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Bible Commentaries

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

Psalms 149

 

 

Verse 2

DISCOURSE: 750

JOY IN CHRIST

Psalms 149:2. Let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.

IT appears somewhat strange that a religion coming from heaven, and purporting to make men happy, should almost universally be considered as a source of melancholy, and as destructive of all personal and social comfort. But it may be easily accounted for: religion calls men from the pleasures of sin, and promises them sublimer pleasures in its stead. But unregenerate men, knowing nothing of spiritual joy, have no idea that any such thing exists; whereas the joys, which they are to sacrifice, have afforded them many a delicious feast. Hence, till, through faith in the divine records, they feel the bitterness of sin, or taste the felicity of God’s chosen, they will and must suppose, that they are called to relinquish what is substantial, and to grasp a shadow. But the saints of old have invariably attested, that religion’s ways are ways of pleasantness and peace: and David, who was no incompetent judge of this matter, exhorts every subject of the Redeemer’s kingdom to rejoice in Zion’s King. We shall,

I. Explain his exhortation—

Who are the children of Zion?

[Not every man by nature, seeing we are “children of wrath [Note: Ephesians 2:3.];” not any man by education, since it is beyond the power of man to convey to others such principles and dispositions, as are necessary to bring them into that near relation to the Church of God [Note: 1 Corinthians 3:7. John 1:13.]: we must be born from above, through the influence of God’s word and Spirit [Note: 1 Peter 1:23.]; and till a supernatural change has been wrought on all the faculties of our souls by God himself, whatever we may profess to be, we are, beyond a doubt, aliens from the commonwealth of Israel [Note: 2 Corinthians 5:17. John 3:5.].]

Who is their King?

[It is to Christ alone that this name belongs [Note: Zechariah 9:9.]. He is indeed the King of all the earth, and has the whole creation under his control. But, in this sense many are his subjects who despise his person and hate his government: whereas over Zion he reigns by the most cordial consent of all his people, there not being so much as one who does not know him, love him, serve him, and desire the very thoughts of his heart to be subjected to his law. On the other hand, he affords them his protection, supplies their every want, and makes them victorious over all their enemies.]

What is their duty towards him?

[It is not sufficient that they yield obedience to his will, as slaves to a tyrant whom they fear: they must love his person, delight in his commands, be zealous for his glory, and rely humbly on his care. In a word, they must rejoice in him. This is essential to the Christian character [Note: Philippians 4:4; Philippians 3:3.]: and, if we attain not to this spirit, we are more inexcusable than the Jews, and obnoxious to a heavier doom [Note: Deuteronomy 28:45; Deuteronomy 28:47.]. We say not indeed that the children of Zion are never to mourn: for mourning is both introductory to joy, and consistent with it; yea, it is even a very necessary ingredient of that joy, which we ought to feel in the contemplation of Christ’s character and offices: and the more fervently we love him, the more deeply shall we lament, that our love and joy are so disproportioned to his worth.]

The several parts of the exhortation being explained, we shall,

II. Enforce it—

Here, changing only the order, each part that has been explained, suggests a powerful argument for rejoicing in Christ. Consider,

1. The duty itself—

[What can be more pleasant? It is not to any painful duty we are called, but to rejoice, and to have all the faculties of our souls engaged in the very employment of heaven. What can be more reasonable? If religion furnished us with no grounds of joy, or were as empty and unsatisfying as the world, it would be unreasonable to expect any happiness to flow from it: but it sets before us innumerable occasions of joy; and not only permits, but enjoins, us to bear our part in the felicity of God’s chosen. Shall we not then obey the call?]

2. The object in whom we are to rejoice—

[This is none other than our adorable Emmanuel, who combines in himself all the perfections of the Godhead, and all the excellencies of the most spotless manhood. Moreover, the love he has manifested towards his subjects, is such as infinitely surpasses our highest conceptions: he assumed our nature, and died for us, while we were in actual rebellion against him. And what a delightful sway does he exercise over them! So light and easy is his yoke, that there is not one of his laws, no, not one, which may not be summed up in this, Be happy. What rewards too does he bestow, not on a few favourites only, but on all his subjects! There is not one of them whom he does not make a king like unto himself, and place upon a throne like unto that on which he himself is seated at the right hand of God [Note: Revelation 1:6. John 14:3.]. Shall we refuse to rejoice in such a King as this?]

