2600. A Strange Yet Gracious Choice

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No. 2600-44:589. A Sermon Delivered On Thursday Evening, September 6, 1883, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington, (on its reopening after repairs.)

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, December 11, 1898.

For the LORD has chosen Jacob for himself, and Israel for his special treasure. {Ps 135:4}

1. This is a Psalm of praise all through. It is to be sung to the high-sounding cymbals. There is not a low note anywhere; it is all robust, exhilarating, and joyful. It is “Hallelujah!” from beginning to end; and it did not seem possible for the psalmist that he could omit from it the high jubilant note of election; for if there is anything that makes believers’ hearts sing to the Lord, it is the memory that he has chosen them, and fixed his love on them. “You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” is one of the best reasons in the world why we should adore the Lord with all our heart and mind and soul and strength. If the Lord has made us to be his people, we will indeed with joy and gladness declare him to be our God. If he has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus, we will make such return to him as we can, and bless him with our loudest and sweetest music. Blessed be the Lord because he “has chosen Jacob for himself, and Israel for his special treasure.”

2. It may be said that this verse relates to the seed of Abraham. So it does; but please remember that everything which belonged to the seed of Abraham after the flesh belongs even more to those who are the seed of Abraham according to the spirit. Indeed, there always was a special blessing which never did come to those who were only born according to the flesh, for Ishmael did not receive it, neither did Esau enter into it. The line of inheritance is the line of promise, the line of the divine choice; and if you and I have believed in Jesus Christ, we are in that spiritual line. The mark of that line is faith; those who believe are of the seed of believing Abraham. His very name is “the father of the faithful”; and those who are full of faith — the faith-ful — are the true seed of Abraham. The covenant in its highest and best meaning is theirs; it was made with Abraham on their account. Therefore we shall take all there is in this verse for ourselves, if we are indeed God’s covenanted ones. If he has brought us into the bond of the covenant by a work of grace in our hearts, and we are now one with that glorious promised Seed, the Lord Jesus Christ, then it is true of us, and of all who are like us in this respect, “The Lord has chosen Jacob for himself, and Israel for his special treasure.”

3. I. The first thing which lies on the very surface of our text is THE CHOICE; “The Lord has chosen Jacob for himself.”

4. This choice is a divine one. It is the Lord who has chosen Jacob, that very Lord who made the heavens and the earth; Jehovah, in whose hands all things are. He has made the choice, and it is a very wonderful thing, though we speak of it as if it were a commonplace truth. Yet, if we dive into its depths, we shall see that it is truly marvellous that God should ever have chosen any of the fallen race of mankind. Once, he relented that he had made men on the face of the earth, they had become so sinful; yet, knowing beforehand all about their wickedness, the Lord was pleased to make a choice of men. He might have chosen angels; but let it always stand as a wonderful example of his mysterious sovereignty that he did not choose the fallen angels, — no, not even one of them. Our Lord Jesus Christ “did not take on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.” Why was it that all the hosts of spiritual beings who fell with Lucifer are left in their fallen state without any hope of salvation, while God’s eternal election has fallen on the sons of men? Why, indeed! We can never understand it, and can give no answer but this, “Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in your sight.” The choice, however, was divine; and let us not get away from that glorious truth. It will give you, believer, the highest joy to know that the Lord has chosen you, and that knowledge will be for you a source of great strength. It will also be one of the best rebukes to the devil. You remember how, when Joshua the high priest was standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan was standing at his right hand to resist him, the Lord said to the accuser, “The Lord rebuke you, oh Satan; even the Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebukes you!” There is no slap in the face for the devil that is so painful to him as that declaration, “The Lord has chosen Jerusalem; he has elected his people; and you, oh Satan, may do what you wish, but you cannot change the choice of God! If he has chosen anyone, that man is of the conquering seed before whom you have begun to fall, as Haman fell before Mordecai, and you shall fall even lower, for the Lord has promised to the godly that he will bruise Satan under their feet shortly.” God has chosen them; it is he who says it; and therefore let the full force of the blessed truth come to each believing heart, “I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” There is an infinite sweetness in that thought.

