Psalm 97:11
Light is sown on the righteous, gladness on the upright in heart.
Fields Sown with Light for the RighteousPsalm 97:11
Joy Peculiar to ReligionJ. Leifchild.Psalm 97:11
Joyful Gladness for Such as are True-HeartedBishop Stubbs.Psalm 97:11
Light Sown for the RighteousH. Melvill, B.D.Psalm 97:11
Light Sown for the RighteousDean Payne Smith.Psalm 97:11
Seed from God's StorehouseT. Kelly.Psalm 97:11
Sown LightPsalm 97:11
Sown LightF. E. Marsh.Psalm 97:11
The Future Happiness of the RighteousJ. Mason, M.A.Psalm 97:11
The Harvest for the RighteousR. Tuck Psalm 97:11
The Joy Which Attends GodlinessJohn Edwards.Psalm 97:11
The Seed of LightM. R. Vincent, D.D.Psalm 97:11
The Seed of Light (1)S. Conway Psalm 97:11
The Seed of Light (2)S. Conway Psalm 97:11
How May Our Belief of God's Governing the World Support Us in All Worldly DistractionsS. Slater, M.A.Psalm 97:1-12
Jehovah is KingR. C. Ford, M.A.Psalm 97:1-12
Jehovah is KingS. Conway Psalm 97:1-12
Jehovah's SovereigntyH. Burton, B.A.Psalm 97:1-12
The Consolation of God's SovereigntyW. Clarkson, B.A.Psalm 97:1-12
The Divine GovernmentEvangelical PreacherPsalm 97:1-12
The Divine Government Matter O Universal JoyC. Backus, M.A.Psalm 97:1-12
The Divine Government of the UniverseW. Morrison, D.D.Psalm 97:1-12
The Divine Government the Joy of Our WorldS. Davies, M.A.Psalm 97:1-12
The Fact and Consequence of the Divine GovernmentG. M. Mackie, M. A.Psalm 97:1-12
The Lord ReignethJ. H. Jowett, M.A.Psalm 97:1-12
The Reign of GodR. Watson.Psalm 97:1-12
The Reign of God Over the WorldHomilistPsalm 97:1-12
A Good Man Sensitive to Moral EvilDean Goulburn.Psalm 97:10-12
Righteous HatredPsalm 97:10-12
The Privileges and Duties of the Lord's PeoplePsalm 97:10-12

The sacred writers often use strange metaphors; as here, light is said to be "sown for the righteous." Milton uses the same figure of the dew -

"Now Morn, her rosy steps in th' eastern clime Advancing, sowed the earth with Orient pearl." But let us get beneath the strange figure, and ask -


1. What is meant by light? It is a constant symbol for joy, gladness (Esther 8:16; Psalm 27:1, etc.). And, on the other hand, sorrow is likened to darkness.

2. What does the word "sown mean? It is a very suggestive word. It teaches that the seed of joy is:

(1) Scattered abroad. And so it is for God's people; they find it everywhere, and often in most unlikely places. As Paul and Silas in their dungeon at Philippi.

(2) For a time out of sight. The seed, when sown, is so. See this in our coal beds. Light is sown there. Let there be the application of a due amount of heat, and the light will flash forth that was sown by the sun long ages ago. And in like manner, the grace of God has stored up joy and gladness in places where you would never have looked for them. Light is sown in them, and, though now out of sight, will in due time break forth (Psalm 126:5). Then

(3) certainly not lost. Sometimes it seems as if our light had gone from us forever. But it is not so; the losses, bereavements, trials of all kinds which darkened our life, they are but the furrows of the field into which the seed has been cast, and by which it is for the time buried. But as the farmer does not count his seed sown as seed lost, but quite otherwise, so should our thought be.

(4) But is in the care and keeping of God.

(5) Will come back multiplied.

(6) And glorified (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:42-44). We are wont to speak of God's acre," the old and beautiful name for our churchyards, and they are full of sown light. But all our life is a field thus sown. And there are many harvests, the resurrection morn chief of them all. Yet other fields are the Holy Scriptures, God's providence, the Holy Spirit's work. Light is sown for the righteous in all these. But the question will arise -

II. IS IT ALL TRUE? And we reply:

1. The order of nature seems to affirm it. How often has the righteous career been trampled upon and apparently destroyed, but it has sprung up again!

2. The Scriptures assert it unhesitatingly, and furnish perpetual proof, that the light of the righteous is never lost, but only sown preparatory to a blessed harvest.

3. And our heart's deepest convictions confirm it. We could not live without this faith.


1. The instincts of our nature are not mocked. We were made for the light, for blessedness, and the righteous shall realize it.

2. What a terrible thing that any should be self-excluded - as the ungodly are - from the number of those for whom this word is spoken!

3. Be patient when some of your light is taken from you. It is wanted for seed.

4. Yield your hearts to Christ, that by his blessed Spirit he may make them righteous.

5. Look on to the harvest. - S.C.

Light is sown for the righteous.
I. The seen, "light."

1. The preciousness of this figure is seen as we reflect upon

(1)The quality of the seed, "light." "Whatsoever doth make manifest is light." That which dispels mists and shadows, and reveals realities, is the seed.

(2)The idea of increase involved in the fact, "light is sown."

(3)The amount of this precious seed that is sown.

2. Through the entire field of probation, from the gate of responsible action, in every direction, clear back to the river of death that rolls at the extreme end, "light is sown."

II. THE SOWERS, implied in the fact, "Light is sown."

1. God was the first being to scatter this precious seed. Dwelling in the midst of the unlocked granaries of "light" in regard to Himself, and the universe, and especially in regard to the great scheme of salvation, He soon commenced to scatter the seed, which was caught up and disseminated by "holy men of old who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."

2. "Light is sown by the righteous" —

(1)For his own good.

(2)For the good of others.Sometimes we have got to sow our own "light." Little irregularities, follies, or besetments may be persisted in till we are made to see, by the light of experience, that they are deceptive and damaging.

3. Light is sown for the righteous by the wicked.

(1)By wicked nations. French Revolution the result of the infidelity and atheism of France.

