riches of the ancient days of election


“The glorious Lord will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams.”
Isaiah 33:21

Broad rivers and streams produce fertility, and abundance in the land. Places near broad rivers are remarkable for the variety of their plants and their plentiful harvests. God is all this to his Church. Having God she has abundance. What can she ask for that he will not give her? What want can she mention which he will not supply? “In this mountain shall the Lord of Hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things.” Want ye the bread of life? It drops like manna from the sky. Want ye refreshing streams? The rock follows you, and that Rock is Christ. If you suffer any want it is your own fault; if you are straitened you are not straitened in him, but in your own bowels. Broad rivers and streams also point to commerce. Our glorious Lord is to us a place of heavenly merchandise. Through our Redeemer we have commerce with the past; the wealth of Calvary, the treasures of the covenant, the riches of the ancient days of election, the stores of eternity, all come to us down the broad stream of our gracious Lord. We have commerce, too, with the future. What galleys, laden to the water’s edge, come to us from the millennium! What visions we have of the days of heaven upon earth! Through our glorious Lord we have commerce with angels; communion with the bright spirits washed in blood, who sing before the throne; nay, better still, we have fellowship with the Infinite One. Broad rivers and streams are specially intended to set forth the idea of security. Rivers were of old a defence. Oh! beloved, what a defence is God to his Church! The devil cannot cross this broad river of God. How he wishes he could turn the current, but fear not, for God abideth immutably the same. Satan may worry, but he cannot destroy us; no galley with oars shall invade our river, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby.


“Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: so shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.”
Proverbs 24:33-34

The worst of sluggards only ask for a little slumber; they would be indignant if they were accused of thorough idleness. A little folding of the hands to sleep is all they crave, and they have a crowd of reasons to show that this indulgence is a very proper one. Yet by these littles the day ebbs out, and the time for labour is all gone, and the field is grown over with thorns. It is by little procrastinations that men ruin their souls. They have no intention to delay for years–a few months will bring the more convenient season–to-morrow if you will, they will attend to serious things; but the present hour is so occupied and altogether so unsuitable, that they beg to be excused. Like sands from an hour-glass, time passes, life is wasted by driblets, and seasons of grace lost by little slumbers. Oh, to be wise, to catch the flying hour, to use the moments on the wing! May the Lord teach us this sacred wisdom, for otherwise a poverty of the worst sort awaits us, eternal poverty which shall want even a drop of water, and beg for it in vain. Like a traveller steadily pursuing his journey, poverty overtakes the slothful, and ruin overthrows the undecided: each hour brings the dreaded pursuer nearer; he pauses not by the way, for he is on his master’s business and must not tarry. As an armed man enters with authority and power, so shall want come to the idle, and death to the impenitent, and there will be no escape. O that men were wise be-times, and would seek diligently unto the Lord Jesus, or ere the solemn day shall dawn when it will be too late to plough and to sow, too late to repent and believe. In harvest, it is vain to lament that the seed time was neglected. As yet, faith and holy decision are timely. May we obtain them this night.

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Our Life Boat



“There were also with him other little ships.”
Mark 4:36

Jesus was the Lord High Admiral of the sea that night, and his presence preserved the whole convoy. It is well to sail with Jesus, even though it be in a little ship. When we sail in Christ’s company, we may not make sure of fair weather, for great storms may toss the vessel which carries the Lord himself, and we must not expect to find the sea less boisterous around our little boat. If we go with Jesus we must be content to fare as he fares; and when the waves are rough to him, they will be rough to us. It is by tempest and tossing that we shall come to land, as he did before us.

When the storm swept over Galilee’s dark lake all faces gathered blackness, and all hearts dreaded shipwreck. When all creature help was useless, the slumbering Saviour arose, and with a word, transformed the riot of the tempest into the deep quiet of a calm; then were the little vessels at rest as well as that which carried the Lord. Jesus is the star of the sea; and though there be sorrow upon the sea, when Jesus is on it there is joy too. May our hearts make Jesus their anchor, their rudder, their lighthouse, their life-boat, and their harbour. His Church is the Admiral’s flagship, let us attend her movements, and cheer her officers with our presence. He himself is the great attraction; let us follow ever in his wake, mark his signals, steer by his chart, and never fear while he is within hail. Not one ship in the convoy shall suffer wreck; the great Commodore will steer every barque in safety to the desired haven. By faith we will slip our cable for another day’s cruise, and sail forth with Jesus into a sea of tribulation. Winds and waves will not spare us, but they all obey him; and, therefore, whatever squalls may occur without, faith shall feel a blessed calm within. He is ever in the centre of the weather-beaten company: let us rejoice in him. His vessel has reached the haven, and so shall ours.


2 Timothy 3:12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

“I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.”
Psalm 32:5

David’s grief for sin was bitter. Its effects were visible upon his outward frame: “his bones waxed old”; “his moisture was turned into the drought of summer.” No remedy could he find, until he made a full confession before the throne of the heavenly grace. He tells us that for a time he kept silence, and his heart became more and more filled with grief: like a mountain tarn whose outlet is blocked up, his soul was swollen with torrents of sorrow. He fashioned excuses; he endeavoured to divert his thoughts, but it was all to no purpose; like a festering sore his anguish gathered, and as he would not use the lancet of confession, his spirit was full of torment, and knew no rest. At last it came to this, that he must return unto his God in humble penitence, or die outright; so he hastened to the mercy-seat, and there unrolled the volume of his iniquities before the all-seeing One, acknowledging all the evil of his ways in language such as you read in the fifty-first and other penitential Psalms. Having done this, a work so simple and yet so difficult to pride, he received at once the token of divine forgiveness; the bones which had been broken were made to rejoice, and he came forth from his closet to sing the blessedness of the man whose transgression is forgiven. See the value of a grace-wrought confession of sin! It is to be prized above all price, for in every case where there is a genuine, gracious confession, mercy is freely given, not because the repentance and confession deserve mercy, but for Christ’s sake. Blessed be God, there is always healing for the broken heart; the fountain is ever flowing to cleanse us from our sins. Truly, O Lord, thou art a God “ready to pardon!” Therefore will we acknowledge our iniquities.

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President Trump 2019

ISAIAH 40:31

31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

PRAYER ALERT:  Lord I come before humble in spirit of heart to call to Arms your Prayer Warriors to be in agreement according to Thy will and not our own.  You sought my heart heavy in the Spirit to Pray for President Trump. Details I will keep in my heart as you have guided my heart. I humbly ask for your Divine hand of Protection, Wisdom, Knowledge and Understanding according to your Will and your Word.  In Jesus name. Amen.




“we must live”



“And Amaziah said to the man of God, But what shall we do for the hundred talents which I have given to the army of Israel? And the man of God answered, The Lord is able to give thee much more than this.”
2 Chronicles 25:9

A very important question this seemed to be to the king of Judah, and possibly it is of even more weight with the tried and tempted O Christian. To lose money is at no times pleasant, and when principle involves it, the flesh is not always ready to make the sacrifice. “Why lose that which may be so usefully employed? May not the truth itself be bought too dear? What shall we do without it? Remember the children, and our small income!” All these things and a thousand more would tempt the Christian to put forth his hand to unrighteous gain, or stay himself from carrying out his conscientious convictions, when they involve serious loss. All men cannot view these matters in the light of faith; and even with the followers of Jesus, the doctrine of “we must live” has quite sufficient weight.

