Verse 3. Know ye that the Lord, he is God. Our worship must be intelligent. We ought to know whom we worship and why. "Man, know thyself," is a wise aphorism, yet to know our God is truer wisdom; and it is very questionable whether a man can know himself until he knows his God. Jehovah is God in the fullest, most absolute, and most exclusive sense, he is God alone; to know him in that character and prove our knowledge by obedience, trust, submission, zeal, and love is an attainment which only grace can bestow. Only those who practically recognise his Godhead are at all likely to offer acceptable praise.
It is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves. Shall not the creature reverence its maker? Some men live as if they made themselves; they call themselves "self-made men," and they adore their supposed creators; but Christians recognise the origin of their being and their well-being, and take no honour to themselves either for being, or for being what they are. Neither in our first or second creation dare we put so much as a finger upon the glory, for it is the sole right and property of the Almighty. To disclaim honour for ourselves is as necessary a part of true reverence as to ascribe glory to the Lord. "Non nobis, dominc!" will for ever remain the true believer's confession. Of late philosophy has laboured hard to prove that all things have been developed from atoms, or have, in other words, made themselves: if this theory shall ever find believers, there will certainly remain no reason for accusing the superstitious of credulity, for the amount of credence necessary to accept this dogma of scepticism is a thousandfold greater than that which is required even by an absurd belief in winking Madonnas, and smiling Bambinos. For our part, we find it far more easy to believe that the Lord made us than that we were developed by a long chain of natural selections from floating atoms which fashioned themselves.
We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. It is our honour to have been chosen from all the world besides to be his own people, and our privilege to be therefore guided by his wisdom, tended by his care, and fed by his bounty. Sheep gather around their shepherd and look up to him; in the same manner let us gather around the great Shepherd of mankind. The avowal of our relation to God is in itself praise; when we recount his goodness we are rendering to him the best adoration; our songs require none of the inventions of fictions, the bare facts are enough; the simple narration of the mercies of the Lord is more astonishing than the productions of imagination. That we are the sheep of his pasture is a plain truth, and at the same time the very essence of poetry.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 3. Know ye that the LORD he is God, &c. From the reasons of this exhortation, learn, that such is our natural atheism, that we have need again and again to be instructed, that the Lord is God; of whom, and through whom, and for whom are all things. David Dickson.
Verse 3. It is he that made us... we are his. Now, the ground of God's property in all things is his creating of all... Accordingly, you may observe in many scriptures, where the Lord's propriety is asserted, this, as the ground of it, is annexed: Psalms 89:11-12 , the heavens, the earth, the whole world, and all therein is thine. Why so? "Thou hast founded them." And so are all the regions and quarters of the world, northern and southern, western and eastern; for Tabor was on the west and Hermon on the east; all are thine, for thou hast created them. So sea and land, Psalms 95:5 . As all things measured by time, so time itself, the measure of all, Psalms 74:16-17 . "Thou hast made the light," i.e. the moon for the night and the sun for the day. He lays claim to all the climes of the earth, and all the seasons of the year on this account; he made them. This will be more evident and unquestionable, if we take notice of these particulars:
- He made all for himself. He was not employed by any to make it for another, for in that case sometimes the maker is not the owner; but the Lord did employ himself in that great work, and for himself did he undertake and finish it. Proverbs 16:4 Colossians 1:15-16 .
- He made all things of nothing, either without any matter at all, or without any but what himself had before made of nothing. A potter when he makes an earthenware vessel, if the clay be not his own which he makes it of, he is not the full owner of the vessel, though he formed it: "the form is his, the matter is another's;" but since the Lord made all of nothing, or of such matter as himself had made, all is wholly his, matter and form, all entirely.
- He made all without the help or concurrence of any other. There was none that assisted him, or did in the least co-operate with him in the work of creation... Those that assist and concur with another in the making of a thing may claim a share in it; but here lies no such claim in this case, where the Lord alone did all, alone made all. All is his only.