5. The choice, being divine, is also sovereign. About this point, we are not left to speculation, for Paul has told us that “the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, so that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him who calls,” it was said to their mother Rebekah, “The older shall serve the younger.” The divine purpose was made in that case irrespective of character, for no character had been developed. If anyone says that it was made on account of character foreseen, I reply that there was no good character to foresee; but as far as Jacob is concerned, although grace made him into a true patriarch and heir of the promise, yet by nature he was a very poor stick. As I read what he does, when his human nature is uppermost, I feel that there is nothing in him why any mortal man should choose him, and certainly there is no reason why God should do so. There is nothing foreseen about him except that God foresees that he will make him gracious, but that is not the reason why he makes him gracious. There is, behind it all, the reason that the Lord gave to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” I find such a stuttering and stammering about this great truth in these days that I intend to be all the more emphatic in preaching it, for I believe that this doctrine largely helps in producing that state of spirit into which God would have sinners brought so as to make them feel that they have no claim on him, — no right to his mercy, and that, if he gives it, he gives it simply because he chooses to give it. The choice was made by that great King who has a right to do as he wishes, and who exercises that right; and therefore the declaration stands in our text, “Jehovah has chosen Jacob for himself.”

6. So we have seen that the choice is divine and sovereign.

7. And, beloved, it is a most gracious choice. As I have already said, the more we look at the character of Jacob, the more we must discard all idea that he was chosen for what he was by nature. From his birth, he bore the name of a supplanter, and his brother Esau bitterly said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob (that is, a supplanter)? for he has supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright; and, behold, now he has taken away my blessing.” The expression really is in the original, “Is he not rightly named Jacob? for he has Jacobed me these two times.” He had supplanted his brother, put him out of his proper place; he was truly the father of all the Jews; and, though I will say nothing to their disparagement, yet are they not the masters of us all at driving a hard bargain? And such was Jacob from the very beginning; so, as God chose him, assuredly he chose him by his grace, and for no other reason than because he would do it. Election was not by works, certainly, in Jacob’s case; but by grace, and by grace alone.

8. And, putting all things together, was it not a very wonderful thing that the Lord should choose Jacob? There were other men on the face of the earth of whom God might have made a nation, and from whom he might have formed the chosen seed. I do not suppose that, even after Abraham and Isaac had come to know the Lord, they were the only people in the world who knew him. Doubtless, there were some scattered up and down, like Job, who, I should think, is only a sample of many others. It seems to me that, if we had been about to choose a man who should found a race, we should have said, “There, Job is the man, ‘perfect and upright, and one who feared God, and shunned evil.’ ” He was a very princely man; I sometimes think that he was the grandest of all men, when I see him sitting on a dunghill, transforming it into a throne, and reigning there very royally, while he says, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” It was a noble saying of the man who cannot be said to be less than the very greatest of mankind. “You have heard of the patience of Job,” and all the world shall hear of it again and again while there are ears to hear, or tongues to speak. And yet, though Job is chosen for salvation, he is not the founder of a great race, it is not in his line that the promised Messiah is to be found, but “the Lord has chosen Jacob.” Ah, me! why did he do it? When you have told me why he chose Jacob, I shall then try to find out why he chose me; and if I should find that out, probably you will at the same time discover why he chose you. It is all a great mystery of grace, and must be left with him who does as he wishes, — not without reasons, notice that, but without reasons that are revealed to us. God never acts unreasonably; yet he does not find his reasons for acting in men, but within himself, in the heart of his compassion, in the eternal counsels of his own will. Do not think that we are talking now about God as we speak of men. A man, who has a strong will, and who carries it out as he pleases, is a very dangerous person; a despot, let him be ever so gentle, is a terrible being; but God, — the infinitely holy, the perfectly just, the supremely good, — we may well leave everything with him. It is not merely that we must do so, but it is the best and wisest course for us to do so. Even if we could “snatch from his hand the balance and the rod,” into what other hands could we put them? No; they must remain with him, and we are glad it is so. To me, the unlimited dominion of God is glorious. I want to have no constitutional monarchy on the throne of heaven. Indeed, let Jehovah do absolutely as he wills, for his will must be perfect justice, perfect goodness, perfect righteousness.