The Lord is able to give thee much more than this is a very satisfactory answer to the anxious question. Our Father holds the purse-strings, and what we lose for his sake he can repay a thousand-fold. It is ours to obey his will, and we may rest assured that he will provide for us. The Lord will be no man’s debtor at the last. Saints know that a grain of heart’s-ease is of more value than a ton of gold. He who wraps a threadbare coat about a good conscience has gained a spiritual wealth far more desirable than any he has lost. God’s smile and a dungeon are enough for a true heart; his frown and a palace would be hell to a gracious spirit. Let the worst come to the worst, let all the talents go, we have not lost our treasure, for that is above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God. Meanwhile, even now, the Lord maketh the meek to inherit the earth, and no good thing doth he withhold from them that walk uprightly.


abstract fire on black

“Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels.”
Revelation 12:7

War always will rage between the two great sovereignties until one or other be crushed. Peace between good and evil is an impossibility; the very pretence of it would, in fact, be the triumph of the powers of darkness. Michael will always fight; his holy soul is vexed with sin, and will not endure it. Jesus will always be the dragon’s foe, and that not in a quiet sense, but actively, vigorously, with full determination to exterminate evil. All his servants, whether angels in heaven or messengers on earth, will and must fight; they are born to be warriors–at the cross they enter into covenant never to make truce with evil; they are a warlike company, firm in defence and fierce in attack. The duty of every soldier in the army of the Lord is daily, with all his heart, and soul, and strength, to fight against the dragon.

The dragon and his angels will not decline the affray; they are incessant in their onslaughts, sparing no weapon, fair or foul. We are foolish to expect to serve God without opposition: the more zealous we are, the more sure are we to be assailed by the myrmidons of hell. The church may become slothful, but not so her great antagonist; his restless spirit never suffers the war to pause; he hates the woman’s seed, and would fain devour the church if he could. The servants of Satan partake much of the old dragon’s energy, and are usually an active race. War rages all around, and to dream of peace is dangerous and futile.

Glory be to God, we know the end of the war. The great dragon shall be cast out and forever destroyed, while Jesus and they who are with him shall receive the crown. Let us sharpen our swords tonight, and pray the Holy Spirit to nerve our arms for the conflict. Never battle so important, never crown so glorious. Every man to his post, ye warriors of the cross, and may the Lord tread Satan under your feet shortly!

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“O that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away and be at rest!”



10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;     I will be exalted among the nations,     I will be exalted in the earth.”

10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”


“I pray not that thou shouldst take them out of the world.”
John 17:15

It is a sweet and blessed event which will occur to all believers in God’s own time–the going home to be with Jesus. In a few more years the Lord’s soldiers, who are now fighting “the good fight of faith” will have done with conflict, and have entered into the joy of their Lord. But although Christ prays that his people may eventually be with him where he is, he does not ask that they may be taken at once away from this world to heaven. He wishes them to stay here. Yet how frequently does the wearied pilgrim put up the prayer, “O that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away and be at rest;” but Christ does not pray like that, he leaves us in his Father’s hands, until, like shocks of corn fully ripe, we shall each be gathered into our Master’s garner. Jesus does not plead for our instant removal by death, for to abide in the flesh is needful for others if not profitable for ourselves. He asks that we may be kept from evil, but he never asks for us to be admitted to the inheritance in glory till we are of full age. Christians often want to die when they have any trouble. Ask them why, and they tell you, “Because we would be with the Lord.” We fear it is not so much because they are longing to be with the Lord, as because they desire to get rid of their troubles; else they would feel the same wish to die at other times when not under the pressure of trial. They want to go home, not so much for the Saviour’s company, as to be at rest. Now it is quite right to desire to depart if we can do it in the same spirit that Paul did, because to be with Christ is far better, but the wish to escape from trouble is a selfish one. Rather let your care and wish be to glorify God by your life here as long as he pleases, even though it be in the midst of toil, and conflict, and suffering, and leave him to say when “it is enough.”



JOHN 3:16
JOHN 3:16



“These all died in faith.”

Hebrews 11:13


Behold the epitaph of all those blessed saints who fell asleep before the coming of our Lord! It matters nothing how else they died, whether of old age, or by violent means; this one point, in which they all agree, is the most worthy of record, “they all died in faith.” In faith they lived–it was their comfort, their guide, their motive and their support; and in the same spiritual grace they died, ending their life-song in the sweet strain in which they had so long continued. They did not die resting in the flesh or upon their own attainments; they made no advance from their first way of acceptance with God, but held to the way of faith to the end. Faith is as precious to die by as to live by.

Dying in faith has distinct reference to the past. They believed the promises which had gone before, and were assured that their sins were blotted out through the mercy of God. Dying in faith has to do with the present. These saints were confident of their acceptance with God, they enjoyed the beams of his love, and rested in his faithfulness. Dying in faith looks into the future. They fell asleep, affirming that the Messiah would surely come, and that when he would in the last days appear upon the earth, they would rise from their graves to behold him. To them the pains of death were but the birth-pangs of a better state. Take courage, my soul, as thou readest this epitaph. Thy course, through grace, is one of faith, and sight seldom cheers thee; this has also been the pathway of the brightest and the best. Faith was the orbit in which these stars of the first magnitude moved all the time of their shining here; and happy art thou that it is thine. Look anew tonight to Jesus, the author and finisher of thy faith, and thank Him for giving thee like precious faith with souls now in glory.

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Grieve the Spirit of God, and you will lose all power

Grieve not the Holy Spirit



And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Ephesians 4:30

Suggested Further Reading: Isaiah 63:7-19

Grieving the Holy Spirit produces a lamentable result. In the child of God it will not lead to his utter destruction, for no heir of heaven can perish; neither will the Holy Spirit be utterly taken away from him, for the Spirit of God is given to abide with us for ever. But the ill-effects are nevertheless most terrible. You will lose, my dear friends, all sense of the Holy Spirit’s presence: he will be as one hidden from you no beams of comfort, no words of peace, no thoughts of love there will be what Cowper calls, an aching void the world can never fill. Grieve the Holy Spirit, and you will lose all Christian joy; the light shall be taken from you, and you shall stumble in darkness; those very means of grace which once were such a delight, shall have no music in your ear. Your soul shall be no longer as a watered garden, but as a howling wilderness. Grieve the Spirit of God, and you will lose all power; if you pray, it will be a very weak prayer you will not prevail with God. When you read the Scriptures, you shall not be able to lift the latch and force your way into the inner mysteries of truth. When you go up to the house of God, there shall be none of that devout exhilaration, that running without weariness, that walking without fainting. You shall feel yourself like Samson when his hair was lost, weak, captive, and blinded. Let the Holy Spirit depart, and assurance is gone, doubts follow, questionings and suspicions are aroused. Grieve the Spirit of God, and usefulness will cease: the ministry shall yield no fruit; your Sunday School work shall be barren; your speaking to others and labouring for others shall be like sowing the wind.

For meditation:

If it is unprofitable for us to cause our church leaders to grieve, (Hebrews 13:17), how much worse it must be for us if we cause our God to grieve (Hebrews 3:7-18).

Sermon no. 738 3 March (1867)

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Fulfilled In Your Presence

Fulfilled In Your Presence

Sinking Times Are Praying Times
Beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me — Mt 14:30

Sinking times are praying times with the Lord’s servants. Peter neglected prayer at starting upon his venturous journey, but when he began to sink his danger made him a suppliant, and his cry though late was not too late. In our hours of bodily pain and mental anguish, we find ourselves as naturally driven to prayer as the wreck is driven upon the shore by the waves. The fox flies to its hole for protection; the bird flies to the wood for shelter; and even so the tried believer hastens to the mercy seat for safety. Heaven’s great harbor of refuge is Allprayer; thousands of weather-beaten vessels have found a haven there, and the moment a storm comes on, it is wise for us to make for it with all sail. Short prayers are long enough. There were but three words in the petitionwhich Peter gasped out, but they were sufficient for his purpose. Not length but strength is desirable. A sense of need is a mighty teacher of brevity. If our prayers had less of the tail feathers of pride and more wing they would be all the better. Verbiage is to devotion as chaff to the wheat. Precious things lie in small compass, and all that is real prayer in many a long address might have been uttered in a petition as short as that of Peter. Our extremities are the Lord’s opportunities. Immediately a keen sense of danger forces an anxious cry from us the ear of Jesus hears, and with him ear and heart go together, and the hand does not long linger. At the last moment we appeal to our Master, but his swift hand makes up for our delays by instant and effectual action. Are we nearly engulfed by the boisterous waters of affliction? Let us then lift up our souls unto our Saviour, and we may rest assured that he will not suffer us to perish. When we can do nothing Jesus can do all things; let us enlist his powerful aid upon our side, and all will be well.

