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" O come hither, and behold the works of God: how W07iderful He is in His doing toward the children of men. He turned the sea into dry land, so that they went through the zuater on foot ; there did we rejoice thereof.'" " O come hither, and hearken, all ye that fear God, and I will tell you what He hath done for my soul." — Psalm Ixvi. 4, 5, and 14. THIS sixty-sixth Psalm is ascribed almost unanimously among commentators to the time, if not to the pen, of Hezekiah. It seems to have been composed just before or just after some great deliverance of Israel, and no doubt, if we are right in attributing it to the reign of Hezekiah, it refers to the great deliverance of Jerusalem from the armv of Sennacherib, which melted away in one night. The reference which it makes to the passage of the Red Sea, and forty years afterwards of the Jordan, as on dry land, gives it a special application to the Paschal season which we are III. I
114 PSALM LXVI. again approacliiiig. Wlien as Israel emerged from the Red Sea on its opposite shore in safety, seeing their enemies drowned in the waters which threatened to be their destruction, so our Lord Jesus Christ rose from the grave, after His passage of the Eed Sea of His own blood, and became victorious over death and the grave. It is to this that special reference is made at every baptism, when we say, '^Almighty and Everlasting God, Who of Thy great mercy didst save oah and his family in the Ark from perishing by water ; and didst safely lead the children of Israel, Thy people, through the Red
Sea, figuring thereby Thy Holy Baptism." There is one thing peculiar in this Psalm, and that is, the sudden change it makes at and after the thirteenth verse from the plural to the singular number. After that verse it is "we" and "us;" but at and after the thirteenth verse it speaks only of one person. Thus the two parts of my text begin Avith the same words, "O come hither," but the first says, "and behold the works of God: how wonderful He is in His doings towards the children of men." The latter verse says, " O come hither and hearken, I will tell you what He (God) hath done for my soul." The explanation of this has been thought to be this, that the first twelve verses were to be sung in chorus, the latter only by a single voice ; still I should rather regard them as, first, the expression of the devout thankfulness of Israel for their national and sudden deliverance from the
DARK ESS GO E. Il5 Assyrians, and secondly, as Hezekiali's own and personal acknowledgment to God for what He had done for him. That is a very beautiful sentence, containing much the same great truth, as each part of my text expresses, which occurs in a later Psalm, I mean this : " To the godly there riseth up light in the darkness." It was a dark time indeed to Jerusalem, and especially to Hezekiah, when Jerusalem was surrounded by this large Assyrian army, and all hope of deliverance, except by Divine interposition, seemed taken away. Then it was that Isaiah inspired courage, and raised the hopes of the good king by these words spoken of their enemies, "Because thy rage against Me, and thy tumult is come up into My ears, therefore I will put My hook in thy nose, and My bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way by which thou earnest. For I will defend this city to save it for
Mine own sake, and for My servant David's sake." AU this came to pass by the sudden destruction of Sennacherib's army in one night, the work of the Angel of death, as of old in Egypt on the Paschal Eve. It was a dark night again, and all hope seemed past and gone, when as soon as the Sabbath was past, before day had yet dawned, the faithful women set out to complete, as they intended, their care for the Lord's Body, which the approach of the Sabbath had interrupted. But Israel had once more, as it were, passed
Il6 PSALM LXVI. through in safety the waters of the Red Sea. The great representative seed of Abraham, the Son of David, had already risen when they came ; the stone was rolled away, and the tomb was already empty, except for the two Angels in white, who sat where the head and the feet of the Lord had lain. And so of that moment we may say once more with true Christian joy and significance, "0 come hither, and behold the works of God: how wonderful He is in His doings toward the children of men. He turned the sea into dry land, so that they went through the water on foot ; there did we rejoice thereof." " come hither and hearken, all ye that fear God, and I will tell you what He hath done for my soul." "I 'ow is Christ risen from the dead and become the firstf ruits of them that slept : for since by man (Adam) came death, by man (Christ) came also the Resurrection of the dead : for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." "Because I live, ye shall live also." "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus shall God bring with Him." These are the great truths, this last the greatest of all truths, which we have to repeat again and again, and to hand on from
