Monthly Archives: November 2014

Psalm 30

holy-bible-backgroundVerses 1-12
Title. A Psalm and Song at the Dedication of the House of David; or rather, A Psalm; a Song of Dedication for the House. By David. A song of faith since the house of Jehovah, here intended, David never lived to see. A Psalm of praise, since a sore judgment had been stayed, and a great sin forgiven. From our English version it would appear that this Psalm was intended to be sung at the building of that house of cedar which David erected for himself, when he no longer had to hide himself in the Cave of Adullam, but had become a great king. If this had been the meaning, it would have been well to observe that it is right for the believer when removing, to dedicate his new abode to God. We should call together our Christian friends, and show that where we dwell, God Dwells, and where we have a tent, God has an altar. But as the song refers to the temple, for which it was David’s joy to lay by in store, and for the site of which he purchased in his later days the floor of Ornan, we must content ourselves with remarking the holy faith which foresaw the fulfilment of the promise made to him concerning Solomon. Faith can sing—
“Glory to thee for all the grace
I have not tasted yet.”
Throughout this Psalm there are indications that David had been greatly afflicted, both personally and relatively, after having, in his presumption, fancied himself secure. When God’s children prosper one way, they are generally tried another, for few of us can bear unmingled prosperity. Even the joys of hope need to be mixed with the pains of experience, and the more surely so when comfort breeds carnal security and self confidence. Nevertheless, pardon soon followed repentance, and God’s mercy was glorified. The Psalm is a song, and not a complaint. Let it be read in the light of the last days of David, when he had numbered the people, and God had chastened him, and then in mercy had bidden the angel sheathe his sword. On the floor of Ornan, the poet received the inspiration which glows in this delightful ode. It is the Psalm of the numbering of the people, and of the dedication temple which commemorated the staying of the plague.
Division. In Psalms 30:1-3, David extols the Lord for delivering him. Psalms 30:4-5 he invites the saints to unite with him in celebrating divine compassion. In Psalms 30:6-7 he confesses the fault for which he was chastened, Psalms 30:8-10 repeats the supplication which he offered, and concludes with commemorating his deliverance and vowing eternal praise.
EXPOSITION
Ver. 1. I will extol thee. I will have high and honourable conceptions of thee, and give them utterance in my best music. Others may forget thee, murmur at thee, despise thee, blaspheme thee, but “I will extol thee, “for I have been favoured above all others. I will extol thy name, thy character, thine attributes, thy mercy to me, thy great forbearance to my people; but, especially will I speak well of thyself; “I will extol thee, “O Jehovah; this shall be my cheerful and constant employ. For thou hast lifted me up. Here is an antithesis, “I will exalt thee, for thou hast exalted me.” I would render according to the benefits received. The Psalmist’s praise was reasonable. He had a reason to give for the praise that was in his heart. He had been drawn up like a prisoner from a dungeon, like Joseph out of the pit, and therefore he loved his deliverer. Grace has uplifted us from the pit of hell, from the ditch of sin, from the Slough of Despond, from the bed of sickness, from the bondage of doubts and fears: have we no song to offer for all this? How high has our Lord lifted us? Lifted us up into the children’s place, to be adopted into the family; lifted us up into union with Christ, “to sit together with him in heavenly places.” Lift high the name of our God, for he has lifted us up above the stars. And hast not made my foes to rejoice over me. This was the judgment which David most feared out of the three evils; he said, let me fall into the hand of the Lord, and not into the hand of man. Terrible indeed were our lot if we were delivered over to the will of our enemies. Blessed be the Lord, we have been preserved from so dire a fate. The devil and all our spiritual enemies have not been permitted to rejoice over us; for we have been saved from the fowler’s snare. Our evil companions, who prophesied that we should go back to our old sins, are disappointed. Those who watched for our halting, and would fain say, “Aha! Aha! So would we have it!” have watched in vain until now. O happy they whom the Lord keeps so consistent in character that the lynx eyes of the world can see no real fault in them. Is this our case? let us ascribe all the glory to him who has sustained us in our integrity.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Title. “A Psalm and Song, “etc. It is thought that when these two words of Psalm and Song are both put in the title of a Psalm, it is meant that the sound of instruments was to be joined with the voice when they were sung in the Temple, and that the voice went before when it is said Song and Psalm, and did come after when it is said Psalm and Song. John Diodati.
Title. At the dedication of it. (tybh tknx) The original word (Knx) signifies initiari, egkainizein, rei novae primam usurpationem. So Cocceius, to initiate, or the first use that is made of anything. It was common, when any person had finished a house and entered into it, to celebrate it with great rejoicing, and keep a festival, to which his friends are invited, and to perform some religious ceremonies, to secure the protection of heaven. Thus, when the second temple was finished, the Priests and Levites, and the rest of the captivity, kept the dedication of the house of God with joy, and offered numerous sacrifices. Ezra 6:16. We read in the New Testament John 10:22, of the feast of the dedication appointed by Judas Maccabaeus, in memory of the purification and restoration of the temple of Jerusalem, after it had been defiled and almost laid in ruins by Antiochus Epiphanes; and celebrated annually, to the time of its destruction by Titus, by solemn sacrifices, music, songs, and hymns, to the praises of God, and feasts, and everything that could give the people pleasure, for eight days successively. Josephus Ant. 1:7. Judas ordained, that “the days of the dedication should be kept in their season, from year to year, with mirth and gladness.” 1 Maccabees 4:59. And that this was customary, even amongst private persons, to keep a kind of religious festival, upon their first entrance into a new house, appears from the order of God De 20:5, that no person who had built a new house should be forced into the army, “if he had not dedicated the house, “i.e., taken possession of it according to the usual ceremonies practised on such occasions; a custom this that hath more or less prevailed amongst all nations. Thus the Romans dedicated their temples, their theatres, their statues, and their palaces and houses. Suet. Octav. c. 43. p 13; c. 31. p 9. Samuel Chandler.
Title. The present Psalm is the only one that is called a shir, or song, in the first book of the Psalms, i.e., Psalms 1:1-6; Psalms 2:1-12; Psalms 3:1-8; Psalms 4:1-8; Psalms 5:1-12; Psalms 6:1-10; Psalms 7:1-17; Psalms 8:1-9; Psalms 9:1-20; Psalms 10:1-18; Psalms 11:1-7; Psalms 12:1-8; Psalms 13:1-6; Psalms 14:1-7; Psalms 15:1-5; Psalms 16:1-11; Psalms 17:1-15; Psalms 18:1-50; Psalms 19:1-14; Psalms 20:1-9; Psalms 21:1-13; Psalms 22:1-31; Psalms 23:1-6; Psalms 24:1-10; Psalms 25:1-22; Psalms 26:1-12; Psalms 27:1-14; Psalms 28:1-9; Psalms 29:1-11; Psalms 30:1-12; Psalms 31:1-24; Psalms 32:1-11; Psalms 33:1-22; Psalms 34:1-22; Psalms 35:1-28; Psalms 36:1-12; Psalms 37:1-40; Psalms 38:1-22; Psalms 39:1-13; Psalms 40:1-17; Psalms 41:1-13. The word (ryv) shir is found in the titles of Psalms 45:1-17; Psalms 46:1-11; Psalms 48:1-14; Psalms 65:1-13; Psalms 68:1-35; Psalms 75:1-10; Psalms 83:1-18; Psalms 87:1-7; Psalms 88:1-18; Psalms 92:1-15; Psalms 108:1-13; Psalms 120:1-7; Psalms 134:1-3. Psalms 18:1-50 is entitled, “a shirah (or song) of deliverance from his enemies, “and the present shir may be coupled with it. Christopher Wordsworth.
Title. As by offering the first fruits to God they acknowledged that they received the increase of the whole year from him, in like manner, by consecrating their houses to God, they declared that they were God’s tenants, confessing that they were strangers, and that it was he who lodged and gave them a habitation there. If a levy for war, therefore, took place, this was a just cause of exemption, when any one alleged that he had not yet dedicated his house. Besides, they were at the same time admonished by this ceremony, that every one enjoyed his house aright and regularly, only when he so regulated it that it was as it were a sanctuary of God, and that true piety and the pure worship of God reigned in it. The types of the law have now ceased, but we must still keep to the doctrine of Paul, that whatsoever things God appoints for our use, are still “sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” 1 Timothy 4:4-5. John Calvin.
Whole Psalm. Calmet supposes it to have been made by David on the dedication of the place which he built on the threshing floor of the Araunah, after the grievous plague which had so nearly desolated the kingdom. 2 Samuel 24:25, 1 Chronicles 21:26. All the parts of the Psalm agree to this: and they agree to this so well, and to no other hypothesis, that I feel myself justified in modelling the comment on this principle alone. Adam Clarke.
Whole Psalm. In the following verses I have endeavoured to give the spirit of the Psalm, and to preserve the frequent antitheses.
I will exalt thee, Lord of hosts,
For thou’st exalted me;
Since thou hast silenced Satan’s boasts,
I will therefore boast in thee.
My sins had brought me near the grave,
The grave of black despair;
I looked, but there was none to save,
Till I looked up in prayer.
In answer to my piteous cries,
From hell’s dark brink I am brought:
My Jesus saw me from the skies,
And swift salvation wrought.
All through the night I wept full sore,
But morning brought relief;
That hand, which broke my bones before,
Then broke my bonds of grief.
My mourning he to dancing turns,
For sackcloth joy he gives,
A moment, Lord, thine anger burns,
But long thy favour lives.
Sing with me then, ye favoured men,
Who long have known his grace;
With thanks recall the seasons when
Ye also sought his face.
C. H. S.
Ver. 1. I will extol thee, O Lord; for thou hast lifted me up. I will lift thee up, for thou hast lifted me up. Adam Clarke.
Ver. 1. Thou hast lifted me up. (yntyld) The verb is used, in its original meaning, to denote the reciprocating motion of the buckets of a well, one descending as the other rises, and vice versa; and is here applied with admirable propriety, to point out the various reciprocations and changes of David’s fortunes, as described in this Psalm, as to prosperity and adversity; and particularly that gracious reverse of his afflicted condition which he now celebrates, God having raised him up to great honour and prosperity; for having built his palace, he “perceived that the Lord had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for his people Israel’s sake.” 2 Samuel 5:12. Samuel Chandler.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Title. House dedication, and how to arrange it.
Whole Psalm. In this ode we may see the workings of David’s mind before, and under, and after, the affliction.
1. Before the affliction: Psalms 30:6.
2. Under the affliction: Psalms 30:7-10.
3. After the affliction: Psalms 30:11-12.
William Jay.
Ver. 1. (first clause). God and his people exalting each other.
Ver. 1. (second clause). The happiness of being preserved so as not to be the scorn of our enemies.
Ver. 1. The disappointment of the devil.
WORKS UPON THE THIRTIETH PSALM
Meditations upon the XXX Psalme of David. By Sir RICHARD BAKER. (See Page 10.)
In Chandler’s Life of David (Vol. II., pp. 8-15), there is an Exposition of Psalms 30:1-12.
Psalms 30:2*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 2. O Lord my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me. David sent up prayers for himself and for his people when visited with the pestilence. He went at once to head quarters, and not roundabout to fallible means. God is the best physician, even for our bodily infirmities. We do very wickedly and foolishly when we forget God. It was a sin in Asa that he trusted to physicians and not to God. If we must have a physician, let it be so, but still let us go to our God first of all; and, above all, remember that there can be no power to heal in medicine of itself; the healing energy must flow from the divine hand. If our watch is out of order, we take it to the watchmaker; if our body or soul be in an evil plight, let us resort to him who created them, and has unfailing skill to put them in right condition. As for our spiritual diseases, nothing can heal these evils but the touch of the Lord Christ: if we do but touch the hem of his garment, we shall be made whole, while if we embrace all other physicians in our arms, they can do us no service. “O Lord my God.” Observe the covenant name which faith uses—”my God.” Thrice happy is he who can claim the Lord himself to be his portion. Note how David’s faith ascends the scale; he sang “O Lord” in the first verse, but it is “O Lord my God, “in the second. Heavenly heart music is an ascending thing, like the pillars of smoke which rose from the altar of incense. I cried unto thee. I could hardly pray, but I cried; I poured out my soul as a little child pours out its desires. I cried to my God: I knew to whom to cry; I did not cry to my friends, or to any arm of flesh. Hence the sure and satisfactory result—Thou hast healed me. I know it. I am sure of it. I have the evidence of spiritual health within me now: glory be to thy name! Every humble suppliant with God who seeks release from the disease of sin, shall speed as well as the Psalmists did, but those who will not so much as seek a cure, need not wonder if their wounds putrefy and their soul dies.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 2. Thou hast healed me. (wnakdt) The verb is used, either for the healing of bodily disorders Psalms 103:3, or to denote the happy alteration of any person’s affairs, either in private or public life, by the removal of any kind of distress, personal or national. Psalms 107:20, Isaiah 19:22. So in the place before us: “Thou hast healed me, “means, Thou hast brought me out of my distresses, hast restored my health, and rendered me safe and prosperous. Under Saul, he was frequently in the most imminent danger of his life, out of which God wonderfully brought him, which he strongly expresses by saying, “Thou hast brought up my soul from Hades: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.” I thought myself lost, and that nothing could prevent my destruction, and we can scarce help looking on the deliverance thou hast vouchsafed me otherwise than as a kind of restoration from the dead: Thou hast revived me, or recovered me to life, from amongst those who go down to the pit; according to the literal rendering of the latter clause. Samuel Chandler.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 2. The sick man, the physician, the night bell, the medicine, and the cure; or, a covenant God, a sick saint, a crying heart, a healing hand.
Psalms 30:3*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 3. O Lord, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave. Mark, it is not “I hope so; “but it is, “Thou hast; thou hast; thou hast” —three times over. David is quite sure, beyond a doubt, that God has done great things for him, whereof he is exceeding glad. He had descended to the brink of the sepulchre, and yet was restored to tell of the forbearance of God; nor was this all, he owned that nothing but grace had kept him from the lowest hell, and this made him doubly thankful. To be spared from the grave is much; to be delivered from the pit is more; hence there is growing cause for praise, since both deliverances are alone traceable to the glorious right hand of the Lord, who is the only preserver of life, and the only Redeemer of our souls from hell.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
None.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 3. Upbringing and preservation, two choice mercies; made the more illustrious by two terrible evils, grave, and pit; traced immediately to the Lord, thou hast.
Psalms 30:4*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 4. Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his. “Join my song; assist me to express my gratitude.” He felt that he could not praise God enough himself, and therefore he would enlist the hearts of others. Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his. David would not fill his choir with reprobates, but with sanctified persons, who could sing from their hearts. He calls to you, ye people of God, because ye are saints: and if sinners are wickedly silent, let your holiness constrain you to sing. You are his saints— chosen, blood bought, called, and set apart for God; sanctified on purpose that you should offer the daily sacrifice of praise. Abound ye in this heavenly duty. Sing unto the Lord. It is a pleasing exercise; it is a profitable engagement. Do not need to be stirred up so often to so pleasant a service. And give thanks. Let your songs be grateful songs, in which the Lord’s mercies shall live again in joyful remembrance. The very remembrance of the past should tune our harps, even if present joys be lacking. At the remembrance of his holiness. Holiness is an attribute which inspires the deepest awe, and demands a reverent mind; but still give thanks at the remembrance of it. “Holy, holy, holy!” is the song of seraphim and cherubim; let us join it—not dolefully, as though we trembled at the holiness of God, but cheerfully, as humbly rejoicing in it.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 4. Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his. If it were to sing of another thing, I should require the whole quire of God’s creatures to join in the singing; but now that it is to sing of God’s “holiness, “what should profane voices do in the concert? None but “saints, “are fit to sing of “holiness, “and specially of God’s holiness; but most specially with songs of holiness. Sir Richard Baker.
Ver. 4. Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his. As God requires outward and inward worship, so a spiritual frame for inward worship may be forwarded by the outward composure. Gazing drowsiness hinders the activity of the soul, but the contrary temper furthers and helps it. Singing calls up the soul into such a posture, and doth, as it were, awaken it: it is a lively rousing up of the heart. Singing God’s praise is a work of the most meditation of any we perform in public. It keeps the heart longest upon the thing spoken. Prayer and hearing pass quick from one sentence to another; this sticks long upon it. Meditation must follow after hearing the word, and praying with the minister—for new sentences, still succeeding, give not liberty, in the instant, well to muse and consider upon what is spoken; but in this you pray and meditate. God hath so ordered this duty, that, while we are employed in it, we feed and chew the cud together. “Higgaion, “or “Meditation, “is set upon some passages of the Psalms, as Psalms 9:16. The same may be writ up the whole duty, and all parts of it; namely, “Meditation.” Set before you one in the posture to sing to the best advantage: eyes lifted to heaven, denote his desire that his heart may be there too; he hath before him a line or verse of prayer, mourning, praise, mention of God’s works; how fairly now may his heart spread itself in meditation on the thing, while he is singing it over! Our singing is measured in deliberate time not more for music than meditation. He that seeks not, finds not, this advantage in singing Psalms—hath not yet learned what it means. John Lightfoot, 1675.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 4. Song, a sacred service; saints especially called to it; divine holiness, a choice subject for it; Memory, an admirable aid in it.
Psalms 30:5*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 5. For his anger endureth but a moment. David here alludes to those dispensations of God’s providence which are the chastisement ordered in his paternal government towards his erring children, such as the plague which fell upon Jerusalem for David’s sins; these are but short judgments, and they are removed as soon as real penitence sues for pardon and presents the great and acceptable sacrifice. What a mercy is this, for if the Lord’s wrath smoked for a long season, flesh would utterly fail before him. God puts up his rod with great readiness as soon as its work is done; he is slow to anger and swift to end it. If his temporary and fatherly anger be so severe that it has need be short, what must be the terror of eternal wrath exercised by the Judge towards his adversaries? In his favour is life. As soon as the Lord looked favourably upon David, the city lived, and the king’s heart lived too. We die like withered flowers when the Lord frowns, but his sweet smile revives us as the dews refresh the field. His favour not only sweetens and cheers life, but it is life itself, the very essence of life. Who would know life, let him seek the favour of the Lord. Weeping may endure for a night; but nights are not for ever. Even in the dreary winter the day star lights his lamp. It seems fit that in our nights the dews of grief should fall. When the Bridegroom’s absence makes it dark within, it is meet that the widowed soul should pine for a renewed sight of the Well beloved. But joy cometh in the morning. When the Sun of Righteousness comes, we wipe our eyes, and joy chases out intruding sorrow. Who would not be joyful that knows Jesus? The first beams of the morning brings us comfort when Jesus is the day dawn, and all believers know it to be so. Mourning only lasts to morning: when the night is gone the gloom shall vanish. This is adduced as a reason for saintly singing, and forcible reason it is; short nights and merry days call for the psaltery and harp.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 5. His anger. Seeing God is often angry with his own servants, what cause have those of you who fear him, to bless him that he is not angry with you, and that you do not feel his displeasure! He sets up others as his mark against which he shoots his arrows; you hear others groaning for his departure, and yet your hearts are not saddened as theirs are; your eyes can look up toward heaven with hope, whilst theirs are clouded with a veil of sorrow; he speaks roughly to them, but comfortable words to you; he seems to set himself against them as his enemies, whilst he deals with you as a loving friend; you see a reviving smile on his face and they can discern nothing there but one continued and dreadful frown. O admire, and for ever wonder at the sovereign, distinguishing grace of God. Are you that are at ease better than many of his people that are now thrown into a fiery furnace? Have you less dross than they? Have they sinned, think you, at a higher rate than you have ever done? He is angry with them for their lukewarmness, for their backsliding; and have your hearts always burned with love? Have your feet always kept his way and not declined? Have you never wandered? Have you never turned aside to the right hand or to the left? Surely you have; and therefore, what a mercy is it, that he is not angry with you as well as with them…Do not presume for all this; for though he is not angry yet with you, he may be so. This was the fault of David: “In my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved; “but it immediately follows, “Thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled.” The sun shines now upon you, the candle of the Lord does refresh your tabernacle; but you may meet with many storms, and clouds, and darkness before you come to your journey’s end. The disciples were once greatly pleased with the glory of the transfiguration; and during the delightful interview between Christ, and Moses, and Elias, they thought themselves as in heaven; but a cloud came and obscured the preceding glory, and then the poor men were afraid. It is true the anger of God endured but for a moment; but even that moment is very sad, and terrible beyond expression. Weeping endureth for a night; but it may be a very bitter and doleful night for all this. It is a night like that of the Egyptians: when they arose they saw all their firstborn slain, and there was a hideous universal cry and mourning throughout all the land. So this night of the anger of the Lord may destroy all our comforts, and make the firstborn of our strength, the confidence and pleasure of our hopes to give up the ghost. Timothy Rogers.
Ver. 5. In his favour is life. Let us see wherein the weight of the blessing and cursing of sheep and goats doth lie. Is it not the gift of eternal life that is our happiness in heaven; but as David saith, “in his favour is life.” If a damned soul should be admitted to the fruition of all the pleasures of eternal life without the favour of God, heaven would be hell to him. It is not the dark and horrid house of woe that maketh a soul miserable in hell, but God’s displeasure, ite maledicti. If an elect soul should be cast thither, and retain the favour of God, hell would be an heaven to him, and his joy could not all the devils in hell take from him; his night would be turned into day. Edward Marbury.
Ver. 5. As an apprentice holds out in hard labour and (it may be) bad usage for seven years together or more, and in all that time is serviceable to his master without any murmuring or repining, because he sees that the time wears away, and that his bondage will not last always, but he shall be set at large and made a freeman in the conclusion: thus should everyone that groaneth under the burden of any cross or affliction whatsoever, bridle his affections, possess his soul in patience, and cease from all murmuring and repining whatsoever, considering well with himself, that the rod of the wicked shall not always rest upon the lot of the righteous; that weeping may abide at evening, but joy cometh in the morning; and that troubles will have an end, and not continue for ever. John Spencer.
Ver. 5. How often have we experienced the literal truth of that verse, Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning! How heavily does any trouble weigh on us at night! Our wearied nerve and brain seem unable to bear up under the pressure. Our pulse throbs, and the fevered restless body refuses to help in the work of endurance. Miserable and helpless we feel; and passionately weep under the force of the unresisted attack. At last sleep comes. Trouble, temptation, whatever it be that strives to overcome us, takes the one step too far which overleaps its mark, and by sheer force drives our poor humanity beyond the present reach of further trial. After such a night of struggle, and the heavy sleep of exhaustion, we awake with a vague sense of trouble. Our thoughts gather, and we wonder over our own violence, as the memory of it returns upon us. What was it that seemed so hopeless—so dark? Why were we so helpless and despairing? Things do not look so now —sad indeed still, but endurable—hard, but no longer impossible—bad enough perhaps, but we despair no more. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. And so, when life with its struggles and toils and sins, bringing us perpetual conflict, ends at last in the fierce struggle of death, then God “giveth his beloved sleep.” They sleep in Jesus, and awake to the joy of a morning which shall know no wane—the morning of joy. The Sun of Righteousness is beaming on them. Light is now on all their ways. And they can only wonder when they recall the despair and darkness, and toil, and violence of their earthly life, and say, as they have often said on earth, “Weeping has endured only for the night, and now it is morning, and joy has come!” And our sorrows, our doubts, our difficulties, our long looks forward, with despair of enduring strength for so long a night of trial—Where are they? Shall we not feel as is so beautifully described in the words of one of our hymns—
“When in our Father’s happy land
We meet our own once more,
Then we shall scarcely understand
Why we have wept before.” Mary B. M. Duncan, 1825-1865.
Ver. 5. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. Their mourning shall last but till morning. God will turn their winter’s night into a summer’s day, their sighing into singing, their grief into gladness, their mourning into music, their bitter into sweet, their wilderness into a paradise. The life of a Christian is filled up with interchanges of sickness and health, weakness and strength, want and wealth, disgrace and honour, crosses, and comforts, miseries and mercies, joys and sorrows, mirth and mourning; all honey would harm us, all wormwood would undo us; a composition of both is the best way in the world to keep our souls in a healthy constitution. It is best and most for the health of the soul that the south wind of mercy, and the north wind of adversity, do both blow upon it; and though every wind that blows shall blow good to the saints, yet certainly their sins die most, and their graces thrive best, when they are under the drying, nipping north wind of calamity, as well as under the warm, cherishing south wind of mercy and prosperity. Thomas Brooks.
Ver. 5. Joy cometh in the morning. The godly man’s joy cometh in the morning, when the wicked man’s goeth; for to him “the morning is even as the shadow of death.” Job 24:17. He is not only afraid of reproof and punishment, but he grieves and suffers sufficiently, though nobody should know of his actions, for the impair and loss, and misspence of his strength and his time and his money. Zachary Bogan.
Ver. 5. In the second half of the verse weeping is personified, and represented by the figure of a wanderer, who leaves in the morning the lodging, into which he had entered the preceding evening. After him another guest arrives, namely, joy. E. W. Hengstenberg.
Ver. 5. The princely prophet says plainly, heaviness may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. As the two angels that came to Lot lodged with him for a night, and when they had dispatched their errand, went away in the morning; so afflictions, which are the angels or the messengers of God. God sendeth afflictions to do an errand unto us; to tell us we forget God, we forget ourselves, we are too proud, too self conceited, and such like; and when they have said as they were bid, then presently they are gone. Thomas Playfere.
Ver. 5-10. When a man’s heart is set upon the creatures, there being thorns in them all, therefore if he will grasp too much of them, or too hard, he shall find it. God’s children are trained up so to it, that God will not let them go away with a sin; if they be too adulterously affected, they shall find a cross in such a thing. You may observe this in the thirtieth Psalm; there you may see the circle God goes in with his children. David has many afflictions, as appeareth by the fifth verse: I cried, and then God returned to me, and joy came. What did David then? “I said, I shall never be moved:” his heart grew wanton, but God would not let him go away so: “God turned away his face and I was troubled.” At the seventh verse he is, you see, in trouble again: well, David cries again, at the eighth and tenth verses, and then God turned his mourning into joy again. And this is to be his dealing you shall find in all the Scriptures; but because we find his dealing set so close together in this Psalm, therefore I name it. John Preston, D.D. (1587-1628), in “The Golden Scepter held forth to the Humble.”
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 5. The anger of God in relation to his people.
Ver. 5. The night of weeping, and the morning of joy.
Ver. 5. Life in God’s favour.
Ver. 5. The transient nature of the believer’s trouble, and the permanence of his joy.
Psalms 30:6*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 6. In my prosperity. When all his foes were quiet, and his rebellious son dead and buried, then was the time of peril. Many a vessel founders in a calm. No temptation is so bad as tranquillity. I said, I shall never be moved. Ah! David, you said more than was wise to say, or even to think, for God has founded the world upon the floods, to show us what a poor, mutable, moveable, inconstant world it is. Unhappy he who builds upon it! He builds himself a dungeon for his hopes. Instead of conceiving that we shall never be moved, we ought to remember that we shall very soon be removed altogether. Nothing is abiding beneath the moon. Because I happen to be prosperous today, I must not fancy that I shall be in my high estate tomorrow. As in a wheel, the uppermost spokes descend to the bottom in due course, so it is with mortal conditions. There is a constant revolution: many who are in the dust today shall be highly elevated tomorrow; while those who are now aloft shall soon grind the earth. Prosperity had evidently turned the psalmist’s head, or he would not have been so self confident. He stood by grace, and yet forgot himself, and so met with a fall. Reader, is there not much of the same proud stuff in all our hearts? let us beware lest the fumes of intoxicating success get into our brains and make fools of us also.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 5-10. See Psalms on “Psalms 30:5” for further information.
Ver. 6. In my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved. Our entering upon a special service for God, or receiving a special favour from God, are two solemn seasons, which Satan makes use of for temptation…We are apt to get proud, careless, and confident, after or upon such employments and favours; even as men are apt to sleep or surfeit upon a full meal, or to forget themselves when they are advanced to honour. Job’s great peace and plenty made him, as he confesseth, so confident, that he concluded he should “die in his nest.” Job 29:18. David enjoying the favour of God in a more than ordinary measure, though he was more acquainted with vicissitudes and changes than most of men, grows secure in his apprehension that he “should never be moved; “but he acknowledgeth his mistake, and leaves it upon record as an experience necessary for others to take warning by, that when he became warm under the beams of God’s countenance, then he was apt to fall into security; and this it seems was usual with him in all such cases—when he was most secure he was nearest some trouble or disquiet. “Thou didst hide thy face” —and then to be sure the devil will show him his—”and I was troubled.” Enjoyments beget confidence; confidence brings forth carelessness; carelessness makes God withdraw, and gives opportunity to Satan to work unseen. And thus, as armies after victory growing secure, are oft surprised; so are we oft after our spiritual advancements thrown down. Richard Gilpin.
Ver. 6. In my prosperity. (ywlvg) The word denotes peace and tranquillity, arising from an affluent prosperous condition. When God had settled him quietly on the throne, he thought all his troubles were over, and that he should enjoy uninterrupted happiness; and that God”had made his mountain so strong, as that it should never be moved; “i.e., placed him as secure from all danger as though he had taken refuge upon an inaccessible mountain; or made his prosperity firm, and subject to no more alteration, than a mountain is liable to be removed out of its place; or, raised him to an eminent degree of honour and prosperity; a mountain, by its height, being a very natural representation of a very superior condition, remarkable for power, affluence, and dignity. He had taken the fortress of Mount Sion, which was properly his mountain, as he had fixed on it for his dwelling. It was strong by nature, and rendered almost impregnable by the fortifications he had added to it. This he regarded as the effect of God’s favour to him, and promised himself that his peace and happiness for the future should be as undisturbed and unshaken as Mount Sion itself. Samuel Chandler.
Ver. 6. In my prosperity. Prosperity is more pleasant than profitable to us. Though in show it look like a fair summer, yet it is indeed a wasting winter, and spendeth all the fruit we have reaped in the harvest of sanctified affliction. We are never in greater danger than in the sunshine of prosperity. To be always indulged of God, and never to taste of trouble, is rather a token of God’s neglect than of his tender love. William Struther.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 6. The peculiar dangers of prosperity.
Ver. 6-12. David’s prosperity had lulled him into a state of undue security; God sent him this affliction to rouse him from it. The successive frames of his mind are here clearly marked; and must successively be considered as they are here presented to our view.
1. His carnal security.
2. His spiritual dereliction.
3. His fervent prayers.
4. His speedy recovery.
5. His grateful acknowledgments.
Charles Simeon.
Psalms 30:7*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 7. Lord, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong. He ascribed his prosperity to the Lord’s favour—so far good, it is well to own the hand of the Lord in all our stability and wealth. But observe that the good in a good man is not unmingled good, for this was alloyed with carnal security. His state he compares to a mountain, a molehill would have been nearer—we never think too little of ourselves. He boasted that his mountain stood strong, and yet he had before, in Psalms 29:1-11, spoken of Sirion and Lebanon as moving like young unicorns. Was David’s state more firm than Lebanon? Ah, vain conceit, too common to us all! How soon the bubble bursts when God’s people get conceit into their heads, and fancy that they are to enjoy immutability beneath the stars, and constancy upon this whirling orb. How touchingly and teachingly God corrected his servant’s mistake: Thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled. There was no need to come to blows, a hidden face was enough. This proves, first, that David was a genuine saint, for no hiding of God’s face on earth would trouble a sinner; and, secondly, that the joy of the saint is dependent upon the presence of his Lord. No mountain, however firm, can yield us rest when our communion with God is broken, and his face is concealed. However, in such a case, it is well to be troubled. The next best thing to basking in the light of God’s countenance, is to be thoroughly unhappy when that bliss is denied us.
“Lord, let me weep for nought for sin!
And after none but thee!
And then I would—O that I might,
A constant weeper be!”
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 5-10. See Psalms on “Psalms 30:5” for further information.
Ver. 7. It is rare to receive much of this world, and not as the prodigal to go afar off; it is hard to keep close to God in prosperity, when we have much of this world to live upon and content ourselves with; to live upon God, and make him our content and stay, as if we had no other life nor livelihood but in him; we are very apt in such a case to contract a carnal frame, let go our hold of God, discustom ourselves to the exercise of faith, abate and estrange our affections from God. See how it was with David: “I said, I shall never be moved, thou hast made my mountain so strong.” I solaced myself on these outward accommodations, as if I needed no other support, strength, or content, and there were no fear of a change; no care now to make God my constant joy and stay, and reckon upon God only for my portion, and that I must follow him with a cross, and be conformed to my Saviour, in being crucified to the world. What comes of this? Thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled; namely, because he had too much indulged a life of sense. Children that are held up by their nurses’ hand, and mind not to feel their feet and ground when the nurses let them go, they fall, as if they had no feet or ground to stand upon. Or thus: we are like children, who, playing in the golden sunshine, and following their sport, stray so far from their father’s house, that night coming upon them ere they are aware, they are as it were lost, and full of fears, not knowing how to recover home. The world steals away our hearts from God, gives so few opportunities for the exercise of the life of faith, and such advantages to a life of sense, wears off the sense of our dependence on God, and need thereof, so that when we are put to it by affliction, we are ready to miscarry ere we can recover our weapon or hold. Faith is our cordial Psalms 27:13; now if it be not at hand (as in health, when we have no need of it, it use to be) we may faint ere we recover the use of it. Elias Pledger’s Sermon in “The Morning Exercises, “1677.
Ver. 7. Thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled. What soul can be deserted and not be afflicted? Certainly his absence cannot but be lamented with greatest grief, whose presence the soul prizes above all earthly joy; when the evidence of salvation is obscured, the light of God’s countenance darkened, the comforts of the Spirit detained, then the heavens appear not so clear, the promises taste not so sweet, the ordinances prove not so lively, yea, the clouds which hang over the soul gather blackness, doubts arise, fears overflow, terrors increase, troubles enlarge, and the soul becomes languishingly afflicted, even with all variety of disquietments. Robert Mossom.
Ver. 7. Thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled. A believer puts on the sackcloth of contrition, for having put off the garment of perfection. As the sugar loaf is dissolved, and weeps itself way, when dipped in wine; so do our hearts melt under a sense of divine love. William Secker.
Ver. 7. (last clause). No verse can more plainly teach us that glorious and comforting truth on which the medieval writers especially love to dwell, that it is the looking, or not looking, of God upon his creature, that forms the happiness or the misery of that creature; that those secret springs of joy which sometimes seem to rise up of themselves, and with which a stranger intermeddleth not, are nothing but God’s direct and immediate looking on us; while the sorrow for which we cannot assign any especial cause—call it melancholy, or low spirits, or by whatever other name—is nothing but his turning away his face from us. John Mason Neale.
Ver. 7 (last clause). Is spiritual desertion and the hiding of God’s face matter of affliction, and casting down to believers? Yes, yes; it quails their hearts, nothing can comfort them. Thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled. Outward afflictions do but break the skin, this touches the quick; they like rain fall only upon the tiles, this soaks into the house; but Christ brings to believers substantial matter of consolation against the troubles of desertion; he himself was deserted of God for a time, that they might not be deserted for ever. John Flavel.
Ver. 7. (last clause). If God be thy portion, then there is no loss in all the world that lies so hard and so heavy upon thee as the loss of thy God. There is no loss under heaven that doth so affect and afflict a man that hath God for his portion, as the loss of his God. David met with many a loss, but no loss made so sad and so great a breach upon his spirit as the loss of the face of God, the loss of the favour of God: “In my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved. Lord, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled.” The Hebrew word (lhn) bahal signifies to be greatly troubled, to be sorely terrified, as you may see in that 1 Samuel 28:21. “And the woman came unto Saul, and saw that he was sore troubled.” Here is the same Hebrew word bahal. Saul was so terrified, affrighted, and disanimated with the dreadful news that the devil in Samuel’s likeness told him, that his very vital spirits so failed him, that he fell into a deadly swoon. And it was even so with David upon God’s hiding of his face. David was like a withered flower that had lost its sap, life, and vigour, when God had wrapped himself up in a cloud. The life of some creatures lieth in the light and warmth of the sun; and so doth the life of the saints lie in the light and warmth of God’s countenance. And, as in an eclipse of the sun, there is a drooping in the whole frame of nature, so when God hides his face, gracious souls cannot but droop and languish, and bow down themselves before him. Many insensible creatures, some by opening and shutting, as marigolds and tulips, others by bowing and inclining the head, as the solsequy (the early name of the sunflower) and mallow flowers, are so sensible of the presence and absence of the sun, that there seems to be such a sympathy between the sun and them, that if the sun be gone or clouded, they wrap up themselves or hang down their heads, as being unwilling to be seen by any eye but his that fills them: and just thus it was with David when God had his face in a cloud. Thomas Brooks.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 6-12. David’s prosperity had lulled him into a state of undue security; God sent him this affliction to rouse him from it. The successive frames of his mind are here clearly marked; and must successively be considered as they are here presented to our view.
1. His carnal security.
2. His spiritual dereliction.
3. His fervent prayers.
4. His speedy recovery.
5. His grateful acknowledgments.
Charles Simeon.
Ver. 7. (first clause). Carnal security; its causes, dangers, and cures.
Ver. 7. (last clause). The gracious bemoanings of a soul in spiritual darkness.
Psalms 30:8*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 8. I cried to thee, O Lord. Prayer is the unfailing resource of God’s people. If they are driven to their wit’s end, they may still go to the mercyseat. When an earthquake makes our mountain tremble, the throne of grace still stands firm, and we may come to it. Let us never forget to pray, and let us never doubt the success of prayer. The hand which wounds can heal: let us turn to him who smites us, and he will be entreated of us. Prayer is better solace than Cain’s building a city, or Saul’s seeking for music. Mirth and carnal amusements are a sorry prescription for a mind distracted and despairing: prayer will succeed where all else fails.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 5-10. See Psalms on “Psalms 30:5” for further information.
Ver. 8. I cried to thee, O Lord; and unto the Lord I made supplication. Bernard, under a fiction, proposes a fable well worthy of our beholding: therein the kings of Babylon and Jerusalem, signifying the state of the world and the church, always warring together; in which encounter, at length it fell out, that one of the soldiers of Jerusalem was fled to the castle of Justice. Siege laid to the castle, and a multitude of enemies entrenched round about it, Fear gave over all hope, but Prudence ministered her comfort. “Does thou not know, “saith she, “that our king is the King of glory; the Lord strong and mighty, even the Lord mighty in battle? Let us therefore despatch a messenger that may inform him of our necessities.” Fear replies, “But who is able to break through? Darkness is upon the face of the earth, and our walls are begirt with a watchful troop of armed men, and we, utterly inexpert in the way into so far a country.” Whereupon Justice is consulted. “Be of good cheer, “saith Justice, “I have a messenger of especial trust, well known to the king and his court, Prayer by name, who knoweth to address herself by ways unknown in the stillest silence of the night, till she cometh to the secrets and chamber of the King himself.” Forthwith she goeth, and findeth the gates shut, knocketh again, “Open, ye gates of righteousness, and be ye opened, ye everlasting doors, that I may come in and tell the King of Jerusalem how our case standeth.” Doubtless the trustiest and most effectual messenger we have to send is Prayer. If we send up merits, the stars in heaven will disdain it, that we which dwell at the footstool of God dare to presume so far, when the purest creatures in heaven are impure in his sight. If we send up fear and distrustfulness, the length of the way will tire them out. They are as heavy and lumpish as gads of iron; they will sink to the ground before they come half way to the throne of salvation. If we send up blasphemies and curses, all the creatures betwixt heaven and earth will band themselves against us. The sun and the moon will rain down blood; the fire, hot burning coals; the air, thunderbolts upon our heads. Prayer, I say again, is the surest ambassador; which neither the tediousness of the way, nor difficulties of the passage, can hinder from her purpose; quick of speed, faithful for trustiness, happy for success, able to mount above the eagles of the sky, into the heaven of heavens, and as a chariot of fire bearing us aloft into the presence of God to seek his assistance. John King.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 6-12. David’s prosperity had lulled him into a state of undue security; God sent him this affliction to rouse him from it. The successive frames of his mind are here clearly marked; and must successively be considered as they are here presented to our view.
1. His carnal security.
2. His spiritual dereliction.
3. His fervent prayers.
4. His speedy recovery.
5. His grateful acknowledgments.
Charles Simeon.
Ver. 8., in connection with verse 3 prayer the universal remedy.
Psalms 30:9*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 9. In this verse we learn the form and method of David’s prayer. It was an argument with God, an urging of reasons, a pleading of his cause. It was not a statement of doctrinal opinions, nor a narration of experience, much less a sly hit at other people under pretence of praying to God, although all these things and worse have been substituted for holy supplication at certain prayer meetings. He wrestled with the angel of the covenant with vehement pleadings, and therefore he prevailed. Head and heart, judgment and affections, memory and intellect were all at work to spread the case aright before the Lord of love. What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Wilt thou not lose a songster from thy choir, and one who loves to magnify thee? Shall the dust praise thee? shall it declare thy truth? Will there not be one witness the less to thy faithfulness and veracity? Spare, then, thy poor unworthy one for thine own name sake!
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 5-10. See Psalms on “Psalms 30:5” for further information.
Ver. 9. What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Implying that he would willingly die, if he could thereby do any real service to God, or his country. Philippians 2:17. But he saw not what good could be done by his dying in the bed of sickness, as might be if he had died in the bed of honour. Lord, saith he, wilt thou sell one of “thine own people for nought, and not increase thy wealth by the price?” Psalms 44:12. Matthew Henry.
Ver. 9. What profit is there in my blood, etc. The little gain that the Lord would have by denying his people in the mercies they request, may also be used as a plea in prayer. David begs his own life of God, using this plea, What profit is there in my blood? So did the captive church plead Psalms 44:12; “Thou sellest thy people for nought, and dost not increase thy wealth by their price.” So then, poor saints of God when they come and tell the Lord in their prayers that indeed he may condemn, or confound, or cut or cast them off; he may continue to frown upon them; he may deny such and such requests of theirs, for such and such just causes in them; but what will he gain thereby? He may gain many praises, etc., by hearing them, and helping them; but what good will it do him to see them oppressed by the enemies of their souls? or what delight would it be to him to see them sighing and sinking, and fainting under sad pressures, etc.? this is an allowed and a very successful kind of pleading. Thomas Cobbet.
Ver. 9. Shall the dust praise thee? Can any number be sufficient to praise thee? Can there ever be mouths enough to declare thy truth? And may not I make one—a sinful one I know—but yet one in the number, if thou be pleased to spare me from descending into the pit? Sir Richard Baker.
Ver. 9. Prayer that is likely to prevail with God must be argumentative. God loves to have us plead with him and overcome him with arguments in prayer. Thomas Watson.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 6-12. David’s prosperity had lulled him into a state of undue security; God sent him this affliction to rouse him from it. The successive frames of his mind are here clearly marked; and must successively be considered as they are here presented to our view.
1. His carnal security.
2. His spiritual dereliction.
3. His fervent prayers.
4. His speedy recovery.
5. His grateful acknowledgments.
Charles Simeon.
Ver. 9. (first clause). Arguments with God for continued life and renewed favour.
Ver. 9. (last clause). The resurrection, a time in which the dust shall praise God, and declare his truth.
Psalms 30:10*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 10. Hear, O Lord, and have mercy upon me. A short and comprehensive petition, available at all seasons, let us use it full often. It is the publican’s prayer; be it ours. If God hears prayer, it is a great act of mercy; our petitions do not merit a reply. Lord, be thou my helper. Another compact, expressive, ever fitting prayer. It is suitable to hundreds of the cases of the Lord’s people; it is well becoming in the minister when he is going to preach, to the sufferer upon the bed of pain, to the toiler in the field of service, to the believer under temptation, to the man of God under adversity; when God helps, difficulties vanish. He is the help of his people, a very present help in trouble. The two brief petitions of this verse are commended as ejaculations to believers full of business, denied to those longer seasons of devotion which are the rare privilege of those whose days are spent in retirement.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 5-10. See Psalms on “Psalms 30:5” for further information.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 6-12. David’s prosperity had lulled him into a state of undue security; God sent him this affliction to rouse him from it. The successive frames of his mind are here clearly marked; and must successively be considered as they are here presented to our view.
1. His carnal security.
2. His spiritual dereliction.
3. His fervent prayers.
4. His speedy recovery.
5. His grateful acknowledgments.
Charles Simeon.
Ver. 10. Two gems of prayer; short, but full and needful.
Ver. 10. Lord, be thou my helper. I see many fall; I shall fall too except thou hold me up. I am weak; I am exposed to temptation. My heart is deceitful. My enemies are strong. I cannot trust in man; I dare not trust in myself. The grace I have received will not keep me without thee. Lord, be thou my helper. In every duty; in every conflict; in every trial; in every effort to promote the Lord’s cause; in every season of prosperity; in every hour we live, this short and inspired prayer is suitable. May it flow from our hearts, be often on our lips, and be answered in our experience. For if the Lord help us, there is no duty which we cannot perform; there is no foe which we cannot overcome; there is no difficulty which we cannot surmount. James Smith’s Daily Remembrancer.
Psalms 30:11*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 11. Observe the contrast, God takes away the mourning of his people; and what does he give them instead of it? Quiet and peace? Aye, and a great deal more than that. Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing. He makes their hearts to dance at the sound of his name. He takes off their sackcloth. That is good. What a delight to be rid of the habiliments of woe! But what then? He clothes us. And how? With some common dress? Nay, but with that royal vestment which is the array of glorified spirits in heaven. Thou hast girded me with gladness. This is better than to wear garments of silk or cloth of gold, bedight with embroidery and bespangled with gems. Many a poor man wears this heavenly apparel wrapped around his heart, though fustian and corduroy are his only outward garb; and such a man needs not envy the emperor in all his pomp. Glory be to thee, O God, if, by a sense of full forgiveness and present justification, thou hast enriched my spiritual nature, and filled me with all the fulness of God.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 11. Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness. This might be true of David, delivered from his calamity; it was true of Christ, arising from the tomb, to die no more; it is true of the penitent, exchanging his sackcloth for the garments of salvation; and it will be verified in all us, at the last day, when we shall put off the dishonours of the grave, to shine in glory everlasting. George Horne.
Ver. 11. Thou hast turned. I do so like the ups and downs in the Psalms. Adelaide Newton.
Ver. 11. Thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness. I say with the apostle, “Overcome evil with good, ” sorrow with joy. Joy is the true remedy for sorrow. It never had, never could have any other. We must always give the soul that weeps reason to rejoice; all other consolation is utterly useless. Alexander Rodolph Vinet, D.D., 1797-1847.
Ver. 11. Thou hast girded me with gladness. My “sackcloth” was but a loose garment about me, which might easily be put off at pleasure, but my “gladness” is girt about me, to be fast and sure, and cannot leave me though it would; at least none shall be able to take it from me. Sir Richard Baker.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 6-12. David’s prosperity had lulled him into a state of undue security; God sent him this affliction to rouse him from it. The successive frames of his mind are here clearly marked; and must successively be considered as they are here presented to our view.
1. His carnal security.
2. His spiritual dereliction.
3. His fervent prayers.
4. His speedy recovery.
5. His grateful acknowledgments.
Charles Simeon.
Ver. 11. Transformations. Sudden; complete; divine, thou; personal, “for me; “gracious.
Ver. 11. Holy dancing: open up the metaphor.
Ver. 11. The believer’s change of raiment: illustrate by life of Mordecai or Joseph; mention all the garbs the believer is made to wear, as a mourner, a beggar, a criminal, &c.
Psalms 30:12*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 12. To the end —namely, with this view and intent— that my glory —that is, my tongue or my soul—may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. It would be a shameful crime, if, after receiving God’s mercies, we should forget to praise him. God would not have our tongues lie idle while so many themes for gratitude are spread on every hand. He would have no dumb children in the house. They are all to sing in heaven, and therefore they should all sing on earth. Let us sing with the poet: —
“I would begin the music here,
And so my soul should rise:
Oh for some heavenly notes to bear
My passions to the skies.”
O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.
“I will praise him in life; I will praise him in death;
I will praise him as long as he lendeth me breath;
And say when the death dew lays cold on my brow,
If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, it is now.”
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 12. Even as the Chaldeans formerly measured their natural day differently from the Israelites; they put the day first and the night after; but the Israelites, on the contrary, according to the order that was observed in the creation; for in the beginning darkness was upon the face of the deep, and of every one of the six days it is said, “The evening and the morning were the first day, “etc. So the times of the world and of the church are differently disposed; for the world begins hers by the day of temporal prosperity, and finishes it by a night of darkness and anguish that is eternal; but the church, on the contrary, begins hers by the night of adversity, which she suffers for awhile, and ends them by a day of consolation which she shall have for ever. The prophet in this Psalm begins with the anger of God, but ends with his favour: as of old, when they entered into the tabernacle they did at first see unpleasant things, as the knives of the sacrifices, the blood of victims, the fire that burned upon the altar, which consumed the offerings; but when they passed a little further there was the holy place, the candlestick of gold, the shewbread, and the altar of gold on which they offered perfumes; and in fine, there was the holy of holies, and the ark of the covenant, and the mercyseat and the cherubims which was called the face of God. Timothy Rogers.
Ver. 12. I will give thanks. What is praise? The rent we owe to God; and the larger the farm the greater the rent should be. G. S. Bowes, 1863.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 6-12. David’s prosperity had lulled him into a state of undue security; God sent him this affliction to rouse him from it. The successive frames of his mind are here clearly marked; and must successively be considered as they are here presented to our view.
1. His carnal security.
2. His spiritual dereliction.
3. His fervent prayers.
4. His speedy recovery.
5. His grateful acknowledgments.
Charles Simeon.
Ver. 12. Our glory, and its relation to God’s glory.
Ver. 12. The end of gracious dispensations.
Ver. 12. Silence—when sinful.
Ver. 12. (last clause). The believer’s vow and the time for making it. See the whole Psalm.