The Necessity of Prayer
“Continue in prayer.”  (see note 
Colossians 4:2)

It is interesting to remark how large a portion of Sacred Writ is occupied with the subject of prayer, either in furnishing examples, enforcing precepts, or pronouncing promises. We scarcely open the Bible before we read, “Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord;” and just as we are about to close the volume, the “Amen” of an earnest supplication meets our ear. Instances are plentiful. Here we find a wrestling Jacob—there a Daniel who prayed three times a day—and a David who with all his heart called upon his God. On the mountain we see Elias; in the dungeon Paul and Silas. We have multitudes of commands, and myriads of promises. What does this teach us, but the sacred importance and necessity of prayer? We may be certain that whatever God has made prominent in his Word, he intended to be conspicuous in our lives. If he has said much about prayer, it is because he knows we have much need of it. So deep are our necessities, that until we are in heaven we must not cease to pray. Dost thou want nothing? Then, I fear thou dost not know thy poverty. Hast thou no mercy to ask of God? Then, may the Lord’s mercy show thee thy misery! A prayerless soul is a Christless soul. Prayer is the lisping of the believing infant, the shout of the fighting believer, the requiem of the dying saint falling asleep in Jesus. It is the breath, the watchword, the comfort, the strength, the honour of a Christian. If thou be a child of God, thou wilt seek thy Father’s face, and live in thy Father’s love.

Pray that this year thou mayst be holy, humble, zealous, and patient; have closer communion with Christ, and enter oftener into the banqueting-house of his love. Pray that thou mayst be an example and a blessing unto others, and that thou mayst live more to the glory of thy Master. The motto for this year must be, “Continue in prayer.”

Just Call Upon Him
“Call unto me, and I will answer thee,
and shew thee great and mighty things,which thou knowest not.”—Jer 33:3

GOD encourages us to pray. They tell us that prayer is a pious exercise which has no influence except upon the mind engaged in it. We know better. Our experience gives the lie a thousand times over to this infidel assertion. Here Jehovah, the living God, distinctly promises to answer the prayer of His servant. Let us call upon Him again and admit no doubt upon the question of His hearing us and answering us. He that made the ear, shall He not hear? He that gave parents a love to their children, will He not listen to the cries of His own sons and daughters?

God will answer His pleading people in their anguish. He has wonders in store for them. What they have never seen, heard of, or dreamed of, He will do for them. He will invent new blessings if needful. He will ransack sea and land to feed them: He will send every angel out of heaven to succor them, if their distress requires it. He will astound us with His grace and make us feel that it was never before done in this fashion. All He asks of us is that we will call upon Him. He cannot ask less of us. Let us cheerfully render Him our prayers at once.

Jehovah Receives Our Prayers
“The Lord hath heard my supplication;
the Lord will receive my prayer.”—Psalm 6:9

THE experience here recorded is mine. I can set to my seal that God is true. In very wonderful ways He has answered the prayers of His servant many and many a time. Yes, and He is hearing my present supplication, and He is not turning away His ear from me. Blessed be His holy name! What then? Why, for certain the promise which lies sleeping in the Psalmist’s believing confidence is also mine. Let me grasp it by the hand of faith: “The Lord will receive my prayer.” He will accept it, think of it, and grant it in the way and time which His loving wisdom judges to be best. I bring my poor prayer in my hand to the great King, and He gives me audience and graciously receives my petition. My enemies will not listen to me, but my Lord will. They ridicule my tearful prayers, but my Lord does not; He receives my prayer into His ear and His heart. What a reception this is for a poor sinner! We receive Jesus, and then the Lord receives us and our prayers for His Son’s sake. Blessed be that dear name which franks (put an official mark on a letter indicating the right of free delivery) our prayers so that they freely pass even within the golden gates. Lord, teach me to pray, since thou hearest my prayers.

When our prayers are lowly by reason of our humility, or feeble by reason of our sickness, or without wing by reason of our despondency, the Lord will bow down to them. Faith, when she has the loftiest name of God on her tongue, and calls him Jehovah, yet dares to ask from him the most tender and condescending acts of love. Great as he is he loves his children to be bold with him.


Lord's Word Is A Sweet Fragrance

Lord’s Word Is A Sweet Fragrance


“I will give thee for a covenant of the people.”
Isaiah 49:8

Jesus Christ is himself the sum and substance of the covenant, and as one of its gifts. He is the property of every believer. Believer, canst thou estimate what thou hast gotten in Christ? “In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” Consider that word “God” and its infinity, and then meditate upon “perfect man” and all his beauty; for all that Christ, as God and man, ever had, or can have, is thine–out of pure free favour, passed over to thee to be thine entailed property forever. Our blessed Jesus, as God, is omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent. Will it not console you to know that all these great and glorious attributes are altogether yours? Has he power? That power is yours to support and strengthen you, to overcome your enemies, and to preserve you even to the end. Has he love? Well, there is not a drop of love in his heart which is not yours; you may dive into the immense ocean of his love, and you may say of it all, “It is mine.” Hath he justice? It may seem a stern attribute, but even that is yours, for he will by his justice see to it that all which is promised to you in the covenant of grace shall be most certainly secured to you. And all that he has as perfect man is yours. As a perfect man the Father’s delight was upon him. He stood accepted by the Most High. O believer, God’s acceptance of Christ is thine acceptance; for knowest thou not that the love which the Father set on a perfect Christ, he sets on thee now? For all that Christ did is thine. That perfect righteousness which Jesus wrought out, when through his stainless life he kept the law and made it honourable, is thine, and is imputed to thee. Christ is in the covenant.

“My God, I am thine–what a comfort divine!

What a blessing to know that the Saviour is mine!

In the heavenly Lamb thrice happy I am,

And my heart it doth dance at the sound of his name.”


“The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”
Luke 3:4

The voice crying in the wilderness demanded a way for the Lord, a way prepared, and a way prepared in the wilderness. I would be attentive to the Master’s proclamation, and give him a road into my heart, cast up by gracious operations, through the desert of my nature. The four directions in the text must have my serious attention.

Every valley must be exalted. Low and grovelling thoughts of God must be given up; doubting and despairing must be removed; and self-seeking and carnal delights must be forsaken. Across these deep valleys a glorious causeway of grace must be raised.

Every mountain and hill shall be laid low. Proud creature-sufficiency, and boastful self-righteousness, must be levelled, to make a highway for the King of kings. Divine fellowship is never vouchsafed to haughty, highminded sinners. The Lord hath respect unto the lowly, and visits the contrite in heart, but the lofty are an abomination unto him. My soul, beseech the Holy Spirit to set thee right in this respect.

The crooked shall be made straight. The wavering heart must have a straight path of decision for God and holiness marked out for it. Double-minded men are strangers to the God of truth. My soul, take heed that thou be in all things honest and true, as in the sight of the heart-searching God.

The rough places shall be made smooth. Stumbling-blocks of sin must be removed, and thorns and briers of rebellion must be uprooted. So great a visitor must not find miry ways and stony places when he comes to honour his favoured ones with his company. Oh that this evening the Lord may find in my heart a highway made ready by his grace, that he may make a triumphal progress through the utmost bounds of my soul, from the beginning of this year even to the end of it.