(2)By wicked men. The sensuality, want, destitution, misery of the multitude who forget God is light revealing to the righteous the blessedness of his choice.

III. THE PERSONS for whom the sowing is done. "The righteous," not the half-hearted, worldly, or hypocritical professor, but the man whose purpose in the right is a whole purpose, and who stands before his own conscience and his God in the full honours of rectitude. Such a man, no matter where he may be, is surrounded with growing light.

(T. Kelly.)

I. The metaphor is a rather singular one, and yet full of poetry — LIGHT IS SOWN. We can very soon catch the idea if we follow Milton in his speaking of the morning,

"Now morn, her rosy steps in th' eastern clime

Advancing, sowed the earth with orient pearl."The sun, like a sower, scatters broadcast his beams of light upon the once dark earth. Look up at night upon the sky bespangled with stars, and it seemeth as though God scattered them like gold-dust upon the floor of heaven in picturesque irregularity, thereby sowing light. Or if you want a fact which comes nearer to the sowing of light literally than anything which our poets have written, think of our vast coal-beds, which are literally so much sown light. The sun shone upon primeval forests, and the monstrous ferns grew and expanded under the quickening influence. They fell, as fall the leaves of chestnut and of oak in these autumns of our latter days, and there they lie stored deep down in the great cellars of nature for man's use; so much sown light, I say, which springs up beneath the hand of man in harvests of flame, which flood our streets with light, and cheer our hearts with heat. Understand then that happiness, joy, gladness, symbolized by light, have been sown by God in fields that will surely yield their harvest for all those whom by His grace He has made upright in heart.

1. Sown light signifies, first, that light has been diffused. That which is sown is scattered. Before sowing, it was in the bag, or stored up in the granary, but the sowing scatters it along the furrows. Thank God, you who love Jesus and are resting upon His atonement, that God's happiness is not kept to Himself, but is diffused for you and the whole company of His elect; and that the pleasures which are at God's right hand for evermore are not kept within their secret springs, but made to flow like a river; that you with all the blood-bought may drink thereof to the full.

2. Seed that is sown is not in hand. After the husbandman has scattered his wheat he cannot say, "Here it is." It is out of sight; gone from him. So the gladness which belongs go the righteous is not to be regarded as a thing of the present. Their great store of pleasure is yet to come; it is light that is sown, not light that now gleams upon their eyes; it is a gladness that has been buried beneath the clods for a special purpose, not a gladness which is now spread upon the table as bread that has been baked in the oven. Let us remember that this world is not our rest.

3. As seed sown is not visible, so it is not expected that it shall be seen or enjoyed to-morrow. It was said of the northern nations, near the Pole, and said truthfully, that they sowed their barley in the morning and reaped it at night, because the sun goes not down for four months at a time; but in sober truth we must not expect to have the rewards of grace given to us immediately we believe. There must be a trial of our patience and our faith.

4. But while seed sown is not in sight, and is not expected to be seen to-morrow, yet it is not lost. The husbandman counts it gain to have sown his corn. He has transferred his treasure from one bank to another. He does not reckon that any of it has been lost. So with the happiness of a Christian. Lost, the happiness of a single hour in which we have wept for sin! Lost, the happiness of a single moment in which we have suffered affliction for Christ's sake, through persecution and slander! Nay, verily, it is put to our account, and the record of it remains in the eternal archives, against the day when the Judge of all the earth shall measure out the portions of His people.

5. Corn sown is not lost, but is actually in possession still. If a farmer had to sell his field, he would of course ask much more for that in which the seed was sown than for one which was remaining fallow, because he counts that seed sown is still his own property. Even so you may reckon the joys of the hereafter as your own, and you ought so to reckon them; they are the best part of your estate; they are yours, though you do not enjoy them. Yours to-day the seraph's wing and the angel's harp, yours to-day the cherubic song and the bliss of the immortals, the presence of the Lord, and the vision of His face.

6. Sown seed is in the custody of God. You merchants may fancy you can do without the Lord, but the man who has to till the soil is obliged to feel, if he hath any sensibility, his entire dependence upon the God of the rain-cloud and the Lord of the sun. So, beloved, here is our comfort. The light that is sown for the righteous is in the custody of God. Our future happiness, our eternal bliss, are kept by the great Guardian of Israel, who doth neither slumber nor sleep. Be not afraid, therefore, that you shall lose your heaven, for Christ keeps it for you.

7. A thing that is sown is not only put into God's custody, but it is put there with a purpose, that it may come hack to us greatly multiplied. The believer gives up in this life his self-seeking; he suffers some degree of self-denial; he yields up his own boastings to trust in Christ's righteousness; and he makes a good bargain thereby. We shall get back the seed-corn multiplied ten thousand times ten thousand, and we shall bless and magnify for ever and ever the glorious Sower who sowed such a harvest for us.

II. Having opened the metaphor of sown light, let us now speak of the SOWING itself. When were the happiness and security of the righteous sown for them? Answer: there are three great Sowers, the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit, and all these have sown light for the chosen people.

1. First, the Father. Long ages past, or ever the world was, it was in the Eternal mind to ordain unto Himself a people who should show forth His praise. Now, all those great decrees of God, of which He has revealed some inklings in His Word, were so much sowing of light for the righteous, so much provision of gladness in the future for the upright in heart.

2. A second great Sower was God the Son. He sowed happiness for His people when He joined with the Father in covenant and promised to be the substitute for His saints. But the actual sowing took place when He came on earth and sowed Himself in death's dark sepulchre for us. He dropped Himself like a priceless seed-corn into the tomb, and what fruit He has brought forth let heaven and all the blood-washed company declare. The flower that springs from His root is immortality and life.

