“He has revealed his word to Jacob,
his laws and decrees to Israel.” Psalm 147:8
Most of the mornings I worked at Psalm meditations, I read a little Spurgeon first, followed his wonderfully aphoristic comments on all the psalms in a huge work he titled The Treasury of David, three volumes, a set a bookstore owner gave me years ago, assuming, I guess, he’d never sell them. The Treasury of David has been a boon, a joy, a revelation all its own.
Verse by verse, Spurgeon takes each psalm apart and riffs, tells me and all who read him, in his peculiar 19th century voice, what he thinks about every last line from the songs. Spurgeon has been in many of these meditations, even though they’re my own.
After spinning his own takes, Spurgeon cuts and pastes a section of comments from others he’s appreciated in a section titled “Hints to Preachers.” For Psalm 147, comments come from John Trapp, Genebradus, A. S. Aglen, J. N. Pearson’s Life of Archbishoop Leighton (1830), Christopher Wordsworth, J. J. Van Osterzee, William Bates, Thomas Manton. I don’t know a one of them.
I rather doubt Charles Hadley Spurgeon assembled enough other voices for me to characterize them as “a cloud of witnesses,” but there are enough here to make me know my meditations haven’t plowed any new ground. How many millions have read the psalms? The only way to appreciate the numbers is by God almighty’s sands-on-the-beach or stars-in-the-sky comparisons. Billions, literally.
It’s still dark out this morning. The windows reflects the lights from inside this mess. But the sky is patchwork, which means that the dawn, soon to arrive, could be another masterpiece. The sun rises late this close to solstice, but often in a blaze. I may just grab a camera, go out, and hunt for this morning’s recitation of glory.
We’ve got sky out here on the edge of the plains. We’ve got more sky than any of us know what to do with—more heavens to declare God’s glory, to preach and sing his presence. He’s here and he’s huge. I hear him proclaiming almost daily, I swear.
But I’ve also got Spurgeon and this cloud of witnesses to show me how they sang the psalms—excellent coaching, perhaps a little museum-ish but heartfelt, thoughtful, and pious, often more so than I am. Without them, I wouldn’t have made it.
And I’ve got the Word, the book of Psalms itself, David and Moses and who-knows-who else. So I’ve got the dawn and I’ve got the songs, the world and the Word—day-in, day-out reminders of what he does and what he says. Not bad preaching, one way or another.
In 147, David’s panoramic vision closes down with verse 18, then goes on to say that those who love him are witnesses, not only to what he does but also, just as gloriously, to what he says. We’ve got his Word on that.
I’m sorry to have to say this, but it’s part of the world I see: not long ago, I found the old bookstore owner’s picture on-line, among the list of local sex-offenders. I wish that weren’t true, but it is.
But if I’ve learned anything from slugging through the psalms, it is that God is far greater, far more loving than any or all of his readers—Spurgeon, Schaap, and sex-offender.
He’s given us his word and his world. Even more amazing, he’s given us his love—sinners, all. Count me among those sinners, but count me too among the blessed.