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James Comper Gray.

The Biblical museum : a collection of notes, explanatory, homiletic, and illustrative, on the Holy Scriptures, especially designed for the use of ministers, Bible students, and Sunday school teachers (Volume 6) online

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wouMsl wish La
Hire to perform
for Tliee, if he
■were Goil and
Thou wcrt La
Hire.""— -SV.foix,
vol. i. 232.
" Neither days,
nor hours, nor
seascjns, did ever
come amiss to
faithful prayer."
—J. Taylor.

t Sttinnocie,



a In Ms flight fr.
At>s., Dav. did
lodge in the
wilderness, 2
Sa. XV. 28, xvii.
16.

b Jc. XXT. 4.
•. 6. Or. Chal-
ni-'rit, vi. 234.
"Tlie Hindoos
l.^ive a science
which teaches
Iheart of flying!
and numbers in
every age have
tried to acquire
it. Thosie who
wish to attain a
bler;.ving which is
nr:ir otf. or who
de - .ire to escaiie
from trouble,



such petitions as may show that we have honourable views of tha
riches and bounty of our King." — Xaturc of prayer. — Prayer
hath a twofold pre-eminence above all other duties whatsoever,
in regard of the universality of its influence, and opportunity for
its performance. 1. The universality of its influence. As every
sacrifice was to be sea oned with salt, .so every undertaking and
every aflliction of the creature must be sanctified with prayer;
nay, as it showeth the excellency of gold that it is laid upon silver
itself, so it sjieaketh the excellency of prayer, that not only
natural and civil, but even religious and spiritual actions are
overlaid with prayer. We pray not only before we eat or drink
our bodily nourishment, but also before we feed on the bread of
the Word and the bread in the sacrament. Prayer is requisite to
make every providence and every ordinance blessed to us ; prayer
is needful to make our particular calling successful. Prayer ia
the guard to secure the fort-royal of the heart ; prayer i3
the porter to keep the door of the lips ; prayer is the strong hilt
which defendeth the hands ; prayer perfumes every relation ;
prayer helps us to ]irofit by everj- condition ; prayer is the chemist
that turns all into gold ; praj'er is the master- workman, — if that
be out of the way, the whole trade stands still, or goeth back-
ward. What the key is to the watch, that prayer is to religion ;
it winds it up, and sets it agoing. 2. It is before other duties in
regard of opportunity for its performance. A Christian cannot
always hear, or always read, or always communicate, but he may
pray continually. No place, no company can deprive him of this
privilege. If he be on the top of a house with Peter, he may
pray ; if he be in the bottom of the ocean with Jonah, he may
pray ; if he be walking in the field with Isaac, he may pray wheu
no eye eeeth him ; if he be waiting at table with Nehemiah, he
may pray when no ear heareth him. If he be in the mountains
with our Saviour, he may pray ; if he be in the prison with Paul,
he may pray ; wherever he is prayer will help him to find God
out. Every saint is God's temple ; " and he that carrieth his
temple about him,'" saith Austin, '" may go to prayer when he
plcaseth." Indeed, to a Christian every house is a house of
lirayer, every closet a chamber of presence, and everj- place he
comes to an altar whereon he may offer the sacrifice of prayer.*

6 — 8. (()) be at rest, have some settled, fixed, quiet abode,
where I might be free from persecution. (7) "wander, etc.."- see
Je. ix. 2. (8) tempest,* a figure for the malevolent hostility of
Absalom's party.

Dcxire.i nfter heaven {v. 5). — I. The causes of that dissatisfac-
tion which a child of God feels with the present state. 1. The
deficiency of present knowledge ; 2. Interruptions to happiness
of spirit : 3. Conscious inconsistency of character ; 4. Imperfec-
tions of present service. II. A i)ractical improvement of the
Psalmist's desires — instruction. 1. This world is not the Chris-
tian's rest ; 2. He is to form suitable ideas of heaven ; H. In the
exercise of faith he overcomes the fear of death. Admonition : —
(1) Let the Christian beware of impatience — others of indiffer-
ence ; (2) IIow melancholy his state who is satiafied with this
world.

