The Book Of Psalms - James Hastings - ebook

The Book Of Psalms ebook

James Hastings



Here is a gold mine for the preacher, the teacher and the father and mother in the home who have it in mind to inculcate sound teaching, based upon the Word of God, so that the boys and girls of the congregations, Sunday-Schools and households may be thoroughly rooted and grounded in the essentials of the Christian faith. There are many volumes in this series of short addresses and they cover the entire range of the holy scriptures, from genesis to revelation. The material gathered here is fresh and varied and there is just enough of it to furnish the groundwork of the preacher's sermon, the Sunday school teacher's talk and the parent's reading and comment. Contents: A Broken Trust. The Apple Of The Eye. What Colour Is Your Lamp? What Is Your Wish? The Banner Of Victory. A Song Of Love And Faith. The Right Kind Of Hands. The Right Kind Of Heart. Mules Or Men? The Right Kind Of Tongue. Ears And No Ears. An Unbecoming Necklace. Slippery Places. Such Is Fame. What Are They? Counting Our Days. Shadows. The Palm Tree. Daisies. One-Roomed Houses. The Great, Wide Sea. Wishes That Sting. The Way To Run. Climbing The Hills. God Everywhere. Darkness And Light. Searching The Cellars. The Door Of Our Lips. Corner Stones. (For Girls.) One Of God's Workmen.

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A Broken Trust.

The Apple Of The Eye.

What Colour Is Your Lamp?

What Is Your Wish?

The Banner Of Victory.

A Song Of Love And Faith.

The Right Kind Of Hands.

The Right Kind Of Heart.

Mules Or Men?

The Right Kind Of Tongue.

Ears And No Ears.

An Unbecoming Necklace.

Slippery Places.

Such Is Fame.

What Are They?

Counting Our Days.


The Palm Tree.


One-Roomed Houses.

The Great, Wide Sea.

Wishes That Sting.

The Way To Run.

Climbing The Hills.

God Everywhere.

Darkness And Light.

Searching The Cellars.

The Door Of Our Lips.

Corner Stones. (For Girls.)

One Of God's Workmen.

The Book Of Psalms, J. Hastings

Jazzybee Verlag Jürgen Beck

86450 Altenmünster, Germany

ISBN: 9783849622251

[email protected]


Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands. — Ps. viii. 6.

Once upon a time there was a great artist who painted a beautiful picture. It was so wonderful that people stopped to gaze at it and to admire the marvel of its workmanship. Into it the painter had put all the love, all the joy, all the hope of many years.

Now it so happened that the artist was called abroad and he knew that he might be absent for a long period; so he resolved that he would give the wonderful picture into the keeping of his little son. Next to the boy himself, it was the most precious thing he possessed. But he said, " I will give it to my child to help him and to comfort him, and he will take care of it for me."

Now when his father had gone the boy said, " Here is something my father has given to me. It is mine to do with as I will. Let me destroy it!" So he seized a great brush and daubed black paint over it, obliterating the beautiful blue skies and the peaceful hills; then he scratched it with a sharp instrument; and finally he cut it in shreds with a sharp knife.

When the father returned he was sorely vexed. He was grieved at the destruction of his beautiful handiwork, but he was even more grieved at the destruction in the boy's heart. For the damage that had been done in the picture was copied there. The child's heart was blackened and defaced and torn.

Boys and girls, that story is a parable. I wonder if you can read it. Our Father in Heaven created many wonderful things. He formed the hills, He made the sea and the sky, He planted the flowers and the trees. Then He created what, next to man himself, is His most marvellous work — He created the birds and the beasts and the insects. Last of all He made man. And He said, " I want the man whom I have created to be happy. I will give him of my best, I will give into his keeping these creatures whom I love and into whom I have breathed the breath of life. They will help him and comfort him and make him glad, and he will take care of them for me."