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Psalm 29

holy-bible-backgroundVerses 1-11
Title. A Psalm of David. The title affords us no information beyond the fact that David is the author of this sublime song.
Subject. It seems to be the general opinion of modern annotators, that this Psalm is meant to express the glory of God as heard in the pealing thunder, and seen in the equinoctial tornado. Just as the eighth Psalm is to be read by moonlight, when the stars are bright, as the nineteenth needs the rays of the rising sun to bring out its beauty, so this can be best rehearsed beneath the black wing of tempest, by the glare of the lightning, or amid that dubious dusk which heralds the war of elements. The verses march to the tune of thunderbolts. God is everywhere conspicuous, and all the earth is hushed by the majesty of his presence. The word of God in the law and gospel is here also depicted in its majesty of power. True ministers are sons of thunder, and the voice of God in Christ Jesus is full of majesty. Thus we have God’s works and God’s word joined together: let no man put them asunder by a false idea that theology and science can by any possibility oppose each other. We may, perhaps, by a prophetic glance, behold in this Psalm the dread tempests of the latter days, and the security of the elect people.
Division. The first two verses are a call to adoration. From Psalms 29:3-10 the path of the tempest is traced, the attributes of God’s word are rehearsed, and God magnified in all the terrible grandeur of his power; and the last verse sweetly closes the scene with the assurance that the omnipotent Jehovah will give both strength and peace to his people. Let heaven and earth pass away, the Lord will surely bless his people.
EXPOSITION
Ver. 1. Give, i.e., ascribe. Neither men nor angels can confer anything upon Jehovah, but they should recognise his glory and might, and ascribe it to him in their songs and in their hearts. Unto the Lord, and unto him alone, must honour be given. Natural causes, as men call them, are God in action, and we must not ascribe power to them, but to the infinite Invisible who is the true source of all. O ye mighty. Ye great ones of earth and of heaven, kings and angels, join in rendering worship to the blessed and only Potentate; ye lords among men need thus to be reminded, for ye often fail where humbler men are ardent; but fail no longer, bow your heads at once, and loyally do homage to the King of kings. How frequently do grandees and potentates think it beneath them to fear the Lord; but, when they have been led to extol Jehovah, their piety has been the greatest jewel in their crowns. Give unto the Lord glory and strength, both of which men are too apt to claim for themselves, although they are the exclusive prerogatives of the self existent God. Let crowns and swords acknowledge their dependence upon God. Not to your arms, O kings, give ye the glory, nor look for strength to your hosts of warriors, for all your pomp is but as a fading flower, and your might is as a shadow which declineth. When shall the day arrive when kings and princes shall count it their delight to glorify their God? “All worship be to God only, “let this be emblazoned on every coat of arms.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. In this Psalm, the strength of Jehovah is celebrated; and the exemplification of it is evidently taken from a thunderstorm in Lebanon. The Psalm seems to be addressed to the angels. See Psalms 89:7. It thus begins: —
“Render unto Jehovah, ye sons of the mighty,
Render unto Jehovah glory and strength;
Render to Jehovah the glory of his name;
Bow down to Jehovah in the majesty of holiness!”
Immediately follows the description of the thunderstorm, in which it does not seem fanciful to observe the historical progression which is usual on such occasions. The first lines seem to describe only the noise of the thunder, the description growing more intense as the rumbling draws nearer.
“The voice of Jehovah is above the waters;
The God of glory thundereth,
Jehovah is louder than many waters,
The voice of Jehovah in strength,
The voice of Jehovah in majesty!”
But now the effects become visible; the storm has descended on the mountains and forests: —
“The voice of Jehovah shivers the cedars,
Even shivers Jehovah the cedars of Lebanon;
And makes them to skip, like a calf;
Lebanon and Sirion, like a young buffalo,
The voice of Jehovah forks the lightning’s flash!”
From the mountains the storm sweeps down into the plains, where, however, it effects are not so fearful as on the mountains—
“The voice of Jehovah causeth the desert to tremble—
The voice of Jehovah causeth to tremble the desert of Kadesh—
The voice of Jehovah causeth the oaks to tremble,
And lays bare the forests!
Therefore, in his temple every one speaks of his glory.”
The description of the swollen torrents closes the scene—
“Jehovah upon the rain torrent sitteth.
Yea, sitteth Jehovah a king for ever.”
And the moral of application of the whole is—
“Jehovah to his people will give strength,
Jehovah will bless his people with peace.”
Robert Murray Macheyne, 1813-1843.
Whole Psalm. There is no phenomenon in nature so awful as a thunderstorm, and almost every poet from Homer and Virgil down to Dante and Milton, or rather down to Grahame and Pollok, has described it. In the Bible, too, we have a thunderstorm, the twenty-ninth Psalm—the description of a tempest, which, rising from the Mediterranean, and travelling by Lebanon and along the inland mountains, reaches Jerusalem, and sends the people into the temple porticoes for refuge; and; besides those touches of terror in which the geographical progress of the tornado is described, it derives a sacred vitality and power from the presence of Jehovah in each successive peal. James Hamilton, D.D., in “The Literary Attractions of the Bible, ” 1849.
Whole Psalm. A glorious Psalm of praise sung during a tempest, the majesty of which shakes universal nature, so much so that the greatness of the power of the Lord is felt by all in heaven and on earth. This Lord is the God of his people, who blesses them with strength and peace. To rightly appreciate the feelings of the bard, one ought to realise an Oriental storm, especially in the mountainous regions of Palestine, which, accompanied by the terrific echoes of the encircling mountains, by torrents of rain like waterspouts, often scatters terror on man and beast, destruction on cities and fields. Wilson, the traveller, describes such a tempest in the neighbourhood of Baalbek: “I was overtaken by a storm, as if the floodgates of heaven had burst; it came on in a moment, and raged with a power which suggested the end of the world. Solemn darkness covered the earth: the rain descended in torrents, and sweeping down the mountain side, became by the fearful power of the storm transmuted into thick clouds of fog.” Compare also our Lord’s parable, taken from life, in Matthew 7:27. Augustus F. Tholuck, in loc.
Ver. 1. Give unto the Lord. Give, give, give. This showeth how unwilling such are usually to give God his right, or to suffer a word of exhortation to this purpose. John Trapp.
Ver. 1. O ye mighty. The Septuagint renders it, O ye sons of rams! These bell wethers should not cast their noses into the air, and carry their crest the higher, because the shepherd hath bestowed a bell upon them, more than upon the rest of the flock. John Trapp.
Ver. 1-2. There are three gives in these two verses: — Give unto the Lord, give unto the Lord, give unto the Lord the glory that is due unto his name. Glory is God’s right, and he stands upon his right; and this the sincere Christian knows, and therefore he gives him his right, he gives him the honour and the glory that is due unto his name. But pray do not mistake me. I do not say that such as are really sincere do actually eye the glory of Christ in all their actions. Oh, no! This is a happiness desirable on earth, but shall never be attained till we come to heaven. Bye and base ends and aims will be still ready to creep into the best hearts, but all sincere hearts sigh and groan under them. They complain to God of them, and they cry out for justice, justice upon them; and it is the earnest desire and daily endeavours of their souls to be rid of them; and therefore they shall not be imputed to them, nor keep good things from them. But now take a sincere Christian in his ordinary, usual, and habitual course, and you shall find that his aims and ends in all his actions and undertakings are to glorify God, to exalt God, and to lift up God in the world. If the hypocrite did in good earnest aim at the glory of God in what he does, then the glory of God would swallow up his bye aims and carnal ends, as Aaron’s rod swallowed up the magician’s rods. Exodus 7:10-12. Look, as the sun puts out the light of the fire, so the glory of God, where it is aimed at, will put out and consume all bye and base ends. This is most certain, that which is a man’s great end, that will work out all other ends. He that sets up the glory of God as his chief end, will find that his chief end will by degrees eat out all low and base ends. Look, as Pharaoh’s lean kine ate up the fat Genesis 31:4, so the glory of God will eat up all those fat and worldly ends that crowd in upon the soul in religious work. Where the glory of God is kept up as a man’s greatest end, there all bye and base ends will be kept at an under. Thomas Brooks.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 1. The duty of ascribing our strength and the honour of it to God; the penalty of neglecting to do so; the pleasure of so doing.
Ver. 1. National glorying should be in the Lord.
Psalms 29:2*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 2. Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name. A third time the admonition is given, for men are backward in glorifying God, and especially great men, who are often too much swollen with their own glory to spare time to give God his rightful praise, although nothing more is asked of them than is most just and right. Surely men should not need so much pressing to give what is due, especially when the payment is so pleasant. Unbelief and distrust, complaining and murmuring, rob God of his honour; in this respect, even the saints fail to give due glory to their King. Worship the Lord, bow before him with devout homage and sacred awe, and let your worship be such as he appoints. Of old, worship was cumbered with ceremonial, and men gathered around one dedicated building, whose solemn pomp was emblematic of the beauty of holiness; but now our worship is spiritual, and the architecture of the house and the garments of the worshippers are matters of no importance; the spiritual beauty of inward purity and outward holiness being far more precious in the eyes of our thrice holy God. O for grace ever to worship with holy motives and in a holy manner, as becometh saints! The call to worship in these two verses chimes in with the loud pealing thunder, which is the church bell of the universe ringing kings and angels, and all the sons of earth to their devotions.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 1-2. See Psalms on “Psalms 29:1” for further information.
Ver. 2. Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name. Which yet you cannot do, for his name is above all praise! Psalms 148:13; but you must aim at it. The Rabbins observe that God’s holy name is mentioned eighteen several times in this Psalm; that great men especially may give him the honour of his name, that they may stand in awe and not sin, that they may bring presents to him who ought to be feared, and those also the very best of the best, since he is a great king, and standeth much upon his seniority. Malachi 1:14. John Trapp.
Ver. 2. Worship the Lord. If any should ask, Why is the Lord to be worshipped? Why must he have such high honours from those that are high? What doth he in the world that calls for such adoration? David answereth meteorologically as well as theologically, he answers from the clouds Psalms 29:3-4, “The voice of the Lord is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the Lord is upon many waters. The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty; “as if he had said, Although the Lord Jesus Christ will not set up an outward, pompous, political kingdom, such as that of Cyrus, Alexander, etc., yet by the ministry of the gospel he will erect a spiritual kingdom, and gather to himself a church that shall abide for ever, out of all the nations of the earth; for the gospel shall be carried and preached, to not only the people of Israel, the Jews, but to the Gentiles, all the world over, that the minds of men may be enlightened, awakened, and moved with that unheard of doctrine of salvation by Christ, which had been hid from ages and generations. Joseph Caryl.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 2. (first clause). Royal dues, the royal treasury, loyal subjects paying their dues, the king receiving them. Smugglers and preventive men.
Ver. 2. (second clause). Inspired ritualism. What to do? Worship. Whom? The Lord. How? In the beauty of holiness. Absence of all allusions to place, time, order, words, form, vestments, etc.
Psalms 29:3*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 3. The voice of the Lord is upon the waters. The thunder is not only poetically but instructively called “the voice of God, “since it peals from on high; it surpasses all other sounds, it inspires awe, it is entirely independent of man, and has been used on some occasions as the grand accompaniment of God’s speech to Adam’s sons. There is a peculiar terror in a tempest at sea, when deep calleth unto deep, and the raging sea echoes to the angry sky. No sight more alarming than the flash of lightning around the mast of the ship; and no sound more calculated to inspire reverent awe than the roar of the storm. The children of heaven have often enjoyed the tumult with humble joy peculiar to the saints, and even those who know not God have been forced into unwilling reverence while the storm has lasted. The glory of God thundereth. Thunder is in truth no mere electric phenomenon, but is caused by the interposition of God himself. Even the old heathen spake of Jupiter Tonans; but our modern wise men will have us believe in laws and forces, and anything or nothing so they may be rid of God. Electricity of itself can do nothing, it must be called and sent upon its errand; and until the almighty Lord commissions it, its bolt of fire is inert and powerless. As well might a rock of granite, or a bar of iron fly in the midst of heaven, as the lightning go without being sent by the great First Cause. The Lord is upon many waters. Still the Psalmist’s ear hears no voice but that of Jehovah, resounding from the multitudinous and dark waters of the upper ocean of clouds, and echoing from the innumerable billows of the storm tossed sea below. The waters above and beneath the firmament are astonished at the eternal voice. When the Holy Spirit makes the divine promise to be heard above the many waters of our soul’s trouble, then is God as glorious in the spiritual world as in the universe of matter. Above us and beneath us all is the peace of God when he gives us quiet.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 3. The voice of the Lord is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the Lord is upon many waters. Yes, great God, these torrents of tears which flow down from my eyes announce thy divine presence in my soul. This heart hitherto so dry, so arid, so hard; this rock which thou hast struck a second time, will not resist thee any longer, for out of it there now gushes healthful waters in abundance. The selfsame voice of God which overturns the mountains, thunders, lightens, and divides the heaven above the sinner, now commands the clouds to pour forth showers of blessings, changing the desert of his soul into a field producing a hundredfold; that voice I hear. J. B. Massillon.
Ver. 3-10. The Lord, etc. All things which we commonly say are the effects of the natural powers of matter and laws of motion, are, indeed (if we will speak strictly and properly), the effects of God’s acting upon matter continually and at every moment, either immediately by himself, or mediately by some created intelligent being. Consequently there is no such thing as the cause of nature, or the power of nature. Samuel Clarke, 1675-1729. “The friend and disciple of Newton.”
Ver. 3-10.
The voice of the Lord on the ocean is known,
The God of eternity thundereth abroad;
The voice of the Lord from the depth of his throne
Is terror and power; —all nature is awed.
The voice of the Lord through the calm of the wood
Awakens its echoes, strikes light through its caves;
The Lord sitteth King on the turbulent flood,
The winds are his servants, his servants the waves. James Montgomery, 1771-1854.
Ver. 3-11 —
Messiah’s voice is in the cloud,
The God of glory thunders loud.
Messiah rides along the floods,
He treads upon the flying clouds.
Messiah’s voice is full of power,
His lightnings play when tempests lower.
Messiah’s voice the cedars breaks,
While Lebanon’s foundation quakes.
Messiah’s voice removes the hills,
And all the plains with rivers fills.
The voice of their expiring God,
Shall make the rocks to start abroad;
Mount Zion and Mount Sirion,
Shall bound along with Lebanon:
The flames of fire shall round him wreathe,
When he shall on the ether breathe.
Messiah’s voice shall shake the earth,
And, lo! the graves shall groan in birth,
Ten thousand thousand living sons
Shall be the issue of their groans.
The peace of God the gospel sounds;
The peace of God, the earth rebounds,
The gospel everlasting shines
A light from God that never declines.
This is the light Jehovah sends,
To bless the world’s remotest ends.
Barclay’s Paraphrase.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 3. God’s voice heard in trouble and above trouble, or in great personal and national calamities.
Psalms 29:4*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 4. The voice of the Lord is powerful. An irresistible power attends the lightning of which the thunder is the report. In an instant, when the Lord wills it, the force of electricity produces amazing results. A writer upon this subject, speaks of these results as including a light of the intensity of the sun in his strength, a heat capable of fusing the most compact metals, a force in a moment paralysing the muscles of the most powerful animals; a power suspending the all pervading gravity of the earth, and an energy capable of decomposing and recomposing the closest affinities of the most intimate combinations. Well does Thompson speak of “the unconquerable lightning, “for it is the chief of the ways of God in physical forces, and none can measure its power.
As the voice of God in nature is so powerful, so is it in grace; the reader will do well to draw a parallel, and he will find much in the gospel which may be illustrated by the thunder of the Lord in the tempest. His voice, whether in nature or revelation, shakes both earth and heaven; see that ye refuse not him that speaketh. If his voice be thus mighty, what must his hand be! beware lest ye provoke a blow. The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty. The King of kings speaks like a king. As when a lion roareth, all the beasts of the forest are still, so is the earth hushed and mute while Jehovah thundereth marvellously.
“It is listening fear and dumb amazement all.”
As for the written word of God, its majesty is apparent both in its style, its matter, and its power over the human mind; blessed be God, it is the majesty of mercy wielding a silver sceptre; of such majesty the word of our salvation is full to overflowing.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 3-10. The Lord, etc. See Psalms on “Psalms 29:3” for further information.
Ver. 3-10. See Psalms on “Psalms 29:3” for further information.
Ver. 3-11: — See Psalms on “Psalms 29:3” for further information.
Ver. 4. The voice of the Lord. These vehement repetitions resemble a series of thunderclaps; one seems to hear the dread artillery of heaven firing volley after volley, while peal on peal the echo follows the sound. C. H. S.
Ver. 4. The voice of the Lord is powerful. I would render unto God the glory due unto his name, for the admirable change which he has wrought in my heart. There was nothing to be found in me but an impious hardness and inveterate disorder. From this helpless state he changed me into a new man and made resplendent the glory of his name and the power of his grace. He alone can work such prodigies. Unbelievers who refuse to acknowledge the hand of God in creation must surely in this case admit that “this is the finger of God.” Yes, great God, chaos knows not how to resist thee, it hears thy voice obediently, but the obdurate heart repels thee, and thy mighty voice too often calls to it in vain. Thou art not so great and wonderful in creating worlds out of nothing as thou art when thou dost command a rebel heart to arise from its abyss of sin, and to run in the ways of thy commandments. To disperse a chaos of crime and ignorance by the majesty of thy word, to shed light on the direst darkness, and by the Holy Ghost to establish harmonious order where all was confusion, manifests in far greater measure thine omnipotence than the calling forth of heavenly laws and celestial suns from the first chaos. J. B. Massillon.
Ver. 4. O may the evangelical “Boanerges” so cause the glorious sound of the gospel to be heard under the whole heaven, that the world may again be made sensible thereof; before that voice of the Son of Man, which hath so often called sinners to repentance, shall call them to judgment. George Horne.
Ver. 4. Where the word of a king is, there is power, but what imperial voice shall be likened unto the majestic thunder of the Lord? C. H. S.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 4. Power and majesty of the gospel. Illustrate by succeeding verses.
Ver. 4. (last clause). “The majestic voice.” See Spurgeon’s Sermons, No. 87.
Psalms 29:5*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 5. The voice of the Lord breaketh the cedars.
“Black from the stroke above, the smouldering pine
Stands a sad shattered trunk.”
Noble trees fall prostrate beneath the mysterious bolt, or stand in desolation as mementoes of its power. Lebanon itself is not secure, high as it stands, and ancient as are its venerable woods: Yea, the Lord breaketh the cedars of Lebanon. The greatest and most venerable of trees or men, may not reckon upon immunity when the Lord is abroad in his wrath. The gospel of Jesus has a like dominion over the most inaccessible of mortals; and when the Lord sends the word, it breaks hearts far stouter than the cedars.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver 3-10. The Lord, etc. See Psalms on “Psalms 29:3” for further information.
Ver. 3-10. See Psalms on “Psalms 29:3” for further information.
Ver. 3-11: — See Psalms on “Psalms 29:3” for further information.
Ver. 5. The voice of Jehovah. Philosophers think not that they have reasoned skilfully enough about inferior causes, unless they separate God very far from his works. It is a diabolical science, however, which fixes our contemplations on the works of nature, and turns them away from God. If any one who wished to know a man, should take no notice of his face, but should fix his eyes only on the points of his nails, his folly might justly be derided. But far greater is the folly of those philosophers, who, out of mediate and proximate causes, weave themselves vails lest they should be compelled to acknowledge the hand of God, which manifestly displays itself in his works. John Calvin.
Ver. 5. The voice of the Lord breaketh the cedars, etc. Like as tempests when they arise, and lightnings, quickly and in a trice, hurl down and overturn mountains and the highest trees; even so doth the Lord bring down with a break neck fall, the proud, haughty, arrogant, and insolent, who set themselves against God, and seek the spoil of those that be quiet and godly. Robert Cawdray.
Ver. 5. The voice of the Lord breaketh the cedars. The ancient expositors remind us that the breaking of the cedar trees by the wind, is a figure of the laying low of the lofty and proud things of this world, by the rushing mighty wind of the Holy Spirit, given on that day. Confringit cedros Deus, hoc est humiliat superbos. (S. Jerome, and so S. Basil.) Christopher Wordsworth.
Ver. 5. The Lord breaketh the cedars of Lebanon. What a shame is it then that our hard hearts break not, yield not, though thunder struck with the dreadful menaces of God’s mouth! John Trapp.
Ver. 5. “Breaketh the cedars of Lebanon:” —
When high in the air the pine ascends,
To every ruder blast it bends.
The palace falls with heavier weight,
When tumbling from its airy height;
And when from heaven the lightning flies,
It blasts the hills that proudest rise.
Horace, translated by Philip Francis, D.D., 1765.
Ver. 5. The cedars of Lebanon. These mighty trees of God, which for ages have stood the force of the tempest, rearing their evergreen colossal boughs in the region of everlasting snow, are the first objects of the fury of the lightning, which is well known to visit first the highest objects. Robert Murray Macheyne.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 5. The breaking power of the gospel.
Psalms 29:6*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 6. He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn. Not only the trees, but the mountains themselves move as though they frisked and leaped like young bulls or antelopes. As our own poets would mention hills and valleys known to them, so the Psalmist hears the crash and roar among the ranges of Libanus, and depicts the tumult in graphic terms. Thus sings one of our own countrymen: —
“Amid Carnavon’s mountains rages loud
The repercussive roar: with mighty crash
Into the flashing deep, from the rude rocks
Of Penmaen Mawr, heaped hideous to the sky,
Tumble the smitten cliffs; and Snowdon’s peak,
Dissolving, instant yields his wintry load.
Far seen, the heights of heathy Cheviot blaze,
And Thule bellows through her utmost isles.”
The glorious gospel of the blessed God has more than equal power over the rocky obduracy and mountainous pride of man. The voice of our dying Lord rent the rocks and opened the graves: his living voice still works the like wonders. Glory be to his name, the hills of our sins leap into his grave, and are buried in the red sea of his blood, when the voice of his intercession is heard.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 3-10. The Lord, etc. See Psalms on “Psalms 29:3” for further information.
Ver. 3-10. See Psalms on “Psalms 29:3” for further information.
Ver 3-11: — See Psalms on “Psalms 29:3” for further information.
Ver. 6. He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn; that is, the Lord by his thundering, powerful voice, first, will make them skip, as frightened with fear; and secondly, as revived with joy. Yet more Psalms 29:7, “The voice of the Lord divideth the flames of fire; “that is, will send and divide to every one as they need 1 Corinthians 12:11, the Holy Spirit, who is compared to and called fire Matthew 3:11, and who came as with a thunderstorm of a rushing mighty wind, and with the appearance of cloven tongues, like as of fire, and sat upon each one of the apostles. Acts 2:2-3. Nor did this voice of thunder, accompanied with divided flames of fire reach Jerusalem only; for, as it follows Psalms 29:8, “The voice of the Lord shaketh the wilderness; the Lord shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh; “that is, the Lord by the voice of the gospel shall go forth with power to those Gentiles, who are like a wilderness, barren of goodness, and not fertilized in spirituals, though they dwell in well governed cities, and are well furnished with morals. It shall go forth also to those Gentiles who inhabit waste wildernesses, and are not so much as reduced to civility. These wildernesses, the thundering voice of the Lord hath shaken heretofore, and doth shake at this day, and will yet further shake, that the fulness of the Gentiles may come in. Many of these wildernesses hath the Lord turned into fruitful fields, and pleasant lands, by the voice of the gospel sounding among them. For in these wildernesses (as it followeth, Psalms 29:9), “The voice of the Lord maketh the hinds to calve; “that is, they that were as wild, as untaught, and untamed as the hind, or any beast in the forest, he brings to the sorrows of their new birth, to repentance and gospel humiliation, and in doing this, “he (as the psalmist goes on), discovereth the forests; ” that is, opens the hearts of men, which are as thick set and full grown with vanity, pride, hypocrisy, self love, and self sufficiency, as also with wantonness and sensuality, as any forest is overgrown with thickets of trees and bushes, which deny all passage through till cleared away with burning down or cutting up. Such an opening, such a discovery, doth the Lord make in the forests of men’s hearts, by the sword and fire, that is, by the word and spirit of the gospel; and when this is done, the forest becomes a temple, and as that verse concludes, “In his temple doth every one speak of his glory.” And if the floods of ungodliness rise up against the people, whom the thunder and lightning of the gospel have subdued to Christ, and framed into a holy temple, then the psalmist assures us Psalms 29:10, “The Lord sitteth upon the flood, “that is, it is under his power, he rules and overrules it; “Yea, the Lord sitteth King for ever; “and Psalms 29:11, “The Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace.” Thus the Lord “thundereth marvellously” Job 37:5, and these are glorious marvels which he thundereth; he converts sinners. Thus, though I like not their way who are given to allegorize the Scriptures, yet I doubt not but we may make a profitable use of this and many other Scriptures by way of allegory. This being an undeniable truth, which is the ground of it—that the Lord puts forth, as it were, the power of thunder and lightning in the preaching of his Word; these two things are to be marked. Joseph Caryl.
Ver. 6. He maketh them also to skip like a calf. That is to say, he hath made the splinters and broken pieces of trees that have been struck with lightning, to fly up into the air, or when they have been shaken by the wind, storms, or by earthquakes. John Diodati.
Ver. 6. The original is—
“And makes them skip like a calf,
Lebanon and Sirion, like a young buffalo.”
At first sight it might appear that the cedars were still meant, and that Lebanon and Sirion were used by metonymy for the cedars which grew upon them. But, 1. We never hear of cedars growing upon Sirion, or Shenir, or Hermon, for it has all these names; and, 2. There is a parallel passage where this interpretation will hardly answer in Psalm
114. Describing the exodus of Israel, it says—
“The mountains skipped like rams,
And the little hills like lambs.”
The same verb occurs here, the verb which means “to skip, to dance, ” used in Nahum 3:2, to signify the jolting of chariots, and also in Joel 2:5. In both these instances, rough motion, accompanied with noise, seems intended. Now, though this may very well be understood as a highly figurative description, as it undoubtedly is, of the usual effect of a thunderstorm; yet it is interesting to compare it with the following passage of Volney, which described certain phenomena as frequent in Mount Lebanon, which may give a new meaning to the “skipping of the mountains:” —”When the traveller, “say he, “penetrates the interior of these mountains, the ruggedness of the roads, the steepness of the declivities, the depth of the precipices, have at first a terrific effect; but the sagacity of the mules which bear him soon inspires him with confidence, and enables him to examine at his ease the picturesque scenes which succeed one another, so as almost to bewilder him.” There, as in the Alps, he sometimes travels whole days to arrive at a spot which was in sight when he set out. He turns, he descends, he winds round, he climbs; and under the perpetual change of position, one is ready to think that a magical power is varying at every step the beauties of the landscapes. Sometimes villages are seen, ready as it were to slide down the deep declivities, and so disposed that the roofs of the one row of houses serve as a street to the row above. At another time, you see a convent seated on an isolated cone, like Marshaia in the valley of Tigre. Here a rock is pierced by a torrent, forming a natural cascade, as at Nahr el Leban; there another rock assumes the appearance of a natural wall! Often on the sides, ledges of stones, washed down and left by the waters, resemble ruins disposed by art. In some places, the waters meeting with inclined beds, have undermined the intermediate earth, and have formed caverns, as at Nahr el Kelb, near Antoura. In other places, they have worn for themselves subterranean channels, through which flow little rivulets during part of the year, as at Mar Hama. Sometimes these picturesque circumstances have become tragical ones. Rocks loosened or thrown off their equilibrium by thaw or earthquake, have been known to precipitate themselves on the adjacent dwellings, and crush the inhabitants. An accident of this kind, about twenty years ago, buried a whole village near Mar Djordos, so as to leave no trace of its existence. More recently, and near the same spot, the soil of a hill planted with mulberry trees and vines detached itself by a sudden thaw, and, sliding over the surface of the rock which it had covered, like a vessel launched from the stocks, established itself in the valley below. Robert Murray Macheyne.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 6. The unsettling power of the gospel.
Psalms 29:7*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 7. The voice of the Lord divideth the flames of fire. As when sparks fly from the anvil by blows of a ponderous hammer, so the lightning attends the thundering strokes of Jehovah.
“At first heard solemn over the verge of heaven,
The tempest growls; but as it nearer comes,
And rolls its awful burden on the wind,
The lightnings flash a larger curve, and more
The noise astounds: till overhead a sheet
Of livid flame discloses wide; then shuts
And opens wider; shuts and opens still
Expansive, wrapping ether in a blaze.”
The thunder seems to divide one flash from another, interposing its deepening roar between the flash which precedes it and the next. That the flashes are truly flames of fire is witnessed by their frequently falling upon houses, churches, etc., and wrapping them in a blaze. How easily could the Lord destroy his rebellious creatures with his hot thunderbolts! how gracious is the hand which spares such great offenders, when to crush them would be so easy!
Flames of fire attend the voice of God in the gospel, illuminating and melting the hearts of men: by those he consumes our lusts and kindles in us a holy flame of ever aspiring love and holiness. Pentecost is a suggestive commentary upon this verse.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 3-10. The Lord, etc. See Psalms on “Psalms 29:3” for further information.
Ver. 3-10. See Psalms on “Psalms 29:3” for further information.
Ver. 3-11: — See Psalms on “Psalms 29:3” for further information.
Ver. 7. The voice of the Lord divideth the flames of fire. By the power of God, the “flames of fire” are “divided” and sent abroad from the clouds upon the earth, in the terrible form of lightning, that sharp and glittering sword of the Almighty, which no substance can withstand. The same power of God goeth forth by his word, “quick and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword.” penetrating, melting, enlightening, and inflaming the hearts of men, Acts 2:3, Hebrews 4:12. George Horne.
Ver. 7. The voice of the Lord divideth the flames of fire. The voice of the Lord is here said to divide the flames; literally, to hew out flames, (latomein flav). The Septuagint has (diakoptei floga puroz). In the words of Gensenius, “The voice of Jehovah cutteth out flames of fire, “i.e., “sendeth out divided flames of fire.” This is (as Theodoret has observed) very descriptive of the divine action at Pentecost, sending forth divided flames, like “tela trisulca, “in the tongues of fire which were divided off from one heavenly source or fountain of flame, and sat upon the heads of the apostles, and which filled them with the fire of holy zeal and love. Christopher Wordsworth.
Ver. 7. Divideth the flames of fire. Margin, cutteth out. The Hebrew word (bux) khatzab means properly to cut, to hew, to hew out; as for example, stones. The allusion here is undoubtedly to lightning; and the image is either that it seems to be cut out, or cut into tongues and streaks—or, more probably, that the clouds seem to be cut or hewed, so as to make openings or paths for the lightning. The eye is evidently fixed on the clouds, and on the sudden flash of lightning, as if the clouds has been cleaved or opened for the passage of it. The idea of the psalmist is, that the “voice of the Lord, “or the thunder, seems to cleave or open the clouds for the flames of fire to play amidst the tempest. Albert Barnes.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 7. The fire which goes with the word. This is a wide subject.
Psalms 29:8*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 8. As the storm travelled, it burst over the desert. The voice of the Lord shaketh the wilderness; the Lord shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh. God courts not the applause of men—his grandest deeds are wrought where man’s inquisitive glance is all unknown. Where no sound of man was heard, the voice of God was terribly distinct. The vast and silent plains trembled with affright. Silence did homage to the Almighty voice. Low lying plains must hear the voice of God as well as lofty mountains; the poor as well as the mighty must acknowledge the glory of the Lord. Solitary and barren places are to be gladdened by the gospel’s heavenly sound. What a shaking and overturning power there is in the word of God! even the conservative desert quivers into progress when God decrees it.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 3-10. The Lord, etc. See Psalms on “Psalms 29:3” for further information.
Ver. 3-10. See Psalms on “Psalms 29:3” for further information.
Ver 3-11: — See Psalms on “Psalms 29:3” for further information.
Ver. 8. The Lord shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh. That Kadesh Naphtali is meant, the geographical position of Lebanon would make us believe, though this is not necessary. And, although Syria is much exposed to earthquakes—as, for example, that of Aleppo, in 1822, which was sensibly felt at Damascus—yet it does not seem necessary to imagine anything farther than the usual affects of a thunderstorm. The oaks and forests of Psalms 29:9, suit well with the description given of the lower limbs of Lebanon, which abound in “thickets of myrtle, woods of fir, walnut trees, carob trees, and Turkish oaks.” And the rain torrent of Psalms 29:10 is admirably descriptive of the sudden swell of the thousand streams which flow from Lebanon. According to modern travellers, the number of water courses descending from Lebanon is immense; and the suddenness of the rise of these streams may be gathered from the contradictions in their accounts. The Nahr el Sazib is described by one as “a rivulet, though crossed by a bridge of six arches; “by another it is called “a large river.” The Damour (the ancient Tamyras), which flows immediately from Lebanon, is “a river, “says Mandrell, “apt to swell much upon sudden rains; in which case, precipitating itself from the mountains with great rapidity, it has been fatal to many a passenger.” He mentions a French gentleman, M. Spon, who, a few years before, in attempting to ford it, was hurried down by the stream, and perished in the sea. This is one instance of very many in the mountains of Lebanon, where the brook, which is usually nearly dry, become all at once an impassable torrent. When Volney looked upon the rivers of Syria in summer, he doubted whether they could be called rivers. But had he ventured to cross them after a thunderstorm, his scepticism would no longer have had room or time to exercise itself, and he would have felt the propriety of the psalmist’s painting, where he says—
“Jehovah sitteth on the rain torrents,
Jehovah sitteth a King for ever.”
Robert Murray Macheyne.
Ver. 8. The voice of the Lord shaketh the wilderness. Great God, I have laboured to escape thee! I sought refuge for my remorse in a retreat where nothing might recall me to my God. Far away from the succours of religion, remote from all the channels which bring to me the waters of grace, apart from all whose reproving witness might restrain me from iniquity; yet even there, Great God, where I believed that I had found an asylum inaccessible to thine eternal mercy, wherein I could sin with impunity, even there, in that wilderness, thy voice arrested me and laid me at thy feet. J. B. Massillon.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 8. The arousing and alarming of godless places by the preaching of the word.
Psalms 29:9*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 9. The voice of the Lord maketh the hinds to calve, those timid creatures, in deadly fear of the tempest, drop their burdens in an untimely manner. Perhaps a better reading is, “the oaks to tremble, “especially as this agrees with the next sentence, and discovereth the forests. The dense shades of the forest are lit up with the lurid glare of the lightning, and even the darkest recesses are for a moment laid bare.
“The gloomy woods
Start at the flash, and from their deep recesses
Wide flaming out, their trembling inmates shake.”
Our first parents sought a refuge among the trees, but the voice of the Lord soon found them out, and made their hearts to tremble. There is no concealment from the fire glance of the Almighty—one flash of his angry eye turns midnight into noon. The gospel has a like revealing power in dark hearts, in a moment it lights up every dark recess of the heart’s ungodliness, and bids the soul tremble before the Lord.
In his temple doth everyone speak of his glory. Those who were worshipping in the temple, were led to speak of the greatness of Jehovah as they heard the repeated thunder claps. The whole world is also a temple for God, and when he rides abroad upon the wings of the wind, all things are vocal in his praise. We too, the redeemed of the Lord, who are living temples for his Spirit, as we see the wonders of his power in creation, and feel them in grace, unite to magnify his name. No tongue may be dumb in God’s temple when his glory is the theme. The original appears to have the force of “every one crieth Glory, “as though all things were moved by a sense of God’s majesty to shout in ecstasy, “Glory, glory.” Here is a good precedent for our Methodist friends and for the Gogoniants of the zealous Welsh.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 3-10. The Lord, etc. See Psalms on “Psalms 29:3” for further information.
Ver. 3-10. See Psalms on “Psalms 29:3” for further information.
Ver 3-11: — See Psalms on “Psalms 29:3” for further information.
Ver. 9. The voice of the Lord maketh the hinds to calve. With respect to the sense conveyed by the common reading, it may be observed, that hinds bring forth their young with great difficulty and pain, “bowing themselves, bruising their young ones, and casting out their sorrows” Job 39:4; Job 39:6; and it therefore heightens the description given of the terrific character of the thunderstorm, when the thunder which is here called “the voice of God, “is represented as causing, through the terror which it inspires, the hinds in their pregnant state prematurely to drop their young; although, according to our ideas of poetical imagery, this may not accord so well with the other images in the passage, nor appear so beautiful and sublime as the image of the oaks trembling at the voice of Jehovah. John Calvin.
Ver. 9. The voice of the Lord maketh the hinds to calve. The care and tenderness of God toward beasts turns to his praise, as well as the care which he hath of, and the tenderness which he shows to believers. As it doth exceedingly advance the glory of God, that he takes care of wild beasts, so it may exceedingly strengthen the faith of man that he will take care of him. Doth the Lord take care of hinds? then certainly he takes care of those who particularly belong to him. There is a special providence of God towards these and such like creatures for the production of their young. He—if I may so speak with reverence—shows his midwifery in helping these savage beasts when their pains come upon them. As the Lord takes man, in an eminent manner, “out of the womb” Psalms 22:9, so in a manner he takes beasts out of the womb too. “The voice of the Lord shaketh the wilderness; the Lord shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh; “so we translate it; but the word which we render “shaketh” is the same with that in Job 39:2, which signifieth to bring forth; and hence, some very learned in the Hebrew tongue do not render as we, “The voice of the Lord shaketh the wilderness, “but “The voice of the Lord maketh the wilderness to bring forth; the Lord maketh the wilderness of Kadesh to bring forth; “which is not to be understood of the vegetative creatures (that’s a truth, the Lord makes the trees of the forest to bring forth both leaves and fruit), but it is meant of animals or living creatures there. And then when he saith, “The voice of the Lord maketh the wilderness to bring forth, ” the meaning is, the Lord makes the wild beast of the wilderness to bring forth; which seems to be the clear sense of the place by that which followeth: for the psalmist having said this in general at the eighth verse, “The voice of the Lord maketh the wilderness to bring forth, “he in the ninth verse gives the special instance of the hind: “The voice of the Lord maketh the hinds to calve.” Joseph Caryl.
Ver. 9. The voice of the Lord maketh the hinds to calve. It is with great propriety, says one of the ancients that Jehovah demands, “The birth of the hinds dost thou guard”? Job 39:1, for since this animal is always in flight, and with fear and terror always leaping and skipping about, she could never bring her young to maturity without such a special protection. The providence of God, therefore, is equally conspicuous in the preservation of the mother and the fawn; both are the objects of his compassion and tender care; and, consequently, that afflicted man has no reason to charge his Maker with unkindness, who condescended to watch over the goats and the hinds. It seems to be generally admitted, that the hind brings forth her young with great difficulty; and so much appears to be suggested in the verse, “They bow themselves, they bring forth their young ones, they cast out their sorrows.” But if Pliny and other naturalists are worthy of credit, divine providence has been graciously pleased to provide certain herbs, which greatly facilitate the birth; and by instinct, he directs the hind to feed upon them, when the time of gestation draws towards a close. Whatever truth there may be in this assertion, we know from higher authority, that providence promotes the parturition of the hind, by awakening her fears, and agitating her frame by the rolling thunder: —”The voice of Jehovah (a common Hebrew phrase, denoting thunder) maketh the hinds to calve.” Nor ought we to wonder, that so timorous a creature as the hind, should be so much affected by that awful atmospheric convulsion, when some of the proudest men that ever existed, have been known to tremble. Augustus, the Roman emperor, according to Suetonius, was so terrified when it thundered, that he wrapped a seal skin round his body, with the view of defending it from the lightning, and concealed himself in some secret corner till the tempest ceased. The tyrant Caligula, who sometimes affected to threaten Jupiter himself, covered his head, or hid himself under a bed; and Horace confesses he was reclaimed from atheism by the terror of thunder and lightning, the effects of which he describes with his usual felicity. (Odes, b. 1 34.) George Paxton’s “Illustrations of Scripture.”
Ver. 9. The voice of the Lord maketh the hinds to calve. “Cervi sunt predicatores, “says S. Jerome, who bring forth souls to Christ by the gospel which is God’s voice; and the stripping of the leaves of the forest by the voice of the Lord, represents their work in humbling the strong oaks and lofty cedars of the world by the power of the gospel, and in stripping the souls of the worldly minded of their manifold disguises (S. Basil). Others apply it to act of the preachers of God’s word, disclosing the dark thickets of divine mysteries in the holy Scriptures by evangelical light set forth by the Holy Ghost (S. Jerome). Christopher Wordsworth.
Ver. 9 (first clause). “The voice of Jehovah makes havoc of the oaks, and strips bare the forests.” Samuel Horsley.
Ver. 9. In his temple. Some conceive that this Psalm was appointed by David to be sung in the temple in time of thunder, which is not unlikely. There are writers who make God to be the nominative case to the verb speaketh; and render it thus, in his temple doth he utter all his glory. As much as to say, much of his glory God uttereth in his thunder, but all in his temple, for whatsoever there he speaketh with his mouth he fulfils it with his hand. John Trapp.
Ver. 9. (last clause). David speaking in the former part of the Psalm of the effects of natural thunder only, towards the close of the Psalm applies it to the Word of God, while he saith, And in his temple doth every one speak of his glory; that is, the word and ordinances of God, ministered in his church or temple, will put every one to acknowledge and speak of the glorious power of God, even much more than the mighty thunder which sounds in our ears, or the subtle lightning which flashes in our eyes. There is far more royal power in the thunder of the Word, than in the word of thunder. This terrifies only to conviction, but that terrifies to salvation; for after God speaks terror there in his threatenings, he speaks comfort in the promises; and when he hath affrighted us with a sense of our sins and of his wrath due to us for our sins, as with an horrible tempest, he presently refresheth us with the gentle gales of revealed grace, and with the pleasant amiable sunshine of his favour by Jesus Christ. Joseph Caryl.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 9. The revealing power of the word of God in the secrets of man’s heart, and its regenerating force.
Ver. 9 (last clause).
1. Matchless temple.
2. Unanimous worship.
3. Forcible motive.
4. General enthusiasm, “glory”, See Comment.
Psalms 29:10*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 10. The Lord sitteth upon the flood. Flood follows tempest, but Jehovah is ready for the emergency. No deluge can undermine the foundation of his throne. He is calm and unmoved, however much the deep may roar and be troubled: his government rules the most unstable and boisterous of created things. Far out on the wild waste of waters, Jehovah “plants his footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm, “Yea, the Lord sitteth King for ever. Jesus has the government upon his shoulders eternally: our interests in the most stormy times are safe in his hands. Satan is not a king, but Jehovah Jesus is; therefore let us worship him, and rejoice evermore.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 3-10. The Lord, etc. See Psalms on “Psalms 29:3” for further information.
Ver. 3-10. See Psalms on “Psalms 29:3” for further information.
Ver. 3-11.: — See Psalms on “Psalms 29:3” for further information.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 10. The ever present and undisturbed government of God.
Psalms 29:11*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 11. Power was displayed in the hurricane whose course this Psalm so grandly pictures; and now, in the cool calm after the storm, that power is promised to be the strength of the chosen. He who wings the unerring bolt, will give to his redeemed the wings of eagles; he who shakes the earth with his voice, will terrify the enemies of his saints, and give his children peace. Why are we weak when we have divine strength to flee to? Why are we troubled when the Lord’s own peace is ours? Jesus the mighty God is our peace—what a blessing is this today! What a blessing it will be to us in that day of the Lord which will be in darkness and not light to the ungodly! Dear reader, is not this a noble Psalm to be sung in stormy weather? Can you sing amid the thunder? Will you be able to sing when the last thunders are let loose, and Jesus judges quick and dead? If you are a believer, the last verse is your heritage, and surely that will set you singing.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 3-11.: — See Psalms on “Psalms 29:3” for further information.
Ver. 11. The Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace; i.e., he is in war their strength, and their felicity in peace; in war he is the Author of all that power wherewith they are enabled to oppose and overcome potent enemies; and in peace, he is their truly felicitating good, and makes them, by his own vouchsafed presence, a truly blessed people. John Howe.
Ver. 11. The Lord will bless his people with peace. Though some precious souls that have closed with Christ, and embraced the gospel, be not at present brought to rest in their own consciences, but continue for awhile under some dissatisfaction and trouble in their own spirits, yet even then they have peace of conscience in a threefold respect; in pretio, in promisso, in semine. First, every true believer hath peace of conscience in pretio; the gospel puts that price into his hand, which will assuredly purchase it, and that is the blood of Christ. We say that is gold which is worth gold, which we may anywhere exchange for gold; such is the blood of Christ; it is peace of conscience, because the soul that hath this may exchange it for this. God himself cannot deny the poor creature that prays on these terms: Lord, give me peace of conscience; here is Christ’s blood, the price of it. That which could pay the debt, surely can procure the receipt. Peace of conscience is but a discharge under God’s hand, that the debt due to divine justice is fully paid. The blood of Christ hath done that the greater for the believer, it shall therefore do this the less. If there were such a rare potion that did infallibly procure health to every one that takes it, we might safely say, as soon as the sick man hath drunk it down, that he hath drunk his health, it is in him, though at present he doth not feel himself to have it: in time it will appear. Secondly, In promisso. Every true believer hath peace of conscience in the promise, and that we count as good as ready money in the purse, which we have sure bond for. The Lord will bless his people with peace. He is resolved on it, and then who shall hinder it? It is worth your reading the whole Psalm, to see what weight the Lord gives to this sweet promise, for the encouragement of our faith in expecting the performance thereof. Nothing more hard to enter into the heart of a poor creature (when all is in an uproar in his bosom, and his conscience threatening nothing but fire and sword, wrath, vengeance, from God for his sins), than thoughts or hopes of peace and comfort. Now the psalm is spent in showing what great things God can do, and that with no more trouble to himself than a word speaking, “The voice of the Lord is full of majesty” Psalms 29:4, “It breaks the cedars, it divides the flames, it shakes the wilderness, it makes the hinds to calve.” This God that does all this, promises to bless his people with peace, outward and inward; for without this inward peace, though he might give them peace, yet could he never bless them with peace as he there undertakes. A sad peace, were it not, to have quiet streets, but cutting of throats in our houses? yet infinitely more sad to have peace both in our streets and houses, but war and blood in our guilty consciences. What peace can a poor creature taste or relish while the sword of God’s wrath lies at the throat of conscience? not peace with God himself. Therefore Christ purchased peace of pardon, to obtain peace of conscience for his pardoned ones, and accordingly hath bequeathed it in the promise to them, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you.” John 14:27. Where you see he is both the testator to leave, and the executor of his own will, to give out with his own hands what his love hath left believers; so that there is no fear but his will shall be performed to the full, seeing himself lives to see it done. Thirdly, In semine. Every believer hath this untoward peace in the seed. “Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.” Psalms 97:11. Where sown, but in the believer’s own bosom, when principles of grace and holiness were cast into it by the Spirit of God? Hence it is called “the peaceable fruit of righteousness.” Hebrews 12:11. It shoots as naturally from holiness, as any fruit in its kind doth from the seed proper to it. It is, indeed, most true, that the seed runs and ripens into this fruit sooner in some than it doth in others. This spiritual harvest comes not alike soon to all, no more than the other that is outward doth; but here is the comfort—whoever hath a seed time of grace pass over his soul, shall have his harvest time also of joy. William Gurnall.
Ver. 11. Peace. There is a threefold “peace, “externa, interna, aeterna; temporal, spiritual, celestial peace. There is outward peace, the blessing; inward peace, the grace; and everlasting peace, of glory. And as in a stately palace there is a lodge or court that leads into the inmost goodly rooms, so external peace is the entrance or introduction to the inward lodgings of the sweet peace of conscience and of that external rest in which our peace in heaven shall be happy, inasmuch as external peace affords us many accommodations and helps to the gaining and obtaining both the one and the other. Ephraim Udall, 1642.