■• The dove (r. 6). — The classical bards of Greece and Rome make
frequent allusions to the surprising rapidity of the dove, and
adorn their lines with many beautiful figures from the manner



Cap. Iv. 9-11.]



PSALMS



131



in which she flies. Sophocles compares the speed with which
she cleaves the ethereal clouds to the impetuous rapidity of the
whirlwind : and Euripides, the furious impetuosity of the Bac-
chanals rushing- upon Pentheus, to the celerity of her motions.
And Kimchi gives it as the reason why the Psalmist prefers the
dove to other birds, that, while they become weary with flying,
and alight upon a rock or a tree to recruit their strength, and are
taken, the dove, when she is fatigued, alternately rests one wing
and flies with the other, and by this means escapes from the
swiftest pursuers. The Orientals knew well how to avail them-
selves of her impetuous wing on various occasions. It is a
curious fact that she was long employed in those countries as a
courier, to cany tidings of importance between distant cities,
^lian asserts that Taurosthenes communicated to his father at
-lEgina, by a carrier pigeon, the news of his success in the Olympic
games, on the very same day in which he obtained the prize.
The Romans, it appears from Pliny, often employed doves in the
same service : for Brutus, during the siege of Mutina, sent letters
tied to their feet into the camp of the consuls. This remarkable
custom has descended to modern times : Volney informs us that
in Turkey the use of carrier pigeons has been laid aside, only for
the last thirty or forty years, because the Kurd robbers killed the
birds and carried off their despatches."^

9 — 11. (9) destroy, lit. swallow vp ; or frustrate their
counsels. Observe the change m the tone of the Psalm from
mouruiug and melancholy to passionate indignation." divide
their tongues, lit. slit their tonrjues. Evidently alluding to
the breaking up of the schemes of the Babel builders.* violence,
etc., the signs of revolutionary movements. (10) they go, i.e.
my enemies who are plotting against me.' (11) wickedness,
or destruction. " The city is become the home of destruction."
" In the city all kinds of party passions have broken loose." *

Prayer. — Thou that hast given up thy name to Me, in the pro-
fession of My name, take My counsel for regulating this im-
portant duty of secret prayer. Let none see what thou goest
about, withdraw thyself into some closet, or private place, and
when thou hast made all fast, set thyself in the presence of God,
approve thy heart to Him, lay open thy bosom before Him, tell
Him all thy grievances ; and though no creature is privy to thy
secret groans, yet be assured that all thy desires are before God,
and thy groaning is not hid from Him. that He takes notice of
thy tears, and reserves them in a bottle by Him, to be rewarded
in a visible manner in a seasonable time. Thy labour is not in
vain, thy work is with the Lord, and thy reward with thy God.*

Power in prayer. — In a certain town, says Mr. Finney, there had
been no revival for many years ; the Church was nearly run out,
the youth were all unconverted, and desolation reigned unbroken.
There lived m a retired part of the town an aged man, a black-
smith by trade, and of so stammering a tongue that it was pain-
ful to hear him speak. On one Friday, as he was at work in his
shop, alone, his mind became greatly exercised about the state of
the Church, and of the impenitent. His agony became so great
that he was induced to lay aside his work, lock the shop-door,
and spend the afternoon in prayer. He prevailed, and on the
Sabbath called on the minister and desired him to appoint a
conference-meeting. After some hesitation the minister con-
12



A man once
complained to hia
minister that he
had prayed for a
whole j'ear that
he might enjoy
the comforts of
religion, but
found no answer
to his prayers.
The minister re-
plied, " Go home
now, and pray,
rather, glorify



132



PSALMS.



[Cap.lv. 12-18.



Thyself." Eemler,
arfi you one of
those who find no
profit in calling?
upon God ? Ask
yourself if your
prayers are not
all selfish.
IT. 10, 11. John-
ton Gi-anI, 199.
/ Cheever.



m " It is not open
enemies, who
might have had
cause for it. that
are opposed to
him, but faith-
less friends, and
amonpr them that
Ahithopliel, of
Giloli. tlie scum
of perfidious in-
gratitude." — Z)c-
lilzsch.

b Ahithophel
committed sui-
cide, 2 Pa. xvii.
23. Absalom ilied
a sudden and vio-
lent ileath. 2 Sa.
xviii. 14.
Comp. Nu. rvi.
30—33.

w. 12—15. /.
Doughty, 203,
w. 14, 15. G.
iloberly, 388.