Heart (Photo credit: mozzercork)

“For your sakes he became poor.” 2 Corinthians 8:9



John 20:21     King James Version (KJV)
Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

The Birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ

The Birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


“For your sakes he became poor.”
2 Corinthians 8:9

The Lord Jesus Christ was eternally rich, glorious, and exalted; but “though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor.” As the rich saint cannot be true in his communion with his poor brethren unless of his substance he ministers to their necessities, so (the same rule holding with the head as between the members), it is impossible that our Divine Lord could have had fellowship with us unless he had imparted to us of his own abounding wealth, and had become poor to make us rich. Had he remained upon his throne of glory, and had we continued in the ruins of the fall without receiving his salvation, communion would have been impossible on both sides. Our position by the fall, apart from the covenant of grace, made it as impossible for fallen man to communicate with God as it is for Belial to be in concord with Christ. In order, therefore, that communion might be compassed, it was necessary that the rich kinsman should bestow his estate upon his poor relatives, that the righteous Saviour should give to his sinning brethren of his own perfection, and that we, the poor and guilty, should receive of his fulness grace for grace; that thus in giving and receiving, the One might descend from the heights, and the other ascend from the depths, and so be able to embrace each other in true and hearty fellowship. Poverty must be enriched by him in whom are infinite treasures before it can venture to commune; and guilt must lose itself in imputed and imparted righteousness ere the soul can walk in fellowship with purity. Jesus must clothe his people in his own garments, or he cannot admit them into his palace of glory; and he must wash them in his own blood, or else they will be too defiled for the embrace of his fellowship.

O believer, herein is love! For your sake the Lord Jesus “became poor” that he might lift you up into communion with himself.


“The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.”
Isaiah 40:5

We anticipate the happy day when the whole world shall be converted to Christ; when the gods of the heathen shall be cast to the moles and the bats; when Romanism shall be exploded, and the crescent of Mohammed shall wane, never again to cast its baleful rays upon the nations; when kings shall bow down before the Prince of Peace, and all nations shall call their Redeemer blessed. Some despair of this. They look upon the world as a vessel breaking up and going to pieces, never to float again. We know that the world and all that is therein is one day to be burnt up, and afterwards we look for new heavens and for a new earth; but we cannot read our Bibles without the conviction that–

“Jesus shall reign where’er the sun

Does his successive journeys run.”

We are not discouraged by the length of his delays; we are not disheartened by the long period which he allots to the church in which to struggle with little success and much defeat. We believe that God will never suffer this world, which has once seen Christ’s blood shed upon it, to be always the devil’s stronghold. Christ came hither to deliver this world from the detested sway of the powers of darkness. What a shout shall that be when men and angels shall unite to cry “Hallelujah, hallelujah, for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth!” What a satisfaction will it be in that day to have had a share in the fight, to have helped to break the arrows of the bow, and to have aided in winning the victory for our Lord! Happy are they who trust themselves with this conquering Lord, and who fight side by side with him, doing their little in his name and by his strength! How unhappy are those on the side of evil! It is a losing side, and it is a matter wherein to lose is to lose and to be lost forever. On whose side are you?

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Isaiah 8:13     King James Version (KJV)
Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.
Proverbs 1;7
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.
Charles H. Spurgeon

Psalm 128

Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
Hints to the Village Preacher 

TITLE. A Song of Degrees. There is an evident ascent from the last Psalm: that did but hint at the way in which a house may be built up, but this draws a picture of that house built, and adorned with domestic bliss through the Lord’s own benediction. There is clearly an advance in age, for here we go beyond children to children’s children; and also a progress in happiness, for children which in the last Psalm were arrows are here Olive plants, and instead of speaking “with the enemies in the gate” we done with “peace upon Israel.” Thus we rise step by step, and sing as we ascend.SUBJECT. It is a family hymn, a song for a marriage, or a birth, or for any day in which a happy household has met to praise the Lord. Like all the songs of degrees, it has an eye to Zion and Jerusalem, which are both expressly mentioned, and it closes like Psalms 125, 130, and 131, with an allusion to Israel. It is a short Psalm, but exceedingly full and suggestive. Its poetry is of the highest order. Perhaps in no country can it be better understood than in our own, for we above all nations delight to sing of “Home, sweet home.”


EXPOSITIONVerse 1. Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord. The last Psalm ended with a blessing,—for the word there translated “happy” is the same as that which is here rendered “blessed”: thus the two songs are joined by a catch word. There is also in them a close community of subject. The fear of God is the corner stone of all blessedness. We must reverence the ever blessed God before we can be blessed ourselves. Some think that this life is an evil, an infliction, a thing upon which rests a curse; but it is not so; the God fearing man has a present blessing resting upon him. It is not true that it would be to him” something better not to be.” He is happy now, for he is the child of the happy God, the ever living Jehovah; and he is even here a joint heir with Jesus Christ, whose heritage is not misery, but joy. This is true of every one of the God fearing, of all conditions, in all ages: each one and every one is blessed. Their blessedness may not always be; seen by carnal reason, but it is always a fact, for God himself declares that it is so; and we know that those whom he blesses are blessed indeed. Let us cultivate that holy filial fear of Jehovah which is the essence of all true religion;—the fear of reverence, of dread to offend, of anxiety to please, and of entire submission and obedience. This fear of the Lord is the fit fountain of holy living: we look in vain for holiness apart from it: none but those who fear the Lord will ever walk in his ways.

That walketh in his ways. The religious life, which God declares to be blessed, must be practical as well as emotional. It is idle to talk of fearing the Lord if we act like those who have no care whether there be a God or no, God’s ways will be our ways if we have a sincere reverence for him: if the heart is joined unto God, the feet will follow hard after him. A man’s heart will be seen in his walk, and the blessing will come where heart and walk are both with God. Note that the first Psalm links the benediction with the walk in a negative way, “Blessed is the man that walketh not”, etc.; but here we find it in connection with the positive form of our conversation. To enjoy the divine blessing we must be active, and walk; we must be methodical, and walk in certain ways; and we must be godly, and walk in the Lord’s ways. God’s ways are blessed ways; they were cast up by the Blessed One, they were trodden by him in whom we are blessed, they are frequented by the blessed, they are provided with means of blessing, they are paved with present blessings, and they lead to eternal blessedness: who would not desire to walk in them?

Verse 2. For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands. The general doctrine in Ps 128:1 here receives a personal application: note the change to the second person: “thou shalt eat”, etc. This is the portion of God’s saints,—to work, and to find a reward in so doing. God is the God of labourers. We are not to leave our worldly callings because the Lord has called us by grace: we are not promised a blessing upon romantic idleness or unreasonable dreaming, but upon hard work and honest industry. Though we are in God’s hands we are to be supported by our own hands. He will give us daily bread, but it must be made our own by labour. All kinds of labour are here included; for if one toils by the sweat of his brow, and another does so by the sweat of his brain, there is no difference in the blessing; save that it is generally more healthy to work with the body than with the mind only. Without God it would be vain to labour; but when we are labourers together with God a promise is set before us. The promise is that labour shall be fruitful, and that he who performs it shall himself enjoy the recompense of it. It is a grievous ill for a man to slave his life away and receive no fair remuneration for his toil: as a rule, God’s servants rise out of such bondage and claim their own, and receive it: at any rate, this verse may encourage them to do so. “The labourer is worthy of his hire.” Under the Theocracy the chosen people could see this promise literally fulfilled; but when evil rulers oppressed them their earnings were withheld by churls, and their harvests were snatched away from them by marauders. Had they walked in the fear of the Lord they would never have known such great evils. Some men never enjoy their labour, for they give themselves no time for rest. Eagerness to get takes from them the ability to enjoy. Surely, if it is worth while to labour, it is worth while to eat of that labour. “Happy shalt thou be”, or, Oh, thy happinesses. Heaped up happinesses in the plural belong to that man who fears the Lord. He is happy, and he shall be happy in a thousand ways. The context leads us to expect family happiness. Our God is our household God. The Romans had their Lares and Penates, but we have far more than they in the one only living and true God. And it shall be well with thee, or, good for thee. Yes, good is for the good; and it shall be well with those who do well.

“What cheering words are these!
Their sweetness who can tell?
In time, and to eternal days,
‘Tis with the righteous well.”

If we fear God we may dismiss all other fear. In walking in God’s ways we shall be under his protection, provision, and approval; danger and destruction shall be far from us: all things shall work our good. In God’s view it would not be a blessed thing for us to live without exertion, nor to eat the unearned bread of dependence: the happiest state on earth is one in which we have something to do, strength to do it with, and a fair return for what we have done. This, with the divine blessing, is all that we ought to desire, and it is sufficient for any man who fears the Lord and abhors covetousness. Having food and raiment, let us be there with content.