9. So we leave this first point, the choice: “The Lord has chosen Jacob.”

10. II. The second part of our subject is full of practical teaching, for it concerns THE REASON OR RESULT OF GOD’S CHOICE.

11. There are many people who like to hear about God having chosen Jacob; but listen, dear friends, to the next words in our text: “The Lord has chosen Jacob for himself.” It does not say, “for heaven,” — “for certain privileges,” — “for certain favours.” All that is quite true, but it does not say so here: “The Lord has chosen Jacob for himself.” Oh, what a blessed choice this is, — to be chosen for God! Then Jacob is not his own, for God has chosen him “for himself.” Then Jacob does not belong to any man, for the Lord has chosen him “for himself.” Now Jacob must have no motives except such as he finds in God, he must have no aims for which he is to live except that he may glorify his God, for “the Lord has chosen Jacob for himself.” So, my brother, if you are chosen by the Lord, you are chosen to be God’s man, picked out from the rest of mankind to be from henceforth no longer your own, or the world’s, or the devil’s, but to be God’s, and God’s alone.

12. “The Lord has chosen Jacob for himself,” first, so that Jacob might know him. While others did not know God, but paid reverence to those who were not gods, Jacob was chosen that he might, while he slept at Bethel, see the mystical ladder by which he might climb to his God, and down which God might send the angels to him. Jacob must be taught about God, and Jacob’s seed must have committed to them the oracles of God. The world lies in darkness, but there is a lamp in the house of Jacob. It is black midnight over Assyria, and Babylon, and Egypt, but a star shines in the heavens for Jacob and his seed. Oh dear hearts, do you understand the great mysteries of which I am speaking? Do you know the Lord, — the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit? Have you been taught by God? Are you among those to whom your neighbour need not say, “Know the Lord,” because you belong to the people of God who all know him from the least even to the greatest? If so, you are happy indeed.

13. And, next, the Lord chose Jacob and his seed, so that they might keep his truth alive in the world, — that God’s revelation of himself might be preserved by them against all comers. It is just so with Christians now; the Lord has put us in trust with the gospel. He has committed to his servants that wonderful treasure which we have “in clay vessels, so that the excellency of the power may be from God, and not from us.” Still we are bound to earnestly “contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints”; and it is as much the duty of God’s people today to guard his truth as it was the duty of the seed of Israel to preserve, in the midst of heathen darkness, what was known about the one living and true God. “The Lord has chosen Jacob for himself” so that he may preserve his truth among the sons of men.

14. It was also committed to Jacob’s descendants to keep up the worship of God. They must offer the morning and the evening lamb; they must bring the young bulls and goats and birds for sacrifice; they must set up the tabernacle in the wilderness; they must build the temple; and there the praises of Jehovah must be sung by sweet singers day and night. Nowhere else was God to be publicly worshipped with rites ordained by himself except on Mount Zion. And now, today, the pure worship of Jehovah is entrusted to his saints; no one else can worship him in spirit and in truth except those who have been quickened and made true by the Holy Spirit. There is no true worship of God under heaven except what is rendered by his own people. Men may make their ceremonies as gorgeous as they please, with splendour of architecture and great show of millinery, with the sound of flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of music; but, after all, there is no true worship except what comes from hearts in which the Spirit of God dwells. So you see, dear friends, that the maintenance of God’s worship in the world is still entrusted to his chosen.

15. And the Lord has chosen his people for himself, so that he may reveal his grace in them. “God is known in Judah: his name is great in Israel. His tabernacle is also in Salem, and his dwelling-place in Zion. There he broke the arrows of the bow, the shield, and the sword, and the battle.” And it is in the midst of God’s own people that his grace is still revealed; there he breaks the arrows of sin, and there he scatters all the battalions of evil. “Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God has shone”; and still, out of the hearts of his chosen people, out of the congregation of his faithful ones, he shines out, for the Lord is always with those who are on his side, even with the humble hearts in which he condescends to dwell. But he is not with the ungodly, for they are far from him by wicked works. Remember then, you who are chosen, that God has chosen you “for himself” so that he may reveal his grace in you.