And how did the sons of men fulfil their trust? Some of them kept it nobly. But there were many others — and among them were boys and girls — who abused it shamefully. They lashed their horses, they tormented cats, they stole the eggs the poor motherbird had laid and had watched over with such love and care. They caught the gorgeous butterflies that were fluttering and rejoicing in the summer sunshine and they killed them for their collection. They shot tame pigeons with their catapults. They forgot to feed their rabbits and their canaries. And the heart of the great Father God was sorely grieved.

For, boys and girls, when we ill-treat or neglect or wantonly destroy animals there are three that we hurt.

We hurt God who made them and who loves them.

We hurt the creatures themselves. That goes without saying.

We hurt ourselves. We are putting great stains on our hearts. We are making ourselves harder and coarser and more brutal. It may interest you to know that a writer in one of our papers has told us that, out of seven thousand children who were taught in a large public school to be kind to animals, not one was afterwards charged with a criminal offence; and that out of two thousand criminals in American prisons only twelve had ever had pets when they were young.

And remember that being kind to animals doesn't just mean not ill-treating them. It means looking after their comfort and their food. For it is better to put an end to a beast than to starve it or neglect it. The creatures depend upon us, and if we neglect them we are guilty of a mean act, we are guilty of breaking a trust.

And it means, too, loving them and sympathizing with them and doing our best to make them happy. For animals hare feelings, feelings far deeper than we imagine. They know the touch of a person who cares for them.

And, boys and girls, that love will be amply repaid. It will be repaid tenfold in the dumb devotion of your horse, or your dog, or even your cat — yes, even your cat!


Keep me as the apple of the eye. — Ps. xvii.8.

What is the "apple of the eye"? It is the little round black spot in the very centre which we call the pupil. Of all the parts of the eye that we can see, the pupil is the most important because it is through it that the light enters, and if anything happens to injure it seriously we become blind.

When the psalmist wants God to keep him very safe he asks Him to keep him as the apple of the eye. I wonder what he means by that?

1. Well, first I think he wants to be protected by a great many safeguards. If you read a little farther in the psalm you will see that the psalmist is surrounded by many fierce enemies, both seen and unseen. Some of them he compares to a lion " greedy of his prey " and " a young lion lurking in secret places," and he feels that he needs to be specially taken care of.

Now the eye is a delicate organ and can very easily be hurt, but it is specially taken care of. God has taken pains to protect it.

Would you like to hear about some of its defences?

Well, first there are the outworks — the eyebrows, and the eyelashes, and the eyelids. And what are their uses? The eyebrows prevent the moisture of the brow from running down into the eyes. That moisture is really poisonous and besides blurring our vision would injure our eyes. The eyelashes act as a sort of curtain to keep out small insects or specks of dust that might hurt. The eyelids are like strong swing doors that close immediately and involuntarily at the approach of danger.

Then the eyeball is surrounded by a bony socket which is like a strong wall all round it, and it rests on a sort of bed of fat on which it can move with ease and safety. Above the eyeball and a little to the outer side is the tear-gland which provides another safeguard. Every time we wink a tear from this gland pours over the surface of our eyes and washes the eyeball. You know how your eye waters if you get a fly or a bit of grit in it. That is just the tear-gland working extra hard to remove it.

So you see in how many different and wonderful ways the pupil of the eye is protected. And God keeps us in just as many and in just as wonderful ways. Every day we are being kept from dangers, and from evils, and from temptations of which we know nothing.

Do you know the hymn "Jesus, Lover of my soul "? There is a very interesting story connected with that hymn which Henry Drummond used to tell.