3. The persons called upon to rejoice—

[If this exhortation were addressed to the children of this world, they might reply, We know him not; we see no beauty in him for which he is to be desired; nor have we cause to expect any thing at his hands but wrath and fiery indignation: how then shall we rejoice in him? But the children of Zion know that “he is fairer than ten thousand, and altogether lovely:” they have experienced the virtue of his blood to purge a guilty conscience, and the efficacy of his grace to sanctify a polluted heart. For them he makes continual intercession in the presence of God; for them he every moment exercises his almighty power; and for them he is coming shortly to judge the world, that he may take them to himself, to behold his glory, and participate his blessedness, for ever and ever. Shall they then be reluctant to comply? Surely, if they be, “the very stones must cry out against them [Note: Luke 19:40.].”]

Address—

1. To those who have never yet rejoiced in Christ—

[What relation can you have to Zion? How can it be said of you, This man was born in her [Note: Psalms 87:5-6.]? And what excuse can you urge before God? Your ignorance of Christ? This is your sin, and not your excuse. He is willing to make you happy under his government, if you will submit yourselves unto him. “Kiss him” then, in token of your reverence and subjection, “lest he be angry, and ye perish for ever [Note: Psalms 2:12.].”]

2. To those who are going on their way rejoicing—

[Take care that you make Christ, and not your own frames or feelings, the object and ground of your joy. And guard against pride, self-confidence, and sin of whatever kind, knowing that such things will vitiate, and destroy, all the happiness of the soul. David’s advice must ever be attended to, “Rejoice with trembling [Note: Psalms 2:11.].”]


Verses 4-6

DISCOURSE: 751

THE DUTY OF PRAISING GOD FOR HIS GOODNESS

Psalms 149:4-6. The Lord taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation. Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand.

THE world are ready to account those weak and enthusiastic who abound in the exercise of spiritual duties: but there is nothing in the universe that more accords with the dictates of reason, than such a state. If God have not given us sufficient grounds to love and serve him, then we may doubt whether the supreme affection of our souls be due to him. But we need go no further than the text in order to justify the warmest expressions of our love to him, and the most unreserved dedication of all our powers to his service.

The exhortations in the text are full of energy; but they are founded on God’s love to us. In order therefore to be duly sensible of their force, we must consider,

I. God’s kindness to us—

This is expressed both by the internal regard which he bears towards us, and by the outward manifestations of it to our souls.

1. He loves his people—

[They who fear God are considered as “his people,” in contradistinction to those who belong to Satan. He esteems them as “his peculiar treasure [Note: Exodus 19:5.].” He “has pleasure” in their persons, notwithstanding all their vileness; for he views them as “complete in Christ [Note: Colossians 2:10.].” When they are mourning and weeping for their extreme sinfulness, he looks on them with heart-felt complacency [Note: Isaiah 66:2. Jeremiah 31:18; Jeremiah 31:20.], and delight [Note: Proverbs 11:20.]. Even when they are doubting his love towards them, he marks them as the objects of his tenderest affection and incessant care [Note: Isaiah 49:14-16.].

He takes pleasure also in their services. Their prayers are his delight [Note: Proverbs 15:8.]: their tributes of praise are esteemed his glory [Note: Psalms 50:23.]; their alms, a sacrifice with which he is well pleased [Note: Hebrews 13:16.]: their every grace is in his sight of great price [Note: 1 Peter 3:4.]. Their holy purposes, though not suffered by him to be carried into effect, are noticed by him with approbation [Note: 1 Kings 8:18-19.], nor are even their fainter inclinations [Note: 1 Kings 14:13.], or their transient thoughts [Note: Malachi 3:16.], suffered to pass without a suitable reward.]

2. He makes them lovely—

[The distinguishing characteristic of the Lord’s people is, that they are “meek:” their hearts being humbled, their proud impetuous passions are hushed to silence. These the Lord “beautifies with salvation” now. The lion becomes a lamb [Note: Isaiah 11:6.]: instead of the brier and thorn, the fir and myrtle-tree spring up [Note: Isaiah 55:13.]: and even blood-thirsty murderers become humble and loving saints [Note: Acts 2:23; Acts 2:41-47.]. The very countenances of God’s people often bear a visible mark of the change wrought in them; so that we may almost literally say, “They have the mark of the Lamb in their foreheads [Note: Revelation 22:4.].” There is a beautiful symmetry discernible in all their conduct. “The beauty of the Lord their God is upon them [Note: Psalms 90:17.]:” and as that consists, not in the exercise of any one perfection, but in an union and harmony of all, however opposite to human appearance; so their beauty is seen, not in the exercise merely of meekness or fortitude, of fear or confidence, but in the just temperament, and combination, of every Christian grace. In a word, they are renewed after God’s image [Note: Ephesians 4:24.]; and have the change carried on from one degree of glory to another by the Spirit of the Lord [Note: 2 Corinthians 3:18.].

