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Bible Commentaries

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

Psalms 117

 

 

Verse 1-2

DISCOURSE: 693

THE GENTILES CALLED TO PRAISE GOD

Psalms 117. O praise the Lord, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people. For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the Lord endureth for ever. Praise ye the Lord.

THIS is the shortest of all the Psalms: but it is by no means the least interesting: the energy with which it is expressed abundantly marks the importance of the truths contained in it, and the feelings with which it should be read by us. The same sentiments are doubtless contained in many other psalms: but to a mind that is rightly disposed, they are ever new: they need no embellishment to adorn them, no eloquence to set them forth: if any man can hear or reflect upon them without emotion, the fault is in himself alone. Let us consider the psalm,

I. In a general view—

Here is a call to the whole world to praise and adore their God. Those perfections which they are more especially called to celebrate, are,

1. The greatness of his mercy—

[Reflect on his sparing mercy. Consider the state of the whole world, which has so cast off their allegiance to God, that “he is not in all their thoughts” — — — Consider the inconceivable mass of iniquity that has been accumulating now nearly six thousand years — — — and yet we are spared! Once indeed God destroyed the world; but only once. On some few occasions God has marked his indignation against sin; but on very few: an Achan, an Uzzah, an Ananias, have been set up as witnesses for God, that he hateth iniquity: but these only serve the more strikingly to illustrate the astonishing forbearance of our God — — — Let every one of us look back upon his own personal transgressions, and then say, whether he himself is not an astonishing monument of God’s forbearance.

But if we so admire the sparing mercy of our God, what shall we say of his redeeming mercy? What words can we ever find sufficient to express the wonders of God’s love, in substituting his own Son, his co-equal, co-eternal Son, in our place, and laying the iniquities of a ruined world on him? Here we are altogether lost in wonder. The idea of redemption is so vast, that we cannot grasp it. We assent to it; we believe it; we trust in it: but it so far exceeds all our comprehension, that it appears rather like “a cunningly-devised fable,” than a reality. We see a little of the suitableness and sufficiency of this salvation; but it in only “as in a glass darkly;” it is only enigmatically [Note: See 1 Corinthians 13:12. the Greek.] that we view it at all; spelling it out, as it were, from a few scattered hints, and guessing at what we cannot comprehend. The freeness with which it is offered also, no less surpasses knowledge. By the way in which God himself follows us with offers, and entreaties, it should seem almost as if his happiness, rather than ours, depended on our acceptance of it. The continuance of these offers, made as they are from year to year to people who only pour contempt upon them, and trample on that adorable Saviour who shed his blood for them,—O! what an emphasis does this give to that expression in our text, “His merciful kindness is great towards us!”

Should not the whole universe adore our God for this?]

2. The inviolability of his truth—

[Were his truth considered in reference to his threatenings, it would be an awful subject indeed: but we are called to notice it at present only in connexion with his promises. All the mercy which God was pleased to vouchsafe to man, he has made over to us by an everlasting covenant, which was confirmed with an oath, and ratified with the blood of his only dear Son. There is not any thing which fallen man can want, for body or for soul, for time or for eternity, which has not been made the subject of a distinct promise. And who ever heard of one single promise failing him who trusted in it? Who ever heard of one sinner rejected, who came to God in the way prescribed? To the Jewish nation many specific promises were made: Did any one of them fail? Did not Joshua, after the final settlement of the Jews in Canaan, bear testimony for God in this respect, in the presence of the whole assembled nation, and appeal to them for the truth of his assertions [Note: Joshua 23:14.]? And have not all of you, who have ever rested in, and pleaded, God’s gracious promises, been constrained to bear a similar testimony in his behalf?

Let the whole world then adore and magnify the Lord on this ground; and never be weary of acknowledging, that “his mercy endureth for ever [Note: See Psalms 136. where it is repeated twenty-six times in as many verses.].”]