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Psalm 28

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Verses 1-9
Title and Subject. Again, the title “A Psalm of David, ” is too general to give us any clue to the occasion on which it was written. Its position, as following the twenty-seventh, seems to have been designed, for it is a most suitable pendant and sequel to it. It is another of those “songs in the night” of which the pen of David was so prolific. The thorn at the breast of the nightingale was said by the old naturalists to make it sing: David’s griefs made him eloquent in holy psalmody. The main pleading of this Psalm is that the suppliant may not be confounded with the workers of iniquity for whom he expresses the utmost abhorrence; it may suit any slandered saint, who being misunderstood by men, and treated by them as an unworthy character, is anxious to stand aright before the bar of God. The Lord Jesus may be seen here pleading as the representative of his people.
Division. The first and second verses earnestly entreat audience of the Lord in a time of dire emergency. From Psalms 28:2-5, the portion of the wicked is described and deprecated. In Psalms 28:6-8, praise is given for the Lord’s mercy in hearing prayer, and the Psalm concludes with a general petition for the whole host of militant believers.
EXPOSITION
Ver. 1. Unto thee will I cry, O Lord, my rock. A cry is the natural expression of sorrow, and is a suitable utterance when all other modes of appeal fail us; but the cry must be alone directed to the Lord, for to cry to man is to waste our entreaties upon the air. When we consider the readiness of the Lord to hear, and his ability to aid, we shall see good reason for directing all our appeals at once to the God of our salvation, and shall use language of firm resolve like that in the text, “I will cry.” The immutable Jehovah is our rock, the immovable foundation of all our hopes and our refuge in time of trouble: we are fixed in our determination to flee to him as our stronghold in every hour of danger. It will be in vain to call to the rocks in the day of judgment, but our rock attends to our cries. Be not silent to me. Mere formalists may be content without answers to their prayers, but genuine suppliants cannot; they are not satisfied with the results of prayer itself in calming the mind and subduing the will—they must go further and obtain actual replies from heaven, or they cannot rest; and those replies they long to receive at once, if possible; they dread even a little of God’s silence. God’s voice is often so terrible that it shakes the wilderness; but his silence is equally full of awe to an eager suppliant. When God seems to close his ear, we must not therefore close our mouths, but rather cry with more earnestness; for when our note grows shrill with eagerness and grief, he will not long deny us a hearing. What a dreadful case should we be in if the Lord should become for ever silent to our prayers! This thought suggested itself to David, and he turned it into a plea, thus teaching us to argue and reason with God in our prayers. Lest, if thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit. Deprived of the God who answers prayer, we should be in a more pitiable plight than the dead in the grave, and should soon sink to the same level as the lost in hell. We must have answers to prayer: ours is an urgent case of dire necessity; surely the Lord will speak peace to our agitated minds, for he never can find it in his heart to permit his own elect to perish.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 1. Unto thee do I cry. It is of the utmost importance that we should have a definite object on which to fix our thoughts. Man, at the best of times, has but little power for realising abstractions; but least of all in his time of sorrow. Then he is helpless; then he needs every possible aid; and if his mind wander in vacancy, it will soon weary, and sink down exhausted. God has graciously taken care that this need not be done. He has so manifested himself to man in his word, that the afflicted one can fix his mind’s eye on him, as the definite object of his faith, and hope, and prayer. “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” Jeremiah 33:3. This was what the psalmist did; and the definiteness of God, as the object of his trust in prayer, is very clearly marked. And specially great is the privilege of the Christian in this matter. He can fix his eye on Jesus; he, without any very great stretch of the imagination, can picture that Holy One looking down upon him; listening to him; feeling for him; preparing to answer him. Dear reader, in the time of your trouble, do not roam; do not send out your sighs into vacancy; do not let your thoughts wander, as though they were looking for some one on whom to fix; for some one to whom you could tell the story of your heart’s need and desolation. Fix your heart as the psalmist did, and say, “Unto thee will I cry.” … Oh! happy is that man, who feels and knows that when trouble comes, he cannot be bewildered and confused by the stroke, no matter how heavy it may be. Sorrow stricken he will be, but he has his resource, and he knows it, and will avail himself of it. His is no vague theory of the general sympathy of God for man; his is a knowledge of God, as a personal and feeling God; he says with the psalmist, “Unto thee will I cry.” Philip Bennett Power.
Ver. 1. My rock. One day a female friend called on the Rev. William Evans, a pious minister in England, and asked how he felt himself. “I am weakness itself, “he replied; “but I am on the Rock. I do not experience those transports which some have expressed in the view of death; but my dependence is on the mercy of God in Christ. Here my religion began, and here it must end.”
Ver. 1. My rock. The Rev, John Rees, of Crownstreet, Soho, London, was visited on his deathbed by the Rev. John Leifchild, who very seriously asked him to describe the state of his mind. This appeal to the honour of his religion roused him, and so freshened his dying lamp, that raising himself up in his bed, he looked his friend in the face, and with great deliberation, energy, and dignity, uttered the following words: —”Christ in his person, Christ in the love of his heart, and Christ in the power of his arm, is the Rock on which I rest; and now (reclining his head gently on the pillow), Death, strike!” K. Arvine.
Ver. 1. Be not silent to me. Let us next observe what the heart desires from God. It is that he would speak. Be not silent to me. Under these circumstances, when we make our prayer, we desire that God would let us know that he hears us, and that he would appear for us, and that he would say, he is our Father. And what do we desire God to say? We want him to let us know that he hears us; we want to hear him speak as distinctly to us, as we feel that we have spoken to him. We want to know, not only by faith that we have been heard, but by God’s having spoken to us on the very subject whereupon we have spoken to him. When we feel thus assured that God has heard us, we can with the deepest confidence leave the whole matter about which we have been praying, in his hands. Perhaps an answer cannot come for a long time; perhaps things, meanwhile, seem working in a contrary way; it may be, that there is no direct appearance at all of God upon the scene; still faith will hold up and be strong; and there will be comfort in the heart, from the felt consciousness that God has heard our cry about the matter, and that he has told us so. We shall say to ourselves, “God knows all about it; God has in point of fact told me so; therefore I am in peace.” And let it be enough for us that God tells us this, when he will perhaps tell us no more; let us not want to try and induce him to speak much, when it is his will to speak but little: the best answer we can have at certain times is simply the statement that “he hears; “by this answer to our prayer he at once encourages and exercises our faith. “It is said, “saith Rutherford, speaking of the Saviour’s delay in responding to the request of the Syrophenician woman, “he answered not a word, “but it is not said, he heard not a word. These two differ much. Christ often heareth when he doth not answer —his not answering is an answer, and speaks thus—”pray on, go on and cry, for the Lord holdeth his door fast bolted, not to keep you out, but that you may knock, and knock, and it shall be opened.” Philip Bennett Power.
Ver. 1. Lest…I become like them that go down into the pit. Thou seest, great God, my sad situation. Nothing to me is great or desirable upon this earth but the felicity of serving thee, and yet the misery of my destiny, and the duties of my state, bring me into connection with men who regard all godliness as a thing to be censured and derided. With secret horror I daily hear them blaspheming the ineffable gifts of thy grace, and ridiculing the faith and fervour of the godly as mere imbecility of mind. Exposed to such impiety, all my consolation, O my God, is to make my cries of distress ascend to the foot of thy throne. Although for the present, these sacrilegious blasphemies only awaken in my soul emotions of horror and pity, yet I fear that at last they may enfeeble me and seduce me into a crooked course of policy, unworthy of thy glory, and of the gratitude which I owe to thee. I fear that insensibly I may become such a coward as to blush at thy name, such a sinner as to resist the impulses of thy grace, such a traitor as to withhold my testimony against sin, such a self deceiver as to disguise my criminal timidity by the name of prudence. Already I feel that this poison is insinuating itself into my heart, for while I would not have my conduct resemble that of the wicked who surround me, yet I am too much biased by the fear of giving them offence. I dare not imitate them, but I am almost as much afraid of irritating them. I know that it is impossible both to please a corrupt world and a holy God, and yet I so far lose sight of this truth, that instead of sustaining me in decision, it only serves to render my vacillation the more inexcusable. What remains for me but to implore thy help! Strengthen me, O Lord, against these declensions so injurious to thy glory, so fatal to the fidelity which is due to thee. Cause me to hear thy strengthening and encouraging voice. If the voice of thy grace be not lifted up in my spirit, reanimating my feeble faith, I feel that there is but a step between me and despair. I am on the brink of the precipice, I am ready to fall into a criminal complicity with those who would fain drag me down with them into the pit. Jean Baptiste Massillon, 1663-1742, freely translated by C.H.S.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 1. (first clause). A sinner’s wise resolution in the hour of despondency.
Ver. 1. The saint’s fear of becoming like the ungodly.
Ver. 1. God’s silence—what terror may lie in it.
Ver. 1. (last clause). How low a soul may sink when God hides his face.
Ver. 1-2. Prayer.
1. Its nature—a “cry.”
1. The utterance of life.
2. The expression of pain.
3. The pleading of need.
4. The voice of deep earnestness.
2. Its object—”O Lord, my rock.” God as our Foundation, Refuge, and immutable Friend.
3. Its aim—”Hear, “”Be not silent.” We expect an answer, a clear and manifest answer, a speedy answer, a suitable answer, an effectual answer.
4. Its medium—”Towards thy holy oracle.” Our Lord Jesus, the true mercy seat, etc.
Psalms 28:2*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 2. This is much to the same effect as the first verse, only that it refers to future as well as present pleadings. Hear me! Hear me! Hear the voice of my supplications! This is the burden of both verses. We cannot be put off with a refusal when we are in the spirit of prayer; we labour, use importunity, and agonize in supplications until a hearing is granted us. The word “supplications, “in the plural, shows the number, continuance, and variety of a good man’s prayers, while the expression “hear the voice, “seems to hint that there is an inner meaning, or heart voice, about which spiritual men are far more concerned than for their outward and audible utterances. A silent prayer may have a louder voice than the cries of those priests who sought to awaken Baal with their shouts. When I lift up my hands toward thy holy oracle: which holy place was the type of our Lord Jesus; and if we would gain acceptance, we must turn ourselves evermore to the blood besprinkled mercy seat of his atonement. Uplifted hands have ever been a form of devout posture, and are intended to signify a reaching upward towards God, a readiness, an eagerness to receive the blessing sought after. We stretch out empty hands, for we are beggars; we lift them up, for we seek heavenly supplies; we lift them towards the mercy seat of Jesus, for there our expectation dwells. O that whenever we use devout gestures, we may possess contrite hearts, and so speed well with God.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 2. I lift up my hands toward thy holy oracle. Called (rybd), debhir, because there hence God spake and gave answer. Toward this (a type of Christ, the Word essential), David lifteth up his hands, that it might be as a ladder, whereby his prayer might get up to heaven. John Trapp.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 1-2. Prayer.
1. Its nature—a “cry.”
1. The utterance of life,
2. The expression of pain.
3. The pleading of need.
4. The voice of deep earnestness.
2. Its object—”O Lord, my rock.” God as our Foundation, Refuge, and immutable Friend.
3. Its aim—”Hear, “”Be not silent.” We expect an answer, a clear and manifest answer, a speedy answer, a suitable answer, an effectual answer.
4. Its medium—”Towards thy holy oracle.” Our Lord Jesus, the true mercy seat, etc.
Psalms 28:3*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 3. Draw me not away with the wicked. They shall be dragged off to hell like felons of old drawn on a hurdle to Tyburn, like logs drawn to the fire, like fagots to the oven. David fears lest he should be bound up in their bundle, drawn to their doom; and the fear is an appropriate one for every godly man. The best of the wicked are dangerous company in time, and would make terrible companions for eternity; we must avoid them in their pleasures, if we would not be confounded with them in their miseries. And with the workers of iniquity. These are overtly sinful, and their judgment will be sure; Lord, do not make us to drink of their cup. Activity is found with the wicked even if it be lacking to the righteous. Oh! to be “workers” for the Lord. Which speak peace to their neighbours, but mischief is in their hearts. They have learned the manners of the place to which they are going: the doom of liars is their portion for ever, and lying is their conversation on the road. Soft words, oily with pretended love, are the deceitful meshes of the infernal net in which Satan catches the precious life; many of his children are learned in his abominable craft, and fish with their father’s nets, almost as cunningly as he himself could do it. It is a sure sign of baseness when the tongue and the heart do not ring to the same note. Deceitful men are more to be dreaded than wild beasts: it were better to be shut up in a pit with serpents than to be compelled to live with liars. He who cries “peace” too loudly, means to sell it if he can get his price. “Good wine need no bush:” if he were so very peaceful he would not need to say so; he means mischief, make sure of that.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 3. Draw me not away with the wicked…which speak peace to their neighbours, but mischief is in their hearts. The godly man abhors dissimulation towards men; his heart goes along with his tongue, he cannot flatter and hate, commend and censure. “Let love be without dissimulation.” Romans 12:9. Dissembled love is worse than hatred; counterfeiting of friendship is no better than a lie Psalms 78:36, for there is a pretence of that which is not. Many are like Joab: “He took Amasa by the beard to kiss him, and smote him with his sword in the fifth rib, that he died.” There is a river in Spain, where the fish seem to be of a golden colour, but take them out of the water, and they are like other fish. All is not gold that glitters; there are some pretend much kindness, but they are like great veins which have little blood; if you lean upon them they are as a leg out of joint. For my part, I much question his truth towards God, that will flatter and lie to his friend. “He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander is a fool.” Proverbs 10:18. Thomas Watson.
Ver. 3. Draw me not out with. An allusion, I conceive, to a shepherd selecting out a certain portion of his flock. “Reckon me not among.” Professor Lee.
Ver. 3. Draw me not away. (ynkvmt-la) from (Kvm); that signifies, both to draw and apprehend, will be best rendered here, seize not on me, as he that seizes on any to carry or drag him to execution. Henry Hammond.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 3. The characters to be avoided, the doom to be dreaded, the grace to keep us from both.
Psalms 28:4*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 4. When we view the wicked simply as such, and not as our fellow men, our indignation against sin leads us entirely to coincide with the acts of divine justice which punish evil, and to wish that justice might use her power to restrain by her terrors the cruel and unjust; but still the desires of the present verse, as our version renders it, are not readily made consistent with the spirit of the Christian dispensation, which seeks rather the reformation than the punishment of sinners. If we view the words before us as prophetic, or as in the future tense, declaring a fact, we are probably nearer to the true meaning than that given in our version. Ungodly reader, what will be your lot when the Lord deals with you according to your desert, and weighs out to you his wrath, not only in proportion to what you have actually done, but according to what you would have done if you could. Our endeavours are taken as facts; God takes the will for the deed, and punishes or rewards accordingly. Not in this life, but certainly in the next, God will repay his enemies to their faces, and give them the wages of their sins. Not according to their fawning words, but after the measure of their mischievous deeds, will the Lord mete out vengeance to them that know him not.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 4. Give them according to their deeds, etc. Here, again, occurs the difficult question about praying for vengeance, which, however, I shall despatch in a few words. In the first place, then, it is unquestionable, that if the flesh move us to seek revenge, the desire is wicked in the sight of God. He not only forbids us to imprecate evil upon our enemies in revenge for private injuries, but it cannot be otherwise than that all those desires which spring from hatred must be disordered. David’s example, therefore, must not be alleged by those who are driven by their own intemperate passion to seek vengeance. The holy prophet is not inflamed here by his own private sorrow to devote his enemies to destruction; but laying aside the desire of the flesh, he give judgment concerning the matter itself. Before a man can, therefore, denounce vengeance against the wicked, he must first shake himself free from all improper feelings in his own mind. In the second place, prudence must be exercised, that the heinousness of the evils which offend us drive us not to intemperate zeal, which happened even to Christ’s disciples, when they desired that fire might be brought from heaven to consume those who refused to entertain their Master. Lu 9:54. They pretended, it is true, to act according to the example of Elias, but Christ severely rebuked them, and told them that they knew not by what spirit they were actuated. In particular, we must observe this general rule, that we cordially desire and labour for the welfare of the whole human race. Thus it will come to pass, that we shall not only give way to the exercise of God’s mercy, but shall also wish the conversion of those who seem obstinately to rush upon their own destruction. In short, David, being free from every evil passion, and likewise endued with the spirit of discretion and judgment, pleads here not so much his own cause as the cause of God. And by this prayer, he further reminds both himself and the faithful, that although the wicked may give themselves loose reins in the commission of every species of vice with impunity for a time, they must at length stand before the judgment seat of God. John Calvin.
Ver. 4. Give them according to their deeds, and according to the wickedness of their endeavours. Yes, great God, since thou hast from the beginning been only occupied in saving men, thou wilt surely strike with an eternal malediction these children of iniquity who appear to have been born only to be lost themselves, and to destroy others. The very benevolence towards mankind solicits thy thunders against these corrupters of society. The more thou hast done for our race, the more surely will the severity of thy justice reveal itself in destroying the wretches whose only study is to counteract thy goodness towards mankind. They labour incessantly to put men far away from thee, O my God, and in return thou wilt put them far away from thee for ever. They count it great gain to make their fellows thine enemies, and they shall have the desperate consolation of being such themselves to all eternity. What more fitting punishment for the wretches who desire to make all hearts rebel against thine adorable Majesty, than to lie through the baseness of their nature, under the eternal and frightful necessity of hating thee for ever. Jean Baptiste Massillon, rendered very freely by C. H. S.
Ver. 4. Give them according to their deeds. The Egyptians killed the Hebrew male children, and God smote the firstborn of Egypt. Sisera, who thought to destroy Israel with his iron chariots, was himself killed with an iron nail, stuck through his temples. Adonibezek, Jude 1:5-7. Gideon slew forty elders of Succoth, and his sons were murdered by Abimelech. Abimelech slew seventy sons of Gideon upon one stone, and his own head was broken by a piece of millstone thrown by a woman. Samson fell by the “lust of the eye, “and before death the Philistines put out his eyes. Agag, 1 Samuel 20:33. Saul slew the Gibeonites, and seven of his sons were hung up before the Lord. 2 Samuel 21:1-9. Ahab, after coveting Naboth’s vineyard, 1 Kings 21:19, fulfilled 2 Kings 9:24-26. Jeroboam, the same hand that was stretched forth against the altar was withered, 1 Kings 13:1-6. Joab having killed Abner, Amasa, and Absalom, was put to death by Solomon. Daniel’s accusers thrown into the lion’s den meant for Daniel. Haman hung upon the gallows designed for Mordecai. Judeas purchased the field of blood, and then went and hanged himself. So in the history of later days, Bajazet was carried about by Tamerlane in an iron cage, as he intended to have carried Tamerlane. Mazentius built a bridge to entrap Constantine, and was overthrown himself of that very spot. Alexander VI. was poisoned by the wine he had prepared for another. Charles IX. made the streets of Paris to stream with Protestant blood, and soon after blood streamed from all parts of his body in a bloody sweat. Cardinal Beaton condemned George Wishart to death, and presently died a violent death himself. He was murdered in bed, and his body was laid out in the same window from which he had looked upon Wishart’s execution. G. S. Bowes, in “Illustrative Gatherings.”
Ver. 4. Render to them their desert. Meditate on God’s righteousness, that it is not only his will, but his nature to punish sin; sin must damn thee without Christ, there is not only a possibility or probability that sin may ruin, but without an interest in Christ it must do so; whet much upon thy heart that must; God cannot but hate sin, because he is holy; and he cannot but punish sin, because he is righteous. God must not forego his own nature to gratify our humours. Christopher Fowler, in “Morning Exercises, “1676.
Ver. 4. He prayeth against his enemies, not out of any private revenge, but being led by the infallible spirit of prophecy, looking through these men to the enemies of Christ, and of his people in all ages. David Dickson.
Ver. 4-5. In these verses, as indeed in most of the imprecatory passages, the imperative and the future are used promiscuously: Give them—render them—he shall destroy them. If therefore, the verbs, in all such passages, were uniformly rendered in the “future, “every objection against the Scripture imprecations would vanish at once, and they would appear clearly to be what they are, namely, prophecies of the divine judgments, which have been since executed against the Jews, and which will be executed against all the enemies of Jehovah, and his Christ; whom neither the “works” of creation, nor those of redemption, can lead to repentance. George Horne.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 4. Measure for measure, or punishment proportioned to desert.
Ver. 4. Endeavour the measure of sin rather than mere result. Hence some are guilty of sins which they were unable to commit.
Psalms 28:5*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 5. Because they regard not the works of the Lord, nor the operation of his hands. God works in creation—nature teems with proofs of his wisdom and goodness, yet purblind atheists refuse to see him: he works in providence, ruling and overruling, and his hand is very manifest in human history, yet the infidel will not discern him: he works in grace—remarkable conversions are still met with on all hands, yet the ungodly refuse to see the operations of the Lord. Where angels wonder, carnal men despise. God condescends to teach, and man refuses to learn. He shall destroy them: he will make them “behold, and wonder, and perish.” If they would not see the hand of judgment upon others, they shall feel it upon themselves. Both soul and body shall be overwhelmed with utter destruction for ever and ever. And not build them up. God’s cure is positive and negative; his sword has two edges, and cuts right and left. Their heritage of evil shall prevent the ungodly receiving any good; the ephah shall be too full of wrath to contain a grain of hope. They have become like old, rotten, decayed houses of timber, useless to the owner, and harbouring all manner of evil, and, therefore, the Great Builder will demolish them utterly. Incorrigible offenders may expect speedy destruction: they who will not mend, shall be thrown away as worthless. Let us be very attentive to all the lessons of God’s word and work, lest being found disobedient to the divine will, we be made to suffer the divine wrath.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 4-5. See Psalms on “Psalms 28:4” for further information. In these verses, as indeed in most of the imprecatory passages, the imperative and the future are used promiscuously: Give them—render them—he shall destroy them. If therefore, the verbs, in all such passages, were uniformly rendered in the “future, “every objection against the Scripture imprecations would vanish at once, and they would appear clearly to be what they are, namely, prophecies of the divine judgments, which have been since executed against the Jews, and which will be executed against all the enemies of Jehovah, and his Christ; whom neither the “works” of creation, nor those of redemption, can lead to repentance. George Horne.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 5. Culpable negligence constantly persisted in, losing much blessing, and involving terrible condemnation.
Psalms 28:6*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 6. Blessed be the Lord. Saints are full of benedictions; they are a blessed people, and a blessing people; but they give their best blessings, the fat of their sacrifices, to their glorious Lord. Our Psalm was prayer up to this point, and now it turns to praise. They who pray well, will soon praise well: prayer and praise are the two lips of the soul; two bells to ring out sweet and acceptable music in the ears of God; two angels to climb Jacob’s ladder: two altars smoking with incense; two of Solomon’s lilies dropping sweet smelling myrrh; they are two young roes that are twins, feeding upon the mountain of myrrh and the hill of frankincense. Because he hath heard the voice of my supplications. Real praise is established upon sufficient and constraining reasons; it is not irrational emotion, but rises, like a pure spring, from the deeps of experience. Answered prayers should be acknowledged. Do we not often fail in this duty? Would it not greatly encourage others, and strengthen ourselves, if we faithfully recorded divine goodness, and made a point of extolling it with our tongue? God’s mercy is not such an inconsiderable thing that we may safely venture to receive it without so much as thanks. We should shun ingratitude, and live daily in the heavenly atmosphere of thankful love.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 6. He hath heard. Prayer is the best remedy in a calamity. This is indeed a true catholicum, a general remedy for every malady. Not like the empiric’s catholicum, which sometimes may work, but for the most part fails: but that which upon assured evidence and constant experience hath its probatum est; being that which the most wise, learned, honest, and skilful Physician that ever was, or can be, hath prescribed—even he that teacheth us how to bear what is to be borne, or how to heal and help what hath been borne. William Gouge.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 6. Answered prayers, a retrospect and song.
Psalms 28:7*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 7. Here is David’s declaration and confession of faith, coupled with a testimony from his experience. The Lord is my strength. The Lord employs his power on our behalf, and moreover, infuses strength into us in our weakness. The psalmist, by an act of appropriating faith, takes the omnipotence of Jehovah to be his own. Dependence upon the invisible God gives great independence of spirit, inspiring us with confidence more than human. And my shield. Thus David found both sword and shield in his God. The Lord preserves his people from unnumbered ills; and the Christian warrior, sheltered behind his God, is far more safe than the hero when covered with his shield of brass or triple steel. My heart trusted in him, and I am helped. Heart work is sure work; heart trust is never disappointed. Faith must come before help, but help will never be long behindhand. Every day the believer may say, “I am helped, “for the divine assistance is vouchsafed us every moment, or we should go back unto perdition; when more manifest help is needed, we have but to put faith into exercise, and it will be given us. Therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him. The heart is mentioned twice to show the truth of his faith and his joy. Observe the adverb “greatly, “we need not be afraid of being too full of rejoicing at the remembrance of grace received. We serve a great God, let us greatly rejoice in him. A song is the soul’s fittest method of giving vent to its happiness, it were well if we were more like the singing lark, and less like the croaking raven. When the heart is glowing, the lips should not be silent. When God blesses us, we should bless him with all our heart.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 7. The Lord is my strength. Oh, sweet consolation! If a man have a burden upon him, yet if he have strength added to him, if the burden be doubled, yet if his strength be trebled, the burden will not be heavier, but lighter than it was before to his natural strength; so if our afflictions be heavy, and we cry out, Oh, we cannot bear them! yet if we cannot bear them with our own strength, why may we not bear them with the strength of Jesus Christ? Do we think that Christ could not bear them? or if we dare not think but that Christ could bear them, why may not we come to bear them? Some may question, can we have the strength of Christ? Yes; that very strength is made over to us by faith, for so the Scripture saith frequently, The Lord is our strength; God is our strength; The Lord Jehovah is our strength; Christ is our strength Ps 28:7 43:2 Psalms 118:14, Isaiah 12:2, Habakkuk 3:19, Colossians 1:11; and, therefore, is Christ’s strength ours, made over unto us, that we may be able to bear whatsoever lies upon us. Isaac Ambrose.
Ver. 7. The Lord is my strength inwardly, and my shield outwardly. Faith finds both these in Jehovah, and the one not without the other, for what is a shield without strength, or strength without a shield? My heart trusted in him, and I am helped: the idea of the former sentence is here carried out, that outward help was granted to inward confidence. W. Wilson, D.D.
Ver. 7. My heart trusted in him, and I am helped. Faith substantiates things not yet seen; it altereth the tense, saith one, and putteth the future into the present tense as here. John Trapp.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 7. The heart’s possessions, confidence, experience, joy, and music.
Ver. 7. Adoring God for his mercies.
1. What God is to the believer.
2. What should be the disposition of our hearts towards him. C. Simeon.
Psalms 28:8*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 8. The Lord is their strength. The heavenly experience of one believer is a pattern of the life of all. To all the militant church, without exception, Jehovah is the same as he was to his servant David, “the least of them shall be as David.” They need the same aid and they shall have it, for they are loved with the same love, written in the same book of life, and one with the same anointed Head. And he is the saving strength of his anointed. Here behold king David as the type of our Lord Jesus, our covenant Head, our anointed Prince, through whom all blessings come to us. He has achieved full salvation for us, and we desire saving strength from him, and as we share in the unction which is so largely shed upon him, we expect to partake of his salvation. Glory be unto the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has magnified the power of his grace in his only begotten Son, whom he has anointed to be a Prince and a Saviour unto his people.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 8. The Lord is their strength: not mine only, but the strength of every believer. Note—the saints rejoice in their friends’ comforts as well as their own; for as we have not the less benefit by the light of the sun, so neither by the light of God’s countenance, for others sharing therein; for we are sure there is enough for all, and enough for each. This is our communion with all saints, that God is their strength and ours; Christ their Lord and ours. 1 Corinthians 1:2. He is their strength, the strength of all Israel, because he is the saving strength of his anointed, i.e.,
1. Of David in the type: God in strengthening him that was their king and fought their battles, strengthened the whole kingdom. He calls himself God’s anointed, because it was the unction he had received that exposed him to the envy of his enemies, and therefore entitled him to the divine protection. 2. Of Christ, his Anointed, his Messiah, in the antitype. God was his saving strength, qualified him for his undertaking, and carried him through it. Matthew Henry.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 8. All power given to believers because of their union with Jesus.
Psalms 28:9*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 9. This is a prayer for the church militant, written in short words, but full of weighty meaning. We must pray for the whole church, and not for ourselves alone. Save thy people. Deliver them from their enemies, preserve them from their sins, succour them under their troubles, rescue them from their temptations, and ward off from them every ill. There is a plea hidden in the expression, “thy people:” for it may be safely concluded that God’s interest in the church, as his own portion, will lead him to guard it from destruction. Bless thine inheritance. Grant positive blessings, peace, plenty, prosperity, happiness; make all thy dearly purchased and precious heritage to be comforted by thy Spirit. Revive, refresh, enlarge, and sanctify thy church. Feed them also. Be a shepherd to thy flock, let their bodily and spiritual wants be plentifully supplied. By thy word, and ordinances, direct, rule, sustain, and satisfy those who are the sheep of thy hand. And lift them up for ever. Carry them in thine arms on earth, and then lift them into thy bosom in heaven. Elevate their minds and thoughts, spiritualise their affections, make them heavenly, Christlike, and full of God. O Lord, answer this our petition, for Jesus’ sake.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 9. Lift them up. The word here used may mean sustain them, or support them; but it more properly means bear, and would be best expressed by a reference to the fact, that the shepherd carries the feeble, the young, and the sickly of his flock in his arms, or that he lifts them up when unable themselves to rise. Albert Barnes.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 9. “A prayer for the church militant.”

