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Bible Commentaries

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

Psalms 125

 

 

Verse 1-2

DISCOURSE: 717

TRUST IN THE LORD

Psalms 125:1-2. They that trust in the Lord shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever. As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about his people, from henceforth even for ever.

IN forming our estimate of men, we are apt to look at their actions only; and even our own characters, also, we try by that standard. But it is the habit of the mind that chiefly marks the man; and by that we shall be estimated at the tribunal of our God. Doubtless actions are important, as indicative of principles from whence they flow; and by them, we, who can only see the external fruits, are constrained to judge of the quality of the root from whence they proceed. But the heart-searching God looks at the root itself; and approves or disapproves of men according to the real quality and habit of their minds.

In reading the words before us, we might estimate at a low rate the character here designated, did we not analyze the terms by which that character is described. But, if we take sufficient pains to explore the import of the words, and the true nature of the grace which they delineate, we shall see that the person “who trusts in the Lord” is a very exalted character, and that the blessedness here accorded to him is precisely such as becomes a holy God to confer upon him.

Let us consider,

I. The character here described—

“Trust in the Lord” does not import a mere general acknowledgment of God as the Governor of the universe: it implies incomparably more, even a deep conviction of his special providence, and of his incessant attention to every the minutest concern of his own peculiar people. It implies, I say, this conviction,

1. In our views—

[Let it be considered what trust is. It of necessity imports some engagement on the part of him in whom that trust is reposed. Consequently, a general notion of God’s ordering all things according to the counsel of his own will, however deep that conviction be, will not amount to the grace that is here described. The devils possess that conviction, in its utmost possible extent; but they cannot trust in God, because they have no promise given them, nor any ground whatever to hope that he will ever interpose in their favour. The person who trusts in the Lord must see him as a Covenant-God in Christ Jesus, engaged to accomplish for his chosen people all that their necessities can require — — —]

2. In our habits—

[With such views of the Deity must be united a total renunciation of every other hope, and a committing of all our concerns to him, for body and for soul, for time and for eternity. There must be a going forth of the soul to him in prayer; a spreading of our wants before him; and a declared affiance in his great and precious promises. Viewing him as both a God of providence and of grace, we must fully expect his attention to our every request, to order every thing for our good, and to save us in Christ Jesus with an everlasting salvation. Our expectations must be co-extensive with his engagements: and, as he has engaged to “be a God unto us,” we must expect from him all that unerring wisdom, unbounded power, unsearchable love, and unchanging faithfulness, can effect — — — This is, in fact, what the Apostle elsewhere calls “the life of faith in the Son of God;” and nothing short of this will answer the character in my text. But, wherever this is, there shall also be,]

II. The privileges connected with it—

There shall be,

1. Stability—

[Mount Zion was a place of so much strength, that, from the days of Joshua to the time of David, the Israelites could never take it. They occupied Jerusalem: but Mount Zion was too strong for them; insomuch that the Jebusites who inhabited it laughed them to scorn, vaunting, that if there were none left but blind and lame to defend the fortress, the Jews should never be able to prevail against it [Note: 2 Samuel 5:6-8.]. But far more impregnable is the fortress in which they dwell who trust in the Lord: “The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth to it, and is safe [Note: Proverbs 18:10.].” They may be assaulted both by men and devils; but they are assured, that “God will keep them by his own power, through faith, unto everlasting salvation [Note: 1 Peter 1:5.].” They are in the Saviour’s hands; and he has pledged himself that “none shall ever pluck them out of his hands [Note: John 10:28-29.].” In themselves they remain weak as ever, as both David and Peter have clearly shewn; but in Christ they are strong: and in the Covenant which is made with them in Christ, and “which is ordered in all things and sure,” it is engaged, on the part of God, that they shall never be moved, and that “the gates of hell shall never prevail against them [Note: Matthew 16:18.].”]