generation to generation. It is the centre of all our hopes, that as Israel passed safe through the Red Sea, and again throug-h the waters of the Jordan, so too, as Christ passed through death and the grave to His Eternal Glory, and highest exaltation at God's Right
O MORE SEA. 11/ Hand, so may we, living our life here below in and Tinto Him, pass througli death and the grave unto Eternal Life with God for ever in Heaven." This is of course our greatest change of all, when this mortal shall have put on Immortality, and we shall be clothed upon with the Glory and Righteousness won for us through our Great Redeemer. Then, above all other times, shall we say, "0 come hither, and behold the works of God : how wonderful He is in His doing toward the children of men." " come hither, and hearken, all ye that fear God: and I will tell you what He hath done for my soul." I was weak, but now am strong ; I was mortal, but now am I clothed upon with life for ever. I was tempted, but now am I free for ever from all fear of loss and falling away. ow am I one with Christ, and He one with me for evermore. But in lesser ways it is the experience of every devout life, of every faithful follower of Christ, that God is for ever making a way for him, as it were, " through the Red Sea." And we may each continually be saying, even in this life, "0 come hither, and hearken, all ye that fear God ; and I will tell you what He hath done for my soul." That mystical interpretation of "the sea" which is given to many passages in which "the sea" is mentioned, which applies it to express the troubles and restlessness of this world by its perpetual motion and
its sudden storms, which all man's efforts are in vain to
Il8 PSALM LXVl. resist, in this we may truly see an emblem of this troublesome world, never quiet, but always full of sorrow and trials of some kind or other. Something of this kind seems especially to interpret the various references to "the sea" in the Book of the Revelations, especially when near its close we are told that "the Sea shall give up the dead which are in it," but in the glorious Yision of the IS^ew Heaven and the ew Earth, " there was no more Sea." Let us look, I would say, on the sea as the type of all those troubles and trials which fall so thickly around us, if not at this moment upon ourselves ; yet in them all and through them all, as my text says, "He turned the sea into dry land ; so that they went through the water on foot; there did we rejoice thereof." It was so with the faithful women on the morning of the Resurrection. It is so with each of us if from day to day we try to follow God and to do His wiU in all things. It is a very blessed promise for us to rest upon that "Godwin not suifer us to be tempted above that we are able to bear," but wiU ever make a way for His own people to escape. It is not well for any one to pass through life looking only on the dark side of things ; and not rather saying with the Psabnist, "^Yhen I said my foot hath slipped. Thy mercy, Lord, held me up. In the multitude of my sorrows which I had in my heart Thy comforts have refreshed my soul."
SYMPATHY OF ATIO S. II 9
It is thus tliat God is continually bringing good out of evil and turning evil into good, frustrating the devices of evil men, turning the sea into dry land, so that we may walk through the water on foot, and therein rejoice. The world of our day is full of wars and rumours of wars, yet with all this, those international acts of love and mercy which our own days have produced go far to compensate for the wide-spreading suffering they produce. "If thine enemy hunger, feed him: if he thirst, give him drink : for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head." And so it is, the great and free intercourse which steam and telegraphic communication have brought about in our day, has led to many acts of international sympathy, in which we may well hope that our own land has taken and will ever take a foremost and energetic part. It is thus that we may make a way through the sea, wherein to walk, and may prove more and more how true it is, that every cloud, however dark, yet *'has a silver lining." There is no Winter comes without its bright fires to cheer us, and its hopes of a spring to follow, when all ature will awake and revive ; and we leave no open grave without the thought that "the Spirit saith, "Write, from henceforth blessed are the dead v/hich die in the Lord, for they rest from their labours, and their works do follow them." It is in thus feeling that God ever "makes a way through the sea" for us to walk in, that I would
120 PSALM LXVI. say to all, let us try to live. Let us be sure that He careth for us. Though a Joseph be in prison, or a Daniel in the lions' den, yet both found in them the road which led to their exaltation.
If it be the case with any of us, as it often is, "Thou, God, hast proved us : Thou also hast tried us, like as silver is tried," yet there stands the testimony of the Apostle " that the trial of your Faith worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope, and hope maketh not ashamed." " Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the Crown of life."
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