Verse 3. Thy wife. To reach the full of earthly felicity a man must not be alone. A helpmeet was needed in Paradise, and assuredly she is not less necessary out of it. He that findeth a wife findeth a good thing. It is not every man that feareth the Load who has a wife; but if he has, she shall share in his blessedness and increase it. Shall be as a fruitful vine. To complete domestic bliss children are sent. They come as the lawful fruit of marriage, even as clusters appear upon the vine. For the grapes the vine was planted; for children was the wife provided. It is generally well with any creature when it fulfils its purpose, and it is so far well with married people when the great design of their union is brought about. They must not look upon fruitfulness as a burden, but as a blessing. Good wives are also fruitful in kindness, thrift, helpfulness, and affection: if they bear no children, they are by no means barren if they yield us the wine of consolation and the clusters of comfort. Truly blessed is the man whose wife is fruitful in those good works which are suitable to her near and dear position. By the sides of thine house. She keeps to the house: she is a home bird. Some imagine that she is like a vine which is nailed up to the house wall; but they have no such custom in Palestine, neither is it pleasant to think of a wife as growing up by a wall, and as bound to the very bricks and mortar of her husband’s dwelling. No, she is a fruitful vine, and a faithful housekeeper; if you wish to find her, she is within the house: she is to be found both inside and outside the home, but her chief usefulness is in the inner side of the dwelling, which she adorns. Eastern houses usually have an open square in the centre, and the various rooms are ranged around the sides,—there shall the wife be found, busy in one room or another, as the hour of the day demands. She keeps at home, and so keeps the home. It is her husband’s house, and she is her husband’s; us the text puts it—”thy wife”, and “thy house”; but by her loving care her husband is made so happy that he is glad to own her as an equal proprietor with himself, for he is hers, and the house is hers too.

Thy children like olive plants round about thy table. Hundreds of times have I seen the young olive plants springing up around the parent stem, and it has always made mc think of this verse. The Psalmist never intended to suggest the idea of olive plants round a table, but of young people springing up around their parents, even as olive plants surround the fine, well rooted tree. The figure is very striking, and would be sure to present itself to the mind of every observer in the olive country. How beautiful to see the gnarled olive, still bearing abundant fruit, surrounded with a little band of sturdy successors, any one of which would be able to take its place should the central olive be blown down, or removed in any other way. The notion of a table in a bower may suit a cockney in a tea garden, but would never occur to an oriental poet; it is not the olive plants, but the children, that are round about the table. Moreover, note that it is not olivebranches, but plants,—a very different thing. Our children gather around our table to be fed, and this involves expenses: how much better is this than to see them pining upon beds of sickness, unable to come for their meals! What a blessing to have sufficient to put upon the table! Let us for this benefit praise the bounty of the Lord. The wife is busy all over the house, but the youngsters are busiest at meal times; and if the blessing of the Lord rest upon the family, no sight can be more delightful. Here we have the vine and the olive blended—joy from the fruitful wife, and solid comfort from the growing family; these are the choicest products earth can yield: our families are gardens of the Lord. It may help us to value the privileges of our home if we consider where we should be if they were withdrawn. What if the dear partner of our life were removed from the sides of our house to the recesses of the sepulchre? What is the trouble of children compared with the sorrow of their loss? Think, dear father, what would be your grief if you had to cry with Job, “Oh that I were as in months past, as in the days when God preserved me; when my children were about me.”

Verse 4. Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the LORD. Mark this. Put a Nota Bene against it, for it is worthy of observation. It is not to be inferred that all blessed men are married, and are fathers; but that this is the way in which the Lord favours godly people who are placed in domestic life. He makes their relationships happy and profitable. In this fashion does Jehovah bless God fearing households, for he is the God of all the families of Israel. We have seen this blessing scores of times, and we have never ceased to admire in domestic peace the sweetest of human felicity. Family blessedness comes from the Lord, and is a part of his plan for the preservation of a godly race, and for the maintenance of his worship in the land. To the Lord alone we must look for it. The possession of riches will not ensure it; the choice of a healthy and beautiful bride will not ensure it; the birth of numerous comely children will not ensure it: there must be the blessing of God, the influence of piety, the result of holy living.

Verse 5. The Loud shall bless thee out of Zion. A spiritual blessing shall be received by the gracious man, and this shall crown all his temporal mercies. He is one among the many who make up God’s inheritance; his tent is part and parcel of the encampment around the tabernacle; and therefore, when the benediction is pronounced at the centre it shall radiate to him ill his place. The blessing of the house of God shall be upon his house. The priestly benediction which is recorded in Nu 6:24-26, runs thus: “The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: the Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: the Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.” This is it which shall come upon the head of the God fearing man. Zion was the centre of blessing, and to it the people looked when they sought for mercy: from the altar of sacrifice, from the mercy seat, from the Shekinah light, yea, from Jehovah himself, the blessing shall come to each one of his holy people. And thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life. He shall have a patriot’s joy as well as a patriarch’s peace. God shall give him to see his country prosper, and its metropolitan city flourish. When tent mercies are followed by temple mercies, and these are attended by national mercies,—the man, the worshipper, the patriot is trebly favoured of the Lord. This favour is to be permanent throughout the good man’s life, and that life is to be a long one, for he is to see his sons’ sons. Many a time does true religion bring such blessings to men; and when these good things are denied them, they have a greater reward as a compensation.

Verse 6. Yea, thou shalt see thy children’s children. This is a great pleasure. Men live their young lives over again in their grandchildren. Does not Solomon say that “children’s children are the crown of old men?” So they are. The good man is glad that a pious stock is likely to be continued; he rejoices in the belief that other homes as happy as his own will be built up wherein altars to the glory of God shall smoke with the morning and evening sacrifice. This promise implies long life, and that life rendered happy by its being continued in our offspring. It is one token of the immortality of man that he derives joy from extending his life in the lives of his descendants. And peace upon Israel. With this sweet word Psalm 126 was closed. It is a favourite formula. Let God’s own heritage be at peace, and we are all glad of it. We count it our own prosperity for the chosen of the Lord to find rest and quiet. Jacob was sorely tossed about; his life knew little of peace; but yet the Lord delivered him out of all his tribulations, and brought him to a place of rest in Goshen for a while, and afterwards to sleep with his fathers in the cave of Machpelah. His glorious Seed was grievously afflicted and at last crucified; but he has risen to eternal peace, and in his peace we dwell. Israel’s spiritual descendants still share his chequered conditions, but there remains a rest for them also, and they shall have peace from the God of peace. Israel was a praying petitioner in the days of his wrestling, but he became a prevailing prince, and therein his soul found peace. Yes, all around it is true—”Peace upon Israel! Peace upon Israel.”


EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGSWhole Psalm. Psalm 128 follows Psalm 127 for the same reason as Psalm 2 follows Psalm 1. In both instances they are Psalms placed together, of which one begins withashre (happy, very happy), and the other ends with ashre. In other respects Psalm 128 and 127 supplement one another. They are related to one another much as the New Testament parables of the treasure in the field and the one pearl are related. That which makes man happy is represented in Psalm 127 as a gift coming as a blessing, and in Psalm 128 as a reward coming as a blessing, that which is briefly indicated in the word rks, saka, reward, in Ps 127:3 being here expanded and unfolded. There it appears as a gift of grace in contrast to the God estranged self activity of man; here as a fruit of theora et labora.Franz Delitzsch.

Whole Psalm. It is to be observed, that here all men are spoken to as wedded; because this is the ordinary estate of most people. See 1Co 7:1-2. At this day every Jew is bound to marry at about eighteen years of age, or before twenty; else he is accounted as one that liveth in sin.—John Trapp.

