D. Scott Meadows
“And these are the singers . . . they were employed in that work day and night.” (1 Chronicles 9:33)
Well was it so ordered in the temple that the sacred chant never ceased: for evermore did the singers praise the Lord, whose mercy endureth for ever [a frequent OT phrase; 26x in Psa 136]. As mercy did not cease to rule either by day or by night, so neither did music hush its holy ministry. My heart, there is a lesson sweetly taught to thee in the ceaseless song of Zion’s temple, thou too art a constant debtor, and see thou to it that thy gratitude, like charity, never faileth [1 Cor 13.8]. God’s praise is constant in heaven, which is to be thy final dwelling-place, learn thou to practise the eternal hallelujah. Around the earth as the sun scatters his light, his beams awaken grateful believers to tune their morning hymn, so that by the priesthood of the saints [Heb 13.15] perpetual praise is kept up at all hours, they swathe our globe in a mantle of thanksgiving, and girdle it with a golden belt of song.
The Lord always deserves to be praised for what he is in himself, for his works of creation and providence, for his goodness towards his creatures, and especially for the transcendent act of redemption, and all the marvellous blessing flowing therefrom. It is always beneficial to praise the Lord; it cheers the day and brightens the night; it lightens toil and softens sorrow; and over earthly gladness it sheds a sanctifying radiance which makes it less liable to blind us with its glare. Have we not something to sing about at this moment? Can we not weave a song out of our present joys, or our past deliverances, or our future hopes? Earth yields her summer fruits: the hay is housed, the golden grain invites the sickle, and the sun tarrying long to shine upon a fruitful earth, shortens the interval of shade that we may lengthen the hours of devout worship. By the love of Jesus, let us be stirred up to close the day with a psalm of sanctified gladness.
—C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening, 24 July PM
On 1 Chronicles 9.33
From the genealogies of 1 Chronicles 1–9, Spurgeon mines a gem and displays its beautiful facets by the light of pastoral application. His biblical diamond is the passing comment that certain Temple singers in Jerusalem “were employed in that work day and night.” This suggests that the praises of Jehovah were sung perpetually in that sacred place. “Day and night” is “an expression that encompasses the period of twenty-four hours of the astronomical day. . . . It emphasizes the continuity of activity that has begun in the hours of day through the night” (ISBE, in loc.).
Spurgeon compares the unceasing praise offered by the whole Church in heaven and on earth, and, in his usual way, derives a lesson for us, his Christian readers: God’s perpetual mercies to us call for our perpetual and grateful praises to Him. Of course, Spurgeon is not denying anyone the benefits of sleep or attention to other things, but he echoes the biblical exhortation that believers should be “speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph 5.19, 20).
When Spurgeon says he is “a constant debtor” (para. 1) to God for His mercy, the sense is that grateful praise is the proper response, and that there is a moral obligation to it. Spurgeon, a champion of free and sovereign grace, wrote this way. So did Augustus Toplady in a favorite hymn Spurgeon’s congregation sang often at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London. “A debtor to mercy alone, of covenant mercy I sing; Nor fear, with thy righteousness on, My person and offering to bring” (hymn dated 1771). It would not be right to think that we must repay God because He made us a loan of His grace. Away with any such notions!
I. Perpetual Grateful Praise from God’s People
• In Old Testament Temple service, a lesson to me
• In the praise of Christians, both in heaven and on earth
II. Perpetual Grateful Praise from Us Believers
• Deserved by the Lord for His Being, for His creation and providence, His goodness, and His redemption
• Beneficial to you because it cheers you, comforts you, and even makes ordinary blessings holy
• Summer’s opportunity, long days invite prolonged praise
• Jesus’ love, our best inspiration to joyful, grateful praise
Thankful praise at all times from all who can offer it is due on substantial grounds to our Creator and Sustainer. Reprobate sinners and angels increase their guilt daily by withholding it, as Judgment Day will dreadfully show. But redeemed sinners like us, for whom Christ came into the world and gave His life, and who are being transformed by His power into His glorious image for fellowship and service in the New Creation, have the greatest grounds for praising God continually! Every moment of every day, we are blessed in Christ, regardless of whatever we must suffer in the interim. “How great the goodness kept in store for those who fear Thee and adore in meek humility!” (TH #563). Our grateful praise, therefore, is never out of season. Ω