But in an infinitely higher degree will they be beautified when their salvation shall be complete. Then they shall have no remains of sin or corruption: their bodies shall be made like unto Christ’s glorious body [Note: Philippians 3:21.]: their souls also shall be without spot or blemish as truly as his [Note: Ephesians 5:27.]: arrayed in the robes of his perfect righteousness, and adorned with a crown of glory [Note: Revelation 6:11; Revelation 7:14. 2 Timothy 4:8.], they shall shine forth above the sun in the firmament for ever and ever [Note: Daniel 12:3. Matthew 13:43.]. And when Christ himself shall come in his glory, he will be admired in them, and glorified in them [Note: 2 Thessalonians 1:10.].]

After viewing the obligations we owe to God, we cannot but be prepared to hear,

II. Our duty to him—

There is a correspondence between the mercies we receive from God, and the service which he requires at our hands: Does he take pleasure in us? we should delight ourselves in him: Does he exert himself to beautify us? we should labour to glorify him.

1. We should delight ourselves in God—

[They whom God has set apart for himself as “his people,” and rendered “meek” after the example of Jesus, are properly called “his saints:” and though men scoff at that name, and make it a term of reproach, they whom God has honoured with it, have reason to rejoice and glory in such an honourable appellation. With them, praise should be the subject of their thoughts, the language of their lips, the very element in which they breathe [Note: Psalms 33:1.]. It is their privilege as well as their duty to rejoice in the Lord, to rejoice in him evermore [Note: Philippians 4:4.], to rejoice in him with joy unspeakable and full of glory [Note: 1 Peter 1:8.]. When they rise in the morning, their praise should ascend up as incense; yea, when they are lying “upon their beds,” they should have their waking thoughts occupied with God, and “sing aloud” for joy. Nor should they be contented with the solitary expressions of their love to God: they should commend him to others, and stir up all around them to magnify his name. Such was the delightful employment of the Psalmist [Note: Psalms 63:3-6; Psalms 96:1-4.]; and such a devotedness of soul to God is no other than our reasonable service [Note: Romans 12:1.].]

2. We should fight the Lord’s battles—

[The Jews were to approve their love to God by extirpating his enemies among the heathen. There are enemies also with whom he requires us to contend: but “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal:” it is not our fellow-creatures that we are called to destroy, but “the lusts that war in our members.” The world, the flesh, and the devil, are our enemies, and God’s. Against them we vowed eternal enmity in our baptism; nor are we ever to sheathe the sword till they are all put under our feet. God has prepared for us a divine panoply, an armour of heavenly temper [Note: Ephesians 6:13-17.]. Clad with this, we must “go forth continually conquering, and to conquer.” We must “fight a good fight,” and “war a good warfare [Note: 1 Timothy 1:18; 1 Timothy 6:12.],” and “endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ [Note: 2 Timothy 2:3.].”

Thus fighting and singing must be joined together; for “the joy of the Lord is our strength [Note: Nehemiah 8:10.]:” and then shall we be most victorious, when we go forth to battle singing the praises of our God [Note: 2 Chronicles 20:21-23.].]

Address,

1. Those who rest satisfied with a mere formal religion—

[What suitableness is there in such a state to the mercies we receive at God’s hands? If he take pleasure in us, should we be indifferent towards him? If he labour to beautify us, should we take no pains to glorify him? If he call us to holy joy, should we be cold or lukewarm? If he command us to maintain a continual warfare, should we yield ourselves willing captives to our enemies, or make a truce with them for a moment? Be it known, that whatever the world may think of such a state, God utterly abhors it [Note: Revelation 3:16.].]

2. Those who profess to serve and enjoy God—

[Glorious indeed is “the vocation wherewith ye are called:” and well may you rejoice in it: but oh! be careful also to “walk worthy of it [Note: Ephesians 4:1.].” If you profess that God has pleasure in you, take care that you are also adorned and beautified with his divine image. If you rejoice and glory in God, take care also that the sword is ever in your hand, to cut off whatever is displeasing in his sight [Note: Matthew 18:7-9.]. Beware also lest you decline from the happy state to which you have been brought: beware lest, by cowardice or sloth, you rob your soul of its beauty and happiness, and make him your enemy, who desires nothing so much as to shew himself your friend [Note: Isaiah 63:10.].]

 


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Bibliography Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Psalms 149:4". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/psalms-149.html. 1832.

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