Treasury of David – Psalm 103, Part 4

Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. Bless ye the Lord, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure. Bless the Lord, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the Lord, O my soul. – Psalm 103:20-22

20. “Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that excel in strength.” Finding his work of praise growing upon his hands, he calls upon “the firstborn sons of light” to speak the praises of the. Lord, as well they may, for as Milton says, they best can tell. Dwelling nearer to that prepared throne than we as yet have leave to climb, they see in nearer vision the glory which we would adore. To them is given an exceeding might of intellect, and voice, and force which they delight to use in sacred services for him; let them now turn all their strength into that solemn song which we would send up to the third heaven. To him who gave angelic strength let all angelic strength be given. They are his angels, and therefore they are not loth to ring out his praises.  “That do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.” We are bidden to do these commandments, and alas we fail; let those unfallen spirits, whose bliss it is never to have transgressed, give to the Lord the glory of their holiness. They hearken for yet more commands, obeying as much by reverent listening as by energetic action, and in this they teach us how the heavenly will should evermore be done; yet even for this surpassing excellence let them take no praise, but render all to him who has made and kept them what they are. O that we could hear them chant the high praises of God, as did the shepherds on that greatest of all birth nights –

When such music sweet

Their hearts and ears did greet

As never was by mortal finger struck;

Divinely-warbled voice

Answering the stringed noise,

As well their souls in blissful rapture took:

The air, such pleasure loth to lose,

With thousand echoes still prolongs each heavenly close.

Our glad heart anticipates the hour when we shall hear them “harping in loud and solemn guise,” and all to the sole praise of God.

21. “Bless ye the Lord, all ye his hosts;” to whatever race of creatures ye may belong, for ye are all his troops, and he is the Generallissimo of all your armies. The fowl of the air and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the sea, should all unite in praising their Creator, after the best of their ability.  “Ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure” in whatever way ye serve him, bless him as ye serve. The Psalmist would have every servant in the Lord s palace unite with him, and all at once sing out the praises of the Lord. We have attached a new sense to the word “ministers” in these latter days, and so narrowed it down to those who serve in word and doctrine. Yet no true minister would wish to alter it, for we are above all men bound to be the Lord s servants, and we would, beyond all other ministering intelligences or forces, desire to bless the glorious Lord.

22. “Bless the Lord, all his works in all places of his dominion.” Here is a trinity of blessing for the thrice blessed God, and each one of the three blessings is an enlargement upon that which went before. This is the most comprehensive of all, for what can be a wider call than to all in all places? See how finite man can awaken unbounded praise! Man is but little, yet, placing his hands upon the keys of the great organ of the universe, he wakes it to thunders of adoration! Redeemed man is the voice of nature, the priest in the temple of creation, the precentor in the worship of the universe. O that all the Lord s works on earth were delivered from the vanity to which they were made subject, and brought into the glorious liberty of the children of God: the time is hastening on and will most surely come; then will all the Lord’s works bless him indeed. The immutable promise is ripening, the sure mercy is on its way. Hasten ye winged hours!

Bless the Lord, my soul.” He closes on his key-note. He cannot be content to call on others without taking his own part; nor because others sing more loudly and perfectly, will he be content to be set aside. O my soul, come home to thyself and to thy God, and let the little world within thee keep time and tune to the spheres which are ringing out Jehovah s praise. O infinitely blessed Lord, favour us with this highest blessing of being for ever and ever wholly engrossed in blessing thee.

– From C H Spurgeons Treasury of David: An Original Exposition of the Book of Psalms, Volume IV

Treasury of David – Psalm 103, Part 3

Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more. But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children; To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them. The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all. – Psalm 103:13-19

13. “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.” To those who truly reverence his holy name, the Lord is a father and acts as such. These he pities, for in the very best of men the Lord sees much to pity, and when they are at their best state they still need his compassion. This should check every propensity to pride, though at the same time it should yield us the richest comfort. Fathers feel for their children, especially when they are in pain, they would like to suffer in their stead, their sighs and groans cut them to the quick: thus sensitive towards us is our heavenly Father. We do not adore a god of stone, but the living God, who is tenderness itself. He is at this moment compassionating us, for the word is in the present tense; his pity never fails to flow, and we never cease to need it.

14.  “For he knoweth our frame.” He knows how we are made, for he made us. Our make and build, our constitution and temperament, our prevailing infirmity and most besetting temptation he well perceives, for he searches our inmost nature.  “He remembereth that we are dust.” Made of dust, dust still, and ready to return to dust. We have sometimes heard of “the Iron Duke,” and of iron constitutions, but the words are soon belied, for the Iron Duke is dissolved, and other men of like vigour are following to the grave, where “dust to dust” is an appropriate requiem. We too often forget that we are dust, and try our minds and bodies unduly by excessive mental and bodily exertion, we are also too little mindful of the infirmities of others, and impose upon them burdens grievous to be borne ; but our heavenly Father never overloads us, and never fails to give us strength equal to our day, because he always takes our frailty into account when he is apportioning to us our lot. Blessed be his holy name for this gentleness towards his frail creatures.