3. The Holy Spirit is a third great Sower, sowing in another sense, sowing in a sense that comes nearer home to our experience. Light is sown for the righteous by the Holy Spirit. In the hour when He brought the law home with its terrors, and laid us, broken, at the feet of Moses, He was sowing light for us. Our humbling was the preface to our exultation; and we have already proved it so. In that moment when we were subdued, humbled, made to loathe our own righteousness, trampled into the very mire under a sense of weakness and death, He was sowing light for us. It needed that we should be weaned from self; it was necessary that we should make the terrible discovery of our soul's depravity. To-day that Blessed Spirit continues His sowing in us. Every gracious thought; every stroke from the whip of affliction when sanctified; every down-casting of our proud looks; every discovery of our utter insignificance, worthlessness, and death; everything in us that harrows us, cuts us to the quick and wounds us, but yet brings us to the Good Physician that He may exercise His healing art; all these are sowing for us a blessed harvest of light for which we must wait a little while. Be thankful for painful inward experiences; when they are most severe they are often most beneficial.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

Joy is here represented under a double metaphor; one of light, and another of seed. This seed is said to be sown; and sown in a faithful soil, that will be sure to preserve it, and send it forth for those who are to possess it. The people for whom this joy and comfort are thus said to be prepared are described by a principal feature of their character — that of righteousness. Behold the characters for whom God is here said to have made abundant provision of joy and comfort. How does this appear?


1. One is the knowledge of Himself and His real character.

2. They alone are capable of deriving the full benefit of Scripture. What developments of principle, for their guidance or warning, do they perceive in its histories; what correspondence between the workings of good men's hearts, there delineated, and their own: these produce a kind of glad surprise and pleasing wonder!

3. Materials for joy are provided for believers in the very workings and exercises of piety. As in the material constitution, where every act of life and motion gives pleasure, so in the spiritual. Every grace of the Spirit gives pleasure in its operation.

II. God has not only provided materials for the happiness of His people, but MEANS FOR THE REMOVAL, IN THEIR CASE, OF THE SEVERAL IMPEDIMENTS TO ITS ENJOYMENT.

1. He opposes, for this purpose, their inordinate cares and anxieties about the things of this life, chastening their mind, by a variety of means and considerations, to get rid of this weight upon its energies, this cloud upon its views and prospects.

2. He prohibits the indulgence of the irascible tempers, and the vexation of the passions. He imparts, also, the influence of His dove-like Spirit, forming the graces of meekness and humility in the heart, guiding it, as the rudder the vessel, smoothly and peacefully through all the commotions of life.

3. He divests their minds of dread from guilt, adversity, Satan, and death.


1. Sometimes it is by the outward objects and exercises of piety. The work of the Spirit then consists in adapting the state of the mind to these objects. He softens the wax to receive the impression of the seal, or moistens and loosens the soil towards the sun that is ready to pour upon it his full beams. Hence the delight sometimes communicated to the mind in the reading of the Scriptures. The portions that at other times produced little or no emotion, now excite, gladden, and transport us. The same spots of landscape, invisible before, or but half revealed, are seen in a light that imparts an interest to them, and reveals beauties in them altogether new.

2. But there are times when the Spirit produces these emotions in the soul, by opening sources of joy that lie nearer to it, and within itself, apart from externally favourable objects, and even in the presence of circumstances and objects most unfavourable. In order, indeed, to render His work more evident and more conspicuous, as well as more illustrious, from the effect of contrast, He seems to prefer the seasons of deep surrounding gloom and agony for these his gladdening and transporting emotions. This explains the paradoxes of Scripture (2 Corinthians 1:5; 2 Corinthians 6:10; 2 Corinthians 12:10; Romans 5:3).

(J. Leifchild.)

Light and gladness. It is natural to desire them, and God does not crucify nature. He only trains and corrects it. This text tells us that light and gladness are for the upright, and the next verse bids the righteous rejoice. An eagle desires the air, and a fish the water. Is it strange? A child of God is a child of light, begotten of Him who is light and in whom is no darkness at all. If he longs for the light, is that strange? But what about the peculiar way in which this promise of light and gladness is put? Light and gladness are "sown." A startling figure that, and a grand one too. God gives light and gladness to His children just as He does other things, germinally, in the seed form; not all at once, in floods, but with a large reserve into which the man is to work his way. As life moves toward God, it unfolds this seed and lets out more and more light, until eternity develops the full harvest of light. With this figure of sowing seed are naturally associated two thoughts — hiding and diffusion: and the two inevitably run together, because, in the natural process, hiding is with a view to diffusion. The process of growth is distributive, not only in the final scattering of the seed, but in that, in the unfolding of the seed, something beautiful and promising is developed at every successive stage, in the blade and in the ear, no less than in the full corn.

I. If, then, light and gladness are to be looked for in Christian life, it is important to remember that they are growths, and that, as such, THEY CARRY WITH THEM A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF CONCEALMENT AND DELAY. Let us consider some illustrations of this. God hides away light and gladness in certain things which, for the time, give no hint of what is within, even as the rough acorn gives no visible promise of the grandeur and leafage of the oak. And here be very careful to note that when God gives us these seeds, He expects us to look for our light in them. None the less, because the acorn is hard and rough, must you look for your oak in your acorn. You will not find it by turning away to something smoother and softer. One of the very first things to which God introduces us on our entrance into His kingdom is duty. God knows that in all duty there is light which faithful doing will bring out. Often, however, He shows us very little or none of the light and promise, but only the dark furrows of duty in which the light is sown: and He says to us, "Your work lies up and down along those furrows, to keep them free from weeds, to drive away the birds, to keep the earth loose, and to watch and wait until the light shall appear." The same truth appears in the providences of God. They are full of light, but it is sown light. We understand well enough how God hides the diamond and the topaz in the dark and overlays them with hard and coarse crusts; how He shuts up the crystal in the heart of the rough geode; and we doubt not that human skill and labour can bring them forth from their wrappings and make them blaze in the coronets of kings. Why will we limit these facts to nature merely, to God's economy on its lower side, and not see that God carries up the same facts to a higher level, and applies the same method in His spiritual economy, and conceals light and joy beneath the hard incrustations of sorrow and pain? All of you remember the story so graphically told by the Scottish poet, of the wizard buried in the abbey aisles with a lamp upon his breast; and how, when the stone was removed after many years, the light from that lamp blazed up and lighted the tomb and the magic volume in the dead hand. So it is that sometimes we go back after many days to the grave when we buried, as we thought, all the gladness and light of our lives, to find in the hand of the dead a lamp and a lesson-book. A hard providence of God is a seed with a rough and prickly husk, but it is a seed of light, sown by Him who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, and who will shine in His people's hearts to give the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. The truth applies equally to the process of winning Christian knowledge and faith. We are like children at school. Study and thought and books are full of light to you now; but when you were a child, light came to you under cover of duty, by way of rules and formulas; through labour when you saw more gladness in sport; through strict discipline when you thought that complete freedom would be perfect gladness. Would it be strange if God should deal with you in similar wise in acquiring the knowledge of His truth and will?

