Charles Simeon Commentary - 1 Chronicles 16:7 - 16:15

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Charles Simeon Commentary - 1 Chronicles 16:7 - 16:15

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1Ch_16:7-15. Then on that day David delivered first this psalm to thank the Lord into the hand of Asaph and his brethren. Give thanks unto the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people. Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him, talk ye of all his wondrous works. Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord. Seek the Lord and his strength, seek his face continually. Remember his marvellous works that he hath done, his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth; O ye seed of Israel his servant, ye children of Jacob, his chosen ones. He is the Lord our God; his judgments are in all the earth. Be ye mindful always of his covenant.

IF any one entertain a doubt whether “the ways of religion be ways of pleasantness and peace,” he needs only look to the history before us, and his doubts will vanish in an instant. It may be thought indeed, that, because the former attempt of David to carry up the ark was attended with sorrow, the general effect of God’s service is not such as has been represented: but it must be remembered, that, on that occasion, though David meant well, he was criminally negligent respecting the mode of carrying his purposes into effect; and that God on that account had frowned upon him [Note: 1Ch_14:10-11. with 15:13.]. But when he was duly observant of God’s commands respecting the ark, his soul was filled with unutterable joy, to which he gave vent in the Psalm before us.

This Psalm is taken out of several others. As far as the 21st verse, it occurs in the 105th Psalm; the greater part of the remainder is found in the 96th. It was given by David for the use of the Church, on occasion of carrying up the ark to Jerusalem. In the part which we have just read, we behold religion in its full exercise: we see exhibited in the brightest colours,

I.       The general frame of mind that it requires—

We have not now to speak of moral actions, but rather of spiritual affections. We are to contemplate the Christian now in the dispositions of his mind and the exercises of his soul towards God. And here we observe,

1.       That God should be the supreme object of his regard—

[The worldly man rises no higher than the world: “he minds” and savours nothing but what is earthly and carnal [Note: Rom_8:5. Php_3:18-19.]. But the spiritual man “minds the things of the Spirit,” and endeavours to set God, as it were, always before him. In the Psalm before us, there was evidently but one object in David’s mind. The world, and all that is in it, was forgotten; and God was “all in all.” Mark every sentence, or member of a sentence; and this will instantly appear. And should not this be the general frame and habit of our minds? Undoubtedly it should. We need not indeed be always occupied in religious exercises; for there are many other duties to be performed: but we should never for a moment lose the habit of holy and heavenly affections: a sense of God’s unbounded love and mercy should be wrought, as it were, into the very constitution and frame of our minds, so that we should no more cease to feel a supreme regard for him, than a worldly man does for the things of this world. In a word, his perfections, his word, and his works, should be ever so present to our mind, as it was to David on this occasion, or to Adam in paradise — — —]

This, whatever it may be called by ungodly men, is truly rational religion—

[A supreme delight in God is by many deemed enthusiasm: and the religion that consists in speculation, and theory, and form, is supposed to be exclusively entitled to the appellation of rational. But, if God be so infinitely glorious, that even angels themselves are in comparison of him no more than a glow-worm to the sun, he ought to be proportionably elevated in our hearts: and if the wonders he has wrought for us are beyond the powers of language to express, or of imagination to conceive, we should shew our sense of them by thinking of them, and speaking of them, and living continually under a sense of our obligations to him on account of them. Were the Jews required to testify their gratitude in this manner for the mercies vouchsafed to them? How much more should we labour to express our gratitude for that infinitely greater work of redemption which he has wrought out for us by the blood of his only dear Son!

Again; if Christ our Saviour be now in heaven, should not our affections be there [Note: Col_3:1-4.]; and “our conversation be there” also [Note: Php_3:20.]? I say, that, provided we be not led to neglect our worldly duties, (which are in no respect incompatible with heavenly affections,) it is not possible to have our minds too much filled with love to God: on the contrary, the total surrender of all our faculties and powers to him is a “reasonable service [Note: Rom_12:1.].”]

But we shall see yet more clearly the excellency of religion, if we consider,

II.      The particular duties it enjoins—

St. Paul gives us a short summary of duties, very similar to those that are enjoined in the text: “Rejoice evermore; pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you [Note: 1Th_5:16-18.].” Thus David exhorts us,

1.       To thank the Lord for all his past mercies—

[Were this exhortation addressed to the most miserable and the most abandoned of the human race, it would be highly reasonable, since the long-suffering which God has exercised towards him is itself a great salvation [Note: 2Pe_3:15.]. But it is addressed to “the children of Israel,” even “the chosen ones” of the Lord: and who can ever find cause for praise, if they do not? If they fill not the air with their hosannahs, the very “stones will cry out against them.” Do but reflect on your unnumbered mercies, especially the gift of God’s only dear Son for you, and the gift of salvation by him to you. Surely you should sing to him, yea, be singing his praises from day to day: you should be already anticipating the employment of heaven, and be singing day and night, “Salvation to God and to the Lamb for ever and ever.”]