V. 15. C. Barker,
65.

• Coleridge.



a Comp. Da. vi.
10; Lu. vi 12,
xviii. 1 ; Ac. iii.
1 ; Ph. iv. 6 ; 1
rh. v. 17.
t<: 10, 17. J.
Grant, i. ?51.
V. 17. ^. M.
hole, I S45 ; M.
A. ifeilan, iii.
101; H. Draper,
492.

6 Gamma in 400
6k.s.

" From a singular
conformity of
practice in per-
sons remote both



sented, observing', however, that he fearec" ')at few would attend.
He appointed it the same evening-, at a large private house.
WTieu evening oame. more assembled than could be accommodated
in the house. All was silent for a time, until one .sinner broke
out in tears, and said, if any one could pray, he begged him to
pray for him. Another followed, and another, and still another,
until it was found that per.-ons from every quarter of the town
were under deep convictions. And what was remarkable was,
that they all dated their conviction at the hour when the old
man was praying in his shop. A powerful revival followtd.
Tiuis this old stammering man prevailed, and as a prince had
power with God.-'^

12 — 15. (12) for . . me, the Psalmist appears here to renew a
kind of soliloquy. The person referred to is usually regarded as
Ahithophel." (13) mine equal, ILh. according to my rank ;
one BO honoured and esteemed as to be treated like an equal,
guide, my associate, acquaintance, better, intimate friend ;
coniidant. (14) sweet counsel, or familiar intercourse, in
company, or in the throng of festal worshippers, (l.'i) seize
upon, or surijrise. them, the party led by Ahithophel and
Absalom, hell, the grave, Sheol.*
Severed frltniil sit ip. —

Alas ! they had been friends in youth ;
But whispering tongues can i)oison truth ;
And constancy lives in realms above ;
And life is thorny : and youth is vain ;
And to be wroth with one we love,
Doth work like madness in the brain.
And thus it chanced, as I divine,
With Roland and Sir LeoUne.
Each spake words of high disdain
And insult to his heart's best brother :
They parted — ne'er to meet again !
But never either found another
To free the hollow heart I'rom paining —
They stood aloof, the scars remaining.
Like cliffs which had been rent asunder ;
A dreary sea now flows between : —
But neither heat, nor frost, nor thunder,
Shall viholly do away, I ween.
The marks of that which once hath been.*

16—18. (Ifi) call upon God, the mood of the Psalmist is
here again changed. (17) evening, etc., the resort of the
troubled, anxious soul was frequent prayer." The three chief
parts of the day are put as a poetical expression for " the whole
day," or "without ceasing." (18) hath delivered, in past
times. With the memorj' Dav. renews his hope, many with,
me, having hostile purjioses agaiust me.

I'rayrr (v. 17). — I. The nature of prayer. 1. It is an acknow-
ledgment of the being and providence of God : 2. It re-estab-
ILshes communion between God and man ; 3. It is the grand
means by which we obtain our sinritual blessings from God : 4.
Only that is real prayer which is presented through (Jhrist. IL
The manner in which the Psalmist performed this duty. It was
dietinguished by — 1, Fervour ; 2. fiegulaiity ; 3. Frequency,



Osp. Iv. 19-21.1



PSALMS.