II. But let us look at the other thought — that of DIFFUSION OR DISTRIBUTION. Concealment or reserve in God's economy is with a view to revelation. Christ said, "There is nothing hidden but in order that it should be revealed," and though, as we have seen, God's revelations unfold gradually, that very fact results in the distribution of His revelations along the whole line of an individual life or of a nation's history. That is one aspect of the truth. A grain of wheat is wheat, not only in the full corn, but in the blade and in the ear likewise, and in the growth of the seeds of light they unfold into light all along the way of the upright. Though something is hidden, though all godly living includes patient waiting, yet God does not condemn His children to walk in darkness all their days, and only then let in upon them the light of heaven in one overwhelming flood. The perfect day is at the end, it is true, but still the path of the just shineth more and more. The word is a lamp unto the feet in their daily walk. And therefore the hard duties and the hard providences, while they hide light, yet do not keep in all the light. There is self-denial, for instance. No doubt it will be a good while before it will cease to be hard, or will bring its full reward: but meanwhile the practice of it is not without its gladness and light. Take the grace of Hope. Hope has a hard fight for life in some natures; and the climb to even low slope of hopefulness is a distressing one. Yet when one of God's desponding children does manfully grapple with his despondency and resolutely work his way upward, saying, "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? Hope thou in God. I shall yet praise Him" — light breaks in along the line of that struggle. Some of you have stood on a rocky platform among the high Alps and watched the coming of dawn. You saw the saffron light deepen behind some monster peak, and soon the first sunbeam appeared above the crest; and as it darted forth, it struck and was flashed back from a great snow-field which blushed and kindled under its touch. Another beam shot over to a cluster of ice-needles, and each one of them became a point of dazzling light. Then a long ray leaped over to that peak, far up in the calm ether, awful in the loneliness of its virgin snow, and the great cone glistened and sparkled over its whole surface, and threw back the light to another peak, and flash answered flash, and the threads of light crossed and twined until the heaving sea of hills was bathed in glory. So every Christlike effort, every Christian grace resolutely carried into practice, not only emits light, but multiplies the light at every point where it touches. Faith nerves itself for a timid venture and throws out its one feeble ray toward a hard task or a hard trial or a hard problem; and behold the thing brightens, and in its own brightening throws light on some other duty or trial, on some great snow-field of lonely sacrifice and patience. In short, the more faithfully and persistently one addresses himself to doing God's will, the more points his experience affords from which the goodness and love and faithfulness and power of God are reflected. And these points enlighten each other. Each experience takes up the light furnished by the smallest, and reflects and helps to distribute it over the whole area. Righteousness is light and gladness though its way lie through sorrow and sacrifice: and you who are pursuing that road in faith and hope may take this for your comfort that you are going forward to inevitable gladness. God has already wrought out great goodness before your eyes; but that is nothing to the goodness which He has laid up for them that fear Him.

(M. R. Vincent, D.D.)

I. THE CHARACTER THAT IS HERE GIVEN OF GOOD MEN. They are righteous and upright. Which words may stand —

1. As terms of the same import and signification. Every righteous man is an upright man; and the upright man is the only righteous man. Or —

2. They may be put as explanative of each other. The righteous and the upright man is the sincerely righteous man. Not one who is so in reputation and appearance only, but in deed and in truth; who takes more care to be good than appear so; who is not only righteous in life, but upright in heart.


1. Darkness denotes either ignorance, or a state of doubts and fears. In either sense it may be here applied.

2. Their ignorance and doubts produce much sorrow.


1. Heaven is a state of light.(1) When the righteous are admitted into the heavenly world their knowledge shall be greatly increased.

(a)Their intellectual powers will then be very much strengthened and enlarged.

(b)A great variety of new and unthought of objects will be continually offering themselves.We shall then have a much more plain and perfect conception of those things which we now think we do know. The facility with which this knowledge shall be acquired will add not a little to the pleasure of the acquisition. Our knowledge then will be perpetually progressive, or for ever increasing.(2) As darkness not only implies ignorance but doubtfulness and uncertainty, so light implies not only knowledge but stability and assurance.

2. Illustrate the other branch of the saint's blessedness in heaven denoted by the word gladness.(1) Some of the chief properties of that joy and gladness which is prepared for the saints in heaven. To begin with the lowest, it will be a total freedom from every kind of pain and uneasiness. To rise a step higher, in heaven there will not only be a perfect freedom from all pain, but an enjoyment of the most solid and satisfying pleasure. The saint's pleasures in heaven shall be constant and uninterrupted. Their variety will be equal to their purity. The happiness of the saints in heaven will be an unenvied happiness. To crown all, this joy will be everlasting. There will be no fear either of an interruption, or a period of it.(2) The source of all this happiness, or whence it flows. One thing which to be sure will greatly contribute to this unspeakable degree of gladness and felicity which the righteous shall enjoy in heaven is their eternal release and freedom from a body of sin and death. The natural faculties and powers of the soul will be then strengthened and preserved in their full vigour and exercise. Not only the natural, but the moral powers of the mind will then be in a state of perfection, and every grace and virtue be complete. Much of our happiness will arise from the survey of the glorious objects which will all around open to our intellectual view; and which we shall see, if not with bodily eyes, yet with as clear and satisfying a perception as that conveyed by the organs of sense. Our perpetual advances in knowledge will be the perpetual increase of our happiness. Joy shall spring up in their souls from the immediate, free, and uninterrupted efflux and communication of it from God Himself; whose smiles shall inspire them with heavenly gladness, and fill them with satisfaction unutterable. If to this we add the society to which the glorified saints will be admitted, we have then all the principal sources of their happiness in heaven.

IV. THE METAPHOR. "Light is sown," etc. This implies —

1. Something must be done by the righteous now, in order to their being partakers of that happiness which is prepared for them in heaven.