One Sunday evening some of the passengers on board a big Atlantic liner had met in the cabin to sing hymns. By and by they began to sing " Jesus, Lover of my soul," and one passenger, an American, heard behind him a very fine voice that seemed familiar to him. When the music stopped he turned round and asked the owner of the voice if he had fought in the Civil War. The man replied that he had fought on the Confederate side. Then the first man asked his new acquaintance if he, by any chance, had been at a certain place on a certain night. " Yes," replied the other, ".and while we were singing that hymn something that happened that night came back to me very vividly. I was on sentry duty on the edge of a wood, and I was feeling rather lonely and frightened as the enemy were known to be not far off. About midnight, I grew very weary and miserable and homesick; and to keep up my courage, I began to sing that hymn. When I came to the verse —

All my trust on Thee is stayed;

All my help from Thee I bring;

Cover my defenceless head

With the shadow of Thy wing —

a strange peace seemed to descend on me, and I was no more afraid."

Then the first man told his story. " I also," he said, " fought in the Civil War, but I was on the Union side. On that night I was out with a party of scouts in the place of which you spoke. We saw you standing on the edge of the wood and my men had their rifles pointed at you and were ready for the word to fire.

But just then you began to sing, and when you came to the words —

Cover my defenceless head

With the shadow of Thy wing —

I said, ' Boys, lower your rifles; we will go home.' "

God shields us in many, many ways of which we know not.

2. And then I think the psalmist asked to be kept as the apple of the eye, because our eyesight is very precious to us. Of all the five senses, sight is the most valuable. We could get along better without any one of the others than without it. Just think, for instance, how helpless a blind man is compared with a deaf one. And think what care you take of your eyes. If danger is near you put up your hand at once to defend them.

Well, God takes just as much care of you. Once a little boy was standing with his father on the top of the Cheviot Hills. The father pointed northward over Scotland, southward over England, eastward over the North Sea, and westward over hill and dale, and then he said, " Johnny, my boy, God's love is as big as all that." "Why, father," said Johnny, "then we must be in the very middle of it."

Yes, we are right in the middle of God's love, and that is the safest place we can be in. Nothing can ever really hurt or harm us there — not sin, nor sorrow, nor even death at last. That God gave so much — His only Son to redeem us — shows how precious we are; and He keeps us safe because we are precious.

3. Again I think the psalmist asks to be kept as the apple of the eye because the eye is so sensitive. It feels pain if the tiniest insect or the smallest bit of grit enters it.

In the Book of Zechariah there is a verse very similar to this one. God is speaking of His chosen people and He says that he that toucheth them " toucheth the apple of His eye." That just means that he who hurts them hurts God. And I think those words are meant for all God's children in all ages — he who hurts them hurts God.

When Lord Kitchener was Governor, or Sirdar, as he was called, of the Soudan, he was very strict about guarding the rights of the natives. If a soldier injured a native in any way, even one of the poorest and meanest, the matter was inquired into, and the soldier, if guilty, was severely punished. Kitchener was so careful about this and so jealous of the rights of the natives, that it came to be a sort of proverb in the army, " If you strike a native you strike the Sirdar."

So the smallest trouble or pain you experience hurts God. Did you ever think of it in that way? God feels all your little sorrows and troubles just as though they had happened to Him, and He feels them far more than you do.

The Hebrews called the pupil of the eye the " little son " or sometimes " the daughter of the eye " because when you look into the eye of another you see reflected there a little picture of yourself.

God always carries about a picture of you in His eye. He is always thinking about you, and caring for you, and loving you, and He longs for your love too. He has such a great big heart that He can take us all in, and there will always be an empty corner in it till you nestle there.


Thou wilt light my lamp. — Ps. xviii. 28.

Have you ever heard of the wonderful game of " lantern-bearers " played by Robert Louis Stevenson when he was a boy? He and his friends played it on the shore at North Berwick years ago, but you can read about it to-day in his essay, The Lantern-hearers. That essay doesn't read a bit like the ordinary school essay we all know, and some of us hate. It is more like a fascinating story. It tells how Louis stole out of his house in the evenings of late September when the holidays were almost at an end, and the nights were already dark. He was buttoned up to the chin in his overcoat, but there was a mysterious bulge at his waist, and there hung about him a strong smell of toasting tin. He hurried over the links with a walk that spelt mystery, and by and by he met another figure equally bulging, and equally smelling of blistered tin. " Have you got your lantern? " whispered Louis anxiously. "Yes," was the all-important reply, and together the two hurried over the links to a spot previously agreed upon.