2. Protection—

[The hills that were round about Jerusalem protected it on every side; so that the Romans, it was confessed, would not have been able to subdue it, if the garrison themselves had not madly assisted them by their mutual contentions. But far more effectually does the Lord protect his people, being to them “a wall of fire round about them [Note: Zechariah 2:5.];” a wall which will not only ward off the assaults of their enemies, but will itself destroy their assailants. In fact, “he keeps them even as the apple of his eye [Note: Deuteronomy 32:10.]:” and “sooner shall the ordinances of heaven and earth pass away, and the foundations of the world be searched out,” than any one of them shall be left to perish [Note: Jeremiah 31:35-37 and Isaiah 54:9-10.]. To assure them of this, “he has confirmed his covenant with an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, they might have strong consolation [Note: Hebrews 6:17-18,],” and live “assured that nothing shall ever separate them from his love [Note: Romans 8:34-39.].”]

To all of you, then, I say,

1. Get just views of your God and Saviour—

[Be not satisfied with a general acknowledgment of him; but study his nature as revealed in the inspired volume, and acquaint yourselves with his dispensations as exhibited in the sacred records. See him delivering his people Israel out of Egypt, and supporting them in the wilderness, and establishing them in the land of Canaan; and then rest assured, that he is the same God, alike powerful, alike gracious, and alike faithful to all his engagements — — —]

2. Let your expectations from him be to the utmost extent of your necessities—

[There should be no limit to them, provided only they do not contravene the Lord’s will, and tend to the subversion of his glory. “However wide you open your mouth, he will fill it;” and however “large your desires be, he will fulfil them [Note: Psalms 145:19.].” Listen not, under any circumstances, to flesh and blood, like Asa, who in his sickness sought to the physicians: but even though sense should stand in direct opposition to faith, as in Abraham’s call to sacrifice his son Isaac, “be strong in faith, giving glory to your God [Note: Romans 4:20.].” Your divine Master, who has engaged himself for you, would have you to “be without carefulness.” His command is, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication let your requests be made known unto God; and the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus [Note: Philippians 4:6-7.].” Only “cast your care thus on him,” and you will soon know, by sweet experience, the force of that appeal which David made to the all-seeing God; “O Lord God of Hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee [Note: Psalms 84:12.]!”]


Verse 4-5

DISCOURSE: 718

THE UPRIGHT AND APOSTATES CONTRASTED

Psalms 125:4-5. Do good, O Lord, unto those that be good, and to them that are upright in their hearts. As for such as turn aside unto their crooked ways, the Lord shall lead them forth with the workers of iniquity: but peace shall be upon Israel:

AT the commencement of this psalm, the inspired writer speaks of the Lord’s people as secured both by the providence and grace of God. And it is further promised, in the verse before my text, that their trials shall not prevail beyond their strength [Note: Compare ver. 3. with 1 Corinthians 10:13.]. But no exemption from trouble is promised them. It is taken for granted, that “the rod of the wicked shall fall upon them, though it shall not rest upon them.” The wrath of man, like water turned upon a mill, shall come on them with no more force than shall be sufficient for accomplishing God’s gracious purposes on their souls: the rest, however menacing its power may be, shall be made to pass off by an opened sluice [Note: Psalms 76:10.]. Nevertheless, the trouble shall be sufficient to try every man, and to prove the truth and measure of his integrity; the man who fairly meets and stands the trial, being approved, whilst he who sinks under it, or shuns it, shall be deemed altogether unworthy of the Divine favour. Hence the Psalmist pours out his fervent intercession in behalf of the upright, and at the same time warns every man of the danger of declension from the ways of God. The two points for our consideration are,

I. His encouragement to the upright—

His prayer shews what every believing soul may expect at the hands of God—

[No one, without constant supplies of grace and strength, would be able to endure the trials with which he will be visited in the path of duty. A man’s uprightness may embolden him to ask for divine assistance; but it can never support him without it. The greatest and best of men are weak, even as others, if for a moment they be left to themselves. Hezekiah was in some respects as eminent for piety as any of the kings of Israel [Note: 2 Kings 18:5.]: but, when “God left him to try him,” he fell [Note: 2 Chronicles 32:31.]. Even Abraham and Isaac shewed themselves weak in the day of trial; each of them denying his wife, and Abraham repeatedly, through fear of the consequences which an acknowledgment of the truth might bring upon them. The Psalmist therefore prays, “Do good unto them, O Lord;” supply every one of them with that measure of strength which their necessities may require; and uphold them under all the circumstances to which they may be reduced! — — —]

In fact, the prayer contains nothing which God himself has not made the subject of a direct promise—