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Psalm 27

holy-bible-background

Psalms 27:1-14
Title and Subject. Nothing whatever can be drawn from the title as to the time when this Psalm was written, for the heading, “A Psalm of David, “is common to so many of the Psalms; but if one may judge from the matter of the song, the writer was pursued by enemies, Psalms 27:2-3, was shut out from the house of the Lord, Psalms 27:4, was just parting from father and mother, Psalms 27:10, and was subject to slander, Psalms 27:12; do not all these meet in the time when Doeg, the Edomite, spake against him to Saul? It is a song of cheerful hope, well fitted for those in trial who have learned to lean upon the Almighty arm. The Psalm may with profit be read in a threefold way, as the language of David, of the Church, and of the Lord Jesus. The plenitude of Scripture will thus appear the more wonderful.
Division. The poet first sounds forth his sure confidence in his God, Psalms 27:1-3, and his love of communion with him, Psalms 27:4-6. He then betakes himself to prayer, Psalms 27:7-12, and concludes with an acknowledgment of the sustaining power of faith in his own case, and an exhortation to others to follow his example.
EXPOSITION
Ver. 1. The Lord is my light and my salvation. Here is personal interest, “my light, “”my salvation; “the soul is assured of it, and therefore, declaring it boldly. “My light; ” —into the soul at the new birth divine light is poured as the precursor of salvation; where there is not enough light to see our own darkness and to long for the Lord Jesus, there is no evidence of salvation. Salvation finds us in the dark, but it does not leave us there; it gives light to those who sit in the valley of the shadow of death. After conversion our God is our joy, comfort, guide, teacher, and in every sense our light; he is light within, light around, light reflected from us, and light to be revealed to us. Note, it is not said merely that the Lord gives light, but that he “is” light; nor that he gives salvation, but that he is salvation; he, then, who by faith has laid hold upon God has all covenant blessings in his possession. Every light is not the sun, but the sun is the father of all lights. This being made sure as a fact, the argument drawn from it is put in the form of a question, Whom shall I fear? A question which is its own answer. The powers of darkness are not to be feared, for the Lord, our light, destroys them; and the damnation of hell is not to be dreaded by us, for the Lord is our salvation. This is a very different challenge from that of boastful Goliath, for it is based upon a very different foundation; it rests not upon the conceited vigour of an arm of flesh, but upon the real power of the omnipotent I AM. The Lord is the strength of my life. Here is a third glowing epithet, to show that the writer’s hope was fastened with a threefold cord which could not be broken. We may well accumulate terms of praise where the Lord lavishes deeds of grace. Our life derives all its strength from him who is the author if it; and if he deigns to make us strong we cannot be weakened by all the machinations of the adversary. Of whom shall I be afraid? The bold question looks into the future as well as the present. “If God be for us, “who can be against us, either now or in time to come?
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 1. The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? Alice Driver, martyr, at her examination, put all the doctors to silence, so that they had not a word to say, but one looked upon another; then she said, “Have you no more to say? God be honoured, you be not able to resist the Spirit of God, in me, a poor woman. I was an honest poor man’s daughter, never brought up at the University as you have seen; but I have driven the plough many a time before my father, I thank God; yet, notwithstanding, in the defence of God’s truth, and in the cause of my Master, Christ, by his grace I will set my foot against the foot of any of you all, in the maintenance and defence of the same; and if I had a thousand lives they should go for the payment thereof.” So the Chancellor condemned her, and she returned to the prison joyful. Charles Bradbury.
Ver. 1. The Lord is my light, etc. St. John tells us, that “in Christ was life; and the life was the light of men; “but he adds that, “the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” John 1:4-5. There is a great difference between the light, and the eye that sees it. A blind man may know a great deal about the shining of the sun, but it does not shine for him— it gives him no light. So, to know that “God is light, “is one thing 1 John 1:5, and to be able to say, “The Lord is my light, “is quite another thing. The Lord must be the light by which the way of life is made plain to us—the light by which we may see to walk in that way—the light that exposes the darkness of sin—the light by which we can discover the hidden sins of our own hearts. When he is thus our light, then he is our salvation also. He is pledged to guide us right; not only to show us sin, but to save us from it. Not only to make us see God’s hatred of sin, and his curse upon it, but also to draw us unto God’s love, and to take away the curse. With the Lord lighting us along the road of salvation, who, or what need we fear? Our life is hid with Christ in God. Colossians 3:3. We are weak, very weak, but his “strength is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:2. With the Lord himself pledged to be the strength of our life, of whom need we be afraid? From Sacramental Meditations on the Twenty-seventh Psalm, 1843.
Ver. 1. The Lord is my light. “Light” which makes all things visible, was the first made of all visible things; and whether God did it for our example, or no, I know not; but ever since, in imitation of this manner of God’s proceeding, the first thing we do when we intend to do anything, is to get us “light.” Sir Richard Baker.
Ver. 1. The Lord is my light. Adorable Sun, cried St. Bernard, I cannot walk without thee: enlighten my steps, and furnish this barren and ignorant mind with thoughts worthy of thee. Adorable fulness of light and heat, be thou the true noonday of my soul; exterminate its darkness, disperse its clouds; burn, dry up, and consume all its filth and impurities. Divine Sun, rise upon my mind, and never set. Jean Baptiste Elias Avrillon, 1652-1729.
Ver. 1. Whom shall I fear? Neither spiritual nor military heroes do exploits through cowardice, Courage is a necessary virtue. In Jehovah is the best possible foundation for unflinching intrepidity. William S. Plumer.
Ver. 1. Of whom shall I be afraid? I have no notion of a timid, disingenuous profession of Christ. Such preachers and professors are like a rat playing at hide and seek behind a wainscot, who puts his head through a hole to see if the coast is clear, and ventures out if nobody is in the way; but slinks back again if danger appears. We cannot be honest to Christ except we are bold for him. He is either worth all we can lose for him, or he is worth nothing. H. G. Salter, A.M., in “The Book of Illustrations, “1840.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 1. (first clause). The relation of illumination to salvation, or the need of light if men would be saved.
Ver. 1. The Christian hero, and the secret springs of his courage.
Ver. 1. The believer’s fearless challenge.
WORKS ON THE TWENTY-SEVENTH PSALM
Excellent Encouragements against Afflictions, containing David’s Triumph over Distress; or an Exposition of Psalms 27:1-14. By THOMAS PIERSON, M.A. (Reprinted in Nichol’s Series of Puritan Commentaries.)
Meditations upon the 27th Psalm of David. By SIR RICHARD BAKER. (See “Works, “pg 10.)
Psalms 27:2*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 2. This verse records a past deliverance, and is an instance of the way in which experience should be employed to reassure our faith in times of trial. Each word is instructive. When the wicked. It is a hopeful sign for us when the wicked hate us; if our foes were godly men it would be a sore sorrow, but as for the wicked their hatred is better than their love. Even mine enemies and my foes. There were many of them, they were of different sorts, but they were unanimous in mischief and hearty in hatred. Came upon me —advanced to the attack, leaping upon the victim like a lion upon its prey. To eat up my flesh, like cannibals they would make a full end of the man, tear him limb from limb, and make a feast for their malice. The enemies of our souls are not deficient in ferocity, they yield no quarter, and ought to have none in return. See in what danger David was; in the grip and grasp of numerous, powerful, and cruel enemies, and yet observe his perfect safety and their utter discomfiture! They stumbled and fell. God’s breath blew them off their legs. There were stones in the way which they never reckoned upon, and over these they made an ignominious tumble. This was literally true in the case of our Lord in Gethsemane, when those who came to take him went backward and fell to the ground; and herein he was a prophetic representative of all wrestling believers who, rising from their knees shall, by the power of faith, throw their foes upon their faces.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 2. When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. There is no such dainty dish to a malicious stomach, as the flesh of an enemy; it goes down without chewing, and they swallow it up whole like cormorants. But though malice have a ravenous stomach, yet she hath but slow digestion; though her teeth be sharp, yet her feet are lame, at least apt to stumble; and this made well for David, for when his enemies came upon him to eat up his flesh, because they came upon the feet of malice, they stumbled and fell. A man may stumble and yet not fall; but to stumble and fall withal, is the proper stumbling of the wicked, and especially of the maliciously wicked; and such, it seems, was the stumbling of David’s enemies, because the enemies were such; and such I doubt not shall be the stumbling of mine enemies, because mine are such; and of what then, of whom now, should I be afraid? Sir Richard Baker.
Ver. 2. When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. He describes his enemies by their malice and by their ruin. 1. His enemies were cruel enemies, blood suckers, eaters of flesh. We call them cannibals. As indeed men that have not grace, if they have greatness, and be opposed, their greatness is inaccessible, one man is a devil to another. The Scripture calls them “wolves, that leave nothing till morning.” Zephaniah 3:3. As the great fishes eat up the little ones, so great men they make no more conscience of eating up other men, than of eating bread; they make no more bones of overthrowing men and undoing them, than of eating bread. “They eat up my people as they eat bread.” Ps 14:4. 2. But not withstanding their cruelty, they were overthrown. Saith David, When my foes came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. For, indeed, God’s children, when they are delivered, it is usually with the confusion of their enemies. God doth two things at once, because the special grievance of God’s children it is from inward and outward enemies. He seldom or never delivers them but with the confusion of their enemies. This will be most apparent at the day of judgment when Satan, and all that are led by his spirit, all the malignant church, shall be sent to their own place, and the church shall be for ever free from all kind of enemies. When the church is most free, then the enemies of the church are nearest to destruction; like a pair of balances, when they are up at the one end, they are down at the other. So when it is up with the church, down go the enemies. Richard Sibbes.
Ver. 2. The wicked, mine enemies. The wicked hate the godly; there is enmity between the seed of the woman and the serpent. Genesis 3:15. As in nature there is an antipathy between the vine and the bay tree, the elephant and the dragon. Vultures have an antipathy against sweet smells: so in the wicked there is an antipathy against the people of God; they hate the sweet perfumes of their graces. It is true the saints have their infirmities; but the wicked do not hate them for these, but for their holiness; and from this hatred ariseth open violence: the thief hates the light, therefore would blow it out. Thomas Watson.
Ver. 2. There was great wisdom in the prayer of John Wesley: “Lord, if I must contend, let it not be with thy people.” When we have for foes and enemies those who hate good men, we have at least this consolation, that God is not on their side, and therefore it is essentially weak. William S. Plumer.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 2. The character, number, power, and cruelty of the enemies of the church, and the mysterious way in which they have been defeated.
Psalms 27:3*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 3 Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear. Before the actual conflict, while as yet the battle is untried, the warrior’s heart, being held in suspense, is very liable to become fluttered. The encamping host often inspires greater dread than the same host in actual affray. Young tells us of some—”Who feel a thousand deaths in fearing one.” Doubtless the shadow of anticipated trouble is, to timorous minds, a more prolific source of sorrow than the trouble itself, but faith puts a strengthening plaister to the back of courage, and throws out of the window the dregs of the cup of trembling. Though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident. When it actually comes to push of pike, faith’s shield will ward off the blow; and if the first brush should be but the beginning of a war, yet faith’s banners will wave in spite of the foe. Though battle should succeed battle, and one campaign should be followed by another, the believer will not be dismayed at the length of the conflict. Reader, this third verse is the comfortable and logical inference from the second, confidence is the child of experience. Have you been delivered out of great perils? then set up your ensign, wait at your watch fire, and let the enemy do his worst.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 3 Though an host should encamp against me, etc. He puts the case of the greatest danger that can be. Though an host should encompass me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident. Here is great courage for the time to come. “Experience breeds hope and confidence.” David was not so courageous a man of himself; but upon experience of God’s former comfort and assistance, his faith brake as fire out of the smoke, or as the sun out of a cloud. Though I was in such and such perplexities, yet for the time to come, I have such confidence and experience of God’s goodness, that I will not fear. He that seeth God by a spirit of faith in his greatness and power, he sees all other things below as nothing. Therefore, he saith here, he cares not for the time to come for any opposition; no, not of an army. “If God be with us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31. He saw God in his power; and then, looking from God to the creature, alas! who was he? As Micah, when he had seen God sitting upon his throne; what was Ahab to him, when he had seen God once? So when the prophet David had seen God once, then “though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear, “etc. Richard Sibbes.
Ver. 3 Though an host should encamp against me, etc. If I love my God, and I love him with a noble spirited love, all my enemies will fight against me in vain; I shall never fear them, and the whole world cannot harm me. Charity cannot be offended, because she takes offence at nothing. Enemies, enviers, slanderers, persecutors, I defy you; if I love, I shall triumph over your attacks. Ye can take away my goods; but if my love has a generous spirit, I shall be always rich enough, and ye cannot take away my love, which alone makes all my riches and treasures. Ye may blacken my reputation; but as I hold you cheaply quit of all homage of praise and applause, I, with all my heart, give you a free leave to blame and to defame. Happily for me, ye cannot blacken me before my God, and his esteem alone makes amends to me, and rewards me, for all your contempt. Ye can persecute my body, but there I even will help you on by my penances; the sooner it shall perish, the sooner shall I be delivered from this domestic enemy, which is a burden to me. What harm, then, can ye do me? If I am resolved to suffer all, and if I think I deserve all the outrages ye can do me, ye will only give more loftiness of spirit to my love, more brilliancy to my crown. Jean Baptiste Elias Avrillon.
Ver. 3 Those who are willing to be combatants for God, shall also be more than conquerors through God. None are so truly courageous as those who are truly religious. If a Christian live, he knows by whose might he stands; and if he die, he knows for whose sake he falls. Where there is no confidence in God, there will be no continuance with God. When the wind of faith ceases to fill the sails, the ship of obedience cease to plough the seas. The taunts of Ishmael shall never make an Isaac disesteem his inheritance, William Secker.
Ver. 3-4. The favourite grows great by the many favours, gifts, jewels, offices, the prince bestows upon him. The Christian grows rich in experiences, which he wears as bracelets, and keeps as his richest jewels. He calls one Ebenezer —”hitherto God hath helped; “and other Naphtali —”I have wrestled with God and prevailed; “another Gershom —”I was a stranger; “another Joseph —”God will yet add more; “and another, Peniel — “I have seen the face of God.” 1 Samuel 7:12, Genesis 30:8, Exodus 2:22, Genesis 30:24, Genesis 32:30. I have been delivered from the lion, therefore shall be from the bear; from lion and bear, therefore from the Philistine; from the Philistine, therefore from Saul; from Saul, therefore God will deliver me from every evil work, and preserve me blameless to his heavenly kingdom. John Sheffield.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 3 Christian peace.
1. Exhibited in the calm foresight of trouble.
2. Displayed in the confident endurance of affliction.
3. Sustained by divine help and past experience Psalms 27:1-2.
4. Producing the richest results, glory to God, etc.
Psalms 27:4*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 4. One thing. Divided aims tend to distraction, weakness, disappointment. The man of one book is eminent, the man of one pursuit is successful. Let all our affections be bound up in one affection, and that affection set upon heavenly things. Have I desired —what we cannot at once attain, it is well to desire. God judges us very much by the desire of our hearts. He who rides a lame horse is not blamed by his master for want of speed, if he makes all the haste he can, and would make more if he could; God takes the will for the deed with his children. Of the Lord. This is the right target for desires, this is the well into which to dip our buckets, this is the door to knock at, the bank to draw upon; desire of men, and lie upon the dunghill with Lazarus: desire of the Lord, and to be carried of angels into Abraham’s bosom. Our desires of the Lord should be sanctified, humble, constant, submissive, fervent, and it is well if, as with the psalmist, they are all molten into one mass. Under David’s painful circumstances we might have expected him to desire repose, safety, and a thousand other good things, but no, he has set his heart on the pearl, and leaves the rest. That will I seek after. Holy desires must lead to resolute action. The old proverb says, “Wishers and woulders are never good housekeepers, “and “wishing never fills a sack.” Desires are seed which must be sown in the good soil of activity, or they will yield no harvest. We shall find our desires to be like clouds without rain, unless followed up by practical endeavours. That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. For the sake of communion with the King, David longed to dwell always in the palace; so far from being wearied with the services of the Tabernacle, he longed to be constantly engaged in them, as his life long pleasure. He desired above all things to be one of the household of God, a home born child, living at home with his Father. This is our dearest wish, only we extend it to those days of our immortal life which have not yet dawned. We pine for our Father’s house above, the home of our souls; if we may but dwell there for ever, we care but little for the goods or ills of this poor life. “Jerusalem the golden” is the one and only goal of our heart’s longings. To behold the beauty of the Lord. An exercise both for earthly and heavenly worshippers. We must not enter the assemblies of the saints in order to see and be seen, or merely to hear the minister; we must repair to the gatherings of the righteous, intent upon the gracious object of learning more of the loving Father, more of the glorified Jesus, more of the mysterious Spirit, in order that we may the more lovingly admire, and the more reverently adore our glorious God. What a word is that, “the beauty of the Lord!” Think of it, dear reader! Better far—behold it by faith! What a sight will that be when every faithful follower of Jesus shall behold “the King in his beauty!” Oh, for that infinitely blessed vision! And to enquire in his temple. We should make our visits to the Lord’s house enquirers’ meetings. Not seeking sinners alone, but assured saints should be enquirers. We must enquire as to the will of God and how we may do it; as to our interest in the heavenly city, and how we may be more assured of it. We shall not need to make enquiries in heaven, for there we shall know even as we are known; but meanwhile we should sit at Jesus’ feet, and awaken all our faculties to learn of him.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 3-4. See Psalms on “Psalms 27:3” for further information.
Ver. 4. One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple. Some interpreters vary concerning what the psalmist aims at; I understand thus much in a generality, which is clear that he means a communion and fellowship with God, which is that one thing, which if a Christian had, he needs desire no more: that we should all desire and desire again and be in love with, and that is enough even to satisfy us, the fruition of God, and the beholding of him in his ordinances, in his temple, to have correspondence and fellowship and communion with him there. O God, vouchsafe us that! Now this is so infinitely sweet, that it was the psalmist’s only desire, and the sum of all his desires here, and therefore much more in the tabernacle of heaven, which doth make up the consummation and completeness of all our happiness. John Stoughton.
Ver. 4. One thing have I desired of the Lord, etc. Seeing David would make but one request to God, why would he not make a greater? for, alas! what a poor request is this—to desire to dwell in God’s house? and what to do? but only to see? and to see what? but only a beauty, a fading thing, at most but to enquire; and what is enquiring? but only to hear news; a vain fancy. And what cause in any of these why David should make it his request to God? But mark, O my soul, what goes with it! Take altogether —to behold the beauty of the Lord and to enquire in his temple. And now tell me, if there be, if there can be, any greater request to be made? any greater cause to be earnest about it? For though worldly beauty be a fading thing, yet “the beauty of the Lord, “shall continue when the world shall fade away; and though enquiring after news be a vain fancy, yet to enquire in God’s Temple is the way to learn there is no new thing under the sun, and there it was that Solomon learned that “all is vanity.” Indeed, this “one thing, “that David desires, is in effect that unum necessarium that Christ speaks of in the gospel; which Mary makes choice of there, as David doth here. Sir Richard Baker.
Ver. 4. One thing, etc. A heavenly mind gathers itself up into one wish and no more. “One thing have I desired of the Lord, which I will require.” Grant me thyself, O Lord, and I will ask no more. The new creature asks nothing of God, but to enjoy God: give me this, O Lord, and for the rest, let Ziba take all. I will part with all to buy that one pearl, the riches of heavenly grace. Jeremy Taylor.
Ver. 4. One thing. The first thing, then, is David’s choice, summarily described in the word, “one thing.” So Christ confirmeth the prophet’s word, while he called Mary’s choice, “one thing.” Lu 10:42. And that for these three reasons: First, because it is not a common but a chief good. If there be any good above it, it is not the chief good; and if there be any good equal unto it, it is not alone. Next, because it is the last end which we mind eternally to enjoy; if there be any end beyond it, it is not the last, but amidst, and a degree to it. All mids and ends are used for it, but it is sought for itself, and, therefore, must be but one. Thirdly, it is a centre whereunto all reasonable spirits draw. As all lines from a circle meet in the centre, so every one that seeketh happiness aright meeteth in the chief good, as the only thing which they intend, and, therefore, must be one. William Struther, in “True Happiness, or King David’s Choice, ” 1633.
Ver. 4. One thing. Changes, great changes, and many bereavements there have been in my life. I have been emptied from vessel to vessel. But one thing has never failed—one thing makes me feel that my life has been one; it has calmed my joys, it has soothed my sorrows, it has guided me in difficulty, it has strengthened me in weakness. It is the presence of God—a faithful and loving God. Yes, brethren, the presence of God is not only light, it is unity. It gives unity to the heart that believes it— unity to the life that is conformed to it. It was the presence of God in David’s soul that enabled him to say, “One thing have I desired of the Lord; “and in St, Paul’s that enabled him to say, “This one thing I do.” George Wagner, in the “Wanderings of the Children of Israel, ” 1862.
Ver. 4. One thing. —
One master passion in the breast,
Like Aaron’s serpent, swallows up the rest.
Alexander Pope.
Ver. 4. That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. To approach continually unto the temple, and thither continually to repair was the dwelling, no doubt, here meant; to dwell, to reside continually there, not to come for a spurt or a fit…And thus dwelt Hannah, the daughter of Phanuel, who is said, in the second of Luke, for the space of four score and four years not to have gone out of the temple. Not that she was there always, but often, saith Lyra; and venerable Bede to the same purpose. Not that she was never absent, no, not an hour; but for that she was often in the temple. And the same St. Luke, speaking of our Saviour’s disciples, after they had seen him ascended into heaven—”They returned, “saith he, “to Jerusalem with great joy: and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God, ” Lu 24:52-53. Thus, St. Austin’s mother, in her time too, might be said to dwell in God’s house, whereunto she came so duly and truly twice a day, “That she, in thy Scriptures, “saith St. Austin, “might hear, O God, what thou saidst to her, and thou, in her prayers, what she said to thee.” In a word, such were the Christians the same St. Austin speaks of in another place, whom he calleth the emmets of God. “Behold the emmet of God, “saith he, “it rises early every day, it runs to God’s church, it there prays, it hears the lesson read, it sings a psalm, it ruminates what it hears, it meditates thereupon, and hoards up within itself the precious corn gathered from that barn floor.” John Day’s “David’s Desire to go to Church, “1609.
Ver. 4. That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. In the beginning of the Psalm, David keeps an audit of his soul’s accounts, reckoning up the large incomes and lasting treasures of God’s bounty, grace, and mercy; the sum whereof is this: The Lord is my light and my life, my strength and my salvation. And now, where shall David design his presence, but where is his light? Where shall he desire his person, but where is his strength? Where shall he wish his soul, but where is his life? and where shall he fix his habitation, but where is his salvation? even in communion with his God; and this, especially, in the holy worship of his sanctuary. No wonder, then, if above all things he desires and seeks after this “one thing, “”to dwell in the house of the Lord, “etc. Robert Mossom.
Ver. 4. The house of the Lord. It (the tabernacle, the sanctuary), is called the house of God because he is present there, as a man delights to be present in his house. It is the place where God will be met withal. As a man will be found in his house, and there he will have suitors come to him, where he reveals his secrets. A man rests, he lies, and lodgeth in his house. Where is a man so familiar as in his house? and what other place hath he such care to protect and provide for as his house? and he lays up his treasures and his jewels in his house. So God lays up all the treasures of grace and comfort in the visible church. In the church he is to be spoken with as a man in his house. There he gives us sweet meetings; there are mutual, spiritual kisses. “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth.” Song of Solomon 1:2. A man’s house is his castle, as we say, that he will protect and provide for. God will be sure to protect and provide for his church. Therefore he calls the church of God, that is, the tabernacle (that was the church at that time), the house of God. If we apply it to our times, that answers the tabernacle now is particular visible churches under particular pastors, where the means of salvation are set up. Particular visible churches now are God’s tabernacle. The church of the Jews was a national church. There was but one church, but one place, and one tabernacle; but now God hath erected particular tabernacles. Every particular church and congregation under one pastor, their meeting is the church of God, a several church independent. Richard Sibbes.
Ver. 4. To behold the beauty of the Lord. That was one end of his desire, to dwell in the house of God; not to feed his eyes with speculations and goodly sights (as indeed there were in the tabernacle goodly things to be seen). No; he had a more spiritual sight than that. He saw the inward spiritual beauty of those spiritual things. The other were but outward things, as the apostle calls them. I desire to dwell in the house of the Lord, to behold the beauty of the Lord, the inward beauty of the Lord especially. Richard Sibbes.
Ver. 4. The beauty of the Lord. In connection with these words, we would try to show that the character of God is attractive, and fitted to inspire us with love for him, and to make us, as it were, run after him. The discussion of our subject may be arranged under three heads. I. Some of the elements of the beauty of the Lord. II. Where the beauty of the Lord may be seen. III. Peculiar traits of the beauty of the Lord. I. Some of the elements of the beauty of the Lord. God is a Spirit. Hence his beauty is spiritual, and its elements must be sought for in spiritual perfection. 1. One of the elements of this beauty is holiness. 2. But the elements of the divine beauty on which we intend at this time to dwell, are those which are included under the general description of God’s mercy and grace. The attractiveness of these is more easily perceived, and their influence is sooner felt by persons in our fallen condition. It is mainly through the instrumentality of these that sinners are won over from their enmity against God, and that the Holy Ghost sheds abroad the love of God in our hearts. 3. Another thing, which we may call an element of beauty in God, is the combination of his various attributes in one harmonious whole. The colours of the rainbow are beautiful, when taken one by one: but there is a beauty in the rainbow, which arises not from any single tint; there is a beauty in it which would not exist if the several hues were assumed in succession—a beauty which is a result of their assemblage and collocation, and consists in their blended radiance. In like manner so the several perfections, which coexist and unite in the nature of God, produce a glorious beauty. Holiness is beautiful; mercy is beautiful; truth is beautiful. But, over and above, there is a beauty which belongs to such combinations and harmonies as the psalmist describes, when he tells us, “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” “Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds. Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep, “etc. II. We are next to inquire where the beauty of the Lord may be seen It may so far be seen in the natural world. The throne of nature, although in some respects clouds and darkness are round about it, is not without its rainbow of beauty, any more than the throne of grace. The beauty of the Lord may be seen in the moral law. In the law! Even so. In the unbending law, with its terrible anathema, his beauty and amiableness shine forth. The law is full of love. The duties of the law are duties of love. Love is the fulfilling of the law. The curse of the law is designed and employed for the maintenance of love. Obedience to the law, and the reign of love, are but different aspects of the same state of things. And one of the most sublime lessons of the law is the fact, that God is love. Again, the beauty of the Lord may be seen in the gospel. We see it, as it were, by reflection, in the law; in the gospel, we see it directly. The law shows us the hearts of men, as God would have them to be; the gospel shows us God’s own heart. Again the beauty of the Lord is seen in Christ. It is seen in Christ, for he is the brightness of the Father’s glory, and the express image of his person; and he that hath seen Christ, hath seen the Father. The beauty of the Lord is seen in Christ, when we consider him as the Father’s gift, and when we look to his offices and to his character. The character of Christ was the finest spectacle of moral beauty which men or angels ever set their eyes on. III. We conclude by noticing some traits of the beauty of the Lord. 1. It never deceives. 2. It never fades. 3. It never loses its power. 4. It never disappoints. Condensed from Andrew Gray (1805-1861), in “Gospel Contrasts and Parallels.”
Ver. 4. The beauty of the Lord. The Lord’s beauty, to be seen in his house, is not the beauty of his essence, for so no man can see God and live Exodus 23:18; Exodus 23:20; before this glorious beauty the angels cover their faces with their wings Isaiah 6:1-2; but it is the beauty of his ordinances, wherein God doth reveal to the eyes of men’s minds, enlightened by his Spirit, the pleasant beauty of his goodness, justice, love, and mercy in Jesus Christ. Thomas Pierson, M.A., 1570-1633.
Ver. 4. The beauty of the Lord. “Beauty” is too particular a word to express the fulness of the Holy Ghost, the pleasantness or the delight of God. Take the word in a general sense, in your apprehensions. It may be the object of all senses, inward and outward. Delight is most transcendent for pleasantness; for indeed God in his ordinances, is not only “beauty” to the eye of the soul, but is ointment to the smell, and sweetness to the taste, and all in all to all the powers of the soul. God in Christ, therefore, he is delightful and sweet…The beauty of the Lord is especially the amiable things of God, which is his mercy and love, that makes all other things beautiful that is in the church. Richard Sibbes.
Ver. 4. To enquire in his temple. The more grace the more business ye will find ye have to do with God in his ordinances; little grace hath little to do, and much grace hath much to do; he hath always business with God, special earnest business. To behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple. Oh, I have somewhat to enquire after; I am to do something by this duty, and therefore cannot trifle. He that comes to visit his friend in a compliment, he talks, he walks, he trifles, and goes home again; but he that comes upon business, he is full of it: he is like Abraham’s honest and faithful servant. Genesis 24:33. “And there was set meat before him to eat: but he said, I will not eat, until I have told my errand.” I have great business with the Lord, about the church and about my soul, and I will not eat, nor talk, nor think, nor dally about anything, till I have told mine errand, or heard my Maker’s errand unto me. And for this end it’s a rare thing to carry somewhat always on the spirit, to spread before God, a heart pregnant with some needful request or matter whereof to treat with God. Psalms 45:1. Richard Steele’s “Antidote against Distractions, “1673.
Ver. 4. It was David’s earnest prayer, One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple. There are many that pray David’s words, but not with David’s heart. Unum petii, one thing have I desired, de praeterito, for the time past; et hoc requiram, this I will seek after, de futuro, for the time to come: I have required it long, and this suit I will urge till I have obtained it. What? To dwell in some of the houses of God all the days of my life, and to leave them to my children after me; not to serve him there with devotion, but to make the place mine own possession? These love the house of God too well; they love it to have and to hold; but because the conveyance is made by the lawyer, and not by the minister, their title will be found naught in the end; and if there be not a nisi prius to prevent them, yet at that great day of universal audit, the Judge of all the world shall condemn them. By this way, the nearer to the church, the further from God. The Lord’s temple is ordained to gain us to him, not for us to gain it from him. If we love the Lord, we “will love the habitation of his house, and the place where his honour dwelleth; “that so by being humble frequenters of his temple below, we may be made noble saints of his house above, the glorious kingdom of Jesus Christ. Thomas Adams.
Ver. 4. David being in this safe condition, what doth he now think upon or look at, as his main scope? Not as Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, to sit still and be merry, when he had overcome the Romans and all his enemies, as he sometime said to Cyneas, the philosopher, but to improve his rest to perpetual piety, in going from day to day to God’s house, as Hannah is said afterwards to have done. Luke 2:1-52. And this, first, for the solace of his soul, in seeing the beauty of his sanctuary. Secondly, that he might still be directed aright and be safe. Thirdly, that he might yet be more highly exalted in kingly glory. Fourthly, for all this, as he should have abundant cause, sacrificing and singing psalms to God without ceasing: see Psalms 27:5-6. John Mayer.
Ver. 4. O my soul, what sights have I seen in the house of God! what provisions have I tasted! what entertainments have I had! what enlargements in prayer, and answers thereto! what impression under his word, what entertainment at his table, as he has sometimes brought me into his banqueting house, and his banner over me has been love! And though I cannot, it may be, say so much of this as some others; yet what I have found, I cannot but remember with thankfulness, and desire more; and as this was in the house of God, here would I still desire to dwell. Daniel Wilcox, 1676-1733.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 4. Model Christian life.
1. Unity of desire.
2. Earnestness of action.
3. Nearness of communion.
4. Heavenliness of contemplation.
5. Progress in divine education.
Ver. 4. The affection of moral esteem towards God. Thomas Chalmers.
Ver. 4. A breathing after God. R. Sibbes’s Sermon.
Ver. 4. (last clause). Sabbath occupations and heavenly delights.
Ver. 4. (final clause). Matters for enquiry in the Temple of old opened up in the light of the New Testament.
Psalms 27:5*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 5. This verse gives an excellent reason for the psalmist’s desire after communion with God, namely, that he was thus secured in the hour of peril. For in the time of trouble, that needy time, that time when others forsake me, he shall hide me in his pavilion: he shall give me the best of shelter in the worst of danger. The royal pavilion was erected in the centre of the army, and around it all the mighty men kept guard at all hours; thus in that divine sovereignty which almighty power is sworn to maintain, the believer peacefully is hidden, hidden not by himself furtively, but by the king, who hospitably entertains him. In the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me. Sacrifice aids sovereignty in screening the elect from harm. No one of old dared to enter the most holy place on pain of death; and if the Lord has hidden his people there, what foe shall venture to molest them? He shall set me up upon a rock. Immutability, eternity, and infinite power here come to the aid of sovereignty and sacrifice. How blessed is the standing of the man whom God himself sets on high above his foes, upon an impregnable rock which never can be stormed! Well may we desire to dwell with the Lord who so effectually protects his people.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 5. The time of trouble. Though God does not always deliver his people out of trouble, yet he delivers them from the evil of trouble, the despair of trouble, by supporting the spirit; nay, he delivers by trouble, for he sanctifies the trouble to cure the souls, and by less troubles delivers them from greater. From a Broad Sheet in the British Museum, dated, London: printed for D. M., 1678.
Ver. 5. He shall hide me. The word here used means to hide, to secrete, and then, to defend or protect. It would properly be applied to one who had fled from oppression, or from any impending evil, and who should be secreted in a house or cavern, and thus rendered safe from pursuers, or from the threatening evil. Albert Barnes.
Ver. 5. Pavilion comes from papilio, a butterfly. It signifies a tent made of cloth stretched out on poles, which in form resembles in some measure the insect above named. Adam Clarke.
Ver. 5. In the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me. He alludes to the ancient custom of offenders, who used to flee to the tabernacle or altar, where they esteemed themselves safe. 1 Kings 2:28. Matthew Poole.
Ver. 5. In the secret of his tabernacle. Were there no other place, he would put me in the holy of holies, so that an enemy would not dare to approach me. Adam Clarke.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 5. The threefold shelter. See Exposition.
Psalms 27:6*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 6. And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me. He is quite sure of it. Godly men of old prayed in faith, nothing wavering, and spoke of their answer to their prayers as a certainty. David was by faith so sure of a glorious victory over all those who beset him, that he arranged in his own heart what he would do when his foes lay all prostrate before him; that arrangement was such as gratitude suggested. Therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy. That place for which he longed in his conflict, should see his thankful joy in his triumphant return. He does not speak of jubilations to be offered in his palace, and feastings in his banqueting halls, but holy mirth he selects as most fitting for so divine a deliverance. I will sing. This is the most natural mode of expressing thankfulness. Yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord. The vow is confirmed by repetition, and explained by addition, which addition vows all the praise unto Jehovah. Let who will be silent, the believer when his prayer is heard, must and will make his praise to be heard also; and let who will sing unto the vanities of the world, the believer reserves his music for the Lord alone.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 6. Now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me. A man cannot drown so long as his head is above water. Now, it is the proper office of hope to do this for the Christian in times of any danger. Lu 21:28. “When these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads: for your redemption draweth nigh.” A strange time, one would think, for Christ then to bid his disciples lift up their heads in, when they see other men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth Lu 21:26; yet now is the time of the rising of their sun, when others’ is setting, and the blackness of darkness is overtaking others; because now the Christian’s feast is coming, for which hope hath saved its stomach so long. “Your redemption draweth nigh.” Two things make the head hang down—fear and shame; hope eases the Christian’s heart of both these, and so forbids him to give any sign of a desponding mind by a dejected countenance. William Gurnall.
Ver. 6. Therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy. “Surely, “some may say, “he could have called on God beyond the precincts of the temple. Wherever he wandered as an exile, he carried with him the precious promise of God, so that he needed not to put so great a value upon the sight of the external edifice. He appears, by some gross imagination or other, to suppose that God could be enclosed by wood and stones.” But if we examine the words more carefully, it will be easy to see, that his object was altogether different from a mere sight of the noble building and its ornaments, however costly. He speaks, indeed, of the temple, but he places that beauty not so much in the goodliness that was to be seen by the eye, as in its being the celestial pattern which was shown to Moses, as it is written in Exodus 25:40 : “And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was showed thee in the mount.” As the fashion of the temple was not framed according to the wisdom of man, but was an image of spiritual things, the prophet directed his eyes and all his affections to this object. Their madness is, therefore, truly detestable who wrest this place in favour of pictures and images, which, instead of deserving to be numbered among temple ornaments, are rather like the dung and filth, defiling all the purity of holy things. John Calvin.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 6. The saint’s present triumph over his spiritual foes, his practical gratitude, and his vocal praises.
Psalms 27:7*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 7. Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice. The pendulum of spirituality swings from prayer to praise. The voice which in the last verse was tuned to music is here turned to crying. As a good soldier, David knew how to handle his weapons, and found himself much at home with the weapon of “all prayer.” Note his anxiety to be heard. Pharisees care not a fig for the Lord’s hearing them, so long as they are heard of men, or charm their own pride with their sounding devotions; but with a genuine man, the Lord’s ear is everything. The voice may be profitably used even in private prayer; for though it is unnecessary, it is often helpful, and aids in preventing distractions. Have mercy also upon me. Mercy is the hope of sinners and the refuge of saints. All acceptable petitioners dwell much upon this attribute. And answer me. We may expect answers to prayer, and should not be easy without them any more than we should be if we had written a letter to a friend upon important business, and had received no reply.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
None.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 7. Prayer. To whom addressed? How? Cry, etc. When? Left indefinite. On what is it based? Mercy. What it needs? Hear, answer.
Psalms 27:8*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 8. In this verse we are taught that if we would have the Lord hear our voice, we must be careful to respond to his voice. The true heart should echo the will of God as the rocks among the Alps repeat in sweetest music the notes of the peasant’s horn. Observe, that the command was in the plural, to all the saints, Seek ye; but the man of God turned it into the singular by a personal application, Thy face, Lord, will I seek. The voice of the Lord is very effectual where all other voices fail. When thou saidst, then my heart, my inmost nature was moved to an obedient reply. Note the promptness of the response—no sooner said than done; as soon as God said “seek, “the heart said, “I will seek.” Oh, for more of this holy readiness! Would to God that we were more plastic to the divine hand, more sensitive of the touch of God’s Spirit.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 8. When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek. In the former verse, David begins a prayer to God, “Hear, O Lord; have mercy upon me, and answer me.” This verse is a ground of that prayer, Seek ye my face, saith God. The heart answers again, Thy face, Lord, will I seek; therefore I am encouraged to pray to thee. In the words are contained God’s command and David’s obedience. God’s warrant and David’s work answerable, the voice and the echo: the voice, “Seek my face; “the rebound back again of a gracious heart, “Thy face, Lord, will I seek.” “When thou saidst.” It is not in the original. It only makes way to the sense. Passionate speeches are usually abrupt: “Seek my face:” “Thy face, Lord, will I seek.” …
God is willing to be known. He is willing to open and discover himself; God delights not to hide himself. God stands not upon state, as some emperors do that think their presence diminishes respect. God is no such God, but he may be searched into. Man, if any weakness be discovered, we can soon search into the depth of his excellency; but with God it is clean otherwise. The more we know of him, the more we shall admire him. None admire him more than the blessed angels, that see most of him, and the blessed spirits that have communion with him. Therefore he hides not himself, nay, he desires to be known; and all those that have his Spirit desire to make him known. Those that suppress the knowledge of God in his will, what he performs for men, and what he requires of them, they are enemies to God and of God’s people. They suppress the opening of God, clean contrary to God’s meaning; “Seek my face; “I desire to be made known, and lay open myself to you. Therefore we may observe by the way, that when we are in any dark condition, that a Christian finds not the beams of God shining on him, let him not lay the blame upon God, as if God were a God that delighted to hide himself. Oh, no! it is not his delight. He loves not strangeness to his poor creatures. It is not a point of his policy. He is too great to affect (Choose=love) such poor things. No; the fault is altogether in us. We walk not worthy of such a presence; we want humility and preparation. If there be any darkness in the creature, that he finds God doth not so shine on him as in former times, undoubtedly the cause is in himself; for God saith, “Seek my face.” He desires to reveal himself. Richard Sibbes.
Ver. 8. When thou saidst, Seek ye my face, etc. All the Spirit’s motions are seasonable, and therefore not to be put off; for delay is a kind of denial, and savours of such ungrateful contempt, as must needs be very displeasing to him. When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek. God does not only expect such an answer, but expects it immediately upon his call. Whenever he blows with his wind, he looks that we should spread our sails. If we refuse his offered help, we may deservedly want it when desired. As Christ withdrew himself from the spouse because she let him stand knocking so long at the door of her heart, and she still deferred to open, and tired out his loving forbearance with vain and frivolous excuses. Song of Solomon 5:2, etc. But as we must not omit the present performance of any duty which he excites unto, we must not check his influences by being weary of the duties which he assists us in: if we do not improve extraordinary aids by holding out the longer, we provoke him to depart. Timothy Cruso.
Ver. 8. When thou saidst, Seek ye my face, etc. We see here thus much, that God must begin with us, before we can close with him; God must seek us, before we can seek him; God must first desire that we draw near to him, before we for our particulars are able to draw near unto God. Thou saidst, Seek my face; and then and not till then my heart said, Thy face, Lord, will I seek. Thomas Horton.
Ver. 8. When thou saidst, etc. Now God then speaks to the heart to pray when not only he puts upon the duty by saying to the conscience, This thou oughtest to do; but God’s speaking to pray is such as his speech at first was, when he made the world, when he said, “Let there be light, and there was light:” so he says, let there be a prayer, and there is a prayer; that is, he pours upon a man a spirit of grace and supplication, a praying disposition; he puts in motives, suggests arguments and pleas to God; all which you shall find come in readily, and of themselves, and that likewise with a quickening heat and enlargement of affection, and with a lingering and longing, and restlessness of spirit to be alone, to pour out the soul to God, and to vent and form those motions and suggestions into a prayer, till you have laid them together, and made a prayer of them. And this is a speaking to the heart. Observe such times when God doth thus, and neglect them not, then to strike whilst the iron is hot; thou hast then his ear; it is a special opportunity for that business, such a one as thou mayest never have the like. Suitors at court observe molissima fandi tempora, their times of begging when they have kings in a good mood, which they will be sure to take the advantage of; but especially if they should find that the king himself should begin of himself to speak of the business which they would have of him: and thus that phrase of Psalms 10:17, that God prepares the heart, is understood by some, that God prepares the heart, and causeth the ear to hear; that is, he fashions it and composes it into a praying frame. And sure it is a great sign that God means to hear us when himself shall thus indite the petition. Thomas Goodwin.
Ver. 8. When thou saidst, etc. And well may this be pleaded, in that God useth not so to stir up and strengthen us to seek him, but when he intends to be found of us. Psalms 10:17. “Thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear.” Jeremiah 29:13. “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” And God maketh it an argument to himself, that if he say to any inwardly as well as outwardly, Seek my face, he that speaketh righteousness cannot speak thus to them, and frustrate their prayers, and so bid them seek his face in vain. Isaiah 45:19, “I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain; I the Lord speak right things.” If Ahasuerus bid his spouse to ask, surely he will not fail to grant her petition Ezra 7:2; so here. And as when Christ called the blind man to come to him to tell him his grievance, it was truly said to him by them, “Be of good comfort, rise, for he calleth thee.” Mr 10:49. So it is in this case. Thomas Cobbett.
Ver. 8. My heart said unto thee. The heart is between God and our obedience, as it were, an ambassador. It understands from God what God would have done, and then it lays a command upon the whole man. The heart and conscience of man is partly divine, partly human. It hath some divinity in it, especially if the man be a holy man. God speaks, and the heart speaks. God speaks to the heart, and the heart speaks to us. And ofttimes when we hear conscience speaking to us, we neglect it; and as St. Augustine said of himself, “God spake often to me, and I was ignorant of it.” When there is no command in the word that the heart directly thinks of (as indeed many profane careless men scarce have a Bible in their houses), God speaks to them thus; conscience speaks to them some broken command, that they learn against their wills. They heed it not, but David did not so. God said, Seek ye my face: his heart answers, “Thy face, Lord, will I seek.” The heart looks upward to God, and then to itself, My heart said. It said to thee and then to itself. First, his heart said to God, “Lord, I have encouragement from thee. Thou hast commanded that I should seek thy face.” So his heart looked to God, and then it speaks to itself. Thy face, Lord, will I seek. It looks first to God, and then to all things that come from itself. Richard Sibbes.
Ver. 8. There are diverse things considerable of us in this answer and compliance of David’s with God’s command or invitation to him. First, it was seasonable, and in due time; presently does David make this return: “Thy face, Lord, will I seek.” This is the property and disposition of every wise and prudent Christian, to close with the very first opportunities of God’s invitation. Secondly, this answer, as it was seasonable and present, so it was also full and complete; the performance was proportionable to the injunction. Ye shall have some kind of people in the world that God bids them do one thing and they will be sure to do the quite contrary; or, at least, not do as much as the should do, but do it by halves. But, now, here David makes return to God in the full extent and proportion of obedience. God said, Seek my face, and he answered Thy face, Lord, will I seek. Thirdly, it was real, and entire, and sincere; “My heart said.” It is one thing to say it with the mouth, and it is another thing to say it with the heart. With the mouth it is quite easy and ordinary, and nothing more usual. Lord, thy face will we seek, especially in any trouble or calamity, which is incident unto us; but for the heart to say it, that is not so frequent. Fourthly, it was settled and peremptory. “Thy face will I seek; “there is nothing shall hinder me of it, or keep me from it, but I will do it against all opposition. Lastly, this protestation of David was absolute and indefinite and unlimited; “I will seek thy face; “without prescription of time, or place, or condition; not only now, but hereafter: not only for a time, but for ever, in all seasons, in all estates, in all circumstances, still I shall keep me to this—to hold my communion with thee. Then are we Christians, indeed, when we are so immutably and irreversibly and independently upon the opinions or practices of any other person. Condensed from Thomas Horton.
Ver. 8. God hath promised his favour, and, therefore, his people may seek his favour. Nay, he hath commanded his people to seek his favour, and therefore they should seek it. It is an unadvised folly, during the suspension of God’s favour, to unson ourselves, and unpeople ourselves, i.e., by denying the grace and spiritual relation which exist between us and God. That is not the way to gain favour; for when we have undone our relation of children we exclude ourselves from the expectation of favour. No, the wisest and surest way is to seek the renewing of God’s loving countenance, and not to be driven away from God by our unbelief. Obadiah Sedgwick, in “The Doubting Believer, “1653.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 8. The heart in tune with its God. Note, the promptness, heartiness, personality, unreservedness, accuracy, and resolution of the response to the precept.
Ver. 8. The successful seeker. R. Sibbe’s Sermon.
Ver. 8. The echo. See Spurgeon’s Sermons. No. 767.
Psalms 27:9*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 9. Hide not thy face far from me. The word “far” is not in the original, and is a very superfluous addition of the translators, since even the least hiding of the Lord’s face is a great affliction to a believer. The command to seek the Lord’s face would be a painful one if the Lord, by withdrawing himself, rendered it impossible for the seeker to meet with him. A smile from the Lord is the greatest of comforts, his frown the worst of ills. Put not thy servant away in anger. Other servants had been put away when they proved unfaithful, as for instance, his predecessor Saul; and this made David, while conscious of many faults, most anxious that divine long suffering should continue him in favour. This is a most appropriate prayer for us under a similar sense of unworthiness. Thou hast been my help. How truly can we join in this declaration; for many years, in circumstances of varied trial, we have been upheld by our God, and must and will confess our obligation. “Ingratitude, “it is said, “is natural to fallen man, “but to spiritual men it is unnatural and detestable. Leave me not, neither forsake me. A prayer for the future, and an inference from the past. If the Lord had meant to leave us, why did he begin with us? Past help is but a waste of effort if the soul now be deserted. The first petition, “leave me not, “may refer to temporary desertions, and the second word to the final withdrawal of grace, both are to be prayed against; and concerning the second, we have immutable promises to urge. O God of my salvation. A sweet title worthy of much meditation.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 9. Hide not thy face far from me. When I seek thy face, vouchsafe, O God, not to hide thy face from me; for to what purpose should I seek it if I cannot find it? and what hope of finding it if thou be bent to hide it? Sir Richard Baker.
Ver. 9. Put not thy servant away in anger. God puts away many in anger for their supposed goodness, but not any at all for their confessed badness. John Trapp.
Ver. 9. Thy servant. It is a blessed and happy thing to be God’s true “servant.” Consider what the Queen of Sheba said of Solomon’s servants 1 Kings 10:8 : “Happy are these thy servants, “&c. Now Christ Jesus is greater than Solomon, Matthew 12:42, and so a better Master. Good earthly masters will honour good servants, as Proverbs 27:18, “He that waiteth on his master shall be honoured; ” Proverbs 17:2, “A wise servant shall have a portion, or inheritance, among the brethren.” But however some earthly masters may be Nabals and Labans, yet God will not be so: John 12:26 : “Where I am, there shall also my servant be.” “If any man serve me, him will my father honour, “see Lu 12:37. The watchful servants are blessed; their master will make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them, as Matthew 25:21; Matthew 25:23 : “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” Thomas Pierson.
Ver. 9. Thou hast been my help; leave me not, etc. One act of mercy engages God to another. Men argue thus: I have showed you kindness already, therefore trouble me no more; but because God has shown mercy he is more ready still to show mercy; his mercy in election makes him justify, adopt, glorify. Thomas Watson.
Ver. 9. Leave me not; rather, “dismiss me not; “”let not go thy hold of me.” This is the proper sense of the Hebrew verb (vjn), to set a thing loose, to let it go, to abandon it. Samuel Horsley.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 9.
1. Desertion deprecated in all its forms.
2. Experience pleaded.
3. Divine aid implored.
Ver. 9. The horror of saints at the hell of sinners. James Scot.
Psalms 27:10*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 10. When my father and my mother forsake me. These dear relations will be the last to desert me, but if the milk of human kindness should dry up even from their breasts, there is a Father who never forgets. Some of the greatest of the saints have been cast out by their families, and persecuted for righteousness’ sake. Then the Lord will take me up. Will espouse my cause, will uplift me from my woes, will carry me in his arms, will elevate me above my enemies, will at last receive me to his eternal dwelling place.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 10. When my father and my mother forsake me. As there seems to be some difficulty in supposing the psalmist’s parents to have “deserted” him, they might perhaps be said to have “forsaken” him (as Muis conjectures), that is, to have left him behind them, as being dead. James Merrick, M.A., 1720-1769.
Ver. 10. When my father and my mother forsake me. It is indeed the nature of all living creatures, though never so tender of their young ones, yet when they are grown to a ripeness of age and strength, to turn them off to shift for themselves; and even a father and a mother, as tender as they are, have yet somewhat of this common nature in them; for while their children are young they lead them by the hand, but when they are grown up they leave them to their own legs, and if they chance to fall let them rise as they can. But God even then takes his children up, for he knows of what they are made; he knows their strength must be as well supported as their weakness be assisted; he knows they must as well be taken up when they fall, as be held up when they stand. Sir Richard Baker.
Ver. 10. Father and mother. First, who are they? Properly and chiefly our natural parents, of whom we were begotten and born; to whom (under God) we owe our being and breeding. Yet here, not they only; but by synecdoche all other kinsfolks, neighbours, friends, acquaintances, or, indeed, more generally yet, all worldly comforts, stays, and helps whatsoever. 2. But, then, why these named the rathest, and the rest to be included in these? Because we promise to ourselves more help from them than from any of the other. We have a nearer relation to, and a greater interest in them than in any other; and they of all other are the least likely to forsake us. The very brute creatures forsake not their young ones. A hen will not desert her chickens, nor a bear endure to be robbed of her whelps. 3. But, then, thirdly, why both named—father and mother too? Partly because it can hardly be imagined that both of them should forsake their child, though one should hap to be unkind. Partly, because the father’s love being commonly with more providence, the mother’s with more tenderness; both together do better express than alone either would do, the abundant love of God towards us, who is infinitely dear over us, beyond the care of the most provident father, beyond the affection of the most tender mother. 4. But, then, fourthly, when may they be said to forsake us? When at any time they leave us destitute of such help as we stand in need of; whether it be out of choice, when they list not to help us, though they might if they would; or out of necessity, when they cannot help us, though they would if they could. Robert Sanderson.
Ver. 10. Then the Lord will take me up. But dictum factum: these are but words: Are there producible and deeds to make it good? Verily, there are, and that to the very letter. When Ishmael’s mother, despairing of his life, had forsaken him, and laid him down gasping (his last, for ought she knew or could do to help it), in the wilderness, the Lord took him up; he opened a new spring of water, and opened her eyes to see it, and so the child was preserved. Genesis 21:1-34. When Moses’ parents had also forsaken him (for they durst not stand by him any longer), and laid him down among the rushy flags, the Lord took him up too. He provided him of a saviour, the king’s own daughter, and of a nurse the child’s own mother—and so he was preserved too. Exodus 2:6-9. Take but two examples more, out of either Testament one. David and St. Paul, both forsaken of men, both taken up of God. How was David forsaken, in Psalms 142:4, when he had looked upon his right hand, and saw no man that would know him; he had no place to fly unto, and no man cared for his soul. But all the while Dominus ad dextris, there was one at his right hand (though at first he was not aware of him), ready to take him up; as it there followeth, Psalms 142:5, “I cried unto thee, O Lord; I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living.” And how St. Paul was forsaken; take it from himself, 2 Timothy 4:16, “At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me:” a heavy case, and had been heavier had there not been one ready to take his part, at the next verse, “Nevertheless the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me, “etc. What need we any more witnesses? In ore duorum —in the mouth of two such witnesses the point is sufficiently established. But you will yet say, these two might testify what they had already found post factum. But David, in the text, pronounces it de futuro, beforehand, and that somewhat confidently: “The Lord will take me up.” As he doth also elsewhere: “Sure I am that the Lord will avenge the poor, and maintain the cause of the helpless, ” Psalms 109:1-31. But is there any ground for that? Doubtless there is; a double ground; one in the nature, another in the promise of God. In his nature four qualities there are (we take leave so to speak, suitably to our own low apprehensions, for in the Godhead there are properly no qualities); but call them qualities or attributes or what else you will; there are four perfections in God, opposite to those defects which in our earthly parents we have found to be the chief causes why they do so oft forsake us; which give us full assurance that he will take us up when all other succors fail us. Those are his love, his wisdom, his power, his eternity, and all in his nature. To which four, add his promise, and you have the fulness of all the assurance that can be desired. Robert Sanderson.
Ver. 10. The Lord will take me up: Hebrew, will gather me, that is, take me into his care and keeping. In the civil law, we find provision made for outcasts and friendless persons; some hospitals to entertain them, some liberties to comfort and compensate their trouble. It is sure, that in God the forlorn and fatherless find mercy. John Trapp.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 10. The portion of the orphan, the comfort of the persecuted, the paradise of the departing.
Psalms 27:11*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 11. Teach me thy way, O Lord. He does not pray to be indulged with his own way, but to be informed as to the path in which the righteous Jehovah would have him walk. This prayer evinces an humble sense of personal ignorance, great teachableness of spirit, and cheerful obedience of heart. Lead me in a plain path. Help is here sought as well as direction; we not only need a map of the way, but a guide to assist us in the journey. A path is here desired which shall be open, honest, straightforward, in opposition to the way of cunning, which is intricate, tortuous, dangerous. Good men seldom succeed in fine speculations and doubtful courses; plain simplicity is the best spirit for an heir of heaven: let us leave shifty tricks and political expediencies to the citizens of the world—the New Jerusalem owns plain men for its citizens. Esau was a cunning hunter, Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents. Because of mine enemies. These will catch us if they can, but the way of manifest, simple honesty is safe from their rage. It is wonderful to observe how honest simplicity baffles and outwits the craftiness of wickedness. Truth is wisdom. “Honesty is the best policy.”
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 11. Teach me thy way, O Lord. Having compared himself to an exposed, deserted infant, adopted by God, he anon fairly asks to be shown how to walk. He asks the grace of being able to observe all his holy commandments, which he never loses sight of through the whole one hundred and fifty Psalms. What else could he do? when it was the only path to that heavenly house of God, which he had just declared to be the only wish and desire of his heart. Robert Bellarmine (Cardinal), 1542-1621.
Ver. 11. Lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies. If a man travelling in the King’s highway, be robbed between sun and sun, satisfaction is recoverable upon the county where the robbery was made; but if he takes his journey in the night, being an unseasonable time, then it is at his own peril, he must take what falls. So, if a man keep in God’s ways, he shall be sure of God’s protection; but if he stray out of them, he exposes himself to danger. Robert Skinner (Bishop), 1636.
Ver. 11. Because of mine enemies. If once a man commence a professor, the eyes of all are upon him; and well they may, for his profession in the world is a separation from the world. Believers condemn those by their lives who condemn them by their lips. Righteous David saw many who were waiting to triumph in his mistakes. Hence the more they watched, the more he prayed: “Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.” It may be rendered, because of mine observers. Christian, if you dwell in the open tent of licentiousness, the wicked will not walk backward, like modest Shem and Japheth, to cover your shame: but they will walk forward, like cursed Ham, to publish it. Thus they make use of your weakness as a plea for their wickedness. Men are merciless in their censures of Christians; they have no sympathy for their infirmity: while God weighs them in more equal scales, and says, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” While a saint is a dove in the eyes of God, he is only a raven in the estimation of sinners. William Secker.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 11. The plain man’s pathway desired, described, divinely approved, “thy way”, “a plain way”, and divinely taught, “teach me, O Lord, “”lead me.”
Psalms 27:12*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 12. Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies; or I should be like a victim cast to the lions, to be rent in pieces and utterly devoured. God be thanked that our foes cannot have their way with us, or Smithfield would soon be on a blaze again. For false witnesses are risen up against me. Slander is an old fashioned weapon out of the armoury of hell, and is still in plentiful use; and no matter how holy a man may be, there will be some who will defame him. “Give a dog an ill name, and hang him; “but glory be to God, the Lord’s people are not dogs, and their ill names do not injure them. And such as breathe out cruelty. It is their vital breath to hate the good; they cannot speak without cursing them; such was Paul before conversion. They who breathe out cruelty may well expect to be sent to breathe their native air in hell; let persecutors beware!
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
None.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
None.
Psalms 27:13*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 13. Faintness of heart is a common infirmity; even he who slew Goliath was subject to its attacks. Faith puts its bottle of cordial to the lip of the soul, and so prevents fainting. Hope is heaven’s balm for present sorrow. In this land of the dying, it is our blessedness to be looking and longing for our fair portion in the land of the living, whence the goodness of God has banished the wickedness of man, and where holy spirits charm with their society those persecuted saints who were vilified and despised among men. We must believe to see, not see to believe; we must wait the appointed time, and stay our soul’s hunger with foretastes of the Lord’s eternal goodness which shall soon be our feast and our song.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 13. I had fainted, etc. Study much the all sufficiency, the power, the goodness, the unchangeableness of God. 1. The all sufficiency of God. What fulness there is in him to make up all you can lose for him; what refreshments there are in him to sweeten all you can suffer for him. What fulness! You may as well doubt that all the waters of the ocean cannot fill a spoon, as that the divine fulness cannot be enough to you, if you should have nothing left in this world; for all the waters that cover the sea are not so much as a spoonful, compared with the boundless and infinite fulness of all sufficiency. What refreshments in him! One drop of divine sweetness is enough to make one in the very agony of the cruellest death to cry out with joy, “The bitterness of death is past.” Now in him there are not only drops, but rivers; not a scanty sprinkling, but an infinite fulness. 2. Eye much the power of God, how it can support under the cross, what it can bring to pass for you by the cross. No cross so sharp and grievous, but he can make it sweet and comfortable. No cross so heavy and intolerable, but he can make light and easy. No cross so ignominious and reproachful, but he can turn it to your honour. No cross so fastened to you, but he can easily remove it. 3. His goodness. His all sufficiency and power make him able, his goodness makes him willing to do for his people under the cross what his all sufficiency and almighty power can afford. His goodness sets his mighty power to work for his suffering saints. His goodness sets his all sufficiency, his fulness, abroach for them, so that it runs freely upon them; and never more freely than when they are under the cross. I had fainted unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord, &c. What is it that makes you ready to faint under the cross, or thoughts and foresight of it? Look to the goodness of God, there is support. Condensed from David Clarkson.
Ver. 13. I had fainted. The words in italics are supplied by our translators; but, far from being necessary, they injure the sense. Throw out the words, I had fainted, and leave a break after the verse, and the elegant figure of the psalmist will be preserved: “Unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” —what! what, alas! should have become of me! Adam Clarke.
Ver. 13. Unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. In the Hebrew this verse is elliptical, as Calvin here translates it. In the French version he supplies the ellipsis, by adding to the end of the verse the words, “C’estoit fait de moy, “”I had perished.” In our English version the words, “I had fainted, “are introduced as a supplement in the beginning of the verse. Both the supplement of Calvin, and that of our English version, which are substantially the same, doubtless explain the meaning of the passage; but they destroy the elegant abrupt form of the expression employed by the psalmist, who breaks off in the middle of his discourse without completing the sentence, although what he meant to say is very evident. Editorial note to Calvin, in loc.
Ver. 13. Under sore trouble and distress, labour to exercise a strong and lively faith. It was a noble and heroic resolution in that holy man Job, under his singular trials Job 13:15 : “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him; “as if he had said, Let my strokes be never so sore and heavy, yet I will not let go my grips of his word and promises, I will not raze these foundations of my hope. It was the way the psalmist kept himself from sinking under his heavy burdens: I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. …Faith brings new strength and auxiliary supplies of grace from heaven, when the former supply is exhausted and spent; whereof David had the sweet experience here. As God doth plant and actuate grace in the soul, so he is pleased to come in with seasonable supplies and reinforcements to the weak and decayed graces of his people, answerable to their present exigencies and pressures; and thus he doth from time to time feed the believer’s lamp with fresh oil, give in more faith, more love, more hope, and more desires; and hereby he gives power to the faint, and strengthens the things which remain when ready to die. John Willison.
Ver. 13. Unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living: a cordial made up of three sovereign ingredients—a hope to see; and to see the goodness of God; and the goodness of God in the land of the living. Sir Richard Baker.
Ver. 13. The land of the living. Alas! what a land of the living is this, in which there are more dead than living, more under ground than above it; where the earth is fuller of graves than houses; where life lies trembling under the hand of death; and where death hath power to tyrannize over life! No, my soul, there only is the land of the living where there are none but the living; where there is a church, not militant, but triumphant; a church indeed, but no churchyard, because none dead, nor none that can die; where life is not passive, nor death active; where life sits crowned, and where death is swallowed up in victory. Sir Richard Baker.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 13. Faith, its precedence of sight, its objects, its sustaining power.
Ver. 13. Believing to see. See Spurgeon’s Sermons. No. 766.
Psalms 27:14*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 14. Wait on the Lord. Wait at his door with prayer; wait at his foot with humility; wait at his table with service; wait at his window with expectancy. Suitors often win nothing but the cold shoulder from earthly patrons after long and obsequious waiting; he speeds best whose patron is in the skies. Be of good courage. A soldier’s motto. Be it mine. Courage we shall need, and for the exercise of it we have as much reason as necessity, if we are soldiers of King Jesus. And he shall strengthen thine heart. He can lay the plaister right upon the weak place. Let the heart be strengthened, and the whole machine of humanity is filled with power; a strong heart makes a strong arm. What strength is this which God himself gives to the heart? Read the “Book of Martyrs, “and see its glorious deeds of prowess; go to God rather, and get such power thyself. Wait, I say, on the Lord. David, in the words “I say, “sets his own private seal to the word which, as an inspired man, he had been moved to write. It is his testimony as well as the command of God, and indeed he who writes these scanty notes has himself found it so sweet, so reviving, so profitable to draw near to God, that on his own account he also feels bound to write, “Wait, I SAY, on the Lord.”
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 14. Wait on the Lord, be of good courage. Be comfortable, hold fast (as the Greek hath), be manly, or quit thee as a man; which word the apostle useth. 1 Corinthians 16:13. These are the words of encouragement against remissness, fear, faintness of heart, or other infirmities. Henry Ainsworth.
Ver. 14. Wait on the Lord, be of good courage.
Stand but your ground, your ghostly foes will fly—
Hell trembles at a heaven directed eye;
Choose rather to defend than to assail—
Self confidence will in the conflict fail:
When you are challenged you may dangers meet—
True courage is a fixed, not sudden heat;
Is always humble, lives in self distrust,
And will itself into no danger thrust.
Devote yourself to God, and you will find
God fights the battles of a will resigned.
Love Jesus! love will no base fear endure—
Love Jesus! and of conquest rest secure. Thomas Ken (Bishop), 1637-1710-11.
Ver. 14. Think not the government is out of Christ’s hand, when men are doing many sad things, and giving many heavy blows to the work of God. No, no; men are but his hand; and it is the hand of God that justly and righteously is lying heavy upon his people. Look above men, then; you have not to do with them: there is a turn of matters, just as he is pleased to turn his hand. Ralph Erskine, 1685-1752.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 14. The believer’s position, “wait; “his condition, “good courage; “his support, “he shall, “etc.; his perseverance, “wait” repeated a second time; his reward.

