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hear God himself engaging to “keep the feet of his saints," and that “the righteous shall hold on his way, and that he who hath clean hands (the very persons described in our text) shall wax stronger and stronger m?” Let this then stir us up to walk worthy of our high calling; and let us“ be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, KNOWING that our labour shall not be in vain in the Lord"."] m Job xvii. 9.
n 1 Cor. xv. 58.
SUPERIOR BLESSEDNESS OF TRUE CHRISTIANS. Ps. xvi. 4. Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after
another god. THERE is not, in all the writings of the Old Testament, a portion of Scripture that more fully attests the Messiahship of the Lord Jesus than this. All depended on his resurrection from the dead. And to this psalm both Peter, at the commencement of his ministry to the Jews, and Paul, on his first solemn mission to preach to the Gentiles, made their appeal as predicting the resurrection of the Lord Jesus on the third day. In the beginning of the psalm, David speaks more particularly respecting himself: but even there he declares the blessedness of the Lord's people, and especially of those who were looking forward to the Messiah, beyond all the worshippers of false gods. And the contrast which he there forms will be the subject of our present meditations.
To elucidate it, I will,
It is universally true that “ their sorrows are multiplied that hasten after another god. It is realized amongst, 1. Pagans[They worship gods of wood and stone
And “their sorrows are universally and greatly multiplied.” The very instant they begin to feel a sense of guilt upon their souls, there is nothing so painful but they will do it, in order to a Acts ii. 25-32.
b Acts xiii. 34-37.
conciliate the favour of their gods. The offering of human sacrifices, to which I apprehend the Psalmist refers', sufficiently attests this: and the self-devotion of those who, at this day, cast themselves under the wheels of the temple of Juggernaut, in order to sacrifice their lives to that detestable idol, places beyond a doubt the miseries sustained by idolaters, even where civilization is in other respects very considerably advanced ---] 2. The votaries of this world
[Look at those who are " serving divers lusts and pleasures,” and seeking happiness in the gratification of their own passions. Is the licentious fornicator, or the base adulterer, happy? No: they hate the light: they are ashamed to be seen in the pursuit of their unhallowed practices : and they contract a load of guilt, which, in hours of reflection, sorely oppresses their minds, and renders them afraid to meet their God. Even in temporal matters, the follower of forbidden pleasures often suffers to a great extent: and what he suffers in the eternal world, let the Rich Man, who disregarded the suit of Lazarus, attest. Truly, whether pleasures, riches, or honours be thus idolized, they heap distress and anguish on their votaries, both in this world and in the world to come.]
3. The followers of a legal and Pharisaic righteousness
[This, too, is idolatry, no less than the indulgence of covetousness, lewdness, or any other corrupt propensity. And what a load, yea, what an insupportable burthen, does it entail! The Pharisees of old were far from happy: and so are the Papists now; for, whilst they have recourse to rites of man's device, instead of seeking acceptance through the atoning blood of Christ, they put their own good works in the place of Christ's, and accumulate to themselves sorrows without end. But what shall we say of the disappointment they will feel on entering into the presence of their God? They thought to purchase heaven: but the inadequacy of their efforts will instantly appear, and the impiety of their conceits be visited with suitable expressions of God's merited indignation.)
Connected as this assertion is with all the following context, I shall be led to, II. Contrast it with the state of the Lord's people
If it be true that “their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god,” it is no less true, on
c See the words following our text, which refer to the cruel and idolatrous usages of the Canaanites, the very names of whose idols were forbidden to be named.
the other hand, that their joys shall be multiplied that hasten after the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the true God and eternal life.” Yes, verily, they shall greatly rejoice; as it is said, “ Rejoice in the Lord alway; and again I say, rejoice." "To them shall be vouchsafed, 1. Peace of conscience
[This is unknown to any human being, except to him who believes in Christ. Others may have the insensibility of beasts, or the confidence of fanatics : but the tranquillity of mind which arises from a sense of God's pardoning love upon the soul is altogether unknown to them. They possess it not. They cannot possess it, because God is not in reality reconciled towards them. There are no means of acceptance with God, but those provided in his Gospel : and, whether men are rejecting his Gospel as infidels, or substituting something else in the place of it, they are equally cut off from all hope of its benefits. But the Believer in Christ is fully accepted of his God: and," being justified by faith, he has peace with God:” and he may say, with undoubting assurance, ** The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance, and my cupe."] 2. Holiness of heart and life
[Here, also, the Believer stands elevated above all the rest of mankind. Others may be fair as whited sepulchres : but the Believer is “ renewed in his inward man,” and transformed into the divine image in righteousness, and true holiness. And need I say what a source of happiness this is ? The prophet tells us, that "the work of righteousness is peace, and the effect of righteousness is quietness and assurance for ever?.” And to the same effect the Psalmist, speaking in his own as well as in the Messiah's name, informs us : “ I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope 8."]