16. And, especially, God has chosen his people, so that he may commune with them, that he may reveal himself to them as he does not do to the world; that they may come near to him in Christ Jesus, and that he may lay bare the very secret of his heart to them. Here is a text to prove my assertion: “The secret of the Lord is with those who fear him; and he will show them his covenant.” He makes his glory to pass before them, and he reveals to them his choicest secrets. Happy and blessed are the people of whom this sentence is true, “The Lord has chosen Jacob for himself.”

17. Now, dear friends, let the question go around among you, — Am I one of the chosen seed? You can tell whether you are chosen by God by this test, — Have you been chosen for God? Can you say with Paul, “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus?” Are you the branded slaves of Jesus Christ, and yet his free men rejoicing in the liberty with which he makes his people free? Do you feel as if you were restricted to one course in life, so that you can say with Paul, “This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching out to those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus?” Are you torn away from all former ambitions? Have you a single eye to God’s glory? Does your heart beat for this one object, that you may live because Christ lives in you? Then the text describes you: “The Lord has chosen Jacob for himself.” Oh, what a thrill of delight these words may cause to pass through many even of those who think they have known the Lord for years! Come, my heart, it is all very well for your lip to have sung about God’s everlasting love; but have you been brought into communion and fellowship with him? Do you feel and know that you are indeed the Lord’s? I fear that there are some, who profess and call themselves Christians, who live for God in a very unsatisfactory, secondary kind of way, like a man I have heard of, who had a large farm, and then took another, which he called his “hobby farm”; and there are some professors who have their business farm, or their pleasure farm, which is the chief matter with them, and their religion is a kind of hobby farm, and sometimes they think they will get a minister or a “priest” to be the manager, and look after it. My friend, I give you due notice that I will be no manager for such a farm, and I also warn you that you will never get anything worth having unless it is your home farm, and you make it the main concern of your life. God will never be put into the second place; he must be everything or he will be nothing. “The Lord has chosen Jacob for himself.” Oh my dear friend, is it so with you? Or are you still living as if there were no God, or as if God did not demand your heart’s full allegiance?

18. III. Now I will pass on to notice, very briefly, in the third place, THE SEPARATION WHICH GROWS OUT OF THIS CHOICE: “The Lord has chosen Jacob for himself, and Israel for his special treasure.”

19. Then, he separates his people from the rest of mankind. Though this is not expressed in the words of the text, it is the true sense of it. And the Lord has done so; he did so with Jacob, — with Israel. He made a covenant with them; and a covenant with God always means separation from men. What a wonderful condition for a soul to be in, — to be in covenant with God, and that covenant to run along these lines: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” “I will also give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you shall keep my judgments, and do them. And you shall live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.” That covenant makes a clear division between the two seeds, — the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent; it is one of the grandest distinctions between man and man. If you are in the covenant, beloved, you are on the right side of that happy and blessed line of demarcation.

20. Then, after the covenant with Jacob and Israel, came the covenant inheritance which made another division, for the Lord gave the land of Canaan to the seed of Abraham and to the seed of Israel by a covenant of salt. And God has given to his spiritual Israel a covenant inheritance; we are to possess all things in Christ, “who by God is made to us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption,” — everything we can desire; for all things are ours if we are Christ’s. Ours is a glorious inheritance; we have everything that is necessary for this life, and also for the life to come. Even Canaan had its drawbacks; but we go to a land which in very deed flows with milk and honey, where the sun never sets, where there is no death, neither sorrow, nor sighing, a sweet land beyond the flood, the heavenly Canaan, which stands for ever dressed in living green. Blessed are the eyes that can look from the top of Pisgah, and, “view the landscape over.” But what a difference it makes between man and man that this one has a covenant inheritance, and the other has none, for he sold it for a mess of pottage, and has no more to do with it!

21. Then came the broad distinction which all could see, namely, that of redemption, for the seed of Jacob had to be redeemed. They had come into bondage in Egypt, and with a high hand and an outstretched arm the Lord brought them out from there. Then the difference began to be visible. That night when the blood-mark was on the lintel and down the two side-posts, Israel was distinct from Egypt. The blood had made the difference, for the Lord had said, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” Oh dear hearers, have you had the blood-mark put on you? Has the atoning sacrifice of Christ been laid home to your heart and conscience? This is the great distinction between man and man, the blood that makes atonement for the soul. The Lord has indeed revealed his choice of us when we have entered into the fulness of his great redemption.

