Faith makes strong professions, and utters earnest
prayers. May such be the exercise of our hearts unto life eternal!
1. "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall
I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?"
This ode begins with a noble outbreak of triumphant
confidence. Faith is in loftiest exercise. Foes indeed surround; they are
distinctly seen. Their presence and their might is not ignored. But no fear
troubles; no dismay appals. Why? The believer knows that he is united to his
Lord, and one with Him in the closest bonds; and that he has full interest
in all the Lord's perfections. No darkness can bewilder, for the Lord is his
light. No destruction can overtake, for the Lord is his salvation. His life
can never perish, for the Lord is its strength. May we never rest until our
lips can sing thus happily!
2. "When the wicked, even my enemies and my foes, came
upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell."
Here is the character of the adversaries of the Lord.
They are the wicked. They are Cain-like, who was of that wicked one, and
killed his brother. And why did he slay him? Because his own works were
evil, and his brother's righteous. We see striking fulfillment in the garden
of Gethsemane. The traitor enters with his evil band. Jesus meets them calm
in the majesty of deity. His eye, His voice shatter their boldness. They
cannot stand before Him. They go backward and fall to the ground. Such is
the sure downfall of all the foes of Jesus.
3. "Though an host should encamp against me, my heart
shall not fear; though war should rise against me, in this will I be
Hosts of men are less than nothing compared with heavenly
guards. When the trembling servant cried, "Alas! my master, what shall we
do?" the prophet answered, "Fear not, for those who are with us are more
than those who are with them." Elisha prayed, "Open his eyes that he may
see." He saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of
fire round about Elisha. Even so, let us only believe and we are safe.
4. "One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I
seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my
life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in His temple."
One supreme desire occupies the believing heart. He longs
for close communion with the Lord. He diligently uses all appointed means.
He seeks the ordinances which God's presence sanctifies. Such is the
constant habit of his soul. It is no passing impulse. He pursues this
hallowed communion all the days of his life. His eyes would see the beauty
of the Lord, the lovely charm of His transcendent grace, displayed in
redemption's wondrous work. His soul thirsts after fuller knowledge. His
ardent cry is, "Show me Your glory."
5. "For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His
pavilion; in the secret of His tabernacle shall He hide me; He shall set me
up upon a rock."
The result of faithful obedience is assurance of
security. When troubles come like a flood, they cannot reach the tranquil
worshiper. He is calm in the recesses of his Lord's presence. The curtains
of His pavilion are spread around him. He stands high upon a rock. That rock
is Christ. Those who are thus uplifted are far above the reach of hostile
shafts. From his high stronghold he can look down and smile on all the rage
of those who would destroy him. This rock is near. We are invited to its
refuge. Let our steps hasten; then we are safe indeed.
6. "And now shall my head be lifted up above my
enemies round about me; therefore will I offer in His tabernacle sacrifices
of joy; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises unto the Lord."
Assurance should be ever sought, and it may be
scripturally won. The head no longer will hang down. It will put on the
helmet of salvation. It will look down in triumph on foes now impotent to
hurt. This assurance brings offerings to the Lord's altar. They are the
sacrifices of thanksgiving.
Assurance has, also, a joyful voice. It ever sings, and
the song is praises to the Lord. Here is a test to prove our state. We,
surely, are loiterers in the plain, and have not reached the height of
scriptural delight, unless our hearts continually send up the incense of
7. "Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice; have mercy
also upon me, and answer me."
Assurance is far from presumption. While earth is the
home, necessities will be present. Grace must be sought, and, therefore,
with all praise, petition will be intermixed. The sinner, with all knowledge
of salvation, still has knowledge of his sinful state. Therefore he never
ceases to seek mercy. Knowing that God will hear and answer, he still will
importune, Let answers come—give sweet tokens that my prayers prevail.
8. "When you said, Seek My face; my heart said to you,
Your face, Lord, will I seek."
Faith hears the voice of God sweetly speaking in the
Scripture page. It calls, it invites, it allures. It warns to arise and flee
the vanities of earth. It tells of their emptiness. It promises peace and
delight in the reconciled smile of God. The enlightened soul simply obeys.
It flies away, and basks beneath the rays of heaven.
9, 10. "Do not hide Your face far from me; Do not turn
Your servant away in anger; you have been my help; leave me not, neither
forsake me, O God of my salvation. When my father and my mother forsake me,
then the Lord will take me up."
The brightest sun may soon be overcast. Clouds may arise,
and storms threaten, and darkness and chilliness interpose. Thus sense of
sin, and consciousness of deep corruption, may stir up misgivings. Prayer
wrestlingly beseeches that the smile so gladly sought may not become
averted, and that no just wrath may close the door of conscious acceptance.
Former supports are urged in plea. God is addressed as pledged by covenant
to save, and bound by strongest ties never to desert or fail.
Earthly relationships are easily dissolved. Affection may
decay. Fickleness begets estrangement. Distance may part. Death comes, and
desolation sits where happy fellowship once reigned. But God's love in
Christ is strong, immutable, eternal. He has the Father's heart, which beats
with tenderness, incapable of diminution or of change. O Father, ever be a
Father unto us!
11. "Teach me Your way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain
path, because of my enemies."
We again see how warily assurance walks. The firm belief
that God cannot forsake, increases diligence to desire for constant
guidance. The holy fears awaken lest ignorance should lead into unrighteous
ways, and cause the watchful enemy to exult. Teach me, lead me, are wise
prayers. They bring the Spirit's light to shine upon the path, the Spirit's
hand to give sustaining aid.
12. "Deliver me not over unto the will of my enemies;
for false witnesses have risen against me, and such as breathe out cruelty."
We tread no path of trial or of suffering which is not
hallowed by our Lord's preceding step. We taste no bitter cup which His lips
have not drained. No misery afflicts us which He has not previously endured.
The stings of slander are keen. It is anguish when false tongues persist in
charging falsely. Jesus felt this. No scrutiny could find fault in Him; but
still His judges must have a facade of evidence; therefore, false witnesses
were bribed to fabricate malicious tales.
There is great mercy in these foreshadowing views of
Jesus. They imprint the stamp of inspiration on the blessed Word. David not
only stands a conspicuous type, but words are placed upon his lips which
find fulfillment in the varied trials of our Lord. We thankfully adore the
mercy. We feel in our grateful hearts, The Scriptures are eternal truth; we
may firmly trust them. They cannot be broken.
13. "I had fainted, unless I had believed I would see
the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living."
The original sentence is strikingly incomplete. The
words, "I had fainted", are adapted as implying the soul's forlorn and
sinking state, if faith and hope had not sustained it. But amid all sorrows
and fears a joyful expectation cheered our Lord. He looked onward to the
final display of God's goodness in the land of the living. He knew that
death could not detain Him. He foresaw the glorious land, where He would
reign the living head of a living family. Let our hearts confidently look
onward. Soon the shadows will have passed away—the day will dawn, goodness
will be the one atmosphere, and living souls will ever live.
14. "Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He
shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord."
The 'wonderful Counselor' exhorts His followers to be
strong in Him. He asks them to trust as He had trusted, and they will find
as He had found. May the Spirit help us to act out this precious lesson! May
He so nerve our spirits that no despondency may ever weaken! And may our
eyes be ever raised to heaven, waiting until mercies issue forth. If they
tarry, still let us wait. In due time surely they will come.