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THIS psalm may be divided into three parts. The first part contains only this first verse, the third part only the last verse, and all that lies between forms the other division. This first verse describes the cause of all the evil which the next verses up to the last set forth. The last verse describes the promised deliverance from sin and death which we Christians have the blessing of seeing and partaking of through Jesus Christ our Lord. We should remark also that this psalm and the fifty-third are almost identical throughout. They begin with these same words : " The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God." They both describe the miseries which follow, and they both end with the same expression of hope of deliverance to come, "when Jacob should rejoice, and Israel (God*s people) should be right glad." ow let us remember that in holy Scripture the term " fool " is applied almost always to denote those who live in sin and unbelief, and deny God ; and on the other hand, that "wisdom" is applied in Scripture only to denote the fear, and love, and knowledge of God ; so that in Scripture language I
114 PSALM XIV, • "the wise man" is very much the same as the godly man, and "the fool" as the sinful and unbelieving. And indeed we must all see and feel that the true spring and source of every sin lie in the secret or open
denial of God. " The fool or ungodly man hath said in his heart. There is no God." You will see it is said "m Ais heart ;^' i,e. this wickedness and denial of God need not be necessarily expressed by the mouth. Indeed it has been very much questioned whether any one ever has really and sincerely believed and felt that " there is no God." The proofs of God*s wisdom and power in £Uid over all the world, the proofs of His daily care and providence over each of us individually, are so plain and irresistible, that actually to deny God is impossible to any reflecting mind. But though men cannot actually do this, yet practically they do it : " The fool says in his hsart, There is no God." Many a man puts away from himself the thought of God ; many a man lives as though there were no God; many a man hates the thought of God — wishes there were no God, and defies His laws and threatened judgments. And all this may go on in him for all the little time of his fearthly life ; but the hour is sure to come when a voice from heaven says : " Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee!" and then, and after then, if never before, the ungodly man ever finds the sad consequences of his sinful life. In the day of judgment the most lawless and hardened sinner wiU be obliged to own God's
THE REJECTIO - OF CHRIST I15 power, and the justice of that sentence which, for rejecting God's love while on earth, he is then obliged to submit to. The secret of all sin lies in a man's hiding his eyes from God, and saying in his heart ** there is no Grod." While the great security against all sin lies, my brethren, in the conscious acknowledgment that God is everywhere present, and sees us through and through, and that He loves us for His Son's sake, and watches over every one of us for our good, and knows our most secret thoughts, and hears our every word, and desires our good here, and our final salvation hereafter.
But there is another interpretation of these first words of this psalm which gives them a still more Christian sense even than this; for the same words which are here translated, "There is no God," may equally ivell be translated, ^ Hei^not God," and thus applied to Christ our Lord, as all the psalms may be, this at once describes the sin of the Jews in rejecting and crucifying the Lord Jesus, which brought upon them all the terrible iniseries which the after verses of this psalm set forth. The Jews resisted and rejected that great fundamental truth of Christianity, that God Himself in the person of the only-begotten Son was come down from heaven, and had taken our flesh upon Him. This was the great stumbling-block against which they fell. This is the great miracle of God's love which they refused to believe. They were ready at one time to stone the Saviour, because (as they said) " Thou, being a man, makest thy-
Il6 PSALM XIV. self God." At another time we read, "Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill Him, because He not only had broken the Sabbath, but said also that God was His Father, making Himself equcd with God." At another time they said, " If this man were a prophet, He would have known what manner of person this is." At another time the poor blind man who was healed from his birth-affliction was cast out because he said, " If this man were not of God, He could do nothing." But most of all is this fact seen in the Saviour's condemnation to death. Directly He was adjured by the high priest to say whether He were the Son of Gtxl or not, He replied, " Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God. Then said they all. Art thou then the Son of God ? And He said unto them. Ye say tJiat I am ; " and they all condemned Him to be guilty of death. Then again before Pilate this same
truth came out in an equally remarkable manner. " The Jews answered him (Pilate), We have a law, and by our law He ought to die, because He m/ide Himsdf the Son of God*' Thus, you see, without adding to these proofs, that throughout the great truth which the Jews so obstinately resisted, in spite of all the Lord's wonderful miracles which proved His divine power, and were done before their eyes, that great truth which they rejected and refused to believe was the very one which we most thankfully acknowledge and build our hopes of salvation upon; viz., that God has sent His own