3. The prospect and possession of everlasting glory
(He has a title to eternal life, and even the begun possession of it in his soul". Hence, in the language of David and the Messiah himself, he is privileged to say, “ Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell: thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy : at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” As to the full enjoyment of heaven, I attempt not to describe it. No words can paint it; no imagination can conceive it. But it shall be the assured and everlasting possession of all who believe in Christ.] What, then, shall I say?
di John v. 20.
e ver. 5.
f Isai. xxxii. 17.
[“ Hasten after" this blessed Saviour, determining never to relax your diligence, till you have fully“ apprehended him, and been finally apprehended of him.” See what exertions the Pagans make, in order to please their gods of wood and stone. See, too, with what indefatigable zeal the worldling serves his gods, accounting his whole life little enough for the attainment of the object of his pursuit, whether it be pleasure, or riches, or honour. See also the self-denying exercises of him who is labouring to establish a righteousness of his own, instead of submitting to the righteousness which is of God through faith in Christ. And shall any of these do more for their gods than you for yours? Shall not the Saviour of your souls be counted worthy of all that can possibly be done or suffered for him? I say, look at the earnestness of others in the service of false gods, and stand amazed at your lukewarmness in the service of him who has redeemed you to God by his own most precious blood. There is nothing which idolaters of all the different classes will not "give to their respective gods:” and let there be nothing withheld from your Lord and Saviour: yea, “ give your whole selvesi” to him; and let your whole body, soul, and spirit, be sanctified to him, henceforth, and for evermore.]
i See the marginal reading of the text.
: my reins
DXIII. GOD HIMSELF HIS PEOPLE'S PORTION. Ps. xvi. 5—7. The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot.
The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage. I will bless the Lord, who hath given me counsel : also instruct me in the night seasons.
THIS psalm is called “Michtam,” that is, A golden psalm. And a golden psalm it is, whether we interpret it of David, or of Christ. To both it is applicable; to David, as a type of Christ; and to Christ, as so typified. In all the word of God there is not a passage on which greater stress is laid, as establishing beyond a doubt the Messiahship of Jesus; to whom alone the latter part of the psalm can with any truth be literally applied". The former part of it, on the contrary, is much more applicable to David himself. The truth is, I apprehend, that David began to write respecting himself; but was overruled and inspired to speak things which he himself did not fully comprehend, and to declare literally respecting the Messiah, what was only in a very lax sense true in relation to himself. This we know to have been the case with the prophets generally: they were inspired to predict the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow, whilst they themselves understood not their own prophecies. They spoke of one point which was uppermost in their own minds; and God overruled them to speak in language that was applicable rather to another point, which he had ordained them to foretell. Thus did Caiaphas the high priest, when advising that Jesus should be put to deatho: and thus did David, in this and several other of his psalmsa. We consider the words of our text, together with all that precedes it, as spoken by David respecting himself: and in them we see, I. The blessed portion of God's people
They have “God himself for their portion and their inheritance"
[There seems, in this expression, some reference to the custom which obtained of sending to different guests, when assembled at a feast, such a portion as the Master of the feast judged expediente. But the principal allusion evidently is to the division of the land of Canaan by lot, and the assigning to all the different tribes the portion prepared for them. On that occasion the tribe of Levi was distinguished from all the other tribes in this, that whereas all the rest had a distinct and separate inheritance allotted to them, they had none; the Lord himself vouchsafing to be their inheritance! The sacrifices which from time to time were offered to the Lord were appointed for their support. Now, in allusion to this, David says,
“ The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup.” He was not of the tribe of Levi, but of Judah: and
a Acts ii. 25-31. and xiii. 35-37. b 1 Pet. i. 10-12. c John xi. 49-52.
d Ps. xxii. xl. and lxix. e Gen. xliii. 34. 1 Sam. i. 4,5. Numb. xviii. 20. Deut. xviii. 1, 2.