Verse 7. For he is our God. Here is the master reason for worship. Jehovah has entered into covenant with us, and from all the world beside has chosen us to be his own elect. If others refuse him homage, we at least will render it cheerfully. He is ours, and our God; ours, therefore will we love him; our God, therefore will we worship him. Happy is that man who can sincerely believe that this sentence is true in reference to himself.
And we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. As he belongs to us, so do we belong to him. "My Beloved is mine, and I am his." And we are his as the people whom he daily feeds and protects. Our pastures are not ours, but his; we draw all our supplies from his stores. We are his, even as sheep belong to the shepherd, and his hand is our rule, our guidance, our government, our succour, our source of supply. Israel was led through the desert, and we are led through this life by "that great Shepherd of the sheep." The hand which cleft the sea and brought water from the rock is still with us, working equal wonders. Can we refuse to "worship and bow down" when we clearly see that "this God is our God for ever and ever, and will be our guide, even unto death"?
But what is this warning which follows? Alas, it was sorrowfully needed by the Lord's ancient people, and is not one whir the less required by ourselves. The favoured nation grew deaf to their Lord's command, and proved not to be truly his sheep, of whom it is written, "My sheep hear my voice": will this turn out to be our character also? God forbid.
To day if ye will hear his voice. Dreadful "if." Many would not hear, they put off the claims of love, and provoked their God." Today," in the hour of grace, in the day of mercy, we are tried as to whether we have an ear for the voice of our Creator. Nothing is said of tomorrow, "he limiteth a certain day," he presses for immediate attention, for our own sakes he asks instantaneous obedience. Shall we yield it? The Holy Ghost saith "Today," will we grieve him by delay?
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 7. We are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. See how elegantly he hath transposed the order of the words, and as it were not given its own attribute to each word; that we may understand these very same to be "the sheep", who are also "the people." He said not, the sheep of his pasture, and the people of his hand; which might be thought more congruous, since the sheep belong to the pasture; but he said, "the people of his pasture": the people themselves are sheep. But again, since we have sheep which we buy, not which we create; and he had said above, "Let us fall down before our Maker"; it is rightly said, "the sheep of his hand." No man maketh for himself sheep, he may buy them, they may be given, he may find them, he may collect them, lastly he may steal them; make them he cannot. But our Lord made us; therefore "the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand", are the very sheep which he hath deigned by his grace to create unto himself. --Augustine.
Verse 7. The sheep of his hand, is a fit though figurative expression, the shepherd that feeds, and rules, and leads the sheep, doing it by his hand, which manages the rod and staff ( Psalms 23:4 ), by which they are administered. The Jewish Arabs read, the people of his feeding or, flock, and the sheep of his guidance. --H. Hammond.
Verse 7. For we are his people whom he feeds in his pastures, and his sheep whom he leads as by his hand. (French Version.) Here is a reason to constrain us to praise God; it is this, -- that not only has he created us, but that he also directs us by special providence, as a shepherd governs his flock. Jesus Christ, Divine Shepherd of our souls, who not only feeds us in his pastures, but himself leads us with his hand, as intelligent sheep. Loving Shepherd, who feeds us not only from the pastures of Holy Wilt, but even with his own flesh. What subjects of ceaseless adoration for a soul penetrated by these great verities! What a fountain of tears of joy at the sight of such prodigious mercy! --Quesnel.
Verse 7. Today if ye will hear his voice. If we put of repentance another day, we have a day more to repent of, and a day less to repent in. --W. Mason.
Verse 7. He that hath promised pardon on our repentance hath not promised to preserve our lives till we repent. --Francis Quarles.
Verse 7. You cannot repent too soon, because you do not know how soon it may be too late. --Thomas Fuller.
