Psalm 118:27

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 27. God is the LORD, which hath shewed us light, or "God is Jehovah," the only living and true God. There is none other God but he. The words may also be rendered, "Mighty is Jehovah." Only the power of God could have brought us such light and joy as spring from the work of our Champion and King. We have received light, by which we have known the rejected stone to be the head of the corner, and this light has led us to enlist beneath the banner of the once despised Nazarene, who is now the Prince of the kings of the earth. With the light of knowledge has come the light of joy; for we are delivered from the powers of darkness and translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son. Our knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ came not by the light of nature, nor by reason, nor did it arise from the sparks which we ourselves had kindled, nor did we receive it of men; but the mighty God alone hath showed it to us. He made a day on purpose that he might shine upon us like the sun, and he made our faces to shine in the light of that day, according to the declaration of the twenty-fourth verse. Therefore, unto him be all the honour of our enlightenment. Let us do our best to magnify the great Father of lights from whom our present blessedness has descended.

"Bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar. Some think that by this we are taught that the king offered so many sacrifices that the whole area of the court was filled, and the sacrifices were bound even up to the altar; but we are inclined to keep to our own version, and to believe that sometimes restive bullocks were bound to the altar before they were slain, in which case Mant's verse is correct":

"He, Jehovah, is our Lord:
He, our God, on us hath shined:
Bind the sacrifice with cord,
To the horned altar bind."

The word rendered "cords" carries with it the idea of wreaths and boughs, so that it was not a cord of hard, rough rope, but a decorated band; even as in our case, though we are bound to the altar of God, it is with the cords of love and the bands of a man, and not by a compulsion which destroys the freedom of the will. The sacrifice which we would present in honour of the victories of our Lord Jesus Christ is the living sacrifice of our spirit, soul, and body. We bring ourselves to his altar, and desire to offer him all that we have and are. There remains a tendency in our nature to start aside from this; it is not fond of the sacrificial knife. In the warmth of our love we come willingly to the altar, but we need constraining power to keep us there in the entirety of our being throughout the whole of life. Happily there is a cord which, twisted around the atonement, or, better still, around the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is our only Altar, can hold us, and does hold us: "For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then all died; and that he died for all, that they that live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again." We are bound to the doctrine of atonement; we are bound to Christ himself, who is both altar and sacrifice; we desire to be more bound to him than ever, our soul finds her liberty in being tethered fast to the altar of the Lord. The American Board of Missions has for its seal an ox, with an altar on one side and a plough on the other, and the motto "Ready for either," -- ready to live and labour, or ready to suffer and die. We would gladly spend ourselves for the Lord actively, or be spent by him passively, whichever may be his will; but since we know the rebellion of our corrupt nature we earnestly pray that we may be kept in this consecrated mind, and that we may never, under discouragements, or through the temptations of the world, be permitted to leave the altar, to which it is our intense desire to be for ever fastened. Such consecration as this, and such desires for its perpetuity, well beseem that day of gladness which the Lord hath made so bright by the glorious triumph of his Son, our covenant head, our well beloved.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 27. God is the LORD, which hath shewed us light. The Psalmist was clearly possessed of light, for he says, "God is the Lord, which hath shewed us light." He was evidently, then, possessed of light; and this light was in him as "the light of life." This light had shone into his heart; the rays and beams of divine truth had penetrated into his conscience. He carried about with him a light which had come from God; in this light he saw light, and in this light he discerned everything which the light manifested. Thus by this internal light he knew what was good and what was evil, what was Sweet and what was bitter, what was true and what was false, what was spiritual and what was natural. He did not say, This light came from creature exertion, this light was the produce of my own wisdom, this light was nature transmuted some action of my own will, and thus gradually rose into existence from long time and assiduous cultivation. But he ascribes the whole of that light which he possessed unto God the Lord, as the sole author and the only giver of it. Now, if God the Lord has ever showed you and me the same light which he showed his servant of old, we carry about with us more or less of a solemn conviction that we have received this light from him. There will, indeed, be many clouds of darkness to cover it; there will often be doubts and fears, hovering like mists and fogs over our souls, whether the light which we have received be from God or not. But in solemn moments when the Lord is pleased a little to revive his work; at times and seasons when he condescends to draw forth the affections of our hearts unto himself, to bring us into his presence, to hide us in some measure in the hollow of his hand, and give us access unto himself, at such moments and seasons we carry about with us, in spite of all our unbelief, in spite of all the suggestions of the enemy, in spite of all doubts and fears and suspicions that rise from the depths of the carnal mind, in spite of all these counter workings and undermining, we carry about with us at these times a solemn conviction that we have light, and that this light we have received from God. And why so? Because we can look back to a time when we walked in no such light, when we felt no such light, when everything spiritual and heavenly was dark to us, and we were dark to them.

