comfort find; Soon my thankful heart might cry, "In Thy meek obedient mind, As …
Miss A. L. Waring—Hymns and Meditations
Despondency Self-Corrected. --Ps. Lxxvii.
Despondency Self-Corrected.--Ps. lxxvii. In time of tribulation, Hear, Lord, my feeble cries, With humble supplication To Thee my spirit flies: My heart with grief is breaking, Scarce can my voice complain; Mine eyes, with tears kept waking, Still watch and weep in vain. The days of old, in vision, Bring vanish'd bliss to view; The years of lost fruition Their joys in pangs renew; Remember'd songs of gladness, Through night's lone silence brought, Strike notes of deeper sadness, And stir desponding …
James Montgomery—Sacred Poems and Hymns
A Path in the Sea
'And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them: 20. And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night. 21. And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
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(Admonition 13.) Differently to be admonished are the whole and the sick. For the whole are to be admonished that they employ the health of the body to the health of the soul: lest, if they turn the grace of granted soundness to the use of iniquity, they be made worse by the gift, and afterwards merit the severer punishments, in that they fear not now to use amiss the more bountiful gifts of God. The whole are to be admonished that they despise not the opportunity of winning health for ever. …
Leo the Great—Writings of Leo the Great
Letter iii (A. D. 1131) to Bruno, Archbishop Elect of Cologne
To Bruno,  Archbishop Elect of Cologne Bernard having been consulted by Bruno as to whether he ought to accept the See of Cologne, so replies as to hold him in suspense, and render him in awe of the burden of so great a charge. He advises him to seek counsel of God in prayer. 1. You seek counsel from me, most illustrious Bruno, as to whether you ought to accept the Episcopate, to which it is desired to advance you. What mortal can presume to decide this for you? If God calls you, who can dare …
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux—Some Letters of Saint Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux
Letter Xlii to the Illustrious Youth, Geoffrey De Perrone, and his Comrades.
To the Illustrious Youth, Geoffrey de Perrone, and His Comrades. He pronounces the youths noble because they purpose to lead the religious life, and exhorts them to perseverance. To his beloved sons, Geoffrey and his companions, Bernard, called Abbot of Clairvaux, wishes the spirit of counsel and strength. 1. The news of your conversion that has got abroad is edifying many, nay, is making glad the whole Church of God, so that The heavens rejoice and the earth is glad (Ps. xcvi. 11), and every tongue …
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux—Some Letters of Saint Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux
'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
But I give myself unto prayer.' Psa 109: 4. I shall not here expatiate upon prayer, as it will be considered more fully in the Lord's prayer. It is one thing to pray, and another thing to be given to prayer: he who prays frequently, is said to be given to prayer; as he who often distributes alms, is said to be given to charity. Prayer is a glorious ordinance, it is the soul's trading with heaven. God comes down to us by his Spirit, and we go up to him by prayer. What is prayer? It is an offering …
Thomas Watson—The Ten Commandments
It is here proposed to show, that every incumbent duty ought, in suitable circumstances, to be engaged to in the exercise of Covenanting. The law and covenant of God are co-extensive; and what is enjoined in the one is confirmed in the other. The proposals of that Covenant include its promises and its duties. The former are made and fulfilled by its glorious Originator; the latter are enjoined and obligatory on man. The duties of that Covenant are God's law; and the demands of the law are all made …
John Cunningham—The Ordinance of Covenanting
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H. J. Lawlor—St. Bernard of Clairvaux's Life of St. Malachy of Armagh
Of Faith. The Definition of It. Its Peculiar Properties.
1. A brief recapitulation of the leading points of the whole discussion. The scope of this chapter. The necessity of the doctrine of faith. This doctrine obscured by the Schoolmen, who make God the object of faith, without referring to Christ. The Schoolmen refuted by various passages. 2. The dogma of implicit faith refuted. It destroys faith, which consists in a knowledge of the divine will. What this will is, and how necessary the knowledge of it. 3. Many things are and will continue to be implicitly …
John Calvin—The Institutes of the Christian Religion
The piety of the Old Testament Church is reflected with more clearness and variety in the Psalter than in any other book of the Old Testament. It constitutes the response of the Church to the divine demands of prophecy, and, in a less degree, of law; or, rather, it expresses those emotions and aspirations of the universal heart which lie deeper than any formal demand. It is the speech of the soul face to face with God. Its words are as simple and unaffected as human words can be, for it is the genius …
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament
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