Verse 7. If ye will hear his voice. Oh! what an if is here! what a reproach is here to those that hear him not! "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me"; "but ye will not come to me that ye might have life." And yet there is mercy, there is still salvation, if ye will hear that voice. Israel heard it among the thunders of Sinai, "which voice they that heard it entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more"; so terrible was the sight and sound that even Moses said, "I exceedingly quake and fear": and yet they heard too the Lord's still voice of love in the noiseless manna that fell around their tents, and in the gushing waters of the rock that followed them through every march for forty years. Yet the record of Israel's ingratitude runs side by side with the record of God's mercies -- "My people would not hearken to my voice, and Israel would none of me." --Barton Bouchier.
Verse 7. If ye will hear his voice. And yet, as S. Bernard tells us, there is no difficulty at all in hearing it; on the contrary, the difficulty is to stop our ears effectually against it, so clear is it in enunciation, so constant in appeal. Yet there are many who do not hear, from divers causes; because they are far off; because they are deaf; because they sleep; because they turn their heads aside; because they stop their ears; because they hurry away to avoid hearing; because they are dead; all of them topics of various forms and degrees of unbelief. --Bernard and Hugo Cardinalis, in Neale and Littledale.
Verse 7. If ye will hear his voice. These words seem to allude to the preceding words, in which we are represented as the sheep of God's pasture, and are to be considered as an affectionate call of our heavenly Shepherd to follow and obey him. --From "Lectures on the Liturgy, from the Commentary of Peter Waldo", 1821.
Verse 7-8. -- It will be as difficult, nay, more difficult, to come to Christ tomorrow, than it is today: therefore today hear his voice, and harden not your heart. Break the ice now, and by faith venture upon your present duty, wherever it lies; do what you are now called to. You will never know how easy the yoke of Christ is, till it is bound about your necks, nor how light his burden is, till you have taken it up. While you judge of holiness at a distance, as a thing without you and contrary to you, you will never like it. Come a little nearer to it; do but take it in, actually engage in it, and you will find religion carries meat in its mouth; it is of a reviving, nourishing, strengthening nature. It brings that along with it, that enables the soul cheerfully to go through with it. --Thomas Cole (1627-1697) in the "Morning Exercises."
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 7. The entreaty of the Holy Ghost.
- The special voice -- "the Holy Ghost saith" --
- In Scripture.
- In the hearts of his people.
- In the awakened.
- By his deeds of grace.
- A special duty, "hear his voice", instructing, commanding, inviting, promising, threatening.
- A special time -- "today." While God speaks, after so long a time, in the day of grace, now, in your present state.
- The special danger -- "harden not your hearts", by indifference, unbelief, asking for signs, presumption, worldly pleasures, etc.
Verse 7. Sinners entreated to hear God's voice. "Hear his voice", because --
- Life is short aud uncertain;
- You cannot properly or lawfully promise to give what is not your own;
- If you defer, though but till tomorrow, you must harden your hearts;
- There is great reason to fear that, if you defer it today, you will never commence;
- After a time God ceases to strive with sinners;
- There is nothing irksome or disagreeable in a religious life, that you should wish to defer its commencement.
Verse 7. The Difference of Times with respect to Religion. -- Upon a spiritual account there is great difference of time. To make this out, I will shew you,
- That sooner and later are not alike, in respect of eternity.
- That times of ignorance and of knowledge are not alike.
- That before and after voluntary commission of known iniquity, are not alike.
- That before and after contracted naughty habits, are not alike.
- That the time of God's gracious and particular visitation and the time when God withdraws his gracious presence and assistance, are not alike.
- The flourishing time of our health and strength, and the hour of sickness, weakness, and approach of death, are not alike.
- Now and hereafter, present and future, this world and the world to come, are not alike.
Verse 7. This supposition, If ye will hear, and the consequence inferred thereupon, harden not your hearts, doth evidently demonstrate that a right hearing will prevent hardness of heart; especially hearing of Christ's voice, that is, the gospel. It is the gospel that maketh and keepeth a soft heart. --William Gouge.