Those things which the Spirit of God enables a man to do, are in Scripture sometimes called sacrifices. "That we may offer," we read, "spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God, by Jesus Christ." The apostle speaks of "receiving of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from the brethren at Philippi; an odour of a sweet smell; a sacrifice acceptable and well pleasing to God." Php 4:18. So he says to the Hebrew church: "But to do good and to communicate (that is, to the wants of God's people), forget not; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased." Hebrews 13:16 . Well, then, these spiritual sacrifices which a man offers unto God are bound also to the horns of the altar. They are not well pleasing in the sight of God, except they are bound to the horns of the altar, so as to derive all their acceptance from the altar. Our prayers are only acceptable to God as they are offered through the cross of Jesus. Our praises and thanksgivings are only acceptable to God as they are connected with the cross of Christ, and ascend to the Father through the propitiation of his dear Son. The ordinances of God's house are only acceptable to God as spiritual sacrifices, when they are bound to the horns of the altar. Both the ordinances of the New Testament -- baptism and the Lord's supper -- have been bound by the hands of God himself to the horns of the altar; and no one either rightly went through the one, or rightly received the other, who had not been first spiritually bound by the same hand to the horns of the altar. Every act of liberality, every cup of cold water given in the name of a disciple, every feeling of sympathy and affection, every kind word, every compassionate action, shown to a brother; all and each are only acceptable to God as they ascend to him through the mediation of his dear Son. And, therefore, every sacrifice of our own comfort, or of our own advantage, of our own time, or of our own money, for the profit of God's children, is only a spiritual and acceptable sacrifice so far as it is bound to the horns of the altar, linked on to the cross of Jesus, and deriving all its fragrance and odour from its connection with the incense there offered by the Lord of life and glory. J. C. Philpot.

Verse 27. How comfortable is the light! It is so comfortable that light and comfort are often put for the same thing: God is the LORD, which hath shewed us light, that is, the light of counsel what to do, and the light of comfort in what we do, or after all our sufferings. Light is not only a candle held to us, to do our work by, but it comforts and cheereth us in our work. Ecclesiastes 11:7 . Joseph Caryl.

Verse 27. Shewed us light: bind the sacrifice. Here is somewhat received; somewhat to be returned. God hath blessed us, and we must bless God. His grace, and our gratitude, are the two lines my discourse must run upon. They are met in my text; let them as happily meet in your hearts, and they shall not leave you till they bring you to heaven. Thomas Adams.

Verse 27. Bind the sacrifice with cords, etc. The sacrifice we are to offer to God, in gratitude for redeeming love, is ourselves, not to be slain upon the altar, but "living sacrifices" ( Romans 12:1 ) to be bound to the altar; spiritual sacrifices of prayer and praise, in which our hearts must be fixed and engaged, as the sacrifice was bound "with cords to the horns of the altar." Matthew Henry.

Verse 27. Bind the sacrifice, etc. It is a saying among the Hebrews, that the beasts that were offered in sacrifice, they were the most struggling beasts of all the rest; such is the nature of us unthankful beasts, when we should love God again, we are readier to run away from him; we must be tied to the altar with cords, to draw from us love or fear. Abraham Wright.

Verse 27. With cords. This word is sometimes used for thick twisted cords, Judges 15:13 ; sometimes for thick branches of trees, used at some feasts, Ezekiel 19:11 Leviticus 23:40 . Hereupon this sentence may two ways be read; bind the feast with thick branches, or, bind the sacrifice with cords; both mean one thing, that men should keep the festivity with joy and thanks to God, as Israel did at their solemnities. Henry Ainsworth.

Verse 27. Even unto the horns of the altar. Before these words must be understood, lead it: for the victims were bound to rings fixed in the floor. "The horns" were architectural ornaments, a kind of capitals, made of iron or of brass, somewhat in the form of the curved horns of an animal, projecting from the four angles of the altar. The officiating priest, when he prayed, placed his hands on them, and sometimes sprinkled them with the blood of the sacrifice: compare Exodus 30:3 Leviticus 4:7 Leviticus 4:18 . At the end of this verse the word saying must be supplied. Daniel Cresswell.

Verse 27. Unto the horns. That is, all the court over, until you come even to the horns of the altar, intending hereby many sacrifices or boughs. Henry Ainsworth.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 27. -- Bind the sacrifice, etc. Devotion is the mother, and she hath four daughters.

  1. Constancy: "Bind the sacrifice".
  2. Fervency: Bind it "with cords".
  3. Wisdom: Bind it "to the altar".
  4. Confidence: Even to the "horns" of the altar. --Thomas Adams.

Verse 27. -- Bind the sacrifice with cords, etc.

  1. What is the sacrifice? Our whole selves, every talent, all our time, property, position, mind, heart, temper, life to the last.
  2. Why does it need binding? It is naturally restive. Long delay, temptations, wealth, rank, discouragement, scepticism, all tend to drive it from the altar.
  3. To what is it bound? To the doctrine of atonement. To Jesus and his work. To Jesus and out work.
  4. What are the cords? Our own vows. The need of souls. Our joy in the work. The great reward. The love of Christ working upon us by the Holy Spirit.