By Henry Law
Fervent praise acknowledges God's help and righteous judgments. Prayer follows for continued favors. May we thus praise! May we thus pray!
1, 2. "I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will show forth all Your marvelous works. I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High."
The Lord is worthy to be praised with all our energies, with all our powers, in every pulse of our affections, in every movement of our minds, in all places, and at all times. Heaven is unwearied praise. Earth would be heaven begun, if our whole hearts were wholly tuned to praise. It is our duty, and it should be our chief joy, to tell aloud God's wondrous works. But ah! how weak are our best efforts! Where shall we find beginning? Where shall we find an end?
Eternal love joyed in us before the worlds were framed. Goodness and mercy have followed us from the cradle to this hour. Christ died for us. Christ lives for us. Christ soon will come again to receive us unto Himself, that where He is there we may be also. Let us praise with our whole hearts. Let us be glad and rejoice in Him!
3, 4, 5. "When my enemies turn back, they shall fall and perish at Your presence. For You have maintained my right and my cause; You sat on the throne judging in righteousness. You have rebuked the nations, You have destroyed the wicked; You have blotted out their name forever and ever."
Have not believers every cause for joy? They have foes around and they have foes within. Against these foes their own strength is as nothing; but God is their victory. He arises to their help. His presence crushes opposition. He does all for us, and we bless His name. Present deliverance is a pledge of the coming triumph. A day draws near when on our Lord shall sit on His glorious throne. This throne is based on righteousness. From it all righteous judgment will go forth. On it the rightful cause of believers will be maintained. Their cause is good. It cannot be disputed. They claim their pardon on the plea that all their debt is cancelled in Christ's blood--that all demands of justice are satisfied in Him. They ask for heaven on the ground that they are clothed in divine righteousness, and fitted in Christ for the marriage supper of the Lamb!
6. "Endless ruin has overtaken the enemy, you have destroyed cities; their memorial is perished with them."
The redeemed anticipate the devil's final fall. They are not afraid to confront him. They bid him mark, that as he destroyed, so now he is destroyed. They foresee his hateful work concluded, his destroying power broken, and his scepter forever shattered. Doubtless he wrought terrible destructions in the earth. He laid waste populous cities. He so utterly demolished them that no vestige could be found. As they were swept into oblivion, so the devil's empire shall forever perish.
7, 8. "But the Lord shall endure forever; He has prepared His throne for judgment. He shall judge the world in righteousness, and He shall administer judgment to the peoples in uprightness."
What a glorious kingdom now follows! All rule, all authority and power, are now put down. God is enthroned the only Lord. His scepter is uprightness. Thus He shall reign forever and ever. Sin is forever annihilated. It can no longer disturb, or vex, or soil. The righteous God rules over a righteous world. His people shall be all holy. Holiness and love shall be on each brow. Holiness alone is the atmosphere of the new earth.
9. "The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble."
But until the restoration of all things shall arrive, oppression will not cease, and times of trouble will continue. The irreconcilable enemy will use each opportunity to malign, to vex, and to destroy. The prince of this world will hate the godly. His fiery darts will thickly fall.
But a ready refuge is at hand. That refuge is the Lord, and His shelter is impregnable. All acts of Satan are weak against it. He cannot force its barrier gates; he cannot scale its walls. Salvation is its ramparts; omnipotence is its strength.
10. "And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You."
The knowledge of the Lord begets all confidence. It is ignorance which trembles. The name which manifests His glorious perfections annihilates distrust. We may, indeed, trust fully; for the Lord hates divorce.
Those whom He loves He loves to the end. In Him there is no variableness nor shadow of turning. The mother may forsake her nursing infant; the father may forget his first-born son; friend may abandon friend; but the Word stands forever sure, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." Holy Spirit! show us more of this unchanging love!
11. "Sing praises to the Lord who dwells in Zion! Declare His deeds among the people."
To the Old Testament church the Lord revealed Himself as seated between the cherubim on the mercy-seat. Christ is this seat to us. In Him we have constant access to our God, and always find a ready welcome. In Him we draw near to God, and He draws near to us. But the fullness of this truth will not be known until the glorious manifestation of the incarnate God; until He shall take His seat on the throne of David, and sit royally on Zion's hill. In knowledge of His present mercy, in forethought of His coming kingdom, let praise be ever on our lips. Let our constant utterance magnify His doings past, His doings present, and His doings in the coming age.
12. "For he who avenges murder cares for the helpless. He does not ignore those who cry to him for help."
This earth has drunk the blood of martyrs. Jesus bled on Calvary's tree. An apostate church is drunk with the blood of the saints. But will such wickedness escape unpunished? A disclosing day draws near. Then murderous hands will find that they were slaughterers of their own souls. Then shall the crown of martyrdom be found to be exceeding glory; then will it be fully seen that every mournful cry and every humble prayer of the afflicted saints made impression on the heart of God--were written there indelibly, fully to be answered in the appointed time. Faithful prayer can never be in vain.
13, 14. "Lord, have mercy on me. See how I suffer at the hands of those who hate me. Snatch me back from the jaws of death. Save me, so I can praise You publicly at Jerusalem's gates, so I can rejoice that You have rescued me."
How sweet it is in the full confidence of faith to place all troubles in the hand of God! Such prayer is very humble. Mercy is ever sought in deepest consciousness of unworthiness. There is confession that the gates of death endanger, unless deliverance is marvelously wrought.
Why do believers thus seek aid? Their ruling motive is, that with their renewed lives they may praise Him who thus delivers, and may by lip and life exalt His praise. Renewed mercies deepen joy. It is the constant song, "I will rejoice in Your salvation." The theme demands our loudest adoration. Let us go forth in spirit and anticipate the day when we shall join the countless multitude, and cry, "Salvation to our God, who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb."
15, 16, 17. "The heathen have sunk down in the pit that they made; in the net which they hid is their own foot taken. The Lord is known by the judgment which He executes. The wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations who forget God."
The final veil is here again withdrawn. The Spirit calls us to behold the wretched sinners' doom. They plotted ruin to the saints--in ruin they are overwhelmed. They craftily spread snares--they now are caught, and all escape is hopeless. Into a pit of deep and endless woe they sink. Their multitude is great--their numbers exceed calculation. But numbers vanish before God's might. They cast God from their minds--they would not think of His authority and power; but now they cannot fail to recognize His hand. The final execution proclaims His work. Over their prison-house there is inscribed, "A God forgotten is a God avenged. A God unknown in time must fearfully be known throughout eternity." Would that poor sinners, before it is too late, cease to kick against the goads! Sin will recoil on sinful self.
18. "For the needy shall not always be forgotten; the expectation of the poor shall not perish forever."
Times of trouble seem to have long course. Sighs often inquire, "When will this darkness cease--when will these sorrows end?" But a bright morn will surely dawn. The help expected will exceed all thought. No word will fail on which faith hopefully relied.
19, 20. "Arise, O Lord; let not man prevail; let the heathen be judged in Your sight. Put them in fear, O Lord; that the nations may know themselves to be but men."
The cry is earnest. Fear seems to tremble lest God's cause should sink, and puny man stand conqueror. God tarries that the saints may stir Him up. Their supplications will be heard. The ungodly shall be taught that at their best they are weak flesh and blood. Their strength is nothingness before Jehovah's arm. It is mad folly for potsherds of the earth to strive against their Maker. May we be ever found one with our blessed Lord! May His cause be our cause! His victories our victories! His heaven our heaven! His throne our throne forever!