22. Then came the going out of Egypt, which may be compared to conversion; the passage through the Red Sea, which represents regeneration; the dwelling in the wilderness, which is a type of the life and experience of many believers; the crossing of the Jordan and the entering into Canaan, which should be a picture of the joy of all who believe in Jesus, for “we who have believed enter into rest,” and come into the land of promise. These things, which I have only mentioned in passing, made very grave distinctions between the people of Jehovah and all other nations, who looked at them as a strange nation dwelling alone, and not numbered among the ordinary nations of the earth.

23. This brings me again to the critical question, — Has the Lord made any difference between you and the rest of mankind, dear hearers? Have you received any pledge of the covenant of grace? Do you know what redeeming love means? Have you been separated from the world? Have you heard the voice of God crying to you, “ ‘Come out from among them, and be separate,’ says the Lord, ‘and do not touch the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters,’ says the Lord Almighty?” Is the world a wilderness to you? Have you looked to the bronze serpent, and lived by the sight? Does the water from the rock follow you, — that rock which is Christ? Do you feed on heavenly manna? Is the Lord in the midst of your camp? Is his glory revealed there? Do you delight to be led by his fiery, cloudy pillar from day to day? All this will be the revelation of the eternal separation which God made in his predestinating purpose: “The Lord has chosen Jacob for himself.” He led Israel out into the wilderness so that he might speak to their hearts there. He drew them away from men; he made them live solitary and alone, like eagles on the rock, so that they might dwell there with him, and have no strange god among them. Blessed are the people who enjoy this separation; but unhappy are the men and women who talk about election, and yet have never known the separation which stamps their election as being a matter of fact.

24. IV. Now I close with one more characteristic of the people of God, and that is, THEIR ELEVATION. This is clearly seen in the text: “The Lord has chosen Jacob for himself”: but in a moment he elevates Jacob, for he adds, “and Israel for his special treasure.”

25. The “supplanter” has grown into a prevailing prince. He took his brother by the heel, but now he has accomplished a grander feat than that; he has grasped the angel, and he has said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” He supplanted Esau, but now, as a prince, he has prevailed with God, and seen him face-to-face, and yet he has lived; and though he comes halting away from the wrestling, yet he is more than conqueror through him who loved him. Yes, beloved, God’s choice wonderfully elevates a man. He may be Jacob before, but he becomes Israel afterwards; has such an elevation as that taken place in you, my friend?

26. Then see, next, that God elevated his choice in value, for he compares Jacob to a “special treasure.” “Since you were precious in my sight,” — oh, that is a wonderful word! — “precious in my sight,” to be used by the God who says, “The silver and the gold are mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills,” — “Since you were precious in my sight, you have been honourable, and I have loved you.” They are put to an honourable use, for the choicest treasures of kings, that make up their regalia, are meant to be brought out on coronation days, and on other grand occasions when they bedeck themselves with all their pearls and diamonds and stars and crowns. And such are the Lord’s people, precious in his sight, “his special treasure.” And they are put to this use, — to adorn his doctrine in all things, — to be as the jewels of his crown, — to be as the signet ring on his finger, — to be as precious stones on his breast-plate. God’s people are everything to him; there is nothing that you have, that you account rich or rare, that is anything to you in value in comparison with what God’s people are to him. His delight is in them; the pleasure which God has in his people is truly wonderful. He made the heavens and the earth, the stars and all things that are; and then he touched the world with his wondrous finger, and moulded it into the thing of beauty which it is today; and it took him six days to do it; and when he had done it, what happened? “The morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” But did God sing? No; he simply said, in plain prose, that it was very good; that is all he had to say about it. Ah, but when the time comes for the new creation, when he makes a true believer, when he forms his Church, the bride, the Lamb’s wife, we read, “He will rejoice over you with joy; he will rest in his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Think of God, the Everlasting Father, the Ever-Blessed Son, and the Divine Spirit bursting out into singing; what a song must that be! I would like to hear the singing of the angels and of all the host redeemed with blood who stand in their white robes before the throne of the Most High; it must be such a song as mortal ears as yet have never heard. But, oh, to hear God sing, — the great Father himself with his holy hymn, — the glorious Son with his sweet psalms — the Holy Spirit with his blessed song! We can scarcely imagine what it must be, but the expression shows how precious the Church must be to the Lord when he is said to rejoice ever her with singing. Just as the love of a husband to his bride, so is the love of Christ to his people; otherwise the Song of Solomon means nothing at all, and is an idle book. Just as the love of a tender mother — and what can excel that? — so is the love of God for his people. Just as a mother comforts her children, even so shall the Lord God comfort you.