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Psalm 26

holy-bible-background

Verses 1-12
Title. A Psalm of David. The sweet singer of Israel appears before us in this Psalm as one enduring reproach; in this he was the type of the great Son of David, and is an encouraging example to us to carry the burden of slander to the throne of grace. It is an ingenious surmise that this appeal to heaven was written by David at the time of the assassination of Ishbosheth, by Baanah and Rechab, to protest his innocence of all participation in that treacherous murder; the tenor of the Psalm certainly agrees with the supposed occasion, but it is not possible with such a slender clue to go beyond conjecture.
Division. Unity of subject is so distinctly maintained, that there are no sharp divisions. David Dickson has given an admirable summary in these words: —”He appeals to God”, the supreme Judge, in the testimony of a good conscience, bearing him witness; first, of his endeavour to walk uprightly as a believer, Psalms 26:1-3; secondly, of his keeping himself from the contagion of the evil counsel, sinful causes, and examples of the wicked, Psalms 26:4-5; thirdly, of his purpose still to behave himself holily and righteously, out of love to be partaker of the public privileges of the Lord’s people in the congregation, Psalms 26:6-8 Whereupon he prayeth to be free of the judgment coming upon the wicked, Psalms 26:9-10 according as he had purposed to eschew their sins, Psalms 26:11 and he closes the prayer with comfort and assurance of being heard, Psalms 26:12.
EXPOSITION
Ver. 1. Judge me, O Jehovah. A solemn appeal to the just tribunal of the heart searching God, warranted by the circumstances of the writer, so far as regarded the particular offences with which he was wrongly charged. Worried and worn out by the injustice of men, the innocent spirit flies from its false accusers to the throne of Eternal Right. He had need have a clear case who dares to carry his suit into the King’s Bench of heaven. Such an appeal as this is not to be rashly made on any occasion; and as to the whole of our walk and conversation, it should never be made at all, except as we are justified in Christ Jesus: a far more fitting prayer for a sinful mortal is the petition, “Enter not into judgment with thy servant.” For I have walked in mine integrity. He held integrity as his principle, and walked in it as his practice. David had not used any traitorous or unrighteous means to gain the crown, or to keep it; he was conscious of having been guided by the noblest principles of honour in all his actions with regard to Saul and his family. What a comfort it is to have the approbation of one’s own conscience! If there be peace within the soul, the blustering storms of slander which howl around us are of little consideration. When the little bird in my bosom sings a merry song, it is no matter to me if a thousand owls hoot at me from without. I have trusted also in the Lord. Faith is the root and sap of integrity. He who leans upon the Lord is sure to walk in righteousness. David knew that God’s covenant had given him the crown, and therefore he took no indirect or unlawful means to secure it; he would not slay his enemy in the cave, nor suffer his men at arms to smite him when he slept unguarded on the plain. Faith will work hard for the Lord, and in the Lord’s way, but she refuses so much as to lift a finger to fulfil the devices of unrighteous cunning. Rebecca acted out a great falsehood in order to fulfil the Lord’s decree in favour of Jacob—this was unbelief; but Abraham left the Lord to fulfil his own purposes, and took the knife to slay his son—this was faith. Faith trusts God to accomplish his own decrees. Why should I steal when God has promised to supply my need? Why should I avenge myself when I know that the Lord has espoused my cause? Confidence in God is a most effectual security against sin. Therefore I shall not slide. Slippery as the way is, so that I walk like a man upon ice, yet faith keeps my heels from tripping, and will continue to do so. The doubtful ways of policy are sure sooner or later to give a fall to those who run therein, but the ways of honesty, though often rough, are always safe. We cannot trust in God if we walk crookedly; but straight paths and simple faith bring the pilgrim happily to his journey’s end.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. This Psalm is coupled on to the foregoing by thoughts and words. At the close of the foregoing the psalmist had prayed for integrity Psalms 26:1. Unless this Psalm is regarded as a sequel to the preceding one, it will seem vainglorious; but being combined with the penitential acknowledgments of sin, and with the earnest supplications for pardon and grace, and with the earnest profession of faith that God has heard his prayer, which breathe forth in the foregoing Psalm, it will be seen that the declarations which the psalmist now makes of integrity, are not assertions of human merit, but acknowledgments of divine mercy. As Augustine says, “Non merita mea, sed misericordia tua, ante oculos meos est.” Christopher Wordsworth.
Ver. 1. Judge me, O Lord; for I have walked in mine integrity. A good cause, a good conscience, and a good deportment, are good grounds of appeal to God. Ingram Cobbin.
Ver. 1. Judge me, O Lord. Nothing is so pleasing to him that is upright as to know that God knoweth he is so. As it is a small matter with those who are sincere to be condemned by men, so it is not much with them to be condemned or approved by them; for indeed neither “he that commendeth himself, “as the apostle speaks 2 Corinthians 10:18, nor he that is commended by others, “is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.” The testimony, or letters commendatory of all the men in the world will do us no good, unless God give us his also. Joseph Caryl.
Ver. 1. Judge me, O Lord. As an instance of appeal to heaven, we quote that mighty preacher of the word, George Whitfield. “However some may account me a mountebank and an enthusiast, one that is only going to make you methodically mad; they may breathe out their invectives against me, yet Christ knows all; he takes notice of it, and I shall leave it to him to plead my cause, for he is a gracious Master. I have already found him so, and am sure he will continue so. Vengeance is his, and he will repay it.” George Whitfield, 1714-1770.
Ver. 1. “Integrity.” (Mh), or (Mymt) is used of whatever is uninjured, or is free from any spot or blemish; and hence we find the term applied to an unblemished animal offering in sacrifice. Le 1:3 3:9. George Phillips.
Ver. 1. Mine integrity. There is a force in the possessive pronoun “my, “which must be attended to. The psalmist intimates that he had proceeded in one uniform course, notwithstanding all the devices of his enemies. W. Wilson, D.D.
Ver. 1. I have trusted in the Lord. Trust in God is the fountain of “integrity.” Whoever places his hope in God need not seek to advance his worldly interests by violating his duty towards his neighbour: he waits for everything from above, and is, at the same time, always determined that he will not be deprived of the favour of his heavenly Father through violating his commandments. E. W. Hengstenberg.
Ver. 1. I shall not slide. It is a striking word, as fully expressive of the completeness of God’s protection and the security of his upholding hand as the psalmist’s language of the integrity of his walk and trust in God. It is not, as in our Prayer book version, “I shall not fall, “but it is, “I shall not even slide; “not even make a false step or stumble. Barton Bouchier.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 1.
1. Two inseparable companions —faith and holiness.
2. The blessedness of the man who possesses them. He needs not fear the judgment, nor the danger of the way.
3. The only means of procuring them.
Ver. 1. (last sentence). The upholding power of trust in God.
Psalms 26:2*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 2. There are three modes of trial here challenged, which are said in the original to refer to trial by touch, trial by smell, and trial by fire. The psalmist was so clear from the charge laid against him, that he submitted himself unconditionally to any form of examination which the Lord might see fit to employ. Examine me, O Lord. Look me through and through; make a minute survey; put me to the question, cross examine my evidence. And prove me. Put me again to trial; and see if I would follow such wicked designs as my enemies impute to me. Try my reins and my heart. Assay me as metals are assayed in the furnace, and do this to my most secret parts, where my affections hold their court; see, O God, whether or no I love murder, and treason, and deceit. All this is a very bold appeal, and made by a man like David, who feared the Lord exceedingly, it manifests a most solemn and complete conviction of innocence. The expressions here used should teach us the thoroughness of the divine judgment, and the necessity of being in all things profoundly sincere, lest we be found wanting at the last. Our enemies are severe with us with the severity of spite, and this a brave man endures without fear; but God’s severity is that of unswerving right. Who shall stand against such a trial? The sweet singer says “Who can stand before his cold?” and we may well enquire, “Who can stand before the heat of his justice?”
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 2. The psalmist uses three words, examine, prove, try. These words are designed to include all the modes in which the reality of anything is tested; and they imply together that he wished the most thorough investigation to be made; he did not shrink from any test. Albert Barnes.
Ver. 2. Examine —prove —try. As gold, by fire, is severed and parted from dross, so singleness of heart and true Christian simplicity is best seen and made most evident in troubles and afflictions. In prosperity every man will seem godly, but afflictions do draw out of the heart whatsoever is there, whether it be good or bad. Robert Cawdray.
Ver. 2. Prove me. The work of conscience within us doth prove us. God hath set up a light within us, and when this is enlightened by the Word, then it makes a man’s breast full of light. Now a faithful godly man loveth that this should be tender, active, speaking out of God’s Word for every duty, and against every sin. You see the quickness of it in David, when it is said, “His heart smote him; “and 1 John 3:1-24., “If thy heart condemn thee, God is greater than thy heart.” Alas! if thou within thine own self judgest thyself to sin thus and thus, God doth much more. Try thy integrity; art thou willing to have a tender conscience, and an informed conscience? Dost thou love to hear what that speaks out of God’s Word? whether peace or duty? this is comfortable. But on the other side, if thou art a man that rebellest against the light of it, wouldst fain put out the sting of it, wouldst be glad to feel no such living thing in thy breast, then thou hast cause to suspect thyself. Oh, it is to be feared that there are many that give themselves to lusts, and carnal pleasures, that so they may put a foggy mist between their conscience and themselves. Others dig into the world, labouring to become senseless, that so there may be an eclipse of this light by the interposition of the earth. Others run to damnable heresies, denying Scriptures, God, heaven, hell; pleading for an universal salvation of all. What are these but refuges of guilty consciences? We must distinguish between our carnal concupiscence, and conscience; between deluded imaginations, and conscience; between an erroneous and scrupulous conscience, and a well grounded and truly informed conscience; and when we have done so, we must follow conscience as far as that follows the Word. Anthony Burgess.
Ver. 2. Reins…heart. The “reins, “as the seat of the lower animal passions; the “heart, “as comprising not only the higher affections, but also the will and the conscience. He thus desires to keep nothing back; he will submit himself to the searching flame of the Great Refiner, that all dross of self deception may be purged away. J. J. Stewart Perowne.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 2. Divine examinations. Their variety, severity, searching nature, accuracy, certainty: when to be desired, and when to be dreaded.
Psalms 26:3*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 3. For thy lovingkindness is before mine eyes. An object of memory and a ground of hope. A sense of mercy received sets a fair prospect before the faithful mind in its gloomiest condition, for it yields visions of mercies yet to come, visions not visionary but real. Dwell, dear reader, upon that celestial word lovingkindness. It has a heavenly savour. Is it not an unmatchable word, unexcelled, unrivalled? The goodness of the Lord to us should be before our eyes as a motive actuating our conduct; we are not under the bondage of the law, but we are under the sweet constraints of grace, which are far more mighty, although far more gentle. Men sin with the law before their eyes, but divine love, when clearly seen, sanctifies the conversation. If we were not so forgetful of the way of mercy in which God walks toward us, we should be more careful to walk in the ways of obedience toward him. And I have walked in thy truth. The psalmist was preserved from sin by his assurance of the truthfulness of God’s promise, which truth he endeavoured to imitate as well as to believe. Observe from this verse that an experience of divine love will show itself in a practical following of divine truth; those who neglect either the doctrinal or practical parts of truth must not wonder if they lose the experimental enjoyment of it. Some talk of truth, it is better to walk in it. Some vow to do well in future, but their resolutions come to nothing; only the regenerate man can say “I have walked in thy truth.”
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 3. The practical effect of divine goodness is seen in this text. As the chief thing communicated from God is the divine nature, whereby we are made to resemble him, so the promises of God set home upon the soul are the means of communication; they are the milk and honey of the Scripture, which do not cherish the old man, but support the new; they are no pillows for sinful sloth, but spurs to holy diligence. The promises of grace animate the soul to duty; and when we thus see the goodness of the Lord, it encourages our subjection to his government. Timothy Cruso.
Ver. 3-4. I have walked in thy truth, I have not sat with vain persons. Be as careful as thou canst, that the persons thou choosest for thy companions be such as fear God. The man in the gospel was possessed with the devil, who dwelt among the tombs, and conversed with graves and carcasses. Thou art far from walking after the good Spirit, if thou choosest to converse with open sepulchres, and such as are dead in sins and trespasses. God will not shake the wicked by the hand, as the Vulgate reads Job 8:20, neither must the godly man. David proves the sincerity of his course, by his care to avoid such society: I have walked in thy truth; I have not sat with vain persons. There is a twofold “truth.” 1. Truth of doctrine. Thy law is the truth, free from all dross of corruption and falsehood of error.
2. Truth of affection, or of the inward parts. This may be called “thy truth, “or God’s truth, though man be the subject of it, partly because it proceedeth from him, partly because it is so pleasant to him; in which respect a broken heart is called the “sacrifice of God.” Psalms 51:6. As if he had said, I could not have walked in the power of religion, and in integrity, if I had associated with vile and vain company; I could never have walked in thy precepts if I had “sat with vain persons.” Observe the phrase, “I have not sat with vain persons.” 1. Sitting is a posture of choice. It is at a man’s liberty, whether he will sit or stand. 2. Sitting is a posture of pleasure. Men sit for their ease, and with delight; therefore, the glorified are said to “sit in heavenly places.” Eph 2:6. 3. Sitting is a posture of staying or abiding. 2 Kings 5:3. Standing is a posture of going, but sitting of staying. The blessed, who shall forever be with the Lord and his chosen, are mentioned “to sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 8:11. David in neither of these senses durst sit with vain persons. He might, as his occasions required, use their company, but durst not knowingly choose such company. They could not be the object of his election who were not the object of his affection. “I hate the congregation of evil doers, “saith he. As siting is a posture of pleasure, he did not sit with vain persons. He was sometimes amongst them to his sorrow, but not to his solace. They were to him, as the Canaanites to the Israelites, pricks in his eyes, and thorns in his sides. “Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar!” Psalms 120:5. It caused grief, not gladness, that he was forced to be amongst the profane. George Swinnock.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 3. Delight for the eyes and safety for the feet; or the good man’s sweet contemplation and holy practice; or the heavenly compound of godliness—motive, and motion, enjoying and acting, love and truth, free grace and good works.
Ver. 3. Thy lovingkindness is before mine eyes. It might be well to follow David and to keep the lovingkindness of God before our eyes. This should be done in four ways: —
1. As a subject of contemplation.
2. As the source of encouragement.
3. As an incitement to praise.
4. As an example for imitation. William Jay.
Psalms 26:4*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 4-5. So far from being himself an open offender against the laws of God, the psalmist had not even associated with the lovers of evil. He had kept aloof from the men of Belial. A man is known by his company, and if we have kept ourselves apart from the wicked, it will always be evidence in our favour should our character be impugned. He who was never in the parish is not likely to have stolen the corn. He who never went to sea is clearly not the man who scuttled the ship.
Ver. 4. I have not sat with vain persons. True citizens have no dealings with traitors. David had no seat in the parliament of triflers. They were not his boon companions at feasts, nor his advisers in council, nor his associates in conversation. We must needs see, and speak, and trade, with men of the world, but we must on no account take our rest and solace in their empty society. Not only the profane, but the vain are to be shunned by us. All those who live for this life only are vain, chaffy, frothy men, quite unworthy of a Christian’s friendship. Moreover as this vanity is often allied with falsehood, it is well to save ourselves altogether from this untoward generation, lest we should be led from bad to worse and from tolerating the vain should come to admire the wicked. Neither will I go in with dissemblers. Since I know that hypocritical piety is double iniquity, I will cease all acquaintance with pretenders. If I must need walk the same street, I will not enter the same door and spend my time in their society. The congregation of the hypocrites is not one with which we should cultivate communion; their ultimate rendezvous will be the lowest pit of hell, let us drop their acquaintance now! for we shall not desire it soon. They hang their beads around their necks and carry the devil in their hearts. This clause is in the future tense, to indicate that the writer felt no desire to begin an acquaintance with the characters whom up till then he had shunned. We must maintain the separated path with more and more circumspection as we see the great redemption day approaching. Those who would be transfigured with Jesus, must not be disfigured by conformity to the world. The resolution of the psalmist suggests, that even among professed followers of truth we must make distinctions, for as there are vain persons out of the church, so there are dissemblers in it and both are to be shunned with scrupulous decision.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 3-4. I have walked in thy truth, I have not sat with vain persons. See Psalms on “Psalms 26:3” for further information.
Ver. 4. I have not sat with vain persons. There is a necessary commerce with men in buying and selling, or as the apostle says, “We must needs go out of the world, “but do not voluntarily choose the company of the wicked. 1 Corinthians 5:10. “I have written unto you not to keep company, “etc. 1 Corinthians 5:11. Do not be too familiar with them. What do Christ’s doves among birds of prey? What do virgins among harlots? The company of the wicked is very defiling, it is like going among them that have the plague. “They were mingled among the heathen and learned their works.” If you mingle bright armour with rusty, the bright armour will not brighten the rusty, but the rusty armour will spoil the bright. Pharaoh taught Joseph to swear, but Joseph did not teach Pharaoh to pray. Thomas Watson.
Ver. 4. Neither will I go with dissemblers. Chaldee: “I will not go in with those that hide themselves to do evil.” Wickedness is not candid, and loves concealment, while truth and righteousness are open, and seek scrutiny. Job 24:13-17, John 3:20-21. None will deny that the candid man has far fewer troubles with his own conduct than the tortuous and deceitful. The righteous shun the wicked both for the sin and for the misery that are in their ways. William S. Plumer.
Ver. 4. Dissemblers. The hypocrite has much angel without, more devil within. He fries in words, freezes in works; speaks by ells, doth good by inches. He is a stinking dunghill, covered over with snow; a loose hung mill that keeps great clacking, but grinds no grist; a lying hen that cackles when she hath not laid. Thomas Adams.
Ver. 4. Dissemblers. Perhaps when the bright sunbeams of an early spring have robed all nature in a smiling garb, you have taken your little baskets, and gone in quest of a bank of sweet smelling modest violets, and you may have found flowers so like them, in form and colour, that you have been deceived, and eagerly grasped you prize; but alas! the sweet odour which should have scented the gale, was found wanting, and betrayed the dog violet. An apt emblem this of those, who, “having the form of godliness, deny the power thereof.” 2 Timothy 3:5. Mrs. Rogers, in “The Shepherd King.”
Ver. 4-5. As rotten apples corrupt those sound ones that do touch them and lie close to them, even so the evil manners and bad conditions of the ungodly do infect those that keep them company. Robert Cawdray.
Ver. 4-5. “It is difficult (saith a late ingenious writer) even to a miracle to keep God’s commandments and evil company too.” How suddenly after your soul refreshments in your closet communion have you lost all your heats and spiritual fervencies, which you had in secret, and have instantly cooled by going forth into cold and corrupt air! When a saint hath been in private ravished with the love of God and the joys of heaven, and afterwards meets with company, which neither doth nor can speak one word of such matters, what a damp it is to him! What a quenching, as it were, of the Spirit of God in him! Nay, is not that true which one saith, that “the people of God do generally lose more by worldly men, that are of a blameless conversation before men, than they lose by wicked and profane men”? Lewis Stuckley.
Ver. 4-5,9. He that would not be found among sinners in the other world, must take heed that he do not frequent their company in this. Those whom the constable finds wandering with vagrants, may be sent with them to the house of correction. “Lord, “said a good woman, on her death bed, when in doubt of her salvation, “send me not to hell amongst wicked men, for thou knowest I never loved their company all my life long.” David deprecates their future doom upon the like ground, and argues it as a sign of his sincerity: I have not sat with vain persons, neither will I go in with dissemblers. I have hated the congregation of evil doers; and will not sit with the wicked…O gather not my soul with sinner. Lord, I have not loved the wicked so well as to sit with them for a little time, and shall I live with them forever? I have not lain amongst them rotting on the earth; and wilt thou gather my soul with those sticks for the unquenchable fire of hell? Lord, I have been so far from liking, that thou knowest I have loathed the congregation of evil doers. Do not I hate them that hate thee? Yea, I hate them with perfect hatred; and shall thy friends fare as thy foes? I appeal to thy Majesty, that my great comfort is in thy chosen. I rejoice only to be amongst thy children here, and shall I be excluded their company hereafter? “O do not gather my soul with sinners, “for the wine press of thine eternal anger! Marcion, the heretic, seeing Polycarp, wondered that he would not own him. Do you not know me, Polycarp? Yes, saith Polycarp, “Scio te esse primogenitum diaboli; ” “I know thee to be the firstborn of the devil, “and so despised him. George Swinnock.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 4. Vain persons. Who they are. Why they are to be avoided. What will become of them. Dissemblers. Describe this numerous family. Show what their objects are. The mischief done to believers by their craftiness. The need of shunning them, and their fearful end.
Psalms 26:5*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 4-5. See Psalms on “Psalms 26:4” for further information.
Ver. 5. I have hated the congregation of evil doers. A severe sentence, but not too severe. A man who does not hate evil terribly, does not love good heartily. Men, as men, we must always love, for they are our neighbours, and therefore to be loved as ourselves; but evil doers, as such, are traitors to the Great King, and no loyal subject can love traitors. What God hates we must hate. The congregation or assembly of evil doers, signifies violent men in alliance and conclave for the overthrow of the innocent; such synagogues of Satan are to be held in abhorrence. What a sad reflection it is that there should be a congregation of evil doers as well as a congregation of the upright, a church of Satan as well as a church of God; a seed of the serpent as well as a seed of the woman; an old Babylon as well as a new Jerusalem: a great whore sitting upon many waters, to be judged in wrath, as well as a chaste bride of the Lamb to be crowned at his coming. And will not sit with the wicked. Saints have a seat at another table, and will never leave the King’s dainties for the husks of the swine trough. Better to sit with the blind, and the halt, and the lame, at the table of mercy, than with the wicked in their feasts of ungodliness, yea, better to sit on Job’s dunghill than on Pharaoh’s throne. Let each reader see well to his company, for such as we keep in this world, we are likely to keep in the next.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 4-5. See Psalms on “Psalms 26:4” for further information.
Ver. 4-5. See Psalms on “Psalms 26:4” for further information.
Ver. 4-5,9. See Psalms on “Psalms 26:4″ for further information.
Ver. 5. I have hated the congregation of evil doers, etc. The hatred of God’s enemies, qua his enemies—”yea, I hate them right sore” so entirely opposed to the indifferentism of the present day, has always been one distinguishing mark of his ancient servants. Witness Phinehas Psalms 106:41; “And that was counted unto him for righteousness unto all generations for evermore; ” Samuel with Agag; Elias with the priests of Baal. And notice the commendation of the angel of Ephesus, “Thou canst not bear them that are evil.” Revelation 2:2. J. M. Neale.
Ver. 5. I have hated the congregation of evil doers. We consider them as God’s enemies, so we hate them; not their persons, but their vices; for that, as Augustine defines it, is odium perfectum, a perfect hatred. And indeed it is the hatred that God beareth to his enemies; for “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” Romans 1:18; not against their persons—they are his workmanship, and carry his image in some sort, though much disfigured; but against the unrighteousness and ungodliness of men, by which their persons do stand obnoxious to his displeasure. And thus I find the saints of God have triumphed over the wicked, as Israel over Pharaoh, and the Gileadites over the children of Ammon; not rejoicing in the destruction of God’s creatures, but of God’s enemies; and wishing with Deborah and Barak, “So let all thine enemies perish, O Lord.” This is no more but an applauding of the judgment of God, and a celebration of his justice. Edward Marbury.
Ver. 5. I have hated, etc. Consider that there can be no true friendship betwixt a godly and a wicked person; therefore it concerneth thee to be the more wary in thy choice. He that in factions hath an eye to power, in friendship will have an eye to virtue. Friendship, according to the philosopher, is one soul in two bodies. But how can they ever be of one soul that are as different as air and earth, and as contrary as fire and water? All true love is, motus animi ad fruendum Deo propter ipsum; se et proximo propter Deum —a motion of the soul towards the enjoyment of God for himself, and his neighbours for God’s sake; so that he can never truly love man who doth not love his Maker. God is the only foundation upon which we can build friendship; therefore such as live without him, cannot love us in him. That building which is loose, without this foundation can never stand long. A wicked man may call that profession he maketh to his brother by the name of love, but heathens can tell us that virtue alone is the hand which can twist the cords of love; that other combinations are but a confederacy, and all other but conjunctions in hypocrisy. George Swinnock.
Ver. 5. Wheresoever we perceive any people to worship God truly after his word, there we may be certain the church of Christ to be, unto the which we ought to associate ourselves, and to desire, with the prophet David, to praise God in the midst of this church. But if we behold, through the iniquity of time, congregations to be made with counterfeit religion, otherwise than the word of God doth teach, we ought then, if we be required to be companions thereof, to say again with David, “I have hated the synagogue of the malignant, and will not sit with the wicked.” In the Apocalypse, the church of Ephesus is highly commended, because she tried such as said they were apostles and were not in deed, and therefore would not abide the company of them. Further, God commanded his people that they should not seek Bethel, neither enter into Galgala, where idolatry was used, by the mouth of his prophet Amos. John Philpot (Martyr). Burnt at Smithfield, 1555.
Ver. 5. How few consider how they harden wicked men by an intimacy with them, whereas withdrawal from them might be a means to make them ashamed! Whilst we are merry and jovial with them, we make them believe their condition is not deplorable, their danger is not great; whereas if we shunned them, as we would a bowed wall, whilst they remain enemies to the Lord, this might do them good, for the startling of them, and rousing of them out of their unhappy security and strong delusions wherein they are held. Lewis Stuckley.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 5. Bad company. Cases of its evil results, excuses for it answered, warnings given, motives urged for relinquishing.
Psalms 26:6*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 6. I will wash mine hands in innocency. He would publicly avow himself to be altogether clear of the accusations laid against him, and if any fault in other matters could be truthfully alleged against him, he would for the future abstain from it. The washing of the hands is a significant action to set forth our having no connection with a deed, as we still say, “I wash my hands of the whole business.” As to perfect innocence, David does not here claim it, but he avows his innocence of the crimes whereof he was slanderously accused; there is, however, a sense in which we may be washed in absolute innocency, for the atoning blood makes us clean every whit. We ought never to rest satisfied short of a full persuasion of our complete cleansing by Jesus’ precious blood. So will I compass thine altar, O Lord. Priests unto God must take great care to be personally cleansed; the brazen laver was as needful as the golden altar; God’s worship requires us to be holy in life. He who is unjust to man cannot be acceptably religious towards God. We must not bring our thank offerings with hands defiled with guilt. To love justice and purity is far more acceptable to God, than ten thousands of the fat of fed beasts. We see from this verse that holy minds delight in the worship of the Lord, and find their sweetest solace at his altar; and that it is their deepest concern never to enter upon any course of action which would unfit them for the most sacred communion with God. Our eye must be upon the altar which sanctifies both the giver and the gift, yet we must never draw from the atoning sacrifice an excuse for sin, but rather find in it a most convincing argument for holiness.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 6. I will wash mine hands in innocency. There are two eminent lavers in the gospel; the first, Christ’s bath, a hot bath, lavacrum sanguinis, the laver of Christ’s blood; the second, our bath, a cold bath, lavacrum lachrimarum, the laver of repentance. These two mixed together will prove a sovereign composition, wrought first by Christ himself when he sweat water and blood. The first is as that pool of Bethesda into which whoever enters with faith, is healed; the blood of Christ is the true laver of regeneration, a fountain set open for Judah and Jerusalem to wash in. “The blood of Christ purgeth us from all sins.” 1 John 1:7. We account it charity in mothers to feed their children with their own milk: how dear is the love of Christ, that both washes and feeds us with his own blood! No sooner are we born in Christ, but just as our mother’s, so Christ’s blood is turned into milk, nourishing us to everlasting salvation. What is calamus benjamini, or storax, or a thousand rivers of oil, to make us clean, except the Lord purge and cleanse us? No; it is his blood “that speaks better things than the blood of Abel.” “Unto him, therefore, that loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests to God and his Father: to him be glory and dominion for ever.” Revelation 1:5-6. But yet it is the second bath, the laver of repentance, that must apply and make the first operative. This bath of Mary Magdalene’s repentance, it is a kind of rebaptism, giving strength and effect to the first washing. And it implies a three fold act: first, to bruise our hearts by contrition; secondly, to lay our wounds open by confession to God; thirdly, to wash our hands in innocency, by satisfaction to men…Wash now and wash all; from the crown of the head to the sole of the foot there is nothing in us but wounds and sores; yet above all there is something here in it that David washes his “hands.” Indeed it is not enough to come with wet eyes, if we come with foul hands to offer with unwashen hands; the Gentiles would not do it. Contrition and confession to God make not up complete repentance without satisfaction to men. Non remittitur peccatum nisi restituatur ablatum: (Augustine), it is as true as old, and in old father Latimer’s English it is “Either there must be restitution, open or secret, or else hell.” Whoever repairs not the wrong, rejoiceth in the sin. Proverbs 2:14. Where there is no satisfaction, Non agitur sed fingitur paenitentia, saith St. Augustine; and those who restore not all, wash not their whole hands, they dip only the tips of their fingers. Extortion, rapine, bribery, these are the sins of the hands (sins so proper to the Jews, that they may well conceive as they do that the devil lies all night on their hands, and that is it makes them so diligent in washing); but as for us Christians, unless these vipers be shaken off our hands, though ye cover the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, yet if you continue in your pollutions, God regards not your offering any more, nor will he receive it with good will at your hands. Matthew 2:13. Isaac Bargrave’s Sermon before the House of Commons, 1623.
Ver. 6. I will wash mine hands in innocency: so will I compass thine altar, O Lord. If greatness might have privileged this person from impurity, David was a king; if the grace of his soul might have freed him from the soil of sin, he was “a man after God’s own heart.” But let not great men put too much trust in their greatness; the longer the robe is the more soil in contracts: great power may prove the mother of great damnation. And as for purity, there is a generation that say there’s no sin in them, but they deceive themselves; there is no truth in them. Whatever Rome’s rusiologyi pretend for the power of nature, and of free will, we wretched sinners are taught to conceive more truly of our own infirmity. Christ’s own apostle, stout Thomas, failed in the faith of his resurrection; Peter (whose chair is now the pretended seat of infallibility) denied his Master; David, “a man after God’s own heart, “hath need of washing; and who can say, I am pure in the sight of the Lord? Certainly, O Lord, no flesh is righteous in thy sight. No; this is the best ground of Christian felicity, if with David we fall to a sight of our own sins; if with the Publican we strike our own breasts, and not with the Pharisee, cast our eye so much upon other men’s faults. Why should we, like tailors, measure all men but ourselves? as if the best of us had not sin enough of his own to think on. See how David calls himself to account for his own sins; “O Lord, I know mine iniquity, and my sin is ever before me.” Oh, the powerful effect of Christian devotion, when by the reflective act of the understanding, science is turned into conscience, and our knowledge is but the glass of our imperfection, the glass wherein the sight of our sins sends us presently to God, as it did David here, who makes this account only betwixt God and his own soul, “I, O Lord.” First, he takes his rise from humility and the sight of his own sins, and he soars up by the wings of faith to the throne of God’s mercy: “I, O Lord.” He sees with his own eyes, and not only with the church, or the priest’s spectacles; he is his own penitentiary and confessor; here’s no intercession by saints, no masses, merits, indulgences, trentals, dirges: all’s done betwixt God and him: “I, O Lord.” With the eye of humility he looks to himself and his own misery; then with the eye of faith to God and his mercy, and from both these results a third virtue of repentance in the act of preparation, washing the soil of sin in the bath of sorrow: “I will wash mine hands, “etc. Isaac Bargrave.
Ver. 6. I will wash mine hands in purity. Referring in these words, to the ordinary use of the sacrifices, he makes a distinction between himself and those who professed to offer the same divine worship, and thrust themselves forward in the services of the sanctuary, as if they alone had the sole right to perform them. As David, therefore, and these hypocrites were one in this respect, that they entered the sanctuary, and surrounded the sacred altar together, he proceeds to show that he was a true worshipper, declaring that he not only diligently attended to the external rites, but came to worship God with unfeigned devotion. It is obvious that he alludes to the solemn rite of washing which was practised under the law. He, accordingly, reproves the gross superstition of hypocrites, who, in seeking only the purification of water, neglected true purification; whereas it was God’s design, in the appointment of the outward sign, to put men in mind of their inward pollution, and thus to encourage them to repentance. The outward washing alone, instead of profiting hypocrites, kept them at a greater distance from God. When the psalmist, therefore, says, “I will wash my hands in innocence, “he intimates that they only gather more pollution and filth by their washings. The Hebrew word (Nwyqn) nikkayon, signifies the cleanness of anything, and is figuratively used for innocence. We thus see, that as hypocrites derive no moral purity whatever from their washings, David mocks at the labour with which they vainly toil and torment themselves in such rites. John Calvin.
Ver. 6. “I will wash mine hands, “etc. David willing to express his coming with a pure heart to pray to God, doth it by this similitude of a priest: that as a priest washes his hands, and then offers oblation, so had he constantly joined purity and devotion together. Henry Hammond.
Ver. 6. In innocency. The very akmt and crown of all our preparation, the purest water we can wash in, is innocency; and innocency is a virtue of the heart as well as of the hand. “Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” James 4:8. I could wish our washing might be like Cyprian’s baptising, ad tincturam, even till we were dyed in repentance and the blood of Christ. Let the quantity of thy sins be the measure of thy repentance. First offer thine innocency, then thy sacrifice. It is not enough that you come this day by order, you must come with innocency. God requires the duty of the second table, as well as of the first; he abhors the outward act of piety where he finds no conscience and practice of innocency. Isaac Bargrave.
Ver. 6. (first clause). One morning, as Gotthold was pouring water into a basin, he recollected the words of Scripture: I will wash my hands in innocency, a text which shows how diligently the royal prophet had endeavoured to lead a blameless life, and walk habitually in the fear of God. Upon this he mused, and said, Henceforth, my God, every time I pour out water to wash with, I will call to mind that it is my duty to cleanse my hands from wicked actions, my mouth from wicked words, and my heart from wicked lusts and desires, that so I may be enabled to lift holy hands unto thee, and with unspotted lips and heart worship thee, to the best of my ability. What will it profit me to strive after outward purity, if my heart is filthy and abominable in thy sight? Can the food nourish me which I have earned with polluted hands, or seized with violence and injustice, or eaten with insensibility and ingratitude? Ah! no, my God; far from me be food like this. My first care shall be to maintain a blameless walk; my next, when I have thoughtlessly defiled myself, to cleanse and wash away the stain, and remove mine iniquity from thine eyes. “Purge me, O my God, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” Psalms 51:7. Christian Scriver (1629-1693), in “Gotthold’s Emblems.”
Ver. 6. I will compass thine altar, O Lord. On the next day after this feast (the Feast of Tabernacles), the people compassed the altar seven times, with palm boughs in their hands, in the remembrance of the overthrow of Jericho…Not only the boughs, but the days of this whole Feast of Tabernacles, were termed Hosannoth, from the usual acclamation of the people whilst they carried the boughs up and down. Thomas Godwyn, B.D. (1587-1643), in “Moses and Aaron.”
Ver. 6. By the phrase compassing the altar, either he alludes to some Levitical custom of going about the altar, as the priests did in the oblation of their sacrifices; and the people, especially those of them who were more devout and zealous, who possibly moved from place to place, but still within their own court, that they might discern what was done on the several sides of the altar, and so be more affected with it; or rather he implies that he would offer many sacrifices together, which would employ the priests round about the altar. Matthew Poole.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 6. The necessity of personal holiness in order to acceptable worship.
Psalms 26:7*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 7. That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving. David was so far instructed that he does not mention the typical offering, but discerns the spiritual offering which was intended thereby, not the groans of bullocks, but songs of gratitude the spiritual worshipper presents. To sound abroad the worthy praises of the God of all grace should be the everyday business of a pardoned sinner. Let men slander us as they will, let us not defraud the Lord of his praises; let dogs bark, but let us like the moon shine on. And tell of all thy wondrous works. God’s people should not be tongue tied. The wonders of divine grace are enough to make the tongue of the dumb sing. God’s works of love are wondrous if we consider the unworthiness of their objects, the costliness of their method, and the glory of their result. And as men find great pleasure in discoursing upon things remarkable and astonishing, so the saints rejoice to tell of the great things which the Lord hath done for them.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
None.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 7.
1. The believer’s calling—a publisher.
2. The author selected, and the quality of his works. “Thy wondrous works.”
3. The mode of advertising— “voice of thanksgiving”, “tell”, etc.
Psalms 26:8*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 8. Lord, I have loved the habitation of thy house. Into the abodes of sin he would not enter, but the house of God he had long loved, and loved it still. We were sad children if we did not love our Father’s dwelling place. Though we own no sacred buildings, yet the church of the living God is the house of God, and true Christians delight in her ordinances, services, and assemblies. O that all our days were Sabbaths! And the place where thine honour dwelleth. In his church where God is had in honour at all times, where he reveals himself in the glory of his grace, and is proclaimed by his people as the Lord of all. We come not together as the Lord’s people to honour the preacher, but to give glory to God; such an occupation is most pleasant to the saints of the Most High. What are those gatherings where God is not honoured, are they not an offence to his pure and holy eyes, and are they not a sad stumbling block to the people of God? It brings the scalding tear upon our cheek to hear sermons in which the honour of God is so far from being the preacher’s object, that one might almost imagine that the preacher worshipped the dignity of manhood, and thought more of it than of the Infinite Majesty of God.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 8. Lord, I have loved the habitation of thy house, etc. “I have in my congregation, “said a venerable minister of the gospel, “a worthy, aged woman, who has for many years been so deaf as not to distinguish the loudest sound, and yet she is always one of the first in the meeting. On asking the reason of her constant attendance (as it was impossible for her to hear my voice), she answered, `Though I cannot hear you, I come to God’s house because I love it, and would be found in his ways; and he gives me many a sweet thought upon the text when it is pointed out to me: another reason is, because there I am in the best company, in the more immediate presence of God, and among his saints, the honourable of the earth. I am not satisfied with serving God in private; it is my duty and privilege to honour him regularly in public.'” What a reproof this is to those who have their hearing, and yet always come to a place of worship late, or not at all! K. Arvine.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 8. God’s house. Why we love it. What we love in it. How we show our love. How our love will be rewarded.
Psalms 26:9*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 9. Gather not my soul with sinners. Lord, when, like fruit, I must be gathered, put me not in the same basket with the best of sinners, much less with the worst of them. The company of sinners is so distasteful to us here, that we cannot endure the thought of being bound up in the same bundle with them to all eternity. Our comfort is, that the Great Husbandman discerns the tares from the wheat, and will find a separate place for distinct characters. In the former verses we see that the psalmist kept himself clear of profane persons, and this is to be understood as a reason why he should not be thrust into their company at the last. Let us think of the doom of the wicked, and the prayer of the text will forcibly rise to our lips; meanwhile, as we see the rule of judgment by which like is gathered to its like, we who have passed from death unto life have nothing to fear. Nor my life with bloody men. Our soul sickens to hear them speak; their cruel dispatches, in which they treat the shooting of their fellow men as rare sport, are horrifying to us; Lord, let us not be shut up in the same prison with them; nay, the same paradise with such men would be a hell, if they remained as they are now.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 9. Gather not my soul with sinners. Now is the time that people should be in care and concern, that their souls be not gathered with sinners in the other world. In discoursing from this doctrine we shall—1. Consider some things implied in it. 2. Show who are the sinners, that we are to have a horror of our souls being gathered with in the other world. 3. What it is for one’s soul to be gathered with sinners in the other world. 4. Consider this care and concern, or show what is implied in this earnest request, “Gather not my soul with sinners” 5. Give the reasons why we should be in such care and concern. 6. Make application. Death is the gathering time, which the psalmist has in view in the text. Ye have a time here that ye call the gathering time, about the term when the servants are going away, wherein ye gather your strayed sheep, that every one may get their own again. Death is God’s gathering time wherein he gets the souls belonging to him, and the devil those belonging to him. They did go long together, but then they are parted, and the saints are taken home to the congregation of saints, and sinners to the congregation of sinners. And it concerns us to say, “Gather not my soul with sinners.” Whoever be our people here, God’s people or the devil’s, death will gather our souls to them. It is a horrible thing to be gathered with sinners in the other world. To think of our souls being gathered with them there, may make the hair of one’s head stand up. Many now like no gathering like the gathering with sinners; it is the very delight of their hearts, it makes a brave jovial life in their eyes. And it is a pain to them to be gathered with saints, to be detained before the Lord on a Sabbath day. But to be gathered with them in the other world, is a horror to all sorts. 1. The saints have a horror of it, as in the text. To think to be staked down in their company in the other world would be a hell of itself to the godly. David never had such a horror of the society of the diseased, the persecuted, etc., as of sinners. He is content to be gathered with saints of whatever condition; but, “Lord, “say he, “Gather not my soul with sinners.”
2. The wicked themselves have a horror of it. Numbers 23:10. “Let me die the death of the righteous, “said the wicked Balaam, “and let my last end be like his.” Though they would be content to live with them, or be with them in life, their consciences bear witness that they have a horror of being with them in death. They would live with sinners, but they would die with saints. A poor, unreasonable, self condemning thought. Thomas Boston.
Ver. 9. Gather not my soul with sinners. Bind me not up in the same bundle with them, like the tares for the fire. Matthew 13:30. The contrast to this is seen in the following Psalms 27:10, “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up; ” literally, will gather me to his fold. Christopher Wordsworth.
Ver. 9. Gather not my soul with sinners. The Lord hath a harvest and a gleaning time also, set for cutting down and binding together, in the fellowship of judgments, God’s enemies, who have followed the same course of sinning: for here we are given to understand that God will “gather their souls, “and so will let none escape. David Dickson.
Ver. 9. Gather not my soul with sinners. After all, it may be objected that this concern seems to be common with saints and sinners. Even a wicked Balaam said, “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his.” Numbers 23:10. Take a few differences between them in this matter. 1. It is separation from Christ that makes the saints to have a horror at being gathered with sinners hereafter. Separation from Christ is the main ground of the believer’s horror: but if other things were to be right with the sinner in the other world, he would be easy under separation from Christ. 2. The believer has a horror at being gathered with sinners on account of their filthiness; but the thing that makes the sinner concerned is the prospect of punishment. No doubt, a principle of self preservation must make punishment frightful to all; but abstracted from that, the saints have a concern not to be gathered with sinners in the other world, upon account of their unholiness and filthiness. “He who is filthy, let him be filthy still, “is enough to make a saint abhor the lot of sinners in the life to come. 3. The concern of the saints has a mighty influence upon them, to make them study holiness here; but sinners live unholy for all their concern. “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” 1 John 3:3. What hope? The hope of seeing Christ as he is, and of being perfectly like him, of being separated from sinners. 4. Lastly, the concern of the saints is such, that they do with purpose of heart come out from among sinners more and more in this world; but sinners are not concerned to be separated from sinners here. Balaam wished to die the death of the righteous; but he had no concern to live the life of the righteous, and to be separated from sinners here. James Scot, 1773.
Ver. 9-12. David prays that God would not “gather his soul with sinners, whose right hand is full of bribes; “such as, for advantage, would be bribed to sin, to which wicked gang he opposeth himself, Psalms 26:11; “But as for me, I will walk in mine integrity; “where he tells us what kept him from being corrupted and enticed, as they were; from God—it was his integrity. A soul walking in its integrity will take bribes neither from men, nor sin itself: and therefore he saith Psalms 26:12, “His foot stood in an even place; “or, as some read it, “My foot standeth in righteousness.” William Gurnall.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 9. See “Spurgeon’s Sermons, “No. 524. “The Saints’ Horror at the Sinners’ Hell.”
Psalms 26:10*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 10. In whose hands is mischief. They have both hands full of it, plotting it and carrying it out. And their right hand, with which they are most dexterous, is full of bribes; like thieves who would steal with impunity, they carry a sop for the dogs of justice. He who gives bribes is every way as guilty as the man who takes them, and in the matter of our parliamentary elections the rich villain who give the bribe is by far the worse. Bribery, in any form or shape, should be as detestable to a Christian as carrion to a dove, or garbage to a lamb. Let those whose dirty hands are fond of bribes remember that neither death nor the devil can be bribed to let them escape their well earned doom.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 9-12. See Psalms on “Psalms 26:9” for further information.
Ver. 10. Their right hand is full of bribes. If the great men in Turkey should use their religion of Mahomet to sell, as our patrons commonly sell benefices here (the office of preaching, the office of salvation), it should be taken as an intolerable thing; the Turk would not suffer it in his commonwealth. Patrons be charged to see the office done, and not to seek a lucre and a gain by their patronage. There was a patron in England that had a benefice fallen into his hand, and a good brother of mine came unto him, and brought him up thirty apples in a dish, and gave them to his man to carry them to his master. It is like he gave one to his man for his labour, to make up the gain, and so there was thirty-one. This man cometh to his master, and presented him with the dish of apples, saying, “Sir, such a man hath sent you a dish of fruit, and desireth you to be good unto him for such a benefice.” “Tush, tush, “said he, “this is no apple matter, I will none of his apples, I have as good as these (or any he hath) in mine own orchard.” The man came to the priest again, and told him what his master said. “Then, “said the priest, “desire him yet to prove one of them for my sake, he shall find them much better than they look for.” He cut one of them, and found ten pieces of gold in it. “Marry, “said he, “this is a good apple.” The priest standing not far off, hearing what the gentleman said, cried out and answered, “they are all one apples, I warrant you, sir; they grew all on one tree, and have all one taste.” “Well, he is a good fellow, let him have it, “said the patron, etc. Get you a graft of this same tree, and I warrant you it shall stand you in better stead than all St. Paul’s learning. Hugh Latimer.
Ver. 10. Bribes. They that see furthest into the law, and most clearly discern the cause of justice, if they suffer the dust of bribes to be thrown into their sight, their eyes will water and twinkle, and fall at last to blind connivance. It is a wretched thing when justice is made a hackney that may be backed for money, and put on with golden spurs, even to the desired journey’s end of injury and iniquity. Far be from our souls this wickedness, that the ear which should be open to complaints should be stopped with the earwax of partiality. Alas! poor truth, that she must now be put to charges of a golden ear pick, or she cannot be heard! Thomas Adams.
Ver. 10.
What makes all doctrines plain and clear?
About two hundred pounds a year,
And that which was proved true before
Proved false again? Two hundred more.
Samuel Butler (1600-1680), in Hudibras. Part 3. Canto 1.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
None.
Psalms 26:11*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 11. Here is the lover of godliness entering his personal protest against unrighteous gain. He is a Nonconformist, and is ready to stand alone in his Nonconformity. Like a live fish, he swims against the stream. Trusting in God, the psalmist resolves that the plain way of righteousness shall be his choice, and those who will, may prefer the tortuous paths of violence and deceit. Yet, he is by no means a boaster, or a self righteous vaunter of his own strength, for he cries for redemption and pleads for mercy. Our integrity is not absolute nor inherent, it is a work of grace in us, and is marred by human infirmity; we must, therefore, resort to the redeeming blood and to the throne of mercy, confessing that though we are saints among men, we must still bow as sinners before God.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 9-12. See Psalms on “Psalms 26:9” for further information.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 11. The best men needing redemption and mercy; or the outward walk before men, and the secret walk with God.
Psalms 26:12*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 12. The song began in the minor, but it has now reached the major key. Saints often sing themselves into happiness. The even place upon which our foot stands is the sure, covenant faithfulness, eternal promise and immutable oath of the Lord of Hosts; there is no fear of falling from this solid basis, or of its being removed from under us. Established in Christ Jesus, by being vitally united to him, we have nothing left to occupy our thoughts but the praises of our God. Let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, and when assembled, let us not be slow to contribute our portion of thanksgiving. Each saint is a witness to divine faithfulness, and should be ready with his testimony. As for the slanderers, let them howl outside the door while the children sing within.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 9-12. See Psalms on “Psalms 26:9” for further information.
Ver. 12 (first clause). The upright man’s foot, is said to stand in an even place; he walks not haltingly and uncomely, as those who go in unequal ways, which are hobbling, and up and down, or those whose feet and legs are not even (as Solomon saith), “The legs of the lame are not equal, “and so cannot stand in an even place, because one is long and the other short; the sincere man’s feet are even, and the legs of a length, as I may say; his care alike conscientious to the whole will of God. The hypocrite, like the badger, hath one foot shorter than another; or, like a foundered horse, he doth not stand, as we say, right of all four; one foot at least you shall perceive he favours, loath to put it down. William Gurnall.
Ver. 12. On an even place. As a man whose feet are firmly fixed upon even ground is apprehensive of no fall, so the pious worshippers of Jehovah feel no dread lest their adversaries should finally triumph over them. William Walford.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 12. Secure standing, honoured position, grateful praise.
Ver. 12 (last clause). Congregational Psalmody, and our personal share in it

