Praise is the note which sounds throughout this hymn.
Marvelous mercies are recounted, both temporal and spiritual. All demand
devout thanksgiving. As recipients of mercy, may our hearts joyfully
1-2. "Make a joyful noise unto God, all you lands;
sing forth the honor of His name; make His praise glorious."
An exhortation sounds to all the dwellers upon earth. All
lands, with all their inhabitants, are called to loud and joyful praise.
What mighty motives urge to this work. How sweetly mercy beams upon the
world. Behold creation in its every part. How suited to provide for
happiness and comfort. In every part we see benevolent contrivance for man's
good. There is no moment when blessings are not strewn around. There should
be no moment when responding praises should not ascend. Away with meager
praise and scanty payment of blessing. The exhortation bids us to
make His praise to be glorious. It should be our noblest exercise. It
should call forth the grandest energies of our noblest powers. But if
temporal blessings require these bursts of adoration, how much more do the
blessings of the Gospel demand the overflowings of this grace!
3. "Say to God, How awesome are You in Your works!
through the greatness of Your power Your enemies shall submit themselves
We are encouraged to recite to God the manifestations of
His awesome power. Thus to enumerate them is to deepen in us the sense of
their greatness. It is a sad fact that from creation's hour hostile powers
have armed themselves against God. In vile hatred they have raised their
puny arm against His majesty and rule. They have vainly thought to subvert
His empire—to wrest the scepter from His hands. But how tremendous has been
their overthrow! He who sits in the heavens has laughed. The Lord has had
them in derision.
4. "All the earth shall worship You, and shall sing to
You; they shall sing to Your name."
Prediction here proclaims the glories of the coming
kingdom. "The kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our God
and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever." Every lip shall
praise Him. Every heart shall swell with adoration—one loud hallelujah shall
pervade the world.
5-6. "Come and see the works of God; He is awesome in
His works toward the children of men. He turned the sea into dry land; they
went through the flood on foot; there we rejoiced in Him."
We are here invited to draw instruction from the study of
God's works. How precious is the contemplation! It shows in large and
wondrous page how God has manifested Himself in olden times. It tells of
deliverances in extremest times and from extremest perils. Great is the
value of such study. For the God of our fathers is the God of His present
family, and will be the God of His children to the last day. He is the same
yesterday, and today, and forever in love and power. In His lovingkindness
and in His truth there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
Ponder these manifestations in the deliverance of Israel
from Egyptian bondage. In the rear the king pursues with overwhelming
hosts—on each side heights impassable forbid escape—in the front the sea
presents the obstruction of impeding billows. Moses is commanded to wave his
rod. The waters part. A dry pavement opens the passage of deliverance. The
people march as on dry land. In safety they look back and see the returning
billows rolling their foes to fearful death. Awesome was the work. The past
deliverance bids us take courage. So, also, when Canaan's promised land was
reached, the rolling Jordan did not impede entrance. The waters parted. The
hosts marched onwards as on by ground. Marvelous was the deliverance—a type
that no opposing foes shall check our entrance to our promised home.
7-9. "He rules by His power forever; His eyes behold
the nations; let not the rebellious exalt themselves. O bless our God, you
people, and make the voice of His praise to be heard; who holds our soul in
life, and allows not our feet to be moved."
The same power still sits on the throne of universal
sway. The same eye still looks down upon the fury of the nations. Let the
rebels take heed. Their destruction cannot be escaped. But let God's people
bless and praise Him. Their souls yet live far above the reach of injury.
Their feet still stand immovable. Let us trust more and more. Let us praise
more and more.
10-12. "For You, O God, have proved us; You have tried
us, as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; You laid affliction
upon our loins. You have caused men to ride over our heads; we went through
fire and through water; but You brought us out into a wealthy place."
The dealings of God are all mercy and truth to His chosen
heritage, but these dealings often show a dark and trying aspect. A scourge
is used, and grievous troubles multiply. But such discipline is needful.
Without it we would slumber in our nests, and indolently indulge sloth. Our
feet would go astray, and we would not ripen for the heavenly home. The vine
will not be fruitful unless pruned; the silver will not be purged from dross
unless the furnace be again and again employed. It is our wisdom thus to see
the hand of love in all our seasons of affliction.
The Psalmist recognizes God's hand in bringing him into
his many difficulties. The afflictions which oppress are the burdens which
the Lord imposes. Afflictions do not arise from the dust; they are all
designed to humble, to excite watchfulness, to purify, to sanctify, to
bless, to produce conformity to our Elder Brother's image. For a season our
adversaries are permitted to trample on us with insulting feet. This is a
grievous passage in our pilgrimage; but it has its end, and proves to be the
entrance of enlarged prosperities.
14-15. "I will go into Your house with burnt
offerings; I will pay my vows to You, which my lips have uttered, and my
mouth has spoken, when I was in trouble. I will offer unto You
burnt-sacrifices of fatlings, with the incense of rams; I will offer
bullocks with goats."
Times of trouble strongly attract us to the mercy-seat.
Prayer becomes more fervent, and grateful service is devoutly vowed. These
pledges should be all redeemed, and public acknowledgment should be
rendered. Gratitude does not forget the large mercies of deliverance. It
delights to pour forth streams upon streams of pious adoration.
The Psalmist brought his appointed victims to the altar;
he shed the prefiguring blood; he presented the foreshadowing offerings. We
know that these types were emblems of our blessed Lord, through whom alone
we can draw near to God; and who, by the incense of His blood, gives perfume
to our every service. In the full faith of Christ may we thus ever worship;
pleading His blood, may we bring all our vows. Acceptance comes when in His
name we thus approach.
16-17. "Come and hear, all you that fear God, and I
will declare what He has done for my soul. I cried to Him with my mouth, and
He was extolled with my tongue."
The Psalmist invites the saints who are around him to
come and listen to his grateful tale. Right indeed it is to encircle God's
throne with praises; but gratitude should not be limited to such devotion.
Our lips should tell aloud to all around His gracious dealings. Those who
fear the Lord speak often to one another. This exercise is not disregarded
on high. A book of remembrance is written.
Of what did the Psalmist speak? Of all that God had done
for his soul. Oh! the breadth and length, the depth and height, of this most
marvelous declaration! He visited his soul in darkness, and gave the light
of life. He found it in the prison-house of the devil, and translated it
into the kingdom of grace and glory. He saw it laden with all iniquities,
and removed the total burden. He saw it filthy in all the mire of evil, and
clothed it with the garments of righteousness and salvation. Such is the
theme of the believer's story; but heaven must be reached and eternity
exhausted before the whole can be told.
He adds the assurance that he was incessant in prayerful
cries, and that his tongue was ever loud in raising high the praises of his
18-20. "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord
will not hear me. But, truly, God has heard me; He has attended to the voice
of my prayer. Blessed be God, who has not turned away my prayer, nor His
mercy from me."
He adds the solemn warning, that if iniquity is fondled
in the heart, vain will be the utterance of his lips. Prayer is a holy
exercise; the admixture of unholiness reduces it to nullity. But his prayer
was the offspring of sincerity and truth; the answers which came gave
evidence that the petitions were sanctified by the Spirit and accepted of
the Lord. With what happiness would he exclaim, "Blessed be God, who has not
turned away my prayer, nor His mercy from me."