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introduction. It is · Eduth.' This word · Eduth' means testimony, or witness. It is the same word which is applied to the Ark of the Testimony; the Tables of the Testimony; the Tabernacle of the Testimony. Now all these things testified of things beyond themselves. If we consider the word “ Eduth' as it is applied to this Psalm, we shall see that it is a Psalm of testimony and of witness, of God's providential dealings with His ancient people Israel. And not only so, but that it is also a Psalm of testimony, or of witness, of those things which may befall the true Israel of God in all times to the end of the world. Now this will prepare our way for a consideration of the text as it stands connected with the Psalm as a whole.
Consider First, Israel's God: “O Lord God of hosts." SECONDLY, Israel's prayers : "Turn us again,--cause Thy face to shine. THIRDLY, Israel's deliverances : “And we shall be saved.”
Our First point is ISRAEL'S GOD : “O Lord God of hosts." We must notice how Israel's God is spoken of in this Psalm. - In the first verse He is thus described :-"Shepherd of Israel, Thou that leadest Joseph like a flock.” This is one of the titles given to Jehovah of hosts. Whether this refers to God the Father, or to our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord Jehovah is brought out as a Shepherd, caring for His sheep, watching over His flock, and providing for all their wants. Jehovah of hosts is the Shepherd of Joseph and of Israel. In the 49th chapter of Genesis it is said of Joseph that "his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the Shepherd, the stone of Israel)" (verse 24). The Psalmist speaks of his Lord and says, “ The Lord is my Shepherd ; I shall not want" for any good thing (23rd Psalm). And in the language of this 80th Psalm—“O Shepherd of Israel, Thou that leadest Joseph”—Thy people—“like a flock.” The Shepherd of Israel is spoken of in Ezekiel, when Jehovah says, “I will set up one Shepherd over them,”—that is, over my flock, my beautiful flock, my saved and redeemed flock,—"and He shall feed them, even my servant David ; He shall feed them, and He shall be their Shepherd. And I the Lord will be their God, and My servant David”—Christ, the beloved oneshall be "a Prince among them ; I the Lord have spoken it" (Ezek. xxxiv. 23, 24). This is the Shepherd of Israel described in Zechariah xiii. 7-" Awake, O sword, against my Shepherd.” Smite this Shepherd of Israel and scatter the sheep. “The Lord God shall feed His flock like a shepherd : He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry
them in His bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young" (Isa. xl. 11). Turning to the New Testament we find that the Shepherd of Israel is Jesus :-"I am the good Shepherd.” The goodness of Jesus appeared in this, -"the good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep.” The good Shepherd knows the sheep, and they know His voice, and a stranger they will not follow. Thou Shepherd of Israel, Thou leadest Thy people like a flock. Thou wilt have all Thy sheep, even those which are not of the Jewish fold. Thou wilt bring Thy Gentile sheep from far, and thus there shall be but one flock and one Shepherd (John x. 14–16). This is "that great Shepherd of the sheep" spoken of in the Epistle to the Hebrews, and He, as the chief Shepherd, is placed above all other shepherds by St. Peter. O! think of the tendernessof the care—of the watchfulness—of the compassion and of the sympathy manifested by the one good and great Shepherd, the Lord God of hosts, towards His flock, the people of Israel.
The Lord God of hosts is then addressed as dwelling between the cherubims.
that dwellest between the Cherubims." The cherubims were fastened to the mercy seat. The mercy seat figured forth the Lord Jesus Christ, and the cherubims were a figure of the ministers, or of the Church of the living God. Both the cherubims and the mercy seat were all of a piece of beaten gold. Oneness and excellency combined. The cherubims turning their eyes towards the mercy seat were significant of the children of God looking to the Lord Jesus. Now, Who is this that dwelleth between the cherubims? The Lord appeared to His ancient people between the cherubims, and thence
communicated to them His will. In the 25th chapter of Exodus you - read, “And thou shalt make an ark according to the pattern that I shall give thee.
And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold. And there on the mercy seat I will meet with thee. And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold. And there, between the cherubims, I will meet with thee. And I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.” When the Psalmist addresses Him who dwells between the cherubims, it is an address to Jehovah upon the throne of His mercy seat. Whenever He appears upon the mercy seat, it is as a God of grace
His suffering Israel drew near to God as a God of mercy, reminding Him of His covenant promises, and that He would be graciously pleased to communicate His will to them. That this points to the Lord Jesus Christ you have only to read the 3rd chapter of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans :-"Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus : Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation,”–
-or mercy seat; the Lord Jesus Christ is our mercy seat.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the only meeting place for God and the sinner. There is no other means by which God and the sinner can coine together. God has appointed Jesus Christ to be the Mercy Seat, that through faith in His blood righteousness might be declared for the remission of sins that are past through the forbearance of God. Hence, now, God is just and the justifier of him who believeth in Jesus. God meets His people in Christ Jesus. municates His mind and will to them through Christ. And all His people are privileged to draw near to Jehovah through the Mercy Seat. Let us, therefore, come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in every time of need.