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Psalm 25

holy-bible-background

Verses 1-22
Title. A Psalm of David. David is pictured in this Psalm as in a faithful miniature. His holy trust, his many conflicts, his great transgression, his bitter repentance, and his deep distresses are all here; so that we see the very heart of “the man after God’s own heart.” It is evidently a composition of David’s later days, for he mentions the sins of his youth, and from its painful references to the craft and cruelty of his many foes, it will not be too speculative a theory to refer it to the period when Absalom was heading the great rebellion against him. This has been styled the second of the seven Penitential Psalms. It is the mark of a true saint that his sorrows remind him of his sins, and his sorrow for sin drives him to his God.
Subject and Division. The twenty-two verses of this Psalm begin in the original with the letters of the Hebrew alphabet in their proper order. It is the first instance we have of an inspired acrostic or alphabetical song. This method may have been adopted by the writer to assist the memory; and the Holy Spirit may have employed it to show us that the graces of style and the arts of poetry may lawfully be used in his service. Why should not all the wit and ingenuity of man be sanctified to noblest ends by being laid upon the altar of God? From the singularity of the structure of the Psalm, it is not easy to discover any marked divisions; there are great changes of thought, but there is no variation of subject; the moods of the writer’s mind are twofold—prayer and meditation; and as these appear in turns, we should thus divide the verses. Prayer from Psalms 25:1-7; meditation, Psalms 25:8-10; prayer, Psalms 25:11; meditation, Psalms 25:12-15; prayer, Psalms 25:16-22.
EXPOSITION
Ver. 1. Unto thee, O Lord. See how the holy soul flies to its God like a dove to its cote. When the storm winds are out, the Lord’s vessels put about and make for their well remembered harbour of refuge. What a mercy that the Lord will condescend to hear our cries in time of trouble, although we may have almost forgotten him in our hours of fancied prosperity. Unto thee, O Jehovah, do I lift up my soul. It is but a mockery to uplift the hands and the eyes unless we also bring our souls into our devotions. True prayer may be described as the soul rising from earth to have fellowship with heaven; it is taking a journey upon Jacob’s ladder, leaving our cares and fears at the foot, and meeting with a covenant God at the top. Very often the soul cannot rise, she has lost her wings, and is heavy and earth bound; more like a burrowing mole than a soaring eagle. At such dull seasons we must not give over prayer, but must, by God’s assistance, exert all our powers to lift up our hearts. Let faith be the lever and grace be the arm, and the dead lump will yet be stirred. But what a lift it has sometimes proved! With all our tugging and straining we have been utterly defeated, until the heavenly loadstone of our Saviour’s love has displayed its omnipotent attractions, and then our hearts have gone up to our Beloved like mounting flames of fire.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. This is the first of the seven alphabetical Psalms, the others being the 34th, 37th, 111th, 112th, 119th, and
145th. They are specimens of that acrostic mode of writing which seems to have been once so fashionable among the Jews, as is testified by numerous instances of such composition, which are to be met with in their works. Other poetic artifices were likewise adopted. We find many instances of poems being so constructed, that a proper name, or some particular sentiment, would not infrequently be expressed by the initial letters of the verses. See Bartolocci’s “Bibliotheca Rabbinica, “vol. 2 pg 260, where examples of such artifices are cited. George Phillips, B.D., in “The Psalms in Hebrew, with a Commentary.”
1846.
Whole Psalm. This is the first fully alphabetic Psalm…The only lesson which the use of the alphabetic form may teach is this: —that the Holy Spirit was willing to throw his words into all the moulds of human thought and speech; and whatever ingenuity man may exhibit in intellectual efforts, he should consecrate these to his Lord, making him the “Alpha and Omega” of his pursuits. Andrew A. Bonar.
Whole Psalm. Saving grace is a secret that no man knows but the elect, and the elect cannot know it neither without special illumination: —1. Special showing—Shew me thy ways, O Lord, saith David. 2. Barely showing will not serve the turn, but there must be a special teaching—Teach me thy paths, Ps 25:4. 3. Bare teaching will not avail neither, but there must be a special inculcative teaching—Teach me in thy ways, to Ps 25:8. 4. Inculcative teaching will not do the deed neither, but there must be a special directive teaching— Guide in judgment and teach, Ps 25:9. 5. Directive teaching will not be sufficient neither, but there must be a special manuductive teaching—Lead me forth in thy truth, and teach me, Ps 25:5. 6. Manuductive teaching will not be effectual, but there must be also a special, choice teaching, a determining of the very will, an elective teaching—Him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose, Psalms 25:12. And what secret is this? not common grace, for that is not the secret of the elect, but special and peculiar grace. 1. The special grace of prayer— Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul Ps 25:1. 2. A special grace of faith—My God, I trust in thee, Ps 25:2. 3. A special grace of repentance—Remember not the sins of my youth, etc., Ps 25:7. 4. A special grace of hope—My hope is in thee, Ps 25:21. 5. A special grace of continual living in God’s sight, and dependence upon God— Mine eyes are ever toward the Lord, Ps 25:15. 6. Which is the root of all God’s special and eternal favour and mercy— Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies and thy loving kindnesses; for they have been ever of old, Psalms 25:6; even God’s special mercy to him in particular, Psalms 25:11. William Fenner, in “Hidden Manna, “1626.
Whole Psalm. In these four Psalms which immediately follow one another, we may find the soul of David presented in all the several postures of piety—lying, standing, sitting, kneeling. In the twenty-second Psalm, he is lying all along, falling flat on his face, low grovelling on the ground, even almost entering into a degree of despair. Speaking of himself in the history of Christ in the mystery, “My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” In the twenty-third Psalm, he is standing, and through God’s favour, in despite of his foes, trampling and triumphing over all opposition; “The Lord is my shepherd, therefore shall I lack nothing.” In the twenty-fourth Psalm he is sitting, like a doctor in his chair, or a professor in his place, reading a lecture of divinity, and describing the character of that man—how he must be accomplished —”who shall ascend into thy holy hill, “and hereafter be partaker of happiness. In this twenty-fifth Psalm, he is kneeling, with hands and voice lifted up to God, and on these two hinges the whole Psalm turneth; the one is a hearty beseeching of God’s mercy, the other a humble bemoaning of his own misery. Thomas Fuller.
Ver. 1. Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. The lifting up of the heart presupposes a former dejection of his soul. The soul of man is pressed down with sin and with the cares of this world, which, as lead doth the net, draweth is so down, that it cannot mount above till God send spiritual prayers, as cork to the net, to exalt it; which arise out of faith, as the flame doth out of the fire, and which must be free of secular cares, and all things pressing down, which showeth unto us that worldlings can no more pray than a mole is able to fly. But Christians are as eagles which mount upward. Seeing then the heart of man by nature is fixed to the earth, and of itself is no more able to rise therefrom than a stone which is fixed to the ground, till God raises it by his power, word, and workmen; it should be our principal petition to the Lord that it would please him to draw us, that we might run after him; that he would exalt and lift up our hearts to heaven, that they may not lie still in the puddle of this earth. Archibald Symson.
Ver. 1. Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. A godly man prays as a builder builds. Now a builder first layeth a foundation, and because he cannot finish in one day, he comes the second day, and finds the frame standing that he made the first day, and then he adds a second day’s work; and then he comes a third day and finds his two former day’s work standing; then he proceeds to a third day’s work, and makes walls to it, and so he goes on till his building be finished. So prayer is the building of the soul till it reach up to heaven; therefore a godly heart prays, and reacheth higher and higher in prayer, till at last his prayers reach up to God. William Fenner.
Ver. 1. Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul: unto thee in the fulness of thy merits, unto thee in the riches of thy grace; unto thee in the embraces of thy love and comforts of thy Spirit; unto thee, that thy thorns may be my crown, thy blood my balsam, thy curse my blessing, thy death my life, thy cross my triumph. Thus is my “life hid with Christ in God; “and if so, then where should be my soul, but where is my life? And, therefore, unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. …O make good thy name of Lord unto me; as Lord, rebuke Satan and restrain all earthly and carnal affections, that they do not once dare to whisper a temptation to my soul, a distraction to my thoughts, whilst I am in communion with thee, in prayer at thy holy ordinance. Do thou as Lord, rule me by thy grace, govern me by thy Spirit, defend me by thy power, and crown me with thy salvation. Thou, Lord, the preserver of heaven and earth, “thou openest thy hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.” Psalms 145:16. O open now thine hand, thy bosom, thy bounty, thy love, and satisfy the desires of my longing soul, which I here “lift up unto thee.” Robert Mossom, 1657.
Ver. 1. Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. Cyprian saith, that in the primitive times the minister was wont to prepare the people’s minds to pray, by prefacing, Sursum corda, lift up your hearts. The Jews at this day write upon the walls of their synagogues these words, Tephillah belo cavannah ceguph belo neshamah; that is, A prayer without the intention of the affection is like a body without a soul. And yet their devotion is a mere outside, saith one—a brainless head and a soulless body: “This people draw nigh to me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” Isaiah 29:13. A carnal man can as little lift up his heart in prayer, as a mole can fly. A David finds it a hard task; since the best heart is lumpish, and naturally beareth downwards, as the poise of a clock, as the lead of a net. Let us therefore “lay aside every weight, and the sin that doth so easily beset us; “and pray to God to draw us up to himself, as the lodestone doth the iron. John Trapp.
Ver. 1. Unto thee, I lift up my soul. This follows by a natural consequence after the sublime appeal in the foregoing Psalm to the gates of heaven to lift up their heads to receive Christ, the Lord of hosts and the King of glory, ascending into heaven. As the Collect for Ascension day expresses it, “Grant O Lord, that like as we do believe thy only begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to have ascended into the heavens, so we may also, in heart and mind thither ascend; “and for the Sunday after Ascension, “O God, who hast exalted thine only Son with great triumph to thy kingdom in heaven, send thy Holy Ghost to comfort us, and exalt us to the same place, whither our Saviour Christ is gone before.” Christopher Wordsworth, in loc.
Ver. 1. I lift up my soul, alluding to the sacrifices, which were wont to be lifted up. Hence prayers not answered, not accepted, are said to be stopped from ascending. La 3:44. When you meet with such expressions in the Old Testament concerning prayer, you must still understand them to be allusions to the sacrifices, because the sacrifices were lifted up and did ascend. Joseph Caryl.
Ver. 1. My soul. But how shall I call it mine, seeing it is thine, thine by purchase, thine, having bought it with thy blood? Yea, is it not thy spouse, whom thou hast wedded to thyself by the Spirit through faith? And is not this holy sacrament the marriage feast? If so, sure then, my Jesus, I was lost in myself, till found in thee; and therefore my soul is now, and not till now, truly mine, in being wholly thine; so that I can say with confidence, “I lift up my soul unto thee.” Robert Mossom.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 1. Heavenly machinery for uplifting an earthbound soul.
Ver 1. Genuine devotion described and commended.
WORKS ON THE TWENTY-FIFTH PSALM
A Godly and Fruitful Exposition on the Twenty-fifth Psalme, the second of the Penitentials; (in “A Sacred Septenarie.”) By ARCHIBALD SYMSON. 1638. (See page 74.)
The Preacher’s Tripartie, in Three Books. The First, to raise Devotion in Divine Meditations upon Psalm XXV. By R. MOSSOM, Preacher of God’s Word, late at St. Peter’s, Paul’s Wharf, London, 1657. Folio.
Six Sermons in “Expository Discourses, “by the late Rev. WILLIAM RICHARDSON, Subchanter of York Cathedral. 1825.
Psalms 25:2*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 2. O my God. This title is more dear than the name Jehovah, which is used in the first sentence. Already the sweet singer has drawn nearer to his heavenly helper, for he makes bold to grasp him with the hand of assured possession, calling him, my God. Oh the more than celestial music of that word—”My God!” It is to be observed that the psalmist does not deny expression to those gracious feelings with which God had favoured him; he does not fall into loathsome mock modesty, but finding in his soul a desire to seek the Lord he avows it; believing that he had a rightful interest in Jehovah he declares it, and knowing that he had confidence in his God he professes it; O my God, I trust in thee. Faith is the cable which binds our boat to the shore, and by pulling at it we draw ourselves to the land; faith unites us to God, and then draws us near to him. As long as the anchor of faith holds there is no fear in the worst tempest; if that should fail us there would be no hope left. We must see to it that our faith is sound and strong, for otherwise prayer cannot prevail with God. Woe to the warrior who throws away his shield; what defence can be found for him who finds no defence in his God? Let me not be ashamed. Let no my disappointed hopes make me feel ashamed of my former testimonies of thy faithfulness. Many were on the watch for this. The best of men have their enemies, and should pray against them that they may not see their wicked desires accomplished. Let not mine enemies triumph over me. Suffer no wicked mouth to make blasphemous mirth out of my distresses by asking, “Where is thy God?” There is a great jealousy in believers for the honour of God, and they cannot endure that unbelievers should taunt them with the failure of their expectations from the God of their salvation. All other trusts will end in disappointment and eternal shame, but our confidence shall never be confounded.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 2-3. When David had prayed, O my God, I trust in thee; let me not be ashamed! In the next verse, as if conscious to himself that his prayers were too restrictive, narrow, and niggardly, he enlargeth the bounds thereof, and builds them on a broader bottom, “Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed.” Thus it is that charity in the midst of our religious devotions must have rehoboth (room enough to expatiate in). Our petitions must not be pent or confined to our own private good, but extended to the benefit of all God’s servants, in what condition soever. Thomas Fuller.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 2. The soul at anchor, and the two rocks from which it would be delivered.
Psalms 25:3*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 3. Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed. Suffering enlarges the heart by creating the power to sympathize. If we pray eagerly for ourselves, we shall not long be able to forget our fellow sufferers. None pity the poor like those who have been or are still poor, none have such tenderness for the sick as those who have been long in ill health themselves. We ought to be grateful for occasional griefs if they preserve us from chronic hardheartedness; for of all afflictions, an unkind heart is the worst, it is a plague to its possessor, and a torment to those around him. Prayer when it is of the Holy Ghost’s teaching is never selfish; the believer does not sue for monopolies for himself, but would have all in like case to partake of divine mercy with him. The prayer may be viewed as a promise; our Heavenly Father will never let his trustful children find him untrue or unkind. He will ever be mindful of his covenant. Let them be ashamed which transgress without cause. David had given his enemies no provocation; their hatred was wanton. Sinners have no justifiable reason or valid excuse for transgressing; they benefit no one, not even themselves by their sins; the law against which they transgress is not harsh or unjust; God is not a tyrannical ruler, providence is not a bondage: men sin because they will sin, not because it is either profitable or reasonable to do so. Hence shame is their fitting reward. May they blush with penitential shame now, or else they will not be able to escape the everlasting contempt and the bitter shame which is the portion of fools in the world to come.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 2-3. See Psalms on “Psalms 25:2” for further information.
Ver. 3. Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed. To wit, neither by their own disappointments, nor mine. For this last some add because if he should fail of his hopes, he knew this would be a great discouragement to others. Arthur Jackson, M.A., 1593-1666.
Ver. 3. Let them be ashamed which transgress without cause. All persons who transgress, do it, in some sense, without cause; since they cannot excuse of justify their conduct. God is so amiable and excellent in every part of his great name, that he deserves our constant reverence and love. His law is so holy, just, and good, and all his precepts concerning all things so righteous and calculated to make us happy, that the mouth of every transgressor must be stopped. Hence we must all be covered with shame, if dealt with according to our deserts, for all have sinned. But since God has promised to be merciful to those who truly repent, and unfeignedly believe his holy gospel, shame will be the portion of those only who wilfully persist in their wickedness, and refuse to return to God by Jesus Christ. These then are the persons whom the psalmist speaks of as transgressing without cause, and doubtless these have no cloak for their sin. William Richardson, 1825.
Ver. 3. Let them be ashamed which transgress without cause. Let shame be sent to the right owner, even to those that deal disloyally, unprovoked on my part. And so it was; for Achitophel hanged himself; Absalom was trussed up by the hand of God, and dispatched by Joab; the people that conspired with him, partly perished by the sword, and partly fled home, much ashamed of their enterprise. Oh, the power of prayer! What may not the saints have for asking? John Trapp.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 3. Shame out of place and in place.
Psalms 25:4*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 4. Shew me thy ways, O Lord. Unsanctified natures clamour for their own way, but gracious spirits cry, “Not my will, but thine be done.” We cannot at all times discern the path of duty, and at such times it is our wisdom to apply to the Lord himself. Frequently the dealings of God with us are mysterious, and then also we may appeal to him as his own interpreter, and in due time he will make all things plain. Moral, providential and mental forms of guidance are all precious gifts of a gracious God to a teachable people. The second petition, teach me thy paths, appears to mean more than the first, and may be illustrated by the case of a little child who should say to his father, “Father, first tell me which is the way, and then teach my little trembling feet to walk in it.” What weak dependent creatures we are! How constantly should we cry to the Strong for strength!
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 4. Shew me thy ways, O Lord, etc. There are the “ways” of men, and the “ways”of God; the “paths” of sin, and the “paths” of righteousness: there are “thy ways, “and there are my ways; thine the ways of truth, mine the ways of error; thine which are good in thine eyes, and mine which are good in mine eyes; thine which lead to heaven, mine which lead to hell. Wherefore, Shew me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths, lest I mistake mine own ways for thine; yea, lead me in the truth, and teach me, lest I turn out of thy ways into mine own: shew me thy ways, by the ministry of thy word; teach me thy paths, in the guidance of thy Spirit, “lead me in thy truth, “by the assistance of thy grace. Robert Mossom.
Ver. 4-5,9. Do what you know, and God will teach you what to do. Do what you know to be your present duty, and God will acquaint you with your future duty as it comes to be present. Make it your business to avoid known omissions, and God will keep you from feared commissions. This rule is of great moment, and therefore I will charge it upon you by express Scripture. Shew me thy ways, O Lord, i.e., those ways wherein I cannot err. Teach me thy paths, i.e., that narrow path which is too commonly unknown, those commands that are most strict and difficult, Ver. 5. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me, i.e., teach me evidently, that I may not be deceived; so teach me, that I may not only know thy will, but do it. Here’s his prayer, but what grounds hath he to expect audience? For thou art the God of my salvation, q.d., thou Lord, wilt save me, and therefore do not refuse to teach me. On thee do I wait all the day, i.e., the whole day, and every day. Other arguments are couched in the following verses, but what answer? Ver. 9. The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way, i.e., those that submit their neck to his yoke, those that are not conceited that they can guide themselves; in necessary, great and weighty matters they shall not err. Samuel Annesley, D.D. (1620-1696), in “Morning Exercises at Cripplegate.”
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 4. Practical divinity the best study; God the best teacher; Prayer the mode of entrance into the school.
Ver. 4-5. Shew. Teach. Lead. Three classes in the school of grace.
Psalms 25:5*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 5. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me. The same request as in the last verse. The little child having begun to walk, asks to be still led onward by its parent’s helping hand, and to be further instructed in the alphabet of truth. Experimental teaching is the burden of this prayer. Lead me according to thy truth, and prove thyself faithful; lead me into truth that I may know its preciousness, lead me by the way of truth that I may manifest its spirit. David knew much, but he felt his ignorance and desired to be still in the Lord’s school; four times over in these two verses he applies for a scholarship in the college of grace. It were well for many professors if instead of following their own devices, and cutting out new paths of thought for themselves, they would enquire for the good old ways of God’s own truth, and beseech the Holy Ghost to give them sanctified understandings and teachable spirits. For thou art the God of my salvation. The Three One Jehovah is the Author and Perfector of salvation to his people. Reader, is he the God of your salvation? Do you find in the Father’s election, in the Son’s atonement, and in the Spirit’s quickening all the grounds of your eternal hopes? If so, you may use this as an argument for obtaining further blessings; if the Lord has ordained to save you, surely he will not refuse to instruct you in his ways. It is a happy thing when we can address the Lord with the confidence which David here manifests, it gives us great power in prayer, and comfort in trial. On thee do I wait all the day. Patience is the fair handmaid and daughter of faith; we cheerfully wait when we are certain that we shall not wait in vain. It is our duty and our privilege to wait upon the Lord in service, in worship, in expectancy, in trust all the days of our life. Our faith will be tried faith, and if it be of the true kind, it will bear continued trial without yielding. We shall not grow weary of waiting upon God if we remember how long and how graciously he once waited for us.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 4-5,9. See Psalms on “Psalms 25:4” for further information.
Ver. 5. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me. The soul that is unsatiable in prayer, he proceeds, he gets near to God, he gains something, he winds up his heart higher. As a child that seeth the mother have an apple in her hand, and it would fain have it, it will come and pull at the mother’s hand for it; now she lets go one finger, and yet she holds it, and then he pulls again; and then she lets go another finger, and yet she keeps it, and then the child pulls again, and will never leave pulling and crying till it hath got it from its mother. So a child of God, seeing all graces to be in God, he draws near to the throne of grace begging for it, and by his earnest and faithful prayers he opens the hands of God to him; God dealing as parents to their children, holds them off for awhile; not that he is unwilling to give, but to make them more earnest with God; to draw them the nearer to himself. William Fenner.
Ver. 5. On thee do I wait all the day. We must wait all the day. 1. Though it be a long day, though we be kept waiting a great while, quite beyond our own reckoning; though when we have waited long, we are still put to wait longer, and are bid, with the prophet’s servant, to go yet seven times 1 Kings 18:43, before we perceive the least sign of mercy coming…2. Though it be a dark day, yet let us wait upon God all the day. Though while we are kept waiting for what God will do, we are kept in the dark concerning what he is doing, and what is best for us to do, yet let us be content to wait in the dark. Though we see not our signs, though there is none to tell us how long, yet let us resolve to wait, how long soever it may be; for though what God doth we know not now, yet we shall know hereafter when the mystery of God shall be finished…3. Though it be a stormy day, yet we must wait upon God all the day. Though we are not only becalmed, and do not get forward, but though the wind be contrary, and drive us back; nay, though it be boisterous, and the church be tossed with tempests, and ready to sink, yet we must hope the best, yet we must wait, and weather the storm by patience. It is some comfort that Christ is in the ship; the church’s cause is Christ’s own cause, he has espoused it, and he will own it; he is embarked in the same bottom with his people, and therefore why are you fearful? … To wait on God, is—1. To live a life of desire towards God; to wait on him as the beggar waits on his benefactor, with earnest desire to receive supplies from him, as the sick and sore at Bethesda’s pool waited for the stirring of the water, and attended in the porches with desire to be helped in and healed… 2. It is to live a life of delight in God, as the lover waits on his beloved. Desire is love in motion, as a bird upon the wing; delight is love at rest, as a bird upon the nest; now, though our desire must still be so towards God, as that we must be wishing for more of God, yet our delight must be so in God, as that we must never wish for more than God…3. It is to live of dependence on God, as the child waits on his father, whom he has confidence in, and on whom he casts all his care. To wait on God is to expect all good to come to us from him, as the worker of all good for us and in us, the giver of all good to us, and the protector of us from all evil. Thus David explains himself Psalms 62:5, “My soul, wait thou only upon God, ” and continue still to do so, for “my expectation is from him.” …
4. It is to live a life of devotedness to God, as the servant waits on his master, ready to observe his will, and to do his work, and in everything to consult his honour and interest. To wait on God is entirely and unreservedly to refer ourselves to his wise and holy directions and disposals, and cheerfully to acquiesce in them, and comply with them. The servant that waits on his master, chooseth not his own way, but follows his master step by step. Thus must we wait on God, as those that have no will of our own but what is wholly resolved into his, and must therefore study to accommodate ourselves to his. Condensed from Matthew Henry, on “Communion with God.”
Ver. 5. On thee do I wait all the day. On thee, whose hand of bounty, whose bosom of love, yea, whose bowels of mercy are not only opened, but enlarged to all humble penitents. On thee do I wait, wait to hear the secret voice of thy Spirit, speaking peace unto my conscience, wait to feel the reviving vigour of thy grace, quickening mine obedience; wait to see the subduing power of the Holy Spirit quelling my rebellious sin; wait to feel the cheering virtue of thy heavenly comforts, refreshing my fainting soul; for all these thy blessings, O thou God of my salvation, on thee do I wait all the day. “All the day:” being never so satisfied with thy goodness, as not more eagerly to long after thy heavenly fulness; wherefore now refresh my faintings, quench not my desires; but the more freely thou givest, let me the more eagerly covet; the more sweet is thy mercy, let be the more eager my longings, that so my whole life on earth may be a continual breathing after that eternal fellowship and communion with thee in heaven; thus, thus, let me wait, even all my life, all the day. Robert Mossom.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 4-5. Shew. Teach. Lead. Three classes in the school of grace.
Ver. 5.
1. Sanctification desired.
2. Knowledge sought.
3. Assurance enjoyed.
4. Patience exercised.
Ver. 5. Thou art the God of my salvation. A rich and overflowing text.
Ver. 5. (last clause). How to spend the day with God. Matthew Henry.
Psalms 25:6*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 6. Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses. We are usually tempted in seasons of affliction to fear that our God has forgotten us, or forgotten his usual kindness towards us; hence the soul doth as it were put the Lord in remembrance, and beseech him to recollect those deeds of love which once he wrought towards it. There is a holy boldness which ventures thus to deal with the Most High, let us cultivate it; but there is also an unholy unbelief which suggests our fears, let us strive against it with all our might. What gems are those two expressions, “tender mercies and lovingkindnesses!” They are the virgin honey of language; for sweetness no words can excel them; but as for the gracious favours which are intended by them, language fails to describe them.
“When all thy mercies, O my God,
My rising soul surveys,
Transported with the view, I am lost
In wonder, love and praise.”
If the Lord will only do unto us in the future as in the past, we shall be well content. We seek no change in the divine action, we only crave that the river of grace may never cease to flow. For they have been ever of old. A more correct translation would be “from eternity.” David was a sound believer in the doctrine of God’s eternal love. The Lord’s lovingkindnesses are no novelties. When we plead with him to bestow them upon us, we can urge use and custom of the most ancient kind. In courts of law men make much of precedents, and we may plead them at the throne of grace. “Faith, “saith Dickson, “must make use of experiences and read them over unto God, out of the register of a sanctified memory, as a recorder to him who cannot forget.” With a unchangeable God it is a most effectual argument to remind him of his ancient mercies and his eternal love. By tracing all that we enjoy to the fountain head of everlasting love we shall greatly cheer our hearts, and those do us but sorry service who try to dissuade us from meditating upon election and its kindred topics.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 6. Thy tender mercies. O how does one deep call upon another! The depths of my multiplied miseries, calls, loudly calls, upon the depth of thy manifold mercies; even that mercy whereby thou dost pardon my sin and help mine infirmities; that mercy whereby thou dost sanctify me by thy grace, and comfort me by thy Spirit; that mercy whereby thou dost deliver me from hell, and possess me of heaven. Remember, O Lord, all those thy mercies, thy tender mercies, which have been of old unto thy saints. Robert Mossom.
Ver. 6. Thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses…have been ever of old. Let the ancientness of divine love draw up our hearts to a very dear and honourable esteem of it. Pieces of antiquity, though of base metal, and otherwise of little use or value, how venerable are they with learned men! and ancient charters, how careful are men to preserve them; although they contain but temporary privileges, and sometimes but of trivial moment! How then should the great charter of heaven, so much older than the world, be had in everlasting remembrance, and the thoughts thereof be very precious to us; lying down, rising up, and all the day long accompanying of us! …That which is from everlasting shall be to everlasting; if the root be eternal, so are the branches …Divine love is an eternal fountain that never leaves running while a vessel is empty or capable of holding more; and it stands open to all comers: therefore, come; and if ye have not sufficient of your own, go and borrow vessels, empty vessels, not a few; “pay your debts out of it, and live on the rest” 2 Kings 4:7, to eternity. Elisha Coles on “God’s Sovereignty”, 1678.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 6. The antiquity of mercy.
Ver. 6-7. The Three Remembers.
Psalms 25:7*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 7. Remember not the sins of my youth. Sin is the stumbling block. This is the thing to be removed. Lord, pass an act of oblivion for all my sins, and especially for the hot blooded wanton follies of my younger years. Those offences which we remember with repentance God forgets, but if we forget them, justice will bring them forth to punishment. The world winks at the sins of younger men, and yet they are none so little after all; the bones of our youthful feastings at Satan’s table will stick painfully in our throats when we are old men. He who presumes upon his youth is poisoning his old age. How large a tear may wet this page as some of us reflect upon the past! Nor my transgressions. Another word for the same evils. Sincere penitents cannot get through their confessions at a gallop; they are constrained to use many bemoanings, for their swarming sins smite them with so innumerable griefs. A painful sense of any one sin provokes the believer to repentance for the whole mass of his iniquities. Nothing but the fullest and clearest pardon will satisfy a thoroughly awakened conscience. David would have his sins not only forgiven, but forgotten.
According to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness’ sake, O Lord. David and the dying thief breathe the same prayer, and doubtless they grounded it upon the same plea, viz., the free grace and unmerited goodness of Jehovah. We dare not ask to have our portion measured from the balances of justice, but we pray to be dealt with by the hand of mercy.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 7. Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions. In the first place, considering that he had not begun only of late to commit sin, but that he had for a long time heaped up sin upon sin, he bows himself, if we may so speak, under the accumulated load; and, in the second place, he intimates, that if God should deal with him according to the rigour of the law, not only the sins of yesterday, or of a few days, would come into judgment against him, but all instances in which he had offended, even from his infancy, might now with justice be laid to his charge. As often, therefore, as God terrifies us by his judgments and the tokens of his wrath, let us call to our remembrance, not only the sins which we have lately committed, but also all the transgressions of our past life, proving to us the ground of renewed shame and renewed lamentation. John Calvin.
Ver. 7. Remember not the sins of my youth. This may seem but a superfluous prayer of David; for whereas in charity it may and must be presumed that David long since had begged pardon for his youthful sins, that upon his begging God hath granted it, that upon his granting God never revoked it. What need now had David to prefer this petition for pardon of antiquated sin, time out of mind committed by him, time out of mind remitted by God? To this objection I shape a fourfold answer. First, though David no doubt long since had been truly sorrowful for his youthful sins, yet he was sensible in himself that if God would be extreme to mark what was done amiss, though he had repented of those sins, yet he had sinned in that his repentance. Secondly, though God had forgiven David’s sins so far forth as to pardon him eternal damnation, yet he had not remitted unto him temporal afflictions which perchance pressing upon him at this present, he prayeth in this Psalm for the removing or mitigating of them. So then the sense of his words sound thus, Remember not, Lord, the sins of my youth, that is, Lord, lighten and lessen the afflictions which lie upon me in this mine old age, justly inflicted on me for my youthful sins. Thirdly, God’s pardon for sins past, is ever granted with this condition, that the party so pardoned is bound to his good behaviour for the time to come, which if he breaks, he deserves in the strictness of justice for forfeit the benefit of his pardon. Now David was guilty afterward in that grand transgression of Bathsheba and Uriah, which might in the extremity of justice have made all his youthful sins to be punished afresh upon him. Lastly, grant David certainly assured of the pardon of his youthful sins, yet God’s servants may pray for those blessings they have in possession, not for the obtaining of that they have—that is needless—but for the keeping of what they have obtained, that is necessary. Yea, God is well pleased with such prayers of his saints, and interprets them to be praises unto him, and then these words, Remember not the sins of my youth, amount to this effect: blessed be thy gracious goodness, who hast forgiven me the sins of my youth. Thomas Fuller.
Ver. 7. Remember not the sins of my youth. David, after he was called by the power of the word, cries out, “Lord, remember not, “etc., that gravelled and galled his conscience, the sins of his youth before his call. O beloved, the sins of your youth, though you should be Jobs converted, yet they will bring great disquietness and great horror when you come to age. The lusts of youth, and the vanities of youth, and the sensual pleasures of your youthful days, they will lay a foundation of sorrow when you come to gray hairs to be near your graves. So Job 20:11. Christopher Love, 1654.
Ver. 7. Remember not the sins of my youth; let them not move thee to punish or be avenged on me for them; as men, when they remember injuries, seek to be avenged on those who have done them. William Greenhill.
Ver. 7. Remember not the sins of my youth. It is not safe to be at odds with the “Ancient of days.” John Trapp.
Ver. 7. The sins of my youth. Before we come to the principal point we must first clear the text from the incumbrance of a double objection. The first is this: —It may seem (some may say) very improbable that David should have any sins of his youth, if we consider the principals whereupon his youth was past. The first was poverty. We read that his father Jesse passed for an old man, we read not that he passed for a rich man; and probably his seven sons were the principal part of his wealth. Secondly, painfulness. David, though the youngest, was not made a darling, but a drudge; sent by his father to follow the ewes big with young; where he may seem to have learned innocence and simplicity from the sheep he kept. Thirdly, piety Psalms 71:5, “For thou art my hope, O Lord God; thou art my trust from my youth.” And again in the seventeenth verse of the same Psalm, “O God, thou hast taught me from my youth:” David began to be good betimes, a young saint, and yet crossed that pestilent proverb, was no old devil. And what is more still, he was constantly in the furnace of affliction. Psalms 88:15. “Even from my youth up, thy terrors have I suffered with a troubled mind.” The question then will be this, How could that water be corrupted which was daily clarified? How could that steel gather rust which was duly filed? How could David’s soul in his youth be sooty with sin, which was constantly scoured with suffering? But the answer is easy; for though David for the main were a man after God’s own heart (the best transcript of the best copy), yet he, especially in his youth, had his faults and infirmities, yea, his sins and transgressions. Though the Scripture maketh mention of no eminent sin in his youth, the business with Bathsheba being justly to be referred to David’s reduced and elder age. I will not conclude that David was of a wanton constitution because of a ruddy complexion. It is as injurious an inference to conclude all bad which are beautiful, as it is a false and flattering consequence to say all are honest who are deformed. Rather we may collect David’s youth guilty of wantonness from his having so many wives and concubines. But what go I about to do? Expect not that I should tell you the particular sins, when he could not tell his own. Psalms 19:1-14. “Who can tell how oft he offends?” Or, how can David’s sins be known to me, which he confesseth were unknown to himself, which made him say, “O Lord, cleanse me from secret sins”? But to silence our curiosity, that our conscience may speak: —If David’s youth, which was poor, painful, and pious, was guilty of sins, what shall we say, of such whose education hath been wealthy, wanton, and wicked? And I report the rest to be acted with shame, sorrow, and silence in every man’s conscience. Thomas Fuller.
Ver. 7. The sins of my youth. Two aged disciples, one eighty-seven years old, one day met. “Well, “enquired the younger, of his fellow pilgrim, “how long have you been interested in religion?” “Fifty years, “was the old man’s reply. “Well, have you ever regretted that you began when young to devote yourself to religion?” “Oh no!” said he, and the tears trickled down his furrowed cheeks; “I weep when I think of the sins of my youth; it is this which makes me weep now.” From K. Arvine’s “Cyclopaedia of Moral and Religious Anecdotes, ” 1859.
Ver. 7. According to THY mercy, not mine; for I have forsaken those mercies thou madest mine own Jonah 2:8, Psalms 59:10; Psalms 59:17, in being cruel to myself by my sin, through distrust of thy promise, and upon presumption in thy mercy; yea, let it be, for THY goodness’ sake, not mine, for in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no manner of thing that is good. Let thy goodness, then, be the motive, thy mercy the rule of all that grace, and of all those blessings you vouchsafe unto my soul. Robert Mossom.
Ver. 7. According to thy mercy. Moses was the first that brought up this happy expression, According to thy mercy (I know not where it is used by any other man), that is, according to the infinite mercy that is in thy heart and nature. David did next use it (Psalms 25:1-22), and in the great case of his sin and adultery Psalms 51:1, “that he would be merciful to him, according to the multitude of his mercies.” And as he needed all the mercies in God, so he confessed the sin of his nature, and hath recourse to the mercies in God’s nature. But it is Psalms 25:7, I pitch on; there he doth not content himself only with this expression, According to thy mercy, but he adds another phrase, “For thy mercy’s sake, “and goodness sake. Muis observes in this coherence, “Good and upright is the Lord” Psalms 25:8, that he centres in his nature. Thou hast a merciful nature; deal with me according to that, and for the sake of that, “according to thy mercy, “”for thy goodness sake.” The mediation of that attribute was the foundation of his faith and prayer herein. When he has done, he refers himself to Moses: Psalms 25:11, For thy name’s sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great. He refers to that name proclaimed before Moses. Exodus 34:6-7. But you will say, how do these expressions, “for thy name’s sake, “”for thy goodness sake, “”for thy mercy’s sake, “imply the same as “for himself, “”for his own sake”? how do they involve the Godhead? Look to Isaiah 43:25, “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, “that is, for myself. Isaiah 48:11. “For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it.” You have it twice in one verse; and that which is “for mercy’s sake” in one place, is “for mine own sake” in another, “and behold it is I, I am he, as I am God, who doth it. What is this, but Jehovah, Jehovah, God merciful”? Thomas Goodwin.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 7. (first clause). The best Act of Oblivion. Thomas Fuller.
Ver. 7. Oblivion desired and remembrance entreated. Note “my”, and “thy.”
Psalms 25:8*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 8-10. These three verses are a meditation upon the attributes and acts of the Lord. He who toils in the harvest field of prayer should occasionally pause awhile and refresh himself with a meal of meditation.
Ver. 8. Good and upright is the Lord: therefore will he teach sinners in the way. Here the goodness and rectitude of the divine character are beheld in friendly union; he who would see them thus united in bonds of perfect amity must stand at the foot of the cross and view them blended in the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus. It is no less true than wonderful that through the atonement the justice of God pleads as strongly as his grace for the salvation of the sinners whom Jesus died to save. Moreover, as a good man naturally endeavours to make others like himself, so will the Lord our God in his compassion bring sinners into the way of holiness and conform them to his own image; thus the goodness of our God leads us to expect the reclaiming of sinful men. We may not conclude from God’s goodness that he will save those sinners who continue to wander in their own ways, but we may be assured that he will renew transgressors’ hearts and guide them into the way of holiness. Let those who desire to be delivered from sin take comfort from this. God himself will condescend to be the teacher of sinners. What a ragged school is this for God to teach in! God’s teaching is practical; he teaches sinners not only the doctrine but the way.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 8. Good and upright is the Lord: therefore will he teach sinners in the way. As election is the effect of God’s sovereignty, our pardon the fruit of his mercy, our knowledge a stream from his wisdom, our strength an impression of his power; so our purity is a beam from his holiness. As the rectitude of the creature at the first creation was the effect of his holiness, so the purity of the creature by a new creation, is a draught of the same perfection. He is called the Holy One of Israel more in Isaiah, that evangelical prophet, in erecting Zion, and forming a people for himself, than in the whole Scripture besides. Stephen Charnock.
Ver. 8. Good and upright is the Lord: therefore will he teach sinners in the way. Will not the Lord, who is good, be as gracious to his enemies as he requires us to be to ours? It is his own law, “If thou meet thine enemy’s ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again.” Exodus 23:4. Now God meets us sinners, and all sinners as such are his enemies; he meets us straying like the beast without understanding; and what? will he not bring us again unto himself, the sole proprietary, by that first right of creation, and that more firm right of redemption? Robert Mossom.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 8. Opposing attributes working together. God teaching sinners—a great wonder.
Psalms 25:9*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 9. The meek will he guide in judgment. Meek spirits are in high favour with the Father of the meek and lowly Jesus, for he sees in them the image of his only begotten Son. They know their need of guidance, and are willing to submit their own understandings to the divine will, and therefore the Lord condescends to be their guide. Humble spirits are in this verse endowed with a rich inheritance; let them be of good cheer. Trouble puts gentle spirits to their wit’s ends, and drives them to act without discretion, but grace comes to the rescue, enlightens their minds to follow that which is just, and helps them to discern the way in which the Lord would have them to go. Proud of their own wisdom fools will not learn, and therefore miss their road to heaven, but lowly hearts sit at Jesu’s feet, and find the gate of glory, for the meek will he teach his way. Blessed teacher! Favoured scholar! Divine lesson! My soul, be thou familiar with the whole.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 4-5,9. See Psalms on “Psalms 25:9” for further information.
Ver. 9. The meek will he guide in judgment; or the poor (namely, in spirit), will he make to tread in judgment, to foot it aright, to walk judiciously, to behave themselves wisely, as David did 1 Samuel 24:1-22, so that Saul feared him. Natural conscience cannot but stoop to the image of God, shining in the hearts and lives of the really religious. John Trapp.
Ver. 9. The meek will he guide in judgment. They have been made meek i.e., desirous of being taught, and praying to be so; but, being now sensible of unworthiness, they are afraid that God will not teach them. This may be done to other sinners but not to them. Therefore they are told who may expect teaching, even they who desire and pray for teaching. John Berridge, 1716-1793.
Ver. 9. He will guide the poor in judgment. Never will this docility be found in any man, until the heart, which is naturally elated and filled with pride, has been humbled and subdued. As the Hebrew word denotes the poor or afflicted, and is employed in a metaphorical sense, to denote the meek and humble, it is probable that David, under this term, includes the afflictions which serve to restrain and subdue the frowardness of the flesh, as well as the grace of humility itself; as if he had said, When God has first humbled them, then he kindly stretches forth his hand to them, and leads and guides them throughout the whole course of their life. John Calvin.
Ver. 9. The meek, etc. Pride and anger have no place in the school of Christ. The Master himself is “meek and lowly of heart; ” much more, surely, ought the scholars to be so. He who hath no sense of his ignorance, can have no desire, or capability of knowledge, human or divine. George Horne.
Ver. 9. (last clause). The Lord will teach the humble his secrets, he will not teach proud scholars. Thomas Goodwin.
Ver. 9. (last clause). Such as lie at his feet and say, “Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth, “such whose hearts are supple and soluble, tractable, and teachable, so that a little child may lead them. Isaiah 11:6. Austin was such an one. Saith he, “I am here an old man ready to learn of a young man, my coadjutor in the ministry, who hath scarce been one year in the service.” John Trapp.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 9. The meek. Who are they? What are their privileges? How to be like them?
Ver. 9 (first clause). Moral purity needful to a well balanced judgment.
Psalms 25:10*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 10. This is a rule without exception. God is good to those that be good. Mercy and faithfulness shall abound towards those who through mercy are made faithful. Whatever outward appearances may threaten we should settle it steadfastly in our minds that while grace enables us to obey the Lord’s will we need not fear that Providence will cause us any real loss. There shall be mercy in every unsavoury morsel, and faithfulness in every bitter drop; let not our hearts be troubled, but let us rest by faith in the immutable covenant of Jehovah, which is ordered in all things and sure. Yet this is not a general truth to be trampled upon by swine, it is a pearl for a child’s neck. Gracious souls, by faith resting upon the finished work of the Lord Jesus, keep the covenant of the Lord, and, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit, they walk in his testimonies; these will find all things working together for their good, but to the sinner there is no such promise. Keepers of the covenant shall be kept by the covenant; those who follow the Lord’s commandments shall find the Lord’s mercy following them.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 10. All the paths of the Lord, (twxra) orchoth signifies the tracks or ruts made by the wheels of wagons by often passing over the same ground. Mercy and truth are the paths in which God constantly walks in reference to the children of men; and so frequently does he show them mercy, and so frequently does he fulfil his truth, that his paths are easily discerned. How frequent, how deeply indented, and how multiplied are those tracks to every family and individual! Wherever we go, we see that God’s mercy and truth have been there by the deep tracks they have left behind them. But he is more abundantly merciful to those who keep his covenant and his testimonies; i.e., those who are conformed, not only to the letter, but to the spirit of his pure religion. Adam Clarke.
Ver. 10. All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth. As his nature is love and truth, so all his ways are mercy and truth. They are “mercy” in respect if aiming at out good, and “truth” in respect of fulfilling his promises and faithful carriage to us; therefore, whatsoever befalls thee, though it be clean contrary to thy expectation, interpret it in love. Many actions of men are such as a good interpretation cannot be put upon them, nor a good construction made of them; therefore interpreters restrain those sayings of love, that it believes all, etc.; that is, credibilia, all things believable, otherwise to put all upon charity, will eat out charity. But none of God’s ways are such, but love and faith may pick a good meaning out of these. A bono Deo nil nisi bonum, from a good God there comes nothing but what is good; and therefore says Job, “Though he kill me, I will trust in him.” Endeavour to spy out some end of his for good at the present, and if none ariseth to thy conjecture, resolve it into faith, and make the best of it. Thomas Goodwin.