27. So, then, you see, dear friends, that the choice of God has lifted his people right up from all their former degradation, and made them precious in his sight, so that he himself takes delight in them. Go home then, and take delight in God. If he can find delight in you, much more may you delight in him; and, as the Psalm from which our text is taken begins with “Praise the Lord,” so now, you who know that you are chosen by him, praise him. And as the Psalm ends with “Praise the Lord,” you who love him, you who have been loved by him, continue to praise him even until your last breath, gasp out a “Hallelujah!” as you pass into eternity.

28. May the Lord be with you, beloved, for Jesus Christ’s sake! Amen.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Ps 135}

1. Praise the LORD.

Or, “Hallelujah.” “Hallelujah” is the keynote of it. So this is one of the Hallelujah Psalms, for so it begins; and if you look at the end, you will see that it closes like that. There is “Hallelujah” again. The whole Psalm is shut in at the beginning and at the end with this which is both our duty and our delight: “Praise the Lord.”

1. Praise the name of the LORD:

The character, the work, all that is revealed by God, is a subject for praise: and especially that wonderful and incommunicable name Jehovah, — never mention it without praise: “Praise the name of the Lord.”

1. Praise him, oh you servants of the LORD.

Make it a part of your service. Praise him because you are his servants. Praise him because he accepts your service. You ought to be first in sounding his praises, therefore, “Praise him, oh you servants of the Lord.”

2. You who stand in the house of the LORD, in the courts of the house of our God, —

You are permitted to dwell near to him. You have a standing and an abode, an office and a work, in the courts of the Lord’s house; therefore take care that you begin the strain. Should not the King’s courtiers praise him? Praise him, then, “you who stand in the courts of the house of our God,” —

3. Praise the LORD; for the LORD is good:

There is one excellent reason for praising him, and you can never praise him too much. He is so good that you can never extol him to an exaggeration.

3. Sing praises to his name; for it is pleasant.

That is, singing God’s praises is pleasant; it is a pleasant duty, and the Lord’s name is pleasant, or lovely. The very thought of God brings the sweetest emotions to every renewed heart; there is no pleasure in the world that exceeds that of devotion. As we sing praises to the Lord, we shake off the cares of the world, we rise above its smoke and mists, and then we get the clearer atmosphere of communion with him.

4. For the LORD has chosen Jacob for himself, and Israel for his special treasure.

There is something for you who are the Lord’s chosen to sing about.

    In songs of sublime adoration and praise,
    Ye pilgrims to Zion who press,
    Break forth, and extol the great Ancient of days,
    His rich and distinguishing grace.

5. For I know that the LORD is great, and that our Lord is above all gods.

“I know it,” says the writer of the Psalm; “I know it by experience; I know it by observation; I am sure of it. There is no god like our God. He is a great Creator, a great Preserver, a great Redeemer, a great Friend, a great Helper. ‘I know that Jehovah is great, and that our Adoni is above all gods.’ ”

6. Whatever the LORD pleased, that he did in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places.

The heathen divided the universe into provinces, and they had Jupiter to rule heaven and earth, and Neptune for the sea, and even today many sing, but, oh! how inaccurately, “Britannia rules the waves.” It is Jehovah, and no one else, who rules the waves, and the people on either land or sea. He is Lord everywhere, and whatever he pleases to do is done. He is no lackey to wait on the free will of his creatures: “Whatever Jehovah pleased, that he did.”

7. He causes the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth;

That is a very wonderful work; what millions of tons of water are turned every day into vapour, and caused to ascend from different regions of the earth to fall again afterwards in cheerful, refreshing rain! What would we do if this process were suspended? It is the very life-blood of the world.