In the second verse, Jehovah is addressed as Israel's strength. up Thy strength”—“Thy strength.” It is the Lord Who is strong. There is an allusion here to the ark which was carried by the Kohathites before the three tribes, which are mentioned in this second verse"Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh." For further particulars upon this point I refer you to the 4th chapter of the Book of Numbers. Now, the ark was the symbol of God's presence and strength. Jehovah
is strong to supply all the needs and all the necessities of those who are broken in heart. Oh! Thou God of strength, Thou art the ark of the strength of Israel. Arise, and stir up Thyself as Thou didst before Thy people Israel in the wilderness, and as Thou didst at the waters of Jordan, and before the walls of Jericho. The sea saw Thee and fled, Jordan was driven back. The mountains skipped like rams, and the little hills like lambs. Tremble, thou earth. Why? Because of the presence of the Lord, and because of the presence of the mighty God of Jacob. Israel cries out, O Lord, Thou art our God, and Thou art our Strength. Arise, stir up Thy strength, and come and save us from our enemies with Thy great salvation. Save us, we beseech Thee, O Lord God of hosts.
Then we have, from the 4th verse to the end of the 6th verse, a bitter complaint brought before God. My brethren, have you never had a bitter complaint to bring before God? Let us see what this bitter complaint of Israel was. The Psalmist says, “O Lord God of hosts, how long wilt Thou be angry against the prayer of Thy people ?" They are Thy people, and it is the prayer of Thy people, but the heavens are brass ; no rain descends, no dew distils, no cloud appears in the horizon, not even of the size of a man's hand. These were hard and trying times to the spiritual Israel of God. - Thou feedest them with the bread of tears ; and givest them tears to drink in great measure. Thou makest us a strife unto our neighbours : and our enemies laugh among themselves.” Their enemies were laughing at them, and pointing the finger of scorn, saying, "Are these the people of the Lord ? The people of the Lord ? The people of the Lord ? Why the Lord does not see them, nor care for them, nor will He save them."
Israel then appeals to God's honour from the 8th to the 13th verse inclusive. “Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt: Thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it. Thou preparedst room before it, and didst cause it to take deep root, and it filled the land. The hills were covered with the shadow of it, and the boughs thereof were like the goodly cedars.
She sent out her boughs unto the sea, and her branches unto the river. Why hast Thou then broken down her hedges, so that all they which pass by the way do pluck her? The boar out of the wood doth waste it, and the wild beast of the field doth devour it.” 0 Lord God of hosts, how is it to be with us now? Thou didst great things for Thy people of old. Thou didst take Thine own people out of Egypt, and divide the Red Sea. Thou didst lead them through that terrible wilderness, and deliver them from all their enemies. Thou didst drive back the waters of Jordan, and subdue nations greater and mightier than Thy people. Thou didst plant them in the Holy Land, and they became a plant of renown. How is it to be now? Lord, is Thine honour to be defamed ? Lord, for Thine own honour's sake suffer not these hedges which are about Thy people to be broken down. Suffer not these wild beasts of the wood to waste and to devour Thy Israel ! We are in great trouble,-in great distress, and in great straits,—but, Lord, we appeal to Thine honour. O Lord, stir up Thy strength and come and save us.
I shall now throw out a few words on the language of our text
“O Lord God of hosts"—which is expressive of power. By this name God was known to Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob. He was known to them as the “Almighty God.” Thou art the Almighty God, the eternal God, the everlasting God; the Creator of the ends of the earth. In the 4th verse, the Person addressed is, “O Lord God of hosts ;" 7th verse, “O God of hosts ;” the 14th verse, “O God of hosts ;" and in the text, “O Lord God of hosts.” It must strike you, from the repetition of these words, that the Psalmist was in earnest. They are expressive of great fervour and zeal. O Lord God, Thou art the living Jehovah, the everlasting I am ; Thou art a covenant-keeping God. Remember Thy promises to and Thy covenant with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob. Wilt Thou break Thy covenant and Thy promises ? Thou art the Lord of hosts. Thou art the Lord God of Sabbaoth. When I look up, and behold the hosts of creation, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth His handiwork.” When I think of the hosts of angels in heaven which all wait upon Jehovah to do His commands; when I call to mind the evil hosts of hell, which must submit to the King of Kings ; and when I reflect upon the redeemed hosts, which no man can number, I cannot but admire and adore Israel's God as He is described in our text. He is God of hosts; He is Lord of hosts; and thus the Psalmist magnifies Israel's God"O Lord God of hosts." Let us now consider, SECONDLY, Israel's prayers.