Ver. 10. “Unto such as keep, “etc.: he is never out of the road of mercy unto them. Thomas Goodwin.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 10. God’s mercy and faithfulness in providence, and the persons who may derive comfort therefrom.
Psalms 25:11*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 11. This sentence of prayer would seem out of place were it not that prayer is always in its place, whether in season or out of season. Meditation having refreshed the Psalmist, he falls to his weighty work again, and wrestles with God for the remission of his sin. For thy name’s sake, O Lord. Here is a blessed, never failing plea. Not for our sakes or our merit’s sake, but to glorify thy mercy, and to show forth the glory of thy divine attributes. Pardon mine iniquity. It is confessed, it is abhorred, it is consuming my heart with grief; Lord forgive it; let thine own lips pronounce my absolution. For it is great. It weighs so heavily upon me that I pray thee remove it. Its greatness is no difficulty with thee, for thou art a great God, but the misery which it causes to me is my argument with thee for speedy pardon. Lord, the patient is sore sick, therefore heal him. To pardon a great sinner will bring thee great glory, therefore for thy name’s sake pardon me. Observe how this verse illustrates the logic of faith, which is clean contrary to that of a legal spirit; faith looks not for merit in the creature, but hath regard to the goodness of the Creator; and instead of being staggered by the demerits of sin it looks to the precious blood, and pleads all the more vigorously because of the urgency of the case.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 11. For thy name’s sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great. I cannot do better than quote one of those beautiful passages of the great Vieyra, which gave him the character of the first preacher of his age: —”I confess, my God, that it is so; that we are all sinners in the highest degree.” He is preaching on a fast on occasion of the threatened destruction of the Portuguese dominion in Brazil by the Dutch. But so far am I from considering this any reason why I should cease from my petition, that I behold in it a new and convincing argument which may influence thy goodness. All that I have said before is based on no other foundation than the glory and honour of thy most holy Name. Propter nomen tuum. And what motive can I offer more glorious to that same Name, than that our sins are many and great? For thy name’s sake, O Lord, be merciful unto my sin, for it is great. I ask thee, saith David, to pardon, not everyday sins, but numerous sins, but great sins: multum est enim. O motive worthy of the breast of God! Oh, consequence which can have force only when it bears on supreme goodness! So that in order to obtain remission of his sins, the sinner alleges to God that they are many and great. Verily so; and that not for love of the sinner nor for the love of sin, but for the love of the honour and glory of God; which glory, by how much the sins he forgives are greater and more numerous, by so much the more ennobles and exalts itself. The same David distinguishes in the mercy of God greatness and multitude: greatness, secundum magnam misericordiam tuam;multitude, et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum. And as the greatness of the divine mercy is immense, and the multitude of his lovingkindnesses infinite; and forasmuch as the immense cannot be measured, nor the infinite counted, in order that the one and the other may in a certain manner have a proportionate material of glory, it is necessary to the very greatness of mercy that the sins to be pardoned should be great, and necessary to the very multitude of lovingkindnesses that they should be many. Multum est enim. Reason have I then, O Lord, not to be dismayed because our sins are many and great. Reason have I also to demand the reason from thee, why thou dost not make haste to pardon them? —Vieyra, quoted by J. M. Neale.
Ver. 11. For thy name’s sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity. It is a very usual notion by “name” to understand honour and glory. When God saith to David, “I have made thee a name like the name of men that are in the earth; “when the church saith to God, “Thou didst get thee a name as it is this day; “it is manifest that by name glory is intended. Suitable to this it is that famous men are called by the Hebrews, (Mvhyvna) Genesis 6:4, and by the Latins, viri nominum, men of name, in which the poet adorneth it with these epithets—Magnum et memorabile nomen, or, great and memorable. Thus, when God forgiveth sin, he doth it for his name’s sake, that is, for his own honour and glory. Indeed, God’s own glory is the ultimate end of all his actions. As he is the first, so is he the last, the efficient, and the final cause; nor is there anything done by him which is not for him. The end of our actions must be in his glory, because both our being and working are from him; but the end of his work is his own glory, because his being and acting are of and from himself. Among all divine works, there is none which more setteth forth his glory than this of remission. Sin, by committing it, brings God a great deal of dishonour, and yet, by forgiving it, God raiseth to himself a great deal of honour. “It is the glory of a man, “and much more of God, “to pass by an offence; “as acts of power, so acts of grace, are exceeding honourable. The attributes of God’s grace, mercy, goodness, clemency, shine forth in nothing so much as in pardoning sins. Paul speaks of riches of goodness which attend God’s forbearance; how much greater riches must there needs be in forgiveness? Nay, indeed, God hath so ordered the way of pardon, that not only the glory of his mercy, but justice, yea, of his wisdom in the wonderful contemporation of both these, is very illustrious. Nomen quasi notamen, quia notificat, the name is that which maketh one known; and by remission of sins, God maketh known his choice and glorious attributes; and for this end it is that he vouchsafes it. It is a consideration that may be our consolation. Since God forgiveth sins for his name’s sake, he will be ready to forgive many sins as well as few, great as small; indeed, the more and greater our sins are, the greater is the forgiveness, and, consequently, the greater is God’s glory; and therefore David, upon this consideration of God’s name and glory, maketh the greatness of his iniquity a motive of forgiveness. Indeed, to run into gross sins, that God may glorify himself by forgiving them, is an odious presumption, but to hope that those gross sins we have run into may, and will, be forgiven by God to us, being truly penitent, for his name’s sake, is a well grounded expectation, and such as may support our spirits against the strongest temptations to despair. Nathanael Hardy.
Ver. 11. Pardon mine iniquity; for it is great. He pleads the greatness of his sin, and not the smallness of it: he enforces his prayer with this consideration, that his sins are very heinous. But how could he make this a plea for pardon? I answer, Because the greater his iniquity was, the more need he had of pardon. It is as much as if he had said, Pardon mine iniquity, for it is so great that I cannot bear the punishment; my sin is so great that I am in necessity of pardon; my case will be exceedingly miserable, unless thou be pleased to pardon me. He makes use of the greatness of his sin, to enforce his plea for pardon, as a man would make use of the greatness of calamity in begging for relief. When a beggar begs for bread, he will plead the greatness of his poverty and necessity. When a man in distress cries for pity, what more suitable plea can be urged than the extremity of his case? And God allows such a plea as this: for he is moved to mercy towards us by nothing in us, but the miserableness of our case. He doth not pity sinners because they are worthy, but because they need his pity…Herein doth the glory of grace by the redemption of Christ much consist; namely, in its sufficiency for the pardon of the greatest sinners. The whole contrivance of the way of salvation is for this end, to glorify the free grace of God. God had it on his heart from all eternity to glorify this attribute; and therefore it is, that the device of saving sinners by Christ was conceived. The greatness of divine grace appears very much in this, that God by Christ saves the greatest offenders. The greater the guilt of any sinner is, the more glorious and wonderful is the grace manifested in his pardon. Romans 5:20 : “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” The apostle, when telling how great a sinner he had been, takes notice of the abounding of grace in his pardon, of which his great guilt was the occasion. 1 Timothy 1:13-14. “Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.” The Redeemer is glorified, in that he proves sufficient to redeem those who are exceeding sinful, in that his blood proves sufficient to wash away the greatest guilt, in that he is able to save men to the uttermost, and in that he redeems even from the greatest misery. It is the honour of Christ to save the greatest sinners, when they come to him, as it is the honour of a physician that he cures the most desperate diseases or wounds. Therefore, no doubt, Christ will be willing to save the greatest sinners, if they come to him; for he will not be backward to glorify himself, and to commend the value and virtue of his own blood. Seeing he hath so laid out himself to redeem sinners, he will not be unwilling to show he is able to redeem to the uttermost. Jonathan Edwards.
Ver. 11. Pardon mine iniquity; for it is great. Is any man miserable are his miseries great, are they spiritual, are they temporal? Undoubtedly, if he be humbled in the sense of them, and see himself unworthy of any mercy, he may still be assured of mercy. Though there be spiritual evils, yet if a man see himself wretched, and miserable, the more heavy he finds his iniquity to be, the more hope of mercy there is for him: the Lord’s mercy is over all his works, therefore is he much more merciful to such. If a man hath a feeling of his miseries and unworthiness, then he may use this argument for mercy, my miseries are great: even as David did, “O Lord, be merciful to me, and pardon my iniquity, for it is great.” And the more miserable man are under their own sense, the fitter objects they are for God to show mercy unto. Thus is was with the publican, and so with the prodigal; therefore never doubt, though thy iniquities be never so great, there is a sea of mercy in God. Bernard well observes the difference between justice and mercy; justice requires that there should be desert, but mercy looks upon them that are miserable; and, saith the father, true mercy doth affect misery; mercy doth not stand upon inquisition, but it is glad to find occasion of exercising itself. Richard Stock.
Ver. 11. Mine iniquity…is great. Such who come to God to have their sins pardoned, they look upon them as great sins. Pardon mine iniquity, for it is great. The original word as well signifies many as great—”My sins are great and many, ” many great sins lie upon me, pardon, oh! pardon them, O Lord, etc… In the opening of this point, I would show why such as come in a right way for pardon do look upon their sins as great sins. 1. Sinners that come to God for pardon and find it, do look upon their sins as great sins, because against a great God, great in power, great in justice, great in holiness. I am a worm, and yet sin, and that boldly against a God so great; for a worm to lift up himself against a great and infinite God; oh! this makes every little sin great, and calls for great vengeance from so great a God. 2. Because they have sinned against great patience, despising the goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering of God, which is called, “treasuring up wrath.” Romans 2:4-29; Romans 3:1-31; Romans 4:1-25; Romans 5:1-3. Sins do appear great because against great mercies. Oh! against how many mercies and kindnesses do sinners sin, and turn all the mercies of God into sin! … 4. That which increases sin in the eyes of poor sinners that cry for pardon, is, that they have sinned against great light —light in the conscience; this heightens sin exceedingly, especially to such are are under gospel means; and is indeed the sin of all in this nation; there’s nothing more abases a soul than this, nothing makes it more difficult to believe pardon, when humbled for it…5. Continuance in sin much increases sin to a poor soul that is after pardon; especially such as are not very early converted. Psalms 68:21. Oh! I added sin unto sin, saith a poor soul, spending the choice time of my youth in sin, when I might have been getting the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and honouring of God. This lay close upon David’s spirit as appears from the seventh verse: “Oh! remember not the sins of my youth.” Yet we do not find that David’s youth was notoriously sinful; but inasmuch as he spent not his youth to get knowledge, and to serve the Lord fully, it was his burden and complaint before the Lord; much more such whose youth was spent in nothing but vanity, profaneness, lying, swearing, profaning of the Sabbath, sports, pastimes, excess of riot, and the like, when God lays it in upon their consciences, must be grievous and abominable to their souls…6. Multitudes of sins do make sin appear great; this made David cry out for “multitudes of mercies.” Ps 51:1-19 40:12 …7. Another thing that increases sin is, that it was against purpose and resolutions of forsaking such and such sins; and yet all broken, sometimes against solemn vows, against prayers…8. Sin appears great when seen by a poor soul, because it was reigning sin. Romans 5:6. “Sin reigned unto death, “etc. Oh! saith a poor humbled sinner, I did not only commit sin, but I was the servant and slave of sin…9. Sin in the fountain makes it great. As it may be said, there is more water in the fountain than in the pools and streams it makes…So in the nature, in the heart, is there, as in the fountain, and therefore ’tis more there than in the breakings forth of it in the outward man…10. A sinner drawing nigh to God for pardon sees his sin as great, because thereby he was led captive by the devil at his will…11. Sin appears great because great is the wrath of God against sin. Romans 2:12. The way of any sinner’s deliverance from such wrath shows sin to be exceeding great in the price and ransom that is paid for the salvation of him from his sins —the price of the blood of the eternal Son of God…
13. Lastly, this consideration also increases sin, inasmuch as a poor creature hath drawn and tempted others to sin with him, especially such as have lived more vainly and loosely, and it lies hard upon many a poor soul after thorough conviction. Anthony Palmer (—1678), in “The Gospel New Creature.”
Ver. 11. I plead not, Lord, my merits, who am less than the least of thy mercies; and as I look not upon my merit, so nor do thou look upon my demerit; as I do not view my worthiness, so nor do thou view my unworthiness; but thou who art called the God of mercy be unto me what thou art called; make good the glory of thine own name in being merciful unto my sin, of which I cannot say as Lot of Zoar, “Is it not a little one?” No, it is great, for that it is against thee so great a God and so good to me: great, for that my place, my calling, my office is great. The sun the higher it is, the less it seems; but my sins, the higher I am the greater they are, even in thine and other’s eyes. Robert Mossom.
Ver. 11. Plead we the greatness of our sins not to keep us from mercy, but to prevail for it: Pardon mine iniquity; why so? for it is great. “Heal my soul, for I have sinned against thee, “Psalms 41:4. “Do thou it for thy name’s sake: for our backslidings are many; we have sinned against thee.” Jeremiah 14:7. This is a strong plea, when sincerely urged by an humble and contrite spirit. It glorifieth God as one that is abundant in goodness, rich in mercy, and one with whom are forgivenesses and plenteous redemption; and it honoureth Christ as infinite in mercy. Hence also the Lord himself, when he would stir up himself to choice acts of mercy to his poor people, he first aggravates their sin against him to the highest, and then he expresses his royal act of grace to them. So Isaiah 43:22-25. “Thou hast not called upon me O Jacob, but thou hast been weary of me, O Israel; thou hast not honoured me with thy sacrifices, but thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities. I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.” Thomas Cobbet, 1608-1686.
Ver. 11. “Oh, “says Pharaoh, “take away these filthy frogs, this dreadful thunder!” But what says holy David? “Lord, take away the iniquity of thy servant!” The one would be freed from punishment, the effect of sin; the other from sin, the cause of punishment. And it is most true that a true Christian man is more troubled at sin than at frogs and thunder; he sees more filthiness in sin than in frogs and toads, more horror than in thunder and lightning. Jeremiah Dyke’s “Worthy Communicant, “1645.
Ver. 11. Pharaoh more lamented the hard strokes that were upon him, than the hard heart which was within him. Esau mourned not because he sold the birthright, which was his sin, but because he lost the blessing, which was his punishment. This is like weeping with an onion; the eye sheds tears because it smarts. A mariner casts overboard that cargo in a tempest, which he courts the return of when the winds are silenced. Many complain more of the sorrows to which they are born, than of the sins with which they were born; they tremble more at the vengeance of sin, than at the venom of sin; one delights them, the other scares them. William Secker.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 11. A model prayer. Confession, argument, entreaty, etc.
Ver. 11. Great guilt no obstacle to the pardon of the returning sinner. Jonathan Edwards.
Psalms 25:12*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 12. What man is he that feareth the Lord? Let the question provoke self examination. Gospel privileges are not for every pretender. Art thou of the seed royal or no? Him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose. Those whose hearts are right shall not err for want of heavenly direction. Where God sanctifies the heart he enlightens the head. We all wish to choose our way; but what a mercy is it when the Lord directs that choice, and makes free will to be goodwill! If we make our will God’s will, God will let is have our will. God does not violate our will, but leaves much to our choice; nevertheless, he instructs our wills, and so we choose that which is well pleasing in his sight. The will should be subject to law; there is a way which we should choose, but so ignorant are we that we need to be taught, and so wilful that none but God himself can teach us effectually.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 12. What man is he that feareth the Lord? Blessed shall he be—1. In the sacred knowledge of Christ’s will; Him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose. 2. Blessed shall he be in the quiet peace of a good conscience; “His soul shall dwell at ease.” 3. Blessed he shall be in the present comfort of a hopeful progeny; “His seed shall inherit the earth.” Robert Mossom.
Ver. 12. What man is he that feareth the Lord? There is nothing so effectual to obtain grace, to retain grace, as always to be found before God not over wise, but to fear: happy art thou, if thy heart be replenished with three fears; a fear for received grace, a greater fear for lost grace, a greatest fear to recover grace. Bernard.
Ver. 12. He that feareth the Lord. Present fear begetteth eternal security: fear God, which is above all, and no need to fear man at all. Augustine.
Ver. 12. Him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose, i.e., that the good man shall pitch upon. God will direct him in all dealings to make a good choice, and will give good success. This is not in a man’s own power to do. Jeremiah 10:23. John Trapp.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 12. Holiness the best security for a well ordered life. Free will at school, questioned and instructed.
Psalms 25:13*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 13. He who fears God has nothing else to fear. His soul shall dwell at ease. He shall lodge in the chamber of content. One may sleep as soundly in the little bed in the corner as in the Great Bed of Ware; it is not abundance but content that gives true ease. Even here, having learned by grace both to abound and be empty, the believer dwells at ease; but how profound will be the ease of his soul for ever! There he will enjoy the otium cum dignitate; ease and glory shall go together. Like a warrior whose battles are over, or a husbandman whose barns are full, his soul shall take its ease, and be merry for ever. His seed shall inherit the earth. God remembers Isaac for the sake of Abraham, and Jacob for the sake of Isaac. Good men’s sons have a goodly portion to begin the world with, but many of them, alas! turn a father’s blessing into a curse. The promise is not broken because in some instances men wilfully refuse to receive it; moreover, it is in its spiritual meaning that it now holds good; our spiritual seed do inherit all that was meant by “the earth, “or Canaan; they receive the blessing of the new covenant. May the Lord make us the joyful parents of many spiritual children, and we shall have no fears about their maintenance, for the Lord will make each one of them princes in all the earth.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 13. His soul shall dwell at ease; and his seed shall inherit the earth. The holy fear of God shall destroy all sinful fears of men, even as Moses’ serpent devoured all those serpents of the magicians. The fear of God hath this good effect, that it makes other things not to be feared; so that the soul of him that feareth the Lord doth dwell, as in rest, so in goodness; as in peace, so in patience, till this moment of time be swallowed up in the fulness of eternity, and he change his earthly dwelling for an heavenly mansion, and his spiritual peace for an everlasting blessedness. Robert Mossom.
Ver. 13. His soul shall dwell at ease. Shall tarry in good things, as it is in the Vulgate. Unlike the soul of Adam, who, being put into possession of the delights of paradise, tarried there but a few days or hours. Gerhohus, quoted by J. M. Neale.
Ver. 13. His soul shall dwell at ease. He expresses with great sweetness spiritual delectation, when he says, “His soul shall tarry in good things.” For whatever is carnally sweet yields without doubt a delectation for the time to such as enjoy it, but cannot tarry long with them; because, while by its taste it provokes appetite, by its transit it cheats desire. But spiritual delights, which neither pass away as they are tasted, nor decrease while they refresh, nor cloy while they satiate, can tarry for ever with their possessors. Hugo Victorinus (1130), quoted by J. M. Neale.
Ver. 13 (first clause). In the reception of the gifts of God, they do not devour them without feeling a sense of their sweetness, but really relish them, so that the smallest competency is of more avail to satisfy them that the greatest abundance is to satisfy the ungodly. Thus, according as every man is contented with his condition, and cheerfully cherishes a spirit of patience and tranquillity, his soul is said to dwell in good. John Calvin.
Ver. 13. “The earth, “or the land, to wit Canaan; which was promised and given, as an earnest of the whole covenant of grace, and all its promises, and therefore it is synecdochically put for all of them. The sense is, his seed shall be blessed. Matthew Poole.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 13. A man at ease for time and eternity.
Psalms 25:14*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 14. The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him. Some read it “the friendship:” it signifies familiar intercourse, confidential intimacy, and select fellowship. This is a great secret. Carnal minds cannot guess what is intended by it, and even believers cannot explain it in words, for it must be felt to be known. The higher spiritual life is necessarily a path which the eagle’s eye hath not known, and which the lion’s whelp has not travelled; neither natural wisdom nor strength can force a door into this inner chamber. Saints have the key of heaven’s hieroglyphics; they can unriddle celestial enigmas. They are initiated into the fellowship of the skies; they have heard words which it is not possible for them to repeat to their fellows. And he will shew them his covenant. Its antiquity, security, righteousness, fulness, graciousness and excellence, shall be revealed to their hearts and understandings, and above all, their own part in it shall be sealed to their souls by the witness of the Holy Spirit. The designs of love which the Lord has to his people in the covenant of grace, he has been pleased to show to believers in the Book of Inspiration, and by his Spirit he leads us into the mystery, even the hidden mystery of redemption. He who does not know the meaning of this verse, will never learn it from a commentary; let him look to the cross, for the secret lies there.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 14. The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, etc. It is the righteous that is God’s friend, it is to him that God is joined in a loving familiarity, it is to him that God revealeth his secret, telling him what misery and torments he hath reserved for them who by wickedness flourish in this world. And indeed the Lord doth not more hate the wicked than he loves the godly: if he keeps far from the froward, as being an abomination unto him, his very secret shall be with the righteous, as with his dearest friend. It is an honour to him to whom a secret is committed by another, a greater honour to him to whom the king shall commit his own secret; but how is he honoured to whom God committed his secret? for where the secret of God is, there is his heart and there is himself. Thus was his secret with St. John, of whom St. Bernard saith, by occasion of the beginning of his gospel, “Doth he not seem unto thee to have dived into the bowels of the divine Word, and from the secrets of his breast, to have drawn a sacred pith of concealed wisdom?” Thus was his secret with St. Paul, who saith, “We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which none of the princes of this world knew.” 1 Corinthians 2:7-8. St. Gregory reads, for the secret of God, as the Vulgar Latin doth, sermocinatio Dei, the communication of God is with the righteous; but then addeth, Dei sermocinari est per illustrationem suae praesentiae humanis mentibus arcana revelare, God’s communication is, by the illustration of his presence, to reveal secrets to the minds of men. But to consider the words somewhat more generally. There is no less a secret of godliness, than there is of any other trade or profession. Many profess am art or a trade, but thrive not by it, because they have not the secret and mystery of it; and many profess godliness, but are little the better for it, because they have not the true secret of it: he hath that, with whom God is in secret in his heart; and he that is righteous in secret, where no man sees him, he is the righteous man with whom the secret of the Lord is. Michael Jermin, D.D., 1591-1659.
Ver. 14. The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, etc. There is a vital sense in which “the natural man discerneth not the things of the Spirit of God; “and in which all the realities of Christian experience are utterly hid from his perceptions. To speak to him of communion with God, of the sense of pardon, of the lively expectation of heaven, of the witness of the Holy Ghost, of the struggles of the spiritual life, would be like reasoning with a blind man about colours, or with one deaf about musical harmony. John Morison.
Ver. 14. The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, etc. Albeit the Lord’s covenant with the visible church be open, and plain in itself to all men in all the articles thereof, yet it is a mystery to know the inward sweet fellowship which a soul may have with God by virtue of this covenant; and a man fearing God shall know this mystery, when such as are covenanters only in the letter do remain ignorant thereof; for to the fearers of God only is this promise made—that to them the Lord will show his covenant. David Dickson.
Ver. 14. The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him. The gospel, though published to all the world, yet it is entitled a mystery, and a mystery hid, for none know it but the saints, who are taught of God, and are his scholars. John 6:45. That place shows that there must be a secret teaching by God, and a secret learning. “If they have heard, and been taught of God.” Now God teacheth none but saints, for all that are so taught come unto him: “Every one who hath heard, and learned of the Father, cometh unto me.” Aye, but you will say, Do not many carnal men know the gospel, and discourse of things in it, through strength of learning, etc? I answer out of the text Colossians 1:26-27, that though they may know the things which the gospel reveals, yet not the riches and glory of them, that same rich knowledge spoken of in the word, they want, and therefore know them not; as a child and a jeweller looking upon a pearl, both look upon it, and call it by the same name; but the child yet knows it not as a pearl in the worth and riches of it as the jeweller doth, and therefore cannot be said to know it. Now in Matthew 13:45, a Christian only is likened to a merchantman, that finds a pearl of great price, that is, discovered to be so, and sells all he hath for it, for he knows the worth of it. But you will say, Do not carnal men know the worth of the things in the gospel, and can they not discourse of the rich grace of Christ, and of his worth? I answer, yes, as a man who hath gotten an inventory by heart, and the prices also, and so may know it; yet never was he led into the exchequer and treasury, to see all the jewels themselves, the wardrobe of grace, and Christ’s righteousness, to see the glory of them; for these are all “spiritually discerned, “as the apostle says expressly, 1 Corinthians 2:14. Thomas Goodwin.
Ver. 14. The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him. The truth and sincerity of God to his people appears in the openness and plainness of his heart to them. A friend that is close and reserved, deservedly comes under a cloud in the thoughts of his friends; but he who carries, as it were, a window of crystal in his breast, through which his friend may read what thoughts are writ in his very heart, delivers himself from the least suspicion of unfaithfulness. Truly, thus open hearted is God to his saints: “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him.” He gives us his key, that will let us into his very heart, and acquaint us what his thoughts are, yea, were, towards us, before a stone was laid in the world’s foundation; and this is no other than his Spirit 1 Corinthians 2:10-11, “One who knows the deep things of God; “for he was at the council table in heaven, where all was transacted. This, his Spirit, he employed to put forth and publish in the Scriptures, indited by him, the substance of those counsels of love which had passed between the Trinity of Persons for our salvation; and that nothing may be wanting for our satisfaction, he hath appointed the same Holy Spirit to abide in his saints, that as Christ in heaven presents our desires to him, so he may interpret his mind out of his word to us; which word answers the heart of God, as face answers face in the glass. William Gurnall.
Ver. 14. The secret of the Lord. This “secret” is called a secret three ways. 1. Secret to the eye of sole nature, and thus it is not meant; for so the grace of Christ is a secret only to heathens and such as are blind as they, for common Christians know it—the rind of it. 2. Secret to the eye of taught nature, nor thus is it meant; for so the grace of Christ is a secret only to the ignorant sort of Christians; many carnal gospellers that sit under a good ministry know it and the bark of it. 3. Secret to the eye of enlightened nature, and thus it is meant; for so the grace of Christ is a secret to all unsanctified professors, whether learned or unlearned, namely, the pith of it; for though great doctors and profound clerks, and deep studied divines unconverted, know the doctrine of grace, and the truth of grace; though they can dispute of grace and talk of the glory of grace, yea, and taste a little the good word of grace, yea, and understand it generally, it may be as well as St. Paul and St. Peter, as Judas did, yet the special and the spiritual knowledge thereof, for all their dogmatical illumination, is a secret unto them. William Fenner.
Ver. 14. The secret. Arminius and his company ransack all God’s secrets, divulge and communicate them to the seed of the woman, and of the serpent all alike; they make God’s eternal love of election no secret, but a vulgar idea; they make the mystery of Christ, and him crucified, no secret, but like an apothecary’s drug, catholical; they make the especial grace of God no secret, but a common quality; faith no secret, but a general virtue; repentance and the new creature no secret, but an universal gift; no secret favour to St. Peter, but make God a party ante, not to love St. Peter more than Judas; no secret intent to any one person more than another; but that Christ might have died for all him, and never a man saved; no secret working of the Lord in any more than other; but for anything that either God the Father hath done by creating, God the Son by redeeming, or God the Holy Ghost by sanctifying, all the world were left to their scrambling—take it if you will, if you will not, refuse. They say God would have men to be saved, but that he will not work it for his own part, rather for this man or that man determinatively that he be saved. William Fenner.
Ver. 14. He will shew them his covenant, or and he will make them to know (for the infinitive is here thought to be put for the future tense of the indicative, as it is in Ecclesiastes 3:14-15; Ecclesiastes 3:18 Ho 9:13 12:3, his covenant, i.e., )he will make them clearly understand it, both its duties or conditions, and its blessings or privileges; neither of which ungodly men rightly understand. Or, he will make them to know it by experience, or by God’s making it good to them; as, on the contrary, God threatens to make ungodly men to know his breach of promise. Numbers 14:34. Or, as it is in the margins of our Bibles, and his covenant, (is i.e., he hath engaged himself by his promise or covenant) to make them know it, to wit, his secret, i.e., that he will manifest either his word or his favour to them. Matthew Poole.
Ver. 14. It is neither learning nor labour than can give insight into God’s secrets, those Arcana imperii, “The mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 13:11. “The mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:16. These things come by revelation rather than by discourse of reason, and must therefore be obtained by prayer. Those that diligently seek him shall be of his Cabinet Council, shall know his soul secrets, and be admitted into a gracious familiarity and friendship. “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth; but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” John 15:15. John Trapp.
Ver. 14. Walking with God is the best way to know the mind of God; friends who walk together impart their secrets one to another: “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him.” Noah walked with God, and the Lord revealed a great secret to him, of destroying the old world, and having him in the ark. Abraham walked with God, and God made him one of his privy council: “Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?” Ge 24:40 18:17. God doth sometimes sweetly unbosom himself to the soul in prayer, and in the holy supper, as Christ made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread. Lu 24:35. Thomas Watson.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 14.
1. A secret, and who know it.
2. A wonder, and who see it.
Psalms 25:15*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 15. Mine eyes are ever toward the Lord. The writer claims to be fixed in his trust, and constant in his expectation; he looks in confidence, and waits in hope. We may add to this look of faith and hope the obedient look of service, the humble look of reverence, the admiring look of wonder, the studious look of meditation, and the tender look of affection. Happy are those whose eyes are never removed from their God. “The eye, “says Solomon, “is never satisfied with seeing, “but this sight is the most satisfying in the world. For he shall pluck my feet out of the net. Observe the conflicting condition in which a gracious soul may be placed, his eyes are in heaven and yet his feet are sometimes in a net; his nobler nature ceases not to behold the glories of God, while his baser parts are enduring the miseries of the world. A net is the common metaphor for temptation. The Lord often keeps his people from falling into it, and if they have fallen he rescues them. The word “pluck” is a rough word, and saints who have fallen into sin find that the means of their restoration are not always easy to the flesh; the Lord plucks at us sharply to let us feel that sin is an exceeding bitter thing. But what a mercy is here: Believer, be very grateful for it. The Lord will deliver us from the cunning devices of our cruel enemy, and even if through infirmity we have fallen into sin, he will not leave us to be utterly destroyed but will pluck us out of our dangerous state; though our feet are in the net, if our eyes are up unto God, mercy certainly will interpose.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 15. Mine eyes are ever toward the Lord. Though we cannot see him by reason of our present distance and darkness, yet we must look towards him, towards the place where his honour dwells, as those that desire the knowledge of him and his will, and direct all to his honour as the mark we aim at, labouring in this, that “whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.” Matthew Henry.
Ver. 15. Mine eyes. As the sense of sight is very quick, and exercises an entire influence over the whole frame, it is no uncommon thing to find all the affections denoted by the term “eyes.” John Calvin.
Ver. 15. He shall pluck my feet out of the net. An unfortunate dove, whose feet are taken in the snare of the fowler, is a fine emblem of the soul, entangled in the cares or pleasures of the world; from which she desires, through the power of grace, to fly away, and to be at rest, with her glorified Redeemer. George Horne.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 15.
1. What we are like. A silly bird.
2. What is our danger? “Net.”
3. Who is our friend? “The Lord.”
4. What is our wisdom? “Mine eyes, “etc.
Psalms 25:16*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 16. His own eyes were fixed upon God, but he feared that the Lord had averted his face from him in anger. Oftentimes unbelief suggests that God has turned his back upon us. If we know that we turn to God we need not fear that he will turn from us, but may boldly cry, Turn thee unto me. The ground of quarrel is always in ourselves, and when that is removed there is nothing to prevent our full enjoyment of communion with God. Have mercy upon me. Saints still must stand upon the footing of mercy; notwithstanding all their experience they cannot get beyond the publican’s prayer, “Have mercy upon me.” For I am desolate and afflicted. He was lonely and bowed down. Jesus was in the days of his flesh in just such a condition; none could enter into the secret depths of his sorrows, he trod the winepress alone, and hence he is able to succour in the fullest sense those who tread the solitary path.
“Christ leads me through no darker rooms
Than he went through before; He that into God’s kingdom comes,
Must enter by this door.”
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
None.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 16. A desolate soul seeking heavenly company, and an afflicted spirit crying for divine mercy. Our God the balm of all our wounds.
Ver. 16-18. David is a petitioner as well as a sufferer; and those sorrows will never injure us that bring us near to God. Three things he prays for: —
1. Deliverance. This we are called to desire, consistently with resignation to the divine will.
2. Notice. A kind look from God is desirable at any time in any circumstances; but in affliction and pain, it is like life from the dead.
3. Pardon. Trials are apt to revive a sense of guilt. William Jay.
Psalms 25:17*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 17. The troubles of my heart are enlarged. When trouble penetrates the heart it is trouble indeed. In the case before us, the heart was swollen with grief like a lake surcharged with water by enormous floods; this is used as an argument for deliverance, and it is a potent one. When the darkest hour of the night arrives we may expect the dawn; when the sea is at its lowest ebb the tide must surely turn; and when our troubles are enlarged to the greatest degree, then we may hopefully pray, O bring thou me out of my distresses.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 17. The troubles of my heart are enlarged. Let no good man be surprised that his affliction is great, and to him of an unaccountable character. It has always been so with God’s people. The road to heaven is soaked with the tears and blood of the saints. William S. Plumer.
Ver. 17. O bring thou me out of my distresses. We may not complain of God, but we may complain to God. With submission to his holy will we may earnestly cry for help and deliverance. William S. Plumer.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 16-18. David is a petitioner as well as a sufferer; and those sorrows will never injure us that bring us near to God. Three things he prays for: —
1. Deliverance. This we are called to desire, consistently with resignation to the divine will.
2. Notice. A kind look from God is desirable at any time in any circumstances; but in affliction and pain, it is like life from the dead.
3. Pardon. Trials are apt to revive a sense of guilt. William Jay.
Ver. 17. Special seasons of trouble and special resort to prayer for special deliverance.
Psalms 25:18*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 18. Look upon mine affliction and my pain. Note the many trials of the saints; here we have no less than six words all descriptive of woe. “Desolate, and afflicted, troubles enlarged, distresses, affliction, and pain.” But note yet more the submissive and believing spirit of a true saint; all he asks for is, “Lord, look upon my evil plight; “he does not dictate, or even express a complaint; a look from God will content him, and that being granted he asks no more. Even more noteworthy is the way in which the believer under affliction discovers the true source of all the mischief, and lays the axe at the root of it. Forgive all my sins, is the cry of a soul that is more sick of sin than of pain, and would sooner be forgiven than healed. Blessed is the man to whom sin is more unbearable than disease, he shall not be long before the Lord shall both forgive his iniquity and heal his diseases. Men are slow to see the intimate connection between sin and sorrow, a grace taught heart alone feels it.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 18. Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins. We may observe here, that sickness and weakness of the body come from sin, and is a fruit of sin. Some are weak, and some are sick, “for this cause.” I shall not need to be long in the proof of that, which you have whole chapters for, as De 28:27, seq; and many Psalms 107:1-43, and others. It is for the sickness of the soul that God visits with the sickness of the body. He aims at the cure of the soul in the touch of the body. And therefore in this case, when God visits with sickness, we should think our work is more in heaven with God than with men or physic. Begin first with the soul. So David Psalms 32:5, till he dealt roundly with God, without all kind of guile, and confessed his sins, he roared; his moisture was turned into the drought of summer. But when he dealt directly and plainly with God, and confessed his sins, then God forgave him them, and healed his body too. And therefore the best method, when God visits us in this kind, is to think that we are to deal with God. Begin the cure there with the soul. When he visits the body, it is for the soul’s sake: “Many are weak and sickly among you.” Richard Sibbes.
Ver. 18. Look upon mine affliction and my pain. In sickness of body trust to Jesus, he is as powerful and as willing to help us now as he was to help others in the days of his flesh. All things are possible to us if we believe. It is but a word from him to rebuke all storms and tempests whatsoever. Let us not do like Asa, trust only in the physician, or in subordinate means, but know that all physic is but dead means without him. 2 Chronicles 16:12. Therefore, with the means, run to Christ, that he may work with them, and know that virtue and strength comes form him to bless or curse all sorts of means. Richard Sibbes.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 16-18. David is a petitioner as well as a sufferer; and those sorrows will never injure us that bring us near to God. Three things he prays for: —
1. Deliverance. This we are called to desire, consistently with resignation to the divine will.
2. Notice. A kind look from God is desirable at any time in any circumstances; but in affliction and pain, it is like life from the dead.
3. Pardon. Trials are apt to revive a sense of guilt. William Jay.
Ver. 18. Two things are here taught us: —
I. That a kind look from God is very desirable in affliction.
1. It is a look of special observation.
2. It is a look of tender compassion.
3. It is a look of support and assistance (with God, power and compassion go together).
II. The sweetest cordial under trouble would be an assurance of
divine forgiveness.
1. Because trouble is very apt to bring our sins to remembrance.
2. Because a sense of pardon will in great measure remove all distressing fears of death and judgment.
Improvement.
1. Let us adore the goodness of God, that one so great and glorious should bestow a favourable look upon any of our sinful race.
2. Let the benefit we have received from the Lord’s looking upon us in former afflictions, engage us to pray, and encourage us to hope, that he will now look upon us again.
3. If a kind look from God be so comfortable, what must heaven be! Samuel Lavington.
Ver. 18.
1. It is well when our sorrows remind us of our sins.
2. When we are as earnest to be forgiven as to be delivered.
3. When we bring both to the right place in prayer.
4. When we are submissive about our sorrows— “Look, “etc. —but very explicit about our sins —”forgive, “etc.
Psalms 25:19*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 19. Consider mine enemies. Watch them, weigh them, check them, defeat them. For they are many. They need the eyes of Argus to watch them, and the arms of Hercules to match them, but the Lord is more than sufficient to defeat them. The devils of hell and the evils of earth are all vanquished when the Lord makes bare his arm. They hate me with cruel hatred. It is the breath of the serpent’s seed to hate; their progenitor was a hater, and they themselves must needs imitate him. No hate so cruel as that which is unreasonable and unjust. A man can forgive one who had injured him, but one whom he has injured he hates implacably. “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves, “is still our Master’s word to us.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 19. Consider mine enemies, etc. Or look upon them; but with another kind of look; so as he looked through the pillar of fire upon the Egyptians, and troubled them Exodus 14:24, with a look of wrath and vengeance. The arguments he uses are taken both from the quantity and quality of his enemies, their number and their nature, For they are many; the hearts of the people of Israel, in general, being after Absalom 2 Samuel 15:12-13; and so the spiritual enemies of the Lord’s people are many; their sins and corruptions, Satan, and his principalities and powers, and the men of this world. And they hate me with cruel hatred; like that of Simeon and Levi Genesis 44:7; their hatred broke out in a cruel manner, in acts of force and cruelty; and it was the more cruel, inasmuch as it was without cause; and such is the hatred of Satan and his emissaries against the followers of Christ; who breathe out cruelty, thirst after their blood, and make themselves drunk with it; even their tender mercies are cruel, and much more their hatred. John Gill.
Ver. 19. Consider mine enemies. God needeth not hound out many creatures to punish man, he doeth that on himself. There is no kind of creature so hurtful to itself as he. Some hurt other kinds and spare their own, but mankind in all sorts of injuries destroyeth itself. Man to man is more crafty than a fox, more cruel than the tiger, and more fierce than a lion, and in a word, if he be left to himself man unto man is a devil. William Struther’s “Christian Observations, “1629.
Ver. 19-20. —Consider mine enemies…O keep my soul and deliver me. We may say of original concupiscence, strengthened and heightened by customary transgressions, its name is legion, for it is many. Hydra like, it is a body with many heads; and when we cut off one head, one enormous impiety, there presently sprouts up another of like monstrous nature, like venomous guilt. From the womb then it is of original sin and sinful custom, as from the belly of the Trojan horse, there does issue forth a whole army of unclean lusts, to surround the soul in all its faculties, and the body too in all its members. Robert Mossom.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 19. The spiritual enemies of the saint. Their number, malice, craft, power, etc.
Psalms 25:20*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 20. O keep my soul out of evil, and deliver me when I fall into it. This is another version of the prayer, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Let me not be ashamed. This is the one fear which like a ghost haunted the psalmist’s mind. He trembled lest his faith should become the subject of ridicule through the extremity of his affliction. Noble hearts can brook anything but shame. David was of such a chivalrous spirit, that he could endure any torment rather than be put to dishonour. For I put my trust in thee. And therefore the name of God would be compromised if his servants were deserted; this the believing heart can by no means endure.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 19-20. —Consider mine enemies…O keep my soul and deliver me. See Psalms on “Psalms 25:19” for further information.
Ver. 20. Let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee. When David reaches verse 20, we are reminded of Coriolanus betaking himself to the hall of Attius Tullus, and sitting as a helpless stranger there, claiming the king’s hospitality, though aware of his having deserved to die at his hands. The psalmist throws himself on the compassion of an injured God with similar feelings; “I trust in thee!” Andrew A. Bonar.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 20. Soul preservation.
1. Its twofold character, “Keep, “and “deliver.”
2. Its dreadful alternative, “Let me not be ashamed.”
3. Its effectual guarantee, “I put my trust in thee.”
Ver. 20. A superhuman keeping, a natural fear, a spiritual trust.
Psalms 25:21*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 21. Let integrity and uprightness preserve me. What better practical safeguards can a man require? If we do not prosper with these as our guides, it is better for us to suffer adversity. Even the ungodly world admits that “honesty is the best policy.” The heir of heaven makes assurance doubly sure, for apart from the rectitude of his public life, he enlists the guardian care of heaven in secret prayer: for I wait on thee. To pretend to wait on God without holiness of life is religious hypocrisy, and to trust to out own integrity without calling upon God is presumptuous atheism. Perhaps the integrity and uprightness referred to are those righteous attributes of God, which faith rests upon as a guarantee that the Lord will not forfeit his word.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 21. “For I trust in, or wait on thee.” As preservation is a continued creation, so is waiting a continued trusting; for, what trust believes by faith, it waits for by hope; and thus is trust a compound of both. Robert Mossom.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 21. The open way of safety in action, and the secret way of safety in devotion.
Psalms 25:22*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 22. Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles. This is a very comprehensive prayer, including all the faithful and all their trials. Sorrow had taught the psalmist sympathy, and given him communion with the tried people of God; he therefore remembers them in his prayers. Israel, the tried, the wrestling, the conquering hero, fit representative of all the saints. Israel in Egypt, in the wilderness, in wars with Canaanites, in captivity, fit type of the church militant on earth. Jesus is the Redeemer from trouble as well as sin, he is a complete Redeemer, and from every evil he will rescue every saint. Redemption by blood is finished: O God, send us redemption by power. Amen and Amen.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 22. Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles. If thou wilt not pity and help me, yet spare thy people, who suffer for my sake, and in my sufferings. Matthew Poole.
Ver. 22. Redeem Israel, etc. In vita vel post mortem meam, (Rabbi David), either whiles I live, or after my death. This is every good man’s care and prayer. None is in case to pray for the church, that hath not first made his own peace with God. John Trapp.
Ver. 22. This most beautiful of “Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” closes with a sweet petition—such an one, as every one of the true Israel of God would wish to depart with on his lips. “Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.” It breathes the same holy aspiration as the aged Simeon’s “Lord! now lettest thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.” Barton Bouchier.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 22. Jacob’s life, as typical of ours, may illustrate this prayer.
Ver. 22. A prayer for the church militant.

