Tuesday, August 8, 2017

My Summer with Psalm 119 #11

As a few of you know, I love, love, LOVE Psalm 119. I thought it would be great to spend a summer focusing on that psalm and what others have had to say about it. I'll begin with Thomas Manton's Exposition of Psalm 119. It may take all summer to read all 158 sermons. But they're so GOOD, so RICH, I think it will be worth it.

Sermon 13: Psalm 119:12

  • First, The compellation carrieth the force of an argument: Because thou art blessed, O Lord, therefore teach me. And therefore I shall open the sense of this title that is here given to God, so as I may still make good the argument.
  • It is our blessedness to enjoy God.
  • Blessed is the people whose God is the Lord.’ That is our blessedness, to have God for our portion. As soon as we are admitted into covenant with God, we have a right to him: I am thy God;’ and we have the full consummation of it when we enter into heaven; there we have the highest enjoyment of God that we are capable of.
  • If God be our chiefest good and our utmost end, it concerns us nearly to learn out the way how we may enjoy him.
  • God’s blessedness is that attribute by which the Lord, from himself, and in his own being, is free from all misery and enjoyeth all good, and is sufficient to himself, and contented with himself, and doth neither need nor desire the creature for any good that can accrue to him by us. Or, more shortly, God’s blessedness is the fruition of himself, and his delighting in himself.
  • God is eternally blessed, therefore we should study to be like him.
  • God loves himself, and acts for himself, and pursueth his own glory. Now when the word of God breaks in upon the heart, we pursue the same design with God.
  • Men are prejudiced against a course of holiness; it seems to look upon them with a sour and austere face. Surely God loves a pleasant life; whoever is miserable, he hath a full contentment. Doth he that made all things want true joy and contentment? Who should have happiness if God hath not? Now, when we learn, God’s statutes, we come to be conformed to the nature of God; we love what he loves, and hate what he hates, and then we begin to live the life of God. The happiness of God lieth in loving himself, enjoying himself, and acting for his own glory; and this is the fruit of grace, to teach us to live as God lives, to do as God doth, to love him and enjoy him as our chiefest good, and to glorify him as our utmost end. This is the first sense wherein God may be said to be actively blessed, as he hath infinite complacency in himself.
  • He is not only blessedness itself, but willing to communicate and give it out to the creature, especially his saints.
  • God is passively blessed as he is blessed by us, or as worthy of all praise from us, for his goodness, righteousness, and mercy, and the communications of his grace. There are two words by which our thanksgiving is expressed—praise and blessing.
  • Praise relateth to God’s excellency, and blessing to his benefits. His works declare his excellency: but his saints, which are sensible of his benefits, they bless him; they count him worthy of all honour and praise, and are ever ascribing to him, Rev. 5:13, Blessing, honour, glory, and power be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.’ Why blessing? As for other things, so it was for opening the book which was sealed with seven seals, and revealing his mind to his people; as you may see, ver. 9. So David here, Blessed art thou, O Lord: teach me thy statutes.’ As if he had said, Lord, thou art, and thou shalt be blessed: I bless thee that thou hast taught me; and I desire thou wouldst teach me still, that I may ever bless thee. Thus it may be taken in a passive sense, as he is the object of our blessedness. 
  • Before ever there was hill or mountain, man or angel, God was happy enough in himself. God had infinite complacency in Christ, and Christ in God, both in the Spirit, all in each, and each in all, before ever there was hill or mountain.
  • Though God stand in no need of us, yet he is willing to communicate his blessedness, and to make us happy in the enjoyment of himself.
  • The word of God, especially the gospel part, doth only teach us the way how we may be blessed in the enjoyment of God.
  • The law is good, but the gospel glorious, because more of the glory of God is displayed and discovered to the creature.
  • If we would profit by the word of God, we must go to God, and desire the light and strength of his grace.
  • If we would enjoy the blessed God, according to the direction of his word, we must not only consult with the word, but with God.
  • Nothing else can draw us off from the world, and persuade us to look after heavenly things; nothing else will teach us the vanity of the creature, the reality of spiritual privileges.