133



III. The confidence of success which he expresses. It is founded
on — 1. His knowledp-e of G-od's disposition : 2. His belief of the
Divine promise : 3. His experience of past favours. We may be
satisfied that God hears us when — (1) We feel access to the
throne of grace : (2) A\Tien we have direct answers to prayer ;
(3) When we are cheered with the hope that God will hear.
Apply.*
Frayer. —

Dart up thy soul in groans : thy secret groan
Shall pierce His ear, shall pierce His ear alone.
Dart up thy soul in vows : thy secret vow
Shall find Him out, where Heaven alone shall know.
Dart up thy soul in sighs : thy whispering sigh
Shall rouse His ears, and fear no list'ner nigh.
Send ui? thy groans, thy sighs, thy closet vow :
There's none, there's none shall know, but Heaven and thou.
Groans fi-eshed with vows, and vows made salt with tears,
Unscale His eyes, and scale His conquered ears :
Shoot up the bosom shafts of thy desire,
Feathered with faith, and double-forked with fire,
And they will hit : fear not, where Heaven bids come, i

Heaven's never deaf, but when man's heart is dumb."^
Prai/er the fovcninncr of merc[i. — There was once a young man j
who had begun to pray, and his father knew it. He said to him,
'•John, you know I am an enemy to religion, and prayer is a
thing that never shall be oflicred in my house." Still the young
man continued earnest in supplication. " Well." said the father,
one day, in a hot passion, " you must give up either God or me.
I solemnly swear that you shall never darken the threshold of
my door again, unless you decide that you will give up praying.
I give yoLi till to-morrow morning to choose." The night was
spent in prayer by the young disciple. He arose in the morning,
sad, to be cast away by his friends, but resolute in spirit that,
come what might, he would serve his God. The father abruptly
accosted him : " Well, what is the answer.'" "Father." he said.
" I cannot violate my conscience, I cannot forsake my God ! "
" Leave immediately," said he. And the mother stood there :
the father's hard spirit had made hers hard too : and though she
might have wept, she concealed her tears. " Leave immediately,"
said he. Stepping outside the threshold, the young man said, " I
wish you would grant me one request before I go : and if you
grant me that, I will never trouble you again." '• Well," said the
father, •' you shall have anything you like : but mark me. you go
after you have had that : you shall never have anything again."
" It is." said the son, " that you and my mother would kneel down, [
and let me pray for you before I go." Well, they could hardly '
object to it ; the young man was on his knees in a moment, and
began to pray with such unction and power, with such evident
Jove to their souls, with such true and divine earnestness, that
they both fell flat on the ground, and when the son rose, there
they were ; and the father said. ''You need not go, John : come
and stop, come and stop ;" and it was not long before not only
he. but the whole of them, began to pray, and they were united '
to a Christian chui-ch.''

19—21. (19) God., old, rend. "God shaU hear me, and'
Jiumble them, and He sitteth (as Judge) of old." " no changes, i



.a-: to age ami
1 li'je, it app-;a!-3
prol'able that
some idea iiiusb
liave obtainsil
generallv. Ihat
it was e peilient
and acceptable
to pray tliree
times every day.
Such was the
practice of Da-
vid, and also of
Daniel, and as a
parallel, though,
as far as con-
nected with an
idolatrous sj's-
tem, a different
case, we are in-
formed that " it
is an invariable
rule with the
Bral\mins to per-
f' T their devo-
ti. ua three times
every day : at
sunrise, at noon,
and at sunset."
fJI a u r i c e.) —
Harder.

c F. Qtiarle*
(1625.)

" For my own
part, since fii'st
my unbelief was
felt, I liave been
pr.aying fifteen
years for faith,
and praying with
some earnestness,
and yet am not
possessed of more
tlian half a grain.
You smile, sir, I
perceive, at the
smalluess of the
quantity; butyou
would not if you
knew its efficacy.
Jesus, who knew
it well, assures
yon that a single
grain, and a grain
as small as a mus-
tard seed, would
remove a moun-
tain—remove a
mountain-load of
guilt from the
conscience, a
mountain-load of
trouble from the
mind, a moun-
tain - load from
the heart." — J.
Berridtje. 1750.
d C. H. Spurgeotk



134



PSALMS.



[Cap. Iv. 22, 2&



6 " Change of
fortune, i.e.
tliose who are
always pros-
perous."— CaZrin.

" iloral change
for the bettt-r,
i.e. amendment."
— Oesenius and
Fuerst.

" Changes from
prospfirity to ad-
versity." — Jen-
nings and Lowe.

e Spi. Com.



