053 - The Glories of the Sabbath
A meditation of Psalm 92
By Charles D. Alexander
All By Grace
Sola Christus          
Sola Scriptura           
Sola Gratia           
Sola Fida           
Soli Deo Gloria
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The title of this 92nd Psalm   "A Psalm or Song for the Sabbath Day" indicates the fullness of praise, delight and instruction with which the soul should enter upon its Sabbaths. The world speaks about the dreary Christian Sundays. They want more and more facilities to escape from any idea or obligation to worship. If it is an inclement weekend they will complain the more. They will travel bumper to bumper from London to Brighton and back again for a brief glimpse of the sea, and fight for refreshment in crowded cafes   but Christian rest and worship is deadly dull to them. They are full of advice as to what the Christian Church should do to meet the demands of the modern age  advice tendered principally to cover up the conscience. It is advocated that early morning services be arranged to meet the needs of the "ton up" boys out on their motor cycles for the day. This has been tried but somehow does not seem to have been repeated. Sabbath schools and evening services have been closed for the summer months over wide areas of Scotland   with fatal results.

There is no substitute for praise and for the Word of God. We want more, not less, of psalms and songs on the Sabbath day outlets for the praise and gratitude which are in our hearts to God and to Christ. Never was this more needed than today. "Come Philip," said Luther to Melancthon, "Come, let us sing a psalm and drive away the devil" What is needed is more holy and healthy instruction in the work of God for our Redemption. This is the theme of this" psalm or song for the Sabbath Day"; this is the reason why it is so entitled, for its theme is that work of God in redemption and in creation to which Almighty God is dedicated and which He has brought to a successful conclusion in Christ. Of that glorious and successful accomplishment in which the Eternal God now rests, this psalm is the triumphant anthem: "Thou hast made me glad through Thy work; 1 will triumph in the works of Thy hands" (verse 4). In our earthly Sabbaths we consider the greatest of all themes, and are lifted up in highest admiration of the consummate wisdom and glorious grace of our redeeming Lord: O Lord, how great are Thy works! and Thy thoughts are very deep. (verse 5).

Where there is no appreciation of the meaning of the Sabbath, we are down to the level of the brute and the fool: A brutish person knoweth not; neither doth a fool understand this. (verse 6). The theme of this psalm is finely expressed by the celebrated Dr. E. W. Hengstenberg, whose mighty strokes paralysed the Rationalistic Theology of Germany in the last century "On the Sabbath Day men ought to rest from their own works in order to consider the works of God leisurely and together. Not less great than the Creation is the preservation of His Church in an evil world!'

"It is a good thing..." (verse l)

Let us make no mistake about it; only the evangelical believer can say this, that he is the possessor of true and everlasting good. The only ultimate good thing in life is to be rightly related to God through reconciliation and eternal redemption and the proof that this is ours is that our new and born again hearts are lifted to God in a twofold exercise of thanks and praise: "It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto Thy name, O most High" These two vital words  thanks and praise are the application of all sound theology. For the exercise of them we require two things knowledge and feeling. We give thanks for benefits received: we call to mind by the very fact of there being a Sabbath, that God has made pledges, promises, and a covenant. He has made the world for a purpose. With infinite forethought and consummate skill He has fabricated the world and fashioned the ages. After He had dispatched the rolling spheres on their appointed courses and had thrown off the astral galaxies into space in dazzling curves and scarves of blinding light; when He had sent upon their measureless journeys 1,000,000,000 island universes, each with its 1,000,000,000 suns like a myriad bridal coronets for the espousals of His Eternal Son. He consulted with His fathomless wisdom over a work which was to surpass them all. "Let us," He said, "make man in our own image, after our likeness" Those dazzling worlds were but the wedding garment of His perfections. This was to be the veritable living image and likeness of
Himself, fashioned in holy beauties and bearing the impress of the divine nature.

And when the sun had climbed to its zenith on that sixth glorious day of the creation week, behold!   out of the golden dust a man takes form, rises from his earthy bed, opens his eyes upon Creation's glory, stretches out his hands to heaven as though to embrace and contain all within himself (as indeed he must) and worships God in awful purity. As instant as the sun's light pouring upon his eyeballs gives him perception of the wonders and beauties around him, so instantly the light of God's Spirit illuminating his soul tells him who he is, and enthrones him consciously upon the throne of all visible things. He hears a voice which proclaims to him his life's charter. All is his forever, subject to the one overriding moral condition of thankful acknowledgment of the divine overlordship, and meek and delighted submission to the one will above his own a will divine, which willed good alone, and the keeping of which established him in all joy and peace for ever.

The next day was the Sabbath that holy and mysterious rest of God in which He contemplated with pleasure the completion and perfection of His work. The sanctifying of that day was a symbol, a pledge, and a foreshadowing of the eternal rest He has promised to man. Our observance of that Sabbath is an act of faith by which we declare in regular form, our unshakeable trust in the promises of God. We celebrate the Sabbath and keep it, as God desires it to be kept, only when it is to us the symbol of His Covenant of Grace, rich in the promise of life everlasting, raising within us as we contemplate its truth, the deep spirit of thanks and praise. It is thus that we "call the Sabbath a delight"

The breach of that law, we call sin. The record of man's fall recorded in the third chapter of Genesis, is no allegory or parable. To eat of the forbidden tree was no venial offence. Man was tested in the only way he could be tested in a state of perfection, when there was no human society, and no moral evil in the world. There was none whom the first man could rob or deprive; but will a man rob God? All sin; all the vileness and rottenness of a lost world's defilement was in that daring, hideous act by which the first man threw aside his holy nature, hurled the gift of life back into the face of his Lord, and departed from under the protection and favour of that One who had given him all things and held back nothing which was good. He went out front the presence of God, exposed to wrath and evil against which he had no shield and for which he could find in himself no remedy.

It is significant that the heathen world had no word adequate to express the meaning and nature of sin. The bible shows its divine origin and true inspiration by the great variety of terms used therein to declare the nature and vileness of that act of man which wilfully threw off the divine yoke. Hence we have sin, transgression, wickedness, iniquity, unfaithfulness, unbelief, rebellion, disobedience.

The New Covenant:

The old covenant being broken, God gives a new one first by promise and by prophecy of a coming Redeemer, and then by fulfilment as His own Son comes forth from the womb of the virgin to take upon Himself all the consequences of man's disobedience. God set Himself to the task of redemption, that man might be restored to His favour and protection and to the sure and certain promise of everlasting life. The Christian Sabbath becomes the day of the new creation, for Christ was raised on the first day of the week, and the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the redeemed likewise on the first day of the week the day of Pentecost. The condition of the new Sabbath is faith alone. Nothing else can sinful man render. He has no obedience of his own to offer, and no righteousness of his own to commend. In Christ alone, and in His merits, he returns to the God whom he has rejected and despised, and finds himself under the shelter of everlasting mercy.