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With such views of the believer's character, you can have no doubt of, II. His blessedness
Here let the abruptness of the address be borne in mind. The Psalmist, instead of proceeding, as might have been expected, to declare the blessings which a person of this description should receive, addresses himself to that person in these animated terms: “ Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler and from the noisome pestilence; he shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.” now, in these terms, he, in the very name of God himself, and in the most assured manner, pledges to him the protection, 1. Of God's power
[If war were raging in our country; or pestilence, like that which desolated Judea after David had numbered the people, and which probably gave occasion to this psalm, were carrying off multitudes all around us; we should enter more fully into the subject before us, and see more forcibly the exalted privileges of the true Believer. But we must remember that there is a moral “ pestilence" raging all around us, and sweeping myriads into the pit of destruction. We should remember, too, that there is a spiritual “ fowler," who entangles, in his net, millions, unwary as the silly bird, and“ leads them captive at his will.” What is the example of men in every walk of life, but one deadly contagion, from which it is almost impossible to escape? And what are those lusts and temptations with which we are continually beset, but baits, whereby the devil seeketh to ensnare us to our everlasting ruin? And who can preserve us from these snares, but God himself? Little will human wisdom or power avail against such potent enemies. Peter imagined himself secure enough from denying his Lord, when he formed so steadfast a resolution respecting it: but, as our Lord had forewarned him, “ the cock did not crow twice, till he had denied him thrice." And whomsoever Satan should get into his sieve, he would prove us all to be chaff, if we should be left without timely succour from on high. But “God will keep the feet of his saints," and not suffer them to fall a prey to the destroyer. The care of a hen over her brood is well known. When a bird of prey is hovering over them,
1 2 Tim. ii. 26. Του διαβόλου παγίδος έζωγρημένοι. 8 Luke xxii. 31.
t 1 Sam. ii. 9.
she calls them under her wings, and there preserves them in perfect safety. The bird of prey, when searching for them, can behold nothing but the dam. Thus will God preserve his people from all their enemies: “ He will cover them with his feathers, and under his wings shall they trust :” yea, lives shall be hid with Christ in God," beyond the reach of harm: and because “ Christ himself is their life, when he shall appear, they also shall appear with him in gloryu.” What was done by God for Israel in the wilderness, shall be done by him for every soul that puts its trust in him*
--] 2. Of his faithfulness
[For every believer the very truth of God is pledged; and “ life is promised” to him by a “ God who cannot liey.” It is not said that the believer shall not be tempted, or
66 be in heaviness through manifold temptations : but that he shall not be finally overcome, God does engage; as the Apostle says: "God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it?.” Here, I say, the very faithfulness of God is pledged; and we may be sure, that “of all the good things which he has promised to his people, not one shall ever faila." No doubt they may through weakness be overcome for a season, as the lives of the most eminent saints but too clearly prove. But in such a case God has told us how he will act towards them: “ If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; if they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless, my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail; my covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips: for once have I sworn by my holiness, that I will not lie unto David b.” Of course, we are not to understand this of one who sins wilfully and habitually : for, whatever he may profess, he is no child of God, but a downright hypocrite: but of the weakest of real saints it is spoken; and to him it shall assuredly be fulfilled: for “it is not the will of our Father that one of his little ones should perisho.”] For a just IMPROVEMENT of this passage, let it be
remembered, 1. In what way alone we can have access to God
[We have spoken of the believer as “ dwelling in God :” but how came he into that sanctuary? and where did he find u Col. ii. 3, 4.
x Deut. xxxii. 9-12. y Tit. i. 2. z 1 Cor. x. 13.
a Josh. xxiii. 14. b Ps. lxxxix. 30–35. c Matt. xviii. 14.
a door of entrance ? This is a point that should be well understood. There is but one way to the Father; and that is by Christ. Our blessed Lord himself tells us this, when he says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” It must never be forgotten, that in ourselves we are altogether departed from God; and that we can be“ brought nigh only by the blood of Jesus.” It was by the blood of his sacrifice alone, that the High Priest, of whom we have before spoken, could come into the holy place of the Most Highd: and it is by the blood of Jesus alone that we can venture into the holieste, or presume to ask any thing at the hands of God'. I beseech you, therefore, to bear this in remembrance, and never to call God yours, until you have come to him in his appointed way -]
2. What is that kind of confidence which we ought to maintain
[It must not be a presumptuous confidence, that overlooks the use of means or supersedes the necessity of holy fear. Satan could not be better served than by such confidence as that. And hence it was, that, in tempting our blessed Lord, he cited this very psalm, and urged a part of it as a warrant for him to cast himself down from a pinnacle of the temple; saying, “If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone." Our Lord's reply to him shews us our duty in relation to this matter; “ Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” We are not needlessly to expose ourselves to dangers, in the expectation that God will preserve
nor are we to neglect the use of means, as though God were engaged to work miracles in our behalf. We must be humble, watchful, diligent; as it is written,“Give all diligence to make your calling and election sure.' God has, indeed, engaged to "give us both to will and to do:" but, whilst we depend on him for his effectual aid, we must “work out our own salvation with fear and tremblingh." In every step of our way to Zion, we must cry, “Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe."]