" Cliristian 1 thou
knowest thou
carriest gun-
powder aliout ■
thee. Desire I
them that carry I
fire to keep at a
distance. It is a !
dangerous crisis, '
when a proud ,
heart meets \rith
flattering llu3.
—fiavel.



a Watt. y1. 25 ; 1
Pe. V. 7.

* It appears to U5
tliat this V. con- I
tains t)io very '
■wonls of tlie
P s a 1 m i s t ' s I
smooth - tongaed 1
erieraj-. . . If we I
take tliera as
spoken ironi-
cally, tlipy are
drawn sw.irds to '
Uav."- Jennings
and Lotce.

h Ps. V. 6, xxxvii. |
38 : I'r. X. 27 :
Ex. vii. 17.



e J. M. Sheitrnpd.

"Toallth.athave
a desire to walk
Willi God, prayer
is the key tooppu
the day, and tlie
bolt to shut in
the night." — J.
TiLylor.



the word used probably means a change, in the sense of aucci-.mon,
^aI'^^^^}'^' °^ *''°°r'^ relieving guard, servants leavin- work,
and the like.* (20) he, i.e. Dav.'s treacherous friend, of whom
7o^^^^•^^?^ ^"^P ^"""^ tliinliing. covenant, of friou-Lship.
(21) butter, /;/. the butters of his mouth are smooth; his
words flow sweet and smooth like cream." war, lit. war his
heart ; ab.^jorbed in hatred.

Flnffcr)/ aiul churlUhne.<<.<i.—X chameleon once met a porcupine,
and comi)lained that he had taken great pains to make frimds
with everybody ; but, strange to sav, he had entirelv failwl. and
could not now be sure that he had a friend in the world. - And
by what means." said the porcupine. '■ have you sought to make
tneuds . '• By flattery." said the chameleon. ■• I have adatrted
myself to all I met : humoured the follies and foibles of every
one. In order to make people believe thafi liked thom. I have
mutated their manners, as if_^ I considered them models of per-
tectiou. So far have I gone in this, that it has become a habit
with me : and now my very skin takes the hue and complexion
ot the thing that happens to be nearest. Yet all this has been
m vain ; for everybody calls me a turncoat, and I am generally
considered selfish, h>i)ocritical, and base." " And no doubt you
deserve all this," said the porcupine. '• I have taken a different
course ; but I must confess that I have as few friends as you. I
adopteti the rule to resent every injury, and every encroachment
upon my dignity. I would allow no one even to touch me
without sticking into him one or more of my sharp quills. I
d^-terminod to take care of number one ; and the result has been
that, while I have vindicated my rights, I have created a uni-
versal dislike. I am called old ' Touch-me-not ;' and if I am not
as much despised, I am even moie disliked than you, Sir
Chameleon.

22 23. (22) burden, or gift; that which is appointed to
man to bear." (23) bloody, etc.. words wh. seem prophetic of
the fate of Ahithophel and Absalom.*

God a.i orir care-bearer (r. 22).— T. Let us notice some of the
burdens which most commonly afflict mankind. 1. Burdens of
the flesh ; 2. Of the mind ; 3. Of the heart : 4. Of the con-
science. II. Consider the encouragement we have to cast our
burdens on the Lord.'-

>Self-im]>nrfance.— Then I became too self-important. I
imagined that the class could not possibly get alons" without me.
Hiat their souls were charged to and set down against me. That
none other could do them gotxl. could bless them, but me. I
went about with a load, a burden on mv soul. The universe
seemed to h.ang upon nie. If I had b;'en "taken away. what, oh,
what woukl have l)('come of my poor scholars' souls .' Fearful
thought ! Ah. I had an overweening view of my importance to
the world. I was <'arrying a load of care that none but lie who
made the soul could carry. It must be an Almighty strength
that lifts such a burden. The careworn face and heavv heart
unfitte<l me to teach the joyful news of salvation, and glnrj-. and
honour, and blessing. 3Iy face did not seem to reflect heaven's
light. It belied my teachings. Oh ! I learned soon, when the
burden seemed about to crush me, that Jesus bore it all. I
cea8<-d from attempting to do Go<ls part. ITie i)recious word
came to me, " Cast thy burdenu on the Lord ; " and for every duty



Cap.lvl. 1-9,:



135



that is mine, and every real burden, " My grace is sufficient for
thee ; " and I am trying, fellow-teachers, to reach, that point to-
day. I cannot say that I have attained it.^



PSALM TEE FIFTY-SIXTH.

