Verse 5. Gather my saints together unto me. Go, ye swift winged messengers, and separate the precious from the vile. Gather out the wheat of the heavenly garner. Let the long scattered, but elect people, known by my separating grace to be my sanctified ones, be now assembled in one place. All are not saints who seem to be so -- a severance must be made; therefore let all who profess to be saints be gathered before my throne of judgment, and let them hear the word which will search and try the whole, that the false may be convicted and the true revealed. Those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice; this is the grand test, and yet some have dared to imitate it. The covenant was ratified by the slaying of victims, the cutting and dividing of offerings; this the righteous have done by accepting with true faith the great propitiatory sacrifice, and this the pretenders have done in merely outward form. Let them be gathered before the throne for trial and testing, and as many as have really ratified the covenant by faith in the Lord Jesus shall be attested before all worlds as the objects of distinguishing grace, while formalists shall learn that outward sacrifices are all in vain. Oh, solemn assize, how does my soul bow in awe at the prospect thereof!
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 5. Gather, etc. To whom are these words addressed? Many suppose to the angels, as the ministers of God's will; but it is unnecessary to make the expression more definite than it is in the Psalm. J. J. Stewart Perowne.
Verse 5. My saints, the objects of my mercy, those whom I have called and specially distinguished. The term is here descriptive of a relation, not of an intrinsic quality. J. A. Alexander.
Verse 5. Gather my saints together unto me. There is a double or twofold gathering to Christ. There is a gathering unto Christ by faith, a gathering within the bond of the covenant, a gathering into the family of God, a gathering unto the root of Jesse, standing up for an ensign of the people. "In that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek; and his rest shall be glorious." Isaiah 11:10 . This is the main end of the gospel, the great work of ministers, the gathering of sinners unto Christ. But then there is a gathering at the general judgment; and this is the fathering that is here spoken of. This gathering is consequential to the other. Christ will gather none to him at the last day but those that are gathered to him by faith here; he will give orders to gather together unto him all these, and none but these, that have taken hold of his covenant ...
I would speak of Christ's owning and acknowledging the saints at his second coming. His owning and acknowledging them is imported in his giving these orders: Gather my saints together unto me. ... Now upon this head I mention the things following: --
- Saintship will be the only mark of distinction in that day. There are many marks of distinction now; but these will all cease, and this only will remain.
- Saintship will then be Christ's badge of honour. Beware of mocking at saintship, or sanctity, holiness and purity; for it is Christ's badge of honour, the garments with which his followers are clothed, and will be the only badge of honour at the great day.
- Christ will forget and mistake none of the saints. Many of the saints are forgotten here, it is forgotten that such persons were in the world, but Christ will forget and mistake none of them at the great day; he will give forth a list of all his saints, and give orders to gather them all unto him.
- He will confess, own, and acknowledge them before his Father, and his holy angels. Matthew 10:32 Luke 12:8 Revelation 3:5 . They are to go to my Father's house, and they are to go thither in my name, in my right, and at my back; and so it is necessary I should own and acknowledge them before my Father. But what need is there for his owning them before the angels? Answer. They are to be the angel's companions, and so it is necessary he should own them before the angels. This will be like a testimonial for them unto the angels. Lastly. The evidences of his right to and propriety in them, will then be made to appear. Malachi 3:17 : "And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels." It is too late for persons to become his then; so the meaning is, they shall evidently appear to be mine. James Scot,
- Gather my saints together unto me. Our text may be considered as the commission given by the great Judge to his angels -- those ministering spirits who do his will, hearkening to the voice of his power. The language of the text is in accordance with that which was uttered by our Lord when, alluding to the coming of the Son of Man, he says, "And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." But previous to this final, this general gathering together of his saints to judgment, Jehovah gathers them together in various ways, in various places, and by various means, both of providence and of grace. Previous to his being seated on a throne of judgment, we behold him sitting on a throne of mercy, and we hear him saying, Gather my saints together unto me. These words lead us to notice --
- The characters described, My saints.
- The command issued, Gather my saints together unto me.
