the psalms diversified
We are thankful to Bro. GR for submitting the following extract from the pen of our Bro. Robert Roberts, which we reproduce for the benefit of our readers:
The Psalms form a large and prominent part of the Scriptures. They are not attractive to the popular mind, religious or profane. There is a clear reason for this. The Psalms turn on the existence and activity of the personal God of the Bible; to whom the natural man has a philosophical aversion where it is scholastically trained, and an instinctive aversion where it has not risen above native animalism. As for the religious mind, the Psalms are too vigorous, personal, material, sublunary and spiritual for the taste that has been developed by immortalsoulism, blown or spun into all sorts of artificial attenuations and rarefactions by the soothing essayists and elegant speculators or exiting declaimers of a false theological age. They are not twaddling enough or human-sentimental enough for the sickly modern school of “piety”.
Are the Psalms useless then? Far from it. They are delightful nutriment to the new man that has been truly begotten by the word of truth. There is no part of Scripture to which a spiritually-formed taste can more ardently apply the Scripture encomium: “I esteemed the words of thy mouth to be more than my necessary food: more to be desired are they than gold, yea than much fine gold: they are to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart.”
The Psalms are a school in which truly divine thoughts and expressions are to be learnt. We need to keep at this school to keep in the right style. Another school is around us on every hand, from which we much more easily learn aversion to the thoughts and ways of the Spirit, especially in a day like ours, when the educational tendancy is more and more to banish God from heart and lip. Scriptural speech is obsolete with those who have a weak or a dead faith in the age to come, and the age that has gone. It will return in full vigour with the Kingdom of God, which will establish a pure language in all the earth. An obedient believer of the Gospel belongs to that age, though living in this. That which makes him belong to it is the reception in advance of its spirit. This spirit finds expression in its language, and its language is nowhere more wealthily displayed than in the book of Psalms, in which the Spirit by David has formulated the thoughts that are acceptable in man towards God in all relations. We may be guilty of “cant” in the estimation of merely secular thinkers, in conforming to the divine standard in the matter; but a wise man will keep his eye on the fact that the secular thinkers are on the road to oblivion with the age that has given them birth, and that the divine standard alone will govern the evolution of futurity. The future belongs alone to Christ: and his spirit is in all of the Psalms, to which we do well to conform as entirely as we can.
We have thought it would not be amiss to have an occasional ramble in this picturesque country of Scripture delights: that is, to make selections—somewhat indiscriminately, perhaps—and serve them up from time to time with a little of the variation and diversification that sometimes in the musical sphere, turns a homely air into a pleasing fantasia. Success in such an experiment must always be doubtful. On the other hand, failure cannot be disasterous, and the attempt may be interesting, and even productive of some degree of advantage. It is the beauty of Scriptural things that, provided you stick close to them and do not get into the merely natural groove, you are bound to get benefit from them, whatever form you work them up into. In the hope that we may not fail of this experience in this case, we indulge in a preliminary experiment.
THE FIRST PSALM
Blessed every man desires to be;
Yet to this state attaineth only he
Who takes the way to reach it; but alas!
Most men dislike along this way to pass.
The reason is, the way is not quite sweet:
Its roughness tires the limbs and hurts the feet.
“Discard the counsel of ungodly men.”
“Walk not in ways of sinners, where nor when.”
This motto is not pleasant to observe
The sons of sin are often sweet to serve.
“Stand not within their way,” God loud commands
Although that way convenient often stands.
Sin’s way is prosperous in an age of sin;
And who loves not to prosper with his kin?
In ways of honour stand the ungodly now;
And who loves not to share the lordly bow?
In ways of ease, and wealth, the world thrive;
And who would choose with poverty to strive?
Yet pleasure is the fruitful source of scorn.
Proud speakers are of rank and luxury born.
“Sit not in scorner’s seat,” God calls again
Where mirthful flouts and quips roll round amain.
Pleasant, infectious, universal all,
“Yet stay,” cries wisdom, “death is in its thrall.”
“In what must I delight?” the meek man cries.
“Delight in God and his law truly wise.
Wise you will find it, if you study well;
For wise are all God’s works, as all things tell.
Meditate on it, Yes both day and night.
‘Twill yield you better joy than things of sight;
Not like the zest of intellect or taste,
Which briefly pleasing, runs the mind to waste.
‘Tis more like breathing air, partaking food,
A matter needful, an untiring good;
A thing our nature calls for, daily use,
A satisfaction pure, without abuse.
And now consider what will come of it
When God’s forth-bringings show his workings fit;
Like thriving tree all planted by a river
The godly man will flourish fair for ever;
No withered leaf on his strong branch appears
He grows and prospers for a thousand years
Ripe fruit and healing in his season yields
Dispensing blessing o’er a thousand fields.
In honour firm established, and in wealth
He wears the noblest crown, immortal health.
But not so are the ungodly—where are they?
Gone: like the worthless stubble—blown away.
The ways of righteous men to God are known,
The way of sinners will be overthrown.