2.       To pray to him for future blessings—

[The ark, as being the symbol of the Deity, was that before which the prayers of the high-priest were to be made, and from whence Jehovah was pleased to communicate his answers. Hence, in our text it is called “his strength.” This ark was a type of Christ, “in whom dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily,” and who is the fountain from whence all spiritual blessings must flow [Note: Joh_1:16; Joh_14:13-14. with Eph_1:22-23.]. To him therefore the Psalmist points, when he says, “Seek the Lord and his strength, seek his face continually.” There is not any occasion whereon it is not our duty and our privilege to seek him. Nothing should be regarded as too small, nothing too great, to ask at his hands. The command is, “In every thing, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.” And the promise for our encouragement is, “Ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” O that we could go thus to God “continually,” as children to their parent! Surely, however “wide we opened our mouths, he would fill them.”]

3.       To glory in him as our God and portion—

[In our text, David observes, “He is the Lord our God:” and elsewhere he says, “O Lord, thou art my God.” This it is which elevates the soul to the highest state of bliss that it can enjoy on earth. The man of this world glories not in wealth, or honour, unless he can call them his. It is the property which we have in them that produces the feelings of joyous exultation. We should therefore strive to the uttermost to ascertain this point, that we are interested in the Saviour, and are authorized on good grounds to say, “My Beloved is mine, and I am his.” As for all other objects of glorying, we should renounce them all, as incompatible with the Saviour’s honour; and should determinately say with the Apostle, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”]

4.       To be always mindful of his covenant—

[The covenant here spoken of, is the covenant made with Abraham, and confirmed with an oath unto Isaac [Note: ver. 16–18.]. In its literal sense it refers to the land of Canaan as the inheritance of Abraham’s descendants: but in its mystical import it refers to all the spiritual seed of Abraham, who are made partakers of an infinitely nobler inheritance in and through the Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed the other was a mere shadow: and this is the substance. This was the covenant made with Christ before the foundation of the world [Note: Gal_3:17 an Heb_6:13-14; Heb_6:17-18. 2Ti_1:2.]; “a covenant ordered in all things and sure,” an everlasting covenant that shall never be annulled. This covenant should be for ever in our minds: we should regard it as the one source of all the blessings we enjoy, and our great security for the continuance of them. This it is that will keep the mind firm and stable amidst all the difficulties and temptations that we have to encounter; since the execution and fulfilment of all its provisions depends on the faithfulness of an unchanging God [Note: Jer_32:40. Mal_3:6.]. We should therefore contemplate this covenant, and trust in it, and plead it before God, and rejoice in an assured hope, that we shall in due time inherit the Kingdom provided for us “before the foundation of the world [Note: In treating this subject, care should be taken, as much as possible, to preserve the life and spirit of the text.].”]

To improve this subject, we will add a few words,

1.       Of reproof—

[How little is there of such religion as this in the midst of us! The generality know nothing of it by actual experience — — — and many, of whom we may hope that they are “God’s chosen ones,” scarcely ever rise higher than to a state of mourning for their sins, and of trust in God for his mercy. They are occupied so much about themselves, as almost to forget their God: that is, they do not contemplate as they ought, his unbounded excellencies, or delight themselves in him as their God and portion. O let not any of you rest in a state so unprofitable, and destitute of comfort as this! but seek to attain the full enjoyment of God in this world, as the best preparation for enjoying him in the world to come.]

2.       Of encouragement—

[That which in our text is an exhortation, “Be mindful always of his covenant,” is, in the Psalm from whence it is taken, a declaration respecting God, that “He hath remembered his covenant for ever [Note: Psa_105:8.].” Yes; he has remembered it, and ever will remember it; nor will he ever suffer one jot or tittle of it to fail. In that covenant he has made ample provision for all our necessities: so that, if we are ready to despond, (as if this elevated state of mind could never be attained, nor these duties ever be performed,) we need only look to that covenant, and all our fears will be dispelled. It is, as has been before observed, “ordered in all things, and sure;” and therefore the weakest shall have grace sufficient for him, and the most timid find security in the arms of an unchanging God.]