[With all his believing people God has made an everlasting covenant, that “He will not turn away from them to do them good;” yea, “that he will rejoice over them to do them good,” and assuredly interest himself in their behalf, “with his whole heart, and with his whole soul [Note: Jeremiah 32:40-41.].” God considers his own glory as engaged for his people: and sooner shall heaven and earth pass away, than one who is truly upright in heart be ever left by him to perish [Note: Psalms 84:11.]. The good he designs them may not be of the precise nature that they desire or expect; (as Paul had not “the thorn in his flesh” removed, but grace given him to sustain it:) but, that which is really best shall be vouchsafed unto them; and it shall be imparted to them in the time, and manner, and measure, that unerring wisdom sees to be best for them [Note: Their extremity shall be God’s opportunity. See Isaiah 58:10-11.].]

With his tender concern for the upright, we see combined,

II. His warning to the unstable—

As for open apostates, no one can doubt their fate; “their last end will be worse than their beginning [Note: 2 Peter 2:20-21.].” But there are many who secretly decline from God’s holy ways, who yet think that, because they turn not back to open profaneness, they shall “escape the judgment of God.” Now,

These are the persons warned—

[“The man who puts his hand to the plough, is not to look back,” lest the furrows which he makes disgrace the field [Note: Luke 9:62.]. So “those who turn aside unto their crooked paths” are persons who, by crooked policy and undue compliances, are labouring to avert the evils which a bold and steadfast conduct would bring upon them — — — Such was the conduct of Peter, when, for the sake of pacifying the Judaizing teachers, he constrained the Gentiles to conform to the Mosaic ritual: and had not the reproof which Paul administered to him, in the presence of the whole Galatian Church, produced the desired change, this temporizing Apostle would have destroyed his own soul, and the souls of all his followers. In matters of minor importance we may yield, for the sake of peace, as Paul himself did when he became a Nazarite: but in matters which will in any degree impeach our fidelity to God, “we must not give place, no, not for an hour.” To benefit others, we may yield: to screen ourselves, we must not yield. Not life itself must be held dear, when an adherence to duty calls for the sacrifice of it.]

Those only who are “upright” will have peace at the last—

[Those who dissemble with God, and are diverted from the paths of righteousness by that “fear of man which bringeth a snare,” have no real peace in this life [Note: Isaiah 59:8.]: for there can be no peace where there is not “the testimony of a good conscience.” Much less can there be peace in a dying hour, and in the near prospect of giving up our account to God. But, if we suppose a man to have deceived himself so far as to have prevented any remonstrances from his own conscience, still, the very instant that he shall be summoned into the presence of his God, his delusions will be all dispelled, and he will see himself even as God sees him. Where will his peace then be? Alas! it will be fled for ever: for in that day none but the true Israel will be approved of their God. All the rest, how specious soever may have been their conduct, “will be led forth with the workers of iniquity,” and take their portion with the most abandoned of the human race. In fact, the portion of hypocrites is declared to be pre-eminently bitter [Note: Matthew 24:51.], because of the light they have resisted, and the dissimulation they have practised. Let the unstable then know this, and avail themselves of the warning thus given them.]

Then let every one see, and be convinced of,

1. The importance of uprightness—

[None but the upright in heart can expect any “good” at the hands of God. “As for such as turn aside unto their crooked ways,” “their own wickedness shall correct them, and their backslidings reprove them [Note: Jeremiah 2:10.].” Then only can we be approved of our God, when our heart is right with God. For “the hypocrites in heart heap up wrath;” and will surely perish, under an accumulated weight of misery.]

2. The necessity of decision—

[It should never admit of one moment’s doubt, whom we shall serve. Nothing must be suffered to stand in competition with God’s revealed will. Sufferings are to be only as the dust upon the balance. So, also, must gains be counted but loss by us, if we would approve ourselves to God. Let us, then, ever be ready to answer our opponents, as the Apostles did: “Whether it be right to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye;” for we cannot but obey him at all events, and execute his will, though every man on earth, and every wicked spirit in hell, should combine against us. We will, God helping us, be faithful unto death: for then, and then only, can we have any scriptural hope of obtaining eternal life.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Psalms 125:4". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/psalms-125.html. 1832.

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