By Henry Law
Sorrows are transient. Joys are forever. May we so mourn, that we may be comforted!
1. "I will extol You, O Lord; for You have lifted me up, and have not made my foes to rejoice over me."
A train of mercies fills the Psalmist with thanksgivings. He had been brought low. His foes were ready to exult, but he was rescued. A saving arm had raised him. He who thus uplifts should be uplifted. Praise should magnify deliverance. In this praise there is the echo of the voice of Jesus. In His experience, also, His saints concur. They should sing as He sang.
2, 3. "O Lord my God, I cried to You, and You have healed me. O Lord, You have brought up my soul from the grave; You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit."
These bodies are exposed to countless maladies. Our souls, also, suffer from disease and weakness. Prayer brings the Good Physician to our aid. He comes, and from His wings drop health and freshness. Sometimes the body totters over the grave. Sometimes spiritual life is almost extinct. But the Lord can grant revival. To all appearance the life of Jesus had expired. He was lain, as a dead man, in the grave; but He arose to live forevermore. In spirit we here see the glorious resurrection. Let all the members who revived in Him adopt these notes of praise.
4, 5. "Sing to the Lord, O you saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness. For His anger endures but a moment; in His favor is life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning."
The believer feels that a universal chorus should rise as incense to the skies. Every heart should swell the hymn. All share the mercies, all should return thanksgivings. Memory suggests abundant themes. In all His dealings God is a God of holiness and truth. May we delight to sing, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts." There are times when lovingkindness is obscured by signs of displeasure. His seeming anger is as the chill of death; but soon the cloud withdraws, and favor, which is life, returns. The darkness passes, fears vanish. The joyful morning dawns, and all is bright.
Here we see the resurrection-morn of Christ. There had been darkness, but it soon vanished. There is now the brightness of eternal day. We too have now a night of trouble, but the trouble is light; it lasts but for a moment. It works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. While we weep still let us sing, "Joy comes in the morning."
6, 7. "And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved. Lord, by Your favor You have made my mountain to stand strong; You hid Your face, and I was troubled."
David was raised from deep troubles to great prosperity. Zion's stronghold seemed to be impregnable. Sleeping in the lap of ease, he forgot his true support. The Lord in mercy shook the pillow of carnal security, and trouble brought him to a right mind. Seasons of prosperity are full of peril. They induce forgetfulness of Him by whom alone we stand. But God remembers us when we turn from Him. He looks away. Troubles instantly rush in. The shining of His face is the true joy. His look averted makes the prospect dark.
8, 9, 10. "I cried to You, O Lord; and unto the Lord I made supplication. What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise You? shall it declare Your truth? Hear, O Lord, and have mercy upon me; Lord, be my helper."
Trouble is sent in mercy. It subserves a blessed end. It rouses the sleepy soul from dangerous lethargy. It is a scourge which drives the careless to the mercy-seat. Here, when God's smile ceases, importunate petitions are in full activity. The gate of mercy opens to the returning knock. Faith is an inventive grace. From every trouble it can draw a plea. It here reasons, My destruction brings no glory to the courts of heaven; if my lips are silent in the grave, no longer can my praise be heard; my grateful tribute can no more set forth Your truth. Then the prayer renews its strength, and cries for audience, mercy, help. Therefore may our faith gather strong arguments to supplicate for joyful resurrection. Let our deep longings ever be to join the eternal hallelujahs, which are God's glory in the highest.
11, 12. "You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; to the end that my glory may sing praise to You, and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever."
Images of exuberant joy conclude this ode. Mourning is gone. The sackcloth of woe is put aside. Every movement testifies exhilaration. The girdle of the loins is gladness. For what purpose is this glad exchange? The design is that God may be loudly praised by every utterance of the lips. This scene will soon be realized. The day of Christ draws near. Then will be fullness of joy. Then, O Lord our God, we will give thanks to You forever.