CREATION AND REDEMPTION.
1 O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! Who hast set thy glory above the heavens.
2 Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength Because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the
3 When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, The moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;
4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou
5 For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, And hast crowned him with glory and honour.
6 Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet;
7 All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field;
8 The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea,
And whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.
9 O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth !—Psalm vm.
A SWEET song this for the night season, alike literally and spiritually considered. The infinite condescension of the great Jehovah, the glory of our God, the high calling of men as realized in and through Christ, and the devout praises of His people, are its exalted theme. Nor is it merely individual experience which here finds expression; it is the song of the Church, as appears from the opening words, 'O Jehovah our Lord.' For however our views and feelings may differ, in this are we all agreed—to ascribe unto Him all honour, glory, and praise: 'How excellent' (strong, splendid) 'is Thy name in all the earth!' The first and strongest feeling is that of wonderment and adoration. Look wherever we may,—over ' the whole earth,'—it seems as if the chorus rose from all His creatures, animate and inanimate; as if one truth were reflected by all creation,—the might and glory of Him who is Jehovah and our Lord, our covenant God and almighty King. And what reason have we to say this, who have experienced His gracious power, and His powerful grace! And as yet, the kingdoms of this world have not become the kingdoms of our Lord. What when the whole earth shall be filled with His glory! It is not devout nor Christian to take a gloomy or morose view of matters. True, there is no light in the creature; but the Lord is the glory of them. A world without God were force without object; mere force, terrible but not beautiful. But a world which, like a glass, though dimmed, reflects His brightness, must be beautiful. To see God in the world, and the world as in God, is true philosophy and true theology. These are God's heavens ; this is God's earth, God's sun, moon, and stars; and I am not only one of His creatures, but His own child. To read the book of nature properly, we must first learn the language of Canaan, in which its lessons and secrets are written. Wretched indeed were he who could go through the world without God! Yet is it not in nature to lead up to 'nature's God.' Hers is but the silvery light of the moon, or the trembling brightness of the stars, by which I cannot read those truths which are revealed in His Word. Since the Fall, we read nature only by night-light.
Yet all the more wonderful is His condescension 'to men of low estate.' His glory is in the heavens; His might is founded upon earth in 'the mouth of babes and sucklings.' These are the bulwarks which He opposes to ' the enemy and the revengeful.' His kingdom needeth not material force nor mighty defenders. 'Children and babes' form the outworks of His 'city' The very terms are significant—the word 'child' ('babe'in our version) being probably derived from the idea of playfulness, and that of ' babe,' or suckling, giving the idea of an infant which has just begun to articulate. O my soul, when wilt thou learn this, and be contentedly acquiescing in it: 'Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord'? Our distrusts and fears are the offspring of unbelief. So far as we individually are concerned, 'when I am weak, then am I strong.' Similarly with reference to His kingdom, whether in reference to its establishment, its progress, or its defence. If we are God's children, He will ever teach us this lesson, perhaps by painful experiences. So often as I lean on man, or hope for good from anything here, let. me bless God if all gives way under me. But let me look upward and see the fringes of His mantle of glory on the heavens, and what joyful confidence fills my heart! Christ was a babe, and lay weak and seemingly powerless in the manger. The children of Jerusalem brought their hosanna to heaven's King—the only hosanna which His royal city offered Him. And still, 'out of the mouth of babes and sucklings Thou hast ordained strength.'
But what a contrast between heaven and earth, between the magnitude of the one and the seeming insignificance of the other! 'When I consider Thy heavens, the workmanship of Thy fingers, the moon' (or, as the term means, 'the night-wanderer') 'and the stars' (or, 'the round, spherical bodies') 'which Thou hast formed' (set up or constructed and placed), then, truly, how small is man! But the question which would seem to raise our unbelief, also for ever silences it. For God 'remembereth him,' though he be only'man' (the term being probably derived from 'frail'), and 'visiteth,' or looketh upon, careth for him, though he be but 'the son of man'—weak, powerless, and passing away. O that we could in some measure realize these precious truths! Miserably small and impotent though man be, God remembereth and visiteth him. And when God remembereth, He looketh down upon and careth for us. The merest speck in God's uerse becomes a precious speck—a jewel—when God looketh upon it.