15.  “As for man, his days are as grass.” He lives on the grass and lives like the grass. Corn is but educated grass, and man, who feeds on it, partakes of its nature. The grass lives, grows, flowers, falls beneath the scythe, dries up, and is removed from the field: read this sentence over again, and you will find it the history of man.  If he lives out his little day, he is cut down at last, and it is far more likely that he will wither before he comes to maturity, or be plucked away on a sudden, long before he has fulfilled his time. “As a flower of the field, so he flourished.” He has a beauty and a comeliness even as the meadows have when they are yellow with the king-cups, but, alas, how shortlived! No sooner come than gone, a flash of loveliness and no more! Man is not even like a flower in the conservatory or in the sheltered garden border, he grows best according to nature, as the field-flower does, and like the unprotected beautifier of the pasture, he runs a thousand risks of coming to a speedy end. A large congregation, in many-coloured attire, always reminds us of a meadow bright with many hues; and the comparison becomes sadly true when we reflect, that as the grass and its goodliness soon pass away, even so will those we gaze upon, and all their visible beauty. Thus, too, must it be with all that comes of the flesh, even its greatest excellencies and natural virtues, for “that which is born of the flesh is flesh,” and therefore is but as grass which withers if but a breath of wind assails it. Happy are they who, born from above, have in them an incorruptible seed which liveth and abideth for ever.

16.  “For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone.” Only a little wind is needed, not even a scythe is demanded, a breath can do it, for the flower is so frail.

If one sharp wind sweep o’er the field,

It withers in an hour.

How small a portion of deleterious gas suffices to create a deadly fever, which no art of man can stay. No need of sword or bullet, a puff of foul air is deadlier far, and fails not to lay low the healthiest and most stalwart son of man. “And the place thereof shall know it no more.” The flower blooms no more. It may have a successor, but as for itself its leaves are scattered, and its perfume will never again sweeten the evening air. Man also dies and is gone, gone from his old haunts, his dear home, and his daily labours, never to return. As far as this world is concerned, he is as though he ne’er had been ; the sun rises, the moon increases or wanes, summer and winter run their round, the rivers flow, and all things continue in their courses as though they missed him not, so little a figure does he make in the affairs of nature.

Perhaps a friend will note that he is gone, and say,

One morn, I miss’d him on the accustom’d hill.

Along the heath, and near his favourite tree;

Another came, nor yet beside the rill,

Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he.

But when the “dirges due” are silent, beyond a mound of earth, and perhaps a crumbling stone, how small will be the memorial of our existence upon this busy scene I True there are more enduring memories, and an existence of another kind coeval with eternity, but these belong, not to our flesh, which is but grass, but to a higher life, in which we rise to close fellowship with the Eternal.

17. “But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him.” Blessed but! How vast the contrast between the fading flower and the everlasting God! How wonderful that his mercy should link our frailty with his eternity, and make us everlasting too! From old eternity the Lord viewed his people as objects of mercy, and as such chose them to become partakers of his grace; the doctrine of eternal election is most delightful to those who have light to see it and love wherewith to accept it. It is a theme for deepest thought and highest joy. The “to everlasting” is equally precious. Jehovah changes not, he has mercy without end as well as without beginning. Never will those who fear him find that either their sins or their needs have exhausted the great deep of his grace. The main question is, “Do we fear him!” If we are lifting up to heaven the eye of filial fear, the gaze of paternal love is never removed from us, and it never will be, world without end.  “And his righteousness unto children’s children.” Mercy to those with whom the Lord makes a covenant is guaranteed by righteousness; it is because he is just that he never revokes a promise, or fails to fulfil it. Our believing sons and their seed for ever will find the word of the Lord the same; to them will he display his grace and bless them even as he has blessed us. Let us sing, then, for posterity. The past commands our praise and the future invites it. For our descendants let us sing as well as pray. If Abraham rejoiced concerning his seed, so also may the godly, for “instead of the fathers shall be the children,” and as the last Psalm told us in its concluding verse, “the children of thy servants shall continue, and their seed shall be established before thee.”

18. Children of the righteous are not, however, promised the Lord’s mercy with out stipulation, and this verse completes the statement of the last by adding: “To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.” The parents must be obedient and the children too. We are here bidden to abide by the covenant, and those who run off to any other confidence than the finished work of Jesus are not among those who obey this precept ; those with whom the covenant is really made stand firm to it, and having begun in the Spirit, they do not seek to be made perfect in the flesh. The truly godly keep the Lord’s commands carefully they “remember”; they observe them practically “to do them”: moreover they do not pick and choose, but remember “his commandments” as such, without exalting one above another as their own pleasure or convenience may dictate.  May our offspring be a thoughtful, careful, observant race, eager to know the will of the Lord, and prompt to follow it fully, then will his mercy enrich and honour them from generation to generation.