2. Though the future blessedness of the righteous must now be sown by themselves, yet it is nevertheless the free gift of God.

3. The saints on earth should patiently wait for their glory in heaven (James 5:7).

4. They should encourage themselves with the hopes and prospects of it, and thankfully acknowledge those providences and dispensations which tend to prepare and fit them for it; as the husbandman does those fruitful and suitable seasons which raise his hopes of a plentiful harvest.

(J. Mason, M.A.)

The text evidently teaches that light is sown by the righteous, and not only for them, yet forasmuch as good and evil work together in spiritual things, we may fairly regard the righteous as having to do with both. If they themselves are in one sense the ground, they themselves are in another the mere tillers and cultivators of the ground. It is important to observe this twofold character, if you would enter fully into the metaphor of the text. The husbandman must have in the springtime a certain portion of that very grain from which he hopes for an abundance in the bright days of harvest; he must have seed for the sowing; otherwise, there can never be the reaping. The same holds good in regard to the righteous, who are taught they must sow light, and they shall also reap light. We have "light," but we have it as the husbandman, when he sows rather than when he reaps. But to every one who receives the glorious gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, that gospel is light which shineth in a dark place — the day-spring from on high visits him — the word becomes his candle searching the heart and the spirit, as a lantern guiding his feet. We have light; we know God's light shineth in darkness — that light which is a celestial effulgence of the happiness of heaven. And the light of God already possessed has in it the elements of the knowledge and glory which shall constitute a higher state of being. The knowledge in that state shall not be partial, but, nevertheless, it shall be only our present knowledge completed. Our gladness shall be uninterrupted; but, nevertheless, it shall be only what I now feel, perfected. The future, as compared with the present, is the harvest time, as compared with the seed time. But whilst it has been necessary that we should remark on the text upon the supposition, that by man light is sown, the more interesting trains of thought suggested by the passage follow from the supposition that God Himself is the sower. God can hide light in darkness. It is light when thus sepulchred. It is the special prerogative of God to bring good out of evil, to give "the valley of Achor for a door of hope," to make the despondency of death productive of the happiness of life. It is plain that from the first God has been acting on the principle of sowing light for the righteous. What is all prophecy, but an illustration of this principle? Who knows not how God sows light for the righteous in the dealings of providence? What darkness is there often around these dealings — what mysteriousness? The Christian can find nothing in them but gloom and perplexity, when they seem clothed with an impenetrable blackness; but they are germs in which, though buried, there is light. A voice is often heard from among the tombs, and as the Christian goes forward in life, is he not enabled to derive profit from that which he had counted but loss? He is not thrown exclusively on his faith; he is not without present evidence that God is furthering His own purposes; he is sometimes permitted to see that what appeared against him has been for him, and that he has derived benefit where, from the aspect of God's dealings, he might have thought himself injured; and thus the whole field of his pilgrimage is sown with light; but he must wait till that fervent heat, through which the elements shall be dissolved, shall have brought up the harvest. There are now occasional springings up of luminous shoots; and these serve him as " first fruit." There is another and a very inter-eating view under which these words may be surveyed. The psalmist, you observe, does not limit the "sowing" to any particular season. As though the seed of light were always being deposited in the ground, he uses language which may denote that there is continually a fresh harvest in preparation for the righteous. He says nothing as to time; but leaves it to be inferred that the sheaves would be gathered in due season. But by making sowing continual, he seems to imply that one crop will succeed another, so that as fast as one is reaped another will be ready to be swept into the granary. And the truth figuratively taught by such a representation is that there shall be no standing still in the attainments of the righteous. The righteous shall be always in progress; one harvest of light furnishing, so to speak, seed for another. It ought to alarm us, and therefore suggest doubts as to the genuineness of our faith, if we find no advance in spiritual things, if we do not grow in acquaintance with ourselves, with God, with eternity — if as we draw near to death there is not apparently greater fitness for heaven, Now let us draw in conclusion some practical lessons from this subject. There are two prominent lessons — one to the righteous, and the other to the wicked. To the righteous we would say, be not dismayed or disquieted if God's dealings seem mysterious, and if you are met often by obstructions. In seasons of anxiety and doubt a helper shall arise; in "wiping away all tears," God shall scatter all clouds, and your exulting confession shall be — "He hath done all things well." But what have we to say to the wicked, to those who care nothing for the soul, but who "love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil"? God soweth no light for you; but nevertheless you are sowing light for yourselves. You shall not be always in darkness; you shall not be always able to hide the truth from yourselves. You must wake at last to the fearful discovery, that you have been your own destroyers, that you have bartered immortality for a bauble, and purchased a momentary gratification with everlasting anguish. Oh, that you would make the discovery now! — the discovery that such must be the confession of all who close their eyes against the light, till that light gleam from the great white throne.

(H. Melvill, B.D.)

