This text expresses the essential spirit of the Jewish dispensation. It is the essential spirit of all God’s dispensations. His chief word to man everywhen and everywhere is “Come.”
I. This leads me to lay down this general principle—God’s privileges, the gifts which He bestows, and the advantages which He confers on some are never intended to be exclusive. They are never meant to dishearten men and drive them to despair, but always to be the means of drawing them to Himself. If God gives to one man advantages which He denies to another, it is that the first may be His minister to bring that other to share in His joy. Ministry, like mercy, is “twice blessed: it blesseth him that gives and him that takes.”
II. The invitation is “Come with us, and we will do you good.” (1) Come with us to the house of God. Man is a spirit, and a man’s spirit rests only in communing with God and doing the Father’s mission. The man who has lifted his soul up from the earth by holy contemplations on the first day of the week will find himself strong to resist the temptation to grovel during the rest. (2) Come with us to the word of truth. There is no condition, there are no circumstances, for which blessed words are not to be found in that book, words such as no mere man could speak to you. Come with us to the word of truth. Learn with us to make it the man of your counsel, the way-book of your pilgrimage. (3) Come with us to the living Saviour. Come and listen to His message of mercy; come and stand before the cross on Calvary; look on Him whom you too have pierced; mourn, and hear for yourself the blessed words, “Thy faith hath saved thee: go in peace.” (4) Come with us to the Father’s home on high. “Come with us, and we will do you good.”
The words of the text were the morning and evening prayer of the children of Israel.
I. Prayer is the best means of reminding ourselves of the presence of God. To place ourselves in His hands before we go forth on our journey, on our pleasure, on our work; to commit ourselves again to Him before we retire to rest—this is the best security for keeping up our faith and trust in Him in whom we all profess to believe, whom we all expect to meet after we leave the world.
II. Prayer is also the best security for our leading a good and happy life. It has been well said twice over by Sir Walter Scott that prayer to the almighty Searcher of hearts is the best check to murmurs against Providence, or to the inroad of worldly passions, because nothing else brings before us so strongly their inconsistency and unreasonableness.
III. No one can pretend to prescribe what another’s prayers should be; that each man must know best for himself. But the general spirit in which they should be offered is well expressed in the two great prayers of the text. Whatever may be our particular petition to God in the morning, we must have this object steadily before us: that He will rise and go forth with us to our daily duties and enjoyments, that He may be in our thoughts throughout the day, and that His enemies may flee before Him on every occasion when they lurk for us. And in the evening we have no less before us the desire that God may return to us, however much we have offended Him during the day, that He may turn again and make the light of His countenance to shine upon us.