“ Turn us again." “ Cause Thy face to shine.” Look how this language is repeated in this Psalm. In the 3rd verse- “Turn us again ;" the 7th verse, "Turn us again;" and in the text, “Turn us again." Repetition of the same words in prayer frequently denotes intensity of feeling and earnestness. A strong desire and longing for the thing prayed for. The burning desires of the heart are often expressed by a repetition of the same words. Our Lord repeated the same words in prayer, so does the Psalmist; and it is no uncommon thing for the children of God to do so in their approaches to the Mercy Seat. It is not the rounded sentences in prayer which are pleasing and acceptable to God, but the sighs and sobs of a broken and contrite heart, which are the fruits and effects of the Holy Ghost's effectual working. St. Paul thus describes prayer-"Let your requests be made known unto God” (Phil. iv. 6). The Israel of God is making known his requests in this Psalm. -“Give ear; shine forth." Thy strength, and come and save us. Turn us again,-cause Thy face to shine. Turn us again,-cause Thy face to shine. Return, we beseech Thee, O God of hosts : look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine. Let Thy hand be upon the Man of Thy right hand, upon the Son of Man Whom Thou madest strong for Thyself. Quicken us. Turn us again,
,-cause Thy face to shine." Is not this a Psalm of earnest prayers and petitions to the covenant-keeping Jehovah ?
I now wish to speak to you somewhat carefully upon these words, 6. Turn us again.” Was this the first turning unto the Lord ? No. You will see that the word “ again” excludes this idea. They had been turned to the Lord before. We shall have to examine this expression, “ Turn us again.” In reading the natural history of man from the
66 Stir up We
garden of Paradise down to the present time, I have invariably found one thing, and it is this, that man is always inclined to turn away from his God. Look at the 3rd chapter of Genesis and the 8th verse. read there that when our first parents transgressed the commandment which God had given them, that they went and · hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden." What did they do this for ? Had they been doing something of which they were ashamed? Had they been doing that which God had commanded them not to do? They had—and hence they were glad to get out of the sight of God, and to hide themselves amongst the trees of the garden. You know what followed. They were driven out of the garden. And now as to those who lived after them. Did they improve and become better in their natural state? We read in the 6th chapter of the Book of Genesis that God looked down
them. 5 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil, and that continually " (verse 5). Some of us may think that we are not so bad as they were. This betrays ignorance. However, the Holy Ghost can teach us that naturally we are altogether evil and that continually. In all time it has been the same with respect to fallen man. Some of you heard these words read to-night out of the 53rd Psalm. 6 The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men to see if there were any that would understand, and seek after God.” To see if there were any that were turning unto the Lord. “ But,” the Psalmist says, “they are all gone out of the way, they are altogether become abominable, there is none that doeth good, no not one.” Man never naturally turns to the Lord. He has turned from the Lord, and further still will he continue to do so, if it be possible. God looked to see if He could find 66
that would understand, and seek after God." Did He find any? Not one! “They are altogether become abominable, there is none that doeth good, no not one." Man was no better in the Apostle's time. the very words of the Psalmist in the 3rd of Romans, showing that man is altogether, and without exception, vile and corrupt. He then gives us another Scripture to confirm his view as to the corrupt nature of He then arrives at this conclusion“ " that
every mouth may
be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” After this picture of fallen humanity what is the use of calling upon man to repent and to turn to the Lord ? 'Has not the Lord said, Repent and turn from all your transgressions, so iniquity shall not be your ruin ? " And again, “ Make you a new heart and a new spirit : for why will ye die, O house of Israel ?." “Turn ye, turn ye, why will ye
die ?” Now, did they turn ? Did they repent? Did they make for themselves a new heart ? Did they create in themselves a new spirit ?
Did any one of them ever do any such thing? No! No!! But Jehovah uses this language when He is appealing to His fallen creatures who are, and always have been utterly helpless to help themselves. well that I shall be told by some that God never commands a person to do a thing which he cannot. But He has commanded us all to love the Lord our God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our mind, and with all our strength, and to love our neighbour as ourselves
I know very