(Easter Sermon): — Each Easter morning is a signal for fresh joy: and on each Lord s Day we celebrate our Easter festival afresh. It is an old story, this tale of Christ's Resurrection; but it is so full of meaning, has such a depth of comfort, such a largeness of joy, that we can never take it all in at once. The aspect of the Resurrection set before us in my text is that it was joyful in itself, and, moreover, a preparation for more perfect joy. "Light," says the psalmist, "is sown for the righteous." Now, we have here a beautiful metaphor, not uncommon in ancient writers, by which the dawn is said to scatter the beams of light upon the earth. It is God drawing near to man: God approaching, bearing with Him every blessing: and as He comes within our view He sows and scatters light upon the inhabitants of the earth. The words thus refer to the rising of the Sun of Righteousness, with healing in His wings. But in the next place, they suggest that this sowing is a preparation. If the morning is beautiful, still it is but the beauty of promise. At the dawn man goes forth to labour in the path of duty and of active service; but as the sun rises towards the zenith, each hour it sheds upon earth a brighter radiance. And then, if God's work has been done earnestly and truly, even if feebly and with human imperfection, there follow softer and gentler hours, till at evening the sky is reddened with bright hopes of a future rising, and the sun sets in a bath of glory. Yet all upon earth is but a sowing; the fruit ripens not in the cold regions of this world. It is in the world to come that the fruit is gathered. So said our Lord: "He that reapeth gathereth fruit unto life eternal." But the great central thought of the text is that the blessing which God so bountifully sows upon the earth is "light." The psalmist sees the world lying in darkness. Men grope about, and examine the things around them; but it is a mere feeling with the hands. They have no real knowledge, and all that they do is wrought uncertainly. No work of much value can be done in the dark; and least of all can men set out in gloom and obscurity on a distant journey to an unknown land. And until the day of Christ's Resurrection this was the state of mankind. The darkness was that of ignorance in all that concerns the destiny of the soul and its relations to God. If you had asked the wisest heathen how this world came into being, he could not have told you. Heathen sages and philosophers had no certainty that there was but one God. Most of them had lost all belief in the numerous gods of their mythology: many even felt that there must be, and was, some one Central power behind the many gods of the poets, which controlled the gods themselves: but they regarded this power only as a blind fate, or destiny. They had no certainty of there being but one God, and still less had they the idea of that God concerning Himself with the affairs of men, loving them, caring for them, and full for them of mercy and kindness. And thus such knowledge as is given to us in the very first verse of the Bible, that "in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth," contains more than one truth beyond the utmost range of heathen philosophy: for it tells us that there is but one God, that He created matter, and that this world is His workmanship. And if they knew nothing about the world, so equally they knew nothing about man. But now, if God made the world, and placed man upon it, with all that preparation of which we read in the first chapter of Genesis, we at once gather that in man this world finds the cause of its being; or in other words, that this world was made for man's sake. Though cloud and gloom may cover the face of the sky, yet behind them we know that the sun of God's goodness and love ever shines in all its glory. But Christ's Resurrection triumph gives us more than general lessons and assurances, such as follow from the doctrine that one God made the world. It tells us that God so loved the world as to give us His Son to die for us: and that God the Son has accomplished the work He consented to do and has risen triumphant from the grave. Our enemies are sin and death. But sin is forgiven in Christ, and His Resurrection proves that He has vanquished the grim tyrant Satan, whose power over us is caused entirely by sin; and Death is vanquished too. The heathen knew nothing of the bright side of life. They knew nothing of the prize that may be won: of the peace that may be enjoyed here: of the happiness in store for those who bravely fight the battle of life. They saw only too clearly the dark side of life: its sorrows and troubles, its vices and crimes, its sad disasters and the changes of fickle fortune. They saw, too, old age ever creeping nearer and nearer, and if they asked themselves, "What next? What is there after old age and death?" no one could answer. It was all a region of mist and darkness, and they knew of no light there. But we have hope. That future land is our Master's Kingdom. It is our true, our real home. Old age has no terrors for us. We are only getting nearer home. As we look up, we see a loving Father waiting to welcome us home for Christ's sake. And if Christ by His Resurrection has thus shed upon this world the bright light of hope, so has He made plain before our face the pathway of duty. The heathen had nothing to work for in this world: and if the Christian's hope were destroyed we should have nothing worth working for. For money, and pleasure, and earthly goods cannot satisfy an immortal soul. Christ came to do His Father's will; and He has set before us the same pathway of duty: namely, to do God's will, and labour earnestly for the glory of God and the good of man. True, He describes it as a strait, narrow, and uphill path. But what has He placed at the end? He has placed there a great light. We see the portals of the heavenly city bright and resplendent with glory. We see the myriads of the redeemed saints waiting to welcome us: angels with crowns of joy ready to be placed upon our heads. And within that heavenly city God is seated upon His throne, with all joy and happiness in His hand for the eternal blessedness of His people. And that light there is no more sowing; it is the full harvest of light: its perfect and complete realization. And that which gives us the certainty of this hope, and light, and glory is the risen Saviour.

(Dean Payne Smith.)

Where are the fields that we may well say are sown by God's grace with happiness for us? Here is one field — the field of His Word. Ah! you may almost see the happiness here. Every promise of God has a secret meaning beyond what we as yet have learnt, and that hidden sense is full of happiness for the children of God. So it is with providence. Every event which can occur is sown with light for the faithful. It does not so appear; far rather the fields just now are very unpleasant to look upon; the water stands deep in those broad furrows; you cannot imagine there will ever be a harvest in a land so flooded with trouble, but wait a while. There is not a dying child or aa ailing wife, there is not a dishonoured bill, there is not a wrecked vessel, there is not a burnt house, there is not a single diseased bullock but what you shall see at the last, and perhaps before then, to have been full of real blessedness for you. There is not only mercy in God's dealings with His people in the gross, but in the detail. All the providence of God, far-reaching as it is, and extending from our cradle to our tomb, is full of the Divine intent that His children shall be blessed, and blessed they shall be. There is one little field called "God's Acre," which to some appears to be sown with much darkness, but is really sown with light — that sleeping place, the cemetery, where your loved ones lie beneath the sod. Yes, but they shall rise again, and so light is sown for you, even in the mouldering bones of your beloved children and friends. You would not have it otherwise, would you? Would you lose that seed? Imagine for a moment that it should never come up again from the sepulchre! Would not that grieve you beyond measure? It is your comfort to feel that these dry bones shall live, and all the band of those you loved so dearly who have gone from you for a while are not lost, but gone before. "Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the Lord; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy." And what a happy meeting, what joyous greetings, what blessed reunions, when they meet to part no more! In that "God's Acre," then, in the many burials we have attended, light is sown for the righteous.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

"If the different objects which treasure up and reflect the sunlight in their different ways could speak, it seems that their utterances would be something as follows. The coals would say, "I treasured up the sun's light and warmth": the plants would testify of its attraction in causing them to bud and blossom; the fruits would whisper that they owe their ripeness and bloom to its kisses; the flowers would exclaim, "We obtained our colours from its artistic touches"; the doctor tells us of its beneficent and healing properties; the astronomer unfolds to us its influence and heat; the photographer speaks of his dependence upon its rays for the reproduction of his pictures; yea, the whole creation is indebted to its presence and power for warmth, colour, and brightness.

(F. E. Marsh.)

