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thou that hast set thy glory above the heavens. . . . What is man, that thou art mindful of him ? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?" — Psalm viii. i, 4. THIS short but beautiful psalm is one of two (8th and 9th) supposed to have been composed by David in commemoration of his victory, many years before, over the giant of Gath, Goliath, whom he slew with a stone from his sling, and afterwards beheaded; and, like most other psalms, has three direct applications — first, to David, who composed it ; secondly, to " David's greater Son,'* our Lord Jesus Christ; and thirdly, to ourselves, the people of God in all times. As it regards Davids we see at once in the second verse the application of the words to his victory over Goliath. He was then, we are told, but a youth, and of a ruddy countenance, the youngest of his father's sons, a mere shepherd boy ; yet he dared to fight with the Philistine, a man of war from his youth, who had defied the armies of Israel, and had hitherto found none in Israel to accept his challenge. God gave him
THE HEAVE S DECLARE THE GLORY OF GOD. 6 1 the victory, because he trusted in the Lord his God. The Philistine trusted in his armour, in his shield, and sword, and stature, and despised the youth who had so bravely ventured to engage with him. But God showed at once His strength and power. The giant fell as soon as the combatants came within sight of each other. Thus did God ordain strength in the hands of a mere lad, in years and size, when compared with the Philis-
tine of gigantic stature. But David would seem to say, " Sow can a man do otherwise than trust thee, God, when he looks up to the sky above his head, and sees the mighty powers there moving in the heavens with their perfect regularity and order, year after year, by thy providence and ordaining — *the sun to rule the day, the moon and the stars to govern the night?' What indeed is man, that thou, the great God and Creator of them all, art mindful of him, a worm of the earth, so short-lived, and so bound down in sin and misery?" Yet as He took David from the sheepfold to be the king of Israel, and to rule His chosen people, crowning him in the eyes of men with power and glory, after years of tribulation, so will He raise us, if we love and fear Him, to everlasting glory and honour, of which His special love shown to us in this world is both a pledge and token. " Lord our Governor, how excellent is thy name in all the world !" And then, if we turn from David to David's great and glorious Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, here we have
62 PSALM VIIL express authority for referring this psalm to Him. For S. Paul says in Heb. ii that these words are expressly written of our Lord's humiliation on earth, ending in the glories of His resurrection from the dead and ascension into heaven. God the Son, who made the worlds, bec-ame for our sakes lower than the angels for a little while. He left the glories of His eternal home in heaven, and became Man — the true Man — for us, partaker of our nature in everything except its sin, which He was free from by a birth beyond and above man's ordinary beginning. This is the most abundant cause of wonder and thankfulness. God's glory and love is greater in redemption even thto in creation. The sun, and moon, and stars, moving in their appointed
spheres, are stupendous proofs of Gtxi's power and love for us ; but far more than their number, regularity, and order, is the incarnation of the eternal Son a proof of God's power cuid goodness. He came down to us, emptying Himself of His divine state and glory, that He might make amends for all transgressions of men, and recover for our fallen race, who were His enemies, a right and place in God's eternal kingdom. Thus for a little while — through thirty and three years of pain, and poverty, and suffering — the Son of man was made lower than the angels ; but after His resurrection He was " crowned with glory and worship." All power in heaven and in earth was then given into His hands, who is partaker of our flesh and blood. A true Man
THE WI DS A D THE SEA OBEY HIM. 63 in one person for ever and ever with the eternal God, He is not ashamed to call us His brethren. He has raised man up from his low estate to the highest place around the eternal throne. And even while on earth all created things bowed down before Him, and obeyed His word. When the sea was stirred by a mighty tempest, at His one word, "Peace, be still," "the wind ceased, and there was a great calm." Evil spirits fell down at His feet, and owned His power. Every species of human suffering and pain vanished by a word or a touch from Him. Even the dead returned to life again ; and in the baxren wilderness the loaves of bread and two small fish multiplied themselves indefinitely as they passed through His almighty hands, so as to feed five thousand men, beside women and children. He was man, and yet He did the works of God, and proved Himself to be God as well as man. Even the fish of the sea paid the tribute money for Him and His disciples, which was demanded of every Israelite for the temple at Jerusalem. Thus was everything put in subjection to His hands. And then the after effects of
this wonderful history have been like the perfecting of praise from the mouth of babes and sucklings. " Tea ; have ye never read," said the Lord to the lords of the Pharisees, when they saw the children crying Hosannah in the temple to His honour, " Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thon hast p&rfected praise ?" So it has been ever since. The kingdom of the crucified has
64 PSALM VIII. spread, arid is established in the earth— a kingdom in, but not of this world. Thousands of changes have taken place in all earthly thrones and dominions since the days of Christ; but one kingdom alone has stood throughout aU changes in the world, and will stand to the end of time — the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ. What was sown in weakness has risen in power. The Head was cut oflf by a cruel deatk He was crucified. But that Head multiplied into the twelve apostles, and they likewise spread the good news of the heavenly kingdom and multiplied its subjects, and ruleris throughout all the earth, till the old prophecy draws on more and more to its fulfilment : " The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." Faith can remove mountains; the valleys are filled up by it ; and the rough places made smooth as often £is again and again it becomes true, "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things." The fierce natures of untamed men are softened and trained by the gospel of peace ; the blood of the cross removes the curse pronounced on every sinner that turneth him unto the Lord, and God's Holy Spirit is given to sinful men to set us free from the dominion of Satan, and thus every thing at length is put in subjection under Christ's feet.