Let us now proceed to consider the psalm,

II. With a more immediate reference to the Gentile world—

The psalm is in reality a prophecy; and so important a prophecy, that St. Paul expressly quotes one part of it [Note: Romans 15:11.], and gives, as it were, an explanation of the remainder [Note: Romans 15:8-9. where God’s truth and mercy are both specified, as illustrated and confirmed by Christ.].

It declares the calling of the Gentiles—

[In this sense it has been interpreted, even by some of the Jews themselves: and we are sure that this is its true import, because an inspired Apostle has put this construction upon it. And are not we ourselves evidences of its truth? Are not we Gentiles? and has not God’s mercy reached unto us? Are not his promises also fulfilled to us? The promise to Abraham was, that “in him, and in his seed, should all the nations of the earth be blessed:” and this promise was made to him whilst he was yet uncircumcised, in order that the interest which we uncircumcised Gentiles had in it might be more fully manifest [Note: Romans 4:11.]. Behold then, we are living witnesses both of God’s mercy and truth! His promises are fulfilled to us, yea, and are yet daily fulfilling before our eyes. The blessings of salvation are poured down upon us in rich abundance. The Church is daily enlarging on every side of us. Both at home and abroad is the Gospel running and glorified, to an extent that has never been seen since the Apostolic age. And the time for its universal diffusion through the whole earth is manifestly drawing nigh. We have seen enough with our eyes to assure us, that the fuller accomplishment of God’s promises may be expected in due season: and that, at the appointed hour, “all the kingdoms of the world shall become the kingdom of our God, and of his Christ.”]

In this view, all the Gentile world are called upon to bless and praise their God—

[Ye, who are here assembled, arise and praise your God. Consider what mercy has been shewn to you; consider what truth has been displayed towards you. Arise, I say; yea, again and again would I repeat it, Arise and praise your God! And, ye remotest nations of the earth, O that our voice could reach to you! O that ye knew your obligations to your God, and the blessings that are in reserve for you! The Saviour was called, “The Desire of all nations:” and such indeed he ought to be. Well! if ye know him not, and consequently rejoice not in him, we will rejoice for you: for he is coming to you: the messengers of the Lord of Hosts are going forth into every quarter of the globe; and the word that reveals him to you is translating, in purpose and intention at least, into all the languages of the earth; and we anticipate with joy the time, when all the heathen shall serve him, and “all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”]

Address—

1. Are there any amongst you who have no disposition to praise the Lord?

[Alas! there are too many, who have no delight in this blessed work, and have never spent one hour in it in all their lives! Ah! wretched and ingrate! What think ye of yourselves? Are ye not blind, when ye cannot see the perfections of your God? Are ye not base, when ye can receive such mercies at God’s hands, and never acknowledge them? Are ye not brutish, yea, worse than brutish? for “the ox and ass know their owner; but ye know not,” nor acknowledge, your Creator, your Benefactor, your Redeemer. See how far you are from a truly Christian state! Tell me not of your moral qualities; ye are base ungrateful creatures: and, if a fellow-creature were to treat you as you treat your God, you would abhor him utterly. O repent, and embrace the mercy that is yet offered you! or else you will find that He, who is true to his promises, will be true to his threatenings also.]

2. Are there amongst you some who desire to praise the Lord?

[We believe it; we rejoice in it: we pray to God to increase their number a hundredfold. But do ye not find that your thanks and praises are infinitely short of what the occasion for them demands? Yes, methinks there is nothing so cumiliating to a Christian as the services which he attempts to render to his God. However, still go on to serve him as ye can, when ye cannot serve him as ye would. And, to quicken your zeal, contemplate much and deeply the greatness of God’s mercy to you, and the inviolability of his truth. God has designed that such contemplations should be a rich source of comfort to yourselves, as they will be also of love and gratitude to him. And, whilst your own souls are filled with these divine affections, endeavour to diffuse the sacred flame, that all around you, and, if possible, all the nations of the world, may be stirred up to render unto God the praises due unto his name.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Psalms 117:4". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/psalms-117.html. 1832.

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