Gladness for the upright in heart

1. The true nature and quality of joy, which may not unfitly be defined that pleasant and ravishing affection whereby the mind wonderfully delights itself, and acquiesces in the fruition of something that is good and beloved. New the righteous and holy man resteth with an unspeakable delight and complacency in Him, who is the chiefest Being, and the chiefest good, and the most worthy of love, and therefore is the firmest basis of joy. God only, of all beings, is immediately, directly, originally, and necessarily good: and no being can have the denomination of being good, but from this fountain and everlasting source of goodness. Nothing is good, but aa it brings and unites us to this best of Beings, to this original of all perfection and excellency. He then that entirely loves God, and rejoiceth in Him, is in the possession and fruition of all good; and whatever he enjoys carries pleasure and delectation with it.

2. The nature of true righteousness, which always carries joy and gladness with it. For first, all virtuous actions and exercises of righteousness are in themselves agreeable to our rational nature, they are fitted to our faculties, as we are men and reasonable creatures: He that commits any vice doth violence to his own mind, and he that sins against God rebels against himself. Again, as all holy actions are agreeable to our rational and regenerate nature (and consequently to the nature of God and His will), so they agree most friendly with themselves. All moral virtues and graces are of a knot, and are tied to one another. They are all of a piece, and hold together.

3. The great benefits which the righteous man is possessor of, purchased for him by Christ.(1) The spiritual favours and blessings which a holy man is partaker of such as these, the purifying and sanctifying of his nature, the justification of his person, the pardon and forgiveness of his sins, his access with boldness to the throne of grace, his being adopted and made a Son of God, his assurance of God's providence and protection, and that all things shall work together for his good, his experience of the Divine help, and gracious assistance of the Spirit (which one thing alone is able to fill his soul with unspeakable joy, for he cannot but be happy who hath God always to assist him), the enjoying of the blessed ordinances of Christ's institution, the benefit which he receives from all the offices and undertakings of Christ. Lastly, the certainty of a future reward, of enjoying heaven and happiness, when this world is at an end. These are great and ravishing blessings, and it is impossible that he who is assured of these should not rejoice.(2) Not only spiritual, but temporal and earthly things are real matter of rejoicing to a righteous man. Whether he eats or drinks, or whatever he doth hath not only a tendency to God's glory, but his own comfort and contentment. A virtuous and godly man hath his pleasures refined and purified, strained from the filth and feculency which adhere to the delights of the wicked and debauched, and so he finds a greater gust and relish in them. Nay, to proceed higher, those things which seem in themselves to be most unpleasant and grievous are not so to a righteous person. He rejoiceth even in calamities, sufferings, persecutions.


1. It is vast and ample, its object being infinite, and therefore most comprehensive; whereas the pleasures and delights of sense are short and shallow, narrow and contracted, their objects being of that nature.

2. It is not precarious, or dependent on things outside him.

3. Though inward and retired, yet it is also visible and operative. Who can lodge in his heart an entire love and complacency in God and goodness, who can nourish that holy fire there, and not discover it to others by some eruptions and flashes of joy?

4. It is constant and durable, perpetual and inexhaustible (Psalm 36:8, 9). They are at the Fountain; a continual spring feeds and supplies their joy, so that it cannot be dried up. This spring is the kindness and favour of the God of heaven, the free bounty and goodness of that great Benefactor whose gifts and graces are without repentance, who perseveres in His love, if we do so in our duty, whose promises are all Yea and Amen, and whose faithfulness is as immutable as Himself.

III. IT WILL BE OBJECTED THAT IN THE OBSERVATION AND EXPERIENCE OF THE WORLD THINGS ARE FAR DIFFERENT FROM WHAT I HAVE REPRESENTED THEM. Nothing is more ordinary and obvious than this, that the best men are sad and sorrowful, and spend their days in pensive thoughts and penitential tears: they mortify their bodies and chastise their souls, and discover little of joy all their lives long. I answer —

1. It is true righteous men retain a deep sorrow and regret upon their minds for their sins, but even this is pleasant to them, it being their duty, and urged upon them by the command of Heaven. Even the austerities and mortifications which holy men exercise are productive of the highest solace and rejoicing.

2. I answer that the joys of devout and holy men being not the same with those of the corrupted world, there may thence arise a mistake, and it may be thought by some that good men are sad heavy when indeed they are nothing so. For I do not mean by this gladness any such thing as the jollity and laughter of the world. Every faithful follower of Christ, like his Master, hath meat to eat which the world knows not of, he hath pleasures and delights which they are unacquainted with. It is promised to the Christian champion that fights the good fight of faith, and overcomes the world, that he shall eat of the hidden manna, the delicacies of which are wholly concealed from vulgar palates (Revelation 1:7). A good conscience is a continual feast.


1. It is a false report and a slander raised against religion and the sincere professors of it, that there is no content and complacency, no delight and pleasure in a virtuous life, but that they who resolve to become Christians indeed, must bid farewell to all mirth, they must not expect to see any more pleasant days, but bury themselves in darkness and melancholy.

2. This great privilege and blessing in the text ought to be a prevalent motive to virtue, a powerful persuasive to a godly life. The joys and pleasures of Christians are not all in reversion. Such is the infinite goodness and bounty of God, that although He hath made heaven to be the place of complete joy and rest, yet He is pleased to reward a holy life with present joys and pleasures in this world. Righteous men taste enough of these here to make them amends for all the difficulties and troubles they meet with in this life.

3. Let the proposition which I have treated of be copied out in the practice and behaviour of all good Christians. Let those of you who have sincerely devoted yourselves to the service of God, and have faithfully discharged your duty according to your power, lay aside the mourning-weeds, and clothe yourselves with the garment of joy. Dry up your tears, and silence your sighs, put on a joyful look, and let not sadness and pensiveness dwell on your faces any longer. Let the world see and be convinced that you do not serve a hard master, and that the yoke of Christ is not difficult and insupportable.

4. Would you know how you may attain to the practice of it, and experimentally find this doctrine true, that Christianity is attended with solid joy and gladness; then —(1) See that you religiously and conscientiously make use of all means and helps which God hath instituted to this purpose.(2) Carefully avoid the commission of all known sin.(3) Be sincere and upright.