- He upholds all things in the same manner as he created, continues the being of all things in the same way as he gave it. He does it of himself, without other support, without any assistant. All would fall into nothing in a moment, if he did not every moment bear them up. So that all things on this account have still their being from him every moment, and their well-being too, and all the means which conduce to it; and therefore all are his own. David Clarkson.
Verse 3. It is he that hath made us. The emperor Henry, while out hunting on the Lord's day called Quinquagesima, his companions being scattered, came unattended to the entrance of a certain wood; and seeing a church hard by, he made for it, and feigning himself to be a soldier, simply requested a mass of the priest. Now that priest was a man of notable piety, but so deformed in person that he seemed a monster rather than a man. When he had attentively considered him, the emperor began to wonder exceedingly why God, from whom all beauty proceeds, should permit so deformed a man to administer his sacraments. But prescntly, when mass commenced, and they came to the passage, Know ye that the Lord he is God, which was chanted by a boy, the priest rebuked the boy for singing negligently, and said with a loud voice, It is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves. Struck by these words, and believing the priest to be a prophet, the emperor raised him, much against his will, to the archbishopric of Cologne, which see he adorned by his devotion and excellent virtues. From "Roger of Wendover's (1237) Flowers of History."
Verse 3. It is he that hath made us... we are his. Many a one has drawn balsatalc consolation from these words; as for instance Melancthon when disconsolately sorrowful over the body of his son in Dresden on the 12th July, 1559. But in "He made us and we are his," there is also a rich mine of comfort and of admonition, for the Creator is also the Owner, his heart clings to his creature, and the creature owes itself entirely to him, without whom it would not have had a being, and would not continue in being. F. Delitzsch.
Verse 3. He that made us, i.e. made us what we are, a people to himself; as in Ps 95:5, 1 Samuel 12:6 , and Deuteronomy 32:6 . It was not we that made ourselves his (compare Ezekiel 29:3 ). "He (and not we ourselves) made us His people, and the flock whom he feeds." Andrew A. Bonar.
Verse 3. Not we is added, because any share, on the part of the church, in effecting the salvation bestowed upon her, would weaken the testimony which this bears to the exclusive Godhead of the Lord. F. W. Hengstenberg.
Verse 3, 5. Know ye what God is in himself, and what he is to you. Knowledge is the mother of devotion, and of all obedience; blind sacrifices will never please a seeing God. "Know" it, i.e. consider and apply it, and then you will be more close and constant, more inward and serious, in the worship of him. Let us know, then, these seven things concerning the Lord Jehovah, with whom we have to do in all the acts of religious worship.
- That the Lord he is God, the only living and true God; that he is a being infinitely perfect, self-existent, and self-sufficient, and the fountain of all being.
- That he is our Creator: It is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves. We do not, we could not make ourselves; it is God's prerogative to be his own cause; our being is derived and depending.
- That therefore he is our rightful owner. The Masorites, by altering one letter in the Hebrew, read it, "He made us, and his we are," or, "to him we belong." Put both the readings together, and we learn, that because God "made us, and not we ourselves," therefore we are not our own but his.
- That he is our sovereign Ruler. We are his people, or subjects, and he is our prince, our rector or governor, that gives laws to us as moral agents, and will call us to an account for what we do.
- That he is our bountiful Benefactor; we are not only his sheep whom he is entitled to, but the sheep of his pasture, whom he takes care of.
- That he is a God of infinite mercy and good ( Psalms 100:5 ); The Lord is good, and therefore doth good; his mercy his everlasting.
- That he is a God of inviolable truth and faithfulness; His truth endureth to all generations, and no word of his shall fall to the ground as antiquated or revoked. Matthew Henry.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 3. Know ye that the LORD he is God. That you may be true amid superstition, hopeful in contrition, persistent in supplication, unwearied in exertion, calm in affliction, firm in temptation, bold in persecution, and happy in dissolution. W. J.
Verse 3. We are his people. We have been twice born, as all his people are. We love the society of his people. We are looking unto Jesus like his people. We are separated from the world as his people. We experience the trials of his people. We prefer the employment of his people. We enjoy the privileges of his people. W. J.