7. He makes lightnings for the rain;

It is said that the Bible was written to teach us religion, not science. That is very true, but the Bible never makes a mistake in its science; and I would rather agree with the old writers, who held that the Bible contained all science, than I would go with those who blasphemously pretend to correct the Holy Spirit, and to set him right on geology, and I do not know what else besides. In the long run, it shall be proved that the old Book beats all the scientists; and when they have made some wonderful discovery, it will turn out that it was all recorded here long before.

“He makes lightnings for the rain.” There is an intimate connection between electricity and the formation of rain; and in the East this is very clear, for we are constantly reading in books of travel of heavy downpours of rain almost always accompanied by thunderstorms.

7. He brings the wind out of his treasuries.

The wind never comes blowing around us according to some freak of its own; but “He brings the wind out of his treasuries”; counting, and spending it as men do their money, not allowing more wind to blow than is needed for the high purposes of his wise government. Let praise for this be given to the God of nature who is ruling over all, and always doing as he wills.

The psalmist goes on to show that the God of nature is also the God of his people: —

8. Who struck the firstborn of Egypt, both of man and beast.

It was God’s own hand that did it. The firstborn of man and beast could not have died by accident all over the land of Egypt at the same hour of the night; but Jehovah punished the guilty nation like this. Had they not oppressed his firstborn? Had they not cruelly trampled on his people, and refused to listen to his Word? And when the time came for this last and heaviest blow, the Lord only acted in justice towards them, and in mercy towards his people.

9. Who sent signs and wonders into the midst of you, oh Egypt, on Pharaoh, and on all his servants.

“Signs and wonders”; — not only prodigies which astounded the people, but “signs” which taught them, for the plagues were directed against their deities, and large books might be written to show how every plague exposed the impotence of some one or other of the false gods which the Egyptians worshipped. Pharaoh and his servants were all involved in the sin, so they were all included in the punishment. How much better was it to be a servant of Jehovah than to be a servant of Pharaoh!

10. Who struck great nations, and slew mighty kings;

Two of them are mentioned, perhaps because they were two of the most powerful kings who blocked the road of Israel.

11-13. Sihon king of the Amorites, and Og king of Bashan, and all the kingdoms of Canaan: and gave their land for an inheritance, an inheritance to Israel his people. Your name, oh LORD, endures for ever; —

He is the same Jehovah now as he ever was. Multitudes of people, nowadays, have made new gods for themselves; they have imagined a new character for Jehovah altogether, and the God of the Old Testament is ignored and slandered; but not by his chosen people, they still cling to him. The God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob is not the God of the dead, but of the living; and that is true spiritually as well as naturally. Those who are spiritually dead refuse to acknowledge him, and set up gods that they have imagined; but those who are quickened by his grace delight in him, and glorify his name. Let this, beloved, be our joyful song, “Your name, oh Lord, endures for ever”; —

13, 14. And your memorial, oh LORD, throughout all generations. For the LORD will judge his people, and he will have compassion on his servants.

For they have their dark times, and are often in trouble through their sin. Then the Lord sends chastisement on them, but when it has served his purpose, he gladly enough withdraws it. How different are the idols of the heathen from our God!

15. The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands.

They can do no works, for they are themselves the result of the work of men. Their handiwork can be nothing, for they are the work of men’s hands.

16-18. They have mouths, but they do not speak; they have eyes, but they do not see; they have ears, but they do not hear; neither is there any breath in their mouths. Those who make them are like them: so is everyone who trusts in them.

The original conveys the idea that those who make such gods grow to be like them, they are continually getting to be more and more like them. They become dumb, blind, deaf, dead, as they worship such idols as these.

19, 20. Bless the LORD, oh house of Israel: bless the LORD, oh house of Aaron: bless the LORD, oh house of Levi: you who fear the LORD, bless the LORD.

All of you, whether you are from the house of Aaron or from the tribe of Levi, to whatever house or tribe you belong, bless the Lord; and if you are Gentiles, even though Abraham does not acknowledge you, yet, “you who fear the Lord, bless the Lord.”

21. Blessed be the LORD out of Zion, who dwells at Jerusalem.

Our innermost hearts would bless him. We cannot make him more blessed than he is; we cannot add to his glory; but, oh! we do wish that everything we can do, everything that can be done for his honour, may be done.