(John Edwards.)

(P.B.V.): — Surely there is a great deal of meaning wrapped up in this word, "true-hearted." Reality, loyalty, courage, in all dealings with God and man: not one of the three here and another there; for indeed they may be separated, sadly to the hurt of the man who loses hold of the bond that unites them; a man may be real and yet selfish, loyal and yet cowardly, courageous and yet neither faithful nor sincere — not one of the three here and another there, but the three together. The union of the three in the Christian character seems to be the first and most direct of the effects of faith; and, indeed, faith itself, in its normal aspect, may be defined, or rather described, as the true-heartedness that unites the three characteristics I have marked: faith, the substance of the things hoped for; faith, that though He slay me yet will I trust in Him; faith, which is the victory that overeometh the world. You ask me what I mean by Reality. We know well enough what we mean by unreality, something less wicked than hypocrisy and less excusable than mere weakness: the acceptance of principles without testing them or the authority that presents them, the profession of beliefs without experimental maintenance of them; enthusiasms caught by infection from the enthusiasm of those around you; mechanical observance of rites and usages which have no meaning to you, but which, because you have been trained in them, are easy to you, and which, when you have misgivings about them, you are too careless or indolent to cast off; the disposition to be satisfied with the easiest solution of hard questions; for the mere saving of trouble, to shirk responsibilities, whilst you confess to feeling them; to join in the upholding of institutions simply because they are institutions; to profess general good-will without doing anything to prove it; to advocate rash changes simply because they are changes; the superficiality of a whole life that has neither interest in the lot of other men nor conviction of the majesty of truth, nor the sense of responsibility for the work which the Master, by way of privilege, sets before each one of His own to do. All and each of these things is unreality, and there is much besides. But we cannot define the word by the mere exclusion of its opposites, at least in the close and near interests of which I am speaking now. "I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest and art dead:" God help us, and say not that of us; but judge yourselves, and apply true-heartedness to judgment. In the reality of religious true-heartedness, in this its first aspect, there is a single mind and honest openness, veracity to oneself and to God, which is indispensable to the very first idea of either righteousness or repentance; love without dissimulation, obedience without selfish consideration, faith without wavering. And second: loyalty is an element in the true heart; faithfulness to the cause or person, realized by the single mind. The devotion of affection, the identification of oneself with the cause. I said that this is separable from the other, in idea; it is so in fact also, a man will be loyal to a cause which he has not proved, zealous for an institution which he neither understands nor cares for, in any other sense than that it is somehow connected with the line that he has chosen for himself. And such loyalty is but a glorified form of self-will; and where self-will has opened the way, how does it cover and disguise all sorts of still inferior motives — self-interests and aggrandizement, party spirit and jealousy, misrepresentation justified by antipathy which denies the sincerity and honesty of opponents; persecution, all the poison of controversy, all the self-righteousness of vulgar ambition. Here again it is not enough to say that true loyalty can be defined by the exclusion of the false. It sacrifices and effaces self, or merges it in devotion: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to Thy word." But more; the self is effaced not for the sake of affacement, but that the devotion may be entirely practical. The hermit of the Thebaid, the votary of Nirwana, effaces himself, and does no more; he is loyal to an idea that contents itself with absorption; the loyal Christian, in the reality of his affection, girds up his loins with faithfulness to do his Lord's will; to minister to his Lord's people; as a true and living member of His body, to diffuse through every joint the life supplied from the head, that the whole may increase of itself in love. But trueheartedness has one feature more: it has the courage of its convictions, the courage not of pertinacious, desperate determination, but of convictions based on reality and developed in loyal faithfulness. This courage is a courage of patience and of struggle, of attack as well as of defence; it is one that realizes danger and realizes duty; that watches in no morbid, sensitive apprehension, but in manly facing of the occasions, be they of difficulty, doubt, temptation, or over assurance of safety. The soldier of Christ cannot fight with the world's weapons, the advocate of Christ cannot argue with the finesse or the virulence or the captiousness of the adversary. It is no small exercise of moral courage in which the truehearted refuses to meet sneer with sneer, or sharp saying with cutting retort; or where he is lashed into impatience by the persistent utterance of half truths, or by misrepresentations intended to confuse, or by accusations so wild and wanton that he cannot see which is to be first met without risking the imputation that, by defending one point, he surrenders the rest. The true-hearted who can face all this has the very truest courage, the ghostly strength with which the Lord has anointed those that, with their eyes open and heart set, have taken up their cross to follow Him. It is not so with us all! It should be, by the very condition of our sonship; His grace shall work even this in us. Two thoughts arise in conclusion: First, how does all this apply? The cause of Christ, the cause of our salvation, is not a mere abstraction; our soldiership involves a real struggle, our advocacy real argument, our service real labour. The Church of the living God is to us presented in the flesh and blood of those with whom and for whom we are called on to fulfil our duty as members of the body of Christ. As men, as Englishmen, as Churchmen, our true-heartedness is being tried every day. And then, secondly, how about the joyful gladness? Is it the answer of a good conscience towards God — I have done what I can, surely He must see to the doing of the rest? Scarcely that, I think; although He does sometimes give His beloved such sleep, even with the knowledge that they shall be satisfied when they wake up after His likeness. But for it to come day by day; for the weary man to be able to say when he lies down to sleep, that there are no arrears to be made up, no post unguarded, no part of the day's work left for to-morrow; to be able to say, I sleep but my heart waketh; if He come at the second watch or at the third watch, I am ready: joyful gladness it would be indeed, but it can scarcely be. Can it be anything else than that loving meeting of our faith with a certain conviction and manifestation of His faithfulness, the strengthening and refreshing of the light of His countenance vouchsafed to those who, in answer to His "Seek ye My face," reply with life and courage and true heart, "Thy face, Lord, will I seek"? The joyful gladness to the true-hearted comes in the experience of the loving-kindness of the Lord, the increase of faith, the clearness of hope, the fuller realizing of that likeness, which by the name of Charity He sets before each of us, and begins to work in each of us, the instalment of the glory that shall be. Will He not increase it more and more? Trust ye in the Lord for ever!

(Bishop Stubbs.)

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