1—4. (1) man . . up, lit. frail man pants for me." (2)
swallow me, hungrily pant for me. O thou most High, is
prob. not an exclamation: it may be trans, mth heiijlit of spirit,
or provdly. (3) afraid, by reason of these watching and proud
Philistine enemies. (4) in God, i.e. by His help. This is the
true refrain, or key-note, of the Psalm, his word, of promise.

Faith. — There is nothing like faith to help at a pinch ;
faith dissolves doubts, as the sun drives away the mists. And
that you may not be put out, know your time of believing is
always. There are times when some graces may be out of use,
but there is no time wherein faith can be said to be so. Where-
fore, faith must be always in exercise. Faith is the eye, is the
mouth, is the hand ; and one of these is of use all day long.
Faith is to see. to receive, to work, or to eat ; and a Christian
should be seeing, or receiving, or working, or feeding all day
long. Let it rain, let it blow, let it thunder, let it lighten, a
Christian must still believe.*— 77; p nature of prayer. — Prayer is
the peace of our spirit, the stillness of our thoughts, the evenness
of recollection, the seat of meditation, the rest of our cares, and
the calm of our tempest : prayer is the issue of a quiet mind, of
untroubled thoughts ; it is the daughter of charity, and the sister
of meekness : and he that prays to God with an angry, that is,
with a troubled and discomposed spirit, is like him that retires
into a battle to meditate, and sets up his closet in the out-quarters
of an army. . . . Anger is a perfect alienation of the mind from
prayer, and therefore is contrary to that attention which presents
our prayers in a right line to God. For so have I seen a lark
rising from his bed of grass, and soaring upwards, singing as he
rises, and hopes to get to heaven, and climb above the clouds ;
but the poor bird was beaten back with the loud sighing s of an
eastern wind, and his motion made irregular and inconstant,
descending more at every breath of the tempest, than it could
recover by the libration and frequent weighing of its wings ; till
the little creature was forced to sit down, and pant, and stay till
the storm was over ; and then it made a prosperous flight, and
did rise and sing, as if it had learned music and motion from an
angel, as he passed sometimes through the air about his ministries
here below.c

5—9. (5) wresting words, distort, or pervert them with
design to get accusation against him." C6) mark my steps,
or heels (Ps. xlix. 5). (7) shall . . iniquity ? or on account of
such iniquity is there escape to them ? The original is very
obscure. (8) tellest, dost keep an exact account of. my
wanderings, in that period of homelessness and exile.* tears
. . bottle, a bold but expressive metaphor."^ '• As the traveller
carefully preserves water, milk, or wine in leather bottles for a
journey, so Dav. trusts that God keeps in memory every tear
which he sheds." (9) turn back, batfled and checked.

Fear dUipelled hy faith {vv. 8, 9). — I. Learn from this experience



author,—
David

Subject, God's
tcord of promise
the outcast's hope.

Historical con-
nection, 1 Sa.
xxi. 10—15. Jo-
nath-elem - recho-
kim, a tune so
called, and
meaning, " The
silent ilove in
far-oS places."
a " Heb. enosh,
wh. has always
the sense of
weakness and
fragility, and is
placed in anti-
thesis to Elo-
\\m\."'—Spk. Com.
b J. Bunyan.
c J. Taylor.
"The customary
devotion of
prayer twice a
dav is as the
falling of the
early and the
latter dew ; but
if you wiU in-
c rease an d
flourish in the
works of grace,
em].ity the great
clouds some-
times, and let
tliem fall into a
full shower of
prayer ; clioose
out the seasons
in your own



Online LibraryJames Comper GrayThe Biblical museum : a collection of notes, explanatory, homiletic, and illustrative, on the Holy Scriptures, especially designed for the use of ministers, Bible students, and Sunday school teachers (Volume 6) → online text (page 23 of 67)