Comforting as all this is, it necessarily implies and presupposes Christ. Hence ver. 5, which was true of man as he came from the hand of God, is only really fulfilled in Christ himself, and through Christ in redeemed humanity. Most aptly is it therefore applied to the Lord, the second Adam, the true Man, the Head of redeemed humanity, in such a passage as Heb. ii. 6-8. For what was originally intended in reference to humanity, and what in all its fulness applies to redeemed humanity, has been brought to pass in Christ and through Christ. The image of God, defaced by sin, has been exhibited in Christ and by Christ; the dominion lost
by the fall has been restored in the Saviour and through the Saviour. Nay, in their literal application, vers. 5-9 apply only to Christ and to His new creation. 'Made a little lower than Elohim,' He, and they in Him, have been 'crowned with glory and honour.' The sway which Jesus exercised upon earth is not only that of the Son of God, but of the God-man. No doubt, in 'the world to come,'—on ransomed and restored earth—Christ's people will also exercise dominion. There will be no discord; but even as humanity will welcome and own its Lord, so earth her heaven-appointed lord and master. Yet would we remember two things in connexion with this blessed prospect. On the one hand, we observe the present dissonance introduced by sin, when man owns not his God, and creation disowns her lord. blessed be His name that this dissonance shall be resolved in the day of His coming. Again, how intensely true has it become, beyond what probably Old Testament saints could have hoped when they saw the day of Christ afar off: 'Thou hast crowned Him with glory and honour ;' 'Thou hast put all things under His feet' (1 Cor. xv. 27). What a series of glorious realities here opens to our minds! And—' if sons, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ! Truly may the Church add, by way of joyous Amen: 'O Jehovah, our Lord, how excellent is Thy name upon all the earth!'
1. Let me daily remember that the 'reproach of Christ' has not ceased. Not only must 'all that will live godly in Christ Jesus suffer persecution,' each in his own way, but 'Christ crucified' and the whole dispensation of grace is 'to the Jews a stumblingblock and unto the Greeks foolishness.' Nor do I require to go out of myself to hear such objections raised. Even the glorious works of God, so far from leading to devout acknowledgment and adoration of our Father in Christ, through the alienation and unbelief of our hearts, too often only raise doubting questions. 'This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.' But of what infinite value is each soul, created in His own image, and destined to reflect His glory throughout eternity! God has condescended to us—to me. Then, when by faith I have grasped the truth as it is in Jesus, let me look up to Thy heavens, and around upon all the workmanship of thy fingers. This God is our God ; this power, wisdom, and goodness are treasured up for us in the fulness of grace which is in Jesus. The Church of God should hear the anthem of creation (Ps. viii. 1-3), and respond to it in the language of confession (ver. 4), of blessed faith (ver. 5), of expectant hope (vers. 6-8), and of praise (ver. 9).
2. This is one of our great temptations—to expect spiritual results from visible and ponderable means. Men, money, influence, talents,—how do we trust in them, and how prone are we to attach undue value to them !' Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils; for wherein is he to be accounted of?' Yet with every new antichristian movement (whether in the direction of unbelief or misbelief) how much am I moved ! —every man of talent or wealth or station who declares or acts against Christ, what 'dread!' And how sadly do we decline, under the influence of such feelings, from the simplicity of our faith; how prone are we, like Barnabas of old, to be ' carried away with their dissimulation!' Nothing is more sad than the man-and-mammon worship even of believers. There is only one remedy for this grievous distemper—to look up straight to God in Christ, and to realize that the work, the word, and the power, are alike His. It depends in no way upon man; all comes directly from Thee. Thus alone shall my heart be comforted and established.
3. But if this great God be thy God, O my soul, how safely canst thou repose! Rest, for the Master liveth and reigneth. We believe in God, we believe also in Thee. Thou whose word has called forth these worlds, whose fingers have framed these heavens, knowest us, rememberest us, visitest us, lovest us, carest for us. It is enough; our Joseph is alive. 'All things are yours; whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come; all are yours ; and ye are Christ's ; and Christ is God's.' This is our Father's provision, the lot of our inheritance and the portion of our cup, for ever.
He came in weakness, comes in power,
His glory yet hath its full hour,
Wheu in the blue meridian
The sun shall fade, grow cold and wan;
When brighter, keener lightnings play,
And blaze into the Judgment-day,
O King of Glory, thus again
Art Thou to come, the Judge of men.