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This is a psalm in the mood of personal exultation. It is a mood not brought about by absence of disturbing conditions. Anybody can be exultant when there is no reason for being otherwise. This mood is caused by becoming sure of the goodness that is in the world and in personal life because God is good. A laconic man was asked what is the chief requisite for making a pessimist, and he answered, “A poor memory.” It takes a deal of forgetting to feel forsaken in the world. The popular song about counting our blessings suggests how impossible it is to do so. Imagine naming them "one by one”! We may not be able to list them in just the terms of this psalm, we may not have had these experiences at all; but the habit of tracing the blessings of life to their first cause in God is the best way of making this mood of personal exultation permanent. There are men who have a sense of eternal youth, feeling their power renewed constantly like the eagle, which every year, as this psalmist watched him, gained new plumage for his wings in place of the old. And such joy deepens when it is made social and we come to see that God's care covers all who need him, that he has no favorites, that he does injustice to no one. say that misery loves company; it is not always true. But is it not always true that joy loves company? Is our mood ever worthy until we want the world to have such blessings as we have ourselves ?
First Week, Second Day
Praise ye Jehovah.
-Psalm 113: 1-6.
This is an instance of the mood of national exultation like many other psalms. Notice the change of pronouns. Yesterday they were all singular number, though extending at the last to all who have similar experiences. Today they are plural. It is a social mood, in which the whole body of the servants of God is included. It is a wide mood also, covering all times and places: from the farthest east where the sun rises, to the farthest west where it sets, there is cause to praise God. The whole world looks bright in such a mood. It is good to be alive. And it is impossible to be narrow at such a time. One cannot claim God or his blessings as special possessions in which others cannot share. God is above all nations. His gifts are for all of them. Yet he is not so high that he is not also near. Some of the great people whom we know are as haughty as they are great. God's greatness is humble also. We are always in danger of going to one extreme or the other about God. Sometimes we make him so great and far away that we cannot love him. Sometimes we make him so
near that we cannot worship him. He becomes so much the king that he is not the world's burden bearer; or else he becomes so much the burden bearer that he is no longer king. The national thought needs to be kept between the two extremes. But if the social mood is to recognize his true place, it must first be recognized in the personal mood of each of us.
First Week, Third Day
-Psalm 86: 3, 4, 14, 17.
Today the mood is one of personal depression. Most of us know the mood. And the first thing to do when it comes is to find out what caused it. Sometimes it is purely physical, an overstrain which can be made good by sleep or rest; the world looks better through rested eyes. At other times the mood of depression is caused by something wrong in the life, and there is no cure for it except in diversion, which is cowardly, or in correction. There are bad hours which we have a chance to turn into good ones by being honest with ourselves and putting the disturbing element out of our lives. We only fix ourselves in unworthy ways when we try to change the current of our thought in order to be happy while we keep the wrong. Only a clean life can be permanently a happy one. In the case of this psalm the cause of the depression is in the social environment. The man feels himself out of harmony with it. In a university paper of 1916 was the declaration that on the campus which it represented it was not considered altogether good form to be clean in mouth and life. That was an exaggeration, but most men know that it is hard to be one's best self under some familiar social conditions. The cure for the depression that comes is in keeping alive one's sense of the larger environment where God is the ruling factor.
We belong to our social group, but above and beyond that we belong to God.
First Week, Fourth Day
shed Be known among the nations in our sight.
Psalm 79: 5-10.
Plainly we have here the mood of national depression.
The whole social group which means most to one seems to be awry. It may be one's fraternity which is running down in caliber and conduct or is being unfairly treated. It may be a whole campus spirit that is changing for the worse, losses of leading men in faculty or student body whose going will take strength out of the institution which it cannot well spare, unjust treatment in intercollegiate relations. Or it may be a community losing its fiber, or a nation going mad after wrong things or imperiled by enemies which it seems unable to resist. Men who keep in right relation to their own social groups will understand the mood. Thoughtful men feel it even more keenly than personal depression. But note the moral cleanness of it. The first thought is of the presence of causes within the group itself. Iniquities cannot be disregarded in a moral order. Honest men do not want them overlooked. If the nation has sinned, if the college has been unfair, if the fraternity has taken an unfair advantage, clean men do not want the moral order to act as though that were not so. But when fair requital has been made, they want relief and victory again. And the reason they want it is not selfish but moral. God and the large values involved in relation to him are concerned in the out
It is a great thing when we keep our social group so right that we can ask for its prosperity for the honor of God and when our depression over its failure is rooted in our feeling that moral issues are being confused. We may not personally amount to much, but God amounts to a vast deal.
First Week, Fifth Day
-Psalm 88: 9-12.
Here is a mood in which dread of the future predominates. It is not sudden, but has evidently been with the writer a long time. He has tried to throw it off but it will not go. Nothing changes the situation. He has prayed day by day, but the case grows worse instead of better. Ahead, everything is dark. There was no help for him in the Christian idea of the future, which is such that Professor William Adams Brown can call his book on the subject, “The Christian Hope.” Christ had not yet brought life and immortality to light (II Tim. 1:10), and it was not possible yet to be so triumphant as Paul and to say that whether we wake or sleep we live with Christ (I Thess. 5:10). But there are times even for us who have all that richer hope when it grows dim. There are interests of this life which we want to serve. An old Christian leader used to be asked if he was not eager to go to heaven, and he frankly replied that he was not, because there was so much yet to be done and seen here in the earth. God surely means us to want to be here and to do our bit in the work of the world. Prospect of not being able to do it, threat of failing health or powers, hindrances which we cannot control, come over us like a shadow of gloom. It is hard to keep up courage. Calvin thinks the mood of this psalm is inexcusable because we must leave all such things to God, letting him take us or leave us as he thinks best. That latter part is true and yet he must understand the feeling of dread that can come
What we need to do is to keep it clear to ourselves that the reason we want a better future is for the sake of the service we can render, not for mere selfish pleasure. It is by that path that God leads us out into renewed courage.
First Week, Sixth Day
-Psalm 145: 10-13. Here the dominating mood is of hope for the future,