Whole Psalm. This Psalm is an epiyalamio logos, written for the commendation, instruction, and consolation of those who are either already married or are about to enter on that kind of life. It enumerates, therefore, at the commencement, as is usual in songs of this kind, all those things which are regarded as burdens in the married life, such as the labours in seeking to provide for the whole family; the spouse, and that marriage bond, which, as it were, binds a man and seems to make him a slave, just as that character says in the comedy, “I have taken a wife; I have sold my liberty:” lastly, the education of the children, which certainly is most laborious, and requires the largest expenditure. To lighten the burden of all these things, there is added to each a blessing, or a promise, so that they might appear slight. And at the close, it subjoins in general, a spiritual promise, which easily makes light of all the labours and disquiets of the married life; even if they should be the very heaviest. The blessing comes from Zion or the Church: for there is nothing so burdensome and difficult, but what it can be easily borne by those who are the members of the true Church, and know the sources of true consolation.—D. H. Mollerus.

Verse 1. Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD, etc. Here we have the living fountain of the blessing which rests upon the conjugal and domestic state. When worldly prudence attempts to choose a wife and form a household, it can apply its hand only to so much of the work as has its seat upon earth, and is visible to the eye of sense. It builds, so to speak, the first and the second story, adds cornice and pediment, and the fabric presents a fair appearances but it has no foundation. Whenever you see the household of a married pair continuing to defy every storm, you may be sure that it rests upon a sure foundation, lying beyond the reach of human sense, and that that foundation is the fear of the Lord. To the fear of the Lord, therefore, the holy Psalmist has wisely given a place in front of this beautiful Psalm, which celebrates the blessing that descends upon conjugal and domestic life.—Augustus F. Tholuck, in “Hours of Christian Devotion,” 1870.

Verse 1. Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD. There is a fear of the Lord which hath terror in it and not blessedness. The apprehension with which a warring rebel regards his triumphant and offended sovereign, or the feelings of a fraudulent bankrupt towards a stern creditor, or, a conscience stricken criminal to a righteous judge, are frequently types of men’s feelings in regard to God. This evidently cannot be the fearwhich the “blessed” of this Psalm feel. Nor can theirs, on the other hand, be the tormenting fear of self reproach. Their fear is that which the believed revelations given of him in his Word produce. It is the fear which a child feels towards an honoured parent,—a fear to offend: it is that which they who have been rescued from destruction feel to the benefactor who nobly and at the vastest sacrifice interposed for their safety,—a fear to act unworthily of his kindness: it is that which fills the breast of a pardoned and grateful rebel in the presence of a venerated sovereign at whose throne he is permitted to stand in honour,—a fear lest he should ever forget his goodness, and give him cause to regret it. Such is the fear of the Christian now: a fear which reverence for majesty, gratitude for mercies, dread of displeasure, desire of approval, and longing for the fellowship of heaven, inspire; the fear of angels and the blessed Son; the fear not of sorrow but of love, which shrinks with instinctive recoil from doing aught that would tend to grieve, or from denying aught that would tend to honour. Religion is the grand and the only wisdom; and since the beginning, the middle, and the end of it, is the fear of the Lord, blessed is every man that is swayed by it.—Robert Nisbet, in “The Songs of the Temple Pilgrims”, 1863.

Verse 1. Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord. Let us take a little of the character of the blessed man. Who is it that is undaunted? “The man that feareth God.” Fear sounds rather contrary to blessedness; hath an air of misery; but add whom. He that “feareth the Lord”; that touch turns it into gold. He that so fears, fears rot: he shall not be afraid; all petty fears are swallowed up in this great fear; and this great fear is as sweet and pleasing as little fears are anxious and vexing. Secure of other things, he can say—”If my God be pleased, no matter who is displeased: no matter who despise me, if he account me his. Though all forsake me, though my dearest friends grow estranged, if he reject me not, that is my only fear; and for that I am not perplexed, I know he will not.” A believer hath no fear but of the displeasure of heaven, the anger of God to fall upon him; he accounts that only terrible; but yet he doth not fear it; doth not apprehend it will fall on him, is better persuaded of the goodness of God. So this fear is still joined with trust:—”Behold the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy”: Ps 33:18.—Robert Leighton, 1611-1684.

Verse 1. Blessed is every one, etc. There is a stress on all (“every one”), teaching that no disparity of sex or condition, of rank or wealth, affects the degree of happiness granted by God to every one of his true servants in their several stations. It is to be observed, further, that whenever the fear of the Lord is mentioned in Holy Writ, it is never set by itself, as though sufficient for the consummation of our faith, but always has something added or prefixed, by which to estimate its due proportion of perfection, according as it is stated by Solomon in Pr 2:3-5.—J. M. Neale and R. F. Littledale; in “A Commentary on the Psalms from Primitive and Medieval Writers,” 1860.

Verse 1. Blessed is every one, etc. It is a precious promise, but perhaps thou art tempted to say in thy heart, not meant for every one. Wilt thou answer against the Lord? Hear him speak in the song. He says, “every one.” “Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD.” None are excluded but those who will not walk in his ways.—Edward Jewett Robinson.

Verse 1. Blessed, etc. The, adage, “That it is best not to be born at all, or to die as soon as possible”, has certainly been long since received by the common consent of almost all men. Carnal reason judges either that all mankind without exception are miserable, or that fortune is more favourable to ungodly and wicked men than to the good. To the sentiment that those are blessed who fear the Lord, it has an entire aversion. So much the more requisite, then, is it to dwell upon the consideration of this truth. Farther, as this blessedness is not apparent to the eye, it is of importance, in order to our being able to apprehend it, first to attend to the definition which will be given of it by and bye; and secondly, to know that it depends chiefly upon tim protection of God. Although we collect together all the circumstances which seem to contribute to a happy life, surely nothing will be found more desirable than to be kept hidden under the guardianship of God. If this blessing is, in our estimation, to be preferred, as it deserves, to all other good things, whoever is persuaded that the care of God is exercised about the world and human affairs, will at the same time unquestionably acknowledge that what is here laid down is the chief point of happiness.—John Calvin.

Verse 1. That feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways. The fear of the Lord is the internal principle; but unless there be a corresponding expression in the outward life, what reason is there to suppose that it has any existence at all? Observe also, that there is no walking in the ways of the Lord, until his fear be established in the heart. There can be no genuine morality apart from the fear of God. How can a man obey God while his affections are alienated from him?—N. M’Michael.

Verse 1. That walketh in, his ways. God makes blessed those that walk in his ways, because he himself walks with them. This is said concerning David, and it is explained how that companionship blessed him, 2Sa 5:10: “And David went on, and grew great, and the Lord God of hosts was with him”: where the “and” may be taken as the causal particle “because.” That God does indeed join himself to those who walk in his ways as companion and leader we have in 2Ch 17:3-4: “And the Lord was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the first ways of his father David, and sought not unto Baalim; but sought to the Lord God of his father.”—Thomas Le Blanc.

Verse 2. For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands, etc. There is a fourfold literal sense here: Thou shalt live by honest, peaceful labour, not by rapine and violence on that produced by the toil of others, nor yet indolently and luxuriously; thou shalt “eat”, and not penuriously stint thyself and others; thy crops shall not be blighted, but shall bring forth abundantly; and no enemy shall destroy or carry off thy harvest. And these two latter interpretations accord best with the converse punishments threatened to the disobedient by Moses. “Thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands”. But he who hates labour does not eat of it, nor can he say, “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work”: Joh 4:34. On the other hand, he to whom such labour is a delight, does not merely look forward in hope to the future fruits or rewards of labour, but even here and now finds sustenance and pleasure in toiling for God; so that it is “well” with him in the world, even amidst all its cares and troubles, and he “shall be happy” in that which is to come, whence sorrow is banished for ever, as it is written in the gospel: “Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God”: Lu 14:15.—Neale and Littledale.

Verse 2. Thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands, etc. This must they learn also which are married, that they must labour. For the law of nature requireth that the husband should sustain and nourish his wife and his children. For after that man and wife do know that they ought to fear God their Creator, who not only made them, but gave his blessing also unto his creature; this secondly must they know, that something they must do that they consume not their days in ease and idleness. Hesiod, the poet, giveth his counsel, that first thou shouldest get thee a house, then a wife, and also an ox to till the ground…For albeit that our diligence, care, and travail is not able to maintain our family, yet God useth such as a means by the which he will bless us.—Martin Luther.