This verse also suggests praise, for who would wish the Lord to smile on those who will not regard his ways? That were to encourage vice. From the manner in which some men unguardedly preach the covenant, one might infer that God would bless a certain set of men however they might live, and however they might neglect his laws. But the word teaches not so. The covenant is not legal, but it is holy. It is all of grace from first to last, yet it is no panderer to sin; on the contrary, one of its greatest promises is, “I will put my laws in their hearts and in their minds will I write them”; its general aim is the sanctifying of a people unto God, zealous for good works, and all its gifts and operations work in that direction. Faith keeps the covenant by looking alone to Jesus, while at the same time by earnest obedience it remembers the Lord s commandments to do them.

19. “The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens.” Here is a grand burst of song produced by a view of the boundless power, and glorious sovereignty of Jehovah. His throne is fixed, for that is the word; it is established, settled, immovable.

He sits on no precarious throne,

Nor borrows leave to be.

About his government there is no alarm, no disorder, no perturbation, no hurrying to and fro in expedients, no surprises to be met or unexpected catastrophes to be warded off;–all is prepared and fixed, and he himself has prepared and fixed it.  He is no delegated sovereign for whom a throne is set up by another; he is an autocrat, and his dominion arises from himself and is sustained by his own innate power. This matchless sovereignty is the pledge of our security, the pillar upon which our confidence may safely lean.

And his kingdom ruleth over all.” Over the whole universe he stretches his sceptre. He now reigns universally, he always has done so, and he always will. To us the world may seem rent with anarchy, but he brings order out of confusion. The warring elements are marching beneath his banner when they most wildly rush onward in furious tempest. Great and small, intelligent and material, willing and unwilling, fierce or gentle, all, all are under his sway. His is the only universal monarchy, he is the blessed and only Potentate, King of kings and Lord of lords. A clear view of his ever active, and everywhere supreme providence, is one of the most delightful of spiritual gifts; he who has it cannot do otherwise than bless the Lord with all his soul.

Thus has the sweet singer hymned the varied attributes of the Lord as seen in nature, grace, and providence, and now he gathers up all his energies for one final outburst of adoration, in which he would have all unite, since all are subjects of the Great King.

– From C H Spurgeons Treasury of David: An Original Exposition of the Book of Psalms, Volume IV

The Dead Still Speak

Of The Providence of God

Thomas Boston

Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. – Matt. 10:29

Our Lord is here encouraging his disciples against all the troubles and distresses they might meet with in their way, and particularly against the fear of men, by the consideration of the providence of God, which reaches unto the meanest of things, sparrows and the hairs of our head. Sparrows are of a mean price and small value; and yet, for as mean as they are, God preserves them, guides and disposes of all things concerning them, so that one of them cannot fall to the ground by shot or any other way, without his sovereign ordering and disposal.

The instruction deducible from the text is,

Doctrine. “There is a providence that extends itself to the least of things.

In discoursing from this doctrine, I shall.
I. Shew that there is a providence.
II. Consider its object.
III. Explain the acts thereof.
IV. Consider its properties.
V. Lastly,. make improvement.
I. I am to shew that there is a providence. This appears,
From plain scripture-testimonies; as Psalm 103:19. “His kingdom ruleth over all.” Acts 17:28. “In him we live, and move, and have our being,” Eph. 1:11. “Who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” Providence is also held forth by a threefold scripture-emblem. Chiefly, (1.) Mount Moriah, which upon occasion of the miraculous preservation of Isaac, and a ram to be put in his room in order to be sacrificed, was called JEHOVAH JIREH, i.e. The Lord will provide, Gen. 22:14. (3.) Ezekiel wheels, where there was a wheel in the middle of a wheel, denoting the agency of the first cause, and the superintending and directing providence of God, Ezek. 1.

From the nature of God, who being independent, and the first cause of all things, the creatures must needs depend upon him in their being and working. He is the end of all things, wise, knowing how to manage all for the best; powerful to effectuate whatever he has purposed; and faithful to accomplish all he has decreed, promised, or threatened.

From the harmony and order of the most confused things in the world. Every thing appears to a discerning eye to be wisely ordered, notwithstanding the confusions that seem to take place. What would become of the world, if there were not a providence seeing men that despise all order, and would fain give loose reins to their lusts and unbridled inclinations, are always the greatest party. and would overpower and destroy the smaller and most virtuous party? Herein the truth of providence clearly appears. The extraordinary judgments that have pursued and been inflicted upon wicked men, and the remarkable deliverances that have been granted to the church and people of God in all ages, do loudly proclaim a providence.

From the fulfilment of prophecies, which could not possibly be without a providence to bring them to pass.
II. Let us, in the next place, consider the object of providence, or that which it reacheth and extendeth to. And this is all the creatures, and all their actions, Heb. 1:3. –“Upholding all things by the word of his power,” Psalm 103:19. “His kingdom ruleth over all.” The angels are subject to this providence, Neh. 9:6. “Thou, even thou art Lord alone, thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all things that are therein, the seas and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all, and the host of heaven worshippeth thee.” So are also the devils, these infernal spirits, Matt. 8:31, “If thou cast us out (said they to Jesus), suffer us to go away unto the herd of swine.” It reacheth natural things, as clouds, snow, winds, &c. as appears from Psalm 104, 147. and from daily observation. Continue reading