21. Praise the LORD.

That is, once again, “Hallelujah.” Oh, for the spirit of divine grace to set us praising God from the heart, and to keep us at that holy exercise all our days!

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “God the Father, Acts, Predestinating Grace — Gracious Election” 219}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 147” 147}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Work of Grace as a Whole — Eternal Love Exalted” 231}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Adorable Trinity in Unity, Doxology to the Trinity — Doxology” 153}

God the Father, Acts, Predestinating Grace
219 — Gracious Election <11.8.>
1 In songs of sublime adoration and praise,
   Ye pilgrims to Zion who press,
   Break forth, and extol the great Ancient of days,
   His rich and distinguishing grace.
2 His love, from eternity fix’d upon you,
   Broke forth, and discover’d its flame,
   When each with the cords of his kindness he drew,
   And brought you to love his great name.
3 Oh, had he not pitied the state you were in,
   Your bosom his love had ne’er felt;
   You all would have lived, would have died too in sin,
   And sunk with the load of your guilt.
4 What was there in you that could merit esteem,
   Or give the Creator delight?
   “’Twas even so, Father,” you ever must sing,
   “Because it seem’d good in thy sight.”
5 ‘Twas all of thy grace we were brought to obey,
   While others were suffer’d to go
   The road which by nature we chose as our way,
   Which leads to the regions of woe.
6 Then give all the glory to his Holy name,
   To him all the glory belongs;
   Be yours the high joy still to sound forth his fame,
   And crown him in each of your songs.
                     George Keith, 1787.

Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 147 (Song 1)
1 Oh praise the Lord, ‘tis sweet to raise
   The grateful heart to God in praise;
   When fallen raised, when lost restored,
   Oh! it is a sweet to praise the Lord!
2 Great is his power, divine his skill,
   His love diviner, greater still;
   The sinner’s Friend, the mourner’s stay,
   He sends no suppliant sad away.
3 The lions roar to him for bread,
   The ravens by his hand are fed;
   And shall his chosen flock despair?
   Shall they mistrust their Shepherd’s care?
4 His church is precious in his sight;
   He makes her glory his delight;
   His treasures on her head are pour’d
   Oh Zion’s children, praise the Lord.
                     Henry Francis Lyte, 1834.

Psalm 147 (Song 2)
1 Praise ye the Lord; ‘tis good to raise
   Our hearts and voices in his praise:
   His nature and his works invite
   To make this duty our delight.
2 The Lord builds up Jerusalem,
   And gathers nations to his name:
   His mercy melts the stubborn soul,
   And makes the broken spirit whole.
3 He form’d the stars, those heavenly flames;
   He counts their numbers, calls their names:
   His wisdom’s vast, and knows no bound,
   A deep where all our thoughts are drown’d.
4 Great is our Lord, and great his might;
   And all his glories infinite:
   He crowns the meek, rewards the just,
   And treads the wicked to the dust.
                        Isaac Watts, 1719.

The Work of Grace as a Whole
231 — Eternal Love Exalted
1 Saved from the damning power of sin,
   The law’s tremendous curse,
   We’ll now the sacred song begin
   Where God began with us.
2 We’ll sing the vast unmeasured grace
   Which, from the days of old,
   Did all the chosen sons embrace,
   As sheep within the fold.
3 The basis of eternal love
   Shall mercy’s frame sustain;
   Earth, hell, or sin, the same to move,
   Shall all conspire in vain.
4 Sing, oh ye sinners bought with blood,
   Hail the Great three in One;
   Tell how secure the covenant stood
   Ere time its race begun.
5 Ne’er had ye felt the guilt of sin,
   Nor sweets if pardoning love,
   Unless your worthless names had been
   Enroll’d to life above.
6 Oh what a sweet exulting song
   Shall rend the vaulted skies,
   When, shouting grace, the blood-wash’d throng
   Shall see the top stone rise.
                           John Kent, 1803.

The Adorable Trinity in Unity, Doxologies to the Trinity
153 — Doxology
1 Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
   Praise him all creatures here below,
   Praise him above, ye heavenly host,
   Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
                           Thomas Ken, 1697.

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

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