Verse 2. Thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands. Men have dreamed fascinating dreams of removing the disabilities and limitations of the world and the evils of life, without sorrow. Poets have pictured earthly paradises, where life would be one long festival,

“Summer isles of Eden lying in dark purple spheres of sea.”

But vain are all such dreams and longings. They are of human, not of Divine origin, and spring from a root of selfishness and not of holiness. They cannot be realized in a fallen world, full of sorrow because full of sin. All blessings in man’s economy are got from pains. Happiness is the flower that grows from a thorn of sorrow transformed by man’s cultivation. The beautiful myth which placed the golden apples of the Hesperides in a garden guarded by dragons, is an allegory illustrative of the great human fact that not till we have slain the dragons of selfishness and sloth can we obtain any of the golden successes of life. Supposing it were possible that we could obtain the objects of our desire without any toil or trouble, we should not enjoy them. To benefit us really, they must be the growths of our own self denial and labour. And this is the great lesson which the miracles of our Lord, wrought in the manner in which they were, unfolded. They teach us that, in both temporal and spiritual things, we should not so throw ourselves upon the providence or grace of God as to neglect the part we have ourselves to act,—that God crowns every honest and faithful effort of man with success: “Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways. For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.”Hugh Macmillan, in “The Ministry of Nature,” 1871.

Verse 2. (first clause).

Labour, the symbol of man’s punishment;
Labour, the secret of man’s happiness.
James Montgomery, 1771-1854.

Verse 2. Happy shalt thou be. Oh trust in the Lord for happiness as well as for help! All the springs of happiness are in him. Trust “in him who giveth us all things richly to enjoy”; who, of his own rich and free mercy, holds them out to us, as in his own hand, that, receiving them as his gifts, and as pledges of his love, we may enjoy all that we possess. It is his love gives a relish to all we taste, puts life and sweetness into all; while every creature leads us up to the great Creator, and all earth is a scale to heaven. He transfuses the joys that are at his own right hand into all that he bestows on his thankful children, who, having fellowship with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ, enjoy him in all and above all.—John Wesley, 1703-1791.

Verse 2. Happy shalt thou be. Mr. Disraeli puts these remarkable words into the mouth of one of his characters:—”Youth is a blunder; manhood a struggle; old age a regret.” A sad and Cheerless view of life’s progress that! It may be true, in measure, of a life separated from godliness; it certainly is not true of a life allied with godliness. Let there be “life and godliness”, and then youth is not a blunder, but a wise purpose and a glowing hope; manhood is not a struggle only, but a conquest and a joy; old age is not a regret, but a rich memory and a glorious prospect.—R. P. Macmaster, in “The Baptist Magazine,” 1878.

Verse 3. Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine, etc. The comparison would perhaps be brought out more clearly by arranging the verse as follows:

“Thy wife shall be in the inner part of thy house
Like a fruitful vine;
Thy children round about thy table
Like the shoots of the olive.”

In the inner part, literally, “the sides of thy house”, as in Am 6:10, i.e., the women’s apartments, as marking the proper sphere of the wife engaged in her domestic duties, and also to some extent her seclusion, though this was far less amongst the Jews than amongst other Orientals. The “vine” is an emblem chiefly of fruitfulness, but perhaps also of dependence, as needing support; the “olive”, of vigorous, healthy, joyous life. The same figure is employed by Euripides, Herc. Fur., 839. Med. 109S.—J. J. Stewart Perowne.

Verse 3. Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine, etc. We do not remember to have met with a single instance, in the East, of vines trained against the walls of a house, or of olives near or about a house. Neither have we read of such instances. The passage doubtless derives its figures from the fertility of the vine, and from the appearance of the olive, or the order in which olive trees are planted. The construction would then be: “Thy wife, in the sides (interior apartments) of thy house, shall be as the fruitful vine, and thy children round about thy table, like olive plants.”—John Kitto (1504-1854), in “The Pictorial Bible.”

Verse 3. Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house. The wife is likened not to thorns or briers, nor even to oaks or to other fruits and trees, but to the vine; and also to a vine neither in a vineyard nor in a garden, but set by the walls of the house; also not barren, but fertile and fruit bearing. This admonishes husbands as well as wives of their duties. For as the walls support the vine, and defend it against the force of winds and tempests, so ought husbands, as far as is in their power, to defend their wives by their godly conversation and wholesome teachings and institutions against the pestilential wind of the old serpent; also against the injuries of evil disposed men. “He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the Church”: Eph 5:28-29. Further, the vine is exceedingly fragile wood, and not meet for any work, Eze 15:4. Husbands, therefore, should remember that they ought to behave towards their wives patiently and prudently, as with the weaker vessel; not keeping in mind the fragility of the wood, but the abundance and sweetness of the fruit. If husbands observe this, that will happen to them which Scripture says concerning the peaceful time of Solomon, “And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree”: 1Ki 4:25. Such was the married life of Abraham with Sarah, Isaac with Rebecca, Jacob with, Leah and Rachel.—Solomon Gesner.

Verse 3. A fruitful vine by the sides of thine house. It does not say on the sides of the house, but by the sides. The passage probably refers to the trellissed, bowers which often lead up to the houses, and are covered with vines, the grapes, hanging over head. Sitting in these bowers is sitting under our own vines: Mic 4:4. I have seen in Constantinople grapes hanging over the people’s heads in the principal streets, the vines being trained from one side of the street to the other.—John Gadsby, in “My Wanderings,” 1860.

Verse 3. By the sides of thine house. Not on the roof, nor on the floor; the one is too high, she is no ruler; the other too low, she is no slave: but in the sides, an equal place between both.—Thomas Adams.

Verse 3. By the sides of thine house. The house is her proper place, for she is “the beauty of the house”; there her business lies, there she is safe. The ancients painting them with a snail under their feet, and the Egyptians denying their women shoes, and the Scythians burning the bride’s chariot axle tree at her door, when she was brought to her husband’s house, and the angel’s asking Abraham where Sarah was (though he knew well enough), that it might be observed, she was “in the tent”, do all intimate, that, by the law of nature, and by the rules of religion, the wife ought to keep at home, unless urgent necessity do call her abroad.—Richard Steele (—1692), in “The Morning Exercises.”

Verse 3. As it is visible that the good man’s sons being “like olive plants round about his table”, means not that they should be like the olive plants which grew round his table, it being, I presume, a thought in Bishop Patrick that will not be defended, that the Psalmist refers to a table spread in an arbour composed of young olive trees, for we find no such arbours in the Levant, nor is the tree very proper for such a purpose; so in like manner the first clause must signify, thy wife shall be in the sides, or private apartments, of thy house, fruitful as a thriving vine: the place here mentioned (the sides of the house) referring to the wife, not to the vine; as the other (the table) refers to the children, not to the olives. Nor is this a new thought, it is a remark that Musculus and other interpreters have made. The Hebrew word, translated sides, is very well known to signify the more private apartments of a house, as they have also remarked; and he that reads Dr. Shaw’s description of an Eastern house, must immediately see the propriety of calling the private apartments its sides. Such a house consists of a square court, which the doctor observes, is called the midst of the house: and private apartments round it, which may as properly be called its sides in consequence: into this middle of the house, or this quadrangle, company, he tells us, are sometimes received, in whichother authors tell us their wives remain concealed at such times.—Thomas Harmer, 1719-1788.

Verse 3. Thy children like olive plants, etc. Follow me into the grove, and I will show you what may have suggested the comparison. Here we have hit upon a beautiful illustration. This aged and decayed tree is surrounded, as you see, by several young and thrifty shoots, which spring from the root of the venerable parent. They seem to uphold, protect, and embrace it, we may even fancy that they now bear that load of fruit which would otherwise be demanded of the feeble parent. Thus do good and affectionate children gather round the table of the righteous. Each contributes something to the common wealth and welfare of the whole—a beautiful sight, with which may God refresh the eyes of every friend of mine.—W. M. Thomson.