  • Then you are in a hopeful way to true blessedness when you begin to be careful to attend upon God’s teaching, much more when you have the fruits of it, when you know him so as to love him, so as to have your hearts drawn off from sin and folly.
  • The great business of Jesus Christ is to make us blessed in the enjoyment of God. But how is it? only by bare knowledge? No, it is by turning every one from his iniquity. So the more this teaching of God prevails upon the heart, the more blessed we are: Ps. 119:1, Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord.’ Otherwise, to have a golden head and feet of clay, that is monstrous, as in Nebuchadnezzar’s image; to have a naked knowledge of God, and not brought under the power of it. You read of the heathens, when they sacrificed to their gods, they were wont to hang a garland upon the heads of the beasts, and to crown them with roses, so they were led on to sacrifice. Many may have garlands upon their heads, ornaments of knowledge, yet are going on to destruction; therefore that light and teaching which conveyeth blessedness is such as prevaileth upon the heart, and doth effectually turn us to God. 
  • It is not only an affront put upon God, but also a great wrong, to neglect the word of God, and the way he prescribes, and to seek blessedness in temporal things.
  • That which makes us blessed, it must fill up the heart of man. As a vessel is never full until it have as much as it can hold, so we can never be said to have a full happiness and contentment until we have as much as we can hold. That which fills must be greater than the thing filled. Now man’s heart is such a chaos of desires, that it can never be filled up but in God: Ps. 16:11, In thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.’ Therefore, of the joy and happiness we have in God, it is said, Enter into thy master’s joy,’
  • Doct. If we would know God’s statutes so as to keep them, we must be taught of God. Here I shall inquire— 1. What it is, or how doth God teach us? 2. The necessity of this teaching. 3. The benefit and utility of it.
  • The outward means are necessary; it is God’s teaching in part; but the inward grace especially. Both these must go together; for it is said, John 6:45, Every man that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.’ There must be a hearing of the word, and so there is a teaching from God. But— 2. The inward teaching, which is the work of the Spirit, that needs most to be opened. What is that? It consists in two things—(1.) When God infuseth light into the understanding, so as we come to apprehend the things of God in a spiritual manner: Ps. 36:9, In thy light shall we see light.’
  • There is no discerning spiritual things spiritually, but in God’s light.
  • God’s teaching consisteth not only in enlightening the understanding, but in moving and inclining the heart and the will; for God’s teaching is always accompanied with drawing: John 6:44, No man cometh to me, except the Father draw him;’ which Christ proves, ver. 45, because they shall be all taught of God.’ The Spirit’s light is not only directive, but persuasive; it is effectual to alter and to change the affections, and to carry them out to Christ and to his ways; he works powerfully where he teacheth. When the Holy Ghost was first poured out upon the apostles, there was a notable effect of it; it came in the appearance of cloven tongues, like as of fire, Acts 2:3, to show the manner of the Spirit’s operation by the ministry; not only as light, but as fire: it is a burning and a shining light; that is, such a light as is seasoned with zeal and love, that affects the heart, that burns up our corruptions. And therefore, you know, when Christ would put forth a divine effect in his conference with his two disciples, it is said, Their hearts burned within them while he talked with them,’ Luke 24:32. There is a warmth and heat conveyed to the soul. Thus for the nature of this teaching.
  • That we may maintain an awe of God in our soul, we need to be taught of God.
  • Saving knowledge makes us more humble, but carnal knowledge more proud. Where it is in gift rather than in grace, there men are puffed up.
  • The more we know God or ourselves by a divine light, the more humble we shall be: Jer. 31:18-19, When I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh; I was ashamed, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth.’ The more light we have from God, the more we look into a vile heart. When Adam’s eyes are opened, he runs into the bushes; he was ashamed. So when God opens the eyes, and teacheth a Christian, this makes him more humble.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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