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Psalm 24

holy-bible-background

Verses 1-10
Title. A Psalm of David. From the title we learn nothing but the authorship: but this is interesting and leads us to observe the wondrous operations of the Spirit upon the mind of Israel’s sweet singer, enabling him to touch the mournful string in Psalm twenty-two, to pour forth gentle notes of peace in Psalm twenty-three, and here to utter majestic and triumphant strains. We can do or sing all things when the Lord strengtheneth us.
This sacred hymn was probably written to be sung when the ark of the covenant was taken up from the house of Obededom, to remain within curtains upon the hill of Zion. The words are not unsuitable for the sacred dance of joy in which David led the way upon that joyful occasion. The eye of the psalmist looked, however, beyond the typical up going of the ark to the sublime ascension of the King of glory. We will call it The Song of the Ascension.
Division. The Psalm makes a pair with the Psalms 15:1-5. It consists of three parts. The first glorifies the true God, and sings of his universal dominion; the second describes the true Israel, who are able to commune with him; and the third pictures the ascent of the true Redeemer, who has opened heaven’s gates for the entrance of his elect.
EXPOSITION
Ver. 1. How very different is this from the ignorant Jewish notion of God which prevailed in our Saviour’s day? The Jews said, “The holy land is God’s, and the seed of Abraham are his only people; ” but their great Monarch had long before instructed them, —
The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof. The whole round world is claimed for Jehovah,
and they that dwell therein are declared to be his subjects. When we consider the bigotry of the Jewish people at the time of Christ, and how angry they were with our Lord for saying that many widows were in Israel, but unto none of them was the prophet sent, save only to the widow of Sarepta, and that there were many lepers in Israel, but none of them was healed except Naaman the Syrian, —when we recollect, too, how angry they were at the mention of Paul’s being sent to the Gentiles, we are amazed that they should have remained in such blindness, and yet have sung this psalm, which shows so clearly that God is not the God of the Jews only, but of the Gentiles also. What a rebuke is this to those wiseacres who speak of the negro and other despised races as though they were not cared for by the God of heaven! If a man be but a man the Lord claims him, and who dares to brand him as a mere piece of merchandise! The meanest of men is a dweller in the world, and therefore belongs to Jehovah. Jesus Christ had made an end of the exclusiveness of nationalities. There is neither barbarian, Scythian, bond not free; but we all are one in Christ Jesus. Man lives upon
the earth, and parcels out its soil among his mimic kings and autocrats; but the earth is not man’s. He is but a tenant at will, a leaseholder upon the most precarious tenure, liable to instantaneous ejectment. The great Landowner and true Proprietor holds his court above the clouds, and laughs at the title deeds of worms of the dust. The fee simple is not with the lord of the manor nor the freeholder, but with the Creator. The
fulness of the earth may mean its harvests, its wealth, its life, or its worship; in all these senses the Most High God is Possessor of all. The earth is full of God; he made it full and he keeps it full, notwithstanding all the demands which living creatures make upon its stores. The sea is full, despite all the clouds which rise from it; the air is full, notwithstanding all the lives which breathe it; the soil is full, though millions of plants derive their nourishment from it. Under man’s tutored hand the world is coming to a greater fulness than ever, but it is all the Lord’s; the field and the fruit, the earth and all earth’s wonders are Jehovah’s. We look also for a more sublime fulness when the true ideal of a world for God shall have been reached in millennial glories, and then most clearly the earth will be the Lord’s and the fulness thereof. These words are now upon London’s Royal Exchange, they shall one day be written in letters of light across the sky. The term
world indicates the habitable regions, wherein Jehovah is especially to be acknowledged as Sovereign. He who rules the fish of the sea and the fowl of the air should not be disobeyed by man, his noblest creature. Jehovah is the Universal King, all nations are beneath his sway: true Autocrat of all the nations, emperors and czars are but his slaves. Men are not their own, nor may they call their lips, their hearts, or their substance their own; they are Jehovah’s rightful servants. This claim especially applies to us who are born from heaven. We do not belong to the world or to Satan, but by creation and redemption we are the peculiar portion of the Lord. Paul uses this verse twice, to show that no food is unclean, and that nothing is really the property of false gods. All things are God’s; no ban is on the face of nature, nothing is common or unclean. The world is all God’s world, and the food which is sold in the shambles is sanctified by being my Father’s, and I need not scruple to eat thereof.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. It will be seen that this Psalm was written to be chanted in responsive parts, with two choruses. To comprehend it fully, it should be understood that Jerusalem, as the city of God, was by the Jews regarded as a type of heaven. It so occurs in the Apocalypse, whence we have adopted it in our poetical and devotional aspirations. The court of the tabernacle was the scene of the Lord’s more immediate residence—the tabernacle his palace, and the ark his throne. With this leading idea in his mind, the most cursory reader—if there be cursory readers of the Bible—cannot fail to be struck with the beauty and sublimity of this composition, and its exquisite suitableness to the occasion. The chief musician, who was probably in this case the king himself, appears to have begun the sacred lay with a solemn and sonorous recital of these sentences: —
“The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; The world, and they that dwell therein.
For he hath founded it upon the seas, And established it upon the floods.”
The chorus of vocal music appears to have then taken up the song, and sung the same words in a more tuneful and elaborate harmony; and the instruments and the whole chorus of the people fell in with them, raising the mighty declaration to heaven. There is much reason to think that the people, or a large body of them, were qualified or instructed to take their part in this great ceremonial. The historical text says, “David, and all the house of Israel played before the Lord, upon all manner of instruments, “etc. We may presume that the chorus then divided, each singing in their turns, and both joining at the close—
“For he hath founded it upon the seas,
And established it upon the floods.”
This part of the music may be supposed to have lasted until the procession reached the foot of Zion, or came in view of it, which from the nature of the enclosed site, cannot be till one comes quite near to it. Then the king must be supposed to have stepped forth, and begun again, in a solemn and earnest tone—
“Who shall ascend into the holy hill of the Lord? Or who shall stand in his holy place?”
To which the first chorus responds—
“He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; Who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity,
nor sworn deceitfully.”
And then the second chorus—
“He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, And righteousness from the God of his salvation.”
This part of the sacred song may, in like manner, be supposed to have lasted till they reached the gate of the city, when the king began again in this grand and exalted strain: —
“Lift up your heads, O ye gates; And be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors,
And the King of glory shall come in.”
repeated then, in the same way as before, by the general chorus. The persons having charge of the gates on this high occasion ask—
“Who is the King of glory?”
To which the first chorus answers—
“It is Jehovah, strong and mighty— Jehovah mighty in battle.”
which the second chorus then repeats in like manner as before, closing it with the grand universal chorus,
“He is the King of glory! He is the King of glory!”
We must now suppose the instruments to take up the same notes, and continue them to the entrance to the court of the tabernacle. There the king again begins—
“Lift up your heads, O ye gates; And be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; And the King of glory shall come in.”
This is followed and answered as before—all closing, the instruments sounding, the chorus singing, the people shouting—
“He is the King of glory.”
John Kitto’s “Daily Bible Illustrations.”
Whole Psalm. The coming of the Lord of glory, the high demands upon his people proceeding from this, the absolute necessity to prepare worthily for his arrival, form the subject matter of this Psalm. E. W. Hengstenberg.
Whole Psalm. We learn from the rabbins, that this was one of certain Psalms which were sung in the performance of Jewish worship on each day in the week: —
The 24th Psalm on the 1st, the Lord’s day, our Sunday.
48th ” 2nd ”
82nd ” 3rd ”
94th ” 4th ”
81st ” 5th ”
93rd ” 6th ”
92nd ” 7th, the Jewish Sabbath.
This Psalm, then, appropriated to the Lord’s day, our Sunday, was intended to celebrate the resurrection of Messiah, and his ascension into heaven, there to sit as priest upon God’s throne, and from thence to come down bringing blessings and mercies to his people. R. H. Ryland.
Whole Psalm. Anthem of praise, performed when the heads of the gates of Jerusalem were lifted up to receive the ark; and those of the Israelites who were ceremoniously clean, were alone permitted to accompany it into the court of the tabernacle. A Psalm of David. Psalms 24:1-2, chorus. Psalms 24:3. First voice. Psalms 24:4-5. Second voice. Psalms 24:6. Chorus. Psalms 24:7. Semi chorus accompanying the ark. Psalms 24:8. Voice from within the gates. Psalms 24:8. Chorus of priests accompanying the ark. Psalms 24:9. Chorus of priests and people with the ark. Psalms 24:10. Voice within the gates. Psalms 24:10. Grand chorus. From “The Psalms, with Prefatory Titles, etc., from the Port Royal Authors”, by Mary Anne Schimmelpenninck, 1825.
Whole Psalm. How others may think upon this point, I cannot say, nor pretend to describe, but for my own part, I have no notion of hearing, or of any man’s ever having seen or heard, anything so great, so solemn, so celestial, on this side the gates of heaven. Patrick Delany, D.D., 1686-1768.
Ver. 1. The earth is the Lord’s, that is, Christ’s, who is the “Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16); for the whole world and all the things therein are his by a twofold title. First, by donation of God his Father, having “all power given unto him in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18), even whatsoever things the Father hath are his (John 16:15); and so consequently “made heir of all things.” Hebrews 1:2. Secondly, the earth is Christ’s and all that therein is, by right of creation, for “he founded it”, saith our prophet, and that after a wonderful manner, “upon the seas and floods.”… All things then are Christ’s, in respect of creation, by whom “all things were made” (John 1:3); in respect of sustentation, as upholding all things by his mighty word (Hebrews 1:3); in respect of administration, as reaching from one end to another, and ordering all things sweetly (Wisdom of Solomon 8:1): in one word—”Of him, and through him, and to him, are all things.” Romans 11:36. From hence we may learn (1), That Christ is “the King of glory”, “Lord of Hosts, “even Almighty God. For he that made all, is “Lord over all; “he that is the Creator of heaven and earth is Almighty (saith our Creed); able to do whatsoever he will, and more than he will too—more by his absolute power, than he will by his actual—”able to raise up children unto Abraham” out of the very stones of the street, though he doth not actually produce such a generation. His almightiness evidently proves him to be God, and his founding of the world his almightiness; for “The gods that have not made the heaven and earth shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens.” Jeremiah 10:11. (2.) Seeing the compass of the world and all they that dwell therein are the Lord’s, it is plain that the church is not confined within the limits of one region, or glued, as it were, to one seat only. The Donatists in old time, would tie the church only to Cartenna in Africa, the Papists in our time to Rome in Italy; but the Scriptures plainly affirm that the golden candlesticks are removed from one place to another, and that the kingdom of God is taken away from one nation and given unto another country that brings forth the fruit thereof; in every region he that feareth God and worketh righteousness is accepted of him. Acts 10:35. John Boys.
Ver. 1. The earth is Jehovah’s. The object of the beginning of the Psalm is to show that the Jews had nothing of themselves which could entitle them to approach nearer or more familiarly to God than the Gentiles. As God by his providence preserves the world, the power of his government is alike extended to all, so that he ought to be worshipped by all, even as he also shows to all men, without exception, the fatherly care he has about them. J. Calvin.
Ver. 1. The earth is the Lord’s. It is Christ’s, by creation (Psalms 24:1-10 :2 John 1:1-2), and it is his by resurrection (Matthew 28:18), and by his glorious ascension into heaven, where he is enthroned King of the world in his human nature. This Psalm takes up the language of the first Ascension Psalm (Psalms 24:8.) Christopher Wordsworth, D.D., in loc.
Ver. 1. St. Chrysostom, suffering under the Empress Eudoxia, tells his friend Cyriacus how he armed himself before hand: ei me bouletai n basilissa e xorisai me, etc. “I thought, will she banish me? `The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof.’ Take away my goods? `Naked came I into the world, and naked must I return.’ Will she stone me? I remembered Stephen. Behead me? John Baptist came into my mind, “etc. Thus it should be with every one that intends to live and die comfortably: they must, as we say, lay up something for a rainy day; they must stock themselves with graces, store up promises, and furnish themselves with experiences of God’s lovingkindness to others and themselves too, that so when the evil day comes, they may have much good coming thereby. John Spencer.
Ver. 1. The earth is the Lord’s. As David, in his youthful days, was tending his flocks on Bethlehem’s fertile plains, the spirit of the Lord descended upon him, and his senses were opened, and his understanding enlightened, so that he could understand the songs of the night. The heavens proclaimed the glory of God, and glittering stars formed the general chorus, their harmonious melody resounded upon earth, and the sweet fulness of their voices vibrated to it utmost bounds.
Light is the countenance of the Eternal, sung the setting sun: “I am the hem of his garment, “responded the soft and rosy twilight. The clouds gathered themselves together and said, “We are his nocturnal tent.” And the waters in the clouds, and the hollow voices of the thunders, joined in the lofty chorus, “The voice of the Eternal is upon the waters, the God of glory thundereth in the heavens, the Lord is upon many waters.”
“He flieth upon my wings”, whispered the winds, and the gentle air added, “I am the breath of God, the aspirations of his benign presence.” “We hear the songs of praise, “said the parched earth; “all around is praise; I alone am sad and silent.” Then the falling dew replied, “I will nourish thee, so that thou shalt be refreshed and rejoice, and thy infants shall bloom like the young rose.” “Joyfully we bloom”, sang the refreshed meads; the full ears of corn waved as they sang, “We are the blessing of God, the hosts of God against famine.”
“We bless thee from above”, said the gentle moon; “We, too, bless thee, “responded the stars; and the lightsome grasshopper chirped, “Me, too, he blesses in the pearly dew drop.” “He quenched my thirst”, said the roe; “And refreshed me, “continued the stag; “And grants us our food”, said the beasts of the forest; “And clothes my lambs”, gratefully added the sheep.
“He heard me”, croaked the raven, “when I was forsaken and alone; ” “He heard me”, said the wild goat of the rocks, “when my time came, and I brought forth.” And the turtle dove cooed, and the swallow and other birds joined the song, “We have found our nests, our houses, we dwell upon the altar of the Lord, and sleep under the shadow of his wing in tranquillity and peace.” “And peace”, replied the night, and echo prolonged the sound, when chanticleer awoke the dawn, and crowed with joy, “Open the portals, set wide the gates of the world! The King of glory approaches. Awake! Arise, ye sons of men, give praises and thanks unto the Lord, for the King of glory approaches.”
The sun arose, and David awoke from his melodious rapture. But as long as he lived the strains of creation’s harmony remained in his soul, and daily he recalled them from the strings of his harp. From the “Legend of the Songs of the Night, “in the Talmud, quoted in “Biblical Antiquities.” By F. A. Cox, D.D., L.L.D., 1852.
Ver. 1. The pious mind views all things in God, , and God in all things. Ingram Cobbin, 1839.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 1. The great Proprietor, his estates and his servants, his rights and wrongs.
Ver. 1. The earth is the Lord’s.
1. Mention other claimants—idols: pope, man, devil, etc.,
2. Try the suit.
3. Carry out the verdict. Use our substance, preach everywhere, claim all things for God.
4. See how glorious the earth looks when she bears her Master’s name.
Ver. 1. (last clause). All men belong to God. His sons or his subjects, his servants or his serfs, his sheep or his goats, etc.
WORK UPON THE TWENTY-FOURTH PSALM
In the “Works” of John Boys, 1626, folio, pp. 908-913, there is an Exposition of this Psalm.
Psalms 24:2*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 2. In the second verse we have the reason why the world belongs to God, namely, because he has created it, which is a title beyond all dispute.
For he hath founded it upon the seas. It is God who lifts up the earth from out of the sea, so that the dry land, which otherwise might in a moment be submerged, as in the days of Noah, is kept from the floods. The hungry jaws of ocean would devour the dry land if a constant fiat of Omnipotence did not protect it.
He hath established it upon the floods. The world is Jehovah’s, because from generation to generation he preserves and upholds it, having settled its foundations. Providence and Creation are the two legal seals upon the title deeds of the great Owner of all things. He who built the house and bears up its foundations has surely a first claim upon it. Let it be noted, however, upon what insecure foundations all terrestrial things are founded. Founded on the seas! Established on the floods! Blessed be God the Christian has another world to look forward to, and rests his hopes upon a more stable foundation than this poor world affords. They who trust in worldly things build upon the sea; but we have laid our hopes, by God’s grace, upon the Rock of Ages; we are resting upon the promise of an immutable God, we are depending upon the constancy of a faithful Redeemer. Oh! ye worldlings, who have built your castles of confidence, your palaces of wealth, and your bowers of pleasure upon the seas, and established them upon the floods; how soon will your baseless fabrics melt, like foam upon the waters! Sand is treacherous enough, but what shall be said of the yet more unstable sea?
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 2. He hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods. This founding the land upon the seas, and preparing it upon the floods, is so wonderfully wonderful, that Almighty God asked his servant Job, “Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened?” Job 38:6. Xerxes commanded his soldiers to fetter the waters of Hellispontus; and so God bindeth, as it were, the floods in fetters, at St. Basil plainly, Ligatum est mare praecepto Creatoris quasi compedibus; he saith unto the sea, “Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further, there shall it stay thy proud waves.” “He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap; he layeth up the depth in storehouses” (Job 38:11, Psalms 33:7); so that without his leave not so much as one drop can overflow the land. John Boys.
Ver. 2. (New translation.) For he hath founded it upon the seas, and upon streams doth he make it fast. The reference is no doubt to the account of the Creation, in Genesis, the dry land having emerged from the water, and seeming to rest upon it. (Comp. 136:6; Proverbs 8:29.) It would, however, be quite out of place to suppose that in such language we have the expression of any theory, whether popular or scientific, as to the structure of the earth’s surface: Job says (Job 26:7), “He hangeth the earth upon nothing.” Such expressions are manifestly poetical. See Job 38:6. J. J. Stewart Perowne.
Ver. 2. Upon the seas: that is, upon the great abyss of water which is under the earth, enclosed in great hollow places, whence the heads of rivers do spring, and other waters bubble out upon the earth. John Diodati.
Ver. 2. Above the floods he hath established it. Both the words (Heb.) (Al) in the two clauses of this verse mean either “above” as we have rendered it, and refer to Genesis 1:9-10, denoting that Jehovah hath called forth dry land from the midst of the seas, and established it above the floods, and hath set a boundary to the latter never to turn and overflow it (see Job 38:8 : Psalms 104:1-35 chronologically Psalms 7:9); or “by, or at”, as they often denote, and refer to the same subject of the omnipotence of God in relation to the same quoted passages, i.e., that though our globe is situated at or by the floods—is surrounded with mighty waters whose single wave could bury it for ever, still the Lord has so established it that this never can happen. This is a mighty reason why the earth and all its fulness and inhabitants belong to Jehovah. Benjamin Weiss.
Ver. 2. Hereby is mystically meant, that he hath set his church above the waters of adversities, so that how high soever they arise, it is kept still above them in safety, and so shall be for evermore; or it may agree thus—he will take in all nations to be in his grace, because all be his creatures; he made them so admirable an habitation at the first, and upholds it still, showing hereby how much he regards them; therefore he will now extend his favour further towards them, by taking them in to be his people. Augustine, quoted by Mayer.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 2. Divine purposes accomplished by singular means.
Ver. 2. Founded on the seas. Instability of terrestrial things.
Psalms 24:3*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 3-6. Here we have the true Israel described. The men who shall stand as courtiers in the palace of the living God are not distinguished by race, but by character; they are not Jews only, nor Gentiles only, nor any one branch of mankind peculiarly, but a people purified and made meet to dwell in the holy hill of the Lord.
Ver. 3. Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? It is uphill work for the creature to reach the Creator. Where is the mighty climber who can scale the towering heights? Nor is it height alone; it is glory too. Whose eye shall see the King in his beauty and dwell in his palace? In heaven he reigns most gloriously, who shall be permitted to enter into his royal presence? God has made all, but he will not save all; there is a chosen company who shall have the singular honour of dwelling with him in his high abode. These choice spirits desire to commune with God, and their wish shall be granted them. The solemn enquiry of the text is repeated in another form. Who shall be able to
stand or continue there? He casteth away the wicked, who then can abide in his house? Who is he that can gaze upon the Holy One, and can abide in the blaze of his glory? Certainly none may venture to commune with God upon the footing of the law, but grace can make us meet to behold the vision of the divine presence. The question before us is one which all should ask for themselves, and none should be at ease till they have received an answer of peace. With careful self examination let us enquire, “Lord, is it I.”
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 3. Who shall ascend? Indeed, if none must ascend but he that is clean and pure, and without vanity and deceit, the question is quickly answered, None shall, for there is none so: dust is our matter, so not clean; defiled is our nature, so not pure; lighter, the heaviest of us, than vanity, and deceitful upon the balance the best of us; so no ascending so high for any of us. Yet there is One we hear of, or might have heard of today, that rose and ascended up on high, was thus qualified as the psalmist speaks of, all clean and pure, no chaff at all, no guile found in his mouth. 1 Peter 2:22. Yes, but it was but One that was so; what’s that to all the rest? Yes, somewhat it is. He was our Head, and if the Head be once risen and ascended, the members will all follow after in their time. Mark Frank.
Ver. 3. The hill of the Lord, can be no other than a hill of glory. His holy place is no less than the very place and seat of glory. And being such, you cannot imagine it but hard to come by, the very petty glories of the world are so. This is a hill of glory, hard to climb, difficult to ascend, craggy to pass up, steep to clamber, no plain campagnia to it, the broad easy way leads some whither else (Matthew 7:13); the way to this is narrow (Matthew 7:14); ’tis rough and troublesome. To be of the number of Christ’s true faithful servants is no slight work; it is a fight, it is a race, it is a continual warfare; fastings and watchings, and cold and nakedness, and hunger and thirst, bonds, imprisonments, dangers and distresses, ignominy and reproach, afflictions and persecutions, the world’s hatred and our friend’s neglect, all that we call hard or difficult is to be found in the way we are to go. A man cannot leave a lust, shake off bad company, quit a course of sin, enter upon a way of virtue, profess his religion, or stand to it, cannot ascend the spiritual hill, but he will meet some or other of these to contest and strive with. But not only to ascend, but to stand there, as the word signifies; to continue at so high a pitch, to be constant in truth and piety, that will be hard indeed, and bring more difficulties to contest with. Mark Frank.
Ver. 3-4. The Psalm begins with a solicitous enquiry, subjoins a satisfactory answer, and closes with a most pertinent but rapturous apostrophe. This is the enquiry, Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place? This is the answer, “He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; “”he shall” “receive the blessing” of plenary remission from the Lord, and righteousness also from the God of his salvation: even that perfect righteousness which is not acquired by man, but bestowed by Jehovah; which is not performed by the saint, but received by the sinner; which is the only solid basis to support our hopes of happiness, the only valid plea for an admission into the mansions of joy. Then follows the apostrophe: the prophet foresees the ascension of Christ and his saints into the kingdom of heaven. He sees his Lord marching at the head of the redeemed world, and conducting them into regions of honour and joy. Suitably to such a view, and in a most beautiful strain of poetry, he addresses himself to the heavenly portals. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory, with all the heirs of his grace and righteousness, shall make their triumphant entry; shall enter in, and go out no more. James Hervey.
Ver. 3-4. It is not he who sings so well or so many Psalms, nor he who fasts or watches so many days, nor he who divides his own among the poor, nor he who preaches to others, nor he who lives quietly, kindly, and friendly; nor, in fine, is it he who knows all sciences and languages, nor he who works all virtuous and all good works that ever any man spoke or read of, but it is he alone, who is pure within and without. Martin Luther.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 3. The all important question.
Psalms 24:4*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 4. He that hath clean hands. Outward, practical holiness is a very precious mark of grace. To wash in water with Pilate is nothing, but to wash in innocency is all important. It is to be feared that many professors have perverted the doctrine of justification by faith in such a way as to treat good works with contempt; if so, they will receive everlasting contempt at the last great day. It is vain to prate of inward experience unless the daily life is free from impurity, dishonesty, violence, and oppression. Those who draw near to God must have
clean hands. What monarch would have servants with filthy hands to wait at his table? They who were ceremonially unclean could not enter into the Lord’s house which was made with hands, much less shall the morally defiled be allowed to enjoy spiritual fellowship with a holy God. If our hands are now unclean, let us wash them in Jesu’s precious blood, and so let us pray unto God, lifting up pure hands. But “clean hands” would not suffice, unless they were connected with
a pure heart. True religion is heart work. We may wash the outside of the cup and the platter as long as we please; but if the inward parts be filthy, we are filthy altogether in the sight of God, for our hearts are more truly ourselves than our hands are. We may lose our hands and yet live, but we could not lose our heart and still live; the very life of our being lies in the inner nature, and hence the imperative need of purity within. There must be a work of grace in the core of the heart as well as in the palm of the hand, or our religion is a delusion. May God grant that our inward powers may be cleansed by the sanctifying Spirit, so that we may love holiness and abhor all sin. The pure in heart shall see God, all others are but blind bats; stone blindness in the eyes arises from stone in the heart. Dirt in the heart throws dust in the eyes.
The soul must be delivered from delighting in the grovelling toys of earth; the man who is born for heaven
hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity. All men have their joys, by which their souls are lifted up; the worldling lifts up his soul in carnal delights, which are mere empty vanities; but the saint loves more substantial things; like Jehoshaphat, he is lifted up in the ways of the Lord. He who is content with the husks will be reckoned with the swine. If we suck our consolation from the breasts of the world, we prove ourselves to be its home born children. Does the world satisfy thee? Then thou hast thy reward and thy portion in this life; make much of it, for thou shalt know no other joy.
Nor sworn deceitfully. The saints are men of honour still. The Christian man’s word is his only oath; but that is as good as twenty oaths of other men. False speaking will shut any man out of heaven, for a liar shall not enter into God’s house, whatever may be his professions or doings. God will have nothing to do with liars, except to cast them into the lake of fire. Every liar is a child of the devil, and will be sent home to his father. A false declaration, a fraudulent statement, a cooked account, a slander, a lie—all these may suit the assembly of the ungodly, but are detested among true saints: how could they have fellowship with the God of truth, if they did not hate every false way?
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 3-4. See Psalms on “Psalms 24:3” for further information.
Ver. 3-4. It is not he who sings so well or so many Psalms, nor he who fasts or watches so many days, nor he who divides his own among the poor, nor he who preaches to others, nor he who lives quietly, kindly, and friendly; nor, in fine, is it he who knows all sciences and languages, nor he who works all virtuous and all good works that ever any man spoke or read of, but it is he alone, who is pure within and without. Martin Luther.
Ver. 4. He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart. Shall I tell you, then, who is a moral man in the sight of God? It is he that bows to the divine law as the supreme rule of right; he that is influenced by a governing regard to God in all his actions; he that obeys other commands spontaneously, because he has obeyed the first and great command, “Give me thy heart.” His conduct is not conformed to custom or expediency, but to one consistent, immutable standard of duty. Take this man into a court of justice, and call on him to testify, and he will not bear false witness. Give him the charge of untold treasures, he will not steal. Trust him with the dearest interests of yourself or family, you are safe, because he has a living principle of truth and integrity in his bosom. He is as worthy of confidence in the dark as at noonday; for he is a moral man, not because reputation or interest demands it, not because the eye of public observation is fixed upon him, but because the love and fear of God have predominant ascendency in his heart. Ebenezer Porter, D.D., 1834.
Ver. 4. Conditions that suit none but Christ. (Bellarmine.) He that hath clean hands; “the clean of hands”, Margin: —those hands from which went forth virtue and healing; hands ever lifted up in prayer to God, or in blessing to man; hands stretched forth on the cross for the cleansing of the whole world. Isaac Williams, in loc.
Ver. 4. Who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, is read by Arius Montanus, “He that hath not received his soul in vain.” Oh! how many receive their souls in vain, making no more use of them than the swine, of whom the philosopher observes, cujus anima pro sale, their souls are only for salt to keep their bodies from stinking. Who would not grieve to think that so choice a piece should be employed about so vain a use! George Swinnock.
Ver. 4. Nor sworn deceitfully; or inured his tongue to any other kind of language of hell’s rotten communication, to the dishonouring of God, or deceiving of others. Perjury is here instanced for the rest, as one of the most heinous. But Peraldus reckoneth up twenty-four several sins of the tongue, all which every burgess of the New Jerusalem is careful to avoid, as the devil’s drivel, no way becoming his pure lip. John Trapp.
Ver. 4. Now we come to the four conditions requisite to render such an ascent possible. 1. Abstinence from evil doing: He that hath clean hands. 2. Abstinence from evil thought: and a pure heart. 3. Who does that duty which he is sent into the world to do: That hath not lifted up his mind unto vanity; or, as it is in the Vulgate, Who hath no received his soul in vain. And, 4. Remembers the vows by which he is bound to God: nor sworn to deceive. And in the fullest sense, there was but One in whom all these things were fulfilled; so that in reply to the question, “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord?” He might well answer, “No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.” John 3:13. “Therefore it is well written, “says St. Bernard, “that such an High Priest became us, because he knows the difficulty of that ascent to the celestial mountain, he knows the weakness of us that have to ascend.” Lorinus and Bernard, quoted by J. M. Neale.
Ver. 4. Heaven is not won with good words and a fair profession. The doing Christian is the man that shall stand, when the empty boaster of his faith shall fall. The great talkers of religion are often the least doers. His religion is in vain whose profession brings not letters testimonial from a holy life. William Gurnall.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 4. (first clause). Connection between outward morality and inward purity.
Ver. 4. (second clause). Men judged by their delights.
Ver. 4. “Clean hands.”
1. How to get them clean.
2. How to keep them clean.
3. How to defile them
4. How to get them clean again.
Ver. 4-5. Character manifested and favour received.
Psalms 24:5*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 5. It must not be supposed that the persons who are thus described by their inward and outward holiness are saved by the merits of their works; but their works are the evidences by which they are known. The present verse shows that in the saints grace reigns and grace alone. Such men wear the holy livery of the Great King because he has of his own free love clothed them therewith. The true saint wears the wedding garment, but he owns that the Lord of the feast provided it for him, without money and without price.
He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. So that the saints need salvation; they receive righteousness, and
the blessing is a boon from God their Saviour. They do not ascend the hill of the Lord as givers but as receivers, and they do not wear their own merits, but a righteousness which they have received. Holy living ensures a blessing as its reward from the thrice Holy God, but it is itself a blessing of the New Covenant and a delightful fruit of the Spirit. God first gives us good works, and then rewards us for them. Grace is not obscured by God’s demand for holiness, but is highly exalted as we see it decking the saint with jewels, and clothing him in fair white linen; all this sumptuous array being a free gift of mercy.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 5. He shall receive the blessing; as before, “Thou shalt set him to be a blessing.” Psalms 21:6. His name is never without blessing. In him shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. On the mount of his beatitudes, on the heavenly Mount Sion, crowned as “the Son of the Blessed.” From the Lord; even “the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 1:3. Isaac Williams.
Ver. 5. He shall receive…righteousness. As for our own righteousness which we have without him, Esay telleth us, “it is a defiled cloth; “and St. Paul, that it is but “dung.” Two very homely comparisons, but they be the Holy Ghost’s own; yet nothing so homely as in the original, where they be so odious, as what manner of defiled cloth, or what kind of dung, we have not dared to translate. Our own then being no better, we are driven to seek for it elsewhere. “He shall receive his righteousness, “saith the prophet; and “the gift of righteousness, “saith the apostle. Philippians 3:8-9, Romans 5:17. It is then another, to be given us, and to be received by us, which we must seek for. And whither shall we go for it? Job alone dispatches this point Job 15:15 4:18 25:5. Not to the heavens or stars, they are unclean in his sight. Not to the saints, for in them he found folly. Not to the angels, for neither in them found he steadfastness. Now, if none of these will serve, we see a necessary reason why Jehovah must be a part of this name, “the LORD our righteousness.” Jeremiah 23:6. Lancelot Andrewes.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 4-5. Character manifested and favour received.
Ver. 5. (second clause). The good man receiving righteousness and needing salvation, or the evangelical meaning of apparently legal passages.
Psalms 24:6*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 6. This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. These are the regeneration, these are in the line of grace; these are the legitimate seed. Yet they are only seekers; hence learn that true seekers are very dear in God’s esteem, and are entered upon his register.
Even seeking has a sanctifying influence; what a consecrating power must lie in finding and enjoying the Lord’s face and favour! To desire communion with God is a purifying thing. Oh to hunger and thirst more and more after a clear vision of the face of God; this will lead us to purge ourselves from all filthiness, and to walk with heavenly circumspection. He who longs to see his friend when he passes takes care to clear the mist from the window, lest by any means his friend should go by unobserved. Really awakened souls seek the Lord above everything, and as this is not the usual desire of mankind, they constitute a generation by themselves; a people despised of men but beloved of God.
The expression O Jacob is a very difficult one, unless it be indeed true that the God of Jacob here condescends to be called Jacob, and takes upon himself the name of his chosen people. The preceding verses correct the inordinate boastings of those Jews who vaunted themselves as the favourites of heaven; they are told that their God is the God of all the earth, and that he is holy, and will admit none but holy ones into his presence. Let the mere professor as he reads these verses listen to the voice which saith, “without holiness no man shall see the Lord.”
Selah. Lift up the harp and voice, for a nobler song is coming; a song of our Well beloved.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 6. This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face. Christians must be seekers. This is the generation of seekers. All mankind, if ever they will come to heaven, they must be a generation of seekers. Heaven is a generation of finders, of possessors, of enjoyers, seekers of God. But here we are a generation of seekers. We want somewhat that we must seek. When we are at best, we want the accomplishment of our happiness. It is a state of seeking here, because it is a state of want; we want something alway. But to come more particularly to this seeking the face of God, or the presence of God…The presence of God meant here is, that presence that he shows in the time of need, and in his ordinances. He shows a presence in need and necessity, that is, a gracious presence to his children, a gracious face. As in want of direction, he shows his presence of light to direct them; in weakness he shows his strength; in trouble and perplexity he will show his gracious and comfortable presence to comfort them. In perplexity he shows his presence to set the heart at large, answerable to the necessity. So in need God is present with his children, to direct them, to comfort them, to strengthen them, if they need that. Richard Sibbes.
Ver. 6. This is the generation. By the demonstrative pronoun this, the psalmist erases from the catalogue of the servants of God all counterfeit Israelites, who, trusting only to their circumcision and the sacrifice of beasts, have no concern about offering themselves to God; and yet, at the same time, they rashly thrust themselves into the church. John Calvin.
Ver. 6. That seek thy face, O Jacob. In Proverbs 7:15, and Proverbs 29:26, we have “seeking the face of” in the sense of seeking the favour of, or showing delight in. Their delight is not in Esau, who got “the fatness of earth” Genesis 27:39 as his portion. And those writers may be right, who consider Jacob as a name for Messiah, to whom belong the true birthright and blessing. Andrew A. Bonar.
Ver. 6. That seek thy face, O Jacob. He is “the seed of Jacob; ” he is “the Holy One of Israel; “”the face of thine Anointed” is the face of him who is both God and man; for “we shall see him as he is.” Isaac Williams.
Ver. 6. O Jacob, or O God of Jacob. As the church is called Christ 1 Corinthians 12:12, so God is here called “Jacob; ” such a near union there is betwixt him and his people. Or, this is Jacob. So the true seekers are fitly called, first because Israelites indeed John 1:47, Romans 9:6; secondly, because they see God face to face, as Jacob did at Peniel Genesis 32:24-30; thirdly, because they also, as he, do bear away a blessing Hosea 12:4, even “righteousness from the God of their salvation, ” as in the former verse. John Trapp.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 6. Those who truly seek fellowship with God.
Psalms 24:7*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 7. These last verses reveal to us the great representative man, who answered to the full character laid down, and therefore by his own right ascended the holy hill of Zion. Our Lord Jesus Christ could ascend into the hill of the Lord because his hands were clean and his heart was pure, and if we by faith in him are conformed to his image we shall enter too. We have here a picture of our Lord’s glorious ascent. We see him rising from amidst the little group upon Olivet, and as the cloud receives him, angels reverently escort him to the gates of heaven.
The ancient gates of the eternal temple are personified and addressed in song by the attending cohorts of rejoicing spirits.
“Lo his triumphal chariot waits,
And angels chant the solemn lay. Lift up your heads, ye heavenly gates;
Ye everlasting doors, give way.”
They are called upon “to lift up their heads, “as though with all their glory they were not great enough for the All glorious King. Let all things do their utmost to honour so great a Prince; let the highest heaven put on unusual loftiness in honour of the King of Glory. He who, fresh from the cross and the tomb, now rides through the gates of the New Jerusalem is higher than the heavens; great and everlasting as they are, those gates of pearl are all unworthy of him before whom the heavens are not pure, and who charges his angels with folly. Lift up your heads, O ye gates.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 7. Lift up your heads, O ye gates. The gates of the temple were indeed as described, very lofty and magnificent, in proportion to the gigantic dimensions of that extraordinary edifice. But the phrase, Lift up your heads, refers not so much to their loftiness, as to the upper part being formed so as to be lifted up; while the under portion opened in folding doors. Robert Jamieson, in “Paxton’s Illustrations of Scriptures.”
Ver. 7. Lift up your heads, O ye gates. At the castle of Banias, in Syria, are the remains of an ancient gate which was drawn up, like a blind, the gate fitting in grooves. This will fully explain the term. John Gadsby.
Ver 7. Lift up. A phrase or term taken from triumphal arches, or great porticoes, set up, or beautified and adorned for the coming in of great, victorious, and triumphant captains. John Diodati.
Ver. 7. Be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Some interpret this of the doors of our heart, according to that Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, “etc. In the gospel history, we find that Christ had a fourfold entertainment among men. Some received him into house, not into heart, as Simon the Pharisee Lu 7:44, who gave him no kiss nor water to his feet; some into heart, but not into house, as the faithful centurion Matthew 8:8, esteeming himself unworthy that Christ should come under his roof; some neither into house nor heart, as the graceless Gergesites Matthew 8:34; some both into house and heart, as Lazarus, Mary, Martha. John 3:15 Lu 10:38. Now that Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith, and that our bodies may be temples of his Holy Spirit, we must as our prophet exhorts here, lift up our souls, that is, in the words of St. Paul Colossians 3:2, our affections must be set on things which are above, and not on things which are on earth: if we desire to lift up our hearts unto Christ’s verity, we may not lift them up unto the world’s vanity; that is, we must not fasten our love too much upon the things of this life, but on those pleasures at God’s right hand which are evermore; that as we have borne the image of the first Adam, who was earthly, so we should bear the image of the second Adam, which is heavenly. 1 Corinthians 15:49. The profane worldling sings a Nunc dimittis unto Christ, and saith as the devils, “Ah! what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth?” Mr 1:24; and as Job reports his words, “Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways.” Job 21:14. On the contrary, the religious soul, enjoying the possession of the Saviour, chants a merry Magnificat, and a pleasant Te Deum: she saith unto Christ, as Ruth unto Naomi Ruth 1:16, “Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee.” Nay, death itself shall not part us, for when I am loosed out of my body’s prison, I hope to be with Christ; as Ittai then unto David, I say unto Jesus, “As the Lord liveth, and as my lord the king liveth, surely in what place my lord the king shall be, whether in death, or life, even there also will thy servant be.” 2 Samuel 15:21. O Lord, which art the God of my salvation, I lift my heart to thee, desirous to seek thee, both in the right ubi — where thou mayest be found, and in the right quando — while thou mayest be found. Ps 18:47 25:1. Open my dull ears and hard heart, that thy Son my Saviour may come in and dwell with me. Grant me grace that I may still hear while he calleth, open while he knocketh, and hold him also when I have him; that I may both ascend thine hill, and stand in thy holy place; that I may not only sojourn in thy tabernacle, but also rest and dwell upon the mountain of thine holiness. John Boys.
Ver. 7. Everlasting doors. Heaven’s gates are called everlasting, because they shall endure for ever, or because they be the doors unto the life which is everlasting. John Boys.
Ver. 7. Whatever we may think of these things, David thought it high time for him to bid such a messenger welcome, and to open his heart for the receiving of his God. Hear what he saith to his own heart and others: Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. And because the door of men’s hearts is locked, and barred, and bolted, and men are in a deep sleep, and will not hear the knocking that is at the gate, though it be loud, though it be a king; therefore David knocks again, Lift up, ye everlasting doors. Why, what haste, saith the sinner? What haste? Why, here’s the King at your gates; and that not an ordinary king neither; he is a glorious King, that will honour you so far, if you open quickly, as to lodge within, to take up his abode in your house, to dwell with you. But the soul for all this doth not yet open, but stands still questioning, as if it were an enemy rather than a friend that stood there, and asks, “Who is this King of glory?” Who? He answers again, “It is the Lord of Hosts; “he, that if you will not open quickly and thankfully too, can easily pull your house down about your ears; he is the Lord of hosts, that King who hath a mighty army always at his command, who stand ready to their commission, and then you should know who it is you might have had for your friend; “Lift up, therefore, your heads, O ye gates.” Open quickly, ye that had rather have God for your friend, than for your enemy. Oh, why should not the soul of every sinner cry out, Lord, the door is locked, and thou hast the key; I have been trying what I can do, but the wards are so rusty that I cannot possibly turn the key? But, Lord, throw the door off the hinges, anything in the world, so thou wilt but come in and dwell here. Come, O mighty God, break through doors of iron, and bars of brass, and make way for thyself by thy love and power. Come, Lord, and make thyself welcome; all that I have is at thy service; O fit my soul to entertain thee! James Janeway.
Ver. 7. He hath left with us the earnest if the Spirit, and taken from us the earnest of our flesh, which he hath carried into heaven as a pledge that the whole shall follow after. Tertullian.
Ver. 7. Christ is gone to heaven as a victor; leading sin, Satan, death, hell, and all his enemies, in triumph at his chariot wheels. He has not only overcome his enemies for himself, but for all his people, whom he will make conquerors, yea, “more than conquerors.” As he has overcome, so shall they also overcome; and as he has gone to heaven a victor, they shall follow in triumph. He is in heaven as a Saviour. When he came from heaven it was in the character of a Saviour; when on earth he obtained eternal salvation; in heaven he lives as a Saviour; when he comes again from heaven he will come as a Saviour; and when he will return, he will return as a Saviour. He is also gone to heaven as the rightful heir. He is not gone to heaven as a sojourner, but as “the heir of all things.” He is the heir of heavenly glory and happiness, and believers are “heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ.” Henry Pendlebury, 1626-1695.
Ver. 7. “O clap your hands together, all ye people; sing unto God with the voice of melody. God is gone up with a merry noise, and the Lord with the sound of the trump.” Psalms 47:1; Psalms 47:5. This Ark, which has saved the world from destruction, after floating on a deluge of blood, rests at length on the mountain. This innocent Joseph, whose virtue has been oppressed by the synagogue, is brought out of the dungeon to receive a crown. This invincible Samson has carried away the gates of hell, and goes in triumph to the everlasting hills. This victorious Joshua has passed over Jordan with the ark of the covenant, and taken possession of the land of the living. This Sun of righteousness, which had gone down ten degrees, returns backward to the place which it had left. He who was “a worm” at his birth, a Lamb in his passion, and a Lion in his resurrection, now ascends as an Eagle to heaven, and encourages us to follow him thither. This day heaven learns to endure man’s presence, and men to walk above the stars; the heavenly Jerusalem receives its rightful King, the church its High Priest, the house of God its Heritor, the whole world its Ruler. “O sing praises, sing praises unto our God: O sing praises, sing praises unto our King.” Psalms 47:6-8. “God reigneth over the heathen, God sitteth upon his holy seat.” “The princes of the people are joined unto” him; “he is very highly exalted” above them. From “The Life of Jesus Christ in Glory, “translated from the French of James Nouet.
Ver. 7-8. Christ being now arrived at heaven’s doors, those heavenly spirits that accompanied him began to say, Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in! to whom some of the angels that were within, not ignorant of his person, but admiring his majesty and glory, said again, Who is the King of glory? and then they answered The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle, and thereupon those twelve gates of the holy city, of New Jerusalem, opened of their own accord, and Jesus Christ with all his ministering spirits entered in. O my soul, how should this heighten thy joy and enlarge thy comforts, in that Christ is now received up into glory? Every sight of Christ is glorious, and in every sight thou shouldest wait on the Lord Jesus Christ for some glorious manifestations of himself. Come, live up to the rate of this great mystery; view Christ as entering into glory, and thou wilt find the same sparkle of glory on thy heart. O! this sight is a transforming sight: “We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 3:18. Isaac Ambrose.
Ver. 7-8. Ye that are thus the living temples of the Lord, and have already entertained his sanctifying Spirit into you, do you lift up your hearts in the use of holy ordinances through faith, in joyful desires and assured expectation of him; yea, be you abundantly lift up by faith in the use of holy means who are the everlasting habitation of an everlasting God, with a joyful and assured welcome of him; for so shall you invite and undoubtedly entertain the high and mighty Potentate the Lord Christ into your souls, with the glorious manifestation and ravishing operation of his love, benefits, and graces. And know, O all ye faithful and obedient ones, for your courage and comfort, who, and of what quality this glorious King, the Lord Jesus is, whom the world despises but you honour. Why, he is the Almighty God, of power all sufficient to preserve and defend his people and church, that in trust of him do love and serve him, against all the strength and power of men and devils that do or shall malign or oppose themselves against them, and to put them to the foil, as we his Israel in the letter have found by experience for your instruction and corroboration that are his people in spirit. George Abbot, in “Brief notes upon the whole Book of Psalms, “1651.
Ver. 7-10. Oh, what tongue of the highest archangel of heaven can express the welcome of thee, the King of glory, into these blessed regions of immortality? Surely the imperial heaven never resounded with so much joy: God ascended with jubilation and the Lord with the sound of the trumpet. It is not for us, weak and finite creatures, to wish to conceive those incomprehensible, spiritual, divine gratulations, that the glorious Trinity gave to the victorious and now glorified human nature. Certainly if, when he brought his only begotten Son into the world, he said, “Let all the angels worship him; “much more now that he, “ascendeth on high, and hath led captivity captive, hath he given him a name above all names, that at the name of Jesus all knees should bow.” And if the holy angels did so carol at his birth, in the very entrance into that state of humiliation and infirmity, with what triumph did they receive him now returning from the perfect achievement of man’s redemption? and if, when his type had vanquished Goliath, and carried his head into Jerusalem, the damsels came forth to meet him with dances and timbrels, how shall we think those angelic spirits triumphed, in meeting of the great Conqueror of hell and death? How did they sing, Lift up your heads, ye gates! and be lifted up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Surely, as he shall come, so he went; and, “Behold, he shall come with thousands of his holy ones; thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand thousands stood before him; “from all whom, I think I hear that blessed applause, “Worthy is the Lamb that was killed, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and praise: praise and honour, and glory, and power, be to him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb for evermore.” And why dost not thou, O my soul, help to bear thy part with that happy choir of heaven? Why art not thou rapt out of my bosom, with an ecstasy of joy, to see this human nature of ours exalted above all the powers of heaven, adored of angels, archangels, cherubim, seraphim, and all those mighty and glorious spirits, and sitting there crowned with infinite glory and majesty? Joseph Hall.
Ver. 7-10. In the twenty-fourth Psalm, we have an account of the actual entrance of Christ into heaven. When the King of England wishes to enter the city of London through Temple Bar, the gate being closed against him, the herald demands entrance. “Open the gate.” From within a voice is heard, “Who is there?” The herald answers, “The King of England!” The gate is at once opened, and the king passes, amidst the joyful acclamations of his people. This is an ancient custom, and the allusion is to it in this Psalm. “The Lord ascended with a shout; “he approached the heavenly portal— the herald in his escort demanded an entrance, Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. The celestial watchers within ask, Who is the King of glory? The heralds answer, The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. The question and answer being repeated once more, the gates lift up their heads, and the everlasting doors are lifted up. The Prince enters his Father’s palace, greeted with the acclamations of heaven, all whose inhabitants unite in one shout of joy ineffable: The Lord of Hosts, he is the King of glory! Christmas Evans.
Ver. 7-10. If we follow our Redeemer in his ascension and session at the right hand of God, where he is constituted Lord of all, angels, principalities, and powers being made subject to him, and where he sits till his enemies are made his footstool, we shall observe the tide of celestial blessedness rise higher and higher still. The return of a great and beloved prince, who should by only hazarding his life, have saved his country, would fill a nation with ecstasy. Their conversation in every company would turn upon him, and all their thoughts and joys concentrate in him. See then the King of kings, after having by death abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light; after spoiling the powers of darkness, and ruining all their schemes; see him return in triumph! There was something like triumph when he entered into Jerusalem. All the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?” And the multitude answered, It is Jesus, the prophet of Nazareth; and the very children sung, Hosannah to the Son of David: blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord; hosannah in the highest! How much greater then must be the triumph of his entry into the heavenly Jerusalem! Would not all the city be “moved” in this case, saying, “Who is this?” See thousands of angels attending him, and ten thousand times ten thousand come forth to meet him! The entrance of the ark into the city of David was but a shadow of this, and the responsive strains which were sung on that occasion would on this be much more applicable. Andrew Fuller.
Ver. 7-10. Why is the song repeated? Why are the everlasting gates invited to lift up their heads a second time? We may not pretend here, or in any place, to know all the meaning of the divine Psalms. But what if the repetition of the verse was meant to put us in mind that our Saviour’s ascension will be repeated also? He will not indeed die any more; death can no more have any dominion over him; “there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin.” Neither of course can he rise again any more. But as he will come again at the end of the world, to judge the quick and the dead, so after that descent he will have to ascend again. And I say, this second ascension may be signified by the psalmist, calling on the everlasting doors to lift up their heads a second time, and make way for the King of glory. Now observe the answer made this second time, Who is the King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory. Before it was, the Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle; now it is The Lord of hosts. Christ ascending the first time, to intercede for us at his Father’s right hand, is called The Lord mighty in battle. But Christ, ascending the second time, after the world hath been judged, and the good and bad separated for ever, is called the Lord of hosts. Why this difference in his divine titles? We may reverently take it, that it signifies to us the difference between his first and second coming down to earth, his first and second ascension into heaven. As in other respects his first coming was with great humility, so in this, that he came, in all appearance, alone. The angels were indeed waiting round him, but not visibly, not in glory. “He trode the winepress alone, and of the people there was none with him.” He wrestled with death, hell, and Satan, alone. Alone he rose from the dead: alone, as far as man could see, he went up to heaven. Thus he showed himself “the Lord mighty in battle, “mighty in that single combat which he, as our champion, our David, victoriously maintained against our great enemy. But when he shall come down and go up the second time, he will show himself “the Lord of hosts.” Instead of coming down alone in mysterious silence, as in his wonderful incarnation, he will be followed by all the armies of heaven. “The Lord my God will come, and all his saints with him.” “The Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints.” “The Son of Man will come in the glory of his Father, and all the holy angels with him.” “Thousand thousands will stand around him, and ten thousand times ten thousand will minister unto him.” Instead of the silence of that quiet chamber at Nazareth, and of the holy Virgin’s womb, there will be the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God accompanying him. Thus he will come down as the Lord of hosts, and as the Lord of hosts, he will ascend again to his Father. After the judgment, he will pass again through the everlasting doors, with a greater company than before; for he will lead along with him, into the heavenly habitation, all those who shall have been raised from their graves and found worthy. Hear how the awful sight is described by one who will doubtless have a high place in that day near the Judge. The great apostle and prophet St. Paul, says, “The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout; and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” John Keble, M.A.
Ver. 7-10. —
In this blessed life I see the path, and in his death the price, And in his great ascent the proof supreme Of immortality. And did he rise? Hear, O ye nations! hear it, O ye dead! He rose! He rose! He burst the bars of death. Lift up your heads, ye everlasting gates! And give the King of glory to come in. Who is the King of glory? He who left His throne of glory for the pangs of death. Lift up your heads, ye everlasting gates! And give the King of glory to come in. Who is the King of glory? He who slew The ravenous foe that gorged all human race. The King of glory, he whose glory filled Heaven with amazement at his love to man, And with divine complacency beheld Powers most illumined wildered in the theme.
Edward Young.
Ver. 7-10. —
Lift up your heads, ye gates, and, O prepare, Ye living orbs, your everlasting doors, The King of glory comes! What King of glory? He whose puissant might Subdued Abaddon, and the infernal powers Of darkness bound in adamantine chains: Who, wrapped in glory, with the Father reigns, Omnipotent, immortal, infinite!
James Scott.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 7. Accommodate the text to the entrance of Jesus Christ into our hearts.
1. There are obstacles, gates, doors.
2. We must will to remove them: lift up.
3. Grace must enable us: be ye lift up.
4. Our Lord will enter.
5. He enters as King, and King of glory.
Ver 7. The ascension and its teachings.
Ver 7-10. —
1. His title—the Lord of hosts.
2. His victories, implied in the expression. The Lord strong and mighty in battle.
3. His mediatorial title, The King of glory.
4. His authoritative entrance into the holy place. John Newton’s “Messiah.”
Psalms 24:8*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 8. The watchers at the gate hearing the song look over the battlements and ask, Who is this King of glory? A question full of meaning and worthy of the meditations of eternity. Who is he in person, nature, character, office and work? What is his pedigree? What his rank and what his race? The answer given in a mighty wave of music is, The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. We know the might of Jesus by the battles which he has fought, the victories which he has won over sin, and death, and hell, and we clap our hands as we see him leading captivity captive in the majesty of his strength. Oh for a heart to sing his praises! Mighty hero, be thou crowned for ever King of kings and Lord of lords.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 7-8. See Psalms on “Psalms 24:7” for further information.
Ver. 7-8. See Psalms on “Psalms 24:7” for further information.
Ver. 7-10. See Psalms on “Psalms 24:7” for further information.
Ver. 7-10. See Psalms on “Psalms 24:7” for further information.
Ver. 7-10. See Psalms on “Psalms 24:7” for further information.
Ver. 7-10. See Psalms on “Psalms 24:7” for further information.
Ver. 7-10. — See Psalms on “Psalms 24:7” for further information.
Ver. 7-10. — See Psalms on “Psalms 24:7” for further information.
Ver. 8. Who is the King of glory? Christ in two respects is the King of glory. 1. For that all honour and glory belongs properly to him—his is “the kingdom, the power, and the glory” Matthew 6:13, called in this regard, “The Lord of glory.” 1Co 2:8. 2. For that Christ maketh us partakers of his glory, termed in this respect our glorious Lord Jesus. James 2:1. If the Lord of hosts, strong and mighty in battle, be the King of glory, then Christ (having conquered all his enemies, and made them his footstool, triumphing over death, and the devil which is the founder of death, and sin which is the sting of death, and the grave which is the prison of death, and hell itself which is the proper dominion of the devil and death) is doubtless in himself, “the King of glory.” And for as much as he died for our sins, and is risen again for our justification, and is ascended on high to give gifts unto men—in this life grace, in the next glory— what is he less than a King of glory towards us, of whom and through whom alone we find that fight his battles are delivered from the hands of all that hate us, and so made victors 1 Corinthians 15:57, yea, “more than conquerors.” Romans 8:37. John Boys.
Ver. 8. The Lord strong and mighty. Strong and mighty in subduing all adversaries; and overcoming death and the devil who had the power of death. Ludolphus, quoted by Isaac Williams.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 7-10. —
1. His title—the Lord of hosts.
2. His victories, implied in the expression. The Lord strong and mighty in battle.
3. His mediatorial title, The King of glory.
4. His authoritative entrance into the holy place.
John Newton’s “Messiah.”
Ver. 8. The mighty Hero. His pedigree, his power, his battles, his victories.
Psalms 24:9*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 9. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. The words are repeated with a pleasing variation. There are times of deep earnest feeling when repetitions are not vain but full of force. Doors were often taken from their hinges when Easterners would show welcome to a guest, and some doors were drawn up and down like a portcullis, and may possibly have protruded from the top; thus literally lifting up their heads. The picture is highly poetical, and shows how wide heaven’s gate is set by the ascension of our Lord. Blessed be God, the gates have never been shut since. The opened gates of heaven invite the weakest believer to enter.
Dear reader, it is possible that you are saying, “I shall never enter into the heaven of God, for I have neither clean hands nor a pure heart.” Look then to Christ, who has already climbed the holy hill. He has entered as the forerunner of those who trust him. Follow in his footsteps, and repose upon his merit. He rides triumphantly into heaven, and you shall ride there too if you trust him. “But how can I get the character described?” say you. The Spirit of God will give you that. He will create in you a new heart and a right spirit. Faith in Jesus is the work of the Holy Spirit, and has all virtues wrapped up in it. Faith stands by the fountain filled with blood, and as she washes therein, clean hands and a pure heart, a holy soul and a truthful tongue are given to her.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 7-10. See Psalms on “Psalms 24:7” for further information.
Ver. 7-10. See Psalms on “Psalms 24:7” for further information.
Ver. 7-10. See Psalms on “Psalms 24:7” for further information.
Ver. 7-10. See Psalms on “Psalms 24:7” for further information.
Ver. 7-10. — See Psalms on “Psalms 24:7” for further information.
Ver. 7-10. — See Psalms on “Psalms 24:7” for further information. James Scott.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 7-10. —
1. His title—the Lord of hosts.
2. His victories, implied in the expression. The Lord strong and mighty in battle.
3. His mediatorial title, The King of glory.
4. His authoritative entrance into the holy place.
John Newton’s “Messiah.”
Psalms 24:10*
EXPOSITION
Ver. 10. The closing note is inexpressibly grand. Jehovah of hosts, Lord of men and angels, Lord of the universe, Lord of the worlds, is the King of glory. All true glory is concentrated upon the true God, for all other glory is but a passing pageant, the painted pomp of an hour. The ascended Saviour is here declared to be the Head and Crown of the universe, the King of Glory. Our Immanuel is hymned in most sublime strains. Jesus of Nazareth is Jehovah Sabaoth.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Ver. 7-10. See Psalms on “Psalms 24:7” for further information.
Ver. 7-10. See Psalms on “Psalms 24:7” for further information.
Ver. 7-10. See Psalms on “Psalms 24:7” for further information.
Ver. 7-10. See Psalms on “Psalms 24:7” for further information.
Ver. 7-10. — See Psalms on “Psalms 24:7” for further information.
Ver. 7-10. — See Psalms on “Psalms 24:7” for further information.
Ver. 10 “Jehovah of hosts, “or, as the Hebrew is, Jehovah Tsebaoth, for so the word is used by the apostles, untranslated in the Greek, Sabaoth. Romans 9:29. It signifieth hosts or armies standing ready in martial order, and in battle array, and comprehend all creatures in heaven and in earth, which are pressed to do the will of God. Henry Ainsworth.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Ver. 7-10. —
1. His title—the Lord of hosts.
2. His victories, implied in the expression. The Lord strong and mighty in battle.
3. His mediatorial title, The King of glory.
4. His authoritative entrance into the holy place.
John Newton’s “Messiah.”
Ver. 10. The sovereignty and glory of God in Christ.

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