Verse 3. Man by nature, uninfluenced by grace, is “a wild olive tree”; and the object of most parents is merely to cultivate this wild olive tree. What anxiety is there about accomplishments which, how attractive soever, are but the dying blossoms of this wild olive tree!—Richard Cecil, 1748-1810.

Verse 3. Although the world is carried away by irregular desires after various objects, between which it is perpetually fluctuating in its choice, God gives us in this Psalm a description of what lie considers to be a blessing beyond all riches, and therefore we ought to hold it in high estimation. If a man has a wife of amiable manners as the companion of his life, let him set no less value upon this blessing than Solomon did, who, in Pr 19:14, affirms that it is God alone who gives a good wife. In like manner, if a man be a father of a numerous offspring, let him receive that goodly boon with a thankful heart.—John Calvin.

Verse 3. Before the fall Paradise was man’s home; since the fall home has been his Paradise.—Augustus William Hare (1792-1834), and Julius Charles Hare (1795-1855), in “Guesses at Truth.”

Verse 4. As Haman caused it to be proclaimed (Es 6:9), “Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honour”; so here, Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the Lord. He shall be blessed in his wife, and blessed in his children; so blessed in both that the Psalmist calls all to behold it, as a rare, beautiful, yea, wonderful sight: “Behold, thus shall the man be blessed.” And yet the man fearing God shall be blessed more than thus: his blessing shall come in the best way (Ps 128:5):“The Lord shall bless thee out of Zion”; his temporal mercies shall come in a spiritual way, yea, he shall have spiritual blessings: “He shall bless thee out of Zion”; and he shall have blessings beyond his own walls: “Thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life. Yea, thou shalt see thy children’s children, and peace upon Israel.”Sometimes a good man can take no content in his family mercies because of the church’s afflictions; he “prefers Jerusalem above his chief joy” (Ps 137:6), and while that is mourning he cannot but be sorrowing, though his own house be full of joy. Sometimes a man’s own family is so afflicted, and his house so full of sorrow, that he cannot but mourn, even when Jerusalem rejoiceth and Zion is glad. But when a good man looks home to his own house and sees good there; when also he looks abroad to Jerusalem and sees good there too, how full is his joy! how complete is his blessedness! and, “Behold, thus the man is blessed that feareth the Lord.”Joseph Caryl.

Verse 4. Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed, etc. It is asserted with a note commanding attention: behold it by faith in the promise; behold it by observation in the performance of the promise; behold it with assurance that it shall be so, for God is faithful; and with admiration that it should be so; for we merit no favour, no blessing from him.—Matthew Henry.

Verse 5. Thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem, etc. What is added concerning “the good of Jerusalem” is to be regarded as enjoining upon the godly the duty not only of seeking their own individual welfare, or of being devoted to their own peculiar interests; but rather of having it as their chief desire to see the Church of God in a flourishing condition. It would be a very unreasonable thing for each member to desire what may be profitable for itself, while in the meantime the body was neglected. From our extreme proneness to err in this respect, the prophet, with good reason, recommends solicitude about the public welfare; and lie mingles together domestic blessings and the common benefits of the church in such a way as to show us that they are things joined together, and which it is unlawful to put asunder.—John Calvin.

Verse 6. Lord, let thy blessing so accompany my endeavours in their offspring, that all my sons may be Benaiahs, the Lord’s building, and then they will all be Abners, their father’s light; and that all my daughters may be Bethins, the Lord’s daughters, and then they will all be Abigails, their father’s joy.—George Swinnock.

Verse 6. Religion is as favourable for long life as for happiness. She promotes long life by destroying those evils, the tendency of which is to limit the duration of human existence. War sweeps millions into a premature grace. Men live longer in Christian than in heathen countries. They live longer in Protestant than in Roman Catholic countries. The direct effect of true religion is to increase the period of human life. “Length of days is in her right hand.”—N. M’ Michael.

Verse 6. Connecting this with the next Psalm we find the following in a famous Scotch divine:—”Peace upon Israel.” The great blessing of peace, which the Lord bath promised to his people even in this life, (for where the Lord gives mercy to any, he gives them peace also, peace and grace are inseparably joined together), this peace, I say, does not consist in this, that the people of God shall have no enemies; no, for there is an immortal and endless enmity against them. Neither does their peace consist in this, that their enemies shall not assault them; neither does it consist in this, that their enemies shall not molest or afflict them. We do but deceive ourselves if so be that we imagine, so long as we are in this our pilgrimage, and in our warfare here, if we promise to ourselves a peace of this kind; for while we live in this world, we shall still have enemies, and these enemies shall assault us, and persecute and afflict us.”—Alexander Henderson.


HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHERVerse 1. The universality of the blessedness of God fearing men. Circumstances, personal or relative, cannot alter the blessing; nor age, nor public opinion, nor even their own sense of unworthiness.

Verse 1. Consider:

1. The union of a right fear with a right walk.

(a) There is a wrong fear, because slavish; this never can lead to genuine obedience, which must be willingly and cheerfully rendered.

(b) But the fear of reverence and filial love will surely turn the feet to God’s ways, keep them steadfast therein, and wing them with speed.

2. The blessedness of him in whom they are united.

(a) It is blessedness of life; for that is prospered.

(b) It is blessedness of domestic happiness; for where the head of a family is holy, the family is the home of peace.

(c) It is the blessedness of a holy influence in every sphere of his activity.

(d) It is deep felt heart blessedness in walking with God.

(e) And all is but a prelude to the everlasting blessedness of heaven.—J. F.

Verse 2. The blessedness of the righteous are first generalized, then particularized. Here they are divided into three particulars.

1. The fruit of past labours.

2. Present enjoyment.

3. Future welfare: “It shall be well with thee.” Well in time; well in death; well at the last judgment; well forever.—G. R.

Verse 2.

1. Labour a blessing to him who fears God.
2. The fruits of labour the result of God’s blessing.
3. The enjoyment of the fruits of labour a further blessing from God.
W. H. J. P.

Verse 2. (first clause). Success in life.

1. Its source—God’s blessing.

2. Its channels—our own labour.

3. The measure in which it is promised—as much as we can eat. More is above the promise.

4. The enjoyment. We are permitted to eat or enjoy our labour.

Verse 2. (second clause). Godly happiness.

1. Follows upon God’s blessing.
2. Grows out of character: “feareth the Lord.”
3. Follows labour: see preceding sentence.
4. It is supported by wellbeing: see following sentence.

Verse 2. (last clause).

1. It shall be well with thee while thou livest.
2. It shall be better with thee when thou diest.
3. It shall be best of all with thee in eternity.
Adapted from Matthew Henry.

Verse 3. The blessing of children.

1. They are round our table—expense, anxiety, responsibility, pleasure.

2. They are like olive plants—strong, planted in order, coming on to succeed us, fruitful for God—as the olive provided oil for the lamp.

Verse 3. A complete family picture. Here are the husband, the wife, the children, the house, the rooms in the side, the table. We should ask a blessing upon each, bless God for each, and use each in a blessed manner.

Verse 4. Domestic happiness the peculiar blessing of piety. Show how it produces and maintains it.

Verse 5. The blessing out of Zion. See Nu 6:24-26.

Verse 5. Two priceless mercies.

1. The house of God a blessing to our house. It is connected with our own salvation, edification, consolation, etc. It is our hope for the conversion of our children and servants, etc. It is the place of their education, and for the formation of helpful friendship, etc.

2. Our house a blessing to God’s house. Personal interest in the church, hospitality, generosity, service, etc. Children aiding holy work. Wife useful, etc.

Verse 6. Old age blessed when

1. Life has been spent in the fear of God.
2. When it is surrounded to its close by human affection.
3. When it maintains its interest in the cause of God.
W. H. J. P.

Verse 6. (last clause). Church peace—its excellence, its enemies, its friends, its fruits.