O Shepherd of Israel - The subject continued from the last verse of the preceding Psalm.
Leadest Joseph - Israel and Joseph mean here the whole of the Jewish tribes; all were at this time in captivity; all had been the people of the Lord; all, no doubt, made supplication unto him now that his chastening hand was upon them; and for all the psalmist makes supplication.
That dwellest between the cherubims - It was between the cherubim, over the cover of the ark, called the propitiatory or mercy-seat, that the glory of the Lord, or symbol of the Divine Presence, appeared. It is on this account that the Lord is so often said to dwell between the cherubim. Of these symbolical beings there is a long and painful account, or system of conjectures, in Parkhurst's Hebrew Lexicon, of about twenty quarto pages, under the word כרב carab .
Shine forth - Restore thy worship; and give us such evidences of thy presence now, as our fathers had under the first tabernacle, and afterwards in the temple built by Solomon.
Give ear - Incline the ear; as if the ear of God was then turned away, or as if he was inattentive to what was occurring. See the notes at Psalm 5:1. O Shepherd of Israel. See the notes at Psalm 23:1.
Thou that leadest Joseph like a flock - Joseph, the father of Ephraim and Manasseh. See the notes at Psalm 78:67. The name Joseph seems here to be used poetically to represent the whole people of Israel, as he was a man so prominent in their history, and especially as Egypt is mentioned as the country from which the vine had been transplanted - a country where Joseph had acted so important a part, and in connection with which his name would be so naturally associated. The meaning is, that God had led the tribes of the Hebrew people as a shepherd leads or conducts his flock.
Thou that dwellest between the cherubims - See the notes at Psalm 18:10. The allusion here is to God as dwelling, by a visible symbol - the Shechinah - on the mercy-seat, between the cherubims. Exodus 25:18, Exodus 25:22; Exodus 37:7; 1 Samuel 4:4; 1 Kings 6:25. See the notes at Isaiah 37:16; and notes at Hebrews 9:5. “Shine, forth.” Manifest thyself. Let light come from thy presence in the midst of our darkness and calamity.
Evil does not result because of organization, but because of making organization everything, and vital godliness of little moment. When form and machinery take the pre-eminence, and a laborious task is made of carrying on the work that should be done with simplicity, evil will result, and little will be accomplished in proportion to the effort put forth. The object of organization is just the reverse of this; and should we disorganize, it would be like tearing down that which we have built up. Evil results have been seen, both in the Sabbath school work and in the missionary society, because of making much of machinery while vital experience was lost sight of. In many of the imagined improvements that have been brought in, the mold of man has been placed upon the work. In the Sabbath school, men and women have been accepted as officers and teachers, who have not been spiritually minded, and had no live interest in the work committed to their care; but matters can be set in order only through the aid of the Holy Spirit. The same evil has existed for years as now exists in our churches. Formality, pride, and love of display have taken the place of true piety and humble godliness. We might see a different order of things should a number consecrate themselves wholly to God, and then devote their talents to the Sabbath school work, ever advancing in knowledge, and educating themselves so that they would be able to instruct others as to the best methods to employ in the work; but it is not for the workers to seek for methods by which they can make a show, consuming time in theatrical performances and musical display, for this benefits no one. It does no good to train the children to make speeches for special occasions. They should be won to Christ, and instead of expending time, money, and effort to make a display, let the whole effort be made to gather sheaves for the harvest. FE 253.1
Many have seemed to think that all that was essential in Sabbath school work was to organize the school, and drill the scholars so that they would act in harmony with a set of ceremonies and forms; and that if persons could be secured as teachers, the Sabbath school would run itself. Teachers are often secured who cannot lead souls to Christ because they know not what it is to find Him precious to their own souls; but all those who do not value the soul so that they will work as Christ would have them, will scatter away from Christ. “He that [mark these words] gathereth not with Me, scattereth abroad.” If teachers have no burden to lead souls to Jesus, they will grow indifferent to the truth; they will become careless, and the atmosphere with which they surround their souls will work to scatter away from Christ. And with such elements in the Sabbath school, there will be a perpetual conflict with difficulties; for when the teachers engage in the work and have no interest in it, the pupils will partake of the same spirit. FE 254.1Read in context »