Sermon by Alexander MacLaren, D. D.
Lord, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me.…
The Psalm falls into four strophes; three of which are marked by “Selah.”
1. Vers. 1, 2: The Psalmist recounts his enemies. As a morning Psalm this is touchingly true to experience. The first waking thought is often a renewed inrush of the trouble which sleep had for a time dammed back. His enemies are many, and they taunt him as forsaken of God. The Psalmist is finding refuge from fears and foes, even in telling how many there are, since he begins his complaint with “Jehovah.” Without that word the exclamations of his first strophe are the voice of cowardice or despair. With it they are calmed into the appeal of trust. The Selah here is probably a direction for an instrumental interlude while the singer pauses.
2. Vers. 3, 4: The utterance of faith, based on experience, laying hold of Jehovah as defence. By an effort of will the Psalmist rises from the contemplation of surrounding enemies to that of the encircling Jehovah. This harassed man flings himself out of the coil of troubles round about him, and looks up to God. He sees in Him precisely what he needs at the moment, for in that infinite nature is fulness corresponding to all emptiness of ours. How comes this sudden burst of confidence to lighten the complaining soul? Ver. 4 tells. Experience has taught him that as often as he cries to Jehovah he is heard. The tenses in ver. 4 express a habitual act and a constant result.
3. Vers. 5, 6 beautifully express the tranquil courage that comes from trust. “Surrounded by enemies, he was quite safe under God’s protection, and exposed to no peril even in the night.” This suits the situation pointed to in the superscription of the Psalm.
4. Vers. 7, 8 give the culmination of faith in prayer. “Arise, Jehovah” is quoted from the ancient invocation (Numbers 10:35), and expresses in strongly anthropomorphic form the desire for some interposition of Divine power. Fearlessness is not so complete that the Psalmist is beyond the need of praying.
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About Author: Alexander MacLaren (11 February 1826 – 5 May 1910) was an English non-conformist minister of Scottish origin. Called the “prince of expositors,” MacLaren was a renowned preacher of the 19th and 20th century.
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