3. What should be the frame of our minds after we have come to him
[I have said, “We should fear;' for “ blessed is the man that feareth always." But this fear should temper, not weaken, our confidence in God. Hear what the Prophet Isaiah says: “ Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee; because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord for
d Heb. ix. 7. e Heb. x. 19. f Heb. x. 20-22. 8 ver. 11, 12. with Matt. iv. 6.
h Phil. ii. 12, 13.
WHO DWELL IN GOD. 137 ever; for with the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.” St. Paul maintained to the uttermost the fear of which we have been speaking; for he“ kept under his body, and brought it into subjection ; lest that by any means, after he had preached to others, he himself should be a cast-away k." But his confidence in God was entire. He defied all the powers in the universe to separate him from the love of God? — And you, also, may possess the same blessed hope, “knowing in whom
you have believed m," and assured that none shall ever pluck you out of the Saviour's hands ]
i Isai. xxvi. 3, 4. k 1 Cor. ix. 27. i Rom. viii. 33–39. m 2 Tim. i. 12. n John X. 28.
THE SECURITY OF THOSE WHO DWELL IN GOD, Ps. xci. 9, 10. Because thou hast made the Lord which is my
refuge, even the Most High, thy habitation, there shall no evil befall thee.
IT is scarcely possible to conceive any terms more strong, or any images more lively, than those in which the Scripture represents the privileges of believers. We need look no further than to the psalm before us for a confirmation of this truth. Indeed, according to the view given of this psalm by a learned prelate, there is, in the first verses of it, an emphasis which cannot be surpassed". And the whole may be considered as the believer's charter, in which all his privileges are contained, from his first acceptance with God to the consummation of his happiness in glory.
We have in the words of our text a just description of the believer: I. His experience
The true Christian is one who has been “ turned from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan unto God.” Being once brought to God, he “makes the Most High his habitation.” He regards God, not
a Bishop Horne reads the two first verses thus : “He that dwelleth &c. who abideth under &c. who saith of the Lord,” &c. Then at the end of ver. 2, he supposes the Psalmist to break off abruptly, and, instead of continuing his description, to address himself to the person before described ; " Surely he shall deliver thee."
merely as reconciled to him, but as affording him (what a dwelling-house affords to its possessor), 1. Free access
[A person goes familiarly to his house at all times, not doubting but that he shall gain a ready admission into it. He considers it as his own, and feels that it exists only for his accommodation. It is thus that the believer goes to God as his God: he has “ access to him with boldness and confidence:" he is certain that, when he calls, he shall receive an answer ; and "when he knocks, the door will be opened to him." In this precise view the Psalmist speaks of God; “Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort b."] 2. Necessary provision
[Every man, whatever be his situation in life, expects to find in his own house the things suited to his necessities. He does not seek his meals at the houses of his neighbours, but in his own; and he returns home at stated seasons to partake of them. And whither does the believer go for daily supplies of bread for his soul? It is in Christ Jesus that his fulness is treasured up; and in him the believer expects to find the “grace that is sufficient for him." God invites him to come to him for the express purpose, that he may be filled and satisfied with good things: “Wherefore do ye spend your money
for that which is not bread? Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.”] 3. Sure protection
[If storms descend, or dangers menace, we take refuge in our house, and find it a place of safety. Thus “ The name of God also is a strong tower, into which the righteous runneth and is safed.” It is to himself that God invites us, when he says, “Come my people, enter thou into thy chambers, shut the door about thee, and hide thyself for a little moment, until the indignation be overpaste.” And that this was a primary idea in the mind of the Psalmist, appears from the very words of the text, wherein he calls God “his Refuge," and from the whole scope of the psalm, from the beginning to the end. With this also agrees the beautiful description given of Jesus by the Prophet, as “an hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest?."] 4. Sweet repose
[To his house a man retires from the noise and bustle of the world; and there he lays himself down to rest after the fatigues of the day. Home, though inferior in many respects to places of temporary residence, is to almost all persons the
b Ps. lxxi. 3. c Isai. lv. 2. d Prov. xvii. 10. e Isai. xxvi. 20. f Isai. xxxi. 2.