- THE CHARACTERS HERE DESCRIBED -- my saints, we are to understand my holy ones -- those who have been sanctified and set apart by God. None of us possess this character by nature. We are born sinners, and there is no difference; but by divine grace we experience a change of nature, and consequently a change of name. The title of saint is frequently given to the people of God in derision. "Such an one," says a man of the world, "is one of your saints." But, my brethren, no higher honour can be conferred upon us than to be denominated saints, if we truly deserve that character; but in what way do we become saints? We become saints --
- By divine choice. The saints are the objects of everlasting love; their names are written in the Lamb's book of life; and it is worthy of remark that wherever the people of God are spoken of in sacred Scripture, as the objects of that everlasting love, it is in connection with their personal sanctification. Observe, they are not chosen because they are saints, nor because it is foreseen that they will be so, but they are chosen to be saints; sanctification is the effect and the only evidence of election. We become saints --
- By a divine change which is the necessary consequence of this election. An inward, spiritual, supernatural, universal change is effected in the saints by the power of the Holy Ghost. Thus they are renewed in the spirit of their minds, and made partakers of a divine nature ... Remember, then, this important truth, that Christians are called by the gospel to be saints; that you are Christians, not so much by your orthodoxy as by your holiness; that you are saints no further than as you are holy in all manner of conversation.
- The people of God furnish an evidence of being saints by their godly conduct. "By their fruits," not by their feelings; not by their lips, not by their general profession, but, "by their fruits shall ye know them."
- The character of the saints is evidenced by divine consecration. The people of God are called holy inasmuch as they are dedicated to God. It is the duty and the privilege of saints to consecrate themselves to the service of God. Even a heathen philosopher could say, "I lend myself to the world, but I give myself to the gods. But we possess more light and knowledge, and are therefore laid under greater obligation than was Seneca."
- THE COMMAND ISSUED. Gather my saints together unto me. Jehovah gathers his saints to himself in various ways.
- He gathers them to himself in their conversion. The commission given by Christ to his ministers is, "Go ye forth into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature," or in other words, Gather my saints together unto me. The gospel is to be preached to sinners in order that they may become saints.
- Saints are gathered together by God in public worship ...
- He gathers his saints together to himself in times of danger. When storms appear to be gathering around them, he is desirous to screen them from the blast. He say to them, in the language of Isaiah, "Come, my people, and enter into thy chamber -- the chamber of my perfections and my promises -- enter into thy chamber and shut the doors about thee, and hide thyself until the calamity is overpast."
- God gathers his saints together in the service of his church. Thus Christ collected his apostles together to give them their apostolic commission to go and teach all nations. At the period of the Reformation, the great Head of the church raised up Luther and Calvin, together with other eminent reformers, in order that they might light up a flame in Europe, yea, throughout the world, that the breath of popery should never be able to blow out.
- God gathers his saints together in death, and at the resurrection. "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints." This is the commission which death is habitually receiving -- "Go, death, and gather such and such of my saints unto me." As the gardener enters the garden, and plucks up the full blown flower and the ripened fruit, so Jesus Christ enters the garden of his church and gathers his saints to himself; for he says, "Father, I will that all they whom thou hast given me may be with me, where I am, and behold my glory." Condensed from J. Sibree's "Sermon preached at the reopening of Surrey Chapel, August 29th, 1830."
Verse 5. (second clause). Made, or ratifying a covenant; literally, cutting, striking, perhaps in allusion to the practice of slaying and dividing victims as a religious rite, accompanying solemn compacts. (See Genesis 15:10-18 .) The same usage may be referred to in the following words, over sacrifice, i.e., standing over it: or on sacrifice, i.e., founding the engagement on a previous appeal to God. There is probably allusion to the great covenant transaction recorded in Exodus 24:4-8 . This reference to sacrifice shows clearly that what follows was not intended to discredit or repudiate that essential symbol of the typical or ceremonial system. J. A. Alexander.
Verse 5. Made a covenant with me. Formerly soldiers used to take an oath not to flinch from their colours, but faithfully to cleave to their leaders; thus they called sacramentum militaire, a military oath; such an oath lies upon every Christian. It is so essential to the being of a saint, that they are described by this, Gather together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me. We are not Christians till we have subscribed this covenant, and that without any reservation. When we take upon us the profession of Christ's name, we enlist ourselves in his muster roll, and by it do promise that we will live and die with him in opposition to all his enemies ... He will not entertain us till we resign up ourselves freely to his disposal, that there may be no disputing with is commands afterwards, but, as one under his authority, go and come at his word. William Gurnall.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
- The court called in the name of the King of kings.
- The judgment set, and the judge taking his seat.
- The parties summoned; Psalms 50:8 .
- The issue of this solemn trial foretold; Psalms 50:6 . Matthew Henry.
- God's call to man.
- Man's call to God.
Verse 5. The great family gathering.
- Who are gathered.
- How they are gathered.
- To whom.
- When they are gathered.
Verse 5. (last clause).
- The covenant.
- The sacrifice which ratifies it.
- How we may be said to make it.