MISER V FOLLOWS UPO ST . 1 1 / Son, the eternal Lord, the Creator of all things, in our flesh, to be our Eedeemer, our Saviour, our Guide, our Sacrifice for all sin, our King and Lord. The unbelieving Jews said, " He is not God." We say, " "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and wisdom, and honour, and glory for ever and ever." And thus it was, my brethren, that, as Pharaoh's denial of God led to Ais destruction, and the ruin of all the land of Egypt; and again, as Sennacherib denied God, and so was destroyed, with all the hosts he had brought against Jerusalem, so with the Jews, their rejection of Christ brought upon them that rejection of the once chosen people which rests upon them to this hour, and will do so until they believe in Him, and the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. "They are all corrupt, and become abominable in their doings: there is none that doeth good, no, not one. The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that would understand, and seek after God. But they are all gone out of the way, they are altogether become abominable : there is none that doeth good, no, not one. . . . Destruc-
tion and unhappiness is in their ways, and the way of peace have they not known : there is no fear of God before their eyes." Thus it is that this psalm speaks of the conseqtoence of rejecting God, and more especially, as I have said, of any one rejecting Christ as his Lord and Saviour. It is the secret spring of all sin and
Il8 PSALM XIV. misery in the world. God nevier gives us up until wi have rejected Him. ay, He bears long with us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come unto Him and be saved. But when once we have openly rejected Him from ourselves, and His grace has ceased to strive in our hearts, then follow all the sorrows and vices which afflict or disgrace mankind. The Jew to this hour is suffering the consequences of his forefathers saying of Christ, "He is not God;" "We have no king but Csesar ;" " ot this man, but Barabbas." But though we see these things, and have them for our warning and example, yet to many of us their use, it may be, is forgotten and lost. The secret beginnings of any grievous sin are almost always imperceptible, or nearly so, at the first. Satan would have but few followers and subjects to what he has, if his worst efforts were put forth against us at our^rs^ temptation. But it is not so. The beginnings of sin are always small. Our first grievous sin is generally a trifle compared to our last. Our safety lies in resisting our temptations from the first. Oh that all, especially the young, could see and feel this ! A mere thought of sin indulged for a moment; a mere passing word which fell from our lips, and was forgotten by all but God; some little duty once given up ; some little act of disobedience to our parents and teachers once done ; some short prayer once omitted, but less thought of on the Xiext occasion — with any of us such little things grow
TRY TO SEE GOD I EVERYTHI G. II9 by degrees into far greater and more deadly sins. Grace works in us less and less as we give way to temptation; sin becomes easier; resistance to it becomes more difficult and less possible ; and so it is that many a one goes dcmn the hill of life, and becomes less conscious of his state as he keeps in the broad path, which has no stumbling-blocks in it, as the narrow way of life has to all. "Well now, my brethren, what is our security or recovery from such a state as this ? " K the fool says in his heart, There is no God," or of Christ, " He is not God," our safety and happiness lie in doing exactly the reverse. First of all, we should try to feel and encourage in ourselves a sense of God's presence everywhere ; that His eye sees us ; that He reads all our thoughts, and knows our hearts every moment we live ; and that He loves us as a father loves his children. "We should seek to acquire that true feeling which the psalmist thus describes : '' Lord, thou hast searched me out, and known me: thou knowest my down-sitting and mine' up-rising ; thou understandest my thoughts long before. Thou art about my path, and about my bed : and spiest out all my ways. For, lo, there is not a word in my tongue : but thou, Lord, knowest it altogether." Instead of saying with the fool, " There is no God," try to feel and to find that God is indeed everywhere ; and not only everywhere in an indefinite sense, but with a personal and most intimate reference to your own self individually. This is the one first step
120 PSALM XrV. towards preservation from sin, or recovery of holiness. But then to this we must add the other great Christian truth, that God has sent His eternal and glorious Son
in our flesh, to be our Saviour, our salvation, our atonement for sin. We may each say, Christ my King died for me. His blood was shed on the cross as truly for me as though there had been no one else for Him to save besides myself. For if this love of His does not beget love towards Him, nothing else wilL And if thus we can once feel our hearts filled with this love, then, my brethren, His commandments are not grievous. Our ddigM will be to do Grod's will ; our happiness will be to return His love by bringing forth in our own lives and conversation all those fruits of faith which are to the praise and glory of God. And let us remember that as the greatest sin of all was the rejection of Christ, " the fool saying in his hearty He is not God," so the first step in the Christian life is to acknowledge that the Son of man was and is the Son of God. " Herein is love, that God died for man. Herein is atonement ; for only God could atone for sin, for no man may deliver his brother. Herein is our salvation; for as He bad power to merit our salvation, so has He power to confer it also on all them that believe and obey the truth. Herein is our hope in the day of judgment, that the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son, that all men should honour the Son even as they honour the Father."
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