When four or five such figures had gathered they climbed into an empty fishing-boat, or crouched down in some sheltered hollow. Then the top-coats were unbuttoned, and the mysterious bulge and the tinny smell resolved themselves into a bull's-eye lantern fastened to a cricket belt. In the flickering light of the lanterns, and with the wind sweeping over the links, the boys talked of matters both wild and exciting. But the talk was nothing compared to the joy of being a lantern-bearer. "The essence of this bliss," as Stevenson tells us, "was to walk by yourself in the black night; the slide shut; the top-coat buttoned; not a ray escaping ... a mere pillar of darkness in the dark; and all the while . . . to know you had a bull's-eye at your belt, and to exult and sing over the knowledge."

Now, we don't play at " lantern-bearers " like Robert Louis Stevenson; nevertheless we all carry hidden lamps or lanterns. The lamps themselves are hidden, but their light shines out plainly whether we will it or no. No buttoned-up coat can conceal their flame.

Many of us have lamps that burn a fiery red light, others have lamps that show a cold green, others, again, have lamps that glimmer a muddy purple. But some of us carry lamps whose flame shines steady gold. That sounds as mysterious as the bulge under the overcoat, doesn't it?

What colour of lamp have you? I can tell you; for though I don't see the actual flame I can tell by your face and your actions the colour your lamp is burning. Is your lamp burning red? Then I'm afraid there will be any sparks in your eyes and a black line between your brows. Your hands will often be clenched. Your feet will be given to stamping. You will flare up at trifles. And people will say, "What a dreadful temper! "

Is your light green? Then your eyes will always be looking round the corner at someone else's belongings, ' I wish I had nice clothes like So-and-so." " It's a shame that such and such a person has so many treats." "I want this." "Give me that." "Me too! " will be the words that are oftenest on your lips. Hard lines will grow round your mouth, and your companions will say, " Grabby thing! " because your lamp will be showing the green light of jealousy and greed.

Does your lamp burn darkish purple? Then your mouth will have a droop at each corner and a pout in the middle. Your eyes will seem only half open. You will skulk about in corners and look altogether a most unpleasant person. And outsiders will remark, " The sulks again! "

Does your lamp give a beautiful golden glow? Then your eyes will be clear and bright. Your lips will be ready to smile. You'll be jolly and happy, and willing to run an errand or lend a helping hand. You'll sing or whistle at your work, and your friends will say — well, I think I had better not tell you what they will say. It might make you conceited.

Have you caught the idea? Our hidden lamps are our characters, our natures, our dispositions, our tempers — whichever you like to call them. They shine out unmistakably in our faces and our actions. We may try to pretend to others that we are burning a golden light, when our flame is really red or green or purple; but we shall not be able to keep up the pretence long. Sooner or later the true colour will show.

Now, how shall we contrive to burn a golden flame? It depends on who lights our lamp and how we trim it. You see it is not a case of the glass being coloured. It is a case of the flame itself having a colour.

If we ourselves light our lamps we shall find that our flames will be, at the best, unsatisfactory. Some days they will burn one colour, some days another. We shall never be able to depend on them. The only way to make sure of the true golden light is to ask God to light them for us. Our text says, " Thou wilt light my lamp." And " Thou " is just God. If we tell Him that we want to be His lamps and to shine for Him, He will pour into us the oil of His Holy Spirit and set us afire with His love.

Then when He has lit the flame we must trim it carefully, for of course you know that a badly-trimmed lamp never burns well. The trimming is our duty — not God's — and trimming our lamps means prayer. That is the best preparation for any day's work. That will keep our flame pure and bright. Then the world will see that we are trying to be God's children, for our lamps are burning steady gold.


Thy heart's desire. — Ps. xx. 4.