My brethren, we in the Church of Christ have the blessing of knowing and hearing all this. We are the
LIKE U TO CHRIST HERE A D HEREAFTER. 65 • guests invited to the royal banquet. We are the chosen people of God, who as our Head was made for a little while lower than the angels, but is now crowned with glory and honour ; cuid we are promised, that if we will 90 it shall be in like manner with us as with Him. The glories that the Saviour won for man in Hi& own person. He deigns and desires to share with us. " Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be : but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like ELim ; for we shall see Him as He is." " When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.'* " Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their father." Eemember, however, these glorious promises are given only to the righteous^ only to the saints of God. In them God by His Spirit subdues more and
more the power of sin, and their evil nature, and lifts them up to be in some measure like unto their Lord, even on earth, that so they may be with the Lord, and shine in His glory in the world beyond the grave. " Lord, our Governor, how excellent is thy name in all the world !" When we think of all that God has done for us, and has promised to us, it is sad to think, brethren, that there is for ever an abundant crop of tares growing up and choking His good seed; chaff abounding, and sometimes almost altogether destroying the good seed ; men despising the privileges of grace amid which they live, and of which they hear with the F
66 PSALM VIII. greatest unconcern. If we all loved Christ as we might, and as we ought, there would be no vacant spot in this or any church, Sunday by Sunday. Men would press into God's house, especially in the early part of the Lord's-day ; all would be of one heart and mind ; there would be no non-communicants amongst us as now ; all would love to approach the table of their Lord, to meet Him there, and partake of His body and blood, which preserves the souls of faithful men unto eternal life.
This is how this psalm applies specially to us. Grod is mindful of us. ot only has He given us those ordinances in heaven by which our seasons, and days, and nights, are regulated throughout all generations, but He has given us His Scm^ made for a little while lower than the angels, but now crowned with glory and honour, all things in heaven and earth being made subject unto Him; but man only, for whom all this is done, alone rebels against God's work done in and for him. Like the Israelites in the wilderness, we are all apt to be stififnecked and perverse ; choosing rather to follow the untamed inclinations of our corrupt nature than the influence and strivings within us of the Spirit of God. Here and there God's work is more or less perfected in men. The old power of sin is cast out, and a man delights in all good works, follows after that perfect holiness " without which no man shall see the Lord ; " and so subdues every form of sin, which like sheep and oxen, the fowls of the air, and the fish of the sea, is
STRIVE TO E TER I AT THE STRAIT GA TE, 6j prone by nature to wander unrestrained and unchecked. The taming of the heart is a hard work under grace, and is impossible without it. Men must give time and care to the saving of their souls, or they cannot and will not be saved. God's grace enables us to swim against the stream; but if we cease to strive and exert ourselves, then the current of our old evil nature carries us back, and we shall wake up at the last day to find how true our heavenly Lord's warning words were: "Strive to enter in at the strait gate : for many, I say unto you, shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able." Let us value our high privileges. Let us strive and pray day by day to become holier and better in God's sight, by God's heavenly grace, than we are. Let us love the things that Christ loves, and hate what He hates ; and so forming in us the mind and preparations of heaven,
we shall only in the resurrection know to the full this truth: "0 Lord, our governor, how excellent is thy name in all the earth !"
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